I had such a fabulous time doing a podcast interview with Sarah Wilson about her new blog ‘Lattes Laced with Grace’ that I invited her to do a Guest Blog for us! Click here to listen to our podcast recording (Episode #98) and read on to sample Sarah’s wonderful words…
Are you excited to be expecting yet dreading delivery? Or, like me, are your preggie days well behind you but you still recall the apprehension that you felt when you were expecting? I’m sure most mothers would agree that when you see your baby for the first time it is the most profound life experience. But for many the birth process that precedes this can be rather daunting. I was fortunate to have three quick text book deliveries with no complications. My oldest is going to be seven next month and I have two younger children, and while I enjoyed my pregnancies, I still remember the crippling fear that I experienced in my first pregnancy.
Childbirth choices can be rather polarizing for women. But like anything in life, different options suit different people. Whether it is an obstetrician managed birth in a tertiary hospital or a home birth, there doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all solution when it comes to something as personal as birth. I can understand those that wish to deliver at home and feel more relaxed in a home environment. But for me, I felt most relaxed in a hospital setting.
The literature suggests that anxiety about childbirth is very common, and one in seven women is thought to suffer from tokophobia, an intense fear of childbirth. Part of my apprehension was that I didn’t trust our maternity system, and I still don’t. That is despite the fact that I experienced excellent midwifery care while having my three children, and in my first pregnancy when I was most apprehensive I had a very patient and empathetic hospital midwife who normalized my fears. However, some expectant mothers to be don’t receive good care, some births are mismanaged, and there seem to be many problems inherent in the current New Zealand maternity system, a discussion of these which is beyond the scope of this brief article.
I found that antenatal classes did not provide much support to mothers-to-be who were anxious. Perhaps there is a need for antenatal classes to address the anxieties of pregnant women or help them to seek prenatal distress counselling if needed. It was also assumed that my anxiety was due to lack of information. But I had enough of a health background to read a basic obstetric text book and so I was armed with some information. But a little information can be a dangerous thing. My fear mainly centred around pain management, because I have a low pain threshold and childbirth is, well, profoundly painful.
Furthermore, today we perceive that we are in control of many aspects of our lives, but childbirth is inherently unpredictable. Perhaps the medicalization of childbirth has also led to women feeling increasingly anxious, as well as the portrayal of dramatic childbirth scenes in films and the media. The tendency of others to share birth horror stories rather than positive birth stories may also contribute.
I am thankful that my experiences were positive. I was less apprehensive in my subsequent pregnancies, although for some women, they may feel more apprehensive if they have had a previous traumatic childbirth experience. And traumatic experiences are common. This is probably not something that you wish to read about if you are pregnant, and while it is true that a number of women even experience post-traumatic stress disorder associated with childbirth (approximately 7%), it may be reassuring to know that the majority of women are not traumatised by their childbirth experience.
To overcome my birth fears I collaborated with a midwife that I trusted, one that listened to me and respected my wishes. I read and talked to women who had experienced positive births, and modified the language that I used about delivery. I discovered that the anticipation of delivering was worse than the actual delivery itself. And I found that when I looked at my little bundle of joy, it was all worth all the anguish.
Sarah Wilson writes a blog: Lattes Laced with Grace A blog with writing, craft, cakes and more. Reflections on life, faith, family, laced with grace living and captivating creativity.