When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I couldn't wait to go to the book store. I wanted to read everything I could about pregnancy, labor, and babies. I was excited, but also scared. There was so much that I didn't know. And of course, I had heard so many horrible stories about women who were in labor for days and were in so much pain. But a thought struck me that somehow I would have to get over that fear. I was pregnant and I was going to have a baby, scared or not. I think it is very common for women to be scared not only of labor but of the big event of having a baby to take care of. Lucky for us women, we have 9 months to prepare and 9 months to face our fears.
At the last two births that I attended, both women stated, "I'm scared." And for both of them, that moment was toward the end of their labors, it was almost as if they reached a point where they finally had to face that fear before they could complete their labor. I could see a definite change in demeanor from a feeling of fear to one of confidence. During my own labors too, I remember in each one of them a "low" point of self-doubt or fear, a feeling of not being able to go on. It took some reassurance from my husband and a renewed commitment within myself, that I could do it, I was doing it, and I wanted to do it.
I have said before that I feel that labor is a rite of passage into motherhood. Labor is a physical event, but also an emotional and mental one as well. So, how do women do it? How do they face their fears during labor? For myself, a big part of facing my fears was reading every book I could during that 9 months. I took a birthing class. I spent a lot of time educating myself about how my body works and what to expect. During labor when I had that moment of self-doubt I finally had to just give in and trust that my body was doing what it needed to do in order to birth my baby. That feeling of surrender is hard, it is hard to give up control, but from all that I had learned prior I knew that nature would take its course and my body would work the way it was designed. Now that I am a mother I see that surrender is an important life lesson. You cannot always control how often your baby wakes up to nurse at night, or what time he is going to nap the next day. I have had to give up some of the control that I had over my own life in order to care for the life of my baby.
It is not uncommon to have fear about labor or about taking care of your new baby. But you can educate yourself to prepare for your baby's arrival. And, while facing our fears is not always easy, it does help us to grow and to become a better person.