By Patricia Newton
Pregnancy and childbirth is usually a time of happiness and anticipation, but it is also a time of fear and concern. New parents fear for their baby's health and the level of pain Mom will feel during labor. They often fear the unknown, not only of labor, but of becoming a parent. They are deeply concerned with how their baby will impact their life as a couple, both emotionally and financially.
Causes of fear
There are several causes of fear during this time of an adult's life. One of which is a woman's intense feeling of loneliness in regards to labor. Despite reading every book she can find, attending a good informational childbirth preparation series, talking at length with women who have given birth before her about how their labor started and what their contractions felt like, this woman believes that ultimately, she will be alone in labor. Yes, she may have her partner beside her, perhaps her mother or close friend, and maybe even a doula. But for the laboring woman who has a deep rooted fear of labor, she believes in her heart that it's all up to her and only her.
The unfamiliarity of the birth process is another reason why some women fear labor. Unfortunately, many women believe that by watching every episode of every television birthing show ever produced will equip her with enough knowledge to adequately prepare herself for labor. The woman who believes this, however, is only kidding herself. In order to help her alleviate her fears of giving birth, the pregnant woman should become very familiar with the routine procedures of her own doctor or midwife and with the common practices of her scheduled place of delivery. It behooves her to attend a quality childbirth education preparation series which can help her learn of these factors rather than spend countless hours observing common practices of other doctors and midwives across the country.
Finally, hearing of negative birth experiences contribute to a woman's fear. Simply knowing the current cesarean rate can bring a significant amount of fear to the pregnant woman. Subtle remarks by her obstetrician who suggests that her baby may be too large for her to successfully birth vaginally contributes to her fear. Unfortunately, such comments are made every day to pregnant women. In addition, horror stories of women who experienced long, complicated labors or whose babies were born with serious defects are eagerly shared with pregnant women.
Effects of fear
Childbirth professionals are well aware of the Fear-Tension-Pain Syndrome, initially coined by Grantly Dick-Read, M.D. This cycle, often explained in childbirth education classes, indicates that a fearful woman encourages tension throughout her body. The tense muscles feel pain more intensely and perform (or contract) less efficiently that relaxed muscles. This increase of pain brings more fear to the laboring woman's mind, and so the cycle continues. Without knowing how to interrupt this cycle, or better yet, how to prevent it from ever beginning, medical interventions are often brought into the laboring experience, each with its own set of risks and side effects. Labor's "snowball effect& quot; quickly grows, and so does the risk of complications to both mom and baby.
However, fear can be a benefit to an expectant mom and her partner. It is a certain degree of fear or concern which motivates a pregnant woman to become educated on pregnancy and childbirth issues. A concerned woman will seek out a medical care provider who is compatible for her rather than go to the same doctor as her own mother did during her pregnancy. A concerned woman will seek out a good childbirth education class and will interview more than one doula in order to determine which one will best meet her needs. A concerned woman will regularly practice relaxation exercises and get adequate rest as her due date nears.
Erasing the fear
Fortunately, there is an effective way to erase the fear of childbirth. It comes down to one simple word: faith.
For some women, "faith" means having faith in her doctor. For others, "faith" means having faith in herself; believing she was made to give birth. Still others believe that faith means knowing labor will eventually end; that she won't have to endure it forever. Although all of these interpretations are important and correct to a certain extent, there is only one form of faith that can truly erase the fear of childbirth. That is faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To the woman who believes she is ultimately alone in labor, God's Word tells us she is not. "...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) And to the woman who fears labor, God's Word says not to be afraid. "...God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid'..." (Hebrews 13:5,6)
Worry seems to be a natural part of the human life, and pregnancy often increases a woman's worry. Yet, Jesus makes it clear to us in His Word not to do this. In Matthew 6:34 He tells us, "...Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." And in Matthew 6:27, He explains that the details of our life here on earth are already planned out. He tells us, therefore, not to worry because, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Faith in the Lord
This solution to a woman's fear of childbirth is readily available for those who choose to follow Him and obey His Word. Sadly, however, many will reject His answer. These women will undoubtedly continue to live and approach their labor with unnecessary worry and fear.
The question is, will you accept or reject His solution?
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