Conquering Fears of Childbirth

Find out how to cope with fears of childbirth so you have a more relaxed, happy experience on your big day.

Birth is more than a natural biological process; it's a fundamentally loving, sacred act of creation. It's also a powerful rite of passage for many women, leading to deep transformations as they bring a new soul to life and discover hidden strength in themselves. Even if you've had a child before, it's natural for you to feel apprehensive, ambivalent, and even scared about such a momentous event as your due date approaches.

However, as many as 10 percent of all pregnant women feel such an intense fear about childbirth that their negative emotions interfere with labor and delivery. If you fall into this group, you may experience full-blown anxiety attacks heralded by symptoms such as heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, or a racing pulse. You may have nightmares too or problems focusing on anything but this looming terror of the unknown.

A little stress is good for you, sending endorphins into your bloodstream and putting you on alert when you meet new challenges. However, when you're too frightened, your muscles tighten up, stress hormones flood your bloodstream, your heart rate zooms, and your blood flow is redirected outward toward your limbs in a fight-or-flight response. If your fears about labor have put you in a constant state of panic, share those fears with your provider. She may clarify misconceptions or have suggestions to address your specific concerns.

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