Letting Go of Your Fear of Giving Birth

You want a natural birth – but you’re scared of labor.  Don’t worry – you’re not alone!  One of the top questions I get on giving birth is “how do I overcome fear of the pain?”  It’s not unusual, and it’s nothing to feel ashamed of.  It is something to overcome – read on for solid tips on how you can overcome your fear and give birth with confidence.


Fear of Giving Birth is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

Like I said above, many women feel scared of labor.  What else can you expect?  All you’ve heard about growing up (and probably during this pregnancy!) is how horribly painful labor and birth are – and how you should “ask for the epi” (epidural) as soon as possible.

And the reality is, labor and birth aren’t a walk in the park – it’s probably not going to be easy.  It’s probably going to challenge you and ask more of you than you’ve given before.  Want to know something else?  That’s okay.  It’s not every day that you give birth to a new human being – it’s not every day that you transform from a powerful woman into a life-changing, world-shaking mother.

It’s normal to have all kinds of fears and anxieties.  Usually the “fear of labor” is not just a simple fear of pain.  It’s worry about the pain and the entire journey of motherhood (or motherhood again) wrapped up into one big package – giving birth.  Giving birth represents all of those thoughts, emotions, fears, and anxieties for now and for your baby’s future – and your future as a mom because it is truly the visible start of that journey.

Knowledge is Power

Fear is normal – but it still gets in the way when it comes to giving birth.  The first step to overcoming it is to gain knowledge.  Do your research!

I often encourage moms-to-be to consider both the “whys” and the “hows” of natural birth.  Knowledge is part of the “why” – why do you want to have your baby naturally?  Because your sister or girlfriend gave birth without meds and said it’s a good thing to do is, well, probably not the right reason.  Because Kristen said so (that’s me!) is, well, not the right reason!

There are tons of great reasons to plan a natural birth – I’ll link to some resources at the end of this so you can explore them.  They’ll help you find that “why” – because when you really believe in something, it’s easier to stick with the plan 🙂

(NOTE: Want a Perfect Birth Plan Template? Use this template and step-by-step videos to write a birth plan that gets your birth team on your side for a beautiful birth experience! Get the birth plan kit here.)

Handle Labor Pain

No More Monsters Under the Bed

Getting knowledge about the birthing process and how beautifully your body works is also really important.  Birth has been carefully designed to work and to work well. When birth is “left alone” and you can more and focus on your baby, hormones help speed up labor and relieve pain.  I’m not promising a painless birth – but birth as nature intended is made to be manageable for mother and baby.

Labor becomes a horror story of pain when moms are stuck, unable to work with their babies – monitors strapping them to narrow beds with thin mattresses as their babies try to scrape their way through an opening made tiny by position – NOT because of a inherently small pelvis.  Birth is active.  Know that, plan for that, and insist on that.

Birth fears go beyond just pain and how to “get through” labor, though.  Sometimes you worry about other aspects of birth – like needing interventions or even a cesarean.  Some moms do – I’m not denying that.  But all of those “what ifs” can really build up in subconscious or even conscious mind!  They create their own brand of fear.

Knowledge can help you overcome these things.  I talk about this extensively in my Fearless Birth Workbook – it’s designed to help you explore fears from a logical standpoint.

It’s like when you were a little kid and thought there were monsters under the bed.  They were big and terrible.  Then your mom or dad came in and flipped on the light.  They held your hand while you looked under the bed and saw that those “monsters” were really socks, pajamas, and a couple of forgotten toys.

When you look logically at the things you fear, you understand them, and that immediately lowers the fear level.  Fearless Birth also walks you through deciding what you’d do if that fear did come true – which creates closure for you and gives you the peace of mind to let the fear go.

That process is important for many moms as they prepare for birth.

Work Through Past Experiences

Have you had a tough, or even traumatic birth experience?  It creates fear.  There are other situations that can create birth fears, too.  Sexual abuse or abuse/belittlement by medical personnel (or anyone seen as an “authority figure”) in your past can come up as you prepare for birthing, too.

These aren’t things to brush off or take lightly.  At the same time, women can and do overcome these issues.

The first thing I recommend if you have something like this is: Find a great care provider.  You need somebody who is willing to work with you, and hopefully who can be really sensitive to your past experience(s).  Don’t settle for somebody who brushes things off.  You may ultimately choose to talk about your experiences with someone else supportive (I am this “listening ear” for many of my birthing class students) – but you do need a care provider who respects what you’ve been through.

Work through the experience.  Some women can really brush such things off, or plan a pregnancy and birth and make it through in a spirit of (healthy) defiance.  That feisty spirit and tenacity are awesome.

But many women feel violated and stripped of dignity by their experience.  They feel small, powerless, scared.  If that’s where you’re at, that’s okay.  Do find someone who can listen – and who can encourage you that you are powerful, that you can grow and birth this baby.  Share your thoughts and challenges, and let them listen.  Let them encourage you.

You might never describe yourself as feeling feisty or spunky about handling labor and birth – but you can have a quiet and growing confidence in yourself that will see you through labor until you hold your precious baby!

Be Prepared

If you’ve read anything I’ve written you know I’m a huge fan of being prepared for birth.  Head knowledge and the emotional work I’ve just detailed are important components.  Go beyond just those.

Have practical skills for working with labor and birth in the moment.  You get those by study during pregnancy, yes.  You also get them through honing your awareness of yourself and your body throughout your pregnancy.  This isn’t a big deal – it actually becomes a natural part of your day.

But it’s a vital part of your day because it means that all of that understand, and all of that trust in yourself, have become part of you by the time your baby’s birthday arrives.  It’s really important.

Want more info on conscious preparation and practical skills?  Or need a listening ear as you prepare for birth?  That’s what I do in my online MamaBaby Birthing classes – click to check them out!

Work With Your Baby

Finally, remember labor is not just labor.  It’s not just a long, unpleasant ordeal.  It’s giving birth.  To a baby.  To your baby.  

And your baby is doing work, too.  A lot of it, as a matter of fact.  While you’re rocking, moaning, and spiraling around the room, your baby is rotating inside of you and working down.  Your uterus is doing some of it for sure, but your baby is really working too.  You are working with your baby.  You are not in this alone.

A great birth partner is really helpful (I’d even argue possibly vital) – but there’s something special about knowing that you’re opening wide and working with your baby.  This little person you’ve waited 9 months to meet – and perhaps dreamed of for much, much longer.  And that amazing little person is working with you just to get to your arms.

I can’t promise you a painless labor.  I can’t promise you it’ll go quickly and easily.  I can’t promise you there won’t be times you’ll feel like giving up.  Like I said early on, this might test you and push you harder than you’ve ever been pushed.

You can do it.

Women are strong – and mothers are indomitable.  You and your baby can do this.

(NOTE: Want a Perfect Birth Plan Template? Use this template and step-by-step videos to write a birth plan that gets your birth team on your side for a beautiful birth experience! Get the birth plan kit here.)

Handle Labor Pain

Further Resources

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Letting Go of Fear of Giving Birth

About the author 


Kristen is a pregnancy coach, student midwife, and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! I've spent nearly two decades helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Does complete support for a sacred birth and beautiful beginning for your baby resonate with you? Contact me today to chat about how powerful guidance and coaching can transform your pregnancy, birth, and mothering journey <3

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