When You’re Afraid of Giving Birth

When You're Afraid Of Giving Birth

This one is for all those moms to be out there. Whether you are pregnant with your first baby or adding a sibling to the mix, I’m pretty sure this will happen to you. It’s the “fear of giving birth” stage of pregnancy. Maybe fear isn’t the right word for it. Anxiety? Apprehension? Nervousness? Whatever you want to call it, it’s normal and it’s just a phase. Despite the fact that I’d argue most, if not all, pregnant women experience this, you don’t have to let it take you over. There are things you can do to help you work through this phase of pregnancy until it passes and is taken over by the “I’m so over pregnancy I’ll do anything to get this baby out” phase. I’m going to tell you what I did to get through this phase in the hopes that it might help you (or someone you know) get through it too. 

What is the fear of giving birth phase and when does it happen? In a nutshell, it’s a phase during the third trimester of pregnancy where the idea of labour and simply going into labour is scary. Not that the whole thing isn’t just a little scary to begin with, especially the first time with so many unknowns. This is not about the human being that you’ll have in your arms after the whole labour part is over, but rather about the act of labour itself. For me, it hit right around week 32 of pregnancy both times. I fully expected that it would not happen the second time around, but it did (and I knew what I had gotten myself into and knew what it was going to be like that second time). It lasted 3-4 weeks and I’d describe it as fear when I was pregnant with The Heir, and anxiety when I was pregnant with Petit Prince. With The Heir it was all about the unknown. I was terrified of labour and birth. I felt like I would be capable, but for some reason wasn’t trusting myself. How would I know I was in labour? What happens if my water breaks when I’m not at home? What if I can’t do it? What if the pain is too much? With Petit Prince, it was more of an anxiety around going into labour (rather than labour itself). I worried that my water would break while King Dad was at work and he wouldn’t make it in time. I was anxious about not knowing precisely when labour would start.

How can you help yourself through this phase? Talk about it! I told King Dad about my fears and anxiety, and we talked about all kinds of potential scenarios and back up plans. That helped a lot. I also talked to a friend who had been through it all before. This was incredibly helpful. She didn’t tell me a horror story about birth, but instead told me that I could do it. That once it all started, it wouldn’t stop until my baby arrived, but that it would, in fact, stop. (It’s incredibly comforting to remember that labour is not going to go on forever.) She also told me what her husband said to her when she was in labour. She said (as many women do) that she didn’t think she could do it while in the throes of labour. His response? You’re already doing it. I LOVE that, and it’s something I tell all my pregnant friends. Just by being in labour, you’re already getting it done.

Do some research. I found it really helpful to read some pregnancy books, particularly the chapters on the stages of labour and possible interventions. Maybe you’re thinking it’s best not to fill your head with all the “what ifs” of labour and birth. Maybe you’re planning on having a natural labour and birth, and don’t feel like you need to know anything about the other options or possible interventions. I disagree. If you want a natural labour, it is in your best interest to read a bit about, and understand what might happen in the event things don’t go exactly as you’ve planned. Birth is nothing if not unpredictable. Maybe the idea of any interventions scares you. Face your fear head on. Read about it, talk to your health care provider about it, take some time to process it, and then move forward in your pregnancy with that knowledge. Knowledge is power after all.


When You're Afraid Of Giving Birth

Read some empowering birth stories. This is where one of my favourite places on the internet comes into play. Birth Without Fear. I found Birth Without Fear after a friend recommended it to me when I was around 35 weeks pregnant with The Heir. It’s a blog primarily, but it has become so much more than that. It’s a wonderful compendium of birth stories. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own right. Each one talks about how birth is an empowering experience. Each one will give you confidence in your own ability to make it through and be present in labour and birth, no matter how that happens for you.

Remember that all birth is birth. What do I mean by that? I mean that all modes of delivering a baby into this world ‘counts” as birth. You have given birth whether you’ve had a natural delivery at home or whether you’ve had a scheduled c-section. You have given birth whether you did so in a birthing tub or in a hospital bed. If you had an epidural or you had an emergency c-section. It is birth. This is taking a page out of Birth Without Fear, but all forms of bringing another human being into the world is birth.

When You're Afraid Of Giving Birth

Rest assured that this too shall pass. Take it in, understand that it’s a normal part of pregnancy, use that time to work through your fear and anxiety, and move through it with the confidence that you can go through labour no matter how that will play out for you. You’ll know you’ve made it through this phase when you’re so sick and tired of having swollen ankles, troll feet, and sleeping with a dozen extra pillows that you’d do anything (and I mean anything) to get that baby out!


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28 Comments on “When You’re Afraid of Giving Birth

  1. I love that you recommended reading birth stories on Birth Without Fear, I devoured story after story during each of my pregnancies and it really does help to read REAL life stories! These are GREAT tips!

  2. It can be so scary to think about giving birth for the first time. This post is so reassuring. I like your recommendation to read some empowering birth stories.

  3. Thank you for sharing. We’re planning on having our first soon, and this was a great read!

  4. Such great tips! Sadly, I found I was more scared of what was going to happen to my body during pregnancy than I was about the actual labor and delivery! I didn’t get nervous about the actual delivery until it came right down to it.

  5. I LOVE this post. Such great words of wisdom. I had 2 C-Sections (my first was breech) and I love how you remind everyone that no matter how it happened you still gave birth to your child. Thanks so much for writing this <3

    • Yeah, of course you “gave birth”, but the reason that’s even a question is because we want to birth naturally.

  6. I am glad you are addressing this! I know a few people that were terrified of giving birth, or a possible C-section. You are so on the money here. It doesn’t matter how you do it, it is still giving birth!

  7. I am heading to this phase very quickly and have already started some of the anxiety. Right now I am more nesting and thinking there is no way we are ready for her but my first daughter came 2 weeks early! What if she does too! Oh the anxiety!!! I am heading to check out that site right now lol. Thanks!

  8. Great ideas! I was also surprised when I experienced this the second time around. I honestly think it may have been a little worse because I knew what to expect and I knew that it would hurt. It all ended quite fine though!

  9. There’s just something paralyzingly about fearing the unknown. We as women already tend to worry about everything! I love that you recommend Birth Without Fear. Giving birth should empower women, not create fear

  10. I’m pregnant with my fifth baby and I just hit 32 weeks a couple of days ago. I seriously have some anxiety about birth with each baby. Every pregnancy and birth is different. Lots of great advice here for coping with that anxiety.

  11. Yes! I felt this way during my first pregnancy…so scared of the unknown. I ended up giving birth via csection and it all worked out. But it was more terrifying for me the second time around since I had a scheduled c-section and walking into the room knowing what was about to happen sent me in a panic mode. Luckily, my fears were allayed once I just let it be and focused on the new baby in my life.

  12. I think it can be just as scary the second or third time around, just like you said. Not just for new moms, it is different, but still I think a lot of us go through that stage. I wonder also if it is just anticipating the change that is coming as well.

    Great post!

  13. Great read! I don’t think I would have been as prepared as I was if not for my amazing friend (mother of 3!) who helped me with EVERY last single detail that I had wondered about! And everything listed is a big yes that I would tell anyone!

  14. I’m pregnant again and scared as hell to give birth. I know once she comes out the contractions will stop, it’s a one time deal. But still I am on the verge of accepting death lol once again especially during the crowning my life just flashes before me. Hopefully it’s not a 24 hr labor again.

  15. I had a traumatic birth experience with my son at a hospital with a doctor so I knew I wanted to do things differently the next time. With my daughter, I had a wonderful, peaceful birth with a midwife at a birthing center. Loved it! It was beautiful, productive pain.

  16. A great book that I read is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth! It’s full of really positive birth stories, and after I read it I was more excited to give birth than scared!

  17. I so remember the fear!! And it hit like a ton of bricks!! I was so busy working and getting ready and then once it was all done and I started to think of the big day it was like oh god what have I gotten myself into!! lol

  18. YES ! agree with everything. I was scared with my first, not so much my second, I was more laid back. but I definitely tried everything I could both pregnancies to get my girls out. I found walking was definitely key, no matter if you get the drugs you will still feel some kind of pressure/pain & in the end it is ALL worth it!

  19. I found attending a prenatal class with my husband helped alleviate a lot of the fear and doubts I had going into my first birth. It was also great that people in the previous prenatal class came to tell us their birth stories!

  20. This is my life right now! I am still a few months out, but am getting more and more anxious every day.

  21. Thank you for sharing! I totally felt this way with my daughter!

  22. I remember being nervous for sure, but you hit it on the head! It was not knowing if I would KNOW when I was in labour. It’s one of those things where people tell you, “When it happens you’ll just know”, which is nwver really helpful (despite how true it is)!

    But now here I am with a beautiful baby boy and even though labour wasn’t fun I’d do it all over!

  23. I was more afraid of how my body would react to the epidural because I have high blood pressure. Having a high blood pressure is risky when pregnant. It’s a must to get checked out more often than normal pregnancy.

  24. Dziękuję za ten artykuł. Zanim go przeczytałam, czułam że jestem okropną matką. Teraz wiem, że obawy związane z porodem są normalnym etapem ciązy.

  25. This is my 1st child. 2 weeks ago I went to my gyn to get on birth control, and she checked me out and told me “Miss there is a heart beat!” I was stund to be told that plus I was almost 8 months pregnant. I didn’t have any symptoms or feel any kicking I just simply thought I was gaining weight. So I tried to diet and it didn’t work! Now I’m happy to say I’m having a healthy baby girl but I’m due in November and I’m still not use to being pregnant. On top of all of that I’m TERRIFIED!!!! To give birth. It has just been a lot of news and a lot to get done with November being right around the corner.

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