Tag Archive | planning for birth

Fears About Birth and Losing Control

A topic that frequently arises in birth classes is about the fear of  “losing control” in labor. Losing control, “losing it,” or “freaking out” are concerns expressed by women preparing to give birth. It is important to acknowledge that this is a common fear. I also like to ask parents to think about what “freaking out” or “losing it” would mean to them? I ask them to consider what benefits there may be to losing control. I also say, “What if you do freak out? Maybe, so what?! Maybe it is okay. Maybe it is good. Maybe it is helpful.” (This doesn’t come across in print quite the way it does in real life!) Surrendering to the flow and power of birthing can be of tremendous benefit. Losing it can mean letting go and letting the power BE. Letting the energy be. Letting birth carry you with it, instead of wrestling for control of it. (When discussing this topic, it is important to remain mindful that for mothers-to-be who are survivors of abuse, language about “surrender” and “letting go” can be very threatening and unhelpful.)

Thinking about “losing control” makes me think about the things that you can have over control of when it comes to your birth experience (I’ve also been reading The Big Book of Birth and it addresses this):

1. You can control who who choose as your doctor or midwife (and can choose to switch at any point in pregnancy if the match is not a good one).

2. You can control where you give birth.

3. You can control who you ask to attend your birth as support–your partner, your best friend, your mother, your sister, a doula. (Anyone who attends should be there for YOU, not because they want to “see a birth” or because you feel obligated to have them.)

4. You can control how you prepare yourself for birth and the education you seek to help you explore your options.

5. You can control the type of books you read and the information you seek about birth.

6. You can control how you care for yourself during pregnancy.

7. If you are having your baby in the hospital, you can control when you go to the hospital.

Hypnobabies rephrases the usual concept of “transition” in labor as “transformation.” This is the time in labor in which many women fear “losing control.” Women may also pass through another transformation point as they move from early labor into active labor–this is sort of a “moment of reckoning” in which it becomes clear that it is really time to DO this! Erica Lyon, who wrote The Big Book of Birth referenced above, addressed this subject really well:

“…as a mother shifts from early labor to active labor, she begins to have an awareness that the labor is getting bigger, strong, more powerful. This often translates into a feeling or idea that you are going to ‘lose it’ or ‘lose control.’ This is a temporary, transient feeling that tells you labor is progressing. It does not mean you will go running naked and screaming down the hallway of your birth facility. What is really happening is a momentary emotional state that reflects your ‘social self’ beginning to fold inward. Labor is not a rational process, it is a body function that is experienced as a gradually intensifying event. You do not think your way through it. You do it. “

Essentially, this is a point in labor when you stop fighting with the “birth power” and begin to BE it. The process of birthing becomes your entire focus. I remind and encourage people to welcome the increasing intensity of labor–and suggest taking a “make it bigger!” approach to greeting and welcoming contractions, rather than trying to avoid or minimize them.

Pam England from Birthing From Within also has a great article  about “Losing It” in labor.

Other posts about fear and birth:

Birth Fear
Fear & Birth
Fathers, Fear, and Birth
Fear-Tension-Pain or Excitement-Power-Progress?
Cesarean Birth in a Culture of Fear Handout
Worry is the Work of Pregnancy
Fear Release for Birth
What If…She’s Stronger than She Knows…

Top Five Birth Plan…

Birth plans are a topic often discussed in birth classes. There are SO many things that could be put onto a birth plan that sometimes it is difficult to sort out the most important. I encourage couples in my classes to complete two different “values clarification” exercises to help them include those things on their plan that are MOST important to them, rather than trying to cover everything on a one page birth plan. They often ask what I think is important to include. So, recently I started thinking that if I needed to create a birth plan for a birth in hospital that was as normal and natural as possible and could only include five elements, what would be most important to me, my baby, and a normal birth?

These are my top five after first going into the hospital as late in labor as possible (this isn’t included on my birth plan and doesn’t need to be on anyone’s birth plan–“I plan to labor at home as long as possible”–because it isn’t relevant by the time you get there and people are reading your plan. It belongs on your own personal plan, but not in your “official” plan):

  1. No pitocin.
  2. Minimal fetal monitoring and preferably with a Doppler only.
  3. Freedom of movement throughout labor (stay out of bed, use it as an active tool rather than as a place to lie down. Stay upright during any necessary monitoring.)
  4. Push with the urge in whatever position works best for me (NO coached, directed, or “cheerleader” style pushing).
  5. Baby immediately to me. NO separation.