Q. We are planning our first homebirth with our 2nd child due in February in a state that has laws preventing homebirth. I am so excited to not be in a hospital setting….but I am becoming consumed with fear. Fear that something is going to go wrong, that we’ll have to transport to the hospital for a c-section.
Fear of the baby being breech, fear of something…anything going wrong. I have a feeling that these fears may manifest into reality since I’m so worried about them. How do I get past these fears so I can have and enjoy and not worry about the ‘what if’s’? -Amber
Firstly, I want to honor you for your courage in choosing a homebirth despite the state laws and lack of support. Already you are showing your courage.
I also appreciate that you so openly disclosed the fears you are wrestling. Acknowledging your fears means they have less power over you than if they were unconscious and repressed.
Fear is a totally normal response to an impending birth anywhere you choose to have your baby. Truth is — babies sometimes die, mothers sometimes die. In the face of those possibilities, fear is to be expected. To choose to have a homebirth, especially in a state where midwives and homebirth are not legal, is doubly frightening for obvious reasons. But even in hospitals with highly trained medical professionals and all the fancy equipment, things can go wrong.
That is why giving birth is truly an “initiation rite.” It does indeed bring us face to face with our vulnerability and mortality. How you deal with the experience will either empower you or turn you into a victim. And it really IS your choice. So choose to be empowered, no matter what happens!
Pregnancy and birth are mysterious and there are many aspects of the process that are out of our control. However, there are a few things you do have control of as far as a good outcome, so it is important to take care of this basic business:
- Take good care of your body, mind, emotions — good nutrition, avoiding things you should avoid (like cigarettes, drugs), make sure each day you are getting fresh air, exercise, healthful food and drink, activities that soothe and strengthen you (listening to music, spiritual centering practices, etc). Surround yourself with people that support your choices.
- Find a practitioner (midwife, doctor) that you feel confident in, that you believe is competent, and you feel a good connection and sympatico with. Choose a birth setting where you feel comfortable, safe, empowered. If something happens and you lose confidence in the decision you initially made, don’t be afraid to change your mind.
- Prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and on the practical level for unexpected challenges (i.e. if something happens and you need to get to a hospital.) It’s important to talk this over with your midwife, find out what the ‘back up plan’ is, think it through, hold the possibility and how you might deal with it. Talk to other women who have had unexpected results and have made the best of it.
Once you’ve got these pieces in place, the challenge is to let go and trust, cultivating a positive attitude that no matter what happens, you will learn from it.
Fears are fantasies that may or may not happen. Choose not to live in fearful fantasy. Choose to live in the moment of each day.
Truth is, fears are fantasies that may or may not happen. Choose not to live in fearful fantasy. Choose to live in the moment of each day, in touch with how you feel, what’s happening with your body and your baby, the beauty of this Mother Earth where we live, the love you feel around you.
Meet the fearful fantasy with a positive fantasy of giving birth in a beautiful way. Write out some affirmations of trust and belief in yourself, in life, in the long history of the human race where women have given birth naturally throughout the ages. Post them around the house to remind you. Cultivate your inner-knowing so if you DO have a premonition that something is going awry, you will recognize and act on it.
Differentiate between your fears and this inner knowing by checking in with your body and baby every day, “feeling” how everything is A-OK. Then you will be able to tell when its not, and decide to change your plan if that’s what your gut says.
Don’t be too attached to a particular outcome. Trust that your back-up plan, if implemented, will be good enough if there are problems.
Here’s a book recommendation that might be helpful too: Birthing from Within by Pam England. She has a wonderful approach to dealing with fears and preparing for childbirth in a holistic way. I highly recommend it.
If you’ve got a non-medical question to Ask the Midwife, you can click here to email Therese. She’ll select a question every couple weeks to answer on the site. Remember, if you’ve got medical questions, you need to contact your care provider!