Fear of childbirth: how to deal with it

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Until the last trimester the problem does not arise because childbirth is seen as a distant event. And then she was distracted by many other thoughts: the worry about the visits and examinations to be done, the prenatal diagnosis, the ailments of the various months. At a certain point, however, we realize that the date is approaching and the fear arises: what will the birth be like? Will I feel pain? Will I be good at pushing? What if something goes wrong?

La fear of childbirth it is actually a normal fear, because it is normal for everyone to have it: "If it is the first birth, there is the unknown factor of not knowing what you are going to encounter" comments the psychologist and psychotherapist Sara Piattino. "If instead of births there have already been and the experience has not been the best, what is frightening is the memory of the past. In both cases, childbirth is intimately perceived as an obstacle to overcome, something dangerous. A fear which persists despite medical advances and is clinically referred to as tocophobia ". So how to overcome tocophobia?

In this article

  • Fear and pains of childbirth
  • Don't think too much about the unpredictable
  • Pain: there is, but it can be overcome
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Don't be afraid to hurt the baby!
  • Don't keep it all inside 
  • Attend the preparation course
  • Accept the change
  • Be prepared to lose control

Fear and pains of childbirth, video

In this video, Dr., specialist in gynecology and obstetrics, explains how to deal with the fear of childbirth and how to overcome the pains of labor and contractions.


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Don't think too much about the unpredictable

It's true: as in all events in life, including crossing the street, even in pregnancy or during childbirth at some point something could go wrong. However, this does not mean that we must be stuck in fear. "We all know that by the very fact of living we are exposed to some risk, yet we continue to do it serenely: here, it is the same attitude that we should have also towards childbirth "advises Melissa Pozzo, psychologist at the Gynecology and Obstetrics Unit of the Sacco Hospital in our city.

This does not mean denying that there may be some risk, but simply accepting it as a fact of life. "And in the meantime, the invitation is to take care of yourself. Choosing the doctor who gives you the most confidence, relying on his care, paying attention to your lifestyle and well-being. In short, trying to feel good ".

Pain: there is, but it can be overcome

One of the main fears of pregnant women is that the pain is so intense and lasts so long that it cannot be tolerated. "That's right, the childbirth pain is intense and unpredictable: we do not know how it will be or how long it will last, also because each birth is an experience in itself "observes, Director of the Gynecology and Obstetrics Unit at the Sacco Hospital in our city.

To feed this fear there are often the terrifying tales of those who have already given birth, who seem to take pleasure in accentuating the tones. "She feels pains that lasted days, then maybe it turns out that most of them were preparatory contractions, not so unbearable" she continues. "Please note that the maximum limit of a childbirth labor is 8-10 hours, but it is a maximum limit, not the average duration! "

To accept the idea of ​​pain, we could theoretically say that it is part of the ancestral experience of all women and repeat to ourselves that if they all did it, we will too. But to be more concrete, it is better to know that there are various techniques to relieve pain: the natural ones, ranging from the possibility of changing the positions of labor at will, to Hypnobirthing delivery, to water birth, and the pharmacological ones for analgesia, such as epidural or nitrous oxide. It is therefore essential to inquire about the opportunities offered by the facility where you intend to give birth and choose the one that feels most congenial.


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Surround yourself with positive people

In managing one's fears, trust in the people who will assist us plays a fundamental role. If it gives us confidence to give birth in the place where the gynecologist or midwife who followed us for nine months works, we evaluate the possibility of giving birth there, because during the birth it could be of great comfort to see a friendly face who knows our faces well. fears and our anxieties. Just as we carefully choose the person we want next to us during labor: the partner, the mother, the sister or the best friend. At that moment we need to positive people, able to support us, to make us feel comfortable and give us confidence that we can do it.

"Often, for example, the first to ask for a caesarean are the fathers, who badly manage the waiting and impotence of seeing their woman suffer without being able to do anything to relieve her pain. By asking for a caesarean, they think they can solve the problem immediately" Pozzo points out.

Don't be afraid to hurt the baby!

Often behind the fear of childbirth there is the idea that, if we are not 'good' at carrying out labor and pushing in the right way, we can harm the baby. "It's a unfounded fear"he explains," because it is certainly not the woman who can cause harm to her child and, if problems arise, they are caused by factors independent of her greater or lesser commitment. In any case, today we have the suitable tools to promptly notice fetal suffering and to intervene accordingly ".

Don't keep it all inside

It is important not to hide one's fears but to externalize them: with our loved ones, with other future mothers, but above all with the obstetrician or gynecologist who are following us: feeling understood, receiving the right word at the right time can dismantle in one fell swoop just so many fears.

"Anxiety must not be censored or blocked but it is important to let it flow by opening up and expressing the most hidden fears", emphasizes Piattino. "We must overcome the wall of resistance, we must not hesitate to talk to your doctor or gynecologist. In the presence of particular problems or blocks, then, do not refuse psychological support in order to dissolve anxiety and worries, combat obsessive and brooding thoughts and experience a harmonious pregnancy and birth ".

Attend the preparation course

The preparation course helps a lot to alleviate fears, clarify doubts, ask for advice. And for this you should choose a course that does not limit itself to giving theoretical information, but leaves room for dialogue and comparison. Not only that: the course offers the opportunity to visit the ward, become familiar with the environments and people around us and then recognize them as family when it comes to giving birth.

"In daily practice we find that when the woman for various reasons is forced to give birth in a different structure from the one chosen (if for example she is traveling and the child has decided to be born earlier), she shows that she is more afraid, precisely because everything it is new and foreign: the unknown always causes anxiety ", he stresses.

Accept the change

It is an unconscious fear, not recognized rationally, but often the fear of childbirth is hidden behind the fear of childbirth. change that awaits us. "With childbirth, one's identity changes in relation to society, the family of origin and the couple: from a woman, daughter, partner, one passes 'to the other shore', becoming a mother" notes Melissa Pozzo.

"The awareness of having to suddenly assume the responsibility to become parents it is something that frightens and it is an aspect that, at the moment of birth, can block more than you think. Some women then happen that the dilation does not proceed because they unconsciously have fear of letting go of the baby that for nine months they have protected within them. It is important to face these mental blocks and prepare for the change already at the end of pregnancy, perhaps by choosing preparatory courses that also include meetings held by psychologists ".

Be prepared to lose control

For super organized women it is difficult to accept it, but childbirth is an event that cannot be 100% predicted and prevented. It is okay to try to find out about everything and look for the best conditions so that everything is as we would like it, but let us resign ourselves to the fact that in childbirth you cannot organize and control everything.

"But above all, let's get ready for the idea that giving birth means losing control" points out Pozzo. "There are women who are afraid of letting go, but childbirth is just a moment in which you have to rely on others and you have to indulge your instincts". Without the worry of 'having to make a good impression'!


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Questions and answers

How to overcome the fear of childbirth? 

As with all life events, including crossing the street, even in pregnancy or childbirth at some point something could go wrong. However, this does not mean that we must be stuck in fear. 

  • give birth
  • childbirth pain
  • to lose control
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