Fear of childbirth: where it comes from and how to overcome it


The thought is immediate. The time to metabolize the positive pregnancy test and the mind flies straight to the moment most awaited and at the same time feared by each of us: the birth. It does not matter if it is the first or the third, the birth is accompanied by many unknowns and fears. Will I be able to manage the contractions? How do I understand how to push? What if something happens? The questions, the doubts, the fears are many. The doctor helps us understand and manage them , psychotherapist and perinatal psychologist. 


    Doctor, pregnancy is always considered a "delicate" period. Is it just a hormonal issue?

    “Pregnancy is a delicate period because it is a time of important changes, which take place on different levels: emotional, physical and social. It is a moment in which the future mother and the future father find themselves dealing with what they have been up to that moment and with what they will become. There is a new assumption of responsibility, a new role is played in society, the perspective from which one looks at the world begins to change. Like all moments of change, it is a delicate period, but also one of great positive activation, in which plans are made and projected into the future. For women, the experience of change is also experienced on her own body, the changes she will experience on her skin for nine months will allow her to internalize and prepare for this new dimension ".

    What are the most classic fears associated with childbirth?

    “The most common fears related to childbirth mainly concern labor: there are women terrified by the idea of ​​a very long labor, others by the idea of ​​not being able to bear it. I often hear mothers who show the feeling of not feeling up to par, of being afraid of not knowing how to breathe properly or not knowing how to push in the right way, considering themselves not very competent. Pain tolerance is another component that often frightens, leading in some cases to a real phobia called tocophobia.
    Women more generally fear losing control, not receiving adequate emotional support, not being treated with empathy or respect; they are afraid of being left alone by the birth workers. They are afraid of experiencing feelings of helplessness and of undergoing emergency medical interventions such as caesarean section, episiotomy, operative birth ".

    Where do these fears originate?

    “The fear of childbirth has ancient roots, in Genesis verse 3,16 we find written“ […] with pain you will give birth to children […] ”. This sentence seems not to have left many alternatives to subsequent generations.
    If we stop to reflect, our culture has always fed the fear of childbirth, proposing dramatic representations of birth, in which the woman is very suffering, completely at the mercy of events, without any power; to give an example, just think of certain scenes shown in the cinema. We have become accustomed to all this, perhaps resigned. The idea of ​​childbirth as a terrifying event is now rooted in the common imagination.
    The literature has also shown that fears increase in women who have received alarming information from health professionals or who have been exposed to negative stories about childbirth from friends and relatives ”.

    How can they be overcome?

    “Just as negative images and thoughts about birth are rooted, you can be able to root positive images and thoughts, just a little practice. It is assumed that pregnant women who experience high levels of fear of childbirth should be supported more to increase their sense of self-efficacy and the perception of feeling safe.
    The literature highlights how women, who have confidence in themselves, in their body, in their ability to give birth and who experience a feeling of security during pregnancy, describe their experiences of birth very positively.
    The birth accompaniment paths should take into account the fears that expectant mothers face and, through targeted programs, should carry positive messages relating to labor and delivery with the aim of restoring confidence and security to the woman and putting her in the conditions of make informed choices for herself and for her child ".

    What is Hypnobirthing?

    “Hypnobirthing, in Del Paeseno hypnopartum, is a complete birth accompaniment course that aims to prepare women to face pregnancy and childbirth peacefully. By including birth among the natural events of life, it tends to restore confidence to the woman and to her generative abilities. At the base of hypnopartum there is the idea of ​​unhinging the vicious cycle of fear-tension-pain responsible for a higher perception of pain and an unrewarding birth experience. Through positive images on birth, Hypnobirthing aims to eliminate negative thinking and the fear of childbirth to make the woman peaceful and an active part of the birth process.
    The word hypnopartum certainly brings to mind the idea of ​​someone who with a pendulum can hypnotize us and make us lose control: nothing could be further from reality. Hypnopartum provides the mother with the tools to be able to reach a state of relaxation in total autonomy, therefore like her and when she wishes it. In a Hypnobirthing birth accompaniment course, the woman will learn to listen to the signals of her own body and to trust her instinct; you will also receive information on the physiology of childbirth and practical information on the places of birth. A 'Hypnobirthing mother' will be enabled to be adequately informed to make choices and to prepare for the birth that she desires, whatever it is ".

    Does hypnosis mean alteration of consciousness?

    “To give an idea of ​​what an altered state of consciousness means, I often ask the mothers who attend my courses to imagine a situation that they have probably had the opportunity to experience on several occasions.
    For example, when we drive our car on a road we know well, it can happen that we get lost in our thoughts and drive down the road automatically, apparently without realizing it. I emphasize apparently, because if, in the situation just described, we should happen to find an obstacle on our way (someone crossing, the car in front braking suddenly) we would be perfectly able to brake or avoid the obstacle.
    This is the altered state of consciousness that the mother who has practiced with Hypnobirthing will be able to reach at the moment of delivery. You will always be in control of what happens, but at the same time you will be able to detach yourself from the fears and the perception of fatigue and will experience the birth with the awareness of being absolutely able to manage the situation and any particular situations that may arise ".

    What role do future dads play in Hypnobirthing?

    “The role of future fathers is fundamental in preparing for childbirth and, of course, at the moment of birth. Fathers are the greatest support mom can have. Participating together in a birth accompaniment course or doing relaxation and breathing exercises together at home becomes a fundamental moment to feel an active part, together with your partner, in the birth of your child. Fathers who have shared these moments with their partner feel more involved, they are in control of the situation, they are able to support their partner throughout the birth process, they always feel an active part ".

    What is perinatal psychology about?

    “Perinatal psychology is that branch of psychology that takes care of the needs of the woman and of the family in general from preconception to the first year of a child's life. The perinatal psychologist does not intervene exclusively in situations at risk of pathology: postpartum depression, infertility, premature losses. In fact, he is a fundamental figure in all those occasions relating to motherhood in which it is possible to do prevention, give information and support ".

    Who is this branch of psychology suitable for?

    “It is suitable for all couples planning a pregnancy, for those who are already pregnant or for those who have recently become a parent. The perinatal psychologist works in different contexts, generally in a team with other professional figures, and is prepared to guide families in certain choices or to support those already undertaken. He proposes psychoeducational interventions aimed at strengthening the couple and the abilities of each one. He is also clearly competent in all those uncomfortable situations in which a couple can be found in this delicate phase of life ".

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