New Beginnings Doula Training

New Beginnings Doula Training
Courses for doulas and online childbirth education

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fear and the stress response

I was going to write more about how to help with the fear of bad outcomes during labor, but I realized something....this is a very real fear that cannot be downplayed. Bad things can happen and it would be unnatural not to fear that. That said, though, we cannot let that fear control us.

The other night I watched the movie called Wait Until Dark. It's about a blind lady who has to outwit a murderer. Very tense, and I watched it right before I went to bed. Of course as I was falling asleep, I was hearing all the night noises and imagining it was an intruder in our home:) I would carefully get up to go check on the kids. My breath a little labored and my muscles extremely tight. Of course everything was ok, but I mention this because this was a moment when fear was affecting how my body was working. The same kind of thing happens in labor. Fear causes our body to tighten up and a mirad of hormones are d in response to the stress. If you can imagine those tense muscles while you are in labor, it makes sense that this would also slow down that cervix from opening up. Pain is also intesified as our stress response takes over and our sense of control diminishes.

Fear can help us. It helps us recongize danger and get help when we need it. If you listen to your fears, you may be able to catch problems that might not otherwise be caught. But...you must own the fear and not the other way around. You must take possesion of it. As I have said before about pain, you must look it in the face and acknowledge it, but let it pass through you,- use it for what it is worth and move on. As I have talked about love before, I would point in this direction again. Love could have a strong ability to allow you to control that fear. If you focus on that, your fears, though real, may not become overpowering, but you may overpower your fears and allow your body and mind to do the job it needs to do.

Now trying to apply this motherhood does not seem so far stretched to me. We need to work through our fears as a mother also. I would suggest the same thing--own your fears and move forward instead of pulling in and stalling. I really believe we need to teach our children the same thing.

1 comment:

Becky Wagner said...

I totally agree with you!

Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?


  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.