Birth can be a scary thing. While it is also one of the most beautiful and pivotal moments of your life, it is full of uncertainties and can leave any mother-to-be fearful of what could happen and of what could go wrong. Most of us are accustomed to having a certain amount of control over our lives, jobs, schedules, emotions, etc. But, when it comes to birth, we are beholden to forces greater than ourselves. We cannot plan when the baby will decide to make her entrance into the world. Sure, we can try to schedule that, but if the baby is not ready, that often does not go as smoothly as we’d hoped. We can’t know what sort of pain and discomfort will be involved, even if we have been through it before. Every birth is different. We can’t foresee what possible twist or turn lies ahead. Labor could last two hours or it could stall and last days.
I certainly had my own fears during each of my pregnancies. Of course I was most uncertain during my first pregnancy as I anticipated what labor would feel like. But, honestly, it was during my third pregnancy that I felt the most scared. I wondered if I would make it through another natural birth. I worried that the baby wasn’t positioned right and that she was breech. I feared that I would have a c-section and then have to find a way to recover from surgery, while nursing a newborn and caring for two other children.
In my story, those fears never became realities. The baby turned and I was able to birth her 100% naturally in the water birth I had always wanted. Not every birth story ends that way, but I believe every birth has the chance to show a woman her greatest potential. As the quotes from Craig Groeschel says, “The path to your greatest potential is often straight through the path of your greatest fear.” I certainly had my fears along the way, but I also found an inner strength that I did not know existed until I was in the throes of labor and delivery. I found a focus within myself that urged me to push out my baby and bring her into the world with little to no assistance from my midwife and labor nurse.
What I experienced in labor is with me still today. When I run and I want to give up, I tell myself that I endured 16+ hours of labor with my first child. I did it. I made it through with him, so certainly I can push for one more mile. When I have a parenting moment that makes me second guess myself, I remember that maternal instinct that guided me through each labor and I find a new confidence in myself. When I hit a speed bump or a situation that leaves me feeling uncertain, I remember the strength that I had in birth and it helps me push through.
So, to all you pregnant moms-to-be, know that every woman has fears of pregnancy, labor and birth. But don’t stop there. Know also that you are stronger than you realize and that your greatest potential will be reached during those gripping moments when you aren’t sure what to do next or if you have the energy to keep going. Have confidence in yourself. Have faith. As Laurie Stavoe Harm said, “There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that childbirth is painful, it’s that women are strong.”
What fears did you have during pregnancy? What scared you most about giving birth?