4 signs you have birth anxiety and what to do about it

It’s common for parents, especially first-time mums to be apprehensive of whay the birth will bring. It’s based on not knowing what to expect which is always going to bring up some form of anxiety because that’s our mind trying to protect us.

Birth anxiety, however is more than this. It can affect women who’ve never given birth or those who’ve had a previous traumatic birth experience. It can be physically and mentally debilitating and many women avoid pregnancy altogether even if they want children, or opt for an elective cesarean.

What Cause Birth Anxiety?

  • Perinatal depression, anxiety and/or other maternal mental health conditions.
  • Anxiety caused by changes in hormones.
  • Experiencing or hearing traumatic births that have either happened to themselves or someone close to them.
  • History of mental health or psychiatric disorders.
  • Previous traumatic experience of hospitals, doctors and/or caregivers.

What Are The Signs Of Birth Anxiety?

1. Avoiding conversations about and preparing for birth. You don’t want to think about it or prepare for it, in fact I’ve heard so many parents say (including myself)  ‘what will be, will be’. They feel there’s no point  in preparing or even thinking about it because they believe they don’t have any real control over what will happen (which is completely wrong by the way and you can read about the fear-tension-pain cycle here).

2. You avoided getting pregnant because of the fear of birth. Now that you are, you know you want your baby but still haven’t come to terms of the actual birth itself. You avoid thinking about it and even sometimes pretend it won’t happen. This is because even the of it makes you feel so uncomfortable that you’d rather not. You can also find it hard to visualise the birth in any positive light.

3. Constantly worried that something bad will happen during birth. You  struggle to trust your body, your maternal instinct and the birth process. You think about all the things that can go wrong and believe that this will be the reality for you, even though your pregnancy has been going well and there are no concerns from the doctors.

4. Insisting on an elective cesarean, which isn’t for medical reasons. This is a sign of complete avoidance and not even allowing yourself to think about a vaginal birth and wanting to avoid it complete. You believe that whatever the cesarean process is and the recovery period (which is a major operation); you’d rather do this than even consider a vaginal birth.

What Can You Do About It?

The first thing is to acknowledge it and accept that you’re anxious about birth. I know it’s easier to pretend it doesn’t matter or whatever happens you’ll get through it – but this is the worst thing you can do. Why? Because you’re relinquishing control. Without you realising, your subconscious mind will look for anything that confirms whatever belief you have about birth, and that will continue to feed anxiety. This can lead to feeling completely out of control during birth and choices being taken away from you, both leading to birth trauma.

The next thing is to face your anxiety, learn about birth and prepare. Whether it’s antenatal classes, hypnobirthing, birth prep courses, you need to do something to actively change your mindset and build confidence. Make sure whatever programme you choose includes everything that you need, for example Birth Anxiety ➡ Baby Calm Programme includes birth physiology, hypnobirthing, communication, choices , partner’s role and postpartum prep & recovery.

If you’re ready to take control, click here to read 5 ways you can prevent birth trauma.