Why We Fear Birth

Photo Credit - Lexi Hurst Photography 

Why do we fear birth?  Because we are taught to fear birth.  Because birth has been medicalized and hospitalized, children no longer see their mother’s give birth at home, it’s not normalized or deemed natural, and therefore there is a sense of fear of the unknown.  Most of us have a fear of situations we are unfamiliar with, that’s how our primitive brain is taught to keep us safe.  Because we don’t see examples of birth, our knowledge tends to turn to what we consume in the media or have learned from stories.  Many of us share traumatic birth stories.  If a birth is smooth and uneventful, there's nothing that can be sensationalized, and it's not much of a story.  Unless you’re a birth worker, it’s very rare to attend births, and since birth workers attend dozens of births they too are not sharing the stories of uncomplicated births, but the unbelievable events that are often sad and tragic.

The media portrays a birth that is full of stress and anxiety.  A woman’s water breaks, and after a short drive to the hospital, she is panting, screaming, saying “You did this to me”, and nurses are running around aimlessly calling for a doctor, the husband is shown confused or helpless.  Many messages are confirming that birth is unnatural, scary, that the pain of contractions needs to be halted right away, and that birth should be associated with dread and fear.  Yes, birth can be an uncertain event.  When the event is not accompanied by medical procedures and interventions, it can be a long event.  When it does involve medical interventions, it can be a long event.  But it doesn’t have to be fearful.  Even in the event of an emergency, the greatest risk - of death to a baby or mother is often avoided.  And when I came to learn more about birth, to make peace with the fact that yes, mothers and infants can die, I was more prepared to face the other "worst case scenarios" that could take place.  

Because we want families to avoid fear, and approach this exciting event with anticipation and knowledge, we have created an online birth course - Birth Made Mindful.  Check us out and tell your pregnant friends!

Sarah Ziroll

Sarah Ziroll