Fear Happens

Scared Woman

It’s true. When we talk birth, we’re prone to hear lots of horror stories. This is attributed to a general penchant for drama, lack of consideration or self-control, and also common depictions of birth as a scary, unbearably painful emergency.

A growing conversation around cultural images of birth often contains the argument that this scary depiction of birth is new. Is fear around childbirth new?

Though there is increased questioning over the frequency of intervention use in childbirth, there are times when they are quite needed and appropriate. Before intervention, many people who would now have a fair chance of survival, lost their lives.

If for years we knew birth was a normal part of our lives, but that it also at times brought tragedy, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for there to be associated fear. Fear around childbirth particularly makes sense when we take into consideration that for a long time, women did not have reasonable control over when and how often they became mothers. Some still struggle with this.

So when we say we shouldn’t be afraid, we may be overcompensating. Do you really need the added pressure of being devoid of fear in order to own your experience? By all means, ask yourself questions about your fears. I suggest making friends with them. I’m also suggesting that even though you may be affected by the way birth is presented by the culture you live in, you have not “succumbed to the machine” if you ever find yourself feeling scared. It is not a form of failure. It’s a normal experience lived many times before you.

Fear happens. You can birth with it and still be strong. Fear happens and you don’t have to judge yourself or shun the thoughts, only for them to return. Fear, like birth, is normal. You can have it and still make empowered decisions.

Fear and power in birth are not mutually exclusive.