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Can you birth without fear?

Written by: Mindy April 10 2011 Hubby and I had a barbecue the other night with one of our favorite couples. They have a little girl just one month older than Caden. The mom, Janie, and I actually met in a prenatal yoga class. After a couple months of watching each other struggle into pretzel-positions...

Written by: Mindy

Hubby and I had a barbecue the other night with one of our favorite couples.

They have a little girl just one month older than Caden. The mom, Janie, and I actually met in a prenatal yoga class. After a couple months of watching each other struggle into pretzel-positions while trying to accommodate our bellies, she asked me out to coffee.

From then on, we were fast friends. Besides being pregnant together, we had a lot of other things in common. We both wanted our births to be as natural as possible. Without realizing it, we both enrolled in the same hypnosis-for-birth class (a class that teaches you how to use hypnosis to manage pain so you won’t need drugs).

The funny thing is, we had wildly different birth experiences. Janie chose a home birth. She’d planned to use hypnosis to manage her pain, and then she also had some techniques she’d learned from her Bradley Method classes. I never took that class, so I don’t know many details. I believe it has a lot to do with being very aware of what’s happening in your body during the birthing process.

At any rate, Janie called me two weeks after her little girl was born. She recounted all her what-to-do, what-not-to-do tips. A lot of her advice was excellent, like using coconut water to stay hydrated during the birthing process — it’s got more electrolytes than most sports drinks, more potassium than a banana, and you don’t have to drink very much of it to feel totally refreshed.

I wrote down all of Janie’s tips. I even used a lot of them for Caden’s birth. But the one thing I can still hear Janie saying as she described her birth experience—the one thing I didn’t have to write down—was this: “At one point, I wanted to die.”

Granted, her labor lasted 32 hours. That’s rough, to say the least.

So yeah, she got me good and scared the first time around. I remember ramping up my hypnosis study, because I believed that was the only thing that would get me through (incidentally, Janie didn’t use hypnosis once her own labor started).

Fortunately (and maybe this is why I’m doing it again?), my birth experience was terrific. I’ll tell you all about it on Wednesday.

For now though, I have a question. How many of you are terrified of giving birth? I ask because Janie has a newly pregnant friend. This friend is solidly freaked out about the labor process. I have a feeling it’s because Janie, who can’t tell a lie and doesn’t hold back, probably described her own birth experience and ladled out a little fear to this woman.

It’s not a novelty, though. Just last month, in prenatal yoga, a woman accompanied her pregnant friend to class. When asked whether she planned to have any babies, she replied, “Heck no! I’ve heard all the screaming. I’m never going to put myself through that.”

Why do we do this to each other? Why do women carry—and pass on—so much fear about birth?

If you have any ideas, I’d love for you to share. Seems to me we should be supporting and applauding each other, not getting each other good and scared.

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