You’ve recently found out you’re pregnant and instead of being over the moon about it, frankly you’re scared shitless. You may even feel guilty for not being elated by the news but instead afraid and overwhelmed. It’s OK to admit that you’re scared. It’s far better to admit you’re afraid and move on from there than to deny it and pretend it’s not the case. Remaining in a state of denial about being afraid doesn’t serve you or the baby that’s growing inside of you. So if you’re afraid, it’s OK, own it. But let’s begin to unpack what it is you’re actually afraid of.
What you should first recognize and remind yourself of is although in today’s hospital environment it’s often perceived as something far more complicated, by and large birth is a natural, straight forward biological phenomena. Unfortunately, these days there is a lot of fear interwoven within our culture when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. The depiction of birth in TV and film is usually a frantic scene with lots of screaming and panic involved. You may not realize how much these external reference points have influenced you or your partner’s perception of childbirth. Acknowledging what your specific fears are and where they are coming from is the first step in moving past them.
Another way that fear can start seeping into your psyche is through your community. Unfortunately, it’s a rare occasion to hear birth stories from friends, family and coworkers that are uplifting and positive. Just like negative word of mouth about a restaurant is more often shared with others than positive reviews, the same holds true when it comes to birth. Chalk it up to human nature that stories that recount endless hours of excruciating labor are more commonly shared than stories about a calm, peaceful uneventful birth. Perhaps they make for more dramatic storytelling, but they can inaccurately skew your thoughts about pregnancy to the negative.
Aside from external influences, your fears may stem from very legitimate circumstances happening in your life that make having a baby in this moment less than ideal. Hopefully you can take comfort in the fact that you weren’t the first person nor will you be the last who has become pregnant before they had the right financial conditions, partner, family support, frame of mind, etc. It’s a rare occasion indeed where the stars are perfectly aligned and everything is optimal in someone’s life to have a baby. It’s way more normal to start pregnancy with worries over financial and relationship stability.
Making peace with change and uncertainty is the lesson pregnancy teaches us all. For anyone looking for guidance on where to start their journey, acknowledging your inner fears about pregnancy as well as the ones that are foisted on you through culture and community is a great first step. When you make friends with your fears, you can begin to chip away at them and replace them with things that better serve you, for instance action steps to keep them at bay. If for example you’re afraid that your relationship with your partner isn’t stable enough for a baby, now is the time to seek out couples counseling. If you’re afraid you don’t know enough about kids to be a good parent you can seek out classes and books to work on this. Most fears aren’t insurmountable. Allow them to fuel your motivation to get past them.