Is it normal to feel scared of giving birth?

February 16, 2022

Is it normal to feel scared of giving birth?

In a nutshell…yes! So many people have fears and worries throughout their pregnancy – whether its “I hope my baby is ok”… or “what if I tear?” ....or “how will I cope with the pain?” or simply “how is my baby going to fit out of me?!”

It’s all perfectly normal. And it's not surprising given the society that we live in! We rarely see birth unless it's our own and our media delights in sharing a scary birth story. There is a lot of fear projected onto pregnant women – sometimes even from our own maternity services.

But whilst it’s really common to feel these fears, that doesn’t mean we should just put up with them. Why? Because they will impact the type of labour and birth that you experience, and how positively you feel about that experience. 

When you feel any negative emotions such as fear, stress, anxiety, pressure, irritation… your body responds in the same way – by producing adrenaline. Adrenaline is also produced when we are in bright light, feeling unsafe, have a lack of privacy or feel like we’re being watched. Our bodies automatically respond to adrenaline by putting us into our emergency system.


Freeze – fight – flight – fawn


So what do these mean?

Freeze: makes us stay as still and quiet as possible to stop us being eaten by a predator! In a birth context though? It means we don’t speak out, we don’t say no to something we don’t want and we don’t ask for the thing that we really need. We struggle to even think clearly. So that decision about whether to accept an offer of intervention becomes much more difficult.

Fight or flight: prepare to either fight that (pretend) predator or run away from it! The body does this by sending your blood to your limbs – which means that the bits that need it most (your uterus and your baby) are starved of nutrient dense, oxygenated blood. The result is that you feel exhausted, experience more pain, have a longer, stop-start labour and your baby has a higher likelihood of becoming distressed.

Fawn: this engages your people-pleasing skills – the so-called Stockholm Syndrome! Which means you go along with whatever is suggested to keep the peace, playing no real part in informed decision-making.

So…not only will that fear that you feel in pregnancy affect how much you can enjoy those final weeks and months growing your baby, but they will have an impact on your labour and birth experience – physically as well as emotionally.


So how do we get rid of the fear?


Here are 3 simple ways in which you can start changing how you feel about giving birth:

  1. Learn about birth! Learn about straightforward, vaginal birth and how wonderfully the process is designed to work. Learn about how to support it and about what will interfere with it. Only then can you start to make decisions about what intervention you would be willing to accept - because you understand the impact that it will have on the process.
  2. Build a great team around you! It's imperative that you feel safe, supported and listened to. So start with your birth-partner – choose somebody who makes you feel all of those things, and involve them in your birth prep so that you’re both on the same page. Consider hiring a doula – they come with great statistical benefits such as reduced likelihood of an unplanned caesarean or instrumental birth – and ensure that you have a midwife that you’re happy with (or ask for a different one!)
  3. Surround yourself with positive birth stories! You need to change the narrative in your mind. You need to start to believe that birth is a normal process which is safe and calm and beautiful. I have a selection of positive birth stories on my website - have a read!

And guess what! I can hold your hand through all of this – on my hypnobirthing & antenatal course we cover all these things and much more. So that you can give birth to your baby saying things like this: 


“We both went into the course believing that birth was something you just needed to ‘get through’ but by the end of our sessions we were actively looking forward to it. Rachel completely changed how we looked at pregnancy, labour and birth and left us feeling empowered, knowledgeable and excited about what was to come.” (R&D, first baby)


Courses are currently running both online and in person - click here to book your place with just a £50 deposit, or get in touch with any questions that you have. 

Rachel xxx 

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