You may have noticed that since becoming pregnant, your personal life has become public property. Your mother-in-law, work colleagues and strangers at bus stops are now only too happy to give you (unsolicited) advice.
Many women complain that the worst part of this (yes, even worse than strangers grabbing at your bump), is the childbirth stories – especially horror stories. Where the sight of a pregnant woman should cause people to refrain from sharing horror stories, in fact it seems to have the opposite effect. People seem to go out of their way to casually drop into conversations the terrible birth experience of their friend.
Why do people like telling not-so-helpful childbirth stories?
You shouldn’t assume the entire world is out to get you. The people telling you the stories probably aren’t giving much thought to your feelings – they’re just excited to tell that reaction-invoking story again. Some may even think they’re doing you a favour by preparing you for what could happen.
Ignorance is bliss
Some people like to know all the facts, and know every possible outcome, before an event so that they feel prepared. Pregnant women that fit into this category probably do like to know about interventions and complications, so they can feel prepared for any eventuality. It’s important to remember, however, that not all pregnant women will feel that way. For some, hearing about traumatic births can make them feel terrified and unprepared for labour.
Feeling scared during labour, can actually increase your risk of interventions. Grantly Dick-Read, an experienced midwife, attended to labouring women all over the world, and found that the women who suffered most during labour were those who feared it.
The science behind this is that when we’re scared, our bodies initiate the fight or flight response. During labour, this can mean blood is directed away from the uterus (where it is needed) and to the legs for running away. This redirection means the uterus is not able to contract as strongly, thus leading to a longer (and potentially more painful) labour.
There is a lot of emphasis on relaxation during labour. Hypnobirthing, water births and breathing exercises are all used as a way to keep women calm during labour. These relaxation techniques can lower your risk of medical intervention, so it’s important to stay relaxed and free from fear during labour.
How to stop the negative childbirth stories
If you can tell someone is about to launch into another horror story, stop them. Explain politely that, while you understand births can sometimes be traumatic, you would rather not hear about it. Explain that you want to approach the birth feeling positive, and that you don’t want any horror stories keeping you awake at night.
Alternatively, share this blog post with your friends and family – they’ll soon get the picture!
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.