Women go through labor in a similar manner to the way they live, and because childbirth can be a hyped-up and emotional time behaviors are often magnified. Coping skills are vital to have during this process, as certain personality characteristics are potential risk factors for a high or low risk birth. Inner conflicts and anxieties that are not dealt with before labor can make a woman feel out of control, victimized, and in crisis. Northrup described some of these issues as physical abuse, sexual abuse, self-image issues, dependence, passivity, resistance to change, and lack of support (473). What is necessary is that women become aware of their weaknesses and strengths so that they are capable of physically and psychologically enduring the labor process and becoming a mother.
Fear of Pain
When the average woman enters the delivery room they have no idea of the extent of pain or discomfort they will feel. Pain is a strange experience and perceptions vary. Their reactions to the pain also vary and are often influenced by the way they deal with stress or fear. First time moms often feel that the experience will never end. Some women enter the labor and delivery room and the first words they express is, “I don’t want to feel a thing.” These women convince themselves that they are not capable of giving birth naturally. Some are scared, many feel unprepared, and others believe that labor is a complete inconvenience. Other women react to labor pain as if they are being wounded or physically hurt - instead of relaxing into the contractions they resist.
Surrender or Resistance
It is common for some mothers to come into the hospital with a list of items that they refuse during pregnancy- no IV, no monitors, no students, particular room requests, and no interventions. I want every mother to feel safe and in control. I agree with most of these requests under the right circumstances, trust me! Sadly control is often a survival mechanism and an attempt to remain safe when scared. The longer list of items a woman attempts to control the higher tendency there is for intervention.
If you desire to - write a birth plan - be prepared and know your options. Also know that you are entering a hospital – many of these facilities are focused on business and protocol. If you feel that the medical team is moving too fast ask them to slow down and explain what is going on and offer options.
Events do not always go as planned and it is necessary to have adequate coping skills. A woman should know herself. Her attitude towards life and the way she deals with problems will come up during labor. Northrup described potential risk factors in childbirth (473). Here are some questions based off this research that all women should ask themselves as they prepare for labor and delivery. If you answer yes to most of these questions statistically you have a better chance at a low-risk childbirth. If you have issues in these areas, start to address them so you will be prepared during birth and into motherhood.
Do you consider yourself an active and independent woman?
Are you able to take support from others?
Are you able to deal with changes in an appropriate manner or do you tend to resist?
Are you honest in your communication?
Do your spiritual beliefs match your birth plan?
Have you been abused or sexually abused? If so have you dealt with these issues? (women who have experienced sexual abuse are more likely to have dysfunctional or high risk labors)
Do you ever consider yourself powerless? If so what types of situations does this happen in, and how do you deal?
Do you and your partner have a loving relationship? Do you trust one another?
Do you have an internal control of your life rather than a supposed external control?
Is there anything you are scared of, if so are these fears being worked through?
For more information on this topic, pregnancy, or to read birth stories visit: http://birthwithbalance.com
Northrup, Christiane. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. New York City. Batman Books. 2010. Print.
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