We're reviving this series to bring you the last three of the fears listed in our top 10 fears about birth addressed in a childbirth class! To view the whole list and links to the first seven articles, click here. Today, we discuss the fear nearly everyone has but no one likes to discuss: illness and/or death in childbirth. Of course, this is the generally the most dire of fears and while it's a rare outcome, the fear of it happening is real. It's impossible to predict how your birth will go, and some have higher risk factors than others, which may increase the possibility of a serious medical event. That said, attending a childbirth class can help address this fear in the following ways:
Explain how birth works. Sometimes, simply knowing the mechanics of how birth happens can help ease your fear. Childbirth educators do a great job of teaching about birth, including explaining the role of your care givers and how they help with any complications that may arise during and after birth.
Provide statistics. Most educators will share the statistics of common complications, showing you just how infrequently they happen and for what reasons. When you learn how small your chance is, you will likely feel more confident about birth.
Describe interventions and side effects. All childbirth classes discuss interventions and the side effects that accompany them. Some interventions are life-saving, and for those, we are thankful (one more reason to feel at ease about serious complication at birth, as we have developed many interventions to avoid them). However, other common interventions are over-used during birth and parents aren't always aware of the many, sometimes serious, side effects.
Share good provider insight. Talking to your provider about a fear of death or serious complication at birth can be helpul. A good provider will give you information on how they work to avoid those outcomes and will not dismiss your concerns. Also, learn about your provider's rate of interventions. It's almost never too late to change a provider if you feel uncomfortable and uneasy about the care you are receiving.
Talk about worst-case scenario plans. No one likes to talk about the worst "what-ifs" in life, but creating or updating your will, discussing who you would want to support or attend you at home or in the hospital if stillbirth occurs (religious officiant, for example), and touching base on death arrangements can help give you a sense of control and ease.
Give you resources for further help. If your fears feel overwhelming and unmanageable on your own, your childbirth class can help you find professional support to help with your anxiety. Phobia of birth is real, and this fear could be a contributing factor. Seek help and support beyond your care provider, doula, childbirth educator, a good friend, etc. -- mental health professionals are trained to help you cope.