• Amanda Sharp

Fear, Tension, & Pain: How to Take Charge of Your Birth

Updated: Aug 8, 2018

Graphic depicts the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle with words and arrows.

Many of you who have taken a Childbirth Education class or used a Doula have been let in on a little secret. If you don’t know it yet, I’ll tell you right now: birth is oftentimes not as painful as we perceive it to be! Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you! The truth is, many moms primary exposure to birth happens on a screen, and birth is usually portrayed by Hollywood in one of two ways - comedic or horrific.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying birth is easy! But for most women, it’s very different from what they expect it to be, especially if they have the right mindset. When I talked in a blog post about laboring with a low pain tolerance, one of the top things mentioned was mindset!

While that sounds easy enough, how can you get into the right mindset for birth? There are a few important steps. The first is education. Education has the ability to take the fear out of previously anxiety-laden experiences or situations.

The second is understanding how our brains perceive pain, and learning how to “hack” this system. I know, it sounds so sci-fi! It’s a lot simpler than you think, though. There is a concept we teach about called F E A R - T E N S I O N - P A I N. It’s a cycle that our brains like to get caught up in, especially during birth!

We fear the pain that we may experience from a certain scenario. This results in us tensing our bodies up, which in turn, results in a heightened pain response versus if we were fully relaxed.

Our approach here is two fold. Eliminate tension, and eliminate fear. These are both vital aspects of birth prep and taking charge of the fear-tension-pain cycle.

When we eliminate tension, we naturally experience less pain, meaning we are naturally less fearful.

When when we eliminate fear, we are naturally less tense, leading naturally to less pain.

So how do we eliminate fear!? There are a few ways.

  1. Take a birth class that is comprehensive so you fully understand what to expect.

  2. Hire a Doula that can provide expertise, experience, and a calming presence in the birth room.

  3. Ensure you have a birth team and location that you fully trust and feel comfortable with.

And how do we eliminate tension?

  1. Practice relaxation techniques during pregnancy.

  2. Prepare yourself with techniques on how to reduce pain and stay relaxed during labor.

  3. Have your partner take a birth class with you so they can support you physically and emotionally during your birth to help you stay relaxed.

  4. Hire a doula who can provide relaxation coaching and physical relaxation helps.

It's so much easier than most people expect to get prepared for birth! It's mostly a matter of educating ourselves. What was the best way for you to eliminate fear prior to your birth? How did you eliminate tension in the birth room?

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