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Calming fears of dying while giving birth

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Is anyone else having fears of dying while giving birth? I know it's common, especially farther along in pregnancy. But all my life I've just been afraid of death in general :S
When my husband and i were trying to conceive, we tried for quite some time but it seemed like nothing was happening but everyone and their sister was getting pregnant. So one night I prayed God please let me at least have a baby before my time is up that's the only thing we've ever wanted.... 2 weeks later, 3 + preg tests. We're so blessed to be expecting but now I think back to that prayer, crazy or not, and it freaks me out even more. I'm so afraid something will go wrong! My husband says I'm being silly and he reassures me that my heart's not going to explode while pushing (lol) I used to have bad anxiety attacks but when I got pregnant, they just went away.
Does anyone here have this awful fear, also? & how can I get rid of it?
post #2 of 15
I had it with my first... a terrible fear of it. I had to talk with my doctor and several other medical specialists about this.... and then at 17 weeks when I had a placental abruption the fear came back! but again... some counseling really helped.

talk to your doctor or midwife, they will be able to give you stats and risk factors which I am sure will ease your mind.

as far as I know, the overall risk is something like .013% (pay attention to the decimal... that is an extremely small number) and is much higher in women having cesareans or epidurals/drugs than in women having a natural birth (due to complications with the surgery, its not a minor surgery... or complications with the epidural/drugs given)

but as I said... your doctor or midwife will much better be able to calm your fears and possibly point you to a specialist who can help you deal with this.
post #3 of 15
I don't have this fear (plenty of others though!), but I am kind of hoping that going through such in intense experience as birth will help me get more in touch with the life cycle in general, and be less fearful of death overall. So I'm trying to look at it like a rebirth for myself as well as birth... with the hope that once I come through the other side (as I know we all will!) of the birth, I will feel more empowered and fearless in general!
Oddly, for me, it is harder than ever to feel connected to anything death-related during my pregnancy. Whenever the subject of death or illness or tragedy (i.e. Haiti etc) comes up lately, I feel my pregnant mind just closing that subject off completely. It's very strange, I'm not sure what that's all about. Maybe I am afraid, but am blocking it off more than you?
I wonder if going to therapy would help you through this - could be a great opportunity to explore something really deep!
post #4 of 15
I don't have this fear but I have been doing the hypnobabies program and I'm betting it would help you. It's really good about helping you accept that our bodies are designed to do this and a healthy birth is what you should expect not some rare occurance. The hypnosis scripts are great for relaxing and envisioning an easy perfect birth and then there's a pregnancy affirmations script that just says a bunch of positive things about pregnancy and birth. Listening to those everyday I think it would be hard to hold on to any fears.
post #5 of 15
I just had my baby last month. I have a medical condition that makes delivery more dangerous for me. While exact stats aren't available and I knew I wasn't likely to die, I also was very aware it was possible. My strategy-which worked well for me-was to set things up almost as if that was going to happen. So I made my will and powers of attorney for healthcare, wrote loving letters to my unborn son and a couple of other significant others, and got my files in order. I also made sure to be comfortable with my plans for the birth and the care providers I'd chosen. After that, I was able to just relax and know that I'd done everything in my power/control. I really stopped worrying. Sometimes I would think, "this is worth doing no matter how it turns out." For me, embracing the possibility of a bad outcome really helped me let go of it in a paradoxical way.
post #6 of 15
CFC, what kind of fear is this? I ask because you mentioned you suffered anxiety attacks before the pregnancy. I should probably also ask you what you mean by anxiety attacks, because it seems everyone has a different definition.

Do you mean anxiety attack as medically defined? (heart racing, overwhelming fear of death, feeling like you can't breath, feeling like you just have to LEAVE!!! wherever you are, cold/tingling extremities, sudden diarrhea, nausea -- in other words, the fight or flight response)? Or is it more a generalized anxiety? Ie, you start consciously worrying about one thing, only to find that everything now represents a life-or-death threat to you, perhaps even culminating in an adrenaline fueled anxiety attack, as described above? Or do you mean you're just a worrier in general, but do not suffer from the adrenaline response as well? Or something else altogether?

Depending on what category your fear falls into, I would deal with it differently. If it is just you're a worrier (I prefer to think of being a worrier as being a very good storyteller -- maybe a little TOO good, LOL) and can so easily see the worst possible outcome for any situation, then yes, perhaps just learning more about the childbirth experience and talking to the midwives will help. But if the fear falls more into the phobic & adrenaline-related fight or flight response category, I know from so many personal experiences that logic has *nothing* to do with it. That kind of fear can't be reasoned with. In that case, I would recommend doing things that calm your body (I've had positive results with relaxation CDs, meditation and yoga; the pp who suggested hypnobabies is probably also onto something good for you) and also things that distract you from the cascading adrenaline effect (for me, if I can talk to a sympathetic person and describe what's happening in my body, that helps. If there's no one there, I'll write it down. Even just doing something else physical helps, like getting up and washing the dishes or vacuuming or something).

That's my 2 cents, FWIW.
post #7 of 15
Yes! This is really the only big fear I have about birth. Everything else seems like it would be something I could get through. Dying... well, you can't get through that!

This is even my second birth. I didn't have this fear during my first birth, and there were no real complications with my health related to the first birth. (DS ended up in the NICU, however.) So, I'm not sure where it's coming from. I'm thinking *death* embodies my fear of being totally out of control... at the mercy of... nature, I guess. The last real, big thing that I have to somehow figure out how to embrace.

Everything else seems minor in comparison.

There are some good exercises for dealing with fears in Birthing from Within.

I probably need to hear those statistics, so if anyone has them handy, please post them!
post #8 of 15
Well, for one thing, I think it helps to talk about it, like you are doing! I also have this fear, and I do every time I give birth (this is my third time). Death is a topic that I think on daily -- I always have. I am very comfortable with it, yet I do fear it to some extent because I think of my living children, and my DH, and how it would be for them. Also, I am very attached to them, myself!

I like a previous poster's idea of embracing it -- preparing yourself and so forth. You would feel like you had some power about it.

I am also doing hypnobabies, and I am up to the final week, which includes "Fear Clearing". You could try another hypno website that I like: www.hypnosisdownloads.com. I used their morning sickness script, and it was great.

When a new life is coming, it is only natural to contemplate our deaths. So, you are very normal. It is interesting that you had a higher chance of death the last time you drove, and you (and I!) are more frightened by childbirth-associated death.

Post some more of your feelings on this, and little by little, you will sort them out.
post #9 of 15
I really enjoyed the book Birthing from Within, which has a whole section devoted to dealing with your fears surrounding childbirth. I would reccomend it!
post #10 of 15
My DH read the "Emergency Childbirth" manual someone posted a few weeks back (which has a ton of great info as well as some really humorously outdated suggestions), and he said the section on hemorrhage/bleeding said that women never die quickly of hemorrhage - rather, they die after bleeding for several hours.

That calmed my nerves quite a bit. As long as someone notices excessive bleeding and you get to the hospital within an hour or two, you very likely will not die of bleeding to death. They can do a transfusion before that happens and get the bleeding under control in the mean time.

I suppose if you have to have a c/s, that's another issue... there is the possibility of infection, complications, etc., but still, that's unlikely.
post #11 of 15
I actually had this major big time with my last pregnancy. A friend recommended a few homeopathic remedies, which really did seem to help. I don't remember which ones, but I'll try and see if I can find out from her.
post #12 of 15
Okay, mama, I have a different perspective to offer and this might sound quite odd at first so bear with me! I hope this is helpful somehow...

I almost DID die during my first birth - everything went horribly wrong and we lost our daughter. It was a very very tragic day indeed and of course the aftermath was extremely sad. During that pregnancy I too was afraid of dying. I don't tell you this to freak you out: dying in childbirth is just SO so so rare - losing a child again, is extremely, extremely rare. So statistically, you are far more likely to have an easy, fast, safe and wonderful labor and delivery than a bad one with any major injury or loss of life.

Now two weeks ago, I gave birth to my second daughter via VBAC, who is beautiful and wonderful and everything I ever wanted. And I wasn't scared at all of dying - I wasn't scared of a thing. I think this was why:

Giving birth is very much about letting go of everything. You have to allow yourself to be swept up into labor land without fear. I found it easier to do that this time because I knew the only thing I had to fear was death...and last time, I learned something about death:

It is painless. Death is painless. It's not scary, when it's happening to you. Ergo, it is not something to be feared. You will never have to be preoccupied with death unless it is happening to you - and at that point, the last thing you think about is death: you think about your loved ones, about memories from your whole life. There's no pain - your body or medication takes care of that. There's no fear. It's completely out of your control anyway, like the weather, or a meteorite, or when the world is going to end. Death is nothing to fear at all.

With that knowledge in mind, and the knowledge that actually, everything was in my favor, I was able to let go, embrace labor without fear and got what I wanted for me and my baby - it was beautiful.

I don't know if that made any sense or came across in the right way: I am a little unusual probably, because of my circumstances, and am able to see things a bit differently because of what happened. I don't want to frighten you with my story, instead I want to kind of convey what I learned about death. Don't be afraid - your labor will be wonderful. Relax, let your body take over - you will know if something doesn't feel right. Trust your instincts. Trust your baby - your little one works with you to come out in labor. Trust your body. Our bodies work with our minds and they are wonderful things.

Everything is going to be okay. There really, in the end, is nothing to fear but fear itself.

*HUGE hugs* XxxX
post #13 of 15
JayJay--I think what you wrote was very insightful and beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss of your beautiful daughter--but am happy to see that you've welcomed a second baby to your home recently.
post #14 of 15
*Raises hand*

I do...and i was never like this with my first pregnancy! In my case it's not a fear of dying, but of my son not having a mom...and my son being a huge mama's boy does not help. I even get hot flashes thinking of it sometimes! Then hearing stories of births gone wrong makes it worse, but i still read them!!

It's like i'm convinced i'm either going to bleed to death or my heart is just going to stop. It's crazy. I just pray and try not to think anything negative, i read positive birth stories too...i tell myself what is the point of worrying, and nothing has even happened.

Like JayJay said, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. That is what i tell myself often when i catch myself starting to get anxious.
post #15 of 15
No actually I never thought of it until I saw this thread title. (Thanks a lot! )

But I had to work through a lot of existential dichotomy stuff w/ the idea that my baby could die the last time I was pregnant. And I already feel some of those thougts in this pregnancy.

I've found, at least for me, that it is less about death and more about realizing I don't have control. Even if I was in the best, most equipped hospital with 10 doctors looking after me, NONE of us have control. And that's hard to accept. It's hard to completely love someone, knowing you can't do anything if the 'time' comes. (I'm not referring to basic things which I'm sure most mamas learn about such as what to do in an emergency).
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