Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#30 Changing Our Response and Attitudes to Birth Fears

Hellllloooooo Birth Peeps,
I have been away from this blog a long time because I became absorbed in writing, research, teaching, making a new website for bfwnewmexico.com, and recently, travel took me to Ojai Foundation in California for a week. Presently I am in Santa Barbara where Virginia and I will be working together this week.

This week, Virginia and I enjoyed spending time with sixteen wonderful birth mentors who attended the six-day Advanced Mentor Training at the Ojai Foundation in California. These women share various backgrounds in birth work and two common intentions:
1) Personal growth and awareness, and
2) Learning mentoring, visualization, storytelling and teaching skills that will help them prepare mothers/couples for birth in a holistic way.

One of the Threads of this training was about embracing personal and collective birth-related fears and worries, and to examine our own strategies to avoid unwished-for events (in life and) during the childbearing year.  We began "within" by learning how to really hear, tune into and embrace our own fears and powerlessness in labor and life. What better place to take time to reflect than under the 700 year old Teaching Tree!

Then, we slowly built various skills and a framework to be able to truly hear, validate and embrace parents' fears and worries, and strategies--and to lead them in an uplifting visualization that might later prevent them from abandoning or judging themselves for whatever might happen in labor.

If every parent and birth peep learned how to hear, embrace and transform fears, worries, and strategies related to "being in control" during the childbearing year... If they could let go of just one or two things they are holding on tight to avoid. . . Birth really would change--because this process directly balances our neuro-hormonal-physiology!

When new parents are gifted with this process, with this "self-knowledge," before the journey begins, there is no telling how it will change their physiology and ability to relax and open even before labor begins, and continue to open and be resourceful in labor! A fear/worry ignored and denied is still very alive in the nervous system; it needs to be seen, heard, and embraced to be healed.

And when birth peeps gift themselves with this process and self-awareness, no doubt, they would see, hear, and respond differently to parents during the childbearing year.

I cannot go into this complex topic on a short blog tonight. But I might say a little more. The more we--as a birth culture--try to deny parents' their natural doubts and fears, the further we put this part of preparation in the collective unseen underworld; the more parents must try to deny it too, thus denying them support in one of the most important parts of their preparation work. If they feel ashamed to have fear, doubts and worry, they may censor themselves, isolate a part of themselves, try to figure it out by themselves.  Shrouded in self-judgment (e.g., "I shouldn't worry," "I should trust," "What is the matter with me to feel this way?") they may become immobilized, waiting for someone else to explain, protect, assure. . . i.e. the proverbial "frozen in fear" response.

Bringing fear, doubt, and worry into the "light" and creating a new "story" about it ensures a new, although not always predictable response. This is one of the most important tasks of prenatal preparation.



  1. A topic that is near to my heart! I love the approach you take to fear in prenatal preparation. It was very helpful for me in my first pregnancy, and again in my current, second pregnancy. I just wrote a post about the benefits of fear and how it can influence the care we seek out. Bringing fear to the surface is indeed one of the best things we can do for ourselves! I'll be linking to this post. Thank you!

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