Beating the Spooky Thought: Overcoming Fear of Labor Pain

Halloween always makes me think about the spooky creatures individuals are troubled by, such as labor pain, cesarean, irreversible body changes, and dying at birth. The fear of labor pain is a common challenge among expectant persons. After all, the process of childbirth has been for centuries described as one of the most intense, physically demanding, and painful experiences a woman can go through. This perspective overshadows the excitement and joy of bringing a new life into the world. In this blog post, we’ll explore the fear of labor pain as a spooky thought and discuss ways to conquer it, ensuring a more positive and empowered birthing experience.

Pregnancy Halloween

When we think of spooky thoughts, we often conjure up images of ghosts, ghouls, or things that go bump in the night. But for many expectant mothers, the fear of labor pain can be just as chilling. It’s the fear of the unknown, the anticipation of extreme pain, and the worry about how one’s body will handle the experience or change because of it. These concerns can cast a dark shadow over what should be a beautiful and transformative moment in a pregnant person’s life.

How do we help kids conquer their fear of spooky creatures and thoughts?

  • We air them in the open.
  • We give them forms and figures.
  • We are protected by the context of Halloween.

We can do the same with the spooky fears of labor pain by addressing it prenatally, in a broader context than pain management. When I coach my birth clients around labor pain, it is not at all in the context of birth plan choices or taking an epidural. The coaching context is their mindset, beliefs, and limiting beliefs around labor pain.

Prenatal coaching addresses labor pain in a broader context than pain management

Transformational Coaching for Fearing Labor Pain

Coaching around labor pain is not the same as educating. We’ve done so much education in the past decades trying to tell our clients what we know about labor pain. While It is valuable to help clients distinguish truth from myth, as a coach, I’d rather not be the one telling but the one asking questions. A simple invitation like: Can you take a few minutes to write five sentences that begin with: “Labor pain is…” will give a prenatal coach valuable information about the client’s mindset and beliefs, which will be the perfect opening to a coaching conversation.

Can you take a few minutes to write five sentences that begin with: “Labor pain is…”

In my book The Art of Coaching for Childbirth, I share one of my favorite strategies to help clients adopt new perspectives about labor pain. I usually bring it up after asking what the client knows about labor pain, and I often hear the spooky thought: I’m going to be in pain for so many hours. I continue to inquire how they arrive at this conclusion.

Rethinking the concept of Intermittent

Although all expectant people read and learned about Intermittent labor pain, it is a hard concept to grasp. When they hear stories about long-lasting births, they imagine 20, 30, or 40 hours of continuous pain. I ask my clients if they remember the frequency and length of labor contractions during the different phases. Then, I aske them to re-calculate the actual time of experiencing contractions. When they answer that the contractions are 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart, I ask them how many are in one hour. The answer is about 12. Therefore, there are only 12 minutes of labor contractions or pain in one hour of active labor and 48 minutes of peaceful body. I call this exercise The Math of Labor Pain. Continue doing the math, and your clients will arrive at the conclusion that in 5 hours of active labor, there is only about an hour of pain.

This coaching exercise suggests a new perspective and context. It doesn’t avoid the concept of labor pain nor negate it. It doesn’t involve strategies to cope, block, or num it. Transformational coaching is about helping individuals rethink concepts, re-program their minds, and change their responses and behaviors accordingly.

If transformational coaching sounds like a pathway you’d like to explore in your birth practice, you can make the first step by purchasing a copy of The Art of Coaching for Childbirth or checking our membership program.

Neri Life-Choma
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coaching, DONA, prenatal coach

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