I wish I had a dollar for each time I was asked this question during the past few months. Actually, I wish I was never asked this question, because it betrays an underlying cultural fear of childbirth. This is not a fear that I share in; it is not how I view my impending childbirth. If I have any reservations about childbirth, it is simply because I have never experienced it before and the unknown is usually a bit scary.
Why are women afraid of childbirth? I think it is because they are afraid of the excruciating pain they are told that they will experience. Or perhaps of the many complications they believe are commonplace and unavoidable. At the heart of this fear is misinformation and lack of education. Many pregnant women spend months preparing a nursery, they read many books about pregnancy and caring for a newborn, but they often leave the details about the labor and delivery to their doctors. Many don’t take any childbirth classes or if they do, they are the classes offered by the hospital which usually do not explain the natural processes and progression of childbirth, rather the hospital policies and medical interventions available. No wonder they are afraid, I’m sure I would be terrified of childbirth if I had no idea what to expect and if I was laying the whole matter in the hands of a doctor, a stranger that I perhaps met only a few times.
Of course, this is just my opinion, based on my own experience observing the actions and attitudes of those around me. Perhaps I am wrong, in fact, I hope I am wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, while I believe that childbirth is a natural process, I do acknowledge that it certainly will be difficult and painful. I know that there are situations in which medical interventions are necessary for the health of the mother and child, and if I end up in one of those situations, I certainly will do whatever needs to be done. But I am going into childbirth well-educated about the female body and its incredible abilities to birth a child. After all, it has been nourishing and sustaining my child for the past nine months, why should I doubt that it is also capable of birthing him/her?
But I do not only go into childbirth unafraid because I am knowledgeable; perhaps the main reason I’m not afraid is because of my strong faith in God. I trust in the Lord to protect me and my child. And if I were to die in childbirth, as unlikely as that may be, I am unafraid of death.
Now if you asked me if I am afraid of being a parent, that’s a completely different story. I am much more afraid of the hours, days, weeks, years that follow childbirth. I am humbled and a bit terrified when I think of the awesome responsibilities of parenthood, of raising a child to love God and to be a compassionate, responsible citizen. But one step at a time…I’m first going to focus on getting my little one out into the world (any time now!).