We fear what we don’t understand. But sometimes, even when we know what’s going to happen, we fear that too. Childbirth is the perfect storm of both these fears: Fear brought on by ignorance, and fear brought on by knowledge. As believers in Christ, we have His presence and power in the birthing room. How do we live out this reality and face birth fearlessly? Is that even possible?
It is possible to overcome fear of childbirth and enter pregnancy with courage. It is possible to overcome anxiety as a believer in Christ! This process is simple, but it’s not easy – and that’s what we’re discussing in today’s post.
The circumstances surrounding my first birth were so uncertain and sudden, I had every opportunity to give into anxiety and fear. Yet that birth was characterized by absolute peace. I credit this to the following three actions – which I’ll be using once again as I deliver my second baby in a few weeks!
I cannot stress the importance of a thorough birth education – particularly if you are a first-time mom. The fear most women feel is because they do not know what their body is capable of; and because they do not know, the uncertainty and ignorance leads to increased anxiety. But knowledge builds confidence! Labor and birth education will give you the tools you need to face birth without fear.
Most of my readers probably will have hospital births (I give birth at home), but even so, you can educate yourself apart from what your doctor tells you in one short prenatal visit. I highly recommend taking a birth class other than the one offered by your hospital. Bradley Birthing Classes are my first recommendation – Josh and I did this together, and not only did it unify us about the birth and what we wanted, it prepared us for exactly what we faced in delivery.
A few other resources to buy and keep for future reference:
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
- Childbirth Without Fear
- Husband Coached Childbirth
- Redeeming Childbirth
- Holy Labor
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- DVD: The Business of Being Born
Trust Your Body
A few weeks ago I shared an entire post on why the Christian perspective on labor and birth needs to change. Too many women focus on the “curse of birth” and look at childbirth through this negative lens. They view their bodies as incapable and birth as an emergency – when this is only rarely the case. Rather than focus on what can go wrong, we should focus on our innate ability and design, God’s presence, and how those two combine to make birth go right.
Does this mean we ignore the possibility of a very real emergency? Absolutely not! It means you don’t worry about the emergency until it actually exists. Educating yourself about what is an emergency and what is not, what you can decline and what you can demand will help you approach birth with confidence and peace.
As I said in my post on labor:
Before the Fall, both men and women had to work to produce life from the ground and life from the body. But after the Fall, the ground would resist Adam – and birth would resist Eve. What would have come naturally to them both in the perfect world God created was marred by sin. So for both men and women, labor was increased to “painful” proportions.
This does not make labor inherently sinful or bad; remember: it existed pre-Fall! It means all those who call upon the name of the Lord (before and after the coming of Christ) must partner with God in order to overcome the effects of sin in a fallen world. Pregnancy, labor, and birth remain just as miraculous and beautiful as before the Fall – but now they are plagued with the effects of sin, just like our other creative works in this world. Through birth, we partner with the creative power of God. In birth, we overcome by partnering with the saving power of God. Only women have this capability, and that is something to be celebrated!
Persevere in Prayer
Many of my readers are familiar with Before You Were Born, I Knew You, a prayer guide I wrote for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I wrote this guide the month after I had Adeline, when the impact of our prayers on her behalf was still fresh in my mind. Every prayer for my labor was answered – and as I reflect on that two years later, I believe it was God’s grace to us in a season of extreme stress (read her full birth story here).
Too many women believe the unknowns of childbirth are unchangeable facts. They don’t bother to ask God – consistently – for the labor and birth experience they desire. I think this is less about their view of childbirth (though that IS a problem – discussed in this post) and more about their view of prayer. Many, many Christian women don’t have thriving prayer lives before childbirth, so it doesn’t dawn on them to pray specifically over pregnancy and labor.
Our God is a loving Father who desires to commune with us. He longs to hear the burdens of our hearts! When we withhold these and try to “figure it out” on our own, it’s simply a form of control. We’re playing god with our worries.
Prayer doesn’t guarantee childbirth will go the way we want, but it reveals that even though we persevered, we asked, we sought and we knocked – God in His sovereignty had a reason for answering in the manner He did. My labor was everything we asked for, but my postpartum was extremely difficult, and due to an autoimmune disorder that affects all my pregnancies, there is a good chance I will face this difficulty again. That doesn’t stop me from pleading with God to be spared from it! But it also opens my heart to His sufficiency if He doesn’t.
Anxiety of any kind, and especially anxiety over childbirth, has a solution:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)
In everything. In pregnancy, labor, and birth, by prayer we receive the peace of God. I can testify to the truth of this! Even as someone who struggles with worry, who plans everything, who faced stressful circumstances surrounding my first child’s birth and will face a difficult autoimmune condition with my second, I can tell you that the God who promises He is enough – is enough.
(If you need guidance on what and how to pray, you can get a free copy of Before You Were Born right here!)
You can face childbirth without fear. You can walk into motherhood with peace and confidence, both in your body and in your God.
For more resources, check out the list at the back of Before You Were Born.