Are you feeling nervous? Or are you absolutely terrified at the prospect of giving birth? There's nothing strange or unusual about fear of pregnancy. Writing a birth plan is one of many ways of dealing with it.
Regardless of whether this is a first or subsequent pregnancy, it is completely natural to feel anxious about giving birth. It's a sort of preparation process. But of course it would be nice to give birth without fear, to look forward to your baby's birth with excitement instead of trepidation.
It might help to know that Sweden is one of the world's safest countries to give birth in. There's actually a lot you can do to reduce your anxiety.
Tips for reducing anxiety
• Talk to your midwife. Tell her about your thoughts and what is worrying you.
• If possible, visit the maternity clinic well in advance of giving birth. A place you're slightly familiar with often feels less threatening.
• Attend an information meeting. They are held at many clinics by the midwives.
• Read information. Here you can read about pains and discomforts, about the three stages of pregnancy and about different types of pain relief. Or find a book you like. There are plenty of good books for pregnant women. Download our app The Pregnancy Book. There you will find tips, advice and information.
• Speak to other mothers. Their positive stories and advice will be useful when the time comes for you to give birth. You're likely to hear about negative experiences too, but try not to pay too much attention.
• When you feel ready, write a birth plan describing what you want to happen during the labour.
• If you (and your partner) want to do a birth preparation course, find out what is available in your area.
Write a birth plan
Writing down what you want to happen during your labour helps you define your fear. And it may be a relief to have written everything down in advance if you are in labour when you arrive at the hospital.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
• Are you a person who likes to stay in control?
• Do you want someone else to decide the procedures?
• How do you tend react to pain?
• What is your attitude towards pain relief?
• What type of pain relief do you want?
Asking yourself specific questions makes it easier to define what you want to happen during labour. For instance, you might decide to try and get through your labour using only relaxation techniques. Or you might want to play things by and have the midwife guide you through the birth, either with or without anaesthesia.
If you want to download a template for your birth plan , 1177 has one that you can fill in yourself.
Birth fear - birth phobia
If you feel absolutely terrified of giving birth, perhaps due to a past experience, discuss it with your midwife as soon as possible. She will refer you to a specialist who will help you address your strong fear and draw up a birth plan.
Practice trusting your body
The experience of giving birth is often described with words such as "wonderful" and "powerful" or "never again" and "I though I would die". It can be comforting to know that the fear often disappears as soon as labour sets in. You get a focus and strength that you probably didn't believe you had.
The female body is built for childbirth. It will help you through labour and delivery. The ability to give birth is programmed into your genes. After the delivery, you will probably forget a lot of what happened. Your strongest memory will be meeting your baby for the first time.
Read more about how to prepare for labour.