I always knew I wanted to have kids, but the thought of getting pregnant and giving birth terrified me. Yes, it makes many women nervous but I felt like my reaction to it was abnormal. Just seeing ladies late in pregnancy and thinking about pushing a child out gave me anxiety. I'm sharing my journey from being terrified to actually enjoying the experience and choosing to give birth to Baby Theo without an epidural -- something I never imagined!
Scared to Get Pregnant
One day when I was thinking about getting pregnant, I was Googling images of pregnant bellies and came across an image of a woman carrying twins late in her pregnancy. I stared at her big belly jutting out of her body and started panicking. I feel terrible even admitting that. Of course, pregnancy is a beautiful thing, but I literally had tears rolling down my face and I started freaking out inside. (Again, I know this response was absurd!) I was trying to wrap my head around having a single baby, but what if I got pregnant with twins? Ah! I thought I would just die. I called my friend Molly who loves all things about birth and pregnancy, to calm me down and talk some sense into me.
Truly, it wasn't a vanity thing. I wasn't freaking out about stretch marks or saggy boobs. It just looked so painful, like the belly would straight up burst! I know women's bodies were designed for this stuff, so I was starting to think that my fear of pregnancy and birth was out of control. Before trying to get pregnant, I decided to see someone.
Conquering my Fear of Pregnancy and Birth
Ok, that subheading is dramatic, but I was fearful. Thankfully, I've come a long way! Before I got pregnant, I met with a therapist who gave me some good advice. She recommended I dig deeper into birth and pregnancy to learn exactly how our bodies change to accommodate a tiny human. She suggested that the better I understood pregnancy and birth, the less scary it would seem.
I wound up getting pregnant a few months later. Perhaps, surprisingly, I didn't panic. However, I knew that would likely change as my belly grew and I got closer to giving birth, so I took the therapist's advice.
The Four things I did to get my mind in a good place were to: 1) read everything 2) enroll in a course 3) connect with other mamas-to-be 4) hire a doula.
I starting reading a ton! Books and apps made me better understand what I was experiencing and what was coming down the pipeline. Expecting Better is a hands down, must-read book! The apps I used were What to Expect and Ovia. (If you're looking for a book for the father-to-be, my husband read this book.)
2) Enroll in a Course
Next, I enrolled in a rather intensive six-week course called Evidence Based Birth taught by our doula (more on our doula later). I'm a curious person and I like getting all of the facts so I can make my own decision. That's what this course does. It shares a ton of research and lays out your options for birth. Plus I learned some great tips for induction. At the start of the course, I feared birth and planned to get the epidural ASAP. By the end of the course, I felt empowered and planned to labor at home for as long as possible and use the bathtub and nitrous oxide for pain relief -- instead of the epidural. Of course, you can't expect a birth to go according to plan, but having one made me feel more prepared.
3) Connect with Other Mamas-to-Be
Through the What to Expect app, I connected with other mom's in my neighborhood. There was a Chicago thread and someone sent a post asking to meet up with other expectant moms in the specific neighborhood in which I live -- so I replied! Every month or so our little group tried to meet in person and we also had a text chain to share advice and discuss our pregnancies. It was really comforting to be around other first-time moms who were experiencing the same things around the same time.
4) Hire a Doula
Finally, I hired the best doulas in all of the land! Heather and Victoria of 312 Doulas played a crucial role in my pregnancy and Theo's birth. If you don't know, doulas are trained to make birth more comfortable. The World Health Organization recommends them for all births and studies show doulas decrease the likelihood of having a c-section, and needing a vacuum, forceps, or epidural. Additionally, Moms who use doulas also tend to be more satisfied with their delivery experience. I immediately felt comfortable with the ladies of 312 Doulas. Knowing they were on our team helped me feel confident I could have a positive birth experience. Spoiler: it was incredible! But I'll save that story for another day.
Enjoying the Experience
I can't say I'm someone who loved being pregnant (read about my first trimester and second trimester), but the fear I once had turned into excitement. With every kick and hiccup, the anticipation of our baby's arrival grew, and I was able to appreciate the experience. As for the birth, all the preparation I did with our doulas and my husband made me feel confident in my ability to manage the pain and have a good birth experience. I'm so thankful everything went well and we are blessed with a healthy baby boy.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! Wishing all the mamas-to-be a happy and healthy pregnancy!