Updated: Apr 23
FOVO (Fear of Vaginal Opening) is real
It hides in many people's minds that'd heard horror stories about childbirth, watched movies of women screaming bloody murder during birth or experienced an undesirable vaginal delivery in the past. Recognizing fear as a barrier to childbirth is the first step.
Imagine you're watching a scary movie, are you chilling on the couch, relaxed and calm? NO! You're probably curled in a ball, shoulders shrugged, biting your nails (or stuck in some other nervous habit) as you anxiously await the climax of the story. Your nervous system goes into high alert to protect you from the scary movie. You body calls on your sympathetic nervous system and your heart rate raises, throat closes, muscles tense, sweat glands ramp up, any urge to pee or poo go away because now's the time to save yourself, not go to the bathroom. Your body either paralyzes in fear or gives you the courage to get up and fight or run for safety. This is part of the physiological stress response thanks to the sympathetic nervous system. It happens when you brain recognizes it's in danger and needs protection, science calls it fight or flight.
During a rise in your sympathetic nervous system, your body produces hormones such as adrenaline that help you get to safety, but as a mom in labor, it's not helpful. As adrenaline rises, another hormone, oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contraction, slows down. During labor and delivery, you need uterine contraction to push your baby down the canal. You also need to open the exit door, aka your vagina a pelvic floor, so baby can be born. This opening of the door won't happen when the sympathetic nervous system is bolting is shut.
How can you flip the bolt on the door and turn down the stress response to progress through labor more smoothly?
You must overcome the fear of delivery itself first. Think about why you have a fear of vaginal delivery. Did a friend tell you about their birth experience and you feel yours will be the same? Did the media somehow instill a fear in you about childbirth? Is this a subsequent pregnancy and you're worried this birth will be like the one before where you tore or had a traumatic experience? Either way, take a moment to figure out why you're scared.
Once you've pinned down why you hold this fear, you have to let go of it because the reason is false. Ok, just listen for a sec... I'm not saying your fear is false, but the statement you're telling yourself about why you're afraid is a belief. It's something that's entered your brain subconciously or consciously and you decided to believe it as truth.
For example, maybe you said...
"I tore during my first birth and this one will be the same."
Not true. That's an assumption and it will hold you. Yes, the first part is true because it happened, but the second one isn't. Each birth is one of its own from person to person or 2 births from the same mom. Somehow you chose to believe that what happened in the past is your future destiny. But this idea isn't real. You need to start telling yourself and believing the opposite is true and set yourself up for success.
Maybe you said...
"I was told I have a small pelvis."
Sound the buzzer because very infrequently is bone structure actually an issue. Female pelvises are shaped for childbearing. Some people are less flexible and mobile than others and have more difficulty getting into a position for an easier birth or haven't done stretches that help give space in their pelvis for the baby, but that doesn't mean the pelvis can't hold or birth a baby. Creating space in your pelvis, improving flexibility and joint mobility is part of my birth prep course and can be changed with practice.
Maybe you said...
"I worry that I'll get prolapse."
This is a adequate statement because vaginal delivery statically increases your chance of prolapse; however, its important to educate yourself about the risks and benefits of both vaginal and c-section deliveries and make the choice that suites your needs, desires and philosophy. Childbirth regardless of the delivery method is a big deal and your body will change and require healing for either. Therefore, don't let the fear of prolapse hold you back if vaginal delivery is the method you prefer. All actions come with risk: driving, flying, eating a donut, meeting new people. But if we let the fear of a risk consume us, we would remain in a bubble and starve to death.
Do you see where I'm going with this? Its inner work to overcome fear of anything, no one can do it for you. You must be open to a mindset shift. We make up stories in our head and believe they're true. But what if they're false. What if the exact opposite is true? What if you tell yourself a different story. What if you begin to believe your vaginal birth can be easy. What if you believe you can rock childbirth.
The more you learn and understand, the more confidence you build, which in turn gives you control to navigate your fears.
In my birth prep course, Below the Bump, I give you the tools you need to boost your confidence and squash the fears that are holding you back from an easier childbirth.