Overcoming Birth Fear
One of the greatest benefits of birth photography in my opinion, is the widespread access that women now have to birthing photos. Getting to capture every kind of birth and birthing situation, and getting to show potential mothers exactly what it looks like, is SO empowering. Because where there is lack of knowledge- there is fear.
In my own life and from what Iv seen in the lives of others, next to faith, self education is one of the strongest tools there is against fear.
Imagine a theme park. With huge roller coasters.
Imagine that you’ve never even heard of a roller coaster before, or perhaps the only stories you have heard- were ones where people died, or got seriously injured.
Now imagine you HAD to visit this park, that’s known for trauma and injury and death. Imagine you have no idea what it’s going to feel like, what the roller coasters look like, you don’t know they go upside down, you don’t know you have to be strapped in. You get to the park, and you stand in front of this colossal thing, knowing its not safe, knowing everything that could go wrong, and having very little knowledge of what it is or how it works. What would you feel? You just show up, and are forced on, you get no opinion or choice. You are strapped down so you cant move, and told to have fun and enjoy the ride. At the end you might get a photo or a prize that is supposed to make up for the terror of the ride.
We all know this isn’t what roller coasters are like, but if they were portrayed in this light, how scared would you be in that situation? Can you imagine the trauma and ptsd you might have when you got off? It's a no wonder women struggle postpartum, when they go through an experience like this and then are shuffled off of the ride, and into a whole new world with little time or permission to process what just happened.
This is what birth can be like.
It is portrayed in such an angry, fearful, and mysterious light. In our recent past, women who went into labor had no idea what would happen in the delivery room. Some still don’t. They don’t know what it looks like, feels like, all they know is that it’s supposed to be really hard. It’s supposed to be full of pain. It’s supposed to be scary.
Because how is birth portrayed on TV? With women screaming, veins bursting in their forehead, sweat dripping, as their doctors are yelling at them to push. Also seen very often on media- is all of the complications. Everything that can go wrong, has been recorded, acted out, and shared like wildfire on medical shows and commercials and every other place attainable. Maybe this doesn’t appall you, but it should. Because this is NOT an accurate representation of birth.
Seeing the worst of something, seeing the pain and the fear and nothing else, ensures a perfect environment for the spirit of fear. And where there is fear, there can not be hope, or options, coping skills will be less effective, mental health greatly impacted. Why, today, when there is SO much access to information, do women still go into birth clueless or terrified? The media and how birth is portrayed is SO important. Don't even get me started on how the husbands know even less. In our past, they had no part in the birth, and then when men were aloud in the delivery room, all they knew is it would be scary and dangerous and so painful for their wife. They were given no instruction, just thrown in. And now, they joke about how gross it is, "trust me man, you just wanna look at her face" none of the joy is shared, none of the experience or how to help her, no empowerment or awe of what that women is capable of. We have to change the way we talk about birth. Tell me, have you ever seen birth portrayed on the media as peaceful? Have you seen a husband who is excited, step up and catch his newborn daughter? Have you seen a women birth her baby softly and slowly, with a smile on her face? These moments are real, I have seen them first hand, and we can design an environment where they are more common, where peace flourishes instead of fear. It starts with talking about it, and changing how birth is portrayed everywhere. For so long birth was not talked about among men, or among women. And unfortunately in many families it still isn't.
We make a huge deal about having the "talk" with our young women and men, we want them to be educated on everything sex related. But where is the birth education? If a teenager, is mature enough to learn the how's, when's, and why's of sex, shouldn't they also be educated around the results of that intimacy? We are all about telling young women their options for abortion, but were missing a vital part of this whole system. Birth education is important. It goes way beyond a pain relief class when your almost due. It needs to start before our women become mothers, it needs to include the fathers, and even those who may never be a mother or father. Everyone needs to be birth educated, because every single person was born from a birth, and has a mother somewhere in our life. And the care, empowerment, and support of our mothers, is vital to the survival of our peace.
The fact is, our population would not survive without mothers, physically or mentally. Mothers, are just girls who get pregnant. It does not matter if shes 16, 18, 20, or 40, married or unmarried, educated on sex or not. When a girl gets pregnant, one way or another she is going to be faced with birth. We are so pro feminism, pro choice, but were not giving women of any age a proper representation of that second choice- Or preparation for what it means to actually be a mother. We are all about glorifying her "options" but where is the advocacy for how beautiful and amazing birth and motherhood can actually be? Where is the support if she does choose that road? How does she build that tribe needed to raise a child? How does she get though birth?
When she finds out she is pregnant, sooner or later her mind is going to circle around to birth. What goes in must come out. Does she think of that moment with fear? With shame? with questions? Does she feel supported enough to ask those questions? Or will she go in blind, setting herself up for the choices to be made for her and leave her scarred.
What if we educated everyone on birth, took away the shame, and it was just common knowledge what goes on in the birth room? Would women choose differently if they were not so afraid of birth? Would postpartum complications and disorders go down? Would doctors and nurses and birth workers be held accountable for their mistakes and mistreatment? How much could we change with this?
A women, any women, who conceives a baby, should not have to feel shame about what happens when that child is born. And education is an amazing way to rid anything of shame. We have come so far in sex education, students are taught not to be ashamed to ask questions or explore. Why are we not seeing the same progression surrounding birth? Were so afraid that our teenagers will get pregnant, that we forget to prepare for what happens when they do.
Birth photography is at this really unique stage where its photos are available to everyone to view, and for the first time, women of EVERY demographic and culture are getting to see what it looks like when someone just like them gives birth. That is HUGE. I believe that accurate and real representation is the first step in changing the facts (did you know women of color have the highest mortality rate during birth then any other race?) and improving the future of care, support, and perception surrounding birth.
Okay, let me jump off that soap box for a minute, back to my main topic. Birth Fear. Were you afraid of birth? How much did you not know before you went into labor? How much did you learn? How did you learn it?
There are some things you can only learn from experience. And birth is so unique, there are so many kinds of birth and ways to birth. Every body births completely differently, and every pregnancy even with the same mother, is so different. So you can not prepare for everything.
But birth can be beautiful, it can be full of magical moments. It can be empowering. It can even feel good. Women were created to birth, and when they learn how to accept birth and every contraction it brings, welcoming them instead of being fearful of it and fighting them, it is AMAZING how the energy in the room shifts, how much can change. When a mama learns to trust her body and instincts, and realizes she doesn't constantly have to be told what to do- its already inside her. The power of instinct and design is within all of us, we just have to learn how to tap into it. Let's talk about how you get there, how you conquer that fear.
What I see most mama's do, is fall into the "what if" trap. What if I tear? What if my baby is not breathing? What if I birth in the car? What if something goes wrong? What if, what if what iffff..... There is nothing wrong for asking these questions. You will drive yourself crazy trying to fight them off.
Whats wrong with the picture, isn't the questions, but that we stop there. We ask ourselves, or maybe our partners (who may give us an "it'll all be okay" and pat us on the back) and then we let the fear come. We let it overwhelm us. Then we feel ashamed for being afraid, ashamed for even having questions because were so used to doing what were told, and believe birth to be the same way. The problem is we stop there!
Do not shy away from your fear. It can be a valuable tool in creating an amazing birth experience. Did you know birth can be amazing? It can! I am not just talking about a birth in a field of flowers, or at home in the water, or with an epidural and no feeling. I'm talking about EVERY kind of birth. Every kind of birth can be good, amazing, empowering, even enjoyable.
The first step in creating a birth experience you will enjoy, is addressing your fears. Ask those what if's, ask them again and again until you get an answer. Until you have a plan. Play out every single fear. Take a fear, ask yourself where it comes from, why your afraid of it, and then self educate. Figure out what you would do if that "what if" came true, what you would want done. Make a plan. Make a back up plan for your plan. Not just for the birth you want, but for the birth you don't want. Birth is unpredictable, but you have the power to prepare your mind for every type of birth. If you had to have a birth in the way you didn't want to What could you do to make it ok? What could you do to make it yours?
Say you are DEDICATED to a med free birth, make a plan about what would happen and what you would want if there was absolutely no way you could have a med free birth. Do you know all the options for pain relief? There are a lot, and they are not all medical!
Say you absolutely are afraid of pushing or tearing. Do you know what it would feel like if you did? Have you asked others that specific question? Do you know what would happen if you did tear, what options for healing there are?
Say you are ready for anything, the only thing is you don't want a c-section. That a super common one. But did you know that cesarean births can be even more beautiful and magical and empowering then some vaginal births? Did you know there are a TON of options and choices you have within a cesarean birth? Most women who are traumatized after their cesarean birth, are women who were so against it and never planned for it. So when the emergency presented itself, and they had no other choice, they felt like it was stolen from them. But you have choices, and if you don't make them now, someone else will for you.
Start the conversation, bring up your questions to your doctor, your friends, your family. Make talking about birth normal, healthy. Connecting with others who have gone before you is SO healthy, and part of our DNA as humans. We thrive in community. Women thrive surrounded by other women to love and support them. If you don't have that, create it, find it, start with you.
Almost every fear, can be broken down and rationalized with education, options, and visualization. You can feel good about your birth. You SHOULD feel good about your birth.
And there lies the power of birth photography and videography. The magic, is in being able to see ALL of these options. Being able to see women birth who don't scream, don't struggle, who birth calmly and beautifully. Seeing women who birth loudly, but on their own terms, in control of their sounds and voices. Women who have epidurals, cesareans, laughing gas, home births, any kind of birth. Women who birth standing up, on their side, squatting. (flat on your back is the least productive position, and even with an epidural you have other options) Seeing these things, makes them tangible. Seeing someone just like you doing it their way, makes it real. Makes it an option. Makes it attainable.
Every women (and their partners) deserve to have their birth be everything they want it to be. And when things don't go according to plan, they deserve to be supported, educated, and respected. They deserve to have a great experience even if its not what they planned for. We have a long way to go in birth rights and advocating for women, and i think this really does start with changing how we view birth in general.
I believe every women deserves to be represented.
I believe that birth photography can be incredibly healing and help women process their birth, improving the effect their birth has on their postnatal mental health.
I believe that it can empower women everywhere. That it DOES.
I believe it, alongside other tools, can help you overcome birth fear.
I believe these moments deserve to be captured, for women everywhere, and for you mama. You deserve to see yourself in that light. Strong, capable, bringing LIFE into this world.
I believe that every women has it within her to overcome her birthing fears, and to walk into the labor room what ever that may look like, confident and ready to meet her baby. I believe in your ability to birth. In your ability to overcome the portrayal of birth, and make yours better. I believe in your body, your baby, and your vision. I believe that you can rock your birth no matter what happens. If you give yourself the gift of self education, and build yourself a team that respects and honors your knowledge and desires. If you make your birth your own! If you OWN it, no matter what it looks like. I believe you can do that.
I would LOVE to work with you, until your there. Until you believe it too. Send me a message and lets talk. Lets overcome. Lets do this birth.<3
-Mrs. Sprinkles Birth Photography
This is what an empowered mother looks like. This was minutes before her c-section. Because of self education, and self advocacy, she rocked her birth and built an incredible team that gave her the most amazing cesarean birth experience I have ever seen.
"I never imagined I would smile SO much on the day of my c-section. I feel like a princess, this has been amazing."