From my personal and professional experience, I can say without doubt that ambivalence happens at every phase of mothering especially during labour and childbirth. For most women, labour and childbirth is a highly awaited joyful and satisfying experience but also accompanied by concerns, worry and fear.
The childbirth process is an experience with many dimensions, multifaceted and unique for each woman but is still strongly influenced by the sociocultural context to which she belongs. Her expectations are set by the support type and quality of care available to her. Elevated fear experienced during childbirth has a negative impact on the psychological well-being of a woman and can lead to difficulty in coping during childrearing as well.
Women with bad outcomes in previous childbirths like IUD/stillbirths, perineal tears and postnatal complications may fear the reoccurrence of the same complications.
Reliable and valid identification of high levels of fear early in pregnancy can enable interventions to support and manage all the above concerns. Apart from regular antenatal check-ups, ultrasound monitoring, investigations, preventing and managing medical complications, the healthcare delivery system should also offer non-medical support systems like
Nobody ever said that labour is painless or childbirth is easy. Information regarding all methods of pain relief during childbirth like visualisation, hypnotherapy medical interventions like Nitrous, epidural etc. should be given to the woman in detail while discussing a birth plan. Some women fear the medicalization of labour and childbirth. Their perception that painful labour without any medicalization
may yield greater satisfaction to them must be acknowledged and respected. It must be abundantly made clear to her that there is no moral/physical/emotional/psychological benefit of tolerating pain and in the case when labour is in full swing and she decides for pain relief, it does not mean “caving in” or “give up”.
Even though a C-section may not figure in a woman’s birth plan, all women should have a clear understanding that an emergency C-section can happen to prevent harm to mother and child. Some women may choose and request an elective C-section because of complications in previous childbirth. These requests must not be dismissed casually but acknowledged. Empathetic interrogation of concerns should be explored and women should be given control, choice and the right to their decision.
Women should be empowered for labour and childbirth by mitigating their fear with a proper understanding of the process and unpredictability of birthing. Their confidence in themselves should be bolstered by the availability of high-quality medical and paramedical support systems.
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