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Birth Expectations and How They Affect Labor

Have you ever heard the term "confirmation bias"? Confirmation bias is a type of selective thinking that causes you to notice and look for what confirms your beliefs, and to ignore or undervalue those things that contradict your beliefs. For example, from the time women are born they are told labor is painful and most birth stories that are shared over the years are those that enforce the idea that labor is painful. Our brain then begins to tune into things that confirm our belief that labor is painful and we become inattentive to the things that tell us labor does not have to be painful. Over time this strengthens our belief that labor is painful and creates fear. We then give more value to things we hear or read that confirm our belief and tend to discredit the information that contradicts those beliefs. Our brain is constantly looking for information that will support our belief that labor is painful, thus causing fear about labor.

What if we went into labor with great expectations and without fear?

Most of the discomfort of labor comes from fear (fear that was formed through confirmation bias), this then causes tension. Tension causes pain....which causes more fear, etc. and the cycle continues causing the uterine muscle to work against you and cause pain. And now you have confirmed the belief that your labor will be painful!

Here are some things you can do to break the fear, tension pain cycle:

1 Talk with your midwife or someone close to you about your fears and work through them.

2) Take birth classes that give you tools to relax and remove fear during labor, educate yourself

3) Hire a Doula for emotional support

4) Prepare a birth environment that creates relaxation and a feeling of safety

5) Surround yourself with people who have positive and encouraging birth stories to tell

6) Do not allow others to tell you their negative birth stories

7) Work daily on your positive affirmations

8) Work on releasing your fears through prayer

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