Each individual woman’s belief systems surrounding her ability to give birth to her baby can have a significant and lasting impact on her direct experience of pregnancy and birthing.
Core beliefs in relation to childbirth can take on a pivotal role in shaping the care providers she will align with and indeed the type of birth she is likely to experience. Before we begin to discuss beliefs surrounding childbirth…
What Exactly Is A Belief?
Beliefs are commonly defined as inward convictions; they are what you hold as truth at the core of your inner being. A belief is both mental and emotional in nature, it is the power of our beliefs that generally motivates us into purpose and action.
Our beliefs are established and stored within the realms of our subconscious mind. This is what Dr Bruce Lipton, Cellular Biologist, has to say about the subconscious mind;
“The subconscious mind is a database of stored programs, primarily derived from the programming a child receives from the last trimester of pregnancy through the first six years of life…Unfortunately, the downloaded programs comprising the subconscious database are derived from recording the behavior of others (parents, siblings and community). AND … psychology reveals up to 70% of these “learned” behaviors are disempowering, self-sabotaging and limiting.”
It is interesting to note that Dr. Lipton includes the last trimester of pregnancy as being inclusive of this period of intensive downloading we go through in the development of our subconscious beliefs and patterns as young humans.
It is often at this late stage of a woman’s pregnancy that she begins to really contemplate and experience fear and trepidation regarding the imminence of her birthing day.
All too often as her tummy expands, she is confronted by others who relay traumatic birth stories and their own fears about birth, the relentless and unrealistic portrayal of childbirth by the media can be a stark confirmation of her unconscious beliefs and fears about the intensity of labour and unfortunately many care providers are also guilty of imparting a lack of confidence in the women they are attending based on their own beliefs and experiences of birth.
So as you can imagine, there is a huge morphogenetic field containing many often unhelpful and disempowering beliefs in childbirth that a pregnant woman has to navigate on her journey to motherhood, some of which could have even been established in her as far back as her own visceral experience as a baby in her mother’s womb.
Some common sabotaging beliefs held and projected in the mainstream field of childbirth include the following;
Birth is painful
Birth is dangerous
You need pain relief to “get through” birth
Women’s bodies are not equipped to birth their babies.
As we discussed before, mothers beliefs about birth are shaped by the implicit or explicit information she has received from her family, her peers, the media and any health practitioners she may have utilized.
It is often the combined influence of these groups that can reinforce unhelpful beliefs about birth and mothers who identify with these beliefs can go on to carry a huge burden of fear and disempowerment throughout their pregnancies.
The expectation that birth is going to be extremely difficult and painful can cause high levels of catecholamine hormones and overall physical tension in the body, which when sustained in pregnancy and into the labour process means, you guessed it, her birth generally can become quite painful and difficult.
What the mind believes tends to be realized.
A study involving Australian and Swedish women conducted from 2007-2009 aimed to investigate the prevalence and impact of fear on birthing outcomes in two cohorts of pregnant women from Australia and Sweden and to explore the birth attitudes and beliefs of these women.
In this Australian and Swedish study, the women involved were categorised into three attitudinal profiles: ‘Self determiners’, ‘Take it as it comes’ and ‘Fearful’ according to their attitudes about childbirth held during mid pregnancy.
The ‘Self-determiners’ cluster contained the highest proportion of women. They had the highest percentage of unassisted vaginal birth of the three profiles.
These women showed firm opinions on the range of attitudes and beliefs. They were not afraid of childbirth and importantly they were the only group who showed strong agreement that birth was a natural event.
Women in the ‘Take it as it comes’ cluster were identified as a vulnerable group for an operative birth.
Why? Because this group were less likely to have researched their options for birth and the role of different care providers and the importance of critical thinking and decision making processes in labour.
Belonging to the ‘Fearful’ cluster had a negative effect on the women’s emotional health during pregnancy and increased her likelihood of preferring and actually having an operative birth and also increased the odds of having an epidural if they did go into labour.
Of these three profiles, the presence of fear linked to a belief that birth was difficult and painful had the most negative impact on women’s emotional health, feelings about pregnancy and parenting and experience of birth.
The results of this study suggest that attitudes and childbirth related fear are very important factors related to birth outcome and that they should be more thoroughly explored by health professionals during the antenatal period than what they currently are today.
What is most evident from this study is that the fearful women who were more likely to receive interventions and to birth via cesarean when surveyed did not perceive or BELIEVE birth to be a normal and natural event.
So what if this lack of belief and mistrust of birth that leads to such fear and disempowerment could be addressed during pregnancy for these women? Could the birth outcomes for women holding high levels of fear and a lack of belief in normal birth be positively influenced?
The answer is unequivocally YES!!!
We can take back the power of our mind, especially our beliefs surrounding pregnancy and our ability to birth our babies. Just by identifying our beliefs we can facilitate changes in our emotions and behavior without it needing to be a struggle.
Through self-awareness and education, we can realise that the thoughts and beliefs held by our subconscious mind have become outdated.
Changing a core belief can be surprisingly easy, you simply shift your perspective and stop believing in it, a new perspective allows you to have that epiphany and new awareness that can completely transform the old belief you were holding.
The good news too is that your subconscious mind will also readily accept new beliefs to replace the old ones.
If during your pregnancy you wisely choose the education and caregivers to align with, you can replace inherited and unhelpful beliefs about childbirth easily.
Just as there is a huge morphogenetic field containing negative perspectives on childbirth, there is an equally large morphogenetic field of positive beliefs about childbirth nourished and fortified by ancestors and generations of women who have believed in their bodies and ability to birth powerfully and consciously.
Working with the Hypnobirthing AustraliaTM program, which teaches mindset and subconscious repatterning tools such as Hypnotherapy and the power of affirmations, has a tremendous impact in imparting positive birthing messages to women.
Using these tools, negative beliefs surrounding childbirth can then thankfully be transformed and embodied by women to read more like this…
Birth is Powerful
My baby is safe, I am safe. I trust birth.
I am a strong and empowered, my body and my baby know how to birth.
My body is perfectly designed to birth my baby.
And my all time favourite…
The power and intensity of my surges are never too strong for me, because they ARE me!!
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Katie Kempster – Hypnobirthing Facilitator