How do we take the fear out of birth prep? Every childbirth educator is aware of the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle. It is frequently talked about as we help prep students for birth. Helping students understand that their emotional state can impact their physical experience of an event such as birth is eye opening and important. However, our words are powerful and lasting, especially if we focus on fear and pain. Today Amanda Devereux, co-creator of Birth Boot Camp DOULA, talks about re-thinking our reliance on Fear-Tension-Pain with a shift to something new and vastly more positive. Check it out. She has good words to share.
It is imperative that prep for birth help remove fear. There’s always more than one way to look at things and it’s time for a different perspective on the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle. We all know the value of understanding this cycle, but when a woman is in labor this mental image and these words are not where her energy, nor ours as doulas, should go. Pointing out a person’s tension, fear or pain is never helpful. Instead, a good doula sees the tension, notices the fear, and then takes steps to help relieve tension or help remove the fear. We can then offer ways to help cope with pain in labor.
When we turn the cycle inside out and look at how great labor really works, we can see the Cycle of Cs. This is where birth happens and this is where a good doula finds her work. The three Cs of labor are:
Confident - When a woman has confidence in her ability to birth her baby and confidence in her baby’s knowledge of birth, her fears are gone. She knows this journey is the perfect one for this baby and she makes way for this little one’s birth. Although doubt may sometimes creep in, her confident roots gained from childbirth education and innate wisdom will give her footing. Her birth team will remind her of the magnitude of her strength and continue to further build her confidence.
Calm - Birth is primal, raw and sometimes loud; but even in this there is calm. A mother’s confidence leads to this calm. Laboring mothers are reassured by the smiles and supportive eye contact of their team, by routine, and the calm energy offered by all those confident in her ability to birth this baby. A laboring mother finds calm in her atmosphere, smells, sounds and rhythms.This becomes the grounds for her coping.
Coping - Each birth is unique and will require that a mother discover just how to best cope with the sensations of the birth of this baby. Her calmness and trust in her abilities will allow her to open her mind, heart and body to this birth. Though this she will find ways to cope. As she moves further through her labor and her baby nears, she will find increasing confidence through her ability to cope.
When we see in a mother the fantastic strength and power she shows us when she is birthing, we are seeing what has always been there. Her strength, her power - these are not new, she’s just reaching depths that she likely never knew she had. As doulas, it is our job to help her move through the Cycle of Cs, to shed light on her confidence, to help provide the calm and to make way for her to find her best way to cope.
Amanda Devereux is a doula based in New Orleans, owner of Nola Nesting, a mother of three and co-creator of Birth Boot Camp DOULA. Join Amanda at Birth Boot Camp DOULA training and help couples have amazing births in your own community.