A recent Finnish study that surveyed 500,000 expectant mothers found that pregnant women who fear childbirth are more likely to suffer from postnatal depression. Which begs the question: Who on earth isn't a little afraid of childbirth??? Have these mythical women who are not afraid of childbirth not seen any film or TV representations of this event? Do they not know about the screaming? And the tearing of skin that requires something I only recently and traumatically learned about called an episiotomy? And the potential for shitting yourself? And the fact that lots of people elect to be rendered entirely numb from the waist down in order to avoid the inevitable excruciating pain? I'm certainly scared of childbirth. There is a naive part of me that thinks actually being pregnant might be kindof magical and lovely in some ways, and the holding in your arms of your brand new baby? Magical! Lovely! The actual act of extracting that baby from your womb? Not magical. Not lovely. Pretty scary.
Those expectant mothers that have a (totally rational!) fear of childbirth and do not have any history of depression are three times more likely to develop postnatal depression, the study found. This would place them among the one in seven women who experience some level of depression (from "baby blues" to full on postnatal/postpartum depression) in the first three months after giving birth. Researchers hope that the discovery of this link may help health care professionals in recognizing postnatal depression.
In the meantime, I'll ease my own childbirth anxiety by planning on an epidural.