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Overcoming fears. Find your inner strength.

In August 2021 I went on trip to Norway to visit my friend. Yes, without kids, but we will talk about that later.

The holiday in Norway was not planned out. My friend has a campervan and we would go where the sun was shining. Unexpectedly, on this trip I overcame my fears and that is exactly what you can practice too. Both physical and mental challenges can be influenced with factual knowledge and willpower.

Let it be clear that I am not your ‘fit girl’. I never work out. I like to be active though. As a child I got exercise-induced asthma, which regularly made me feel short of breath during the slightest workout. Ever since I can remember I have been afraid of heights. I promised myself to overcome these unpleasant feelings.

That’s easier said than done. Ratio and emotions certainly do not always match. Hormones affect your body’s physical response and your mood. However, the brain is very strong and with willpower you can influence how you see yourself.

Throughout my life I have made several decisions to overcome my fear of heights. I even went skydiving. I did mindfulness exercises and learned how your thoughts influence how you look at yourself.

Once we arrived in Loen it was an impulsive decision to take the Via Ferrata walk. The pictures of the suspension bridge looked impressive. Always good for instagram ;-). I convinced myself that I could handle a 7-hour hike, including mountain climbing and views of extreme heights. I went for it! To quote Pippi Longstocking “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

The hike started at 9.30 am and 45 minutes later I was sweating and out of breath thinking ‘what did I get myself into? I can’t do this at all!’. Hey! Stop! I didn’t let my negative panic thoughts take over. I can do this! I went to the front of the group so that I had more time to rest during the breaks. I set myself achievable goals and linked wins to every milestone I achieved. Visualizations of what I could achieve. Not just during this hike but in my life. It was time to shake off my negative thoughts about myself.

I can be anything I want to be! My inner doula was coaching my inner child and my current self. Climbing that mountain became a healing journey. What a precious gift!

Feeling extremely proud and with a positively adjusted self-image I reached the top of Mount Hoven at 5:00 PM.

During your pregnancy it is very normal to experience fears and to be afraid of childbirth. There is also a name for it: tokophobia. Can I handle the pain of childbirth? Am I able to bear a child? Do I have what it takes to take care of my baby? Let me tell you something: You can do this! Find your inner strength!

But how? You may wonder. Preparation is the answer. Educate yourself about the physiological process of giving birth. What do you need to feel confident? Who do you need to be in your support team? Educate yourself about life with a baby. Follow a (private) course and learn about the stages of labour, the different hormones that play a role and positions you can take on to relieve the pain. Use affirmations and visualizations to influence your thoughts. Harness the power of your thoughts! Go into labour feeling confident.

When I gave birth to my children 8 and 6 years ago, I did not have this confidence and this knowledge. I didn’t even know what a doula was. But how I would have loved to have had a doula! Not to empower me. Because I can do that myself. But to remind me of the power I possess. A few words of encouragement could have lifted me up and out of my negative thoughts. Someone who would have looked me in the eyes and said, “You can do this! I am here for you.” But the midwife and my partner did not realize that I was feeling anxious and therefore said nothing. And yes, my children were born healthy but the mental experience could have been a lot better. And it is precisely that mental experience that will have such an impact on the rest of your life. I wish every family a confident start as parents.

“Birth takes a woman’s deepest fear about herself and shows her she is stronger than them.” During the pregnancy course at Birth in Holland, this is the most chosen affirmation by our participants. Parents-to-be go home with a new-found confidence in their own strength to handle labour like a boss!