The 'I can’t do it' Moment

You’ve labored for 24 hours with contractions every 5 minutes. You’ve danced through them, vocalized and released tension and you feel in control! ‘This baby is coming, and I’ve got this’, you think. As you continue laboring a slow haze of intensity sets in and the confidence you once had starts to waver. You look around for your support team and let out a cry “I can’t do this!” to which your team responds “Yes you can!”

As a birth worker- registered nurse, birth assistant to a midwife and birth doula, I have seen this scenario play out countless times. During active labor, a mom gets into a labor groove and her support team is with her 100% of the way. As things begin to get more intense, something shifts and the control the mom once had may begin to slip away. Sometimes this comes through fear, sometimes from exhaustion, and sometimes it can be from all of the changes in labor reaching a pinnacle. No wonder moms often need reassurance, support and encouragement in this time! Without this support, moms can give into compromises in their birth plan and goals, and feel
defeated in their labor efforts.

Now, don’t let me scare you! Knowledge is power and knowing that this moment may come in your labor is half the battle! You can be in control, even when the “I can’t do it” moment hits you!

  1. Gather your birth team
    Being confident in those surrounding you during your birth is CRUCIAL for you to labor and birth well. When you can relax and trust the hands you are in, there is so much more space for you to settle into your body and what is happening to you, rather than being worried about what is happening around you. Make sure your care provider listens to your concerns, answers your questions and helps you to feel at ease during prenatal appointments. If this isn’t the case, be honest with yourself before it is too late! Your birth is important and you deserve to have the best care you can get.

    Not only is it important to have a good doctor or midwife, but making decisions about who will be in your birth room is also important. Will your mother or best friend be there? Does she support your plans and desires for this birth? Will your partner be there and do they know your expectations of them?

    A great resource to consult in this time is a doula. Doulas provide the exact support you need in labor (emotional, physical and educational) and help you get through every “I can’t do it” moment. See resources below for more information and finding a doula in your area.

  2. Dive into your birth fears and worries. 
    In labor, your body is opening and allowing your baby to come down. One of the biggest things that can stop this process is fear. Fear holds us back, tenses us up and tells us “you can’t do this.” If there is anything about the birth process that makes you feel this way, even if you aren’t pregnant, begin processing through that fear. What is making you afraid? Is it something that can be fixed? What would be the worst that could happen? What would be the best that could happen? Once you identify the situations that make you afraid, share them with your birth team and allow them to listen to your process. This can be so healing and will help you handle the “I can’t do this” moment with confidence!

  3. Trust the process.
    You are joining a group of women that have given birth for countless generations. Many of those generations were supported only by female family members who had no medical training at all! Fortunately, the medical care and training of care providers today is much better than before, but, our bodies as women are still made with the same ability to bring life into the world as our ancient ancestors. Trust your body and know that you CAN do what you set your mind to.

    Set your mind and your heart to knowing that you are STRONG, you are CAPABLE and you WILL birth this baby! 

 Doula Resources


Ashlyn Biedebach is a Registered Nurse, has her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, is a Birthing Assistant and owns and operates By The Brook Birth Doula.

She lives in Denton, TX with her husband, Jacob and their foster cat. She has been passionate about birth and all that it entails since early high school, with the eventual goal of becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife.

Instagram: @bythebrookbirthdoula
Facebook: facebook.com/bythebrookbirthdoula
Website: www.bythebrookdoula.wordpress.com
Email: abiedebach@birthbootcamp.com