Fear; the enemy of the labouring woman
OK. I know hypnobirthing isn't for everyone. And I've heard plenty of friends tell me they didn't prepare for birth because 'on the day it all goes out of the window, so why bother?'. But - I know, there's always a 'but' - taking that position doesn't recognise the impact & effect of culture.
Culture - by definition - informs our attitudes, expectations and experiences of events. And the prevailing culture around childbirth at this time in history, is one of fear. Look at film and tv; pretty much every depiction of birth is one of panic and agony. Women wracked by what their body is doing to them. Learned Drs applying tools and chemical compounds to release babies from bodies.
So it's not a surprise that women are fearful of the pain. Fearful that their body won't perform on the day.
Yet birth is designed to continue the species; how odd it would be if evolution had accounted for all operations of our bodies except birth! We are designed to birth healthy, live young. And our bodies do remarkable things to ease the passage of our babies; releasing hormones and endorphins at the appropriate time, shifting and moulding to allow our babies to pass. These are truths - they just make less good viewing than screaming, panicky women, so we don't make tv programmes with these truths as the central tenet.
So. If you are pregnant now, or have pregnant friends, you could do worse than delve deeper into the real truths of labour and birth. You might take the approach you would if you were going on holiday, or starting a new hobby - and read a little bit. Maybe start with this excellent article by Milli Hill of the Positive Birth Movement. And who knows, the fear may begin to lift.