It wouldn’t surprise me to hear you say “ I don’t believe it” “Hmmm…I’m not so sure about that” or “That’s not what I’ve heard!”
Negative, scary and at times, downright terrifying stories abound, and can be difficult to avoid. If you watch television, use the internet, read magazines or speak to family and friends, you may well hear tales that cause your heart to beat faster or your stomach churn. Some of these stories are based on real life but many more “grow with the telling”.
There is good news – you can have a positive, empowered birth! I have witnessed hundreds of amazingly beautiful births, two of my own births were comfortable and the last was pain free.
In my work as a practising midwife and reading research and evidence, I have discovered there are 3 major reasons for birth becoming difficult and at times traumatic:
Position of the baby. Have a look at this video Katrin and I made for Norwich Mumbler HERE.
Medicalisation of childbirth.
This blog will focus on the impact of fear – and how it can be managed.
If we think about birth logically, why should it feel excruciating and traumatic? Birth is like any other physiological process and just as thegut digests food without pain or the heart pumps blood without conscious effort on your part, birth happens all by itself.
Your body has everything it needs to grow and give birth to your baby.
There is an exquisite orchestration of hormones working for you. Oxytocin, sometimes known as the love hormone brings your womb the power it needs to give birth and helps you bond with your baby and endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers. Oxytocin is a ‘shy’ hormone and requires the right environment to do its job. These hormones are produced in the primitive part of your brain but can be disrupted by a number of factors, for example, bright lights, lack of privacy and fear.
When we are frightened our bodies produce a hormone called adrenaline. This is very helpful if we are faced with danger. It is known as the flight or fight reflex. Adrenaline redirects blood from non essential muscles and organs so our bodies can be ready for action, either running away or fighting the danger. Extra blood and oxygen to our limbs, heart and lungs will help us run fast.
When this reflex is triggered in labour, tension from fear and reduced blood flow to the womb can result in a more painful experience. Adrenaline affects the production of oxytocin and can cause labour to stop or falter.. A common example of this disruption is when a woman reports good labour surges at home but when she leaves her safe and comfortable home environment to travel to hospital those surges can disappear or reduce in intensity. The surges will return eventually but it can take an hour or so.
For many years in my practice I used gentle soothing techniques to help labouring women relax- it was an instinctive reaction. Eventually evidence of the importance of oxytocin, its role in the process of childbirth and the way stress can stop or reduce its production started to appear in research. Recognising that my instinctive practice had a sound physiological basis led me to train as a Hypnobirthing practitioner. Hypnobirthing helps women manage fear and anxiety, giving the body’s normal birth physiology a far better chance to take progress.
Attending Hypnobirthing classes provides you and your birth partner the tools and strategies to help you stay and remain relaxed, confident and calm throughout labour, no matter where or how you give birth.