The 2 most important things you need to have a natural childbirth without pain meds or interventions are:
1. To labour without the presence of fear or anxiety
This is number one for a good reason. Fear and anxiety can affect every part of your labour and cause unnecessary pain and birth complications.
Fear in labour can cause your labour to become stalled or dysfunctional—a process called the fear-tension-pain cycle.
When human beings – male or female – are under stress, our bodies release all kinds of chemicals and hormones. Adrenaline is one everybody's heard of.
This ancient survival mechanism prompted the “fight or flight” response in our cave-dwelling ancestors.
Although we’ve evolved beyond primal fears, our bodies still respond exactly the same way to stress or perceived danger. We simply can’t help it. It’s an instinct.
Adrenaline also causes conflict in the uterine muscles. And THAT is what causes increased labour pain, and it can slow down your labour.
Here’s how it works.
Your uterine muscles are beautifully designed to deal quite effectively with danger, fear and stress in labour. The uterus is the only muscle in your body that has two opposing muscle groups within itself.
One group of muscles contracts, pulling upwards to open the cervix during labour. The other STOPS it if you sense danger or feel afraid while giving birth so that you will have time to
get to a safer place to deliver your baby.
Emotional or physical stress will automatically signal danger to you. Your labour will slow down or stop completely so you can seek safety.
It’s our old “fight or flight” response again but, in modern times, this goes haywire because we can't run from all the stories of labour pain we’ve heard or the fears we might have of medical interventions.
Now you, as the birthing mother, instinctively release adrenaline, which causes the short, circular muscle fibres of your lower 1/3 of your uterus and cervix to close up. While the long, straight muscle fibres of your uterus are contracting to dilate or open the cervix, these short, circular muscle fibres are trying to close it, "fighting" the labour.
See what’s happening? You’re feeling the very real pain of two powerful muscles pulling in opposite directions each time you have a contraction.
By learning to deeply relax mentally, physically and emotionally; by actively dealing with your fears about childbirth before you go into labour; and by choosing a birthing environment that feels safe and protective, you no longer have to experience the traumatic pain caused by what’s known as the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle.
In other words, if you can learn to minimize your stress, you can control your stress hormones AND your pain. My deep relaxation techniques eliminate the fear and tension that cause long labours and increased pain.
You’ll feel confident and focused.
The audio CDs and workbook activities in this course have all been developed to help you learn skills to transform this negative cycle into what I call the comfort-focus-joy cycle.
In the chapter Causes of Pain in Labour we’ll cover this topic in greater detail, but here I would like to give a few small tips to use during the birth:
•Don’t think past the very contraction you are experiencing. Maintaining your focus on the present moment will, believe it or not, allow your body to relax and do what it does naturally.
•Rest your mind in-between contractions. If you worry about the next one or are still upset about the one that just past, then you won’t get a much needed rest in between. Find ways to distract yourself, such as music, walking, rocking, massage, positive visualization and affirmations.
•Make noise. Deep low sounds or moans, rather than screams, will help you stay focused and not get caught up in fear and anxiety.
2. Education about labour and delivery
The second biggest cause of pain in labour and complications is a lack of education about common events and interventions that you might be faced with during the birth of your baby. When things don’t go as you expected, fear will arise easily unless you are informed about what options are open to you.
The education I’m talking about prepares you to deal with situations as they arise, which reduces fear and anxiety, and thereby reduces pain.
I encourage you to learn what all of your choices are and what your rights are in the hospital where you will give birth.
If you choose to give birth at home, you may be transferred to a hospital, so you would be wise to educate yourself about the hospital’s common practices—and your midwife’s or doctor’s practices.
The Workbook and the Birthpartner’s Pocket Guide will also help you educate yourself and make plans. This education will greatly increase the likelihood that you will have a more positive birth experience because you feel confident in your ability to make more informed choices that work best for you and your baby.
Knowledge is power. Please don’t just walk into the hospital and hope for the best—I can’t imagen how scary that would be—instead, learn as much as you can.
The Peaceful Birth Advantage
• A relaxed, more comfortable birth
• A calmer baby
• An informed, supportive partner
• A positive birth experience
• Most importantly you will be able to make well informed decisions.
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