What the…? I know what you are thinking … How can this have anything remotely to do with labour and birth? Let me tell you, it has EVERYTHING to do with birth. Not only that, an understanding of this is the difference between you feeling a lot of pain or being much more comfortable in labour.
Okay, time for a mini lesson in Physiology. Did you know that when you are in a stressful or potentially dangerous situation your body responds by releasing the stress hormone catecholamine? This automatically activates your ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response. This allows your body to ‘escape’ the stressful/dangerous situation by directing blood and oxygen to the muscles most likely to help you escape the potential threat. This is FANTASTIC if you were in fact being chased by a tiger or in another dangerous situation as it would give you the energy you needed to escape/run away.
However, and this is a big HOWEVER … if you are fearful/stressed in labour mum’s body will respond the SAME WAY as mentioned in the scenario above. Her body will create that ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response. The muscles of the uterus which are perfectly designed to work together will no longer function in harmony (as the uterus has never been considered part of our defence system to escape danger!). This will create resistance between mum’s birthing muscles which in turn will create significant pain leading her into what Dr Grantly Dick-Read (Author of ‘Birth Without Fear’) coined the ‘Fear-Tension-Pain’ cycle.
And here is the KICKER … a mum’s mere perception of being in a dangerous situation creates the same effect in her body. That is correct F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real. Don’t believe me? Have you ever watched a thriller/horror movie? Did your heart race when something was happening to one of the characters? Did you catch yourself gasping out in shock/worry? Did you become jumpy if someone sitting next to you startles? Did your palms become sweaty? If you answered yes, you experienced the effects of the stress hormone ‘catecholamine’ being released in your body even though you were perfectly safe on your couch/or lounging back in the cinema chair.
What is the opposite of this fearful state? A state of calm and confidence.
During HypnoBirthing couples learn specific breathing/relaxation/massage techniques throughout the five week course that allow them to have a huge tool kit of resources to enable mum to stay in that state of calm rather than moving into a state of fear. This allows mum to assist rather than resist what is going on in her body. HypnoBirthing mums learn that a contraction (referred to as a surge or wave) is caused by oxytocin – the hormone of love. They learn to embrace their surges by using visualisations, affirmations and the incredible support of their birthing companion.
I (like all my fellow HypnoBirthing practitioners around Australia and the World) AM SO passionate about helping couples be INFORMED and EMPOWERED in the lead up to their baby’s birth.
Written by Natalie Jones.
Natalie Jones is one of our wonderful HypnoBirthing® International Gold Seal Practitioners from Melbourne.
Natalie runs HypnoBirthing Confidence in Melbourne
Visit her website: http://www.hypnobirthingconfidence.com.au