In order to understand how to make childbirth easier, first you have to understand fear and how it affects the body during birth.
It is estimated that over 80% of women are afraid of giving birth and when we see how birth is portrayed on TV and hear all the horror stories told to us by our friends, it is not hard to understand why we are so scared.
When we are afraid, our bodies release a cocktail of chemicals that cause us to tense up and prepare to fight the danger ahead or to run away. We go into what is called ‘fight or flight’ mode. During birth, there is often a third option which happens more often than kicking the midwife and running out the room! This option is to freeze. This happens when stress hormone and adrenaline are released and contractions slow or stop thus hindering the natural birth process.
What we need to understand very clearly is what happens to the birthing muscles (the uterus) when the body goes into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. When we are scared, we tense up and our body interprets the situation as a threat. This affects the lower circular muscles of the uterus and they do not open easily or efficiently to allow the baby to move out of your body. In fact they can tighten up so that your baby’s head is pushing against a hard, unrelenting muscle layer. This increases the pain experienced for the mom and may cause the baby to go into distress.
By releasing any fear you may have of giving birth and learning how to relax, you allow your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are 200 times stronger than morphine and have a mutually exclusive relationship with stress hormone. You either have one or the other. Endorphins allow the body to relax deeply, they change the physical experience of pain and, best of all, they allow the uterus to open gently and easily for your baby to just slip out!
So the question becomes, how do I ensure I have endorphins flowing through my body and not stress hormone?
The good news is that this is very easy to do, it just takes some dedication and practice. 1.You have to help yourself to proactively let go of any fear 2.You have to teach your body how to relax 3.You have to practice this regularly to get the best results
And the great part is that every time you go into relaxation your baby gets the benefit too. Babies who have experienced regular relaxation practice with their moms tend to be much calmer and eat and sleep better. Wishing you an easier birth!