A CALM & EMPOWERED BIRTH

When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.

As a pregnant woman enters her last few months of pregnancy, naturally you begin to prepare for the birth ahead, mentally, physically, and spiritually. We have compiled a few top tips and information which will hopefully help towards having a calm and empowered birth. 

Throughout this blog, we continuously talk about birth in a positive manner, we refer to 'contractions' to surges. As we believe that when you vision a surge, it allows the mind to see this as a power surge, each surge or wave is getting you closer to meeting your baby. Whereas we find contraction rather a medical term.

A woman's body was designed to labour, give birth, breast feed and form deep connections with your baby. The hormones in your body drive these natural, well organised processes. 

Let’s talk about some of the hormones present during labour, birth and beyond: 

 

Oxytocin

Also known commonly as the hormone of love and the feel-good hormone! It is present with lovemaking, fertility, surges during labour and birth and also responsible to assist with released milk in breastfeeding.

Oxytocin is the hormone of empathy. It makes us feel good! It triggers nurturing feelings and behaviours. 

It is essential to be present during labour and birth. During labour, the pressure of the baby's head against your cervix stimulates the body to release the oxytocin hormone. This flood of Oxytocin stimulates powerful surges (also known as contractions) that help to thin and dilate the cervix. Which moves the baby down and out of the birth canal, then also to push out the placenta and limit bleeding at the site of the placenta.

In order for the body to release Oxytocin successfully during labour, the mind and body needs to feel safe, private and unobserved. If we totally strip back humans from modern life, our bodies still work as though we are 'cave men', like animals, humans would have birthed mostly during the night whilst hidden from any dangers of day-to-day life and predators, thus signalling to the body it is now safe to birth my baby. Without the sense of safety, your body will assume there are predators or dangers around, therefore it is not safe for you or baby to give birth, so the hormone will not release therefore will prolong your labour. It is recommended during labour, to keep your surroundings calm, quiet, relaxed and within low level lighting where possible to replicate this natural instinctual labouring behaviour.

The release of Oxytocin is also heightened when you are positioned in an upright position as gravity will naturally allow your baby's head to press against your cervix.

Remember during surges to keep your arms, jaw, legs relaxed, this is note that you are not tensing up the body.

Welcome each surge, do not tense up and fight against them.

Within the 9 months of pregnancy, babies pick up on hormones present in their mother’s body, when mother is calm and positively releasing Oxytocin, baby also picks up on this. Some say that this is a blue print for their life. It is good to remember that whilst pregnant, you are passing these loving, good feelings onto your baby. A lot of doula's and hypnobirthing practitioners believe that this key to a societal change and heals the earth birth by birth with all of these positive, calm, loving babes.

 

Endorphins

During labour and birth, the Pituitary gland released a hormone called Endorphins. These Endorphins act as natural pain relief. As mentioned before, our bodies have all of the capabilities to birth naturally without the need of modern medicines and interventions. Alongside the pain relief, Beta Endorphins flow alongside which are feelings of euphoria and well-being. A similar feeling that one would have with Morphine and Beta Endorphins act on the same receptors on the brain.

For women that do not use any pain relief medication during labour, the level of Endorphins continues to steadily rise and heighten as does the labour.

Hypnobirth labours without the use of pain relief medication successfully practice birth that see's mother enters a altered state of consciousness which help to deal with the process of giving birth.

 

Prostaglandins

This hormone works alongside Oxytocin, it helps to make sure that surges happen and that they continue to happen in a rhythmic flow. Encouraging a positive loop for the enter course of labour to continue.

 

Prolactin

This is known as the 'mothering' hormone. This is a hormone that peaks after the birth of the placenta and is the primary breastfeeding hormone.

Some tips below to help produce Prolactin in your body: 

  1. Waiting for labour to start naturally on its own
  2. Minimising stress pre and post birth
  3. Keeping woman and baby together after birth
  4. Breastfeeding as early as possible after birth and thereafter on the cue from baby

 

Adrenaline

 Adrenaline is quite well known generally. It is the 'fight or flight' hormone that humans produce to help to ensure their survival in certain situations. 

Women that produce Adrenaline during labour as they feel threatened by the pain or fear of birth may produce high levels of adrenaline. Adrenaline can slow or stop labour altogether. Earlier in human evolution, this hormone helped birthing women against predators.

Too much adrenaline produced in a labouring woman could cause the following problems: 

  1. Causing destress to the baby before birth
  2. Causing surges to stop, slow or have an erratic pattern, which can lengthen labour.
  3. Creates a sense of panic and increases pain in the mother 
  4. Leading health care professional can respond to these problems with a C-section and other interventions

With the above being said, Adrenaline does have its place in labour and birth. A sudden rush of adrenaline just before birth causes a surge of energy in the mother to help to deliver the baby.

 

Let's talk about a few tried and tested tips for a positive birth: 

  1. Learn and practice breathing techniques every day. Breathing techniques help to stabilise your mind and body during labour.
  2. Listen to positive birth podcasts, hypnobirthing podcasts, deep breathing exercises. A great time to do this is before bed, or as you are falling asleep. This is getting you prepared and well versed in relaxation for your birth. 
  3. Encourage an optimal birthing position for your baby. For example, you can watch your daily posture, get onto all fours daily to help position baby, have a daily bounce on your birthing ball, visualise daily your baby is in the safest birthing position for an easy birth, print affirmations and pop on your desk, bedside table, anywhere that you can remind yourself a few times a day, practise pregnancy yoga.
  4. Find supportive one to one care, whether that is a midwife professional, Doula, Hypnobirthing teacher.
  5. Practice your birth positions ahead of labour: upright and open positions.
  6. Rest up in early stages of labour to conserve energy. Make sure you eat little and often to keep energy levels up. 
  7. Try to remain present in the last few weeks of pregnancy. 
  8. Try to remain present in birth, it is a moment in time. Once each surge has passed by, enjoy the time before the next one to relax, don't spoil this time by worrying. 
  9. Trust your intuition! Remember that your body is made for this. 

 

Touching again on tip number 3 - Babies usually tend to turn into a head down position between week 30 and week 37. Whilst visualising a correct birthing position, you can also use positive, encouraging language to keep you in a calm, positive mind frame. 

You can continuously repeat this affirmation - "My baby is correctly positioned for an easy and comfortable birth" and "My body and my baby will work in unison to birth safely and naturally".

Feeling prepared for your upcoming birth will naturally make you feel in control thus feel calmer. See our checklist when preparing for baby by clicking here 

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