Thursday, 16 July 2009

Understanding how the body is designed to work during labour and birth

Every time I start a HypnoBirthing or Hypnosis for Childbirth course I actually feel a little sad. If we hadn’t been so brainwashed into believing that our bodies were flawed in some way I would not need to be teaching these courses at all. Unfortunately, as each generation tells stories of how awful birth is and as individual women give birth and share their own horror stories amongst friends and relatives, this all adds to the negative conditioning that leads women to believing that they have to endure horrific pain during childbirth unless they opt for the pain relieving drugs that are available. Marie Mongan, the founder of HypnoBirthing calls this 'Universal Conditioning'.

But why is it do you suppose that the uterus is the only set of muscles that do not function properly? Without special circumstances (complications) all of our other muscles work without discomfort as long as we are using them for the purpose that they were design.

The good news is that the muscles of the uterus are actually designed in the same way as all of our other muscles. There are three sets of muscles within the uterus and the two that we are concerned with for birthing are the inner circular muscles found mainly at the lower part of the uterus and the outer longitudinal (vertical) muscles. The circular muscles need to thin and open what we know as dilation and this happens by the outer longitudinal muscles drawing them up. The vertical muscles also shorten and flex in a wave like motion to push the baby down. These two sets of muscles are designed to work in harmony, however, when a woman goes into labour with any fear, is stressed or anxious, or circumstances arise during her labour that create these emotional responses, stressor hormones called catecholamines are triggered setting off the ‘fight or flight’ response. This causes oxygen to move to those muscles that are required to give energy to enable an individual to either stand and fight or to run away, but when this is not appropriate as in a labouring woman, they instead act as constrictors. We see this in animals and know it to be a part of survival, enabling them to stop their babies coming until they reach a place of safety where they can then relax and allow their bodies to return to normal and birth their babies comfortably. But if the danger is perceived as is more likely the case of a labouring woman how does she ever reach that place of safety? Her subconscious believes she is in danger her circular muscles become tense and tighten but the vertical muscles continue to pull up, quite simply it is this that causes the great discomfort you hear about during labour. Unfortunately, oxygen is moving away from the uterus and therefore the baby and the baby’s head is also being forced against a taught muscle, both of which can lead to foetal distress. Because the cervix is resistant this can also lead to what is medically known as ‘failure to progress’ both of which can cause midwives and/or doctors to want to use intervention to move things along.

There is good news though, when you are fully relaxed and without fear as you go into labour the stressor hormones cannot be present and instead it enhances the ability of the bodies natural pain killer, your endorphins which are 200 times the effect of morphine. When your endorphins are fully stimulated during labour and birth they will actually help prevent your nerve cells from releasing pain signals, and will also provide you with a feeling of power and control as your progress through your birthing, creating a wonderful amnesiac effect and a fantastic sense of well being

Apart from the universal conditioning there are other factors that can affect the uterus always functioning as it should by creating fear, stress and anxiety in a labouring woman?

Caregivers may not accommodate and encourage a mother’s wish for a natural birth

Early and on-going programme of horrors

Vocabulary – you don’t want anyone asking you if you are in any pain

Birthing atmosphere

The hypnosis techniques learnt, either by attending a HypnoBirthing or Hypnosis for Childbirth course with me or following my downloadable mp3 programme, will help you remain calm and relaxed and therefore enable your body to function as it is designed to do during labour and birth. This combined with making sure that you have supportive people around you, a relaxing environment and that you have carried out a fear release exercise will all give you the best opportunity to have a comfortable birth experience.

To find out more have a look at my site

post signature

No comments:

Post a Comment