In our previous post, we took the time to highlight some general pregnancy relaxation techniques. Those methods included intentional rest, soaking in a warm tub of water, getting regular massages, and even employing a regular meditative practice. While we are talking about de-stressing and reducing anxiety during pregnancy, we thought it would make sense to follow suit and share some thoughts about how to have a smooth (well, relatively) labor and birthing experience.
Continue to read if you are interested in having a more calming labor and birthing experience. Keep in mind we aren’t in the business of making blanket statements that we say will work without fail. As we mentioned in our previous post, every woman’s experience is unique, and therefore requires special attention, perhaps by a certified midwife like Deanna D. However, there are practices that can be helpful which we can relay to our Tri-Cities community in a blog format. So that’s exactly what we are going to do! Without further ado, let’s get going.
Why Should You Be Relaxed During Labor?
Let’s start with our basic point. The fact is that being relaxed during labor has a good number of benefits, with some of them having a physiological impact that shouldn’t be ignored. For instance, if you are more relaxed during labor, this triggers your body to release hormones which are designed to help you bear the pain of labor more easily. Some of our readers might be familiar with this chief hormone involved, which oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurochemical involved beneath the surface of much of our daily lives, and is most commonly associated with feelings of comfort, safety, and calmness. More relevant to labor and childbirth, oxytocin helps regulate the duration, intensity, and frequency of contractions. If you come into Deanna D. Midwifery, we will educate you about how oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the hormone of love, labor, and lactation. And that is just one example of what relaxation can bring to the table during the birthing process.
What Can Stress Do During Labor?
We are not alarmists, but we will tell you the truth about what can occur. This isn’t a black and white issue, in the sense that some people who are relaxed get all of the oxytocin and if you feel a little bit of stress, you get none – that kind of thinking would cause you to, well, get stressed out. So don’t think like that!
But, having an excess of anxiety and stress during labor can have negative impacts on a hormonal level. Namely, the adrenaline released, due to the stress, can cause an interference in the body’s natural processes. The adrenaline can inhibit the aforementioned oxytocin release that should occur, slow the first stage of labor down, and reduce overall blood flow to the womb – none of which are ideal.
Most people know that intentional breathing has a role to play during labor, simply from watching movies, if not experiencing labor first-hand. But what about breathing is so beneficial? We are glad you asked! Taking measured, deep breaths, helps you calm down and increase your oxygen intake. It’s the same principle as your parents telling you to take a deep breath when you are young and freaking out for some reason. Try incorporating a counting technique to occupy your mind, too. One example of a counting technique would be inhaling for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 11. You will have to be dedicated to the cause if you want to really use it to its full effect during labor. Involve your partner or someone who will be with you during labor so that they can remind you of your plan. You will need all the support you can get during this time, if you didn’t know already!
As we mentioned in our previous post, supplementing your meditative practice, should you choose to have one, with a pregnancy-appropriate essential oil like lavender can have positive effects during labor. As Douala Sophie Fletcher notes, “When you’re practicing relaxation exercises during pregnancy, burn lavender oil. Have it with you during labour and it will trigger an association with relaxation.”
A Birth Partner
Like we’ve mentioned before, having a support system is likely to improve your birthing process, possibly in a significant way. Whether it is the father of your child, your romantic partner, or just someone who loves you, we don’t recommend trying to do this on your own. If you need convincing of that premise, consider the following points. Having quality birthing support means:
- You are more likely to be satisfied with the experience
- Less likely to need a Cesarean
- Less likely to have an assisted birth
- Less likely to use pain relief
- More likely to have a shorter labor
(We rest our case)
Consider who you are, and what makes you tick. Specifically, think about what calms you down, and what stresses you out. If you are considering a home birth, or perhaps even having your baby at an alternative birth center with the help of a certified midwife nurse, you will want to find a location that helps you feel at peace with yourself and your surroundings.
Get In touch With Yourself
As busy as life gets during a pregnancy, it’s difficult to take care of ourselves beyond our own immediate needs of comfort. But take some time to consider things that stress you out, things that make you uncomfortable, and the things which make you feel at peace. This way, you can prepare your mind and, perhaps, your birthing location to be catered to what you need. Don’t think of it as an act of selfishness. For crying out loud, you are painstakingly giving birth to another human being – which is the polar opposite of selfishness!
At Deanna D. Midwifery, we have a passion for educating our community of mothers and expectant mothers within the Tri-Cities region. Whether you are seeking a prenatal care clinic or are in need of a WHNP for another reason, know that we provide women of all ages with comprehensive health care. From adolescence to menopause and beyond, we provide services which include:
- Wellness education and counseling services
- Disease prevention, education, and care
- Medication prescription
- Symptom assessment and diagnosis
- Annual thorough physical examinations
- Interpretation and discussion of laboratory and diagnostic tests
- General women’s health promotion
Deanna D. Midwifery combines respect for human dignity with every woman’s right to health care. We are motivated by a lack of comprehensive, affordable health care for women. Our midwifery clinic, like many others, has experienced growth recently. But let’s not forget that the practice has been around for much longer than western medicine. We make a point to combine our modern knowledge and technology with age-old wisdom and practices. Deanna D. makes a point to educate and empower her clients through continued personal health education, so that you can continue on a trajectory of positive health from the first time you walk through our doors. If you are in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, or the surrounding area outside the Tri-Cities, consider one of the region’s top women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) in Deanna D. Midwifery. We would love for you to receive quality antenatal care during pregnancy. Schedule your appointment to do so, today.