You’ve Heard the Horror Stories. Now lets get real…
Many women will experience discomfort in childbirth, there’s no secret about that. I’m not here to tell you they did it “wrong”, or to downplay their experiences, or to tell you to give birth in a bathtub, or to just get an epidural, already! I’m here to tell you the HOW & WHY about discomfort during birth. This is an important topic, mostly because I’m not entirely sure that women ever consider that there might be a reason for it. Can you imagine? It turns out, our bodies are actually quite brilliant and know just what they’re doing. But its also important to discuss because when we understand the HOW & WHY, it can actually help a woman to get through her birth feeling like she had a positive experience. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
Without further ado, here are 7 reasons why feeling your body’s sensations during birthing, could actually help you:
- Hormones, baby! Hormones in a pregnant mother are responsible for triggering the onset of birthing waves (contractions). But once a mother feels a birthing wave, her body will release endorphins, which help her to relax and go very inward. These endorphins tell her body to produce more oxytocin (our love hormone), which again begin the cycle of more waves. If a mother is being artificially induced with medications, and then numbed off all sensation, she is missing the steps of her body further creating waves on its own, feeling the natural relief that comes and the need to be focused and supported.
- More movement. When a woman can feel what her body is doing, she can feel if she needs to shift or adjust. She can feel the position of her baby and know more instinctually if she should squat, waddle, kneel, lean, lay, etc. It turns out that laying in a bed all day doesn’t offer the baby very many options for rotating and shifting into an optimal position for birthing.
- You’ll seek safety. Humans are mammals, and just like any other mammal, say a cat for instance, birthing is more effective when in a dark and quiet environment. A cat would never seek to give birth in broad daylight with groups of strangers watching; and neither should you. Discomfort in childbirth is a way the body tells you it’s time to settle down, find your “nest”, so that your body can work efficiently and without stress or worry.
- Your support team will know they’re needed. Whether it’s just you and your partner and your care provider, or if you’ll have a large support team of sisters, doulas, and close friends, discomfort in childbirth will help them to know it’s time to focus in on your needs. There is a sacred environment when in the presence of a birthing woman, and the people you’ve chosen to support you will sense this and know its time for pampering, quietness, and respect for your needs.
- Discomfort is brief. A birthing wave can last up to 90 seconds, and they can be as close as two minutes apart. The good news is that these are nice, strong, and efficient! The other good news is that these sensations come in waves, meaning that they gradually build and then reach a “peak”, which is typically the part when women feel discomfort. This peak is only a breath or two long before the wave starts to flow back down, when you get another couple minute break. So the discomfort we hear of? Mere moments. The bulk of your birth will be the building of the wave, which feels like tightening (imagine flexing your bicep—does that hurt?) the receding after the peak, and the relaxing and beautiful endorphin/oxytocin filled rest in between.
- Your brain will shift from “thinking” to “feeling”. A birthing woman who feels safe in her environment will make a shift from her “thinking” brain, to her “feeling” brain, also known as the limbic system. This is usually when the mother goes from expressing, “yay! I’m finally in my birthing time (labor)!”, to feeling more like, “okay, its time to settle in and focus now.” It is nature’s way of getting the mother to go more inward and be able to handle the sensations she’s experiencing, rather than talking about what she’s experiencing. This helps her to create those wonderful endorphins, mentioned above, that get her nice and relaxed, and zoned into her birth.