What are the most important things your body needs for birth in order for labour to progress as efficiently and as effectively as possible?
And how can you make sure you have them?
Birth is a matter of basic physiology, it is something that your body does as naturally as eating or drinking, but that does not mean you cannot influence your birth experience. Can you imagine trying to digest a heavy meal whilst swimming - it would not be comfortable. In just the same way, there are ways to make your birth experience more comfortable, just by meeting your bodies needs.
Probably the most obvious - we need to flood our body and especially our uterus with oxygen. So how do we do this? Breathing. Not holding our breath or panting, but breathing deeply. Knowing how to breathe during labour is vital, but it’s not that easy, it takes time and practice for the hypnobirthing breathing technique to become second nature. Practising hypnobirthing breathing techniques throughout pregnancy is so beneficial.
Birth Partner Role - Having a partner who has learned the breathing techniques with you can really be supportive. The can hold your hands and coach you through contractions if they have also been on a course.
Again, another that is obvious and you may not thing you have control over. But actually you do. And you can give your uterus more blood, high in oxygen, by remaining as relaxed and as calm as possible. When you start to become stressed during labour, your body releases adrenaline - this sends your body into a fight or flight state. You don't need someone to jump our and frighten you, just the stress of a perceived threat can cause this response in your body. When that happens, our body sends all the blood to our vital organs and muscles, necessary for our survival. So all the lovely oxygenated blood moves to your biceps and triceps, and quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves... but not your uterus. Because in a flight or fight scenario - that is not going to help you in that moment. In fact giving birth could be pretty dangerous - so the adrenaline stalls your labour until it perceives it is safer. This can cause pain, tension and cramping.
By remaining relaxed, your body can birth your baby as effectively and as comfortably as possible. Listening to your hypnobirthing MP3's will also help with this.
Birth Partner Role - By creating anchors for relaxation during hypnobirthing, your birth partner will be able to support you in returning to a place of deep relaxation when you find yourself becoming tense. They know you best so they are best placed to help you relax.
This crucial hormone is responsible for starting of your labour and keeping contractions going right up until you meet your baby. Without oxytocin we have what is called 'failure to progress.' Around this time the midwives start suggesting synthetic oxytocin to speed your labour up by using a drip of Syntocinon.
So how can you ensure your body has plenty of Oxytocin for your labour? This hormone is also called the 'love' hormone. Another time when our body is flooded with it is during sex and orgasm. So think about the environment you would need for that - you would want to feel safe. To feel like you are somewhere private and unobserved. You would want to be undisturbed.
Birth Partner Role - Your birth partner also has a role to play here in making you feel safe and loved. Hugs, kisses, touch and massage are great ways to promote oxytocin. During a class we cover different massage techniques specifically for labour as well as the birth partners role in protecting your birth environment.
You need energy for labour - it is a marathon not a sprint. If we are lacking in energy, the body simply cannot give birth, the muscles are tired and cannot do their job efficiently. A tired uterus can make contractions more painful.
There are two ways to get energy: eat and sleep.
- Sleep or rest - In the early stages of labour, before things get intense, sleep where you can or just rest. Even if it’s just chilling on the sofa watching a film, this is conserving energy. Even during the later stages of labour, if you do get a break between contractions - rest your head. A pillow spray can be great for helping you relax quickly and deeply if you have anchored this using hypnobirthing. - Eat or snack - Energy comes from food too. If you feel like you can eat or snack throughout labour, then do it. Food will give you energy as well as lucozade.
Birth Partner Role - if you are planning on birthing in the hospital, load up the boot of the car with all sorts of snacks, you could even pop a cool box in! Your birth partner can always step out if they are feeling overwhelmed and return with a treat for you or even a lovely cold drink - much better than hospital vending machines!
An interesting fact that you might not know about is – One of the biggest causes of labour slowing down and stalling is dehydration. The uterus needs water in order to be able to work efficiently. Whilst you may not feel thirsty during labour, it is important to drink if you can. Even if you can just manage small sips of water, then that will be helping your body to do what it needs to do to birth your baby.
Birth Partner Role - Having a partner to remind you to drink may seem silly, but you will probably forget during labour. Similarly reminding you to use the toilet is also important - a full bladder can take up room in your pelvis that your baby needs.
Insider tip – Add a water bottle with a built-in straw to your hospital bag checklist, it’s easier to drink from a straw than to tip a bottle. Drink as much as you can during labour as midwifes like you to have passed urine twice after giving birth and will measure this! The quicker you can produce your two urine samples, the quicker you can be discharged!
So there you have it. 5 things your body needs for birth!
Many don't realise that Hypnobirthing is based on the science of how your body works. But Hypnobirthing is about learning how to create the optimum conditions for birth, both your body and your mind.
All my courses will fully prepare you and your birth partner for the birth of your baby. Get in touch if you would like to know more.