Reducing Anxiety and Fear in Childbirth
Relaxation and developing a feeling of trust in our bodies and our own strength is a key to promoting calm childbirth, this can be promoted with therapies such as reflexology and hypnotherapy.
Childbirth is a natural process but for many women and their partners simply the thought of birthing their babies evokes great feelings of fear and anxiety. In our culture birth has become a medical condition and is seen as an ordeal that must be endured. In other cultures childbirth is seen as just another part of life without fear. In these cultures girls grow up with a belief that childbirth is a positive event to be celebrated and embraced.
At Breathe Holistic Therapy we aim to support women and families to rediscover a positive expectation of birth. Massage and reflexology for pregnancy are both available to promote relaxation. Mindfulness is also a powerful tool during pregnancy and beyond.
Many women wonder what real difference feeling calm, confident and in control can really make to their birthing experience. To truly understand this it is first necessary to look at the effects of fear and tension on a mum-to-be and her new baby. Early in the last century the interaction between fear, tension and pain was explored scientifically. It was seen that fear increased tension which increased pain which in turn further increased fear. Without intervention this cycle continued leading to intolerable pain and panic.
In biological terms the anxious women is producing hormones designed to protect her from danger, such as cortisol and adrenaline, initiating the fight, flight or freeze response. This biological combination has a negative effect on childbirth as it signals that the women is not safe to birth her baby. The anxiety hormones directly effect the secretion of hormones essential for labour (e.g. oxytocin) and hormones which provide natural analgesia and euphoria in labour (e.g. endorphins).
Changes at a muscular level are also significant; when feeling tense and afraid muscles naturally tighten in readiness for action, but this is not helpful in labour. The resistance and tension can lead to more discomfort and a potentially slower labour. Messages from a tense anxious women's nervous system will also tell her body that she is expecting pain, priming her body for pain signals as a protective measure.
Fear and anxiety can have strongly negative effects on child birth but there are many ways to counteract this by promoting a calm internal environment perfect for the natural process of birth. Therapies such as reflexology initiate the relaxation response which counteract the effects of stress right down to a cellular level. Breathing correctly, for example, triggers relaxation hormones which prohibits the release of stress hormones. Mindfulness builds on this natural response and goes further to promote a positive confident approach to child birth, empowering women to work with their bodies and their babies for an easier more comfortable birth.
By alleviating their fears and negative preconceptions the experience of welcoming a new family member can be embraced and enjoyed by all involved. Reflexology can be enjoyed by all the family to ensure everyone's relaxation is enhanced in readiness for the birth and all the exciting times afterwards.
This birthing video shows how calm and relaxed both the mother and her partner are during the final parts of stage one of labour. If, however, monitoring means movement is not possible this video shows how calmness can be enjoyed throughout the progression of labour .
Reducing fear and anxiety during pregnancy and child birth can promote calmer, more comfortable and enjoyable birth for all the family.