Using and Trusting Your Natural Responses With HypnoBirthing
When approaching your birth there can be a disconcerting feeling that is summarised quite expertly in the Monty Python birth sketch. When a woman in labour asks John Cleese what she needs to do, he promptly replies with “Nothing dear, you’re not qualified”. Of course, a woman’s body is more qualified than we give it credit for and has a plethora of responses that can aid you in your experience.
Give consideration as to how birth is something entirely separate from the thought-filled way we now live our lives. Humans think non-stop: is this the right choice? How can I make this better? What’s happening? I like this. I dislike this and so on. So much cognitive reasoning it’s sometimes hard to remember that we are all animals, and that animal instincts have kept us alive and thriving for millennia. For an expectant mother, some of these instincts and responses will aid the birthing experience, whilst others will slow it down. With HypnoBirthing you can learn methods that can help control your subconscious reflexes to promote a positive birth with your own internal responses.
The Panic Response to Labour: Freeze-Flight-or-Fight
We’re all familiar with the flight-or-fight response but there is a response that we feel far more frequently in the modern world: freezing. When you need to step up to a podium, you may have an urge to run but it’s far more likely you will simply freeze up. This rabbit-in-headlights response causes us to tense and lock up, which can be a challenge to overcome during birth. After all, if you can feel stressed and tense standing in front of a crowd to deliver a speech then how will you feel in a strange place with strangers all around you so that you can give birth? No matter how kind and sympathetic those people may be it is a scenario that will be very tempting for your freeze-flight-fight response to kick in at a time when your muscles need to be lax rather than tense. In The HypnoBirthing Book I offer an example where you can see how this can slow down and even reverse the birthing process:
“I have a very good midwife friend who tells me of an occasion where she was caring for a mother in hospital who was doing well and was 6cm dilated when she was examined. Shortly after the examination, the senior midwife bustled into the room to check what was going on, examined the mother again and found she was 3cm dilated. It was the arrival of a stranger; a slight rush (which is stress) that caused the process to reverse. Nobody had been unpleasant, nobody had been unkind, but the body had just said ‘I’m not quite sure about this’, and the whole process had reverted.”
Not only is stress an unpleasant emotion but the way your uterus is built depends on pairs of muscles working in tandem, as with other areas of the body. Have a thought for your simple biceps and triceps: one must release so that the other can tense and allow for movement. If both those muscles are struggling against each other then this creates a situation that will be best resolved via a calm and relaxed body rather than one that’s frozen in place.
HypnoBirthing and Promoting the Confidence Response in Your Body
What’s key to remember here is that there is no need to enter this freeze-flight-or-fight response during a birth, which is why HypnoBirthing promotes the confidence response of the body, or the parasympathic nervous system. You are actually in this state all the time when you’re not experiencing an emergency and this features a range of responses that aid in a natural birth
- Blood flow is kept to the internal organs to promote energy production, rather than to the arms and legs during an emergency response.
- The hormone Oxytocin is produced, which makes the uterine muscles work in labour.
- Endorphines are released, the body’s natural painkiller which can make you feel euphoric rather than at the mercy of any pain you feel.
So how can you promote these amazing natural responses? Giving birth in a place where you feel safe and secure, such as your own home, is a key way to remove the ‘alien’ experience that giving birth in a hospital will naturally come with. You can also learn to promote a positive way of talking about your birth, curbing that emergency response both before and during. This is one of the key approaches to HypnoBirthing that will give you easier access to your body’s natural responses.
You Have Control Over Making Your Birth as Positive as Possible
Bringing your confident state of mind (and, in turn, the way your body works when it is confident) will give you more control, help you work with pain and keep you more comfortable. In turn, helping the father to put himself in a confident state of mind will help him become an asset and support for you during the birth. And don’t forget that having confidence in your body, proving to yourself that it is qualified, will not only result in an easier birth but a happier pregnancy as well.