A positive birth is all about how a woman feels during her labour or birth. Whether women describe their birth as empowering, positive, spiritual or sacred – they are talking about how they felt in mind, body and spirit. Feelings are shaped by how they perceived birth as well as how they were supported and treated by those around them.
I admit it. Before experiencing birth at all, I thought women who spoke of birth like this must be absolutely crazy! I couldn’t reconcile what I thought must be the most painful and dangerous ordeal imaginable with these descriptions of joy, ecstasy, empowerment and strength.
Even once I began to understand that labour was manageable and a natural birth was possible, I didn’t understand how birth could be anything but hard work. I went into my first birth determined to get through. It felt like a battle.
One of the missing pieces of the puzzle for me was the connection between the biology of labour and the experience of labour. Labour is all about letting go, not fighting. My dogged determination was actually in conflict with the process and the progress of my labour. Mentally and emotionally holding on like this tells the body “I am not safe. My baby is not safe.”
When women feel anxious, the hormone that drives contractions is interrupted by fight or flight hormones. Labour may slow or stall and medical intervention may be introduced to move things along. Women need to feel safe, private and loved to support the work of the hormones that create labour.
The hormones released during labour also provide pain relief and enhance a mother’s feelings of joy and bonding with her baby. These hormones are most effective when women feel safe enough to let go of inhibitions, fears and rational thoughts and enter into a deeply relaxed state of consciousness. The combination of birth hormones and joy at the birth of her baby produces intense feelings of strength, love, pride and euphoria for the woman. Birth can be a powerful experience that causes women to exclaim joyfully “I want to do that again!”
So feeling loved, safe and private enough to let go is not just a ‘nice idea’ for labouring mothers. It is a biological imperative – it is nature’s plan.
You can learn more about the hormonal blueprint for birth from Sarah Buckley’s excellent free ebook on her website: www.sarahbuckley.com