Let Go and Give In
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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

Let Go and Give In

There is one concept that has become so clear to me – it has taken me almost four years of teaching The Bradley Method® to really “get” the beauty of the method we teach.
 
The catch-phrase of Bradley™ classes is: Relaxation is the Key to Labor.
 
Why:  Relaxation is the tool The Bradley Method® teaches to allow a mother to immerse herself in her limbic brain center – the one that deals with her emotions.  What she is feeling is crucial to the progression of labor.  She must let go, give in, and allow her baby to come out.  

A mother must feel safe enough to allow herself to be vulnerable.  
In order for labor to progress, a woman must SURRENDER to the process happening within her without trying to control it.
 
What she feels influences her endocrine system, which in turn will make the hormones she needs for labor to progress *or* the hormones to inhibit labor until mother feels that she is in a “safe” place.  The brain receptors will accept either oxytocin to promote labor or adrenaline to inhibit labor - never both at the same time.

Her feelings also influences the autonomic system, meaning all the things that happen without conscious effort: heart beat, breathing, digestion, etc.  If she feels safe, her heart rate and breathing will be calm and allow her to enter a state of deep relaxation and embrace the sensations of labor and work with her bofy.  If she feels frightened or defensive, her heart rate and breathing increase, inhibiting her ability to relax and give herself over to the process of birth, and she will fall into the fear-tension-pain cycle.
 
Dr. Sears says it another way:
“In a satisfying birth you must surrender to your body, yield to your urges, tune in to yourself, open up, and let baby come out”
~The Birth Book, page 137
 
So how do we get to the maximum state of deep relaxation? Dr.Bradley identified six factors that were common among the mammals he observed in labor. (Husband-Coached Childbirth, 5th Edition, Pages 57-61)

ONE: Darkness and solitude
ONE: Darkness and solitude
The beginning of changing states from conscious to limbic brain center.
TWO: Quiet
TWO: Quiet
Keeping outside noise and distractions to a minimum allows a mother to continue into the limbic state and altered consciousness.
THREE: Physical Comfort
THREE: Physical Comfort
Follow your instincts and allow the sensations of labor to guide you into the most comfortable position for each contraction
FOUR: Physical Relaxation
FOUR: Physical Relaxation
Relaxation of uninvolved muscles during labor – difficult for human mothers to imitate if the mental and emotional relaxation has not happened yet. Practice during pregnancy can help her when she needs this skill during labor.
FIVE: Controlled Breathing
FIVE: Controlled Breathing
The only breathing "taught" by TBM is deep abdominal breathing. As labor intensifies, the Coach can help the laboring mother go back to her breath.
SIX: Closed Eyes and Appearance of Sleep
SIX: Closed Eyes and Appearance of Sleep
This allows the mother to turn inward and focus her energy into "The Zone"


A good foundation in methods and techniques for physical, mental and emotional relaxation is part and parcel of applying the six needs for a natural childbirth.  

Do take the time to practice relaxation techniques every day as you prepare for your birth.  A course in The Bradley Method® will offer couples 11 different relaxation tools for their toolbox to address physical, mental and emotional relaxation.
 
As much as you are spending time to plan Sweet Pea’s nursery, finding the best gear for them, and taking care to find the best care pediatrician, invest time in preparing yourself for their Birth-Day.  Barring any true complications [1], your ability to relax and embrace your labor will allow them to have a healthy, low-risk start in life.

Need more convincing?  Here are some excerpts from a position paper printed in the New Zealand College of Midwives Journal [2] that makes a case for the importance of an empowered birth experience in which a mother is allowed to labor according to nature’s physiological design.
 
About the hormonal process of birth:
“It has been known for some time that hormones influence the functions of organs within the human body but scientific advances have led to an understanding that neurohormones are also intricately intertwined with emotions (Pert, 1997). Hormones are chemical substances (messengers) secreted into the blood or body fluid that exert a physiological effect on other cells in the body (Blackburn, 2007). They facilitate the maintenance of an optimal internal environment, initiate corrective and adaptive responses to any deviations from normal physiology and direct human behaviour. Neurohormones are hormones which are synthesised and released from neurones; as such they are secreted within the brain to work both on the neurones in the brain and on different sites within the body via the blood stream (Douglas & Ludwig, 2008). These hormones have subsequently been found to influence behaviour because they have an effect on how the body adapts physiologically (Cacioppo & Berntson 2006).
“Integrating contemporary scientific knowledge with women’s descriptions of their feelings during labour improves our ability to theorise, and to comprehend the complexity of the physiological, emotional and physical changes that occur during labour and birth. This mind/body/behaviour concept supports health professionals and women to a better understanding of labour physiology. Midwives need to explore ways of maximising and enabling the instinctive drives that support the woman’s physiology. This may include reviewing the birthing environment to ensure the woman can go into ‘The Zone’. There are simple but key environment enablers such as keeping the lights low, staying quiet during contractions and not making eye contact. Ensuring women maximise the limbic brain connection is about supporting them to ‘disconnect’ with others during labour whilst also maintaining the usual physical and emotional midwifery care.”
 
On the rite of passage encompassed by pregnancy and birth: 
“Pregnancy and the process of labour and birth are designed to bring about behavioural changes which culminate at the birth in maternal attachment and mothering behaviour. The hormones that are necessary for social and maternal bonds are also those responsible for the initiation and continuation of labour. As such the process of pregnancy, labour and birth is not just a physical process but also a transitional process in which the woman is prepared (biologically and emotionally) to become a mother and exhibit maternal behaviours. The feelings and behaviour women exhibit during labour may be strong indicators of normal labour physiology and that labour and birth are proceeding normally.”
 


Do you have a favorite relaxation technique that helped you during pregnancy and/or birth?  
Please leave a comment - it will be moderated and posted.

[1] There are true complications of pregnancy and childbirth.  When the benefits outweigh the risks, those are the times when medical intervention is desirable and appropriate for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  A comprehensive childbirth course like the Bradley Method can help you have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy and learn the communication skills to navigate those situations. It is possible to have a healthy start in spite of complications.

[2]Dixon, L., Skinner, J., Foureur, M. (2013). The emotional and hormonal pathways of labour and birth: integrating mind, body and behaviour. New Zealand College of Midwives Journal, 48, 15-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.12784/nzcomjnl48.2013.3.15-23
 
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

 

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