Interactions Between Stress and Labour

After doing an amazing webinar with Eric at Shakti Rhythm Yoga here in Kincardine I got to thinking about stress.  A little bit of stress can keep us motivated and let’s be honest, not matter what you do, there is some sort of stress in our lives.  However, when it comes to labour and delivery, stress can be a really big component. Of course it is going to be stressful, you are not only bringing a tiny human into the world physically, but emotionally and mentally. You are preparing to bring new people home – baby and YOU as parents! This can bring joy, anxiety, excitement, and nervous feelings. All of these or none of these are completely normal!

But when it comes to those hours/days leading into labour and eventually to birth, we want to keep the stress levels to a minimum. I know what you’re thinking “easier said than done” – don’t worry! For those who have taken my classes you have heard me talk about the sphincter law. When we feel stressed or worried we tense up, this goes for our sphincters too (focusing on the cervix for this article). It is evolution, if there was something stressful or concerning in the wilderness, it wouldn’t be safe to bring a baby into the world. If things are safe and calm, what better environment for a brand new baby (according to your cervix)?!

On top of all this is the interaction between cortisol (the stress hormone) and oxytocin (the love hormone). Mild levels of cortisol are going to naturally happen during labour regardless as your body moves through contractions. High levels of cortisol will interact with oxytocin and slow down or stop contractions (stalling out labour). However, we can avoid higher levels or peaks with a few steps.

One – a supportive and relaxed partner. Yes partner, I know it is stressful watching your loved one go through labour and also thinking about parenthood yourself! However, you need to be a rock on baby day! If this means you need to step out of the room or go to the bathroom to take a couple of deep breaths – do it! Or better yet, take those deep breaths with your laboring partner! The webinar with Eric demonstrated some great partner breathing techniques plus we go through a bunch in any of my classes (this is one thing I ALWAYS teach).

Two – find what relaxes you, and bring it! Try this exercise; sit down one night by yourself while pregnant. Think about what you would love to have that would feel relaxing. Then bring whatever that is to your laboring location (home or hospital). If that’s your favourite pillow – bring it, if it’s the smell of lavender – toss it on a cotton ball, put it in a zip lock back and bring it (some hospitals are scent free so sometimes diffusers aren’t allowed). If it’s your Backstreet Boys CD (or cassette) from the 90s – bring it!!

Three – find and address your worries before baby time. Chat with someone, a friend, your partner, your parents, even a professional about what your worries are. Many parents (experienced or brand new) have worries about being a good parent, breastfeeding, sleeping etc. This is normal! But if kept bottled up, can cause those cortisol levels to subconsciously increase, as you get closer to delivering your baby. I am here for you in whatever way you may need! Whether that’s an extra class on breastfeeding, webinar links for sleeping and postpartum or just an ear to listen – I am so happy to help!!

Please reach out about anything in this topic (email torrachtobairn@gmail.com or call/text 905-536-6953). Webinar videos are recorded and provided to any past, current, or future clients as an added bonus to my classes. Stress can be overwhelming; don’t let it interfere with labour! Studies have shown that those who take prenatal classes have decreased labour times and decreased medical interventions! Reach out for more information anytime.

Christine

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