Let your hormones flow!
However, some of the hormones that are needed can be very ‘shy’ – they need the right setting to come out, and it can be very easy to make them go away.
There are numerous hormones that are needed during pregnancy, labour, and birth – firstly to signal that there is a fertilised ovum to start the pregnancy, then others to maintain a pregnancy, and then others to signal that the baby is ready to born and to start a labour.
During labour the most important hormone is oxytocin. Oxytocin is often described as the ‘hormone of love’ and I think this is the perfect description of it. It is the hormone that will contract the muscles of the uterus to pull the cervix up and push the baby out, it is the hormone that is released at the end that contracts the uterus to expel the placenta and then stop excessive bleeding, it is the hormone that is released to let down breastmilk, and it is the hormone that is released during an orgasm.
The ‘side effect’ of oxytocin is that you feel love – love towards yourself, love towards your partner, and love towards your baby.
But oxytocin is an incredibly shy hormone.
Think about this – could you have sex in a shop window and have an orgasm? This might be quite an extreme and uncomfortable thought to have, and for good reason, because in most cases the answer would be ‘hell no!’. To tone it down a bit think about this – could you have sex with your partner in the middle of a heated argument? (Yes, some may like having ‘make up sex’, but I’m talking about in the case of angry words flying, and you not feeling very affectionate towards him or her.)
Now think about the times that you and your partner do like to be affectionate….in what cases would you be able to have an orgasm? (If you can’t think of any examples then this is maybe a topic for another conversation…)
I’ve often heard it said that labour and birth should mimic how the baby was created. In most cases this was an intimate encounter, with just you and your partner present. Also think about how animals give birth – they usually seek out a quite, dark, private place.
The point is that oxytocin is not released on demand – it needs the right environment, whether that be internal (what you are thinking or feeling), or external (what is happening around you).
The enemy of oxytocin is adrenaline. I have previous written an article on this topic – click here to read it
Remember I said that a side effect of oxytocin is feeling loved….when oxytocin is working well it can also make you feel quite light and ‘spacey’. This can leave a woman feeling very vulnerable, especially if you are not in the habit of trusting your feelings. And this in turn may make you want to fight what is happening.
Another hormone that is important during labour is endorphins. Do you know that endorphins are 200 times stronger than morphine? Yet we often give morphine as pain relief during labour. I’m not saying that you will experience a totally pain free labour if you let the endorphins flow (although some say that they have, so it is not impossible), but it will hopefully dull any pain or at least make it more bearable.
And we often associate pain with something bad happening, but giving birth is not bad. Giving birth is a biologically normal event – all mammals give birth to their young, and we are no different. However, we have higher thinking brains and so we are often in the habit of thinking that we are better than Mother Nature. But in most cases, she got it right and we as humans don’t need to do anything more than trust her.
In the previous article I talked about finding the right caregiver for you. Now that you know more about the hormones, think ‘will my caregiver encourage these hormones do their work?’ and ‘will the environment I’ve chosen to give birth in support my hormones?’.
Once again, if you don’t have much choice in the where and/or with whom you give birth there are other options. Your support people can help you immensely. These could be your partner, your mother, a sister, aunt, close friend, or a doula. They can help ‘protect’ the environment and speak for you so that you can concentrate on just being in labour
You can learn more about the hormones of labour and birth, and how to have a positive and empowering experience by attending a 5 week HypnoBirthing course. I start new sessions every second month from January (private sessions are also available, and extra sessions may be put on if there is high demand). They are best started between 20 and 30 weeks, but if you’re a bit further along, do not despair – we may be able to work something out. Click the picture for more information
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