Labour is one of those things in our lives, if we’re honest, we don’t feel in control. Things change from minute to minute and anything can happen. But can relaxation induce labour?
I’m not a Doula or a Birthing Expert. But I have been through labour myself and can share what worked for me and what was useful. I did a Calmbirth course which helped me immensely. Being a Practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I have the opportunity to work with women wanting to avoid an induction and go into spontaneous labour using Acupuncture as Pre-Birth support. I share my knowledge with them and Relaxation techniques are a big part of the Birth Prep process.
When I’m explaining Relaxation to a client I talk about:
- How birthing is an instinctual process
- Birthing is an internal dynamic with you and baby
- Understanding how your body works, helps you recognise stages and what’s happening during birth
- Your breath is key
Let’s dive a bit deeper into these points…
- Birthing is an instinctual process, meaning, there’s shouldn’t have to be a lot of thinking going on. In fact overthinking during birth can escalate stress and slow down the birthing process. Being in tune with your body, what you’re FEELING as you progress and being what I call “in the zone” focuses you on the job at hand, getting that baby delivered. Responding to how you feel – doing what is comfortable for you, experiencing discomfort, pain and making noise, moving around is excellent during birth.
- Birthing is an internal dynamic with you and baby. Your body is built to carry this baby and your pelvis is designed to birth this baby. The baby’s position, if optimal and their body shape is designed to move through the pelvis as efficiently as possible. This is in theory of course, and issues can arise where positioning or complications prevent birth to be this straight forward. But again, talking to your baby before labour, connecting with baby and the self-talk during labour is all healthy. This is a dance between you and baby, working together to bring them into the world. Work with that.
- Understanding how your body works, helps you recognise stages and what’s happening during birth. This is where I get into the nerdy Science, but if you GET IT, it makes a lot of sense. Your Autonomic Nervous system is the part of the Nervous System that deals with things on Auto-pilot. Think of the Autonomic NS being a big switch. One option is Fright or Flight, run by Adrenaline. It puts you on alert when there’s an imminent threat. It can move you out of danger quickly by flooding your system with Adrenaline to get you moving asap, you have laser-like focus and make quick decisions. But in the context of birth, it says “now is NOT a good time to birth, there is a threat”. The other option is your Parasympathetic NS – Rest & Digest or Feed & Breed, run by Oxytocin, the love chemical. You digest better, are more fertile, more relaxed and sleep better in this state. Your body in this state says “This is a good time to have a baby.”
- Your breath is key. The breath is the way to flick that switch from stressed state to relaxed state. That relaxed state that is going to help you birth this baby. So can relaxation induce labour? YES. When you use or exercise your diaphragm (a muscle) it activates the Vagus nerve and all you need to know about that is that it flicks the switch to parasympathetic. This is simply done by deep breathing. Breathing = relaxation = more likely to induce labour
So although we may feel out of control of labour, being in control of our breathing during labour is our one anchor in all of this. But is it the only way to Induce labour? No.
Birthing and Labour is a multi-layered process of The Brain, nervous system, hormone feedback loops and Muscular response (and Baby!) all working like cogs in a system. If you experience stress, fear, worry or anxiety before going into labour, Acupuncture can be useful to stimulate the relaxation response via the Parasympathetic NS. Simply putting needles in acupoints designed to “Calm your Shen”, relax and ground you. Relaxation Acupuncture is a pleasant experience for Mother and no risk to baby if performed by a Registered & experienced Acupuncturist.
We cannot use Acupuncture to induce labour, but Pre-birth Acupuncture, Labour Preparation and Relaxation Acupuncture can all help you feel better going into such an important day in your life.
For more information about Relaxation techniques for Labour, speak to Calmbirth Australia, Hypnobirthing Australia or SheBirths. For more about Pre-birth Acupuncture you can chat to me via my Spring Fertility Facebook Page here.