Thursday, 22 September 2011

Remain in your bulk

Remaining in the trance is essential for natural birth. You need to create a bulk around you and stay there. However, a birth bulk is fragile - many factors can weaken or break it.

It is not easy to remain in the trance while a midwife is handing out a form to fill, speaks to you during a contraction, let alone performs a vaginal examination. This all can be avoided if you prepare your birth plan and instruct your birth partner on how important it is to be undisturbed. Also, vaginal checks are not necessary in a healthy pregnancy and natural birth - read a bit about it and consider whether you really want to agree for them.

Do not plan on communicating too much - remember that speaking in this stage will require significant effort and you will need to spend your energy carefully. Avoid waking up your left brain - you need your instincts, not logical thinking right now.

Ironically, or rather sadly, countless doctors and midwives do not know about the trance. Some of them probably never saw a truly natural birth. You cannot count on their cooperation on them in this matter - this is why a part of your preparation should be spent on planning how to create a calm and undisturbed atmosphere.

Undisturbed birth:
Vaginal exams during birth:
Dangers of vaginal exams:

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Avoid adrenaline

Adrenaline is a hormone secreted when we are in danger, when we feel fear or anxiety. It blocks the secretion of endorphines. It sharpens all your senses and makes all your perceptions more intense. It is the last thing you wish for while in labour.

Elliminating fear and anxiety is essential. If you anticipate pain and you are afraid of it, this is very likely that you will indeed feel it. If your previous birth was painful and you do not believe it could be otherwise, you might consider hypnobirthing, which helps you to forget about fear. Hypnobirthing training can help a woman get into the birthing trance if she cannot reach it naturally, having lost confidence in her body.

It is important to avoid whatever triggers adrenaline secretion: sharp lights, noises, stress.  Adrenaline secretion is contagious - if someone in the same room is being nervous, this will interfere with your labour hormones. A husband who is deadly scared, even if he manages to hide this feeling, can actually slow your labour down.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The trance

Natural childbirth involves a very special state of mind. It is a kind of trance, often called zone or bulk. In an early stage of labour, you can keep yourself distracted and almost forget about the contractions. When this stage ends, you suddenly start to focus on yourself and your body. You withdraw into yourself. You enter the zone.

In the trance, your body starts to produce oxytocin and endorphins - hormones of happiness and euphoria. Also, the right hemisphere of your brain takes over It is responsible for dreams, intuition  and instincts. Without much thinking, you follow the needs of your body, adapting your position and breathing, vocalising.

During this time, the left hemisphere is in a low activity state. It is responsible for communication, especially verbal, so it should become increasingly difficult to speak and listen. Just as if you were half-asleep.

The secret of the pain-free birth is to remain in the trance. For this, you need to feel safe - have dimmed lights, be with someone you trust, feel warm, maybe stay in the tub. Have your birth partner prepare your preferred music, objects, smells - whatever makes you comfortable. Your birth partner should know your wishes, handle all conversations and negotiations with the medical staff and make sure you do not hear much of it. Your zone needs to be protected.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The second best

For some women giving birth at home is not an option. They might have a genuine reason to prefer a hospital or they might be misinformed about the safety of homebirth. A part of these women will still want to have a natural birth and most of them will end up not having one. An even smaller group will however have a natural birth they hope for.

It is very difficult to have a natural birth in a hospital setting - this requires a sound preparation or lots of luck. You need to organise a support team around you - partner, doula, understanding OB or midwife. You should to read birth stories, get to know medical terms and decide what is acceptable for you and what is not. If you are lucky, you will be allowed to have the things your way without fight. If you are less lucky, you will have to fight for respecting your rights and preferences. If you and your team are well prepared, most of those fights can be handled by your partner.

Having an undisturbed childbirth in hospital not impossible. There are some basic guidelines:
  • Labour at home as long as possible (you have some options even if your waters break).
  • Bring to the birthing room a part of your home - whatever makes you feel comfortable (music, pictures, candles, birth bundle).
  • Have a plan and a birth partner who will know your preferences and make sure they are respected.
  • Stay away from that huge bed. It takes most of the room, but this not where natural labour should take place. Stand, walk, squat, do whatever feels good.

Doctors are used to women wishing just to have the baby out - even patients desiring a "natural birth" usually just mean a vaginal birth or no-medication delivery. Natural birth is not about that - it involves listening and following the voice your body. It is challenging to create the necessary safe space around you in a hospital setting, but it is possible.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Your castle

Natural birth almost by definition cannot happen in a hospital. You need to feel safe, and how to feel safe in a building full of strange people, unknown voices and smells? You need to be in tune with your body and it is difficult to hear, let alone to follow that quiet internal voice of your instincts during frequent interruptions and instructions from the staff.

One of the greatest advantages of a home birth is that you are on your grounds. You feel stronger, your birth partner feels stronger, you both have a say. Your wishes are more likely to be respected. Even if you have a strong personality, while being in labour you feel rather like a fragile girl, not like a warrior.

Hospital is an unfamiliar ground and once you arrive, you automatically get into an outsider role, while the doctors or midwifes automatically get in the role of locals, the experts. Even with lots of good will on the staff side, it is automatic - they say, you obey. At home, you are the mistress and everybody can feel it. Home is your place, your strength is there. Your castle, your rules.