Effects of Fear during Childbirth

Why is relaxation so important during childbirth? And what effect does fear have on the birthing mother and her unborn baby?

When we are scared or worried our body’s Sympathetic Nervous System takes over. Our Sympathetic Nervous System is basically responsible for keeping us alive during a dangerous situation..this may be  during a real threat or a perceived threat.  During this time our heart beats faster, we become more alert, blood is pumped to our limbs in readiness to run away or fight. Our body goes into Fight, Flight or Freeze mode.  When this occurs during labour blood flow to the uterus is restricted as the blood is sent to the organs essential for defence.  Without this vital blood and oxygen, the uterine muscles have limited power for contractions.  Less blood flow to the uterus also means less blood flow and oxygen to the baby, potentially leading to foetal distress. 

When our Sympathetic Nervous System is in the driving seat:

  • Our bodies secrete higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline!!!  
  • Too much Adrenaline in a birthing mothers body can cause contractions to stop, slow or become erratic – lengthening labour and causing distress to the unborn baby. It also creates a sense of panic in the mother.
  • Our bodies are unable to secrete both Adrenaline and Endorphins at the same time!! So when we are fearful, scared or tense we produce Adrenaline instead of Endorphins..our bodies natural calming and pain relieving hormones.

On the flip side…when we are deeply relaxed our Parasympathetic Nervous System is able to take charge. This system has a calming effect on our body and mind, our heart rate slows and blood flow is directed to our digestive and reproductive organs i.e. our uterus!! Our Parasympathetic Nervous system also releases key anti stress enzymes and hormones such as Oxytocin and Endorphins into our system. 

  • Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and it signals labour to being and increases sharply during labour which stimulates contractions, helping to thin and open the cervix.  
  • Ocytocine reduces stress and has a calming effect on the body. 
  • It is produced after birth to allow the mother to feel more relaxed, well nourished and bond with her baby.
  • Endorphins are our bodies natural pain killers, our feel good hormones. They help reduce pain during labour and can help the birthing mother feel more at ease. 
  • After labour endorphins can help the mother feel more alert, attentive and euphoric.

In short, if we stay calm and relaxed during childbirth our bodies will provide us with a cocktail of natural painkillers and birthing tools to naturally birth our babies.

If we allow fear to take over, labour may become more painful and prolonged, potentially resulting in the need for artificial pain management and/or medical intervention.

During our Pregnancy Yoga classes we practice a lot of different breathing and calming techniques that you can utilse during Pregncnacy, Childbirth and into Motherhood  For these techniques to work for you during childbirth you need to be familiar with them beforehand, this is way pregnancy yoga is so beneficaly during pregnancy. You are provided with a range of differnt techniques to use and practice with during your pregnancy in preparatin for the day you will meet your baby.

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