Love Your Labour
I recently had a client email me about her birth and it was this was the bit that made me smile
“It was amazing and I wish I could go into labour every month”
She clearly loved her labour. Not just the actual birth or the magical moment afterwards when she was holding her baby, but the whole labour.
However, I know most women fear labour and couldn’t possibly imagine “loving” it.
This is mainly because they think labour is an overwhelming, scary event that must be endured
Which is not surprising when that is the way our culture portrays labour and birth. Our main images of childbirth come from movies and TV and they love to show labour as traumatic or comic. Also friends and family love to tell their horror stories about birth. Women who have had great births tend to feel they have to keep it to themselves.
Also our culture can make some women feel they have to be a martyr in their lives. So they just “put up with things” and “soldier on”. It is so important not to think like this as these are the women who “put up” with symptoms of postnatal depression for way too long.
Labour really isn’t meant to be excruciating and scary. Nature actually wants us to love our labours and tries to flood us with oxytocins “the Love Hormone”. Oxytocin is the main hormone in every reproductive response in both men and women. It triggers caretaking behaviours; makes you feel good after orgasm; during labour it give you a sense of wellbeing; and during breast feeding it induces maternal nurturing behaviours, and makes us want our babies in a biological way.
Oxytocin is released in response to hugs and cuddles. As humans we seek this contact in times of stress and oxytocin is a part of the body’s stress coping mechanism. It is so powerful that it can repair heart cells that have been damaged by stress.
Nature also gives us Endorphins and if you have ever experienced and endorphin high you will know how fantastic that makes you feel. It is definitely an experience you will love and want to repeat.
Finally, labour and birth are part of a continuum of the ultimate loving act. Babies are conceived through love; they are nurtured with love during pregnancy and once they are born you understand the true meaning of love. The love for a child is an amazing thing. I remember worrying, when I was pregnant with my second child, that I couldn’t possibly love him as much as my first because I was already bursting with love. But then, when I stopped and connected with him, I felt like I grew another heart.
So with so much love floating around, why switch it off for your labour?
- Think Positively. As a Hypnobirthing Practitioner I know how powerful the mind is. Stop telling yourself labour is an ordeal. Surround yourself with positive birth stories, beautiful birth videos, and peaceful birth images. Choose not to watch or listen to anything, or spend time with anyone who portrays birth as scary, overwhelming or painful. Instead spend time consciously reprogramming your mind to a positive concept of labour and birth. Reading positive birth stories, relaxation, meditation and Hypnobirthing are great ways of doing this.
- Imagine yourself loving your birth. Some women have never spent time just imagining and picturing their perfect birth. This is a powerful exercise because if you don’t know what you want, how can you possibly take steps to achieve it?
- Love being pregnant. Spend time honouring your body during pregnancy and learning to trust your instincts. Engage in activities that help you feel beautiful, healthy, strong, and relaxed. This could include yoga, meditation, dancing, eating healthy, exercising, taking walks, getting massages, taking photos, etc.
- Love your birthing body. Spend time attending good, quality childbirth education, so that you really understand how beautifully designed your body is to give birth. You will be in awe of your body and it’s amazing power.
- Create an intimate birthing zone. Even though you are not planning home birth, take some time to create an intimate space in your home. You can do this in early labour, and then take elements with you to the hospital. An exercise I do with my clients is to get them to visualise the birthing rooms at their chosen hospital, and then to see what they can add to make it more home like environment: a blanket or throw in their favourite colour, music, LED candles, aromatherapy, pillows, flowers, posters etc. It softens the highly medical rooms immediately, acts as a very clear reminder to the staff that you want a beautiful, love filled birth, and helps you ‘own’ your birthing zone.
- Bond with your baby. When you are in labour spend time focused on your baby. Talk to your baby in your head or out loud. This helps to remind you why you are in labour and of the love you feel for your soon to be born baby.
- Bond with your partner. Just like the act of conception, your labour should be an intimate bonding experience between you and your partner. Ask to be left alone, then dim the lights so that you can talk, massage, shower/bathe together, kiss and hug. Feel the love that made you want to be parents. This will really get your oxytocin and endorphins flowing which will not only make you love your labour but help your labour progress beautifully.
This article was featured in the February 2014 Empowering Birth Magazine.