Fear, Adrenaline And Their Role In Birth

Fear, Adrenaline And Their Role In Birth

Adrenaline rush…what does that feel like to you?


Perhaps anxiety, or swirling thoughts?  Maybe it’s the physical sensations of the heart-pounding, palms sweating and quick shallow breathing.


However we experience it, it is the body’s reaction to FEAR. Adrenaline is designed to keep us SAFE.

When something causes us to feel, uneasy, unsafe. scared.


The brain instinctively releases adrenaline. This causes our body to go into fight-flight or fear mode and what is called the sympathetic nervous system.

The blood and oxygen are directed away from the centre of our body and move to the hands and feet.


What does this mean for birth?


Take a trip back in time with me, if you will. About 20,000 years.


I am a cavewoman with a penchant for leopard print, heavily pregnant and birthing my baby.

In the distance, I see a bear. Like the flick of a switch, adrenaline is released.


My body goes into fight-flight or fear mode, meaning I can attack, run OR hide quietly, and keep as still as possible to not attract attention from the bear.


Whichever of these I instinctively chose to do,  it’s not safe for me to keep having contractions right?

So that release of adrenaline is there to press pause or slow down my contractions by blocking oxytocin.


I could go on (and often do)  about oxytocin and the multi-faceted role it plays at the birth but let’s focus on the practical element here. Oxytocin is what is released to instigate your contractions, it keeps being released and your contractions build up in intensity and regularity as birth progresses..unless interrupted by something (like adrenaline)


In early and active labour, we want to avoid adrenaline for this reason.


Although the chances of use giving with a genuine fear for our lives of something coming to eat us are SLIM to none,  we haven’t actually moved that much on an evolutionary scale. We are a mere blip in time


This adrenaline response may not come from a beast or any form of attack. It can come from fears you may have about birth, conscious or subconscious, leaving the comfort of your home to go to the hospital or meeting a midwife or doctor for the first time before they examine you in a very intimate place.


This is why being calm in labour is so important, and that’s not to say that you have to be calm 100 per cent of the time. Sure, something might happen to shake you up a bit BUT it’s about awareness. I encourage you to recognise the power that this simple instinctive fear response has in our body and learn tools and techniques to take adrenaline down and slip straight back into your birthing zone.


There is a caveat to this, however.


Shortly before you enter the second stage of labour (after your cervix Is fully open at 10cm) your body instinctively releases adrenaline to give you the extra energy you need to birth and breath your baby out.


This is called transition.


Consider how we might react to this sudden rush of adrenaline in the body.  Some women will climb the walls, some women get loud and lairy while others are hit with this overwhelming feeling that they just can’t do it any longer. The good news is that its short-lived and it means you are super close to holding your baby in your arms for the very first time.


If you are feeling afraid or anxious about giving birth, then you are not alone. After saying for years that I was terrified of giving birth then I fell pregnant. I spent 8 months with my head in the sand and telling myself it was going to be ok until we discovered hypnobirthing.


Learning about how fear can impact the birth, plus what was happening in my body was empowering and it motivated me to face up to and release my fears around birth just as I know it can for you too!


If you would like to know more about Hypnobirthing in the Walthamstow area then get in touch for a free 15-minute consultation or come along to one of my free taster sessions.


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