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Fear Tension Pain Theory

Birth Preparation

The Importance of Touch

“Calmbirth is the MOST amazing birthing programme out there. I really wish every couple could have the chance to do this course.”

When Calmbirth was first founded close to 20 years ago now it was because Calmbirth wanted to make a difference in the way women felt about giving birth and be made as accessible to as many birthing families across Australia.

Today, everyone can have access to this quality, evidence based and holistic antenatal education because Calmbirth has close to 100 Calmbirth educators across Australia supporting, informing, and empowering pregnant couples to birth their babies fearlessly and with confidence. You can also access the Calmbirth antenatal course in nine major maternity hospitals in NSW and in the Auckland District Hospital in Auckland.

To make a difference in how women experienced birth you first had to understand why some women would experience pain in childbirth while others wouldn’t which led the founder, Peter Jackson to look into the fear tension pain theory which the Calmbirth program explores.

This theory was initially discovered by obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read in the 1920’s after observing women in labour. He noted that in an otherwise uncomplicated labour, it was the emotion of fear that caused complications. This theory has since been proven now that we understand the impact of the stress response on our body and hormones of labour and birth.

FEAR – the emotion of fear (whether conscious or unconscious) activates our response, our body is entering its natural fight or flight mode ready to run away and keep us safe. In fight or flight blood flow is directed away from the uterus (as it is ‘non-essential’ for survival. Additionally, the presence of fear inhibits the release of oxytocin, the most important hormone for labour and birth.

TENSION – when we experience fear, our body tightens and creates tension in our muscles, including the muscles of the uterus. This impacts the working of the uterus; the cervix opening and makes contractions more painful.

PAIN – we feel because our muscles are tense and fighting against our body rather than working with it. The redistribution of blood flow causes more pain due to less blood flow to the tissues of the uterus (ischemia). This pain then causes more fear, and so the cycle continues…

So how do we break this cycle?

Removing the emotion of fear.

Replace fear with trust and understanding. Educate and empower yourselves in the lead up to your birth. Take the time to learn about your body and the incredible birth process. When you approach birth feeling informed, empowered, and armed with coping strategies, you are less likely to feel fear, less likely to hold tension and less likely to experience as much pain. We explore this concept and was to keep you feeling safe, calm, and private in @Calmbirth.

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The Importance of Touch

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