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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