As a registered Midwife I have taught and educated couples for almost 15 years and one of the easiest ways I’ve come to explain the absolute importance of a sacred labour and birth space is by referring to it as “Your Oxytocin Bubble”.
Oxytocin is the hormone which is often referred to as the “Hormone of LOVE”. This is one of the hormones which initiates labour to start and assists in the birth of a baby, bonding and breastfeeding. Being the hormone of love it flows best when a pregnant woman feels loved, nurtured and safe. Oxytocin is also very shy. So If a labouring woman feels unsafe, unsettled and not well supported this hormone will not be produced to its full potential, therefore, affecting her labour and birth. This brings so much emphasis on the importance of keeping women in a state of love, nurture, support and respect at all times leading up to labour and during their labour and birth journey.
The oxytocin bubble is one in which you may start creating weeks before your due date. This space is where everything is familiar. Where you sleep, where you shower, what you eat and the smell of your environment. This is the place you feel safe and more often than not this place is where you call home. This bubble may begin to evolve as women begin to nest, prepare and imagine their baby being a part of their physical world. It is imagining looking after, caring and nurturing this person, that they will soon come to call their child. It is the beginning of their heart opening to a new experience that comes with being a parent, and it is truely a love like no other.
Your oxytocin bubble may also be referred to as your ‘safe space’. One in which you feel Calm and supported as labour progresses and you feel into the experience. It is as if your environment or your oxytocin bubble is supporting you. It is a place of nurture and protect, so that you can comfortably “go with your flow”. Your strength builds in this bubble as your labour progresses with ease and flow. The love increases between couples therefore increasing the labour love hormone oxytocin. The lights dim and this is where the surrender begins. Partners and support people can assist by keeping women within this oxytocin bubble during labour at home by being physically supportive and nurturing of her and providing the positive love and guidance she needs when she needs it. When labour gains rhythm and momentum within her oxytocin bubble, allow her to feel the shift as she enters in to her own version of an altered state of consciousness or as we call it “labour land”. Her altered state of consciousness is a result of her labour hormones working in harmony with the ebb and flow of her birth journey.
At home, while a woman is labouring, she is able to keep within her oxytocin bubble without interruption. However, to stay within this bubble as best as possible when traveling to your desired place of birth is sometimes quiet challenging. What can often happen is that nerves can get in the way, we can start to over think things, and unknowingly invite in adrenalin or fear in which can break our bubble or interrupt our flow. At this time the most important role of the support person is to keep her in her oxytocin bubble by remaining connected and keeping the environment calm, unhurried, positive, warm and dark where possible.
If your oxytocin bubble bursts when transitioning to your place of birth this is more often than not due to a disruption in hormones causing labour to slow or even stop. This may take some time for labour to build again, so be patient with the process and ensure that your care provider allows plenty of time for your body to enter back into labour.
The easiest way to re-enter back into your oxytocin bubble, is to ensure that the place of birth resembles your environment at home when labour was flowing beautifully. This usually involves dimming the lights, restarting the same music played earlier and reintroduce aromatherapy if you were using it. Recommencing all of the same things you did when setting up your space at home will allow her to recall similar feeling she felt within her oxytocin bubble at home. Recreate your place of birth as if it is your new home. If you have been using candles and your are in a hospital setting, have battery candles ready in your labour bag, if you have been defusing oils check in with your care provider if there would potentially be a defuser available to use on the day, otherwise pack your own in your labour bag. Be sure to also pack your labour aromatherapy oils. The smell of the oils used at home will also remind her of that peaceful, safe and nurturing space you created earlier. Hot water can help if there has been a disruption in her labour flow due to the transfer in to hospital. Darken the birth space and enter the shower or the bath if available and safe to do so. This will allow a whole body sensation very similar to a light touch massage, increasing oxytocin and endorphins and decreasing unwanted adrenalin.
Support people stay close, stay connected, read aloud positive birth affirmations of strength and encouragement. Be her advocate and her voice so that she can easily re-enter labour land with ease feeling safe, calm and private.