Are you contemplating about how will you deliver your baby? Do you think about which option of birth is the most optional for you? Are you reading professional articles, or books, and statistics, do you search out informations about the options of birth? Keep doing so, because only you can decide how you will want to give birth to your baby. Only you can decide which option, is the most suitable and best for you and your baby.
My story began when i was about 15 years old. Back then when i was a highschool student, we were shown series of videos in school about pregnancy and labor. The intention was clear, but it invoked completely opposite reaction by me.
On the first film were authentic images depicting medical intervention during surgical abortion. Back then i watched it with interest. I thought it was fantastic, how such a small creature in the belly of the mother is perfect. On the other hand i didn’t find anything strange about why the mother decided for an abortion. It was her choice, her wish and i wasn’t in the same situation, in order for me to judge her. I could only admire her, that she found enough strength to decide for such step.
In the second film our professor showed us the birth, back then (about 15 years ago) it was completely normal that the birth was led by a doctor. Mother was moaning and she was tied to the bed. Medical devices were clinking, the father of the baby wasn’t there. There was no one who could hold her hand and cheer her up. She was young, very young and i understood the labor led by the doctor as a pure violence on a defenseless girl. Just before the film ended, when the baby was already born and somewhere else, her husband was let in. she stood and leaned against him, and constantly sobbed and whispered to him that it hurts. Back then i promised to myself that i will never give a birth to a baby!
Several years went by, and i got a lecture from a developmental psychology on university. Heard for the first time about a research which took place in the 70’s in France and was led by obstetricians Fréderick Leboyer and his successor Michael Odent who led the childbirths in a different way than was normal since world war 2. Today we call this kind of labor “alternative childbearing”. But it basically only about returning the control of childbearing to the women - mothers. Leboyer photographed mothers during their labor as well as the babies. On most photographies the babies didn’t cry, they were calm, they had open eyes and observed the surroundings, they were quickly attached to the mother’s breast and they showed healthy signs of life. Mothers were happy, smiley and calm. Back then i said to myself that if i after all will have a baby, then it will be only through “alternative childbearing”. This conviction has proved as i had the option to be present in one of the faculty maternity hospital. I saw the classic medically led birth, where the mother was just taken as a soulless thing, from which the baby was supposed to be taken out.
Several years went by again, i finished my university education, entered into my first job and after some time i started to think about getting my first child. When i got pregnant, i started to think more about the options of childbearing. I started to actively search for informations connected with alternative labour, i read various booklets, books, medical reports, and i also remembered the french obstetricians and their methods of childbearing not only into water. Eventually i found an ideal prenatal courses for myself. I learned unbiased informations about the positive and negative options of the birth in a classical maternity hospital as well as about all the alternatives. The deciding impulse for the fact, that i decided to give birth to my daughter in water, was that giving birth into the water is the least stressful environment for mother as well as the child. The baby is going from one water environment to another with similar temperature to the mother’s womb. And water dampens all the sounds as well as light. Simply water is for the baby probably the most natural environment for birth. And mothers will also appreciate the water birth. Water environment lowers the painful sensation, and the water temperature helps to relax the mother who is able to deal better with the birthing period. I also learned on the prenatal courses about the physiology of the birth. These informations had definitely deciding importance.
PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECT OF HORMONES ON THE BIRTHING PROCESS
In order for birth to be physiological, it is necessary for everyone in the close surrounding of mother would respect the physiological birth mechanisms that are encoded in the body of each woman. Approximately 48 hours before delivery, hormones called prostaglandins are released into the body of the mother, causing dissolution of the collagen binding connective tissue (ligament) in the inactive part of the uterus. The sensitivity is increased to the oxytocin hormone, which is “washed off” in an increased degree from the pituitary gland (the pituitary gland), and it also causes changes in the behavior of the woman. It is also referred to as the altruistic hormone or the hormone of love. The level of the so-called catecholamines gets higher, especially the level of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is higher, because the birth process is controlled through vegetative parasympathetic nerves whose function is not possible to control by our will. Further, the level of endorphin hormones increases as well, which affects the pain and generates a sense of euphoria. All this is controlled by the oldest primitive brain centers (paleocortex) of the hypothalamus.
Activity of the superior nerve system /neocortex = cerebral cortex) is lowered during the physiological birth. Activity of the neocortex is dampened and the result is somewhat detachment of the woman’s consciousness from the external impulses. That enables the mother to concentrate on the birth, which can be thus automatically controlled from your lower nerve centers.
THE EFFECTS OF NEGATIVE LABOUR PROCESS
If the mother is interrupted while she gives birth and thus she can’t fully concentrate on the labor because the stimulation of neocortex and intellect is disturbing this process. The impulse for disturbing the birthing can be for example a discussion led between the medical personnel and the mother, stress and fears from what will happen to her and the baby, tension and pain. In such cases the level of adrenaline hormone will be at its peak as the main stress mediator. Thanks to it, it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, vasoconstriction of blood vessels (narrowing of blood vessels) which then leads to reduced oxygen supply of all tissues (e.g. in the mother's brain, uterus, placenta and thus lower circulation of oxygenated blood in babies) and as a result of lower partial pressure of oxygen in the blood and tissue increases the pain by the mother. Pain leads to more stress and it ends up in a vicious circle of stress-tension-pain. Therefore, the goal is to prevent stimulation of neocortex and maintain the level of adrenalin at the lowest possible level.
We can achieve that by:
- There will be silence and peace during the childbearing (the mother won’t be disturbed by questions, about which she has to think and answer them)
- There will be dim lighting in the room (sharp light stimulates the consciousness of the mother - neocortex)
- The environment will be intimate (people around the mother have to behave inconspicuously, so that the mother won’t feel like she’s being watched)
- Present person will prevent any stressful situations by calming the mother down, cheering her up, supporting the relief, and trying to treat the pain without using any drugs, hand her water or food…
- Michael Odent: birth reborn
- Frederick Leboyer: Birth without violence
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
Source: Clinical experience from private practice in physiotherapeutic field, FYZIOklinika