Getting High on Endorphins during Pregnancy, Labour and Childbirth
Everyday tensions and stresses cause an array of physical and chemical reactions within us that can have negative effects on our health if not managed well. Such tensions can be heightened during pregnancy, and as labour approaches, if fear and concern are added to the mix, these bodily effects become more toxic, swirling through the mother’s system to be absorbed by the babe in her womb.
If that is not reason enough to understand how to prevent this process during pregnancy, there is another consideration. The same knowledge can help mum’s in labour feel calm, relaxed and more in control of their experience.
Now, a question: Why on earth does the body have, massed in the brain and spinal cord, receptors for opiates, such as heroin or morphine?
Answer: Because the body produces its own opiate-like hormones whose function is to activate these receptors and trigger a natural analgesic, pain control response.
These hormones have the added bonus of giving us a feeling of tranquillity. They are known as endorphins … our own private narcotic. They function to inhibit the transmission of pain signals to our brains and produce feelings of wellbeing.
During HypnoBirthing classes parents are taught deep relaxation techniques to trigger the release of endorphins, as well as instant relaxation techniques to help mum to instantly relax in stressful situations, calming down her central nervous system and her mind. With ongoing practice, the baby is also swimming in these lovely feel-good hormones and is also able to remain calm. Mother’s birthing companions are taught verbal and physical cues that help the birthing mother maintain a state of calm from the very start as constricting hormones are over ridden by the body’s natural relaxants.
HypnoBirthing parents often describe how calm and chilled out their babies are and state that they rarely fuss or cry unnecessarily. This is almost certainly due to the ongoing exposure to mum’s endorphins through her dedicated relaxation practice.
To sum up then, the advantages of being calm throughout pregnancy, labour and birth are:
- endorphins inhibit the release of stress hormones which cause, tension and pain
- parents are able to make better decisions because their minds/brains are not clouded by stress hormones
- oxygen enriched blood is not restricted in any way, allowing continuous oxygen to the baby and the birthing muscles
- mum enters an amnesiac state which facilitates an easier descent and birth of baby.