Navigating Fear During Labor and Birth: Natural Tools for Expectant Mothers

Posted 09 Jan 2023

Fear is a natural and normal emotion we can experience during labour and birth. However, fear has a significant impact on our bodies and can affectshow our labour progresses. Understanding how fear can affect you during labour and birth can help you start to prepare and learn the tools to navigate fear for a more positive and empowering birth experience.

natural tools for labour and birth

Here is how fear can affect your labour and birth experience:

are afraid, our fight-or-flight response is activated, causing the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is beneficial near the end of labour to provide the final push needed for birthing your baby and to keep you alert when meeting your little one. However, it is not helpful at the start of labour. Adrenaline and cortisol affect the body in various ways; during the fight-or-flight response, oxygen is redirected to muscles that help us fight or flee. The uterus is not one of those muscles.

What happens to the uterus then?

The uterus is composed of muscles, and oxygen is required for muscles to work properly. Furthermore, the circular muscles in the neck of the uterus tense up and constrict, which can make contractions more painful and make it more difficult for the baby to descend through the birth canal, as the baby is being pushed against taut muscle. This can lead to prolonged labour and an increased risk of medical intervention.

Fear can also affect the progress of labour and birth by causing women to tense or hold their breath, which can make contractions more painful as mothers are working against their body’s natural rhythm and pace.

In addition to these physical and physiological effects, fear can also impact a woman’s emotional well-being. Expectant mothers who feel anxious or fearful about birth and lack support or tools to cope may have a more challenging time with labour and birth, and may feel overwhelmed or helpless. This can lead to feelings of frustration and powerlessness, again increasing the likelihood of medical intervention.

Here are some natural tools that you can use to navigate fear and support you during your labour and birth:

Music: Music can be a powerful tool for managing fear and anxiety during labour and birth. Listening to calming, soothing music can help relax your mind and body and can provide a sense of comfort and support. You can create a playlist of your favourite calming songs to listen to during labour, my recommendation is explore songs you don’t normally listen to and therefore have not created an association with yet.

music during labour and birth

Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to promote relaxation and well-being. Some essential oils, like lavender and geranium, are known for their calming properties and can be helpful in managing fear and anxiety during labour and birth. You can use essential oils in a diffuser, or you can apply them to your skin or inhale them directly to experience their benefits. Learn more about the benefits of essential oils and how they can support you during your pregnancy and birth.

Meditation or mindfulness techniques: Meditation and mindfulness techniques involve focusing your mind on the present moment and letting go of passing thoughts and worries. These techniques can be helpful in navigating fear and anxiety during your labour and birth by helping you stay present and focused. Meditation is a practised skill, if this is a tool you would love to love to utilise, remember preparation is key and start practicing during your pregnancy.

Visualisation: Visualisation involves using the power of your mind to create positive images and scenarios. You can use visualisation during labor and birth to cope with fear and anxiety by creating positive, calming images in your mind. For example, you can visualise yourself giving birth in a peaceful, supportive environment, or you can visualise your baby being born safely, healthy with ease. This is a fantastic self-hypnosis tool as the mind cannot perceive what is real or imagined and the body will react as if what is imagined is real. Also the part of the brain that we use to to visualise is the same part of the brain that perceives pain. Meaning more receptors used to visualise means less receptors to feel pain!

light touch massage labour

Massage or light touch: Massage and touch can be powerful tools for managing fear and anxiety during your labour and birth. You can ask your spouse or partner, or a doula, to provide massage or touch during labour. Gentle touch or massage can help relax your mind and body and can provide a sense of comfort and support during this important time. Gentle massage also released endorphins which are your natural pain relief hormone. In our Hypnobirthing Australia classes, we learn together how to even more deepen the connection between light touch and the release of copious amounts of endorphins.

Education and preparation: Education on what to expect during the different stages of labour can help you alleviate some of the uncertainty and fear that may arise during this time. A great way to do this is through education. Classes such as Hypnobirthing or sessions with your trusted Pregnancy Coach, Doula, Midwife, obstetrician or GP are a great place to start.

Support System: Having your trusted partner, family member, friend doula or caregiver team, who can provide emotional support and encouragement can be incredibly helpful. They can offer you familiarity, comfort and reassurance, and can be a source of strength and encouragement during the labour and birth process. I emphasis this as its important to have a community around you that are aligned with how you want to experience birth. It’s ok to voice your concerns with health care providers and if need be change them so you feel rest assured they are in alignment with you.

Hypnobirthing Class

Hypnobirthing: Hypnobirthing is a method of childbirth education that teaches you how to use self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to meet your baby calmly. The goal of Hypnobirthing is to navigate the fear and anxiety by providing techniques, tools and education to have more positive and empowering childbirth experience.

In conclusion, fear is a an emotion we all experience, and can negatively impact your body during labour and birth. Knowing how fear can affect labour and birth can help you prepare for a more positive and empowered birth experience. Through education, having a support system in place, and incorporating some of the tools listed, you can better navigate fear and anxiety to support your body in the best way possible .

Start your Hypnobirthing Journey today. and learn more in-depth how these tools can support you.

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