Labour and childbirth in unpredictable and with that may come fears about the unknown and what to expect. Some fear if they will make it to their birth location on time. Depending on where the woman lives, this can be a concern however there are usually signs and care providers usually provide information on when their patients should make their way to their birth location.
Another common fear is not being able to handle the pain. Labour is painful however every person handles pain differently and each pregnancy is different. When someone faces stress or pain, the body produces calming and pain-relieving hormones called endorphins. A high level of endorphins can help one deal with the process of giving birth even if labour is long or challenging. High level of endorphins can make the woman feel alert, attentive and euphoric. Low levels of endorphins can cause problems in labour and birth by causing labour to be excessively painful and difficult to tolerate which could lead to health care providers responding with interventions. By remaining calm and comfortable during labour the body’s production of endorphins will be enhanced.
With pain and stress, the body may also produce more adrenaline or the fight or flight hormone. If the woman feels threatened by fear or severe pain, this can create high levels of adrenaline. Adrenaline can slow or stop labour altogether. Too much adrenaline during labour can cause distress to the baby, can cause contractions to stop or slow down and can create a sense of panic and increasing pain in the woman.
The hormone oxytocin is needed in labour to help produce the strong contractions that will help dilate and thin the cervix and move the baby down and out of the birth canal. Having low levels of oxytocin can cause contractions to stop or slow which can lead health care providers to respond with interventions such as using pitcon.
A woman may be afraid of the pain and discomfort, they may be afraid of complications with baby or themselves, be afraid of a caesarean or even afraid of dying. The more a person becomes afraid and fearful, the less oxytocin the body will produce, and more adrenaline will be produced. If there is too much adrenaline in the body, there will be less oxytocin which may slow or stop the contractions and the high levels of adrenaline could cause distress in the baby.
It can be challenging to remain calm during labour and childbirth but the more a woman can remain calm, comfortable and relaxed, the better the hormones will work together. A woman can educate themselves prior to labour about common interventions, tour their birthing location to familiarize themselves and practice comfort measure techniques. Once at the location of birth, creating a calm environment such as diming the lights, minimizing noises and even turning down any machines, limited visitors and unnecessary interruptions can help create a more comfortable and calmer environment.