For a long time childbirth has been associated with pain. A narrative strung out through televised dramas and films and a familiar truth shared between women the world over but this doesn’t have to be your story.
Aimee Strongman founder of Glow Yoga studio and specialist in holistic birth preparation and pregnancy yoga has shared her top tips on how to bring the strength back to the birth room and leave fear at the door!
In 1920 Grantley Dick-Read acknowledged a "Fear-Tension-Pain" cycle. He suggested that fear causes a woman to become tense, and that tension increases pain. The increased pain, in turn, increases fear, and the cycle repeats.... Wouldn’t it be great if we could use our pregnancy to really get to know our bodies, understand more about the physiology of birth (how our bodies have been designed to give birth) and learn how to turn our fear of pain into power?!
Here are my top 5 ways to manage "pain" and to lessen tension so you can work with your body rather than against it.
1.Understand physiological birth
However you are envisioning your birth, knowing how the body works is essential. It is a learning that will leave you in awe of the female body. You’ll learn about the delicate balance of birth hormones, how systems in the body play out their role and you’ll learn how the pelvis has been designed to create more space for baby to descend. (Join my online Birth Power Birth Wisdom online pregnancy yoga and birth preparation course this September to learn more.)
2.Learn to breathe!
Breath or ‘pranayama’ is the yogic practice of essentially focusing on breath. In Sanskrit, prana means "vital life force", and yama means to gain control. So this is learning how to bio hack your own breath! What's cool is with practice, you are able to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system…this is the opposite to your flight or flight, enabling you to soothe yourself. Try initially to focus on the calming exhale. Breathe in through the nose slow and steady and breathe out extending the exhale - 10 breaths like this and you will feel great!
3.Use your Babycare TENS machine and props!
What better way to distract the mind than with something to hold? My favourite go to is the Babycare TENS machine and if you are wanting to use the water throughout your labour then the Wave Comb is also a great addition to your birth bag. The Babycare TENS has been used by so many of my clients to help keep them focussed and in control during labour. With its ergonomic design that fits in the palm of your hand it really helps to relieve the sensations. The best part is you can also hire them too and have the device right at the time you need it! It is non intrusive, responds exactly when you need it and is a must for your birthing bag!
4.Yoga and movement
As a yoga teacher I know how magical movement can be in labour. When things are ramping up and you are feeling the heat then call on the movement of the body. Rock on your birthing ball, sway in the arms of your birth partner or maybe dance to your favourite songs. The rhythm and techniques you learn in the studio will stay with you right into motherhood.
Simply, an affirmation is a statement written in the present tense that you truly believe. For example ‘I feel calm and strong’ or ‘I trust my body, I trust my baby’ or It’s not pain it is power!’ By repeating these affirmations at home, in the car, looking into the mirror or writing them in your journal you are effectively hacking into your subconscious and your belief system. (you can find more affirmations here)
6.Learn to relaaaaaaaaaaaaaax
Sometime we forget we are growing a tiny human, eyelashes, organs, toes, eardrums and all! It is all happening, and it is all unseen. So my advice is to take some time for you. Embrace putting your feet up, reading a book or booking a massage. Honour your body and all the work it is doing. Rest, relax and marvel in the wonder that is growing a baby.