While taking a training with Randy Patterson of ProDoula a statement she made to the stood out to me and felt like she was speaking directly to me, “Get out of your own head!”
How often do we let the inner monologue that we have with ourselves get in our way of achieving great things?
Did you know this applies to birth as well?
The Fear Tension Pain cycle developed by Dr. Dick-Read speaks to this.
The short of the theory is that when women face childbirth with fear, they start to develop tension, which leads to them experiencing more pain which in turn makes them even more fearful. This stress releases hormones that cause a decrease in oxygen to the uterus causing it to have contractions that are less efficient, possibly slowing or stalling a labor.
Can we break the cycle? Yes! We can break the cycle at any point.
Fear – There are many fears people have surrounding childbirth. Some common fears include: “Will I have to have a cesarean?” “What will the pain feel like?” “Am I ready to be a parent?” “What if my partner needs to leave, will I be alone?” These are only the tip of the iceberg of fears that people have.
How can we decrease these fears? Taking a comprehensive childbirth education course can supply you with information that puts you at greater ease with your understanding of the process and what you can expect. When you write out your birth plan or birth preferences you are able to look at your options, determine what is important to you and it also allows you to plan in advance how to proceed if things do not initially go according to plan. Talk to someone you trust about all your fears, many people never talk about what they are scared of and by keeping it all inside they are giving it power. There may not be a solution that anyone can give you but by getting it out in the open you are releasing some of its power.
Tension – This can be both physical and mental.
The way to ease tension is through relaxation. Massage and touch can help a mother relax a part of her body, such as her shoulders or legs, that she has tensed. This tension can make her more acutely aware of any pain that she is experiencing and cause her to tense up other portions of her body. Also, techniques like progressive relaxation and guided meditations can help a mother clear any tension in her mind and help quiet her fears.
Pain – Can be resolved medically or through other comfort measures.
To stop the cycle at this point, an epidural or other pain management that you decide on with your care provider can provide you with just the right respite from the pain that your body needs to relax and allow it to continue the hard work of labor.
Another option is the use of comfort measures. Here the theory is based on the face that the body has different nerve fibers. The nerve endings that deliver pleasurable sensations actually deliver the message to the brain more quickly therefore blocking the pain sensations. This is called Gate Control Theory.
The birth team that you assemble can help assist you at all the parts of this cycle and a doula can be an important part of your team.
Don’t forget to ask for help when you want and need it and “Just get out of your own head!”