Many women – both those who have given birth and those who haven’t – think of “childbirth” as being synonymous with "excruciating pain”. Both those who sign up for pain relief at the earliest opportunity and those who want to do without expect labor and birth to hurt. Is it possible to achieve a painless birth through meditation alone, without additional pain relief techniques?
Fear certainly causes physical reactions including pain and possibly a stalled labor. You don’t have to be into new age stuff to conclude that being relaxed, as facilitated by meditation, and not being afraid of the process of giving birth and your surroundings during those important moments reduces the amount of pain you will feel. In other words, the more you expect labor to hurt, the more painful it will really be. This principle holds true for anything from a visit to the dentist to having your legs waxed, and childbirth is no different. This does not, however, mean that women who do feel pain are doing something wrong, or that they are not relaxed enough. Pain during labor is not caused by fear or stress, but it can be exacerbated by these feelings. So the key to having a painless birth is freeing ourselves from fear and stress as well as blocking those nerve signals that cause pain.
How? There is no question that meditation is very powerful. Hypnobirthing and hypnobabies are techniques that help women to conduct self-hypnosis. With programs like this, women can start practicing the relaxation techniques practically from the time they start using an ovulation calendar. Hypnobirthing techniques can be learned in a group setting or with a program of CDs. They include saying such statements as "My cervix is opening wide", and "I welcome the surges (that means contractions!) that will help me birth my baby". Women who have practiced hypnobabies sometimes do report totally painless labors and births. And before you think that self-hypnosis leaves you paralyzed, women who use these programs are relaxed, but able to move around and participate fully in their birth experience.
Any woman who is expecting a baby can start meditating – both in relation to their pregnancy and their birth. Affirmations may make you feel better about pregnancy signs and symptoms you are experiencing, and help you prepare for childbirth. Prenatal yoga is another wonderful option that can help moms to be work through their fears as well as preparing them physically for birth. And because a lack of fear in labor is probably best achieved by being informed about the physiological process of giving birth, childbirth education classes and books on the topic should also help you have a more pleasant birth experience.
My second baby's birth, at home with a midwife, was essentially painless. I felt a lot of pressure while he was crowning, but there was no pain. I didn't do hypnobabies or any other organized meditating or hypnosis, but I prepared for the birth by reading books about midwifery and gentle birth, and I would meditate privately throughout my pregnancy. Did meditation make all the difference? My first birth was quite painful. By the time my second was born, I knew what to expect and was completely at ease with the birth process. My guess is that knowing my own body and being at peace with it contributed to my pain-free experience.
Olivia writes about female health and fertility at Trying To Conceive.
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Hi. Nice article. Here is a useful meditation for pregnant women: http://www.moonsong.com.au/meditation-during-pregnancy/
There is not a single area of life where meditation can't help! Meditation brings your mind to a state of calm and rest. This helps both the mother and the baby. If you can practice meditation every day you will enter a state of confidence and relaxation, and you will reduce stress and anxiety. It helps reduce heart rate and blood pressure, increases milk production, and helps you sleep much better. By doing that, your immune system is getting stronger, and your hormonal system is functioning better. The fetus feels safe and protected because of the transport of hormones via the placenta. The moral of the story is: the sooner you start practicing meditation the better off you and your baby are.
There is scientific evidence that meditation is efficient. For example, it creates endorphins, natural substances with powerful pain relief properties. The other positive side is that meditation, if practiced before bedtime, can increase melatonin production, which reduces stress, as well as other powerful brain substances (Ref). The more you do meditation before childbirth, the more relaxed and less afraid you will be. And of course you will be less prone to postpartum depression, which is the typical depression state following childbirth.