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Ecstatic birth - Your Hormonal Blueprint for Labour

Think of childbirth and what's the first thought that pops into your mind? Horrendous unimaginable pain, that requires copious amounts of drugs? It's the story that is perpetuated by the mainstream media and unfortunately most women's experience is one of pain, struggle and trauma. What you don't hear so much about nor associate with birth, is pleasure. You may have heard about orgasmic birth, but I'm not just talking about experiencing an orgasm during labour. The types of pleasure that women experience during labour range from emotional to physical pleasure (including orgasm), they could be sexual or non-sexual, spiritual or mental. Women describe these birth experiences as ecstatic.

These ecstatic experiences will naturally unfold when birth is left undisturbed; the result of an exquisite cocktail of hormones at work. Unfortunately, the majority of births are far from undisturbed. The practices that take place in hospitals disrupts the natural flow that allows these experiences to emerge. You are programmed to avoid pain altogether because you won't be able to handle it, when in fact, if you surrender to the pain, it will lessen. Tension and fear just serves to create more pain. Constant monitoring, drugs, being touched and observed by strangers all interrupts the natural flow of birthing hormones that lead to pleasurable and transcendent experiences.

"Not only is oxytocin reduced in the labouring woman’s body with epidurals, it is also reduced in her brain, according to current understandings. This means that women who birth with epidural analgesia are likely to miss the pleasure and reward peaks, from birth to postpartum". Dr Sarah Buckley.

It doesn't mean that if you experience pleasure, you won't experience pain. Childbirth is a rollercoaster that takes you on a wild ride, it has highs and lows, it ebbs and flows. Labour pain is physiological, it can be heightened by emotions and tension and eased by breathing and relaxing; your mindset is key. Labour pain is something you can work with, think reflexology, movement, breathwork, water, massage, your voice. Unlike all other pain we experience, labour pain is a sign that something is going right. The intensity builds up over time giving you time to prepare and adapt and make the most of the relief when it comes. As the intensity builds its a welcome sign that you are closer to meeting your baby.

"When we surrender conscious control, we also allow our deeper innate rhythms to surface: this can be a profound experience for a birthing woman. In allowing her labour to go at its own pace, without hurry or interference, a woman learns to trust her own, and her baby’s, natural rhythms. Such trust is another gift; another way that Mother Nature assists us to mother with ease and pleasure". Dr. Sarah Buckley

If the physiological process of birth was truly understood and birthing places were adapted to facilitate it, then every woman's experience of birth would change for the better. When childbirth is embarked upon with conscious preparation, incorporating pleasure throughout pregnancy and during birth, it can be the wildest most exhilarating ride of your life!

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