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Can your mind affect your body?

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

"For this is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, the physicians separate the mind from the body" - Socrates

Medicine has vastly ignored the connections between mind and body for millennia, particularly the effects of stress on our physiology. Midwifery is arguably the one field where the link between our emotions and the birthing process is well known and documented. It is undeniable that our sense of safety, comfort and privacy have a direct effect on our labouring hormones and the birthing process.

Learning to reduce our stress levels and feeling relaxed, in control of our emotions in different circumstances is a fundamental tool to promote a straightforward labour and easier birth, reduce the need for interventions and set us up for a positive birthing experience.

We still have a few spaces for individual courses this autumn. Reach out if you want to learn some very effective tools to take control of your birthing experience.

Contrary to popular belief, stress is not a nervous tension we experience, but a series of internal changes we may not even be aware of. Stress is a biological response to a thread to our well-being or existence. Whether the threat is real or only perceived, our brain responds by activating a series of processes through releasing different hormones, influencing how our bodies function. During labour, stress interferes with the birthing process by disrupting the ideal cocktail of hormones necessary for our bodies to open and release our babies.

Stress is a deeply individual experience, dependent on personal history and disposition. The same event can be a stressor for some or an opportunity for others. Vaginal examinations can be perceived as intrusive and disruptive by some, or reassuring by others.

Hypnobirthing gives you the space to explore your options and identify your individual stressors, making a powerful difference in your journey to meeting your baby. We support you and your birthing partner in finding ways to avoid certain stressors and to develop strategies to manage and mitigate your body's response if some stress does appear along the way. Stress can't always be avoided in birth, as in life, but learning how to manage it during your pregnancy is one of the most effective ways to achieve a positive birthing experience.

Universally, there are 3 factors that lead to stress: uncertainty, lack of information and loss of control. It doesn't come as a surprise that these factors are also commonly found in the stories of families who've experienced birth trauma. Whilst a certain level of uncertainty is an inherent part of birth and life, stress levels increase when we feel out of control of our emotions and environment, when things are done to us without our full understanding and consent. There's undoubtedly a lot we can improve in maternity care, including communication, but having thorough discussions about pros and cons of care options can be very challenging when you're in the full throws of labour.

Going with the flow, remaining open to the unexpected ways things may unfold in our journey is important, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't be informed and prepare during our pregnancy. In fact, families who attend antenatal classes report feeling much more comfortable with the uncertainty of their birthing journey and confident in their ability to make the right choices for them. The knowledge and sense of control you can gain through investing in birth preparation is invaluable to help you feel confident and positively excited about your birthing experience.

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