autonomic nervous system

Rhythmic Movement for Birth Pain Control

Birth is a life changing event that many women have a desire-fear relationship with.

The idea of knowingly putting yourself through pain can be daunting. Even with modern pain medication, which you may want to avoid.

So your pregnant and want to try for a natural birth or at least wait as long as possible before getting pain medication (if at all).

What are some strategies to cope with the pain of birth?

The first pains that are felt during birth are the result of uterine contractions. These contractions pull the cervical muscle up and out of the way to allow baby to descend. The widening of the cervix  pulls on the surrounding muscles and ligaments. These pelvic floor tissues are packed with nerves wit pressure and pain receptors and are the source of the strong sensations during contractions. The tighter or tense these tissues the more intense the pain response.

In early labor contractions and sensations are less intense and infrequent.

As labor progresses, the sensations intensify, lengthen and become more frequent. This is how you know your body is priming for full delivery. However it also becomes more challenging to cope.

The second set of pains is the stretch of the pelvic floor tissue as baby’s head is delivered.

Some call this the “ring of fire” because it feels like a burning sensation as the tissue stretches. Again, being more intense if the pelvic floor muscles are tense or tight.

Other pains that may be felt are back pain, especially if baby is posterior occiput breech, meaning face up. Others may experience vaginal or rectal pain in the form of pressure.

Most pain during labor and delivery is absolutely normal and healthy. But there are ways to influence and cope with the pain naturally.

Many people think of breathing strategies to cope with pain. I can't agree more. But there are other strategies that help your body work through the aches and pains during labor.

One strategy is to MOVE!

There are many ways to move during labor ... walking, sitting on the birth ball, yoga poses ...but one of the most influential movement is rhythmic.

Rhythmic movement targets the autonomic nervous system, which controls how you FEEL pain.

When you are in labor your body triggers your sympathetic nervous system due to the stress your body is under, which controls your fight, flight or freeze mechanism, which sharpens your senses, including pain.

Even though your autonomic nervous system is not under our direct conscious control you can influence it by targeting your parasympathetic nervous system, which suppresses the sensation of pain.

Rhythmic movement relaxes your muscles and taps into this system. Helping you take the edge off of labor pains.

During my second birth, I found my body automatically moving in a rhythmic way when the contractions became more intense.

What are rhythmic movements?

A movement that recurs repetitively to a certain pattern.

This could be rocking, shaking, bouncing, swaying.

In early labor I used my birth ball by rocking my pelvis, bouncing, and swaying my hips with wide legs.

When labor progressed and I was "resting" on my side in bed, every time there was a contraction my body (but mostly my pelvis) would rock back and forth. This movement was soothing and allowed me to stay calm and work with the pain rather than stiffen against it.

There is no one correct way to move. You can practice throughout your pregnancy to create muscle memory and a mind-body connection that your body can call upon when you are in labor. Then you're body will move in it's own unique way.

Rhythmic movement allows you to take charge of your labor and work with the pain.

FEEL how your body wants to move and let your body move freely...creating your birth dance!