I have been thinking a great deal about fear and birth. We teach and learn the importance of relaxation for a laboring woman. Lets not forget, though, the importance of eliminating fear from the labor room entirely.
All of my students have heard me talk about the gazelle laboring on the savanna. She will go off alone, at night to birth in private and SAFETY. If she senses that there is a lion nearby, her labor will stop so that she can flee. She doesn’t think about it and plan her getaway. It just happens. The hormones of fear drive the hormones of labor down.
What a great system this gazelle has going on! She shares it with other mammals, though, including humans. The problem with the humans is that our lions come in many forms. Instead of stopping labor to escape a predator, we are stopping labor because we’re so smart and we can think of all sorts of things to go wrong. Women’s labors stop or slow en route to the hospital, upon arriving, because the wrong doctor is on call, because they think they are progressing too slowly, because the next contraction may be too hard. Sometimes their cervices even close after being open! It happened to me for one of the above reasons.
So we tell women to relax and trust birth. We massage them, breath with them and hypnotize them. They are now buttery, unaware of the goings on around them, producing nary a hormone of fear. But how about everyone else?
Some people believe that a woman in labor is psychic. I think we can keep the conversation on a more tangible plain while addressing this same idea.
We give credit to other animals for smelling our fear, but no one talks about it with humans! Perhaps we think we are too smart, that we can communicate and pick up on fear in other, more obvious ways. What if we are giving off pheromones in the labor room that say, “I don’t know if this is going to work!” or “This looks really hard. I feel so bad for her?” Might a laboring woman smell our fear, psychic or not?
Frankly, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s pheromones or something else being sensed, but, as a doula or friend (or grandmother someday), I don’t want to be responsible for introducing an energy of fear into the labor room. The fact is that a new mother will not remember your fear, but it may very well have affected her labor.
Before you go into the labor room, make sure that you trust the birthing process, relax, have a massage, take some Rescue Remedy. Save your fear for the lion lurking around the corner of Broadway.
*My last blog post was over a year ago about eating dates in labor. Last week, I noticed other people talking about this no-longer-recent study. I figured I should blog more often in case there’s other stuff I’m ahead of the crowd about. Not likely, but here you have it anyway.