Birth Doula Blog
Yes, Believing is Achieving!
You may not know this, but I'm also a spin instructor. I've been spinning for more than 10 years and I'm so passionate about it! Turns out, a lot of what I teach and practice during my classes perfectly applies to unmedicated labor. Think about it. A one-hour spin class is a huge physical feat that can seem daunting, yet other people can achieve it. Some even come back for more! They sweat, let go of inhibitions, push themselves past their known limit, go inward, connect with their breath, and feel euphoric when done. You might wonder what those athletes have that you don't.
Want to know the secret? It's peak performance! When you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, you tap into your peak performance.
What's the parasympathetic nervous system?
It's a network of nerves that relaxes the body and it’s responsible for many functions that you don’t have to think about to control. This can include your heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, urination, and sweating, among other functions. It also manages the activity in organs throughout your body when you feel calm and safe.
What does it feel like when peak performance is achieved?
It's described as “a heightened level of consciousness,” where the mind and body work harmoniously to produce extraordinary achievements. Parasympathetic stimulation lowers heart and breath rates and slows your brain waves into alpha waves, creating a calming, peaceful effect throughout the body. When you trigger the relaxation response, you make a connection between mind and body.
What can you do when the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged?
During this heightened consciousness, you can change the way you think and act. You can even talk your body into something you thought impossible. When you visualize a physical task, the brain and nervous system respond as if the imagined event is real. In other words, your perception becomes reality.
What changes occur in the body?
• Oxygen consumption decreases
• Heart and breath rates decline
• Blood pressure declines
• Muscular tension decreases
• A calming effect is felt throughout the body
In labor, this helps conserve your physical energy so that your sole job is to have a baby.
What changes occur in the mind?
•Merge with the environment: For example, a runner becomes one with the road, a swimmer merges with the water, or a laboring person becomes one with her uterus/baby.
•Unity: You experience a common sense of unity with a higher power or the universe. In labor, you feel the strength of all the women who have labored before you.
•Alterations in time and space: Time will either feel slower or much faster than reality.
•Sensory Intensification: Vision becomes clearer and more vibrant, focus is intensified and hearing, touch, taste, and smell become sharper. Body awareness is heightened, yet remains undistracted by external stimuli.
•Detachment from outcomes
How can I activate this relaxation response in labor?
In fitness, it's often triggered by aerobic exercise because these activities involve rhythmic, smooth, and repetitive exercise. The same can be said about labor when the breath and movement become rhythmic and fluid, and contractions come in a steady and repetitive pattern.
Do the following:
Deep diaphragmatic breathing
Choose a focal point
Pick a word or short phrase as your “mantra”
Use mental imagery
Choose activities, thoughts, and objects that boost your oxytocin
Surrender and don't fight contractions
Release your expectations of time and outcomes
Use massage, pressure points, and touch
"Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends upon what we look for. What we look for depends upon what we think. What we think depends upon what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality." – Gary Zukav, physicist
I truly hope you begin to trust the perfect design you are. Nature made no mistakes with your body or your baby. In this email, you've learned that your body knows how to labor with intelligence, intuition, and purpose