I was working with a couple last night, who were both athletes, swimmers to be specific. And we got discussing the parallels between birth, and exercise..
Exercise, in it’s simplest form, is the contracting and releasing of a pair of muscles. Whether that be in your legs as you run, your arms as you swim, or your uterus when you’re in labour!
Most muscles in our body work in pairs, and our uterus is no different. Our uterus is made up of long muscles, which run lengthways and contract during each surge, and round muscles which form the cervix and go all the way ‘around’ the uterus, releasing during each contraction (and therefore opening the cervix in labour).
Speak to any athlete and they will tell you that exercise is far easier when you are able to keep you muscles relaxed. ‘Tense’ them, by trying too hard or out of fear and you’re going to exhort more energy, tire more quickly, perform worse and find the whole experience more uncomfortable. And the same applies to labour! By keeping our body relaxed, we will be keeping the uterine muscles relaxed, contributing to a more efficient and more comfortable birth!
In order for our muscles to work, they require oxygen! Oxygen is brought to our muscles by our blood. If there isn’t enough oxygen in our muscles, the begin to produce something called lactic acid. If you’ve ever exercised and woken up the next day feeling ‘achy’, this is because of lactic acid! It’s clear therefore that lactic acid contributes to the build up of pain within our muscles; and what do we use in order to give birth? Uterine MUSCLES!
Ok, so we want to keep our uterus well oxygenated during labour. Got it! But how?
Firstly, breathing! Long, slow breaths during surges enable us to keep our bodies well oxygenated, supplying both our muscles and baby with all the oxygen they require!
Secondly, is all goes back to hormones! If our bodies produce a hormone called Adrenalin, it stimulates a response within our bodies called the ‘fight or flight reflex’. From a physiological perspective, this drains the blood from around our internal organs and sends it to our arms and legs so that we can run away or fight off danger! NOT helpful in keeping our uterus (an internal organ) well oxygenated! Adrenalin is the hormone of fear, so keeping ourselves calm, relaxed, safe an unobserved during labour is key to keeping adrenalin at bay!
If you are keen to understand what’s happening in your body during labour, and how hypnobirthing can help things moving in the right direction, you can sign up for classes here or read more of our helpful
If you are interested in taking the next step to a positive birth, Positively Birthing Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Classes run throughout Surrey and SW London- areas including Surbiton, Esher, Teddington, Cobham, Twickenham, St Margarets, Thames Ditton, Molesey, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston, Sunbury, Epsom, Ewell, and beyond. All bookings can be made here.