When you’re pregnant you get a whole lot of unsolicited information pouring your way, right? When I was towards the end of my pregnancy with my eldest I found myself listening to a lady in the aisle of our local Hy-Vee supermarket in the USA, rambling on to me about pain, discomfort and drugs. Her last comment to me as she paid for her groceries was when it all slows down honey… take the drugs! I thought to myself why is it people feel compelled to share their birth story, good or bad, with you when you are pregnant? I decided that day in the Hy-Vee checkout aisle to surround myself with white light, nod politely and say to myself ‘that’s your journey not mine’. As I see it, everybody’s journey is different – experiences, birth option, thought processes, trauma, fear, structural integrity and nerve system disturbance amongst many other factors.
It’s the nerve disturbance and fear I want to focus on in this article. I have found over the decades of listening to the stories and my own experience that there is a common thread regardless of the place of birth, type of birth, country of birth, or birth team attendees and it’s this…
The Birth Process Slows Down At Some Point Albeit Long or Brief
The logical question to ask then is why does it slow down and what do you do when it does? Will you do what the Hy-Vee lady suggested?
This process of slowing down is called Dystocia which means a change in movement. There are three ways the ‘slowing down’ occurs;
2) Emotional or
Depending on your philosophical alignment and understanding of the birth process this could be a good thing or a bad thing. My intention is to outline them for you from the Vital Moms vitalistic health perspective.
1) Dystocia – Physical
Why might the birth process slow down due to physical dystocia? Our nerve system is the master communicating system of the body. Think of it like a super highway carrying vital messages from your brain to your vital organs and cells – one of which is the uterus – and back again. When a system creates nerve disturbance with itself the messages become muffled, irritated or at worst not heard.
It may help to imagine this in the following way …
Picture yourself organizing a hot air balloon ride. You arrive in the early morning at the field where the balloon is being readied. You notice the wicker basket is tied by rope to the ground and the balloon is tied by cords to the wicker basket. The crew fill the balloon with air and then blast the burner flame, heating the air and expanding the balloon.
The balloon envelope looks gorgeous in its symmetry against the morning sky.
Now, if one or more of those ropes holding the wicker basket to the ground was twisted or pulled on only slightly more than another imagine for a moment how the balloon envelope would appear — perhaps lopsided, asymmetrical and unable to move or rise efficiently?
Now imagine the wicker basket as your uterus, and coming off your uterus are ligaments. When ligaments are not “sitting” the way they’re intended to, you may experience similar challenges to the hot air balloon— your uterus may not be positioned symmetrically, rotated to one side.
Just as the efficiency of the balloon would be hindered and flight would be almost impossible, if your uterus is out of symmetry, out of alignment, it may hinder the growth and the birth process.
Nerve disturbance can affect both you and your child’s ability to birth. A constrained or inhibited uterus may mean your baby is able to move less freely, decreasing the tumbling and turning and creating a change in movement…a slowing down.
2) Dystocia – Emotional
Why might the birth process slow down due to emotional dystocia? Well that is a good question! When we look at the emotional aspect of birth there is a full and colourful array of emotions expressed by individuals prior to the birth process and during the birth itself. These emotions which are carried via the nerve system can be unsung, quite and percolating in the woman’s mind naked to the untrained eye or the emotions can loud and in your face. Either way the emotions of the birth mother are important to the progress of birth.
Fear is one of the biggest emotions confronting birth. An article published June 27, 2012 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found a link between fear of childbirth and longer duration of labour. The article also mentioned… generally, longer labour duration increases the risk of instrumental vaginal delivery and emergency caesarean section. The study found women with a fear of childbirth more often delivered by instrumental vaginal delivery (17.0% versus 10.6%) or emergency caesarean delivery (10.9% versus 6.8%) as compared to women without fear of childbirth.
Let me use myself as an example…
I created emotional Dystocia for a brief period during the birth of our second child. It wasn’t because of the fear of birthing but the fear of do I really want to be a parent again, oh my gosh how I am going to cope with two, what if it’s another boy, what if it’s a girl! I knew it was my emotions holding me back from not opening up to the birth process contractions slowed down, I felt tired and went to rest on my bed. I slept for 45 minutes and upon waking asked my husband to call a fellow chiropractor of ours to come over and adjustment me using an emotional technique we are trained in. Upon his arrival and after my adjustment I took myself immediately to the land of transition, began dry reaching (which by the way opens up the cervix!) and two pushes later I birthed another baby… a boy!
It is important you birth where you feel most comfortable and have a supportive team you can trust too. I also made sure I was regularly adjusted – weekly in fact. I wanted to make sure my hot air balloon was well balanced and open to receive the communication required to grow and birth a baby.
If you’re about to birth or planning a pregnancy sometime soon then perhaps you may like to ask yourself these questions:
- How am I feeling about being a parent? (first time or second time)
- How can I create the birth experience I want rather than what others tell me to have?
- How does my partner feel about my birth choice?
- Does my partner believe I can birth naturally?
- Do I believe I can birth naturally?
- Am I empowered to say “Yes!” to those I want at my birth and “No!” to those I don’t want there?
- What’s my birth plan?
3) Dystocia – Iatrogenic
Right now you might be saying to yourself “iatro….what?” If you have been a reader of Vital Moms for some time then you would have heard me say this word. I predicted at a recent live presentation that this would be a household word within 5 years. Iatrogenic is the system itself. What is the system I am referring to? It’s the medicalisation of birth and the system the majority of people use for their “health” care. You would have read under point 2 emotional Dystocia the article referencing fear of birth and how when a mother is in this state intervention more often than not is rolled out because everything slows down.
Once there is a thought or a seed planted to the mother that the birth has “slowed down” it generally does. I want you to imagine for a moment, as I digress a little here, that you decide you want to get fit and off you trot to the local the gymnasium to build some strength. You find a fabulous full length mirror, some dumbbells and begin “pumping the iron” performing bicep curl after bicep curl until your biceps get a little tired and tight, cannot contract and you decide to take a rest. So rest you do wondering off to work on your legs instead. Within 10 minutes you are good for another round of bicep curls.
Hold this picture of your biceps in your mind and now think of your uterus. A very strong organ, contracting for hours and at some point in time it says “you know what… I need to rest. And rest it does. It all slows down. This is called THE RESTING PHASE, not recognized by many people, but it is part of the birth process. When the contractions slow down we immediately assume something is wrong “you’re not progressing!” Well hang on perhaps you just need a rest, take a breather, some time out, lay down, sleep if need be and then you can go again. However most people are not thinking this way and I feel that’s when we get into the “iatrogenic dystocia” of birth where our body is looked at like a machine that is meant to keep going and going and when it stops we don’t look to support it in this “resting phase” we look for ways to “reboot it”. The rebooting usually comes in the form of intervention: break membranes, Syntocin/Pitocin to artificially move labour along, epidural/gas for pain relief, mother now birthing on her back, episiotomy because baby maybe now stuck, instrumental vaginal “delivery” to suck or pull the baby out, instrument fails and a C- section is the end result. All perhaps because this “resting phase” was not respected or acknowledged and the medicalisation of birth took over.
The process of birth is a highly organised system of events that takes place in order for the mother and baby to birth…together. We have seen here three ways in which the process of birth can be slowed down known as Dystocia. I encourage all Vital Moms readers if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy or know of a friend who is pregnant to find a chiropractor, receive regular adjustments for neurological integrity, work with the emotions of pregnancy and birth, respect and trust the “resting phase” of the birth process and find a team you can trust; people willing to work with you and your birth choices.
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