When talking about childbirth, a lot of what is spoken about is the physical aspects of it.
Antenatal Education is about how your body works and what you can do physically to help the progression.
We chat about positioning of the Birthing person and even of baby, all of which plays an important role in the labour journey.
The mental aspect of childbirth plays just as important a role as the physical side in my opinion.
In this blog, I am going to explore what part our Brain plays, but that also there is a 2nd type of Brain to consider.
The acronym B.R.A.I.N.
Both play their part in labour and this knowledge can be useful.
First let’s look at our Brain. I am not a medical professional, so my knowledge of the brain in depth is small. Any knowledge I have comes from high school and my training to become a Daisy Teacher and a Doula.
When I teach Antenatal Classes for The Daisy Foundation, I do talk a lot about our subconscious and muscle memory, as well as the Fear Tension Pain Theory (which I have written about in another blog).
When I was doing research for my Badass Doula course, part of it was about the Brain and something clocked consciously, something that has been there subconsciously.
Our Brain is amazing of course, but even more amazing is the important role it plays in childbirth.
I am not going to get all technical, as our Brain is so complex, but there are parts of our Brain that play a part and can impact on birth. Some parts more than others.
Birth is a primal instinct, that if left undisturbed happens. It is involuntary, from the need/want for movement (swaying motions all helping in the way it’s meant to) to the noise we make in labour (that noise that is so powerful and can be used to our advantage).
We don’t consciously say, “Okay, so I am going to do this and that, to help labour progress” and “I am going to scream and shout, as I have been told noise is powerful”. Do we???
No, our Medulla Oblongata is at work. It is responsible for the involuntary bodily functions that we don’t think about doing, we just do them, like breathing. In labour, it plays a big part, as a birthing person will tap into their subconscious and let that part take over. The movements are involuntary.
Our Body and Brain work in perfect harmony.
Another part of our Brain that can play a vital role prior to our birthing day is the Cerebellum. This part of the brain is responsible for muscle movement (the Uterus is a muscle) as well as balance, posture, and muscle memory.
Muscle Memory during labour is important, as we go into our subconscious our bodies move and sway naturally and involuntary, although these movements tend to be learnt movements too.
This is why so many people seek out movement classes whilst pregnant, as they want to prepare both physically and mentally prior to labour. Movements learnt in pregnancy become involuntary in labour, as they become part of the muscle memory of our bodies.
A Breathing technique you learn and practice for the duration of pregnancy, is then a technique you employ when in labour without even thinking about it.
Another example of how our Body and Brain work in harmony.
So, having had a peek at the Brain, we now move on to the Acronym B.R.A.I.N.
Also used as T-B.R.A.I.N.
This stands for:
Intuition/Internet Research (evidence based of course)
That the acronym makes up the word Brain is no coincidence I feel.
It is am amazing tool for research and preparation in pregnancy, as well as during the labour journey. This tool can be used by all involved in the birth, not just the birthing person.
In the lead up to birth, there may be decisions you wish to make and chat to your birth team about. When making these decisions use your B.R.A.I.N.
This will help you to make choices and tap into your own power and intuition.
During labour you will be tapping into your subconscious, not scrutinising any decision made, as you Trust in your baby and body. This is still a useful tool to use if something just doesn’t feel right for you.
To help keep our adrenaline low, allowing those Oxytocin levels to rise, keeping us out of ‘fight or flight’ during labour, we would look at certain decisions during our pregnancy. This does not mean they are set in stone, but it does allow us to look into things and explore how we feel about them.
It can be used to look into things like: “Do I Hire A Doula?” (Yes). “I am thinking of a Homebirth, but I am not sure.” “Do I want pain relief?” To name a few.
We look at the Benefits of these and the risks, as a balanced view can help (that’s not to say it will always be balanced, as the benefits can outweigh the risks). You then explore if there are alternatives, if there are, is the alternative something you would be happy with?
The next one, and for me the most important one: “What does my Intuition say?” Trust your gut. This feeling may come from your beliefs or you may have done lots of research, which has had an impact on those beliefs. What is it telling you to do? There is no wrong answer.
And finally: “What if I do nothing?” This one may only be applicable in certain scenarios, but it can be powerful. “If I do nothing and don’t look into a Doula or a Homebirth, will I regret it?” Remember, by looking into it, you are not committing, only you can decide: “If I do nothing and trust my body amazing things can happen.”
Lots of B’s:
Believe, Body, Baby, Brain, Birth!!!!