by Stephanie Larson, Founder of Dancing For Birth™
Are you thinking, “Love my Labor? How am I supposed to do that?” If so, you’re not alone. Most people associate the word ‘pain’ with labor, not the word ‘love.’ But loving your labor is entirely possible! Loving your labor is the ultimate catalyst to loving the new you―the you that emerges transformed and empowered no matter what transpires during your birth.
To love your labor, it’s key to create an oxytocin-rich environment to labor in. Oxytocin is the ‘love’ hormone. It gives you feelings of love, trust, openness, happiness and euphoria. It’s also the hormone that causes your uterus to contract to birth your baby. It’s no coincidence that the ‘love’ hormone is responsible for birthing. With oxytocin flooding through you and your baby, your strong love-bond is established from the start. Can you imagine a birth that’s saturated with love, bliss and pleasure for you and your baby? Here are seven ways to bring love and oxytocin to your labor.
1. Stand up. Lying on your back can feel vulnerable and can lead to stress. Stress inhibits the release of oxytocin. Being up on your feet grounds you so you feel powerful. While on your feet you can easily move your body to find comfort and ease. Lean slightly forward from the waist and rest some of your weight on the wall or the furniture whenever needed.
2. Dance. Dancing produces oxytocin, so you feel happy and blissful. As an added benefit, dancing raises your pain threshold and helps you feel connected to those you’re dancing with. Put on your favorite music with great beats and dance your baby out. Try this: with your feet separated about hip-width apart bend your knees and move your pelvis in continuous circles. Not only does it feel good, it helps help your baby rotate through your pelvis.
3. Protect your neocortex from stimulation. Your ‘modern brain’ inhibits oxytocin release when it’s stimulated. To prevent this, get into your ‘feeling brain’ instead of your ‘thinking brain’. Your birth team can help you with this. Let them know you don’t want them to initiate conversation, or ask you questions, especially about numbers or time. For example, “What’s your pain level on a scale of one to ten” or “What was the date of your last menstrual cycle.”
4. Make your environment conducive to love. If your birth space isn’t one you’d want to make love in, then it can actually inhibit your birth. Love-making and birth are best when they are intuitive and guided by primal instincts. Set the mood to your liking, for example dim lights, warmth, and privacy. Protection from intrusions, distractions, directions and being observed allows you to be fully in your body and to follow your birth instincts.
5. Get close to someone you love and trust. Dance in a close embrace, or face them while they are sitting and straddle their lap with your feet on the floor. Lean forward and rest your head and chest on them and enjoy their arms around you. From this position you can still move your hips and body as needed. When you’re ready to dance again you can easily stand up. Try this during active labor if you feel fatigued: in between contractions lap sit, close your eyes and rest fully on your partner. During contractions stand up, still touching your sitting partner, and rock your hips side to side with your knees bent.
6. Touch. Skin-to-skin contact will increase the oxytocin flow. You can do this for yourself, for example touching your belly. At your invitation your birth team can provide hugs, hold your hand, or massage you. If you have a significant other present, kissing and sensual touch is great too.
7. Let your sounds and emotions flow. Birth is about release. This is not the time to hold in anything. Involuntary sounds are a sign that you’re fully in your birth zone. Allow your voice, your needs, your laughter and tears, your fears and epiphanies to emerge along with your precious baby.
Which of these will you use (or did you use) during birth? Tell me in the comments below.
Stephanie Larson is a leading world expert on supporting pregnancy, birth and new parenthood through movement and instinct. She is the Founder and Master Trainer of Dancing For Birth™ the weekly preconception, prenatal and postnatal class that combines fitness, childbirth education and celebration and has become a global sensation. Larson calls for an end to forced lithotomy position, and a worldwide shift to primal, powerful, euphoric birth and conscious parenting. Her speaking engagements and TV appearances include DONA International, Lamaze International, CAPPA, ICAN, CIMS, ICEA, CAPPA Canada, AWHONN, CBS, NBC, FOX and ABC. She ‘danced out’ her four babies in birth center, hospital and home births.