And other Important tools to help facilitate
Help the Hormones of Labor Flow
The three layers of the uterus each have different jobs. One layer contracts in an upward direction, forming a platform at the top of the uterus. Since everything is moving upwards, the cervix disappears. Another layer of intertwined muscular fibers brings oxygen and nutrients to the baby and placenta. These two layers are involuntary and work regardless of our intent. The third layer is voluntary and can be consciously relaxed by the laboring mom so that the blood can flow easily and smoothly to nourish the uterine muscle and the placenta.
The VOLUNTARY HORIZONTAL muscular fibers can be actively released to facilitate a more comfortable and efficient labor pattern. When they are actively tightened and engaged, they work against the important jobs that the INVOLUNTARY muscular fibers are tying to accomplish, of bringing blood and oxygen to your baby and drawing your cervix up and open. This is one reason why RELAXATION is so important. This muscle needs to be actively relaxed so that it is not inhibiting the process. It is essential to the the natural process. The more it is practiced, the more automatic and easy it becomes.
These muscular fibers are intertwined. If the VOLUNTARY HORIZONTAL muscular fibers are relaxed then the INVOLUNTARY INTERTWINED muscular fibers will carry oxygen and nutrients easily to the placenta and your baby. If not, then blood flow may be restricted to this giant muscle, which would create pain, leading to the FEAR - TENSION - PAIN cycle identified by Dr. Grantly Dick-Read. Tension leads to pain, because the muscular fibers are FIGHTING against themselves rather than working uninhibited. When there is no tension, the blood flows easily, and the fibers contract smoothly, without any resistance.
The cervix becomes softer and shorter as labor moves forward. The INVOLUNTARY VERTICAL muscular fibers draw the cervix in an upward direction, which opens it up and thins it out. This is called DILATION and EFFACEMENT. The muscular fibers form a platform on the top of the uterus. This platform moves the baby down and out. This process works really well when baby is in a good position, when blood is flowing well to the uterus, from the mother's deep, slow and regular breaths, and when the mother actively and consciously relaxes the VOLUNTARY HORIZONTAL muscular fibers.
Your only Job is to Breathe
Let the Breath help you relax deeper
Your Breath is a powerful tool
Visualize to Help with Breathing Correctly
Imagine a balloon filling with your breath. You blow slowly, making sure you do not fill the balloon too fast. It takes the color of your preference. Your belly moves away from your spine and makes more room for deeper breathing as you fill up your balloon and your lungs. Pause and release, gently and calmly blow the balloon away from you with your out-breath. Repeat as desired
Exhale Slowly into your Cheeks
This allows for an easier flow and a slower exhale. When the exhale is longer than the inhale, the nervous system is relaxed. Deeply and slowly breathing calms the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and helps shift the blood flow to the vital organs and supports the uterine functioning. These deep slow breaths also provide oxygen to your baby. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, count in to 4/6 and out to 8/12 or beyond, or find your own gentle and slow rhythm.
Relax your Jaw
This one simple thing has a profound effect on your pelvic floor. When the jaw is relaxed, the pelvic floor follows. Keeping the jaw relaxed helps to relieve tension in your bottom. A relaxed bottom may help labor move forward more quickly and easily, because there is no resistance to keep your baby from moving down and through.
Relax More with Each Exhale
Drop your tension completely with a deep cleansing breath whenever the contraction begins, keeping your shoulders, forehead, jaw, back, and hips loose and moving fluidly as you sway back and forth with the contractions. Make hip circles or figure eights with your knees slightly open and dip into and down and out. Utilize the breath for relaxation. It will assist you in becoming soft and open for your baby to come out better oxygenated, and faster in most cases. Consciously drop more tension each time you breathe out. Check in with your body from the top to the bottom, releasing any tension that you find.
Think about how a kid pretends to make a horse sound or how an adult reacts to a stressful situation by blowing air through their lips and letting their lips flap together. This action relaxes the entire body, especially the pelvic floor. This technique is great for any moment in labor when the pressure feels particularly intense, such as a wonderful strong contraction. Welcome the intensity and respond with deeper and deeper relaxation to maximize the effectiveness of the efforts of your body. Your body is wise. Trust the process!