Benefits of practicing mind body techniques to facilitate a natural labor

Friday, June 08, 2012 by: Victoria Moore
Tags: natural labor, relaxation, meditation

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(NaturalNews) With so many medical interventions and use of drugs during labor it is no surprise that many woman are unfamiliar with the importance of mind body techniques and the benefits they have on labor and post-partum health. Educating women on these techniques early in pregnancy can significantly reduce unnecessary medical processes that are typically seen. For example, Cesarean and Pitocin rates are at 30%, with epidural rates at and astounding 80%. These interventions can cause complications during labor along with side effects in both mother and baby, which can result in trauma.

Pitocin is a synthetic form of Oxytocin and is released into the system via IV, delivering the drug in a steady flow instead of in secreted bursts, which is how the body releases natural Oxytocin. This results in stronger contractions, which may decrease blood flow and can cause distress to both the mother and baby increasing the likelihood of a C-section. Mind body techniques such as yoga, relaxation, imagery, and meditation offer both psychological and physiological benefits to both mother and baby. These techniques help to improve comfort during labor, and shorten the duration of the overall labor time.

Most popular mind body techniques

Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise during pregnancy and combines gentle stretching, relaxation and breathing techniques. This ancient practice increases internal awareness and focus that helps create confidence and trust in your body while also bonding with your baby. It can lower blood pressure and prevents and relieves aches and pains that impinge on the body during pregnancy. Yoga builds stamina, relaxes the pelvis, and helps the baby transition into an optimal birthing position.

The relaxation response can significantly improve your overall health and well being. Research has shown that when the relaxation response is used on a daily basis it can reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, as well as improve blood pressure, immunity, and self-esteem. Relaxation helps to create endorphins, which help to decrease pain during labor, whereas fear causes the release of stress hormones and catecholamine that can increase pain and duration of labor. Meditation and imagery can be effective methods of helping to achieve complete and total relaxation.

Meditation helps to create melatonin, which is released into the bloodstream during stress inducing times. It also produces endorphins that have very powerful pain relieving effects, similar to morphine. The more dedicated the woman is to her prenatal meditation, the less afraid she will be of preconceived pain prior to the onset of labor. This will allow the woman to be less disturbed by any actual pain felt which creates feelings of joy. Frequent practice results in higher levels of endorphins during labor.

Imagery and visualization are other powerful tools for women to practice prior to labor. Envisioning a successful labor can help build confidence in the woman's ability to birth naturally without medical interventions coming into play. Tight and tense muscles can prevent the body from opening, which is essential in order for labor to progress. Practicing imagery and visualization towards the end of your pregnancy and during labor helps to condition the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.

In addition to helping make pregnancy and labor easier, these modalities also help the post-partum body recover quicker. These techniques prevent and treat post partum depression and anxiety by allowing the mother some time to herself to nurture her mind-body connection. With so many physical and hormonal changes going on during this time, it is beneficial for the mother to take some time to decompress and build awareness with her changing body to adapt to each new stage of motherhood.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Victoria Moore is natural health researcher/blogger, yoga instructor and Usui Reiki master. Her passions include empowering women on how to prepare for natural labor, teaching yoga to adults and children and learning about alternative approaches to health and lifestyle. Through her website she enjoys connecting with other like-minded people and sharing information about health and wellness, natural parenting, alternative medicine and organic living.
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