We’ve all been there before when we’ve either looked down at our vulvas or envisioned a baby coming out of that small area and thought, how the hell is this going to work. And whether you’ve had these thoughts as a teenage girl or as an adult woman there is no shame in thinking that way.
In fact, it’s really normal and common to have these thoughts. Why? Because we have had no education in regards to how our body is physiologically designed to give birth (but we all know how to put a condom on a banana, thanks, mainstream education).
This article is dedicated to all the women who want to know more, to all the girls that deserve to understand how badass their body is. Whether you are pregnant right now, planning to have kids, or never want to have children. All women on this earth have the right to be empowered through the understanding that their body is capable of amazing things and this article is just skimming the surface.
Let’s talk about hormones:
We love to hate them. But what if I told you that hormones are your best friends in labour and I’m not talking about the raging ones that make us eat a whole block of chocolate in one sitting.
…Starting with queen oxytocin
You may know her from the feeling you get when you hug a loved one, have an orgasm, or when you see a heart-melting video on Instagram that makes you go “awww”. That’s oxytocin, she has our backs, lifts us up when we’re feeling down and is our number one gal when it comes to giving birth.
In labour, oxytocin is responsible for establishing regular strong contractions to bring your baby into this world. When oxytocin is out in full swing, it will increase your pain tolerance as you will be receiving pulses of oxytocin that will flood your body with the loving vibe we all want.
The thing is oxytocin is super shy. So to harness the true power of oxytocin we need to think about the environment we’re birthing in and the people we choose to have around us.
I want you to think “how can I support an oxytocin rich environment for my labour?”
This may look like dimmed lighting, only having your partner present, soft tunes in the background, affirmations on the wall, a blanket or your favourite pillow.
Next, we have the beta-endorphin, our bodies naturally occurring opiate.
Beta-endorphin is a stress hormone, meaning there needs to be some sort of intensity present for beta-endorphins to be released. Lucky for us, contractions are intense and beta-endorphins are there in a flash.
Beta-endorphin works on the same receptors as morphine does. Their job is to help you transmute the pain and enter an altered state of consciousness supporting feelings of pleasure and euphoria. An ‘endorphined’ woman may look labour drunk, going in and out of microsleeps, almost tunnel-like vision with one goal to have this baby. Trust this feeling as it opens the way to your instincts.
When these two powerhouse hormones are working together, amazing things happen. Other hormones like progesterone and relaxin start to come out of the woodwork and help to soften and relax ligaments and tissues as well as encourage smooth muscle relaxation. This supports our vulvas to stretch! (and I’m talking elastic band sort of stretch, nothing we’ve ever seen before unless you’ve given birth).
So when you next find yourself thinking about birth and you have the thought of “how the hell!” Remember your hormones are your helpers! Educate and empower yourself to harness these hormones in the best way possible to support a positive birth experience.