Using Sports Psychology for Childbirth

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/well/family/using-sports-psychology-for-childbirth.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_hh_20190116&nl=well&nl_art=12&nlid=59957724emc%3Dedit_hh_20190116&ref=headline&te=1

Any woman who has ever carried and birthed a child, in whatever fashion, deserves her own ESPN highlight reel — blood, sweat, tears and the eventual triumph of holding her newborn baby. To be clear, childbirth isn’t a game. You can’t plead with the referee when you don’t like a call or leave the field when you’re tired. 

Still, as a lifelong athlete, I saw childbirth, especially an unmedicated one, as the ultimate challenge of physical endurance, mental stamina and my ability to handle pain.

When I became pregnant in January 2018 and set about preparing for the monumental task of birthing a human, I loaded up on prenatal vitamins, kept a daily routine of birthing stretches and exercises, and endured an eight-week birthing course. An image of the lead female competitors in the New York City Marathon, who bring me to tears when they run past my Brooklyn apartment each year, filled me with confidence for labor. Washboard-like abs. Lean legs showing off every strand of muscle. Calm, focused and confident expressions on their faces.

However, as my due date came near, I clung to a fear of pain and the unknowns out of my control. How long would my labor be? Would my mind fall apart? What if my pelvis wasn’t the optimal shape or I stopped dilating?

(Click to read on NYTimes.com)

The Benefits of a Mindful Pregnancy

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/31/well/family/the-benefits-of-a-mindful-pregnancy.html

Many expectant mothers worry about the physical pain that accompanies labor and childbirth. New research suggests that including mindfulness skills in childbirth education can help first-time mothers cope with their fear.

(click link to read this great post on NY Times website)

Avoiding These 4 Things May Help You Have the Birth You Want

http://www.mothering.com/articles/researcher-advises-stop-thinking-avoid-4-ls/

(click link above to read on Mothering.com)

For those of you who don’t know, Michel Odent is a world-famous researcher and obstetrician who ran a maternity unit in France for, I think, 86 years. Yeah, he’s that good. He is recognized for his extensive research concerning how we are born. All the stuff that midwives and women have known for generations, he is putting the science to. All of the interventions and procedures that have come about in the last few generations, he’s questioning if they’re best for women and babies.

Much of his work is concerning the fact that how we are born matters. Reading his books changed the way I think about birth and the way I teach about birth.

Your own mind gets in the way.

Of supreme importance is that a woman can STOP THINKING. To birth easily and quickly, you have to turn off the human part of your brain–the neo-cortex. We are the only animal with such a huge thinking part of our brains. We’re pretty smart.

The problem is the the neo-cortex inhibits physiological actions. When you are thinking–when your neo-cortex is in control, you don’t release the right hormones, your body can’t relax. Birth is harder and longer.

It’s like sex. (Isn’t it always?) You have to turn off your brain first in order to enjoy it. You have to be making the right hormones and the right brain waves to get into it. You can’t orgasm if you’re full of adrenaline and cortisol. You can’t birth, either.

It’s like how some people don’t poop on vacation. Sphincters don’t open in the presence of adrenaline. You have to feel relaxed and totally safe.

Who feels totally safe and relaxed giving birth these days? Almost no one. We’ve socialized and medicalized birth too much. Birth is not inner work anymore. Instead of softening into the birth process, we spend most of our energy avoiding risk. Birth is a reason to be on high alert.

Michel Odent says that is to our detriment.

“To give birth to her baby, the mother needs privacy. She needs to feel unobserved.” She needs to turn off neo-cortical control.

Here are four things that turn on the neo-cortex and make birth hard:  (click link above to read the blog)