Adrenaline and Oxytocin are not friends

What gets you bothered? 

Is it the idea of medical intervention?  tubes and wires extended from your body?  Is it who will or wont be available when you are in labor?  The babysitter might not answer their phone, your husband might be at work and you can’t reach him, someone wants to attend and you don’t want them there?  Is it your doctor?  they may not agree with your birth plan.

Whatever it is, if you dwell on it, or even subconsciously have it on your mind, it releases adrenaline into your system… which prepares your body for one of two reactions… fight… or… flight.  You’ve heard about them before right?  You either stand your ground and fight your way through whatever issues arises, or you run away hand hide from it.

Well, my dear pregnant friends… Adrenaline stops labor.  This is one of the ways God provided for you to save your baby in a risky situation.  One of the reasons there are not a whole lot more car births than there are.  When you are scared or stressed your body prevents you from expelling your helpless infant into harms way.  It is amazing really.

Oxytocin on the other hand is an amazing hormone that promotes labor, and also the instant and gratifying bond that many moms experience once their babies are born (side note, women who have epidurals, and those who have Pitocin less frequently experience that bonding moment just after birth, though it is not impossible to experience it with the use of these drugs). 

Oxytocin in one of the many hormones that contributes to your uterine contractions, and helps to seal up the womb after a baby is born.  It is amazing… but I’ll focus more on the combination of Adrenaline and Oxytocin.

When in labor and some situation is presented to you that tenses you up you are likely to experience a lag in labor… contractions may space out more, or be less painful.  The reason for this is Adrenaline.  Many people will be laboring well at home and decide it is time to transfer to hospital to deliver their baby, and once they have arrived they find that the contractions have spaced out, that they are not as painful.  Adrenaline from a change in atmosphere, or even from the excitement of ‘going to have a baby’ can interrupt your pattern of labor.

The best way to handle this is to have a plan. The more in control a mother feels about her birth situation and arrangements, the less she is likely to experience a lag in labor (this is not the case for everyone, there are other reasons you may experience a lag, or halt in your labor).  Understanding that it may happen when you transfer is one way to combat it, another way is to have a team of people present that will help you to cope with the changes in scene, bring along things that are comforting to you.  Perhaps an ultrasound picture of your baby, or a pillow you love to cuddle with… and keeping unwanted guests out of the room you plan to birth in. 

Ever wonder why a cat will disappear before having her babies?  She is looking for a safe place away from anyone who might interrupt her work.  You deserve a safe place too!  If you have guests who want to be there you can visit with them in the waiting room (so long as you’re not strapped to any monitors, and still feeling like moving around).  This takes the pressure off from you really, you don’t have to worry about who is coming and going from your room, the only people coming in will be those invited by you, or part of your care team.. you can also limit your care team interruptions by asking them to hang a sign on the door asking for minimal interruption.

In the end your goal, and that of your care team, should be that you are allowed to labor at your own pace, with minimal interruption to the pace and comfort your body requires.  Minimize the stress and you minimize the adrenaline, helping your body to produce it’s baby at it’s best rate.  I would encourage you to not set a time limit on your labor though, just because you minimalize your stress doesn’t mean that you have a 2 hour labor, it just means your body isn’t fighting its own process.

Have a Cherished Birth!

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