I was absolutely thrilled to read recently that the NHS are promoting home birth as a good safe option for predominantly ‘low risk 2nd time mums’.
After I had shared the article I clicked over to see what kinds of comments people were leaving to see what the common sentiment was. And guess what…? There were lots of very strong, very divided opinions! And most of them were coming from fear. Fears about the baby’s safety, fears about the mum’s safety, fear about the whole process of birth.
Well it turns out that ‘fear’ is the overriding first emotion when it comes to giving birth. Statistically it is estimated that over 80% of women are terrified of giving birth. This is unsurprising when you take into consideration our modern day media fuelled programming about having a baby.
Try this, I want you to imagine a woman giving birth. Where is she? How is she positioned? And what is she doing?
If you got a picture of a woman in hospital, on her back, screaming, then, like pretty much every other adult, your view of birth may have been a little tainted by modern media. And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want some serious drugs and intervention for something that awful!
So why are they recommending home birth? Are they ignorant or just downright stupid? Well…there are a few things we need to understand before we can make a more informed decision.
1 – Happy hormones for a great birth
The body is designed to give birth. It has the most amazing inbuilt pharmacy to help the process along. You have endorphins which help you to relax, they help the uterus function more efficiently and they are 200 times stronger than morphine so they are an amazing painkiller. But the kicker is that they are only released when mum feels completely safe.
Then there is oxytocin. This is the hormone that is released to ensure efficient contractions and helps mum to bond with her baby. This is often referred to as the ‘shy’ hormone as it released best by the body in an atmosphere of privacy. Just think about having sex – not usually that enjoyable for most of us if you get the feeling you're being watched!
But both these hormones have relationships with opposing hormones meaning they're mutually exclusive. You either have one of the other. So you either have endorphins or you have stress hormones. You either have oxytocin or you have adrenaline.
Adrenaline and stress hormones are the body’s way of getting you to fight or run away because your life is in danger. They are secreted in the presence of bright lights, feeling observed and being asked lots of questions (ie engaging the neocortex).
They actively cause the body to tense up, they increase feelings of pain and most significantly, they direct blood away from your uterus so it does not function very well. And yes, yo