When we experience stress or pain, our body responds by producing calming and pain-relieving hormones called endorphins. Isn't the body incredible?
Here are a few wondrous facts about your body's powerful natural pain relief:
Pregnant women often experience higher levels of natural endorphins towards the end of their pregnancy.
Mothers who choose to birth their babies without pain medication experience a gradual rise of endorphins as labour progresses; the body’s natural response to managing pain.
During the second stage of labour (pushing or downward phase of labour) the production of endorphins steeply increases.
Most studies have found a sharp drop in endorphin levels with use of epidural or opioid pain medication.
High endorphin levels during labour and birth can produce an altered state of consciousness, helping mothers to cope better with the process of giving birth, even it is long and challenging!
Immediately after birth, high endorphin levels within the new mother cause her to feel alert, attentive and even euphoric, as she begins to explore and bond with her new baby.
During the postnatal period, endorphins are believed to play a major role in strengthening the bond between mother and baby.
A drop in endorphin levels during the first week after birth can contribute to “baby blues,"; something many women experience for a brief time after birth.
Low levels of endorphins during labour and birth may cause excessive painful contractions/surges that are difficult for the mother to tolerate. As a result of this midwives and obstetricians are more likely to offer opioid medications or interventions to relieve the excessive pain.
You can enhance your body's natural production of endorphins during labour and birth by staying calm, comfortable and in control. Remember your birth environment plays an essential role in helping you to feel relaxed; keep your birthing room as private as possible and avoid disturbances, such as unwelcome people, noise and uncomfortable procedures. Another thing to consider is delaying or avoiding epidural or opioids for pain relief until you feel it is absolutely necessary. With hypnobirthing, the mother learns to remain calm and in control of her surges through practiced breathing techniques and visualisations, enhancing her body's own natural endorphins.