Mind-Body Techniques for Pregnancy

 
Pregnant women have a diverse and massive pool to draw information from to help them make the right decisions for themselves and their baby during labour.

Despite all this information, the importance of mind-body techniques is often overlooked. During a recent treatment session a younger woman mentioned to me that the majority of doctors in the Dominican Republic perform c-sections as a first choice option. In the United States, Cesarean and Pitocin rates are at 30%, with epidural rates at 80% [1]. Both of these interventions have shown to increase the chance for complications during labour, putting undo stress on both mother and babe. Complications such as these increased labour time with muscle fatigue and decreased blood flow due to the sustained contraction brought on through the use of Pictocin.[2]

With some pregnancies there is a definite need for medical intervention. However, there are many mind-body techniques available to potentially help reduce the necessity of these interventions. Techniques such as massage therapy, yoga, imagery, and meditation can offer both physiological and psychological benefits to mother and babe.

Massage therapy has been shown to decrease stress level and naturally increase levels of dopamine and serotinin. Increases in both of these hormones have been linked to fewer birth and newborn complications [3]. Massage can also help with decreasing swelling and provide relief from back pain. As the baby grows it puts pressure on the pelvic floor and low back, increasing tension within the muscles. This causes many women to experience sciatica, or sciatic-like pain. The muscle tension surrounding this nerve can be reduced with pre-natal massage.[4]

The Prince of Songkla University in Thailand studied the benefits to pregnant women who practiced yoga regularly [5]. The women from this study reported improved comfort during and after labour, shorter duration of first stage labour, and shorter total labour time. Yoga can help to encourage confidence and trust in your body, increase the bond with your baby, build stamina, and relax the pelvis helping the baby to transition to an optimal birthing position.

The mind is one of the most effective pain-fighting tools we have available. With so many people around you focusing on the painful aspect of labour, it’s no wonder the pain is all one can focus on. Instead, one should focus on a successful birth while using breathing to encourage relaxation throughout the body.[6] Hearing some positive birth stories can also help: http://tellmeagoodbirthstory.com/

In addition to the benefits these techniques can have on pregnancy and labour, continued use of the techniques will also go a long way to help ease post-partum symptoms and beyond.

References:
1. http://www.naturalnews.com/036104_natural_labor_relaxation_meditation.ht...
2. http://www.birthresourcenetwork.org/resources/54-pitocin-the-whole-story-
3. http://www.canadianfamily.ca/2012/05/top-4-soothing-benefits-of-prenatal...
4. http://www.babycenter.ca/pregnancy/labourandbirth/labour/massage/#
5. http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/HealthResearchJournals.aspx?ChunkID=345901
6. http://www.bidmc.org/YourHealth/TherapeuticCenters/Pregnancy.aspx?ChunkI...

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