Small Blessings Blog

Natures Cocktail and Synthetic Imitations

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Recently in class we have been addressing what is a very important theme for women in thinking about birth. Do you know what the ingredients of the natural hormone cocktail that women's bodies release during birth are?


Firstly, OXYTOCIN. This hormone generates feelings of love, openness, curiousity, empathy and surrender. It's also called the molecule of belonging and is present through human touch and in love making. The same energy that got the baby in there will get the baby out..! Oxytocin brings on the waves of the rushes, surges (or contractions).

With this, comes ENDORPHINS - natural pain killers which help you ride those waves. Also leading to feelings of bliss, joy, even ecstasy... yes, all this is possible during birth.


VASOPRESSIN for courage. There is love present, but it's also capable of being tough love. Birth takes courage and determination, so vasopressin gives you grit.


ADRENALIN. When it comes time to push, after the notorious transition stage where many women freak out for a short time, even if they've been breathing and flowing with it the whole time prior. Adrenalin comes to give you an extra push of energy and enthusiasm, The excitement of knowing you are very soon to meet your baby and just need to give a last concerted effort.


All this is beautifully choreographed by nature and by the super intelligence of your instinctive and intuitive natures. Nature knows what it's doing.


Then there are the synthetic drugs and hormones of labour, which you may well encounter. It pays for you to be aware and informed about your choices regarding these things, because if you birth in a hospital almost definitely they will come up at some point.


First there is SYNTOCINON or synthetic oxytocin. Inductions are commonly done using a syntocinon drip. Under certain conditions this might be necessary and good. However, it is wise to understand how this synthetic version of oxytocin works.

As compared to the natural oxytocin, which comes with its fellow ingredients endorphins and vasopressin to make you open, able to let go and also courageous, riding the waves with natural feel- good hormones, syntocinon rushes generally feel much sharper and more intense. Rather than a wave form the rushes tend to spike to a high level of strong sensation much faster. Most women report this experience, saying simply that the contractions are much more deserving of that name: contraction ie much more painful. Rather than the waves of a rush or surge.


Of course then the likelihood of feeling you need to have an EPIDURAL, which blocks neuro-transmitters in the spine and causes you to feel numb from the waist down, is higher. You will more likely feel you can't cope. Epidural tends to also weaken contractions, leading to the need for a higher dose of syntocinon, which may cause the baby's heart rate to rise and to increase your pain again, leading to the need for a higher dose of pain killer and so on. The two have a relationship with each other of see- sawing upwards. (There is an illuminating documentary about this called The Business of Being Born.)


Also, if you are induced with syntocinon, likely the doctors will want to monitor your baby's heart rate continuously, which will mean you may be restricted to staying still on the bed. In birth, one of THE most important things is to stay mobile and feel that you CAN move in any way your body tells you. You can also much more easily massage and breathe out tension through moving gently around, as well as gravity assisting the descent of your baby much better in an upright position. Psychologically too, you may feel stuck or trapped if you are limited to the bed - again, this is the reverse of what the ancient parts of your brain require for birth - that you feel you are in a safe and supportive environment.


It's good to know and consider too, that any synthetic hormones and drugs are going to block the production of your own hormones, which are dosed exactly right for you. Your body is a remarkably sensitive organism which can continuously measure and balance itself. If you add synthetics into the mix, this process is interrupted and it is up to medical staff to try to determine how much is the right amount. It seems an ungainly and highly inaccurate way of doing what the body itself can do infinitely better.


So a good question would be why use these drugs at all?

There are in my experience a lot of inductions happening, so that it seems almost rare that a woman should naturally go into labour because the baby and she have decided it is time. Induction is sometimes necessary and there can be good medical reasons to induce. However, think carefully and decide for yourself. If you take to heart what I've written above you will want to know that it really is necessary and not for the sake of convenience. It may seem like convenience or "being on the safe side" at the time, but how convenient will that be for you and your baby really, when it comes to it? And how safe is it really? Isn't it better to wait for the ripe apple to just plop into your hand off the tree, because it's ready than to have to twist and yank an unripe apple?


There is much interesting and illuminating information out there on this subject.

I hope this has given you food for thought.

If your ob does say they want to induce, at any time, full term or before or even after, consider this: there is a huge range of "normal", between 38 and 42 weeks, anything is possible. You can always say, thankyou, I'll think about it. Give yourself some time and space to take a step back, relax, breathe, feel your body and baby .. and from there decide. Also talk to someone you trust to present an alternative perspective, so that you can make your conscious choice rather than feeling pressured into something.


And if you DO need to induce, acupuncture with someone experienced is a very successful method. And maybe there is something you need to say or an idea you need to release or a talk you need to have. We are organisms, not machines, and our emotions and mind are not separable from our bodies. Is there something blocking you on that level? Some say, and I would personally concur, birth begins in the heart ie. the heart has to ready to receive the baby, and then the body will follow.


To leave you with a reminder of that hormone cocktail..

O is for Oxytocin, V for vasopressin, E for endorphins... what a shame adrenalin doesn't start with L.. we could have the perfect anagram!!


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