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Adrenaline is the baddie in the labour room

Pregnant person having back massage. Releasing endorphins., lowering adrenaline. Hormones labour pain.

21 Aug, 2022

hormones labour pain

Endorphins are the heroes

Hormones labour pain

You will hear me speaking in class about endorphins, trying to keep the levels of that wonderful chemical as high as possible during labour as they are your body’s natural painkiller, more powerful than morphine. This is a natural chemical produced in the body and contains none of the side-effects associated with medical drugs.

Surely it makes perfect sense to be boosting this chemical within the body during pregnancy and birth rather than reaching for the medical drugs?

Benefits of endorphins

Hormones labour pain

Endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being. Working on boosting this chemical during your pregnancy can also help your perception of discomfort during your labour – the very definition of the term practice makes perfect! Knowing what things to do if birth starts to feel tricky can really help you to manage the birth experience. Good antenatal education can help you build that knowledge so things come naturally on the big day.

Endorphins are also produced whilst breastfeeding and present in breastmilk too. Boosting your endorphin levels after birth using some techniques below can encourage this further. These endorphins are beneficial for baby in helping with the stressful transition to life outside the womb. They are also helpful to relieve any pain or discomfort from the birth, early breastfeeding and any medical procedures they endure in their early life.

Ways to boost endorphins

Hormones labour pain

  • Exercise. Movement. Dancing, swaying, staying upright and moving around when your body tells you to.
  • Laugh – they do say that laughter is the best medicine!
  • Listen to music.
  • Massage – light pressure massage is perfect for releasing endorphins, but firmer pressure holds are also wonderful
  • Get acupuncture. Or learning acupressure stimulating techniques for labour.
  • Eat dark chocolate.
  • Get close to your partner – intimately, or with a cuddle and a kiss – bonus points for lingering in a cuddle for more than 20 seconds to release oxytocin too!
  • Meditate. Using the deep, breathing techniques that we use in Daisy classes is perfect for this. Using them alongside visualisations and relaxations from class and you are on to a winner.
  • Aromatherapy – there are certain scents that are perfect to boost endorphins as well as to help stimulate labour. It is certainly worth looking into.

Adrenaline is the baddie – for the most part…

Hormones labour pain

Adrenaline is the fight or flight hormone. If it is allowed to rise in labour it can block that fabulous labour hormone oxytocin, and endorphins and can make contractions feel so much more difficult. Oxytocin and endorphins are designed to work together, the higher the oxytocin, the stronger the contractions. The stronger the contractions, the higher the endorphins to help manage any sensations.

If you feel anxious, worried or threatened in any way then your body will naturally start to produce adrenaline. This will redirect oxygen in the body, taking blood to the arms and legs in preparation for you to stay and fight the threat, or flee to a safe space.

When this happens in birth, oxygen is taken away from the uterus. In extreme circumstances this can result in contractions fading away. Both due to lowered oxygen and oxytocin. But more often it results in more difficult contractions – less oxygen, muscles struggling with less oxygen and less endorphins because of the adrenaline. Added to this, stomach muscles, shoulders and jaws being tense from the stress, and a struggling uterus has a brick wall of muscle tension to contend with too!

Often, people fear birth. Whether from horror stories from friends, woeful depictions of birth in the media, the over medicalisation of birth, or misinformation. Many people are worried about being in agony for hours and are full of fear throughout pregnancy. This will raise adrenaline levels from the start! Once contractions start, anxiety rises further and the body is pumped full of more adrenaline.

Learning how to relax during the pregnancy so that you are ready when the big day comes is vital. A relaxed body does not secrete adrenaline, so the blood flow is not sent away from the body to the arms and legs. All the energy, power, and oxygen that your uterus needs is directed straight to it. There is no restrictions from tense stomach muscles, jaws, shoulders or pelvic floors. Making contractions more comfortable and more efficient!

Hormones labour pain Hormones labour pain Hormones labour pain

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