By Nicki Layton
Why is labour painful?
Guess what? It doesn’t have to be!… I know! I know. When I first heard this I scoffed loudly and more than likely rolled my eyes.
But I learned something… and THEN I experienced something….twice actually…
OK, so what did I learn?
Imagine you are walking home at night. You’ve made this journey several times so you feel fine. Soon a decision has to be made; do you go down the dark alley (a quicker way home), or carry on down the well-lit pavement (5 minutes longer)?
Nothing has EVER happened to you down the alley but something tells you it’s not the best idea, so you continue along the well-lit pavement.
That decision was driven by your subconscious. It told you there might be something bad down there. You’ve seen it hundreds of times on TV, so your stored survival life lesson kicked in and said, “nope, go the brighter way”. Right or not, you listened and agreed.
This type of latent learning is what your subconscious has done around birth too (thanks to the ton of negative birth stories from friends and family, and those shouty, screamy, dramatic births you’ve seen on TV).
These “learnings” initiate a physiological response of adrenaline. Your fight of flight hormone that kicks our bodies into gear. Your body tenses, heart rate increases, blood pressure rises and many other things that puts us on high alert so we can take action fast. This also occurs for irrational fears, so things that have not happened to us directly which can lead to anxiety.