One of the first thing I teach my clients abou is the fear, tension, pain cycle - have you heard of it?
When I had my kids, I had absolutely no idea of how the hormones of birth work or the fear, tension, pain cycle and when I did my antenatal and hypnobirthing – finally it all made sense!
I remember feeling sooo scared of birth with my first-born. The stories I heard about birth and the things that I read totally freaked me out.
All I thought was…
“How am I going to push this baby out???”
Anyway…like a lot of women, I ignored it – I didn’t think about learning about birth, and expected the midwives and NHS classes to tell me everything I needed to know.
What I really wish I knew was that the fear I felt was actually going to cause more pain, and not only was being calm important for my hormones to work properly but also how to relax. during labour If I knew this, my birth would have been completely different!
The thing is, the fear, tension pain cycle isn’t just for birth, it’s something that affects us in everything. For example – blood tests!
When my 6-year-old was younger, he needed regular blood tests. Every time we went, he hated it, he was scared of the needle and would remember this one time where it really hurt, even when he had the numbing cream put on his arm. He would then be left with pain and a bruise after as well.
After I trained in hypnobirthing, I used the breathing technique with him. I asked him to breathe in through his nose and slowly out of his mouth, and if he does that it won’t hurt as much. On the drive there, we practised it together and as we were going in he was smiling. This in itself was a huge difference.
We sat down with him on my lap and a Where’s Wally book in front of us. Whilst we were reading we also did the breathing. In a few minutes it was done and he was shocked.
“Mummy it didn’t hurt, the breathing worked!”
Not only that but the nurse was surprised to, she said “he’s the calmest, most happiest boy I’ve had in here”.
So what is the fear, tension pain cycle?
In short…when you’re scared, your muscles tense up and if they’re tense, this creates more pain.
👉🏽 With a blood test, the needle has to go through a tense muscle rather than a relaxed one = more pain and more bruising.
👉🏽 During birth, when your muscles are relaxed, not only do they work more effectively, but you produce more oxytocin (hormone needed for labour to progress) and beta-endorphins (natural pain killer which is stronger than morphine).
Whether you’re scared or anxious about birth or anything else, here are a few things you can do…
1. Learn about the thing you're worried about...
Understanding birth, blood tests or whatever you’re scared of means you’ll become more familiar with it and a lot of the time, just understanding how things work helps to reduce fear & anxiety.
2. Breathe, breathe & breathe...
This helps to get enough oxygen into your system as well as increase oxytocin and reduce adrenaline – naturally helping you to feel calmer.
3. Don't ignore it...
Your fear isn’t going to just go away. Face whatever it is that’s causing you anxiety and learn techniques to help you relax, like mindfulness, yoga and hypnobirthing.