Labor transforms you on every level of your being - turning you into a parent and giving you the power, self-reliance and confidence to care for a newborn. Most women have some fear or concern as their labor approaches, yet the naturally unfolding process actually enhances both your safety and the safety of your baby. Although labor is designed to be challenging, it is also designed to be completely doable.
In labor, as in all of life, knowledge is power! Understanding what your body is doing during labor can build your confidence about the safety of labor and in your own ability to birth your baby. How our bodies give birth has evolved over millions of years as a way to preserve the human species. Birth is not inherently dangerous - rather it is designed by nature to make sure that you and your baby are both safe before, during and after your birth.
Here is an interesting example about the wisdom of your body. The hormones your body makes in the weeks and days, even in the last few hours leading up to labor, are extremely beneficial for both you and your baby. They set the stage for strong, regular and effective contractions and even protect you ahead of time from bleeding too much after you give birth.
We have come to understand that fear and stress in large part generate the experience of pain of labor. In short, the hormones of fear – our fight-or-flight hormones – inhibit the production and flow of oxytocin, endorphins and other hormones of birth. Oxytocin - and endorphins, nature’s opiates - are the very hormones that cause effective contractions, and also reduce your pain and stress, calming you and your baby. Labor medications interfere with the production and flow of these supportive hormones. Natural methods of pain management support their production and bring you all of the benefits packaged in these little chemical wonders.
Some women who want a natural birth have been concerned that self-hypnosis is a way of disengaging from the labor, and therefore something they don’t want. My answer to them is that, because of the nature of labor, one must be engaged in some way with the contractions, so why not try a way that significantly reduces, or even eliminates, the pain. Women report that they are very aware and that the contractions are very intense experiences, but not painful – that in fact, they are often deeply satisfying.
Nitrous oxide works by increasing the release of hormones made in the mother’s brain that reduce anxiety and provide her with pain relief and a sense of well-being. It is mixed with oxygen and self-administered by the mother herself through a mask she holds to her face - usually at the peak of contractions. This allows the woman to decide when and how much nitrous oxide she needs for pain control. She can stop using nitrous oxide at any time, and it begins to dissipate immediately after she stops breathing it through the mask, taking the effects only minutes to disappear.
New Hampshire is one of several states with a law that requires insurance companies to pay midwives and birth centers. While the medical insurance industry is quite complex and therefore there are some exceptions, most insurance companies and insurance plans will cover your care at the Monadnock Birth Center. Our Birth Center and our midwives are “in-network” providers with the majority of insurance companies doing business in New Hampshire. This means that the Monadnock Birth Center has a contract with these insurance companies to provide reimbursement for your care. Frequently, we are also able to be reimbursed by plans that do not do business in New Hampshire.
Midwives and Birth Centers Equal Healthier Mothers and Babies In the United States, fewer than 10% of births are attended by midwives – in hospital, free-standing birth centers and at home combined. In Western Europe, 50-80% of babies are delivered into the hands of midwives, whether in hospital, free-standing birth centers or at home, and women and babies in these countries are healthier as a result.
There is no question - when a laboring woman steps into a warm pool of water, the relief she most often feels is immediate. While being submerged in water does not make labor pain free, most commonly women say the water comforts them, takes the edge off of the pain, allows them to move around more freely and to cope more easily with the natural intensity of labor.
Because the majority of women in the U.S. have maternity care at a hospital with an obstetrician - unlike in Europe where 60-80% of people having babies have care with a midwife - there are many misconceptions about the safety of birth centers.