Giving Birth: Letting Go of Control

Excerpted from the book, An Easier Childbirth, by Gayle Peterson, Family Therapist with ParentsPlace.

Labor requires that you yield rather than take control. Taking control of labor is the role of the physician in times of distress or abnormality. In a normal course of labor, a woman must react to the energy traveling through her. Her response is akin to moving with an ocean wave, sensing the flexible nature of the water as it changes its shape, flowing around the contours of land and shore. Following the natural flow of contractions allows you to cooperate with the force of nature.

Give yourself permission to express yourself during labor. Whether it's yelling through a contraction, complaining, grunting, or cursing, each woman must find her way of releasing tension. This release is a far more important goal than complete relaxation during contractions. Finding ways to express and release tension during contractions will ensure that you can relax and rest more completely between them.

Working through labor contractions is a little like mountain climbing. Your muscles strain as you pull yourself upward, then you rest between efforts˜perhaps unsure if you ever want to do this again. But when you finally reach the mountaintop and look out over the valleys and sky, your awareness of having climbed there rewards you with a triumph you wouldn't feel if you had been deposited there by helicopter. As you meet your baby at the end of labor, you will feel this reward. We must trust that nature has its purpose in introducing us to our newborns after a period of hard work. Part of the intensity of labor comes from the physiological opening of the cervix to ten centimeters, which happens only when giving birth. There is also a simultaneous psychological and emotional intensity to labor that may facilitate bonding in the moments immediately following delivery. Meeting your baby at the peak of this concentration, when everything else faces away, may heighten your response.

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