Shared Wisdom: Why Labor Pains Can Be Good for Your Baby
Not only do I draw from my personal experience, I scour the internet and read countless books and articles on baby care to bring you the latest information and help you make informed decisions. Once in awhile I run into an article that’s so exceptional, I share it in it’s entirety – my “Shared Wisdom” series. The following is a good short article that explains a the importance of labor pain and, when left uninterrupted, how it will be a benefit to you and your baby.
This shared article is by Carol Gray, Midwife and LMT, who practices and teaches Craniosacral Therapy for infants and mothers.
“First a word or two about birth physiology: Labor is almost universally uncomfortable for mothers, and often painful for babies. One of the ways we cope with pain is to produce beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin is an opiate-like brain chemical – the same one responsible for the so-called “runner’s high.” It reduces pain and increases good feelings.
In a typical labor, pain increases over time. As the pain increases, the production of beta-endorphin also increases. Mothers and babies both produce beta-endorphin. The beta-endorphin produced by mother also passes on to baby through the placenta.
At the moment of birth, the pain of labor suddenly and dramatically decreases for the mother. Mothers and babies are flooded with endorphins that, with little to no pain, cause euphoria.
We know that endorphins create a state of dependence. After a medically undisturbed birth mom and baby will repeatedly seek to recreate that initial high of birth euphoria with close skin to skin contact. We know that babies need this contact to survive and develop normally.
Sometimes babies are hurt in the birth process. It’s obvious when they come out with swelling, bruises or broken bones. Sometimes they appear frightened or shocked. In that moment they are supposed to rely on an extra boost of endorphins from their mothers.
The Truth: Mothers who have epidurals typically experience little to no pain in their labors. If mothers experience little to no pain, they produce little to no beta-endorphin. When mothers produce little to no beta-endorphin, their babies have more painful births. This pain could be extreme. This pain can interfere with bonding. There is no state of euphoria for mom or baby. We have no idea what the lifetime effects of this could be.”
Pain is something all moms need to think about when they are making their birth plan. As you put your plan together, stop and think how your actions and choices will affect your baby.