Home Birth And The Sympathetic Nervous System

ida and reggieMy wife, who I worship to the extent that my broken psyche allows, and I chose to have both of our children at home rather than go to a hospital for delivery. It was neither a difficult nor drawn out decision. We tend to be on the same page about many things and after the option was presented to us we sort of shrugged our shoulders and said “Yeah why not”.

While in many regards my wife can be seen as more conventional than I she had no problem making a leap, that we would learn as we entered the birthing world, was made by precious few in the grand scheme of American baby making.

Everything about having a home birth made so much sense to me. One great reason was that there were no hospital visits as our midwife (the wonderful Marcy Perlman Tardio) came to us for very sweet and gentle monthly visits.

The logic of the situation was made abundantly clear to me from an enlightening exchange with a classmate in a childbirth ed class that we took. He and his wife were having a hospital birth and he was curious as to why we wanted a home birth. As it turned out every reason that we didn’t want a hospital birth was why he and his wife wanted one.

For him the comfort of a doctor, monitoring machines and the availability of epidural drugs made it an easy decision. When we told him that the idea of being under bright lights with my wife hooked up to a heart rate monitor was far from calming he looked at me like I was an alien.

We both had perfectly fine healthy babies in the environment of our choice and I know for sure that neither of us have any regrets, which is a beautiful thing.

When both of our children were born my wife and I had the same surreal moment of being alone with our babies just hours after the birth with no thoughts of the baby being taken from us to be cleaned, or getting goop in their eyes to protect against a sexually transmitted disease, and earlier we had been free to let all of the blood pulse out of the umbilical cord before cutting it. But I also understand the feeling of comfort and safety that the other couple had as well.

But, and I love buts, I was told a story this weekend that made me reflect further on the decisions we made. My favorite workshop that I offer is the Psoas Release Party! in which I talk a lot about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems role in homeostasis and the bodys search for balance. The sympathetic nervous system, the imbalance of which can plays a large part in chronic pain issues is meant to protect us from danger often acting as a warning system against perceived trouble.

I share fairly simple stories about both balanced and imbalanced functioning of these nervous systems. After a workshop this past weekend I received an email from a nurse who was in attendance. She wanted to relate her experience with the workings of the sympathetic nervous system and labor and delivery.

Here is her story in full:

“I’ve noticed that women in labor are very susceptible to their “fight or flight” response. Often I will be in a room with someone in the second stage of labor & will try to create a safe space for her as she’s working to push out her baby. The reality of hospital births is that the MD’s tend to float in and out of the room while the patients are pushing. They say that they get a better sense of her progress if they can examine her intermittently, but we all know they just get bored and want to go to the nurse’s station and check their facebook. Anyway, it never fails that when the doctor pops in, the woman stops contracting. No matter if she’s been contracting like gangbusters every two minutes, no matter if she’s on a pitocin drip — new face in the room = no contraction. The doctors always seem surprised and say, “Maybe we should up the pitocin.” and I smile and nod and think in my head, “or maybe you should leave.” The sympathetic nervous system is more powerful than a Manhattan teaching hospital pitocin drip. “

There are good reasons why people have babies in the hospital and good reasons why people have home births. It is most important to honor your own reasons.

The sympathetic nervous system and the psoas have an intimate relationship and for a limited time we are offering our Psoas Release Party! video on sale at a specially discounted price. The Psoas Release Party! can both explain your issues and help you get out of pain by letting go of long held tension with relative ease. Enter your email below for more information.

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