June 26, 1981
By Nutan Pandit
“It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it, doctor”?
NATURAL CHILDBIRTH implies having one’s baby the natural way, i.e. in a relaxed attitude, minus fear, anaesthesia or stimulants. A woman who decides to have her baby the Natural Childbirth way always knows at the back of her mind that anaesthesia and other drugs are available, should the need arise, but she trains herself so that she may have her baby the way Nature intended to.
An interesting description of a woman in labour is given in Dr. Dick Read’s book, “Childbirth Without Fear”, which influenced Dr. read to such an extent hat he became a pioneer of Nature birth in Britain.
He describes the incident thus: “In due course the baby was born. There was no fuss or noise. Everything seemed to have been carried out according to an ordered plan. There was only one slight dissention: I tried to persuade my patient to let me put the mask over her face and give her some chloroform when the head appeared and the dilation of the passage was obvious. She, however, resented the suggestion and firmly but kindly refused to take this help. It was the first time in my short experience that I had ever been refused when offering chloroform. I asked her why she should not use the mask. She looked from the old woman who had been assisting, to the window through which was bursting the first light of dawn and then shyly turned to me and said: “It didn’t hurt. It wasn’t meant to, was it, doctor?” I began to realize that there was no law in Nature and no design that could justify the pains of childbirth.”
Since books, movies gossip or hearsay, all dwell on the painful aspects of childbirth, a woman grows up with the knowledge that childbirth is synonymous with unbearable pains. This is the only undisputed fact about pregnancy which every woman is aware of. And when she enters labour she fights each contraction or bout of pains as if it were an enemy by tightening her muscles and / or screaming.
The pre-natal check-ups with the doctor are rather clinical, and a woman almost feels like an invalid. A pregnant woman is not a sick person. Pregnancy is a natural biological phenomenon.
Clinical learning of pregnancy certainly has its advantages in unnatural cases, say, when the baby is in an abnormal position, when the mother is a diabetic or heart patient, or an Rh negative blood group, and the like. But in the case of a healthy mother and a normally grown foetus, childbirth is a most natural occurance. If handled intelligently, it can be the most memorable and joyous experience in a woman’s life.
The uterus is made up of strong muscles whose action causes it to open and let the baby pass first through its opening (cervix), then through the doctor’s hands. Childbirth therefore, depends largely on the efficient working of the muscles of the uterus and the vagina.
Muscles in our body are of two types, the voluntary muscles and the involuntary muscles. The voluntary muscles are those over which we have direct control, the muscles of our arms and legs for instance. Involuntary muscles are those over which we have no direct control, like the muscles of our heart or uterus.
The two sets of muscles work in close liaison with each other. This fact becomes evident if you observe yourself when you start on hearing a sudden, loud and musical sound. You will notice a sudden tenseness in the muscles of your body. This will be accompanied by a direct increase in the beating of the heart muscles. As you calm down, you will notice that the heart beat also reduces to its normal speed.
The same principle applies to the muscles of the uterus. If a woman is tense during labour, her urine muscles will also get tense and perform with great difficulty, thus prolonging labour and causing pain. If however, she is relaxed, her uterus muscles will work unhampered and with each contraction they will get closer to complete dilation of the cervix, so that the woman will have a shorter less painful labour.
This is referred to as the fear-tension-pain syndrome. That is fear of childbirth causes tension, which in turn leads to rigid muscle action, more pain and longer labour. Whereas, if you eliminate fear, tension will be absent, leading to easy muscle action and shorter labour.
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