TECHNIQUES FOR A LIFETIME
BIRTH EASE CHILDBIRTH COURSES
My specialty is helping families to reduce fear and stress and my childbirth courses reflect that. The amount of stress that we carry can impact not only our own health and well-being but also that of our baby. Stress affects us all. You may notice symptoms of stress when navigating traffic, caring for your children, during hectic times at work, managing your finances, or coping with a challenging relationship. Stress is everywhere. Some stress is normal during pregnancy. It is to be expected after all with the extreme changes that pregnancy and parenthood bring.
I want to reassure you that a little stress is OK -- in fact, some stress is actually beneficial. It helps build resiliency. And the good news is that short bursts of stress are not harmful to you or your baby. Our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress. It is chronic ongoing stress that is potentially damaging. Too much stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically. We are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.
Unfortunately, most of us are so used to being stressed, we often don't know how much stress we are under until we are at the breaking point. Stress can also mean different things to different people. And right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, expecting and postpartum families are under even greater amounts of stress.
Constant stress can alter the body’s stress management system, causing it to overreact and trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation, in turn, has been linked to poorer pregnancy health and developmental problems in babies down the road. "There are some data to show that higher chronic stressors in women and poor coping skills to deal with those stressors may be associated with lower birth weight and with delivering earlier. Chronic stress may also contribute to subtle differences in brain development that might lead to behavioral issues as the baby grows,” says Ann Borders, MD, MPH, MSc. OB/GYN in the obstetrics and gynecology department, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, at Evanston Hospital, NorthShore University HealthSystem.
According to the March of Dimes, a growing body of research demonstrates that stress before and during pregnancy is associated with poor birth outcomes and subsequent poor health outcomes for children. Maternal stress has been associated with increased rates of infant mortality, low birthweight, and preterm birth, all of which may have long term consequences for health and development throughout childhood to adulthood. Some studies show that high levels of stress in pregnancy may cause certain problems during childhood, like having trouble paying attention or being afraid. It’s possible that stress may also affect a baby’s brain development or immune system.
Prenatal psychologists and progressive obstetricians think that it is the possible flooding of an immature fetus’s system with “alarm/alert” hormones that may produce a consistent state of over-alertness and reactivity similar to an adult in a stressful situation, but with no outlets for it, like a taxi driver permanently stuck in inner-city traffic jams.“ The fetus’s developing system organizes itself around the environment it finds itself in. If it attunes itself to a repeatedly stressful uterine environment, it will be physically and neurologically primed to be this way outside the womb as well,” explains Dr. Chamberlain.
Dr. Thomas Verny cautions, “Too much stress is destructive to adults, and it can be especially so for babies in the womb. The ebb and flow of stress hormones may powerfully affect the architecture of a baby’s developing brain. Too much stress can cause pregnancy complications such as preterm birth and low birth weight. During pregnancy, it becomes more important to release stress and return to balance.”
Yet, how does one effectively release the stress? Developing coping skills and eliciting the relaxation response daily are key. The Relaxation Response is essentially the opposite reaction to the “fight or flight” response. It is a physical state of deep relaxation which engages the other part of your nervous system—the parasympathetic nervous system. Once engaged, it turns off the fight or flight response and brings the body back to pre-stress levels counteracting the physiological effects of stress and the fight or flight response.
To learn more about the impacts of stress on pregnancy, I invite you to listen to episode 2 of The Birth Ease Podcast.
Episode 3 of the podcast provides ways in which to help mitigate stress and has a guided relaxation session to help repair any stress or trauma experienced by parent and child. It can be used at any time. No matter the age of your child or children.
BIRTH EASE CHILDBIRTH EDUCATION COURSES OFFERED
The childbirth courses that I offer are designed to help you to elicit this relaxation response within the mind and body and encourage bonding with your baby, which has been scientifically shown to help protect you both from the rigors of birth. I proudly offer Hypnobirth: hypnosis assisted childbirth, Calm Birth: meditation-based childbirth and parenting preparation, and my own Birth Ease Method: guided relaxation focused childbirth education (a good option for those uncomfortable with the idea of hypnosis or the spiritual traditions of meditation, yet understand the importance of the relaxation response during pregnancy, birth, and parenting). Each of these methods provides tools and techniques that families can use for the rest of their lives.
All my Birth Ease childbirth education courses are individual classes that are centered exclusively on you. This allows your childbirth class series of choice: Hypnobirth, Calm Birth, or The Birth Ease Method to be catered towards your unique needs, birthing plans, and schedule. This private class setting also allows us to address any increased stress, possible trauma, or concerns you may be experiencing during your pregnancy. This is something not possible in a group class setting. All my classes contain audio relaxation recordings, digital written materials, childbirth education videos, one-on-one virtual instruction, and a relaxation session via video chat. The instructional videos reflect the teaching style I have used to individually instruct hundreds of families for 18 years.
In these uncertain times due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I am also offering a FREE basic childbirth online video course that includes a guided relaxation recording for expecting families.