by Mali Schwartz
Why is it so important to create a quiet, peaceful atmosphere during labor? And how can women take charge of creating a peaceful environment no matter where they choose to give birth?
The Leboyer Method, established by Dr. Frederic Leboyer in the 1970s was proven to minimize the trauma and stress experienced by a baby at birth. This method of delivery advocated giving birth in a quiet room that had low or dim lighting. Not pulling on the baby’s head; placing the baby on the mother’s stomach; not cutting the baby's umbilical cord until it has stopped pulsating, and placing your baby in a warm bath shortly after birth were other ways to ensure a less stressful birth.
This method has had some influence in delivery rooms where noise levels are minimized to make the atmosphere more peaceful for mothers. According to an article found on the website (pregnancy-info.net), “many midwives and doctors are willing to incorporate some, if not all, of the facets of the Leboyer method into the birth experience.”
Dr. Michel Odent, another birth pioneer who has conducted extensive research on how womb ecology can impact human development, has proven how important the quieting of the neocortex is during birth. BirthWorks International provides a link on their website where anyone can access Odent’s primal health research.
According to Odent, the neo-cortex is the center for what we commonly consider our intellect. It is the part that allows us to be logical and also creates our sense of inhibition, giving us our civility and our modesty. When we are being stimulated intellectually or feel we are being watched, the neocortex is active. This is not conducive to laboring women, who like mammals need no distractions while in labor. They naturally focus inward and shut out the outside world. Dark, warm, quiet surroundings are critical for her to maintain this space of consciousness safely and have the best possible labor and birth experience/outcome.
Engaging the birthing woman in discussion is not a good idea. Other triggers that should be avoided are watching television, bright lights, feeling cold, and feeling observed. Even music with certain beats, tempos and lyrics may cause– without the woman’s total awareness– a stimulation of the neocortex. Although a woman might not even be aware when her neocortex is being stimulated, it’s vital that this part of the brain be at rest so that primitive brain structures can more easily release the necessary hormones such as endorphins, serotonin, acetylcholine, and vasopressin which help relieve stress and pain.
Have you ever heard someone say “I feel like I was on another planet,” while she was giving birth? This means that the activity of her neocortex was reduced. This reduction of the activity of the neocortex is an essential aspect of birth physiology. Even the slightest attention can keep her from the true meditative nothingness of the primal consciousness her birthing body seeks.
What can we do to reach this state of meditative nothingness? A book “Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration,” helps us to understand how to intentionally work with energy to transform our lives. Author Penny Peirce makes a leap that science has not yet made – namely that the energy frequencies of matter have matching consciousness frequencies. In describing the four categories of brain waves from fastest to slowest - beta, alpha, theta and delta, it is interesting to note that the fastest brain waves correspond with lower frequency waves, while the slowest brain waves correlate with higher frequency - expanded awareness.
According to Peirce we can influence our personal vibrations, although our personal vibrations are also affected by vibrations in the world, other people’s vibrations, and our environment. Peirce believes that we all have the power to determine how we want to feel and when we choose to attune to the frequency of our soul, a new perception based on our souls expansive, loving wisdom opens to us.
The Leboyer method, Dr. Michel Odent’s neo-cortex research and author Penny Peirce understanding of personal vibrations can empower us with the knowledge of how important silence is during labor. With knowledge comes wisdom – the wisdom to create a peaceful, loving atmosphere in which to welcome a new life into this world.