Having garnered more than seven million views, the viral video of the mother dancing and laughing her way through contractions has gotten many moms talking and wondering: how do you keep a smile on your face during what can be such a physically daunting task?
Laughing your way through labor may be more beneficial than you realize. First we’ll look at why laughing can actually help move labor along and then give you some suggestions to help you crack a smile as you’re working your way through labor.
Why does laughter have such a powerfully positive effect during labor?
The mental and physical benefits of laughter have been a topic of study for many researchers, and here are some of their conclusions:
Laughter helps your body release tension. Not only does tensing your muscles during labor tire your body more quickly, but being tense can actually increase your pain level. This is why it’s important to keep your muscles as loose and relaxed as possible. If you’re finding it difficult to laugh – and those moments may certainly come – focus on releasing tension from your jaw and hands; the rest of your body will follow suit.
Laughter increases your air intake and therefore increases your oxygen intake. This benefits every organ in your body, especially your heart and lungs, as well as your baby. Every inch of your body is working overtime during labor and birth, so it’s important to breathe deeply.
Laughter helps you get the full benefit of your endorphins, nature’s painkiller. Your body will naturally produce endorphins during labor, and the more you’re able to relax, the more you’ll be able to appreciate the benefit of these powerful hormones. Laughing can even add an extra oomph to the endorphins released, which is always a welcome addition to your labor.
So, how can you go about adding some fun to what can be a intimidating task?
Surround yourself with people who make your heart happy. Whether it’s a beloved spouse/partner, trusted doula, or friend who just understands you, keep yourself encircled with positive people who know both you and your goals for labor and childbirth. Being comfortable and relaxed will help the laughter flow. Find out more about creating a great birth team here.
Keep moving and (when you can) grooving. Muscles that are moving are going to stay looser than muscles that are still. This is important because avoiding tension is key for labor: tension actually fights the progress that your body is working toward with each contraction. Think of tension as resistance; you want to remove as much resistance as you can and a great way to do this is by keeping yourself moving. Once you’ve released some tension, an increasingly relaxed state will invite more opportunities to smile and laugh. Not sure what moves might be best? Check out our Labor Comfort Pocket Guide to learn how to effectively move around during labor.
Stay true to yourself and your sense of humor. It’s hard to have a sense of humor when you’re in pain. After all, many movie scenes have been made about the laboring mom who snaps at her well meaning but wisecracking husband during birth. Being open to laughter during labor doesn’t mean arming your partner or doula with a book of knock-knock jokes. It means being true to who you are and what brings you joy.
Will every contraction bring belly laughs? Of course not – labor is hard work! But staying relaxed and welcoming as many contractions as you can with a smile on your face will absolutely help you to have your best birth experience. Want to know more? You can find more techniques to help your labor progress smoothly in our Finding Comfort booklet.
Jennifer Stutzman, Freelance Writer
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