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Comfort Measures 35

Fear and Safety Cycles

When a woman in labor experiences fear , distractions , interruptions or other stimulation , her body responds with a “ fight or flight ” reaction , which can set off the following cycle of fear . In contrast , a safe , calm and confident environment allows the release of helpful hormones , which lead to a more effective labor . This relaxation and labor progress help build her confidence even more , leading to a favorable cycle .
The Labor Fear Cycle
An uncomfortable environment in labor , such as
Result : one filled with bright lights , tension , muscle soreness loud noises , restrictions or a and fatigue , increased pain , less effective labor lack of support can cause the laboring mother to become startled or fearful . The
Fear Trigger : neocortex , or the “ thinking a disruption , fear or


part ” of the brain becomes uncomfortable environment stimulated and begins the cycle seen here . To labor most effectively and allow
Physical response : the body to do its work , the increased heart rate and neocortex should receive as respiration , decreased little stimulation as possible . blood flow to uterus
Emotional response : fearful , anxious , uncertain , unsafe , unsupported
Hormonal release : stress hormones “ fight or flight ”
The Labor Safety Cycle
A supportive , peaceful environment in labor , in which a woman is given encouragement , compassion and love from patient and respectful companions , will feed this cycle and decrease activity in the neocortex . This allows her brain activity to shift into her hindbrain , where she can be free to follow the instincts , urges and needs of her laboring body .
Result : relaxation , confidence builds , decreased pain , more effective labor
Physical response : muscles loosen and relax , cervix opens
Safety Trigger : comfortable , dim , quiet and warm environment , with support and respect from those around her
Emotional response : feeling safe , calm , confident and peaceful
Hormonal release : oxytocin and endorphins
Comfort Measures 35