Wildmind Meditation News
Apr 14, 2009
Meditation helps ease the pain of childbirth
Daily Record: Rachel DeMasi was eight months pregnant and had no desire to use any medication during the birthing process. A few weeks before going into labor, DeMasi, 35, of South Amboy was introduced to the Calm Birth program by her obstetrician, Alissa Kaye, a physician at Overlook Hospital who took the classes during her own pregnancy last August. Read more here.
It turns out Calm Birth was just what the doctor ordered, as DeMasi successfully — and peacefully — gave birth to a son, Noah, about six weeks ago.
Kaye, who gave birth to a baby girl last August, said she tried Calm Birth because she thought it would be a good experience both as a doctor and as a patient.
Calm Birth is a complementary method of childbirth developed by Robert Newman. Following the completion of a 20-year apprenticeship with Tibetan doctors and meditation teachers, Newman was authorized to teach healing techniques for unrelieved pain.
He first taught health-care providers and patients a method he called Calm Healing. As he continued his work, he realized this self-care method could be applied to childbirth. With input from professionals, the Calm Birth method was born.
“I think the program has benefits regardless of what direction parents are taking,” Kaye said. “It is just as helpful for people planning a natural delivery as it is for patients planning on having an epidural.”
Calm Birth, which has been taught and practiced in New Jersey for more than a year, has its roots in meditative science and mind/body medicine — ways of relief that are becoming more popular in Central Jersey.
The three practices that make up the Calm Birth method consist of a reclining progressive relaxation and two sitting meditations. These practices combine centuries-old wisdom with modern medical understanding of stress reduction and healing.
In addition to releasing tension, experts say the practices give a pregnant woman full oxygenation, increased energy and improved ability to manage pain during labor and childbirth.
Other benefits of Calm Birth used before, during or after birth include decreased blood pressure and feelings of anxiety or fear, normalized heart rate, along with increased immune and nervous system function, oxytocin and endorphin levels and an overall sense of well-being.
The aim is for moms to feel relaxed, energized and empowered in their ability to experience the challenges of birth and parenting.
“I think it definitely took me farther than I would have gone, without pain medication,” Kaye said.
Kaye now listens to the “Calm Mother” CD, which provides similar relaxation and visualization techniques for mothers after birth. She has recommended the Calm Birth program not only for patients who are expecting, but also those dealing with stress and hypertension.
“We’ve had a lot of patients do it, and everyone has had positive things to say about it,” Kaye said.
For DeMasi, who is a master in reiki — a Japanese form of meditation — the concepts behind Calm Birth were not foreign to her, yet different enough to require practice.
“(As a reiki master), you know how to do certain types of things, but it doesn’t really correspond to giving birth,” DeMasi said. “When I first started the class, it was a little hard for me to focus because when you’re pregnant you’re really uncomfortable.”
Practice, DeMasi said, offered a pleasant diversion for the remainder of her pregnancy. Still working, she used her lunch time during work to go to her car and put in the program’s CD that helped her visualize.
“It’s a good stress relief for work,” DeMasi said.
By the time she went into labor, after a few weeks of practice, DeMasi had mastered the technique, getting into “the zone.”
“It actually kept me relaxed,” DeMasi said. “When you’re going into labor, your tendency is to panic — especially when it’s your first baby because you don’t really know what to expect.”
Although the program asks women to visualize different colors at different stages of the pregnancy and labor, DeMasi found her mind drifted toward one color — purple.
“I just really like it. I find it’s a calming color,” said DeMasi, who made it through most of her pregnancy without medication, finally relenting to have an epidural to lower her blood pressure — not to address pain or stress. “What I would do with that color was envision the baby wrapped in that color. That would calm me and him down. So for me, the contractions really weren’t that painful.”
Her husband, William, 36, wasn’t feeling purple, however. He liked blue. And, like his wife, William had a peace about the entire experience.
“I’m a musician and am very into meditative music,” he said. “I believe music has healing powers as well. I was very interested to see the mental side of it.”