Prenatal Healthcare: Importance of Stress Management

L. John Mason

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For the benefit of both the mother and her developing baby, please pass this information on to any pregnant women that you may know.

Being pregnant can be very stressful. It is a time of extreme change. Though a positive experience for many women, it can be impacted by the way these women deal with their stress. The main reason that labor and delivery is slowed (and sometimes stopped) is the direct response to stress and anxiety. Levels of pain and anxiety can be greatly elevated during labor and delivery as a result of poorly managed stress.

I know of one woman, who was neonatal nurse, and learned that after 28 hours of her own labor that her birthing progress had stopped and they had to perform a “C-section” to deliver her baby. She was very disappointed but understood that her response to stress had caused this undesired complication.

When I was in training in stress management and medical hypnosis, the pediatrician (and OB-GYN) physician who was teaching this part of my course, claimed that a “normal” labor and delivery should be a 3 hour event. He said that labor often takes much longer because women are poorly prepared for the delivery and to manage their levels of stress and anxiety. I was a bit shocked by this statement, but he had 30 years of experience and I did not.

When my wife was 39 nine, pregnant, and trusting in me, we began a program of stress management, visualization, and positive suggestions to encourage a “3 hour labor and delivery. ” We went to “birth classes” and met a birthing coach to assist us with the pregnancy and delivery. She said that the stress management practice should begin as early in the pregnancy as possible. Even in the first trimester (first 3 months) was not too soon to begin. She said that the health of the developing baby would be improved by the mom’s relaxation by encouraging better blood flow with oxygen and nutrients getting to the baby more easily. It was also useful for the anxiety control of the mom. As the pregnancy moved along, we found that when my wife practiced the relaxation techniques, the unborn baby would feel her relaxation and begin to move around. For us, labor and delivery came a week earlier than the predicted due date. The contractions started around 11:30 AM and the baby was born a little past 3:00 PM about 3 and ½ hours later. He was not able to make the 3 hour time limit because he was a bit bigger than predicted at 9 lbs 4 oz. but he was very healthy and my wife seemed to recover quickly for a 39 year old mother of the big baby.

I have done follow up research since the baby was born 20 years ago, and found that with women who had slow labor and delivery or problem births that when using the relaxation techniques and visualizations to control their anxiety, their subsequent births had fewer complications, were shorter, and the birth weights of the babies were generally a bit higher. Please consider these advantages for bring healthier babies into the world and helping their moms deliver with greater ease and grace.

Get more information about birth preparation from an experienced birthing coach. You may even get some assistance from your physician, but they are often too busy to spend the time for coaching you in preparation for your labor and delivery. It will require your time and motivation to allow this program to work best. Remember that your best results will come if you begin practice earlier in the pregnancy. Try to allow at least 8-12 weeks prior to your delivery date for the best results.

Please take good care of yourself.

L. John Mason, Ph. D. is the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction. " Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training.

Please visit the Stress Education Center's website at for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the prenatal stress management CD that is available. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (707) 795-2228.

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path.


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