Biofeedback In Pregnancy – Can It Be Beneficial?
As your pregnancy progresses you could be forgiven at times for thinking that you are losing control of your own body, as each passing day brings further changes and transformations. A technique which can help you take back control and manage the niggling aches and pains, is biofeedback in pregnancy.
1. What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a relatively new technique. It was developed in the 1940s and is becoming more prevalent as its usefulness becomes clearer. The link between the mind and body is generally accepted by health professionals and society at large now.
We realise now that stress and anxiety can have a massive impact on physical health and many people use techniques such as yoga and meditation to relieve the stresses and strains of life and promote wellness.
Biofeedback takes these concepts a step further and works to train people how to gain control of normally involuntary functions such as heart rate and blood pressure.
2. How does it work?
Biofeedback starts by using monitoring equipment to let you see and start to understand the way that your body works. The therapy begins with sensors and electrodes being attached to the skin.
These measure key bodily functions such as temperature, heart rate, brain waves, sweating and blood pressure and can show the changes in these functions when placed in a state of stress. The therapist then uses various techniques to help positively affect these bodily functions and bring them under control.
3. What therapies are used to encourage the body to relax more?
Guided relaxation imagery is commonly used, helping link positive associations with colours and images to create a relaxed state. Breathing exercises and meditation techniques are also used.
Another method involves controlled tensing and relaxing of muscles to increase awareness and deliberate relaxation of the body. Quite often, hypnosis can be used alongside this. The key is to learn effective techniques to physically relax and positively affect bodily functions. When you’re able to see the visible results of your activities through the monitoring equipment, it can help to get a clear understanding of cause and effect and help you to see what does and doesn’t have a positive impact on your bodily functions that were previously seen as uncontrollable.
It will then be up to the individual to apply the most effective techniques as and when needed in their daily life.
4. How does this help in pregnancy?
Many women suffer from various ailments and discomforts throughout their pregnancy. These can be tough to deal with emotionally as the pain wears you down and drains your strength. Biofeedback offers totally safe, natural drug-free methods of making this special time even more enjoyable.
It can allow women to feel like they are taking ownership of their own bodies at a time when it can feel like your body is no longer your own. It is an empowering technique that helps to reduce stress and reduce muscle tension. This can help to alleviate headaches, muscular aches and pains and blood pressure issues.
Another important area that can show considerable improvement with biofeedback is anxiety. Pregnancy can be a daunting time as your body changes and the enormity of the impending labour and life changes start to sink in, and biofeedback techniques help to effectively manage that.
5. Improving labour
These skills can also be invaluable in labour itself. The key to smooth and short labour is in remaining calm and allowing the mind and body to be in tune and work together effectively. This allows the body’s natural processes to proceed unhindered and the positive hormone, oxytocin to flow freely. Labour only becomes difficult and painful when the mind intervenes negatively.
If you panic or experience stress at this time, the natural flow of the birthing process is hindered by the fight-or-flight hormone, adrenalin.
So, if you have an array of methods to keep you calm and relaxed that you can employ easily and effectively during labour, it can go a long way towards supporting the possibility of welcoming your precious new child into the world in a drug-free, empowering, natural way.
Applications of the method
Biofeedback enables you to intervene and help yourself in a natural way, rather than remaining an observer of your own body. There is an ever-growing list of applications for this technique such as easing chronic pain, asthma, constipation and arthritis but where this really comes into its own is in pregnancy.
Midwife sonographer facilitated
Consultant Led, Centre of Medical Excellence
All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.