#2: Are tremors part of giving birth?

Met zwangerschapsverlofSearching for more information about TRE and pregnancy, I came across the website of TRE Australia, I felt inspired, and talking to Richmond, the idea to write about my personal experience with TRE and pregnancy emerged. I am a TRE practitioner enjoying the benefits of tremoring since almost 4 years. I teach introduction workshops TRE as a level 2 practitioner, in Amsterdam. And I am due to give birth beginning of January 2015! Writing about my experiences is an attempt to inspire people to embrace the possible benefits TRE can have, also during pregnancy and childbirth.

Although tremors seem to occur naturally after accidents and they are used around the world by many people (as seen in anecdotal videos), there is not much information about TRE during pregnancy and childbirth. There are however reports from midwives who have experienced and seen tremors during/after giving birth. Moreover, many women in my workshops confirm having felt their bodies tremor during and/or after delivery, but currently there is no research into tremoring during pregnancy or birth.

Giving birth in Holland
Before diving into the information I found and my personal experiences with TRE and pregnancy, it is maybe good to first say something about pregnancy and childbirth in Holland. Because the Dutch maternity care model is based upon the principal that a womanʼs body is perfectly designed to give birth safely. The Dutch trust a womanʼs ability to birth her baby and prefer not treat birth as a medical event. In Holland, midwives attend normal low risk births. The midwives approach birth as a healthy process best accomplished free from drugs and other medical interventions. The Dutch maternity care model does not approach pregnancy as an illness. Obstetricians are only called upon to attend women during their pregnancy or labor when it becomes medically necessary. The Dutch typically take a very “hands-off” approach towards the delivery process, which is regarded as a very natural occurrence. Many couples opt to deliver their children at home with the help of a midwife, who will make recommendations for transfer to the hospital if indicated or preferred. Approximately 28 percent of births take place at home in Holland, compared to 1% in the US. In Holland, homebirth is a safe and viable choice for women. The maternity care system in the Netherlands is set up to support homebirths. To read more: Amsterdam-mammas or Iamsterdam

Actually, there are still many countries where childbirth is approached to be something natural and where mothers and elderly are the mid-wives for their daughters and granddaughters. But unfortunately there seems to be a tendency towards medicalization of our bodies and minds. I strongly believe that giving birth is a natural and safe process and that a woman’s body is perfectly equipped to deliver a healthy baby (thus I am happy to be able to deliver my baby in Holland). It is my wish for myself and all women to deliver at home or at least to give birth in an environment where you can feel calm, safe and relaxed (for some women this might be the hospital). 

These two features and my experience with TRE to be a natural process to relieve stress, strengthens my believe towards the possibility to use TRE before, during and after childbirth. TRE gives the opportunity for people to experience ‘letting go’ and allow the body to go through it’s natural autonomic process even before experiencing it with birth. It also learns you to trust the body to do what it needs to do. 

Tremors during childbirth?
Collecting more information about pregnancy and childbirth, I did find books and leaflets where they talk about tremors during/after birth as being a normal part of the birth process.

For example in the book: „Veilig bevallen” (Deliver safely) – from B. Smulders and M. Croon. Which is a well-known book, read by many pregnant women in Holland. On page 36 they talk about „trillen, bibberen en andere reacties” (Shaking, tremoring and other reactions), where they explain to women that it is normal to shake or tremor without feeling cold during the contraction phase or directly after giving birth. They say is is a reaction of the body to the hormone oxytocine (I am going to dive more into this topic later on). On page 99 they talk some more about reactions directly after giving birth, and how shaking or tremoring is a normal physical respons to the hormones. I love the drawing next to this chapter, where you can see the woman and cat shake together. Thereby showing the link to the shaking response we see in animals.

In the standardized leaflet from the government that all pregnant women get from their midwives, they also mention tremoring/shaking after birth as a natural response, but they relate it to tiredness of the muscles.

So it seems people are definitely familiar with the phenomenon of tremors/shaking during the birth process. But more in depth learning about the proces of tremors and TRE and the conscious attempt to use the tremor mechanism is not yet part of the educational field of midwives/gynecologists/doulas etcetera. Neither do I or other pregnant women get explanations about tremors in the variety of classes like pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing, aqua gym and meditation classes. As with all methods, there is a risk that, if something goes wrong people will blame themselves or the teacher/method for the negative effect. This could also be true for doing TRE during pregnancy and childbirth, as there is not yet any evidence it can help during pregnancy or during/after childbirth. But I strongly believe, our bodies are smarter than our minds. And as stated in literature about pregnancy and birth, our bodies already have the natural tendency to release the stress tremoring immediately during and after giving birth. This seems to be a big part of the natural process to let go, reconnect and come back to a relaxed state. Isn’t that what we would all wish? To enter in this calm and relaxed state, where you can better connect to yourself, your child and partner? Where you can sleep and rest after such an intense event?  

So let me continue to investigate some more about the hormones during pregnancy and childbirth…. and let me share my own experience with TRE, and give examples and insights about my personal process and research during my time of pregnancy and birth.