The Walking Staff: A useful tool in labor to help you get outdoors
Is there a circadian flow to childbirth?
Most babies are born cozily indoors. Yet we also always hear tales of Wild babies born outside in Nature. Is there a benefit to one or the other? In this post, I will share some of the scientific discoveries that point to the power of the outdoors for labor.
Based on this research and my own experience, it is possible to point to a circadian flow to labor. It may even be optimal for daytime labor to occur outdoors and nighttime labor to occur indoors. This is based on the circadian alternation between cortisol/serotonin in the day, and melatonin at night.
Since laboring outdoors can be hard, I also bring forward an ancient tool that works great in labor: the walking staff.
The walking staff is powerful in its ability to provide a mother with grounded support. It is available no matter where she is in space when her surges hit! And a staff can be used with or without other support people. This is great because some mothers like to be touched during their rushes, while others prefer to be left alone. In either case, the staff can provide the support a laboring mother needs to get through her contractions.
Trees sometimes, but not always, grow so conveniently!
So, if a mama wants to labor outside, I highly recommend she gets a walking staff to go with her on her journey.
Birth centers can offer more permanent solutions along their walking paths, like:
What are the benefits to laboring outside?
Scientifically, there are two main reasons. The first is that the blue and green light frequencies of daytime slow or stop contractions, and raise serotonin. During labor, serotonin is thought to be responsible for the altered mental state mothers go to to bring their babies down. Serotonin is also the precursor to melatonin. Once the dark sets in, serotonin circulation turns into melatonin circulation. Melatonin causes stronger contractions that feel less painful—amazing, right?
The other reason a mother might want to labor outside is to absorb extra electrons. Oxidative stress is inherent to childbirth. Supplying abundant electrons can keep oxidation at healthy levels (for more on this, go back to my recent post about antioxidants and oxidative stress). Electrons are present in sunlight, as well as the ground. If mama is barefoot or wearing grounding shoes, these electrons will flow through her. High levels of electrons reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and speed healing.
My anecdotal experience with laboring outdoors
For the two labors where I utilized the outdoors, I had easy labors where I delivered just after sunset on the first day. For my one hospital labor, I was not allowed to go outdoors and that labor took 49 hours and I didn’t birth my baby until nearly midnight on the third night. I'm sure there were other factors, but the inability to access the outdoors really stands out to me!
I would encourage any mother in a nice climate to consider adding outdoors time to her labor plan. It just might mellow out her daytime labor and get her body ready to do a quick delivery after sunset.
If you enjoyed the graphics in this post, you may also enjoy my Instagram account where I share more about working Nature and circadian rhythms into fertility, pregnancy, and birth planning: