How to use anchors and rituals to achieve an unmedicated labor and delivery.

How to use anchors and rituals to achieve an unmedicated labor and delivery.

It was a particularly hard contraction.  The most difficult one that I had experienced so far.  I was starting to feel scared and out of control.  Just as I felt another tightening of my abdomen, I heard my birth partner's voice say, "relax your forehead, calm your mind, let this wave wash over you." Her words had an amazingly focused effect for me.  As long as she was speaking in her clam voice with reminders of relaxation and words of encouragement, the contractions felt more manageable.  I was going to do this, I was going to have this baby. 


My experience with connecting my birth partner's voice and words to a state of peace and relaxation was an anchor. 

An anchor is a term we use to describe linking a specific physical or verbal cue, with a specific state.  An anchor is helpful for a women in labor to give her comfort and a feeling of control among all the dramatic changes happening in her body.

Anchors are the most powerful when practiced regularly during pregnancy, along with a set intention attached to the anchor.  For example, I want to reach a deeply relaxed state as I labor, so when I practice relaxation techniques, I hold and rub a stone between my fingers.  Now every time I hold that stone, my body is conditioned to slip more easily into a super relaxed state.  

Kinds of anchors:

  • Verbal- using guided imagery to condition the mind to release hormones of relaxation when hearing certain phrases or commands.
  • Physical touch-a physical reminder for the body to return to or deepen relaxation.
      • shoulder press
      • rubbing or tickling arms
      • back or legs
      • playing with hair. 
  • Grounding objects-an object that you can hold that brings you back to your intentions.
      •  crystals or gem stones.  They have vibrational qualities that can affect our energy. Rose Quartz, Moonstone, Moss Agate, and Chrysocolla are great for a positive birth experience. 
      • a special blanket
      • beads
  • Breath awareness-practicing certain types of breath can deepen your relaxation. 
  • Music- consistently listening to the same type of music as you practice relaxation can bring you to deep relaxation quickly. 

Along with anchors, rituals are another way of coping with contractions.  

Rituals are another important aspect of achieving a specific outcome for labor. Rituals are the instinctual and intuitive ways that you body copes with moving through each contraction. Rituals are the the repeated use of personally meaningful rhythmic activities with every contraction.

Kinds of rituals:

  • Keywords or phrases (usually said to self)  "I can do this" "I am closer to my baby"
  • eye contact- focused attention 
  • certain movement- swaying, rolling on a birth ball
  • ooooing or moaning- keep the noises low to benefit from the energy movement down and through your body. 
  • imagery- seeing in your minds eye the baby going further down the birth canal, or a pendulum swinging. 

When these rituals are rhythmic for a laboring women, you are coping well through your labor. It is hard to plan a ritual, but try different things out until something sticks.  You will instinctively know what to do and it might change as your labor progresses.   

What are some anchors you are practicing with? Or rituals that you had during a previous labor?


Watch this video to learn more stories and examples of how anchors and rituals help during labor. 


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