During a recent visit to my parents, my father starting telling me about a trip they made to the Grand Canyon. The trip was some time ago now, but for them it was a holiday of a lifetime and they continue to enjoy telling their stories and reliving the experience. On this visit the same stories that I had heard again and again were being told but as my Dad moved on to talk about Las Vegas, he started to tell it in a way that caught my attention.
Rather than the usual stories of how shocked they were at some of the sights (only natural being quite British and in their 60's), my Dad started to talk about what it was like to be in a casino. As he spoke about the environment my ears pricked up… safe….secure…no distractions…keep you focused…people don't realise how much time has passed. Now, I'm not saying that a casino is the perfect birthing environment, but stick with me for a moment and lets just take a look at the evidence...
Casinos are fully aware that when someone is gambling they are in a natural trance state and they use this knowledge to maintain this state and keep them gambling. A trance state is simply where you have a narrowed focus of attention, also called a hypnotic state and it's the same state whether you are gambling, watching the TV, reading a book, listening to music, running a marathon, or in labour. All members of staff in a casino are tasked with creating and maintaining the trance state for people who are gambling, from the people on the door, to the janitors, bar staff and croupiers. Consider how it would feel if everyone you came into contact with during labour, directly or indirectly were tasked with maintaining your inner focus, from the car park attendant, to the receptionist, to the cleaner, the doctor and every other care provider.
When you are in a trance state time passes quickly and you have no real concept of what time or even day it is. This is why there are no clocks in the cleverer Casinos. As soon as someone see's a clock and recognises the time, the focus of attention has been taken away from the activity of gambling and the trance state is broken. It may take some time to re-focus and during this time the conscious mind of the person gambling kicks in and they consider whether its time to leave.
Now lets consider what happens when you are in labour. As you enter your trance state your focus goes from an external view of what is going on around you, to an inward focus of your body and baby, this focus enables you to listen to what your body and baby need to have a natural birth. Add a nice big hospital clock to the wall of this picture and suddenly you are faced with an external focus, together with time bound pressure and in some cases the knowledge of when the midwife shift change is. This external focus which distracts us from listening to our bodies is often why TENS machines, heart monitors and other medical equipment can mentally and then physically get in the way of a natural delivery. Although I advocate for birthing wherever you feel most relaxed, it's often more difficult to control these external distractions when you are in a hospital room than when you are in your own home.
Another thing that they do in a casino is give you a huge drink with a long straw so you don't have to keep going back to the bar. How fantastic, they really do think of everything to keep you completely focused. Consider how you may want to handle keeping your fluid levels up during labour, this would be really useful wouldn’t it?!
The other thing they do is make you feel safe and secure. Whether exchanging large or small sums of money they do so in a locked room where nobody else can view the transaction. They wouldn’t consider exchanging money in corridors, waiting areas or a shared room, people just wouldn’t feel safe, so neither should a woman be in this type of environment while she is giving birth.
So, now lets look at Casinos again:
- They recognise you are in a trance state and how important this is to your activity
- They remove things which may distract you from this trance state
- The provide things which make it easy to maintain your trance state
- They know you need to feel safe and secure so provide the staff and environment to enable this to happen
As I said, I’m not saying they are the ideal environment, but it certainly would be interesting to see what would happen if a Casino manager got their hands on a maternity ward!
To fully understand how you can use the power of your mind to give yourself the gift of a wonderful birth day, check out my completely downloadable antenatal programme called The Psychology of Giving Birth.