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MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information

When it comes to getting babies out of birth canals without resorting to forceps, vacuums, salad tongs, or the "jaws of life," nothing beats laughter (except of course faith, patience, and sex). According to an article in the Boulder Daily Camera (Laughter really may be among the best medicines, Nov. 4, 1996), laughter helps control pain, lower blood pressure, relieve stress, and increase muscle flexion. It also shuts off the flow of stress hormones, increases the body's ability to utilize oxygen, and triggers a flood of beta endorphins, the brain's natural morphine-like compounds that can induce a sense of euphoria.

laughing during labor from Spiritual Midwifery

Although the article does not specifically mention birth, the following comments from birthing women, midwives, and health care providers speak for themselves:
  • "I noticed that whenever Judith would laugh at something, she'd have a very good rush [contraction] right afterward, which would dilate her cervix a bunch more. So we all sat around and had a good time talking with each other, and after a few more rushes I checked Judith again and found that she was fully dilated and ready to push the baby out."
    - From Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin

  • "Then Dick said, 'The head's showing!' I laughed and said I knew. I gave one firm push while pressing on my clitoris like it shows in Birth and the Dialogue of Love (page 126) and it really helped. (It was a big head.) I wanted to lay down and then I did. Dick was still hugging me and I was laying on him and laughing inside at what a sight it must have been. He told me to let him up. I didn't want to move but I did. He got out from under me, grabbed some clean towels, and put them on the floor. I knelt and he caught the baby all in a matter of seconds."
    - From The New Nativity

  • "Sarah announced her desire to enter the world quite amusingly. As Rich looked down to see where we were, the waters broke in his face... We laughed until the next contraction which brought the crowning of her head. Then two more contraction-pushes and she was here!"
    - From Two Attune

  • "I sat down on the floor and leaned against the pillows. The desire to push overcame me. For several pushes I pushed with caution while Bob rubbed ointment into the perineal area. He informed me that he would 'do the looking.' I had to laugh at Bob's comments. I began to pray this would be the last push and began to act on that request with all the power within me. At this point Bob used his baseball training because our Naomi became a pop fly. Once again I found myself laughing at Bob's crazy monologue. Such sweetness!"
    - From The New Nativity

  • "I was laughing when I was pushing, and he was just in awe. And when he came over holding this tiny baby, it was probably the most beautiful moment of my life."
    - Melanie Griffith (Mrs. Antonio Banderas) in Ladies Home Journal, Sept. 1997

  • "Brian and I were smiling and even laughing in between contractions because even though they were very intense I felt so good in between them; it was like I wasn't even in labor. I had one really big contraction and my water broke. I felt like pushing so I got in a comfortable sitting position and with the next contraction my baby's head was out. One more push and our son was in Brian's hands."
    - From The New Nativity

  • "With one arm around Shara and another around Cary, we attempted to walk, push, walk, push. 'Are you giggling?' Cary asked. 'No,' I smiled, I was laughing. Although my bottom was bursting, my clitoris was tickling. It felt almost orgasmic. So all of us walked around the room laughing. What a sight."
    - From "Homebirth Minus a Midwife" by Alaina Chapman (Compleat Mother, Summer 1994)

  • "We returned to the bedroom where I positioned myself on the end of the bed to be in position for the baby to be born. (Our bed is on the floor.) I was half-sitting, half-squatting and pushing hard. The bag of waters broke then, gushing all over Bill, who was on the floor in front of me and we laughed. Oh, that felt so good."
    - From The New Nativity

  • "Mary Louise came. She was getting stuff together and I was rushing and started noticing that when I looked in her eyes through a rush I got some strength to feel it as a force that was intelligent and courageous. I noticed that when I looked at Edward through one I felt it as a pain. When I asked her about that, she said that it was because she wasn't believing that it was painful and that I needed to keep my sense of humor and be nice to Edward. That clicked and with the next rush I laughed, and started laughing as they came. That got the energy up higher and of course the rushes came on stronger."
    - From Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin

  • "I caught Max myself in a bathtub of lovely, relaxing warm water - and he was born in a laugh, as I was vocalizing a HO - HO - HO sound (a very open sound which came instinctually)."
    - From Waterbirth! by Cat Majors

  • "I didn't think the baby was moving down very fast. Loring crawled back up to tell me I was doing fine. Then he gave me a long kiss and crawled back to inspect my bottom. On his next trip back up to smooch with me he told me I had a cute behind and I really had a laugh. I guess the laugh was what I needed to do."
    - From The New Nativity

  • "She danced and danced throughout her labor. No noise, no fuss, just intense concentration and dancing. After many hours she looked up at me with a puzzled expression and said: 'I can't do this anymore.' I asked if I could check her, and when she opened her legs, the baby's head was crowning. I told her that was why she felt that way, and she began to laugh, and laughing, birthed the baby into my surprised hands. Her partner took pictures: a baby born en caul to a laughing VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) mother. We must witness, talk story, tell the good stories to counteract our culture's horror of birth. It is possible to birth in peace and joy."
    - Anne Stohrer, M.D. in Compleat Mother Magazine, Winter, 2000

  • "I was afraid to laugh because I thought it would make the baby come out. This was true and I realized that if I laughed and loosened up that the pain would go away and Louisa would come out really easy and everything would be psychedelic and Holy. I laughed. Mark and I started smooching a lot to keep my mouth really loose. This made the contractions come on really strong."
    - From Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin

  • "Even though I was still on my hands and knees, my hearing suddenly became very acute. I could hear Gordon on the phone in the next room: Glenn? This is Gord. Could you ask Elly to come over. I think the baby's coming. You think the baby's coming? I echoed to myself. And suddenly, I laughed. I could not help it - the man's hesitation struck me as funny. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Suddenly, I was looking down a tunnel the long way around, as if a telescope inside me - that was somehow outside me - was turned backwards. As I laughed, the baby's head popped out. I tightened my pelvic floor muscles and, turning my head, noticed Gordon at the doorway. Imagining how ludicrous I must have looked, reared up on my haunches with a baby's head sticking out of me, I laughed again. This time, the baby simply fell out into Gordon's out-stretched hands."
    - From "They Don't Call it a Peak Experience for Nothing," by Ruth Claire (Mothering, Fall 1989)

  • "Even a forced smile releases endorphins, the body's natural pain medicine that is similar to morphine. When we are with a birthing woman who is in pain, it may help to tell some good jokes - or even some not so good ones, especially in early labor. Carry a joke book in your birth bag!"- Marianne Manely, in Midwifery Today Issue 47

  • "Not only is humor good for the mind, it's good for the body, especially in labor. Laughter increases the level of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers and relaxers. It decreases levels of unwelcome stress hormones and relaxes muscles. Laughter is like an internal massage. As the ancient writings of Proverbs advise, 'A cheerful spirit is health to the body and a strength to the soul.' Bring a bit of humor to your birth."
    - From The Birth Book by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

woman laughing as she is giving birth
A mother laughs as she births her baby into her own hands.
woman laughing as she is giving birth
She continues to smile as her baby emerges.
woman holding newborn
A triumphant mother holds her newborn baby.

By Laura Shanley is a mother, wife, free-lance writer, poet, and student of life. She is especially fascinated with the process of giving birth - both to ideas and to children. Her articles have been published in numerous magazines, and her book, UNASSISTED CHILDBIRTH, was published in 1994. Pictures are courtesy of her Website:


By Rycharde Angel Childbirth & Labor

Having a great birth takes a combination of several elements. Primarily the health of both mother and infant is the most important factor.

To assure your health and the health of your infant there are a few things you can do. Firstly ignore the wives tales of eating for two, and staying in bed. The more you walk during the pregnancy, especially toward the end, and during labor, the faster the baby will come. Walking keeps you fit and gravity helps baby get into the right spot. The healthier your muscles are and the more you exercise, the stronger you will be through your labor. Do not take on new crazy fitness routines, ride a bike or do anything where you could fall, but walking, and light exercise are your new best friend. Food becomes a great friend too. No you cannot just stuff your face and eat anything. What you want is a healthy balanced diet according to the food guide with an extra serving of your favorite food group every day. Taking a multivitamin is a good idea too. Some people think "I take a vitamin, I do not need to eat healthy". Wrong. Follow the food guide!

Now that you are getting ready for labor after months of healthy eating and exercise, you want to know "how do I get through this". Firstly you need to be comfortable. Two choices here. Home or Away. Either way you need to go to where you will be having your baby and make sure that everything you need is in place. Your favorite pillow, comfortable clothing. Get used to the environment where you will be having the baby. Make it your zone. Know where the shower or tub is, know where you can go for a walk. Pick your support people, have them with you when you go into labor.

I had a home birth which was much more comfortable than my hospital births because I was in my own bed. I was looking at pictures of my daughter, listening to music and doing what I would normally do on any Friday afternoon. My family popped in and out as usual and it was pretty stress free and relaxed. I knew where I was, I was in my room, my zone. Where I was all the time. Comfortable. If hospitals make you uneasy, do not give birth there if you do not have to! The nice thing was not having strangers there. The only people in my home were family members and midwives whom I had gotten to know over the last nine months and who were like family after knowing them so long.

Not having pain killers makes labor shorter as well. I did not take anything but laughter. A hand to hold, some rocking motions and a shower. That is all you need really. The contractions are there to tell you where the baby is and when to push. If you are healthy and strong you will be able to cope. They do not get real bad until the end.

Laughing during a contraction can hurt, but just at the start. I had two crazy people making me laugh, my best friend and boyfriend constantly making wise cracks and getting me going! Great for the muscles. Great for the mood.

Showers feel great. Take one. Walk around. Stay upright a bit. Make sure you have someone or something to grab onto when you get a contraction as they can really get bad. Have your partner follow you around with a chair if you need it. Use the back and stand during the contraction or sit if its that bad. Ride out the contractions, get used to them they are around for a while. Get used to the pain because they get worse. Just learn to breathe with each one. Jump right on that wave and ride it. It will start off horribly painful like a cramp, then it will push pressure through your back and belly. Eventually it will tapper down.

Relax, keep calm. Everything will go as planned and if not, you have medical professionals who's hands are capable of assuring your health and the health of your child.

Have a happy labor!

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