Physiological Mechanism of Painless Childbirth

Most medical doctors cannot explain the mechanisms and causes of pain due to spasm of uterine, diaphragmatic and other muscles during childbirth in modern women. Meanwhile, this pain usually lasts from 1 up to 20 or more hours and cause considerable stress to suffering females.

The nature of the spasm is in poor blood supply (perfusion), reduced cellular oxygenation and irritable state of muscle cells. All these effects are caused by one factor only: chronic hyperventilation or breathing more than the medical norm. How does it work? Why oxygenation and blood supply get reduced when we breathe more?

When we have normal breathing (6 l of air per minute at rest), our arterial blood is almost completely saturated with oxygen (up to about 98%). Such breathing is inaudible and invisible and personal oxygenation index (stress-free breath holding time after usual exhalation) is about 40 s.

However, over 97% of modern people breathe more than the medical norm established about 100 years ago. Sick people, as numerous publications revealed, breathe even heavier (about 2-3 times more air than the medical norm). When we breathe more or deeper, our arterial blood has about the same oxygenation as during normal breathing (about 98-99%). However, we exhale more CO2 and CO2 concentrations in the blood and body cells is reduced below the norm. This causes 2 negative effects influencing oxygen delivery. First of all, smooth muscles of arteries and arterioles constrict and this is the reason why we can easily faint due to forceful voluntary hyperventilation (fainting happens when the brain oxygenation is about twice less). The second effect relates to the Bohr law or the physiological law that governs O2 release in tissues. Indeed, why do our blood cells unload oxygen in those tissues which require more O2, as during physical work? The answer is simple. More active tissues of the human body generate more CO2 (due to carbohydrates burned) and, hence, they get more O2 from the blood. Both these effects are based on CO2.

Hence, when we over-breathe, first of all, blood supply to all vital organs is reduced. Second, low CO2 in tissues prevent efficient O2 release. As a result, it is normal that sick people complain about chronic fatigue since they breathe way above the norm.

Thus, modern women also breathe more than the physiological standard and suffer from:

1) low perfusion of muscles;

2) their reduced oxygenation;

3) their irritable state since CO2 is a powerful relaxant (antispasmodic) of muscle cells. This effect was discovered many decades ago and was confirmed by dozens of physiological studies. For example, Dr. Brown in his article “Physiological effects of hyperventilation” analysed almost 300 professional studies. He stated, “Studies designed to determine the effects produced by hyperventilation on nerve and muscle have been consistent in their finding on increased irritability” (Brown, 1953).

Brown EB, Physiological effects of hyperventilation, Physiological Reviews, 1953 October, Volume 33, Number 4, pages 445-471.

Hence, all three main causes of the muscular spasm are in abnormal breathing. There is only one medical therapy which goal is to restore normal breathing and oxygenation of tissues: the Buteyko breathing method developed by Soviet MD and PhD Konstantin Buteyko.

My other Ezine articles “Painless childbirth: reality for hundreds of Russian women” and “Childbirth delivery time is greatly reduced by simple breathing exercise” provide more details about this important topic.