Overcome The Adrenaline Rush
Keep Engaging Through Labor
There are a lot of things to remember in preparation for labor and delivery. It is easy to forget that in a stressful situation epinephrine, commonly known as adrenaline, changes our perception. In a normal non-stressful situation the brain filters and prioritizes all the elements around us looking for a match to something we already know and understand.
When we are in stressful or unknown situations like labor, the brain gets higher levels of adrenaline. Adrenaline is helpful because it narrowly focuses the brain on the immediate situation and helps prepare the body to respond. The drawback is the brain on adrenaline can have trouble making accurate decisions about the level of risk in a given situation. In other words, stress creates an adrenaline rush that amplifies your perception of the positive aspects of a decision and minimizes the possible negative outcomes.
The typical adrenaline rush response of fight or flight is interrupted when you ask your brain to focus on more complex activities like learning something new or applying something known to a new situation. Check out these three tips on how to stay engaged and in meaningful dialogue even before the adrenaline rush.
Start by recognizing and addressing your emotions. Your emotional state effects how well you communicate. Labor is a stressful time for everyone involved. In the stress induced fight or flight state the actual fight or flight is usually accomplished using language. When under stress most people fall into the pattern of communication that is emotionally comfortable for them. Though it might be comfortable for them it might inadvertently disrupt communication, limit understanding and create more stress. It is important to understand your communication style to effectively control your response to stress and increase understanding. Most communication styles can be divided into one of three categories.
- Passive (Passive-Aggressive)
To find out your style check out the guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Interactions with Others, published by the University of Michigan. This explanatory guide details each communication style and ways to improve if needed. To improve your overall labor experience ask your partner and any others who will be there supporting you to check it out also. We call this group your Apgardians. Ask your Apgardians to help manage the adrenaline rush by focusing on clear and effective communication with you, each other and your care providers.
Nothing brings greater confidence than finding out what you need to know when you need to know it. During labor unforeseen situations can arise quickly and decisions are needed. When stress is high the adrenaline rush can make asking questions difficult. In addition it can be hard to know what to ask or how to ask what you need to know to make decisions and stay informed.
The easy way to formulate medical questions during labor is to ask the what, when why and how question. These are the building blocks of great questions that result in responses that inform and explain. Our section titled You Might Want To Ask is designed to address this very concern.
YMWTA does two important things.
- YMWTA assists in the formation of sound medical open-ended questions and,
- it suggests specific questions related to common complications that might be appropriate to ask to get additional information.
Know how to respond to keep communication flowing. Effective and clear communication is important from check-in to discharge. Keep communication accurate and flowing by confirming information even if you think you know the answer. One of the pitfalls in communication, especially in a medical situation as important as labor is the assumption that you know all there is to know. The unstated part of that knowledge is also that you understand what it means. You don't want to think later "I wish I had asked more about . . . or I knew I had this condition but I did not understand how it would affect my delivery."
Avoid this pitfall by talking about what you know and what it means for your current condition. Try this three part prompt as an example.
- "I know I am . . ."
- "I understand that means . . . "
- "Do I have that right?"
The great part is this prompt the provider of the information to correct any inaccuracies. Once you know the information is accurate don’t forget to add a thanks at the end. Acknowledging assistance no matter how small goes a long way to keep communication flowing.