The Three Zones of Birth: A Holistic Perspective

A Closer Look at Physiologic Birth

What are the Three Zones of Birth?

In this series, I have been writing a lot about physiologic birth and what that really means. Birth is NORMAL and a HEALTHY part of life. In part 2, we’re going to talk all about three zones of birth through which labor progresses – the physical, chemical, and emotional zones of birth. Also, I’ll offer you some pro tips to support labor progress in each zone.

three zones of irth

Firstly, birth is often portrayed as a physical process, and the role of the provider and birthing person is to simply focus on physical (body based) measures. In the medical (or sometimes called “technocratic”) model of maternity care, the body is viewed as a purely physical machine and the focus is on using a timeline and interventions to control the physical process of the body. Also, this model mainly ignores the chemical and emotional zones through which labor progresses and separates the body from the birthing person’s mind and spirit.

Secondly, looking at birth through the three zones places an emphasis on birth as a holistic process. Birth progresses as a holistic trio through all of these areas, and each part is also interdependent upon the others.

The Physical Zone of Birth

The physical zone of birth involves all the process of the body. For example, your uterus, pelvis, tissues, ligaments, muscles, and your general health status support labor progress through the physical zone.

How to Help:

  • Movement: Incorporate daily natural movement and exercise into your personal routines. Use movement in labor by changing positions, using upright positions, and opening your pelvis (check out this article on STATION during birth for more ideas).
  • Pay close attention to your nutrition in pregnancy to keep your body functioning optimally
  • Seek out chiropractic care or body work to support balance and also release tension in your body

The Chemical/Mental Zone of Birth

Secondly, the next zone of physiologic birth is called the chemical zone. In the chemical zone, we are talking about the hormones and mental processes involved in labor and birth. Also, your hormones and thinking can greatly affect your labor progress and postpartum experience.

This is also where we move from the thinking brain (neocortex) to the primal brain in birth.

How to Help:

  • Create a calm and peaceful labor environment: dim lights, quiet sounds, personal comforts, music, aromatherapy, etc.
  • Boost oxytocin vibes: comfort & nurturing touch, relaxation breathing/meditation/visualization, love/intimacy, be sure to have a loving and comforting support person (partner, doula, etc)
  • Limit interruptions and distractions in the birthing process. Avoid getting stuck in your thinking brain and GET PRIMAL and GO WILD. Let it flow and let go.

The Emotional Zone of Birth

Lastly, the third zone of labor can be understood as the emotional zone. In the emotional zone of birth, we are referring to all of the big feelings, fears, worries, and mental blocks that may occur in the process. Also, these arise during pregnancy and can carry into the birth process if they are not supported.

How to Help:

  • Make it a priority to discover your fears and dive deep into them BEFORE birth. You can also start a journal or consider working with a mental health professional during pregnancy.
  • Look closely at your coping mechanisms and triggers. Talk about it with your partner and support team.
  • Carefully consider your birth place, provider and support team. What do you really want this to look like? How do you want to feel? Ask yourself these questions BEFORE birth.

The Three Zones of Birth Work Together

All three of the zones of labor are highly interrelated. Progress in one area greatly impacts progress in all the other areas. Birth is not just a physical process. It is a holistic process that involves the body, mind, and spirit. For example, supporting the emotional zone of birth through examining our fear and coping mechanisms can greatly support our ability to produce oxytocin in labor, which then facilitates progress in the physical zone of birth.

A supportive birth team will help you to support all three zones of birth through pregnancy, early labor, active labor, birth, and postpartum. 


Do you want to learn more about how to have a physiologic birth? I’m offering a FREE WEBINAR where I’m going to discuss 4 BIG MOMENTS in Birth and give you strategies to handle them like a boss. In this webinar, I talk all about 4 challenges that come up in birth and give you ALL the tools you need to have a confident and powerful birth experience. Webinar is December 30th at 7pm. Check it out! Space is limited.

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