There is peaceful, there is wild… I am BOTH at the same time
The most important birthing skill to master is breathing. Breathing is an involuntary, instinctual function that we can learn to control. If you can learn to breathe, you can learn to relax, to open, and to slow your heart rate. If you can learn to control your breath you can learn to control your endorphins. If you can harness the power of your breathing instincts, you can harness the power of your birthing instincts.
To all the mamas who are waiting patiently for labor to begin on its own: remember that this is your first act of selflessness as a mother. There will be many more. But for now, this acceptance of your child’s unique journey into the world, this willingness to trust your baby, will set the tone for your future relationship.
Our society has a bad case of chronic “birth constipation”, and all our straining and pushing and yelling and forcing the process isn’t helping anything. Maybe we just need to teach mamas to breathe, relax and patiently wait until it all comes out in its own time…
Childbirth shouldn’t hurt. The word “hurt” implies that something is injured, damaged, broken, or malfunctioning. Think of the intense sensations you may feel during a deep-tissue massage or yoga class, rock-climbing, running long distances, or during a normal healthy childbirth; because nothing is being injured, damaged or broken, any sensations of pain you may feel can be very positive and productive.
The point of hypnobirthing is not birthing without pain. The point is to birth with LOVE and CONFIDENCE, without FEAR, without unnecessary interventions, and with a supportive team who shares your birth vision. That is the definition of a successful “hypnobirth”. The wonderful side-effect of this type of gentle, mother-centered, empowered birth is more pleasure and less pain.
Remember that each labor contraction is caused by a wave of Oxytocin (the love hormone) coursing through your body. So, very literally, each birthing surge is a surge of love. Allow yourself to meet each surge with the same warmth, intimacy and acceptance that you would experience during a kiss or a loving embrace.
What if we referred to the sensations of labor with a word other than PAIN? The word PAIN is so small and limited. When I stub my toe, I feel pain. When I eat something that gives me gas, I feel pain. I wish I had a better word to describe what it actually FELT like to birth my babies. There was definitely sensation. A LOT of sensation. I could feel it. But it was good. It was OK! I even enjoyed it. It was so primal and sensual. I remember saying at the beginning of a surge, “This one is going to be really big…” and it WAS, but following every wave of labor was a wave of pleasure and relaxation and love. I felt so sexy. I felt so warm and soft and open and flushed with excitement. I guess you could say the pain of childbirth felt really…good. I wish I could invent a new word for it. The closest word I can think of is POWER, but mixed with surrender, sensuality, sexuality, vulnerability and strength. We belittle women and the birth experience when we refer to it with the same word we use for broken bones and bruises. The pain of labor is transcendent.
Women, don’t ever apologize for your behavior or choices during birth. When you OWN your experience and take pride in your journey, you help other women do the same thing. No matter how you did it, you just brought a human being into the world! The world should be kneeling at your feet.
If there is one thing you can do RIGHT NOW to ensure your best birth experience, it’s this: choose a care provider who is an EXPERT in the type of birth you are planning. If you are planning a safe, skilled cesarean birth, you should hire someone who is an expert at cesarean sections. You wouldn’t hire a doctor to perform that procedure who said, “Well actually I’m not really comfortable with that type of birth, but I’ll let you do it if you want, I suppose…” If you’re planning a safe, natural, unmedicated birth, you should hire someone who is an EXPERT at supporting natural birth. A doctor with a 30% c-section rate is not a natural birth expert. Neither is a doctor who does routine episiotomies, or doesn’t understand how to catch a baby unless mom is laying on her back. A doctor who says, “Well, most of my patients do end up getting an epidural, but if you want to go natural you can do that, I suppose…” is NOT an expert in unmedicated birth. When you find the right care provider, they will understand your birth plan before you even show it to them, because it’s what they already do every day!
This is how we take the fear out of birth: by honoring and embracing all the many possible variations that birth encompasses. In this way, every birth is a natural birth. Each of us is part of nature, not separate from it, and nature is always stunning in its variety. Your birth, then, is part of the natural world, however it unfolds.
Giving birth is a transformation, and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve had eight babies before. It’s still a transformation the next time you have another baby, because you are no longer the same woman you were before you had that baby.
When a woman gave birth, everyone gathered around her in the temple for the “celebration of life.” Birthing was a religious rite, and not at all the painful ordeal it came to be years later.