Active Birth is a philosophy in which a woman follows her birthing instincts and intuition, while being actively involved in all choices regarding her pregnancy and birth, and medical care. By definition, an active birth is woman- centered and mother-directed; SHE is the birth-giver and so claims ownership of her choices, her body, and her baby. When given the time and space to birth unhindered, a woman will naturally discover the movements and sounds that open her body and move her baby down and out. As a culture we have become disconnected from our birth instincts, which were passed down to us, mother to daughter, through thousands of years of evolutionary refinement. Much of what we learn and practice in class is centered upon empowering women and partners to re-claim that inborn intuition. During an active birth, a woman may intuitively choose to do (or NOT do) any of the following:
- Move rhythmically
- Sleep, rest, relax
- Walk, sway or dance
- Bounce on a yoga ball
- Bear down when she feels the urge
- Vocalize, sing, hum, moan, sigh, talk, chant
- Go within and be silent
- Choose birthing positions that feel best
- Bathe or shower
- Connect with her partner
- Ask for time alone
- Ask for needed help and support
- Refuse unnecessary interventions
- Accept any necessary or beneficial interventions, while understanding the risks, benefits, and alternatives
In an 'Active Birth' the mother herself is in control of her body. She moves and changes position freely – she is the birth giver. Whereas in a managed birth, all the power is taken from her, her body is controlled and she is a passive patient.Janet Balaskas
A woman birthing actively will rest when she feels tired, eat when she’s hungry, and drink when thirsty. She will push how and when she feels the physical urge to do so, following the prompts of her body to bring her baby into the world. Most un-medicated women will change positions frequently during labor, alternating between sitting and standing, walking and swaying, resting and working hard. If her intuition tells her it is time to seek medical assistance, she will do so confidently. Active birthing has been shown to reduce the incidence of medical complications and the need for medical intervention, while dramatically improving the mother’s comfort and confidence in labor.
Embracing a philosophy of Active Birth also means that the mother takes charge of her birth choices. She is responsible for educating and preparing herself, so that she can decide what she wants to have happen, no matter what turns her birth journey takes. With comprehensive, thoughtful birth education, moms can feel confident in making those decisions whether at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital setting. Informed decision-making and freedom of choice in birth leads to a feeling confidence and satisfaction with the birth experience, while reducing trauma in any birthing situation.
Active birth is more than a matter of positions. While the freedom to move spontaneously and to use upright positions is fundamental, the essential definition of an active birth is one in which the birthing mother is in charge of her choices and decisions. This enables her to enjoy a productive and mutually respectful partnership with her birth attendants. When interventions are necessary, the principles of an active birth may still be useful in combination with obstetric procedures, and help to minimize risks or side effects. When this is the case, every birth, whether natural or assisted, may be called an active birth.Janet Balaskas
Most births for healthy women having healthy babies can progress with little to no medical intervention. However, part of trusting your birthing intuition is knowing that when medical intervention is needed, you can use those necessary or beneficial interventions as tools to help you have a safe, positive birth outcome. It is healthy and natural for a woman to ask for help if she or her baby needs it. If medical intervention is required or desired, you will call upon the relaxation techniques you learn in class to help you meet that challenge head-on. In fact, your deep relaxation and breathing skills become even more important if your birth journey takes an unexpected turn.
Our unique combination of Active Birth + Deep Relaxation means that our mothers birth more quickly, more intuitively, with less discomfort and fewer complications. Many have very short active labors; often within 3-6 hours