Childbirth is a powerful rite of passage. One of my favorite resources, The Pink Kit, has some great reflections on this rite of passage and the words we use to describe the powerful, indescribable act of giving birth:
Whatever the culture, when a woman surrenders to the process, accepts the intense sensations, works through each contraction, and digs deep within herself to achieve the end goal–giving birth–she is touched by the Unknown and Unknowable. Many traditional cultures send their young men into initiation rites where they, too, can learn to understand humbleness and achieve the self-control that women learn in childbirth.
All cultures believe that women become better and more generous through the process of giving birth. That is why some cultures use words such as ‘sacrifice,’ ‘suffering’ and ‘labour.’ These terms can seem overwhelming and to be avoided’ however, seen from a different viewpoint, childbirth helps us to become strong, resourceful and determined.
In a modern world, ‘getting through’ labour without numbing or dumbing the process can be a very powerful experience for a woman, and very challenging.
I like the concept of “digging deeper.” This how The Pink Kit explains it:
You might avoid the pain in labour by moving into a position which is comfortable for you (i.e. reduces the sensations), but it slows labour down and then you stay there for hours. Doing that will increase the likelihood of medical intervention because you will become tired, bored, or frightened, and labour doesn’t progress. Instead, consider remaining in positions that keep you open and the labour progressing, while using your skills to manage the sensations. This is ‘digging deeper’.
I have noticed an emphasis in other natural birth preparation books and explanations about finding positions that are “comfortable.” I very much like the concept of finding positions that help you feel “open”—these positions may certainly also comfortable (and that is great!), but if you remain mindful of “staying open,” it may lead you “dig deeper” and find positions that really help move the baby. In my classes, I encourage women to welcome labor “getting bigger” (not more “painful” or “difficult,” but make it “bigger” and be excited by that change!). I think this idea goes hand in hand with digging deeper.
When I was in labor, whenever I went and sat on the toilet, the contractions would get so overwhelming, so I would go back in the tub where it was easier. The thought did cross my mind, “You’re delaying the labor.” I did try a few more times on the toilet, but I really wasn’t ready for the sensations yet and so I kept postponing it. At the end when I got to pushing, I was very ready to accept those sensations and it took less than half an hour to push at that point. I do wonder if I prolonged my labor because I wasn’t ready yet (44 hours from start to finish). Luckily it was a UC and there was no pressure to invoke interventions or anything.
But I do understand that “digging deeper” concept. I’ll explore it more the next time I have a child.
And most definitely, there’s nothing really *wrong* with going for comfort/avoiding overwhelm–even if it does prolong labor (as long as everything else is fine)–it is just something to keep in mind that you might possibly be doing 🙂
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