Opening for Birth

Some time ago, I bought several large binders of back issues of The International Journal of Childbirth Education (ICEA‘s publication). The December 2001 edition of the IJCE contains an article titled “The Pelvis Revisited” by Elizabeth Noble. An interesting article overall, I particularly enjoyed the language of the section titled Opening for Birth:

“Birth is what women do. Women are privileged to stand in such power! Birth stretches a woman’s limits in every sense. To allow such stretching of one’s limits is the challenge of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. The challenge is to be fully present and to allow the process because of inner trust. How can women find their power, claim it, and stand firm in it throughout? The vertical position comes again into prominence. Women must ‘stand up’ for what they want and ‘on their own two feet’ by refusing to take their birth ‘lying down’! Being upright is essential for pelvic power–psychological strength, pelvic mobility, gravity’s assistance, pelvic pump efficiency, and the hygienic downflow of bodily fluids.”

In the September 1999 issue, the article “Belly-Dancing Through Pregnancy: A Way to Give Birth and Not Be Delivered” by Gaby Mardshana Oeftering caught my eye. In it, she also addresses the needs to build inner trust and to open to birth through physical movement and an active approach to birthing:

“Women expecting their second or third child don’t necessarily need this [traditional prenatal classes]. They are looking for a way to relax, find their inner selves, and get better acquainted with their bodies, their babies, and the process of birthing. When allowed to move during childbirth, many women instinctively start moving their pelvis in hip circles which are typical of belly-dance…All soft and gentle belly-dance movements are beneficial to pregnant women; for example, hip circles, the various hip-eights, and hip rocking. The rule is: all horizontal movements relax the uterus; vertical movements excite it. Physically speaking, all these movements strengthen and mobilize the pelvis and the legs and train the pelvic floor. They also activate deep abdominal breathing…the hip movements demand a lot of attentiveness and body awareness. On a mental level, this leads to better consciousness of tension and relaxation—a body feeling that is needed during birthing.”

Recently, I feel myself intrigued by the possibilities of working with these women—those who are on their second or third pregnancies and who are seeking to “go beyond” traditional birth class information (that often assumes first baby status). I know that I, personally, have wanted new, fresh, inspirational birth information during each of my pregnancies—labor and birth 101, stages of fetal development, or even labor support and comfort measures isn’t “enough” for me anymore (and wasn’t after my first baby). The desire to honor the pregnancy experience, prepare for the birth experience, and to work with psychological and emotional elements of childbearing are still very much present though! I envision doing a series of “pregnancy retreat” type of things or other types of workshops that “go beyond” and help second, third, or fourth time mothers to spend some dedicated,special attention to each pregnancy and birth experience in a personally enriching and rewarding way 🙂

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