Tag Archive | preparing for birth

Birth as a Rite of Passage & ‘Digging Deeper’

July 2015 135Childbirth 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.

Nature & Birth

Today I read a good post called The Nature of Nature. The woman’s birth was precipitous (= 3 hours or less) and she said, “if I were to compare it to something in nature, it would be a riptide.” She concluded her post with this powerful observation: “I am starting to see that a woman’s strength in birth is also in the letting go and allowing herself to tumble fearlessly with the current, never losing sight of the belief that, when the energy of the tide is through, she will find herself upright again on the shore.”

Coincidentally, I just finished reading a book by Sheila Kitzinger called Homebirth. One of the quotes I marked to share was about the exact same thing:

“The power of birth is like the strength of the water cascading in a mighty rush down a hillside. It is the power of seas and tides, the power of mountains moving. There is no way of ignoring it. You cannot fight it. No amount of technique can enable you to be in control of it as you might be in control of a car or a computer. Your birth partner should aim not to manage, conduct, or coach you through this experience, but rather to give you strength and confidence as you allow your body to open and your baby to press through it to life.”

As I noted in comment on the blog post referenced above,  I gave birth precipitously to my second son. I viewed the brevity as a gift and felt a tremendous and irreplaceable sense of triumph, empowerment, joy and euphoria. However, I also felt RUN OVER BY A TRUCK! Actually, the analogy I often use is that it was like a train speeding past me and I had run to catch up and jump on for the ride. A nature-based image that kept coming to me was of being a rock and having waves crash into me over and over again–and then part and flow around me.

My total labor was 2 hours. The serious, intense, active part of labor was about 45 minutes in length. As I surrendered to the tides of birthing, I kept saying, “This is MAJOR!” And it was. 🙂

Another related quote from Homebirth:
“Your breathing dances, you get into the swing of contractions, swimming over each as it rises in crescendo, or breasting it like a great ocean wave. You float, you ride, you ski down the mountain slopes, or leap into the void…The imagery that is likely to be helpful to you will include active verbs of opening, releasing, spreading, unfolding, and fanning out. As contractions sweep through you, concepts that suggest power, energy, strength, and perhaps, storm or even whirlwind suddenly make sense, along with wave and water fantasies–verbs such as stream, pool, flood, gush, flow, and cascade. And all over the world, in many different cultures, woman use visual images of fruit ripening and of the baby’s head like a hard bud in the center of a flower unfurling petals. As you read about birth, and whenever you take time to relax and enjoy anticipatory fantasies, create you own images and dreams that will give positive meaning to all the sensations of labor. Doing this will help you to savor fully an adventure that can be among the most thrilling, intense and satisfying experiences of your life.” (emphasis mine)

More Thoughts on Birth as a Creative Process

I am reading a book from the late 80’s right now called Giving Birth: How it Really Feels. It is by Sheila Kitzinger and I had never heard of it until this week. Some time ago I posted a quote about birth as a creative process. I’m only a few chapters into this book and it has so much that relates to the idea of birth as a creative process that I just had to make a new post about it.

“I believe that this is one of the important things about preparation for childbirth–that it should not simply superimpose a series of techniques, conditioned responses to stimuli, on the labouring woman, but that it can be a truly creative act in which she spontaneously expresses herself and the sort of person she is. Education for birth consists not, as some would have it, of ‘conditioning,’ but aims at giving a woman the means by which she can express her own personality creatively in childbirth.”

“The point of education for birth is that childbirth becomes not something that simply happens to a woman, in which the question of how to cope with pain is paramount, but a process in which she actively and gladly expresses herself. It is not a performance to be enacted, nor an examination that must be passed, but is a profound and all-enveloping experience in which she opens herself to the creative power of the uterus…no woman should have to suffer in labour. Instead it becomes an exciting adventure that brings with it a sense of deep satisfaction, thrilling achievement, and triumph.”

“…many women looking ahead to labour worry that childbirth pain will prove too much for them, and they they will somehow ‘give way’ and reveal their true selves. The implication is that our ‘real’ selves are nastier than the images we ordinarily present to the world–and that we require a mask to hide the unpleasantness of our inner natures. But it is this real inner self, capable of the hieghts and depths of emotion, which is also the self which can relish the excitement, drama and tumult of labor and the intensely moving and passionate experience of bringing new life into the world…a woman is completely caught up in the passionate act of creation, utterly committed to the feelings of the moment and to the vivid sensations with which her whole being is flooded.”

I personally identified with these quotes in many ways. I remember feeling that preparing for birth felt like preparing for the biggest test of my life. I remember fearing losing myself and “freaking out.” And, I remember the feeling of utter trimuph and exhaltation after giving birth. It was the most empowering and triumphant experience of my life. I felt like the outer self was stripped away and my real self was revealed and it was NOT ugly, or “mean,” or unworthy, but was beautiful, strong, powerful, magical, and of fundamental worth and value. I felt better about myself after giving birth than I’ve ever felt in my life.