Keeping it Real in Birth

Being cared for by a homebirth midwife has been a revelation. Here at 38 weeks pregnant I don’t have a lot of energy or focus to describe my experiences, but I want to mention a few ways this care has changed everything and to link to two articles for more information.

First, after my tough postpartum time with my first birth, I craved those six weeks of postpartum midwifery care. Being dropped off a cliff after leaving the hospital felt crappy and I wanted something else. But there is so so much more. These hour-long prenatal appointments address the mind, body and soul of pregnancy. My daughter is with me, present, tuned in, and involved every time. The information I’m receiving is so much deeper and wider — last time it was just the medical story, what procedures might be done, what might go wrong. Now, it’s the incredibly complex story of birth and mothering that has evolved over these millions of years — all the hormones, physiology, and emotional responses that fit together to bring a child into the world and ensure he or she has the mother he or she needs. My experience of birth has been validated over and over — that it’s not a medical procedure at all. It is a deep and personal journey to our innermost self, the self that can achieve the most difficult and meaningful task that exists. The spiritual task of bringing a new baby home from another realm.

The most powerful message of my pregnancy so far, which my midwife and other caregivers have helped me to see, is that my own powers of perception, tuning in to my own body and experiences, give me a depth of information that blows away the high-technology that our medical system holds above all else. All those tests can get in the way, can hold you back from perceiving what your baby and your belly can tell you.

Throughout my life I have absorbed constant put-downs regarding this women’s wisdom, of self-knowing, intuition, perception, and emotion. I’ve been told they are all third class compared to intellect, technology, and academic knowledge that comes from our culture’s version of science, a science developed by a patriarchal European culture. Finally, through motherhood and pregnancy, I am starting to believe in a bigger way, that MY way of knowing is just as valid. In fact, I think it makes me a better mother than those other ways.

Because this conflict has been so strong in my life, it helped to see this kind of knowledge, the midwife’s view of labor and birth, written out in black in white, in a way that not even my intellectual prejudices could argue with. Two articles were so important to me, and so I share them with you.

The Holistic Stages of Labor” by Whapio Dianne Bartlett

Léalo en español aqui.

Some of my favorite parts:

Mother becomes aware that she is nearing the peak. She is deep in a vortex, past anything she has ever known . . . This is what she has come for — accessing the new spirit, the new person that is her child and her Partner’s child, and bringing this soul to Earth. She hears the Summons, she summons her child and together they make their way back. This is often the most precarious part of the journey. Mother must summon all her reserves and she may want to know that her Partner is totally present and supportive. She assumes her caregiver is following their course and holding everything steady on the other side of the storm. Mother is braver and more courageous than ever before in her life.

. . .

Of course things may seem hectic and often the Mother flounders briefly during this supreme openness. She may say that she cannot go on or that she wants to go home. She may have a wild-eyed look and seek the presence of others. She may ask for help but I have noticed this is not the authentic need for someone to do something, rather it is the calling out to be witnessed in this hardest phase yet . . . sometimes, the presence of another will allow her to feel safe and she will then rage to the end of the universe. Her personal tempest may take her far from ordinary reality. She will become the storm, become wild and incredibly powerful. Caregivers and partners may be amazed, even intimidated. Mother will find her way however it takes. Read more –>

Naturally, this describes something WAY beyond the comfort zone of doctors in hospitals!! It’s no wonder they flip out and try to keep these women sedated so they won’t go all wild. I felt this experience, of entering an altered state that took me to a place close to life and death, a place that felt like a spiritual universe.

It is real; we know because a laboring mother’s brainwaves change and we enter the subconscious or even unconscious parts of our brain. The natural hormones of childbirth are specially designed to make this all happen. This wonderful article lays it all out in detail.

Ecstatic Birth: Nature’s Hormonal Blueprint for Labor” by Sarah Buckley

Giving birth in ecstasy: this is our birthright and our body’s intent. Mother Nature, in her wisdom, prescribes birthing hormones that take us outside (ec) our usual state (stasis) so that we can be transformed on every level as we enter motherhood. This exquisite hormonal orchestration unfolds optimally when birth is undisturbed, enhancing safety for both mother and baby. Science is also increasingly discovering what we realize as mothers — that our way of birth affects us life-long, mother and child, and that an ecstatic birth, a birth that takes us beyond our Self, is the gift of a lifetime.

Four major hormonal systems are active during labor and birth. These involve oxytocin, the hormone of love; endorphins, hormones of pleasure and transcendence; epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones of excitement; and prolactin, the mothering hormone. These systems are common to all mammals and originate in our mammalian or middle brain, also known as the limbic system. For birth to proceed optimally, this part of the brain must take precedence over the neocortex, or rational brain. This shift can be helped by an atmosphere of quiet and privacy, with, for example, dim lighting and little conversation, and no expectation of rationality from the laboring woman. Under such conditions a woman intuitively will choose the movements, sounds, breathing, and positions that will birth her baby most easily. This is her genetic and hormonal blueprint. Read more –>

I hope all this knowledge and validation of my experiences will set my course this time for a more relaxed and confident postpartum experience. During my daughter’s birth, all of this kicked in and led my path. It was the postpartum that brought up fears and conflict for me.

Wish us a safe and authentic passage for me and baby, as we enter the veil in the coming weeks!

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2 thoughts on “Keeping it Real in Birth

  1. My favorites from this post: “The spiritual task of bringing a new baby home from another realm.” and “I felt this experience, of entering an altered state that took me to a place close to life and death, a place that felt like a spiritual universe. It is real; we know because a laboring mother’s brainwaves change and we enter the subconscious or even unconscious parts of our brain.” Yes and Yes!! Your words validate my experience as well. Best wishes to you during this time, Abby!

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