Birth is a sacred, spiritual journey to welcome a child into the world. It's an intuitive process that requires a woman to access her right-brain resources. This can get challenging when navigating a left-brain medical world, which tends to treat most pregnancy and childbirth as medical emergencies.
Culturally we're wired to accept these fearful misconceptions about labor — TV shows and movies often portray childbirth as a horror show with women screaming in gut-wrenching pain.
But what if all this fear is actually adding to pain in labor? That's the idea put forth by Grantly Dick-Read, author of Childbirth Without Fear. Labor pain is not just physical, he says; it's intensified according to our cultural messages and life experiences.
The key to reclaiming birth as a normal, natural, sacred part of life is to reconnect with your innate wisdom. Even when medical interventions are necessary for the safety of mom or baby, the sacred nature of birth can be preserved.
Here are 10 practices to help you experience birth as a sacred journey:
1. Turn off the TV and take a break from social media.
Eckhart Tolle wrote in A New Earth that the average 60 year-old American has spent 15 years staring at a TV screen. (And that tally doesn't even include hours on Facebook!) What could you do with those 15 years? Besides freeing enormous amount of time, turning off media will allow you to be more selective with the information and energy you bring into your pregnancy. Each time we turn on a device, we are exposed to whatever other people want to throw at us.
2. Embrace pregnancy and birth as a spiritual journey for the mother, father/partner and baby.
Birth is a mystery. It's perfect and larger than us, regardless of the outcome. We birth the way we live. So spend time in meditation, prayer, yoga, dance, nature, laughing, making love — whatever brings you joy and connects you to your Higher Self. Bringing presence into the most mundane activity turns the experience into a spiritual practice.
3. Find your tribe. Motherhood is not a one-woman show.
Mothers need elders, mentors and sisters to navigate motherhood. Finding a tribe even before conception will provide you with support and resources to have an easier transition into motherhood. Sure, social media has a place, but having a local, in-person group to rely on is priceless, and a great way to stave off the blues. (And if that's not enough motivation, know that social isolation can shorten your life.) Find your tribe now!
4. Nurture your connection with your baby.
Spend time nurturing a loving, joy-full relationship with your womb child — talking, singing, reading, listening to music, or massaging your belly. Even in the middle of a crazy day, you can take a moment to breathe and connect with your womb baby. Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your belly. Feel the inhale breath surrounding your baby. Feel the exhale softening your body. Just two breaths is a great place to start.
5. Recognize that your child is an active participant in his or her birth.
Acknowledge his or her participation in the birth process. Sometimes babies are born the way they need to be, not necessarily the way we want them to, regardless of what you do.
6. Create your birth vision and your family vision.
Spend time alone and with your partner to reflect on your new parenting role. Ideally, creating a family is a conscious act. Children grow in the space between the parents. What kind of space are you and your partner creating?
7. Trust that you have the inner resources to face whatever each moment brings your way.
This is more profound than trusting birth or even trusting your body. You are more powerful than you imagine!
8. Clear past trauma.
During childbirth, women are in a powerfully receptive state. Traumas that have not been addressed in a healthy way can surface and interfere with the birth process. Craniosacral therapy and Transformational Mentoring are two tools I share with my clients to clear trauma and remove fear.
9. Prepare as an endurance athlete would.
It's important to get enough rest, nutrition, proper supplementation, exercise, massage, chiropractic adjustments, etc. Childbirth is possibly the most physically demanding experience you will encounter. A depleted woman will be a depleted mother. Take a moment to watch this TED video by mathematician and image-maker Alexander Tsiaras. He shares a powerful medical visualization, showing human development from conception to birth and beyond.
10. Know your body.
Practice self perineal massage to familiarize yourself with new sensations on your perineum. Explore your pelvis in different positions. Try to discover which positions or postures open your pelvic outlet. Feeling comfortable in your body will ease your childbirth experience.
We are all the guardians of this sacred event. Regardless of the location or circumstances, it's imperative to safeguard the sacredness of birth.