“Birth takes a woman’s deepest fears about herself & shows her that she’s stronger than them” – author unknown
Childbirth. The ultimate act of creation. The culmination of nine months of detailed precision engineering, perfectly timed chemistry…and just a touch a magic.
The time has finally arrived to meet your baby.
And are you excited? Of course you are, but clouding the anticipation of holding your precious bundle of joy, is the small matter of getting the (not so small) bundle out.
And it terrifies us. More than anything else in the world. The idea of giving birth is so confronting for many of us that can’t we even think about it. We just crack on with decorating the nursery and hope that things will just work out. Now, if we were living in a remote African tribe, this would be the perfect strategy and when the time came, we’d simply wander down to the river bank, squat in the bushes, birth our baby and return to the tribe. Easy peasy.
Unfortunately, being raised in the western world, we’ve been bombarded (almost since birth) with movies of red-faced women screaming in pain and swearing at their husbands. These scenes have programmed our brains to associate the act of creation with scenes of carnage and terror. And it’s tragic, because we’ve essentially been robbed of the chance to marvel at what is actually the most profound thing we will ever have the privilege of participating in.
It’s not to say that the ‘One Born Every Minute’ births aren’t ‘real births’. I have no doubt that countless women have had genuinely terrifying births. And sadly, our labour wards are still filled with helpless women lying flat on their backs, having left their dignity and power at the door.
But equally, from the work that I do, I know that just as many women say that giving birth to their babies was the most empowering, uplifting and moving experience of their entire life. Because in many ways, birth can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we go in expecting to lose control and feel crippling pain, that’s exactly what we will experience. If we’ve taken time to consciously prepare, then it’s likely we’ll have a beautiful birth.
So, if the mere thought of giving birth is making you wince, now is the time to reclaim your birthing power!
Let’s start by looking at why childbirth is so frightening for so many women:
1. We’re focusing on the wrong things
Ask a room full of people what word they associate with childbirth and 9 out of 10 will say ‘pain’. And there lies our problem. We treat having a baby like having major surgery (which disturbingly an increasing number of women are choosing to do), we either brace ourselves for the pain or numb ourselves completely and forget just what it is we are actually doing. Giving birth to new life.
The truth is, childbirth is intense and at times, it can be painful. But not in the same way that banging your head or cutting yourself is. The sensation of labour is incredible. And if we can get past the movie programming and experience these surges of power for what they really are, birth will take us on an amazing, transformational journey, where we witness our body in true perfection as it opens and releases a new life into the world.
Who wouldn’t want to feel that?
Last week I received this email from a lady who’d attended my classes and had been (like most women) nervous about her ability to cope with the pain.
“You taught us that labour is not about pain, but is about power, love, strength and life. It’s an experience of love, and this is absolutely true. My delivery has been very fast and natural and all went well as I was hoping.”
This is something I hear time and time again from the women I work with. When we can re-frame our perceptions of birth, we discover that as labour starts, instead of being scared, we become awestruck by the magnificence of what we’re doing.