I often hear women speak of the pain of childbirth. “Why would I want to feel that?,” they cry. “Why on earth would I want to feel that pain?”
I invite you to consider that the sensations of birthing your baby – those hours, minutes, seconds that may be required to bring child into this world — are irreplaceable. Do you remember when you first felt your baby kick inside you — that sweet little flutter of your own child? All of these memories are part of your life’s journey.
Consider that the birth of your baby will be a unique expression of yourself as a woman, and that in those moments, if you enter into them consciously, you can discover a new layer of the person you are. You can discover the portal in your being which is the doorway to your Mama Spirit. Be this your first child or your fifth, each birthing can uplift you, empower you and add to your ability to be fearless. Each can add to your storehouse of cellular knowledge, and each can give you tools. You will need these tools to meet the needs of the unique child you will bear.
And what if the most efficient way of accessing these gifts is by finding faith in your body? By gathering the support needed to birth your child, unhampered by medications — medications whose purpose is to block the flow of sensations, and to turn down the receptor sites of your central nervous system? What if more than pain is blocked in this process? What if we are trading in the possibility of the sublime – in our desire to feel comfortable?
The sensations experienced in childbirth are purposeful and meaningful, not just aimless suffering. What the laboring woman feels can provide her important information. It can give her caregivers knowledge that can actually allow for accommodations that will facilitate a smoother birth process. For example, feeling painful back labor informs the mama that she might have to assume the positions which will allow her baby to turn in her body, therefore moving into a position more optimal for birth. If such a mom was on an epidural and lying flat on her back, she would have no idea that her assistance was needed. She would also not be able to assume the positions that would turn her baby (she can’t walk or get into a knee/chest position while on an epidural). It’s quite possible that, after hours of her labor not making much progress, she would be encouraged to take pitocin — and if that didn’t bring the desired results, she would deliver via C-section.
Imagine having a solid, loving and knowledgeable support system behind us – like, for example, a homebirth midwife. Or, if this isn’t available, imagine being in a birthing center or hospital setting with a doula, where the caregivers are brave enough themselves not to add their fears to that of their birthing clients and families. Under these circumstances, and in good health, it is possible to merge consciously with the sensations of birth, no matter their intensity.
It is possible for you to surf that ocean and emerge with an infant in your arms, a fullness of heart that you never dreamed possible and a retooled body and brain.
Samsarah Morgan is a mom, grandma, doula, counselor, coach and hypnotherapist. She is also director of Nia Center for Birth and Family Life in Oakland and executive director of the Oakland Better Birth Foundation, 510-496-3491.
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