This week I've been thinking about the beautiful, and surprising birth I had the honor of attending. Being a witness to a woman's most powerful, most challenging, most joyful, most overwhelming life event is an experience like none other. Each time I attend a childbirth, I'm also attending a motherbirth, watching as a woman transforms, crossing over the rite of passage into her new self. With each birth she evolves. Her consciousness expands. Prana -life force energy- bursts through her like a supernova. Everyone who is a witness to it feels the vibrational impact. Birth is a divine force. All you have to do is stand back and watch. Birth will change you.
My friend had been laboring very well at home, and seemed to be close to transition (7-10 centimeters). Her contractions were coming every 2-3 mins and lasted close to 60 seconds. She listened to her body, swaying her hips and moaning through each contraction. We made our way to the hospital, and waited for the midwife in triage. I expected to hear she was at least 7 centimeters dilated. But, when she said “5 centimeters, 0 station, 100% effaced” I was surprised. We walked right into the bathroom where I calmly voiced words of encouragement, “I think as soon as we get into the room things will go very fast. You are 0 station, so the baby’s head is right on the cervix ready to come through.” It took about 5 mins and 2 contractions to walk from the bathroom into the labor and delivery room. As my friend made her way towards the bed, I set up an essential oil diffuser. I had barely plugged it in and was searching for my lavender when my friend yelled out, “Ow! That hurt. Oh, I think I need to push!” I looked at her face and saw a wave of panic. Staring into her eyes I whispered, “Trust your body. It’s ok.” Then, “They will want to check you first.” Then, she turned to get into the position she wanted, facing backward on the bed kneeling upright. One big contraction later, and the baby flopped right on the bed. I helped the nurses get a hold of the slippery baby and handed her to my friend. “Oh! Did that really just happen?” my friend breathed out. Yes! From 5 centimeters to having a baby in 5 minutes!
As a doula, I learn new lessons with each birth. This birth reminded me of the lesson of Trust. Trust your body! A woman’s body and her baby know what to do.
There are many aspects of trust that each woman has to confront at some point in her pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. My sense is there is a direct correlation between how much you trust yourself and how you view the birth experience. It turns out trust is the foundation of an empowered birth. This foundation has a spiraling effect, which can go up or down, depending on your outlook. Positive, empowered births, lead to an empowered, confident mommas.
By trusting your body, you empower yourself with confidence. You look within yourself for answers. You listen to your body and your baby. You investigate your feelings. You let go of judgment and self-criticism. You honor your pregnancy as a gift, and for all the lessons it teaches. You set yourself up for an empowered early motherhood experience.
On the flip side, if you don't trust your body, you abandon your power. You lose a part of yourself. You give up your choices. A chain of negativity follows.
Trust is the foundation for your breastfeeding relationship. Trusting that while breastfeeding is a skill, your body is made to make milk. Your baby has the instincts to nurse.
But what happens when your birth doesn't go as planned? (None of them do) What happens when breastfeeding isn't as easy as you hoped? (It rarely is) What happens if you've experienced miscarriage or "scares”? Trust is a continuum. It might be hard to trust your body after things like this come up. You might even feel like your body failed you. My response to this is to remember our bodies are a part of nature. We are perfectly imperfect. Things come up. We can count on that. Holding on to, or regaining trust after it's been broken is a difficult challenge. It's a part of that spiral. You must round the bend before a big upswing of trust can occur. Or you can spiral further and further down.
It takes trust, and courage, in order to find peace for what comes. Acceptance is a difficult concept. Accepting yourself and your body. Accepting your child. Accepting your birth. Studies show that 1 in 4 women report experiencing some kind of birth trauma. Women can avoid some aspects of birth trauma by preparing themselves with a balance of education and expectations. It takes work to have an empowered birth. Birth education is very important, but equally –if not more so- important is the inner-work. Do the inner-work, and you are well on your way to an empowered birth. Ask yourself the deeper questions that bring you closer to a deep level of trust, and you’ll be more ready when things come up… and they will come up.
Who do you trust? Who should you trust? Like, maybe you don't trust the Wholefood’s seafood woman who decides to tell you all about her terrible birth experience in Thailand. Yeah, that happened to me. But, maybe you do trust your best friend who's on her 3rd baby and is a wealth of knowledge.
Do you trust your care provider? This is hugely important for your birth outcome. If you feel even a hint of uncertainty, then please find a new one.
Do you trust your partner? This might be very hard to come to terms with. Outside help and lots of support may be necessary.
And most importantly, do you trust yourself? Explore all the layers. Do the work, and you’ll find you will evolve into a stronger, more resilient, more confident Yoga-Momma. You have stepped into the Yoga of Motherhood.
I'll be subbing for Yuki this Sunday 11:30-12:30 p.m. I hope you all can make it!
Sign up online for my Couple's Prep workshop! It's never too early to get connected with your partner, and learn tips and tricks for labor! Sat, Nov 19th
You can connect with me on Facebook at my Bliss Birth Yoga page, where I post resources and links to all things Birth. Feel free to email me anytime with any questions you have.
If you are interested in a customized yoga practice, I offer private yoga classes and private workshops. I have very reasonable rates to make your practice sustainable throughout your pregnancy.
Updated website is to be born very soon!
November 1st, 2016
Topic/Question: Do you trust your body?
Poses: Hamstring stretches, balancing poses
Handout: Jessica's Favorite Prenatal Resources