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Holistic Stages of Birth (Whapio Bartlett)- https://thematrona.com/the-holistic-stages-of-birth/
Maternal Mortality Rate in America: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/maternal-mortality/index.htm#:~:text=For%202018%2C%20the%20maternal%20mortality,births%20in%20the%20United%20States.
We are filled with an overload of information on a daily basis. When a woman is preparing for birth especially what types of information is she getting and where?
Social Media (Facebook Groups)
Information isn’t bad! We have two sides of our brain that were created to see and experience the world in different ways making a full picture. Our Analytical brain on the left side wants to dissect the world as it is. We want to see all of the information and it makes sense to read and accept what we see in a book or hear on a show or through stories.
It a whole other layer to bring in the intuitive, creative and imaginative side of the brain.
I definitely fall into the more analytical type of experiencing life. My pregnancy with my second, Aiyla, was a time for me to truly develop that side. I had to imagine where she was at inside of me. Imagine what she was thinking and trying to communicate. We would dream about how we wanted our birth to be. I had to get comfortable not knowing all of the facts and tap into my intuition. Knowing that my body was designed to birth was enough for me.
During my birth I had to forget everything I knew and take the chance at total surrender and vulnerability. I had to let go of any preconceived notions and trust the the environment I chose to birth in would support me as a transcended into an unknown place to bring my baby to me. There is so much I learned and grew from that experience but with this pregnancy I am being stretched even more. I’ll talk about that in a minute.
Women throughout history were supported mostly by midwives who were lay women who had been around birth and would go help a woman during her birthing time. Women were in their homes, being supported by their mothers, sisters, friends. In our current culture we no longer see that. Birth has been systematized, medicalized and overseen by people we see in authority.
Now there is no denying the fact that many many women died of childbirth complications back before we had medical insight. Most women died of what was called puerperal fever. This was caused by a Streptococcus bacteria that would infect women and they would die days after giving birth. In the 1800’s Puerperal fever was at epidemic proportions. It was also during this time that doctors started to be trained and instead of observing women during childbirth they started to be hands on and examine them. It wasn’t until 1880 that Louis Pasteur figured out what was causing this infection. Slowly but surely doctors and midwives started washing their hands and using antiseptic and sterile procedures, water improved, milk regulation started and typhoid reduced.
In the 1900’s only 5% of women delivered in the hospital. Most of these women who had doctors attending were upper class. Midwives attended the poor. Obstetricians had started to be a specialized program in medical school and a whole world of possibility opened up. Twilight sleep began and this is when Dr. Joseph DeLee came along with the belief that birth was indeed a pathological process that was not normal and needed to be overseen by a trained physician. Midwives started to be pushed out of birth. He went on to write a text book based on his philosophy and pushed the ideas when training new doctors that every birth needed management to avoid the “evils” of “natural birth” These interventions suggested in his book quickly became routine. In the 1920’s the maternal mortality rate was 600-700/100,000 and 30-50% of women were delivering in hospitals. In the 1970’s a movement started of women arguing that birth did not require hospitals or oversight by a physician. It was a normal process that women were able to do.
Now what does the history of birth in America have to do with intuitive birthing? I wanted to give you a little bit of context to help you see that we have come a long ways in our birthing. The current maternal mortality rate is at 17.4 births/100,000 but these aren’t coming from puerperal fever. We know how germs are spread, we have tools if needed to assist, we have hospitals if needed for surgeries. I would wager that this is the safest time in our history to birth our babies at home if desired.
Now you analytical brains out there have something to consider. As we moved through history there was more and more information at our fingertips. Women before tv, and text books didn’t put much importance on knowing much of anything during birth. They just did it. What they did know and learn came from conversations and observing birth. We have lost that.
Again, the intuitive, imaginative side is an extra layer. Information is great but if we don’t work on accessing the other side of our brain and really learning to trust and surrender when the time comes we may miss out on the wonderful experience of transcending and transforming that can happen in an undisturbed birth. We can trust our bodies because most of the time when left alone birth works. The times when birth needs some assistance it is there! We are living in great times! When collaborative care is in place women and babies are safer than ever.
There was an international study published in 2019 that there is “no clinically important or statistically different risk between home and hospital.” This is to say you do have options. If experiencing an intuitive birth where you are able to be, do and express who you are at the time of birth the most free place to do that would be at home.
So how do we access that part of our brain and grow our imagination and intuition?
Communicate with baby. I did this while preparing for birth. I saw the pool, I imagined leaning into the sensations with ease, I pictured her helping me as we labored together. We talked about it, I dreamed about it and it was such a special bonding time. I love the story in the book Birthing From Within. Daphne would sit in her bed, rub her belly and talk to her baby, “Please don’t hurt mommy too much, please come out quickly because mommy is afraid of the pain…: Later she attributed her baby’s cooperation; it helped them bond right from the start.” I too have had clients who towards the end would talk to their baby and explain
Guided Visualizations- This can happen during pregnancy and your birth. Visualizing what a contraction will feel like and then your response can be helpful. Picturing yourself in a safe place, your secret safe place where you will go and receive your baby. As Whapio Diane Bartlett, an independent midwife describes… you are walking through a vail. You’ll have to read her whole description of the holistic stages of birth. It’s truly beautiful! Here is a little visual description of the first stage she calls entering the vail: “The Veil is that stage of labor that heralds the change to this new place. This doesn’t mean that a mother wishes to be alone and that others are not relevant. Rather, it signals the shift into a more self-directed realm. Mothers may approach the Veil several times before deciding to move through. Circumstances may also prevent the mother from moving through. Constant questioning, especially about mundane affairs, and interruptions in mother’s rhythm serve to bring mother back to ordinary reality. At the Veil, Mom no longer feels chatty and often the experience of something more serious and profound presents itself. She begins the process of separation and while the mom is aware of details and specifics occurring in the room, she becomes less interested in them.”
There are many visualization practices that can be done during pregnancy to prepare and grow your imagination and intuition! It can be a fun and challenging experience.
Another thing some women enjoy doing is painting a picture of what they think of dream about birth. This can be a healing process as well as growing your imagination to plan for the birth you are wanting. It can help draw out the beliefs that we have developed about birth and use the right side of our brain to communicate what is sometimes hard to put into words.
This pregnancy is teaching me more than ever the importance of feeling. Of not always having to understand the emotions or even gain all the information about pregnancy and birth. Through the low technology experience this pregnancy is stretching me and forcing me to use the side of my brain that can imagine where my baby is and how my baby is doing. It’s harder than I was expecting for sure. There are parts of my body and the process I didn’t know I was having difficulty trusting until I took away my normative route of knowing, through technology. If I’m able to slow down long enough between the work and keeping house to potty training my 2 year old and keeping up with my 4 year old I try to tune in and connect. I’m definitely not an expert in this and maybe this episode is more for me then it is you! Some things I’ve given myself permission to do during this pregnancy just recently are:
Experience feelings as they come. Some women have this false thought that feelings make us weak. Showing vulnerability can be difficult. When in labor you don’t have to be strong and quiet. You can express and do whatever you need to do to birth your baby. I’ve seen women be quiet, calm and serene. Almost to the point I had no idea she was having a contraction. I’ve also seen women roar out their babies. Fiercely, letting every concept they learned about birth and “keeping it together and calm” go. Feelings come during pregnancy and that is not a sign of weakness, it’s an opportunity to listen and learn what is going on and releasing anything that isn’t beneficial to hold onto and enjoy the emotions that bring us life.
Nap. I rarely slow down but napping is a time for me to not only rest and relax but allow myself time to dream. Sometimes slowing down and allowing our bodies to relax is the best thing we can do.
Go deep, let go and release- during my last birth I brought in a lot of fear I didn’t know was still there. It was hard to cross that vail into active labor and even harder to release my baby during pushing. This time I’m giving myself permission to go deep, let go and release my baby quickly and easily. I will move and do what I need to as my body and baby tells me. I will let go of preconceived notions on how birth should go and just let it be.
I asked some of you on my IG and private facebook group to tell me about what intuitive pregnancy and birthing was like for you. Here are some of the responses I got:
Annika intuitively knew during both of her pregnancies what the sex of her babies were!
Emily trusted her body and went with the flow of labor. Most of the time she knew exactly where he was in her body. I love how she mentioned also that fear can be a huge killer of intuition and how she worked hard to release that spiritually and emotionally.
Hannah at one point felt the instinct to get into a position leaning up against a wall while tilting her pelvis and she quickly felt her body progress smoothly. She says it was a lot more comfortable going with her body rather than fighting it or being afraid of each contraction.
Christyna free birthed her second baby and it didn't have a clear cry and she instinctively sucked the gunk out of her mouth and nose. She instantly had a clean cry. Amazing!
You don’t have to have all the information to birth well. As much as I think childbirth education and birth prep sessions are helpful when it comes to the experience it’s about surrender. It’s about transformation and traveling to a different place. It’s amazing, ecstasy, empowering to let go and let your body do what it was designed to do. As scary as it can feel to let go of everything you know and just birth it is something you will never forget. These birth planning sessions I do with women have less to do with planning your ideal birth in the typical sense of birth planning but it is a time to define expectations, making sure your decisions match with that (because that’s where birth trauma happens) and helping you tap into your intuitive/imaginative brain so you can have the confidence and tools you need to surrender to the process when the time comes and experience a truly empowering birth! To schedule today click the link in the description or go to empoweredbirthpodcast.com/birthplanning
You can do this! Enjoy the brain God gave you, add the extra layer of preparing for birth. Don’t miss out on the amazing transformation that comes by surrendering to the process whatever that may bring. I’ll put all the link in the show notes so make sure you go check them out for more information and resources.
Make sure to join us over at The Empowered Mama’s Birth Tribe on Facebook. Link is in the description. If this episode has been helpful for you make sure you take a screen shot and share on your IG stories. Don’t forget to tag me @empoweredbirthpodcast.
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FREEBIE: Top 5 Things Every Pregnant Mom Needs To Know: https://blissful-birth.teachable.com/p/5things
60-Minute Birth Planning Session: Are you feeling overwhelmed with all of your options? Maybe you don't even know where to start with a birth plan. Let me help you dream about your birth and guide you to the options that match the expectations you have for your big day! Schedule your 60-minute session now! www.empoweredbirthpodcast.com/birthplanning
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