Birth is fundamentally about letting go.
- letting go on every
possible level, and that can be pretty scary and very intense.
I have helped lots of mothers in labour both at home and in hospital,
and have seen time and again that if they prepare during pregnancy, if
they really PRACTISE letting go, with their breath, with their whole
being, then when it comes to labour they are much more able to surrender
to the intensity of it all and to go with it rather than fight
For a mother to be able to labour instinctively, she needs to feel
completely safe, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. The
people with her in labour are really important. She needs love from all
her caregivers, and patience and the knowledge that they have faith in her
body's capacity to birth her baby. If she is going to hospital I highly
recommend she take her own midwife/ birth attendant/doula as
Alternative approaches to pain relief need to be available too. I swear
by the use of hot nappies, and also the use of shower and bath, massage,
homeopathy, rescue remedy etc. All of these help.
A woman in labour needs to be free to move in any way that her
body chooses instinctively. There need to be padded areas on the floor for
her to crouch and kneel on. There needs to be low light and privacy. She
needs to have freedom to moan and yell and express herself in any way. No
one I work with is restricted to lying on their back but I am aware that
there are still archaic practices in hospitals around the world and my
work as a childbirth educator is to empower the mother and her partner to
stand up for themselves and continue to listen to her body (and not
hospital policy) and do what feels right for her and her baby. Most of the
time when a woman is following her body she ends up giving birth on all
fours or squatting.
Women know how to give birth already. They need to step out of the way
(with their heads) and let their bodies get on with it. Their bodies are
designed to give birth, and giving birth is the most natural thing in the
world - it has been going on for thousands of years. Each of us has
an inheritance, and a cellular memory, of generations of mothers who
have given birth so that we may be alive now at this time in
Mammals give birth without attending childbirth classes and they do not
book into a hospital to give birth. We forget that humans are mammals too!
Can you imagine making a horse or a deer lie on her back, attached to
tubes and machines, in order to give birth in a brightly lit, crowded
room? Her labour would stop instantly and she would have to get synthetic
labour hormones to make the labour start again. (Does this sound a bit
like what goes on in our human 'delivery' wards nowadays?!)
In this modern day and age, the normality of birth is being forgotten.
High Tech is creeping in. (Even women themselves are choosing this.)
Cesarian rates are 30% or more in many hospitals. Mothers and babies are
being separated at birth. Breast feeding rates are lower than in the
entire history of the human race. What is going on?! Technology has been
designed in order to save lives and when it is needed it is absolutely
amazing. My concern is that it is over-used and thus what was once a
normal event in human life has become a medical procedure. A rite of
passage which grows women into mothers has been replaced by drugs so that
we feel nothing at all, our hormones no longer do the amazing work
required in the process of giving birth and being born, and we miss out on
the challenge and chance to really experience one of the most potentially
empowering experiences in our life.
In my work I aim to help women reclaim birth. When a woman is informed,
and involved in choice, and feels fully supported, she feels safe and can
labour instinctively. With a positive mental / emotional attitude she can
embrace the intensity of labour. If she practices letting go deeply during
pregnancy, she can simply allow and deeply let go with her breath during
labour. Each woman finds her own way but letting go is the key.
It is the greatest privilege to witness the beauty, mystery and total
surrender of women given over to the wild process of labour and birth.
Lina Clerke has produced a wonderful and effective
pre/postnatal relaxation CD. Visit www.wonderfulbirth.com
* * *