Woman is by nature a shaman. - Chuckee Proverb
Giving conscious birth is woman's vision quest... It is ultimate sadhana (spiritual practice) which requires purity in strength, flexibility, health, concentration, surrender and faith. - Jeannine Parvati Baker, Traditional Midwife and Yogi
A mother on her birthing journey who is treated with integrity, provided evidence based care, and given the space, time, support and opportunity to birth optimally...enters a trance like state. She may engage in primal movement, vocal toning (deep, loud "OM's" typically). She finds her rhythm and creates rituals. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing switches on her parasympathetic nervous system- slowing down her brain waves and relaxing mind and body so that she can enter The Birth Zone. Oxytocin and endorphins, the hormones of labor, flow freely. Her innate intelligence/ancestral wisdom kicks in and this will light her way. She midwifes herself and brings her baby earthside.
As a birth doula, this is the kind of birth I expect to bear witness to, the kind I facilitate... and therefore the kind that almost always takes place. As a childbirth educator, I hold space for families during pregnancy and together we REMEMBER ancient birth wisdom. I ain't teaching them anything they don't already know, that's for sure. All I do is let them know what potentialities births holds, and what might stand in the way of it.
Shamanic birth is the template. It is simple, straightforward and soulful.
The scene I described above should be the template for normal birth, but these days it seems to be the exception. Why is that? I think it's because many (if not most) women and medical care providers have never considered the idea that birth can be ecstatic, joyous, MOTHER DIRECTED, spontaneous, physiological, orgasmic, holy, sacred, magical. It's crucial that you know the potentialities that birth holds. As Barbara Katz Rothman said: "If you don't know your options, you don't have any." One of those options is a birth that is completely free of trauma and drama. Now, what could stand in the way of that?
If you are a labor and delivery nurse, OB/GYN, Midwife, doula, etc. and do not regularly bear witness to normal, physiological, spontaneous births or optimal outcomes, you may want to ask yourself: How am I unintentionally interfering with birth? Why do so many of my clients need to be rescued with medical interventions? Am I offering the birthing mother everything she needs to give birth optimally (food, water, support, optimal environment, privacy)? Could I be unwittingly creating pathology? Are women's bodies just prone to spontaneous, unexplainable malfunctioning, or are these complications iatrogenic in nature? Am I practicing the latest and best evidence based medicine?
If you are a pregnant woman, I have questions for you, too:
Do you see yourself:
Do you believe:
A conscious birth DOES NOT hinge on choice of care provider, birthing location, or method of delivery. It doesn’t “look” any particular way. There’s no blueprint. There’s no exact formula, or list of criteria to meet. But it is good to meditate on the questions above, because what you believe to be true about birth will profoundly influence how your birth proceeds; perhaps it is even the determining factor. The story you tell yourself about how women are “supposed” to give birth will impact every facet of your own birthing... (or, if you are a medical provider, this will profoundly affect how you view / treat women in labor). Your thought and beliefs create every moment of your reality, and exploring your Birth Beliefs is essential inner work. Take the time to shine a light on your fears, worries, concerns, hopes, dreams and desires so you can give with in awareness and with loving intention.
Gentle Sister: Please know that conscious, self directed birthing provides the opportunity for you to:
“Preparing yourself for a conscious birth is an invaluable gift to your child. You are offering your child a loving entrance into this world through your own body. Your effort to be awake and aware during birthing sets the stage for your child to be awake and aware… Set your intention for a sensitive, conscious birth; prepare yourself and your environments, give your very best…” - Yogi Bhajan
Baby's Name: Bodhi Allen Minchew / Date of Birth: 01-17-17 / Sign: Capricorn / Birth place: Home
Presentation: Stargazer (OP) / Labor Time: 3.5 hours / Midwife: Hope Terrell, CPM / Photographer: Jennifer Bettis
My waters released around 4:45pm while I was...
... in the middle of my maternity photo shoot. We were in the back yard and I lumbered up from the cross legged position I had been in when I felt a warm trickle of fluid escape from between my legs. I reached down to investigate. “I think my waters just released!” I said, smiling. Jenn clicked away, capturing the moment.
Jenn is my photographer and also my friend. We get shots of the little river running down my leg. “Do you want to go tell Art?” she asks. I said: “Nah, let’s get some more pics first.” We’d been postponing this photo shoot forever and I tend to labor pretty quickly. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get pictures of me pregnant with this baby. I felt soft, big, juicy, curvy.
I’m giddy, knowing I’ll be going on another birthing journey sometime soon. I can’t believe I’m finally going to meet this baby. We didn’t know the sex and hadn’t even settled on a name yet. I wanted to sit with my sweet secret and tell Art a bit later. Whenever I have Big News it’s like my psyche has to process the Bigness of it first.
After our photo shoot we go inside and I tell Art the good news. He looks so happy, but also stunned. Deer in the headlights. His face is a mixture of fear and pure joy that is amusing and endearing. I ask Jenn if she can get some pics of Me, Art and Austin. I figured it’d be cool to document our little fam before it expands into a party of four!
OK, so, now it’s 9:00pm and it’s been 4 hours since my waters released and still no surges, AKA contractions. The question enters my mind: What if labor doesn’t start and I have to be transferred to the hospital? My dream birth was to have this baby at home, in the water. But i know i need to be in active labor (5cm-ish) within 24 hours of my waters releasing. so i’m walking up and down the stairs, walking into every bedroom and doing lunges on every bed, squatting, etc. I’ve got one foot up on the bed and Art asks me why I’m doing Capt. Morgans pose. “No way am I going to the fucking hospital”, I tell him. I need contractions to start. Austin, my first son, was born in the water at a free standing birth center. It was a sweet, quick, unmedicated water birth. I really wanted to do it like that again.
Epic masterbation sesh, because Art is asleep upstairs. I get myself off as many times as i can. My belly gets hard as a rock when I come. Orgasms release oxytocin that help get labor started and I need to relax, any way. I'm downstairs where the birth pool is. Light my candles. Make my alter. Time to get my head right. I rub my belly with sweet almond oil mixed with a few drops of frankincense and tell baby: you are welcome, you are wanted, you are deeply loved. It’s safe out here. You can come join us anytime. We can't wait to meet you. Come on out, now. I’d really like you to be born at home, my love. Thank you.
I then make a conscious decision to release any expectation of how I want this birth proceed and just surrender to however my baby wants to come. Just let it all go. I’m at peace and trust that the divine plan will unfold as it should. My body and mind relax. "Ah, fuck it", I whisper to myself. I put on my headphones and fall asleep listening to the HypnoBirthing Rainbow Relaxation and Birthing Affirmations meditations.
I wake up to pee, hydrate. Baby is moving, all is well. Constant low back ache. Which is a good sign and means progress but might also mean baby is OP. Oh well. I go back to sleep.
Art comes downstairs. Crawls in bed beside me. Spoons me. Puts his arms around me. I love his big, warm body close to mine. I love this man and our baby. Surges start immediately. YESSS!! Oxytocin is a helluva drug. The journey begins so I call to ask Jenn and my Midwife, Hope to come over. Labor starts like a hurricane. I love storms though, so it's all good. Jenn arrives first and then Hope gets there around 8:30am.
Art is filling up the birth pool. I’m naked on hands and knees beside the pool and Jenn rubs my back. “Harder’, I say. She gets some massage oil, digs into my sacrum and lower back with her thumbs. “Ahhh yessss, thank you” I moan. Eyes closed, I do the birth groan, deep and low.
I’m in the birthing pool. Submerged in hot water, I release, sink down, melt. The warmth of the water, it turns the volume down on the sensations real nice. So, so good. Art is bringing hot water off the stove and pouring it in. Lawd, yessss.
Eyes closed, a huge wave of energy rolls forth coming from some other place. It consumes me totally. Nothing exists except this wave and I’m just along for the ride. It wasn’t a sensation that hurt, just a BIG feeling, a powerful thing in my center, pulling me down like gravity... truly, labor surges can’t be compared to anything else, because they don’t feel similar to anything else. They only feel like labor surges. The powerful energy comes again, this time with a roar that shatters all the masks I’ve worn, until I remember who I am. I am back to myself. What a gift to be truly present in a moment. I can't think of anything else, just the birth sensations. I am at the center of the center of myself. Perfect focus. Fully present in my own body, filling space. Only breath, only me, experiencing this sensation. Birth brain is primal animal brain. Lizard brain. We so rarely get to be this Free and Wild.
I put my middle finger inside me to feel where baby is. I feel a head with the very tip of my finger. “Down and out” I tell baby. “ I tell my pussy “open” and command uterus: “soft”. I have the sensation of my uterus being hard as steel during the surges, I don't dig it so much, so I visualize all my uterus being composed of these soft, blue, stretchy satin ribbons. I see in my mind's eye the ribbons opening, unraveling, releasing my baby. It helps so much. I found my magic. I feel softer and more comfortable. I choose and create every moment of my reality. I choose to have a body that does whatever I tell it to. Every cell, muscle, hormone responds to my direction.
I try to fully, deeply rest and melt into the space between each surge and take a little nap. And that’s what I do: roar, rest. Roar, rest. Art is there, squatting with me, but outside the tub. We’re face to face but i still can’t open my eyes. Birth is big, heavy magic.
I’ve gone into the void. I am suddenly just so grateful for everything and tell Art “I love you”. I tell my midwife and doula: thank you for being here. They are the perfect birth team; quiet and lovingly present, unobtrusive, holding space. Letting me navigate. Trusting me. The perfect birthing companions.
I’m squatting in my big tub of warm water. Frog pose. Eyes closed. The buoyancy and warmth of the water are so comforting. My hips, knees, pelvis and yoni are so wide open. I feel the moment of completion; as cervix and lower uterine segment totally disappear, I suddenly experience the sensation of being completely and totally open; my pussy is HUGE. Everything about birth is just so interesting. It’s a series of singular, profoundly interesting sensations. My cunt is cosmic, a super nova. My asshole is turning inside out. The vortex is open. I can feel him moving down. Powerful surges.
My yoni blooms wider open still and now his head is crowning. The pressure and the tightness; I relax into it, accept it. Surrender = best course of action. I stroke his head. My sweet baby. The powers are what’s bringing him down, not me. The pushing is involuntary, spontaneous. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. I’ve been looking forward to this since I gave birth to Austin. I’ve been looking forward to this since before I was born. The powers come again and now the head is fully out and there’s a sensation of relief. Our baby is in between two worlds.
Shoulders emerge. I am so wide open. The body of my baby just slides out into the world, into Papa’s big, gentle hands.
“It’s a boy!” Art says. I look over my shoulder to see because I’m still on hands and knees. I see Art holding our baby. Baby cries out, reaches out.
One of the most beautiful things in the world is the face of your lover when he sees his first born.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could put the following things on your Baby Registry:
Well, you can, and I'll show you how!
It’s super easy, and you can do it with BABYLIST.
Currently 31 weeks preggo with Baby #2, “BABYLIST” is the registry I’m using and raving about; it rocks because you can:
Already have a baby registry? NO WORRIES! You can transfer those items to Babylist in snap; JUST GO HERE to find out how.
As a Birth Doula, Placenta Specialist and Hypnobirthing Instructor, I can’t tell you how many of my clients have had these services paid for in full just by adding them to their BABYLIST registry.
So, let’s get straight to it so you can start getting the things you and baby REALLY WANT AND NEED.
Create a Babylist account at: https://www.babylist.com/
Download the BABYLIST APP to your laptop or favorite device. HERE’S HOW.
Now that you’ve gotten the BABYLIST BUTTON installed, visit the web page of the service/item you’d like to add to the registry. You can add anything from ANY website! Then, click the BABYLIST BUTTON which should now be located on your tool bar. Here's how it looks on my laptop screen:
Share the link to your registry with friends and family!
Use the drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of the moon calendar to select the month and year. You can use this app to find out what phase the moon is in today, the day you were born, or on any other important past or future date. DID YOU KNOW? The relationship between the moon's cycles and menstruation is so basic that our words, ‘menstruation,’ ‘moon,’ and ‘month,’ all come from the Greek word for ‘measure of time.’
My Moon Time App: Download Now!
Wisdom of the Menstrual Cycle by Dr. Christian Northrup, MD
How to Sync Your Menstrual Cycle With the Moon
Sacred Menstruation 101: How to Reclaim Your Period
Astro Birth Control: The Lunar Phase Method
BioRhythmic Lunar Fertility Charting
"Sound is power and the first sound we hear is the pulse of our mother's blood. No sound has a more powerful effect on our consciousness. We vibrate to this primordial pulse even before we have ears to hear. Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother's ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever have form in her ovaries when she is a four-month-old foetus. This means that the sacred egg that developed into the person you are now, formed in your mother's ovary when she was growing in the womb of her mother. Each of us spent five months in the womb of our grandmother, rocking to the pulse of our grandmother's blood. And our mother spent five months rocking to the pulse of her grandmother's blood, and her mother pulsed to the beat of her grandmother's blood. Back through the pulse of all the mothers and all the grandmothers, through the beat of the blood that we all share, this sound can return us to the preconscious state, to the inner structure of the mind, to the power and the source of who and what we actually are: the pulsing field of all consciousness existing everywhere, within everything, beyond past, present or future." - Layne Redmond, "Voices of the Sacred Feminine"
Sweet Soul Flower,
Let's do a "Maternal Lineage" exercise. All you'll need is pen, paper and Sacred Space; a cozy, quiet spot where you can relax and feel at ease. Take a few deep, belly breaths and begin to grow soft in your mind and body. Feel your shoulders melt into the frame of your body. Take all the time you need. Begin to feel at home within yourself.
Go back as far as you can, listing your maternal lineage.
I am _______________ (your first name),
Daughter of _____________________________________
Grand-daughter of ______________________________________
Great-Grand-daughter of ________________________________
Great-Great-Grand-daughter of __________________________________
Ask your mother and grandmother to help you complete this exercise, and your great grandmother, if she’s still with us! If you are carrying a Queen in your womb right now, this is also a great exercise for your girl-child to do when she comes of age.
Grow toward the light,
Leave a comment with your maternal lineage. Let's see who can go back... WAY back! :)
All you'll need for this exercise is pen and paper. After you've acquired these materials, please take a moment to find or create Sacred Space; a cozy, quiet spot where you can relax and enter into a place of non judgement and self acceptance. Take a few deep, belly breaths and begin to grow soft in your mind and body. Feel your shoulders melt into the frame of your body. Take all the time you need. Begin to feel at home within yourself.
What is the number one fear, worry, concern or heart wound you are currently dealing with that you would like to finally resolve, release and heal? Write it down. Take all the time you need.
Now, I’d like you to imagine yourself as a much older woman; your Crone self. You are infinitely kind and compassionate (although wise as a serpent) with the ears and eyes of a hawk and the heart of a dove. You fully trust your instincts and intuition because you’ve seen, felt and been through so much. Empathy is your strong point and listening with the ears of the heart, your greatest skill and gift. People regularly seek your counsel because they know they will be well advised…. And after receiving your guidance, they walk away feeling light hearted, spiritually renewed and refreshed.
Again, meditate on the main issue you listed above…the one you'd like to resolve, release and heal. I’d like you to now listen to the counseling that your older, wiser self, (your "Inner Crone"), would provide. Would advice, kind words or pearls of wisdom would she let pour forth with the greatest of ease? What EXACTLY would she say to you and how would it make you feel? Write down your “Inner Crone’s” response immediately, without analyzing or critiquing.
Now that you’ve completed this exercise, what actionable steps do you feel inspired to take?
How do you feel?
Grow toward the light,
"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want."
If you had any insights that you'd like to share from doing this exercise, please feel free to leave a comment below.