“Many of our problems in US maternity care stem from the fact that we leave no room for recognizing when nature is smarter than we are.” ~ Ina May Gaskin, Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta
Transforming this surge of energy and sometimes violent act of creation can become a rebellious spiritual act that can result in anything from utter chaos, to an expression of the divine. Many women even experience an ongoing orgasm and the ability to transmute the pain of birth into something resembling heaven.
With all the fear that surrounds the birth process however, the experience is often anything but. Modern medicine’s distrust of the unknown combined with interfering patriarchy of the self-assured doctor has brought women further and further away from connecting with their bodies at the crucial moment. Birth is a tribal ritual; an act of such commonplace wonder that often it passes us by. This fear of the unknown extends so far, and cowers so deeply, that birth becomes much less of an art and more of a robotic reflex; women discouraged from making sounds, moving from one position or expressing anything but compliance to the doctor’s wishes. The sacred feminine becomes buried, and is eventually drowned out altogether.
The well of information can run incredibly deep when it comes to birth and is often overwhelming, especially when we are new to it. But when all’s been learnt off by heart and the house has been prepared and scrubbed to perfection, the gift of birth calls on us to be like the river and go with the flow. Witnessing each moment as it passes as we would in meditation actually becomes easier within the process of birth, and it is for this reason, (as well as the obvious fact that you are giving birth to life) that giving birth is a spiritual gift.
It may pass us through a point of no return if we only let it and is the most creative act the human body, mind and spirit is capable of expressing, marred only by the ego’s fear of pain and its associations to suffering. The outward appearance of suffering is perhaps the reason that birth has been so plagued with negativity throughout the ages. The curse of childbearing is what religion would have us believe is the metaphorical purpose of birth.
A moral punishment that reflects on the feminine inferiority and her historically limited reason for being. The fear of birth perfectly mirrors the fear of woman; that which the civilizations of the last two thousand years have been unable to fully comprehend, let alone nurture, and is still trying to dominate.
In giving away our power during birth we give away our ability to trust the universe, and so disconnect with our own divinity. Just as nature becomes sealed behind a wall of glass, so does the power of our bodies, and a whole different spectrum of our beings. We become cut off from the whole.
So how do we combat this and reclaim some empowerment when faced with such a testing and life changing time? Just like any fear, the answer surmounts to the same. Not listening to anything but our inner voices – that goes for women as well as anyone involved in the birth process – and coming to terms with our fears of what lies beyond.
As Pam England suggests, birth art and locating our fears about birth well before the actual due date can liberate even the grittiest birth traumas from their nesting places and let them fly. The breath is another way to release trauma; as we might with yoga, holding asanas for longer periods of time can be greatly helped by life-giving pranayama, directed at the knottiest of muscles; any tensions that aid pain can be slowly teased out by the miracle of focused breathing.
Affirmations also aid the birth process, and like any manifestation can turn a threatening or alarming situation on its head and bring us back home. The recesses of our minds also need assurance on the safety of our surroundings, and women have been known to give birth in the most frightening of circumstances. As if surrounded by a bubble of light, the rebellious act of birth in all its animalistic appearances is ultimately a protected act. It is a place of no-mind; it just happens and there is no rationalization or judgment of the mind that can stand in its way. It is purity in its highest form; the opposite of ego.
The rebellious act of birth is finally, above all, a commonplace one. Humans give birth alongside animals, insects and marine life everyday, as well as the thousands of other women around the world; quietly, modestly, violently or with relish. And so in joining in with the multitudinous and ongoing expressions of life we become closer to our purpose; to create.
The rebellious act becomes a humble one; an everyday occurrence that also happens to be the highest miracle in existence.