Reflections on the birthing process
In my experience birth is a natural process that ‘just happens’ if you let it. When I say ‘just happens’ the inbuilt intelligence (instinct) in my body took over during the birthing process and did what it was designed to do, have a baby. This was the same with pregnancy, I had sex and then a whole lot of amazing processes happened that allowed a baby human’s physical body to grow and develop inside my body for 9 months.
God did the designing and creating and I experienced His incredible handiwork and still do not understand exactly how everything was created, developed and happened.
I observed and felt the sensations of my body with a lot of curiosity when it birthed a baby, there were new sensations and things happened I didn’t know could happen, for example: I remember at one point observing how my body was having a baby and marveling that it knew what to do even though I was intellectually clueless and didn’t know what was going to happen next. I remember feeling my body during a contraction thinking I am not ‘doing anything’, I am not straining or having to put effort in here and my body is organising itself to expel (give birth to) a small human. My body and the baby knew what to do without ‘thinking’ and all I needed to do was trust and let it do it.
God made the body with an incredible ability to give birth ‘automatically’. Having a whole child (or multiple children in some cases) come out your vagina is a fascinating experience.
I have always had a respect for the human body and trusted that it can do many things if we allow it to (the body can do amazing things and I trust the inbuilt intelligence of bodily processes) e.g breathing happens without effort, birthing happened even when I had no idea about it, my body did what it needed to do and I still don’t understand how it did it.
I didn’t believe that giving birth was meant to be traumatic and it didn’t make sense to me that giving birth to a baby was meant to be hard. I reasoned if my body was designed to give birth it would know what to do and all I needed to do was find out the facts and particulars and trust the process. I researched for myself and asked other women lots of questions about their personal experiences. Many women I spoke to couldn’t remember all the details of birthing, or glorified or hated the experience so deciphering information was at times tricky. Twelve years on I also do not remember every detail, I wish I had recorded the entire experience in more detail.
During pregnancy I educated myself on the process of childbirth. I focused on information about woman who trusted their bodies and looked to home birth books for knowledge and inspiration; I studied how to deliver a child on my own, just in case. I didn’t have a relationship with God or know about Divine Truth when I first gave birth and in hindsight I would do some things differently, such as allow my emotional experience throughout the pregnancy and birth more than I did in 2007.
When I was four months pregnant I moved to Pete’s (my partner and soon to be husband’s) farm (I had been living in NZ and moved to Australia). At the time the sheep were also pregnant and it was lambing time. Pete would bring mobs of sheep to graze in the house paddock and I would watch the ewes from the verandah giving birth.
I noticed that the sheep didn’t panic or have horror stories about having babies, they panted, and birthed with ease (mostly). After they gave birth to a lamb they got up and got on with their life, lamb in tow learning how to do all the things sheep do. This gave me a lot of confidence that if a sheep could birth so effortlessly then I could too.
The human body is an extraordinary design, in the nine months of pregnancy it supples up, gets loose and flexible, expands and prepares to pop a baby out (the babe does kind of shoot out, Izzy nearly got dropped on the floor she flew out so fast). The expanding process of the body is gradual, where you are not totally aware you have grown till you walk through the doorway and realise you are stuck, or try and squeeze through a gap only to find that your belly is too big and you get wedged.
I wanted to give birth at home. I grew up in a family that had home birth babies and I felt more comfortable about home birth than hospital births. I also trusted Pete as he had delivered many animal babies in his life time and I too am a mammal so figured he would be well equipped to deliver children. Unfortunately Pete was not as confident as I was in his abilities and he was worried about me being a first time mother (he also worried about first time sheep mothers) and so the first two children were born in a hospital, and the third was born at home.
So during the first pregnancy when contractions* began and the birthing process commenced, (contractions indicate the body and cervix was getting ready to expand and open enough to fit out a small human), I was at home wandering about, pretending to be a sheep or a cow (mooing and panting), sitting in a bath on the verandah looking over the Kentucky, NSW, landscape. As the contractions came closer together indicating that the child would be coming soon, Pete decided that we needed to go to hospital else we wouldn’t get there at all. I was not impressed and attempted to delay the trip by making excuses and saying that it was definitely too early to drive into town (half an hour away), my attempt to sneak the baby out at home.
When we arrived at the hospital the contractions stopped and my cervix which had been dilating (expanding) contracted (shrunk and began to close). I was scared of hospitals and when I didn’t feel the fear my body responded and began shutting down.
The midwife on duty asked me what was wrong, I sobbed about how afraid I was of hospitals and after I had cried the contractions began again in rapid succession, it was amazing to me at the time how fear shut my body down and how admitting I was afraid and crying opened my body up. Now I understand more about emotions this is logical and makes sense, I also do not fear hospitals as I used to.
When we have fears about giving birth we need to be honest about them and feel and release the fear rather than suppress or pretend the feelings do not exist. Reinforcing fears about natural bodily processes is also detrimental to the birthing process. God’s Truth and facts are helpful in the birthing process, for example the female body is designed to have a baby; feeling emotion during pregnancy and birth is helpful and a natural part of the human experience; un-felt emotional experience causes illness and problems in the physical body.
The midwives who assisted with the birth had been delivering babies from before I was born, they were relaxed and helpful, leaving us alone and coming in only to check on the progress from time to time, answer questions and help out in the final stages (I liked this and was grateful for their expertise).
Trusting the body and allowing the natural process God designed resulted in a baby arriving into the world.
Once the baby was birthed and the umbilical cord stopped pulsating, was clamped and cut, the placenta was then expelled, again the body birthed this naturally within an hour or so. The contractions birthing the placenta are less intense and the placenta is generally less large than the baby so it comes out pretty easily (the baby leads the way and the placenta naturally follows).
*Contractions are a very helpful design feature of birth and the body, firstly they indicate its time to birth, then they gradually open up the cervix to widen it enough for a baby to come out. The pain of contractions is interesting. I experienced some pain but it is gone as soon as the contraction is over, I suspect if I had less fear and anger I would have had less pain, I have heard stories of women who didn’t have any pain at all during birthing.
I commented to Pete that I preferred contraction pain to having a headache as it was immediately over whereas a headache stays and is constant.
The pain of childbirth in my experience was fleeting, it did not linger or remain like other types of pain. It was quite unique. I reflect on it now and apply the experience to other physical pain and emotional pain reminding myself that pain is an indicator, a messenger, and it doesn’t last forever if we allow its full expression.
I realise that birthing for many women does not go smoothly or easily and this is for different reasons for different people. I believe at the basis of all the reasons birth may not go ‘easily’ is an emotional cause.
We are emotional beings and emotion is made to flow. So any emotion that we don’t release is stored in the body and if we don’t release fear, anger, sadness, distress or other emotions, they affect the birthing process, the opposite is also true, when we experience emotion, whatever it may be, the birthing process goes more smoothly. There are many false beliefs that may cause problems during childbirth, I discovered I had false beliefs about the birthing process itself, fears and expectations about being a bad parent, demands and expectations towards children to meet my emotional needs (children should love me rather than me love them) and lack of faith in the body’s capacity and abilities. All these examples have an emotional cause and need to be experienced to no longer affect us.
On reflection I see how much my emotions and beliefs about birth and my body affected the birthing process positively and negatively and I feel that the more emotionally open one is the easier the birthing process would be. Birthing is an opportunity to feel emotion and observe bodily experiences that are unique.
Divine Truth information
I have added resources on parenting as it is useful before having children to get some real and beneficial education and information on being a parent before actually becoming a parent.
Links to presentations on miscarriage and abortion that I found helpful to reflect and examine my expectations, demands and beliefs about being a parent, ‘owning children because I birth them’, children in general and my ‘right’ to get certain emotional addictions, such as demand to be loved, met by children and by being a parent (all unloving demands and expectations and untrue beliefs but ones that many people have).
Ina May Gaskin