Like most women, I was afraid of childbirth. Fear was part of the reason I delayed getting pregnant.
I knew that a natural, drug-free birth was ideal, but I hate pain. I have no qualms about taking a painkiller for the occasional headache.
So when I became pregnant, I gave myself an out: I promised not to judge myself if I asked for pain meds. Then I set out to prepare.
I spoke to everyone I knew who had a natural birth. I had several cousins and a few friends who had done it. I decided to use hypnobirthing, a method that uses self-hypnosis to help you relax through labor.
Hypnobirthing is based on the observation that tension increases pain and slows down the birth process; learning how to relax makes the process as efficient as possible. Animals in labor don’t waste energy in the form of fear – they simply find a safe spot and get down to the work of birth. In ancient civilizations, as well as unwesternized human tribes, painful birth was not a given.
Bolstered by this information, I listened to self-hypnosis recordings daily. They helped me to relax in the moment, while conditioning my mind to see birth in a positive and powerful way.
The moment of truth.
When labor surges finally began, I had no fear at all. I was excited yet calm. As the intensity grew, I lay in my bedroom alone with the lights off. I hummed a disjointed mix of my favorite songs as the sensations ebbed and flowed. When it was time to go to the hospital, I was focused, serious, but relaxed.
I told the nursing staff I would be doing a natural birth, and to please leave me alone and turn off the lights. Other than checking once on the progress of my birth, they complied.
Then came the transition phase – the part of labor that is supposed to be the toughest and most painful. It was like being torn apart in waves that crashed in a rhythm I couldn’t control. It was so intense that I sobbed, yet there was no pain – it was strangely pleasurable. My baby was born soon after that.
Since then I’ve reflected on the factors that made a scary, and potentially painful event not only bearable, but transcendent. I’m sharing this with you because it applies to the difficult, destructive experience you might be having right now, on the road to transformation.
Here’s what I learned from my semi-orgasmic birth:
- What you tell yourself about the experience matters. Suggestions to replace the word “pain” with “intensity”, and “contractions” with “surges” felt awkward at first, but it allowed my mind to create different assumptions about birth.
- Practicing relaxation comes in really handy when you need it. More than a feeling, relaxation is a skill that can be learned by repetition.
- Expand your concept of what is possible. Years ago I learned about orgasmic birth – something I never even knew existed. Seed planted.
- Have a plan, then let go. Trust that you can respond to anything that needs to happen.
- Recruit allies who support you. I had a doula for emotional help, an OBGYN to make sure we were medically safe, and my husband as a reassuring presence.
- When you release fear, anxiety turns into exhilaration.
I understand that grace and luck play a role here. And, as the saying goes: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
If you’re going through deep challenges right now, I invite you to question your assumptions about how you’re supposed to feel.
Without judging or minimizing your genuine experience, is there a space where you can breathe into it, or float above it in such a way that you remain anchored to it, but it doesn’t overwhelm you.
The body releases feel-good chemicals in direct proportion to the amount of work you do. Is there a way you can experience more pleasure?
Is there a way to let go and allow your old self to be destroyed, so that what needs to emerge, can – with the greatest of ease? How would this transform your experience, even if your circumstances stayed the same?
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