Most folks who come my way are looking for a natural birth class that will offer them the tools and skills that will help them achieve their ideal birth. They may be hoping for a natural, pain-free, or even orgasmic birth!
And, I totally get the temptation to look for guarantees, or suggestions that if you do X, Y, and/or Z… you’ll be fine, and get the birth you of your dreams. But, here’s the truth: there is no magical secret, and it’s not something that one class or another could ever guarantee.
What parents really need in a birth class is to learn to be prepared to handle the unexpected, make decisions mindfully in the moment, connect with their partners, learn how to access internal resources, and receive external support.
They need to look within to know what their own questions are, what their fears are, what their hopes are – and to see why those thoughts feel so real and important.
Embracing the Unknown
In Birthing From Within, we see birth as a mystery, an initiation, a rite of passage; and understand that it is filled with the unknown. The only thing we can guarantee about an upcoming birth is that it will unfold in its own unique way… different than any other birth has ever been or will be in the future. That’s what makes it amazing and powerful, and also confusing and challenging. Birthing From Within classes address “The Three Kinds of Knowing“: Primordial Knowing (your innate, maternal instinct); Modern Knowing (information that helps you make informed decisions and navigate the birth experience); Inner Knowing (who are you, where you come from, and what motivates and guides you), so that you are prepared for birth on all levels. Preparing holistically helps parents to embrace the unknown. Here’s where Birthing From Within classes are different!
Some rare births are just as an expectant mama imagined, but most are surprising in some way: longer/shorter, easier/harder, more painful/less painful, wild/calm, vaginal/cesarean, home/hospital – and sometimes a combination of all of those things! Being surprised by how a birth unfolds isn’t a bad thing – especially when parents are prepared for birth in a way that acknowledges its unpredictable and fluid nature.
Birthing From Within classes are not focused on preparing couples for any specific outcome (pain-free, calm, un-medicated, homebirth, etc…), because, while it’s good to set a good foundation by choosing care providers that you trust, eating a nutritious diet, exercising, and learning pain-coping strategies, we NEVER truly know how a birth is going to go.
Pam England, who wrote Birthing From Within and Ancient Map for a Modern Birth, was a homebirth midwife, who “ate tofu and did yoga” and planned to give birth in a Tipi… she had a cesarean birth with her first child (which is when the philosophy of Birthing From Within was born as well). She’s a perfect example of someone who trusted birth, was educated in how birth works, and believed in having a “natural”, un-medicated, uncomplicated birth, and yet, was surprised to find that her baby needed to be born by cesarean.
Birth is Unique
This is the truth of birth- each one has its own meandering, up and down, round about path… and the work for expectant parents is learning how to stay present, make empowered decisions, speak up when they need to speak up, check in with themselves when they need inner guidance, lean on their partner when they need support, and to trust themselves to know what to do, even when they don’t know what to do.
Birthing From Within classes offer just that… a dynamic class, with discussions, birth art, partner connection processes, pain-coping strategies, storytelling, and an opportunity to dive in to what the experience of pregnancy and birth is like for each individual, uniquely. Here’s where Birthing From Within classes are different!
Birth as a Rite of Passage
Another way that Birthing From Within classes are special, is in the fact that we treat birth like the Rite of Passage that it is. In cultures that recognize Rites of Passage better than we Americans do, giving birth is right up there with our own births, and deaths, as the most transformational moments in one’s life. In Birthing From Within classes, we recognize, and honor, the truth that who you are today, as one who has not yet become a parent, is a different person than who you will be after giving birth. There is a metamorphosis, a sacred transformation that happens – many people can already feel themselves shifting into something new. And this kind of monumental transformation is naturally hard, sometimes painful, and certainly vulnerable and raw. Right? Because that what a Rite of Passage is… crossing the threshold from one You, to a new You, and it only makes sense that that would be an intense journey! So, instead of being afraid of that intensity, let’s name it, prepare for it, and celebrate it! Here’s where Birthing From Within classes are different!
Mindfulness in Birth
An important part of being prepared for the journey of birth and new parenting is having a tool bag of pain-coping resources, and support strategies. Birthing From Within classes spend time in each session to teach, practice and incorporate useful mindfulness techniques, that are not necessarily designed to take away the pain, but more importantly, to quiet the mind (the internal chatter around how much this hurts, how long it’s taking, how it’s too hard, etc… usually cause more suffering than the pain itself!).
But, what is mindfulness? I like this description from James Baraz, “Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes, which it will; being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way; which it won’t.” Using the breath, visualization, and our senses, we can be in the moment, without attaching a story to it, and believing something to be true/not true. In birth, these pain-coping practices allow the body to do what it needs to do, and asks the mind to get out of the way. Fathers, Other Mothers, and partners learn these techniques as well, so that they can best support the birthing mama, and handle their own intense experience of witnessing/being present for the birth. And, the best part is that these are not birth-specific techniques, and the truth is – parenting and life are hard too… so, having a pocketful of mindfulness-based strategies to pick from will be beneficial long after the birth has passed! Here’s where Birthing From Within classes are different!
Birth is beautiful, sacred, powerful… and, sometimes it takes getting messy, being willing to embrace your grit, releasing your guttural mama-noises, stepping into the unknown in order to surrender to the unfolding story of your child’s birth. Don’t you want to prepare for that? Here’s where Birthing From Within classes are different!