The majority of the clients who choose to give birth at the birth center do so because they either don’t feel comfortable in a hospital setting or are afraid of medical interventions that could lead to an ‘unnecessarian’ (unnecessary cesarean birth). I find most families are nervous of this possibility of transferring as they think this option is only reserved for emergency situations or a need for a c-section, when that is rarely the case (cesarean rates for planned out-of-hospital births are 5% compared to the national average of 31%). (1) However, in preparation for a healthy, natural birth outside of the hospital, this includes understanding when transfer is indicated, so if it happens the process is that much smoother.Read More
Finding a pediatrician who’s right for you and your family’s needs is important – your child’s health and wellness will be in their hands.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a pediatrician.Read More
As a midwife, I often am asked the question, “What do you think about placenta encapsulation?” Although, it’s reported that placentas have been used in traditional Chinese medicine since the 1500s, consuming the placenta (aka placentophagy) in the postpartum period has become a recent trend in the last 15-20 years. (1,2)Read More
Chinnamasta is a Hindu tantric goddess who symbolizes both life give and taker as she is depicted without a head. “She helps the devotee to transcend the mind (all the ideas, attachments, habits and preconceived ideas), into the Pure Divine Consciousness.” (‘Birth Mandala: The Power of Visioning For Childbirth”)
Chinnamasta is also the name of the yantra (Sanskrit for “mystical diagram”) of the second chakra (energy point centered in the lower abdomen, pelvis, and sex organs). This is the chakra of progeny and Chinnamasta is the representation of that.
Thus, Chinnamasta is an archetype of the collective unconscious – severing ones own head to mother and tap into the yantra of the second chakra – the womb – and allow her baby to be born. This is fascinating to me as it corresponds with a philosophy of birth, one that I happen to agree with, that so much of the labor process (especially for a first time mother giving birth) is the struggle to move out of the thinking brain and ego and drop into a more primal and ‘id’ state of existing.
When a woman remains in her ‘head’, analyzing her labor and trying to will her labor to go faster or control it because its getting too intense, she is moving away from that deeper place of the collective unconscious where she ‘descends into her labyrinth’ (as discussed in previous post). Instead, she may be prolonging the labor process, making the pain more intense and perhaps the experience more traumatic.
If a woman can find the tools to ‘cut off her head’ so to speak, it will allow her to be unattached to what’s happening and just experience the motions and sensations of labor for what they are versus the story, drama and thoughts her mind wants to tell that are associated with the actions of birth. She can be a vessel through which new life comes through her rather than a closed, tight and complex network of connective tissue and fear getting in the way of her body and baby.
Some of these tools and comfort techniques can include hypnosis, music, nature sounds, massage, visualizations, mantras, affirmations, aromatherapy, movement and most importantly an environment that makes one feel safe, loved and supported. This will help relax the mind and give it something else to focus on – like entering a deep state of meditation – to step out of the way of her body and allow her baby to come through her.
As the Queen of Hearts once famously said, “Off with their heads!”…
“Mexican Labyrinth of Birth” Painting by Pam England (author and founder of “Birthing From Within” a childbirth preparation book and class series)
"This painting was inspired by a story my friend Alberto told me. Two of his tias (aunties) are parteras (midwives) in Oaxaca, Mexico. There, women who give birth are called warriors. 'The midwives tell a pregnant woman that when she is in labor she will have to go to the underworld where spirits hold all the unborn babies … She will have to find her baby, do battle in labor with the spirit to free her baby and bring him or her home—bring her baby back and into to the world, to the family who is waiting. Only she can do this.'
As a midwife, I have the distinct pleasure and honor of supporting women to safely traverse their ‘labyrinths’, reminding them they are safe, their babies are safe and to keep going while watching them go deeper inside themselves, battle, struggle, surrender, transform and come back as mothers with her new babies.
Giving birth is probably the hardest thing a woman will do in her life. I have even heard women say that at some point in labor they thought they were going to die. But the difficulty and the battle to cope with the intensity that is natural childbirth rests not in the body trying to figure out how to birth a child but in the mind.
I believe the feeling of dying while giving birth has less to do with the actual pain experienced (as many women later report that the pain was manageable) and more to do with the fact that what those women thought they understood or could wrap their head around about birth went beyond its limit and that part of their identity, and sense of control was dying.
This moment is essentially the surrender to the fight of the mind. When this happens, the last layers of the old identity are shed and the mother self (in addition to the baby) is beginning to be born. A laboring mother also moves out of her analytical brain and more into the primal, instinctual part of her brain where there are no thoughts, words, only sounds, colors, feelings – a dream like state – the part of her brain that traverses the labyrinth and progress is made and she is that much closer to birthing her baby.
Where there is light in bringing new life into the world, there is also darkness. It is this rite of passage of traveling to the ‘underworld’ and through the labyrinth – the death before birth – that is necessary and not to be feared. Each woman has their own labyrinth that is meant for her to travel through, as it will show her in the deepest depths of her soul the strength, courage and love she has to safely birth her baby and be born as a new family.