In my view, the belief that we cannot give birth without medical assistance isn't serving us very well - and we can see the effects of it reflected in the panic of mothers in connection with giving birth during a pandemic.
Please bear in mind – and I will repeat this again and again in this article – that we are mammals and that women are designed to give birth. Otherwise none of us would be here right now.
If you are worried, terrified or anything in between, consider the following: Imagine that you are about to participate in an event that requires your full focus, presence and capacities on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. In my courses I often compare it to a sports event, e.g. running a marathon., Even if this metaphor isn’t 100% correct as women are designed by evolution to give birth naturally, but not necessarily to run a marathon, I would like to use it nevertheless to illustrate a few key points:
1) Nobody can run a marathon for you. Not your coach, not your physio, not your partner. They can support and encourage you, but in the end you have to run the race yourself. Your body needs to have the stamina to sustain the stresses and strains, your mind needs to be strong enough to keep you going and motivated through the hard parts, you need to be able to navigate through your emotional ups and downs, and your spiritual power will guide you and support you during your strenuous efforts. It’s all about YOU - and your baby, of course!
This might be in itself a scary realization. However, I repeat: your body has been designed for giving birth.
2) If you are reasonably healthy, you can do it!
3) Prepare yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, this will help you immensely, especially during the “race”.
You don’t need anybody for this and can do it on your own. Especially if you need to (e.g. during lockdown or if for other reasons you don't have any other support). If you have internet access, there are, however, a lot of resources available to assist and inspire you.
Physically: e.g. nutrition, regular exercise/movement, breath awareness (= long slow breaths naturally relax the nervous system, bring more oxygen into the muscle system and reduce adrenaline output, etc) - I won't go into detail here, as there is so much good information available. Don't feel you need to go overboard - keep it simple and enjoyable!
Mentally: Think positive! We all perform best, when we uplift ourselves and boost our confidence. Surround yourself with positivity. A good coach won’t unsettle the athlete pre-event by talking about all the things that could possibly go wrong or tell him or her stories of injuries, depletion and giving up. Humans are the only species I can think of that scares their females when it comes to their ability to give birth.
If you are someone who tends to worry about things, learn some easy tools to calm your thoughts and to lift your spirits. It can be as simple as conscious breathing; hypnosis techniques and other tools are also helpful – there are plenty of things available. Anything that calms your nerves and thoughts is fine. Pick and choose what works for you!
- Don’t suppress your fears and worries. Allow them to come up, familiarise yourself with them so that they cannot hijack you when you need to keep calm and centred, and, if needed, process them with someone who is balanced and able to offer support. Don’t listen to stories/advice/recommendations that drag you down.
- Observe yourself closely, feel yourself and find things that inspire, encourage and uplift you.
- Trust your intuition.
Emotionally: Due to fluctuations in the hormone system during pregnancy you might experience a rollercoaster of emotions (= energy in motion). In general, our emotions are valuable indicators and signs to follow. They show us when we need to be gentle with ourselves, when to rest, when to move away, what’s good for us and what’s not. Observe your emotions and their triggers. Someone might tell you a story that makes you feel sad, angry, insecure, confused, overwhelmed… Or it might make you feel excited, confident, joyful, relaxed, trusting, peaceful, empowered… Look closely – and choose things that uplift and empower you while trying to avoid things and people who make you feel uneasy, unwell, insecure, etc. (If this brings up conflict, ask the people in question to leave “difficult” conversations until after the birth and to support and respect your “feel-good bubble” – set clear boundaries and if they want to support you, they will respect them.)
Spiritually: No matter if we have a spiritual practice or not: we are always connected to spiritual energies, to the life-giving source of all that exists. To consciously call upon our connection to “the spiritual realm” is important to gain trust and a feeling of “inner knowing” that “I am not alone” and that “whatever happens, happens”. This gives us strength and stamina and guidance whenever we need them. Studies have shown that people with a spiritual faith or worldview cope far better with challenging situations and life-threatening experiences than people without. You don’t need to follow a religion or particular faith. You can connect to Spirit and activate your spiritual power in many other ways, e.g. by being in nature, listening to your inner voice, meditating. Your unborn child can also assist you to establish a connection.
- If you are reasonably healthy and consider the 3 key factors briefly outlined above, you will have the base covered to give birth to your child(ren). You can do this on your own, if you needed to. If you live in an industrialised country, you will most likely have the support of your midwife and, in an emergency, of an obstetrician and an experienced emergency intervention team. When worrying, please remind yourself: If you need hospital assistance, it generally takes about 10-20 minutes to prepare the theatre for an emergency intervention – in most cases you will have enough time to be transferred from your home to the hospital via helicopter or ambulance, so that you and your baby get the medical help you need.
- If you are overwhelmed by your fears and worries, talking to someone who is in a balanced state of mind, experienced and able to bring out the best in you often does wonders.
P.S.: For those with pathological symptoms such as (but not limited to) Preeclampsia, be aware that we thankfully live in a time when there is medical support available for many of us. If you have to be in medical care, most likely it will be accessible to you - even in challenging conditions such as in war countries or during a pandemic. The points above are beneficial and relevant in any case.
P.P.S.: In my experience, most “high risk” factors can be remedied with “close observation” and rest. Stress and worrying don't help, of course. I often meet mums classified as “high risk”, sometimes given preventative medication (which in return often leads to implications that require emergency interventions), when they and their baby clearly aren’t in danger (yet). So if you are told you are “high risk”, please get a second, third (or even more) opinion. You probably would in case of any other important medical condition/decision such as surgery, etc – at least I hope you would. So do it for your birth as well. After all it is your baby, your health, your choice!
Also observe yourself closely: are you feeling unwell? What does your “gut-feeling” say? When given time to explore those questions, mums often tell me that they “feel ok” and are just “alarmed and confused” by the medical diagnosis. Deep down you know more than you might think. If you are a woman, then your body has been designed to give birth… and you carry the evolutionary knowledge of your ancestors.
I hope this article gives you some indications and opens some doors to explore more and to boost your confidence. Much love and encouragement to you all - you have got this!