Are you wondering what “birthing from within” means? Or what it means for a person to “give birth from within”?
In a word: awareness.
It would seem at first glance that a person who gathers lots of information during pregnancy is motivated and headed in the “right direction.” However, a more important detail of preparation is being aware of your motivation to become so well-informed. What does the drive for information-gathering feel like in your body? How do you know in your bones and gut how to use the information? And to what degree are you aware of any of this? Rather than acting from conditioning, fear, the desire to avoid blame or conflict, or the belief that experts know best, you can prepare for birth by being pregnant-in-awareness. Each day you can bring attention to what you are telling yourself and to what you are feeling in your physical and emotional body when you receive information and advice, or have an impulse to act or to avoid.
We certainly want our healthcare practitioners (doctors, midwives, and nurses) to be well-informed about physiology, diagnoses, treatments, and pharmacology. Hunting for and assimilating new information is part of their chosen professions, and they should be passionate and diligent about it. However, a pregnant person, with only months or weeks before giving birth, does not have time to gather, learn, and assimilate all of the information out there — and even if they did, what would this really accomplish for their personal birth experience? Many of us are conditioned to believe that if we have lots of information, we will “pass the test”– meaning, in this case, to become able to control our birth outcomes. This is something that we all understand is not fully possible; nevertheless, gathering birth information, statistics, and “options” sometimes becomes a kind of addiction. Parents feel the adrenaline and endorphin surges as they learn, learn, learn by surfing the web, reading, and looking to the “experts out there” for facts and advice. There is often an extra surge of energy when their eyes are glued to birth reality TV shows or intense documentaries.
But information is not the same as awareness.
If a pregnant person is not listening to the subtle messages in their body, in their breath, in their dreams, or in the patterns of their thoughts and emotions, then they are acting from conditioning and habit rather than true awareness. From the outside, no one may be able to tell the difference, but on the inside, the difference will be clear.
Awareness practice for pregnant people (and their partners)…
The first step in birthing (and living) in-awareness is to turn your attention inward each day. One of the important tasks of pregnancy is to consciously tune in to, develop, and trust your own new parental intuition. When there’s a baby growing in the belly, it’s a good time to also grow awareness, and pay attention to that “gut instinct.”
In the same way that you take a prenatal vitamin every day, take an “Awareness Moment” every day.
Choose a time of day in your busy life when you can find ten minutes to spare. Commit to enjoying your ten minute Awareness Moment during this time. Doing it at the same time each day adds rhythm and grounding to your life; it also makes the practice more potent, more quickly. Focus and concentration actually increase relaxation and awareness of your body, mind, breath, and life. Doing this practice right when you wake up is ideal, because your mind is not racing. If it means you have to wake up ten minutes earlier, then do it. (You’re going to be getting up earlier and more often in a few months anyway!)
Sit outside, if weather permits, or near a window. Be in your body. Sit up straight — open your chest, open your legs, and straighten your back. If you can get into a body position that encourages optimal fetal positioning, that would be ideal. Don’t slouch, as that sends a negative message to your body-mind.
Begin by practicing Breath Awareness, which will bring you into a Quiet Mind. Day by day, the more you practice, the more quickly and deeply you will enter Quiet Mind. (You can learn more about Breath Awareness in a private or group session with a Birthing From Within practitioner, and/or in Ancient Map for Modern Birth.)
When you are in Quiet Mind, your brain waves slow down. Your blood pressure and heart rate drop, and you begin to breathe more deeply and naturally. The muscles in your jaw, neck, shoulders, and pelvis begin to loosen and have more spaciousness. You move from your conscious thinking (which is not very deep) and into your deeper well of knowing.
Sometimes you will have a question buzzing around in your mind that you’ve been trying to answer with research and by asking others what they think. Take your question into your Awareness Moment…
As your mind becomes quieter and quieter, ask:
“What do I really want and need to know about this?”
Then listen within.
Continue breathing quietly, and wait for the answer. Don’t “think” the answer – just wait to sense it in to your body. It may come as image, a single word, a story, or a feeling.
If you have access to a labyrinth (either one you can walk or one you can trace with your finger), you can incorporate your Awareness Moment into the rhythmic experience of moving through the labyrinth. Each step, each breath, brings you into this moment, and away from the frenzied gathering and doing of daily life.
Some people mistakenly think that Birthing From Within is focused on achieving birth without drugs or interventions, or “calm birth,” or birth without pain. The truth is that “birthing from within” has nothing to do with birthing “normally,” “naturally,” quietly, painlessly, or without medical intervention. A parent could have every drug and medical procedure in the book and still be birthing from within, birthing-in-awareness. When they are self-aware and attentive to what they are feeling emotionally and physically, then they are acting and speaking from that deeper knowing, and they can be gentle with themselves and those who are working with them.
When you can’t change what is happening “out there,” you can still bring attention to what is happening within. Do not abandon yourself, your inner-Child, or your awareness.
This is the challenge, power, and beauty of “birthing from within.”
– originally published in 2014