I. YOGA IN BIRTH
A. Movements and Postures
4. On all four
1. The “Wave” Breath
2. Light breathing
3. The “Birthing” Breath
II. BIRTH AMBIANCE OR THE PHYSIOLOGIC NEEDS OF THE BIRTHING WOMAN
3. Dim Light
III. RELAX AND OPEN
1. HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method
4. Sounds and Mantras
IV. THE CARING TOUCH
Women have been literally brain-washed for centuries about childbirth. Since we were little our mummies, grannies and aunties have been telling us how painful birth was. It is even written in the bible “In pain you will bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16)
We all know how the human brain can be conditioned to believe that something is, when it is actually not. We can take this famous example of a sailor who was kept in a cold room, when they finally found him he was dead because of the cold… The extraordinary thing that the cold generators were not working… He believed so much that he was in the cold chamber that his body followed.
What if it is the same for child birth? Centuries of conditioning about how painful childbirth certainly had an effect about how we think and feel about birth.
What if birth could actually be orgasmic? This is actually not a myth. The American midwife Ina May Gaskin asked 151 women (who gave birth at home and open to this kind of experience) and 82 of them (54%) said they had an orgasmic birth!
This could be easily explained when we realize that the act of birth is the direct result of the act which preceded: the sexual act. As such, it frees the same hormones and lead to the same physical phenomenon: oxytocin (also called Love Hormone) flows abundantly, contractions of the uterus, erection of the nipples and of course an intense sensation of penetration.
Michel Odent, a famous French obstetrician and childbirth specialist, wrote: “A child who passes through the birth canal touches and stimulates the same areas which are stimulated during the sexual embrace”.
Obviously, this firework ending can only be possible if the woman is in an intimate environment, alone or with her companion and midwife, fully confident in her body, to her ability to give birth and sexually uninhibited to break the psychological walls linked between the birth and the sexuality.
There’s a big gap between the very painful childbirth we heard so much about (or felt!) and the orgasmic birth. This type of birth can be too far to conceive. But what if we could use natural tools to make the birth more pleasurable? Intimate ambiance, yoga, mantras, acupressure, massage, hypnosis, are all natural alternatives to help the woman to ride the intense waves of birth without medical “painkillers”. We’ll explore some of these different tools in this essay.
These different tools can help the woman to welcome the waves as their intensity heightens. But it is very important that the woman accepts these waves positively. At that moment, these helpful tools will support the woman on her way of acceptation. If the woman closes herself to the contractions and lives them aggressively, no remedy will relieve her, and make the sensation of the wave a friend, an allied.
One of the main idea of Penny Simkin in her book “The Birth Partner, a complete guide to childbirth for dads, doulas and all other labor companions”, is the concept of the 3 R’s: Relaxation, Rhythm and Rituals. All the tools proposed in this dissertation can be included to create a personal ritual between or during the contraction, in a certain rhythm in order to relax as much as possible.
“Imagine what might happen if women emerge fr om their labor bed with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies, and of their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth.”
Dr. Christiane Northrup
I. Yoga in birth
Moving is THE remedy against discomfort, but also a condition of the good proceedings of the childbirth. Moving freely, walking, balancing, swinging, changing posture is very beneficial:
- Mobility and verticality (thanks to the law of gravity) generates more efficient waves.
- Mobility favors the lowering of the baby in the woman’s pelvis.
Listening to our own body is crucial. A woman without epidural and free to move will instinctively take the physiological postures for her and her baby.
A. MOVEMENTS AND POSTURES
1. Standing up
You can :
▪ Walk, stop and breath down
▪ Be held by a wall,
▪ Swing with both of your arms around your partner’s neck
▪ Move your pelvic as if you were dancing, held by a wall or a door.
▪ Face a wall, hands on the wall, head on the hands, and imagine drops of water going down along your body
All poses were your back is stretched will relieve and help the progression of the labor. You can:
▪ Sit astride a chair, arms and head resting on a pillow,
▪ Sit on the border of a bed or a chair, the bust forward, elbows resting on your knees
▪ Sit on a ball, moving your pelvis fr om left to right
▪ Sit against the wall on a bolster
▪ Sit on the floor, head and arms resting on a pillow on your sofa, or your bed
4. On all four (Cat-Cow pose)
This posture is often appreciated my moms. You can:
▪ Swing your pelvis fr om left to right
▪ Rest; your head buried in a pillow in front of you
5. Squatting (Malasana pose)
▪ Be held by a wall
▪ Be held by your partner, standing up or sitting behind you
Basically all postures are allowed, depending on how you feel. The only position to avoid is lying on your back! Unless you really feel like it of course!
o If the labor stagnates, the position wh ere the women leans forward, buttocks up, can help the child to engage more in the pelvis.
Breathing properly during and between the waves helps to avoid tensions and helps to relax quickly.
1. The ‘Wave’ Breath
Breath during each waves. Inhale very slowly (for 20 seconds or more), as you inhale your belly grows up, as if you were blowing a ballon. Exhale as slowly (20 seconds or more), exhale down and out. Imagine the ballon going away. Expire slowly in direction of your vagina.
2. Light Breathing
You can begin breathing in short, light breath through your mouth, with a silent in-breath and an audible out-breath, and a brief pause after each out-breath. The rate is about one breath every one or two seconds, or 30 to 60 breaths per minute. With each out-breath, you breathe out the tension.
3. The ‘Birthing’ Breath (during transition/expulsion)
Breath in and out through the nose, but it is a quicker breath in and then a longer breath out, directing the breath down and out. You will feel the breath resonating at the back of your nose as you are breathing out. It may also feel like the muscles in your stomach are working as you breathe out. That is ok. Practice it on the toilet as you are doing a poo.
II. Birth Ambiance or the Physiologic needs of the birthing woman
To manage to dive into the birth process, and accept the waves as an allied, it is important to be in a positive state of mind, but also – and it’s a must – to be in a favorable environment. Isabelle Chevalier explains:” In order for the woman to feel comfortable and to produce endorphins, she has to be in a respectful ambiance, with minimum of external stimulus and intrusion”.
To understand the needs of the woman giving birth, it’s important to review the physiology of the delivery itself, one of the principal topic of the French obstetrician Michel Odent.
The delivery is driven by the most archaic zone of our brain, the primitive part, the one we share with all mammals. In this part of the brain are found two old structures, the hypothalamus and the pituitary, they work as glands and free the hormones necessary for childbirth: the oxytocin, the endorphins and the prolactin (hormone for the lactation). In order of this ancestral, primitive part of our brain to work properly, it should not be disturbed by the manifestations of the new part of our brain (the one which makes us different of mammals), the one which allows us to think: the neocortex. If the neocortex is stimulated by situations which create fear, stress, anxiety or discomfort, the hormones production is slowed down or even stopped.
Therefore, it is a priority to limit stimulations of the neocortex which tend to inhibit the childbirth process.
Therefore, all women who are giving birth need:
Feeling observed can stimulate the neocortex. To feel free to act as she desires and to really let go, the woman needs to not feel spied, watched, studied from every angle. Female mammals which are usually active during the day have the tendency to give birth during night time. A lot of mammals – as chimps - prefer to take their distance from the group when the time has come.
v To lim it the numerous intrusions of the medical team you can brief the future father and your doula. You can also bring long pareos, with which your partner will cover you when you’ll adopt – for example- all four positions.
Fear, stress, anxiety generate the production of adrenalin, hormone which tend to inhibit the delivery. It is very important to spare the woman of any stressful situation. The woman who gives birth needs to feel in good hands, surrounded by people she knows (partner, midwife, doula).
v You can bring personal items at the hospital. A blanket or a pillow impregnated with your smell and the smell of your home will reassure you.
3. Dim light
Light is an element which can stimulate the neocortex. As all intimate moments, the woman who gives birth usually prefers dim light, or even penumbra, than a bright light which exposes her to external gazes.
At the hospital, don’t hesitate to lower the curtains. Midwives usually have lamps to auscultate you.
Talking, asking questions to a woman during her labor, it’s drawing her from her concentration, taking her out from her bubble. Except when she is the one wanting to communicate, it is important not to disturb her. Loving words of encouragements can be said (unless she expresses her wish of total silent).
“Warmth is also a part of the favorable conditions to a good progress of the delivery. But mothers who give birth are often cold, that’s why it is important to allow then to warm up” say Pascale Gendreau, doula.
At the hospital, don’t hesitate to ask the thermostat to be increased if necessary.
If it is allowed at your birth place, water can be a great remedy to ease the pressure from the waves. If you want or if you feel that labor stagnates a little bit, don’t hesitate to go in a bath, the temperature of the water should be around 37 degrees Celsius.
III. Relax and Open
1. HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method
HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method is as much a philosophy as it is a technique. The concept of HypnoBirthing® is not new, but rather a “rebirth” of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago and as it was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who, in the 1920s, was one of the first to forward the concept of natural birthing. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.
You will gain an understanding of how the birthing muscles work in perfect harmony–as they were designed to–when your body is sufficiently relaxed and you trust birth. You will learn how to achieve this kind of relaxation, free of the resistance that fear creates, and you will learn to use your natural birthing instincts for a calm, serene and comfortable birth.
When you have your baby with HypnoBirthing®, you will not be in a trance or asleep. What you will experience is similar to the daydreaming, or focusing, that occurs when you are engrossed in a book or a movie or staring into a fire.
You will be conversant and in good spirits–totally relaxed, but fully in control. Awake throughout, you will be aware of your body’s surges and your baby’s progress; but because you will have trained yourself to reach complete relaxation, you will be able to determine the degree and the manner in which you will feel the surges. You will experience birthing in an atmosphere of calm relaxation, free of the fear that prevents the muscles of your body from functioning as nature intended them to. In this calm state, your body’s natural relaxant, endorphins, replaces the stress hormones that constrict and cause pain.
Trained HypnoBirthing® educators are successfully teaching women and their birthing companions to trust birth and release all fear and limiting thoughts. HypnoBirthing®practitioners can be found in 46 countries throughout the world.
“When you change the way you view birth, the way you birth will change.”
Marie F. Mongan
The mother can visualize something positive, pleasant, or relaxing, using her contractions, her focus or her breathing as a cue.
While the mother does long and slow exhales down, she can also imagine that:
o She is blowing a balloon, or a pillow
o Her uterus is like a sock, very soft
o She can visualize her exhalations or a soothing touch or massage as drawing her tension and pain away.
o She might imagine herself to be in a special, safe, comfortable place, wh ere the contractions are cue to relax more deeply into the comfort of the place.
o She might visualize each contractions in various ways : - as a wave - with herself floating over the crest – as a mountain- which she climbs up and down as the contractions comes and goes.
o She might use the onset of the contraction as a cue to imagine herself soaring like a seagull above the waves of contractions below.
o She can visualize the opening of the cervix, the baby sliding down.
o She can remember a trip, a beautiful afternoon, a warm conversation, a walk, a delicious meal… And recall as many details of that experience that she can.
o She can think of a moment she has been challenged (physically, mentally or artistically) and met the challenge.
Some visualization are planned; others emerge spontaneously in labor. Spontaneous visualizations are usually very creative and personally helpful.
Meditation is an excellent tool to stay relaxed and calm. There are plenty of different meditation techniques that you can learn during the pregnancy.
Think: "Blossoming Lotus": The lotus flower is a very sacred, pure, and deeply spiritual flower honored by many different cultures: Visualize your cervix as a blossoming lotus flower. Upon every contraction, visualize and chant, "Open, open, open."
Relax Your "Third Eye": Become aware of the space on your forehead between your eyebrows, known as the "third eye." Directly behind it is the pineal gland, which is sensitive to light. It also produces serotonin, a hormone that affects the regulation of wake-sleep patterns and your energy levels. Whether you're in labor, or just stressed, be sure to relax the muscles on your forehead between your eyebrows for maximum relaxation.
4. Sounds and Mantras
Groaning, singing “A” or “O” during the contractions can be very efficient and liberating. This allows to accompany the waves and to exteriorize them. Low sounds also help the production of endorphins, hormones which reduce pain. The sounds made by the mother also massage the child in the uterus.
· The A sound resonates down to the pelvic
· The WO sound resonates in the torso
· The M resonates in the head
v The woman can sing AUM in each chakras – 3 times for each chakras
v She can also feel the resonance of the AUM from her uterus to the crone.
The sounds can be done while adopting a posture that helps the cervix open :
· On all four
· In malasana (squatting)
· Hanged up to a cord, or to the neck of our partner
Some movements and sounds can also be beneficial when used together:
· Inhale while you are on all four, then while exhaling go back ( as if you want to sit on your heels), and make the sound A, or use the ujjayi breathing
Some encouragements as” I can do it” “Keep it up, Keep it up”, “I open, I relax” can also be useful.
Dare to scream, grumble and to disinhibit you! It allows to unload your energy, express your emotions, and sometimes to unblock a labor which stagnates.
Mantra chanting uses vibration and sacred sound to connect to the most infinite aspect of being, to open the heart, to quiet the mind, and to elevate the circumstances for both mother and child. Often women will feel a connection to particular mantras during pregnancy – if something calls to you, use it. For someone going through the tremendous changes of pregnancy and motherhood, mantra is a powerful tool for peace and joy.
Here are five mantras that will support you and your baby during pregnancy, birth, and beyond!
Adi Shakti: for Strength of the Feminine
The Adi Shakti Mantra invokes the power of the feminine, the creative force. This is a great mantra to use in preparation for birth and throughout pregnancy. It connects to the highest manifestation of the mother.
Sa Ta Na Ma: for Balance and Transformation
This mantra describes the continuous cycle of life and creation. It is used in Kirtan Kriya, which is an excellent meditation for pregnancy and times of change, in general. It helps to balance the hemispheres of the brain, increase intuition, and support us through times of transition.
Ra Ma Da Sa: for Healing and Peace
Ra Ma Da Sa creates a space of healing inside and out. When chanting this mantra, project healing to any situation or person who needs it. Imagine healing blessings surrounding yourself, your baby, and the world.
I am, I am: the Gift of Being
This mantra, in English, is great when you feel scattered or when life is changing so fast that you don’t know who you are anymore. It is for presence and for simply being. In that state, no more is needed.
Poota Maata Kee Aasees: the Mother’s Blessing
Poota Maata Kee Aasees is a shabad (sacred, devotional song) that is a mother’s prayer for her child. It can be repeated for a child’s protection and blessing, used as a special prayer on a child’s birthday, or even just listened to as uplifting background vibration.
All these meditations can be easily found on youtube; I personally prefer to use the meditation from the “Spirit Voyage” community.
You can also listen the audio disc Divine Birth by Snatam Kaur (also found on youtube) which is specifically designed for pregnancy and birth.
IV. The Caring Touch
Haptonomy also called the“Loving Touch” is a childbirth preparation throughout pregnancy and birth based on the relation of tenderness that exists between the three actors (baby, mother, father/partner). Its principal objective is to develop a sense of security and autonomy in each of these three partners by taking into consideration their specific psycho-affective needs. Each will experience a truly loving presence in every step of the process (pregnancy, labor, delivery and the first year of the baby’s life).
Massage stimulates your body to release endorphins, the natural pain-killing, mood-lifting chemicals produced in the brain. Endorphins are responsible for the high that you feel after exercise, or after a good bout of laughter.
In labor, massage brings you closer to the person who’s caring for you. This could be your midwife or your birth partner. Touch can make you feel better while you're coping with contractions and perhaps tired or frightened.
a) Back Massage
Apply a gentle, kneading massage, using the thumbs and the heel of the hand. Adopt a slow, rhythmic pattern and be responsive to body language so you may gauge whether your work is in fact improving the situation. For severe pain, fold your fingers over your palms, producing a flattened surface between your knuckles and fingertips. Apply this part of your hand to the lower back, gradually increasing the pressure until it is quite strong. A strong pressure can soothe the sharp pain.
b) Hips and Buttocks Massage
For discomfort in the buttocks, form a soft fist and press directly on the mother's sacrum, the triangular bone just above the tailbone and in between the base of the spine and the hips. Have the mother gently rotate her pelvis back and forth, warming up and loosening the muscles around the hips. A doula or massage therapist can advise you on the best techniques; as always, steer on the side of caution and be responsive to the mother's verbal and non-verbal feedback.
c) Shoulders Massage
Apply your hands on her shoulders and lean lightly on them. This will help the mother to drop her shoulders if they are already hunched because she have become stressed. Next you can stroke down from her shoulders to her elbows, maintaining a rhythmic action and applying firm pressure. Make sure whether the massage is helping her and how you could make it better.
You could also try resting your hands on top of her shoulders and using your thumbs to massage in small, firm circles behind her shoulder blades. Ask her if you are pressing too hard or not hard enough, or if you are massaging too quickly. It's important for you to avoid frantic massage, as this will probably speed up her breathing when the aim is to slow it down!
d) Legs Massage
During labor, massaging the legs can dramatically reduce pain and ease strained muscles. Support the mother's legs in an elevated position and gently rub the outside of each leg. Use a loose fist and keep your strokes long and light. Massage toward the heart to increase blood flow and reduce swelling. Avoid any massage around the inner thighs or any deep tissue massage. During labor, blood clots are more common and intensive massage work can dislodge them and cause potentially life-threatening complications. Given the seriousness of improper massage techniques, it's particularly important to seek medical advice or training before massaging the legs.
e) Feet Massage
Simple massages inspired by reflexology focus around the feet and aim to indirectly relieve pain or discomfort elsewhere in the body. When labor is going slowly, have the mother recline slightly, on her back, with her feet elevated. Give her second and third toes a gentle but firm squeeze and then release. You may repeat this several times, doing the same on both feet. The mother should begin to feel a warm, tingling sensation along her legs, reaching toward the pelvic area. The technique may actually speed up a slow labor. When labor is underway, simply hold a thumb at the center of each arch, applying gentle but firm pressure. Move the thumbs.
The use of acupressure and acupuncture for labor pain relief is well known. Stimulating these selective acupressure points during the early stages of labor can help in reducing back pain and support and assist the body of the birthing mother to prepare for the delivery process.
For details description of the acupressure points please visit:
Some birth professionals (mostly in Anglo-Saxons countries) propose to provoke the sexual excitation during the labor, in order to make this one easier. “If the woman feels comfortable to accept nipples and clitoris stimulation during childbirth, it can relieve her and ease the labor” confirms Andrya Prescott, spokesperson of the independent midwifes association. Even without the assistance of a midwife, or during pre-labor, couples are invited to play and engage sexual stimulation or even an intercourse. Sexual stimulation leads to a discharge of oxytocin into the blood flow, while the sperm is rich in prostaglandin, a hormone known for initiate and speed up the labor. The advantages to have an orgasm during childbirth are not negligible: according to Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, autors of The unofficial Guide to Having a Baby, a simple orgasm is 22 times more powerful than a medium tranquilizer. Ina May Gaskin adds “Women would probably think twice before accepting an epidural if they knew this, but nobody talks about it.”
Yet, the subject is still taboo in our society so-called “liberated”. But the question of the pleasure during childbirth deserves to be lifted. Furthermore, a child born that way is even more bathing in the “Love Hormone”, the oxytocin, which is decisive for the mother-child bond.
There is no secret; to be able to relax deeply and consistently on the birthing day, we need to practice. A daily practice of yoga, breathing techniques, meditations, visualization, positive affirmation can do magic during birth time. Consistency is the key.
An orgasmic birth doesn’t mean to necessarily have an orgasm. I think that whenever a woman can look back on these moments with joy and satisfaction, and when the physical and emotional aspects are fully experienced, we can talk about a pleasurable birth.
“We must understand that childbirth is fundamentally a spiritual, as well as a physical, achievement… The birth if a child is the ultimate perfection of human love”
Dr Grantly Dick-Read, 1953
- Conscious Pregnancy, Tome 1, Tarn Taran K. Khalsa
- Conscious Pregnancy, Tome 2, Tarn Taran K. Khalsa
- The Birth Partner, Penny Simkin
- HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing , Marie F. Mongan
- Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Kaplan Shanley
- Gentle Birth companions, Adela Stockton
- Orgasmic Birth, Debra Pascali-Bonaro
- Naissances Intimes, Juliette et Cécile Collonge
- Luna Yoga, Adelheid Ohlig
- The Scientification of Love, M. Odent
- Prepare to Push, Kim Vopni
- Attendre bebe… autrement, Catherine Piraud-Rouet, Emmanuelle Sampers-Gendre
Автор: Amandine Mangin