The power and intensity of labor pull us right into each moment. Each labor is unique. Like life, you never know how things will unfold. - Myla Kabat-Zinn
Giving birth is one of the most intense experiences that mind can go through- so intense in fact, that the buddhist teachings tell us birth can be an opportunity to experience the true nature of mind fully, just as at death. As with all experiences, we can open to birthing or we can close and attempt to stave off the physical and emotional challenges that it presents us with. By opening to each moment of labor and allowing ourselves to be pulled into the present as Myla Kabat-Zinn describes, rather than being dragged into it kicking and screaming, we will be able to relax and let go. The more we can relax and let go, the more we can experience our mind fully and welcome the arrival of our precious baby.
Relaxing and letting go can look many different ways. It can look peaceful, quiet, and calm as we ride the waves of surges. It can also look chaotic, intense, loud, or even scary. Whatever the birth, we can come back to the breath. We can place our mind on the in-breath, staying with the intensity of physical sensation, and relax and let go with the out breath as it dissolves into space. We can keep opening into space as we breathe out, letting go of any tension or tightening. We can allow ourselves to laugh or to cry. We can trust that each breath is bringing our precious baby closer to us. We can trust our bodies, their ability to grow and nourish this baby and bring him or her into the world. By opening and letting go, we can listen to our bodies during birth and let our body wisdom lead us where we need to go in the process. We can rest between surges, rebuild our windhorse, and get back to the work of bringing our baby out.
Birth can be a powerful opportunity to let go of our preconceived ideas of who we are and how we should behave. With my second birth, I literally growled and grunted like a bear during the final stages of labor- which was a full embrace of the present moment and what I needed to do to meet my baby. I let my body and mind guide me, rather than second guessing myself. I fully opened to the intensity that was arising and went with it, rather than fighting it and feeling any storyline of embarrassment or shame. We can try and watch our minds during labor and birth, noticing when we are resisting what is happening or adding hope and fear to the situation, and then choosing to let go of it all and open again. Whatever kind of birth we are having, we can do this. Whether you are having a vaginal birth or a c-section, natural birth or otherwise, you can continue to practice opening to what is unfolding, watch your mind, and relax into the experience moment by moment by using the breath as a guide.
Birth is unpredictable. We can't plan on how it is going to go. It is an adventure that asks us to open wider than we may have ever been asked to open before. By trusting in the present moment and in our basically good mind and body, we can bring our baby into being with confidence and power. Wishing you all a beautiful birth!