Written for See Midwives by Anonymous
Birth Is a Natural Process. All mammals, including human women, have been birthing naturally throughout their species history.
Our bodies are designed to flow through the birthing process if allowed without excessive intervention. Modern medicine and technologies can help to decrease maternal and fetal death rates if used appropriately, but over and unnecessary intervention can actually undermine the safety of both mother and child.
In our modern and scientific life, it can be easy to forget the innate wisdom and capability of our bodies. So much of life is dependent upon technology. The overmedicalization of birth arose in the industrial era when midwives began to be replaced by doctors in the birthing rooms. Protocols changed from following the natural flow of a woman's body and intuition to the choreographed dance of birth led by a doctor. I believe that returning to the natural flow of birth and life can help heal humanity and the world.
What is the natural flow of your body in birth and how do you access it?
To access your body’s wisdom, you must first, trust your body and it’s miraculous design in birthing your baby. A calm mind and spirit allow your body's innate wisdom to surface and to serve you. Check out our article, What Makes Me Feel Safe? for more about this to support you in accessing peace of mind and your body’s inner wisdom.
What are the physiological occurrences in the body that occur naturally in birth when you trust its power and wisdom?
- Endorphin Release, which if cultivated through relaxation practice and a calm trusting birthing environment, can lead to euphoria. The more relaxed you are, the more endorphins your body naturally produces, blocking catecholamine, constrictor hormones.
- Vertex Turn and Engagement- late in pregnancy (between 32-37 weeks) gravity will support your baby in rotating to the head down position. When the widest part of the baby's head rests in the widest part of your pelvis, she is engaged.
- Relaxin Release- the release of the pregnancy hormone, relaxin, lubricates, expands and smooths your vagina in preparation for birth; softens the uterus and expands the pelvis; and loosens moms skeletal ligaments shifting the pubic bone making room for the baby. It also helps your baby’s body to relax making him more flexible for passage through the birth canal; releases amniotic fluid.
- Prostaglandins are secreted by the body triggering oxytocin, starting labor.
- Uterine Surge (contractions) occur with the presence of oxytocin. The uterus has two sets of muscles; one vertical, one horizontal. During a surge, the vertical muscles draw the horizontal muscles up. Like an ocean wave, it eases the baby forward and through the cervix.
- Time distortion, and an amnesiac state often occur during birth allowing mom and baby to rest between surges.
- Fontanels, the flexible material at the top of a baby's head allow for the skull to reorganize becoming smaller for easier passage through the birth canal. This is why babies have soft spots when they are born. Nature designed their skulls to become more compact for easier passage through the birth canal.
- Natural Expulsive Reflex will move the baby down the canal. When mom feels it is right, she can work in collaboration with the body to guide the baby through the canal. Trusting this process rather than relying on forced pushing can help mom and baby to stay well oxygenated, and calm for a safer and more peaceful birth experience.
- Perineal Folds- Without force, the perineum unfolds creating space for baby to birth without tearing.
- Umbilical Pulsations- the umbilical cord will pulsate after birth sending all the nutrients it holds for the baby into her body one last time. This should be allowed to continue until pulsations naturally cease to ensure the baby receives all the important nutrients she needs to start life.
- Placenta is birthed and the baby finds her way to your breast naturally following the sweet smell of colostrum to your nipple for her first feeding outside of the womb.
Understanding and trusting your body's innate wisdom to guide your birth can lead to an empowering and gentle birth.
For more information on the miracle of birth, including beautiful birth stories check out the below resources.
Natural Birthing Resources Used for this Article:
Mongan. (1992). HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method, 4th Edition: A Natural Approach to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing. Health Communications Inc.
Gaskin, I. M. (2003). Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth “Updated With New Material” (Illustrated ed.). Bantam.
England, P., & Horowitz, R. (1998). Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation (1st ed.). Partera Press.