Nature’s Compass for Pregnancy + Birth
By Amy Heilman
Originally posted on www.awakeningroots.blogspot.com 4/23/14
Posted with permission from Amy.
“My first experience as a birth doula occurred before I even knew what a doula was. I supported a soul sister friend in the natural home birth of her first child in March 2012, and I learned so much through her process of self-education and conscious decision making. Before this, birth was something other people did – it had no significant place in my life, and I had generally accepted the perception of birth that was portrayed on television and movies: quick, aggressive, and dramatic. The moment my friend’s baby was born, a chord was struck inside me. That very moment her baby arrived was NOT what I had expected. It was gentle, quiet, still. No hands prodding, no machines beeping – no one but mama, papa, midwife, and me, filled with joy, love, compassion, and curiosity in their own home. I remember thinking, “This is the way it is supposed to be.” This pure, innocent life was welcomed so gently and respectfully into this world for the first time. That moment illuminated how all life deserves to be treated, inside the womb, and earthside.
After two years of practicing as a birth doula, working with numerous families in their unique birth journeys, I have been awakened to the opportunities for women to create an optimal, gentle, wondrous, even spiritual birth experience with ease and love. I’ve learned that birth transcends our perception of it, and this beautiful, pure moment can happen in any environment – home, hospital, birth center, the prairie, etc. Regardless of what people’s belief systems are, birth is inherently a deeply spiritual experience that invites humans to open to their truest selves – it calls to the spirit – and this is why birth is so powerful. Birth invites Rebirth. As human beings, we have the significant opportunity to open up to this powerful experience!
In my work with new mothers during their pregnancies, I see them learning so much through researching and talking with other moms. They do a great job of educating themselves and feeling mentally empowered in their choices. However, I see many couples focus so much on informing themselves and learning about the birth that they forget they are also birthing themselves into parents. They have forgotten that this is a piece of their own personal life journey, to celebrate, to be, to visualize and feel the profound changes occurring for them. This gestational period, this work, deserves special attention and awareness for parents to maintain balance and connection. Oftentimes I hear moms in their late pregnancy say they feel guilty for not being “in tune” with their pregnancy the first two trimesters. In Western culture, birth is generally perceived as an isolated event, and that more is better – more amenities, more technology, more material items, more information. This type of weight often distracts us from the true simplicity of birth. We can easily get bogged down and mentally overloaded. It is a balancing act, no doubt. But birth already has so much to offer. Birth is innately holistic: it is perfectly whole in its natural state – circular – no clear beginning, no clear end. It is not separate from the rest of life. A woman’s entire journey up until the point of conception impacts her succeeding journey of pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Her emotional state, and the choices she makes ripple out into her relationships, bring awareness to her community, and vibrate out into the rest of the universe.
We can learn a lot from Nature. The nine months of pregnancy are not merely a coincidence – it is Nature’s perfectly designed timeline for mother and partner to build awareness and embody this transition into a new “season” of parenthood. When Nature lets go of one season to transition into the next, it does not move hastily or carelessly.
For example, every time Earth releases Winter and gives birth to Spring, an ebb and flow happens: it warms up a bit, then it gets cold, it warms up a lot, then it snows, then it warms up again. Earth is working hard to rebirth itself. It is breaking itself down to build itself back up with new life. Everything in nature wobbles as it relearns how to embody the next phase of its evolutionary path. This shedding and emerging is a transformative cycle that repeats itself numerous times, over and over. Earth sheds or lets go of the things that no longer serve it to create space for new things that do serve its vitality. This is the process of growth for all living things – this occurs within the plants, the trees, the animals, the cosmos. This occurs in pregnancy. This occurs in birth. And it is hard work! It is wobbly, it is full-sensory, it is unpredictable, it is flexible, it is perfectly imperfect, and it is beautifully alive in all of its uncertainty.
Pregnancy is a sacred time in a woman’s life when her physical and emotional self make continuous transitions to bring forth new life. We didn’t create our bodies, nor are we able to control the body’s functions. An intelligence greater than the human mind is at work. It is the same intelligence that sustains all of nature. We cannot get any closer to that intelligence than by being aware of our own inner energy field – by feeling the aliveness, the animating presence within the body. All of this can seem so big that it can feel overwhelming. Some women might say, “I am already taking on so much, how can I possibly make time for myself?” The upside is, presence asks us to do nothing. To nurture the spirit, we are invited to be less concerned with doing and having, and to focus more on being. Sweet mamas, become one with your self and with the totality. Spend time with nature.
Get your hands in the dirt, lie in the grass, make a snow angel. Stop. Look. Listen to all the sounds around you. Bring your attention to a stone, a tree, or an animal – not to think about it, but simply to perceive it, to hold it in your awareness. Retreat with your friends and invite nature into the things you already love doing. Remember that the air you breathe is nature, as is the breathing process itself. Spend a weekend with other pregnant mamas honoring the work you do together. Get to know your body with yoga, or simply by touching your body with care. Schedule time to relax and unplug from urban life. Tune in to the unseen parts of your journey. Remind yourself that the spirit is not just a mystical idea, but a powerful tool for birth, which is why it is so intensely called upon in those moments you are working with your baby (pure life).
Eckhart Tolle writes:
Watch an animal, a flower, a tree, and see how it rests in Being. It is itself. It has enormous dignity, innocence, and holiness. However, for you to see that, you need to go beyond the mental habit of naming and labeling. The moment you look beyond mental labels, you feel that ineffable dimension of nature that cannot be understood by thought or perceived through the senses. It is a harmony, a sacredness that permeates not only the whole of nature but is also within you.
Dearest mamas, birth will catapult you into this realm of holiness and sacredness, and it is so powerfully scary and beautiful. You are like a volcano, preparing to open and release Earth’s energy from your entire Being. Each mama is offered the challenge of existing with the power of a volcano while walking in an urban Western world that favors the thinking mind. However, a woman cannot think her way through birth; she must feel it all with her eyes closed. Only when she is still inside does she have access to the realm of stillness that rocks, plants, and animals inhabit. Only when her noisy mind subsides can she connect with nature at a deep level and go beyond the sense of separation created by excessive thinking. There is an added dimension of knowing, of awareness, in the stillness that is beyond thought. Nature can bring you to that stillness. That is its gift to you. When you perceive and join with nature in the field of stillness, that field becomes permeated with your awareness. That is your gift to nature. Through you nature becomes aware of itself.
Sweet mama, nature has been waiting for you, as it were, for millions of years.
Let it be your compass.
Let it guide you there.”