“…I keep looking for one more teacher, only to find that fish learn from the water and birds learn from the sky.” ― Mark Nepo
In other words, they learn by just being, by letting go, embracing, embodying, living life, and going with the natural flow. Reading this line from one of my favorite authors, again I am struck by how well it expresses what I see happen, time and again, in labor and birth.
I always say that the biggest obstacle we face in labor is a huge cloud of unknowns hanging over our heads. It’s hard to know what tools to pull from our bag of tricks to support ourselves, if we don’t have any idea of what is coming. How can we prepare? “I am afraid I won’t know what to do in labor”, is a sentiment expressed often as I talk with expectant mothers. While I do believe it is important to prepare for your birth by reading, researching, taking classes, participating in some form of Yoga, Tai chi, or exercise class; and practicing various methods of pain management techniques and comfort measures, I think the most important thing we need to do is to learn how to get our heads, our thinking minds out of the way, and allow our bodies to do what they were designed to do. Our glorious female body knows how to grow and create an entire, perfect human baby, and a temporary organ to nourish and sustain our baby, it knows how to make milk to feed our baby, how to put off just the right hormones to cause contractions, and how to release bonding chemicals the first time we make eye contact with and hold our new baby. We know these things, we talk of them as being miraculous, yet we believe they occur. So why is it so hard for us to let go and believe that our body knows how to labor and bring our baby forth into new life as well? I believe it is because we respond fearfully, and then try so hard to control, to be left brain logical, methodical, organized, and efficient in creating a plan to force our labor to go as we want it to. But labor and birth are not left brain, logical events which we can plan and manage, as if for a party or a corporate event. You did not have to create a plan to cause your body to create, develop, and grow your baby, or to make breast milk, and in just the same way, you need not over think, worry, and plan to try to take control over your labor either. Labor happens, just like your baby grows, and your breasts produce milk to feed him. Our job is to let go, let be, have a “don’t know mind”, one that is okay with not having all the answers, and is willing to allow things to unfold as they will. We need to step to the right of our over thinking mind and live the moments of our labor just as the fish who learn from water, and the birds who learn from the sky, by simply being fully present, open, and mindfully aware.
I can promise you, you do know what to do, if you can just let go, be still, and listen to the wisdom of your body. One of the things I love to do in the beginning of labor, is to point out to a laboring mother who previously expressed her fears to me of not knowing what to do, all the ways in which she is listening beautifully to her body, letting it do what it needs to do, and responding as necessary, in the moment. Look, you knew just when the next stretching sensation was coming, and you knew that being upright and swaying would make it more comfortable. Amazing, you just sensed the best postures and positions to get into that would help you alleviate pain, and to allow your baby to come down easily. Incredible how your intuition is telling you that moving about the room will help keep you comfortable and move your labor along! When I speak with mothers initially, and we talk of pain management techniques, the best thing I love to hear is, “I’m not sure, I’ve never done this before, I have not yet decided what I want to do”, and I always tell her, that is the wisest possible answer, and it is brilliant not to have it all figured out in advance, you don’t need to. It is perfectly alright to allow yourself to just embrace the process, and let the answers come as you experience yourself being fully in the moment. You do know what to do in labor, if only you will let go of making lists, planning, charting, mapping, and trying to figure it allow out and plan it ahead of time, and just be still, listen, and let it be as and what it will. If you can do this, simply let go and become One with your baby, and One with the very fullness of the life energy surging through you, your birth will be peaceful, gentle, beautiful, and you will ecstatically inhabit and experience every glorious moment of the miracle. If you can choose to remain in contact and conversation with life itself, and be open and accepting of it, as a beginner, for it is in beginnings and having a beginners mind that we truly live, then things will not just take place around you, people will not make decisions for you, and labor will not happen to you, rather there will be no separation between creator, creating, and created, you will become the very embodiment of the creative life force itself.
When we fall in love we don’t sit down, make a list, and plan how it will proceed, we just close our eyes, let go, and fall, and the not knowing, the mystery, the discovery is part of its glory. How could the bringing forth of the fruit of such love be any different? Give yourself permission to fall into your birth then, and though you may risk that it will carve holes in the flute of your soul, oh what magnificent music it will bring!