We live in a beautiful part of the country… the natural state. I’d like to share with you some thoughts about natural birth. Northwest Arkansas is an up and coming part of the country where both certainly go hand in hand, but what is natural birth?
Some would say natural birth is birth that isn’t a cesarean-section, while many others might disagree considerably.
Since birth is a topic that never goes out of style I thought I’d share some thoughts with you.
In Egyptian language, the hieroglyph for birth is a kneeling woman with a baby emerging beneath her. Papyrus texts from ancient Egypt describe women as giving birth while squatting on two “birth bricks”.
In 2001, archaeologists in southern Egypt discovered a 3,700 year old birth brick, 14 inches long and 7 inches wide, made of mud, well worn and crumbling from much use. It is decorated with depictions of a mother, her newborn, and religious figures associated with birth and protection of the mother and baby. They believe it belonged to Princess Ren-se-neb who was probably married to a mayor. She was a noble woman, well to do. The brick was found in the women’s quarters of the home, indicating that birth was common and every day occurrence to their way of life.
It also indicated that women helped women. In more modern times around the 1800’s this kind of birth was referred to as “social birthing” or women coming alongside to assist one another.
A women’s body is designed to cope with the hard work and pain of childbirth. When a woman copes well, through knowledge and trusting God and her own body, she releases endorphins that help her relax and continue to labor productively. Then the whole process of childbirth comes to its beautifully designed conclusion: a woman who has allowed the powerful hormonal interplay of birth to flow as intended, without pharmaceutical disruptions. She is then rewarded with a physical joy at birth, a rush of oxytocin, known as the love hormone. Not only is this hormone physically important to the health of the mother, it also puts her in the perfect state to bond with her baby in those once in a life time moments after birth.
Natural birth is much more than mode of delivery, it is a philosophy that encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of each woman. Her attendants are nearby to help her do HER work and giver comfort along the way.
It is witnessing the divine design of the female body and watching it unfold in mystery each and every time.
Birth works est when it is uninterrupted. Anything that disrupts the flow or safety of the mother alters the labor itself. Calm birthing is foreign idea to many in the US. Far more familiar are the fearful images we see on TV and the media. This is not real birth. I have been helping women have babies for a very long time and I know that women smile, laugh and enjoy birth in ways most could never imagine. It is sweet and satisfying.
An amazing advantage to uninterrupted birth is that the mother’s brain waves change as she progresses in labor.
A birthing woman will start out in ordinary reality (Beta Waves). She is excited and wants to tell everyone what each contraction is like, and so forth. Soon she approaches the bridge to the subconscious (Alpha Waves). Chattiness during this time is not welcome. As labor progresses brain wave patterns slow even more and the mother finds herself deep in the subconscious (Theta waves.) Turning inward, she leaves the people around her, fins her rhythm and continues to work. This level of subconsciousness means she has moved into a private, self-directed realm.
Often times, in the throes of labor a woman will cal out for help and look around for someone to help her. this is not a true cry for help, but rather a calling out to be witnessed in the hardest thing she has ever done. This is the value of social birthing. Her man sees her, her helpers see her, they have the ability to calm her by their presence alone and she finds the strength to carry on. She finds her way.
Birth. It is something we DO; not something that is done to us. In the end we are fulfilled and proud. And well we should be.
Brazilian obstetrician Ricardo Jones, MD, has stated….
“There is a space within our culture for medial intervention. That is why doctors are important in reducing maternal and prenatal mortality. At the same time, we have to honor the traditions of million of women throughout the world and throughout history. Women have the inner power and the inner knowledge of giving birth. There is a parallel of sexuality and giving birth. Women who are giving birth, trust yourselves. Trust your inner power. Trust your ability to give life. This is something absolutely sacred that is inside all women in the world. A doctor, nurse , and all midwives in the world are people who are not in the position to teach a woman how to give birth, but to make it easier for her to do what she already knows how to do.”
Following is one of my favorite quotes:
“We have a secret in our culture. It’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.”
Janessa Craig, MMT, D.PSc.
Janessa Craig wears many hats, she received her Arkansas midwife license in 1991 as an apprentice trained direct entry midwife. Currently she is licensed under PMAI US: Pastoral Medical Association International. This license allows her the opportunity to work with birthing families in the time honored ways of birthing traditions passed down from woman to woman over the years. Her PMA license allows her to practice legally in all 50 states and internationally. Additionally, she is a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist (PES), Master Massage Therapist (MMT) and Certified Educator in Infant Massage (CEIM).