By learning to recognize and release our mind through meditation, we learn to recognize and release fear from birth.
The skill of separating mind from awareness is a pillar of Calm Birth. At no time is this more important than during childbirth, when we tend to associate the intensity of labor contractions with suffering. We may perceive the new sensations as something to back away from, as a pain that indicates (as pain normally does) that something is wrong.
We see birth in the media as an emergency, to be dealt with swiftly, violently. This effects our perception on how birth is meant to feel and look.
And yet, as a study out of Norway found, woman who fear birth typically spend more time in labor. Fear during childbirth may impede the release of hormones that promote bonding, relaxation, and a smoother labor. Perhaps fear of labor is inherently unnatural—from a physiological standpoint, this seems to be the case. How could fear of be natural, if this emotion disrupts the optimal hormonal flow? How do we move beyond the fear and trust the natural process?
TIME magazine featured an article on the Norwegian study. Unfortunately, this report only focused on the negative aspects of fear prolonging labor, without suggesting solutions for how women in this pivotal time of life can learn to avoid fear. If we are told not to fear, that fear will only make things worse, and we learn to fear fear itself. Yes, I just used “fear” four times in a sentence. This word is grossly overused in today’s world: we fixate on fear as an inescapable force; thus it can impact our lives, from decisions to the duration of labor.
But fear does not have to rule our lives or our births. There are ways to move beyond.
So how do we escape fear? We certainly can’t deny its existence: the emotions that we ignore tend to fester until they demand to be known. This is why, in the Calm Birth practices, we learn to create mindful awareness with our thoughts and emotions as they manifest. We learn to recognize fears as they arise, to release them, and to return to our breath and inner wisdom.
In this way, we train ourselves to face unfamiliar circumstances in empowered ways. If we feel emotions that hinder us, we have the skills to return to inner awareness.
The mind may associate the unfamiliar with fear. Awareness, that omniscient presence behind every thought, reminds us that we have the power to birth and to live with calm confidence. Mind will always return and take us away from the moment. Awareness will always bring us back to center.
Developing a regular practice of meditation during pregnancy has been associated with a decrease in fear of birth. And, although other birth preparations (such as having a doula) may help reduce fear, meditation is a tool to carry into any birthing situation.
Fear serves us when we are in danger. During birth, we must learn to trust that these sensations, though unfamiliar and intense, are safe. They are transforming us as we bring new life into the world. This is to be celebrated!
When it comes to childbirth, preparation is key. Prepare with Calm Birth, and you will have the ability to process emotions as they arise, to face new challenges, and to carry these skills into every breath of life.