Through the discovery, pursuit and unfolding of one's own body centered potential, cultivating empowerment is a personal and collective process. Childbirth is an excellent opportunity to tap into your unique, body centered potential, for it is your incredible power to bring forth life from a state of becoming into that of being! Embracing the power of choice in the dynamic unfolding of pregnancy, childbirth and in becoming a parent, helps one to approach life and new experiences openly. My understanding of freedom in childbirth is that it is an embodied sensation that comes from nurturing a trusted connection with yourself and your multifaceted potential for growth and transformation.
With my own experiences and research, I've witnessed and learned that the ability for the laboring mother to feel confident and to thrive in her incredible potential, is greatly influenced by her inner forces as well as from external forces, such as her environment. This environmental influence includes the collective behaviour of our culture.
The power of fear is perpetuated by our culture, in how we approach our natural physiology (our bodies! our wombs!) and is directly linked to one's actual experience of giving birth. It has been observed and well documented that the laboring woman's emotional & mental state, as well as of those around her, will affect the outcome of her birth experience. Cross-culturally, fear impedes our trusted connection to ourselves and to connect with our innate potential, our inherent capacities in life and our choices in bringing forth life. To trust our potential means to trust our power. Birth without fear is to connect with potent sources of strength and trust. Pregnant mothers, you got the power!
As a doula, I help women work through their fears, doubts and apprehensions, which stem from both internal and external sources. Some people may refer to this as "support", however I must note that this can be misleading, since this can lead to the assumption that the pregnant or birthing mother is dependent on another person's expertise, or power to give birth. As Michel Odent describes,
"so many words are commonly used to describe childbirth - support, patient, management, delivered by, coached, helped, guided - suggest that a woman does not have the power to give birth without being dependent on somebody else. This isn’t the case at all. The laboring woman doesn't need support. She needs to feel privacy and security. Birth attendants need to understand the complex physiological changes the mother is undergoing to avoid making dangerous mistakes. Not only does the word support indicate misunderstanding, it also perpetuates a harmful lack of knowledge of the birth process."
Empowerment is when you know, feel and trust your incredible potential. It's the embrace of your power. My job is to encourage people to connect with their whole being, and to nurture while trusting their amazing power. Acting from a place of empowerment is the ability to make decisions that best suits your desires and needs in alignment with your goals and values. Embracing your own autonomy through your choices can ultimately be liberating!
As a birth partner, I believe that the laboring mother needs to be surrounded by encouraging people. Surrounded by those that trust and participate in her connection with her incredible potential. This nurtures her feeling of confidence and her awareness of her power. That is at the root of nurturing a gentle, empowered and informed birth culture. Especially today, I'd like to acknowledge all of you amazing people out there who are a part of this movement of transforming fear around childbirth- Many thanks and much love to all you out there who are reclaiming it's roots of potent power, who are improving the physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns and families.
Want to learn more about reducing fear of birth in our culture? Check out Ina May Gaskin's awesome Ted talk all about this here: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Reducing-fear-of-birth-in-U-S-c