I am reading this really interesting book on midwifery called Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Ina May Gaskin is one of the leading midwives on the planet. Her spiritual and natural approach to childbirth brings into question the traditional way we bring children into this world. She founded a community in Tennessee known as The Farm, where women anticipating low-risk births are invited to deliver naturally.
The most amazing thing I've read so far? That 30-40% of women claim to experience an orgasm while giving birth. Booyah! Now, that's what I'm talkin' about! See, this makes complete sense to me. And yet, it's something women would rarely discuss. We've been conditioned to believe that birth is a painful, medical procedure; lead to believe that a woman's body requires much intervention to deliver a child. Gaskin works from an opposite set of beliefs: that women have evolved to be able to deliver with minimal intervention and that they can actually experience a heightened sense of awareness and bliss during the process.
The book includes first-hand stories of women who have birthed at The Farm and the amazing experiences they have had. There are tales of orgasmic birth as well as the unique techniques Gaskin uses to help labor and delivery along. One that really struck me:
"Ina May suggested that I kiss my husband during the next contraction....while kissing, the contractions continued to be strong. Ina May was sitting on the end of the bed, and she advised me to open my mouth enough to surround my husband's. It was at this point that I became more aroused than I had ever been in my life! There was no pain---only the most extreme sexual pleasure and complete openness. It was orgasmic."
What would happen to our world if women knew that birth could be like this? Granted, there's still going to be a measure of pain with birthing, but what if our awareness going into the process could be one that included the possibility of experiencing this complete bliss? What if women trusted their own bodies and their abilities to birth a child with little intervention? What would our society look like if children came into this world surrounded by such love and joy and openness?
And all of this makes me wonder about so many of the collective ideas we have about life and pain. "No pain, no gain." Who says? Does growth, life, creation always have to hurt to be valuable? Can we learn from a space of joy and openness? How much of the pain we experience is self-inflicted, created in the mind? What would happen if the stories we told ourselves about how life is, about how life is supposed to be, ceased this very moment? What if we became open to just experiencing life directly and being here in the great mystery that is existence?
My friend Dom called me a hippy the other day. He may be right.