Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Birth of Possibility...

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.

tall penguin


matt said...

Quite amazing, and yet, I believe, another myth originating from those very old Hebrew writings. The birth pangs of distress? I wonder if any other civilization of the time considered birthing to be less painful. Maybe the Hindu culture didn't find it this way. They expressed the Kama Sutra after all.

It seems so much more natural in the way they describe it to be; But bringing out intimate feelings during such a process -- that's so elegant. I think also having Ina there as control made it psychologically feasible for parents to be able to express it, but pretty soon there would be believers who see the good in it for themselves.

This isn't new age or hippy, this is realizing the power of the human mind. Half the time we ignore what it's telling us. :)
Great writing.. It only makes me think of what I last wrote to you. XD

Knight Of said...

painful human birthing is a direct consequence of our evolution- as we are the only fully bipedal mammals, so are we also the mammals with the most difficult and potentially dangerous labor.

as a species this is a problem we should guard against- but if birth were always an agonizing prolonged experience that frequently killed mother/child or both we would have either evolved a wider pelvis or gone extinct. hospitals always treat birth as a medical emergency and that mindset leads them to perform far more invasive procedures than they ought.

if my wife, who cannot even tolerate the pain of a playful spanking, can deliver a baby totally unmedicated, most others could do the same, and the number of hours required and procedures invoked would decrease.

of course, it's much more complicated than this, but i'll keep this comment relatively brief.

i'll have to check out the book you mentioned. my wife had a relatively easy birth, but orgasms would be a bonus if we find ourselves in the delivery room again someday.


matt said...

Oh I do agree there is pain, but the mind can be a powerful organ! I just wonder how far that can be controlled?

Vanessa said...

The two most amazing days of my life. You honestly don't remember the pain.... there is too much bliss.

tall penguin said...

"i'll have to check out the book you mentioned. my wife had a relatively easy birth, but orgasms would be a bonus if we find ourselves in the delivery room again someday."

Yes, I think orgasms would make most things in life easier to bear.

tall penguin said...

"The two most amazing days of my life. You honestly don't remember the pain.... there is too much bliss."

Hey vanessa, I hope more women like yourself speak about the bliss of childbirth. I think there are too many horror stories being told to already frightened women about the birth process.

Ged said...

All 3 of my kids were born without pain relief. It looked like it hurt like shit but my partner was adamant afterwards that is was a 'positive' pain.

I reckon orgasms might have been a bit weird but I guess you shouldn't knock it...

If ever there was a subject crying out for serious study.

lightning said...

Too many people with agendas. Too much CYA. Too much Common Wisdom.

They forget that our Honorable Ancestors not only survived, but did so in fine style. "Primitive" does not mean "stupid".

When I hear some particularly egrigious example of "If you do/don't do this, You Will Die", I like to respond, "Yes, that's why all of our ancestors died in childhood". Invariably, they nod sagely ...