“I have been a midwife for 11 years. I do not want to mislead women into thinking that childbirth is not painful.
“Whenever you describe childbirth, you are walking on thin ice because it is such a different experience for everybody.
“Pain is normal and natural and opens up all chakras. A woman becomes a conduit for beautiful energy. If you allow the pain to be what it is and be as strong as it needs to be, you go into an altered state of consciousness. Some of that is due to the physical, the endorphins, which create that dreamy ability to cope with what is happening. Part of it is spiritual.
“When I had my births, the energy of birth filled me up. I become the birth. I become that energy. I am not this separate person anymore.
“For some women, that altered consciousness lasts a long time; for others, it does not last quite as long.
“Most women when they get close to being dilated feel separate from the other people in the room. They are almost in a different state of mind. Many women start to feel it right before they begin to push.
“It is the ultimate surrender. A woman is reckoning with the most primal forces that exist. And whenever you completely surrender to anything, your heart opens up and you experience divinity.
“In the final analysis when women look back on the experience, they recognize that they went to the edge of the earth and did it; and the reward is feeling so incredibly powerful and so in love with their baby.
“Women that do not go through that may have a harder time bonding with their baby. That is what post-partum depression is about. I can’t say that I don’t ever work with a mother that does not have post-partum depression. That would be unrealistic. A lot of women have serious adjusting to do.
“However, I see less post-partum depression than you find when women deliver in the hospital where the whole thing is done for them, and to them and they do not experience that strength.
“Whether you have a painful birth or not depends to some degree upon what you grow up with. What we heard subconsciously when we were growing up has a big impact.
“Women who hear that childbirth is horrible their whole life and their mother’s experiences were horrible have greater chances in experiencing hard births.
“My mother had three unmedicated births in the 1950s which was rare. The whole time I was growing up, childbirth was considered no big deal. Childbirth was what you did. It was hard work and everything was okay. I never heard horror stories. My sister had five babies at home. I had four babies at home. We both had really good births.
“I have worked with women from Mexico. Their birth process is not as intellectual as American births. In many ways our culture has turned its trust in childbirth over to medicine.
“In Mexico, they do not think that way. They do not think about sonograms and knowing what sex the baby is, and how big they are supposed to be at any one time. They do not divide it up into little categories like Anglo people. People may equate that with ignorance, but these women are very intelligent. They are the matriarchs of their families. They just believe it is natural. They do not need to analyze it. They operate more intuitively.
“American women have a hard time because they do not physically work every day. We do not carry water. We do not carry wood. We do not garden for our sustenance. There is something to be said for those cultures who were so incredibly fit.
“Most women can give birth fine if they can get their brains out of the way.
“There is innate wisdom in the way the human body is made. The uterus is incredibly smart. The whole process never ceases to amaze me. The placenta knows when to detach. All those things happen like clockwork.
“We have made it far more complicated than we need to.
“I stopped teaching childbirth classes for years. It was a disservice to plant more information into women’s brains. It was a disservice to intellectualize the process any more than it already had been. I gave birth to my first two kids when there were only two books available on childbirth.
“Now I teach short childbirth classes. I show movies and we talk about them. Then we spend a half hour in each class explaining the mechanics of labor. I do not go into long details. Extending the classes takes away the woman’s ability to trust that she is designed to give birth.
“I went through this wave where I tried to convince every client to squat. I made a big deal about squatting. Well, not every women wants to squat. And when I had my fourth child, I could not squat. I was on one knee and one leg was kind of bent and extended over to the side. Getting into a full squat was too much for me even though I teach pre natal yoga and can squat freely.
“Giving birth is the most moving thing that happens in a woman’s life.
They feel, ‘If I could do that, I can do anything. I can figure this out. I have the strength and I will have the intuition because I watched my body and mind work like a fine-tuned clock.’
“All women get that on some level when they give birth. Most feel infinitely empowered and they did not have a clue that they had that much strength. They did not know they had that power. Women experience that most with their first baby.
“New mothers come back to me and say, ‘I never knew I could feel so clear and love being a woman so much.'”