The outside world seems intent on giving healthy pregnant women the mindset that the labor process of Childbirth is dangerous to women and their babies.

“The focus is no longer on birth as a normal life process, but an accident waiting to happen. Women are so worried that there is a new psychiatric diagnosis, tokophobia, the fear of giving birth.” Jennifer Block, Pushed, pg.58

That being said…

It would come as no surprise to me to find that even before your Labor actually begins, you have primed your mind to expect the worst, most of your worries about the birth process stemming from the fear mongering of your medical staff, your well-meaning friends, books, social media, the internet—this information overload already has your mind churning.

The type of mindset that has you literally wanting to curl up into a ball around your speculations about birth—freezing up— and that says it all right there.

Your overwhelmed frozen mind has you pulling up and away from the physical reality—the birth of your baby—fully primed with the ill conceived notion that avoiding the “problem” will help “solve the problem”.

This mindset would likely already have you afraid of what labor could mean, how much it will hurt, how long it will last, etcetera—expecting the worst —your mind primed so that “the worst” is what your mind finds. Neuroscience 101.

Fear is a pesky bugger and will worm its way into your thoughts in other ways as well.

Your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) will also initiate the Fight/Freeze/Flight syndrome in your brain as a knee jerk reaction once your contractions become strong and intense. This will happen regardless of your actual mindset about birth.

Yes, the very part of your brain that is running your uterine contractions is now insisting that you escape the painful sensations that it is creating.

However,  birth is not something your body can “escape” from, birth is a happening right now kind of bodily process, and the only “escape” is to give into BIRTH and help your body release your child.

It all sounds a little Catch-22, but trust me, there is a way out.

Your body’s go to reaction to pain is always pull up and away. This is the technique the body uses to keep itself safe, your hand automatically pulls away from a flame, often before your mind even fully registers the heat.

(Pain is a very worthy topic and will be addressed in depth elsewhere, trust me, there is a lot to learn about pain and effective pain management)

It is what you actually DO after that initial reaction that makes all the difference.

If you choose F-F-F then your mind will get caught up in a feedback loop of thoughts and emotions that continually work to ramp up your stress, anxiety and fear.

The consequence of this choice is that your body reacts by curling your muscles up into knots, which stalls your labor, making your contractions ineffective, your labor longer, and the work harder.

Which in turn makes you more stressful, anxious, and fearful…and this makes the whole thing a painful ordeal, you suffer against labor rather than coping with the sensations, a real struggle…

…and before you know it you find yourself agreeing to the very interventions you feared and were hoping to avoid.

If you choose to apply positive appropriate actions then your mind will get caught up in a feedback loop of thoughts and emotions that continually work to ramp up your strength, your confidence and your equanimity. 

The “consequence” of this choice is that your body reacts by releasing the muscles around your uterus, which strengthens your labor, making your uterine contractions more effective, your labor shorter, and the work easier.

Which in turn makes you more competent, relaxed, and calm…and this makes the whole thing a challenging and rewarding experience, you release towards birth and masterfully cope with the sensations, a really powerful sense of satisfaction and joy…

…and before you know it you find yourself holding your baby barely even registering your exhaustion.

The problem is that today’s society seldom, if ever, teaches us the tools of surrendering control or for facing reality square in the face, it mostly just solidifies our feelings of entitlement.

We want what we want and we want it right now, quick and pain-free, delivered on a silver platter just how we ordered it.  All with little or no effort on our part.

We want control—our doctors and nurses want control—everyone wants the ability to micromanage our labors and birth—in fact, a lot of medical technology has sprung from this very desire to control the “uncontrollable” aspects of the physiological birth process.

Physiological Birth requires some very hard cognitive behavior—patience, trust, and release. It requires the cognitive skills of strength, endurance, and discipline. It is not easy instead it requires a good clean honest work ethic.

Yoga is all about seeing clearly and relinquishing our iron-fisted grip on the “mind stuff” that makes us suffer. 

The truth is- if you look with awareness at the core of each and every contraction you will see that sensation for what it really is.

A healthy strong muscle doing the job for which it was created. Your beautiful amethyst colored uterus.

You will find true relief during labor if you can find a way to skillfully manage the initial Catch-22 confusion that the beginning of Labor brings to your body and mind.

The Whole Way uses education as a tool to increase your confidence and reduce your anxiety and fear about the impending birth of your baby.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough how those two elements will combine to make your birth experience harder and more painful, you deserve better.

Proper education ensures that when your “birthday” does arrive you will be able to surrender your thinking mind and place trust in the fact that Nature has designed a rather elegant plan that allows your body to open and your baby to be born.

On that momentous day you will need to do both, surrender control and look reality in the face, as your birth experience unfolds moment to moment. Working with the particular set of circumstances that will be unique to you and your baby and will provide the unique flavor of your childbirth experience.

Solving the Catch-22 is as simple as this:

Let your body be in charge of the baby-releasing business and your mind be in charge of skillfully moderating your response to the sensations, the emotions and the thoughts as they are happening in real life.

Nothing is more Yoga than gaining the ability to live only in real time and masterfully handling all which is happening within your domain as it is happening. Bring it on.

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