When I was being trained to become a doula, we were told about how children can sometimes recall their births in exact detail. I was pregnant for my third and final child at the time and became very excited by this study and decided that when the time was right, I was going to ask my child about their birth. The rules were simple - don't ask any "leading" questions and wait for a moment that felt right, when the child is lucid and offers the information.
About 3 years later I was watching a birth video on YouTube (not uncommon in this doula's homestead) and my youngest came in and watched the tail end of it with me (ha! Pun intended). When it was over he said "the baby came out?" and I said, "Yep. The mama and the baby worked together and the baby came out and was born! Isn't that cool?"
"Yea! That's how I came out of you body, too."
This is the moment. I felt it in my bones...he was lucid, curious, attentive - and he seemed to know what he was talking about. So, I said, "Yes it is! Do you remember what that was like?"
And, he said...
"Yep. I was coming out and then I bumped my head and had to spin around."
You see, human babies are born literal fetuses because our hips are narrow and our heads are huge. Most mammals give birth to walking, functional babies. Humans, being the only two leggeds on the planet, must give birth earlier in order to get the baby out when they still fit. This is also why our babies need to breastfeed and be attached skin to skin to the mother for some time after the birth. We are sort of like kangaroo's in this respect, but, I digress - back to the BIRTH of humans.
It's important to remember that you actually don't need to know anything at all about birth because your body already knows everything it needs to to get your baby out. You don't have to sit around thinking about how to develop your baby's lungs or create 10 fingers and 10 toes, right? So, don't overthink birth, either. The best thing to do here (and, ultimately - the hardest), is to get out of your own way and surrender to your body - and your baby's - innate wisdom.
The Initiation of Motherhood and of LIFE
A big part of this process is about your baby finding his or her way out of you as well as you finding the strength within you to do the same. Birth is an initiation for you both.
For you, it is an initiation, a rite of passage, into the privilege of becoming a parent responsible for this life. When we go through labor we face many things about ourselves. The entire pregnancy can be seen as a trial of initiation and the birth the final part of the process. Through the entire experience you will absolutely emerge a changed person capable of great struggle, sacrifice, and triumph for your baby. This will happen no matter how your birth goes - but, absolutely IS more powerful when a woman consciously chooses to be an active participant in her labor. Anything we work hard for we tend to appreciate more in the long run. This isn't right or wrong - it just is. Giving birth is hard, but, once accomplished, most women feel and incredible rush of relief, pride, and victory....and love. So much love.
For your baby, it is an initiation into life itself. An experience that connects us to all other humans and forces us to face the unknown, to problem solve, and to overcome fear and discomfort. All the makings every human being must have to survive. If you really want to get philosophical and dig into the Divine meaning of birth...and us...we could actually look at the significance of the number seven as a number of completeness, divine perfection or something that is finished. The number 7 is represented in this way in many religions and cultures - take it or leave it, I thought it interesting and worth mentioning.
Babies must make Seven Cardinal Movements in order to get out, and unlike you - they have no real idea of what is going on...they have no choice but to trust birth and do a lot of work and go through a painful process to get out of you.
So, when my son said "I bumped my head and then I had to spin around" - he was telling me about a conscious process that he went through during his birth. He actually had to process the information. "Hm...that's not working. My head will not continue to fit through here...." and then actually problem solve in order to get out "Maybe I should turn my head this way".
Remember that when you are in labor.
You are NOT alone.
Pregnancy and birth can sometimes feel like an Island where you are all alone - but, you're not. There is a whole world of experiences going on within you. Tap into that and take comfort in knowing that you are a walking talking miracle who is holding space for a lifetime of possibility. IT'S NOT FOR NOTHING. Continuously connect with your baby. Remind yourself and him/her that it is OK and continue to visualize meeting eachother for the first time. Remember that it's all impermanent and that no one has ever been pregnant or labored forever.
This is all important to understand because it reminds us why it is important to be an active participant in your labor and gives motivation to go natural - and to remember that if your baby can do it - YOU CAN DO IT, TOO! When we are able to listen to and move our bodies as needed, we increase our chances of having a faster and more productive labor and delivery because we are working with our labors, not just sitting there and waiting for everything to happen to us. Plus, your baby will know and feel you working and moving to help him/her. It is your way to show support to your child as s/he comes into the world.
In the videos below you will see the way a baby must turn to get out and a video where the importance of positioning before and during labor (and how it contributes to length of labor) is explained.
Did you know children could recount their births?