Body Image and Birth Image

The way we live our lives signals how we will birth. How we view our bodies in our daily lives informs how we view our ability to birth.

Do you like your body? Do you trust your body? Does your body work for you? Or do you have animosity, anxiety or disdain for your body? Can you see how that will affect your birth?

You don't have to think about digestion to make it work. You don't have to think about your heart beating, or your lungs breathing. Your body has its own intelligence and can do those things just fine without our mental activity. Pregnancy, labor and birth are no different.

Of course your mind can affect how these processes work. When you are feeling anxious, your breath gets shallow, your heart beats faster and your digestion slows. The same happens in birth and labor when we are anxious, fearful or otherwise un-trusting of our bodies.

So, do you trust your body?

What a miracle it is that, without any effort on our part, our bodies can grow another human being! Every cell of your body has generations and lifetimes of memories and history and practice of birth. (In fact, regardless of whether you are a man or woman in this life, you have carried the memory of birthing and being birthed into this lifetime.) The vast majority of those memories are correct blueprints for allowing birth to happen with ease and joy. But, as you may have noticed, there have been many births in modern history fraught with trauma, pain and fear, and those experiences are also passed on and obscure that perfect blueprint. And so the consciousness of birth we may have inherited is one of fear and trauma. You may have no active awareness of this, but the cells of your body remember.

What is your intuition (or active memory) around birth and your body's ability to birth? Is there an opportunity for you to change your vibration and future karma around birth?

Thanks to our feminist mothers and sisters in the recent past, women have been doing the work of healing much of that trauma. And it is our work, as enlightened women and men, to continue to heal the consciousness of birth. For the survival of all of us on planet Earth.

The Work

It begins before conception, continues through pregnancy, labor, birth and guess what, for the rest of our lives as parents! What a heavy load! Fortunately we get a lot of help and we are not the only players.

Again, how do you view your body's ability to birth? Do you trust your body? Really take a deep listen to your self-talk throughout the day. You may be surprised when you really start to pay attention. Every time you hear yourself say something negative about your body, stop, breathe and re-frame it; say something positive about your body. Notice how others talk about you and your body. If it is positive, are you receptive? And if it is negative, how do you respond?

Do you live your life with stress and anxiety? These are the most detrimental emotions and experiences to pregnancy and birth. When we live with chronic anxiety, we are imprinting on our child that the world is full of dangerous things and we pass on the experience of fear. Not to worry, you can do something about that.

Do you have any active memory of your own birth being peaceful or traumatic? If not, have you consulted with your family, intuition or your Higher Self about past birth traumas?

Meditation could be one of the most important and simple practices that you take up for your pregnancy and life. The good news is that when we pay attention, and when we choose, we can use body postures, active breath manipulation and positive affirmations to affect our mind and mood. It works both ways. This is the beauty of the science of yoga.

The Reality

One of the challenges of modern technological birth is the underlying premise that birth will be difficult and painful and something must be done to change it, ease it, move it along; to "help." There is no room in the hospital for trust, for faith, and this is as it should be for all other medical emergencies. But birth is not a medical emergency--and why a hospital is the wrong setting for labor (but that is a different conversation).

Every woman will have her own process of laboring and birthing. Every woman's body does something or needs something different. And just like the one-size-fits-all pants that fit no one well, the one-size-fits-all approach to birth serves no one well. What does serve women well is a supportive birth team who encourages you and creates space for you to birth the way your body wants to birth.

A doula, positive affirmations, breathing techniques, listening to your body and moving intuitively are the tools of birth for the new, conscious family.

When you trust your body and trust that labor will progress at the pace that works for you, you can flow with the process. But don't forgot the dichotomy of trust. Sometimes the outcome is not what we want, but it may be what is actually, truly needed for the healing to occur.