Articles by Catharine Miller:
How I Became a Midwife
The Value of Relaxation
How Midwifery Helps
Sounds in Labor
Yoga in Pregnancy
Choosing a Midwife Q&A
|The Value of Relaxation
The significance of health and balance during pregnancy, birth and the post partum period (emotionally, physically, and spiritually) cannot be emphasized enough. In 1982, as a birthing mother myself, I utilized yoga, visualization, and affirmations to maintain a trouble free pregnancy, and facilitate a smooth, uncomplicated birthing experience. Practicing these techniques benefited me on many levels, body, mind and spirit. I did not seem to experience the many discomforts during my pregnancy that most women are plagued by - and my labor progressed quickly, with a very short pushing stage - especially for a first baby.
In working as a midwife since the 80’s, I have shared these techniques with tousands of birthing women. I’ve seen them work over and over to assist the birthing woman get in touch with her inner strength, and empower herself in the birthing process. From what I’ve witnessed, the most valuable technique in coping with labor is simply “surrendering,” “getting out of the way,” “stepping aside and let the birthing process happen.”In the Childbirth Education Series my birthing couples are informed that the 2 crucial things to remember the the key words “TRUST AND SURRENDER”. TRUST, that your body knows what to do and will do it. SURRENDER to the process, let go and let it happen.
The miracle of naturesand the woman’s body are incredible!!!! The innate wisdom of the body is such that a woman can make dinner, talk on the phone, do a load of laundry, and grow a baby, all at the same time! - without even thinking about it. The same innate wisdom occurs in birthing. Just as your body can grow your baby without you even thinking about it, your body can birth your baby without even you thinking about it YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT , OR DO ANYTHING - IT WILL JUST HAPPEN ON ITS OWN - ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS JUST GIVE IT UP!!
Maintaining a state of “equipoise” throughout the labor and birth experience allows this to happen. As described in the visualization in “Labor of Love” Audio tape, tuning into your baby and letting go (surrendering), is the key. With the TLC - tender loving care - and support of those around you, utilizing the tools learned in the Childbirth Classes, Yoga Classes, Prenatal Visits, when practiced during pregnancy can aid in facilitating a low risk, non-interventive labor and birth with a healthy outcome for mother and baby.
Many women appreciate the benefits of water while laboring. Just as soaking in a hot tub provides relief for menstrual discomforts, soaking/floating in a large tub of water during labor relieves up to 50% of the pain. Its been called the “midwives epidural”. As in the “Floating” and “Forest and the Stream” visualizations on The Labor of Love tape describes, the flow of water can be extremely helpful in assisting the process of opening up and letting go in pregnancy in pregnancy as well as labor.
As mentioned in my article Yoga in Pregnancy, many yoga poses can also help maintain emotional balance, physical comfort throughout pregnancy, and ease the labor process. Regular practice of yoga poses that relieve some of the common discomforts of pregnancy, also prepare the woman’s body for labor. The series of poses practiced strengthen the body/mind/spirit, increase endurance and stamina and open the areas for the birthing process. In the poses, the emphasis on the breath teach the woman how to use the breath to let go, relax and get in touch with her inner strength. For example, in my Yoga Video, in the squatting pose, a visualization is done to simulate/practice, opening up in labor, letting the energy move down through their center and releasing the pelvic floor. We consciously work on letting go with the breath while in this optimum birthing position.
I have practiced this with the pregnant women in my Prenatal Yoga class since 1982 and have seen it make an incredible difference in 2nd stage. It also is beneficial when the head is crowning by helping tune in to the perineum and consciously birthing the head slowly to prevent tears.
Value of relaxation in pregnancy cannot be emphasized enough. The Labor of Love tape has affirmations for each trimester. Our society as a whole is fear based in regard to childbearing. Pregnancy is viewed as an inconvenience and imposition on our lifestyle. These affirmations assist in reconnecting with the miracle of the new life growing/developing inside of you. Focus on the positive rather than the negative, the possible rather than the impossible.
As a culture we seem to have lost touch with the sacredness of birth, and with our fast-paced society we have a hard time making room for the “experience”.
We are brought up without the wondrous experience of being at family births and grow up in a society that does not honor this transformational process.
In my audio tape “Labor of Love”, I have affirmations to encourage acceptance of the natural development of the pregnancy and growing baby, and encourage appreciation for the joy of the miracle of creation that is taking place…
'Pregnancy is an incredible opportunity to release the past, heal old wounds, and create anew... the birthing of a new dimension, your new self as a mother along with your birthing of baby.