🌱 Put down the books and feel into your body's innate wisdom gifted to you by Nature so you know the rhythms of birth and have confidence in your body's ability to give birth.
✨ Take a break from hypnosis and affirmations to listen to the wisdom of your Ancestors so you unlock your innate wisdom and intuition.
🔥 Push pause on the birth stories and attune to the stories of the Elemental Alchemy of your cells so you know your strengths to call upon them in birth and beyond.
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Natural Homebirth Tips, Spiritual Homebirth
“Proper birth resembles the behavior of the ripe chestnut in the fruit world. Its husk opens on its own, and neither [the fruit nor the tree] is harmed. But half-birth can be compared to hacking off a green chestnut, smashing its husk and damaging its membranes in order to retrieve the kernel.” ~Translated by Wei Yilin, Efficacious Formulas from a Medical Lineage
Prefer to Listen? Find the accompanying podcast episode on the Unschooled Homebirth podcast, Episode 63, wherever you get your podcasts!
It's the end of April 2022, and we are in the spring phase here in the northern hemisphere. Spring, as you may know, is the season of birth and rebirth, of new awakenings and fresh starts, and here at Natural Birth Compass, I have also been birthing something new - a new mini course called Circle Magic for Homebirth. The creating of this project was the most other-worldly project I have yet undertaken, I feel like I left our everyday realm completely for several weeks while this project came to life. But now I'm back and the mini course is here and ready for you! So to celebrate the release of this most recent project into the world, I thought we could chat a bit about the cycles of birth and pregnancy, and life and parenting, because circle magic is all about bringing these cycles into your awareness in a deep level so the magic of life comes alive and can be the center of your birth. So let's spin some circle magic here today!
Cycles, circles, and all things related to the flow of nature, this is the very foundation of our life. Ever since about 2011, when I began studying with my mentor of Chinese medicine, my relationship with the world around me shifted. At first it was gradual, but then one day, in one single moment I realized I had reconnected with a version of myself that I hadn't known since childhood, a version of me who was fascinated with the world around me, who could stare at the sky for hours, who lingered in the wildflowers, who communicated with nature all around, who was happy to just be in the moment.
I have always been a lover of nature, I love to get out for a hike, get up in the mountains, spend time on the river and at the ocean, but this rediscovery was something so much deeper, so much more connected with the elements of nature, with the flow and rhythm and magic of nature. What I realized I was feeling was an immersion in and connection to nature without the direct need to be out in a special place within nature to connect with it. Eventually I realized that I felt this because I am nature, it's in me and I am in it, so I am always connected with nature and I am always in flow with nature always aware of nature around me and my nature within, and where these come together in harmony. Much like a mother and child, after a baby is born, he is no longer within his mother's womb, but he is always of her and she of him and they will always have this unseen bond, long after the umbilical cord falls away, whether they're aware of it or not.
This is true for us and nature, because nature is our first mother, the original mother of us all, and we can never be truly separated from her, we can only be more aware of her presence in our life and how much we choose to harmonize with her cycles, because for humans with free will, it's a choice whether we want to do what our mother says or do our own thing. If you choose to live a life harmonizing with the flow of nature, this is where you live in and with the cycles and circles of the natural world.
Important Cycles in Our Life
First let's talk for a moment about why cycles are so important to life and then we'll transition into how they influence birth, since as a natural event, birth is highly influenced by cycles. Birth is a actually a cycle of it’s own, we have just forgotten this foundation of birth, so today we tend to view labor and birth as a linear event that has a steady progression and clear end point. If we viewed birth as the natural cycle it is, our birth culture might see something completely different in the ebbs and flows of cycles and how labor is a constant cycle of open and close, out and in, begin and end, over and over again, rather than one linear trajectory. I’ll come back to this idea shortly, but let's first look at everyday life.
Let's take a moment to just feel into what it might feel like if we didn’t have a sun cycle in our every day life, if our 24-hour day and night cycle was never there, what would it feel like if our world was always dark or, on the other side, always light? What would that feel like to lose the sunrise and sunset to not have the orientation of noon and nightfall and dawn? How would you schedule your day? How might that affect your awareness of your environment?
Some people have experiences with this if they live in the extremes toward the poles where there can be nearly 24 hours of daylight or darkness in summer and winter, respectively, but even then the sun traverses the sky and there are still seasonal shifts, so while temporarily, that ebb and flow of the sun cycle has a less dramatic shift than what most of us experience all year, there are still noticeable changes in the position of the sun throughout the day to orient oneself, and there are still seasonal shifts.
But imagine if the sun was always there, overhead 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (which we would actually never delineate if the sun never moved), if it was right there at its midpoint all the time how would that impact your day, your night, how would you orient? Further, how would it impact our larger environment, the animals, plants, the flows of water through the water cycle. Would you look into the sky with a faint knowing that there was something more out there than the sun, never fully aware of the presence of the moon and stars and planets that would remain invisible to your eyes in the 24 hour daylight? What if you never had the opportunity to delight your eyes with a sunrise or sunset, if you never knew the range of colors of the heavenly palate of the sun on the horizon?
Would you miss the cool relief of night on a hot summer day?
Or what if the sun was never upon us and we were in constant darkness? Would you miss the sun kissing your skin, the feel of a spring wind warmed by the sun after a frigid winter? Even the glint of sun on a sparkling field of snow would be absent without the sun in the sky.
This could apply to all of the other larger cycles we experience, the seasonal cycle, the moon cycle, and those we may be less directly aware of, but do impact us on a daily basis - the seed cycle of plants, the rain cycle, and the great cycle of life - birth, death, and rebirth.
Then to take it one spiral deeper - it also applies to the cycles that are a part of your life through your physiology - your heart beat cycle, the familiar lub dub your baby may be listening to right now, your inhale and exhale, the heavenly exchange that occurs between you and the einvornment, your sleep and wake cycle, where you can connect to the otherworld, even your blood spirals through your blood vessels in a cyclic pattern and a spiralic flow.
You can't easily see these micro cycles that are occurring within you until you see the cycles you experience around you, that influence you but continue to exist without you and me, existed before you and me, and will exist long after us. These cycles around you in nature, they guide your body and mind, and your subconscious, and they are reflected within your physiology, your spirit and your emotions. The more you notice them outside of you, the more you identify them within yourself as well.
Important Cycles for Birth
And what is the implication of this for birth? What I see and teach the families I work with, is that you first have to learn from nature on the grand scale, what she shows you everyday in the flow of cycles, the unfolding of a morning, opening into afternoon, then coming back to evening, and closing into night. What do you learn from the rhythms of the seasons or of the changing moon? How do these cycles influence the environment around you - the light as it changes through the day, the temperature fluctuations, the winds, the oceans, the snow fall, the rivers, the flowers and the bees? These are all messages to your physiology, all of these signs and rhythms and fluctuations literally give your body instructions about what to do and when so that you can live the most harmonious life possible.
Very few people would think of wearing shorts and flip flops in winter or wool sweaters and socks in summer, the signals of these seasons tell us to dress appropriate for the weather in order to live in sync with nature and the laws of the universe. Yet, as humans, we are blessed and cursed with the free will to ignore cycles if we choose, to look past these signs and live out of sync with nature, so you can choose to go against the cycle, you can choose to go out in the snow in sandals, but you can’t stay like that for long without physically harming your body.
Just like life, you can choose to ignore the cycle of birth and completely disregard the birth cycle, which is what contemporary obstetrics and midwifery often looks like today.
If following the guide of nature is true for life, then why would we think differently about birth? Why do we suddenly think we need to get focused on the physical process of birth, the physiology of birth without the context of the greater environmental influences and the laws of nature to be the guide? Physiology is the hot topic in birth today, especially homebirth, you have probably been told you have to understand physiologic birth to advocate for yourself, but what does that even mean? What is the extent of what you need to know they physiology of birth in order to know enough? What physiology is important and what is too much, so much that you might be feeling the anxiety of being over-educated in physiology!
That’s one of the big problems I see in homebirth families all the time, they get really focused on physiologic birth, as if the physiology is the most important key to a successful homebirth, so they study what they think physiologic birth should be, and they don’t know where to stop and they get overwhelmed. The most damaging part may be that they don’t even realize that they won’t be able to apply this in homebirth and stay in an altered state of consciousness during labor, because physiology is science, and science requires our critical thinking. A basic knowledge of physiologic birth is useful, and it’s a good idea to have a knowing of the overall physiologic process of birth, because you might like to understand your body and the process so you aren’t going into it blind, but it becomes a problem when you are learning physiology outside of the context of the laws of nature and of the cycles of nature, one of which is the birth cycle. Without looking at the many layers that influence our physiology, it’s like you are looking at a piece of sand never knowing the entire ocean is behind you.
If instead you started learning about birth with the cycles of nature, in time you would naturally be led to the birth cycle, the key to connecting the normal physiology of birth with the cycle of nature. This view of looking at all these layers completely changes a family’s understanding of birth, how it unfolds, the purpose of the journey mother and baby travel through in the transformation of birth, but you can only truly see this when you approach the unfolding of birth from the larger perspective of nature on the great cycle of life rather than trying to look at birth as an isolated, physiologic event on a linear timeline.
You could think of this focus on physiology like a gardener focusing on sprouting her seeds, just getting the starts going, but not factoring in the time of year for planting, so then she mistakenly plant tomatoes in winter because there was a lack of understanding of the seasonal cycle and how that affects the life cycle of the plant, she's missing the wisdom of how important it is to know when to plant the seedlings. Without the knowledge of cycles, the gardener is now left wondering why her tomatoes didn't grow in the snow, so she assumes something was wrong with the plants or the soil rather than looking at her approach and her harmony with the natural growing cycle of the plant and the larger environment.
Without the cycles as the foundation, we see this same effect all the time in birth. It shows up as blame for complications and the need for interventions on the failure of a mother’s body - her pelvis is too small or her cervix isn't responding. Or the blame is put on the baby - he’s not tolerating labor, or his head is too big, he’s malpositioned. Or sometimes it’s blamed on the process of birth itself - the labor’s too long or too difficult, and certainly there are long and difficult labors, although often that’s due to outside factors and not innately to birth itself, things like too many disruptions from the birth team or a mother not feeling heard or not feeling safe. Sometimes there are babies in positions that require a different set of movements to navigate their way through the passage of birth, and there can be babies who don’t tolerate a long and difficult labor, although we don’t really know the numbers because that data has collected from inaccurate fetal monitoring for decades now. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, a woman’s pelvis or cervix truly isn’t well adapted for birth, but usually this would be the result of an accident or trauma of some sort as we now know that very rarely is a woman’s pelvis inherently unable to birth her baby. What I think we would find out if over-managing and over-medicalizing birth was eliminated from the birth room, is that all of these instances would be very rare, in the single digit percentage rates, maybe 3-5 % if our birth culture wasn’t inducing these complications with our misunderstanding of the cycle of birth from the start.
It all seems more obvious when it comes to gardening and growing tomatoes than it does when it comes to birth because some of that knowledge has been preserved and we have room for trial and error with a tomato seedling that we really don’t want to bring into the birth room. Unlike gardening, when it comes to the traditional, ancestral wisdom of birth, which is one of the foundational pillars of the birth courses I teach, that knowledge hasn’t been preserved, so the science we call physiologic birth has replaced the ancestral wisdom that once knew physiologic birth as part of a larger context of life cycles that were a part of even larger cycles and reflected the many cycles of nature around us. This is just like your heart beat and respiration, which are also a part of a larger cycle of communication with the world around you. We share the experience of respiration and the exchange of air with other living beings in our environment, in fact we depend on each other and we are all important to that cycle. Within us, these cycles are reflected on the microscopic level - the trunks of our large arteries branching into arterioles and capillaries like the trunk and branches of a tree and then our small root-like venules returning to the larger veins like the roots of a tree bringing life essence to the source. To ignore such beautiful symbols and mirror images and act as if it isn’t connected to anything larger seems a little ignorant and arrogant.
Ancestral Cycles of the Wise Women
Even still today if you visit remote cultures with ancestral practices of birth still in place and if you are observant enough and to know to listen and observe rather than talk and intervene, you will hear and see how often the wise midwives of the culture explain birth like they explain any other natural event. To them it's just part of a whole - the whole woman, the whole tribe, the whole planet, the whole universe, and it is a conscious event of the baby as much as the mother, and the baby is involved in her own birth just as much as her mother. These wise women know that it is not the role of another to disrupt this passageway, or disrupt the unfolding of this cycle unnecessarily, for you disrupt the primal communication of Mother Nature and human life when you do. Just as farmers know you cannot help a chick out of a shell or the chick will not be resilient, and you can't pull a seedling out of it’s hull or it will have weak roots, and you can't stake up a young tree or it’s trunk will be weak.
Many traditional cultures still see birth as a natural unfolding always occurring in the present moment, they are not anticipating the journey, they just accept it as it comes, just as a day unfolds, knowing that morning will become afternoon and then evening and then night, and that’s the way it is day after day from one generation to the next. They also know that the length of day and night shifts throughout the year with the seasons and you cannot expect the length of the day in winter to be as long as summer just because you want more daylight, and you cannot expect a baby who needs 22 hours to birth to be born in 8, just because you want to hurry it along. To expect so is to expect nature to bend to our expectations, but that’s not how it works.
Here once again, our human blessing, and curse, of free will means that we forget that even though we can, we should not so eagerly interfere with the destiny of another, with the unfolding of their life cycle, of their message from Mother Nature. If we believe the unfolding of birth is part of the life cycle of a baby, and then we get involved unnecessarily, meaning, getting involved when it’s not an emergency situation, the definition of which is highly debatable, and most of which is caused by our own doing - either from the birth team directly or the failure of education to prepare families properly, but however it happens, when we involve ourselves in the destiny of another person’s birth and another person’s rite of passage in giving birth, we make their destiny conform to our expectations. I can’t think of anything more detrimental to life, to trusting nature, to trusting your nature, to learning who you are, and how resilient and powerful you are, than manipulating the unfolding and the outcome of such a monumental event. Again, that’s like thinking we should be able to command the earth to rotate and so that we can continue to have long days in winter, but as we talked about in the beginning of this article, imagine the ripples of problems it would create to eliminate the rotation or revolutions of the earth so we disrupt daylight patterns and seasonal patterns. We know this would destroy our planet and everything and everyone on it, including us. This is against the normal flow of nature, of her time, of her rhythms, of the elemental time I discussed in a previous article. Nature won’t stand for that, and we shouldn’t stand for it in our birth culture.
I hope it’s becoming clear that it’s important to understand and recognize and harmonize with cycles before diving into the physiology of birth. I do believe learning some physiology of birth is a great idea, but I believe a family should only learn it after they experience the awareness of cycles and then only learn the physiology enough to see how it follows the cycles, so they feel as confident and safe in birth as they do in other parts of their life that also follow these cycles. Then the birth cycle is second nature, then they can forget the science during labor, then they are free to let go during birth and go into altered states and truly trust the process without the disruption of the thinking, critical mind that’s trying to recall the science of the physiology they learned.
When you learn these cycles, you find it is really one cycle repeated over and over at different rates of time, so you really only need to learn one cycle and in time you start to notice it everywhere, and as you notice it everywhere, it becomes second nature, because it is nature and it is what your body wants to do naturally. You come from these cycles, you experienced these cycles in your own birth, or at least to some extent, hopefully, if it wasn’t too disrupted. Whether you notice it or not, you have been experiencing them your entire life, sleeping at night, waking with the sun, wanting hot drinks in the winter and cold drinks in the summer in response to the environment, and it’s all because you come from earth, and all of the other elements too - air, fire, and water, which themselves are a cycle and they in turn create cycles, something many ancient cultures understood. All over the world we find evidence of elemental cycles and the connections of the elements to who we are, and it's this remembering through the cycles that you find the authentic strength in yourself, you find the wisdom handed down from your ancestors that lies within you, just waiting to be discovered. It’s how we take birth back for families so we can build strong and resilient families again, and strong and resilient children who are connected to nature, who will do the right thing in the decades to come to care for our planet, our home, and each other.
Birth is not about gathering more info, it’s not about learning physiology, it is about so much more, and so much less. It takes going so much deeper than just physiology, so you have the capacity to expand so much further in the experience of labor, which you do in altered states of consciousness, by going into alpha and theta brain wave states, even delta when you can, when you feel safe, and this doesn’t come from physiology. It comes when we reconnect with our origin, with our elemental being, when we awaken to the flows of nature’s cycle, remembering the wisdom of our ancestors who gave birth with the cycles, with the moon, under the stars. And I’ve said it before and will say it again, because it’s so important to remember as you prepare for homebirth, if you stay focused on physiology, you also stay trapped in the critical thinking state of mind, where you have to be to interpret science.
If you believe birth is natural, which I assume you do if you are planning a homebirth, you have to learn from nature, you have to take her as your teacher and guide, you have to listen and observe what she has been showing you for your entire life. I'm not one to often tell you specifically what to do very often, but in this case, I will say, you have to listen to your mother.
Magic of Circles - An Invitation
If you want to walk through the cycles and practices to get you started, including practicing Elemental Activations to help you start to work with your own elements and feel them at work in the cycles of your life, I invite you to Circle Magic for Homebirth: A Mini Birth Preparation Course for Birth Beyond the Ordinary. This video series will reveal three Sacred Cycles you need to know to prepare for your homebirth plus an elemental activation playlist and a guided meditation to help you release external expectations, meet your wise woman ancestors, and learn the stories of the elements of your being.
If you hear the calling and are ready to accept the invitation to embark on the journey into the depths of who you are in order to be the source of the magic that awaits you in the transformation of homebirth you can join the mini-course now at NaturalBirthCompass.com/CircleMagic.
Now, listen and observe nature, feel the elements within your body and soul, hear the wisdom of your ancestors, and then let go and give way to the flow.
If you would like to start to explore a new paradigm of homebirth preparation, download the free guide Three Cycles You Need to Know for a More Confident and Intuitive Homebirth, get your free copy by clicking here!
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