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Natural Homebirth Tips, Spiritual Homebirth
If you whisper a secret to a candle flame, then all fire everywhere will know that secret. The words will crackle in every campfire and churn like an ocean deep in the belly of the Earth. Fire will translate your words to smoke and ash, telling no one but the sky. Candle Facts #1, Field Guide to the Haunted Forest by Jarod K Anderson
Prefer to Listen? Find the accompanying podcast episode on the Unschooled Homebirth podcast, Episode 66, where you get your podcasts!
There is more than rates and measurements when it comes to cervical dilation, but the physical aspects are the usually the focus of the conversation. In this article, we're exploring the energetic side of cervical dilation as viewed through it's relation to the summer season, the direction of South on the Natural Birth Compass, the element of Fire, and the phase of being that is motherhood. Transition is the experience that energetically resonates with the end of the spring season, so it seems like a natural flow to follow that up with summer. While there are many resonances I could pull in here for this conversation, I'm leaning toward exploring the energetics of expansion and openness as these are some of the most important aspects of to understand for birth as summer is the phase of complete dilation, a topic that is always of interest in birth. So we're celebrating the energy of summer and the energy of expansion and openness as we talk about the phase of complete dilation.
Even if it's not the season of summer for you right now, remember that when we talk about cyclic aspects of life, following the elemental time of nature, cycles occur in many overlapping ways, so you are always in a summer in some aspects of life, whether it's the noon time of day, it's the moment you take a bite of food to bring nutrients into your body, forming a connection with the external world. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to it as summer as the seasons can be an easy way to relate to the energy because we have so much sensory experience with seasons, we know what the energy of summer feels like, tastes like, smells like, sounds like, we automatically use all of our senses to interpret our experiences of seasons in ways that don't come so easily in other aspects of our life, meaning other cycles of our life, and importantly, how these cycles show up in birth.
As we talk about the phase of cyclic birth that relates to complete dilation, I am not going to cover physical logistics like whether you should have cervical checks in labor and what a cervical check tells you about your progress, or how to know if you're ready to push. While I do cover all these physical aspects and more in my full childbirth course, I only do so after I have covered the purpose for the way birth unfolds with my students because the physical aspects of the labor process are so much more logical and decisions around the physical aspects become so much more clear when you have the big picture understanding of the unfolding of birth for both mother and baby. Instead of another article focused on the physical aspects of labor, we're starting with part of the big picture topic to look at dilation from other angles that you probably aren't hearing elsewhere.
So before we get to birth, take a moment right now and think about summer, what are the first things that come to mind - it might be things like sunshine and long bright days that seem to go on and on, maybe you think of flowers and bees, or campfires and vacations.
Whatever those specific images and recollections are for you, likely they have some feeling of expansive, open, energy, like the long days of summer when the blue sky seems to expand on so much further in the horizon, the opening of so many colors of flowers in a wild meadow, and expanding your world out further beyond your normal confines with road trips or vacations, especially into the great outdoors that you might not do as much in other times of year.
When it comes to the physical phases of birth, this is the energy of reaching the full opening and expansion of dilation and feeling ready to bring your baby through the final passage of birth and into your arms, or your birth partner's arms. After you have traveled through the awakening and growth phase of spring, the active labor phase, you arrive here in the summer, open and ready to expand your family and meet your little one. This is the natural progression of labor, just as it's the natural progression of the seasonal flow and the natural progression of the 24-hour flow.
In addition, as you prepare for the growth of your family with your newborn coming earthside into the world, you are also entering the season of the heart, the season of connection, of family and community, which is highly tied in with mothering energy. Which makes sense as at one time, in many cultures, raising children was a village affair and mothers brought the community together to support the children and create the nurturing and engaging environment the children were learning in. I just want to put a quick reminder here that it's also important to remember that, as I teach in Circle Magic for Homebirth, especially in regard to phases of being, we are never restricted to one phase of being or one aspect of the cycle, we are often moving through them all, calling upon all aspects of ourselves, so even as a woman transitions into her motherhood phase of being, she still has the energetics of her inner maiden she can call on, and her inner queen, and even her wise woman crone all available to her, but while we have growing children that we are actively raising, we tend to have a dominant motherhood energy active in our life for that time, but not exclusively.
The Challenge and the Fire Element
When it comes to entering the summer phase of the birth cycle, just like the phase of transition discussed in the last article, it can be challenging for women who aren't prepared to be open and expanded to that extent in some part of themselves, which might be physical, but often it transcends the physical being into emotions or spiritual resistance that may be expressed or interpreted in the moment as physical pain. Here I want to bring in another resonant energy of summer to clarify what I mean here, and that is the element of Fire. When you think of the flames of a fire, they can be controlled like the flame of a candle or a fire pit, or they can rage out of control like a wildfire, consuming all the physical material around it.
Now there are times when you need a wildfire type of energy, not all wildfires are bad. For example, when you have an infection, you actually want your immune system to be activated to fight that infection, and sometimes that can feel more like a wildfire, but the key is a controlled burn, not one that rages out of control.
When a family is unprepared for what the summer, expanding phase of the cycle of birth brings, dilation can overwhelm and consume them, a woman might feel like she is going to literally or figuratively tear in two, or she might realize that she's not ready to walk through the portal into motherhood, or she might feel there is pain that is too much to bear. This phase, even though it's not easy, it should have some aspect of exuberance and joy at reaching the peak of the journey, in most cases, when baby is positioned relatively well for birth, the hardest work is done and now it's time for the ultimate reward.
When a family has prepared for this phase, the experience of the expansion of birth, which I happen to think is the widest and greatest expansion a human being can experience in their human existence, then a woman reaching the summer phase glows with joy and delight knowing that their baby is just moments from her arms. This great expansion is also the point in labor when a mother gives everything of herself in the most loving act of generosity, both in the physical act of giving her baby the freedom of independent life separate from her womb, which is really one of the great purposes of birth, but also in giving her commitment to ensuring this life will receive love and nurturing in whatever way that looks for the family.
As you may have experienced if you have given birth, these are big experiences and major transformations that affect a mother and her baby, and her partner on all levels - the spirit, the emotions, and the physical, so being prepared to avoid being overwhelmed and consumed by this phase is so important for both birth itself and in the upcoming postpartum phase.
Preparing for Summer - The Steps to Take
How do you prepare so you can be the glowing candle and not the raging forest fire? Like most of birth preparation, it takes a few steps and a good amount of time digging into the cycles of life and nature with all your senses and curiosity.
First, Step number one is to remember who you are, but what does that mean? When I say remember who you are I mean, it's important to explore the nature of you, the origin of you, the origin that was there before you were influenced by the society and culture of the world around you. Then explore how the influences of the world around you have played a role in shaping how you are inward toward yourself and how you present to the outside world. The final part of this step is looking deep into yourself to identify your natural strengths, the foundational strengths you have always carried that have been gifted to you through your lineage and notice how you call upon them in your life.
When I work with a family who is just getting started on this work, which is so invaluable to planning an undisturbed birth, we start by working through a self-assessment that helps them identify one of the four directions on the compass they resonate with the most. For example, if they find they are strongest in the South or summer energetic that we're talking about today, their strengths might be in areas like clear communication, warm and abundant energy, naturally upbeat and joyful, or maybe they find they are a West energetic, which is where we find our nurturers and empaths.
Then once they complete the assessment, they have the opportunity to acknowledge their strengths. So often, in the West anyway, we don't take the time to acknowledge our strengths and gifts in this way and express our gratitude for these gifts because we live in a culture that prizes humility when it comes to inborn strengths while saving all the accolades for external achievements. In birth, it's your inborn strengths that will truly carry you through, and not external support. That can be hard to see in the moment when witnessing birth today because we have so many people involved in birth, midwives, doulas, midwifery assistants, and nurses, and they all have to do so much during birth because our birth culture hasn't been supporting the level of inner education and preparation that's needed for families to feel confident in their ability to give birth without external help. And that's part of why the Natural Birth Compass program, the Unschooled Homebirth podcase, and even the mini course, Circle Magic for Homebirth exist today - so you and I can change the paradigm of birth education and give the power to birth back to families.
Once the family has completed the assessment and tapped into their inner strengths, they can start building their personalized tool kit to have for their birth. One of the tools my students use for that is the Compass of Nurturing so everyone on the birth team, the birth partner, and anyone else who is a part of the birth is aware of the type of support mom likes and doesn't like. So the self assessment and interpretation are the first steps to complete.
The Next Layer - Harmonizing with Life Cycles
The next layer families should explore is understanding how they feel during the cycles in their life, how they respond to different phases of the cycle in all levels of their being - their physical response, their mental, emotional and spiritual responses. Though this might sound like it’s a lot to do, This can be explored through various factors over the course of a day by observing areas like energy, emotions, and how well your body is harmonized to the cycles in your environment. Women they can also explore the harmony through their moon cycles, and you can even look at those cycles we don't think of as cycles like the sleep/wake cycle and the hunger cycle.
There are so many ways to explore your relationship with cycles, so you don't have to do it for every one because there are dozens, maybe more, find the ones that are most perceptible and familiar to you and start with those. After that exploration, things get interesting because patterns will start to emerge here in this part of the process and you might notice strong overlap in one particular part of the cycle. For instance, if summer comes with challenges, and the bleeding phase of your menstrual cycle was challenging before pregnancy, and maybe communication is also a challenge, you can also add in the emotions cycle here which can be telling for some, and when you notice the same phases of the cycle lining up for different aspects of life, it becomes obvious where you need to go to work on harmonizing the flow of your cycles, which would be the expanding and opening phase in this example. When it comes to birth, this can give you insight into where you might experience more resistance in the birth process if you haven't identified and prepared those phases of your cycle.
Connecting Summer Cycles & Cervical Dilation in Homebirth
So let's step back now to begin to tie this all together, in birth, when a woman arrives at the summer phase of the cycle and becomes fully expanded, if this is a phase of the cycle she has struggled through in other cycles of her life, she might find that resistance shows up for her in this phase of birth too. But if she has already identified expansion and opening as an area of struggle and knows how it shows up for her, maybe she shuts down her communication or gets unfocused and that's her sign that she is out of sync with the cycle, if she knows that about herself, she and her birth partner or her birth team can be prepared to identify it and provide the best kind of support rather than the team trying to guess what she is really feeling, especially since in this stage of birth just after transition, a woman might still be in altered states of consciousness, where she is expanded mentally and emotionally, and even spiritually so she may not be communicating in rational terms or in the same brain wave states as the birth team.
When a woman is comfortable being expanded, then she has the opportunity to confidently enter into the fiery energy of summer, the full expansion of the South energetic and have experiences she will not have any other time in her life, definitely not in everyday reality. This is the gift of the expansiveness of the summer phase of birth, the gift of the second sight of Fire, but one has to be prepared to utilize this gift to its fullest potential. This is part of what makes pregnancy and birth such a magic time in life.
Let's now summarize some key points and then give this another read through to let the intentions and insights it might inspire in you slowly sink in like the warmth of the first summer day after a long, cool spring.
To sum it up, summer, which correlates to the South direction on the Natural Birth Compass, is the energetic of expansion and opening, this is the phase of birth that follows transition, after dilation reaches it's fullest expanse and into the pushing stage of labor. This is also the key energetic of the phase of being that is motherhood, the energy of connection and building community. To assess your harmony with the summer phase of the cycle, begin by assessing your cycles overall and the harmony of the cycles in your life and if you notice some aspects of the summer energetic are more difficult for you, this is an important phase to focus on during your pregnancy so when it comes time for birth, you can receive the gifts that await and the joy of the peak of the journey of bringing your baby into the world. Doing the work during pregnancy always pays off in more ways during birth and parenting than you can ever predict in the moment, but you will thank yourself.
If you want to learn more about cyclic phases in birth, you can start by downloading the free guide Three Sacred Cycles You Need to Know for a More Confident and Intuitive Homebirth or reach out on Facebook or Instagram @naturalbirthcompass. And if you want to go even deeper, you can see the mini course Circle Magic for Homebirth which takes you more intimately through all these cycles and more so you can reclaim the magic of nature's cycles so you're prepared to trust yourself for a calm and peaceful homebirth. Until next time, keep exploring the cycles around you, there is magic to discover there.
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