Bliss Practice for Birth - towards an ecstatic birth experience!
Updated: May 3
Labor is something to look forward to. Really! Not only for the reward at the end, but because it’s a time of singular focus: just you, your body, the baby within, and a process that unfolds on its own. There is nothing else to do or worry about. And it can actually be blissful. Ecstatic birth is a real thing!
Allowing and enjoying the unfolding of labor as it happens requires cultivating intention and attention.
Before diving into this inner work, I must mention that I recommend hiring a midwife and doula, eating really well, exercising, meditating, getting bodywork, and taking a childbirth class. Select your care team and birth environment as best you can for a feeling of safety and privacy, support and protection, so that in labor, all present honor and trust in the inherent genius of your body. Invest in your physical well-being so the path of least resistance is open for baby and so that you have built up good stamina and reserves. Let your mind drink up the information it craves ahead of time because…
Labor itself is a body, heart, and spirit journey!
And now for the inner work. There are two parts.
First, have you ever been truly held, as an adult? While pregnant and even more so after you have your baby, especially for the first six weeks, and then for a good while afterwards, you are the one who holds. And you require holding in order to sustain yourself and your holding energy. Many of us have been taught to be hyper-independent. We pride ourselves on doing it all. We sometimes believe we have no other options. And we may not recognize how much invisible support we are receiving even as we “do it all ourselves.” Try saying, “I allow myself to receive.” Take some time to think or write about what being held means to you now and what it might mean after your baby comes. Journal about or acknowledge the ways you are already or have been held in your life. Celebrate interdependence. And do what you can to set yourself up for a restful and nurturing postpartum time.
What does allowing yourself to be held have to do with experiencing bliss in birth? Both require letting go, softening, trusting, allowing, and surrendering. Both require believing that what is coming to you and through you and surrounding you is love. And both require some setting up and making careful choices in advance. Picture concentric circles, with baby in the middle, birthing person around baby, partner around birthing person, care team and family surrounding the smaller family unit, community surrounding and supporting family, and creation holding community, and love running through all.
For the second part we come to the actual Bliss Practice for Birth! It’s really simple. Three steps:
1) Notice when you naturally feel Mmmmmm. Ahhhhhhh. Yummmmm. For example, when the hot water hits your back in the shower. When you smell a flower. When you eat chocolate. When you rub your own feet. When you sink into bed at night. (Notice these are all fairly easily accessible bliss moments). And then amplify that feeling every time it arises.
2) Choose sensory experiences to intentionally evoke that yummmm feeling at will and make a habit of doing so. For example, make a playlist of songs that are oh so loving for your soul, and listen to them when you are alone or with people you feel comfortable to really let go with - and really let go. Move your hips, sing along. Be luscious. Another example: pick out an essential oil or two that you can’t get enough of smelling. Don’t over-use them. Just smell them occasionally and save them for labor.
3) Take the yummm and apply it to some challenges. For example, challenge yourself to sink into that now-familiar bliss-y feeling while doing wall sits, holding ice, doing yoga, exercising, even while pooping. Enjoying sexual pleasure more than ever before can count for a challenge - on your own or with a partner. I don’t routinely recommend perineal massage, however, it could serve as another bliss-challenge opportunity. And other challenge would be to evoke a feeling of bliss totally at random. Just do it!
The idea here is that practicing feeling super yummy and building sensory associations such as with music and smells and touch, both during times of pure pleasure and relaxation and during physical and mental challenges, will help you access the yum in labor - between contractions and right through them. The very same skills can be applied while parenting - babies and children are delicious and adorable, and parenting stretches us in every way.
I trust you can understand why being prepared with a wonderful care team and birth environment as well as knowing a bit about what to expect and how ingenious birth, bodies, and babies are can help set you up to surrender to your labor and infuse it with loving, pleasurable thoughts, feelings, and sensations. And I believe in you to commit to making yourself feel really good. Right now. And as often as possible. Do it. It feels really good (duh). And your labor can too (not duh). Even while it's intense and challenging.
Many blessings on your journey!
Be in touch!
Nets Manela, CPM, RCST