“Trust Birth" and "Trust Your Body" are common cliches, often tossed around casually in many childbirth circles, and also sometimes hotly debated, especially among those who have had or have witnessed difficult births. But what does it really mean to trust? And how might trust be helpful or unhelpful for pregnant people in their preparations for birth and parenting? Using excerpts from Pam England's new book, Ancient Map for Modern Birth, let's think a bit more deeply about the role of trust in childbirth preparation.
Many pregnant women know and accept that a cesarean may become necessary and do not resist learning more about it or considering the possibility, even if they don’t want to have one. Other women actively avoid thinking about cesareans out of a misguided attempt to prevent a cesarean from happening. Their birth support team may even reinforce this risky approach. Unfortunately, neither wishful thinking nor a strategy of avoidance prevents cesarean surgery—nor any other unwished-for outcome. They do, however, increase the chances that the woman will be unprepared if a cesarean actually happens.
An excerpt from Pam England's latest book, "Ancient Map for Modern Birth." To read more (and see the full list of citations), buy your copy here. And for a limited time, get her Labyrinth of Birth book for free.
With the impending birth announcement of Birthing From Within's newest book, "Ancient Map for Modern Birth," some are asking, "Why a new book? What's the difference between the original classic and this one?"
Pam England addresses this question (and much more) in the book's Introduction. Here is an excerpt:
"My first book, "Birthing From Within," has been more popular than I ever dreamed it would be when it was self-published in 1998. Many people have said, “Why are you writing a new book? We love the old book!” adding, “Don’t change it too much.” There is a part of us that likes to cling to favorite places, customs, and books associated with warm feelings. And yet, change is inevitable and necessary for the healthy evolution of ideas and of humanity.
In the last sixteen years, a lot has changed in our fast-paced world, including the expectations and knowledge of birthing couples, the culture and practice of obstetrics and midwifery... "Ancient Map for Modern Birth" aims to shed light on important blind spots in childbirth education that were not addressed in "Birthing From Within," including inductions, ultrasound, vaginal birth after cesarean, postpartum ceremonies, birth stories, and more. This book also introduces many new processes inspired by our unwavering commitment to balancing evidence-based information with myth, art, and personal awareness in childbirth preparation. In addition, you will experience the power of great stories that teach and inspire in a way nothing else can, and you will discover the Archetypes of Birth and how they live within you.
This model is grounded, comprehensive, and relevant to all. Hopefully this book will also dispel two misconceptions about the Birthing From Within model that came from the first book: that it is a crunchy granola approach that focuses on birth art (to the exclusion of practical information) and is only useful only to mothers planning natural births.
Eager to share the birth art process (which was still a novelty at the time), I dedicated an entire section in "Birthing From Within" to the idea. This emphasis gave some the impression that our classes focused on making drawings and sculptures at the expense of sharing information. While the birth art process is still an integral part of preparing mothers emotionally, in "Ancient Map for Modern Birth," only a few birth art assignments are included, and they are sprinkled throughout the book. In the past decade I began painting my own birth art and mandalas; a few of my paintings are in this book for you to enjoy.
The second misconception: While being interviewed for an article, the journalist was repeatedly about Birthing From Within’s “natural birth classes.” (Parents often ask about this, too.) Much to the journalist’s surprise and disappointment, I explained that we don’t teach natural birth classes: we teach birth classes. There are many ways to give birth, and the “natural” way is just one of them. Because there is no crystal ball to know who will get which labor, today’s women and men need to be emotionally and mentally prepared to participate in a range of birth experiences, from spontaneous to medically managed...
One more change, perhaps the most significant and welcome, is that I am no longer alone in working, experimenting with, or developing this new paradigm. The Birthing From Within approach, first developed in my small childbirth classes in Albuquerque, has now been carried forward by childbirth mentors, doulas, and mothers around the world.
Since 2006, I have been privileged to work with Virginia Bobro. Virginia lives in Santa Barbara and is the co-owner and Managing Director of Birthing From Within, LLC, as well as a dynamic facilitator inspiring birth professionals from around the world to take up this unique approach. As a result of Virginia’s dedication, Birthing From Within has grown into an international practice with a presence in 18 countries.
A growing number of dynamic, intelligent, and visionary women and men, who share a commitment to personal and professional growth, are engaged in a continuous and authentic dialogue. The Birthing From Within community has taken us on a journey of the heart we never imagined. We warmly invite you to read this book and get involved."
Virginia Bobro & Pam England
Birthing From Within's new book, by Pam EnglandVirginia Bobro, is titled, "Ancient Map for Modern Birth." Keep reading for a Sneak Preview of the contents of the book! We hope you are as eager as we are to get this book in your hands!
by Pam England
Many new mothers are surprised that they didn’t feel prepared for birth; they express deep regret that they didn’t acknowledge or listen to inner doubt or fear during pregnancy, instead brushing it away with positivity, denial, or obsessive information-gathering. Yet worry is part and parcel of experiencing a Rite of Passage; facing the unknown naturally elicits a bit of fear. Worry is a kind of curiosity: wondering about what might happen and how you can respond. Use your imagination and creativity to awaken hidden sources of courage and power within you; worry can help you to become stronger.
A Birth Warrior worries effectively: Acknowledge that the thing you worry about (perhaps secretly) could happen. Then imagine: if it did happen, what is one small thing you could do to help yourself get through it? In the long run, doing that one small thing may serve you better than doing nothing, hoping it won’t happen, or expecting someone else will save you or fix it.
Excerpted from Pam's new book, Ancient Map for Modern Birth, published in 2017. Now available for purchase>
I propose something radical, beyond positive affirmations, pretty pictures, and obstetrical facts. Seeing birth as an initiation --a period of intense transformation and growth-- means that the goal is not achieving a "natural" or "vaginal" birth, or, vaguely, "empowering women." (What does that mean, anyway?) The focus is on preparing the Birth Warrior inside each expectant parent, so that they are ready to do whatever it takes in each moment. Sometimes that will mean digging deep for the strength to keep going or to surrender to a power beyond their understanding. Sometimes it will mean doing "the next best thing" and having a cesarean birth, though they tried with every ounce of their being to avoid it. Sometimes it will mean looking "weak," moaning, crying, being confused or vulnerable. Sometimes it will mean making peace with not being able to speak up for themselves, or not doing whatever it was they hoped they could do or say. Sometimes it will mean that the wise and compassionate action is having an induction or epidural.