Painless Childbirth

A mother of two children once told me the fascinating story of her youngest son’s birth. The birth was proving to be very difficult, so much so that she felt she could not go on any longer. Her contractions were such agony that she could bear it no more and she felt as if she inwardly collapsed. To her amazement, what had been pain became a feeling of great bliss. She said that a most wild and wonderful emotion came upon her. No longer any pain, but like the mounting pleasure of sexual abandon during intercourse, and her son was born in her ecstasy of orgasm.

So what was the turning point that led to ecstasy rather than unbearable pain?

Well, it is something most people know nothing about unless they have been pushed to the point where they could take no more and Gave Up. But it can be done without being pushed so hard – it’s called Relaxation.

Examples of this are many – “The feeling floored me and I sat there and gave up on any hope of finding what I had hoped for – a sort of wonderful welcome. But as I sat a deep quietness grew in me – I had given up! And that was when a quiet bliss grew in me.”

“Tired, I rested by a tree, stood quite still, and gave up my searching. Within a few minutes, what had seemed like a dead wood began to come alive. Birds flew to trees and settled, or moved here and there. Squirrels appeared in the branches and on the ground, and all was moving with life.”

“With enormous certainty, I realised that there was no cure for my sickness and I had struggled in vain. It was a tremendous blow – and I gave up. I mean I gave up hope, everything. Then it came to me that I had to listen in deep stillness – not think, not seek to understand, not struggle, just listen. My whole being entered into silence, gently listening as one might listen to the rain falling on a lake. Then suddenly it was known – the essence of human existence. I was healed.

The only thing I can see as my turning point was complete surrender, a total giving up. Then it was like an experience of enlightenment.”

How Can I Relax or Let Go That Fully?

We have to start with fundamentals so try this. Start by putting one hand on your lower abdomen and the other on your chest. Then you breathe out as fully as you can so you tense up as you do so. Now slowly breathe in which hand start to move first.

If it is the hand on your abdomen move first, you are doing well, but if it is the hand on your chest it shows you are suffering an enormous tension in the diaphragm muscle.

Example: 2 years ago I did a horrible thing to myself. I felt my belly a little bit inflated so I started to breath from my chest, hold my stomach in or hold my breath at some points to not show that I had a fat belly( I was so vain).

That took almost 3 or 4 months and I came in a point I wasn’t feeling that well my head didn’t have much oxygen etc. Then I tried to let go of that stupid idea, system, whatever, and let my breathing system to work normally as it knows. But unfortunately my body had forgotten how to breathe right…

Now I have a bad feeling in my stomach and in my chest, I have to take big breaths during the day and when I’m anxious things get much worse. My quality of life has changed so much. Why I was so stupid, why I did that? Please, I need your help; I don’t know what to do to fix me.

Many men and women have this tension that leaves them breathing inadequately. Here is what I suggested the woman to do.

Your story is a wonderful example (or in your case awful example) of the power of habits. Once we build such a habit it tends to stay in place automatically. But of course you can change it by creating a new habit by constantly practising the new one. You will need to put as much effort and time into it as you put into creating the awful habit.

Do this by standing and put a hand on your lower abdomen, and as you breathe in endeavour to raise the hand by letting the breath into your belly. As your belly raises your hand, allow it then to continue so it extends upwards raising your chest. Also as you breathe out really breathe out so your abdomen flattens.

Actually it is learning to relax the tension you have created in your diaphragm muscle. It is the muscle that expands the lungs by pushing down into our digestive organs, and so making the abdomen rise the lungs expand. So, keep practising this and notice as you are going about the daily life whether you are using the new method and keep returning to it and you will have a new habit and better health.

Most women believe childbirth will be one of the most painful experiences of their lives.

And many who have given birth already can vouch that this is true.

But one obstetric expert says there is a simple way to overcome the pain: just don’t think at all.

Obstetrician Dr Michel Odent says the key to giving birth easily is to shut off thinking altogether.

 

“In fact, women ‘thinking too much’ in labour is the one thing that hinders the baby slipping out with barely any effort at all, said the renowned medical expert.

The part of the brain responsible for conscious thinking, called the neocortex, allows us to do mathematics, use language and answer questions, he said.

But this type of thinking hinders a woman’s natural, primitive ability to give birth to a child. Speaking to New Scientist, he said: ‘A woman in labour needs to be protected against all possible stimulation of her thinking brain, because giving birth is the business of the primitive brain structures.

If a women could turn off her ‘thinking’, her neocortical activity, a phenomenon known as the ‘foetus ejection reflex’ could occur he said. This where a baby slips out with no conscious effort, he said. Here the body does all the work and the woman simply lies back while it happens. Then there will be a short series of irresistible contractions, no voluntary movements at all.

He added that having her partner present is a new phenomenon in the history of humanity, adding that in the animal kingdom mammals give birth alone, away from their sexual partner.”

That is fine, but many need a step by step way to achieve that sort of non-thinking. Here are some suggestions.

But before we even begin an explanation of the methods however, it is as well to know a little of what confronts us. In the first place, learning non-thinking relaxation is not any easier than learning other things – musical instrument for instance. It demands our attention, our time, our devotion. To attain something in this realm may take practice for some weeks. At the same time a little practice, while it may not take us to dizzy heights, will give us enough facility to aid us through difficulties. In learning to ride a bicycle, we may never win races, but at least we can get about.

Having found a place where you will not be disturbed for half an hour, and having settled yourself, loosen all tight clothing. Collars, belts, under garments, should all be loose, shoes removed so the body is unrestricted. Sit for a few moments letting the thoughts and activities that have occupied you die down. Resolve firmly to keep your attention wholly on the practice during the allotted time, no matter what the distraction.

When that feeling arrives, bring your attention to your legs. Tense the muscles in the legs as hard as you can without discomfort or cramp. If you find this difficult, press your legs together, or against the floor, to produce the tenseness in the muscles. Hold the tension for a moment, watching the sensation it produces, then slowly let go of the tension. Allow the sensations in the legs to sink to the other extreme. While the legs are tense, there is a feeling of effort and rigidity. Now let those feelings be replaced by effortlessness and limpness.

When the effortlessness and limpness become distinct, tense the legs again, but this time not quite to hard. Hold it, noticing the feelings, then slowly drop again to the other extreme. As you do so, notice the feeling of dropping-that feeling of tension slipping away. Go through this about seven to ten times, tensing less each time. At the end there should be only the feeling of tension, and the feeling of relaxation. For a few times, hardly moving the muscles, let this feeling of tension and relaxation alternate. Then in turn, go through the whole process again with the hips and waist, chest, arms, neck, head and face.

Once you have reached the head, start again at the legs. This time however, instead of tensing the muscles, merely become aware of each part in turn, dropping away any tension that remains. In this way, become aware of the foot and its sensations of weight, shape, clothing, and tension. Then allow the feeling of dropping to take place. Thus go all over the body, time and time again, until your allotted time has elapsed.

For the best results, practice at least once, or if you have time, twice each day. Give yourself at least a month of practice before either passing onto the next method or stopping. After a month you should find that a fine degree of recognition of the state of tension exists. Usually you also begin to notice during this time, just how tense you are. The tension of the arms end shoulders while driving may be noticed for the first time, or else how stiffly we hold ourselves while sitting or meeting strangers. Do not be dismayed. Slowly these tensions can be dropped away until we are free of them.

In most cases however, learning relaxation will be like climbing a mountain. Sometimes the views are wonderful, and an elevated view of the world is gained, but it is hard work. Paradoxically, the hard work is in learning to do nothing, to give up effort and be still. Once there, there is no effort attached to it at all, but getting there often requires all we have. In fact Carl Jung the famous psychiatrist gave the advice, “Do nothing but let things happen.”

The method that follows is an extension of the last, and cannot properly be practised unless the other has been already used. It consists of very quickly passing the attention over the body, without the preliminaries of tensing and relaxing. Do this lying or sitting as before. The aim of this is to drop any obvious muscular tensions still in the body. Then, when one has reached the head, keep the attention there. Concentrate on the forehead, wrinkling the brow as much as possible but instead of making this simply a physical tension, make it an emotional one also.

This it quite easy to do when properly understood. We are doing it all day in fact, just as we are all day tensing muscularly. We find, however, that muscular tension is nearly always the follower of emotional tension. Thus, if we have not dropped our emotional tensions, we have not been able to drop our deepest physical tensions. The large muscle groups of the body may be quite limp while a nervous or emotional tension still exists so that the viscera, heart, arteries and vital organs will be operating under unconscious tension.

Getting back to tensing emotionally however, one uses the wrinkled forehead as a focus. Imagine that it is wrinkled because one is feeling apprehensive. Use any existing worries, (financial, sexual, or social) that one may have to deepen this experience of apprehension. Allow the whole face and body to be influenced by the mood one is conjuring. Then, when it becomes reasonably pronounced, gently drop it away from the face and the whole body, as if it were a muscular tension. Now, using the face and forehead again, express fear in a similar way. It will probably be found that whereas apprehension or worry wrinkles the forehead, fear pulls it tight and smooth, tensing the muscles at the temples hard (and that is one of the causes of headaches in this area).

Again, drop the whole mood and tension gently away into relaxation when it has been experienced, or made conscious. Next, see if you can similarly express anger, and then drop it away. Follow this with expressions of pain, grief, or any of the emotions that are commonly experienced.

When this has been done there may be time left of the allotted period. This should be used by still holding the attention to the face and dropping away any and all emotions expressed on it. Some emotions are so much with us that they have become graven upon our face and body. This is like an emotional dirt that has become grimed into our form. Whereas `we usually wash ourselves daily to clean away physical dirt (or even several times a day on exposed areas) we seldom cleanse this inner grime of fears and feelings. Here is one of the practical issues underlying the origins of daily washing and daily praying. It makes us clean again, and puts us in harmony with the sources of our life.

As before, pass the attention quickly over the body dropping obvious tensions. Then bring the attention to the hips and abdomen. Now realise that in this general area we focus our passions and physical hunger. The yearning for food and sex

Call to mind any difficulties one has with this area of one’s feelings. Do not attempt to decide the wrongness or rightness of such feelings. No attempt is being made to decide what is proper or improper. Merely call to mind as clearly as possible one’s sexual and physical hungers, in whatever way they express, then drop them as if they were muscular tensions. In fact tense your genital area and slowly relax it several times

Bring the attention next to the chest and throat generally. This area of our body we can take as representing our feelings. By this is meant the way we feel about our job, our situation in life, our capabilities, friends and enemies, parents, health and so on. `Think of all these as a great bundle of feelings, and again let go as if they were muscular tensions. Again tense this area and slowly relax it several times

Once more, no attempt is made to decide whether or not one is justified in feeling such, or whether right or wrong. In fact the right and wrong, pleasurable and painful, are all dropped, together. Neither should any feeling be thrust aside or pushed down out of consciousness as if being fought off. This is decidedly against the aims of this practice and such methods will not result in relaxation. They may produce a mental or emotional silence, but certainly not a peace of mind or experience of inner silence One cannot push tensions away, physical or emotional. The effort to push them away only produces a further tension.

It can only be done by a letting go. If a tension remains after one has let go of one’s effort to maintain it, it is only because there is good reason or cause for it. In our practice, as already explained, first the emotion then the cause come to consciousness. Once the cause is realised in this way, the emotion naturally ceases, whether it is restlessness, constant desire to eat, fearfulness, a trauma or irritability. To stifle such feelings is like stifling our natural warning system of pain, or muffling a fire bell.

After the chest, bring the attention to the head. This part of our body we can associate with our ideas, our thoughts, our opinions about things, our reasoning. Bring to consciousness some of one’s opinions about oneself, about life, and so on. Bring up one’s religious beliefs or lack of them, examine thoughts about ambitions, tense the fac and let go of all the attitudes and expressions we hold there, then let go of them as if they were muscular tensions. Drop them alt away, good or bad, true or false.

Now we come to the climax of the whole of these series or practices-the full-blooded launching into the unconditional. Remember that the ego, or self-awareness is the result of many factors. To think of it as us in the most permanent sense is an illusion. The light from an electric bulb is the result of the electricity interacting with the bulb. The light can disappear if switched off or the bulb damaged. Similarly, our awareness of self is the result of the biological interaction of matter and energy, life and our body. But in gradually dropping away all the images, the results, we are left with only clear consciousness; we come to know what IS – the basis of our being and all life. Life itself.

Remember Life always moves us without any effort from us – it breathes us constantly in spontaneous movement; it beats our heart, digests our food and does the thousand and one other unknown processes to keep us alive. So if you actually fully relax you must expect spontaneous movement to appear at some time. To really appreciate that remember that Life always moves us spontaneously in its most important ways like breathing and heartbeat. So observe how gently it works and how it happens even when we are completely ‘out of it’. Read People’s Experience of LifeStream

For those who want a master class of learning to ‘let go’ read these links – LifeStream and Opening to Life

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved