Intuition and Birth

An excerpt from Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience, by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Rodale Press: New York, 2010.

“I love and respect birth. The body is a temple, it creates its own rites, its own prayers…all we must do is listen. With the labor and birth of my daughter I went so deep down, so far into the underworld that I had to crawl my way out. I did this only by surrendering. I did this by trusting the goddess in my bones. She moved through me and has left her power in me.”

–Lea B., Fairfax, CA

Changes to personality with pregnancy, such as the disruption of linear thinking, are due largely to hormones. I think the reason hormones prompt forgetfulness is to encourage the cultivation of “mother-mind,” a highly intuitive way of thinking and being that tunes us in to the body so we may be in optimal health when labor begins, ready to surrender to the challenges of giving birth and the tasks of caring for a newborn without stress or fear.

Over the years, I have done a good bit of research into the nature and cultivation of intuition, particularly as applied to birth, and have found it a fascinating and rich area of exploration. Intuition is defined as knowing directly, without inference, and is characterized by perceptions clean and unexpected in their arrival. It comes through best when we are relaxed and receptive—-in contrast to fears or projections, which are associated with frazzled or agitated states. In fact, intuition is thought to be linked to brainwave frequency: in beta (stress-related or goal-oriented thinking), our brainwaves are rapid and jagged, whereas in alpha (as induced by meditation or rhythmic activities), our brainwaves slow, become higher in amplitude and more synchronous with those around us; we literally tune into the bigger picture.

“My spiritual awareness changed during pregnancy. I suddenly knew things I did not know before. My dreams were clear lessons. I think my baby’s soul prepared me through dreams and meditations.

–Saskia S., Oak Grove, KY

Why should pregnancy prompt the development of intuition? For one, intuition helps us to perceive and respond to our babies’ needs before they can be verbalized. Knowing directly is undeniably timesaving, and time is at a premium when caring for a newborn. Intuition also supports mothers in self-care during the demanding years of growing a family. In fact, here is where the cultural formula of “do more, be more successful” begins to unravel—-with intuition in the equation, doing less actually leads to being and knowing more.

“After the birth, I am much more confident with other tasks in life. I know I have strong will and amazing intuition. I feel so connected to this baby, I understand her without even saying anything, and I want to be close to her as much as possible.”

–Michael R., Norwich, CT

Returning to the role of hormones in heightened intuition: oxytocin, known as the “love hormone” because it is released not only with sexual activity but also with arousal (even at the mere thought of a lover), is never at higher levels than during labor, reaching a peak at the moment of birth. There is a critical link between oxytocin and brainwaves that are even deeper and more synchronous than alpha—-the theta frequency. This is the deepest level we can experience in a waking state (we move into delta with sleep). Theta is associated with extrasensory perception, creative inspiration, and spontaneous problem solving. In theta, time becomes relative and elastic. Anyone who has given birth (or who has attended one) can attest to points in the process when minutes seemed like hours, and vice versa.

More than that, oxytocin facilitates bonding through entrainment. In this physiologic process, the heartbeat and breathing rhythms of lovers become synchronized. The slower the brainwave, the more likely entrainment is to occur. Thus a mother laboring in theta can entrain attendants to her frequency, as long as they are loving, open and unafraid.

“We held one another in our candle-lit lounge and swayed back and forth. Our hips danced together. My face buried into his body during the rushes, and when they subsided we embraced, foreheads touching …the only two in the world.

“The line between pleasure and pain is very fine indeed. I sang my birth song, a low moan, and he sang with me. I was surprised by how much birth sounded like sex! But birth is part of the lovemaking continuum.

“When I scooped my baby up from the water my partner wept tears of joy, and my friend’s breasts burst forth with milk. That’s what I remember most. Not the posterior back pain. Not the 58 hours of dilation. The intimacy.”

–Sarah L., Melbourne, Australia

Theta brainwaves are also triggered by life-threatening or traumatic situations. Thus the intensity of birth can reactivate previous trauma, which is why healing from sexual or other abuse prior to labor is ideal. Yet high intensity situations also offer the opportunity for reimprinting. Whoever is present at a birth—-mother, partner, siblings, and attendants—-may spontaneously replace negative imprints (whatever the source) with positive ones. Rebonding also can occur at this time: siblings separated from their mother at birth can bond anew in witness to the process, and partners kept apart or disconnected during previous births have possibility for healing.

For more, read Orgasmic Birth: Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying, and Pleasurable Birth Experience by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Rodale Press, 2010. Find it on Amazon.