For those of you who hear the term Ecstatic Birth for the first time, it may sound like an oxymoron. However, it is the most natural and desirable birth experience every woman can have. Yes, every, even the one that has a c-section, if prepared with the right mindset. Those cesareans are called Ecstatic Cesareans. Ecstatic birth is a term trademarked by Sheila Kamara Hay, who launched the global Ecstatic Birth movement in 2011. This term refers to a wide range of positive birth experiences that lay the foundation for empowered motherhood. An ecstatic birth is a childbirth experience full of overwhelming bliss or pleasure, be it physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or all of the above.
The reasons why we do not hear about that type of birth experiences very often are because:
1) Many laws and hospital protocols related to birth management are outdated and do not match new scientific data. Lack of choice, support, and humanism in such maternity care often lead to traumatic birth outcomes.
2) We are surrounded by a birth culture grounded in fear and avoidance of pain. Some women are so scared they do not want to read anything prior to birth. Meanwhile, adrenaline we produce while being afraid may not only make labor more painful and exhausting but has a capacity even to stall labor completely, leading to more c-sections.
3) Many doctors, who themselves believe in drugs for pain management, do not realize the side effects of the drugs they are using are the reasons for their high c-section rate and birth complications of their clients.
4) Women and birth practitioners lack knowledge about the natural and undisturbed birth process. Even many of those who know about it have never heard that the pleasure of a birthing woman with its unavoidable cascade of positive emotions is the most holistic birthing tool there is. It numbs the pain, supports the birth flow, and brings satisfaction to all. Pleasure is a pledge of successful motherhood and, therefore, a pledge of our children’s psychological well-being.
Imagine if there was one place on Earth, where the culture would be different. In this place, the level of c-sections is below 1%. Most babies are born healthy, with no medical interventions. Most women enjoy their birth experience throughout and come out of it empowered and confident that if they could birth their babies that way, they can accomplish anything. They walk away from this experience with a deep sense of awe for their body, nature, and life itself, and they look back at the day they birthed their children with immense joy. These women revive the pleasure they experienced at birth every time they celebrate their children’s birthdays. Moreover, they are eager to share these powerful birth stories to empower other women as well.
The traumatic birth stories are an exception because birth is no longer a taboo but rather a subject of high importance you are encouraged to ask questions about. Women are highly educated and know how to process their emotions and find the source of power even if the birth scenario does not unfold the way they planned. After all, Ecstatic Birth, to a large extent, is primarily determined by our ability to see it as ecstatic. Ecstasy is present even in difficult life experiences: the only question is whether you can find it or will remain a victim of your circumstances. Nevertheless, if the trauma occurs, these women receive a lot of empathy and help from the surrounding women so they could heal and have an empowered motherhood too.
In this city, most people have at least basic information about the key conditions for creating an ecstatic birth experience. Imagine that at the entrance to the city Mariposa, you are passing through a Welcome Center that has several auditoriums. In each auditorium, visitors can see an educational video dedicated to one part of the city vision. One is about the leading-edge app we will use for transparent governance. Another is about nonviolent communication, a highly effective method for conflict resolution that allows people to remain human even under trying circumstances. Another one is about ecologic living and organic farming, and so on. One of them will be about Ecstatic Birth. Visitors are not obliged to attend to any of them; however, they are informed that for watching at least one of the educational videos, they will receive a quality t-shirt with the city logo on one side and an invite to learn about parts of our vision on another. For instance, for birth, it could have a simple phrase as “Did you know that childbirth could be ecstatic? Visit www.Mariposa.hn to learn more.” Of course, not everyone will be interested in the birth section right away, but those in childbearing age may be drawn to it naturally. Imagine the impact these visitors may have on the whole world by wearing these t-shirts and spreading the word about the possibility of having an ecstatic birth.
It does not stop there. It is my dream to convert my expertise in Ecstatic Birth into many educational opportunities for future parents and birth practitioners, and build a birth center, where together with leading-edge practices for safe and respectful maternity care, these educational programs will allow women to dismount their fears of labor, create healthy pregnancies and powerful birth experiences that will positively impact their children’s health and brain development. We hope that these practices will drive birth tourism and new residents to startup city Mariposa.
How do I know that what I describe is not a utopia and that it is actually possible despite the overwhelming world statistics we have today? Well, as humans, we can learn from the success stories of small groups of people.
One of the most surprising and inspiring stories I have ever read was in the foreword to the book “HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method” written by M.F. Mongan. The foreword was written by Lorne R. Campbell, an experienced OBGYN and family doctor. He described how his medical practice has changed over the years and how it was related to the change in his beliefs about pain management in birth and his methods of working with future moms. When he started working as an OBGYN, her c-section rate was 25%, which was about the average rate in North America at that time. By now, according to WHO, it is 32%. At that time, just like many other doctors, he believed that epidural and the use of drugs was a medical blessing for laboring mothers. However, as many women demanded natural birth, he started holding off analgesics until the mother could no longer hold the pain. Just by doing that, his c-section rate dropped to 5%. However, when he discovered a HypnoBirthing method, started preparing his clients to birth with this method and stopped using any analgesic drugs altogether, not only his c-section rate became nearly non-existent (3 women in a few years!) but his clients stopped experiencing pain, neither mothers nor babies were exhausted in the process, there were no more birth complications, no need for oxygen or any other medical support for babies, and “all of the families have left their birthings excited about the birth event”. He says, “I have a large number of HypnoBirthing families – mothers and fathers – who love to talk about their own birthing experiences”.
That’s the impact of just one doctor, and HypnoBirthing is only one modality for ecstatic birth preparation. I believe there are many more. Imagine if the majority of the birth practitioners were certified in ecstatic birth prep modalities like HypnoBirthing, then Ecstatic Birth would have a chance to become a norm.
When I talked about our vision for creating Ecstatic Birth culture in startup city Mariposa to my mentors, they all supported it as one. Here are what they said:
Sheila Kamara Hay: “Love the vision you are holding!”
Debra Pascali-Bonaro: “I am so honored and humbled to be walking this path with you! I can’t wait to watch as your community continues to grow and to find more ways to collaborate.”
Kim Anami: “What a beautiful vision you have, so needed in the world!”
How about you? Send me an email to let me know what you think!
Did you like this post? Share it!