The Power of Birth

Three weeks ago, I gave birth to my first child.  I’ve been trying to find a way to write about the experience, but really, words aren’t enough to convey the intensity. The power of labor is unlike anything else—you really do enter a trance as your body works to bring the baby down into the world.  So much of what I remember occurred either as indescribable physical sensations or abstract visions of clay, water, light and breath that I doubt words will ever suffice.

Birthing a child is the ultimate act of creation.  I’m sure that there are those who would loudly disagree.  However, I’m going to stand by this assertion, as personally, I think it is difficult to achieve the same levels of physical, mental, and spiritual intensity as labor requires in any other activity.  Birthing is a peak experience, and, in the best of circumstances, the culmination of two people’s love made physically manifest as a new life.  And, especially with a first child, labor does not just produce a new human being.  It is also the birth of a new mother and father as well.

My midwife was fond of saying that the atmosphere at a birth should be as intense and intimate as the act of sex in which the child was conceived.  I think this is partially true—it is certainly as intimate.  But I would argue that birth is exponentially more intense than even the most earth-shattering orgasm.  In my case, it was more like every single moment of passion that my husband and I shared was condensed into thirteen hours of the hardest and most important work I’ve ever done, physically, mentally or spiritually.

Labor is so overpowering simply because, frankly, it is an involuntary process.  When allowed to proceed without interference, it is the single most potent experience a woman can undergo.  All pretense is stripped away.  She must set aside any illusions of control to give herself to an incredibly intense, wild process.  Birth is the ultimate act of surrender, the ultimate act of joy.  When the baby crowns, the mother becomes a conduit for unbridled, raw creative force, stars and space pouring through her, the waves of the labor surging and carrying the child towards his new life.

One of the things talked about in the Bardic Grade is Jung’s concept of synchronicity.  The “acausally connectable” coincidence of my completion of the Bardic Grade and the birth of my son within 24 hours of each other is probably the most powerful synchronicity of my short life.  During my labor, I finally found my voice, letting it vibrate through my whole body as I breathed the baby down.  Speaking aloud was always one of the most difficult things for me in the Bardic work. Now I find myself singing blessings to the local brook and getting excited about taking speaking roles in ritual.  I feel like Ariel getting her voice back from Ursula the sea witch!  It’s a gift I never expected to receive because I didn’t know it was missing.

So, these have been my many and varied thoughts on the labor experience.  I realize it’s not something that every woman wants to do, nor should it be—any more than everyone should have an interest in Druidry.  But I do think that for those who wish to have children, a natural, calm birthing experience will be one of the most profound acts you ever perform.

—A.V.