Articles - Labour & Childbirth
Being well-rested helps labour to progress
This study confirms what I have seen in my practice. I really recommend to women that they do all they can to ensure a good sleep. To that end, I give my doula clients mini massage workshops in our prenatal meetings and offer this same service on it's own as well.
A study by researchers at the UCSF School of Nursing has found that women who have less sleep or severely disrupted sleep in late pregnancy are significantly more likely to have longer labors and are more likely to have cesarean births. Full Article
Entering the Artist-Mind in Labour and Birth
I was listening to a CBC podcast of Ideas and had the pleasure of hearing the voice and thoughts of Mary Pratt, an east coast artist who is known for her love affair with light and the illumination of mundane domestic scenes such as bowls of jello and laundry on the line.
Near the end of the "interview" (I word I put into incredulous quotes because she is such a wealth of stories that the interviewer seems almost superfluous) she began talking about her early experiences of being transformed by the intensity of her concentration on how to use colour to get the effect that she desired:
"And one time I came over to the house after concentrating really hard on this and my daughter Ann, who loves to cook - a good cook - had got supper ready, or lunch, or whatever it was, and it was all on the table waitin' for me, and all I had to do is sit down, take my napkin and put it on my lap and start to eat. And as I did, as I put my soup spoon in the bowl, and I said, you know, "there's this amazing colour between red and blue and it's a very effective colour; it sort of moves you around from one area of colour to the other" and the kids all start to giggle, and Christopher said, "we usually call that purple. [Here she laughs]
"I was so concentrating on these movements of colour from one to the other that I had forgotten the names of the colours. Really, I had forgotten all of the other things that went before and the crayons of my childhood, I mean, I was into another realm altogether." [This time she breaks into great peals of laughter right from her belly.]
(Kennedy, P., (27 March 2007) [Podcast] ''. CBC. Available at
This is a gorgeous explanation of the mind-body transformation that occurs during labour when you are able to let your rational mind (which draws your attention to things like time, self-doubt, inhibition, manners etc) rest for a while. During labour, there comes a time when a mother seems to be in another dimension (in Birthing From Within we call this Labourland). In addition to being deeply focussed on work that takes all of your attention, your body is providing you with powerful hormones that assist in your transformation to this state.
If you are able before the birth of your baby to begin a practice that brings you to this space on a regular basis, it will be that much easier to get there and stay there when the time comes; as you live, so will you give birth. Meditation, awareness practices and artistic endeavours all help you to access this non-rational, dream-state mind. You needn't be experienced or talented in any of these undertakings; simply doing them is enough. The goal is not to produce a work of art that "looks good" but to go through the process of making art; it is not to become another Buddha, but to go through the practice of meditation.
If you are not sure how to start, download my article, "Awareness Practices for Labour, Birth & Beyond" for information on how to engage in a regular practice of awareness or begin an artistic practice with the help of a book such as "Art is a Way of Knowing" by Pat B Allen (available at Banyen Books).
Whatever path you take, allow its colour and flavour to enter your days and it will stand by you in labour, breastfeeding, parenting and all aspects of your life.
Pear and Pomegranate by Mary Pratt. 2006.