Lean Into Birth

Debra Pascali -Bonaro¬† recently spoke in an interview about birth imperatives. One of the things she said was that women needed to “lean into birth.” This phrase resonated with me. I wanted to elaborate on her thoughts and my thoughts regarding this comment. First think about what the opposite of lean into is… it is to pull away and resist. This is not the way we need to approach birth. We all know that in order to move forward in a positive way, leaning into something without fear is ideal.

To lean into birth emotionally means to not be fearful- but instead to actually lean into it– embracing it fully. When women are afraid they hold back in that fear. How will that help them in labor? How will it hold them back? When you just let the waves roll over you, not fighting the sensations, you allow your bodies to let go and open. This is a radical concept in our society. Women often think that pain is isolating and so intense that they do not like the idea of not getting an epidural early on in their labors. But I have seen moms lean into their births by preparing ahead of time.

  • They address their fears instead of being hesitant to discuss them for fear that doing so will give that fear power. I feel not discussing it gives it power.
  • They begin to work through those fears with tools to help them lean into them and find ways to turn their fears around to feel empowered.
  • They surround themselves with a team that fully supports them.
  • When they feel empowered and supported, they are able to let go and lean into their labors without the paralyzing effect of the fear.

It is like the first time I zip-lined- I was afraid but after considering the safety techniques the canopy company used, knowing others do this and survive, having a team leader who knew what she was doing and being with friends who encouraged me, I was able to push through those fears and lean into the line and zip across the cavern below.

zip line

To lean into birth physically means just that. Instead of laying back into a bed resisting our bodies’ natural response to gravity for birth, which makes birth more difficult, leaning into birth makes birth easier. Having a mom upright, on her own feet or kneeling, allows the baby to align beautifully. The mom feels empowered when she is using her body and instinctive movements for birth. Leaning forward and allowing the baby to be in the hammock of the uterus helps the baby to line up for an easier movement through the pelvic outlet.

2014-08-10 13.16.44Lalani (14 of 140)Lalani (44 of 140)8522_174491890184_48618835184_4043931_378758_nmom checking in on her

So as you approach birth, considering ways to allow yourself to lean into birth rather than resist. Acknowledge your fears, address them fully, gather tools to work through them. (We offer classes to help you do this.) And in labor, stay upright and listen to your body.