The Conscious Breath
From Pathways Issue 44 - Winter 2014
Jeanne Ohm, DC
Birth may be one of the most profound experiences we ever encounter. We try to plan and arrange what will happen, but with all birth comes the unknown. All natural processes follow a course that is not necessarily measurable and predictable. At these times we become challenged to choose between what we think is best and what is actually best. We teeter between trust and fear; our ability to access our higher knowing is put to the test.
When Tom and I were introduced to the chiropractic principle that life is intelligent, it resonated with both of us. We recognized that in this intelligent order, all beings had consciousness and purpose. Birth gives us the opportunity to viscerally experience this principle, and our six homebirths gave us the challenges, understanding and forthcoming assurances to deepen our trust in it.
So far, all of our children have chosen homebirths with midwives. Witnessing the births of their siblings and their own children has reinforced their experiences of life’s wisdom. They know that homebirth midwives, much like chiropractors, are the practitioners who resonate most strongly with these principles, which they value greatly. Midwives have a deep respect for life’s intelligent processes, and they have the respect and strength to follow its guidance. They too, have a strong certainty that babies are sentient beings who play a vital, conscious role in birth. And yet at every birth their confidence gets challenged. That’s how their strength gets even sturdier.
Our sixth grandchild, as our first five, was born at home with our favorite midwife. Labor progressed steadily throughout the day. All was well. Late afternoon, our daughter-in-law was 8–9 centimeters dilated, and we began to prepare to meet the baby. Progress continued in a steady manner for a couple more hours, until the midwife announced the baby was in an incomplete breech presentation. Just the day before, the baby had been in the optimal, head-down position. Why had he shifted? With that announcement, the mom’s urge to push melted away. Was it the fear of breech? Or was it the perfect wisdom of her body slowing down to ease the breech baby out?
The midwife suggested that if we wanted to transfer to a hospital, the window to do so was right then. We hesitated. Maybe we were afraid of stepping into a panic-filled system. Or perhaps our inherent trust that all would be well kept us from moving. We teetered between our mental naggings and our higher sense of knowing. For the rest of the birth, we all got to witness a dance: between three chiropractors, two midwives, one sibling, two birthing parents and, yes, the baby. When one became apprehensive, another stepped up with assurance. When one showed anxiety, another relieved it with ease. When one displayed doubt, another demonstrated skill. At the same time, all of us were cognizant that the baby was also making choices. His heart rate stayed strong and he steadily moved down the canal. We were all challenged. We all faced doubt. We all submitted to the unsure outcome.
One foot came out, and then the butt. His other leg was folded up; it exited with a flop. His heart tones remained consistent. Unusual to this type of breech, the arms were above the head. The midwife reached up to bring them down. Contractions stopped, and pushing was exhausting. The midwife stepped in again, assisting with the head. The baby came out, with the placenta following almost immediately.
The midwife breathed into the blue baby; I adjusted his atlas. His mother told him she loved him. And he took his first breath...the pinkness of his body demonstrating the action of life’s longing for itself. He looked up at his mother with the wisdom of the ages. His lips curled into a smile.
It was one of the most beautiful, emotional, strengthening dances I have ever experienced. Each of us carrying the other, each of us doubting, and yet at the same time, trusting. Ultimately, we learned an even deeper respect for both the mother and baby’s innate wisdom.