"The latest studies in the field of prenatal psychology show undoubtedly the direct correlation between the quality and characteristics of the way we were born and our life's patterns and our personalities." -Elena Tonetti, 1995
by Elena Tonetti, 1995
Igor Charkovsky and
Elena Tonetti coaching
Nadya Yakovleva during
the last stages of her labour.
Baby's head is crowning.
Elena caught the Baby!!!
Note how clean the water is-
No discharge to speak of...
and how beautiful and relaxed
is the mother's face?
...or happy beginning! Igor Charkovsky, 1987 Birthcamp at the Black Sea Waterbabies Club Moscow, 1985 Standing up, right to left: Igor Charcovsky, Elena Tonetti, Tatyana Sargunas with her mom in arms.
Girl on the Snow
What's your idea of fun?
In 1982 I was working closely with the Waterbirth pioneer Igor Charkovsky in Russia. The idea to place laboring women in the water came to him in 1963 when he was looking for the ways to relieve a baby's brain from the shock of gravity. He considered this the main reason why the human brain is not fully available for our use. He states that whales and dolphins have a much better use of their brains, on levels unreachable for humans, because they are not exposed to gravity shock at birth. As proof of their higher intelligence and superior use of their brain, Charkovsky points out that these animals are not territorial and do not kill their own. He suggested that the concussion human beings experience as we emerge from the weightless environment is far more devastating than we care to understand. By the time we grow up and the function of understanding is available to us, we have no reference point to compare our brain power to what it could have been if we had not been, literally, smacked on the head by the immense pressure of our earthly gravity.
Like the proverbial Newtonian apple, the egg yolk played its part this time. It fell into the glass of water and stayed round! If it had fallen on the pan, it would have had to obey the law of gravity and go flat. The logical solution was to have baby's head emerge into water which serves as a buffer zone, giving the brain some time to adjust to the new environment.
Easier said than done! It took quite some time to convince the first woman to try it. By the time I met Charkovsky he only had about a dozen of water births under his belt. In the early eighties the whole movement of "conscious waterbirth" exploded in Russia. During cold months of the year women were giving birth at home in their apartments, and every summer we organized birth camps at the Black Sea, in the middle of nowhere, far away from tourists and traffic, in shallow lagoons, where water is warm and clean and dolphins are plenty to play with. Our focus was the search for ways to eliminate complications during delivery. As a result of that search a most profound program of preparation for natural birth was developed, which benefited not only new babies, but also adults who wanted to heal the consequences of their own dramatic entrance into our world.
The latest studies in the field of prenatal psychology show undoubtedly the direct correlation between the quality and characteristics of the way we were born and our life's patterns and our personalities. It only makes sense to learn to do our best to provide our children with smooth transition into our three-dimensional reality.
We strongly believe that we can dramatically enhance the quality of our species and bring heaven to Earth in one generation through the elimination of birth trauma from the vocabulary of human experience and the raising of happy and healthy children.
Almost all of us (estimated 98%) went through the initial shock of a severe birth trauma coming into existence on Earth, that stripped us of our power and erased the memory of our free will and good intention to be here. For some of us, this made it almost impossible to accept the reality of having to have a body and having to put up with all the problems that a body generates. Dr. Frederic Leboyer writes about it this way: "What futility to believe that so great a cataclysm will not leave its mark! Its traces are everywhere - in the skin, in the bones, in the stomach, in the back. In all our human folly. In our madness, our torturers, our prisons. In our legends, ethics, myths, in the Scriptures..."
Born in excruciating labor pains, we are limbicly imprinted for suffering. Bloody and violent human history is created by people damaged by their own birth trauma, but the simple truth is that it doesn't have to be this way. We invite you to think of the possibilities that would open up in front of humankind if women would claim their bodies and return to the original capacity that all mammals have-- the capacity to give birth without trauma.
Let's think for a moment. What is the body? The more we know about it the less we can comprehend. What makes it function, exactly? At first sight, it's a big solid object, but the closer we look at it through a powerful microscope, the less of a body we can see. It becomes pulsating liquid emptiness. Gestation is one of the most mysterious processes in our three-dimensional reality. We know a lot about stages of gestation. It's very well studied and documented, but what exactly makes gestation possible remains a mystery. What is that power that organizes a number of divided cells into a beautifully formed human body? What is the power that allows cells to divide in the first-place?
People-making is nothing short of a miracle. We cannot afford to disregard that notion any longer if we are to survive as a species. A pregnant woman is participating in an event of miraculous significance. She is bringing into existence something that did not exist before. Such an event should not be habitually taken for granted and treated mechanically. We see the mechanical approach to gestation and birth as one of the major factors that has already brought our civilization to the brink of extinction. Isn't it time to wake up and try something different?
Let's think, to the best of our ability, what would it take to eliminate, or at least to minimize birth trauma not only for future births, but also for the way it affects the lives of the people who are adults now. As it turns out, not only pregnant women can benefit from it. Their partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, neighbors, everybody! Especially people who are ready to increase their own capacity for greater happiness.
Normally, a woman gives birth the way she was born due to the mechanism of the limbic imprint. That's the only way her body knows how to procreate. The limbic imprint is the same mechanism that makes goslings follow any moving object they see when they hatch out of the egg and expect to see their mother. The first moving object they see imprints in the limbic system of their brains as the image they should be following, even if it's not their mother.
Humans have the same mechanism. Our early experiences in life stay with us until the end of it. Our nervous system translates them as the comfort zone, as "the way we survived". Though, in most cases it would be better translated as "we survived in spite of what happened to us". If we do not make a conscious effort to break our dependency on that narrow corridor of our comfort zone which is normally set on "low", we are bound to go in circles recreating the same unfortunate patterns in our lives, reliving our birth and early childhood trauma over and over again.
Let's look at the structure of our brains. On top of our spinal cord there is the part that is called the reptilian brain. It is responsible for pure physiology: when somebody is in a coma, for example, in what they call a "vegetable" state, their heart is still pumping the blood, cells are still pulsating and food is still being digested. The reptilian brain is responsible for these functions. Then there is the cortex. The part of the brain that we commonly refer to as a "brain" – the grey matter. The cortex is responsible for our mental activity: thinking, planning, calculating... Logic lives in the cortex.
The limbic imprinting happens in the limbic system of the brain, which is the part of the brain responsible for our emotions and feelings. That's where Love lives, or the absence of it.
We, as a species, come into this world expecting love, and when actual love is our primal experience, it imprints in our limbic system as undeniable rightness of being (which adds up to being held in our mothers' loving arms, looking straight into her eyes with her nipple in our mouth, which is the experience of total bliss). If our early impression is anything less than that, then that "anything" goes into our limbic imprint to be recorded as our experience of love and comfort. If the child was abandoned literally or emotionally, even just left in a crib to cry his heart out, then regardless of all logic would the abandonment be in this person's limbic imprint; his or her home frequency, so to speak. Even if this person later on in life would think that he or she doesn't want to be abandoned, they would unconsciously manifest the same scenario over and over again. The function of understanding and thinking lives in the cortex. The limbic regulator responsible for the mechanism of attraction of different circumstances and people into our lives, resides in the limbic part of the brain. There is normally very little to no communication between the two. So an average adult spends a lifetime in a conflict zone, going from one to the other, being torn between "want" and "should", because "wants" come from the limbic brain and "shoulds" – from the cortex.
The answer to this dilemma is in the expanding of our nervous system and training all three parts of our brain to "sing in harmony," so to speak, vs. keeping them in discord. The new science tells us that it all comes down to waves. No matter how serious and permanent the damage looks, limbic imprint still adds up to a very narrow range of frequencies. We can expand our nervous system to translate a much wider wave-range as our comfort zone, so actual love could be experienced as love. It is an acquired skill, like learning to play piano. It requires commitment and practice, but the good news is that we can do it. Even if it feels like a very difficult task, life is way more difficult if we don't make this effort. So.. ! What does it take to give birth without trauma?
Most of all, a woman needs to learn to enjoy being emotionally present in her body. This is an extremely necessary skill for anybody, and for giving birth it is essential. Emotional presence is something very different from just pure physicality. It happens often that women in great physical shape have a very hard time in the delivery room. Physical strength and endurance are important, but these by alone will not guarantee success. Enjoyable emotional presence in the body means that the reptilian and limbic parts of the brain are harmonized in teamwork, which allows a woman to feel safe and relaxed in the midst of strong sensations. It is mostly the reptilian brain that governs the brain chemistry during birthing. Without stress and fear all of the necessary hormones are released in the right order, at the right timing. A woman has no need to control this process with her cortex. Giving birth is not a mental activity.
In fact, in Russia, female doctors and nurses have the worst statistics among other professional groups of women when it comes down to them giving birth. It is not the intellectual knowing that counts in this primal act. The mind of the body needs to be activated and then the body knows perfectly what to do. The complications at birth arise from interference with this highly organized design-- "static", so to speak. Because all complications have their own reasons and originate somewhere in the past, diligently doing personal private detective work and uncovering every buried "frozen" fixation in the subconscious can release a lot of the energy necessary for proper bodily functions. But just psychotherapy, like just exercising by itself, can be a very lengthy process. We all know people who were in therapy for years and stayed symptomatic in their issues.
What dramatically speeds up the recovery of one's attention is the process that engages all three parts of the brain at the same time and addresses the person as a whole. While talk therapy deals with the cortex and physical activity engages reptilian brain and by no means should we underestimate their importance, they still use one part of the brain at a time, not bringing them any closer to harmony. Emotional presence in the body requires a different kind of courage than it takes to climb Everest or to skydive. Very often extreme sports are the way of substituting for emotional presence. Also, thinking about feelings (which is what talk-therapies provide) is not going to make up for the actual in-the-body experience of feeling them.
The actual birthing is the last thing in conscious waterbirth mentality. It's like asking, "What's the cheapest part of buying a horse?" Buying the horse itself! Everything else that comes with it will add up to the full experience. We know that a number of American hospitals added waterbirth to their vocabulary, but just placing a laboring woman in the tub doesn't make it waterbirth. It does not prepare a woman to handle the intensity. She will have a nice rest and still have the same kind of birth she would have had without it. What does make a difference is the work of preparation during pregnancy and, in the best case scenario, even before it.
In an ideal world birthing starts with conscious conception. First things first. When a couple feels ready to have a child they should consciously prepare for it. That includes purification of the body, mind and soul and harmonizing all three parts of the brain. A variety of techniques can be used. They can experiment with different kinds of diet. They can exercising-- yoga and breathing techniques, with the intention of getting in shape, bring their bodies up to the optimum functional level, freeing them of toxins and strengthening the muscles. It is also essential to learn proper body mechanics, to establish healthy movement patterns so the web of connective tissue that holds the bones in the woman's body can be maximally lined up for the coming task of carrying additional weight. This will protect lower back, pelvis and legs from tightness, soreness and injuries during pregnancy and delivery. Learning new movement habits might be a slow, tedious process, so the earlier she starts, the better. But in the long run the benefits of these exercises will pay off in the life-long health of muscles, joints and ligaments. "Body Mechanics for a Healthy Pregnancy" is a breakthrough systematic guide to learning these exercises. It will be available soon on our website.
Another very important aspect is meditation with the innermost intention of establishing contact with the soul of the future baby. It's all about exercising the power of our free will-- the unborn child can choose his future parents and the parents have a choice of what kind of energy they would like to attract into their lives to be manifested as their children and what kind of parents they would like to be. Most pregnant women are doing this anyway-- imagining their future child and how they will relate, but it is much more effective to take it a few steps further and intentionally create desirable images. The earlier this is started, the better, because after choosing you as a parent, the spirit of your future child starts guiding you and helping you manifest desirable circumstances in your life. This connection will help you clarify important questions like, "Why do we want to have a child? Is now a good time for it? Are we as partners on the same page about it?" All these questions are better answered before conception. Too many babies are being born right now for all the wrong reasons, which is having a devastating effect on our society.
Make sure that there is a burning desire in both partners to commit themselves to raising a child and meeting each other's emotional needs. In a deep meditative state, partners declare themselves available and invite a kindred spirit to join them. All three of them can decide together what the best time is for the baby to come through. For those who are open to it, they might find it a useful idea to consult with a knowledgeable astrologer. Remember that the most likely time to get pregnant is when the moon is in the same phase as it was when a woman was born (in addition to regular calendar calculations and temperature taking.) When the time is chosen and feels right for everybody, it is then up to the couple to create a most beautiful memorable ritual of the actual conception. (Check out the great book "Conscious Conception" by Janine Parvati Baker for more information on that subject.)
There is no time limit on how early a couple should prepare for childbirth, as the benefits of preparation effect all aspects of their lives. One of the main aspects is clarifying the psychological confusion of everybody involved. We found that problems in relationships between partners or between partners and their parents are a very real cause of complications during birth. Negative emotions of family members can affect not only developmental stages of the fetus during gestation, but the actual process of delivery as well.
Also, unattended counter intentions might prevent conception from happening in the first place. If a desire to have a child is mostly mental and is not grounded in the body of either one of the partners or even if their parents consciously or unconsciously do not approve of their choices it blocks the energy flow necessary for conception. Counter intentions have a lot of power as long as they remain undetected. If somebody says: "It's not fair. This woman did not even want the baby and she did get pregnant and I am doing everything I know for it to happen with no luck!" – we see a perfect demonstration of an intricate interplay of counter intentions. For example, a woman who thought she wanted to focus on her career and wait with the baby, gets pregnant. This would be a legitimate form of self-sabotage, and for the one who is doing what she "knows", it is the way of keeping herself in her head and not allowing herself to drop into her body. Getting pregnant is not a mental activity :).
If a woman manages to override her body and conceive anyway, she will almost guarantee a difficult delivery and severe birth trauma for the baby. Nobody can get away with over-riding their body for too long. This is why it is so essential to work out all the psychic confusion as early in the process as possible. If this work is done before the conception, it allows future parents to attract a more evolved soul to partner up with them than if they have ignored the work. With each baby born in the eighties in Russia under the powerful guidance of Igor Charkovsky, the pioneer in the field of conscious waterbirth movement, we learned more and more, not about how to deal with complications during birth, but about how to avoid them entirely.
To be pregnant in the frame of "conscious birth" mentality is very pleasant! A woman is treated with great care by her family and friends who are encouraged to relieve her as much as possible from her normal responsibilities. She can use this time for her preparation practices and simply to relax and have fun. After all, whatever she does during her pregnancy will have a life-long effect on the baby. It's really worth it to deliver the message to the unborn child that his mother's time and attention is rightfully his. When this doesn't happen the baby will demand the time and attention anyway, but through very unpleasant, stressful means by getting sick or requiring high maintenance. Baby's body is literally made of his mother's juices. If her brain habitually produces stress hormones and she keeps herself in the thoughts based in fear and anxiety, then that is the chemistry the fetus is floating in. In that case, the chances for physical and emotional health are very slim. So, it's a very practical investment to spend time preparing for the child's arrival. This includes anything a woman finds helpful: watsu, meditations, guided visualizations, rebirthing, massages, yoga, long walks, swimming with dolphins, water dancing, etc... It is especially effective when the father of the baby is involved in these activities.
We offer concise and very effective classes and workshops that are designed to help people shift their consciousness into harmonious mode and raise their personal home-frequency. A crash course to enlightenment, so to speak. That's exactly what it takes to give birth without trauma: an enlightened woman, in her full creative power, with her wings wide spread behind her shoulders. (To learn more about classes and workshops schedule go to our home page.)
It mostly comes down to the unresolved psychological issues in the family and unconscious counter intentions to their own success. The intricate web of relationships effects everybody involved. The first few brave women who pioneered the experience of giving birth in water, in Moscow, demonstrated to us the degree of that connection. When complications happened during their deliveries, they were able to find inner strength and peace to disengage themselves from their issues and the labor would resolve to progress. Very soon we realized that it is better to deal with the realm of cumulative family drama before the actual due date. Results were speaking for themselves. Those couples that were able to commit to the program had beautiful, short, smooth deliveries. They did not require any medical help. Only people they personally invited were honored to be present there, to hold the sacred space for them and to help with logistics after the birth.
The decision about the birth party should be entirely based on the pregnant woman's intuition and comfort. It's not a good time to be politically correct or concerned about somebody else's hurt feelings. Ideally, only people who have dealt with their own birth trauma should be there, as that's one of the main factors enabling them to stay emotionally present and functional throughout the event. It's been observed too many times that people who have not prepared themselves and came casually, even if they are dear friends or relatives, not only were unable to be helpful, but were downright destructive. Sometimes, the right person shows up in your life at the last moment. Just keep your eyes open. It takes wisdom to make that selection. The basic criteria include the capacity to stay peaceful, relaxed and focused at the same time, and to be fearless, with good, practical common sense. Birthing, as messy as it is, is a magnificent and mysterious event with its own self-organizing power. Trusting that power is noted to be a wiser choice than attempting to override it.
In Russia the program also includes winter swimming, preferably in the river or lake. If no natural water is available, cold showers are good enough to use. Winter swimming is rooted in traditional Russian folk medicine. The short thermal shock of icy water resets all the systems in the body, wakes up and strengthens the immune system and most of all – feels great! Being in freezing cold water is absolutely exhilarating! It is literally freezing. You have to break the ice before you go in; it's so cold that it feels hot! The time in the water should be short as it is not about getting frozen as it is about being a jump-start. The obvious increase of energy level speaks for itself, but Russian pregnant women also found another useful aspect of this practice. They used cold as a prototype of pain, learning to navigate their energy in the midst of extreme sensations and found it a helpful tool in releasing the fear of giving birth.
The simple thought that pregnancy and childbirth are natural occurrences and are not to be looked upon as medical problems or sickness seems to have the status of heresy in our society. It may sound strange, but in our birth-camps at the Black Sea obstetricians were not even allowed. By the time they were finished with their education in Russia they were so contaminated by the pictures of pathology in their heads and fear-based expectations that it made it almost impossible for them to trust the process and relax. Knowing what and how exactly might go wrong is not a necessary requirement in a birthing, where the full power of Nature is honored; when a laboring woman and her man turn it into a peak experience of their intimacy-- total trust and surrender. In a perfect birth they are doing it together. He is holding her, massaging and kissing her. Sensuous caresses bring waves of sexual energy that relieves pain and speeds up the process dramatically. People's eyes are full with tears of happiness and wonder, their hearts are wide open with a deep sense of gratitude. It's a time of the innermost closeness to each other and to God...
In the Russian water birth community none of the women have any formal medical education. All of them started their work simply by giving birth in the water, at home, by themselves. Their own remarkable experience inspired them to help other couples to do the same, as they proceeded with their self-education.
According to William Emerson's 1995 study published in the Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, in the United States a staggering 95% of births are traumatic, 45% are rated as "severe damage" and 50% considered "moderate" trauma. It weakens the nation rapidly. This has to change. We see the existing habitual, widely accepted practices in the delivery room as a crime against humanity. Not long ago doctors advertised cigarettes on TV and recommended not breast-feeding. Nobody held them responsible for breach of trust of American people.
If you think medical intervention in hospitals provides guaranteed safety during delivery, think again. Dr. Frederick Leboyer in 1975 called it "the torture of an innocent". There exists a direct correlation between specific characteristics of dramatic, mostly unnecessary interventions and behavioral disorders later on in life. For example, addictions, poor problem-solving skills, low self-esteem, inability to be responsible, as well as the number of physical health problems have all been linked to birth trauma.
Medical researcher Henci Goer documents that the most common obstetrical procedures of this era are routinely used when there is no research or scientific basis for their existence. Nor are there sufficient indications of their safety.
Thomas Verny in his 1992 article on the effects of obstetrical interventions concluded: "Many high-tech tests and routine procedures used in obstetrics have no proven efficacy and are really more in the nature of rituals than necessity". He wrote about harmful effects of obstetrical procedures that often result in psychological and physical complications and outcomes. Dr. William Emerson, one of the leading experts in pre-natal psychology, in his 1998 profound article "Birth Trauma: The Psychological Effects of obstetrical interventions," writes, "My foremost discovery was that medical interventions appear to have long-term detrimental physical and psychological effect. Even the most commonly used obstetrical interventions must be questioned." Then he goes even deeper into that issue, stating, "Prenatal trauma (trauma which occurred during pregnancy) is highly related to perinatal trauma (during delivery). Prenatal trauma influences obstetrical intervention. For example, if an alcoholic mother ingests alcohol during pregnancy, this affects how her baby experiences birth inductions. Most obstetrical interventions are symbolically similar to many prenatal traumas, thereby activating them. When a baby is given drugs, or is clamped with forceps, these interventions can symbolize her medication-induced or mechanically-induced abortion attempts. When a baby is held back during birth, this can symbolize the rejection of being an unwanted baby. Prenatal and birth traumas interact in creating their effects, but severe traumas rely less on interactional factors. In other words, severe traumas have a traumatic impact even when there are no reinforcing factors. Almost all obstetrical interventions qualify as severe traumas".
The baby's experience during birth reinforces the prenatal experience. The quality of gestation determines the quality of delivery. Birth trauma doesn't start at birth, it starts much earlier. In his book "Voices from the Womb" Dr. Michael Gabriel describes his patients recovering their memory from their gestation period. It's well documented that unborn babies have emotions and feelings. They know perfectly well whether they are wanted and welcomed or their parents are in great distress. The following statistics reflect the outcome: 100% of all violent criminals were unwanted babies. Maybe pro-life politicians need to hear this statistic. Pro- what kind of life? Multiplying misery is not a virtue.
Putting aside the delivery room practice, the Journal of American Medical Association reports that our high tech approach to disease kills a minimum of a quarter million people each and every year due to medical mistakes and negligence, making conventional health-care the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. That statistic only includes the actual deaths. It does not include any degree of severe damage to the human body caused by medical mistakes.
The birthing may or may not be in the water. It is a very personal choice. Some women don't feel comfortable in the water; some feel so comfortable and relaxed that it would stop contractions. In that case it's good to quickly get out and do something energetic. Dance, for example. The birthing doesn't have to be in some particular place-– at home, on the beach or even at the hospital. It can be a beautiful experience anywhere. What matters is the attitude and the degree of responsibility the woman is going to take for giving birth. It happened a few times when the mothers were extremely determined to have their delivery exactly just the way they envisioned. It doesn't work that way. There is nothing wrong with envisioning, in fact, it's a part of preparation. It had something to do with rigidity of their attachment to their idea. Inflexibility blocks the flow, creating tendency to ignore the tell-tale signs of where the whole situation is moving and does not allowing common sense choices.
There is no standard procedure established for the cutting of the umbilical cord among the Russian spiritual midwives. It's left up to the situation and partners' preference. Very popular is the Lotus Birth, when the cord is not cut at all and is left intact until it falls off naturally in a few days, which relieves baby from additional separation procedure. Of course, this method requires an extra effort to keep the placenta clean and skill to gracefully handle the inconvenience of its attachment. Whatever the decision that the parents choose to go with, cutting the cord only takes place when it stops pulsating and all the blood has been expelled from placenta into the baby. It takes different amounts of time with different people, and this is why there is no standard timeline. The baby sure could use every drop of that blood, which is rightfully his. The standard obstetrical procedure in the hospitals when the cord is cut immediately after the delivery, denies the baby that basic right, leaving a deep psychological wound and adding to the whole trauma. In a healthy birth, when no emergency steps are required, there is no reason for that barbaric ritual. The only explanation for it is ignorance of the effect it has on the baby and the doctor's impatience.
Each couple has their own preference regarding what to do with the placenta. The most common one is to bury it in the ground and plant a tree on top of it. It could be done as a beautiful ceremony of welcoming the newborn to our tribe of earthlings, which would reinforce his sense of belonging here and the rightness of his being.
Immediately following the birth, mothers begin nursing, so the newborn receives colostrums to establish the correct balance of micro flora in the baby's intestine. It is about now that the incredible discoveries begin: what looked like the end of an adventure is really just the beginning! Gentle forms of "baby yoga", lots of fun exercises, swimming lessons, baby massage and so on will keep parents busy for a while. Altogether it provides a strong physical base for the children. If it sounds like a big job, it is! People who go with the full program are truly devoted parents. They treat it as a spiritual practice. Also, nobody says that every parent can and should do it. There are different levels of involvement. It's a matter of preference and personal goal, like going to the gym every once in a while, or being a member of the Olympic team, which is a full time job. Whatever the choice, it's always good to know your options.
There is more to birthing than the eye can see. If we take the mystery out of pregnancy and birth, we create a very dull world. And not only dull; a very stressful, unfair and unenjoyable world is created. We can allow ourselves to return to magical feelings of being fully engaged and loving being alive. Changing our birthing practice can influence the quality of our human race.
A pregnant woman is nothing short of a miracle worker. She is co-creating a whole new person that didn't exist before. If a doctor, a nurse, a midwife, approaching the pregnant or laboring woman would match their energy to hers (meaning: enter her space resonating the same frequency of a miracle worker, not a caseworker as it often happens) it would create a very welcoming atmosphere for the baby to have as it makes the way into our world. In a stress-free zone the bodies of the laboring women and their new babies know what to do: the built-in mechanism is at work. It's perfectly designed for producing a new human being. All of the necessary chemical and physical adjustments inside the woman's and the baby's bodies will happen on time, with one condition: all the obstacles need to be removed.
Unfortunately only about 5 percent of women in our society have a natural ability to give birth without trauma. The rest of us have basically three options: to run away and hide from it, so to speak, requesting drugs or c-section, or go through the bloody suffering, and deal with its immense pain, hoping it will be over soon, hating it, swearing never to do that again and so on... Or there is a third option: to turn it into an incredibly beautiful, life changing, soul awakening, welcoming ceremony.
For each person with unresolved birth trauma the joyful task of creating their life as a beautiful masterpiece seems very difficult. The process of creating each day and moment of their lives in harmony and in accordance to the world as a whole is a rare privilege nowadays. It belongs to individuals who managed to remember who they are and why they came into this life.
Many have tried to manifest physical bodies without losing that memory. Few succeeded. It is an incredibly difficult task just for the simple reason of incompatibility of frequencies. Low, heavy, dense vibrations that allow the material, three-dimensional reality to exist in the first place, do not comply with high frequency of the "Great Unseen". It is not because of some out-of-this-world "evil forces" bestowed on us. No! It is simply the property of our earthly atmosphere that allows our planet to be what it is. It is very convenient to perceive the source of our suffering as a foreign influence and have an excuse not to be responsible for our unhappiness. But victim consciousness is not going to allow us to have an experience of loving life. It's not worth it. This life is very short. This time of being in our bodies is going to end very soon even if we will live until the ripe age of 150. It's still a very-very short time. It only makes sense to spend this time doing something fun and meaningful, and most of all - to love. In Russia where, normally, families are reluctant to have more than one child because of the general hardships of the everyday life and also because of the exceptional cruelty and abuse in the conventional delivery practice, people who are involved in the "conscious birth" movement have many children, because of their decision to devote themselves to creating what they believe is a new spiral of evolution for humankind, a new level of consciousness.
Sometimes, it's in the midst of the worst oppression that the human spirit finds the way of manifesting its true nature. A 1987 study conducted by Dr. Igor Smirnoff in Leningrad among the 1 and 2 year old water babies involved an examination of integral parameters of the rates of physical growth and various parameters of cognitive functions, characterizing the development of memory, thinking and attention span. The rates were approximately four times higher than in babies born in conventional birth houses. These children, whose brains were carefully protected at birth, are growing up now. And they are beautiful! Very intelligent, healthy, kind, artistic, strong and sensitive, natural leaders and natural healers... But there is more – they don't have fear in their eyes! We hope that the future of Russia belongs to them, children of the 21st century!
Looking back at the twighlight zone of Russian history I understand the struggle of my country much better now that I know how the whole picture is affected by the cumulative drama inside every Russian family. Just in the lifetime of my grandparents there were three wars and one bloody revolution. On top of that, Stalin's repressions alone took away about 60 million people, the best of the nation, people who did not comply with totalitarian regime. For many, many generations Russia, the country that covers 11 time zones, did not host happy childhood. People were starving, frightened, angry, whipped into submission. Children were conceived and born without consideration and put to work before they had a chance to grow up. Love, compassion, safety were never before a part of Russian experience. The economical and political mess in the country is a direct result of it. It was created by disheartened grown-ups who were never allowed to be children. It is a country of orphans.
And on the other side of the globe, in the United States, I found "The rules for Raising a Perfect Child" by Dr. John B. Watson, a leading child-rearing expert of his time. In his 1928 plea for parents to grow good, obedient children, he wrote: "Never hug or kiss your children. Never let them sit on your lap. If you must, kiss them on the forehead when they say goodnight. Babies can and should be left alone to cry, if they must. When you are tempted to pet your child, remember that Mother Love is a dangerous instrument. An instrument that may inflict a never-healing wound. A wound which may wreck your adult son or daughter's vocational future and their very chances for marital happiness".
What??? I wonder what was in his limbic imprint... Well, it's actually pretty transparent, what was in there. And I'm sure he was never held responsible for the damage he caused to the whole generation of Americans by his professional recommendations. But there is a better question to ask ourselves. How is it possible, that one scared little boy, even if he was disguised as a very important looking grown-up, made hundreds of thousands of mothers override their maternal wisdom, instincts, common sense after all? Is there really anybody who benefits from women being so disoriented? I'll leave it at that...
At some historical point in my adventures and travels I ended up in a little town called Paradise, in California. Its population was about 20 000 people and it had 38 Christian churches of different denominations. I wanted to be useful and to share my understanding about birth, but I didn't have a work permit yet. So I went around to a few churches to ask them if I could use one of their rooms that stay empty during weekdays for free classes for pregnant teenage girls. Not only I was not allowed to use their space, but in one of them, the Seventh Day Adventist Church, I ran into a very heated argument. The minister was shouting at me: "The Bible says women should suffer in childbirth! Who do you think you are to change that?"
His quiet wife was present at our meeting. She never opened her mouth. When I was leaving I told her in my broken English: "American women have the right to vote". She didn't make eye contact with me. The whole scene didn't make any sense to me...
Well, I never read the Bible. When I grew up in Russia, it was an atheistic country: dilapidated ancient churches, no bibles, no Sunday schools... Jesus Christ, Buddha, Hercules, and Aphrodite were characters from my world mythology class, so that minister took me by surprise. Never before had I thought of it in those terms. He did get me thinking, though... What kind of God would wish suffering onto his own creations? If I have free will, is that the kind of God I would want to worship? Can I fire that God? It looks like happiness was prohibited on this planet for a long time... What really happened in our past that pushed the "civilized" world on the path of suffering? The tribes of human beings that were not disturbed by our "civilization" in the jungles of Amazon and Australian aboriginals do not have difficult childbirths. They still manage to produce their young without drama and to live in harmony with their universe and with each other, in spite of combined efforts to squeeze them out of that harmony by greedy developers and Christian missionaries.
When I read books like "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Leidloff, or "The Mutant Message" ( from the Downunder) by Marlo Morgan or "The Poisonwood Bible" I understand, to the best of my ability, that the obvious difference between the natural woman and a "civilized" one is their attitude. Indigenous spirituality does not exclude sexuality. It's normal to view it as an important, healthy and desirable part of human experience. Giving birth does have something to do with sexuality. Surprise! It's not something "we don't talk about". In indigenous cultures spirituality equals creativity, equals sexuality, equals life force! They all are but different flavors of the same life giving power that has no need to prove itself or punish anyone, but only wants to be recognized, understood and appreciated. The split between spirituality and sexuality is purely mental construction. When a woman is too much in her head she doesn't live in her body. Even if she is in her head and physically fit and aware, it still doesn't make up for not allowing herself to feel what she really feels in her body, instead of deciding what she should be feeling like. The body will take revenge sooner or later by not functioning properly and manifesting a rich assortment of nervous breakdowns. And of course, it's very useful and appropriate to have a good head on your shoulders. I wouldn't want to go out without it, but not instead or at the expense of emotional life. Nobody is saying we have to choose one or the other. It's both. They both come in handy.
We don't have to energize our sore issues with more of our attention. Instead of going really deep into some issue to heal it, which would be just feeding it with more energy, giving our power away to that issue and re-traumatizing ourselves all over again, we can just notice it with fascination. Acknowledge it and move on with our lives. That IS the only sure thing about life - it goes on... So, we can choose a different option, so to speak. The "story" (everyone has "the story") doesn't have to be re-lived through holding onto it. Issues don't go away. There is no where to go. You can't really make it disappear. The universe is full of all kinds of energies, microbes and viruses, they will always be there. There is no where for them to go. We're not in the position to dismantle that diversity. We avoid getting sick by taking good care of ourselves and keeping our immune system strong, not by eliminating every last virus on the planet. Same thing with choosing your personal story. And it's either a self-destructive story or a self-empowering, self-loving story. Self-destructive story is "it's all their fault" (my parents, my ex, my boss, my siblings). It weakens us no matter how "real" the other's fault was. Self-loving story is a humble understanding that everything is unfolding perfectly, that everyone deeply desires the same thing: to be loved and appreciated.
It's just a matter of where we put our attention in every moment of our lives-- whether we choose to invest it into higher vibrations or go into amnesia and forget about having a choice, letting ourselves slip into denser, lower frequencies. It is like having a T.V. with 500 channels. They are always there but we can only watch one at a time. It can be a horror movie or a romantic comedy, or a sports game, or a cooking show... The main thing is to remember, you're the one with a remote control in your hand!
Mastering our emotions doesn't mean ignoring and disowning them. It means acknowledging and allowing them without identifying with them. It's very good to have our feelings, it adds colors and flavors to our life, but still, they are just that – our feelings, they are not us. We are having them, not becoming them. We are much bigger and stronger than our feelings. Being emotional does not mean being a basket case. Emotions only fly out of hands when they were suppressed for too long. That's when it becomes scary to open that Pandora's Box and it's easier just to stay in our heads. That's how we got there in the first place. It was too horrifying to feel what was happening to us in the past, throughout the bloody history of humankind and our own personal history. Healthy emotional life is not scary. It only means that mental activity has to yield its domineering position and become an equal partner in that beautiful trio – body, mind and spirit. And then can we claim our right to give birth without suffering. As long as women are stuck in their heads, our society is stuck on the path of war. Of course, it's men who are fighting, but who gave birth to these men, imprinting suffering into their nervous system? Who raised these men? I hope I outlined that connection clearly.
Things are changing rapidly on a big scale. We are moving into a new era. We had more love from our parents than they had from theirs. We are capable of giving more love to our children than our parents knew how to give to us. With each generation we are moving closer to the creating of a world community in which Mother Love is not a dangerous instrument. In which it will be safe to support and care for one another with no judgment. To love and to express that love is not a crime any more. It is alright to be happy. It's a good thing. Only by being happy can we give other people permission to be happy, too. I see a real hope for Salvation in this process.
During the nine months of pregnancy a woman is in the position of co-creator of a whole new reality, of a brand new being. During those nine months a woman has an incredible window of opportunity to rekindle her spirit, to reset all her systems. Not that she doesn't have that opportunity at all other times in her life, but during pregnancy, if she treats it with proper respect, she can achieve unbelievable results in a very short time. Dr. Charkovsky says that the level of enlightenment that a woman is able to reach during 9 months of pregnancy and childbirth is equivalent to approximately highly successful 20 years of ascetic practice for a male yogi disciple, if she chooses to seize that opportunity. This is because of the specific flexibility of all her systems, and hormonal and textural changes in her body during that time. Women who were able to dedicate this time to gaining self-confidence, recovering their power and learning to be comfortable in their bodies through releasing their own birth trauma reported experiencing ecstatic states of total bliss and oneness-with-all during childbirth.
The choice is ours: To keep ourselves forever locked in darkness and fear or to birth ourselves into being in Love and light.
WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT MEDITATION: I am! I am the creator of my reality: my body, my feelings, my thoughts, my actions, my relationships, my dress code. I am the most precious thing in the world. It's true, my world wouldn't even exist without me. I am easily constructing and deconstructing my belief systems. I am in charge of my life, my body, my choices. I have the power to commit myself to full recovery of my attention. I expand and evolve through constant upgrading of all my systems and my desires. My desires are - God's life force revealing itself through me. I lovingly promise myself the life of aligned inspiration. My sacredness is recognized and appreciated. It's safe to be who I am. It is safe to love and be loved. Happiness is my birthright. I am surrounded by the ocean of love and oceanic tidal waves of bliss, beyond anything I knew before. I am the Artist and the Artwork and also I am the Muse and the Goddess to whom this work of art is dedicated. My universe expands and my capacity for ecstasy expands with it! I AM!!!
Recomended sites: Birth Psychology, Sacred Birthing, OceanLove, PlanetPuna, Birth Balance, PrenatalParenting, The Infinite Wave, Geddes Productions, Castellino Prenatal and Birth Training.
In my classes and workshops we explore exactly that. How to gain self-confidence and deep connection to you higher Self and the Source, how to release our birth trauma and understand why we do things we do, why we say things we say and most of all to understand that we have a choice. Classes are open to everybody, not just for pregnant people. Anybody who feels that they can handle more bliss and joy in their life are very welcome! I hope to see you there.
I just came back from San Francisco where I was happy to give a presentation at the APPPAH (Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health) 11th international Congress. This is what I recieved in the mail today from Barbara Findeisen, one of the APPPAH's founders: "Dear Elena, I wanted to thank you for coming to the APPAH Congress. Your presentation was very well received and you were very warm and clear. I appreciate your willingness to share and inform us. Keep up the good work. Lovingly, Barbara". That felt good!