Updated: May 19, 2021
"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."
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 retun 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 go