Why I Won't Promise To Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Birth

When preparing to give birth and become a parent, Birthing From Within teaches that there are three kinds of knowing that are essential to the process:

  • There is modern knowing – this includes things like understanding the physiology of birth, what normal newborn behavior looks like, the common concerns that arise in pregnancy and what treatments may be recommended, how to make informed choices, and how to be a savvy maternity care consumer.

  • There is primordial knowing – this is the knowing that arises from within, your intuition, what your body instinctively knows to do. This is the part of birth and parenting that is the culmination of thousands of years of evolution, the part that is beyond and behind and deeper than our thinking brain, the part that communicates without words.

  • There is knowledge of self – this is about understanding what values, beliefs, and patterns drive your actions. It’s about shining a light on the reason beneath the reason. It’s about taking stock of the agreements you’ve made in your life, with yourself, with the people closest to you, with your wider culture, and to decide if these agreements are serving you and helping you become the person and parent you want to be, or if they are not.

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It is essential to explore all three kinds of knowing because even if we spent every day together for the next four years learning only about birth and postpartum and parenting, I still would not be able to teach you everything you need to know. Why? Because at its heart, birth is a rite of passage.

Birth as a Rite of Passage

Dictionary.com defines a rite of passage as “any important act or event that serves to mark a passage from one stage of life to another.”

Usually, a rite of passage consists of three parts:

  • The first stage is about hearing and heeding the call to begin. This first part is about preparation – gathering knowledge and resources, preparing to leave your old self and old life behind, letting go of what no longer serves you.

  • Then comes the in-between time. This time is often characterized by physical or emotional isolation and is usually a time of great trial and effort. The old you is being shed, you are being un-made, to make space for the you that you are becoming. You will be called to dig deep within, to uncover strengths and resources you didn’t know you had, to meet each challenge and trial as it comes.

  • And finally you return to your community. You have earned/been granted new knowledge about yourself, your strengths, and the gifts you bring to the wider world. You take your place within your community and your new status is witnessed and celebrated.

At the end of this process, the insight and the knowledge you have gained will be unique to you. The way that you received it will be unique to you. It is not something that I, or any other childbirth educator, book, birth story, doula, or care provider can fully prepare you for. It will unfold before you in each moment, as you walk your own unique path and it is certain that some part of it will have you feeling blindsided and unprepared.

So, if I can’t promise to teach you everything you need to know about birth, what can I promise you?

  • I promise to support you in cultivating your own inner resources, intuition, and resilience.

  • I promise that together we will practice tapping into your creative problem solving skills, your flexibility, and your ability to continue to move forward, especially when birth and parenting are nothing like you expected, even when you are surprised, overwhelmed, and you don’t know what to do.

  • I promise to walk with you as you lean into the discomfort and uncertainty of the unknown, to honor the messy middle, the un-making.

  • And I promise to celebrate your return, your new status in the world, and the lessons you have learned on your path.

If this sounds like the kind of birth and parenting preparation you are craving, join me for one of our upcoming classes >>


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Rachel is a DONA International Certified Birth DoulaBirthing From Within mentor, and mother of three. She is passionate about helping women and their partners discover their own inner strength and wisdom so that they can begin their parenting journey with confidence. With a focus on supporting her clients as they determine what their own priorities and preferences are for their birth while giving them the tools they need to realize those priorities, she feels fortunate to witness her clients come into their own and become their own best advocates.