by Nanci Shanderá, Ph.D.
Pregnancy and childbirth may be the most profound experience you may ever have. When you think about it, it’s miraculous that there could be a Soul readying itself to come into the world...through you!
As a new, or seasoned, mother, your role is far greater than you might suspect. You are the vessel through which nature’s creative and regenerative forces flow. You are the living cradle for an incoming being. You, in your essential and vital role as mother, can expand the potency of this experience by focusing on the numinous process of which you’re a part. You are not only nurturing and birthing the child to be, but your own spiritual nature as well. Just as Persephone was transformed from maiden to woman after returning from her powerful experiences in the underworld, the process of giving birth matures, ripens, and empowers you like nothing else you’ll ever experience.
Since even beyond Paleolithic times, the feminine, the mother, was honored and revered in matriarchal cultures. It was common practice - and still is in some indigenous societies now - to perform powerful, meaningful rituals and ceremonies to celebrate a woman’s pregnancy and childbirth. The concept of “giving birth” meant that the woman was offering something of ineffable value to the tribe or group. These cultures would also initiate young girls who were beginning their entry into womanhood through their moon cycles, honor elder women entering menopause through deep ritual, and consecrate and release women at their hour of death as a sacred passage.
In our so-called modern era, the feminine is downplayed and largely misunderstood as we’ve moved away from ceremonially seeking the mysteries of the Great Mother Feminine. Why would a contemporary woman think of her body processes as sacred if she’s been encouraged to believe that her moon cycles are a messy inconvenience? And attitudes toward menopause lead us to believe it’s something to be feared, when in fact, it is a powerful and important stage of life, heralding in the onset of deep wisdom and nurturing compassion for family and community.
The good news is that women can override this cultural misinformation and experience the miracle of pregnancy consciously and joyously by various practices, such as yoga or meditation. These disciplines focus the mother’s mind and body so that she can more fully participate in the composing of a deeper, more spiritually-based life for herself and for her child-to-be. This can affect the child positively, allowing it to begin growing into what its Soul intends. When the mother is serene and filled with a positive outlook, she is offering her child a foundation of confidence, deep support, and courage that builds strength in this new being even before emergence at birth.
One of the most effective ways I know to secure the emotional and spiritual well-being of your child-to-be is by talking to it, not only from mommy to baby, but from Soul to Soul. This honors the incoming being as an evolving and intelligent, who may be more developed than we usually give babies credit for. This practice embodies respect, which does wonders for any relationship, and especially that of parent to child...and later, by example, of child to parent.
During the physiological changes in a pregnant woman’s body, her intuitive-instinctual nature is enhanced and even reborn. So it’s a powerful time to meditate and reach levels of awareness that are ordinarily not necessarily available. Using the insights gained in meditation, you can perform rituals sacred to your own spiritual preferences, and engage in physical exercise such as walking, chanting, drumming, and yoga. All of these keep the channels to the sacred open.
The actual birthing process is an act of such physical and spiritual intensity that it’s best to create the birthing arena as if it were a symbol of the womb. Protect this magical nest by not allowing others’ attitudes to undermine the power of the experience for you, your child, and your loved ones who are present. Don’t invite in anyone who would trivialize or disregard your deep emotions and intuitions. Your birthing arena should be uninhibited so you can experience everything fully.
Keep in mind that the uterine contractions during labor not only open the birth canal, but the heart as well. As a representative of the Divine Feminine, you influence everyone present to experience a deeper level of awareness. You are your child’s model for love and compassion from this moment and throughout her life.
Your pregnant body, your emotions, your intuitions, your self, and your child are divine mysteries. Celebrate them!
Dr. Nanci Shanderá is a spiritual teacher in northern California and author of Bridge to the Soul:Unconditional Self-Acceptance as a Path to Wholeness and Spiritual Awakening. Visit www.EarthSpiritCenter.com/wordpress for more info.