What is your birth story? For many of us this is not a question we are usually asked or even think about, especially if there were no major complications or interventions. Births happen every minute of every day but our own birth, our first physical arrival in the outside world, is an extraordinary event. Even if there are no significant complications during a birth, the physiology of childbirth exerts tremendous compressions, twists and strains on a baby. Even with a “normal” birth, these compressions and twists can become imprinted in our cells, our musculo-skeletal system, and nervous system - essentially our entire being. Other routine and often necessary interventions during childbirth such as pain medication or early umbilical cord cutting can also affect us later in life. As we grow these birth patterns may be expressed physically, mentally or emotionally. They may shape the way we interact with others or how we handle different situations in life.
The birth process can be a significant element when treating people with Cranio-Sacral Therapy (CST). Birth patterns can present with fascial unwinding as the body tries to resolve any compressions or twists. The taste or smell of any birth medications may also become quite perceptible during treatments as the person’s system releases those held patterns. I have also spoken with someone whose birth was so traumatic that even trying to book a session to address these issues as an adult was too overwhelming.
I have had to reflect on my own birth recently during my CST training. The most I knew about my own birth was that I was born in the evening and that was it. As my training and self-development has progressed, my birth story or birth process has become an integral part of my development and healing. During CST treatments I have experienced the deep sensation of old physical and emotional patterns – some excruciatingly painful and with a felt sense that the experiences were connected to my birth. Following the treatments, I described the experience (the birth process) to my mum and she then recalled the difficulties she experienced during my birth (including a slow, very painful labour), which correlated with what I had experienced during my treatments.
It is not unusual for women to overlook or forget quite traumatic elements of labour. The hormone oxytocin, which is released during pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, has slightly amnesic effects. This hormone, along with the euphoria of meeting a new baby, enables women to forget the severity of the pain and any trauma during childbirth and even go on to have other babies.
My own journey with my birth story has enabled me to identify patterns in my life. As an adult I can sometimes become quite stuck on things in a foggy haze – thoughts, research, designing…for ages and then everything seems to flow effortlessly with the least amount of effort (with this piece of writing being no exception).
The greatest thing about exploring our birth stories is the realisation that there is no judgement on anyone’s story. No matter what birth plan a mother may have chosen or any interventions that may have had to take place during the birth, each decision was the best decision at that time. Although we do take a person’s birth pattern into consideration, we are also looking at the whole person and we are extremely resilient, adaptable and have an abundance of healing potential. Our birth story is also just one story in the chronicle of our lives, so if we are unable to access the exact events of our birth, we still have a huge opportunity for growth.
Understanding my own story has given me a greater connection to my own mother, to my own body and has been one of the most empowering things that I have ever done.