Intuitive Birth

Aug 16, 2016

Birth Matters |

She had been pushing for twenty minutes, deeply ensconced in the cushions of her couch.


She held on to my fingers as though she was holding on for her life, dangling from a precipice.  And in a way, she was:  she was in the middle of a wild, intense transition, on the precipice of becoming a mother once more.  On the edge of her own transformation.

She pulled my hand into her chest, dampened with sweat, and used all of her energy and some of mine to push into the sensation of her contraction, to push her baby toward birth.

And then, though I could not conceive of how she summoned the energy to do it, she flipped herself off the couch and onto a hands-and-knees position on the floor with a deftness I have never seen in a pregnant woman.

Her spontaneous movement caught me so much by surprise that I unwittingly yelped “what are you doing?”


(I’m thankful she was too deep in labourland to have registered my surprise and momentary confusion).

Though neither of us could have expressed it at the time, I’m now convinced that her baby and her body were telling her to move.  As we know, babies make a significant number of micro-movements as they travel from the top of a woman’s pelvis, through and into the birth canal, and a woman’s position and movements are instrumental in facilitating this process.  Something about the position of her baby motivated her to move in a way that allowed her baby to descend.

It was intuition, so deeply felt it was unconscious.


Once I started recognizing it, I saw it at every birth I attended.  My next favourite was the time my client spontaneously stood on top of her hospital bed while the nurse sputtered something along the lines of “you can’t do that!  You can’t just stand on the bed!”

There is something about the birthing process that takes us right out of our intellectual minds, and allows us to access intuition like never before.

When I sense the strength of a woman’s intuition, as her doula, I try to remind her of her innate ability to know what the “right” thing to do is when a decision about her birth arises, pulling her out of her animal-like labouring mind and into her intellect.

The best way to make sure you can access this inner knowing during labour, though, is to practice.  You can flex your intuition in such simple ways during pregnancy.  Following your cravings is probably the easiest.  If you are craving oatmeal or spinach, for example, there’s a good chance your body needs more iron.  Salty or sweet cravings could indicate your body’s desire to regulate blood pressure or blood sugars.

Another great way to access your intuition during pregnancy is to do an intuitive movement practice.  Yoga works nicely.  The next time you hit your mat, instead of following your usual routine, let your body lead the way.  Maybe today what you need is grounding child’s pose, or uplifting Warrior.  Allow it to unfold exactly as you most deeply desire.

Ultimately, this is a practice of trust.  Following your intuition both creates and relies upon a sense of trusting.  Trusting your body, trusting your inner knowing, yourself, your process.  It is something that will carry you far beyond the experience of labour, and well into parenting and navigating your new identity as a mother.

Your turn:

How has your intuition served you in birth or parenting?

Do you currently practice a way of “flexing your intuition” – a method by which you can follow your gut instincts on a daily basis?

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!