By Christine Waters
by Christine Waters, CCE
Elizabeth Davis spoke so beautifully about the emotional phases of labor at the Midwifery Today Conference in Mount Laurel, NJ last month. Proposing that there is a sexual nature to birth that correlates with plateaus in labor, and explaining the different states of brainwaves in conjunction with the phases of labor, Elizabeth laid out the following "map" of how women experience birth (copyright Elizabeth Davis, “Labor Plateaus and Our Sexual Nature,” Midwifery Today
, Issue 126, May 15, 2018).
The basic needs of women in early labor are nutrition and sleep/rest. They must also feel safe and unobserved and during the labor process, as the body goes through hormonal changes that lead the brain progressively through beta, alpha and theta brainwave states. Plateaus in labor correlate to shifts from one brainwave frequency to the next. The buildup of hormones and endorphins help the body, mind, and spirit with the process. As in sexual intimacy, women rise toward orgasm with occasional pauses for integration, just like they plateau in labor. Elizabeth was passionate in reminding us that "Birth is about being taken apart and being put back together,” as each plateau represents a point of surrender involving more letting go, with courage and faith playing critical roles. We must understand the balance that Mother Nature has in place– the natural ebb and flow in life that in labor allows us to grow and transform.
Elizabeth then explained that when the baby is well positioned at the inlet, its descent dilates the cervix fully. Malpresentation of the baby at the inlet will cause an arrest of progress, typically at 6 cm. It is critical to know the difference between the energy of plateaus vs arrests, which we can learn by observation. For example, during crowning, a mother may pause to emotionally prepare herself for becoming a mother—the energy is not static, she is not stuck, and we know there is no physical obstacle to progress—she is simply integrating this moment of her experience.
Naturally, women bring their life experience to their labor, and Elizabeth concluded by celebrating the powerful opportunity birth offers for healing at physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Birth is a beautiful symphony conducted by our hormones and neurotransmitters. The orchestration of the body contracting to a crescendo, with endorphins playing helpful notes, brings the beautiful culmination in the emergence of the baby. Every moment of birth is sacred, and our role as birth attendants is to hold the space and honor the journey. It is the mother's labor, and it is the baby's birth, and each will process their experience in their own way.
Christine has integrated her education and experience to offer a full range of services to help support families before, during and after pregnancy, labor & birth.
In addition to the Childbirth Educator certification from BirthWorks she holds the following certifications:
- Prenatal Educator with APPPAH (Association of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology and Health)
- Birth Doula with DONA
- Certified Kundalini Prenatal Yoga Teacher with Golden Bridge Yoga
- Circle of Security Parent Facilitator
She works at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood,NJ in Labor & Delivery, teaching Prenatal Yoga, Facilitating Expectant Parent Tours and teaching Sibling Classes to awaiting new brothers & sisters.
She is passionate about birth- her studies include Birth Psychology - how we are born and the effect on us in our lives.
She was honored to have received BirthWorks 2017 Childbirth Educator of the Year Award.
Elizabeth Davis, BA, CPM
Elizabeth Davis, BA, CPM, is a renowned expert on holistic health issues. She has been a midwife, reproductive health care specialist, educator and consultant since 1977. She is internationally active in birth-related human rights and lectures widely on midwifery, sexuality, and recovery from birth trauma.
She served as Pacific Regional Representative to the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) for five years and as President of the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC). She is Co-founder of the National Midwifery Institute, Inc. <www.nationalmidwiferyinstitute.com>, a MEAC-accredited, apprenticeship-based midwifery program leading to the CPM credential and licensure in California.
She holds a degree in Holistic Maternity Care from Antioch University and is certified by the North American Registry of Midwives. She is the author of six books including Orgasmic Birth
<https://www.amazon.com/Orgasmic-Birth-Satisfying-Pleasurable-Experience/dp/1605295280/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268156432&sr=8-4> and the classic Heart and Hands: A Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
Elizabeth lives in Sebastopol, California, and is the mother of three children. Learn more about her work at <www.elizabethdavis.com> or visit her on Facebook, “Elizabeth Davis, National Midwifery Institute, Inc.”