Your birth experience is not just what happens in your delivery room – or what your support people are able to see. Your birth experience is often described as an “out of body” or a “spirit and birthing world combined” journey.
There is a thin veil between the spiritual and birthing world. During each phase of labor, the birthing person dives deeper and deeper into the spiritual world. We note that during the first stage of labor, you are laboring alone or with your partner: the environment is quiet and serene – the energy is calm. You, your partner, and your body are anticipating the journey that you will face in the coming hours. This is when you first enter the veil of the spiritual world.
Stages of Labor
During the active labor (which is part of the first stage), you are between the two worlds: spiritual and birth. This is when your rituals and rhythms begin. Your partner or your doula may be more hands-on as you concentrate on your patterns while laboring. While in the spirit world, you are now with all the other women who are birthing on the same day and time with you. You are concentrated and with your thoughts. Remember, one contraction at a time; you can do anything for one minute.
In the second stage, the birthing people from your past – your mother, grandmother, and ancestors – are in the spiritual world guiding you through the transition phase of your labor. The transition can sometimes feel like the most intense part of your labor; this is a good time to remind yourself that there are so many other laboring people going through this beautiful stage of labor with you. You are safe, you are strong, and you can get through this and move on to meeting your baby.
The birthing waves and contractions will start becoming more intense. You will start feeling the need to bear down. Birth and emergence – this is when you will start pushing. Think of all the power within you that has gotten you to this point. Think about the women in your past who birthed before you and the women who will meet their baby after you. You will then come back Earth side, the birthing side, once your baby is born. The support people that were with you, including your doula and partner, will help guide you back to Earth where you will meet and bond with your baby.
Third Stage of Labor
The third stage of labor includes delivery of the placenta and recovery, where you will be holding your baby who also helped you during this journey. The placenta is sometimes referred to as the “tree of life.” This tree of life has nourished your baby and in many cultures, it is honored. In Uganda, the placenta is seen as your child’s twin and holds its own spirit, which resides in the umbilical cord. In our culture, it has become accepted and normal to honor the placenta via placenta encapsulation or other forms such as placenta art.
Fourth Stage: Golden Hours
The fourth stage is postpartum and weaving. This is when we are fully back down to Earth. We can communicate and start reciting our birth story. Birth can sometimes feel like a lot of very long, blurry moments. Weaving your stories with your partner and your doula is so important. This is a time that your birth team can help you fill in the blanks of your birth story. They can remind you of how strong you were during all the stages of labor. You can share this story with others who weren’t present for the birth, and most importantly, you will eventually be able to share your unique story with your child.
I love the visuals and the support that the journey of the spiritual world can provide for birthing people. It is a comfort to know that along with the support of doulas, partners, and midwives, we also have the support of past generations of birthing people alongside us throughout this journey.
Being part of your birth is such an honor; we take pride and are thrilled to be invited into those spaces.
About the author, Emma, Doula