Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Birth Labyrinth – Guest blog Sarah Ward

Posted on: April 8, 2011

What is a Labyrinth?

A labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Labyrinths are thought to enhance right brain activity. Birth is a right brained activity too as its intuitive and emotional.

The oldest positively dated labyrinth is from 1230 BCE.   It comes from King Nestor’s Palace in Phylos, Greece.  There are evidence of Labyrinths all over the world and it is argued that the labyrinth’s connection with the Earth Mother goes much further back into prehistory.

These single-path magical mazes are found around the globe from China to Arizona, USA, from Peru to Sweden.

 Birth Labyrinths 

 

I first read about birth labyrinths on Pam England’s website ‘Birthing From Within’. She describes tracing the labyrinth with a finger as invoking a sensation of turning inward,  then outward, which may remind us of our first journey from our mother’s body into the world.

A woman’s psychic and physical journey from maidenhood-to-motherhood during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, can be related to a labyrinth in this way as it is an unknown journey which twists and turns and is unique to every woman.  

Mothers experience labour as a labyrinth. With the very first contraction, or when the water breaks, they are catapulted across an invisible, but felt, threshold (entering the Labyrinth). Once in labour  (in the labyrinth), steady progress is made by taking one step at a time until the centre is reached. The very centre is meant to represent the birth of the child, mother and the family.

She explains that even if you were blindfolded you could still reach the centre by feeling your way through the path. The path does not need to be studied before it is entered, it just unfolds on its own and in its own time. Therefore there is no need for time limits, or birthplans…just surrendering to the reality that every birth has its own journey that will unfold in its own unique way.

A maze is totally different, having many twists and turns, many entrances and exits, and the possibility that you can lose your way! There are many choices to be made in a maze and many dead ends meaning that planning is needed when in the maze or you will get lost.  Prehaps it could be said that this is similar to the medical model of birth?

Using a Labyrinth

It can be quite a liberating and spiritual experience to simply trace the labyrinth with your finger on paper.  A clay model can also be made allowing your finger to trace its path in and out with your eyes closed.  How do you feel as you step over the threshold and enter the Labyrinth?

This can be a powerful visualisation in labour…imagining the many twists and turns that labour brings but remembering the labyrinth and trusting that the end is in sight, just taking one turn at a time, knowing that each step is one step closer to the middle (birth itself).

Studies show that walking or finger-tracing a labyrinth slows down and balances brain waves, calms the body and mind, and helps access intuitive knowing. During pregnancy, labyrinth meditations help the mother focus on her emotional and spiritual preparation for birth and mothering.   In labour, the labyrinth helps to calm the mind, steady the breath, and ease pain.

Further Reading

www.thelabyrinthsociety.org

http://www.birthingfromwithin.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labyrinth

Book – Labyrinth of Birth: Creating a Map, Meditations and Rituals for Your Childbearing Year by Pam England

How to Create a Birth Labyrinth:

I am making one out of salt dough…I will let you know how I get on!

 As usual, if anyone is interested in coming along, or indeed sharing experiences with others,

please get in touch either by phone 07947188628,

email phoebusflea@hotmail.co.uk or

via the main Leighton Buzzard & District  facebook group,

or our own LB & D Homebirth Support facebook page.

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3 Responses to "Birth Labyrinth – Guest blog Sarah Ward"

Cant get the picture to upload, so please email me if you want a copy of the diagram. Thanks
Phoebusflea@hotmail.co.uk

Thank you for your post on birth labyrinths, and for referencing Pam England. I am the managing director of Birthing From Within, and we incorporate the Labyrinth of Birth into our trainings for professionals, and childbirth classes for parents.
We are glad you enjoyed the book and the concept, and are helping to spread this idea to other pregnant and new mothers.

Ah thats great, I am glad you liked it. I love the concept and have just made one out of salt dough which looks lovely. Absolutely brilliant book and website. I always recommend it to people coming via my homebirth group as its not just the boring facts such as where to give birtha dn what drugs to take etc etc, it really looks after women all the way through pregnancy and beyond on a totally different spiritual level. Brilliant! xx

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