Mary's birth story is one we all know. I am taking a moment to look at her story and consider what we can learn from her.
While I cannot claim to be an expert in the technique of riding a donkey, I feel confident in saying that Mary was likely to be in a gravity-effective position, either sitting upright or leaning forwards. Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Centre, advocates gravity-effective positions during the birth experience. The pressure of baby's head pushing on the opening cervix can help to move labour along in a healthy way. When leaning forwards, contractions can work more efficiently with less pain and blood flow to the placenta and the baby is optimzed. Moreover, when the pelvis is upright, the perineum expands evenly, which reduces the risk of tearing.
Calm Under Pressure
Despite the fact that there was no room at the inn, Mary is almost always portrayed as a calm, regal presence. In order for the body to release labour-inducing hormones, the mother needs to be calm; the 'fight or flight' instinct can have the effect of stopping or slowing down labour.
Whilst the stable was not the ideal scenario for giving birth, it was private (apart from the odd farm animal...you get my drift!) and lights were dimmed. Privacy and dim lights are very supportive in helping the mother to move inwards and focus on her body and baby.
Mary had a supportive and committed birth partner. Joseph was her mouthpiece and her protector. A great birth partner will give space when the mother needs and will remain calm and positive, as well as being mother's advocate. In order to achieve this it is important that the birth partner understands the mothers wants and needs prior to the birth and remains sensitive and alert during the birth.
Whether or not you are religious, having faith that this is the journey that has been chosen for you, will give you strength in the moments when you might feel weak. Mary had absolute faith in her God, this kept her spirit strong throughout her birth story.