What If Women Gave Birth Like Wolves?
“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves
Several years ago I was taking a hike with girlfriends, our kids running ahead of us on a mountain not too high, but high enough to give me vertigo if I walked too close to the edge. Had I known our conversation on that mountaintop was going to teach me a lesson in childbirth, something I had wrote a play about, I might have started the conversation on a totally different topic.
“I’m freaking out next to this ledge,” I told Megan and Kate.
“Just act like a wolf and you’ll be fine,” Kate told me.
“But I’m not a wolf, I’m a mom who has a major fear of heights!”
“Well, maybe that’s your story, but fear is just a construct in your mind,” Kate said. “You’re really a wolf.”
“Like in childbirth,” Megan said. “Women can give birth in fear or they can give birth free like wolves.”
Megan’s comment about childbirth got me thinking. Is the antidote to fear in childbirth for women to act like wolves when they give birth?
The day after our conversation I started researching wolves to explore this connection with birthing mothers and found the link was crystal clear. A healthy wolf and an empowered pregnant mother both have a keen sense of knowing. They are inquiring and possess a strong sense of endurance and strength. They are intuitive and put their children first. They are also brave, and excellent at adapting to changing circumstances. What’s even more fascinating is that wolves are falsely seen as devious and aggressive animals and have been harassed and hounded as a result. Ironically, pregnant women who want an empowering birth in today’s culture are also seen as aggressive and have been harassed for their choices. They have been targeted relentlessly by medical professionals and even their families for their instinctual nature.
This extinction of instinct in childbirth has got to stop.
We can shout that statement all the way to the top of the ‘powers that be’ in childbirth, but I see another solution. I think we need to show pregnant mothers how to give birth like wolves. Imagine if we return pregnant mothers to their instinct, their wild woman ways? Imagine if we used words with pregnant mothers that opened up a passageway to their knowing and allowed them to give birth with that knowing intact. Pregnant women will begin to remember their relationship with the wild feminine, which has been totally neglected and outlawed by culturally acceptable ways of giving birth, and no longer understood. Pregnant women may have forgotten this calling, but in their bones they know it. The wolf archetype is ultimately the track they want to follow to give birth.
Following your inner wolf does not equal having a natural birth. It simply means giving birth with a healthy instinct and making conscious birth choices. It is when pregnant mothers sleepwalk through their pregnancies that their inner wolf gets stomped on and suddenly they blindly follow medical orders and limit their connection to themselves. When you follow your wolf this cannot happen.
There are many ways pregnant mothers can get their inner wolf rising.
- Take a class that holds the door open to step into your feminine self. This simply means honoring your inner self as much as, not instead of, your outer self. I have trained FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Facilitators around the world to do just this. It is clear to me that to give birth “free” you must have a gatekeeper to help you walk the path from fear to freedom. That is what FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Facilitators do. Once you are free no matter how many times you are pushed down you bound up again. Even the most restrained pregnant woman finds she has a secret internal power place for herself throughout her birth that stays lit.
- Find a midwife or doula. Most midwives and doulas are assisting pregnant mothers to give birth because they are called to do this work. They have followed their instinct and see themselves as a wild mentor-mother-teacher who can support your inner and outer life as a pregnant woman.
- Listen to empowering stories about following one’s intuition. Stories set our inner life in motion. It is especially important for pregnant moms who may feel frightened or coerced concerning their birth choices. The beauty of stories is that they cause a surge in adrenaline, they show us a way out of a situation, and openings that can lead to an empowering birth experience.
Freedom in childbirth is waiting for every pregnant woman. Are you ready to be a wolf to taste it?
Karen Brody is the creator of FEAR to FREEDOM Birth, founder of BOLD, and The My Body Rocks Project. She is facilitating a BOLD Red Tent birth storytelling circle at the MOM Museum on November 6 and will speak about FEAR to FREEDOM Birth at the Mindful Mothering Conference the following day. Her next FEAR to FREEDOM Birth Tele-Class starts November 11.