The Pregnant Yogini: The Mystery of Labour, Birth & Life.

Via Erica Webb
on Nov 23, 2011
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As the weeks continue to fly by, the reality of labour and birth are looming on the horizon.

In an attempt to ‘prepare’ I’ve been busy poring over books, articles and web pages, trying to uncover what it’s all about.  If there’s one thing my research has revealed it’s this: there’s no telling what it will be like until it happens.

Some women describe the pain as excruciating, unimaginable, unbearable. Others seem to breeze through it with a smile on their face. A natural birth without drugs is a possibility, but so is the potential for medical intervention, including a caesarean. How do I prepare for something that’s so unknown? Well, I get all the information I can, have a bunch of options up my sleeve, and work out what I need on the day.

This preparation I’m going through – collecting and practising a myriad of options and skills for whatever the outcome – is so similar to what we do in our yoga practice and in our everyday lives. Often, we don’t know which tools from our yoga arsenal we’re going to need until we need them. Let’s face it: no matter how much we try to control life, we have no idea what the next day will hold. Or even the next breath for that matter.

So we practice. We keep our body fit and agile with asana, learn to influence the state of the nervous system and the mind with the breath, and study our mental processes. Then, when we’re faced with the unexpected, the inevitable – be it stress, a physical challenge, an emotional upheaval – we can sift through the practices and techniques at our disposal and put them to work. We might find ourselves skilled practitioners when we need it the most.

In any case, my preparation for labour and birth is similar. Luckily, many of the skills I’m learning  have parallels in yoga and so feel very familiar. The ujjayi breath, meditation, chanting or verbalisation, physical movement and mindfulness can all play a role.

My preparation has also led me to consider the concepts of vairagya (non-attachment) and santosha (contentment). My midwives are encouraging me to prepare a birth plan. It might include the level of medical intervention I prefer, who I want in the room, and what props and aids I might like at my disposal to make the whole experience a little more comfortable. I have an idea of what I’d like: a drug free birth using meditation, mindfulness and breathing in the early stages of labour, and active methods including movement and vocalisation as things progress.

Regardless of what I would like in an ideal world, the bottom line is: get the baby out safely. In reality, anything could happen on the day, and I have to be ok with that.

Hence the relevance of vairagya and santosha. As I prepare for and even imagine the labour and birth that lay ahead, I need to recognise that a specific plan for a specific birth may simply be irrelevant when push comes to… well, push I suppose. Here’s where vairagya comes in – I can work towards a particular plan, but without attaching to it. As soon as I attach and say ‘this is how it must be’, I’m setting myself up for disappointment and potential grief.

You often hear that women didn’t have the birth they planned for and expected. Their new baby has entered the world, but for some reason didn’t get the memo about mum’s preferred course of events. When things don’t go to plan, women might walk away feeling as though they’ve failed. Better to practice contentment, knowing that their baby arrived safely and recognising that certain choices had to be made on the day that no one could foresee.

Only four months until my due date. Until then, I’ll keep collecting and practicing and practicing some more. I’ll be as ready as I can be for whatever lies ahead.


Photo credit: Barbara Burgess

Related articles:

The Pregnant Yogini: From Headstands to Headaches.

The Pregnant Yogini: I Worry So I Do Yoga.

The Pregnant Yogini: The Halfway Mark.

The Pregnant Yogini: Every Experience Is Unique.



About Erica Webb

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Erica splits her time between being a mum, practicing and teaching yoga, completing her Master of Arts (Writing), and writing for the joy of it. Trained in Classical Yoga at the Australian College of Classical Yoga, she focuses her practice and teaching on becoming present and tuning into the inner guide. Being a mum is the hardest but most wonderful job she has ever done. She blogs over at and hangs out on Facebook at


13 Responses to “The Pregnant Yogini: The Mystery of Labour, Birth & Life.”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Beautiful, Erica! And, great job with posting your first blog! Looks great!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  2. Elaine says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I have three children and all three births were different. I had a midwife who didn't believe in birth plans. She did say if you really needed one then keep it simple. Births cannot be planned to much and can leave you feeling inadequate if it didn't go to your plan. Go with the flow and best wishes.

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  4. Christina Soble says:

    Your article expresses my feelings exactly. I am now 5 months pregnant with my second child and am again using all of the thought processes or practices you mentioned. I just wanted to share with you that my first labor and delivery did go as I envisioned it and I truly feel that the yoga, vairagya and santosha were major contributors. Good luck and blessings to you and yours. <3

  5. Erica says:

    Hi Elaine
    It's incredible to think – 3 births, all different! Being my first, I have no idea what to expect. But as your experience makes clear – we never do, even if we've been there before.

    Thanks for commenting.

  6. Erica says:

    What a gift you are giving your clients!

    All the best

  7. Erica says:

    Thank you Christina! Best of luck to you too for bub number two – very exciting.


  8. Nancy says:

    Aloha Erica,
    I think it is wonderful to read & educate yourself,make a simple birth plan KNOWING that the best thing you can do is release all your expectations.I had 4 homebirths and like the woman above said,all of the births were completely different.That first birth though was just an amazingly profound lesson in letting go…and give thanks I was able to because I have NEVER in my left felt so connected to source.I literally felt one with the Earth,the elements and my inner Goddess.Blessings on your birth,however it unfolds.

  9. Erica says:

    Hi Nancy

    Thanks for your comments. I have heard from other women that birth is the most connecting experience and one of profound letting go – so much to look forward to! Four homebirths! That is amazing!


  10. yeye says:

    beautiful insight ~

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