The root chakra is most active when planning a family. All of the characteristics are there; where to live, financial stability, when or how many children should you have. The birth process is intimately woven into the fabric of first chakra energy. You create your birth plan and hope everything falls into place but sometimes your mind, body or baby have a different agenda.
I found out that I was pregnant with my first son on Valentine’s Day 1997. I was ecstatic beyond belief! I devoted myself to research about pregnancy, nutrition, the birthing process and physical strengthening and preparation for birth. Luckily I was certified in pre and post natal fitness, I was used to visualizing my abdominis rectus and vaginal walls as strong fortresses capable of supporting my baby for the entire 40 weeks of gestation. I performed abdominal exercises and kegels with precision. I taught group fitness until my 38th week of gestation. My doctor told me I should slow down closer to the last week of gestation to rest, get full night’s sleep and allow my body to adjust to the increase in hormones that would encourage birth.
The birth “would take care of itself” was what I was told. I was reassured that my body would know what to do by my doctor, midwife and nurses. I had never heard of a “failure to dilate” issue nor was there ever an acknowledgement of fetal distress as a result of “failure to progress” or the potential for a C-section if your cervix failed to “progress”. These issues were, as of the 38th week of gestation unknown entities to me. The first day of my 38th week I went into labor.
I was at the hospital in the pain of my contractions and waited for my midwife to show up. She “checked” my cervix “Only 2 centimeters dilated”. It was 10 pm and I was prepared to endure as as the rate of dilation is only about 1.2 centimeters per hour and I had to get to at least 10 centimeters before I could push. Every hour that passed seemed like an eternity, my midwife checked me again at midnight and I had only dilated 3 centimeters. Two hours later I made it to 4 centimeters, I hadn’t progressed, nothing was happening, my midwife went home, I felt awful for bringing her out and even worse when she left.
My labor was a long and arduous event that 12 hours later my midwife advised me to push regardless of my inability to dilate (which by the way, was not great advice either). Turns out that in addition to not being able to dilate when I needed to my first born baby’s head happened to be the largest some of the nurses had ever seen ‘What?!!’ I said, feeling even less capable of handling the birth.
My first birthing incident wasn’t so bad as to prevent me from having two more however, it just made me want to research how to make myself dilate. The first issue was why? Why wasn’t I able to dilate, was something wrong with me? And why wasn’t it common knowledge that “failure to progress” happens more often than we realize or is publicly reported? It made no sense.
When I did look into the history of “failure to progress” during birth the length of labor has been getting longer since 1955 when The Friedman’s Curve was first documented. The Friedman’s Curve was a study performed in 1955 that measured the average rate of progression for a full term pregnancy, these were first births that didn’t use Pitocin to hurry the birth along. During the study it was recorded that most births progressed quickly after the cervix came to a 4 cm dilation. Fast forward to now, a newer study in 2003 suggests that most births don’t accel until after 6 cm dilation, if they do get that far. Although our current medical industry no longer acknowledges the Friedman’s Curve as a barometer for progression during a normal birth, it does acknowledge that current day births are, on average taking longer to finish.
When I got pregnant for the third time I had to take a practical approach. I worked out but I also practiced deep internal relaxation. I realized that I always had a low level tension residing in my body, I had a hard time fully and completely relaxing. I was always the facilitator to help others relax but I never allowed myself to relax. I needed help. I searched online for different ways to help me relax and allow my body to do what it needed to do. There wasn’t a lot of information, especially for my particular problem with dilation during birth but I finally did find something. A hypnotherapist from England who I had never heard of before had the insight to create a specific visualization for women who couldn’t or wouldn’t dilate. I bought the CD immediately, eager to hear what it would sound like.
I practiced the visualization for four weeks before I my due date. I got so used to visualizing my cervix opening effortlessly that I continued the practice everywhere I went. I focused on large circular light fixtures, circular shaped sponges, the sun….anything that represented a circle that had the potential of getting larger and wider.
It was also around this time that I got into the habit of talking to my body about how amazing it was and that I had no doubt that I would do the right thing at the right time. I imagined that I could literally speak to my cervix and just review how the process would go. I visualized experiencing each stage of labor. From the initial increase in hormones to the thinning of the cervix and then the gradual opening of the cervix. I reminded my body that it had to be open enough to allow an entire infant’s head to pass through no matter how large it ended up being.
When I was heading into labor for the third baby I felt more positive, as though I had more control over what was about to happen. Now that I was more experienced with the labor process we waited to go to the hospital. When I arrived at the hospital at 12:40 AM, I kept thinking of my visualizations. There were moments of quiet and moments of pain but I felt capable of handling it with my breathing and my new focus of seeing a round light fixture above my head and that my cervix was capable of dilating to even that circumference!
Two hours later the nurse checked me and looked shocked “Ah, you are at 11 centimeters! Someone get the doctor!” Granted this was my third birth and everything gets easier on the third try but bottom line my son was born only two hours after hard labor had begun and I was used to a minimum of 10 hours of labor! I was thrilled!
Since that time I have given many mind body workshops. I include a visualization to help people connect with their root chakra and what their bodies are saying and how they are responding to their relationships, environment and work. You may want to try sitting quietly with some meditation music and breathe with the intention of allowing your first chakra a voice. Imagine that it can tell you or show you words, shapes or thoughts that can communicate the root chakra’s real state of affairs in this powerful energy center. You may not be preparing for the birth of a child but you no doubt will eventually be working on some aspect of survival, which is the root’s domain. Acknowledging and being open to supporting the root chakra will not only allow it to have more energy but it will be more balanced as you work with it’s messages.