(Video) Birth and tapping into your inner mammal
In this video, Katina, a 34 year old killer whale from Sea World, gives birth to her seventh calf, a baby boy. Viewers watch as the mother whale turns rhythmically in the water before releasing her baby. As I have discussed elsewhere on Visualizing Birth, videos such as this one can be very helpful to the pregnant woman as she approaches her own labor and the birth of her child.
Midwife Ina May Gaskin has similarly examined how utilizing visualization of birth as it occurs in the animal world can indeed be a powerful tool for the laboring woman. As she explains in her Guide to Childbirth, certain animals are known for their coping mechanisms during birth. The pregnant woman can tap into the natural power of these animals by visualizing herself as one of them, filling her mind with images during pregnancy that will ultimately assist her in her own birth process.
Many of us have grown up with the idea that being like other primates in any way is somehow shameful or disgraceful. Given that all other primates are known to cope well with labor and birth, while civilized humans often aren’t, it seems that we would be wise to emulate other female primates as much as possible. My husband has often commented on the similarities between humans and other primates and finds no dishonor in being related to apes.For my own part, I have little trouble thinking of myself as a type of ape, since I often used to imagine that I was a horse, a lion, or a dog when I was a young child. I was usually a horse when I was running and a noble-looking dog (a collie or a German shepherd) when I was sitting in the back of my dad’s car with my brother and sister, bored on the long trip to visit my rural relatives. In labor with my first baby twenty years later, without thinking about why, I reverted to the old pattern and imagined that I was a mountain lion. Emulating an animal made it easier for me to access that power that I instinctively knew I needed during labor.I often suggest to pregnant women that they imagine themselves to be a large mammal when they are in labor. Many say it helps them to find the wild woman within and to tap into the ancient knowledge that is the potential of all women (245-246).
Video, photography or other artwork that captures the large mammal as it gives birth can provide the pregnant woman with yet another tool to help in her own process of visualizing birth.