(video) Visualization and the Birth of an Elephant Calf


A mother elephant bears down to birth her calf

In this beautiful video taken in the wild (see below), an elephant gives birth to her calf. The birth occurs relatively quickly towards the beginning of the video. One sees the mother bearing down in a squatting position, which helps in the birthing process. Following the birth, the mother immediately attends to her calf. Shortly thereafter, she is surrounded by her herd of elephants, which congregate around her and the calf, protecting them and assuring the safety of the newborn animal. 

Images and videos of animals giving birth is extremely helpful to pregnant women seeking aid in visualizing their own labor and birthing process. Visualizing Birth has previously discussed the usefulness of visualizing birth through the experiences of animals to some extent, posting an array of videos to help and including discussion of how to tap into one’s inner mammal during the birthing process (see these posts: Beluga Whale Births Her Calf; Simulation of a Blue Whale Giving Birth; Baby Seal Pup Birth; Dolphin Giving Birth; Birth and Tapping Into Your Inner Mammal.).

As in previous Visualizing Birth posts on how to empower one’s own processes of labor and birth by tapping into one’s inner mammal, I include here material from Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. Ina May has a beautiful description of how laboring women can visualize birth through the experiences of animals.  

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.[1]


[1] Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, New York: Bantam Dell, 2003, 245-246.