There is a moment; one small moment that opens into stillness before it closes and brings us back to the work at hand. It is the space between the inhale and the exhale. It is the space between the exhale and the inhale. It is the briefest moment of stillness and quiet before the cycle begins again. Often we don’t notice that space between. We instead focus on the action, the work, and not the pause. Silence and stillness is where we find clarity and calm.
The stillness is the pause before speaking. It is the moment of thoughtfulness before allowing the words to spill out.
The stillness is during communication; when we pause to let the listener absorb what we say. The stillness is just listening and learning during the pause before we respond.
The stillness can be found in meditation, if we choose to bring our awareness into focus.
The stillness can be found during the birth of a baby. During labor, there is a time between contractions; a time to find focus, calm and energy. This is the space between.
As a laboring mother, what you do during the space between contractions is just as important, if not more so, than what you do during contractions. Your stillness, your calm, your relaxation all comes between contractions.
During a contraction, women go into themselves. They find that inner place where they may focus on their bodies and their babies. When the body is the flow of a contraction, there is movement and sound and the downward flow of energy (apana). When the contraction is over, women re-enter the conscious world. It is during this space between that relaxation comes.
She can move her awareness back out of her body and into the waking world. The laboring mother can readjust her breathing and allow her muscles to soften. She can eat or drink during this time and re-energize her body and mind for the work to come. She can change position to be more comfortable and talk to her support partner about her needs for the upcoming contraction.
Laboring women work during contractions and rest in the space between. The space between is where stillness can be found. It can be the return to conscious thought and actions. Or, it can be a time to find quiet and calm before gearing up to work again.
The space between contractions is akin to the perfect stillness that is found between the two aspects of the breath on a larger scale. When we can be aware of the stillness between the breath, we can learn to find the stillness and calm between contractions and make childbirth a more comfortable and calm experience.
Finding that stillness can be as simple as connecting with your breath during the time between contractions. It can be as simple as eating a snack or drinking water – uninterrupted by conversation or questions. It can be as simple as closing the eyes and purposefully tuning out the environment. It can be as simple as looking into your partner’s eyes and sharing an intimate moment. It can be as simple as allowing your partner to hold the space for you, to be still as they advocate for your needs.
When laboring mothers come down off of a contraction the breath moves more easily and the body softens. Being aware of these sensations can bring a sense of calm and relaxation not only during the space between contractions, but during the contractions themselves.
We do have the ability to make birth better for ourselves. Being able to find the space between, the stillness, is a skill not just for childbirth but for life. That’s yoga, off the mat.