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Ancient Map for Modern Birth

Preparation, Passage, and Personal Growth during Your Childbearing Year

The new ground-breaking book from Birthing From Within Founder Pam England is here!

The integrative model of childbirth preparation and recovery described in this book will provide birthing people with the information needed to prepare for birth, how to think and feel about labor, and how to tell their story. During their childbearing year, they traverse two paths at once: an inner path of psychological and spiritual awareness and an outer path of practical approaches to birth in modern-day culture. The book combines scientific research with meditation, ceremony, art, and mythic stories, which not only prepares childbearing people to go beyond their edge into uncharted territory, but also to find their way home again. The underlying message throughout is not to strive for a perfect birth but instead to be mindful of the mythic journey, of all those who have come before—an awareness that leads not only to the birth of a child but to the birth of a new self.

“The layering of the book into four parts—the Call, the Tasks of Preparation, the Gates of Laborland, and the Warrior’s Return— provides a solid organization, and even a sense of heroic journey. The many exercises make the presentation quite experiential and very useful for both practitioners and pregnant families.” —Lewis Mehl-Madrona, author of Coyote Medicine

Ancient Map for Modern Birth is a soulful, authoritative, and exquisitely written guide for the heroine’s journey we call childbirth. I highly recommend this beautiful gift of insight and knowledge.” —Christine Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom


What makes Birthing From Within Mentors different?

By Virginia Bobro, Birthing From Within Co-Owner

Everyone who interacts with a pregnant person is, in some way, their “teacher.” Telling birth stories, sharing resources, imparting obstetrical information, giving advice or warnings—these are all direct or indirect ways of teaching about birth and parenting.

Mentoring begins with relationship, not knowledge.
The women and men who attend our Introductory Workshops (“The Art of Childbirth Mentoring”), and then enroll in our Mentor Certification Program, are committed to doing MORE than simply imparting childbirth information or issuing warnings, advice, or cliches about birth. They are embracing the mentoring model for expectant couples in their community. They are not merely educating, but truly, profoundly initiating. They see the window of the childbearing year as an opportunity for learning about oneself, not “trying to get it right.”

A Mentor is “one who has gone the way before.”
As Mentors, they bring certain knowledge and experience about: childbirth; navigating through the hospital; parenting; and human nature… beyond what can be gleaned from books. They also know that pregnant people and expectant partners bring wisdom about their own coping mechanisms, social network, personal assumptions and agreements; However, these men and women have not yet walked the road through birth, the hospital environment, or into parenting themselves, and naturally turn outwards, seeing support and information. So the Mentor dances between deeply listening, being in a solution-focused mindset, encouraging parents’ self-awareness and reflection, and clearly and engagingly delivering current, relevant birth information.

Mentoring means being on an ongoing search to know yourself intimately and deeply.
To help others know themselves, you must also be on a quest to “know thyself.” So in our workshops and programs, there is a strong emphasis on our Mentors’ personal awareness and growth. They have their own mentors (our Advisors) who support, encourage, challenge, and educate them as they hone their skills and knowledge. Because it takes 3-5 years of committed, diligent work to become a Certified BFW Mentor, we know it is not the easiest, cheapest, or shortest path to being a childbirth educator. But it certainly the most rewarding!

What is “Radical, Compassionate Childbirth Preparation”?

By Virginia Bobro, Birthing From Within Co-Owner

What does this mean? We like to think that our holistic classes and workshops prepare anyone–pregnant women, dads, and birth professionals of all stripes–for the mystery of birth. Stepping into the unknown, the intensity, the surprises of birth isn’t for the faint of heart. We are radical enough to know that positive thinking, book-learnin’, and a doula may not be enough to get through the intensity of birth. Whether labor is fast and crazy, long and hard, ecstatic or mind-blowing, you really can’t truly prepare. So, what are Birthing From Within classes and professional workshops for?

We propose something radical: beyond affirmations, pretty pictures, and obstetrical facts. Seeing Birth as a Hero’s Journey means that we aren’t so concerned with achieving a “natural” or “vaginal” birth, or, vaguely, “empowering women.” (What does that mean, anyway?) Our focus is on preparing the Birth Warrior inside each birthing person–so that they are ready to do whatever it takes in each moment. Sometimes, that will mean digging deep for the strength to keep going or to surrender to a power beyond their understanding. Sometimes it will mean doing “the next best thing” and having a cesarean birth, though they tried with every ounce of her being to avoid it. Sometimes it will mean looking “weak,” moaning, crying, being confused or vulnerable. Sometimes it will mean making peace with not being able to speak up for themself, or not doing whatever it was they hoped they could do or say. Sometimes it will mean that the the wise and compassionate action is getting an epidural.

Compassionate means: Reducing the anxiety and fear that parents have as they approach the initiation into parenthood. In our classes, we don’t make promises, and we don’t make threats. So our childbirth classes and professional workshops go deeply into personal exploration, into the realm of the Mystery, mindfulness, intimacy, myth, art, emotions, beliefs, and learning from every part of who we are: body, mind, spirit, and soul. We strongly believe that our workshops and classes reduce or prevent emotional birth trauma, fear, burn-out, frustration, disappointment, and guilt– for everyone at the birth.

When we struggle so hard–as birth activists or as pregnant people–to “Get what we want,” or achieve particular birth statistics, perhaps something is lost. Perhaps the outcome of the birth is none of our business and beside the point. Maybe… there is something more important to psyche and the arc of our lives than “a good outcome.”

We hold the strong belief that we are preparing true Birth Warriors: they do not hope, or distrust, or try to control. They do what needs to be done in the moment. They know what to do when they don’t know what to do.

Join our Birth Warrior tribe: take a Birthing From Within class or workshop. Birth and life will never be the same.

13 Principles Behind Birthing From Within Classes

  • Childbirth is a profound rite of passage, not a medical event (even when medical care is part of the birth).
  • The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery, not assimilating obstetric information.
  • The mentor (teacher) is “midwife” to the parents’ discovery process, not the expert from whom wisdom flows.
  • Childbirth preparation is a continually evolving process (for parents and teachers), not a static structure of techniques and knowledge.
  • Parents’ individual needs and differences determine class content.
  • Active, creative self-expression is critical to childbirth preparation.
  • The purpose of childbirth preparation is to prepare birthing people to give birth-in-awareness, not to achieve a specific birth outcome.
  • Pregnancy and birth outcome are influenced by a variety of factors, but can’t be controlled by planning.
  • In order to help parents mobilize their coping resources, it is critical for childbirth classes to acknowledge that unexpected, unwelcome events may happen during labor.
  • Parents deserve support for any birth option which might be right for them (whether it be drugs, cesarean, home birth, or bottle-feeding).
  • Pain is an inevitable part of childbirth, yet much can be done to ease suffering.
  • Pain-coping practices work best when integrated into daily life, rather than “dusted off” for labor.
  • Birth partners help best as birth guardians or loving partners, not as coaches; they also need support.
  • For parents, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a time of continuous learning and adjustment; holistic support and education should be available throughout that period.
  • Childbirth preparation is also parent preparation.