Birthing Sensations

Riding the Wave of Birthing Sensations:
How to Welcome Intensity

MARCH 2022

Giving birth is one of the most meaningful—and intense—experiences of a woman’s life. With loving support from your doula, midwife, doctor, friends, and family, you shepherd the child from womb to a wholly new environment.

What a gift! What a miracle! What a sacred adventure!


But for many women, the miraculous aspect of the birthing process can be overshadowed by its physical intensity: by the range of uncomfortable or downright painful sensations, coming and going in waves, over hours or even days. As the baby descends into the birth canal (with the help of birth contractions), it’s perfectly natural for you to experience aches, cramping, pressure, and discomfort in your lower back and pelvis.

So, what’s the best way to relate to these sensations? My approach—and what I urge you to consider—is to cultivate an attitude of curiosity, welcoming, and surrender. In other words, to say “yes” to the experience, with heartfelt sincerity; and to be fully present with the feelings and sensations that arise (and subside) throughout the birthing process.


Now, of course, every woman’s experience is unique. And each of you has unique needs and preferences, to be fully honored.

But if you’ve been just assuming that using an epidural to numb the pain; or going into the birthing process with an attitude of “Let’s just get this over with”—are the best choices, then I’d encourage you to consider these other options. There are other ways of relating to the intensity of the birthing process that may—in the big picture—be much more interesting, enriching, and satisfying.

Rather than running away from the birthing experience, what would it be like to go more fully into it? What would it be like to become more intimate with the full range of sensations—from a place of spacious relaxation?


These four practices will support you in relating with mindfulness to both subtle and intense birthing sensations. They’ll help you feel genuinely curious and willing to explore the sensations—without collapsing into or feeling overwhelmed by them. They will empower you with a range of choices: a variety of ways to fully embrace the birthing experience.

1) Imagine Sensations as Drifting Clouds

Imagine that each physical sensation—each ache, pressure, pain, or discomfort—is like a cloud floating through a vast blue sky.

Some clouds are fluffy-white and gentle, while others are stormy-dark and tumultuous. Similarly, sensations appear with a variety of different qualities: subtle or intense; pleasant or unpleasant; pulsing or throbbing; etc.

As you first become aware of a sensation, imagine that you are the vast blue sky—the spacious sky of Awareness—through which the sensation, like a cloud, is floating.

Say “ahhh” as you exhale, and simply observe the sensation, like a cloud, move and transform and then disappear. In comparison to the expansive wide-open sky, the sensation-clouds become smaller and less threatening.

Remember: You are the sky of Awareness, through which the sensations are passing. You can feel and observe them intimately, without ever losing your spaciousness.

2) Find the Center of Sensation

Instead of pushing painful sensations away, or trying to run away from them, do the opposite: Take your attention into the sensation deeply, with the intention of discovering its center.

Can you find the very center of the sensation? With a sense of curiosity, go deeper and deeper until you feel that you have located its center.

What is there at the center of the sensation? What happens when you simply rest there, at the center, completely surrendered and at ease?

3) Distinguish Physical Sensation & Emotions

Oftentimes, physical pain gets overlaid with emotions such as anger, fear, shame, sadness, or frustration—which makes it seem much more intense and intractable than it really is.

If you can untangle these two aspects of experience, then physical sensation is just physical sensation—rather than being overlayed or infused with heavy emotional reactivity.

A good way to distinguish physical sensations from emotions is to label each of them separately. Here’s how:

Take your mindful attention into the space of your physical body. Then, apply the label “touch” to each sensation (pain, pressure, ache, etc.); and apply the label “feel” to each emotion (sadness, fear, etc.). You can say these labels out loud, or silently to yourself.

In this way, you will clarify the difference between physical sensations and emotions—and your experience will naturally become more spacious.

4) Find a Place of Comforts

Part of welcoming intense sensations is knowing how to take a break from them, without harshly rejecting them. One way to take a break, a respite from intensity—while maintaining a welcoming attitude—is simply to shift the beam of mindfulness. Here’s how:

Find a place in your body that feels comfortable. Even during painful contractions, there will always be some place—maybe just your little finger—that feels at ease, neutral, comfortable. Rest your attention there, in that comfortable place, for several rounds of breathing.

Alternatively: focus your gaze on a beautiful flower, or on the face of your partner—as a way of allowing the intense physical sensations to be in the background of your experience, for a minute or two.

Or: shift your attention, for a while, to the sound of pleasant music that is playing in the room.

Newly refreshed by such a respite, you’ll be able to return once again to engaging directly with physical sensations, with kindness and ease.


By becoming familiar with these practices ahead of time, you’ll be ready to apply them during the birthing process. And what a gift it will be—for yourself as well as your newborn—to begin your new life together within this energy of mindfulness, within the spirit of welcoming.


interpersonal hypnotherapist


As a certified birth and postpartum doula, lactation counselor, and hypnotherapist, I specialize in using Hypnotherapy to enhance the childbirth experience. I offer both in-person and virtual sessions to guide you in connecting with a deep inner state of calm and ease during labor, no matter where you are. My sessions in Soul Connections and Clinical Hypnotherapy are designed to release fear and tension, nurturing a profound, meaningful connection with your baby. With my expertise in Transpersonal Hypnotherapy and Soul Integration, I help you connect with your inner wisdom, empowering you to become a mindful, present, and spiritually aware parent. My holistic approach supports you in cultivating trust and confidence throughout your pregnancy, birth, and beyond.


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