Altered states of consciousness arise when you are in a dream, state of bliss, daydream, trance state, meditation, arousal, or labor. Yes, when you are giving birth. Western medicine thankfully can measure these altered states by measuring our brain waves. The brain waves allow us to understand our states of consciousness—giving value to an experience that is otherwise hard to measure. If you’re driving a car with standard transmission you move between gears to alter your speed, right? Your brain-wave states function in a similar way.
Beta Waves: the most common and highly valued by our culture. This is the “think- ing state,” characterized by fast, erratic, short waves. You may be reading, but you are also thinking about your dry cleaning, what you want for dinner, and whether or not to go see that new romantic comedy. We are operating on beta waves during early arousal and also early labor. This is the state we must transcend to more into labor. Think of this as the state where you are at the shore line in the water and getting tousled by the ocean waves.
Alpha Waves: the state you enter into in meditation, daydreaming, or experiencing natural birth. Alpha waves are slower, more organized waves. They flow when we are doodling, and in a wakeful sleep state. This is the state that women need to be in to birth their babies. This is also the state the brain needs to be in to slip into arousal and for the body to open up for pleasurable intimacy. This state coincides with 0 to 5 centimeters dilation, in early labor. This is the state where you are in the ocean swimming with the waves.
Theta Waves: happen when there is no thinking—it’s all about feeling. You drop right into the primal space and your ancestral wisdom of birth kicks in. This is where many women experience what’s called a “primal birth.” This is also the brain wave you’re riding when you cross the threshold of high-level arousal into climax (and multiple orgasm). When we get pulled into the vortex of our primal power, the labor takes over. The theta state coincides with mid-level to high-level arousal, or 6-10 centimeters dilation in active labor. This is the state where you are in the ocean riding the wave.
Delta Waves: are When your brain is functioning on this level you are experiencing cosmic bliss and oneness, or ecstatic birth. It may feel like an out-of-body experience. The waves of sensation are rolling through your body and you may have deep dreamless sleep and deep relaxation between contractions. You’re experiencing whole-body feeling. This state coincides with the crossing of the threshold to transition, and full dilation. This is the sate where you become one with the wave.
Intense sensations are a necessary component of this process. That said, you can transform any pain into purpose. The same way you relax into making love, you can relax into giving birth.
Giving birth is the ultimate rite of passage. Birth is an opportunity to explore your creative edge, your fears, deep dreams, and your courage. You come back from that experience changed. You should feel free to explore that power and give yourself license to go all the way in, to release the part of you that wants to control the experience and to trust the process instead. Trust your birth partner within- your baby.
Take a moment and gaze down to your belly. The miracle is unfolding every moment and although you are probably ready to meet your little one, remember that you will never have these moments again, so relish these months and snuggle up to your partner or close friends spending quality time before your baby arrives.