Birth as a Rite of Passage

Let’s google it. Yes, as expected, there is a a lot of space on the net dedicated to birth as a rite of passage. We women, if we are blessed enough to have the opportunity, are given the possibility of experiencing a transformation by giving birth. However we do it, and whatever happens, it will change us forever.

Nine years ago, I was in a tricky spot. My relationship with the father of my unborn child was not ideal. He wasn’t in a position to be supportive, and we were living in a rickety old noisy flat above a shop and opposite a pub. My health was poor, my bank balance was low and my baby was not growing properly. Against all odds, and without much in reserve, I somehow chose to give birth without any intervention. No epidural, no gas, just my belief in myself and a small team of family and midwives to cheer me on.

This became my torch, the light that shone me through the tough times ahead – splitting with my partner within the first three months of my son’s life, moving out, living and raising a child on my own, overcoming ridiculous personal limitations and becoming the mother I am today.

Now first let me say that if you choose to manage pain with intervention, have a cesarean, use an epidural, I won’t judge you for it. We are the only ones that know what is best for us. And it is always possible, you won’t get a choice, things will run their course and medical intervention is sometimes the only way to be safe. However, if you are doing this to maintain the illusion that you have some control over your birth, or even your children for that matter, I’d like to have a quiet word.

Let’s say you have a 12-page birth plan, this does not mean you are in control of your experience of giving birth. It only means you have some very solid expectations and hopes that may not take into account the other very strong natural forces at work here.

And let’s just say, by some chance, your birth is everything you expect (a very rare instance), would that mean you might think you have some control over the kind of baby you get? A good sleeper, or not. A happy baby, or a crying one. None of these things are up to us as parents. All that is up to us is how we handle these situations, and how we equip our children to handle them.

In every culture in the world, rites have existed to prepare mothers and father for parenthood. I wonder, have we forgotten this, in our world of private hospitals (alarmingly now performing mainly elective cesarian sections for 80% of births at my local hospital) and perceived choice? Has our ability to accept nature on nature’s terms dwindled in this age of consumerism and the common illusion that we are in control?

It is my wish that we may consider this, discuss this and explore this amazing process of bringing a life into the world. I believe if we can get ourselves more in touch with our own nature, with our place in nature and with our body’s well equipped abilities to experience the birth process, we may appreciate nature in the world at large a little more. And even more exciting, we may believe in ourselves as parents, and our ability to let life be what it is for our children.

This December I am due to give birth again, this time my relationship is healthy and so am I and my baby. There are two things only that I know about what is coming: one, all I can expect is the unexpected, and two, I will do all I can to experience it as naturally as possible.

Please get in touch if you would like any further information on alternatives to pain control and intervention during birth, there are many resources I can share.


Alena Turley is an Australian mentor for mothers. Founder of the pioneering blog, the Soul Mama Hub, her wellbeing membership offers a powerful pathway for mothers ready to go from over-extended, stuck in the daily grind, to empowered, inspired and energised so they can become the CHANGEMAKERS they dream of being.

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