Childbirth Choices Guide: Janet Balaskas -- Active Birth

"A strong intention, a relaxed body and an open mind are the main ingredients for an active birth."
-- Janet Balaskas

Although others have long shared the idea, Balaskas was the first to publish the term "active birth." It refers to the fact that the woman is a birth giver, not a patient who needs a baby delivered from her. Balaskas's philosophy rests on the premise that birth is not a medical event, and her method is rooted in hatha yoga, movement and meditation. One of Balaskas's huge contributions to the birthing community is her insistence that lying on one's back works against gravity and therefore is the wrong position to birth a baby. She's a strong advocate of using water in the birth process, both to reduce pain and as a place in which to give birth. The emphasis of active birth is to do everything possible to increase the potential for a natural birth.

The Basics
-- Balaskas's program generally consists of five three-hour sessions
-- Gentle yoga
-- A range of the holistic and medical options available
-- Upright positions for birthing
-- Alternatives to medicated pain relief
-- Relaxed breathing and massage
-- How to use water during labor and/or birth
-- How to be an active participant in birth even if you are having a C-section or other medical care

What You Might Like
-- The natural and holistic approach
-- Freedom of movement is encouraged during labor
-- The focus on soothing homebirth environment and use of water

Drawbacks
-- Some argue that Balaskas's methods better prepare one for a homebirth than a hospital experience
-- It's not a last-minute method '- the positions take stretching and practice on the part of the birthing mother and her partner
-- The classes aren't as widely available in the U.S. as they are in the U.K. However, many other U.S. courses include active birth methods as part of their curriculum

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