Natural Childbirth: The Viking Method

SO you’ve arrived here today because you want a natural childbirth experience and are looking for something new and different. Maybe this is your first pregnancy and you are feeling overwhelmed by all the childbirth options out there and don’t know where to start. Perhaps you have already experienced natural childbirth but are tired of visualizing budding roses, waterfalls and peaceful beach scenes.

You have already thrown out your scented candles and Enya CDs during your nesting phase (sail away, sail away sail away), DESPITE which you don’t feel your house is clean enough for a home birth and of course you’ve already eaten your placenta, potty trained your infant and unfortunately have had a falling out with your doula.

SO WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE FOR YOU??!!

First, answer these four questions:

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1. Do you find this pattern beautiful and mysterious?

lagertha hair

2. Do you already have this picture pinned to your HAIR board?

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3. Does seeing this image stir excitement in your blood?

If the answers were YES, then I have the birth method for you. If it isn’t the Next Big Thing in natural Childbirth, it will be soon. I mean….. SERIOUSLY.  What would you rather visualize: your cervical fibers softening like blue satin ribbons….or Ragnar Lothbrok’s piercing blue eyes???  I thought so. (Question #4).

ragnar lothbrok

Tell your husband that you love him but you’re sorry-  Ragnar is going to help you get through childbirth WAY more than the Bradley Method.

All you need to do is follow these simple steps.

THE VIKING METHOD of NATURAL CHILDBIRTH

1. Read this book

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2. Memorize at least a few lines from your favorite Viking poem out of the book. Or pick an authentic one. I have selected a few good ones for you:

Here are some examples from The Long Ships

The sea-men’s army feared not the flood.

Blood-wolves waded west through Panta.

Clear through the current’s crystal water

Bore they their linden shields to the strand.

 

 

Krok, who by cruel fate

Had slaved at a foreign oar,

Won his revenge and freedom:

His luck had turned again.

Dame Red-Jowl,

Thou hardly forged one,

Hard the fight

When sparks fly from thee. 

Or even better- authentic Skaldic Poetry

Hold firm your hilts, ye chosen housecarls,
shield flung on shoulder, to show ye are men;
breast open ’gainst breast offer we to our foemen:
beak against beak, so shall battle the eagles.

-The Old Lay of Biarki

Widely is flung, warning of slaughter,
the weaver’s-beam’s-web:4 ’t is wet with blood;
is spread now, grey, the spear-thing5 before,
the woof-of-the-warriors4 which valkyries fill
with the red-warp-of- Randvér’s-banesman.6

Wind we, wind we such web-of-darts
as the young war-worker waged afore-time!10
Forth shall we fare where the fray is thickest,
where friends and fellows ’gainst foemen battle!

-The Song of the Valkyries

as fire doth flame
and earth is green,—
as babe calleth mother,
and mother suckles child,
as folks kindle fire,
ships sail the sea,
and shields are borne,
as the sun shineth,
snow drifteth,
Finn glideth,8
fir-tree groweth,
as falcon flie’th
on a fair summer-day9
with a brisk-blowing breeze
under both his wings,
p. 83 as the sky arches
and earth is tilled,
wind doth howl,
waters flow seaward,
and seed is sown.

The Oath of Truce

3. Watch The History Channel’s Vikings, paying special attention to the battle scenes.

Vikings Season 2 Brothers war 1

4. When intense labor starts, you will become a Viking. You may want to pick one of these three to emulate.

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Lagertha, Ragnar and Rollo

Or there’s Floki. (I won’t judge- and you probably will look more like Floki than the others if you went into labor with a smokey eye).

Floki_c1

Becoming a Viking during childbirth means:

  • Instead of visualizing your pain away and/or wanting a painless childbirth, you concentrate on the pain and master it.
  •  Relax totally and fully between contractions.  Know ahead of time that there will be respite from the pain and have confidence that in the break between pain you will be able to restore your physical and mental strength for the next onslaught.
  • Repeat the memorized phrase from the Viking poem over and over again in your head like a mantra. Doing so will help you concentrate and focus your energy on mastering the pain. The meaning in the words should give you confidence and strength.  It will help keep you from being afraid, reduce stress and give your mind something to do.  Skaldic verse should be alliterative; unless you have the natural advantage of speaking Norwegian you probably are reading the English translation–however in translation there seems to be a good attempt to preserve the effect of alliteration. I find the alliteration of “The Oath of Truce” especially beautiful.
  • When the labor pains start becoming so intense that it becomes difficult to talk through them or think clearly, embrace any natural impulses to vocalize your pain. Try and avoid out of control screaming in pain, but focus your voice in a lower register. This will be your battle cry as you push the baby out! I recommend starting your battle cry with a consonant sound like “H” rather than a vowel. I do not have any scientific article to link to in order to back up this theory- but there has got to be some science behind the act of screaming or vocalizing pain and the let-down of hormones that help relieve stress and pain.  We all have a natural instinct to cry out in pain (just think of the last time you stubbed your toe), and doesn’t saying whatever choice word you favor help somehow ease that pain?? It stands to reason then, that making noise during labor is helpful. My suggestion though is to also be in control of how you are vocalizing your pain and not letting it become hysterical.

In short, as the baby is coming out, you should be totally convinced that this is you: tumblr_mjveg4q5Ln1rhz6zho2_500

 You are powerful, strong, in control. You are going to master the pain and not worry about it. You should feel that excitement/rage of the beserker “bloodlust” build in your chest and channel it into strength to push the baby out.

6. Deliver your Viking Baby!

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If it’s a boy, name him Leif.

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If it’s a girl, name her Freija. (Which is maybe what Reika WOULD have been named if Rijen liked it better).


So you might consider all of the above a bit of a parody, but in fact, I did (in part) develop the “Viking Method” for myself on the day Leif was born.  It happened rather organically– coming together as a combination of my research, listening to my friends talk about their natural childbirth experiences, my recent trip to Norway and observing other women when I was at the hospital in Germany.  Except I did NOT actually watch the History Channel’s “Vikings” before giving birth- (Leif was born in 2011, and “Vikings” didn’t air until 2013).  However, I did use all of the OTHER above techniques to help me through childbirth without any medication and without WANTING medication.  Leif’s birth story in a later post.

Yes, I am using a bit of hyperbole in this blog post and I can’t help but be amused by all the different childbirth-related trends that seem to come and go. However, the main point I want to make for anyone out there who is contemplating a natural child birth is this:

Very few other experiences in your life will be as personal as giving birth. Labor combines instinct and physiology together with whatever preparation or “method” you have done. I also believe that you just don’t know exactly how things will go until it happens- because there are so many different factors going on. Some women may really appreciate the idea of having another experienced professional such as  a doula there by her side to tell her what to do and give her encouragement.  Some women may really want their husbands to be a team member and others can’t stand to have their husbands touch them or even talk during labor!  You may think you know what you want, and then when it happens you are doing the exact opposite of your plan. OR for whatever reason- and usually a reason beyond your control- you are unable to follow your plan although you still want to.  Being flexible and open minded can be very useful in these situations so that you don’t make the situation more stressful for yourself.  I would hope that anyone wanting a natural labor would do their best to not be swayed too much by the latest “trends” in childbirth- but find a method that fits her personality.  I’m not suggesting that “trends” in childbirth are bad though- in the limited research I did I found something of value in everything I read about.

I hesitate even writing these last paragraphs because I don’t want to sound like I have all these answers just because I’ve had 2 great experiences with natural childbirth (and 1 great experience with an epidural too).  I am actually trying to say that I DON’T have ANY answers for you because my point is that YOU should find YOUR answers. My best advice is not to say “THIS is the right method,” but go out and cobble together your OWN birth method like I did!  And whether it involves massage, ice chips, self-hypnosis, breathing techniques or VIKINGS, at the end of it all you will (BE EXTREMELY GLAD IT IS OVER ) and have a kind of strange looking but incredible newborn.  But do tell me if you go with the Viking approach, I think the world could use more shield maidens in labor quoting ancient poetry.

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2 responses to “Natural Childbirth: The Viking Method

  1. Ok. Officially your best post ever. And I’m not just saying that because it’s about birth. The first part was hilarious. And by the end I found myself wanting to cry and also clap excitedly in agreement. Love everything you said and want to share it with everyone that will ever be giving birth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1. Yes. 2. No. 3. Yes. 4. Um, yeah, RAGNAR. IF I were to ever do a natural childbirth, I definitely think I would lean towards the Viking method. Though I might have to mold it more as a Celtic-warrior-esque, one, for obvious reasons. Did you know they would at times go into battle naked? with their bodies painted (not a good idea for childbirth, you’re right) and screaming battle-cries? But, yes. Great post! Your opening paragraphs were very catchy… 😉 Also, I am very much looking forward to seeing you sporting that Lagertha ‘do. Get on that!

    Like

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