I was once a part of a conversation with a group of cool, progressive women about birth. Somehow we got onto drugs and pain and then the question of whether pot would help. One of the women who’d never had a baby, said, “I wonder what it would be like to trip during childbirth? That could be cool!”
And immediately the moms in the group all said, “No, no, no you don’t need to trip.”
They weren’t squares. They were just making the point that birth is already a trip. Adding mushrooms to the equation would be redundant. They also noted that, with the physical pain, sensory enhancers could tip the experience either way.
Sometimes, in my childbirth classes, when I describe what happens in birth, a student will say, “sounds like tripping,” or, “I heard it’s like tripping.”
It’s true that a laboring woman’s senses are very heightened. She has a keen awareness of what’s safe and what’s menacing. She gets locked into rhythms and mental loops. I don’t know if women have actually hallucinated in labor, but the environment can take on exaggerated characteristics. Then there’s this, from one of my favorite writers, Cookie Mueller:
“In my hallucinations caused by pain delirium, I watched dozens of night birds throw themselves, screaming, against the glass windows… or was it just hail?
Every sound was magnified. Everything roared.
The flourescent light was buzzing like a chainsaw, the clock ticking on the wall was Chinese water torture, the cries from the other women in the next rooms were as earsplitting as the wrong songs of distressed Humpback whales. The white tiles on the floor were so clean they were whistling. Even the usually silent plants on the window sill, benevolently doing their miraculous carbon monoxide to oxygen exchange, were wheezing with asthmatic photosynthesis.
From my antiseptic bed with the stiff flash-pasteurized sheets in a severely blank hospital room I would see, through the window, the black sky and the Libra constellation of stars rising in fast motion. Other galactic nebuli and meteor dust were swirling backwards, the red moon was closing in, but maybe it was really a UFO with atomic power problems, reverse electromagnetic damage. Was this happening?”
I LOVE Cookie Mueller and highly recommend you buy her books right now— this is from “The Birth of Max Mueller– September 21, 1971″— but what struck me about rereading this was how trippy it all is. I know the pool of women who’ve had both un-medicated birth and mushrooms or acid trips is probably not all that large (these days!), but I’d be curious to hear, anyone else think birth is a trip?
Photo: The Black Angels