Cultivating Openness, Resilience, and Strength for the Life-Changing Journey from Pregnancy to Parenthood

by Britta Bushnell, PhD

Transformed by Birth is unique among birth books, as it does not espouse a single right way to give birth. Instead, it shares ideas and practical exercises that prepare you for birth, your birth, regardless of the way you want your birth to go or the way it actually occurs. This new book embraces birth as a transformational experience—a rite of passage in which new parents are initiated by opening to the unbidden, embodying their own wisdom, and gaining freedom from our often-stifling cultural ideals.

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Current birthing practices...

focus on the outcome and location of birth: surgical or vaginal, medicated or unmedicated, hospital or home. Little focus is placed on the multivalent experience of body, mind, spirit and emotion. The loss of the ideal, no matter what it is, traumatizes or victimizes a birthing parent. Focus on outcome ignores the importance of the transformations that go beyond the physical expulsion of a baby from a parent’s body.

Influencing our decisions and actions are highly ingrained cultural ideals operating in the background, often without our conscious awareness. The seven American ideals addressed in this book include our need for control and certainty, vilification of pain, and reverence for technology and intellectual knowledge, among others. Cultural ideals dictate behavior and keep us trapped, even while we are looking for a new or different way to find meaning and comfort in this highly transformative experience.

Transformed by Birth embraces birth as a rite of passage, one that launches individuals into the uniquely profound journey of parenthood. By illuminating the cultural ideals underlying our birthing preferences, beliefs and actions, the information and exercises in Transformed by Birth awakens new parents to the truly transformational experience of giving birth, regardless of the path a particular birth takes.

"To view birth as an initiatory process is to understand and value the unpredictability and uncontrollability of even the best-laid plans. Fear of this “not-knowing” aspect of birthing is central to the preparation for birth as a rite of passage, rather than the nemesis that both medical and natural birth professionals believe it to be."

"Birth as an initiatory journey embraces challenges and ordeals along the way as part of the path every birthing woman will travel."

- Britta Bushnell, PHD

"Humans are meaning making, ritual crafting, religion creating beings. We wrap ourselves in stories and mythology that help us understand who we are and what is important. I believe it is childbirth’s fundamental character as a rite of passage, as a moment of great transformation created by our biology, that makes it so ripe for mythological exploration."