3. Power + Pain: Working WITH the Sensations of Birth

How do we cope with birth? However we experience it – unmedicated, medicated or surgical – the sensations and emotions of birth are immense and intense!

Using a potent experiential exercise, storytelling + group discussions, this workshop explores what it means work WITH intensity or pain, instead of against it, and the labyrinthine internal journey that birth takes us on. Birth partners will come face to face with the important role of supporting the birthing parent to find their own endurance and strength, all while being witnessed and trusted to birth their baby. 

As you engage in direct and challenging experience, discover the many coping tools you already hold inside. Discover new coping strategies through listening to stories of laboring families, and the shared experiences of other class participants

Few simulated opportunities allow us to practice this deep calling forward of internal resources, and families often leave this class with new thoughts and insights. 

Woman grimacing in hospital room while giving birth

©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth


Awareness Scan (meditation)

Defining Pain vs Intensity

Redefining Our Perception of Pain (discussion)

  • What is pain, anyway?
  • How do we react when we or our partners are in pain?
  • What is the purpose of the kind of intensity of sensation in birth?

Deep Dive into Sensation (exercise)

  • Exploring Your Reactions to Intensity
    (physical sensation, emotions + thoughts)  
  • Discovering the Coping Skills You Already Have
  • Recognising Cycles + Patterns In Birth
  • Rhythm and Ritual in Coping
  • Trusting Your Capacity

Building Confidence as a Birth Partner (exercise

  • Self-Soothing and Self Care
  • Learning to SEE Shows You What to DO 
  • Getting Comfortable With Birth

Exploring Coping Strategies (group sharing)

  • Review of Labor Coping Tools
  • Reframing Coping: it’s not always calm, + it’s not always pretty!

Harvesting the Experience (home practice)

  • Developing Partner Supported Coping Tools
One woman in a sports bra grimacing in birth tub while surrounded by three women supporting her

©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth

When I was pregnant with our second child, my husband and I attended two childbirth education sessions with the warmest teacher I’ve ever met. I found myself visulizing my uterus like a jellyfish, pulsating, dancing, doing the work it needed to do. I learned to think of each contraction as an opening: my cervix a sea anemone offering up its colorful tendrils, a releasing sort of embrace. I went from three centimeters dilated to 10 in less than 30 minutes, no time for the epidural I vaguely asked for, and somehow, though the pain filled me utterly, because I had a new way of thinking about it this time – the labor wasn’t being done to my body, my body was doing it – I managed to feel centered: not the battered cow but the undulating grass, the sky above, a wave out at sea, the only wave. 


New York City


Open Circle’s childbirth education programs, prenatal yoga classes and parenting education are all among the best our community has to offer.  As a midwife, I have provided maternity care to many of Kaeli’s childbirth education students.  Her students enter the birth experience well educated, prepared, and empowered to be full participants in their care.  In addition to my professional knowledge of her services, I have personally experienced her prenatal yoga, prenatal massage, and mom/baby yoga classes.  All were very helpful to me during and after my own pregnancy.  I am grateful Open Circle for their commitment to bringing these excellent services to women of all cultural backgrounds and income levels.  –Camille Williams, CNM