The Rhythm of Labor and Ecstatic Birth

The Rhythm of Labor Header

While I’m on maternity leave I’ve asked some of my favorite, most trusted women to take care of my blog for me.  From Sept 9th – Nov 11th you’ll be receiving their weekly wisdom here on my site.

When I announced my pregnancy, my friend Sheila Kamara Hay, the founder of, reached out and offered her support. Birth is a dicey topic in our culture.  And using the term “ecstatic” along with it is edgy and downright confronting to many.

I immersed myself in the Ecstatic Birth Training Sessions audios during my pregnancy and I also had private coaching sessions with Sheila to work through my fears, hang ups, intentions, desires, and more around birth. We did energy practices. I cried. We talked about what was possible. And I came to realize that an ecstatic birth, whether of a child or a project, is one where we know we’ve shown up with our whole selves and where we feel empowered.

I gave birth to Penelope Ann Watts 9/15/15 at 12:36am. While many aspects didn’t go as planned it was, in fact, ecstatic. And I’m so grateful to Sheila for the work that she’s doing in the world and for offering it to me. The simple use of the term ecstasy along with birth is a revolution. I’m humbled by the process. It blew my heart wide open. There were moments I thought I was going to die.

And when I saw my little girl for the first time it was the deepest feeling of bliss I have ever known. 


Sheila is part of a movement changing the conversation around birth from one of fear and pain to empowerment and pleasure. Whether you’re birthing a baby, birthing a book, a business, or a relationship, the same principles apply.
This week’s Blog Babysitter post from Sheila illuminates how the rough spots in any journey of creation (the contractions) aren’t stumbling blocks but are in fact requirements for the expansions that allow us to birth.


Let’s play for a moment and explore birthing your creative project, business, or new version of yourself with pleasure. What would that look like?

Much like the conception of a baby, it all begins with desire. Do you want to launch an abundantly successful business that also supports the underprivileged? Do you want to revel in your creativity and write that bestseller you know is in you? Can you bring your vision into focus? As you revel in your desire, you are gestating. You are now pregnant with your creative child.

Before I sat down to write this post, I fantasized about my desires. What did I want to share here? How could I be of service? I had many visions of what it would be. Guided by my inner wisdom, I began to write.

For many, the path to a physical or metaphorical birth is wrought with infinite decisions. How can you navigate those choices? Your inner wisdom must be the light that leads the way. There is no one else like you on the planet. No one else that has your unique life experiences, your feelings, your thoughts.

The way to connect to our inner wisdom is through the body, its language of sensation. Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe and simply notice the sensations vibrating throughout your body. Those sensations are your inner wisdom communicating with you. The more you can consciously feel into your body as you navigate your path, and move towards what feels good, the more aligned you will be your deepest wisdom.

As you take action towards your dream, labor begins. The rhythm of labor is a perpetual contraction, expansion, contraction, expansion… So is life.

Whenever you hit a rough spot on your journey to your desires, a moment that makes you hesitate or doubt your capacity to achieve what you want, that is your contraction.

In the physical world of childbirth, contractions have been given a bad rap, but they are not inherently a bad thing.  Contractions are the work that you have to do to open to get to your next expansion. {TWEET IT}  Each contraction allows you to open wider, to allow more energy to flow through you, to prepare you to birth your baby.


Similarly when you are birthing your creative projects, the bumps you hit along the way have gifts for you, to prepare you to become the person who can birth that desire.

The more we can understand that challenges are simply a part of the process, a part of our growth journey to take us to our next expansion, the more we can drop our resistance.

In the physical process of labor, resistance disrupts blood and energy flow, causing the body to work harder for labor to progress, which in turn causes more sensations which can be translated as pain.

When we birth our creative projects, this is true as well. If we fight against the rough spots rather than accept them and look for the gifts, it can take us on a path of suffering which derails us from the process of birthing our desire.

In the Ecstatic Birth prep I do with clients, we play with the practice of pleasure to support them through moments of intensity in birth. The tools I share here in my Top Ten Tips for Creating an Ecstatic Birth – such as breath, movement, loving support – are also tools that can be used to flow through moments of intensity in birthing your creative projects.

As I began to write this blog post, I felt a huge contraction. My words weren’t flowing as I’d hoped. My deadline was approaching. I reached for some tools of pleasure. I connected with my body. I called a friend. I danced. Then I sat down and wrote this. It looks very different than what I had expected. Does that mean I have failed? I hope not.

I see too many accomplished women- writers, business women, artists- who feel like failures because they are not measuring up to their ideal. I see too many women having beautiful, wonderful, primal births feeling like they’ve failed because some aspect of the birth they had didn’t measure up to their fantasy.

There is a culture of rampant perfectionism in our world that is deeply dangerous to our own personal process. The births you have, with your babies, with your creativity, are exactly the births you are meant to have. If they aren’t exactly what you want, trust that there are gifts in there for you, for your next expansion on the journey of your life.

My first childbirth experience was way more traumatic than ecstatic, but it was this birth that propelled me on my path. It was a huge contraction on my life’s journey, one that drove me to find another way to birth my babies. Along the way I have discovered more flow, more pleasure and more light in my life as I continue to expand as a woman, an entrepreneur, and a mother.

For more information on the interconnected nature of life, love, and birth and to receive The Essential Keys to Ecstatic Birth, my five-day primer on birthing with pleasure go to


Over to you:

Looking back on birthing something in your own life, which stumbling blocks were requirements for you to expand? How do you see desire, contractions, and expansions as part of the creative process in your every day life? Please leave a comment below – Sheila and I would love to hear your thoughts!


  • Ooo! I big puffy heart this post!! Thank you so much for guest posting. This was exactly what I needed to hear. Because each contraction and ounce of pain is totally worth that sweet little squish in your arms at the end. If your dream isn’t as glorious as the squish, then you won’t persevere through the contractions of the journey.

  • Kate, I am so touched by your sweet and tender introduction to me and my work. I feel so honored to have been able to support you in your process!! Thank you for the gift of your beauty and your leadership by example. I wish you and Mike and Penelope and the whole family a whole lotta LOVE!!! Sheila

  • Yes! Ecstasy + birth is a revolutionary concept. And I’m glad to see it circulating in the world <3

  • Bianca

    Thank you for sharing. This blog is really right on time for me. It speaks to me, you know. I so want to grow as a person and so want to do the things that are necessary for this. But doubts keep popping up at every corner and at those moments I feel so insecure and unworthy. All contractions, I suppose. But I am determined. And reading this blog confirms for me that what I’m doing, sometimes feels bad but goes its natural way. A loving reminder for me. Thanks a lot! <3

    • Kate Northrup

      I’m so glad that Sheila’s words about contractions being necessary for the growth we want have resonated with you. Keep at it – doubt is part of the process. You can’t expand without it!

    • Oooo Bianca, every drop of your contractions are absolutely glorious and perfect. So glad you enjoyed the blog!

  • This was exactly what I needed to read right now. It’s kinda funny, because whenever I’m feeling stuck or overwhelmed (currently), I remember my birthing experiences. (I did hypnobirthing with my 2nd & it reminds me of this ectstatic conecpt –love it!) They did NOT go as planned, but I am so proud of myself for bringing these amazing men into the world! It motivates me to keep going, because if I did that, I can do anything! ;) I’m reading Soul Shifts, by Barbara De Angelis right now & the contracion/expansion is right in the line with that. Thank you for all you are doing to expand our consciousness surrounding birth, Sheila! And Congrats, Kate & Mike!! She’s precious.

    • Kate Northrup

      It’s so true Kimberly – if you’ve birthed two babies you absolutely can do anything! Keep contracting and expanding – it’s all part of the process!

    • Kimberly, thanks so much for sharing your experience and your reflections. I love that you lean into your experience birthing to affirm that YES, you can do anything!

  • Donna Naylor

    Dear lovely Kate,
    Little P is just precious! I see your facial features in her adorable tiny face. I have to say that my first birth experience was beyond traumatic…I almost lost my son during the process…however I read your mother’s wisdom on the birthing process and was blown away by the difference in the birth of my daughter. It was miraculous…to say the least. Each contraction I envisioned as an ocean wave crashing over me…I just went with the pull…and I felt Chloe slipping into the birth…two pushes and her little body came into the world…and I got to hold her with the umbilical cord still attached and gaze into her little angelic face. There is so much more I want to write but…not at this point. I just wanted to say thank you to your amazing mom…and tell you how delighted I am to hear of Penelope’s birth. Congratulations sweet girl!
    xoxo Donna

    • Kate Northrup

      Wow Donna! I’m so glad you got a redo with Chloe’s birth! Either way you have it – birth is indeed miraculous! Lots of love to you!

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