Our birth journey, defined as the time from conception to birth, is an initiation into life. We might not remember it cognitively but our cells, our bones, our muscles, our senses, our emotions and our spirit certainly do. This is not a New Age idea. It is evidence accumulated through direct experience while supporting human beings in water in a learn to swim environment as well as in a therapeutic context.

Our birth journey is a map which helps us navigate life itself.

Our relationship to water says a lot about our birth and pre-birth experiences. The way we show up in water can reveal physical, emotional and behavioural imprints of how we spent nine months immersed in amniotic fluid and the subsequent passage through the birth canal to the other side.

When we are immersed in warm water our bodies soften and open up.

These imprints held within the body in different ways are allowed to resurface. When we do so consciously as adults we can revisit these parts of ourselves and so we become the gentle and forgiving witness unto ourselves so to speak. By reclaiming previously unseen parts of ourselves we return to a larger sense of wholeness. A bigger and fuller version of ourselves from the inside out.

Water releases memory imprints in waves we are able to handle for it is the body’s innate intelligence which allows these to unfold naturally rather than in a forced way. The deeper our breath is engaged while in water the deeper into ourselves, so to speak, we are able to dive.

When babies are introduced to water for the first time subsequent to their birth, these birth imprints can show up.

The direction they prefer to turn their head in, for example, most likely shows which way they turned their head in order to push through a very tight passage.

Whether we were induced, for example, birthed through emergency caesarian or allowed to come out in our own time, will affect the way we embrace new learning experiences. Head position, breath control and body alignment are all physical factors which have been strongly set by our early experiences in the womb and influence our subsequent ability to swim.

Some birth imprints show up very clearly particularly if there has been some evident birth trauma.

Some patterns are a lot more subtle and will only show up if we allow them the time and the space to do so. In the same way that water helped us grow and develop in the womb it also helps us grow and unfold when getting used to living with gravity.

Infant and baby swimming classes are reintroducing babies to water by the hundreds. As well as being an incredible opportunity to fully integrate our birth experience it is also possible that we are reinforcing birth induced trauma in innocent unawareness.

Water tells my Birth Story is an extract from Birth, Memory and Water written by Sophia Michalopoulou.