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Giving Birth is Like Riding a Roller Coaster

rollercoaster-picI love the twists, turns and rapid descents of roller coasters. Do you remember the first roller coaster you ever rode? Nope, it wasn’t at Six Flags or some other awesomely fun amusement park. It was while you were maneuvering through the birth canal. That’s right, the process of being born is very much like riding a roller coaster.

Cardinal Movements

The journey an infant takes and the adaptations made while being born is referred to as the cardinal movements. The first cardinal movement is called descent. Just as you feel when your stomach drops as the roller coaster rushes down full speed, down into the valley, securely positioned into your seat by the tight lap bar, an infant’s head is pushed deep into the pelvis.


Next is flexion. Do you remember trying to raise your head in the coaster while diving into the valley at high speed? This is similar to an infant’s chin that’s secured onto the breast bone as they prepare for the tight fit. Just as you can’t raise your head, neither can a baby.


Engagement is next. This is the moment you catch your breath before the next thrill, the next turn.
This is when an infant’s head reaches the pelvic inlet. The infant now undergoes a sharp internal rotation, sometimes at a 90 degree angle, in order to accommodate your pelvis. And just as the coaster comes out of its last turn, the infant extends its head, only to take one last turn before applying the brakes.

External Rotation

Next is external rotation. This is the this final turn that allows for the infant to line its head up to its back to allow for the final step, which is expulsion. And finally, the screams. All at once, the cries of excitement and relief converge.

Season Passes

Just as you might have a season pass for an amusement park, some women open up admission to allow for riders every season! Two, three, four or more deliveries later, these season passes can take a toll on a woman’s equipment.

Can you imagine the CEO of Six Flags complaining because they’ve sold too many tickets for the roller coasters and are now making too much money? Well that’s kind of how women view it when they come to see me about pelvic complaints. After all, what right do they have to complain about the wear and tear on their equipment when the birth of a child makes them so rich with love and blessings?

We Are Human

It’s this very notion that I try to absolve. Urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and suffering obstetric lacerations are not a rite of passage. It simply reveals how vulnerable our bodies are to trauma. It simply makes us human. Thankfully, our ability to repair our bodies makes us sustainable.

The miracle of birth does not need to be altered but the recovery can be optimized. When I see a woman and discuss these very personal issues, I keep in mind this notion she came with and value her beauty as a mother. I also try to reassure her and offer solutions to restore her beauty as a woman as well. After all, being a woman and a mother are two of the most beautiful things on this planet and they deserve to be treasured.

-Dr. Peahen Gandhi

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