About the Integral Model of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPC)
"Brooke has done an incredible job of integrating and creating a new paradigm of childbirth that is very important, relevant and powerful for women and the world!" --Dr. Vernice Solimar
The Integral Model of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPC)
The Integral Model of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPC) is a dynamic and interactive blueprint designed to help you systematically approach your entire journey to parenthood from an all-encompassing “big picture” perspective.
With this “meta-perspective,” you as expecting parents or childbirth professionals are able to engage consciously with the internal and external influences and dynamics that most impact pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences. The framework of the IMPC allows you to holistically address and proactively engage these elements, in order to cultivate a more positive, empowering and transformative experience in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
The IMPC has three main areas of application, which are: 1) Pregnant women, 2) Practitioners, and 3) Policies/Practices. The comprehensive model can be systematically applied to each of these domaines in order to significantly improve the pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience on both small and large scales.
Why an Integral Model?
By utilizing the IMPC, not only are the baseline needs of you and your baby's safety and survival supported, but your entire birth and parenting journey can be approached in a way that goes beyond physical needs, by also addressing your emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual ones as well.
The IMPC not only works to ensure your physical health but it also also helps foster a greater sense of well-being, empowerment, personal growth and spiritual transformation.
What is an Integral Approach to Pregnancy and Childbirth?
For many today, childbirth is approached strictly as a medical condition, a physiological challenge that necessitates medical interventions to ensure safe delivery for mother and child. This perspective believes that babies should be born in a hospital, with doctors utilizing Western medicine, practices and technologies.
Other people perceive pregnancy and giving birth as a natural, normal and healthy process that ought to be engaged in without medication or intervention. This perspective typically sees childbirth as a direct illustration of our primal nature, citing that humans, as mammals, instinctually know how to give birth. Through this lense, Western medicine and hospitals, although helpful in emergency situations, are thought of as being an unhelpful interference to the natural birthing process.
Others are outraged by the increasing rate of cesarean sections, medical interventions, and maternal deaths occurring in the United States, and they promote out of hospital births to avoid the policies, procedures and financial incentives interwoven into the health, insurance and legal systems; systems which are thought to undermine and interfere with the natural process of pregnancy and birth.
Further, some people see pregnancy and the act of giving birth as a significant rite of passage for women, one that serves a higher purpose in their life journeys, personal development and spiritual growth. From this perspective birth is seen as a self-transcending, transpersonal and profoundly spiritual experience.
From a “big picture” view, we can see that while each of these perspectives has their strengths, they also have their limitations in terms of holding the whole truth.
With an integral approach and framework, each of these partial perspectives is evaluated critically so the gems of truth can be extracted. It is our belief that the gifts that each of these approaches bring can be synthesized and brought to a higher level of understanding and practice, thus creating an Integral Paradigm of Maternity Care, a truly holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth.
The Primary Components of the IMPC
The Four S’s of Pregnancy and Childbirth: Self, Science, Support & Systems
The IMPC takes into account the fact that during pregnancy and birth there exists a dynamic interplay involving your (and your baby's) physical body, emotions, thoughts, relationships and environment. By utilizing the “Four S’s”, Self, Science, Support and Systems, the Model holistically addresses and tends to all of the internal and external elements which directly impact you and your baby's pregnancy and birth, so you are both more likely to have a positive, empowering and positively transformative experience.
Hierarchy of "Birth" Needs
According to Abraham Maslow, people’s needs span from deficiency to being needs, which start at basic biological necessities and build toward self-actualization. These stages flow upward from survival, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, and finally, self-actualization and transcendence. By applying Maslow’s Hierarchy to the experience of childbirth, it becomes clear that a woman and baby’s needs in pregnancy and birth also span from deficiency to being.
From the viewpoint of the IMPC, needs along the entire spectrum of the Hierarchy should be recognized, tended to, and ideally, met, as each of these levels of needs is important and valuable within its own sphere. Although it is important to point out that each of these needs, especially during labor, arise simultaneously and fluidly, the intention ought to be one of meeting ALL of them along the Hierarchy, starting with basic safety and survival, while continually moving higher up the ladder toward the fulfillment of higher being needs that relate to empowerment, esteem, and self-actualization.
Childbirth as a "Peak" Experience
Childbirth can manifest as a “peak” or powerful "state" experience leading to significant transformation and growth. Although sustained practice and work is typically considered most effective in terms of facilitating permanent developmental growth, if approached consciously, peak experience(s) can be effective vehicles for transformation. Further, engaging in sustained consciousness work throughout pregnancy and early parenthood can serve as the container and catalyst for the larger "stage" development that typically takes place over a longer period of time.
“Peak experiences often have consequences...They can do the same there as psychotherapy, if one keeps his goals right, and if one knows just what he is about, and if one is conscious of what he is going toward...I found that such experiences came from profound aesthetic experiences such as creative ecstasies, moments of mature love, perfect sexual experiences, parental love, experiences of natural childbirth, and many others." Abraham Maslow
Uniqueness of Individuals and Birth
The IMPC recognizes the fact that every woman is her own complex constellation of biology, traits, history, background and personality type. We understand that what one woman brings to the experience of birth, the past birth experiences she may have had, and where and with whom she would be most comfortable giving birth, will be fundamentally different for each woman.
Keeping this in mind, the IMPC is highly adaptable to the individual. Further, there is recognition that no birth process is the same (i.e. the 4 S’s are always manifesting uniquely), and therefore fluidity is maintained that flexes and flows with the uniqueness of the individual and circumstances.
Importance of Integrating and Processing Birth Experiences
From our years of experience and research, we have seen how vital it is for women's health and well-being that they be able to process and integrate their birth experiences. Integrating the experience of childbirth, particularly giving space to "be with," reflect on, and process what happened during labor and delivery has an enormous impact on how a woman feels about and grows from her childbirth experience, her bonding with her baby, and how she faces future pregnancies and births. Click here to see more about our Healing from Birth support services.
Theoretical Foundation of the IMPC
“Integral Theory emphasizes multiperspectival knowing, based on the assumption that when we gather knowledge from multiple points of view, we are much more likely to arrive at something closer to the truth than we would otherwise.” --Mark Forman (A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy, 2010)
There are several theories and disciplines that have informed the IMPC. Integral Theory and the AQAL framework of Ken Wilber is a primary influence of the model's theoretical framework. In addition to Integral Theory, a great deal of information, disciplines and approaches have been synthesized in order to create the structure and content of the IMPC, including: Midwifery, Obstetrics, Psychology (i.e. Somatic, Transpersonal, Developmental and Cognitive Psychology), Anthropology, Sociology, World Religions, Yogic Philosophy, Integral Life Practice, Life Coaching, Mindfulness Meditation and various Conscious Movement and Awareness Practices.
Within these fields, we have drawn from countless experts in their fields to whom I am incredibly grateful, including: Ken Wilber, Sri Aurobindo, Abraham Maslow, Robert Kegan, Clare Graves, Don Beck, Gayle Petersen, Robbie David-Floyd, Mark Forman, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chodron, Nancy Bardacke, Cassandra Vieten, Ina May Gaskin, Elizabeth Davis and many, many more.
Dissemination & applied use of the IMPC
Along with providing integrally informed childbirth related support services to new and expecting parents, one of the intentions of the Center for Integral Pregnancy & Childbirth is to educate and train a variety of childbirth professionals in the theory and direct application of an integral approach to pregnancy and childbirth. These integrally informed doctors, nurses, midwives, doulas and childbirth educators have the potential to bring more depth and breadth to their practices, influence the modern maternity care system to be more integral, and to positively influence the pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences of the populations that they serve.
Since its creation, the IMPC has gained praise, attention and interest worldwide. A presentation on the IMPC was recently given in the Obstetrics department in a University in India, which received notable and positive feedback. Further, individuals in the United States, Australia, Brazil, and the Netherlands have shown interest and have begun to incorporate the model and practices into their own lives and work.
Founder, Brooke Radloff presents at conferences and other events on the theory, application and benefites of the IMPC. Brooke presented at the Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)'sin November of 2013. Additionally, she presented her extensive research and model at Metalntegral's 2013 Integral Theory Conference, and was honored to receive a "Best Paper Award," which you can read here. Brooke is currently providing direct services and education to pregnant and postpartum clients in the San Francisco Bay Area with Luma Birth Services, and worldwide through CIPC. She is developing training and certification courses for birth professionals and is currently working on a book about an Integral Approach and Paradigmatic Shift of Maternity Care.
Contact us if you have interest in learning more about the IMPC.