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Reiki and Painless Childbirth

by Cori Nielsen

“I’M GOING TO TELL you a secret that has been kept from women for a very long time.
Your body knows how to birth this baby without pain. The memory is in your DNA.”

Deep inside, my whole being answered, “YES! This is what I’ve been searching for. I knew it! I KNEW IT!!!”

I heard about this childbirth secret from a hypnotherapist on the fifth night I was in labor with our second child. All the years I’d spent researching natural childbirth methods had been leading me to this moment, to this birth, and ultimately to the development of Pleasurable Childbirth with Reiki, a painless method of natural childbirth.

It started sixteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. We dreamed of a natural childbirth, took Bradley Method of Childbirth lessons, and planned a homebirth. When labor started five weeks early, we had to deliver in the hospital. There was a sense of emergency and danger about our delivery. I was very afraid, and as a result I was in great pain. Brad weighted 6 lb., 11 oz. and nursed immediately. He was perfect, and cried only when they took him from me to check, poke, and prod. When they finally brought him to me he’d retreated into a deep sleep, as if saying, “If this is how cold and harsh the world is, I’m not going to participate.” We spent months mourning the peaceful birth we’d planned.

With our second pregnancy we chose a midwife for our homebirth. My pregnancy was easy. I went into labor on a Saturday and labored for eight hours, dilating to four centimeters, where I stopped. The baby was fine so we opted to wait. Labor was on and off for the next five days, mostly off. The morning of the fifth day I woke up knowing that I needed to visit a particular hypnotherapist to release an emotional issue that had been bothering me. He gave me an appointment for that evening. Under hypnosis I released the emotional issue and checked in with the baby to confirm all was OK. It was then that he spoke those powerful words, reminding me that my body knew how to birth this baby without pain, talking me step-by-step through the labor and delivery.

We went home and went to bed. At 12:35 a.m. I was awakened by a sound like a champagne cork popping followed by three strong contractions. Feeling the intensity of the contractions, I started to panic and tense up, but a voice deep inside of me said:

Your body knows how to do this! Breathe deeply! Relax! Each contraction brings deeper and greater relaxation. All the muscles in your body relax except those working to push the baby out.

Bill timed my contractions and called the midwife. I focused on the contractions, breathing in, following them to the peak with my breath, breathing out. The contractions felt like enormous ocean waves building in intensity and momentum to their crest then ebbing away. Riding them, using my breath as the board, was like surfing. At one point a voice in my head said, “I want to name this feeling pain because I know no other word for this intense squeezing, but this is not pain. This is power, RAW power!”

I was totally focused. The stillness within created an acute clarity and presence. I felt no fear, no pain. Kneeling at the foot of our bed, letting gravity do its part, I visualized the baby surrounded by a beautiful white light. I envisioned my perineum opening up like a flower blooming, caressing our baby’s head, as it crowned and passed comfortably for both the baby and myself. I looked down and watched my abdominal muscles undulate from top to bottom and then start at the top again. The rest of my body was totally relaxed while my belly pulsed intensely, beautifully. It was incredible to watch—wave upon wave upon wave. I was the silent observer, awed by the power of my body.

The depths of my being rejoiced, saying, “THIS is what I’ve been longing for!”

As I was mesmerized by my dancing belly, those muscles birthed Caleb’s head without my feeling it. Amazed and eager to have our baby in my arms, I intentionally pushed to get the shoulders out and ripped in two places. I imagine that if I’d allowed my body to continue its own rhythm, I wouldn’t have ripped at all.

He was born an hour and a half after my labor started, weighing 8 lb. 12 oz., and measuring 22 inches long. Bill snuggled us in our bed. Caleb peacefully gazed at me, content, warm, and secure. He seldom cried. Whenever he wanted to nurse he made a specific “I want to eat now” sound. He was a very alert, peaceful baby. He is a happy, self-directed boy.

That was in 1993. Over the years I spoke with many mothers. None had a painless birth. How could this be? If my body could do it, so could others. In 1996/97 Reiki found me and I took my levels I, II and Master in a matter of months. Shortly thereafter, I spoke with the hypnotherapist who’d helped us that night, asking for information about becoming a hypnotherapist so that I could help other women have painless births. He told me I could use Reiki to do the
same thing. But how?

I started to research. The “father” of natural childbirth, Dr. Grantly Dick- Read, in his book Childbirth Without Fear, explained that birth pain was caused by fear. Fear restricted blood circulation in the uterus. Restricted blood circulation gave rise to pain. After attending a painless birth, he theorized that for women who were not predisposed to fear; birth had no pain. To prove his point he uncovered scholarly evidence showing that the Bible passage that women should suffer pain in childbirth had been mistranslated. The original Hebrew said that women birthed not in pain but in labor, as one labors in the fields. Pain was not dictated by women’s birthing bodies but by civilization, which conditioned women to be frightened in birth.

David Steward, PhD, states in The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing that the brain and the emotions are connected inseparably to the body. As a woman thinks and feels in labor, so will her body respond. “It is a truth that is particularly applicable during pregnancy, labor and birth. Fear and tension can prolong labor. They can even arrest labor, cause fetal distress, reduce the oxygen supply to the baby and cause brain damage. In fact, the most commonly given reasons for cesarean sections are fetal distress and failure to progress in labor.”

I began to understand how Reiki could assist in pleasurable childbirth. Reiki can be defined as “spiritually guided life-force energy.” The wisdom of the God Consciousness guides and automatically goes to the source of any problem—physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. It is very gentle and efficient, allowing old pain to float away. The higher love vibration of Reiki flows in to fill the space. It is a natural fit with childbirth, because Reiki takes the body into a deep, deep state of relaxation and from that place the fear-tension-pain connection can be released.

My Reiki guides instructed me that Reiki is able to serve the birthing couple in several ways. It can help remove the fear, anger, anxiety, and sadness surrounding previous births, including their own. Doing so creates a clean slate to create the birth they desire. The couple can use Reiki on each other and the baby for relaxation and bonding throughout the pregnancy. It can assist the birthing mother into a deeply relaxed state; from there, using breath and visualization, she can birth her baby painlessly. Reiki also gives the birthing partner a very focused, active role in the birth.

Helping Others


My neighbor was my first client. During her first birth, she was so drugged she didn’t remember she’d had a baby until the next day. Kelly was not attuned to Reiki. During her first Reiki session I put the Time/Distance symbol, the Emotional/Mental symbol, and the Power symbol into her crown and heart charkas and did the head and neck positions (treatment time was ten minutes). When I saw her take a big breath and release, I knew she’d moved into a deeper relaxed state, and from that place I asked her to tell me about her daughter’s birth. Every time she got to a place in her story where she expressed a negative emotion I’d ask her where she felt it in her body. I’d put m hands and the Emotional/Mental and then Power symbols on that place and ask her to use her breath to blow the tension out her right foot into the earth. It would quickly leave. Then she’d resume the story until the next stuck point, and we’d move it out, until all negativity in the story had been released (twenty to thirty minutes). Then I told her the secret that her body knew about how to birth her baby without pain. It is such a powerful statement. At that deep level of relaxation the body, mind, and soul embrace this wisdom and they respond. We practiced visualizing and breathing through the contractions and birth as I gave Reiki to her abdomen and feet (fifteen minutes). As she rolledvonto her side to receive Reiki on her back (with lots of pillows for support), I told her to rest and bask in the wonderful job she’d done and to know that she would feel like she’d had a great nap when her session was complete (ten minutes).

We repeated the process during two more sessions, each time telling the birth story. I looked for any remaining anger, anxiety, sadness, or fear. I had her speak what she’d wanted to say during the birth and hadn’t, always applying Reiki to the place where pain was trapped. Each session the storytelling time became shorter and the practice of the relaxation and birth became longer. Kelly says about the experience:

Reiki helped me relax as soon as I went for the first session. I was more focused and
better with Amber, my daughter. This labor went very fast. I was in labor for ten hours. The contractions felt like Braxton Hicks, with hard labor the last twenty minutes. They did break my water, and ten minutes later my body started pushing just like you said. I gave three really good pushes, and five minutes later he was born. I felt so good. I healed quickly and had lots of energy. I felt ready for motherhood with two children. Austin was a happy strong baby and started holding his head up and moving around sooner than most.

Dr. Joann

My chiropractor was not attuned to Reiki for her first birth. She received three Reiki sessions before her birth. She feels that the Reiki treatments along with chiropractic shortened the time of her first birth to only nine hours. She said:

I kept trancing myself and visualizing the flower. The nurse kept asking me if I had pain and I kept saying it didn’t hurt. Emily weighed 8 lb., 9 oz. At three days she rolled from her back to her side and could hold her head up and arch. The biggest comment from everyone was how alert she was.

Dr. Joann took her Reiki I and II before the birth of her second baby. She gave herself Reiki during her labor and delivery while practicing the breathing and visualization techniques. Her husband, Ron, was also willing to participate in the second birth and did his own clearing of the fears and anxieties he had around his first daughter’s birth to be a calm support for his wife. Evelyn Ann’s head birthed after the third push. She weighed 8 lb., 11 oz. and was 21 inches long.

Patty and Mark

Neither was attuned to Reiki, and they were birthing their second child. Patty received Reiki treatments for two sessions where we followed the same process. At the third appointment, Mark was present to experience how to coach her during labor and helped the baby to turn head down by asking the baby to put its head on the Reiki hands placed low on Patty’s belly. Patty dilated to six centimeters in the first three hours of labor, feeling very relaxed and pain-free at home. Her transport to the hospital made it difficult to again relax into the contractions. She chose an epidural for hard back labor and visualized the baby surrounded with light. Jacqueline Rose was born 7 lb., 5 oz, and 21 inches long and was a happy, content baby.

Angela and Joe

This couple both chose to be attuned to Reiki I. This was their first birth. They were open to the idea of exploring their own births. In individual sessions, I regressed them, clearing any negativity. Joe practiced the visualizations daily with Angela while he gave her Reiki. This practice was instrumental in creating the birth they’d dreamed of when complications arose. Angela and Joe were in a car accident late in her pregnancy. Unbeknown to all, her bag of waters started leaking. When it was discovered, labor was induced to avoid infection. Angela tells the story:

I was induced with Pitocin, and they kept upping the dosage. The contractions were so close together and so strong I didn’t really have a chance to breathe. It took all of my concentration to stay in the moment and to let go and go with the contractions. I had a lot of back labor. Joe knowing Reiki helped so much. He not only walked me through the visualizations and reminded me of the affirmations, he gave me Reiki on my back, which helped a lot. There was a time before transition, when the labor was really strong and he was giving me Reiki that I actually fell asleep for about half an hour. Then there was a point where I didn’t think I could do it without medication. Having Joe with me, reminding me of the visualizations and affirmations, telling me that I was almost there, I was able to relax and go with the flow of the contractions. I had the urge to push and I was told not to because I wasn’t fully effaced. After trying not to push for the first couple of contractions because the doctor was telling me not to, I decided to trust my body and push. I pushed for about an hour. The very last part when she was being delivered was about fifteen minutes. I tore a little. I only needed two little stitches. I was in labor for ten and a half hours. Makayla Nichole weighed 8lb., 10 oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long. She was a happy baby and developed early.

Kerensa and Jodie

This couple had used Reiki on each other and their baby during her first pregnancy, having had Reiki I. They learned their Reiki II and Pleasurable Childbirth from me. This is what Kerensa had to say about their experience of preparing for and delivering their second child:

Jodie and I went through individual Reiki sessions to clear fears and resolve the body impressions from Imani’s birth. I needed a clean slate where I didn’t expect the experience of the first birth to determine the experience of the second. I wanted nothing to interrupt the connection with my baby or body during labor or birth, and I wanted control over my birth choices. During the Reiki session to clear body tension of the birth, I had clear recollection of my own birth. The session revealed that many of the anxieties and experiences from my own birth were mirrored in Imani’s birth. It helped to settle and resolve my apprehension and set the intention for a new and more empowered birth adventure.

Jodie took an active role in assisting Kerensa, giving her Reiki and remindin her of the visualizations and breathing. It served them well as the story of their homebirth continues:

I labored long and hard and had flashes of having to be induced at the hospital again. I stopped myself, regained my focus on my breath, and continued to allow the contractions to ride through me. The back labor increased and Jodie furiously rubbed my back. Twice I lost my breathing rhythm and the whole experience became painful. I quickly returned to focus my breath and toning with the wave of the contraction. I was pain-free except for the back labor—that remained throughout each contraction. Jodie’s hands on my back helped me to relax completely between each wave, and I felt the Reiki flowing. I felt such powerful intensity like a volcano erupting, felt her head crowning, pushed twice and Innana was born weighing 8 lbs, 8 oz., and measuring 20 1/2 inches long. She nursed immediately.

After the birth, I lost too much blood. I was taken to the hospital via ambulance. I stayed in the ICU, healing from a serious hemorrhage apparently due to a cervical tear. I had also suffered a sodium/mineral loss called hyponatremia. I was in a stupor for almost ten hours while Jodie gave me Reiki. He said I did the Reiki breathing the entire time.

Inanna’s birth was at times enjoyable, freeing, intense, and dramatic. The Reiki helped me trust my body. It served as an anchor for me during dangerous birth complications as well as for Jodie and I during labor and birth. Reiki precipitated Inanna’s calm demeanor and seamless adjustment to being away from me for the first two days. She latched on immediately as if we had never left off. She’s a very affectionate, observant, and strong toddler. She does not often sit still for Reiki. However, when she does, she quickly goes to sleep like she did in-utero. Her attachment confidence, and self-awareness emerged more quickly from her exposure to Reiki.


I met her at a retreat with the Beloved Community where we were both ordained as Spiritual Peace ministers. She was seven months pregnant and a Reiki II. We had time for one appointment together where she was able to release the pain around her first birth and learn the breathing and visualizations in preparation for her home birth. She says this about the experience:

It was clear that my baby was guiding me. She wanted to be more evolved throughout my pregnancy. I was called to get acupuncture, to get my Reiki II, get ordained, and lead a woman’s group. She was seeking higher vibrations. Through Pleasurable Childbirth with Reiki I felt that I released at a cellular level my past birth experience, mostly related to my birthing doctor, so that it opened space for a new relationship with my myself and my midwife. The visualization of how the baby comes out with fluidity worked so well—three pushes and how graciously she came out. Sarada was born weighing 7 lb., 13 oz. She is a very happy, alert baby. She held her head up immediately, rolled over at four months, and wanted to walk at six months.

My experience agrees with what Asha stated. Years ago a counselor said to me, “Don’t you think you’ve had enough pain for one lifetime?” She was right. The era of “no pain, no gain” is passing. It is possible to learn more through pleasure and joy if we intend it to be so. These children seem to be seeking out peaceful ways of birthing themselves. When one looks into their eyes you see a wise old soul in a tiny body looking back at you. Children born with this method are calm, happy babies. They are strong physically. They hold their heads up, have strong straight backs, and roll over, crawl, and walk earlier than many children. I have no clinical proof, but my thoughts are that it is due to less stress on their systems during the birthing process. Because of this, they aren’t spending days recuperating from their birth. Their first impressions of life are ones of relaxed pleasure. What a beautiful foundation upon which to build one’s life.

Birth is a rite of passage for the mother, the baby, and the family. It is the time when a woman is the most vulnerable and the most powerful. It is a time of greatest joy and deepest sorrow, pain, and regret. Many people are deeply wounded by their birth experiences. Reiki can heal this. The technique is described fully in Kelly’s story. I encourage you to use it. Every birth is absolutely perfect, no matter what happens. Reiki gives the couple the ability to flow with peace and acceptance through every situation.

The process for healing people’s birth stories is simple and direct. My experience is that it is most effective when you have healed your own story first. Invite a Reiki II or Master to team up with you to do the three sessions necessary to heal yourself and then start doing it for others.

The birthing techniques of this program take training to ensure that you’re providing the mother clear and accurate information and are doing so tenderly, ensuring her a safe birth.

The final step in this process has been to create a training program for Reiki Masters. In this training first you’ll heal your personal birth stories. This is critical. Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now states, “A strong unconscious emotional pattern may even manifest as an external event that appears to just happen to you.” So as a facilitator of this method it is crucial for you to repattern your personal birth experiences, releasing all negativity and encoding your experience as peaceful beauty at a cellular level. Then you are able to hold a pure loving space of nonattachment for your clients as they release the pain around their own birth stories.

Students then practice birthing their own baby (it can be a goal or dream), intimately experiencing and embodying the breathing and visualization techniques. Classes include lecture, hands-on, discussion, and questions. Students receive a step-by-step manual, a certificate of completion, and consultation time as you start practicing with clients.

My Dream

I see sacred birthing centers or birthing temples filled with peaceful beauty and free of negativity, where birth is treated as a sacred event, not a medical emergency. Midwives, doulas, and obstetricians are using integrative techniques like Reiki, aromatherapy, massage, and drumming to create holistic birth experiences for the family. Parents prepare for birth and seek support and fellowship to learn holistic ways of parenting. They are beacons of Love and Light, portals of Peace and Joy. This is my dream, which I’m consciously focused on creating.

With deep gratitude I thank Reiki and the Reiki guides for bringing this painless method of childbirth into the world.

—Rev. Cori Nielsen is the creator and founder of the Painless Childbirth© with Reiki method of painless natural childbirth. Mother of 5, she has been a Reiki Master/Teacher since 1997, a Dar' Shem Master since 2005, a certified teacher with 30 years experience and a Spanish teacher, interpreter and translator. Cori is an ordained minister of Peace and a spiritual counselor. She facilitates presentations, practitioner trainings and classes for Reiki and Painless Childbirth with Reiki©. She can do all Reiki sessions by phone and will travel to do trainings for those interested in becoming Painless Childbirth with Reiki© practitioners. Cori can be contacted by email at or through her Web site at