How would it feel to re-enter the womb? My research of femininity led me to explore the moment of giving birth. Stanislav Grof has created a model to understand what effects of the birth we have upon our later life. There are four distinct stages of birth that have different effect on our future. He calls it Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPM).


Perinatal Matrix I: Primal Union with the mother

(Intrauterine experience before the onset of delivery)


This matrix is related to the original condition of the intrauterine existence, during which the child and mother form a symbiotic unity. Unless some noxious stimuli interfere, he conditions for the child are optimal, involving security, protection, appropriate milieu, and satisfaction of all needs.”



Perinatal Matrix II: Antagonism with the Mother

(Contraction sin a closed uterine system)


“The intrauterine existence that is under normal circumstances close to ideal has come to an end. The world of the fetus is disturbed. In this phase, the uterine contractions encroach on the fetus but the cervix is closed and the way out is not yet open. The mother and the child are a source of pain for each other and are in a state of biological antagonism and conflict.”



Perinatal Matrix III: Synergism with the Mother

(Propulsion through the birth canal)


“The uterine contractions continue, but the cervix stands wide open, and the difficult and complicated process of propulsion through the birth canal gradually unfolds. For the fetus this involves an enormous struggle for survival, with mechanical crushing pressures and frequently a high degree of suffocation. The system is no longer closed, however, and a perspective of termination of the unbearable situation has appeared. The efforts and interests of the mother and child coincide; their joint intense striving is aimed at ending this often painful condition.”

“Pain and intense suffering cannot be distinguished from utmost pleasure…murderous aggression from passionate love, vital anxiety from religious rapture, and the agony of dying from the ecstasy of being born”


Perinatal Matrix IV: Separation from the Mother

(Termination of the symbiotic union and formation of a new type of relationship)


“The agonizing experiences culminate, the propulsion through the birth canal is coming to an end, and, finally, the ultimate intensification of tension and suffering is followed by a sudden relief and relaxation. “


“The physical separation from the mother has been completed, and the child starts its existence as an anatomically independent individual.”


“The manifestation of BPM IV in a symbolic and spiritual level constitutes the death-rebirth experience; it represents the termination of resolution of the death-rebirth struggle.”


Alexandra Shatalova