Birthing Individuals Canberra Doula 

©2019 by Birthing Individuals

Part 2 of Reclaiming Birth as a Rite of Passage - Canberra Doula

Note: This is Part 2 of 'Reclaiming Birth as a Rite of Passage' - For Reclaiming Birth Part 1 CLICK HERE

One of the first and most important things to do during pregnancy is to release any fear that you may be holding or perpetuating in regards to childbirth. It is important to remember that birth is generally safe (NOT inherently dangerous) for those who are healthy, nurtured and believe in their inherent ability to birth their baby, rather than carrying the fear of childbirth which has the potential to create a range of unnecessary issues. Humans are not unlike wild animals or domesticated animals (including the common domesticated house cat), we do best when unobserved, unhindered, and often in dim/dark, quiet locations where we feel safe to birth in a way which is instinctual. What you may find surprising is animals often lick and/or kiss their infants and so do humans. It is more common to see those divine birthing beings kissing their babies instinctually after birth than it is to see them lick their babies; however, some humans do also lick their babies after birth if they have birthed unhindered and supported in an environment that promotes their innate mammalian instincts. Unfortunately, many births in industrialized parts of the world (including Australia) rarely promote these environments conducive to instinctual, simple and gentle birth. As a result, it is much rarer to see a woman in her completely mammalian instinctual nature where she instinctively licks her baby like many other mammals, just as it is also rare to witness a truly unhindered birth where the divine birthing being is able to fully embrace her sacred innate instincts and power carried within herself passed on from the generations of women who have powerfully birthed or supported birth before her. You see while things have improved significantly in our industrialized worlds from the 17th century onwards to now, we are still stuck in this place where we hold immense fear over birth and still feel that we need to be "saved" or state that "I would have died if I birthed at home" or something similar, completely refusing to acknowledge the multitude of interventions (many routines) throughout pregnancy and during birth carried out that more often than not led to the situation where the birthing being and that baby was required to be saved. Over the 20th century people (predominately male in the beginning) began learning and practicing obstetrics, others became neonatologists and anaesthesiologists. Suddenly, birth had become more technology-led, medicalized and as Michael Odent describes it "masculinized" than ever before to the point that even language around birth changed. Those divine birthing beings are no longer acknowledged as having birthed their babies - their babies were/are 'delivered' by professionals XYZ or by the significant others (S.O)of those divine birthing beings after those S.O's either stood by watching or simply caught the baby after it was birthed.

There is something significant and very powerful in our society that can help to change this and that is Midwives (not med-wives) who are more likely to view birth as it is meant to be viewed, and that is normal and safe unless there is a genuine medical reason to treat it as anything other than normal and safe. You may note that I have said Midwives and Med-Wives; unfortunately, there is a difference. A med-wife is an 'un-official term' used about midwives who bring forth interventions and danger to the birthing woman as a result of their belief that they are NEEDED for the woman to be able to safely birth her baby. This term is often used by many people within the birthing community who want to see women reclaim their birthing power and experience the positive birth that they are entitled to experience. As Veronika Sophia Robinson said in her book The Birth Keepers "When midwives, like doctors, feel that they are necessary for birth, we find their belief system painting the picture of birth". Now that is not to say that all Midwives are Med-wives and create a disservice to those birthing. In fact, that is far from the truth. There are many amazing Midwives across the world; including here in Australia. These Midwives play a very important role in reducing the growing rates of birth trauma and unnecessary interventions we have occurring across our country. Midwives are able to provide continuity which has shown to benefit families in terms of outcomes, reducing interventions and increasing positive experiences of birth. However, in our current Australian birth climate 'midwives' can be difficult to obtain, especially those who are able to provide continuity of care. This is a result of funding issues, insurance issues, policies, procedures, and even regulations that make it very difficult for the amazing Midwives we have in this country to truly be of service to families in the way they would like and the way families would like - this includes their ability to provide true continuity of care. As a result, many families are going back to what they know to be best (birthing at home or in another location without the presence of a Midwife) and what works for them, either by necessity (lack of options) or choice based completely on knowledge and empowerment. When the choice to birth unassisted comes from a place of knowledge and empowerment this is amazing, and it can often go so very beautifully. However, when the choice is made by families as a result of the lack of options available to them it only demonstrates the dire straights our country is in when it comes to supporting women, babies, families, and even other Midwives who may want to be able to support someone yet have no feasible way to provide this support. Thankfully, there are many Midwives and other birth professionals working incredibly hard to improve these issues in our countries maternity care system and hopefully, bring forth at the least continuity of care from a trusted Midwife for more families.

Back onto the topic of fear though, you might wonder how to release your fears surrounding birth to work towards a positive birth experience with the view of its normalcy and simplicity like that of the tribal cultures described above. That, of course, can be easier said than done; especially when many of our views, beliefs, and even fears have formed long before pregnancy even occurs.

"No woman starts her pregnancy from a neutral base. Impressions around the subject of having babies are formed long before that. We think we know what a birth is like through our own birth stories told to us by our parents, our friends, people around us and last but not least the media. Somehow the fear we are surrounded with becomes our fear too"

~ Sarah Schmid - Physician & Mother (Freebirth: Self-Directed Pregnancy and Birth)

The good news is you can take steps to reduce the fear you may have about childbirth and begin to change your perspective of birth which ultimately if done can positively impact your overall experience of birth.

  • Take responsibility for YOUR fears - this may sound weird, crazy or extreme; however, it is important. Do not ignore or deny your fears, instead try to understand them. What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid? What is the likelihood of your fear occurring as an actual event in your life? Are there any steps you could take to help prevent it from occurring? If it did occur how would you manage it? If you have fears do research, self-reflection, and discover the answer to each of these questions. You will often find if you have the answers to each of these questions with your fears and are able to create plans surrounding not only your 'ideals' but your fears too then your fears will often decrease and you are also far less likely to be influenced by the fears expressed by others towards you or around you. What is great too is that knowledge can work hand-in-hand with intuition, especially when fear and external input from others are trying to advise you on what you should do. When informed before birth (particularly in areas where fears lie) you are more likely to be able to take a breath and think about the knowledge you acquired before fear and external voices made it hard to connect with your own intuition often leading to fear-based decisions. That being said - it is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to try to connect to your intuition too; knowledge is great and can work well with intuition, but you need to connect with your own intuition too - birth is very instinctual and our intuition lies there within us ready to connect to help us, but we need to be open to connecting to it.

  • Watching birth videos can sometimes help people to reduce fear by removing some of the 'unknown'

  • Creating a positive mindset through regular relaxation, meditation, affirmations, and manifestation techniques

  • Journaling - Regular journaling through your journey about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings can help you decipher and even discover underlying fears or concerns that you have which need to be worked through. Meditation or relaxation before journalling can often help clear your thoughts and allow you to focus on what is happening in your body or head to write about then work on at a later stage.

  • Find a Doula who can help you navigate your journey with support, continuity, and help work through fears

  • Find a Continuity of Care Midwife that you can trust (if you can find a Midwife and a Doula even better)

  • If you have experienced previous birth trauma it's a good idea to also find a trauma-informed professional and/or a psychologist that specializes in perinatal; there are also holistic options and providers available that help you work through trauma. Working through any previous traumatic experience before birth is incredibly important as this can also adversely impact on your pregnancy and birth experience if ignored.

"After finding that solution, she stopped being afraid. Fortunately, imagining how to conquer a scary scenario is the only way to handle your fear"

 

~ Anita Evensen (The Unassisted Baby)

In addition to releasing fear, it is important to do things that help you to bond with your baby and trust your own intuition. Intuition is something that is natural and there within everyone; however, the ability to trust your own intuition with ease isn't always something that comes so naturally, particularly in our industrialized worlds where society has been conditioned from a young age to trust and follow policies, procedures, teachers, doctors or any of the multiple other things or people in power over themselves. The good news is, even if you are someone who struggles with trusting your own intuition there are things you can do; these things are also great for bonding with baby and helping to strengthen trust in your intuition for those that are already able to trust their intuition.

  1. Create boundaries, especially for those who create feelings of unease within you or don't support you

  2. If possible create a circle of people around you who will listen to you, support you and don't have an agenda

  3. Meditation can be useful in helping to connect you with your intuition and as above, it can often support your journey towards alleviating fears or concerns held if you have these issues too. The reason meditation can help with connecting with your intuition and baby along with the fear alleviation process is that it is usually in silence with a calm or quiet mind that your intuition speaks. When the mind is busy, your body is stressed or fearful, or there is a lot of external input it can be difficult to decipher the voice of intuition from the voice of fear, or even from the societal conditioning outlined above.

  4. Slow down life a bit where possible. Now, this is not to say to reduce your activity and do nothing. In fact, quite the opposite as remaining active is incredibly beneficial for a healthy pregnancy (the 500 tribal cultures all remained active throughout their pregnancy); however, it is good to take a breather from your routine once in a while, or reduce the amount of stress-filled work you take on so that you can help quiet the mind allowing for you to become more in touch with what your intuition wants you to know. Remember that intuition may not always tell you what you want to hear it tells you what you NEED to hear and it is hard for you to hear that intuitive voice inside yourself if you have too much happening making it so you can't hear it.

  5. Stepping away from technology and into nature or at least into a quiet area as often as possible and getting creative (journaling, drawing, crafting, dancing, etc) can aid with connection to your intuition. A great activity that really helps with intuition while also connecting with your baby is to draw your baby at different stages of your pregnancy. Where do you feel your baby is positioned? What do you think your baby looks like at this stage? How big do you feel your baby is? How big are your baby's feet? - it is really important to not do this activity based on your ultrasound; if you are electing to have ultrasounds make sure you do this BEFORE your ultrasound to try to connect with your intuition and baby, this way it reduces the possibility of drawing based on knowledge or visuals from an ultrasound rather than intuitive drawing and connection. Some people who elect to not have ultrasounds like to do this activity around the time they would have been scheduled for an ultrasound in place of ultrasound as a way to connect with and have a picture of their baby at each stage.

  6. Check-in with your body - this means how does your body feels with each thing that happens. Do you feel sick, light or heavy, at ease or uneasy - while these could be a fear response or you simply unwell, they could also be your intuition trying to speak to you as best it knows how. The more you check in with your body, the more in tune you will become allowing you to better decipher your intuition from other responses.

  7. Sometimes it is better to FEEL not think. Society has placed much focus on thinking everything through and making sure we get all of the knowledge including in stressful situations but it doesn't always help; in fact, sometimes it can actually create a hindrance. When the body and mind have a lot going on it can be difficult to think or make choices with a clear head where intuition was consulted. The reason for this is when the body, mind and external influences (other people, machines, environments, etc) become loud and busy the intuition becomes quiet or difficult to hear through the commotion; this can sometimes lead to decisions made from the voice of fear, stress, or decisions guided by external factors. Being able to connect with your intuition during birth is incredibly important; if you find during the birth your mind starts becoming busy, or you start becoming fearful, or there is a lot of external input (voices, noise etc) ask someone to help you to create a quiet space for you where you can do a relaxation activity, meditation, or dance to calm your mind in order for you to reconnect with your intuition; therefore, avoiding the voice of fear or external input to impact on your decisions and experience of birth. If you are unsure how to determine whether you have connected to your intuition, the fear voice or external input simply check in with yourself; are you thinking or feeling?

  8. Dance, dance, dance - dance is an amazing way to connect yourself with your intuition. The repetitive movement of dance can help calm the cognitive mind through repetitive physical activity and it's a great way to bond with your baby, particularly with the creative nature of dance and removal from technological input. Many women find movement helps during labor, swaying the body, moving the hips, and it helps to open the pelvis making for easier birthing. But there is so much more to dance than simply alleviating pain and opening the pelvis up for baby to move through, entering the earthside realm. Dance offers the ability to connect to intuition, alleviate fear, and push back the cognitive mind which at times impacts experiences.

  9. Create a safe space during pregnancy for you to bond with baby and to remind you of your goals and the normalcy of birth. This can be used during pregnancy and during birth. Simply find a shelf, box or table to use then decorate it with special things during your pregnancy. This could be pictures you have drawn of your baby over the pregnancy, a picture of your birth vision, ultrasound pictures, affirmations, candles, crystals, your birth plan, something you collected on your journey. Then go spend time in this space often.

  10. Connect with people and care providers who align with your values or goals; if you feel they don't align with your values or goals, you feel uneasy, or just simply have a bad feeling you can't explain don't try to rationalize it - trust it- more often than not it is your intuition trying to warn you or help you. Remember that intuition has saved lives including the lives of babies during pregnancy when that divine pregnant being has felt that something was not quite right or the baby was acting unusual. TRUST YOUR GUT!

"Intuition doesn't tell you what you want to hear, it tells you what you need to hear"

 

~ Sonia Choquette (Spiritual Teacher and Author)

Finally, look at your lifestyle. One of the biggest reasons that these 500 tribal cultures experienced birth so differently to many in the industrialized worlds was their lifestyles. While we as a society in our industrialized cultures have improved significantly since the 17th-19th centuries, particularly when it comes to sanitation, access to clean water, better air quality, bigger houses, access to great health care services if we need it (including state of the art maternity care for those who do have risk factors and babies who need extra care), no corsets, and access to contraception which helps to space out and reduce the number of children born to one family we still have issues. In the industrialized world, we often have poor diets, poor lifestyle habits and exposure to a wide range of toxins in our environments. So how can we improve this?

  1. Eat regular balanced (proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fats) meals in small portions REGULARLY throughout the day (5+ food times a day) rather than 3 main big meals each day. Doing this helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, reducing nausea, fatigue, and maintaining energy levels.

  2. Raw foods contain the MOST nutrients; however, they also contain the most risk of bacteria. So ensure that you wash any raw foods (or any foods for that matter) well before consumption or cooking. If cooking foods steaming or lightly stir-frying them helps the foods to retain the most nutrients

  3. Where possible avoid foods that contain additives, preservatives, and are more treat/junk style foods. Remember though, you are entitled to treat yourself once in a while just make sure you maintain a good, regular, well-balanced diet too.

  4. Our water is incredibly clean and among the best in the world; however, to ensure it remains clean a number of processes and chemicals are used. Some people find they struggle during pregnancy with the smell, taste or ability to drink tap water due to it causing nausea or other issues. Keeping hydrated is incredibly important during pregnancy so possibly consider buying bottled water or a water filter system.

  5. Salt, pepper, white rice, flour, sugar, onions, radishes, cucumber, drinking too much liquid, hot spicy foods, cheese before bedtime, unripe fruits, strong tea or coffee, fatty or fried foods, pickles, sauces, vinegar, plums, oats, rye, wheat bread, refined foods, eggs, mayonnaise, fish, olives, chicken, beef, bacon, cranberries, beans, chickpeas, noodles, wheat, mackerel, lentils, pasta, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, walnuts, prunes and lamb can all create heartburn and indigestion issues in some people during pregnancy. If you eat any of these foods and experience heartburn or indigestion you could consider removing them from your diet and if after 2 or 3 weeks your symptoms have improved you can gradually introduce the foods one at a time to figure out which food is the culprit of your indigestion and heartburn.

  6. Foods like asparagus, nettle, corn, grapes, watermelon, and celery are known to reduce water retention

  7. Starting meals with salads or fruit may help reduce and prevent any constipation issues during pregnancy; increasing water intake and avoiding black tea, coffee, alcohol, and coke (cola) can also help out with this.

  8. Eating vitamin B & C rich foods can assist with energy levels during pregnancy. Remember that cooking foods often reduces their nutritional content (particularly with vitamin C) so follow step 2 in this list. Avocados, Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, and Tahni are all rich in Vitamin E which helps the body to create high-quality fuel to maintain energy, so ensure you are eating plenty of vitamin E rich foods too.

  9. If you struggle from a particular food addiction that may not be healthy it might be worth considering why you have this addiction and is there any other food that you might be able to substitute the unhealthy food with or something you can do to distract yourself?

  10. Seek to consume living foods where possible. This means leafy foods, sprouts, melons, and fruit. These are rich in enzymes that help with your energy and have other health benefits. Processed foods do not contain these enzymes and can result in sluggishness and nutrient deficiencies.

  11. Toxins - unfortunately, in an industrialized world it can be hard to avoid toxins, they are pretty much everywhere. However, we can reduce exposure to them. Where possible alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes should be avoided. Alcohol is able to cross the placenta and can accumulate in the amniotic fluid surrounding baby it may lead to miscarriage, preterm birth, low birth weight and a range of other issues. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriage, fetal growth restriction and fertility problems in amounts higher than 300mg per day; however, it is important to be aware that these links have yet to be firmly established. Cigarettes have been shown to reduce the oxygen supply to the baby placing it at risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, disabilities, and the birthing being at risk of placenta previa, placental abruption, hemorrhage, and other issues. Potentially unnecessary antibiotic or drug (legal or illegal) use is good to consider avoiding. So make sure you do your research and chat with your medical care provider and Doula to ensure you are aware of all your options, risks vs benefits. Buy and eat organic whenever possible, there is a wide range of chemicals used on non-organic foods and the short and long-term effects are still not fully understood. Go through your home and assess what kind of toxins you may have there that you don't feel you need to expose yourself too - similar to organic vs non-organic foods there is still very little known about the short and long term effects of environmental toxin exposure during pregnancy. However, we do know that certain environmental toxins have been linked to premature birth, stillbirth, growth issues in baby resulting in low birth weight, and disabilities. Some toxins of concerns that have been highlighted in a range of studies are pesticides, air pollution ( don't go where there is a lot of smoke or chemicals), processed or canned food, certain cosmetics, and fumes from gas or solvents.

To conclude, there were many factors that contributed to the widespread fear of childbirth, and at a time in our history birth was dangerous; however, this danger was a result of a range of other factors that created risk during pregnancy and birth rather than the process of birth itself. Birth is something that is viewed as a rite of passage throughout many parts of the world; a time where the transformation of the greatest kind occurs for mothers, babies, parents, and families. During this time those divine birthing beings separate from their normal state to weave their way through enormous waves of strength and power as they transition into a new being that has welcomed another new being to re-enter society together in their freshly born, new adult and infant states. This time creates the foundations of life for those babies born and the journey for those divine beings who birthed their babies, along with their partners. It is a moment that has the capability of creating a lasting imprint that lasts on each and every soul born into this world along with their families. It is a rite that must be honored for the scaredness which it holds and those divine birthing beings need to be honored as the sacred, amazing, powerful beings that they are. We have reached a point in our development as a society where birth does not need to be feared, and the fear that we continue to hold surrounding birth resulting from struggles of the generations before us only serves to pose society a disservice; including allowing this fear to impact negatively on birth experiences, and allowing us to continue to run towards 'saviors' to tell us which pathways to take on our own journeys. There is a wide range of things that can be done to reclaim our birth experience and it is time with the rising rates of trauma, birth dissatisfaction, birth interventions, birth horror stories, and devastating disconnection between parents and baby that we as a society start reclaiming that birth rite.

 

#birthrite #historyofbirth #canberradoula #fearofbirth #maternitychoices

 We hope you have found this post informative and make sure you let us know if there is a topic you would like us to cover in our blogs. If you are interested in learning more and finding out about our Doula Services make sure you get in touch for a FREE initial meet – we’d love to meet you.

~Blessings Lee your Canberra Doula