I challenge our current approaches to preparing for the births of our babies and invite you to do so as well. I am not claiming to have the answer to how you or anyone should prepare for birth, but what I do know is that whatever we are doing now is not working ~ well, not entirely. When I say that, I do so reluctantly and with the greatest respect for all and any efforts toward birth preparation, AND I am inviting a (perhaps) new conversation around our relationship to the 'how' and the 'what' of birth preparation.
Read on and please pop your respectful thoughts and comments in the comments below, I am interested to hear from you.
Once upon a time we lived in communities, connected to each other and our environments. We ate the foods available to us locally and felt blessed and fortunate to have a small stash of harvested honey, or perhaps tea and coffee that came from distant lands. Our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunties lived in connection with each other, we shared the wisdom of our experience with each other - not through power points and courses but through our daily actions and interactions with our environment, and major life events like childbirth. We learned by example and the act of witnessing, observation and trial and error.
As our sisters, mothers, cousins and aunties birthed, we were there as a silent observing presence, learning, noticing, taking in the art of what it means to care, support and hold space in the most simplest of ways. We were initiated into motherhood well before we ourselves were ready to become mothers. This initiation already began in the womb of our own mother as she hopefully experienced the support, connection and care of her family. Men for the most part held the outer circle space of protection, but mostly they were not present at the birth of their babies and this was right then - birthing was women's business.
Today, we are confused. Our approach to preparing for birth is often entangled with a long 'to do' list that includes signing up for myriad classes, workshops, techniques, and mostly top-down approaches that need to fit into busy work and social life schedules. Whether we are planning to birth at home or not we cannot ignore the fact that we are implicitly embedded in a cultural paradigm that reflects a mythology that undermines our innate capacities to know and trust our bodies and therefore our capacity to open and be receptive to the power and potency that is birth.
In my work as a midwife much of what I do know comes from being with what arises in the moment, in other words, it is revealed through connection and not knowing. It is the work of consciousness, of awareness and developing a capacity to rest in the beingness of our fertile bodies. It is the healing and repair of ruptured relating and growing a solid foundation of trust that involves eye contact, listening, feeling and developing our capacities to meet and make space for the difficult emotions. It is also about the feeling of support, and the natural unfolding and release of tension that comes naturally when our bodies receive the imprint of 'I am not alone' 'there is support here'.
Working as a midwife I have come to know through experience that the act of birth is the work of the unconscious and as much as we would like to believe otherwise, it is a mysterious, unpredictable force of nature that is never to be taken for granted. I have come to understand the hard way, that the powers of birth are reckoning forces that are shaped by our capacity to surrender to that which we cannot control. Surrendering to a felt sense of the sacred and powerful forces at play as we step over the threshold and say yes to the wisdom of our birthing bodies, means we are saying yes to what is here and as we say yes to what is here, we access the experience of what it means to be willing to meet what arises.
I propose that preparation for labour and birth, begins already in the womb of our mothers, and is ignited during the very first moments we begin to dream of our child. Our labour begins as we navigate the decisions about where and how to birth, as we dream about what labour might be like, as we engage with others and notice the heightened sensitivity in our bodies. Our birthing begins every moment we take a conscious breath and drop down into our felt experience out of our thinking and into our being. As we again and again and again grow our capacity to be in our bodies, to feel and express what is true in service to our own healing and the healing of our communities.