Month six

Labour: a sa­cred life event

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

“THERE’S A RICHNESS and magic in birth,” says Robyn Shel­don, Stel­len­bosch mid­wife and au­thor of the renowned birth prepa­ra­tion book, The Mama Bamba Way – The Power and Plea­sure of Nat­u­ral Child­birth. “Birth is a sa­cred life event.” But, be­cause we’re afraid of the pain, many of us choose to strip it from feel­ing and turn it into a ster­ilised, sani­tised med­i­cal event. Yet, birth can trans­form us – and our ba­bies as well. “Be­ing fully present at birth is the most im­por­tant gift we can give our chil­dren – if we don’t fear birth, they have no rea­son to fear life; we be­stow on them the abil­ity to im­merse them­selves fully in its won­ders and richness,” says Robyn. Lov­ing birth is par­al­lel to lov­ing life – no life is with­out painful ex­pe­ri­ences, yet pain of­ten con­tains the key to un­lock our life’s full po­ten­tial. Birth can in­deed be­come “ec­static and plea­sur­able” when we love and em­brace all of it. The Mama Bamba Way of­fers ad­vice, pro­cesses and tools to help women cope dur­ing labour and birth so that no mat­ter how it un­folds, it will be a sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, filled with mean­ing. Robyn be­lieves our body’s in­her­ent abil­ity to love is the only tool we need to em­brace birth. From her own birthing ex­pe­ri­ences and through her work as a mid­wife, she knows the dif­fer­ence be­tween trust­ing the body’s nat­u­ral abil­ity and fight­ing against it. For her, fight­ing the pain caused waves of fear, nau­sea, and ex­cru­ci­a­tion. Stay­ing open to the process was also phys­i­cally in­tense – maybe even more so, but the ex­pe­ri­ence was en­tirely dif­fer­ent. The dif­fer­ent ways of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing child­birth re­minds Robyn of how dif­fer­ent women can ex­pe­ri­ence sex as the most ex­treme plea­sure or the most in­tense pain. Many con­tex­tual fac­tors con­trib­ute to your ex­pe­ri­ence of sex: how your cur­rent part­ner treats you, pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters, child­hood abuse, fear, so­cial con­text, up­bring­ing, en­grained be­lief and many more. That which im­pacts most on whether we en­joy sex or re­gard it as painful, is whether we emo­tion­ally re­sist it or are ready to re­ceive it. “Sex that we have no de­sire for or re­sist, is usu­ally a painful, trau­matic en­counter; child­birth that is feared and re­sisted can be equally har­row­ing. The dif­fer­ence is that child­birth doesn’t need to be so dis­turb­ing; the fear that has built up around giv­ing birth nat­u­rally arises out of a mis­con­cep­tion in the col­lec­tive un­con­scious that grew out of thou­sands of years of be­liev­ing birth to be dirty, im­pure, dan­ger­ous and prim­i­tive.” Robyn main­tains we’re en­riched when we re­claim the whole­ness of birth and go with the prover­bial flow. Preg­nant women and their ba­bies are in­ter­de­pen­dent, whether they’re aware of it or not. It has been sci­en­tif­i­cally proven that un­born chil­dren re­act to their mother’s emo­tional state. “Con­nect­ing to the soul of the un­born child is one of the most valu­able tools of a sa­cred birth ex­pe­ri­ence.” The birth process be­comes less com­pli­cated and clearer when we can vi­su­alise our baby start­ing his de­scent into the birth canal. If we try to con­nect with the needs of our baby that is about to be born, and main­tain that con­nec­tion, our bod­ies will re­spond to our own phys­i­o­log­i­cal needs in or­der to clear the path for our baby to be born. Robyn be­lieves that as much as the par­ents can pre­pare and in­flu­ence the birth, so too the baby is an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in the birth process. Ba­bies’ needs are most fre­quently of an emo­tional na­ture: a baby is bet­ter pre­pared to at­tempt the birthing process, when the mother is calm and less anx­ious; when the baby feels loved; and when both par­ents are emo­tion­ally present dur­ing the labour. Ex­pec­tant par­ents need to en­sure that their birth choices (home birth, wa­ter birth, hos­pi­tal birth, mid­wife care, doc­tor care, birth at a birth clinic, etc.) are aligned with their birth wishes to get the birth that they want. Be­yond that, they need to con­nect to their own re­sources and ex­pe­ri­ences for how to deal with the un­known. Although birth has the po­ten­tial to be an ec­static and plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence, Robyn re­minds us that it is im­por­tant not to have set goals and ex­pec­ta­tions of achiev­ing a pain-free birth, be­cause peo­ple can feel like a fail­ure when they do not achieve that. “The plea­sure of birth in­stead refers to the mag­nif­i­cence of birth, the in­ten­sity of birth, the huge­ness of birth and then learn­ing how to work with the power of birth rather than against it.” Fol­low­ing the birth there is also the plea­sure of bond­ing. Bond­ing can best take place when the con­di­tions for it have been cre­ated, such as de­layed cord camp­ing, skin-to-skin con­tact, baby-lead breast­feed­ing, hav­ing the baby close to you af­ter­wards. The bond of love is a buf­fer against stress and a trau­matic birth ex­pe­ri­ence for the baby. The first six weeks of life, when the baby’s brain is still very plas­tic as neu­ronal path­ways are still fairly un­formed, is an op­ti­mal time for bond­ing and lay­ing the foun­da­tions for re­silience. “Give us enough love – give us adults enough love! – and we can over­come any­thing and be as re­silient as we can be.”

CON­NECT­ING TO THE SOUL OF THE UN­BORN CHILD IS ONE OF THE MOST VALU­ABLE TOOLS OF A SA­CRED BIRTH EX­PE­RI­ENCE “Our deep­est fear is not that we are in­ad­e­quate. Our deep­est fear is that we are pow­er­ful be­yond mea­sure.” - Mar­i­anne Wil­liamson

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.