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Your body is your temple

Ever heard the expression, ‘your body is your temple’?

 

I didn’t really get this concept until the last couple of years when I started female yoga & qi gong practices that helped me connect to my body in a way I hadn’t before.

Up until then I’d spent most of my life living in my head – and hadn’t even realised it! My mind was constantly in overdrive, running the show, whereas my body was more of a love-hate relationship – I loved to hate her. Since puberty I hadn’t felt good about my body.

It wasn’t until I took up practices that tuned me into my body – particularly the feminine aspect of my body – that I discovered the well of womanly wisdom that lives inside me…as it lives inside YOU.

Ok, it may have been a little weird at first to have a conversation with my womb or breathe into my ovaries, but in doing so I’ve gained an embodied understanding of the gifts of the goddess.

La Diosa!

What a blessing it is to be living life in a woman’s body!

Yet, if you’re anything like most women, I bet you’ve spent most of your life hating or otherwise rejecting your body rather then worshipping her as a temple. 

I know I have.

 

Unfortunately, women have been taught since puberty that their body is the enemy. She’s too fat, too thin, her thighs too dimply, her teeth too crooked, her breasts to small, her breasts too large, her belly too round, her skin too pale, her skin too dark, her legs too hairy, her flesh too soft, her bum too big…and so on. And lets not mention the fact that she bleeds every month. I’m sure you get my point. In so many ways our culture sends women the message that the female body is flawed or must be controlled.

 

As a result, women are literally programmed to think negatively about their body and to wage a constant war against their body – from hormonal control to complete eradication of body hair, to constant dieting to bootcamps aimed at transforming female curves into hard masculine physiques.

The average woman has a negative thought about her body at least once per hour, and up to 50-100 times per day!

 

In fact, it’s such an accepted norm to put your body down that women bond by negative self-talk – when women get together it’s socially acceptable to insult their body rather then praise it.

As a health practitioner I notice this all the time. I even wrote a blog on the subject: Have you ever noticed how often women apologise?

When you’re so busy fighting yourself, you don’t have power.

You might find it interesting to consider how it serves society to keep sending media messages to women that fuel body insecurity; and how this insecurity and lack of body love might flow on to disempowered birth experiences…

(…thoughtful pause)

 

Women’s bodies are powerful.

A woman’s body is so powerful political campaigns are won or lost over the topic of controlling women’s bodies.

A woman’s body holds the gift of life. In ancient times, goddess temples were built to celebrate the life giving, abundant power of a woman’s body and this helped remind women of their creative potential, strength and innate capacity to birth.

It’s no coincidence that fear and mistrust of birth has coincided with the disappearance of the Goddess for the last few thousand years – replaced by a patriarchal mindset that’s taught women that, as punishment for the sin of their female body, they must suffer during childbirth.

I’m telling you this now, not to challenge your religious or spiritual beliefs, but to invite you to open your mind to possibilities you might not have considered before:

Women are not meant to suffer during childbirth. It’s not meant to be painful or traumatic or frightening. A woman’s body was built for birth. The truth is birth is meant to be ecstatic. 



 

Here’s what I invite you to know:

Your relationship to your physical body is integral to your power as a woman; therefore the relationship women have with their body is integral to their birth experience. 

 

Thinking negatively about your body is a habit that keeps you disempowered.

Don’t you think its time for change?

Neuroscience reveals that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, those negative neural pathways become stronger and those thoughts become habituated.

The good news is habit is just that…habit.

You can break negative thought patterns by consciously choosing to focus on positive thoughts about your self and your body.

By choosing to deliberately seek thoughts of appreciation and gratitude toward your body you start developing new neural pathways – pathways that lead to a healthier, more connected and empowered ‘Goddess’ you. Your honour her wisdom.

Body love is not something that only happens to other women. It’s a choice available to you everyday to say f**k it and bring more woman (power) to you. 

Your body is your temple, home to the goddess that is YOU.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and viewed your body through the eyes of love and approval?

 

Contact me if you would like more information about Ecstatic Birth Preparation.


Body Love Action Step

Rather then focusing on how your body looks start appreciating your body for what she does.

Start a Body Love Journal and commit to the practice of writing daily about your body in a positive way, starting with appreciating what she does for you and how she serves you. Every day choose three things about your body that you’re grateful for and write about them.

The secret to your success is simple: small practices done regularly produce BIG results. Be consistent.

If you stick to this practice everyday for 30 days, you’ll notice a profound difference in how you feel about your body.

 

Body Love Journal

Today’s Date:                                                             

I’m so happy and grateful that my body:

 

 

Need Inspiration?

  • How does you body allow you to experience the world? How does she bring you feelings of pleasure?
  • What about your senses do you appreciate? Think about touch, taste, smell, sight & sound.
  • Imagine you were your own lover. How might a lover appreciate your body?
  • Take a tour around your body and consider each part and the important role they play in your day-to-day life: your eyes, your feet, your hands, your mouth, your stomach, your breasts, your vital organs, etc. What are you grateful for?
  • What parts of your body do you like? Can you spend more time focusing on these aspects and letting those good feelings grow?
  • If you’re pregnant, think about your baby’s experience of your body. What attributes does your body provide for your baby, now during pregnancy and after your baby is born? How might your body feel to your baby?
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What does it mean to surrender?

So, how do these words make you feel..?

Surrender.

Let go.

Allow.

The reason I ask is that these words are often used to describe what a woman needs to hear or move toward during birth, and yet it can be hard to comprehend exactly what that means until you’ve actually been there.

What does it mean to surrender, or to let go, or to allow?

For the past twelve months I’ve been in the process of creating, gestating and now launching my online course Breathe | Believe | Birth with Ease. Just like preparing to birth a real baby, this has been a labour of love that has stretched me way outside my usual comfort zone…

I’ve stalled. I’ve procrastinated.

I’ve connected to my Heart and felt invincible. I’ve been moved to tears by the love and the beauty of the act of creation, and the overflowing of feminine wisdom that is not coming from me but through me.

I’ve doubted myself again and again. Told myself I don’t have what it takes. Told myself I can’t do this thing, I am not enough.

But this baby is coming through me anyhow. She’s my love, my passion, my hope for the future. She keeps me inspired to keep pushing through, to have faith in this birthing process, to trust myself.

I keep opening. I keep expanding. I keep pushing.

I keep moving to places I’ve never been before. Places that take me far beyond all that I’ve known to be safe and comfortable and familiar and secure to a point where I can no longer feel the edge of what was, but I’m still so far away from what is to come.

It’s like floating in darkness. There’s nothing left to hold on to.

I feel all alone with my fear.

She whispers…let go.

And eventually I do. I stop resisting. I lay aside my small and individual fear and doubt and my need to control or to know what comes next.

I open to a process and a movement that is SO MUCH BIGGER then me.

I no longer try to contain it. I do all that I can to allow it.

To surrender is to feel divinely guided. Like I am one with the energy of the universe. Like I am all that is in this expanded state of being without edges or boundaries in the spaciousness of infinite possibility.

It is an experience that takes me outside myself, that has pushed me to my limits and then beyond to remind me, each time I let go my resistance, of the extra-ordinary power of the Mysterious Feminine.

Call it ecstasy…or bliss…or union.

THIS is birth.

 

Resistance.

These past few months I’ve learnt much about how fear is simply resistance to the Unknown.

Life is growth. Growth is exciting because it opens you to new possibilities but scary because it takes you places you’ve never been before.

One of the effects of fear is to keep you in a contracted state. Fear is under the illusion that if everything stays the same (freeze), fear can keep you ‘safe’. You know what to expect. You can plan ahead. You can be prepared. Fear provides a false sense of being in control.

In this way it becomes human nature to seek experiences that are familiar. Known.

This is how fast food giant McDonalds became a global success – their business model was based on the realization that people seek the comfort of what they know. With this basic understanding of human psychology, McDonalds started a restaurant that delivered the same food, the same menu, the same interior and the same experience every time. Cha-ching!

Yet life is growth and growth can only occur by expanding beyond the boundaries of what is Known – your current reality – into the Unknown.

That means in order to invite any new possibility into your life – a new baby, a new relationship, new wealth, new health, new career – you need to let go your attachment to the safety net of what is Known, and breathe for a bit in the uncertainty of the Unknown.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory the Unknown is the realm of the Mysterious Feminine.

Fear of the Mysterious Feminine is the underlying impulse behind every intervention that is the cornerstone of modern antenatal care.

If you consider how birth – and women’s bodies – are the gateway to the Unknown, you get a sense of why birth triggers so much fear and why the human response is to seek the illusion of control by imposing human will rather then letting divine will lead the way.

We prefer to set a time or a date or a measurement or a preconceived idea on how things should be rather then trusting in the flow of life. We want McDonalds because it keeps us feeling safe, yet it’s when we venture outside the familiar and the known that we open ourselves up to the magic of the miracle that is life.

Few times in life is the growth process as obvious as during pregnancy.

Pregnancy forces you to move beyond your current limitations not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Whether you like it or not, the life force growing inside you is taking you outside your comfort zone on a journey that will stretch you in every way imaginable.

Every day you’re growing. You’re changing.

You’re more aware of being part of something much bigger then yourself, something other then you that’s driving the wheel.

Pregnancy and birth is simply life lived with heightened intensity. It’s like a vortex opens where the usual growth processes start spiralling at greater speed. From a spiritual perspective, how fast you move through the birth process depends entirely on how quickly you move through your resistance.

This is what it means to surrender: you let go your fear and human need to control in order to open with love and trust to magic and the mystery of LIFE.

Sounds good in theory, but in action how do you surrender?

1 – Breathe

Learning to breathe properly and deeply is your most powerful tool to connect you to the present. To be present allows you to surrender your attachment to outcomes and open to the delicious possibility of what is. Correct breathing is also key to physiologically and psychologically resetting the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ (fear) response.

2 – Positive Anchors

To surrender is to lose sight of the shore and be willing to take yourself into unchartered waters. It is at these moments that you can forget why you are going through what you are going through and get lost in the fear and uncertainty and doubt. A Positive Anchor is something that strongly anchors you to your why, something that connects you to positive feelings – feelings of love, calm, trust, faith, confidence – that will support you through the process. A Positive Anchor can be an image, a word, an affirmation, a mantra, a person, a vision for the future. Whatever it is, keep your Positive Anchor where you can see it constantly.

3 – Creative Visualisation

Your thoughts are powerful. You can use creative visualisation techniques to mentally prepare yourself for the reality you wish to create. The more you consciously and creatively visualise yourself surrendering to the flow of the divine – and enjoying the process! – the more you prepare your mind for that possibility. This in itself helps the mind surrender control.

 

Breathe | Believe | Birth with Ease is the birth preparation course that will revolutionise what you know about birth and being a woman. Want to learn how to ENJOY childbirth? CLICK HERE

 

 

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Why a Doula is a Rolls Royce of birth support

love doula

Imagine what it would feel like to give birth feeling supported, informed and involved in all your choices?

What difference do you think it would make if your birth support team helped you believe in yourself?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Birth is a normal, everyday physiological event that your body was designed to do naturally. In fact, according to nature’s design, birth is meant to be a joyous and ecstatic life experience.

Sure, birth can be hard work and for a small minority of women pregnancy and birth can present problems. But, the fact is for the vast majority of women pregnancy and birth are healthy transitions in life and yet this healthy state of womanhood is increasingly medically managed as an illness. It has become so normal for our culture to view pregnancy and birth according to the medical model that for most women the first thing they do when they believe themselves pregnant is visit a doctor for confirmation and book in for an ultrasound.

And fair enough, it’s exciting and extra special care is part of enjoying being pregnant. However our culture has come to provide that extra special care comes in the form of ongoing medical tests and measurements that do little to prepare a woman for birthing or motherhood, and does a lot to instil fear that pregnancy and birth are risky business.

Wouldn’t it be special to enjoy a model of antenatal care that treated you like a pregnant and birthing goddess?

Why a doula can be the Rolls Royce of birth support…

It’s common to believe that private health insurance and a private hospital means a ‘superior’ level of maternity care, but this depends on your vision of the birth you want. Choosing a private hospital means an obstetric model of care and therefore a medically managed birth by default. This is because an obstetrician is trained in intervention and surgical delivery methods, and may not ever have experienced normal, uninterrupted physiological labor.

If your vision is for natural childbirth then this not be the best model of care for you.

Unfortunately, many women don’t realise until they’ve had first hand experience that the medical model of care can lead to a medically managed birth often involving routine, unnecessary interventions. Due to patient demands, hospital midwives can be limited in the care they can provide and are often in the difficult position of having to comply with hospital protocols. The medical system may provide for the physical management of your birth experience, but isn’t equipped to support for your mental and emotional wellbeing; the essential ingredient of love and comfort that allows women to feel safe, reassured and in control of their experience.

Although your partner can be a wonderful source of support in labour, your partner is not trained in birth support and it’s unfair that partners are now routinely expected to assume this role. It’s all new to them too!

Evidence shows women birth best when supported by people they know and trust, who are able to stay with them continuously throughout their labour, and who understand techniques to be with women that promote normal, natural physiological childbirth.

And so, I give you the doula.

Doula is the name given to a birth support person who provides one-on-one continuous support of a non-medical nature and is instead trained in alternative, traditional and natural methods of being with women during labour.

A doula will develop a relationship with you and listen to your fears and concerns, providing support for your mental and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

A doula will guide you through your birth choices and help keep you informed.

A doula will support your partner and help your partner support you.

A doula will help you believe in yourself and find the resources within that you need to birth your baby.

A doula will hold the space for you to birth your baby and do so for as long as you need.

A doula is YOUR ‘servant to birth’ and there to support your unique needs. The primary aim of a doula is to provide for your emotional and mental well-being and your comfort. This is why, especially for women birthing within the hospital system, a doula can be the Rolls Royce of birth support.

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Are you a powerful birthing goddess?

Do you remember a few months back when I shared how I’d benefitted from discovering the work of Australian Money Mindset Mentor and author of Get Rich Lucky Bitch, Denise Duffield-Thomas?

At the time I said, lots of women have big blocks and fears around money in the same way they have big blocks and fears around birth, and that helping women achieve a great birth and helping women overcome their money blocks kind of goes hand in hand.

Your mindset is the key. Your beliefs create your reality and a belief is simply a thought stuck on repeat.

For example, I commonly hear women say that they would love to have a home birth but they “can’t afford it” or “it’s too expensive”.

The truth is money is not the obstacle. Your mindset is.

The average cost of an Independent Midwife is between $3500-$5500. That figure reflects extraordinary value for what is, statistically, the safest model of birth.

I was recently reading an article that stated the average cost of a wedding for an Australian couple is $65,482.

Both a wedding and a baby’s birth day is a day of celebration; a day a couple will remember for the rest of their life. So why don’t women and couples invest in birth in the same way they do their wedding day?

The article went on to explain the mindset of the bride: her wedding was “their day” and “I will wear what I want, I will play whatever music I want and I will give the bomboniere that I want. I will have a day that reflects me and my partner, not what tradition has dictated”.

The reason I love this quote is it highlights the mindset of a woman planning her wedding day: she’s in charge, it’s HER day and everyone knows that what the bride says, goes.

Blame it on Cinderella.

Your beliefs are formed by the stories you hear throughout your life that teach you what’s possible for yourself. Young girls are brought up listening to fairy tales of being rescued by a handsome prince and a fairy tale wedding. The princess mindset is embedded deep in every woman’s subconscious.

So, when it comes time to marry, this fairy tale princess archetype makes it easy for women to embrace their sovereignty. And being sovereign, allow the money to support that reality.

Here’s the thing, I can’t think of a single fairy tale of a powerful birthing goddess?  

Can you?

These stories exist but you have to go back several thousand years to times when the Goddess was celebrated and the power of woman to create life and to birth was revered and not feared.

So part of the reason WHY the face of birth in the modern world is such that some countries are now at a 100% caesarean rate (Australia is 30-50%) is because we teach young girls becoming women they need to be rescued and have forgotten the stories that teach the truth of their bodies: stories that embed the mindset of a powerful birthing goddess.

Just for a moment, can you imagine what birth might look like when a woman applied the same mindset to her birth planning as she did her wedding?

I will wear what I want, I will play whatever music I want and I will…what I want… 

… I will birth in whatever position I want... I will take as long as I want to push out my baby or birth my placenta … I will birth in water if I want… I will make whatever noises I want… I will only allow the people present that I want and who I trust… 

I will have a day that reflects me and my partner, not what tradition has dictated.”

And imagine if women expected the money to support their birth plans in the same way they expect the money to manifest that 1-carat princess cut solitaire diamond ring (the current most popular engagement ring)?

Mindset is key to creating the reality of your desire. 

You can only receive what you allow.

To own your self worth is to see that reflected in your external world.

My soul purpose is to help women remember their power and come home to their goddess self. To allow yourself an expectation of so much more for birth, and for life.

When you embody the mindset of a birthing goddess you expect to birth like a goddess. It’s a mindset shift that takes you out of fear and disempowerment to a place of maternal authority. It’s a crucial mindset shift that needs to happen to move beyond the fear-based culture of birth, to a world that benefits from remembering the gifts of the feminine.

Helping women achieve a great birth and helping a women overcome their money blocks go hand in hand – both require shifting deeply embedded beliefs of lack of feminine self worth to bring greater power and freedom to your life.

For this reason I’m a proud affiliate of the work of Denise Duffield-Thomas as a pioneer in helping women shift their relationship with money. I’d love you to know that the reason women accept 30% less then men has nothing to do with external circumstances and everything to do with your relationship with yourself and the feminine.

You can find more about Denise’s Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp here, or check out a chapter of her Get Rich, Lucky Bitch book.

 

 

“What are you all doing disrespecting women? Nothing comes to this Earth unless it first passes through a woman. What are you doing? You’re all nuts. You have to respect it; it’s the one and only reality that the universe blesses. All comes through the woman.”

– Guru Nanek, cited Hari Kaur Khalsa, Ecstatic Birth Foundation Series 

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Could you be unsuitable to birth in hospital?

A recent United Kingdom National Health report advised that 45% of women in the UK were unsuitable to give birth in hospital.

I love this!

Imagine if you found out you were pregnant and, rather then automatically opting in to the standard medical model of care for your pregnancy and birth, your first thought was that pregnancy was a normal, healthy state of being a woman and didn’t need to be managed as an illness. So you chose something different.

What would your pregnancy and birth look like if you opted for a wellness model of antenatal care rather then an illness model?

Wellness Model versus Illness Model

So what do I mean by that?

A wellness model of care takes a holistic approach to care, taking into account the mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of wellbeing as well as the body physiology. This is known as a Mind Body Spirit approach. An illness model of care focuses almost exclusively on the physiological aspects of health. An illness model looks for disease, whereas a wellness model sees health as not just the absence of disease, but a sense of wellbeing. Not just absence of pain, but feeling good.

A wellness model of antenatal care views pregnancy and birth as normal, healthy states of womanhood and looks to provide the emotional, mental, social and spiritual support to provide for a sense of wellbeing in the mother throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatal, as well as caring for the physical body.

I recently attended a planning meeting for a home birth. The appointment was at Sarah’s home. There was Sarah and her partner, plus her other children running in and out, plus two midwives and myself. We drank cups of tea and looked through photo albums of Sarah’s previous births. The meeting went for about 2-3 hours. During this time we discussed what was important to Sarah – what did she expect from us, how could we best assist her, how could we support her partner? The midwives discussed all of Sarah’s birth preferences and made it clear they were comfortable supporting her wishes. She debriefed her previous births and talked through where she had felt challenged and how we could support her better this time. Being her fourth baby, Sarah had set her intention to have a fast birth. Her midwives offered her wise advice to achieve this goal naturally. The atmosphere was relaxed, unhurried and intimate. The focus was supporting Sarah mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually to achieve her birth vision. Toward the end of the session, the midwife performed the routine physical tests of checking baby. At the end of the session Sarah said it left her feeling confident, excited and looking forward to birthing her baby.

An illness model of antenatal care focuses on the pathology and physiology of pregnancy of birth, the assumption being that pregnancy and birth is fraught with danger to mother and baby and needs to be medically managed by the continuous process of tests and monitoring to make sure everything is ok: blood tests, ultrasounds, foetal monitoring, blood pressure checks, amniocentesis etc. It follows that birth then becomes a medically managed event within a hospital setting.

Ok, I’ve got no problem with that.

This isn’t us against them. Everything has its place. I just want to highlight the imbalance that exists in our culture. An overwhelming 98.5% of Australian consumers choose to birth in hospital. More Australian babies are born on the way to the hospital then are a planned home birth (0.5%)!

If a UK study can recommend that 45% of women are unsuitable to give birth in hospital – and that’s probably a conservative figure – then why are Australian women not able to birth without medical assistance? Where are we going wrong?

Why does this matter?

Because pregnancy and birth are normal, healthy states of womanhood. The fact that 98.5% of Australian women choose to birth in a hospital reflects that women (and their partners) aren’t being provided the information to trust birth and the innate intelligence of women’s bodies and are not being offered automatic access to a wellness model of care.

And that’s not ok.

It’s a bit like needing to fix something that isn’t broken. Rather the first supporting the normal, naturalness of pregnancy and birth, our culture jumps straight to the pathology of pregnancy and birth. That creates a culture of fear and mistrust and leads to a vicious cycle where women aren’t made aware of the true ability of their body to birth their baby with ease and without intervention.

It’s disturbing that we’ve allowed a situation where ‘normal’ birth is only seen in 1.5% of the population.

For the rest of the population, the focus on pregnancy and birth as an illness mean that women’s mental and emotional wellbeing is secondary to the outcome of a living baby. Under this system, women are prepared to put up with all manner of indignity, trauma, surgery, invasive procedures, pain and suffering ‘as long as the baby is ok’.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You have choice and its important to understand where your choices might lead. That allows you to take responsibility for your wellbeing and not come out of your birth experience feeling a victim.

I want to have as natural birth as possible with minimal intervention.

Sound familiar?

This is something I hear women say all the time and yet their choices do not reflect their intention. If you want to have as natural birth as possible with minimal intervention you choose a wellness model of antenatal care that supports natural processes.

If you choose an illness model of care, if your antenatal care involves a focus on the pathology of pregnancy and birth, if your antenatal appointments involve the medical management and physiology of pregnancy, you might want to consider where your choices are leading and if they support your desire for natural, vaginal childbirth with minimal intervention.

A common mistake Australian consumers make is to choose obstetric-led care because they have private health insurance, believing that because it costs more it is ‘superior’. If you’ve choose an obstetrician as your primary care giver, you’ve chosen the medical management of your pregnancy and birth because that is what obstetrics is: the pathology of birth.

It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you are aware of where your choices are leading.

May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears. – Nelson Mandela

It takes courage to make the choices that go against the vast majority. But if you want something different for yourself and your baby, you can’t do what everyone else is doing and expect a different result.

Courage is the ability to act on your heart, even in the face of fear.

Who holds the power?

Under an illness model of healthcare, the doctor is viewed as the authority and top of the hierarchy and the patient is at the bottom. The system operates according to a hierarchy, a bit like a military operation, where responsibility for health outcomes belongs to the doctor, and the patient plays a passive role. Under this model, there is an expectation of assumed compliance – the patient will do what they’re told because the doctor is viewed as having higher authority.

At the same time, the patient expects the doctor to ‘fix it’. This can be a happy trade off because it means the patient doesn’t have to take responsibility.

The problem with applying an illness model to antenatal care is the perception that the hospital, obstetricians, doctors and midwives have greater authority and power then the birthing woman. This has led to the common situation where women play a passive role in their antenatal care, doing what they’re told and expecting their baby to be delivered for them.

The result is a antenatal system where women aren’t actively encouraged to be the authority when it comes to their birth, and they’re not empowered to trust their body or trust themselves. Yet it is when women assert themselves and play an active role in their birth journey that women report a positive outcome.

Authority, power, responsibility and assertiveness are qualities that can be challenging for women. Yet giving birth is arguably the most powerful human experience possible.

“What are you all doing disrespecting women? Nothing comes to this Earth unless it first passes through a woman. What are you doing? You’re all nuts. You have to respect it; it’s the one and only reality that the universe blesses. All comes through the woman.” – Guru Nanek, Ecstatic Birth Foundation Series

Wouldn’t it be great if more Australian women decided to choose different?

Wouldn’t it be an empowering step if we, as consumers, demanded a different model of antenatal care based on wellness rather then illness? 

What would your pregnancy and birth look like if you opted for a wellness model of antenatal care rather then an illness model?

 

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Delivering your Placenta: What you must know!

There has been a lot of evidence lately supporting the benefits of delayed cord clamping and this may have you considering a physiological third stage as part of your Birth Preferences.

As a natural birth educator, I’m excited by every step our culture takes to remember birth is a normal, everyday physiological event that your body is designed to do naturally. But recent conversations have me realising that, in educating women the benefits of requesting natural processes, the importance of also ensuring your birth attendants are skilled and comfortable in supporting Natural. 

 

Recently I’ve heard stories about women who’ve had normal spontaneous (not induced) labours and births and then big post partum haemorrhages (PPH) after a physiological third stage in hospital. One woman needed a transfusion of several units of blood and was transferred to Melbourne for intensive care.

These conversations prompted me to ask questions and I want to share with you what I learned in the hope of avoiding similar stories. My hope is to provide you with the information needed to safely support your choice to have a physiological third stage if that is what is important to you.

This is because these conversations have highlighted a huge red flag issue for women choosing a physiological third stage in an environment not familiar with supporting natural processes (i.e. hospital).

SO WHAT IS PHYSIOLOGICAL THIRD STAGE?

Third stage labor is the time immediately after your baby is born until the placenta and membranes have been born.

A physiological third stage is to allow the third stage to happen naturally, without the use of oxytocic drugs. The cord is left unclamped and uncut until it stops pulsating or until the placenta is born. The placenta is birthed by your own efforts and may take a significantly longer time then when active management is used.

Active management of third stage is the term given to the medical management of third stage. This usually involves being given an intramuscular injection of an oxytocic drug (syntocinon) immediately as your baby is being born; clamping and cutting the umbilical cord immediately after birth; and applying gentle traction to the end of the cord to birth the placenta reasonably quickly.

The risk associated with third stage is post partum haemorrhage (PPH). Active management has evolved as the reported best practice to reduce this risk, and in light of the stories of women who’ve opted for a physiological third stage and then had a PPH, this would seem to support this practice.

However, upon further questioning of these stories it is not the physiological third stage that increased the risk of PPH (nature did not intend for women to bleed to death after birth!) but the management of physiological third stage by staff not trained in supporting normal, natural processes.

In such a situation advising women the benefits of choosing physiological third stage may become dangerous if their care providers do not have the appropriate training and understanding of normal physiological childbirth: a situation that represents the vast majority of hospital based midwives, obstetricians and doctors.

 

To best illustrate this point, let me share with you a story…

My client had opted to have a physiological third stage. The labor and birth had gone beautifully.

As the baby is being born the doctor complies with the mothers wishes of a ‘physiological third stage’ and not given the standard injection of syntocinon.

BUT THEN almost as soon as the baby is born the doctor reverts to standard practice and within minutes of birth – without syntocinon – starts to apply cord traction. This means the doctor is pulling on the umbilical cord to try and hasten the delivery of the placenta. This is a permitable practice with active management as syntocinon is a powerful oxytocic drug that strongly causes the uterus to contract and the placenta to sheer away from the walls of the uterus within minutes.

Without administering this drug, applying traction to the cord is downright DANGEROUS.

Physiological third stage requires TIME for the mother’s natural oxytocin hormones to produce the uterine contractions that  help the placenta come away.

How long this takes is dependent on many factors including: a calm and quiet atmosphere; privacy; the undisturbed and unhurried ability to enjoy skin-to-skin contact with baby and eye gazing; taking time to initiate breastfeeding; time-out to recover from the activity of birthing; and the ability to adopt the position most comfortable.

It is estimated normal physiological third stage may take anywhere between 20mins to 2 hours.

The mother started hemorrhaging. The doctor administered syntocinon. The mother continued to weaken and the bleeding did not stop. Eventually she was admitted for surgery where it turned out she had retained placenta. She suffered massive hemorrhaging and required several litres of blood transfusion.

Sadly, her story will be recorded as a PPH because the mother refused syntocinon, and seen as further justification for the active management of third stage rather then the truth of another birth story where no one is held accountable for birth malpractice. This kind of malpractice due to ignorance of Natures processes is not an isolated incident and is a big concern for women requesting physiological third stage in hospital.

I wholeheartedly believe physiological third stage is the best practice for both mother and baby in an environment that supports normal physiological labor. I’d love to be able to say that for all women but that may not be so.

That’s not to say you can’t safely experience physiological third stage in a hospital setting, but if this is your preference please ensure your care providers understand how to support this practice.  

Please don’t assume that this is the case!

Remember, normal physiological childbirth is almost never witnessed in hospital.

Understand that it may be up to YOU to educate your care givers and provide them with information on how to work with Nature. This means ensuring a mandatory hands-off, do not interfere approach and respect for the body’s timing.

“Choosing to forego preventative oxytocics, to clamp late (if at all), and to deliver the placenta by our own effort all require forethought, commitment, and that we choose birth attendants that are comfortable and experienced with these choices.

A natural third stage is more than this, however – we must ensure respect for the emotional and hormonal processes of both mother and baby, remembering how unique this time is. Michel Odent stresses the importance of not interrupting, even with words, and believes that ideally the new mother feels unobserved and uninhibited in the first encounter with her baby. This level of non-interference is uncommon, even in home and birth centre settings.”

– Dr Sarah J Buckley, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering

Please click here for excellent research and scientifically backed information about the benefits of a natural third stage.


Did you know that placenta is rich in the hormone heparin as well as Vitamin K that helps stop bleeding? Thousands of years of evolution didn’t get it wrong! Traditional midwives know to encourage women to bite on a small piece of placenta cord or membrane after birth to aid and prevent post partum haemorrhage. Find out more about the benefits of placenta (without the squeamishness) with Placenta Encapsulation.

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Doulas: the Rolls Royce of antenatal care

Imagine what it would feel like to give birth feeling supported, informed and involved in all your choices?

What difference do you think it would make if your birth support team helped you believe in yourself?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Birth is a normal, everyday physiological event that your body is designed to do naturally.  In fact, according to nature’s design, birth is meant to be a joyous and ecstatic life experience.

Sure, birth can be hard work and for a small minority of women pregnancy and birth can present problems. But, the fact is for the vast majority of women pregnancy and birth are healthy transitions in life and yet this healthy state of womanhood is increasingly medically managed as an illness. Think about it: it is so normal to view pregnancy as a medical event that for most women the first thing they do when pregnant is book a doctor’s appointment and an ultrasound.

And fair enough, pregnancy is exciting and extra special care should be part of that. However, our culture tends to provide that special care in the form of ongoing medical tests and procedures that do little to prepare a woman for birthing or motherhood, and does a lot to instil fear that pregnancy and birth are risky business.

Wouldn’t it be better to choose a model of antenatal care that helped you trust your body and feel confident in yourself? 

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Let me introduce you to the role of a doula…

Doula is the name given to a birth support person who provides one-on-one continuous support of a non-medical nature and is instead trained in natural and traditional methods of being with women during labour.

Evidence shows women birth best when supported by people they know and trust, who are able to stay with them continuously throughout their labour and who understand techniques to be with women that promote normal, natural physiological childbirth.

The support a doula offers is recognized as having the following benefits:

  • Reduced incidence of Caesarean sections.
  • Reduction in requests for epidural and analgesics.
  • Increase in initiating and continuing breastfeeding.
  • Increased report of mother satisfaction with her birth experience.
  • Reduce the incidence of postnatal mood disorders.
  • Increased new parent confidence in their care for their newborn.

A doula will develop a relationship with you and provide the emotional support to listen to your fears and concerns. A doula will guide you through your birth preferences and assist you to make informed choices. A doula will support your partner and help your partner support you. A doula will encourage you to believe in yourself and find the resources within that you need to birth your baby. A doula will provide practical birth support skills to help you cope with the demands of labor. A doula will provide ongoing practical, emotional and social support long after your baby is born.

Why you shouldn’t give birth without a doula…

Given that pregnancy and birth are a healthy state of womanhood, doesn’t it make sense to choose birth support that promotes normal, natural physiological labor?

One of the side effects of modern obstetric methods has been to concentrate power in the hands of the hospital system. Sometimes women don’t often realise until they have had first hand experience that the medical model of care can lead to a birth often involving routine, unnecessary interventions.

The one thing in common with women who have had a negative birth experience is a sense of losing control of the situation, not knowing what is happening to them and why.

Unfortunately hospital midwives can be limited in the care they can provide and are often in the difficult position of having to comply with hospital protocols. They may not be able to stay with you continuously for the duration of your labor. You may not be able to see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, some may not be trained in natural methods of birth support and their time may be spent managing technology rather than providing comfort and support. Additionally choosing an obstetric model of care can mean a medically managed birth by default because your obstetrician is trained in intervention and surgical delivery methods and may not have experienced normal, uninterrupted physiological labor. And although your partner may be with you throughout the duration of your labor it’s a huge ask to expect them to step into the role of birth support without any prior understanding of what is involved.

Having someone by your side providing emotional and physical support at this time who you trust and who will stay with you throughout makes a profound difference.

There is nothing new about a doula. It’s the way women have been supporting women to birth since time began. It is also the way women will continue to support women, despite having deviated to a medical model in very recent times, because for women a safe birth must provide for their emotional and psychological wellbeing as well as their physical needs.

Imagine having an antenatal (and postnatal) carer that helped you feel special by treating you like a pregnant and birthing goddess… 

Want to know more?

Contact me for more info about doulas and trainee doulas servicing the local region.


Peta-ElmerAbout the author…
Peta Elmer is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and Doula with a passion for promoting trust and respect for the wisdom of women’s bodies. She helps women learn to work with their body’s natural rhythms for maximum health, vitality, fertility, creativity and feminine power. She has a deep calling to birth work and her special mission is the message birth is meant to be a pleasurable and ecstatic experience. She believes a holistic Mind Body Spirit approach is key to preparing for the unfamiliar opening sensations of birth.