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It’s ok to say no

Most women think that they have to do what their doctor or midwife is suggesting, even when it doesn’t feel right to them. But the truth is, when it comes to your body it’s your right – and your responsibility – to be sovereign. That means expecting to have your boundaries respected, and if something doesn’t sit right with you, feeling confident speaking your truth.

 

Hands up if you’ve ever had a massage and the pressure was too firm or painful or otherwise uncomfortable and yet you didn’t say anything?

 

I know I have.

 

Or, have you ever been in a situation where a professional – maybe a beautician or a hairdresser – was wanting you to try something new and you didn’t know how to say no?

 

Yep, I ended up with tattooed eyelids thanks to that one.

 

Or how about you’re with your lover – someone you know and trust – yet this time you’re not really into it or it’s hurting a little but rather then say so you keep going?

 

Oh yes, I’ve been there too.

 

The reason I’m asking you this is because I know I’m not alone when it comes to not always speaking my truth or asserting my body needs. The truth is most girls and women have never been taught body love and body autonomy, and most girls and women would prefer to say nothing and suffer in silence then risk conflict or rocking the boat.

 

Here’s the thing, I want you to know that it’s ok for you to say NO and I want to put this into context of modern gynecological and obstetric care.

 

A particular example that has prompted me to write has been observing how different clients process their experience with vaginal ultrasounds.

 

In each case there’s been a sense of unacknowledged violation in that none of the women were expecting to experience a vaginal ultrasound, and so were caught unprepared and off guard. In the moment of being asked, ‘is it ok if I do a vaginal ultrasound?’ both the fact that they weren’t expecting it and the fact that this procedure is being suggested by a medical professional – someone perceived to be in a position of power – meant none of the women were in a position to fully consent.

 

Sure, they may have said ‘yes’ but from witnessing the aftermath of this experience my sense is these women needed more time to process the request AND to understand it’s ok for them to say ‘no’ in order for their ‘yes’ to truly be consensual.

 

I say this because I’ve recognized varying symptoms of trauma in these clients as each woman subconsciously tries to process the confusion of an experience that appears to be a violation of her inherent body intelligence against a backdrop of a culture that has taught her this is normal.

 

When I describe the response as trauma, from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective energetically it’s as if the body has experienced shock, yet the shock can’t be processed consciously because such invasive procedures to the seat of female sexuality go unquestioned in modern healthcare.

 

After all, in any other circumstance it would be reasonable to conclude that a woman has the right to feel violated if someone with whom she is not physically and emotionally intimate inserted something foreign into her vagina, yet when it comes to modern obstetrics and gynecology this is deemed par for the course.

 

Yet whilst socialization may have conditioned us women to unquestioningly say ‘yes’ to invasive procedures – be it vaginal ultrasounds, pap smears or vaginal exams – our wild and instinctive body intelligence says ‘no’. And I believe this body ‘no’ is amplified in the deep feminine intelligence of a pregnant woman – with whom vaginal ultrasounds are increasingly common.

 

The effect of shock on the body is disconnection – when the body says ‘no’ the survival response is to disengage and disconnect.

 

In the case of unsanctioned vaginal ultrasound or exams, the energetic response is to withdraw energy from this part of the body, to disengage from the physical, sensory experience and to divert energy out of the body into the head. This is the same pattern common to ‘survive’ sexual abuse – to escape what is going on ‘down there’ through disconnection.

 

As a TCM practitioner, I notice that women feel unstable and ungrounded after the experience of an unexpected vaginal ultrasound: overly talkative or chaotic, emotional and unstable, like there is a bubbling of energy that is palpable, something uncontainable wanting to spill over and threaten the status quo. The violation to the deep feminine runs so far back we’ve forgotten the truth of our inherent genius, and She’s outraged.

 

Now, I’m not saying that vaginal ultrasounds or exams are right or wrong.

 

I’m saying your body, your choice.

 

But I also put it to you that a woman’s body has been a commodity for so many eons that for most women their relationship with their own body is not one of love and respect but personal abuse, and that certain conditions need to be met before choice can become conscious and empowered.

 

The generational compliance of women saying ‘yes’ even though they don’t like it or it doesn’t feel right to them, and to not want to create waves is something that needs to be talked about and acknowledged by healthcare professionals who are in a position of trust when it comes to women’s bodies.

 

“The horrendous trauma that the Feminine has endured has somehow become so normal in our culture that in many cases it goes unnoticed, unseen!”

– Elayne Kalila Sophia, Priestess Presence

 

I’m suggesting that within the framework of our current mainstream model of obstetric and gynecological care female sexuality is vulnerable, and that the progressive future for woman-centered healthcare is with enhanced sensitivity and respect to women’s bodies, her boundaries and inherent genius – number one of which is teaching women it’s ok to say ‘no’.

 

It’s the sensitivity that’s called for. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for technology or medical instruments. I’m saying that it’s essential for the care provider to exercise absolute sensitivity to a woman and her body when approaching female sexuality, and to go out of the way to create conditions that give women the ability to consciously say yes or no.

 

Otherwise how can we expect to change the culture of sexual abuses against women when our very health institutions fail to offer autonomy and reverence for the unique needs of female sexuality: gentleness, patience, space, respect, boundaries?

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there’s a treatment that involves acupuncture to the Hui Yin point located on the perineum, between the vagina and the anus. In order to perform this treatment, there’s a protocol that’s followed that demonstrates respect for female sexuality and an understanding of the unique needs of women:

 

First the practitioner must describe the treatment to their client in detail, going through the full process and making sure the woman is completely clear and understands exactly what’s involved and answering any questions in order to get the clients consent.

 

Then, if the client does consent, they do not receive the treatment there and then.

 

They’re asked to come back the next week.

 

This is key because it acknowledges that women often feel intimidated in such situations and may be coerced into treatment that doesn’t feel right to them because women are taught to please others and not speak up for themselves. This ‘cooling off period’ allows the woman to leave the room, to go home and tune in to her inner voice, giving the client full permission to change her mind and be the authority when it comes to her body.

 

This is informed and conscious consent.

 

Can you imagine a world where hospitals and birth centres pioneered the way for women to live in right relationship with their body?

 

This is a sensitive topic and I speak from the heart when I say if you’ve been triggered in any way by this conversation, please consider making an appointment to transmute any unresolved trauma within the body or mind related to this.

 

Curious to know more about Sexual Sovereignty? I highly recommend the Jade Egg Mastery Course

 


 

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Please, rethink the ‘dating’ scan…

Ultrasound in pregnancy has become such a routine procedure that you may not even have thought to question this medical intervention. After all, it’s an exciting part of early pregnancy, almost a right of passage and the first way that many couples now announce their pregnancy – with that little black and white photo on Facebook.

I’m not going to talk about the potential physical side effects of ultrasound. That’s up to you to do your research but if you’re interested in knowing more, a good starting point is Dr Sarah Buckley.

What I’m going to talk about is why I would love you to rethink that early ultrasound. You might not have thought about this before…

Many of my clients are super keen for that early ultrasound because they need confirmation that everything is ok. At 8-12 weeks it can be too early for most women to show any physical signs of pregnancy. Sure, you might feel nauseous and like you have a permanent hangover, but except for that and tender breasts or having to pee more often, its not like you can tell you’re pregnant. There isn’t any discernible bump to prove that there’s a baby on board.

The first trimester can be a psychologically challenging time. There’s an unspoken rule that most women seem to wait until 12 weeks before announcing the pregnancy, a pact that reflects the fear of miscarriage in the first trimester. For many women, especially those who might have previously experienced miscarriage, an early ultrasound provides reassurance – they can see the tiny sign of a heart beating.

Unfortunately, a heart beating at 8 weeks doesn’t guarantee that the pregnancy will be ok.

There really is no reason to have an ultrasound at this early stage because it can’t make a difference to whether the pregnancy will continue or not. If the ultrasound detects no heart beat, your body will miscarry naturally in a couple of weeks. If the ultrasound detects a heart beat, you might still miscarry. Unfortunately it happens.

On the other hand, ultrasound is an intervention and not without risk. Despite the increasingly common and routine use of ultrasound in early pregnancy, the truth is we don’t know the effect of ultrasound on foetal development but we do know that guidelines advise against the use of ultrasound before 12 weeks unless absolutely necessary.

The reason I would love you to rethink early ultrasound has nothing to do with any of this. And nor does it have to do with the implications a dating scan will have on establishing an EDD and the associated pressure to be induced for every day that goes beyond that EDD.

What I would like you to consider is how a seemingly harmless early ultrasound has the potential to set in motion a chain of events that can effect your entire pregnancy, your birth and even mothering.

Every time you choose an external source to reassure you that everything is ok, you strengthen the neural pathways that teach you that the way to know what is best for you and your baby is to be found from an external authority. 

At the same time, when you choose to depend upon an external authority for reassurance you weaken the neural pathways that connect you to the inner knowing that all women possess – your intuitive body wisdom. 

It’s simply a matter of brain development.

As a modern woman, you’ve probably been taught that when you first think you’re pregnant, you do a pregnancy test. Now, generally at this stage you know you’re pregnant. The pregnancy test confirms what you already know. You don’t really need to pee on a strip, and you certainly don’t really need to have a blood test. You know.

This inner knowing that comes from inside and can’t always be explained is called your intuitive body wisdom.

Some women know the moment they conceive. I did.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of technological advancement as it applies to pregnancy and birth is that it teaches us to over ride this intuitive body wisdom in preference of physical measurements and tests.

So even though you know you’re pregnant, you don’t trust it unless a physical test or measurement confirms it.

Another way of looking at this is over riding the feminine, right brain abilities of intuitive knowing in favour of the masculine, left brain pursuit of analytical understanding.

Like all skills and abilities the more you use it, the more it develops. Use it or loose it.

Now, on its own an ultrasound in early pregnancy might seem a fairly harmless thing.

But, as the beginning of a journey that informs how you choose to approach your pregnancy either from a place of inner awareness and connection or from a point of seeking external authority, that has huge implications.

The more you learn to develop your intuitive body wisdom, the greater you develop connection to the parts of your brain that know how to birth and know what your baby needs, its instinctual.

These skills don’t happen overnight. In order to make it in the career world, modern women have learnt to become highly left brain, masculine dominant. These are the analytical, rational, logical neural pathways that you’ve practiced again and again since primary school when the focus was on maths and english rather then art.

Learning to develop your inner world, the right brain world of feminine intuition is not something our culture actively encourages. That’s because the feminine is the great mystery. She is the unknowable – the expansive reaches of infinite possibility – the creative conscious. It is this unknowable quality that fills the masculine, critical consciousness with dread. Rather then being able to surrender to the Unknowable, the critical consciousness in us all wants to be able to control, wants to keep us ‘safe’ by trying to manage the unknowable: to compartmentalise, analysis and rationalise. It is based in fear.

It is scary to be in the face of the Unknowable. Every woman who has stood at the threshold of birth and embodied the word surrender is a testimony to the word courage.

Natural childbirth is the ultimate surrender to the feminine pathways of instinct and intuition. Preparing for natural childbirth is learning to get comfortable with the unknown. It’s learning to relinquish the parts of your brain that seek to control and to expand your capacity to trust your inner guidance and act on it.

This is a choice that you must practice every day.

And these are choices that begin long before your day of birth. It’s the small but consistent actions that you take that shape your destiny.

Saying yes to a dating ultrasound scan might seem like no big deal, but before you make this choice I would invite you to rethink:

Do I really need this intervention?

What benefit does it offer to me and my baby?

What are the potential risks?

Why am I making this decision?

Is my decision based on fear or trust? 

What does my intuition say?


THE BAO MAI MERIDIAN

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a special meridian, known as Bao Mai, that connects the Heart to the Womb. It is this Bao Mai connection that allows the inner communication between mother and child.

To strengthen your Bao Mai connection, place one hand over your heart space in the centre of your chest and the other hand over your lower abdomen, just below your belly button. You’ll find even just holding your hands in this position is centering and creates a sense of connection.

Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Breathing deeply, notice how your hands rise in unison with each inhalation as your belly and chest expand, and then how both hands move in unison with each exhalation falling back toward your spine.

Using your imagination or your visualisation, notice if you can sense a connection between your Heart and Womb. 

Repeat this exercise daily and learn to listen to the voice within.