The rhythm of life…

Your breath is your constant companion, you can take it anywhere with you and you can control it even when everything else has to land in the hands of others around you…In short, your breath is your best friend and … Continue reading

Back to normal…

I am delighted that my postnatal yoga classes have been featured in the “Heart of the Community” pages of The News, our local paper…

Not quite so delighted about the innocent enough misquotes…paraphrasing is a dangerous game…

“I don’t think you can ever fully get back to yourself after birth but everyone can definitely feel good in their own skin…”  Not quite what I said…the essence of what I said is lost in the omission of just one word *old*…

In recent years, women have been bombarded with celebrity pregnancy and post natal stories, complete with glamorous images and tales of *getting back to normal* or *getting back to being myself* or *feeling like my old self again*…

Why would any woman want to go through the phenomenal transformation of pregnancy, labour, birth and becoming a mother only to become her *old* self again a few weeks or months down the line?

I wouldn’t trade one second of my *old* self for a million pounds…she was neurotic, fearful…she thought she had all the time in the world and she was drifting…

Getting pregnant and giving birth, becoming a mother taught me so much…I learned to put someone else before myself at every waking thought…I manage on hours less sleep a night than I (or my husband) ever imagined I could tolerate…I have purpose every moment…I feel more feminine, more shapely and more beautiful than I ever did before my children…

The thought of giving birth terrified my *old* self, and she thought she would want all the drugs the hospital could offer…my pregnant self heard “homebirth” and thought, “YES!!! I can do that!” …and my pregnant self was brave and courageous and I discovered that warrior-woman that we hear whispers of…I became a warrior myself…

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Sometimes, my warrior self gets wounded…at times I am tired, sometimes I ache and there were days after the birth of my second son in particular when I wondered how I would survive the lack of sleep and the pain in my hips and the soul-sucking darkness that was my post-natal depression…

But I had a reason to survive, a reason to heal my wounds…my two beautiful boys blessed me when they came to me…of all the millions of women in the world, I get to be their mother…the darkest shadows are created by the brightest sunlight…through the darkness of depression, what kept me going was a haphazard yoga practice underpinned by a mindfulness practice of reminding myself moment to moment how lucky I was to have these two souls in my life…I kept a gratitude journal; writing down a few things each day that had made me smile or lifted my heart, and without fail that list was about my sons, it was about being a mother…I still keep that journal on dark days…

My *old* self would have completely succumbed to self-pity and let everything slide, hiding away to lick at her wounds and refusing to let them close…as a mother, I just about keep it together…because my sons have given me myriad reasons to be whole again, to find a way through the labyrinth and I thank God every day for the gift of my children…and they taught me the real value of Yoga…

Yoga was a hobby before I had my children, now it is the lynch pin of my sanity and the core of my mothering, as well as being my living…I adore yoga, it keeps me loving my body and living my life…

As I breathe in pranayama, I marvel at how my body breathes all day, every day, with no conscious control or effort…and I notice when I spend a moment connected with my breath how much calmer, taller, lighter I feel and that fascinates me still…

My body will never look like it did before pregnancy, no matter how much I get on my Yoga mat, no matter how much I diet or lift weights or swim or run or cycle…that’s ok with me…I love my body…I have a new *normal*…

I am stronger of mind & body than ever before my children came Earthside…I have a strength hewn from lifting my babies, from carrying them in slings and pushing them in prams and swings, it comes from climbing imaginary mountains and swimming imagined oceans…from jogging to keep up with scooter-mad kids and climbing ladders and slides and scrambling over the beach and through the woods…it comes from doing “aeroplane Yoga” and “cuddle cat” and from wrapping my arms around my babies, my boys and from loving them so much it hurts my heart and I have to take a deeper breath to survive the next explosion of love and joy that threatens to rip me apart as I watch them grow and learn and smile and love…

My mind will never work the way it did before my children came to me…but it is my new *normal* and it is improved, although I may be a little scattier, and some of the useful things I used to know have been lost to amateur paleontology for my six year old and Peppa Pig characters for my three year old…but as I calm my sons with quiet breathing & Sanskrit chanting, or as I do yoga on the beach with Joe,  I know that my mind works just fine because it puts my children first and foremost and finds the things they need buried deep or has the good sense to go seeking new knowledge from trusted mother-friends…

I love my body not because I sprang back to *myself* after the birth of my children, but because yoga reminds me to appreciate the miracle of the human body…it is so strong, and when I move into a pose, I remain amazed by how this body of mine also grew and stretched and transformed to be home to my babies and then to bring them into this world…My stretched marked belly will never be taut again, and my stretch marked breasts will never be polite & pert as they once were…But I am proud of those changes, they mark me as a mother…

I treasure my *battle scars* to stick with warrior analogies…why do women want to come out of the process of becoming a mother unchanged, what then is the point of having children?  I don’t need to thread feathers or bells into my hair to mark the victories of my motherhood…my body has marked itself in honour of its lifebringing and its lifegiving…I celebrate my scarred skin…I wish that all women would do the same…show me your body marked by love, your belly sagging and your breasts drooping…show me your stooped shoulders from loving so completely, so heavily…and together let’s lift our shoulders back to open our hearts ever wider and show the world what we have done, proud and fierce and beautiful…

I am more *myself* today than I have ever been, and I owe that to being a mother…and so, in essence, I supposed that quote was spot on, I don’t think you can ever fully “get back” to yourself…mostly because I hope, like me, you dragged your self along for every delicious, dirty, inspiring, exhausting, joyful, messed-up, mind-blowing, magical moment of the journey to where you are now…

Enjoy it, this moment, it will be gone soon, and you can never get back to that old self, back to normal…but why would you want to?  *Normal* is overrated…

OMx

motherhood, belly button, stretchmarks,

My Belly Button
Tree of Life

A good man…

Be a good man…it can really make so much difference to your woman in labour…

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Be positive – if your woman feels loved & adored, she will be more relaxed, it is better for your baby, and she will have that glowing beauty we admire in happy pregnant mothers….

Be attentive – whilst her bump grows practise saying “yes, my love, whatever you need, because as the mother of our child I will do anything to support you & demonstrate my love”…or you can just go with the asks & demands with a smile on your face & love in your heart ;D…when labour starts, you being ready to respond will help her navigate the labyrinth nature of childbirth…

Be ready & let her know that you are – make sure she knows she can contact you at any time, so if you travel for work, numbers of places you have to visit as well as your mobile, and if she packs a bag, pack your own – snacks, bottled water, change for snack machines & parking, phone charger, camera, change of clothes so that you can stay nearby without having to dash off for supplies.  If you’re planning to be home, know where the birth pool & its bits are, get the bed ready with a waterproof cover on the mattress & know where to find clean towels, sheets, extra blankets, pillows, stock the cupboards, make a sign for the door that reads “new parents falling in love with their baby, do not disturb”, let her know that you are protecting her space & anyone that comes in will be privileged & honoured to do so…

Offer her your love – your positive touch, your confident embrace, your deeply felt kiss, all flood her body with oxytocin, giving her a boost, helping her maintain labour & be ready to bond with your baby – and if you let yourself feel it too, you get that same big O boost & you’ll be ready to bond with your newborn…get ready to take that shirt off & get skin to skin, with your woman & your baby…

Learn some comfort measures, get to know about good movements & positions for labour, find out how to give her an anchor for her breath when the ocean of labour feels wide & scary for her, learn candle breath in case she needs to pause as your baby crowns, learn how to help her open her pelvis & find rest between rushes, practise foot rubs & back rubs now so that if your woman needs them in labour you feel confident & calm giving her what she wants…

Be a good man…your good woman needs you more than you imagine..

OMx

Amnesty for Agnes…Freedom for Birth

TODAY I AM AGNES GEREB

TODAY I AM AGNES GEREB

 

Want to know more? Free Agnes

 

I light a candle

I say a prayer

I take a deep breath

I dare to hope

There will be freedom for this woman

There will be freedom for all women

There will be freedom for birth

OMx

Bless your blooming body…

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As your body blossoms and you bloom into labour, remember that the astonishing arrangement of oxytocin-adrenaline-endorpin release is like a delicate flower, for full effect let it open in its own time. Your own endorphins are 20 times more powerful than morphine. Give them a little time, release your fear and feel them flow as your blooming beauty brings forth your baby

Overheard…

“…yeah, just ask for an epidural and all the drugs…………………I’m sure then it’ll be fine….”

I was standing in the queue at the parcel collection office, two women in their early 20s were chatting, and I overheard this snippet.  It made me think.  I know many women are fearful of labour and childbirth.  What I question is why so many are fearful of a natural process, a beautiful journey that sees the interplay between mother and baby unfold so powerfully that it results in the birth of a new soul and the emergence of a mother.  And yet, they are not fearful of accepting synthetic painkillers and accept epidurals without asking the risks involved.  Many women ask for epidural in the belief it will make childbirth easier.  What they are not told is that it can inhibit their production of oxytocin, which can both reduce the effectiveness of uterine contractions, therefore making labour longer (and therefore inevitably harder) and also reducing it to such a level that the intended, natural peak of its release at birth is not sufficient to trigger that moment of all-consuming love…

This is what women should be afraid of, that their reliance on medical pain relief will affect their ability to labour and to birth their babies, and subsequently may inhibit their motherly instincts for a time.  It is essential that women also come to understand that several types of analgesics (pain medications) are associated with more crying, less breast-seeking behaviours and less sucking (ie inhibition of breastfeeding) and that babies may be less alerd, less able to orient themselves and have less organised movements than babies whose mothers did not receive medication in labour, and that these differences were measurable for the whole first month after birth (The Breastfeeding Answer Book, La Leche League International, Third Revised Edition 2003, Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC & Julie Stock, MA, IBCLC).

Women are afraid of the great unknown of labour & birth that has been the norm of human existence for thousands of years, and yet perfectly prepared to accept medical intervention that has existed for mere decades.

It is time that we encouraged all mothers to know what medical interventions mean – not simply how they may *benefit* the mother, but how they may affect her in other ways, how they may impede her natural ability to birth her baby, how they may mean her baby is born sleepy and less able to breastfeed effectively, how they may impact her health in the long term.

Until we ensure that women are presented with the risks as well as the *benefits* of intervention, there is no such thing as freedom in birth, no such thing as informed choice for pregnant, labouring, birthing women.

Don’t be afraid of what we know – that women have survived & even relished labour and childbirth for millennia.  Be afraid of what you don’t know when offered drugs that will make it *easier*.

Want to find out more – these are some good places to start…

www.aims.org.uk

www.thebirthiwant.org.uk

Want to see a good birth, a beautiful birth, what it really looks like? Check out this amazing film (only about 5 mins) and then have a good look around the rest of the site too ❤

www.documentingdelight.com

from http://www.documentingdelight.com – Madelaine’s Birth