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

5 Reasons Why Post Natal Yoga is Good for You

There is a disturbing trend to bootcamp new mothers into shape…it has little to do with real health, true strength and long-term well-being but the promise of a flat tummy and “bikini beautiful” body within weeks of birth is everywhere…Firstly, I encourage you to ask if your post natal class instructor has any specialised training in pregnancy and the post partum period – if they answer no, walk away…And secondly, did they train in Yoga, Pilates, Fitness etc before or just get a quick qualification in post natal provision, I encourage you to seek someone who has experience in their field beyond a dedicated training course – otherwise, how can they tailor what they offer for you and your body? Whilst certain practices will be of benefit to most new mothers, some are better left alone for a while if you’ve experienced SPD, PGP or diastasis recti for example… Know who it is that you are entrusting with your health and well-being…

Then, please consider just being kind and gentle with yourself for a while, for at least 2 weeks and preferably 4, consider taking a babymoon and limit visitors, encourage visitors to help you with practical tasks and keep outings and activities to a minumum so that you can rest when your baby naps and establish breastfeeding and begin to find a new rhythm to life with your baby… Then when you really feel that you need to get out and about, choose groups and classes where you come away relaxed, nourished, nurtured…

So why yoga…?

1. Yoga is non-competitive

2. Yoga shrinks and repositions your womb

3. Yoga develops patience

4. Yoga promotes rest and relaxation

5. Yoga cultivates contentment

1. In early motherhood, we begin to notice the temptation to compare ourselves to others…It is easy to feel that we are not good enough, not losing weight fast enough, not managing that glamorous “yummy mummy” lifestyle… At post natal yoga classes, the emphasis will always be on you…your body, your breath, your baby…You will be encouraged to see that you are MORE than good enough, that you are a phenomenal mama and that you deserve to be nurtured just as much as you nurture your little one…If you need to rest more than you need to stretch your hamstrings, that is what yoga can offer you…If you want to take three breaths in a cat pose instead of six, go ahead…there is no beat to match and no yelling instructor to push you beyond where you are ready to be, no franchised 6 week “one size fits all” route to getting “your old body back”…your yoga teacher will help you find a gentle way to realign and close your pelvis and abdomen, to ease the aches and tensions that so often accompany early motherhood in a world that refuses to slow down with us for a while…you’ll be guided to rebuild tone & strength from the inside out so that you don’t pee your pants if you decide to head back to class with your bootcamp buddies….Want to work harder? Ready for a little more?…your yoga teacher will show you how to gain more strength and how to safely expand your flexibility…no pressure, just honest, sensitive support to help you find the practice to nurture your still changing body…

2. You will be encouraged to put your own needs and the needs of your baby above everything else, meaning that you can relax if your baby needs to be cuddled or changed, or fed or held…No pressure to put baby down, no need to wonder if you’ll hear baby cry over the pumping tunes and the stamping feet…Rest and restore with your baby, and begin to see that you can create quiet, serene moments with your baby, you don’t need to escape to find a sense of peace and tranquillity…When you relax, you are better able to produce oxytocin, which stimulates contractions in your uterus, encouraging it to shrink back down to size so that your womb and the other internal organs can begin to settle back into the space they once occupied… is also vital to the production and let down of breastmilk (*the added bonus here is that oxytocin also gives you that warm fuzzy feeling, to deepen your incredible bond with your baby even more, no matter how you are feeding your little one…) Even as you relax, we can use gentle but powerful engagement of the breath with the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to heal and strengthen your body…

3. Meditation requires that we are able to sit still comfortably for extended periods of time…yoga poses were originally designed to create a strong, supple body that would not suffer discomfort and unnecessary tension whilst remaining still for meditation…Yoga poses will help to relieve common aches and tensions in the body so that you can sit comfortably to nurse your baby or to hold them as they seek comfort to settle into sleep…Post Natal Yoga will work your upper body to encourage healthy posture and release tension from the upper back, neck and shoulders…As you practice Yoga, you are encouraged to withdraw your senses from the external world and focus in on the internal experience, in Post Natal classes, you will be encouraged to draw your baby into that relaxed awareness, to quiet the busy chattering mind of everyday living and to develop patience to live life at your child’s pace…Sometimes we will need to focus on the babies in the room and mothers’ needs will be temporarily put aside, we develop patience and we cultivate a sense of surrender…not of sacrifice, we are not consigning our needs to the rubbish heap, but acknowledging that we are not the centre of our universe for now and feeling content to be patient and return to our own needs a little later…

4. Most new mothers will tell you that they are tired, many will describe themselves as exhausted…in fact, even before pregnancy and motherhood, a majority of us are chronically sleep deprived…Rest is vital to health, it is not a luxury, it is not laziness to want to take life easy for a while…Your body has been through 9 months of change and the physical shifts and hormonal disruption continue beyond childbirth…Your body is likely to be bleeding (lochia) and blood loss requires support and nourishing of the physical body, rest is as vital to this nurturing as is eating well…Your hormones will continue to fluctuate as you move into the fourth trimester and beyond in the first year of your child’s life… the feel-good, well-being hormones/neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin are released when we meditate, work with balancing breath practices and rest in deep relaxation… Lack of sleep can disrupt these essential ingredients for good mental & emotional health, Yoga can promote their production to help prevent and reduce the baby blues and post-natal depression…

birth of mother pain

5. Your body loves gentleness, your heart and mind love gentleness…Yoga encourages you to accept where you are now, in this moment… Yoga will enable you to appreciate your innate beauty and strength, to love the body you have today and marvel at how it supports you and grew your baby, how it continues to change and to nurture you and nourish your baby… Yoga does not promise you abs and lean thighs, but it offers you the opportunity to experience health and love your body no matter its size or shape… Yoga’s offer of gentle, individual practice suited to your body, and its ability to connect you to the calm within you mean that it is ideally suited to motherhood… You don’t need an hour to follow the workout, you don’t have to feel the burn or melt into a puddle to feel its benefits – it can give you those too, but really this is not the time – you can take one quiet moment in breath awareness, sing quietly to your baby, stretch in Cat or balance in Tree and all this will be Yoga… And you will also be encouraged to be gentle in the way you speak to yourself, consider the gentle, encouraging, loving voice you use with your baby and use it to speak to yourself, turn down the volume on that old critical, harsh voice and embrace non-violent communication with yourself as well as with your baby…

You have emerged beautiful and bold from the most ordinary of miracles, give yourself some credit, show yourself some love…Come and take an Early Post Natal Recovery class, and stop trying so hard, it’s time to try easy…

Let Yoga open your heart, calm your mind and love your body…

OMx

Yoga, Mama…

I’m often asked why yoga is good for women during pregnancy…it is a hard question to answer, because yoga in pregnancy has so many benefits & can enhance a woman’s experience in myriad ways…#

pregnancy-8-web

So I was thinking about some stereotypes (you might feel you fit one or you might feel they all apply…this is just an excuse to tell you why yoga is good for YOU ;D…)

Mama #1 – In Control…keep busy & carry on…you are always busy, life is scheduled in your diary & you’ve synced Google with Outlook & Out of Milk…nothing happens without a plan…you research every option…you know your rights…you don’t want to feel out of control in labour…you won’t make a fuss or moan or scream…you want to stay *in control*…Labour can be a shock to you, unexpected events, sensations & emotions can throw you off your meticulous birth plan…Birth & babies don’t do schedules…yoga will help you surrender and feel your way through, getting you in touch with your instincts & your ancient brain…yoga will help you simply be…and allow you to experience your pregnancy, labour, birth & beyond instead of striving to *do* everything…

Mama #2 – Go with the flow…take the path of least resistance…you may not need to learn the art of surrender but instead yoga can give you a sense of purpose & ownership of your body & your pregnancy…Don’t feel you must go with the flow just because…this is your baby, your body, your experience…Instead of going along with what you are *allowed* to do realise that those around you are honoured to be with you…let them support you but ask for what you need, for what you want…go with the flow from a place of peace rather than be left feeling like a pushover…Yoga will allow you to remain mindful and retain your easy nature so that if things do not always go to plan, then you can feel calm and accepting knowing that you have made decisions, been involved, that you have been respected & treated with dignity and that you have consented in awareness rather than from habit…

Mama #3 – Scared and afraid…can’t do this, can’t stand pain…Yoga can help you connect with your body, your breath and your baby in a way that little else will…Feel the beauty & miracle of your changing body, appreciate your innate strength, grace & power…as Ina May would say, you will realise that your body is not a lemon…You will begin to feel comfortable in your skin, confident that your body was born for this journey…you will begin to feel calm as you learn how mindful breath and simple pain coping practices will allow you to experience the powerful combination of oxytocin and your other mothering hormones to guide & soothe your labour & birth experience…You will understand how birthing actively will mean that you can exploit the incredible design of the female pelvis to make more space for your baby to move through your bones…You will know that this is a great pure effort that you can make…

Yoga in pregnancy is about strength, stability and sanctuary….calm, connection, community…it is about trial, truth and trust…

In pregnancy, Yoga is about it is about your breath, your body, your birth, your baby…

And if you still don’t know whether it’s for you…come try it out, let the Yoga speak for itself, it’s much better than my blogging…

Bright blessings

OMx

Rest & Relaxation … Anu Loma Viloma Kriya

Begin by lying in Savasana (supine relaxation pose) if you are in your first trimester & still comfortable like this or Matsya Kridasana (lying on your left side, with left arm supporting your head, left leg stretched out to relax and right knee bent and supporting you on floor) if you are not comfortable on your back or especially during your third trimester ~ you can support either position with pillows, blankets & cushions to feel more comfortable. 

Keeping your face relaxed and soft, close your eyes.  Watch your breath for a few moments: note the rhythm and nature of your natural breathing without trying to change it in any way.  If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath.  Stay mindful of your breathing and without any stress or strain, begin to gently deepen and slow your breathing until the inhalation and exhalation are as deep and slow as they can comfortably be.  You are aiming for a wavelike, rhythmic feeling to your breathing.  As you inhale be aware of drawing in prana, life energy, to nourish and nurture yourself & your baby, bringing with it new strength, stamina, fresh energy and healing.  With your exhalation, feel a release, allow your body to soften, as you surrender to gravity, sinking into your mat, the earth beneath you embracing and supporting you.  Let the outward breath cleanse you.  Breathe out and let go…

 

Once you feel you have begun to relax, you can start to visualise an oval of light surrounding your body, reaching above the crown of your head and below the soles of your feet.  Imagine the oval is split into two halves down the centre line of your spine.  Light flows upwards through the right side and down through the left side.  As you breathe, flow your breath with the light, so that your inhalation flows up the right side and your exhalation flows down the left side…

 

Now work with 9 complete breaths visualising this oval that extends around your whole body.  Let the oval of light wrap you in protection so that you feel that the negative attitudes and emotions of others cannot penetrate the light around you.  Feel safe and secure,feel this light creating sanctuary…

 

When you are ready, bring the oval of light to touch the crown of your head and soles of your feet.  With the next 9 breaths feel that you are self-contained, self-reliant and able to take care of yourself.  As you breathe feel a deepening sense of well-being…

 Once you feel that you have established your feeling of well-being, bring the oval of light in to touch the centre of your brain and the root of your spine and with the next 9 breaths settle into deep rest and relaxation…

 

Finally bring the oval of light to your baby and as you breathe you can surround your baby with protection, gifting well-being and relaxation to your little one, knowing that as you nourish and nurture yourself, so you nourish and nurture your baby with every breath…

 

You can stay here, simply breathing into deeper relaxation with your baby for as long as you wish, or you may like to bring the oval of light back out to surround your body and work your way back in again…

 

When you are ready to close the practice, gently release the visualisation of the light, remaining mindful of your breathing as you allow it to settle back to its own natural rhythm ~ here you may like to notice whether your natural breathing has changed in any way since the outset of your relaxation.  When you feel ready, if you are on your back, roll onto one side for a moment and bend your knees up towards your chest, then making small movements before you push slowly back up to sitting, rolling to all fours to feel fully supported and using a deep breath in to avoid feeling light headed as you rise…Or simply rest where you are & let yourself relax, even falling asleep if now is a good time…

OMx 

CHILDBIRTH PREPARATION 

for Mothers & their Birth Partners

NEXT WORKSHOP 
SATURDAY 9th NOVEMBER 2013
10-1pm
includes light refreshments
 Image
 

 ♥  A relaxed approach to preparing for labour & childbirth  ♥

Explore positions for active birth, positive interventions & comfort measures, pain coping techniques and find a calm, positive, solution-focused attitude as you move towards the most transformational experience of your life. 

 We will look at the symphony of hormones, the beautiful design of your body for birthing lightly, and the ways in which your birth partner can advocate for you and support you as you bring your baby into the world. 

Birthing From Within methods are also included in all my childbirth preparation classes & workshops.

♥  Please note that this workshop is ideal from around 34 weeks, and not suitable prior to 30 weeks.

​♥  The total cost of the workshop is £30 for you & your birth partner, if you would like to bring an additional birth partner, the extra place will be charged at £10.  Refreshments provided & materials included.

​♥  HOW TO BOOK
Please email Lucy to book your place – max. 6 mothers & their birth partners in each session.

 

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…

lightworker-graphic

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

Travelling the Labyrinth…

What surprised me about Birthing From Within…?

What surprised me most was that it provoked so may questions!  What did I learn?  Am in a labyrinth or leaving one?  Am I being called to enter or called to return?  Do I want another journey?   Will there ever not be a labyrinth to travel?

Turns out that there are myriad labyrinths in my life…I am slowly exiting the one that was the birth of my second son…I believe I have just stopped resisting the call to take the next step and journey into a new labyrinth…

Birthing From Within Labyrinth Art

Birthing From Within Labyrinth Art

I am about to embark on the full BFW Mentor & Doula Program…I do feel called, but I have been questioning myself…am I ready…is now the right time for my family…is this really my path…?

I do feel called…after a week surrounded by the beauty of Galstonbury, bathed in the spirit & character of the town, precious days spent amid a circle of incredible, inspiring, good hearted women, I know that I was not the only one being called, not the only one searching my soul…I know that I am ready to step on to this path, and to release the resistance, begin the letting go of some old ideas, to allow some part-known truths to crystalise…

I am called…Fresh from the 3 day introductory course…trying to make sense of it all, slowly integrating the experience, practising some of the skills I began to learn…

My Birthing From Within journey really began when I was pregnant with my second son, when I was still hurt, disappointed, frustrated by elements of my first son’s birth…and it had been a *good* birth, a *natural* birth, so I questioned my *right* to feel that way, but I acknowledged that I did…

Ina May Gaskin’s book “Spiritual Midwifery” had been my bible in my previous pregnancy, and I read it cover to cover again…her assertion that “This is not pain, this is an interesting sensations that requires all of my attention” had become my personal mantra, and it worked for me in both labours…Thanks to Finn for reminding me that this too is non-focussed awareness…I loved her attitude of putting out positive energy during labour, to love those caring for us & to feel that returned as sustaining love & strength…I loved that Ina May was resolutely positive about birth…And I knew that I had some issues to resolve before this next birth, or they may cause me to lose my way in labour or to slow down & resist as Ina May had raised…

I am not sure where I came across Birthing From Within, only that it was likely through a wise woman friend…And it felt right, so I read it, and I explored aspects of my pregnancy, labour & birth experience through creating art…but I drew the line at practising the pain coping techniques…Those I avoided, I coped in my first labour, I figured that I could cope this time…and it turns out I did, happily, luckily!  And whilst I (thought) I got what Pam England was saying about not writing a birth plan, I couldn’t shake off the need to clarify what it was about my first son’s birth that I did not want to repeat…I felt slightly indignant at the notion I was not preparing *properly* if I wrote a plan…so I wrote one…I’m not sure anyone but my husband & best-friend-come-doula ever read it…

My first son was born in hospital, after transferring in from home to the labour ward, no intervention, a forward-flesh-tear…My second son was born at home, in water, with his brother smiling at me as he watched *our* new baby arrive, no tear…It was the birth I had dreamed of, I was elated, I was passionate, I was determined to help other women to prepare so that more of them could labour & birth their babies *naturally*…

Even before Glastonbury, the BFW introductory recordings had me challenging my mindset, here are the musings that I drafted just before heading off to Glastonbury:

Childbirth Preparation is sometimes an odd phrase, since it implies that preparation is necessary and therefore can influence the outcome…

In reality, whilst we association preparation with control, *control* has little place in childbirth…

I am about to undertake the Birthing From Within training in Glastonbury and I am aware that in her book of the same name Pam England does not advocate making a birth plan.  She feels it can distract a woman from real preparation for birth…I understand this, and yet…it seems to me that for many women it is about exploring their options, becoming informed, communicating their emotions, hopes and expectations with their birth companions and care-givers…for some it may even feel a sacred ritual…

So, if women in my classes ask me about birth plans, I suggest that they keep it brief and that they start it with a request to their caregiver to help them achieve the birth they want…avoiding lists of “dos & don’ts” that may irk a tired midwife or ruffle the feathers of a proud consultant…

I suggest they communicate their preferred place of birth and to make it clear they expect to be supported in their choice; I emphasise the need to plan to birth in the place where they feel most safe, not the place where they think they should, or where a loved one would have them be, or where they have been told they are “allowed” to be because of policy or staffing levels…I aim not to be contentious but to encourage because we women need to speak with loud, clear voices so that our needs are heard and met, not sidelined in the name of saving money or easing logistics, so that we and our babies are as safe as we can be as we birth as we should and not as we are told…

And whatever their intentions,  I remind them is that there is very little that can be controlled in labour & birth, and that their breath is the one thing over which they alone can always have control, so we do a lot of work on connecting to the breath and exploring ways of breathing that may be useful, comforting, and calming in labour & birth…but which ultimately I hope will allow them to be so familiar with their breath that they will instinctively breathe in the way optimum for their stage of labour on the day…

Birthing From Within - Finger Labyrinth Glastonbury

Finger Labyrinth Magdalene Chapel Glastonbury

…Back to the present…I feel a little silly!  I had misunderstood all this time…Pam England was not telling women not to plan for birth, but to plan in a deeper, more meaningful way…a piece of paper is no more than a talisman if there is not some effort & experience behind it to strengthen & sustain the birthing woman…

I use the words “surrender” and “breathe your baby into the world” a lot…although perhaps that is shifting already…Virginia Bobro cautioned against “bumper sticker” birth…In the beginning, I resisted strongly…Harumph, arrogance…she is wrong, surrender is a powerful word…Slow dawning realisation, I am so arrogant…ask myself, have I truly offered women the opportunity to learn what surrender actually is, what it means…

I resisted…asking questions, more, deeper, what is behind the statement, the fear, the need to avoid…I resisted the shift in language I will need to fully integrate…

And I felt horribly fearful that I have been letting women down all this time…Have I unwittingly given promises of something not mine to give…have I implied that their birth choices are not valid…that their births were to be scorned…

I do hope not, and I cannot cling to those fears because they are only manifesting from a place of love in any case…they reflect my desire for every woman to feel elated at the birth of her baby…to be proud of her journey through the labyrinth…to feel she can celebrate her immense strength, her complete selflessness, her own birth as a mother…these fears provoke my own inner enquiry, demanding that I seek answers, that I move forward, that I act each moment from a place of love…

And so, I journey on, letting love guide me and opening my heart in the name of service to all women…

In Prem,

OMx

 

Surrender…

Surrender...Pregnancy Yoga in Southsea

….where the wind blows…

The flower does not know where the seed will take root…The wind carries the seed surrendered to it…

As mothers there is so much that we cannot control…we can make the right choices, take the good birth classes, the informative parentcraft classes, carry our babies, breastfeed our babies, use a pram, mix feed or formula feed, we can take the *easy* route, we can co-sleep or cry it out…what we cannot predict, what we cannot control, is the outcome…

Pregnancy is your first lesson in surrender…you can be an olympic athlete & be floored by hyeremesis, or a binge-drinking chain smoker and not suffer a day of sickness or fatigue…You can walk and swim and yoga for all the right reasons in all the *right* ways, but your baby may resolutely stay spine to spine…You can slouch and slob and eat junk and find yourself in labour for short hours and pushing 1-2-3 “It’s a boy!”…

We cannot decide our lot in pregnancy.  We cannot dictate the nature of our labour or the birth of our baby…

Good birth preparation is about knowing how to manage labour, comfort measures, positive intervention, support, love and communication…and it is about knowing when to surrender…to the waves, to gravity, and also when the need arises to the medical intervention that may save the life of your baby…

Learn what you can, take the classes that mean that you feel calm & positive approaching the birth of your child…but be prepared to surrender to Nature, to accept that the birth you want may not be the birth Fate has designated for you…

Pam England holds fast that Fate decides the birth you will experience…that if her first had not been hard, and ended in caesarean, she would have remained in her own words *arrogant* and would have kept on lying to women & their birth companions about the reality of birth…

And if I had enjoyed the home water birth I planned with my first, perhaps I would remain arrogant…I consider myself lucky, the bumpy ambulance ride in case my son was *stuck* did the trick, and due to lack of labour ward staff, my midwives remained with me and a natural delivery followed, but it was on my back, in hospital, not what I wanted, not what I planned…and it stung that I hadn’t *achieved* my home birth…

But it taught me lessons…that we have to surrender sometimes to the experience & knowledge of those caring for us…that finding the right support gets you in a frame of mind that means you can accept that things may not be as you wished but will follow their own course…That babies have their own journey in mind…That motherhood is not about control…That birth is transformative & empowering no matter how it unfolds…it matters how we perceive it and talk about it, but the transformation, the power, the courage, the beauty ~ they are in every birth…

So, I say to the women in my pregnancy yoga – I do not guarantee you a pain free natural birth…I do not suggest that you opt for home birth…I suggest that you choose a birth place where you will feel safest, most secure, most supported…I suggest that you do what you can to communicate to those who will be with you your ideal of birth if you get to choose as it unfolds…I suggest that you surround yourself with love & positive stories so that you know  that birth can be natural…But too, you should know the medical interventions and what they involve, but that means risk as well as benefit…Learn to ask questions that will keep you empowered and involved as the most important person in the room as you exert that great pure effort to bring your child earthside…And then I suggest that you begin the work of surrendering…

Surrender to gravity…spend time on all fours, keep your posture upright to encourage your baby head down, in labour be upright, forward leaning, legs open…UFO…

Surrender to your breath…connect with your breath…if all else spirals away from you, if you have to surrender your *dream* birth to be safe, for your child to be safe, then breathe through it all…Stay connected, stay present, know every inhalation & exhalation, let it bring you to each moment, awake, aware, and let the outward breath be a release, a letting go, as you soften into the birth of your baby, however it may unfold…

Beautiful Mama…breathe as the wind blows…surrender…

OMx

Just a mother…

I just knew I was pregnant…

The first time, I was lying in bed on a boat on the Norfolk broads; my first ever boating holiday.  I’m a vegetarian.  I like late nights and late mornings.  I had been craving fish.  I was waking at 6am, bright & alert.  I had this feeling.  I’d been through over a year of heart ache about not being able to conceive.  We’d set limits on how long we would try, how invasive we would allow the treatment to be, planned an alternative if parenthood was denied us…And I waited a whole week with my secret.  Delicious and delicate, I couldn’t bear to tell anyone, just in case…And when we returned home, on my birthday, I made excuses, rushed to the chemist, hid in the toilet…And that little pee-stick confirmed my secret joy.

Second time around, sure it wasn’t long after Christmas, and we’d only just decided this was the year to see if we could conceive again.  But there it was, that feeling…And sure enough, on the day one of my dearest friends gave birth to her second child, I peed on another stick to confirm the budding joy in my belly.

I just knew…

I just grew a placenta, and I just grew a baby…

Nature is an ordinary, every day miracle.  My instincts told me I was to become a mother.  My body just knew what to do…

I just laboured,I just breathed, I just made this great, pure effort…

I just gave birth to my babies, breathed them out into my arms, welcomed them earthside, kissed their bemused faces, gazed into their open, curious, loving eyes…

I just breastfed my babies…I trusted nature, and my body nourished & nurtured my babies…

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Tandem style ;D

I just changed around 12,000 nappies…

I just woke hourly to my first born for over a week, who could not sleep in his moses basket alone.  So I just brought him into our bed, which has become our family bed…I just brought my second newborn straight into our family bed…I just nursed and comforted, sand to and soothed, my babies, keeping them close…I just welcomed my three year old into our family bed once more, wakeful and anxious will illness or bad dreams or both, he sleeps with one arm around my neck and I just about get the odd hour of sleep and I just managed to wake in the morning and I just still pack lunch, walk the school run, persuade my reluctant eldest once more to walk into school, I just manage to do it without crying at the relief that today a teacher did not have to drag him sobbing, peeling his arms from my neck…I just manage to admit that I cannot meet a commitment made and I just acknowledge that I need someone to soothe my soul…and I just find that in friends I can be nurtured and understood…and we just take our sons to the beach and swim in the sea and feel cleansed & revived and we just sit in the sunshine and make names in seaside stones and dig for buried treasure with magic sticks…and we just dream that we can mothers and make a living doing something we love and something worthwhile and something that other mothers like us will love too…

I just let my babies begin to wean themselves.  I just noticed that tiny hands grabbed at morsels on my plate, that little bodies were strong enough to support the sitter unaided, that little tongue did not thrust curious mouthfuls floorward…I just noticed, my almost 6 year old eats nearly as much as me…

I just rolled out the roll of second-hand shop wallpaper in the garden, filled the plastic plates with paint, stripped my baby naked and let him revel in the rainbow and spread his hand and foot prints all over the blank sheet and my heart…

I just washed the millionth load of family laundry…I just cleaned the loo…I just changed the bedsheets…I just cooked hearty soup for lunch and mouthwatering mascarpone & tomato pasta for tea…I just grew some veg in my back garden patch and watched my child eat sweet raw corn on the cob with eyes wide with glee…I just tidied away the same toys I tidied this morning, and yesterday, and the day before, and last week…I just hoovered up couscous…was it from the mini treasure hunt game or dried from spilled dinner two days ago?…I just sorted out small clothes that once swamped the tiny frame of my little person but that his little brother has even outgrown…I just played hide & seek and was told every time where to hide and where I could find my toddler even as his feet stuck out from under the coffee table…I just read the book I read every day for a month last year, and will read again and again and again until I can recite it sleepily without having to see the pages over the head that is gradually resting higher and higher against my chest as my smallest child grows in my lap…I just sang the songs that I have sung nightly for 6 years and will sing until I am told “Mum…I’m too old for lullabies…” because I just know that one day those words will almost break my heart…

I just abseiled, and ran into the New Year’s Day waves, and picked up a spider with my bare hands, and walked smiling and laughing through dark woods with my child in a sling held close to my heart so that my son will see a brave woman, a strong woman, and will know there is nothing to fear…

I just lost my temper and used harsh words and a cross voice and then tearfully held my child close and apologised for just being human and would he forgive me…And I just got a hug that only my child could give that knows that I am unconditionally in love with him…And I just know that he loves me that way too…And he won’t always like me, nor I him…But we will always have these moments of kisses and cuddles and stories and songs…

I just know that I will never regret a moment spent in the company of my babies, my toddlers, my children…I just love them, heart and soul, with every fibre of my body and every breath I take…

I’m just a mother…

OMx

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I am just a mother, and these are the lights of my soul & the songs of my heart