Why no baby yet?
Imagine, you’ve finished up work at 36 weeks, you’ve had a few weeks of nesting and preparing the house and the nursery, you’ve read all the right books, gone to your exercise classes, you understand the mechanics and stages of labour and birth but for some reason you’ve entered the waiting game. You wait & wait and then you wait some more, 40 weeks comes and goes, the pressure and expectation from yourself, family members and care providers builds daily, everything is ready, or so it would appear, so why no baby?
Old Wife’s Tales?
There are many theories on the subject of what it is that triggers labour, but do we ever really know? Whilst there are definitely nuggets of wisdom and truth your doula or midwife can offer; such as “surrendering and trusting in the process of birth” and “letting go of control”. And of course ‘natural inductions’ like eating spicy food, having sex, acupuncture, nipple stimulation (yep I did say that), perineal massage and one of my favourite’s watching funny films (laughing produces oxytocin – the love hormone!).
Yet it’s still a beautiful mystery as to whether it’s more the chemical symphony of hormones that gets the body rocking into labour? Or the mind being strong enough to override our unconscious thought patterns and processes?
I think more often than not a combination can be a very helpful cocktail in bringing on labour. If all other possible barriers have been cleared, and there are no complications then I recommend all the above to my own clients. Staying relaxed and stress-free is incredibly important as you want the levels of oxytocin to build in the body, so try and avoid feeling pressured, either self-imposed or from an outside source, as this will create the stress hormone adrenaline to counteracts the production of oxytocin.
So how might you do that when you feel the countdown is on? Is there something else? Something we are missing in the above equation? What about some of those indescribable feelings, you can’t quite put your finger on, is it fear? Pure excitement? Or is it some sort of pre-mother anxiety creating expectations your not sure you can live up to?
Beliefs and Stories – The Birthing Soup
We all have a set of unique beliefs about the world, about birth, how and when it ‘should’ happen, who “should” be present, how long it ‘should’ take… you get the picture. It takes you a lifetime of accumulating stories and ideas before you end up formulating your beliefs around birth and parenting and, of course, this is a continuous work in progress.
Birth beliefs (stories we have collected) start at a very early age when we hear our parents re-tell our own birth story. What did you hear about your birth? Was it every woman’s dream birth that your own mother experienced when you entered the world or was your birth fraught with high drama and trauma?
There are also the cultural stories that we hear, media generated stories, the urban or community stories that are told or interpreted by friends or other family members as they are passed along in daily conversation with little regard for the impact it has on the listener. All these stories are very powerful and become deeply rooted in the psyche.
Many of these deeply rooted beliefs aren’t necessarily conscious, they are stored in the birth library of the brain for recall if needed. You could think of them like the ingredients of a birth belief soup, that’s slowly simmering just beneath the surface of a pregnant woman’s mind, ready and waiting to be tasted or explored during gestation, labour and birth.
The Mammalian Brain – the missing equation?
Discovering some of these hidden ingredients can be so valuable in the mental and emotional preparation of birth, perhaps the missing piece of the equation? So how do you go about bringing the unconscious birth soup to the conscious mind?
We’re talking about exploring parts of the mind that aren’t linear or logical, the realm of the forebrain, that part of the brain that sets us apart and defines us as human. The part of the brain that, to be honest, goes on vacation when birthing.
We want to access the mammalian brain, the animalistic part that takes over when a woman gives birth and leads us into our intuitive creative realms. We can access this very interesting unconscious realm of the mind when we engage in activities that require that mammalian part of the brain to engage, it’s really that simple and doesn’t require thinking but doing.
Birthing from Within
A large part of the Birthing From Within™ childbirth preparation classes are based on this understanding. As a mentor, I want you to have access to and discover for yourself YOUR own intuition or inner knowing. This is what makes Birthing From Within™ classes different from other childbirth classes.
We BFW mentor’s don’t just teach you a bunch of information about birth, what to do, how to plan, or what we think you ‘should know’ Instead we guide you through creative processes that help you to access your inner resources and knowing. Inner knowing is after all as unique and as individual as a fingerprint, remember we have all collected different birth stories along the individual paths that have led us to this point in life.
Are you yearning to explore the hidden realms of your own psyche, or feeling called to strengthen and trust your intuition? Then I invite you to come and try either privately or in a group setting some of the processes that Birthing From Within™ has to offer. The group classes are very interactive, fun and are facilitated in a sacred environment so that you feel safe to explore in the presence of other like-minded parents.
For information on the next Birthing From Within™ intensive weekend workshop Jump over to the childbirth preparation page
In Australia many women take a weekend break away before the baby arrives, they often refer to this as a baby moon, which of course is lovely, couples taking that time away together before the arrival of a new family member can be of tremendous value to strengthen a relationship. Never the less it has always confused me, I much prefer the interpretation of the baby moon from Charlottes perspective, a UK based, mother, birth worker and friend. I feel it offers a truer reflection of a MOON period, or as I like to call it ‘the 11th Moon’ following the ten moons of gestation.
Charlotte’s article is all about her own experience taking a post-birth Baby Moon, I was delighted to read that she had given herself, her newborn baby and family this precious gift. Sadly taking the eleventh moon is not the norm in our western culture, although once upon time it was expected that women would have had a period of confinement before regular life resumed. Confinement is a thoroughly old-fashion term that conjures the feeling of isolation, even imprisonment, that a woman is to endure some kind of punishment, rather than nourishment, bonding and healing.
The vast majority of mothers that I work with are totally shocked by the ordeal of birth and once the euphoria of meeting the baby and the cocktail of hormones begin to wane the enormity of the new life ahead can be thoroughly overwhelming. I must say this was my own experience, I personally felt that I just didn’t have enough hands, or enough of anything for that matter.
As a doula and prenatal yoga teacher I try and encourage my clients and students to set themselves up with the maximum amount of domestic support and care that their resources will allow. I sometimes talk about the traditional yoga practice of 40 day’s of rest and although there is a resurgence of baby moon’s in the western world, still there seems to be a reluctance to adopt this practice. I often say to my mum’s “you only have this newborn time once, it’s so brief and truly priceless”
This has got me wondering, and on a bit of a mission to explore this a little deeper. Why might it be that woman aren’t viewing this time as a serious investment in themselves and their babies wellbeing? How can I as a doula and prenatal yoga teacher help the mothers I serve to embrace this practice? I think there are many answers to this question, but I feel the glaringly obvious is social amnesia, we have somehow lost our way.
Perhaps first-time mum’s really do not understand the enormity of birth and recovery. Nuclear family life has stolen our village, the community and traditional practices it offered are almost lost, young women don’t grow up experiencing women supporting women, nursing one another’s babies, child minding was once a shared responsibility, a given. When a space is held for women by women magic happens, oxytocin the love hormone can be felt by all present, and who doesn’t want to experience that?
In contrast the nuclear family has created isolation, we encourage and praise our young women for being fiercely independent, so modern western woman no longer knows how to ask for help when she needs it. Women especially feel incredibly uncomfortable asking for their needs to be met, asking for help is mistakenly believed to be a sign of weakness, when in truth it is women’s business and an innate need for a woman to caretake others.
Our culture is fast, racy and sadly imbalanced, stopping or doing NOTHING is viewed as a waste of time, women feel guilty if they are not doing, or seen by others to be ‘doing nothing’.
But is bonding with baby doing nothing? Is feeding a baby 24/7 doing nothing? Is understanding a babies rhythms and continuous needs doing nothing?
The foundation of a healthy family life needs to start here with this ‘Doing of Nothing’ when a woman allows herself the gift of precious time, time to experience the exquisite sensation of baby, skin to skin, and breathe in the aroma of new life. Time for the father to be witness to his lover being born as a mother. Time to just be.
Now is the time to bring this practice of the ‘eleventh moon’ into vogue? Let’s encourage and support our new mothers so they can DO NOTHING other than take the time to find their new mother wings. Let her be in her nest so she can rest and recover from the ordeal of birth.
Let’s honor our newborn mothers by listening to her cries for help, often disguised in phrases such as “I’m fine, just tired” let’s support and cherish our newborn mothers with gifts of service, offering help with domestic chores, so that she may rest, be nourished, feel safe, loved and respected.
When we hold the space for new mothers, they can breathe a sigh of relief, relax and focus on the most important job there is, to nourish and love the next generation into the world consciously.
Let’s show our respect for motherhood, let’s acknowledge that it is one of the most challenging experiences and yet one of the most rewarding. Let’s swaddle our newborn mothers with the gift of the eleventh moon.
I’d love to know your thoughts on taking the gift of the eleventh moon and what you think the challenges might be in doing this?