What a time we are living in. I am thinking so much about all of you who are pregnant or who have new babies in 2020. What historic babies you have! In these times of quarantine I am not able to provide yoga classes in my studio; our fledgling Positive Birth Movement Wexford meetups are suspended; we have no Mother and Baby yoga; no Baby Massage or Baby Sign classes: no parties or toddler meetups; no chat for mamas over tea and coffee and treats in my kitchen! Bear with me as I try to figure out ways to continue to share yoga, and be of support to women who are pregnant, and facing into birth and who have brand new babies. My wish is for every pregnant and new mama to know to pause and take stock and know her own strength and capability now and always.
The doula in me flounders as to know what to do or be of service as we all grapple to make do and create and survive and evolve with the times, when at the end of the day the most fundamental and most beautiful of all of life trundles on unperturbed: pregnancy and birth and new motherhood. I endeavour to serve an offering of pregnancy yoga online and keep community online too.
Pregnancy Yoga: online
I am offering pregnancy classes on Zoom, not the same as our studio classes, but something to help mothers-to-be find comfort, mindfulness, relaxation and preparedness for birth, through yoga, especially in these unprecedented times of quarantine. I’ve been a bit shy about sharing that until I feel like I know what I’m doing.
I still don’t know what I’m doing. But it’s marvelous to be able to reach into the homes of our beautiful group of women, where they are safe and comfortable, from within my own home (because our internet sure won’t work in my studio). It feels organic and natural and homely and it means using the space that is at hand to do the simplest of yoga within our own home environments: a wall there, a windowsill here, a chair turned backwards. The things I always suggest from within my studio classes, either for comfort or for when labour starts: “maybe when you’re at home, try this.” This way we get to into the habits of practising the techniques right there in our own homes. Together!
I also have created a Facebook group for pregnancy and new motherhood in 2020, which is another way I hope to offer support and community, especially as pregnancy unfolds into bonnie babies (get in touch with me for the link). In this way I hope we can still chat, share information, recommendations and through there or on my website I will try share my own writings: stuff that is obvious to me in own perpetual bubble (a bubble I occupy quarantine or none!), stuff that I kind of already knew or researched and learned and which might be new or useful to others as they tread their way in pregnancy and new motherhood.
The Year of not just the baby – the Year of You!
You know not the journey you are set upon with each precious pregnancy and throughout it and that impending birth, this is the year not just of your pregnancy and/or the birth (for soon we will have pregnancies among us that bring babies in the year 2021!) – this year 2020 is also the year of you.
Pregnancy is such a sacredly, precious, between-worlds time. In 2007 I was pregnant with my first baby, I was silently, abstractly, almost privately cooking a new rebirth of me as well as of a whole new baby. In January 2008 when she was born and I became a mother, formally, tangibly, “officially”. I count both 2007 and 2008 as my “year of the mother”; “my” years, with my next babies, are also 2010 and 2016/2017, and I will always think of them as so.
For you who are pregnant or already had your babies in 2020, two things: first, what a lovely ring there is to that. Twenty twenty! And secondly: what a year! We are living in a particularly historic time, and your babies are very historic babies.
Powerful and Vulnerable: Vulnerable and Powerful
I feel strongly about this as it is my personal perspective and experience that mamas-to-be and new mammas do not receive quite enough of the support and the love that they (we!) truly require at such a precious time in our lives. As mothers-to-be and new mothers we are more powerful beyond our wildest imaginings, and we are also, at the very same time, so utterly sensitive, in the truest sense of that word in that our senses are more pristinely heightened and tuned in than at any other time: and we are necessarily intolerant of attitudes, ideas, sensations, conversations, energies and people that we ordinarily at other times are able to almost sub-consciously able to ignore or tune out, or indulgently (through gritted teeth!) smile along with at other times. We are vulnerable: more at risk of emotional and mental “wounding” than at any other time. In birth we are that glorious duality of physically and emotionally POWERFUL and VULNERABLE in the very same instant: in the midst of doing a powerful thing, bringing forth a baby!
These two words are so utterly opposite, it seems impossible that we be both at the same time.
But we are.
We have an unearthly strength and ability coursing through us, and an almost magical intuition more than at any other time: and we are dependent on being in safe and comfortable surrounds,with supportive and caring, loving people. We are … powerfvulnerable …. powervulnerful …???!!
And this is true howsoever we give birth. I have a policy, indicated by my training, of referring to cesarean birth as just that: a birth; rather than “section” or “c-section”, because language matters and cesarean is birth by mama who offers herself up to it, and we would do well to keep the procedure about that – birth! – rather than, or as much as, that possibly less-empowering-sounding word “section”.
In birth involving labour and vaginal birth, ordinarily the desirable experience for us all if at all possible, in terms of health and healing and ease of transition to sacred new motherhood, we have that mountain-moving power of labour “contractions”, which are maybe better referred to as SURGES or RUSHES (again: language matters!) because “contractions” sound restrictive, closing down, shrinking whereas of course the opposite could not be more true! The power that comes into our bodies, physically, is sort of sublime(more about that another time.) Mentally, labour is like a magic knowing: like a telepathy. Mother knows best; you know best. As I mentioned, in such at time of raw power that is birth, we are vulnerable … vulnerful!…. vulnerpowerable …..! (sorry!) to influences of those around us.
It is essential that our support team, involving our own partners, our doulas, our midwives and any health care professionals to be deeply, deeply respective of us: they who will necessarily circle us but at a remove,energetically if not physically, mindfully if not literally giving space to the woman who is at the centre and – can we all agree- who is also in command of her own experience. Birthing women are utterly, necessarily consumed by the experience of birth. It’s about the biggest thing she will ever do: bring forth a whole new baby. Or even two of them!
Mama is in charge
For this is HER BIRTH. Her process. Her knowing: whether she believes herself or not! She does deep down know best, knows her own baby. It might sound obvious: and I hope it does! But all too easily we birthing women are seen only or mostly in our vulnerable aspect, and the intuitive powerhouses that we are, are either forgotten, or even overlooked, if we are not deemed “co-operative” by our care team. Birth, my friends, is not a time to be a good girl. A better kind of “co-operative” means together, a team effort, with all parties involved on the same hymnsheet throughout, subject to respectful review with good, nurturing, respectful support and information and the mother in charge of all final decision-making. With the intuition that burgeons up in pregnancy, birth and new motherhood: mama knows what to do. The point, if I can “labour” it enough, is that MAMA IS IN CHARGE. This is even more important now than ever before, as maternity services try to cope with the challenges of a global health crisis. Better for them as well as for you if you make a decision to take the lead in your own experience. You grew this baby, you will raise this baby. Howsoever you give birth, YOU are the one who does it.
And this is not just the birth of your baby: this is also the birth of yourself as mother. That’s why 2020 is your year. And what a year!
I hope for every mother to honour her uniqueness as a mother. I have that chalked up on my yoga studio wall as a mantra: I honour my uniqueness as a mother. It means that we come home to our own knowing in respect of our own unique experiences, needs and circumstances, and our own insights and intuitions regarding our own pregnancies and babies, and in view of the information available to us at a given time.
Usually between our pregnancy yoga classes and our mother and baby yoga classes, there is a necessary interim of 6 or 8 or more weeks until we meet again, and even when a time comes for gatherings to happen at Yoga Bloom again, I think there is an opportunity to be a support and a reference point in that meantime that “post-partum”, that time of sacred “fourth trimester”, of precious cuddles and healing and transition to motherhood of new life with darling babies.
I hope pregnant women and new mothers, regardless of what “number” baby, feels supported on this most powerful and individual of journeys. Reach out for community, on Facebook or WhatsApp or Zoom, email, An Post, or howsoever; anything! until such a time as we can gather face-to-face again. I’m thinking of you, I celebrate you xxx
Lots of love
Make sure to get in touch with me for info about classes and Facebook groups