I’ve been supporting women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum for the last 7 years though yoga, birth mentoring, workshops and attending births. I have also experienced two very different births of my own, with my two sons. These two births have shaped me and taught me a lot about birth and postpartum preparation. So, here are my top 3 essential ways to prepare for birth…
EXAMINE YOUR FIRST RITE OF PASSAGE - MENSTRUATION
We often over look the power of the first rite of passage as a woman. Menstruation can be an incredibly powerful moment, when a girl becomes a woman and takes forth with her the importance and power of the moons monthly cycles. Some of you were initiated into this rite of passage with support, guidance, love and knowledge, and some of you were given a pad and told to get on with it. Some of you had troubles with tampons, which may have even formed your first belief about your body. My body doesn't work, I can’t insert the tampons, my muscles are too tight, my vagina istoo small, how is a baby going to fit out of there? How am I going to have sex if I have a small vagina?
Can you see where these beliefs about your body may have begun?
Start to write about your first experience of menstruation. What did it tell you about yourself? What did your mum tell you or not tell you? What are your feelings towards menstruation?
Notice what comes up and then perhaps talk to your mum or other women about what you’ve learnt. We need to teach ourselves, other women, sisters and our daughters about how much of impact this rite of passage has on our beliefs and how we can heal the disconnect with our bodies.
This can help us to understand why we don't trust our bodies. If you didn't trust your body at the first rite of passage, then how can you suddenly trust it now in preparation for birth, if you haven't trusted it before. No amount of affirmations are going to fix that disconnect, except going back and healing the past.
Notice how your beliefs about yourself could impact your birth. This is your own personal journey. You need to move forward in your own unique way. What steps will you take?
TALK TO YOUR MUM ABOUT YOUR BIRTH
Talking to your mum and/or dad about your birth and their beliefs about birth, can help you to understand where your own beliefs or feelings towards birth may have come from. It can also give you insight into how your birth has influenced you as a woman. All of the information you glean will go towards creating a map of where you came from and where you are now. What beliefs have effected you? What beliefs have influenced you and stayed with you? How can you change any negative beliefs that no longer serve you and move forward with new beliefs?
Write all your thoughts in a journal. Journaling can help you to get it all out of your head and your body so you can start fresh, with new eyes, ears, heart and mind.
TALK TO OTHER WOMEN, FORM A COMMUNITY AND SHARE STORIES
“It takes a village to raise a child" - African proverb
Growing a community of women for support during pregnancy, can really help you postpartum when times get tough. In fact, way before they get too tough, you can call on your women to support you. This may come in the form of regular weekly catch ups, phone calls or times during the day planned. Share your fears and thoughts with other pregnant women. Share your thoughts and fears with other women who have children already. Be open to their thoughts and advice and take on only what you intuitively feel is right for your family.
You don’t have to be strong and do it all on your own. This goes for birth and postpartum. You don’t have to feel all alone when you collapse in a heap from exhaustion. You can call on your ‘queens’ and they will be there for you.