This is what I love

Illumined Angel in Crystal Stream

As the year comes to a close I pause to reflect on what I love. I love this river. She is a pristine sanctuary that delights me with her enchanted emerald green pools. 

I love dance. I love dancing in costumes. I love dancing in comfy clothes. I love dancing naked. I love dancing in community. I love dancing in my back yard. I love dancing with kids! I love wild anything goes dancing. I love dancing in gold threads.

I love Nature. I love soft grass. I love my rose tree. I love swimming in the sea. I love swimming in rivers. I love the change of seasons. I love flowers. I love bumble bees. I love sunsets. I love snow on the mountains. I love the sunsets near my home.

I love my daughter. The child who came through me, who is of me but does not belong to me. I honour the journey we’ve shared so far. Thank you for being my greatest teacher. It really has not been easy, yet I am in awe of you, how you change and grow. I miss you near. I hold you dear.

I love cooking. I love cooking curry and bliss balls and cake and apple pie.

I love celebration. I love parties and countdowns and fireworks and concerts.

I love travel. I’ve been to India several times, West Coast of USA, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Canada and New Zealand… and I’m only just warming up. I love the new smells and foods and sounds and faces. I love the different things to wear and see.

I love berries. Strawberries, cherries and raspberries. I love squishing the berries and seeing the colours all mix over my hand. Perfect water colours. Perfect ye olde lipsticks me thinks.

I love colourful spirited art. I love women’s circles. I love men’s choirs and monks singing. I love bird songs and dog songs. I love whale songs too.

I love water colours. I love how it flows and it cannot be controlled.

I love conversation. I love a good ole cup of tea and a chat with young and old.  The lady at the end of my street. Hester’s Mum. The seventy year old woman I met on the dance floor on Sunday, an earth Goddess!

I love singing.  Mantras and eighties songs, the themes of my youth. Your true colours are beautiful and ‘Wake me up before you go go’! are etched in my bark.

I love the experience of being alive. Each day a new creation. Each day a new expression of self flowing through this soft body.

I love my man. My magic Silver Moonlight.

I love my friends, rare gems, sparkling and golden.

I love myself, always here, always near.

Starlight, spiralling life, shining through me to all tonight.

7 protective tools for Women Birthing in the system

Wild Wolf

During pregnancy I lived by the sea. I swam daily, admiring the beautiful crystal clear green waves. During childbirth I became the ocean.

In labour it seemed there were only two choices, surrender to huge waves and trust that my baby would come to shore with me, or be consumed by fear.

Alongside a tremendous amount of fear with the help of an experienced midwife I gave birth to my daughter at home in a birthing pool.

It was monumental and magical beyond belief.

Birth set me on my path.

Birth became my teacher.

In 2007 I became a Doula and in 2014 a registered Midwife. Soon after graduating I moved to New Zealand to avoid the horrors of  medicalized birth in Australia.

I know in every cell of my body that healthy women can birth naturally given respect, support and an environment they feel safe to let go in. If we are free of fear labour can flow brilliantly.

As a student midwife I experienced a record number of normal births. I was guided by something bigger than myself especially when things got intense. I found deep stillness and calm within many medical dramas, where my point of intention was connection with and protection of the mother and baby.

Moving to New Zealand at the end of 2014 I thought my career as a midwife was set to go.

I was in for a surprise.

Although I tried to convince myself,  I was not aligned with clinical midwifery within the medical birthing model. Reluctantly I followed inner guidance and surrendered the career I worked hard to attain.

Surprisingly, in its place a new path opened up.

I began listening to women’s birth stories and helping women heal from unexpected and disappointing outcomes of childbirth. This act transformed their lives (and mine too).

A woman’s birth story takes me straight to her soul. I discovered that within her birthing experience there is deep medicine for her life on planet earth. Nobody taught me this, I didn’t study trauma healing. Like attending women in labour I sat and listened and listened to hundreds and hundreds of birth stories.

There is much you can do to protect yourself and your baby from unnecessary birth trauma.

You must have a voice, you have to be fierce. I don’t mean aggressive, I mean fierce the way a mother lioness is fierce.

If you are pregnant for the first time or planning your next birth after a disappointing experience here are my top 7 tips to prevent unnecessary birth trauma.

1. Reclaim your Body

If you conceived and grew your baby you can birth it too.

You can.

Be discerning about what you read. Just because a pregnancy book is on the shelf at the book store doesn’t make it good for you. Read true birth classics such as “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” by Dr. Sarah Buckley,  “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin and “Birth Goddess” by Katrina Zaslavsky.

You don’t need your thinking brain for birth.

You need deeper wisdom, your instinct. Although we have been socialized this still exists within us.

Surrender your mind, sink back inside your softness, melt back in with your womb, go with your body.  Your body, like the moon and the ocean has her own flow, her own timing and her own divine rhythm.

Women in a coma can birth a baby. Your body knows what to do if you can give her a chance to do it.

You’ll need a safe space to birth, one where you can tune into yourself and let go. You need privacy and to be undisturbed. A good midwife knows how to support a woman in labour without interrupting her. It’s a fine art, being there but not getting in her way.

Remember that your baby doesn’t come out of your head.

He or she comes out of your body.

So come back to your body. Go offline. Unplug and switch off from social media in pregnancy. Tune into your body. Tune into the earth. Get yourself onto the grass or by the sea or into nature.

Walk in the park, dance, swim, sway and rock. Pregnancy is a time to just be. Yes, you can just be sometimes. Enter into the realm of the Feminine, with nothing to do, but enjoy being in a pregnant body. You are like a glowing and radiant full moon. A Goddess.

Take care in pregnancy. Protect your baby and yourself. Protect your energy. Stay away from negative people.

Be safe.

Do what makes you feel alive, free and happy in your body.

Garden. Breathe. Make love. Rest.

Feed yourself delicious food.

Be in your body.

You are made for this.

You can do this.

You got this.

Nourish your body.

Enjoy.

2. Reclaim your Sexual Power

The energy within you that got the baby in will get the baby out. Your sexual power is key. Let it flow, let it open you. Let it heal you. Let it wash right through you.

Labour goes in waves. It can start slowly and build up or it can just be there full on and cranking.

If you are uninhibited and open to your waves of sexual energy and flowing it through your body you can open and surrender to the waves of labour with ease.

Let each wave expand your pelvis and your consciousness. Let each breathe take you further inside the ocean of bliss within you. Let sex and birth expand you, not frighten you.

Breathe. Seek support from someone you love and trust.

You’re not lost, you’re just going wide and wild, stretching further than you ever have before allowing something new to come through you. Hop out of your own way, let the ocean come through you. Let your child be born. Open.

Pleasure yourself in pregnancy. Massage your breasts, your belly and your Yoni (your vagina) and your perineum (space between vagina and anus). Get to know your Yoniverse.

Experience your growing sexual energy. Flow it through you, share it with your partner if you have one and enjoy it.

Heal sexual blocks and traumas.

Free your heart.

Circle your pelvis.

Make love, even if you’re the only one there.

Open.

Open your mouth.

Make a sound… Aaaahhhhhh!!!!

Open your arms and legs, stretch out.

Open your voice.

Open your heart.

Open your soul, a new one is coming to earth through you.

Reclaim your sexual power.

Take up space.

This is your time.

You open and close the space.

Thou art Goddess.

3. Reclaim your Primal Voice

Be like wildlife, make animal sounds. Let your energy flow freely through you with sounds. Get down on all fours and sound. You can do this through pregnancy when you get stressed and in labour too.

Let it be easy.

Howl to the Moon.

Purr like a cat.

Grunt like a pig.

Moo like a cow.

Meow like a kitten.

Scream like a banshee.

Moan like a sex Goddess.

Release Sound. Deep sounds.

Express the sounds of your womb, your yoni, your hips and your thighs.

Let it out.

Sounding will help you release stagnant energy and take up space for yourself in pregnancy and birth.

Birth is not a time to be small and cute and play dead. You will be challenged at times on many levels and you can breathe and sound though it.

You can do it.

Practice having a voice in pregnancy, not just the voice of your head, include the deeper voice, the voice of your bones and your womb and your blood.

The voice of ancient feminine wisdom.

You’ve got this.

Your body. Your baby. Your birth.

Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Become comfortable with saying both yes and know and don’t betray yourself. Ask for what you want and say no to what you don’t.

You will be tested. During pregnancy and birth you will be offered things you may not want so practice with your body yes and your body no.

You know what you want.

You know what you don’t want.

Trust your belly.

Trust your wisdom.

You’ve got this.

Have a voice.

Go Wild.

4. Release your Fears

Fear is the enemy of birth. What we resist persists. Fears don’t go away, they wait. Face them and they disappear.

Sit down and write all your fears about giving birth down on a blank piece of paper.

Example.

I am afraid of…

write your fears here… i.e. hospitals, tearing, exhaustion, blood loss, male doctors… whatever your fears are.

Look at each one. Face it. See it for what it is. Look it in the eye. When you are ready you are going to release all the energy of this fear from inside you.

Write each fear on a separate piece of paper.

Create a safe space for this ritual, such as a fireplace or an enclosed fire pit outside.

Burn each piece of paper one by one.

Ask yourself, have I let go? What do I still need to let go of?

You may need more support with this from a midwife, birth healing coach or counsellor.

When this is complete and you feel ready return to your writing tools.

Affirm what you want instead.

Energize your new beliefs.

Bring it to life. Paint it. Write it. Speak it. Dance it.

Drop the drama. Energize what you want instead.

Write positive affirmations.

Stick them up in your house where you can see them.

Alternatively you can also… dance or paint out your fears.

Do hypno birthing.

Fear holds us back in labour and in life.

Release your fears.

Express yourself.

Write.

Paint.

Sing.

Knit.

Crochet.

Cook.

Create.

Dance.

Get them out, out out!

Release your fears.

5. Hire support people you trust in every cell of your body

If something feels off with your care provider, investigate your feelings. Too often women tell me they didn’t really like their doctor, midwife or doula. It’s too late after your birth to fix this problem. Pregnancy is the time for choosing care providers very very carefully.

It is important that you like, love and trust your chosen care provider with every cell in your body.

Birth is intimate. You gotta feel right about your support team.

It is important you like them. You are going to have a baby with this person.

Think about your main care provider for the birth of your child and answer the following questions as honestly as you can.

Do you feel respected?

Do you feel safe?

Can you be yourself?

Do you feel heard?

Do you feel comfortable with the idea of going wild and getting naked with them?

Do you trust them in every cell of your body?

If not, move on.

Start again.

Next.

6. Trust

Trust yourself. Trust your baby. Trust the process. Trust your Midwife. Trust your Doula. Trust Birth. Trust Life. Trust. You can do this.

7. Surrender

When labour begins, there’s nothing left to do. Let go and enjoy it. Let labour wash through you and take you to the motherland.

Dance it.

Sing it.

Sound it.

Move with it.

Shake it.

Swim with it.

Love Birth.

Let go.

Let Goddess.

Surrender.

Taking a Stand

It was on a plane in 2015 on one of my many flights across the Tasman between New Zealand and Australia that it happened. I was watching a film called “How to Save the World” – a fascinating documentary about the founders of Greenpeace.

Greenpeace, an organization founded by activists and volunteers, has done a phenomenal job of protecting whales and seals and other wildlife since its inception by a handful of courageous eco-warriors.

Whaling has been stopped in many countries.

Greenpeace did change the world.

Watching this film I thought to myself… “Who is going to protect the mothers and the babies? Who is going to stop birth trauma?”

Unlike the slaughtering of baby seals, violence towards women and babies at birth is hidden from the world.

It is not about anger, but rather compliance and control. It is about fear and how fear is applied in a controlled way to a mysterious process that is unique to each birth.

From a midwifery perspective, birth trauma in big hospitals is predictable with poor outcomes and life long consequences for women.

To avoid it we must not be afraid, nor must we be naive and pretend it does not exist.

Violence against women and babies during labour and birth goes on in subtle and direct ways across the world.

Medicine expects compliance. It is carried out by those who don’t know any other way. They are doing the only thing they know how to do with the linear cortex, medical perspective and surgical skills they have.

It gets the baby out quickly, yes.

And it makes Birth look like drive through.

It goes like this.

As part of normal labour women experience intense pain in birth. They can feel very vulnerable and they sometimes want to go home or give up or die or all these things.

Hospitals provide a smorgasbord of options which, from a position of intense exhaustion, pain or suffering can sound like a very good idea at the time.

Vulnerability + Pain + Hospital + Fear + lack of Autonomous Midwives = Massive Intervention = Unnecessary birth trauma

This doesn’t happen in midwifery led environments, in fact maternity care from a known midwife means 50 – 80% fewer medical interventions during childbirth.

I listen to women. I hear their stories of birth. I hear how healthy women feel about their caesareans, and their forceps and their vacuum. I hear about their lost dreams. I see their tears.

And I know that so much of this pain can be prevented.

Unnecessary birth trauma will end when women and midwives reclaim their rightful place as guardians of normal childbirth.

When Midwives return to their respected and important role in society as the guardians and protectors of normal pregnancy and birth we will see Birth come home.

We can turn the tide.

We can restore our sacred rites.

We can and we are.

Women are the experts on themselves, their bodies and their baby. Midwives are the experts of normal birth. Medicine can be called upon IF, and only ever if it is truly required. Most of the time, it isn’t required but because we take a normal healthy life giving process into a medical environment much is lost, we create problems, lots of them.

The medical model sees birth as an accident waiting to happen and treats it as such. Every step of labour is charted, women are questioned, prodded and poked.

Surveillance goes against Birth and creates problems.

Unnecessary birth trauma is then created, it is a by-product of being caught in a net and hoping that something outside ourselves will help us escape it.

When we listen to our inner guidance above all else, and go with it, birth trauma can begin to end.

There are many ways to help a woman get her baby out. Instruments and surgery are one way.

Midwifery is another.

When we heal the soul of midwifery Birth will begin to come home.

The seal fur traders probably thought they were doing the best thing for their communities by supporting the baby seal fur trade back in the day. Perhaps the fur industry supported their families and communities for generations.

Not any more.

Facing our fear of death during birth is a long forgotten aspect of spiritual midwifery.

When we neglect the spiritual and shamanic dimensions of birth we have to resort to machines and instruments.

The inner doors open through an alchemical process that is a mystery. Midwives hold the space for this and support women to release whatever holds them back. When we let go and trust, our baby comes earth side. Sometimes it means we die to something internally. This is an aspect of birth that is overlooked by those who think their way through maternity care with only linear symbol processing. Much more is going on beneath the surface, and the inner workings of women contribute to the outer workings in birth.

Many maternity care providers feel they are doing the best thing when they introduce a monitor, fetal scalp electrode, an episiotomy (cutting a woman’s perineum between vagina and anus) an epidural, forceps, vacuum or caesarean section into a woman’s birth.

It’s often the only way they know how to get the baby out. Yet from a midwifery perspective, creating the right environment and honouring the woman and her process is how the babies emerge naturally.

This happens spontaneously, without force.

Too often these things are introduced because they are seen as the only option. It’s sort of like being hungry and the only thing open is McDonald’s. Just because it’s everywhere doesn’t mean it is good for you.

We can Birth in a natural and humane way. There are too many cuts, too many machines, too many drugs and too many interventions. It all can stop. It can stop with you.

Many women say they want a natural birth, yet birthing in a hospital means that pretty much everything in there goes against that outcome. For instance, driving to a hospital to give birth, bright lights, strangers, sanitized clinical environments that don’t smell familiar, operating theatres, beeping machines and throngs of medical staff peering at your body is not natural.

Far from it.

It’s a jungle in there and there are traps. Traps that you can walk into without even being aware of them.

Birth can be straightforward. Birth can be spiritual. Birth can be Wild. Birth can be empowering. Birth can be sexy. Birth can be intense. Birth can be whatever she is.

Natural birth happens when women are undisturbed in labour. If we disturb the mother, we disturb the delicate chemicals of love and safety required to expand enough, to trust enough to let the doors of life open and let babies be born. If we don’t feel safe enough to let go, the doors of life won’t open no matter how much they tell you to push.

Women aren’t made to be hooked up to machines during birth. Women are not made to birth on white sanitized sheets lying on single beds in the middle of medical rooms.

Women are not made to be told how to birth.

We’ve got this.

We know how to Birth.

If women are healthy, prepared, protected and feel safe, most can birth well.

We know. We know. We know. We just have to remember.

So many women tell me they want a natural birth, yet they walk themselves into an environment that offers the opposite.

Some have tried to capture Birth and diminish her. Women were not meant to birth in captivity. We might need to roam, we might need to rest. We might need to go quiet. We might need to get fierce.

There is no animal on earth that would agree to the kinds of intervention women agree to during childbirth.

Show your teeth if necessary.

And be sure to heal from your previous birth if you are birthing again. This is a must.

Don’t play dead. Don’t be compliant.

Get in alliance with your birthing powers.

Seek out an experienced Midwife or Doula you trust to support you.

Birth is the big work and we need Midwives, autonomous and fully supported to do the work they are so good at. Controlling women, birth and midwives in institutions is not working.

It isn’t.

Midwives need support, they work all hours of the night and day. Women need support and both need freedom.

Since Birth went to hospitals women’s outcomes improved for many decades but between 2000 and 2013 the number of women who died of child birth related issues nearly doubled in USA and Canada. (World Health Organization, 2008)

I am making a stand for something else. For the capacity of women to birth without a whole lot of machines and equipment.

Birth in most big hospitals has become like drive through. You go in, you get your baby and you come out with some kind of cut or wound.

Women and Birth are not drive through. Something important is happening.

Our bodies and our baby belong to us, not to hospitals.

I have seen violence towards women in hospitals and every midwife who works in a hospital knows exactly how, when, where and with whom it happens.

It has to stop.

Violence towards women during childbirth is hidden because women birth in private behind closed doors where they are expected to be compliant. Grrrr …

97% of women in Australia birth in a hospital. From 2007 to 2014 I worked in these hospitals as a doula, student midwife and midwife.

Midwifery today would require me to partake in practices I believe are dangerous. Practices that have no evidence to back them up.

Surveillance in the form of continuous fetal monitoring (which has a woman tied to a bed) as well as routine vaginal examinations contribute to unnecessary birth trauma.

It’s not humane. It has to stop.

The medical model disturbs the natural birthing process. It then has to introduce instruments or operations to get the baby out.

Continuous fetal monitoring, Induction of Labour, Episiotomy, Vacuum Extraction Forceps delivery and Caesarean section are not enjoyable experiences for many women.

The accepted cultural myth is that the hospital is the safe place to have a baby, but I disagree. Personal safety is a subjective concept. I think we have gone too far into the illusion that the hospital is the safe place.

Birth today is like an endangered species.

She is being hunted.

She is being captured.

She is tied up in ropes and wires.

Too many women are birthing in captivity.

It’s time to free her.

Birth was never meant to be drive through.

Hands off the Mother.

Hands off the baby.

Hands off the process.

Hands off her womb.

Sacred Woman.

Sacred Earth.

Sacred Birth.

My body.

My baby.

My choice.

Birthday Gifts

Birthday Past

When I look back into my experience of childbirth I can see how I was being during birth is often how I am being in my life now too.

Birth is an initiation into the feminine, into being.

That’s why all the study in the world doesn’t really help us in childbirth. Our baby doesn’t come out our head. Birth is a dance of wild waves meets wild sexuality, meets earthy passion, meets divine, meets soul. It’s sweaty, it’s wild and messy.

Birth is primal, it’s about surrender, allowing and letting go.

It’s deep, it’s fierce, it’s feminine.

We are all daughters of patriarchy, and the culture we live in has trained us well in achieving and doing. Birth is not a doing, it’s more like waves in the ocean, tides, waterfalls, floods and earthquakes.

Birth’s roots are in Mother Earth and the Laws of Nature.

Nature, she is powerful, so best to surrender to her. Nature always gets her way.

For birth, I was ‘prepared’ and ‘organized’. Things were ‘all good’ up until things got really fucking intense. I felt lost at sea. This is Nature’s plan. She wants us to grow. She wants us to expand beyond our wildest dreams. She wants both us and our baby to make it to shore too.

She wants us to open, stretch, let go and allow her to have her way with us.

In Birth (and life) we need to let go and be done! We need instinct, guts, perseverance, water, food, love, respect, kindness and safety.

Sometimes we have to find these things within ourselves because we are alone and there’s no one to guide us.

I was one of the lucky ones, I had a midwife, I was at home. Yet I was profoundly challenged by childbirth. For me, natural birth felt like an earthquake was doing my body. It was beyond strong. It was completely wild and I needed inner navigation, I needed spiritual guidance.

I needed to trust in myself and birth and in another human being like I have never trusted before. This challenged me.

Up until the descent of my baby through my body I’d been an independent woman who could take care of herself. In birth I needed to open up, to get vulnerable, to connect with the forces of nature within me. I was okay with getting wild and primal until I had enough. I needed a doula at my daughters birth! It’s why I went on to become one later.

This bond is set up with our earliest female carers, but to be really frank our capacity for receiving love and support is set up with our mother. If we don’t deeply and wholeheartedly trust our mother or other women, if we can’t receive from women, we may end up feeling ‘all alone’ during birth.

The bond between women has been broken by many things, maternity practices being one of them. I was born in a time when mothers went to postnatal wards and babies went to the nursery. This is not good for primal mother baby bonding! No!

During childbirth I needed to go deep within to a place of trust in life itself. For some time, around transition, I wasn’t trusting. I was absolutely bricking it. I was clenched in fear. Looking back at birth I can now clearly see the gifts that were so close yet so far.

To see these at the time wasn’t possible because I was overwhelmed and stuck in my head trying to work out how I was going to do it. I was stuck in fear. No, not fear, terror.

To receive my birth gems I needed to relax. It’s not easy to relax when you feel a watermelon coming out between your legs, when you feel you are going to die.

Yet in Nature’s terms I needed to die on some level, I needed to let go of who I thought I was and what I thought I was capable of like never before.

To go deeper, to birth naturally, I needed to trust. I needed to surrender. I needed to let support IN.

I trusted to a point, but when I thought I was going to die I clenched on, gripped with terror. The medicine I needed from within me at those moments was to TRUST BIRTH in an epic way.

I needed to trust myself, trust my body, trust in my midwife, trust in my baby, trust in Nature to bring this baby to the shore.

I needed to trust in something bigger, older and way wiser than me. Wild Woman is our ancient mother and we meet her during childbirth. So for me, trust is the first remedy for my birth healing.

Secondly I needed to surrender. I needed to stop trying to work it out in my head. Surrender means letting go and letting god. Floating in the ocean, not gripping onto the side of the pool for fear of sharks. I was afraid of sharks in the pool.

And finally, I needed a spiritual midwife, a doula to meet me at a soul level. I had offers from many natural birthing friends, divine birthing Goddesses and naively I turned them all away. I thought I could do it all myself. Neh.

I had no idea about birth, nor did I understand the natural and spiritual dimension of birth 16 years ago.

After nine years of being with birthing women I’ve learned something. There is a transmission that happens between the divine and women at birth if we are open to it, if we can surrender to it, if we can let it in.

We are the life givers, we are the gateway between heaven and earth. Life comes through us, strongly!

Women have been doing this birth dance for ever. Although much has been lost, one thing is for sure, it cannot be destroyed. It works just fine.

No matter what happened, your birth is holy and sacred and so are you.
For me, the three gems from my experience of childbirth are trust, surrender and to let support in. This is not only what I needed during birth, it’s what I need to LIVE my life. Birth has medicine for the whole of our life. Happy 16th birthing day to me!