Your Voice

Having a voice can protect you from all kinds of really bad shit.

Did you know that having a voice now is one of the greatest tools for healing your birth experience?

Did you know that your voice is the number one most powerful way you can protect yourself and your baby from birth trauma?

Reclaiming your voice can completely change the trajectory of your life.

Have a voice.

I don’t mind if it’s quiet, loud or runs off your tongue like honey, just make it your your own voice.

Finding our voice can take patience and courage, and as women we need to know how to find our authentic voice.

Let me begin by explaining what I am not talking about here.

I am not talking about the voice of your head. I am not talking about the voice of what you’ve been told. I am not talking about the voice of your friends and community.

I am talking about the voice in your bones.

I am talking about the voice of your womb.

I am talking about the voice of your soul.

I am talking about the voice of your deep inner knowing.

I am talking about the voice between your soft inner thighs.

All these womanly body parts have a felt sense that cannot be denied. No more silence. Let the sound of your skin, bones, womb and yoni be heard. I truly believe that if women felt courageous to express the truth of their body (and not silence it) birth trauma would begin to stop across the world. Enough already.

You see, many girls have been taught to play sweetly and nicely, even when we are being harmed or threatened.

We have been taught to be compliant, nice, quiet and to ‘not make a fuss’ despite being coerced into being cut, pulled, prodded, and tied up to a monitor or worse still, an operating theatre bed.

This has to STOP.

We must stalk the predator within and without lest we become prey. We were not born to become prey. We must protect what we love.

When we are young we hear the voices of our parents, teachers, friends, relatives and churches day in and day out.

We take in and on, we digest many of these voices internally (even if we don’t agree with them) as if they were the absolute truth about life.

When we are very very young, i.e. pre-verbal we don’t question, we just absorb.

When we are infants, we are like chalk in a glass of ink.

We take it all in.

We take in ideas and random comments made by others as truth and make them mean something about us. As girls we have taken in births portrayed in television sitcoms and movies and on some level we may even unconsciously expect this kind of melodrama when we go to the hospital to have our own baby. You can clear all of this unknown material with some inner work.

Birth was not meant to be a crazy drama with you screaming in a white gown and your legs splayed open on a bed. FUCK NO!

Birth can be intense, primal, passionate, YES, but did you know that birth can also be even profoundly sexy, beautiful, wild and very very straight forward.

Take back your power.

Take back your body.

Have a voice now.

I have a Voice

In 2006 I was hired by a gorgeous young business woman to be her birth companion, her Doula.

The obstetrician that she had also hired, in one of her fifteen minute consults, looked me up and down and asked me if I was a midwife.

I wasn’t, I was a new doula at the time. In that moment I told him I was a doula, I felt a power shift but I didn’t realize what it meant until later.

During this woman’s birth I watched as she was beginning to prepare to push her first baby out. It was a straight forward normal birth.

I watched as the obstetrician took scissors from his side table and cut this woman’s yoni and pulled her baby out. The assistants he had held her legs apart. Later I was told these women were midwives. These midwives worked for a private hospital and seemed to be servants of the doctor. This was in stark contrast to what I knew midwifery to be from my own experience.

I was so shocked by what I saw I could not speak.

I am not saying all obstetric doctors are like this. Good doctors are out there, but this is not about them, this is about my initiation into the power dynamics of modern medical birth.

This is about my journey into power via loss of it.

Let’s be clear, obstetricians are surgeons, good for life and death situations, extremely well trained with scalpels and scissors.

Birth is intense, but most of the time it does not need any machines and rarely sharp instruments.

Birthing women do well with honesty, love, courage, protection, trust, safety, time, respect and understanding.

We women hold back our stories and our pain.

Many of us don’t want to frighten other pregnant women or our daughters. We think we should get on with it.

We hold back our stories because we feel they are in the past or because we feel we are so lucky to live in the western world with so much abundance, we are not starving and so we shouldn’t complain.

Yet the abundant western world we live in has also managed to nearly double the amount of women who died in childbirth in the USA and Canada between 1990 and 2013. (World Health Organisation, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2013)

Rising Maternal Mortality trend

The maternal mortality ratio increased by 136% in the USA from 1990-2013. Women who died in birth increased, yet the number of women who experienced psychological, emotional or physical trauma has never been recorded. It is hardly spoken about, until years later, perhaps when you might see a glowing pregnant woman, then it all comes flooding out. You suddenly feel you must tell her about your birth experience.

Pregnant women do not need to hear our horror stories.

So although there are wonderful benefits about living in modern times, we are still living in a world that often makes childbirth look like drive through.

Women can reclaim birth and stop this.

We can have a voice now.

It is essential women reclaim birth, and for this we are going to need to speak up. We are going to have to say “no thank you,” to many ideas and many offerings. We may even have to say “Stop!”

If you experienced a loss of power or voice in your birthing experience it is not too late to reclaim it now, in present time. Read what women are saying here.

We have a womb and our womb has a story. I want to hear your story, so your music can flow again.

If you know you are still suffering from an unexpected birth outcome, a miscarriage or an abortion. I am here for you. I have experienced these things myself.

If your petals feel crushed by birth it could be impacting your authentic voice, your contribution, your relationship, your business, your music, your creativity and your sexual flow.

As the wonderful Wayne Dyer said “I don’t want to die with my music still in me”. He certainly didn’t. He authored dozens of books and audios.

You can heal from your child’s birth, no matter how long ago it was. If you know it’s time you can book in here.

2 words to live by

Words shape our life. Two small words made me an honours dance student and star performer in my teens, an award winning business graduate in my twenties, a joyous bellydancing hippie who had a natural birth in my thirties and a registered midwife and healing coach in my forties.

The best is yet to come.

In October 2015 I started helping women heal from childbirth. I left my job as a midwife, I moved countries and found a house in the stunning Byron Shire when everyone told me that it’s really hard to find a house!!!

Looking back, I’ve realized that no matter what other people say I have set my sights on my dreams.

My soul has unfolded my life on the wings of two words, like a mantra they have blazed internally uniting to form a pilot light that never goes out, without me even consciously realizing it.

These two words ensured that I had a beautiful natural home birth with a private midwife, graduated from not one but two Bachelors Degree programmes, (one with Distinction, just sayin’)(the other in my forties whilst escaping domestic violence, going through a divorce AND solo parenting a teenager, just sayin2’), moving overseas to New Zealand for a year, and creating a fun, respectful, delicious and divine wonderful new relationship with a gorgeous man I LOVE.

The words are very simple and looking back on my life so far I can see that they are THE deciding factor in ALL of my successes and my failures.

These two words are not hopes, or wishes, or hard sought after; they are deeper than that. They navigate my inner compass. (and of course I still have heaps to learn and much tweaking to do!!)

Decisions I have made with my whole heart, my willingness, my joy and devotion.

The two words are I CAN.

I decided that I CAN have a natural birth and I did.

I decided that I CAN have the job I want and I got it.

I decided that I CAN become a midwife and I DID.

I decided that I CAN have the wedding of my dreams, and I did.

I decided that I CAN leave an unhealthy relationship, and I did.

I decided that I CAN grieve and let go and create a healthy relationship with a gorgeous man, and I did.

I decided that I CAN move overseas for a year to travel and adventure, and I did.

I decided that I CAN move back to the Byron Shire and I did.

I decided that my daughter CAN go to an expensive STEINER School, and she has been there for 9 years already!

If I am honest, if I look inside, ALL my achievements are based on these 2 simple words.

Not hopeHappy smiling Angels.

Not wishing.

Not wanting.

Not waiting.

Not dreaming.

Not pushing.

Not forcing.

Deciding…

I CAN.

Whenever I reach roadblocks and downward spirals it’s because I am thinking and feeling the opposite of the two words. When I hear myself thinking and feeling that I can’t. I see this reflection and the downward dog results reflected in my life.

If you think you can, you CAN and if you think you can’t, you CAN’T.

Now, what have you decided for your life, your health, your vision, your studies, your art, your relationships, your adventures, your finances, your dreams???

I wish you the magic of these two word Angels.

I believe in you.

I am here to tell you that if you believe, if you trust, if you surrender and most importantly if you DECIDE…

You CAN, you really can.

3 Big reasons why women don’t heal from Birth and 5 ways YOU CAN

We can become quite attached to our wounds. Yes, we can even become addicted to our awful birth story. We can increase our energy from emotions such as rage and anger, which does feel better than sadness or depression. But when we are stuck between the two we are still stuck. We are not at peace with our birth, with what happened and how it made us feel.

I was like this.

The story I told myself in my head was that I had FAILED at childbirth. I told myself this story for many years. I was ashamed of my birth. It was painful and I wanted to heal it by ‘getting birth right’, by having another baby. This approach totally didn’t work for me. I didn’t get to have another baby. I actually ended up having a miscarriage that initiated me into Death and Midwifery instead.

This was my medicine, my path, my healing. Looking back, I can see the absolute wisdom in Nature’s plan. She is Wise.

I had to come to peace with my daughters birth exactly how it happened. The healing was in the story I told MYSELF, in my head, in my heart, in my body. I learned so much about myself and about birth that I saw clearly that this was the birth I needed to have to learn what I have needed to learn. I look at Birth now as a treasure chest offering gems of wisdom to anyone who cares to see.

If we cling to a broken story, we don’t tend to see the gems and we certainly don’t heal.

angel-card-tarot-card-reading

So here are 3 Big reasons why women don’t heal from Birth.

1. We are stuck in Blame and Shame

We either blame others (the system, the doctor, the midwife, the doula, our partner) or we blame ourselves. “If only I had declined the induction,” “If only I had said no to the epidural,” or the caesarean section. “If only I’d done classes.”

Mine was, “If only I hadn’t pushed!”

Either way, blame is a ball and chain. We remain victims, we feel damaged by birth and we feel alone with our birth story. We secretly tell our horrible birth story over and over in our head and we may even feel we need to warn pregnant women of the pending danger that lays ahead for them.

2. Stuck in Wrath and Resentment

We are angry at care providers, support people, partners or ourselves for how our birth turned out. We feel sad, envious or resentful when we hear of friends or relatives who have beautiful natural births or home births.

An enormous amount of energy can be wasted in anger and resentment. I wasted years of my life being angry. Looking back I can see that if I truly feel my emotion of anger, sometimes I need to do something like smash a plate or hit a pillow or scream under water. If I allow it to pass through me physically, these days it flows through pretty quickly.

Feel anger, let it move through. Make sure nobody, including yourself, is hurt.

It’s only taken me nearly twenty years to get to this point. I regret taking my anger out on the people I love in my life. Looking back I did not know how to feel and process anger efficiently.

Being stuck on the A note has dire consequences. I started out as a young girl being an imploder (keeping it all tucked away safely inside) and then in my late twenties I became an exploder (spraying it all around, hurting myself and others, mostly the people I loved).

I’ve had a long journey with anger. Now in my late forties I am finding the middle path. It feels wonderful to know I can let the wild fire move through my system and out of me in a matter of minutes.

3. Stuck in Guilt and Failure

When our birth goes pear shaped we can even feel that we have failed as a woman, that we are less of a woman because of our birth experience. We may work hard to ‘suck it up’ (I really dislike that expression) to protect our wounds and cover it over with a ‘socially acceptable face’, rather like a false self, a functional, strong mask of ourselves that ensures the wounds we carry are buried safely in our underbelly where they cannot be seen, even to ourselves.

We soldier on. We go into denial.

We may even feel disgusted by the sight of a pregnant woman, we push the pain away in an attempt to never feel that hurt or vulnerable ever again.

Okay enough of the stuckies…. time to MOVE ON….. here are 5 ways you CAN heal from Birth.

1. Spring Clean your Birth Story

What is the storyNew Life - unfurling fern frond. you are telling yourself? Write it down. Get a piece of A4 paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left write at the top of the page What Happened and on the right of the page write How it made me Feel.

Be willing to feel how you really feel about your birth. Go through each part from early labour, through transition, birth, delivery of placenta, and post partum. Break it all down, moment by moment if needs be. Be gentle, and be open and willing to accept painful emotions. Feel them and when you are ready, let them go.

2. Express yourself

Get those feelings into the light of day. Writing your birth story, painting your birth, drawing and dancing are a few creative ways to start the healing process. Whatever your style, fully acknowledge that this was your experience. Have no judgements about whether your feelings or your expression are good or bad – they are yours, and that’s what matters.

3. Empower yourself

Write your story again, and this time claim the power. Write in the first person “I did…, I chose…, I created…, I felt…, I knew…” This is not to change the past, or to deny any of it – it is to claim the power to choose, so that right now you can choose your experience, choose to heal, choose to empower yourself for the future.

4. Share your truth

Find a safe person to talk to about your birth. Someone you trust, who won’t interrupt you or try and fix you or be triggered by your emotions. As best you can, choose someone who will simply hold space and witness, rather than somebody who will ‘sympathize’ and reinforce any dark story or victim feelings.

You are a valuable part of this world, and you deserve to be witnessed. This is a huge step out of shame, and into self worth.

Fully honouring your story like this is part of the process of completing and letting it go. It can feel so good that sometimes it is tempting to keep doing this step. Don’t let this build into a pattern, where you become dependant on this story – there are so many beautiful stories waiting for you.

If you know you are ruminating over and over about your birth, seek professional support that feels right for you.

5. Honour your process

Carve out the time and space for your healing. I work on the principle that every woman has a Divine Healer within. She is unique and creative and powerful in every woman I work with. Some women are very earthy, some are very spiritual, some are emotional, some are singers, some love to sew, some need to laugh, others sweat, others bake. Every woman has her way.

There is no ‘right’ way, only the way that feels natural in your body and spirit and right for you.

Give yourself some space to tune into your unique way of healing. Trust the Healer within who is guiding you every day.

Whichever way you choose to heal, whichever path you follow, fully acknowledge that this is important, valuable, worth while. Consciously choose to support yourself by committing the time and resources to heal, because you are worth it. Whether that means buying a new box of paints or investing in a three month programme, you are worth it.

How can you heal from your birth?

I think it comes to down to willingness, readiness to let go and openness for the birth story to retell itself within your body and spirit. Women that heal tell me that they have a new found appreciation for the miracle of their wise body and they come to peace with the birth they actually had.

What has changed?

Perhaps it’s a small shift of perception that releases a whole lot of energy, our feelings about our experiences. It can be a number of things, but often it comes down to a few key moments. It boils down to reclaiming power in the moments where we felt we were powerless. It boils down to having a voice now where we didn’t have then. Not what happened, but how we feel about it, where the story we tell ourselves has become a story we can now feel good about.

Blessings on your healing journey. I wish you every success, however you choose to proceed. The most important thing is to begin, because you are worth it.

And if ever you want help, I am here for you. For an hour, for a season, for a therapeutic massage or a heartful Skype session. You can even use my box of paints. Just call me.

A Time to Die

Heading up to my birthday I felt like a part of me was Dying. I couldn’t go on the way I was. I knew I had to let go.

I had to take some Death.

I had to call in the Women for Support.

I had to crack my Shell.

This Birthday I lay on the earth, belly down.

Arms open wide.

Womb to the earth.

I lay my suffering down.

I lay it all down.

My tendency has been to soldier on and keep going and keep going, lone wolf style, no matter what. I had to crack my fear and resistance to being vulnerable myself, for needing deep support and to talk about the real issues I am having in life, parenting and work.

I did not want to enter another year with the same patterns.

As I lay down on the grass outside I breathed in and released my fear, my pain, my tension, my stress.

I let go.

I released what was between me and everything I need now for the next year of my journey.

When I finally peeled myself off the earth I looked up to see three women passionately drumming, and others with bells and shakers singing and smiling at me.

Support is here for me.

Love is here if I only I can LET LOVE IN.

Thank you blessed Sisters for your love over my birthday.

My Story…

Over the last few years I’ve been holding space for women (and men) at their most vulnerable moments, becoming new parents, journeying through childbirth as a doula, student midwife and midwife.

For the last year I’ve been holding space for women healing from birth and more recently abortion as a birth healing coach.

I have become comfortable with being the support person, the listener, the seer, the space holder.

Now it’s crucial that I create more practical support with parenting a teenager.

More nourishment for myself.

I do actually have access to these in my life now.

However…

My old pattern of lone wolf means that I tend to isolate.

I work alone.

It’s absurd.

I enjoy my solitude and I enjoy connection too.

It’s Nature’s way.

A tree needs a tree network, water, roots and sunshine.

I began to lose Sisterhood when I got into an unhealthy relationship years ago.

It was then that I disconnected from the roots of what feeds me: honest, deep and intimate connection with other women. Fear and Shame can keep us alone, afraid and isolated.

I felt so ashamed of my story I just wanted to hide after my divorce.

I disconnected from my natural web over those years.

Then I went into Midwifery and was catapulted into my head, pushed to my limits and simultaneously horrified by a lot of things.

I was shocked at the medicalization and physical violence displayed towards women during labour. So many justifications are used by care providers as to why women need to be harmed. I’ve heard them all. It has to stop.

I saw too many mothers and babies harmed by procedures and harshness at the hands of care providers.

Horizontal violence towards midwives and student midwives is present here in Australia and in New Zealand too.

The compliance, the coercion, the bullying, and the insanity of a medicalized maternity system was harmful to my spirit. I don’t belong in the military.

I saw a lot of things, good and bad.

I healed a lot of things too.

I saw what happens when women have good midwifery care and caring medical support when required. That’s a really good marriage. I liked that a lot. Beautiful, powerful, respectful relationships between midwives and doctors. Deeply good.

And I saw the not-beautiful, the not kind.

I’m really glad I took the journey. From all this I have learned that patience, kindness and respect are crucial to our survival and thriving as a species.

I’ve needed to return to my roots.

To Community.

To Friends.

To Nature.

To Women.

To Body.

To Breath.

To Self.

To Family.

I became comfortable with women being vulnerable with me, but when I looked around I didn’t have the deep holding support that I have needed to keep going, to be held in my vulnerability.

Leaving my beloved Silver behind in New Zealand has been a far greater challenge than I anticipated. Such a big leap, but a necessary one, as my Daughter and her tribe are here.

Returning to the role of single parent and sole bread winner has been a bigger deal than I imagined. I love and miss my man.

So this birthday, this wise, cute inner chickie pushed her beak through the shell.

It had to crack.

The time of the lone wolf is over.

To survive we must belong.

To thrive we must connect.

This I learnt from Trees, Babies, Women and Families.

Reflections on Abortion

For many years I have been supporting women through all aspects of pregnancy and birth, firstly by empowering them to have joyful, healthy birth experiences, and more recently by helping women reclaim their power and self worth if their experience was not what they had hoped for.

Whilst women often approach me to resolve the trauma of medical complications or clinical intervention, what comes out in the safety of our sessions is that there are many layers of grief from a whole range of situations and events. Of these, one of the deepest wounds comes from those pregnancies that never come to term.

Today I am reflecting on my own and others abortion stories. Here are a few notes and reflections from my healing work with women. These are not ‘truths’ or ‘facts’ – these are my personal feelings and observations from listening and holding space for women healing from abortion. I was astonished that the research I did find on abortion supports my own experience on a personal and professional level.

1. We suffer alone in silence

Abortion can mess with who we feel we are at the deepest level of our Feminine. Honouring the Sacred Feminine is the first step in the healing path.

We are the life givers.

We want to create more love.

We want to create more beauty.

We want to create more life.

Having an abortion can be very disturbing and emotionally painful for many women. So the first thing I want to acknowledge is the loneliness a woman can feel for weeks, months and even years after the abortion is actually over.

On a deep level we feel we have done wrong by life, that we have sinned, that we have now moved from being divine creators to cruel destroyers.

We can place ourselves in the very bad person basket.

From here we punish ourselves relentlessly. This can sometimes go on unspoken, underneath the surface layers of coping fairly well in the everyday world.

We move on in a daze like denial, pretending we are fine, whilst actually feeling sad, angry, furious, resentful and even depressed and isolated.

The truth is that the deepest part of us, the part that created the pregnancy, the Sacred Feminine part of us deeply deeply wanted to conceive, nurture, grow and birth. She wants to grow more love and more life. She is nature’s way. Growing, cycling, birthing more love and light onto planet Earth.

2. We feel guilty

We don’t yet have enough circles for healing after abortion. At least one in three women in Australia has an abortion.

There may well be a tsunami of collective grief in the female underbelly.

We are collectively afraid of being judged, found out and punished. We are afraid of being persecuted, stoned to death and even jailed. Deep down we feel we have done the wrong thing, even though we made the difficult decision from the heart of love. We often felt choice-less, forced into abortion because having another baby would wreak havoc with our physical, emotional or mental health, our families, our bodies, our relationships or marriages.

In short, having the baby sometimes threatens our survival as women. We may feel threatened emotionally, physically and psychologically, so we feel forced into choosing abortion to protect ourselves from abuse, neglect, alienation, rejection, and generally being cast out of our partnerships, communities and families.

bouqet

3. We feel unsupported to go ahead with the pregnancy

Often we abort because our partners do not want, or will not support the pregnancy, or the child. There is no judgement here. Male partners see things through male bodies and male minds are sometimes able to be pragmatic about such decisions. They do not grow human lives inside them.

Male partners are not under the super nova of divine spiritual and hormonal influence of pregnancy the way women are. Partners may be more able to detach from the lived experience of conception and subsequent abortion and post abortion healing phases. This is not to say they do not suffer grief and loss, for they certainly do, just not in the way a woman experiences it on an alchemical level.

We need to grieve the fact that we could not bring life in without the necessary support of our partner by our side. I want to acknowledge that often a partner makes this decision from his deepest truth, from great love. Sometimes not. There is no one to blame. Each has their own unique experience of pregnancy and abortion.

According to Ewing (2005), the majority of women and girls who have abortions do so because of a lack of support from partners, parents and friends. Seventy percent of women say they felt they had no alternative to abortion.

4. We are afraid of going crazy

Recently I was listening to a woman who had a significant amount of grief from her abortion. She was afraid to feel her sadness because in her youth her mother had said, “women who have abortions end up going crazy and regretting it for the rest of their lives.” She associated sadness, lots of sadness, with going crazy.

Women fear mental breakdown. Nearly one quarter of the female population is taking anti-depressants. It wasn’t that long ago women were given shock treatment and sent to the mental hospital.

In an attempt to ‘still feel sane and normal’ we can bury the bones of guilt, grief, anger and shame.

This doesn’t work. Like grass growing up through the concrete, our feelings want to be seen. At some point we may get a whiff, we smell the pong of something with a foul stink. We need to tend to the dying aspects lurking within us. Giving death, tending well to what is dying and what is dead is ancient women’s business.

We are the guardians of life and death.

Respecting these sacred transitions in an authentic way to our spirit gives us a sense of peace and well being. By giving death the honour, respect and time she requires we become truly liberated to live whole and full once more.

Fearing or avoiding giving some death robs us of the life we are meant to live. Death has the power to liberate us from many old wounds, old grievances and illusions.

Life and Death are one.

5. There are no accidents

I don’t believe there are any accidents. Every experience we have is for our truth. Everything is for our learning. Every experience is for our awakening.

My abortions led me deeper into myself. My abortions took me to the darkness so I could find the light and love that still remained in my heart and soul.

I wanted to create a family. I wanted more love. I thought that having more babies would bring me that, yet the universe was clearly not going to support that path.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again. The baby I needed to nurture and care for was the child within my heart, my very own inner child. I desperately needed to love the baby inside me. I wasn’t willing to do that then. I was looking to create more illusions.

I am loving my inner babe now.

Today I have a teenager and although I am sometimes sad she never had a sibling, I am deeply grateful I do not have more than one teenager to parent now. I am grateful for living in a time when I can have a safe abortion. My grandmother did not have this option, blessings on her soul.

I am grateful for my abortions, because I know in my heart that if I had three children now I would be crazy. That’s my truth.

Abortion is often a painful and unspeakable experience for many women.

Too many feel alone often years later.

If you have experienced abortion and are still suffering in silence, I am here for you. I am here to tell you that you can heal.

You are not crazy.

You are good.

You are worthy.

You are truly wonderful.

I honour the creator and the destroyer within Nature and within us all.

Amen.

References

Selena Ewing, Women and Abortion: An Evidence-Based Review, 2005; a meta analysis of Australian and international research on why women have abortion, compiled for a Women’s Forum Australia parliamentary submission. See also www.afterabortion.org

Spiritual Midwifery

Spiritual Midwifery is a holy and sacred partnership between women based on trust and respect. This bond between women has been broken yet its power is intact, alive and breathing as I write this. When I became a midwife I believed midwifery was a spiritual profession, however I was soon to discover that the spiritual aspects of midwifery have been seriously caked over with way too many mental concepts, procedures and rules, many of which have become arduous annoying burdens for the midwife.

In clinical midwifery partnership, the woman is the expert of herself the midwife is the expert of normal pregnancy and birth. The midwifery model of care is well documented and research tells us that continuity of midwifery care is highly protective for mothers and babies. Evidence shows continuity protects women and babies from 50-80% of medical interventions in the birthing process.

Spiritual Midwifery works in the same way and is protective of a womans soul. The woman is still the expert of herself and the midwife the guide through the mystery. I witnessed spiritual midwifery first hand when my daughter and a dozen of her friends became adolescents. The girls were prepared through a gentle process held by Moana Pearl when the girls were aged between 9 and 11, just before the tide of hormones kicked in.

Each girl and mother pair met with Moana weekly over a 6 week timeframe. Every week mothers and daughters participated in a living lesson, not through facts and information, no. Through the senses, and the felt experience of sitting in a tee pee with a dozen mothers and daughters, sitting close to the earth, with fire, stars above, sensing the dusk turn to night, tasting the food made by each woman, with carefully chosen storytelling and mask making activities. I witnessed these girls moving into menstruation with dignity, self esteem, confidence, peer support, ease, grace and even, lo and behold celebration!

A major turning of the tide. One huge step for woman kind. (Deep gratitude goes out to Moana Pearl) As a midwife helping women heal from childbirth I know how crucial this phase of a girls life is. Many a womans birth is deeply influenced by her feelings of how her body and blood were received by those close to her at the time of menarche. The imprints at these times are subtle yet profound. If a girl doesn’t feel loved, held, good and right in her body and blood, it can show up in her birthing process, years later.

Reclaiming menstruation as a sign of health, fertility and connection to natural cycles is powerful preparation for childbirth. Bleeding well teaches girls the essential art of self-care. It teaches girls to listen for what and who is nourishing and therefore helpful to her and what is harmful, essential skills to learn before we become mothers.

Spiritual Midwifery is like a navigator is to a yacht at sea. She leads the boat directly through uncharted waters, through danger, storms, rain, hail, snow, blistering heat, steering away from rocks and cliffs, recognizing predators and then eventually steering her home to a safe harbour.

I experienced spiritual midwifery again six years ago when I had a miscarriage. I was 13 weeks pregnant. There was no physical or emotional pain. It happened over a few days at home. I was in a state of peace, trust and surrender throughout. I accepted that this flow of blood and bone was nature’s plan for me. I didn’t fight nature. I didn’t try and hold on. I am fairly sure the experience might have been very emotionally painful if I had fought it or been afraid.

Katherine Cunningham held the space for me to safely let go of my baby over that time. She was my spiritual midwife. A guide, a safe soft ground, a woman, an Angel.

She respected my spirit and my soul throughout this process.

I had felt the baby leave my body as I slept, one night two weeks earlier.

It was like the feeling of a cord releasing from inside me and I noted a distinct freeing sensation. It was like a dove being released from a cage.

My intimate relationship at that time wasn’t a healthy place for me, let alone a baby. Shaking and terrified after a frightening scene with my ex, sensing I was beginning to bleed, I ran for cover. I threw a few clothes and towels in the car and drove to safety to my friend Katherine who happened to be holding space for the Womb Awareness Week art exhibition in Melbourne.

She said, “Yeah, come down and see me honey,” when I phoned her. Katherine was sitting alone in a gallery full to the brim of women’s Womb art. Art made by women inspired by their awareness of their wombs – some had even been painted with menstrual blood. I didn’t get to see any of the art, neither of us knew what was about to unfold.

I sat down. I took off my rings my partner had given me and placed them on the desk between Katherine and myself. My soul had not a minute longer to carry what was within me. Two minutes later I felt a river of warm blood begin to gush through my clothing onto the floor. I looked down to see blood running down my legs and filling my shoes. I made my way to the ladies bathroom where I began bleeding like a running tap. I could hear loud splashing noises.

I was calm. I knew I was okay and realized why I had thrown a few towels and old clothes into the car. We needed them.It was obvious that I was losing the baby. The only time I felt fear was when I went to see a doctor a day later. The GP said I needed to be rushed to the women’s hospital immediately for an emergency D&C, to have an anaesthetic and to have my womb scraped.

I still remember the jolt of terror that ran up my spine as she spoke those words. It seemed strange to me. Nothing in me told me I needed medical assistance. The GP was very convincing and I began to feel afraid. I had been completely okay and calm up until I went to see this doctor. Looking back I guess I felt “I should” talk to a doctor about what was happening.

As I left her office, Angel woman Katherine stepped into the waiting lounge and hugged me. Katherine placed her gentle hand on my lower back as I sat in the waiting room. I told her about the doctor’s suggestion of a D&C.

Katherine asked me… what feels right to you? I got a clear answer from my body that said, go home and rest. Everything flowed well for a couple of days I bled out some big clots and stayed close to home.

I prayed to the Goddess to help me complete the process naturally as I didn’t want to go into hospital. That night in my dream I felt a hand gently enter and cleanse my womb. I will never forget the feeling of kindness that came with that hand. The next day I awoke feeling that everything was complete. A large splosh in the loo and I knew this was the last of the pregnancy. I gathered everything together for blessing and releasing.

II found a sacred place to see and be with the loss. It felt very natural to stay with and see the remains for a while. Fortunately I had no fear, no surgery, no drugs and no antibiotics. My body healed beautifully. I know that I wasn’t meant to have a child in an unhealthy relationship. I so wanted to have another baby but the baby I needed to love and hold was the one inside of me.

I am holding her now.

I’d like to expand on what Katherine did for me over this time and what thankfully, she didn’t do. I am speaking here of the ancient art of woman to woman care, the lost art of spiritual midwifery. We can burn a forest to the ground and she will still sprout forth green shoots. She will always rise up. We cannot be destroyed and neither can our wisdom and our ways. Spiritual Midwifery is an ancient practice of deep listening, nurturing and protecting women and babies during life transitions such as menstruation, birth, menopause and death.

Katherine listened to me with every part of herself.

She listened to what I was saying in words and she listened to my soul. She didn’t judge. She didn’t try and save me from my process. She didn’t rescue me. She didn’t take pity on me or feel sorry for me. She didn’t panic. She didn’t stop me from bleeding. She made sure I was safe. She made sure I was listening to my my heart. She did seek advice from a registered midwife. She did convey her guidance to me. She trusted my process. She trusted my blood.

She didn’t offer me drugs. She didn’t do clinical tests. She didn’t take swabs. She didn’t fill my head with complex ideas. She didn’t take me into my head. She didn’t tie me up to a machine. She didn’t leave me with strangers.

I learned a lot from my miscarriage. I learned that if the space is held strong and safe, I can let go with a fair amount of ease.

At this time my tears flowed, my blood flowed and love flowed too. It all flowed out of me into the river by my house. I am grateful for this blood mystery. I learnt so much from this experience that I feel inspired to hold space for women who may not have had the loving support I had. I am grateful to Katherine for her gentleness towards me at this time. I felt so safe in her arms.

Elephant in the Womb

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to quit my job and start helping women heal from birth. It seemed the natural next step to go from being a midwife.

What I didn’t realize was how life changing this work would be for women.

My life also has been completely changed, we never heal alone.

When women come to me to heal from their birth what they are really healing from is the underlying patterns that created the birth outcome in the first place.

The truth actually DOES set us free.

How do I know this?

For the last year I have sat and listened to women’s birth stories from all over the world. It’s not only the story women tell me that they have come to heal, it’s the story underneath that often they can’t tell me or anyone that they most deeply want to heal.

A woman’s birth story is a doorway that takes me straight to a woman’s soul.

My gift is that I can hear the story beneath the story. I can hear the soul speaking to me through women’s birth story.

What exactly am I talking about here?

I am talking about the elephant in the womb, the deep wound that can’t be spoken.

I am talking about the weight of these wounds on our life now, on our body and soul now.

I am talking about our relationships with our mothers, our mother wound.

I am talking about fathers, what we learned to expect from the men in our life, and how that shapes birth and us as women now.

I am talking about our experience of Menarche, our first menstruation and how that experience impacts our births and now.

I am talking about our ‘other’ pregnancies, the terminations and miscarriages and how those experiences impact our life and our births, often decades after, they can be elephants in the womb.

I am talking about our losses, our stillbirths and how those experiences impact our life now.

I am talking about our first sexual experiences and how this dances into birth and life now.

I am talking about our sexual energy and how safe we feel to let this flow at birth and now.

Why am I talking about all this?

When women SEE the elephant in the womb, when they feel the weight of this creature inside them, they will lead the elephant to new pastures.

And then what?

Life changes, big time.

~ Women clear their shame and blame and move forward with their dreams

~ Women suddenly meet their soul mate after years of single parenting

~ Women regain their lightness of being

~ Women release guilt and create happy lives

~ Women return to pleasure and sex with renewed delight

~ Women deeply re-connect with their children

~ Women’s businesses take off

~ Women regain their vitality and dive into life again

What am I really doing by helping women heal from childbirth?

I am holding the space for women to heal their womb space, so they can live fully, so they can birth themselves.

At some point we know when we have birthed enough babies and it is time to birth our truth.

If you look back on your experience of childbirth, how do you really feel?

Take a moment and allow your body to inform you how she feels about that experience. If you sense there is something that still needs completion I am here ready to listen.

Angela Fitzgerald is a birth healing coach, midwife and mother. She helps women heal from birth and prepare for next births. She supports the birthing of new women through her unique personal coaching programmes.  To read what women are saying click here

Neikah saved my life

It was my friend Neikah who told me the truth. Her words saved my life. With both our feet barefoot on the earth hanging out the washing in my backyard she told me plainly and simply,

“If you don’t take your power back Ange, you’re going to be a victim for the rest of your life.

She was right.

Six years ago I was living in a crazy cycle of abuse, well strapped into my seat on the merry go round of the highly charged sexual honeymoon highs and the sure to follow soul crushing and devastating abusive lows. I lived in the hope things would get better. They didn’t.

I felt completely chemically addicted to the rush of pleasure highs despite the lows of shame that followed.

For years I was unable to break free.

That day at the clothes line Neikah’s words cut through me to the core. I was afraid of my then partner, yes, but what terrified me the most was actually being alone, facing the end of my dream, waking up and being a single mother yet again. It would be many years before I was willing to actually face standing alone.

Those two words, standing alone still disturb me.

For me they are synonymous with death by isolation or death by solitude. I hear Bridget Jones mouthing the aching words “all by myself” sorrowfully on her hairbrush whilst dishevelled in her pj’s eating whole buckets of ice cream and drinking red wine. I’ve felt like that without the ice cream and the red wine. I am slowly learning that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. There are so many to share meals, dances, glances and daily interactions with.

Six years on and I am free of that manic depressive relationship yet I am still learning how to love and how to care for myself. I am slowly learning how to take care of all aspects of my life and care for my teenage daughter.

A lightening bolt of truth jolted through me as Neikah spoke her words to me that day. I remember we had our feet on the softest grass, hanging out the washing in the glorious sunshine in the backyard of my home when she said it out of the blue.

Thankfully, I heard what she had to say. I could have ignored it, but the pain was too much. I had to cut off the relationship to save myself. It was destroying me.

I had two choices, I either took my power or allowed myself to be bullied out of my home. I couldn’t bear the thought of my life coming to that so I did what I was afraid to do.

I took my life back.

My ex had claimed the car and house as his and left my daughter and I homeless after a dispute a few days earlier. I had to call my father in the middle of the night to come over and protect us.

I found refuge in Neikah’s spare room with my daughter for two weeks before I was ready.

When my ex miraculously went away for the weekend I had an opportunity to take power where I had been previously tip toeing around walking on eggshells.

Neikah was right.

It was time to draw a line in the sand. I packed my ex’s belongings in boxes. I phoned the police and took out an AVO. I changed the locks on all the doors. I took my home and life back.

Around 4pm that afternoon a tall, caring, gentle blue eyed police man came to my door with the papers for me to sign for the violence order. I will never forget this day.

It was like the divine masculine entered my life. He was strong, he was calm, he was kind. He was present. He could see me and I could see him. I felt my whole body and the energy in the house around me shift to peace.

A radiant glow of afternoon sun permeated the living room. It was a moment of profound grace in my life.

As I sat with the policeman, whose name I cannot remember, I experienced a deep inner feeling of protection and calm.

I felt so safe in his presence. He gently talked me through the process and showed me where to sign. When we were done he looked at me and said,

“I bet you wish you had done this a long time ago eh?”

I nodded.

He was right.

It was like I saw a man Angel that day. I was a person who for the most part really didn’t feel good about police, but that day this officer melted something that was frozen in my heart.

He made me feel safe.

And then we were done.

I banished the predator and began my journey to wholeness. I am still on that journey, learning how to create safety when the predator within me wants to tease me, tear me down and destroy everything real and soulful I have created.

I have created a meaningful life with my own two hands, work I value and relationships with people who respect me and love me.

Once we banish the external predators from our life we are left to face the inner crazy makers, we are clear to see the inner cycle of abuse and the ravages of the predator who lives inside our mind.

I have had to fight her off too to save my self. It takes some power and some energy to become aligned with yourself.

Neikah is still in my life. She’s a great soul. A fantastic lomi lomi massage therapist too. She was there at my wedding. She was there when my marriage failed and she is still there now two years after my divorce.

Thank god for friends, friends who speak the truth and friends who go the distance.

Before ‘the relationship’ there are friends and after ‘the relationship’ there are friends.

Thank God for Neikah.

Thank God for friends.

Amen.

Mending my Mother Wound

This morning I received a soft package in my letterbox. Inside was a beautiful scarf I had bought while Mum was visiting. I had worn it a few times and pulled several threads that were quickly destroying the fabric.

Mum kindly offered to take the scarf home and mend it for me. She probably sat patiently and hemmed the ends in her yellow chair. After this she folded the soft fabric in a bag and mailed it to me with a hand written note on a bit of paper.

She wrote the following words on the back of a real estate agents notebook.

“I love you darling and I will always believe in you. Enjoy your scarf” Mum

Beside this were two hand drawn love hearts.

Heart murmur.

I have been waiting to hear these words from my Mum. I’ve felt that I haven’t been able to give her the joy that she might have hoped for in me as her daughter. I haven’t been able to fit into any job or system, although I have certainly tried. I’ve had a dark path.

I’ve been a single mother, probably a catholic mothers worst nightmare come true. There’s been drama. I married a verbally abusive man and later divorced him. I’ve been angry and lost and broke and had to ask her for money.

I have often felt that I have failed her, and at the same time I have felt angry that she failed me. I’ve been angry at her too. I became a mother around 5 years of age, when my brother was born. I became a caretaker of others.

I spent most of my adult life looking for love, only to finally realize I could in fact take care of myself.

Today, reading her words and seeing her small neat stitches, something inside me is mending.

I am looking at the scarf and feeling her love. Her kindness. Through it all, my mum loves me. Maybe she always did and I couldn’t let it in because I made certain decisions about her so young and gave up. I simply blocked her out.

Today I let her love in. Today, she mends the very fabric of my heart.

I haven’t had an easy relationship with my mother. For so long I felt I had to protect myself from her.

I am like her in so many ways and have never wanted to admit this, ew no.

Today with the soft scarf in my hands and her words close I feel the ice melting in a long cold war of defence and protection between us. I have needed to take a lot of space to feel safe. All I have ever wanted is to be myself and be accepted as I am. To be seen and heard. To be loved.

As I drop the masks and be myself, she reaches out and extends her love to me.

Inside out mothering. I am open to receive her love as well as my own. I am open to receive the love and support of my female friends and this beautiful big juicy nurturing mother earth too.

I cannot deny that a small drop of her love feels like a healing for my soul today.

I am of her. I am not her, but I am sooooo like her. And I love her. And I grieve for the years I felt so unmothered, rejected, ashamed, disliked, lonely and forgotten. I have long been a swan who thought she was an ugly duckling.

Today with soft scarf at my fingertips I can open the gates of my defended heart and release the past. Release the games and the holding back that has held soooo much of my energy and love back. There are few women I have been able to trust with my heart. Today I heal the fine gossamer threads of my tender heart.

Words can mend.

I know that I too can make amends with words and acts of kindness. I know I too can do this.

We can tell others we love them in the simplest of ways. We can smile at them, we can give a hug, we can write a love letter, we can mend things, fix things, we can listen, we can stay a while. We can make a meal, pick up some toys. We can make a cake. We can tend to a broken wing. We can make eye contact and mean it. We can find the courage to trust another with our heart, with our truth, with our beauty and even with our wounds. If I can, you can too.

Small acts of kindness are incredibly powerful.

Thanks Mum for this reminder.

I love you too.