This post was originally published as part of the story behind the story series for writers by Gulara Vincent.
I had a great form teacher in sixth form at school. He was cool. He was full of energy and not afraid to do things differently. He really cared and encouraged us to choose meaningful life paths. “If you don’t you will end up just drifting aimlessly,” he cautioned.
His words struck a chord and I reflected on what I could contribute to the world. In vain. I had no clue or direction at all. In the absence of a cohesive vision I followed the soft whispers of my heart wherever they led, always seeking, searching for meaning.
I wandered long and far, spending years travelling in an outwardly carefree manner. But despite the beautiful patterns my meandering river left in my landscape it felt increasingly empty and meaningless without some deeper purpose to guide the flow. Direction and purpose were a long time coming to me. This dissatisfaction and unfulfilled longing for a deeper meaning eventually drew me into an exploration of my inner world, as varied and full of adventure as my outer wanderings had been. Inspired by the difference in myself I trained as a Journey practitioner and a massage therapist and became passionate helping others heal too.
The threads of my life began to come together like tributaries joining the main branch. My river began to pick up tempo and I met my future husband, who though neither he nor I knew it at the time, was very much part of the answer to my prayer to find my specific calling in life.
“Am I going too fast for you?” He asked as in a fluster I answered “What for?” to his simple request for my number. “thing is I’ve only got till Birmingham.” It was true. He left the National Express Coach at Birmingham with my number whilst I continued to Gatwick. Life had decided I had done enough meandering and it was time for a faster flow downstream.
Things continued to happen fast which is a little ironic as my husband is from Africa and has taught me to move to a more slow and gentle rhythm than the frenetic rushing I used to do. I became pregnant quickly. I was just beginning to joyfully get my head around this new development when I miscarried. As an accredited Journey Practitioner* I knew what to do with the emotional pain that this brought up and I surrendered to waves of deep pain, grief and loss. The physical pain took me by surprise though. My then boyfriend and I held each other through the turbulence of grief and we planted a rose bush in honour of our unborn child.
Our child in her brief visit had awakened my interest in birth. Faced with a negative attitude from my doctor towards a local birth centre I remained quiet about the tentative hints from my womb about choosing a home birth instead. Although I was no longer pregnant and we had decided to wait at least six months so I could finish a massage practitioner course I was on I began almost obsessively to research about pregnancy and birth.
Six months later I was pregnant again. This time I knew my child was staying and I threw myself into preparing for his arrival. Not with shopping for possessions but with a renewed inner exploration. I dug into and changed negative beliefs and fears I had about birth. I cleared imprints from my own birth experience and released old cellular memories that were being held in my womb and in my body. I addressed my fears of my desired birth experience being interfered with in some way by the medical profession and became quietly confident and joyfully excited about giving birth. We birthed at home in the dark, in water. My heart exploded in love as we lifted him to my chest, his features glistening in the torchlight, his serene expression reflected in our eyes and hearts.
Even then I didn’t twig that this was the ultimate direction of my business which was still nameless. It seems so obvious now looking back at the clues. So often I had spontaneously accessed memories of my time in the womb and my own birth, although I have no conscious memory of this time ordinarily. I noticed that many of the women I worked with were able to do the same and heal aspects of their own entrance to the world. It was many months before I had the actual lightbulb moment where I finally caught up with my soul’s desires and everything fell into place.
The words came on a golden shaft of light pouring into my head. “I can help women do what I did, I can help women transform their experience of birth”
I paused and let it sink in. I felt the ramifications of my realisation and it felt good. My heart skipped in excitement. The river was paused, poised at the top of the cliff admiring the grand vista before plunging down into the depths, droplets of water catching the light and erupting into glorious mini rainbows as it went.
In these last eight years I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of many women’s journeys to motherhood. The feedback from those whose lives I have just the fuel I need to feed my passion and continue my work to transform the birthing experience of women and babies.
*For more information about The Journey by Brandon Bays follow the link
If you liked this post they you may like to read a little more about my birth stories here. Healing Birth Trauma: Reflections on the Meaning of My Diffferent Stories.
‘Look’, my son cries, ‘a rainbow’. We stop and gaze in wonder at the vivid colours leaping across the sky towards their fabled pot of gold that promises new beginnings and richness beyond imagining. My son is delighted that it appears to start just behind our road somewhere. I am delighted by his innocence, joy and enthusiasm. I am reminded that I need not chase after an ephemeral, always just out of reach, external source of riches. My son’s excitement and the rainbow’s own glory prompt me to stop and savour the riches I am already living. Right here, right now my own pot of gold laughs with me at the amazing colours of life unfolding before our eyes.
As if a joyful reminder to notice the richness already surrounding me, and a promise of hope and renewal weren’t enough, today the rainbow also directed me towards the power of forgiveness via my much loved deck of Mother’s Wisdom Cards. I pulled the Rainbow card and was invited to reflect on forgiveness. I remembered times I had forgiven a person or event that was weighing on my heart. the resultant joy and lightness causes me to soar to heights on a par with the rainbow’s dizzy display of colour.
As I reflected a strong memory surfaced of one of the most memorable and significant times I have felt forgiveness. The back story shows me at a time in my life when I was single and had just tried, luckily unsuccessfully, to have a relationship with a highly unsuitable man. He did not treat me well and still I chased. My huge grief at the realisation that this was not going to be the relationship I wanted it to be was totally out of proportion to the handful of times I had met him before he ran away and refused all contact. Every attempt at real communication felt catastrophically wrong and painful. I became angry and bitter at the way I had been treated and despite previous attempts to find closure had not managed to let go of the story. Even I could tell I was obsessing over something that from the outside looked relatively minor. Why did it feel so big to me?
So I sought support from a friend and colleague in the form of a Journey Process.* During my process I was transported back to what appeared to be a past life memory of my execution. I was about to be beheaded by someone I knew from my village and as I looked into his eyes I recognised him to be this man from my present life who’d mysteriously run straight out of my life. I felt such a strong connection to this person and felt that they had been important to me in this life yet here they were about to execute me. His eyes were full of guilt and anguish. I continued to gaze at him and consciously opened into his heart and asked to be shown how it was for him. I was blasted into such a powerful shock and grief with the words ‘I am sorry, please forgive me’ repeated over and over and over again.
I felt our village was being ransacked and women were being targeted and punished, particularly healers or medicine women and there was a kind of civil war happening with villagers being pitted against each other in cruel twist. He was utterly horrified at what he was being forced to do. but although he did not want to kill me, in that moment, at that time he had no choice.
As I felt this I really had no choice either. I forgave him completely. Or more accurately forgiveness flooded my heart and being as I felt the totality of the situation and the enormity of his grief and regret. He had been punished enough. I let go of my blame, anger and betrayal. I allowed love to flow through me again. I felt whole and healed.
As I brought this energy through to the present day me I felt only compassion for my would be suitor and instead of the ranting email I had planned I found the only words in my mind and heart were ‘I love you, please forgive me and I let you go now.’
I never saw or spoke to him again. These words were expressed only in this process. But I have no doubt that they set us both free. As I let him go, both in the past and in the present, I let go too. I felt relief and joy. I felt as if I was flying across the sky like the rainbow propelled by my forgiveness into a pot of golden freedom. I didn’t need to chase it. The gold was pouring into and from my heart as love replaced the heavy weight that unbeknownst to me I had been carrying for far longer than the few months I had known this person.
Memories like these concerning what I term ‘witch hunt mentality’ seem to be occurring quite commonly at this time. Whole groups of women are releasing this stored collective consciousness from our past. It is time for women to step out of the shadow of these previous eras when to survive it was necessary to hide our talents and the ways of feminine healing and leading. It is time to forgive and set aside the past and to create wholeness. A wholeness where the feminine and masculine energies within each of us live in balance and unity. A wholeness where love and forgiveness shine forth like the rainbow leading us to the gold within.
This deep spontaneous forgiveness that came with understanding and emotional release set me free, set both of us free, and it is this kind of work that is setting a whole generation free. I am amazed by what I discover when I enquire within, how much can be imprinted and stored from traumatic events and equally how much can be released. We are creating space for new lives, new beginnings. A space that is much needed.
In this case, new beginnings spilled their colours quickly onto the canvas of my life. Shortly afterwards I met my amazing husband and my life took on a wonderful new direction.
And so I leave you with the reflection, Where in your life is forgiveness needed? What rainbows would brighten your sky brighten your sky when you forgive?
For more information about The Journey pioneered by Brandon Bays and how it can help you find freedom and forgiveness please click here.* For a 3 free guided visualizations created by Brandon Bays for healing and relaxation please click here* and for the free e-book The Journey click here *
Follow the link to learn more about and buy Mother’s Wisdom Deck: A 52-Card Inspiration Deck with Guidebook (Book & Cards)*
If you feel like you may benefit from some forgiveness work check out my 1:1 page to see what I offer or call me to chat about how I can help you.
*These are affiliate links.
I love being pregnant, I love the feeling of the growing child in my belly. I felt well and strong both times and yet I also felt the most vulnerable I have ever felt in my life. In addition to clearing out unhelpful beliefs at ever deeper levels I steadied myself with regular grounding practices that felt essential to my survival and wellbeing. Survival sounds dramatic but truthfully there were moments during my second pregnancy when I was floundering in panic so strong I struggled to catch my breath and I could feel my blood pounding on the inside of my head. Times when I was desperately reaching out for anything familiar to hold onto. In those times the wisdom of the earth and its slower pace calmed my racing pulse and soothed my worries. I wish I had developed a regular practice much earlier than I did, and reminded myself more often when I forgot.
In this post I share with you four of the basic principles I now bear in mind when wishing to ground myself and five ideas for grounding that calmed and supported me and that I continue to practice and enjoy daily even though the extreme vulnerability I felt in pregnancy is no longer with me.
Never underestimate the power of intention. Much has been written about the manifesting power of our thoughts and our outer reality mirroring our inner world. We hear this so often we can sometimes overlook the simplicity and efficacy of the principle. Check in with your intention as you choose an activity and trust that choice. State your intention openly out loud. Believe in it. Then throw caution to the wind and have some fun.
Resistance can show up in so many ways and the most common for me are telling myself I have no time, and then forgetting when I do make time. It is so easy for me to say, ‘oh I can’t do that I have to look after my children.’ Children who delight in making up games involving mud, stones and sticks and who would love any excuse to roll around in the dirt under the guise of grounding.
My invitation is to use your resistance as a springboard of inspiration and challenge your habitual perspectives. Look at what you are saying is not possible and turn it on its head. Invent a grounding game for your children and join in. Ask them to come up with new ways to connect to the Earth. If you do not have children, invite your inner child to play instead and step back in time to an age of wonder and innocence and get fascinated with the world at your feet. A different perspective can do wonders for your mood. Lie on the earth and imagine the world from the perspective of an ant or a ladybird. See what insights come your way.
Don’t wait for that ideal time as it doesn’t exist. I am sure you have heard that before. I am not sure my toddler son has though, but he doesn’t waste his time questioning if the time is right or if he has time and embodies the principle quite naturally. The other day I observed him unwittingly do a full sun salutation in the middle of the supermarket floor. I thought he should get back in the trolley so I could zoom around the supermarket and get out of what I felt to be an oppressive atmosphere and get back into the daylight as quick as possible. He had other ideas and was ignoring me. Totally. He did downward dog, cobra, some impressive rolling moves, cat pose and a few I have forgotten before returning to downward dog. He finished with Shavasana and a big grin.
Just to be clear I have not done yoga with him as the few times I tried he sat on my head and bounced. Yanked my clothes down shouting milk. Laughed uproariously, ran over me, lay down under me and kicked, jumped on my knees singing Zoom Zoom. Yet with the natural wisdom of children he was engagingly reminding me to seize any opportunity, get creative and try something new.
Although I think I will all the same steer clear of the supermarket aisle in favour of the park or garden for an impromptu Yoga session.
This is an idea that came to me courtesy not of some esoteric traditional teaching per se but in the form of the Terry Pratchett Discworld Series and specifically via the youngest witch Magrat*1 . Faced with a locked door and no magical powers she was stuck. Thinking creatively and inventively and recalling advice from her teachers she placed her hands on the wooden door and invited the door to remember the time it was a tree. It sprang into life and started to grow leaves and branches and failed to remain a locked door. She was able to get in and do what she needed to do and I am inspired to use what I have and follow it back to its Source. Or in the words of Thich Nhat hanh describing mindfulness practice ‘ So the practice consists of looking deeply into the ground of consciousness to identify the seeds that are there.’*2 When he looks deeply into the nature of a flower he sees in addition to the petals and colour of the flower, all the non flower elements that were essential on its path to manifesting as a flower including the rain, soil and sun and the gardener. I use this idea when I can’t physically get out in nature to open a pathway of connection using whatever objects are to hand.
And cultivate a few flowers of my own.
We do like our shoes, to protect our feet, to look pretty. We are also generally fans of pavements, and spend a lot of time indoors on carpets and artificial floors. And we mostly live in cities. All of which is far removed from our evolutionary origins.
This separation from the natural world with a fast paced, gadget happy substitute can cause considerable stress to our system. Whereas the background electromagnetic frequency of the Earth generally vibrates at the low frequency of 7.8HZ which corresponds to the Alpha spectrum of human brain waves or the state of consciousness we enter when in deep meditation. Studies on urban populations have shown measurable benefits with even small amounts of time spent in green places such as parks as it supports us to harmonize our vibration with that of the Earth.
So I invite you to get up, get out and get your shoes off! Even if it is just for a few moments. A relatively short period of time may be enough to slow you down and bring you back into harmony with the earth.
Go for a short walk with intention. Stand for a few minutes in your garden. Choose your patch of earth and luxuriate in the sensations available to your naked feet. Is the ground rough, smooth, cold, hot, soft, level, bumpy? Savour the different textures and flavours of the ground as you meet with the earth through your feet. Sense the energy and wonder about the history of the ground you are touching. Feel the ground touch you back wondering about you, who you are. Feel your feet come alive with this connection. Feel this life energy move through you and in you. Feel the grounded potential in you be activated with each conscious step on the earth. Lie down and bask in the sun, supported by the Earth. Let it soak into your very bones.
This might be a bit chilly in Winter ( though don’t let that stop you) and even in summer.
Whilst pregnant with my second I felt I needed a boost and asked inside what could I do? I got a picture of a nettle leaf. To my delight with the help of trusty old Google I discovered that nettle tea was perfect for women and particularly pregnant woman and something of a superfood plant. They are also growing in my deliberately wild garden. (Tip: If you have a garden have a look around and see what you have growing that you can make tea with. the herbs and plants that grow naturally or you have chosen to grow are potent medicine for you.) My eldest is now also a big fan. As I sip the tea I can taste the earth energy and feel all those nutrients entering my body. I love nettle tea. If you don’t fancy braving the stings or don’t have them in your garden you can buy it readymade pretty much anywhere. If nettle tea is not to your taste try another herbal drink. Or plain old water. For once again intention and animation are key here. You have an intention to get more grounded. What does your body desire? What do you love to drink? Choose what arises in this moment. Take it outside if you can and stand on the earth. But even if this is not possible drink it with the intent of grounding and savour each sip. Take those moments of slowness to really imbibe the essence of your chosen drink and connect to the energy of the earth that was a part of its creation.
Travelling in Thailand and getting up early one morning I found the park literally full of people rhythmically tapping each part of their body awake. I was fascinated and tried it out myself despite feeling a bit silly. I have since experienced it as a partner exercise in a couple of different seminars back home too. I also dimly remember dance lessons in primary school where we had to pretend to be a tree…
So here is my take on all that.
With a partner you stand and imagine that you are a tree. Visualise the roots going down into the ground and feel the earth energy rising up your roots and grounding you. Feel that energy rising up your body/trunk and out through your arms and head as the branches. You may sway and flow with the energy. Meanwhile your partner taps with loving intent on your feet. They can then move up your legs and torso, and head and arms and back down to your feet. Finish with your feet. If you have knowledge of EFT tapping points you can include those. Again get creative. Combine this with affirmations, singing, sighing, whatever the practice moves you to do.
Don’t have a partner or your children don’t want to play this game, you can do it alone. Follow the suggested visualisation and do your own tapping.
Red: The colour of our blood, the life force energy flowing through our veins day and night. A powerful colour, strong bold and courageous. It is also the colour of the base chakra and is a grounding vibration that can support us to be more grounded if we let it. Try:
This may seem an odd one to include in a list of grounding activities but bear with me. Yes water is more about fluidity than the solidity of grounding but when you are tired and other grounding activities feel impossibly active then you can slide into a bath and let go into the soothing embrace of warm water. As the warmth penetrates deeply into your tired muscles and you let your tiredness ooze out into the bath water you can switch off from your surroundings and let your awareness wander with the water. All things have their own consciousness and memory, water is no exception. You can follow the energy of the water right back to its origin in nature as a pure mountain spring bubbling out of the earth, tinkling music to your ears as it ripples through pebbles. Imagine you are that stream of fluidity and feel the earth that you flow over and through supporting you as you sit in the bath. Invite that earthy grounding energy to permeate the water and then soak into your body which is itself largely water. Let your imagination run as you flow over boulders through forests out into the sea. Feel the energy of the earth that lies under the water that covers much of the planet. Breathe gently and infuse your spirit with this earth magic as you rest in your bath.
So this is my take on getting grounded. How about you? I would love to hear from you.
*2Thich Nhat hanh, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment. Shambhala Publications Inc. 2001
Spiralling downwards into despair,
I meet The Mother,
As she spirals upwards to meet me
Where I am.
And she carries me,
Comforts and consoles me,
Until I am ready to rejoin Her upwards spiral.
Connected to Her core I spiral up and down with Her.
Always with Her.
I let go into Her heart and Her love draws me deeper.
I pass through the eye of infinity.
And I return,
Raw and aching,
Vital and alive,
Singing my Mother song.
Together we spiral onwards.
This poem was originally published on 29/04/2015 on The Song Hearth
The ability to uncover surprising and often unconventional solutions to challenges has been a big part of my path to enjoying a life of freedom and fulfilment. However impossible or insurmountable the problem first appears I have found that solutions are always available, accessible and usually strongly signposted. I have learnt to trust in these signs from the universe as to my right path, to the next step and confirmation my current choices are the correct ones. I now work to support others to feel intuitively into their next step and to heed the signs showing up in their own life
In a 1:1 session I listen deeply. I listen for clues and guidance for you and I encourage you to notice what’s in front of you in your own life. The trick is in noticing the signs, which don’t always seem immediately obvious at first. Once we’ve noticed then we can choose to follow or not. But noticing is the first step and I have in the past missed many helpful hints, even as I was tripping right over them, as they were just not what I was expecting or looking for.
I have always liked penguins. From fascinating visits to remote penguin colonies in New Zealand to more recent documentaries and films I kept noticing penguins. But not even the very recently invented game by my children – where I am attacked by two fluffy squeaking toy penguins was enough to alert me to a deeper penguin message waiting for me.
It wasn’t until I accidentally stumbled across the distinctive font of my logo during a search for fonts for my new look website to be launched in coming months that the penny dropped and I finally stopped to listen to the penguins.
Unbelievably I had never bothered to find out what this font was and here it was, the decorative curls of Penguin Attack were leaping out of the page at me.
As I downloaded the font, I felt mildly disappointed. Feeling that this was more than a coincidence and loving symbolism my mind was quick to wish that it could have been called something more overtly meaningful, like liberating freedom for example…
I apologised mentally to my penguin support for my critical judgment and opened up to the message.
Penguins may not be able to fly but they are masters of adaptation and genius at unconventional solutions to survive and thrive in some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth and are loyal partners and devoted parents to boot. I was reminded I don’t have to comply with convention, that I can find my own way however unorthodox and that I can adapt to any situation.
I felt the relevance of their strength, resilience and originality in harsh environments to the current birthing paradigm in the Western world where so many women still give birth on their backs in a medicalised and risk averse environment and need to find courage to go against this grain, calling on their inner strength and intuition to birth their own way.
This unconventional solution that brings freedom into their salty environment in which they would otherwise perish really caught my attention.
I realized that filtering out impurities is a large part of the work I do at BirthEssence. The toxic salt water environment in our lives is our exposure to negative beliefs and stories around pregnancy and birth which we unconsciously soak up and internalise. In 1:1 sessions I work with women to process any unhelpful information they may have absorbed and imprinted and to release the detrimental consciousness stored in the cells. (The salt water.) We then drink in the energy and resources revealed in the gift from the experience. ( The purified water.)
Yet another relevant symbol of their transformative power. The shed feathers for the women I work with are all the unhelpful beliefs and stories that are holding us back. The feathers we grow at BirthEssence are feathers of courage, inner strength, and freedom. The freedom that comes when we trust in our bodies and babies. The freedom that we experience when we are confident to be fully ourselves and follow our own path however unconventional.
They huddle together for warmth and take it in turns to be coccooned in the heat and safety of the centre and to brave the cold in a protective role at the outside of the circle. Despite the size of the penguin colony they retain a distinctive personal call that is instantly recognizable by the penguin’s mate and offspring even after months apart.
This warm community support whilst honouring and strengthening our unique voice is a key feature of the work I do. We work together for the good of ourselves, our unborn child and for the future of humanity. There is an urgent call for strong women to stand up in their powerful essence and follow their inner blueprint for birth and so transform the world.
Believing the world to be a safe and friendly place they will make waves and transform the future of our planet. When we have done the inner work to clear out our secret fears, the impossible becomes possible and birth is returned to its rightful place as an empowering, transformational and enjoyable rite of passage.
I was delighted to find all of this and more in the message of the penguin, neatly embedded into the heart of my business through the name of my logo. Each time I see my logo I am reminded of the determination, and love of the penguin facing Antarctic storms and extreme cold whilst lovingly caring for its offspring in the centre of a supportive community. I feel renewed in me the determination to make a difference in the experience of women as they lovingly bring their children into the world and I feel supported as I do so.
The penguins and my children seem to be in cahoots, reminding me of their message with each throw of the toy penguins. I laugh and dodge and appreciate each ‘Penguin Attack’ message unwittingly bestowed on me by my amazing children.
And this is how it is. Otherworldly wisdom concealed in the everyday. We don’t always need to do long pilgrimages to holy sites to gain wisdom and insights in our lives. We don’t need to look so far at all for answers. All we need to know is laid out before us and all the strength we need is inside. Sometimes the clues are plain to see and sometimes it takes a little digging or a little imagination. Sometimes we need a little help to believe in ourselves. But we are always supported.
It is with fresh eyes I contemplate my logo and work and I am grateful. I am grateful for my hidden helpers the penguins, and I am grateful for the power of intuition, persistence, and the rewards of following the seemingly unconventional path when that is what is calling to my soul. The strength and joy that comes with being me. I am reminded again to watch out for the signs and then to follow them.
And so I invite you to consider your own life. I wonder what messages are waiting to be discovered in your everyday activities? How are unconventional signs leading you to freeing, inspirational choices in your lives? I would love to hear what signs and confirmations are showing up in your life so drop me a line below or post on the facebook page and let me know!
Looking for some support to ‘filter out the salt’ and regain trust in your body? Click here for information on how my 1:1 MotherNurture Sessions can assist you to feel amazing and strong on your journey to motherhood.
More about penguin symbology and other animal signs can be found here
And a short You Tube video my children enjoyed here
I love Christmas time and especially the family festivities and sharing of gifts. It is a time that really warms my heart. This year my heart is warmed and positively thrilled to bits with one of my Christmas presents to myself: the new book edited by Milli Hill just published called Water Birth: Stories to inspire and inform. I am ever so excited because the birth of my first child is one of the featured stories. To celebrate my first published piece of writing I have written a post about my personal experience of water birth including some of the details of the birth story that is found in full in the book. I do hope you enjoy reading.
I have always loved water. Holidaying in France as a young child I learnt to swim with the help of my mum in the shallows of a serene lake. I remember feeling so proud, brave and free as I let my feet lift off the sand and float and began to move through the water unaided.
Growing up many happy days were spent playing with my brother and friends in rivers and oceans. We would leap and dive under crashing waves in Wales, daring the surf to catch us as we ran away. We would shout with raucous laughter, racing, chasing and splashing. We would spend hours making damns, creating pools to soak in. We would alternate pushing against the rivers’ currents with allowing ourselves to be carried tranquilly downstream to the sound of accompanying birdsong.
As an adult I am still instantly soothed and relaxed by the trickling sound of a river meandering along its path and the regular rhythm of crashing surf followed by its gentle tinkling return through shells and shingle.
I continued to swim regularly throughout this pregnancy, getting a taste of how I might feel during a water birth. I enjoyed the weightlessness and ease of movement in the water. I even enjoyed the contrast as I climbed back out onto land, the sudden heaviness pulling me down into the earth, solid and stable beneath my feet. I appreciated the strong grounded feeling with a secret inner glee at the delightful memory of the floating freedom, a sense of power and possibility and the connection with my baby, whom I sensed enjoyed these sensations as much as I did.
My reading revealed fascinating history and surprising facts and ultimately allayed any concerns I may have had over safety.
I read of petroglyphs in Egypt depicting births of Pharaohs approximately 8000 years ago and accounts from the oral traditions of indigenous people who gave birth in shallow sea water or pools. There are examples both old and in modern day times right across the globe, from the Maoris to the Indians of Central America to the Hawaiian islands. These are glorious tales of women supporting women using the warm water to aid relaxation and for pain relief, that really warmed my heart.
In the Western world documented water birth is much more recent and until the latter part of the last century very sporadic. Water birth remained largely unknown until the 1970’s and the pioneering work of two obstetricians, Michel Odent in France and Igor Tjarkovsky in Russia.
Igor’s initial interest in water was sparked by a desire to help his premature daughter by immersing her in warm water in order to create an environment akin to the womb that she’d departed two months early. Seeing her rapid progress he went onto develop glass tanks and to experiment with the use of water during childbirth itself.
Michel Odent set up a Birthing Centre in Pithviers which focused on creating a home like environment with minimal intervention. The birthing rooms included baths for relaxation and pain relief. Inevitably as women enjoyed the benefits of the soothing warm water some women didn’t want to get out again and babies started to be born in the water. By 1983 he had attended over 100 of these water births and was able to publish a medical research paper.
From here on in the popularity of water birth blossomed and bloomed. Supportive studies were published demonstrating the safety, women and midwives were vocal supporters and the opportunity to experience a water birth became more accessible and common as word spread. Today most maternity units in the UK are able to offer water birth to their women.
I was also inspired by positive stories on the internet and the birth of a friend’s baby, nearly 10lbs in water with ease and grace and no tearing.
I bit the bullet and bought my own pool that took up the whole of my living room.
And I was also a little bit nervous. And sometimes just a tiny little bit impatient…
But, eventually my turn came. In my living room, gently into the dark waters of my birth pool, my baby boy was born. The atmosphere was serene and still, apart from some urgent clamouring from the midwives to get my husband back in the room before he missed it! He shot out across the pool like a shooting star across the night sky. His body, dimly lit by the head torch carried by the midwife, could be seen curled and glistening through the ripples caused by my undulating body as it arced into position. Lifted out by myself and my husband together in calm tranquillity, he appeared to be still sleep. The only noise was his sudden, surprising intake of breath followed by a deep satisfied sigh of happiness as he nestled against my chest, legs still floating in the water.
This story, my first birth experience is etched into my heart and transformed me deeply. I have loved telling and retelling my story hoping to inspire other women the way I was helped by hearing their positive stories. The telling of personal stories is a weaving of magic that transforms and teaches. The sharing of positive and empowering stories is a powerful support especially in our culture which tends to share the horror stories far too often. Giving birth awakened a passion in me to support other women on their journeys to mother hood and I am delighted and touched that the story of my first son’s birth will be available to more women than I could personally reach with the publication of the book Water Birth: Stories to inspire and inform
This delightful book is a compilation of women’s birth stories covering a wide range of situations – hospital, home, birthcentre, twins… All with the use of water. All the stories are intended, as the title implies, to inspire and inform of the wonderful possibilities of using water in childbirth. It is packed full of information within the stories themselves and in the commentary by Milli Hill who has herself experienced the delights of water birth and whose story also features.
It is my hope that women reading these stories are uplifted and guided into their own power to choose and create their own positive and transformative birth experience. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and would love to hear from you in the comments below.
You can buy ‘Water Birth: Stories to inspire and inform’ from Amazon here:
Water Birth: Stories to inspire and inform
The definitive book on water birth and the source of the historical data quoted is called The Waterbirth Book and is by Janet Balaskas.
For more about water birth and a taste of Milli Hill’s excellent writing click here to read one of her articles for Best Daily . Milli Hill is a freelance writer and weekly columnist for BestDaily.co.uk. She is the founder of the The Positive Birth Movement You can follow her on Twitter: @millihill
The book is also available to buy from wordery and direct from Milli Hill here