Body awareness is part of self-awareness. Body awareness is part of the preparation process for birth. We carry all kinds of stuff and history in our bodies--pregnancy is another opportunity to do important work and engage in a different kind of self-care.
The pelvic floor are the muscles in one's pelvic region that assist with urination, bowel movements and sexual response (e.g. orgasm). During pregnancy the pelvic bones expand and your pelvic floor needs to do more work. One can feel heaviness, tightness or looseness which may be an indicator that some work with a physical therapist with specialized training in core strengthening during pregnancy and childbirth may be useful. How is your body doing?
The physical therapist will assess and design a plan based on your needs and comfort level. They will ask questions regarding any of the following: pain, discomfort during intercourse or urinary issues. The process is transparent, intentional and confidential. It can be collaborative based on your level of interest--that is, if you wish to include your doula, midwife or obstetrician in your work with the physical therapist. This is your birth process.
The research indicates that preparing your pelvic region, in particular your perineum for childbirth can decrease the number of interventions needed during childbirth and can decrease the possibility of tearing.
You may want to consider partnering with a core strengthening physical therapist as part of your birth plan and postpartum care plan. ATNSC Doula can assist with finding the resources that best fit with your birth plan.
Some Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation in Birth Work
(A Draft-in-Process from ATNSC Doula)
Cultural practices taken and integrated as part of the birth plan for a birthing person who is not from that particular culture (or a culture not associated to the birthing person’s family system) is a missed opportunity to connect to and access actual traditions that are culturally specific during the birth process. Cultural appropriation is counter to the narrative about connecting to self while giving birth to one’s child. That is, everyone is indigenous to some location on the planet.
There is a connection between cultural appropriation and myths about birth. Romanticizing the notion of “motherhood” diminishes the role of the birthing person as a witness to another human being’s entry into our world—again, counter to the narrative that self-work and self awareness are keys to positive birth outcomes. It is the responsibility of the birth companion to assist the birthing person to unpack their concerns and assumptions about birth. Cultural competence then becomes a part of a skill set necessary in engaging in birth work.
When you take the rituals, stories and cultural practices from a community in which you are not a member as a foundation for a client’s birth experience, it frames the beginning of the child’s entry into our world as one of colonizer. Privileging their birth above the children of the particular culture stolen from. How we enter is important.
Indigenous ceremonies have a purpose; seen and unseen. Designing birth processes that engage with an unknown ritual without understanding can have real consequences for the birthing person and child. Even practitioners of a spiritual tradition not their own are initiated and given permission to engage in a particular ceremonial life; this is a life-long commitment and promise.
Cultural appropriation is not just about intellectual property. At its core, it’s about the missed opportunity to connect; part of the project of colonization, misogyny, racism, etc. is to detach the marginalized from their own sense of power—from their actual power (this includes birthing persons). Therefore, in many ways, cultural appropriation in birth processes and parenting is a form of internalized oppression. Doulas and other birth workers embody a duality of being both traditional and countercultural simultaneously. We have the responsibility to engage in behaviors and processes that are decolonizing.
Using cultural appropriation in birthing processes creates a barrier. When I say barrier I mean how one seeks knowledge and understanding about birth, breastfeeding and parenting becomes a form of power and control; an elitist exercise to separate the good parents from the bad. This objectifies the child and decreases the opportunities for bonding and contact (with self, child, family and community). We have the responsibility to create opportunities for birthing persons and families to choose differently. As birth workers in the absence of clients our work is to create the conditions for birth without barriers for our clients—yet to be born.
The work of being a parent has nothing to do with gender. It's about responsibility. Choosing to create a world for another human being to nurture their unique selves.
Being a parent is about claiming a deep "yes" to use your story in service of another. The role of father is an important birthing process--a new integration of one's life story to have meaning and purpose for another.
This new being needs you at your fullest sense of understanding. The meanings we have made regarding "fatherhood" can get in our way when we take on the responsibilities necessaries to nourish a life through countless moments. What stories have you told yourself? What are you holding onto from your history with the role of father? What needs to shift?
The time is now to prepare--shed. discover. birth yourself.
How do we choose to bring new life--new beings into our broken world? In the midst of devastation, disappointment, anger, fear, how do we create something new?
Birth is possibility. Birth is new energy. Birth is what we need to do. Engage, connect, create, gestate, hold space and make room for a new reality.
This is the time to prepare. To prepare ourselves, assess our values, let go of what is no longer needed, reconnect with why we were birthed in the first place.
Birth is a challenge to those of us already here. Who do we need to become to make room for somebody else? What are the conditions needed to make room for a new reality beyond our hope, regardless of fear?
We may want to numb our pain--lessen it, diminish what bubbles up. What wants to emerge will reveal itself--we birth new meaning, discover an awareness we never knew before.
These are important and powerful moments if we move towards versus against. If we can get out of our way and allow our new lives to be born right before our exhausted eyes.
Birth calls us to slow down enough to allow space for another being to enter. Birth calls us to utilize our egos in service of the miraculous. How we choose to allow another to enter is crucial.
How often do you give space for others? How often do you allow yourself space for new realities to transform your life?
There is power in this capacity. We can develop our capability to access the power of holding space for the new--birth requires it.
We must learn to be present for these opportunities--life demands it of us.
We receive too many messages attempting to convince us we are not enough. Our embodied experiences are judged, diminished, gaslighted into believing birthing bodies should show up in particular ways--when they don't, we lose membership to a club we never wanted to belong to anyway.
The marginal who have swallowed whole not useful messages aid in maintaining the status quo. Birth is not business as usual and shouldn't be--we need to embrace the pregnant pause; to honor the moment.
Being a birth companion in this current ecosystem of controlling, judging, handling of bodies means to advocate for the complex humanity of the people involved in bringing a new being into existence. It means observing and unpacking the messages we have swallowed.
How useful can we be to a birthing person if our own thinking gets in their way?
Birth is a return to the instinctual. The body reminds you that there is knowledge in your literal bones. Birth demonstrates this sacred knowing in a manner no other force can. It needs to be witnessed. The vibration of it needs to be felt. Understood.
Birth is not painful--only a pitiful attempt to find language for a moment that repeats itself and yet is different every time. A myriad of possibility as unique as a fingerprint.
Birth is a surge of energies--an opening; a vortex.
The lifegiver/life-bringer becomes a bridge between worlds (the seen & the unseen) must hold the corridor in place to bring some "body" here.
The lifegiver's body transforms--changes, expands, opens up and is never the same--the body remembers, For a moment, we see things as they are . . .
Birth is a dangerous proposition in its instinctual state--absent of control. What would this world become if we remembered our deepest capacity for change?
Welcome to the blog for ATNSC: A PROJECT IN BIRTH. WORK. I will be documenting my journey to becoming a full spectrum birth doula, sharing information about birth, end of life companionship and other resources, images and good words regarding our commitments of being life-long learners engaging with these wonderful stages, phases, cycles we call life. Many thanks!