Words by Ray
One of my favourite things about doing what I do is not something you’ll find in the course description, it’s more like a side effect of hypnobirthing. There are a lot of those. I could write about them FOR DAYS. But today I want to talk about the fact that one of my very most favourite things is that this little antenatal course I teach is often the first stage in a woman’s journey to fully understanding and really appreciating the true amazingness of her own body.
If you really think about it, it is no wonder that in our culture our births are often not straight forward. I really believe that, as women, we are programmed to fail at birth from the very beginning of our lives. Our bodies are never good enough: they don’t look good enough in clothes, they don’t look good enough when we run, we are too tall, we are too short, our boobs are too big, our boobs are too small. Our hips are too narrow, our hips are too wide. Our hair is too lank and lifeless, our hair is too big and curly. We are either too much or too little - how many of us can accept ourselves as we are and really own that? I’m sure there will be a few of you. But I’d bet that was a process that was hard won.
So it’s no surprise then that we struggle to believe in our bodies when it comes to birth. How can we when we have never believed in them at any other stage of our lives? When we give birth we need to have the most faith in our body’s abilities that most of us will ever have had. Is it any surprise that we don’t know how to relate to our bodies this way? I often say to the mums I work with that their bodies are perfectly designed to bring their child into the world. Most of us have some understanding of that, of being designed to do this. After all we all came from women, from pregnancy and then birth - so why don’t the stats surrounding birth support that? Why do our bodies seem to be failing us, even when many of us have had low risk, healthy pregnancies? There are a number of answers but one of them I really believe is that we find it hard to have faith in our bodies. Most of us have a lifetime of negativity from magazines, tv, social media, sometimes our relatives and so called friends too. It can be quite an adjustment to start to think about the magic your body is capable of, as opposed to all the things it does badly. As Ina May Gaskin, wonder midwife, is famous for saying “There is no other organ quite like the uterus, if men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we”. I’d say the same is true for your cervix, vagina, and your boobs too.
Did you know that your baby will twist and turn on its way to being born so as to make the most use of the size and shape of your pelvis? Did you know that when your placenta leaves your body it sends your brain a message that says it's time to start producing milk, and as the size of your placenta generally correlates to the size of your baby your body will take note of that and know that a bigger baby will probably need more milk and a smaller baby less and it will start to work on producing the right amount. If you have twins, it knows you'll need to provide for two for this same reason. Did you know that if you lay your baby on your chest, it helps you to regulate your baby’s temperature AND if you have twins each breast will respond to each individual twin differently? Did you know that in warm weather your breast milk becomes more watery to quench your baby’s thirst? Did you know that your body is amazing, created to grow, nurture, birth and sustain life? And yes - I hear you - sometimes things don’t go to plan, sometimes our bodies don't work the way they need to. But do you know what else is amazing? Your strength and ability to adapt. In my classes we work on building that up too.
Why not take a minute to really appreciate your amazing, growing body. The way your body knows how to accommodate another life (WHAT!?!). Maybe write some affirmations and dot them around the house, think about how they make you feel. I truly believe that starting to love and trust your body is a huge step towards a positive birth. Did becoming a mother change the way you think about your body? Has it been a positive or a negative experience for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.