Small Blessings Blog

Birth Help Positions

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

 This arrived through Facebook today... good timing, in thinking about birth helpers and how great and supportive they can be. The figures are a bit faceless, literally, but that doesn´t matter!

And then there´s that other faceless but nevertheless totally reliable, ever-present, ever-helpful supporter, named GRAVITY!!! Picture yourself in  some of these positions, and put a deeply calm expression on your own face and loving, attentive (or whatever you feel will help you) expressions on your helpers´ faces while you´re there! Powerful.

Please excuse the sideways presentation. It was the only way to fit it.

How can partners support during birth?

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This Saturday, for the first time, partners are invited to join in with pregnancy yoga, for free. This is exciting, for me at least! My intention is to involve partners in the journey their women have been on, including them in the process, allowing a glimpse into the world that possibly awaits them during the birth, giving a preview of the deep respect they may feel in witnessing the birth process.. and letting them know a bit about how precious their presence may be for their woman in giving birth.

In my mother´s generation, giving birth in Western Australia in the 70s, men were less likely to be privy to the birth process. On the other side of the globe, in America in the 60s, there was a community called The Farm. This is where modern day midwife guru, Ina May Gaskin, learnt her midwifing trade. Hundreds of babies were born on The Farm over the years, under all kinds of conditions (with hardly a Caesarian, by the way). The widwives there became extremely skilled. Sometimes when we think of "homebirth" these days we might associate that with limited medical expertise or skills. These women were skilled up to the eye teeth. Savvy and able in all kinds of situations, from helping a mother birth a baby in transverse or breech position to twins. Very admirable in terms of skill levels and know-how.

Anyway, Ina May Gaskin wrote a book called Spiritual Midwifery, which is full of accounts of births on The Farm and her insights, born from hundreds of births, about the nature of birth and also the significance of relationship to the birth process. Essentially, Ina May works on the premise that the man and woman form a kind of unit during birth. The man can have an extremely positive impact on the birth process, in the way in which he is present. His encouragement and support can be of immense help just as blocks and hiccups ín the relationship can inhibit the flow of the birth. This may sound far-out for some (and indeed, the hippy language of this book is really cute and historically interesting, if you like that stuff!) AND it is also based on direct experience. It is a phenomenologically observed fact, if you like, that subtle things like thoughts and feelings and beliefs have a direct impact on our ability to let go, for example. (And what is birth, but one massive, sometimes very active, letting go?) Body and mind are one. An anxious thought produces an effect in the body, immediately, for example. Just as an encouraging thought produces a physiological effect. This can be observed in your own body and mind very simply.

Actually, what Ina May suggests is that sensuality got the baby in there, now it´s going to get the baby out! This makes me think of nipple stimulation as a method of bringing on the birth. That sounds really mechanical to me, but actually it´s about getting the oxytocin, the love hormone, flowing. This hormone is released through loving, senuous touch. It is present in orgasm, and is also present in babies and small children when we touch them, stroke their skin. It is also known as the molecule of belonging.. but that is the subject of another post!

Anyway, men, partners, you are needed! A presence that is not overbearing, or looking to solve anything (what are you going to solve, really?!), but is just there, in trust and support and love, following this woman and her instincts, impulses and intuitions, because she is the only one who can do it.. Being there, attentively and lovingly. THAT is what makes a difference. A BIG difference.

If you would like to follow up on the book referenced here, again it is Ina May Gaskin, Spiritual Midwifery.

http://www.fishpond.com.au/advanced_search_result.php?rid=152052754&keywords=ina%20may%20gaskin

PS I have disabled comments until I work it out better, as I am having some dubious strings of computer generated letters and spam coming in.

Welcome

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Friday, November 30, 2012

There is so much to learn, so much to share. As I go along on this journey of being a woman and a mother, and walking with other women on their own journeys as a yoga teacher for pregnancy and the immediate postnatal time, I am always learning. About the practicalities of pregnancy and birth here in this city and the opportunities to both give your choice away and seize it in both hands. And also about the astounding glory that this journey of becoming a mother offers us - the greatness of all mothers, perfect in all their imperfection. To become a mother is to be touched by a force so much bigger than us that it defies description. To be touched by a love so immense.. it can if you let it transform you on all levels.

I teach a pregnancy class a week and a postnatal class, and in these classes am able to share and invite contemplations on many topics. However, there is always more to share, and also alot of really valuable resources out there which I feel many women would be very happy to get their hands on, including resources which reflect you back towards the biggest resource you have: yourself. So this blog will be a forum to spread out from, offering experiences, view-points to consider, facts, pointers, challenges to your status quo and encouragement. There may be parts that pass you by or parts that speak to you as if directly and very personally, arriving just at the right time. May it serve you, and us, and through us, future generations.

Jo Hergo (Beant Kaur)

Kundalini Yoga music

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kundalini Yoga is rich in music and it is really so helpful for many women to play this music at home, during the birth and also after. The sounds and syllables in this music are actually expressions of an exact science. Mantras are particular sounds which are vibrational templates for certain states of mind and experiences. They have a glandular effect.

Think about the continuity for the baby too, reminding of the time of bliss and security of the womb as well as the deep cellular effects of the high quality vibrations. Babies hear through the womb. Studies have shown that new-born babies hearing sounds and music they heard in the womb respond positively. The test was to let them hear music from the womb when they sucked in a certain way and a different music when they sucked in another way. The babies consistently sucked in the way that gave them the womb music.

Any music that calms you or helps you go within or which you simply just really love can be good for the birth. You can find alot of Kundalini Yoga music on www.spiritvoyage.com - available in CD or MP3.

Kundalini Yoga artists who are my personal favourites are Niranjan Kaur, Snatam Kaur, Mirabai Cebai, Ram Singh and Ram Dass Singh, but there are lots of other good ones too. The Adi Shakti mantra in call and answer form which we use in class as a meditation is also to be found on that website. The singers are Gurudass Kaur and Singh.

Feel free to get in touch if you have questions.

 

 

Let go and let nature

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Birth brings us right up to the threshold of what we believe to be possible. Science has been trying to contain and regulate the birth process for some 300 years, but in fact it is an encounter with what lies beyond science. The very fact that our bodies are able to stretch and open to the degree that they do in birth is pretty close to a living miracle, if you ask me!

In many ways, women are infinite. A whole new being emerges from our own, and our bodies are capable of turning blood into milk. If not miraculous, this is at least an expression of a deep and refined non-rational intelligence.

Birth, in my view and in my experience, also echoed in the accounts of countless other women, is a very direct meeting with some very mighty powers. It would be pretty foolish really to not have some kind of awe or deep respect for these powers. Contractions, or rushes, or surges, come from a place that is beyond rational understanding or control, and our response to the power of this force can sometimes be shock or fear that this force might destroy us. Certainly it seems bigger than us. The instinctive fear response is then fight or flight. Fight might express as trying to resist and the birth not moving along and flight might express as looking for escape in numbing the pain.

There is another way though. Actually, this force is compassionate beyond our normal conception of compassion. It wants to get the baby out! The moments when we are confronted by the immensity of our own nature also test our faith in ourselves and in life, and our trust in ourselves, the people around us and our environment. To know, it IS good and okay, and I can let go into it, both on the personal level of feeling safe where you are, and on the more impersonal level of faith that the experience means well with you and everything is all right.

If you can breathe and find this trust and faith, you will step over a threshold into empowerment. The forces moving through you can become waves that you can ride. "Losing control" (an illusory control we never had anyway!) is a step into gaining a far deeper mastery of these forces. And that brings a great confidence and dignity that will stay with you forever more. What is more important to you then: maintaining the image for yourself and others of being in control and risking having this hinder the natural progression of the birth, or letting your baby be born in exactly the way that is right for her and for you in that moment?

Yes, it takes courage to trust and have faith! And this is a courage that every woman possesses. In the birth hormone cocktail our bodies provide, there is vasopressin, which makes us fearless and determined. So our own nature knows what we need and has thought of everything, if we will just trust and let go into it.

At this point I really truly love it, because there´s no book or DVD or pregnancy yoga class or teacher who can deliver you the definitive way for you to deliver your child. It is YOU who will know when the time comes, because it is YOUR baby and YOUR body knows exactly what to do. You needn´t actually add anything, rather it is a case of removing the obstacles to letting go and letting nature. You will then let go of trying to think your way through it, let go and let that deep instinct take over.

When we women do that more and more, honouring our own and our children´s innate natural intelligence in the way we birth, the face of the world will begin to change again, and we and our children will be empowered by that no end. 

 

Childbirth Subjee and Nursing Drink

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The following are special recipes to help you heal and recover strength in the days and weeks following birth.

Ask a good friend or your partner to prepare the following dish for you when the baby comes and bring it to you during these very precious first few days.

Childbirth Subjee

This recipe is to be eaten only in the first few days after birth, before the milk proper comes in (after that the onions may upset your baby´s sensitive digestion). It works to repair the uterus and regenerate the nervous system. It also cleanses the body to prepare for milk production.

 

Take one cup of ginger root and chop it medium fine. Saute this in Ghee (clarified butter) until lightly brown. Add 1 Tbsn turmeric and stir to prevent burning. Add 2 medium chopped onions. Add a few Tbspn water. Cook well.

Add 2 cups yoghurt and simmer about 30 minutes.

You can add 1 Tspn chickpea or other flour to make it thicker. Halve the quantity of flour if using wheat flour.

 

Eat once a day with rice and yoghurt for the first few days.

 

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You can have this nursing drink prepared for you in larger quantities kept in the fridge to take as you wish.

Special Nursing Drink

To improve the quality of your milk. If you don´t drink cow’s milk, use oat or rice milk.

1 cup of milk

8 - 10 blanched almonds (soaked and peeled)

2 Tbspn ghee (clarified butter)

1 – 2 tspn honey

 

Blend well. You can warm this drink up to make it even more nurturing, but then add the honey afterwards. Heated honey may release toxins.

 

Yoga for Better Milk

The exercise "Washing Machine" is also excellent for keeping the many glands that feed into your breasts massaged and free of blockages and the quality of your milk good. It also improves your posture and can relieve shoulder and neck tension.

Sit cross-legged on your bed if it is firm enough or on the floor, with your hands lightly grasping your shoulders, fingers in front, thumbs behind, and your elbows pointing straight out to the side. Experience the opening spread across your chest as well as across your upper back.

Staying tall in your spine, inhale and twist your whole upper body and head to the left. Exhale swing back to the right.

Start at a moderate pace and keep your eyes open. Breathe fully and deeply. Increase the speed and dynamic as you become comfortable with the movement. Close your eyes then, and bring your focus to rest at the brow point, between your eyebrows and a little way in. This is for stimulation of the pituitary and intuition as well as mental stillness and peace.

Continue for 1 to 3 minutes.

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The recipes on this page are from the Ayurvedic tradition which has a close connection to Kundalini Yoga though its founder in the West, Yogi Bhajan. The exercise given is also from the tradition of Kundalini Yoga.

Recommended Resources

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Images and ideas abound that tend to suggest to us that we birth is something to be afraid of. The yogic understanding is that birth is something to be in awe of, yes, but certainly not afraid of.

We can leave things as they are and then what we get is default, so all the images and stories you´ve been exposed to over the years in relation to birth will be the ones that inform your beliefs about it. If you´re interested in questioning or looking at these afresh, there is a wealth of very intelligent and wise information available to you, as well as very touching and heart-warming accounts that are so good to be exposed to.

I have compiled a list of what I consider to be very valuable resources for you in this endeavour to make up your own mind about things and be open to finding out the truth for yourself.

Becoming a member of Community Midwifery Centre´s library (www.cmwa.net.au) will give you access to most of the resources listed below. They also offer free workshops and information evenings as well as continuity of care for women throughout the whole process of pregnancy, birth and post-natal, and are a very important presence in Perth for supporting women in making informed choices.

 

Books:

 

Kundalini Yoga Conscious Pregnancy books:

 

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh.

Inspiring and touching read about pregnancy and birth with some meditations and yoga exercises in it. Based on pregnancy teachings of Kundalini Yoga. Very approachable and warm.

Available through spirit voyage (www.spiritvoyage.com)

 

 

Conscious Pregnancy - The Gift of Giving Life by Tarn Taran Kaur

Ancient yogic knowledge and practical lifestyle tips from Kundalini Yoga teachings surrounding pregnancy and birth. Great if you are very open to the more spiritual aspects of these teachings, want to delve more into the philosophy and lifestyle aspect and apply some of it in your own life. Especially helpful for time after birth.

 

Conscious Pregnancy Yoga Manual by Tarn Taran Kaur

Contains pregnancy yoga sets and meditations – helpful if you want to do this at home. Great if you are very open to the more spiritual aspects of these teachings, want to delve more into the philosophy and lifestyle aspect and apply some of it in your own life.

 

Generally recommended books about pregnancy, birth and beyond:

 

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

A classic book based on the life of a community in the 60s and 70s called The Farm, where they developed very strong skills in midwifery and birthing.  Challenges modern medical views on childbirth and can induce strong faith in the birthing process. Inspirational. Can alter the way you think about birth.

(Through Amazon.com)

 

 

Ina May Gaskin´s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Ina May´s highly practical, extremely experienced and matter-of-fact myth-busting voice makes for very strengthening, helpful reading.

 

Hypnobirthing – The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan

Very practical and helpful book on the hypnobirthing method for an easier, empowered birth.

 

 

Entering the World – the De-medicalisation of Childbirth by Michel Odent

Interesting book by a French obstetrician who was part of a 70s movement to revolutionise the way babies were born in French hospitals to make their entry more humane and loving (also for the mother). Enlightening read which focuses on the baby´s experience and the history of the relationship between the medical world and birth. Gives an interesting perspective.

 

Anything else by Michel Odent

 

Eg. Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth

The Oxytocin Factor

And others (search his name on Fishpond or Amazon)

 

Rediscovering Birth, Sheila Kitzinger. I haven´t read this one, but she is another extremely experienced and respected midwife.

 

Birth Without Violence, 1975. Frederick Leboyer. Another important French obstetrician who advocated strongly for the importance of a gentle environment to receive the baby at birth

 

After the Baby´s Birth – A Complete Guide for Post-Partum Women, Robin Lim

A very nurturing, compassionate and helpful book which includes some Ayurvedic nutritional info and recipes.

 

 

DVDs

 

The Business of Being Born, produced and presented by Ricki Lake. Highly recommended for an enlightening look at the hospital system’s rules and regulations and the implications for women. (available at Community Midwifery Centre library for loan)

 

Prenatal Kundalini Yoga and Meditation for Mothers to Be, from Gurmukh

If you resonate with Kundalini Yoga you´ll like this

 

Other DVDs are available showing positive, empowering birth processes. Available at CMWA library also.

 

 

You Tube videos

..abound, showing positive birth experiences. The more real and positive images and ideas you take in… to support you in your trust in yourself, your baby and in birth.. the better!

Eyes wide open into birth

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Sunday, February 05, 2012

It is said in Kundalini Yoga humanology that in the first 3 days of a baby´s life, he or she learns love. The hormone that governs the uterine surges or rushes (or contractions), oxytocin, is the same hormone present in orgasm. It is a melting, heart-opening love hormone. Just following birth, this hormone is at its highest levels, which is nature´s way of bringing about the falling in love with your baby feeling, creating a deep bond between you which will ensure the baby´s continued health and well-being. The baby is experiencing the effects of oxytocin too and, interestingly, also the father, if he is present.

 

These moments can´t truly be described until you´ve experienced them for yourself. The best thing is to hold your baby against your skin, ideally skin to skin, so that your baby has the smallest possible move from the warm cozy environment of your womb on its journey out into the world. He or she can then hear your heartbeat and smell you, maybe even look into your eyes. Finally, your baby in your arms! And your baby falls in love with you too!

 

If you take all this into consideration when thinking about your choices for the birth, it will have an influence. There are times when anaesthetic of some kind during birth, mostly epidural, can be just the thing to help the mother through or in the case of emergency caesarian of course, totally necessary. However, it is good to be aware that an epidural numbs not only the body but also the mind and emotions and may effect your sense of being present and feeling, of falling in love. This is not to say that it is not then possible, but epidural will certainly have an effect on this level.

 

Also, it is often the case that an epidural slows the action of the uterine surges and so pitocin, or synthetic oxytocin, is given to increase the strength of the surges again. Surges under the influence of pitocin are more painful than natural ones, and some women go into overreaction so that it can happen that there is no or hardly any gap between surges any more. This in turn necessitates the use of increased anaesthetic, then possibly higher pitocin and so on. Under these circumstances, oxytocin is blocked and the natural endorphins do not flow. In this way, many hospital births turn into caesarians, not through any inadequacy of the women herself, but sometimes due to the procedures of hospitals and the misinformation or lack of information available to women.

 

If after the birth the baby is removed from the mother, the whole experience can be very disempowering and result in the loss of the special oxytocin-fuelled falling in love experience. A medical assessment of "post-natal depression" does not take into account the deep consummation that the experience of birth is for a woman and the grief that she might naturally feel after a disempowering or fundamentally incomplete experience. Interestingly, women do not even have to consciously know exactly what they have missed to know that they have indeed missed something very deep and fundamental and to feel grief, sadness and depression afterwards.

 

Birth happens in so many ways and each birth is truly unique so this is not to say that there is one ideal way, but it is nonetheless very good to inform yourself before the event and go into the experience with your eyes open. In the end, perfect is an illusion and things are in fact perfect just as they are, however they are, as this baby chose YOU, but women who feel they made conscious choices with eyes open and also had the means to assert their choices in the process feel extremely empowered by birth, their sense of identity and their own potential expanded in a very positive sense.

 

 

40 days blessing

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Monday, June 06, 2011

In many cultures around the world, there is a tradition of recognizing the first roughly 6 weeks after birth as a time of sanctity and importance. The mother is given support to grow into her new role as nurturer of another being, now on the outside, as well as begin to recover from the great physical feat she has just performed (birth and pregnancy) although establishing a whole new balance and strength can take a fair bit longer. The baby is given a soft, safe space to find its own metaphorical feet, with all its physical systems now having to function independently, its nervous system forming and firming, not to mention the astounding fact of simply being alive on this big planet, connected with others, needing to feel safe and loved and held.

 

In Kundalini Yoga humanology it is said that in the first 3 days of a baby´s life, he or she learns love and in the first 40 days, a sense of belonging. To this mother, this father, this family and this Earth.

 

I was very struck, years ago, reading The Forest People by Colin Turnbull, describing how these tribes structures their village life. First comes the womb of the mother, then the expanded circle of the family tent for the first approximately 40 days, and then the further expanded circle of the whole tribe, whose tents are positioned to form a very big circle. And beyond that, out into the the wider circle of the world, always to return… So the person, as they grow, moves into ever-expanding circles, but always held and in a sense of belonging. These are a simple but profoundly happy, secure people.

 

Our world is clearly not like this, but if we take this principle we might look into finding ways to come closer to creating a space which holds both us as emerging mothers and our babies until we are ready to move out into the world, feeling strong and secure.

 

Every woman must surely follow her own feeling and possibilities, but consider keeping things very quiet in the first weeks. Some women find it a relief to limit visitors, or at least have visitors who they feel bring in a nurturing presence. The father can be very helpful here, diplomatically arranging visits in the interests of holding a protected space for you and the baby. We say the father is the aura of the family, the protective filter. Sometimes limiting visitors might cause a kind of social tension, but the question is then – what is more important right now? Keeping everyone else happy or making the best of this one-off opportunity to lay the foundations for a secure and happy life together?

 

As a new mother, your one main task is to look after your baby. If possible, let yourself be cooked for – nurturing, strengthening, wholesome food. Have someone take over cleaning and washing or even let things go for a while, prioritizing well-being. In our tradition, the person who comes to look after the mother is called Sevadar, or one who serves, and it should be a woman. The key word in this time is REST. REST, REST, REST! Studies have shown that women who take these 6 weeks to rest and relax do much better in the long run whereas women who jump up too soon might feel fine at first but tend to hit a wall later. So rest, even more than you might feel is necessary. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Let yourself be looked after as much as you can. Even accept massages, particularly shoulder massage, as your shoulders can feel the strain from breastfeeding.

 

My invitation is to think of this time as you being like a queen. You certainly have performed an act of creation which required a lot from you on all levels (and will continue to). Let things come to you and let yourself be served. The time will come soon enough for you to step out and take up your new role in the world, walking tall, feeling good, with your secure, well-nurtured, happy baby.

 

See also Ayurvedic recipes for the 40 days.

Ayurvedic Yogi Tea

Jai Ram Kaur Hergo - Tuesday, May 03, 2011

This is a tasty, caffeine free, nurturing tea which is ideal for pregnancy and the time after birth. The spices are lightly stimulating without the negative impact of caffeine, nourishing to the nerves and strengthening to your blood. It is drunk with milk and honey to taste. You can also use oat, rice, almond or soy milk.

After the birth you may like to have a thermos of this tea by your bedside. Every woman is unique so there is no rule as to how much you can drink each day. Be aware that too much honey or spice through the breast milk may upset your baby´s delicate digestive system so keep an eye on it and reduce your intake if in doubt.

Ingredients

1 cup water

3 cloves

4 cardamom pods

4 black peppercorns

½ stick cinnamon

1 slice fresh ginger

½ cup cow´s milk or alternative

 

Procedure

Boil spices in water for 10-15 minutes. Add milk (about 1/3 cup) and bring to the boil.

Turn off heat. Add honey to taste.

To make more at a time you can reduce the amount of spices. Eg. for 2 litres of water use 15 cloves, 20 cardamom pods, 20 peppercorns, 3 cinnamon sticks and 5 slices fresh ginger. Boil for 20 to 25 minutes. Add 500mL milk and honey to taste.

 

This taken recipe from “Foods for Health and Healing – Remedies and Recipes, based on the teachings of Yogi Bhajan”


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