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Birth Meditation

Birth Meditation

by Sophie Fletcher at Mindful Mamma UK

I wrote this birth meditation a few years ago after I attended a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known Buddhist monk. He’s written a very beautiful pebble meditation which I do sometimes with my children, but which I’ve adapted for pregnancy. I just thought that it fitted perfectly.  We give it out as an additional birth meditation or a slightly different way to do your affirmations in our class, it’s not for everyone but give it a chance as it can be a very peaceful thing to do.

You can either do this birth meditation on its own,  just read it out loud somewhere quiet to yourself on a daily basis, or actually do a pebble mediation with it. To do this go for a quiet walk and collect 4 pebbles on your way. Each time you do the birth meditation, for each element take a pebble in your hand, a round one can be reflective or pregnancy, and turn it over in your hand observing the pebble closely, it’s weight, how it feels in your hand, what you can see on it then read the affirmation with that pebble before moving onto the next pebble and next affirmation.

You can continue to do this birth mediation with you baby, then toddler after they are born. It’s a very simple but lovely exercise as it does connect you unconsciously with the true depths and heights of your being during pregnancy.

 

Mindful Mamma Birth Meditation

Birth Meditation
I am like a flower.

 

“I am beautiful like a flower, aware of this tiny baby blossoming like a flower within me. I am unique, my baby is unique. I promise to nourish and love myself, thereby nourishing and loving my baby growing within. By watering the flower within me, we both grow strong and healthy. At birth I unfold like a flower unfurling in the warmth of the sun.”

 

 

Birth Meditation Mindful Mamma
Strong like a mountain

 

“I am strong like a mountain. I touch the earth and sky, at one with nature and with my baby. In my strength and my solidity I support my baby. With this strength I empower myself and prepare for my incredible birth”

 

 

Birth Meditation
Moon birth reflection lake

 

“I am like a lake. Crystal clear, calm and tranquil. Still – as if you could take the perfect picture. In my tranquility and peace, peace and tranquility in others are reflected. My baby benefits from this calm and their development and birth is also reflected in my tranquility. When I smile, others see this peace deeply within me and I reflect on my love for my baby developing within his or her calm and peaceful waters”

 

 

Birth Meditation
Space around and within me.

 

“I am like space. I have movement all around and feel my baby moving freely within. My mind is free and still. My focus is clear in this space and I have freedom and a deep sense of peace and of who I am and how I communicate with my baby growing within me. Space gives me clarity and comfort both while I am pregnant and during my baby’s birth”

 

 

Adapted from the pebble meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

Copyright Sophie Fletcher 2009.

 

 

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Put away your phone and look at your baby! This is your baby bonding moment.

Baby Bonding

Social Media is interfering your baby bonding moment.

by Sophie Fletcher

Roll up roll up, we’ve just had a baby, yep, just a couple of minutes ago. Let’s get our baby onto our social networks, Facebook/tweet/pinterest our birth, hell why not go the whole hog and broadcast the birth, live?  The moments after birth are so important but that important baby bonding time is now usurped by Facebook and twitter.

We live in age of instant communication, we become immersed in it, hooked on it and we begin to forget what experience really is. I’ve started reading a great book called “You are not a Gadget” by Jaron Lanier, he writes “Giving yourself time and space to think and feel is crucial to your existence.  You have to find a way to be yourself before you can share yourself”.

Important words, especially to a new mum or dad whose baby’s tiny visual digital imprint may have begun after their first scan and extends into those precious moments after the birth. Surely being at the birth is one of the most important times to really experience that rare moment when you become a mum or a dad, to get to look at and absorb the wonder of this tiny little being you have waited so patiently for. Baby bonding is about this magical moment, when the oxytocin is sky high and your baby is in your arms for the first time. By tweeting, facebooking or blogging about it instantaneously you lose the experience of being in that moment and of your baby bonding with you.

I was inspired to write this blog after talking to a midwife who coordinates breastfeeding training and she asked me how we can make women understand just how important that first hour is after birth for baby bonding.  She said women are taking photos on their phones tweeting, facebooking and are not present with the baby or engaged in the experience. Her worry is that this will affect the baby bonding and will have an impact on breastfeeding.  I had often considered the consequences to the birth or postnatal period of exposure, through films, photos or other media on the birth itself, as well as after the birth, and here was a midwife who was seeing it happening in labour rooms everywhere.  Since I spoke to her  midwives say this is one of the most irritating things after the birth, and have gone as far to admit they just want to confiscate the phones, when they see a new baby left on the bed while mum is texting.

We underestimate what experience really means, to be mindful of that moment in time, to absorb the feelings, the environment and to be really aware.  If we are clicking away behind a camera lens mindlessly in those precious moments we are losing that experience.  Of course we can be mindful photographers, but we are not mindfully present in the experience of observing, holding, smelling and bonding with the new baby.

The second thing that strikes me about the endemic use of recording equipment and online narratives of a birth is the affect it can have on the birth itself.  Birth is all about oxytocin, and what we always teach in our Mindful Mamma classes is that it’s a shy hormone, it doesn’t want to be watched and observed. Filming a birth may be perfectly fine for some people, but we underestimate the unconscious processes unfolding during a birth and knowing you are being filmed may consciously feel fine, but may actually slow things down if at some level you are aware of it and feel uncomfortable.

When I originally taught hypnobirthing I was asked if the people on my classes would be interested in filming their births, it seemed completely incongruent to me that we were asking women to be filmed while at the same teaching about the role of oxytocin and reducing interruptions or people in the room. I have never asked and never will even suggest this to my clients.  If someone wants to film their birth, it should come from them, not because of the expectations of others or because everyone else is doing it but for reasons that are embedded in their own values and beliefs.   It’s worth stopping and thinking about why you want to film, record, facebook or tweet your birth. Why do you need to do it in that moment?

But importantly after baby is born, put away the camera or ask the midwife/doula/other birth partner to take a photo, mum don’t go near a phone at least in the first hour.  Enjoy that baby bonding experience, have your baby on your chest, smell your baby’s skin, explore your baby’s face, experience that love you feel without interruption, you’ll only get a limited opportunities to do this in your life. And it’s pretty amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why the Fuss About Birth and not about the baby?

Babies need to be water with love and patience.

 Why the fuss about birth and not the baby? 

By Sophie Fletcher

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept is as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.” 

Eckhart Tolle

Recently I was reminded by a friend about the bigger picture.  She said birth is just a small part of the journey we experience as pregnant women. The much bigger part of the experience is what comes after – motherhood. She wondered why women are so focused on the actual birth rather than their baby and suggested that this preoccupation with birth prevents a woman from wholly preparing to be a mother, connecting with her baby on their journey.

There is no doubt that the focus has shifted from having a baby, and the baby themselves, to how the women are going to manage the birth, get the right pushchair, finish the nursery, perhaps moving house (surprisingly common!) or how long their maternity leave is going to be.   In our Mindful Mamma classes at the beginning we ask everyone to spontaneously write on a note the first word that springs to mind when you think of birth, very often baby isn’t in the mix, instead words like pain, control, blood, long and hard work float to the surface from fears harbored in the unconscious.

But the truth of it is that from conception to birth to motherhood is a life creating, life changing, daunting, challenging and absobloodylutely incredible journey. Birth is just a moment, an intense moment, of a period in your life that will bring you highs and lows, tears and laughter, fear and joy.   There is nothing more frightening than a baby making their first wobbly steps near your mother-in-law’s granite fireplace and nothing more wonderful than your baby’s chubby arms loosely clasped around your neck as they fall asleep rhythmically breathing into your ear.   But we don’t dwell on any of these before they happen, we experience those moments as they happen and enjoy them or manage them skillfully in the moment.

Imagine conception as the planting of a seed, the seed growing beneath the surface nurtured by the soil, out of sight but watched expectantly until it breaks through the surface.  The plant continues to grow but from this moment is reliant on the water and sunlight to grow and blossom.   Just as this plant needs water and sunlight your baby needs your love, care and gentle compassion to nourish their emotional well-being and growth.

Motherhood can be a wonderful thing and it can also be a mirror of birth in terms of the emotions.  There is fear, there is sometimes that sense of losing control, and there is joy, happiness, the worry of not knowing what is the right way and wrong way to do it.

Birth is just the beginning, and just like motherhood you can choose to get on and do it and do it your way, intuitively with love, strength and patience.   Your baby’s journey into this world begins at birth, just as your journey into motherhood begins and your partner’s journey into fatherhood begins.

So allow yourself to become aware in this moment of your baby, the core of your being, your connection with each other and how you are moving forward together hand in hand on a new, exciting and eventful journey that will last long after the birth.

Prior to the birth, allow yourself the time to reflect on what type of teacher you want to be, how you want your baby to learn. Being mindful of that responsibility, reflecting and welcoming that role will in turn strengthen and prepare you the birth – the moment that your journey begin and the moment that your flower nudges through the soil and begins to grow into a beautiful blossom cared for and loved by you.