Guest post by Allison Evans, Hypnotherapist specialising in HypnoBirthing and HypnoBirthing Fertility Therapy
I took my children to the beach yesterday. We are visiting the southern coast of Virginia, in the US, for a few weeks, and thought we'd make the most of the deserted beaches and last days of warm, summery weather.
We had an effortlessly wonderful day. We dressed in our bathing costumes, and then I packed a simple picnic of sandwiches and watermelon slices, along with the basic supplies of water, towels, and suncream. Mother Nature did the rest! The children, who at home are prone to complaining of boredom with their old toys and bickering with each other, amused themselves easily and cheerfully at the beach. They dug in the sand, hunted for shells, made sand angels, and splashed knee-deep in the gentle surf. Best of all, they were happy! There was a calmness of spirit in the kids and in me that is, I'm afraid, all too rare in our daily, scheduled-up, inside life. I think it was the influence of the sea.
The sea is my favorite metaphor for labour. I teach HypnoBirthing, which is a preparation for natural childbirth using self-hypnosis, visualization, and special breathing. We teach that pain is not a natural accompaniment to labour, but rather a cultural one that is rooted in fear: when you release your fear of birth, you short-circuit the tension that causes pain in labour. Thus natural childbirth, in which "pain relief" isn't denied but honestly not-needed, is not only possible but a wonderful and empowering experience! Like the sea, labour is primal and powerful. But if you honor and respect it and if you learn to swim with it, its power is yours.
When I was in labour with my first child, my surges -- that's our gentler and more descriptive word for "contractions" -- were becoming intense, and I braced myself as I felt one coming on: body rigid, breath held, face in a grimace. It hit me like a wave that knocked me over! I thought, "I can't do this! This is just the beginning!" Then I remembered HypnoBirthing, which I had been practicing for months, but hadn't needed until that surge. I thought, "Well, let's try it." I sat on the sofa, comfortably supported with pillows, put on the music, and relaxed. When I felt the next surge coming, I breathed, I visualized, and I relaxed. Instead of feeling like the surge was a wave that knocked me over, I had the sensation of swimming up to the crest of the wave, and then sliding down easily the other side. It was actually wonderful -- I was full of wonder! Wonder at nature's beautiful design for birth, at my body's instinctual knowledge of how to birth, and at the power of Mother Nature: power that was mine because I was not fearing it or fighting it, but working with it.
Childbirth changed my life, and not just because it made me a mother! It connected me with my instinctual nature and gave me trust in it. This has been an invaluable gift as a mother, because I trust myself. It connected me with Nature and enhanced my appreciation for all life. This has made me feel powerful and not over-awed by my responsibilities as a mother. Finally, it gave me a special affinity for the sea. Clearly my children, with their serenity and joy at the beach yesterday, feel it too.
Allison is currently traveling in America with her family, en route to a new home at Yokota Air Base, near Tokyo, Japan. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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