Yoga, Conscious Birth, Conscious Parenting
Labor as a Labyrinth©
What Every Baby Needs
Protecting Babies from Pain
Labor medication, oh yes, it affects breastfeeding.
‘Will the pain medication I have in labor effect my baby?” asks my client Olivia with curious eyes. I think I know the answer she is hoping for and I don’t think I can give it to her. “Yes” I reply to which I see a momentary flutter of disappointment cross her face. “Most medication reaches the baby in ten minutes.” At a lactation conference put on by the Breastfeeding Coalition of Placer County, Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC says Fentanyl, a common pain medication used in labor lasts about 2 hours in the mother and can last up to 13 hours in a baby. Babies should not be breastfeed for 4 hours after administration. Often times mothers will receive more than one shot, that stacks up and may take a day or more for it to wear off in the baby. A big grin spreads wide on Olivia’s face and she giggles as she says, “Okay, I changed my mind, I don’t think I want a baby after all.” Needing reassurance and more information I assure her that in her childbirth preparation class she will learn all the necessary skills for coping with contractions without pain medication.
Wanting to give birth to a strong healthy baby is a big motivator to stay away from procedures that can affect the babies outcome. Many women want to try to give birth naturally, but then situations change, things come up and it becomes necessary. So it’simportant to know what we’re working with, information is power, here it is.
Labor medications can cause the baby to have trouble latching onto the breast, or sometimes they canít sustain sucking. In other words, they may open their mouth, latch on and then just fall asleep again. Sometimes it’s even hard to get them to wake up at all to feed. I hear lots of mom’s say their baby is ‘so good because he just sleeps’. Sleeping is good, but we also need babies to eat. In order to keep the babies blood sugar and calories up, avoid formula supplementation, and possibly separation from his mom and dad, we like babies to nurse within the first hour of birth. After that they may sleep for a long time and that’s okay for the first 24 hours, but after that, if a baby is sleeping and not eating 10-12 times in a 24 hour period, something’s going on that needs attention.
If you’ve given birth already, or have done it without pain medication, you know, the moment the baby is born is powerful and even
majestic! Pain medications can dull this response in both the baby and the mother, in fact it reduces oxytocin, which is the
hormone responsible for bonding. It also reduces the let down reflex, or in simpler terms, the ability for your milk to come into your
breasts. Alas, I do have a suggestion to get you, your baby and breastfeeding off to a excellent start:
Whether or not laboring women end up needing pain medication, knowing what to look for when it comes to breastfeeding can be
very useful. And, the reality is that most breastfeeding ‘problems’ or ‘situations’ can be corrected quickly with specialized help right
from the start.
Laurie Chamberlin CD, ICCE, CLE owner of Chamberlin Childbirth teaches childbirth preparation classes and FREE prenatal breastfeeding classes. To schedule a private class or birth plan creation/breastfeeding plan session please contact.
If you ask most people when parenthood begins, they say it begins after birth when there is a real baby to take care of. "Lady in waiting," has been used to describe a passive pregnancy; what the mother is "waiting" for is the birth of her child. Three big facts about the dynamic period from conception to birth warn us to start parenting before conception—or risk being many months late!
First, the gestation period may seem lazy and slow, but science reveals it actually moves at jet speed. In just twenty-one days after the meeting of egg and sperm, the heart will begin work circulating blood. Eight weeks from conception, the basic organs of the body are already in place. The quality of that little heart system and all the organs of the body will largely depend on the vibrant health of both parents and the vibrant quality of the mother’s diet at that time—when you may not even know you are pregnant.
Second, parents are the principal architects of the brain. A critical time in development of a normal brain and spinal cord is Day 23 and 24 from conception when the neural tube needs to close on both ends to avoid defects. Genes are at work here, but the Environment (mainly the health and love of parents) is sending them signals to turn on or off. At all times, love will signal safety for growth. Do you want to be there for this?
The third big fact that redefines and reschedules parenting is that babies are more powerful communicators than we ever imagined. Communication will not wait: beings of all sizes and ages are sending and receiving signals. Evidence is piling up that they possess essential qualities of knowing and awareness and want to connect with you.
The challenge of parenting is to be there from the start, and preferably before!
Teen Age Pregnancy Dramatically Reduced
Laura Archera Huxley received the Thomas R. Verny Award for outstanding contributions to Pre-and Perinatal Psychology and Health at the 20th anniversary Congress of the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health meeting in San Francisco on December 4, 2003.
This delightful, eighty-year old, Italian-born lady, had become a virtuoso violinist as a teenager debuting in Carnegie Hall before World War II. In 1948 she met and married Aldous Huxley. Eventually, her interests expanded to include counseling, prenatal psychology, and writing. Her concerns for children became intense after becoming a mother.
Laura wrote: “Health and disease begin in the womb; love and hatred begin in the womb, war and peace begin in the womb.” After she established a non-profit foundation named “Children: Our Ultimate Investment,” the organization held two important conferences in 1978 and 1994. Laura designed some imaginative projects such as "Project Caressing," and "Teens & Tots." The former had envisioned in every city block a serene, soundproof, pastel-colored room, furnished only with comfortable rocking chairs and pillows. The plan was to have volunteer retired adults available to hold babies, “knowing that their warmth and affection will magically infuse the child’s entire life with responsive tenderness.” Laura’s concern was that if the baby is not fondled and caressed in its first two years, the result would be unresponsive delinquents, neurotic behavior, or underachieving.
“Teens and Toddlers,” for which she was honored by APPPAH, was first offered in 1978. From 1994 to 1998 it was operated by EnCompass Learning Center at Sierra Central High School in Grass Valley, California, from which it spread to schools in South Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and to the State of Vermont. From there it crossed the Atlantic to Germany, and to Greenwich, Gloucester, and Southwark in England. The program brought boys and girls 9 to 15 years old into nursery schools where they were matched with toddlers on a regular schedule during a one-semester high school course. In this experiential laboratory the teens found themselves having an initiation into parenting; they started to rethink everything about sexuality and pregnancy. Laura's ingenious course had taught the high ideals of conscious parenting.
In 1985, when the problems of teen pregnancy were at their peak, research of the Alan Guttmacher Institute revealed that in the United States 96 out of 1000 young women between ages 15 –19 become pregnant. The premature experience of parenthood tends to stifle formal education, lead young mothers into poverty, and tends to be self-perpetuating: 82% of girls who give birth at 15 or younger are daughters of teenage mothers. ("Children Having Children,” TIME, 12-9-85, 79.) In every school where Teens & Toddlers has been offered, the teen age pregnancy rate has been drastically reduced!
The Art of Playful Parenting
My work weaves together three basic themes. First, parenting, coaching, caring for and educating children are developmental, transformative practices or stages for adults, just as learning to walk and talk are transformative practices for the child. The adult-child relationship represents an explosive opportunity for adults to reach beyond the limits most have accepted for themselves, and the childlike qualities, the genius of childhood, modeled by the child in this relationship represent the optimum “state” for this transcendent journey to take place.
Second, learning, performance and wellbeing, at any age or stage of development, are “state specific.” The specific state of the body and mind as one meets a challenge defines what is learned and how well one performs. Meaning, content, what we usually call “the score,” emanates from the specific state of the body and mind as it meets any challenge. If we want to change the outer, the score, or behavior, we must begin by optimizing our own inner state.
Third, if learning and performance are “state specific,” the next question is, “what is the optimum state?" The great rule is: Play on the surface and the work takes place beneath awareness. Play, we discover, is not an activity. Play is a state of being, the optimum state for relating to any challenge. Athletes call this optimum state the Zone. Researchers call it Flow. For centuries people have been researching the “psychology of optimum experience.” Play, the Zone and Flow have similar characteristics. They are in fact one state expressing differently at different developmental stages. The state of Play, we discover, is nature’s expectation for optimum learning and performance, lifelong. My work applies this optimum state to parenting and to education.
The child is desperately looking to the adult and adult culture for transcendent models that awaken and challenge the child’s innate transcendent nature. The only way adulterated adults can provide this “model imperative” is by taking their cues from the child and rediscovering, in relationship with the child, their transcendent nature, which most adults have forgotten or abandoned long ago. My work helps adults rediscover the playful, childlike genius of their own nature as they guide, learn from and mentor children. This awakening develops in adults new capacities and possibilities, which transforms the adult. Adults, modeling their transcendent nature, create radically different learning environments for children, which transforms the child and cycles back to challenge the adult in new ways, which transform the adult. I call this playful, reciprocal-dynamic, the Optimum Learning Relationship.
“Childbirth is a heart-opening sacred ritual that needs to be honored and respected.” (Barbara Findeisen, MFT, said in video “What Babies Want,” an explorations of consciousness of infants). The gift that babies bring into our world is, as the renowned author Joseph Chilton Pearce says, “an invitation to the greatest intimacy that this life affords us.” When I saw the sparkle in my son's eyes, my priorities began to shift and I began to seek a better quality of life for him and our family. We all want for our children what we always wished for ourselves, that they be allowed to grow into their “authentic” selves. Cutting-edge research in pre- and perinatal psychology proves now that memory and conscious awareness begin at conception. As we begin the journey of parenthood, beginning at conception or earlier if possible, we are reminded and asked to heal and nurture ourselves so we do not unconsciously pass on to our children any unresolved anger, shame or fear about own experiences in the womb, at birth, or in childhood.
We begin to explore our values and affirm what kind of parents we'd like to be. Self-awareness comes easier when we are relaxed, still, or moving at a slower pace. Yoga not only helps a pregnant woman exercise but teaches her how to relax into discomfort. Yoga is nurturing and teaches us to relate to our bodies and ourselves with compassion and respect. Prenatal yoga empowers a woman as she prepares for childbirth and parenthood by turning her attention inward, strengthening her confidence, her ability to trust her intuition, to speak her truth for the health and well-being of herself, her baby, and her family. “Ahimsa”, non-violence, is an essential part of the foundation of yoga as a philosophy of life. Yogic philosophy is universal so it is compatible with any religion or lifestyle that is aligned with non-violence. If we are able to practice this with ourselves then we will have an increased capacity to love others unconditionally. This is what a baby needs and wants.
In “What Babies Want,” Pearce says that “ the emotional state of the pregnant woman has a direct relationship with the shape, nature, and character of the brain structure of the infant.” The movement aspect of yoga is a unique form of exercise because it feeds us emotionally, mentally, as well as physically. Rather than busying the mind with reading or watching TV while we work our bodies, yoga asks us to invite the mind to slow down, relax, get quiet so we can hear the callings of our heart. Prenatal yoga gives pregnant women and couples an environment in which to celebrate and welcome the conscious being that is already with them.
Pregnant women and couples appreciate being educated and informed about the various community resources and diverse choices available to them. They need to feel safe and supported to make the choices that are best for them. This is why I created my Prenatal Welcome Packet, for new students, full of local referrals for free and for-fee services that include natural products and practitioners that provide education and healing support for birth trauma resolution, prenatal care, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and postnatal care. I make available free of charge“What Babies Want: An Exploration of the Consciousness of Infants," a must see documentary DVD by Debby Takikawa, narrated by Noah Wyle of the television show “ER”, and featuring interviews with leading professionals in the areas of medical science, sociology, and psychology, including David Chamberlain, PhD, one of the major contributors to the exploration of birth trauma resolution.
There are many ways to prepare ourselves for life as a parent: the sacred task of being completely responsible for the care and well being of another human being. Research indicates that the way we care for and relate to ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually throughout the pregnancy can have lasting impressions on the biology and psychology of the baby that comes through our body into this world. Starting before conception is optimal but it's never too late to start right where you are. The choices we make about how we enter into parenthood influence not only our own evolving experience of life as we live it and the well being of our child; but also influence the nature of world society. Laura Archera Huxley, the 2003 recipient of the Thomas R. Verny Award for outstanding contributions to Pre-and Perinatal Psychology and Health, wrote: “Health and disease begin in the womb; love and hatred begin in the womb, war and peace begin in the womb.” Peaceful womb beginnings, conscious birthing and parenting are seeds for peace on this Earth. The peaceful way is the yogic way.
Deborah Jordan's training and experience in yoga, healing, and parenting is diverse. In addition to her formal yoga instructor training, she holds certifications in Touch for Health, Specialized Kinesiology, Cellular Memory & Tibetan Energy Release. She continues to hold CPR certification for adults, children, and infants. Deborah is mother of two boys and has personal experience with birth trauma resolution, miscarriage, hospital and home birth. Her Prenatal Yoga Programs offer pregnant women and pregnant couples an opportunity to practice self-care of the body-mind with awareness of the conscious being in the womb and its need for love, peace, and welcoming. Deborah's Postnatal Program shows parents how to creatively combine self-care of their body-mind with satisfying the infant's need for bonding and play. Her Children's Program includes parent/child yoga for years 3-7 called “Yoga Play”, as well as workshops for older children, teenagers, and athletic teams. She is a faculty instructor for Sierra College and California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley. She offers adult classes at Club Sierra Fitness and Stillpoint Studios (part of Spring Hill Physical Therapy Center). Deborah also specializes in design of personal home practices and personalized private instruction in the home or studio. Contact by phone 530-271-7390 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labor as a Labyrinth©
In the standard approach to birth we are taught to think of labor as a straight line, like a train track with stations every mile where certain things will occur. If these certain things fail to occur at each station or it takes longer to get to a particular station, labor is considered “dysfunctional”. Additionally, there is the notion that when we get to the last station, the journey is over. If, instead of a straight line, we consider labor as a labyrinth, a whole new set of possibilities emerge. Here, all of labor is functional, and time and progress do not follow a straight line or schedule. The birth of a child brings a woman to the core of her being and to the core of the labyrinth. Once there, she begins another journey as she finds herself a changed woman and a new mother.
A labyrinth, like labor, can appear confusing and overwhelming if we try to anticipate from the beginning where all the twists and turns will occur. The beauty of the labor labyrinth is that we do not need a map; we need only follow the path the body already knows, surrendering to what comes up along the way. Unlike mazes, which have side paths leading to dead ends, the labyrinth has only one path where every step, no matter how small, leads one closer to the center. Similarly, each woman’s unique labor path leads to that which her body or baby requires.
In ancient labyrinths, the corners were resting places. Similarly, the labyrinth of labor also has “corners” where the body communicates that it needs a change or must move along more slowly. Rather than being a sign of dysfunction, or a signal to intervene, this is a time to listen to her body. These pauses can provide an opportunity to build endurance, nourish the body, or for mom to connect with her baby.
Pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period help prepare women for the task of mothering. As birth brings the mother to the heart of the labyrinth, the postpartum period is meant to be a restorative journey out of the labyrinth and a time of integrating all that is new. This transition, recognized by some traditional cultures as a resting period of 40 days or more, continues to prepare women emotionally and physically to mother their children. In our fast-paced, multi-task world, a new mother is lucky if she manages a few weeks of rest.
To nurture healthy moms and babes in our culture, it is essential that we encourage ample time for this postpartum transition so that moms can allow themselves the opportunity to make this passage. She may need to integrate the incredible journey she experienced, the ways it has changed her, and what she learned about herself and about life. She needs to spend time with her baby, building confidence in her mothering instincts without the pressures of working, cooking, cleaning, and caring for others. Through the journey she will emerge with new understanding, strength and confidence. One fundamental way to contribute to healthy families is to support birthing mamas to have a generous postpartum rest before having to go back to their everyday responsibilities.
Denise Reynolds lives in Grass Valley and is mom to Timothy and Ryan. Her childbirth classes focus on fertility and early pregnancy education. “Labor as a Labyrinth” is a Birthing From Within concept developed by Pam England, author of Birthing From Within.
What Every Baby Needs
from conception throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond in order to live his or her highest potential
L. Janel Martin Miranda, M.A.
Every parent has wondered at least once why babies do not come with an "Instruction Manual," or how do we do the most important and most challenging journey of our lives -- parenting -- without any training? I have lovingly referred to my oldest child (of four) as "my experimental model" and I have marveled at my "beginner's luck" as he is an awesome person "in spite of me." After thirty-four years of mothering I have come to see parenting as a profound journey; and, after a decade of studying the emerging field of pre and perinatal psychology and health, "I wish I knew then what I know now."
Everything I have learned can be summed up in the following "blue print" for creating a human being with the highest potential to be healthy, happy, and harmonious human being.
Every human being deserves the best care from pre-conception through infancy in order to have the best foundation upon which to build his or her life. Every soul coming into a human body has the need (or is it the right?):
• To be wanted and welcomed at conception by two loving adults who are physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and financially prepared to be parents. The foundation for intimacy is "being wanted." Consciously conceiving babies might be the one most important thing we could do for the planet.
• To have complete nutrition, a toxin-free and stress-free womb in order to build a healthy, fully functioning brain and body. The developing human fetus is being "built" during gestation to live and survive in that environment in which the mother lives during gestation.
• To have parents who are in a respectful, loving relationship throughout pregnancy and birth, and beyond.
• To feel safe and protected by parents and society throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth. The gestating baby only knows the world through the mother's experience and perception of her life. What mother feels, thinks, and experiences is imprinting her baby to live in THAT environment.
• To be emotionally connected with and nurtured by parents throughout pregnancy, during labor and birth, and beyond. The primal period is the foundation for creating intimacy and their lifetime relationships.
• To have his or her own biologically-programmed impulse and timing for birth. It is the baby who hormonally starts labor and is a participant. S/he is not just a passenger. The baby and mother are in relationship during labor, and this relationship need to be respected, protected, and nurtured by every one present. The family needs to be supported and attended by qualified caregivers providing mother-baby focused care.
• To experience the moment of rest and awe in the first moments of life after the journey from the mother's womb to her arms and breasts. The moment mother and baby and father meet should be protected as if they and the moment were our national treasure.
• To complete the biologically-programmed Self-attachment Breast Crawl.* After resting in his mother's arms and gazing into hers and the father's eyes, when unmedicated and undisturbed, being gently touched by them, the baby will, in his own timing, initiate and crawl to and attach himself to the mother's breast. This completes a physiologically programmed need of the human brain.
Collectively, I call this the "perfect" or "ideal" birth. Sure, in our very human world, this may seem esoteric and impossible to achieve. Certainly, most of us did not have this and, of course, we are all "just fine". Meanwhile, most of us do seek a deeper level of intimacy and we wonder why we fall short despite our efforts.
When we come to marvel at the sentience of the human baby (in the self and others), we fully can embrace the importance of the primal period in the development of the human. From here we value preparing for the journey of parenthood ... from the beginning. Before conception, preferably.
We can see that wherever birth happens, it is imperative that caregivers, parents, and society insure that the mother-baby dyad and the baby are acknowledged and treated respectfully and gently.
(References: Primal Health, by Michele Odent, M.D., Life in the Womb: The Origin of Health and Disease by Peter Nathanielsz, M.D., Ph.D., The Mind of Your Newborn Baby, by David Chamberlain, Ph.D., Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health at www.birthpsychology.com, and BEBA (Building and Enhancing Bonding and Attachment) at www.beba.org, Suzanne Arms at www.birthingthefuture.com, *Self-Attachment at www.geddesproduction.com/breast-feeding-delivery-selfattachment.html and Breast Crawl at http://breastcrawl.org/video.htm)
L. Janel Martin Miranda.
Protecting Babies from Pain
What do skin-to-skin and breastfeeding have in common? Both decrease pain in babies.
Being held skin-to-skin with their mothers during medical procedures decreases the amount of pain babies feel. Premature babies can benefit the most from this information, as they typically experience 8-10 painful procedures a day. Skin-to-skin contact with their mothers also helps babies recover from painful procedures faster, and helps them remain physically stable. Breastfeeding and breastmilk also reduce pain in babies during painful procedures. As breastfeeding moms know from experience, there's nothing like a little nursing to take away the hurts of everyday life.
Babies who receive a lot of skin-to-skin contact experience less pain over their lifetimes than babies who are held very little. The baby's growing brain adapts to a mother's comforting and the person becomes more resilient.
A major source of pain for children is illness. But the longer a baby or toddler is breastfed, the stronger their immune systems become. Breastmilk protects against illness today, and teaches the baby how to fight infections, cancer, and chronic illness tomorrow. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life offers the tightest, strongest immune bond for babies. To completely develop the immune system, babies should be continued to be breastfed for at least two years or longer.
In every population studied, the number of painful infections that babies suffer increases the more that artificial feedings, such as goat's milk or infant formula, are given. Breastfeeding-and a lot of holding-help lessen life's pain.
Photo ©2007 Suzanne Arms. All rights reserved.
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