Saturday, October 23, 2010

Conscious Birthing with Special Guest Speaker, Elizabeth Bachner

Elizabeth talking about connecting with the baby in the womb
The Family Love Village gathered together on Saturday 10/16/10 for yet another wonderful event.  This time the topic was on Conscious Birthing with a very special guest speaker, our midwife, Elizabeth Bachner. 

Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM & L.A.C., who was voted DASC Midwife of the Year 2008, is the owner of GraceFull Birthing.  She combines her Medical skills as a California Licensed Midwife, Acupuncturist and Herbalist to provide both safety and care for your entire family.  Elizabeth’s passion for conscious choices in both birthing and parenting is supported by years of nanny experience, her undergraduate degree in Child Psychology from The Elliot Pearson School at Tufts University and as a graduate of Dr. Ray Castellino’s Foundation Training in Pre and Perinatal Psychology.  Elizabeth views birth as not only a sacred event but also as an initiation.  Every birth offers the parents an opportunity to learn what it is that their children want them to learn - in order to be able to parent them with grace.

Travis, Eva & Professor Rylo
The first topic that Elizabeth spoke about was connecting with the baby while in the womb.  This is such an important part of the parenting journey.  It all begins while the baby is growing in your belly.  Babies are fully present even when they are developing in your belly.  And they learn by example, so when the mom is going through the full range of emotions, if you actually talk to the baby and teach them how to be present with their feelings -whether positive or negative, these tiny evolving munchkins will begin to understand what feelings are and can differentiate between the feelings.  

I remember when I was going through some stressful moments during my pregnancy and Elizabeth had told me something that I will always remember and cherish as the beginning of my journey towards conscious parenting.  She told me when I'm feeling stressed, hurt and/or frustrated to let our lil munchkin know that these emotions that I was feeling were mine own - that these feelings were not his; that I was experiencing this sadness or frustration but that he didn't have to own these feelings as I did.  And to explain that I was sad because of an external cause and had nothing to do with anything that Andrik was doing.  To me, this made so much sense.  It just resonated with me because I truly believe that these souls even when they are developing in our tummies are conscious beings.  We are all made up of energy and whether it is positive or negative energy, all energy vibrates to a particular tune.  And whether we are expressing ourselves through words, emotions, and/or actions - it is all a way of communication.  So it would make sense that communicating consciously with our babies while in the womb not only creates a special bond between mother and child but also paves the path towards conscious parenting.

I did this throughout the whole pregnancy and still communicate to Andrik that my emotions are mine even up to this day.  Even when daddy and myself have an argument, I always explain to Andrik that we are arguing but it was not caused by him, that he is not at fault at all.  That way he can differentiate between our emotions and know that he is not to blame. As a side note, the most important part of Andrik witnessing an argument between us, is experiencing when we make up and show affection and empathy!

Mike, Hannah and their lil bun in the oven :o)
Tom, Gen & their lil bun in the oven
The next topic Elizabeth discussed was how to have a conscious birth - whether at home or in a hospital.  What is consciousness?  It is the state of being conscious; the awareness of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts and surroundings.    Elizabeth went on to explain that conscious birthing begins with the choices of how you want to birth, where you want to birth, whom you want to be at the birth, creating a birth plan of what you want and don't want at the birth, etc.  It is a state of being aware of and embracing a birth that resonates for you and your family.  

Conscious birthing is also knowing the difference between pain and suffering.  The majority of births, properly supported by a provider and/or birth companion (such as a midwife like Elizabeth) who is experienced in helping women cope with labor, can occur with the mother un-medicated but not experiencing suffering.  Pain in labor is normal; suffering is not. It has been well documented that this support significantly reduces the need for pain medication, c-section, and other interventions. 

Conscious Birthing is also getting out of the Christian paradigm of feeling like you're "good" or "bad" and into the new way of embracing all and being present.  It is knowing that the storm is passing through us but the storm is not who we are.  It is also honoring the "No" and choosing who you want in the room while giving birth.  Conscious birthing is also having the support person knowing where they're attention is during the birth, being present and honoring what the woman needs during this time.  Every action, whether it's a bathroom break, taking care of yourself by eating or sending a text should be a mutual cooperation and support for the mom and baby.


The next topic Elizabeth discussed was how to give birth without guilt or shame.  The goal during birth is for the mom to be really present with what she is feeling or experiencing and to let go of any "secrets" that may make her feel guilty or ashamed.  For instance, "I need to fart but don't want anyone to hear me" or having secret judgments about the birth, such as "I’m supposed to birth with an orgasm or it won't be perfect!".  Elizabeth explained that birthing without guilt or shame is having no expectation of what your birth should look like, willing to go through the pain and experience the birth, that sometimes there is Karma and then there is Dharma and to trust your intuition.  She also mentioned that the hardest thing for mothers to get comfortable with is gas and poops during labor.  But during labor, you just have to take off your Wonder Woman cape and birth like a rock star!  :o) 

Elizabeth wanted to quote a magnet that she liked on my fridge that pertained to birthing like a rock star.  At the time, I couldn't remember the saying but when I looked on my fridge, the magnet that I had once thought was a strange quote made so much sense to me now:

"One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star." ~ Nietzche

Professor Rylo & Uncle Dalmacio

Sasha & Andrik
The last topic that Elizabeth covered was how to heal from afterbirth post trauma.  She highly suggested getting SUPPORT, getting rest and getting a new perspective - that you did NOTHING wrong!

Unfortunately at this time, Andrik was very active and needed my attention so I missed most of this part.  So I decided to do a little research on this topic and found some websites that I thought the Village readers would appreciate:

1) Healing Trauma
2) Healing A Traumatic Childbirth Experience
3) Healing From Pregnancy and Birth Trauma
4) Rebirth After Birth Trauma (I found this post very intriguing and inspiring)

Yvonne & Kien

Elizabeth ended the workshop with some loving and thought-provoking words to share with the villagers (which I had actually received from her notes that I printed out before the workshop and wanted to share):

What makes a good parent?  It is not what it looks like – it is what it feels like.  A good parent knows who they are (boundaries, how they feel, grounded, where they are in the world); is willing to make an effort; is able to be in relationship with kindness – and state boundaries with kindness and keep the child safe from harm.  That is what love is.

Kids learn by example.  Be the example of loving to your self, know your self, have healthy boundaries for yourself, create a safe space – feel safe in yourself… with love and kindness to all!

Elizabeth believes that when people are supported and trusted they are able to birth, parent and live with Presence, Connection and Grace.  Parenting begins way before the actual birth.  When parents feel well supported and trusted during the pregnancy and birthing process, they will create a strong connection to their inner wisdom and continue to parent in an ease-filled, joy-full relationship with their child.