People often ask me why I became a doula.
Part of it was just a deep calling that I can't quite explain. During my first pregnancy, I discovered my mind and body were feeling things in a different way than I had experienced them in the past. I was more aware, more sensitive, more connected with my inner world. I now know it was because of the natural changes that were going on in my brain as part of pregnancy. Thanks to that, I also connected more with my dreams and the seed of birth work got planted in my heart.
After the birth of my first child, I was amazed at the powerful transformation that I had just experienced and I was determined to help people prepare for birth so that, together, we could start changing our birth culture of fear back into a rite of passage that honors parenthood and the changes we go through during that time.
I soon realized the task was way bigger than I ever imagined. As I started working with clients and attending more births, my questions got bigger. How do I help prepare people for birth?
There are many little pieces of that puzzle. There is not one simple answer. But I have noticed in my time doing this work that a lot of our modern's world preparation for childbirth is very left brain oriented. After all, we live in a left brain world.
The left brain is our thinking brain. That's where language, numbers, and analytical thought happen. When preparing for birth, we encounter a lot of percentages, statistics, studies, and science, and that is great. Evidence-based education can help build trust in birth and it's a powerful tool to make informed decisions for your family. However, there is another important aspect of birth preparation that is harder to access because, in our modern world of rational thinking, intuition often gets dismissed and minimized.
During pregnancy, our brains are changing in incredible ways. We often spend more time in Alpha brain waves: that state of meditative, daydreaming, creative thought, which helps us access our emotions, intuition and dreams more easily. This kind of thinking is actually great for labor and birth, allowing us to move from our prefrontal cortex into our primitive brain, away from the numbers and science of the left brain and more into the feeling nature of our right brain.
That's where Birth Art comes in.
I first found out about Birth Art when I read Birthing From Within and I recently had the honor of taking an online training with Pam England.
Birth Art is a powerful tool! The process of creating art helps engage a different part of the brain into your preparation for birth. Some other great tools to do this include hypnosis, dancing or journaling.
With Birth Art, we can really bring forth the images that we have been carrying about birth (sometimes since childhood!) and allow ourselves to observe them and notice what they are telling us. Birth Art is a powerful channel to your subconscious.
By integrating these different parts of the brain, you're preparing with your whole being to experience the transformation of parenthood and gathering the tools to cope with the unexpected.
If you think you're not artistic, that's even more reason to give birth art a chance, since you probably don't get to connect with your right brain as much. It's not about making masterpieces, or realistic drawings. It's not even about making things that make sense.
Many times digging deep and becoming vulnerable are skills that require practice. But if you're willing to listen to all the parts of your brain, to open up all the ways of knowing, the integration will happen and you will walk into birth feeling a lot more prepared.
Just get started. Or simply ask yourself what are you afraid of when it comes to trying this new experience and then listen carefully.