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Pregnancy and Birthing

Part of this page was written before my second birth, and parts of it were written afterwards, with a retrospective point of view.  I am exploring the spiritual side of pregnancy and birth, as I gather golden tidbits of inspiration and information here and there! Just scroll down this page to read about birth and pregnancy blessingways, or view the books that I found most helpful for pregnancy and childbirth preparation, or see reflections on having siblings present at birth. I wish you a peaceful and meaningful journey on the path you are taking! 

Pregnancy and Birth Blessingways

I am very interested in the spiritual experience of pregnancy and birth, and how a woman and her preborn child can be supported by a loving community especially at this time.  The clostest mother-supportive ritual we have in our culture  is the baby shower, where the new mother (and usually exclusively the first time she becomes a mother) is "showered" with material things she will need to take care of her baby.   What I envision for a blessingway is a gathering of the mother's supportive family and friends in  a circle to bestow blessings and their well wishes to the mother and baby for a safe, gentle, and peaceful journey through pregnancy and/or birth.   What follows below are some ideas I have, as well as my own "wish list":

I envision this ceremony to include nuturing the mother by all women present in some way, and possibly giving her symbolic gifts representing their blessings.  There could be music, candles, and imagery...whatever is comfortable for the mother. 

I visualize the participants of the ceremony to be women that the mother finds particularly supportive to her, and at least some who have experienced birth already.  Perhaps there could be women of all ages, representing the life cycle of the feminine..the maden, mother, and crone. 

The Blessingway could be part of a larger ceremony, including sharing a meal and a more traditional baby shower, with the honored woman's mate, family and more friends participating after the Blessingway.  In this way, the whole celebration is observed as a personal and spiritual journey for mother and baby, as well as a celebration of couple becoming family, or of a family continuing to grow. 

Have you, or anyone you know had a blessingway?  I am very interested in knowing about your experiences, not only for my own personal journey, but also to share here on this page.  Would you please take a few moments to share your story or any ideas you have?  Please email me.  Also let me know if I may put your stories and ideas on this page.  I would be glad to provide a link to your web page or email address, or keep your identity annoymous, if you prefer.  Thank You!
Many Blessings, Kristy

Here is some information I have found about blessingways:

The Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden, has a chapter that inspires ideas of how to create a blessingway ceremony.

Virtual Blessingways at Alternamoms Unite  You can receive your own virtual blessingway if you are a member of Alternamoms Unite.  You can also view blessingways designed for others. 

helpful reading during pregnancy:
Here are some references that I found extremely helpful in finding comfort during pregnancy and in preparing for birth:

Mananaging Morning Sickness by Marilyn M. Shannon
This is a pamphlet published by the Couple to Couple League, who can be reached at the following address:
PO box 111184, Cincinatti, Ohio 45211

The Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden
I found this book to be a nuturing reminder to take good care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually during pregnancy

The Birth Book by Bill and Martha Sears
This book was very empowering especially as I anticipated my first birth.  The main message is that birth is a natural process, a rite of passage that is to be looked forward to, not to fear.  It is chock full of of information about what you can do to be as informed as possible about the process of normal birth, and what you can do to make it as comfortable and rewarding experience as possible.  Suggestions for non-medical comfort measures are discussed at length, as well as very complete information on prenatal testing and medical interventions that are available.  I felt very informaed after reading this book, and felt confident that I could have a very satisfing birth.

An Easier Childbirth: a mother's guide for birthing normally
by Gayle Peterson
This is an excellent book to help guide women in emotionally preparing for birth and being a mother.  There are journal writings and exercises (they are non-threatening and don't take very long) in examining attitudes, relationships with important people, childhood and birth memories, and fears, so that healing can take place, clearing the way for a satisfying birth and transition into motherhood.  I recommend starting to read this book in the second half of pregnancy.

some reflections on my daugher's birth

siblings attending the birth of a child
As of this writing, my daughter is 7 weeks old.  My son was present at my daughter's birth.  He is 4 1/2 years old, and I think overall it was a good experience for him.  My labor was short, and the baby was born within a half hour of arriving at the birth center, so her fast arrivial was just right for his attention span.  His reaction and his words were so precious...I will always remember them!  When my daughter's head crowned, he exclaimed, "Mom!  I see the head!"  and after her head was born, he cheered, "push stronger Mom!" 

Even though he has his difficulties in adjusting to our life with a new baby and with sharing his mommy with someone else, there is a special fondness my son has for his sister that I can't explain in words...and I think being there when she was born has some thing to do with that.  I have heard it said that sibling rivalry is less in families where the birth is attended by the baby's older siblings.  I will let you know in the future if that seems to be true for our family. 

I do hope he has some lasting memory of the birth, and that as an adult he will view birth as a natural, normal process, and convey his confidence to his partner as they labor together at the births of their children.

Here are some suggestions I have in retrospect for thiose who wish to have their older children present at their birth:
*be sure each child has an interest in attending the birth- you know them best as their parents.  I believe there is no set age at which time kids are ready for such an event.

*Prepare your children in ways they will understand: watch videos of births where birth is seen as a normal event and where you don't sense fear or distrust in the process by those in attendance.  Books, pretending, pictures, and uterus models can help children understand, too.  Mom practicing birthing noises (grunts, low-pitched yells or other sounds)  with the kids is very important especially for young children, with the explanation that Mom is working very hard to push the baby out

*See to it that there is an adult present to care for the kids during the birth-maybe more than one, if you feel your child/ren would enjoy or benefit from more than one person.  My mother came to be with my son at the birth center, but unfortunately, we didn't give her enough lead time, and she missed the birth. Luckily, we had employed a wonderful doula, and at the right times she filled this need by lovingly caring
for our son while my husband and I labored together, so it worked out.  We won't cut it so close next time!

*Have plenty of things available for your kids to do.  If you are birthing at home, this isn't so much of an issue.  I packed a large backpack with my son's favorite books, videos, paper and crayons, toys, and snacks.  I put a few little surprizes in there, too.

I also baked a cake ahead of time (my son helped), froze it, and brought it to the birth with canned frosting, sprinkles, candle, etc to decorate it.  Making the baby a birthday cake was a fun activity for my son and his grandma to do to pass the time. 

Some kids worry about the well-being of Mom, and feel better by helping tend to her at times during her water, ice chips, a massage, or hugs between contractions.  This is where an adult present for the child can be a big encouraging this or removing the child from the immediate birth scene, depending how child and laboring Mom feel about it. 

*I strongly believe that the attitude about birth by all those present has a marked effect on how the child feels about the experience.  In other words, becuse we birthed in a facility where the philosophy is that birth is a natural, normal process, and because no one there (including my husbnd and I) projected fear about it,  my son coped well and enjoyed the birth.  I recommend keeping this in mind when deciding if and/or when your child/ren should join you. 

Also, some facilities have policies about children being present, if they can come and go as they please, etc, so be sure you know the policies in
advance and plan accordingly.

Here are some resources my son and I enjoyed in preparing him for the birth:
Contemplating You Bellybutton, by Jun Nanao.  Explains the function of the umbilical cord, and has wonderful illustrations showing the baby develop in the uterus..I feel the most empowering illustations are the mother pulling her newborn up to her chest, and her breastfeeding her infant with the support of Dad

What's Inside?: Baby (part of a series published by Dorling Kindersley) A picture book showing a baby human, and other baby animals inside their mothers' uteruses.

How I was born by Joanna Cole.  I found this book after my daughter was born, and wish we had it before!  Has actual photos of fetus growing inside the uterus at different stages of pregnancy, and explains birth in general terms that aren't too detailed for a young child.  The text is wonderful, and the author uses the terms doctor and midwife, and birth in relation to a hospital, a birth center, and at home.  I applauded the photo of the mother breastfeeding her infant, and text that says that babies are fed from their mothers' breasts(notice breast was writen first) or the bottle.  (I think we need many more pictures of babies nursing in children's books and talking about breastfeeding)

Special Delivery by Rahima Baldwin  Shows three births-one each in a hospital, birth center, and at home.  Couples are interviewed about their hopes, and experiences before and after birth- a great tape for parents, but I feel it is good for children to see (at least parts of it) to prepare them for the sights and sounds of birth.  Birth is seen as a normal and loving event in all three births.


my birth stories:
Full Moon Babe                        New Moon Babe
(vaginal birth at a hospital)           (vaginal birth at a birth center)

[homeschooling]  [the mainstream mold]   [the inner stream] 

 Every Day is Sacred
Babies, breasts, and Bottoms (baby issues, breastfeeding and cloth diapering)

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