Last week I spent three wonderful days with a group of inspirational women, supporting them on their journey to becoming Birth Art Cafe mentors. Most women are motivated to do this training by their passion for the birth and motherhood journey. They may have experienced an amazing birth and want the same of other women in a culture of many mothers wounded by the experience.
Others have had challenging experiences in their own mothehood journey and want to support others so as possibly minimise the likelihood of them experiencing the same. Of course every woman has her own unique journey and all we can do as mentors is to lovingly and compassionately hold the space for her to find her own way, which may or may not be aligned to our paradigm of what is good and right for mothers and babies.
As birth professionals, we are trained to be non-judgemental but we are also human and being passionate about birth, we also have strong opinions of what is best for mother and baby. So what is best for mother and baby? Everyone has a different opinion that they often hold to be true. For example, breast is best, mothers and babies should stay in close contact for xxx amount of time, caesareans should be avoided, no drugs in labour etc. Now you might think “wow – you attract lots of judgemental and radical people to your courses”, however I am aware that most people know that sometimes there are circumstances where these are not possible. On an intellectual level most people are able to be professional when they hear women making choices that don’t fit in with their own belief systems but on an emotional level there may be a judgemental knee jerk reaction.
What is the definition of truth?
One person’s truth might be breastfeeding on demand with a long list of reasons backing this whereas another person might be aligned with Gina Ford’s (author of The Contented Little Baby book) truth that babies should be on a schedule – again a long list of reasons backing that. So it this a factual truth or a personal belief?
One of the mottos of the Birth Art Cafe is that all ways of mothering are welcome.
But how does that work in reality when some women believe that birth is a rite of passage to be embraced and others feel that birth is something to be got through in order to have their baby? They have simply come to the Birth Art Cafe because everything went wrong the first time round and they are willing to try anything this time, however flaky!
When we hear someone else’s choices, opinions or decisions, we are hearing a snapshot in time of that person’s history. I am reminded of a situation that happened to me many years ago when I used to park my car every day at the station in one of 2 adjacent parking bays. On one occasion I arrived there only to find that a car had parked bang in the middle of the 2 spaces leaving me no room at all. Initially I felt put out until I realised that I was seeing a snapshot in time and that I had no idea of the sequence of events that had occurred in order for the car to block both spaces.
Women who come to birth and mothering always have positive intentions and want the best for themselves and their babies. It is up to us, as birth professionals, to find the place of compassion within ourselves to really meet the other as woman to woman in order for them to feel heard and acknowledged. Only then, will she feel held and be able to trust you to hold the space for her to explore possible solutions to her problem.
Here are some suggestions on how to achieve that:
- When you hear a statement that jars with your own beliefs of the truth, notice any tension or changes in body sensations
- Take a deep breath or any other technique that you use to recentre yourself to connect with deeper, wiser and compassionate part of yourself
- Remember that the woman has a positive intention and wants the best for her baby
- Listen again to the statement in question with respect looking for a place of common ground where you can connect with her
- She needs to feel truly heard so that she can relax into trusting you
- Help her to explore solutions that will be right for her without telling her what to do or giving her advice (at the Birth Art Cafe, we don’t offer advice or solutions but support women in finding their own unique way)