Ok, ok, so I’ve been slacker recently and haven’t been posting as regularly as I’d like to. No, I haven’t been vegetating on my sofa, I’ve spent the last month trying to finish the last of my course work, and have been kept busy with births too. Bit by bit, stress has found its way into my body (my calves of all places), and by the tail end of last week I was struggling to walk up and down stairs without yelping. With another birth approaching, I knew I had to take some action, because a) I don’t like being in pain, and b) what good is a stressed out doula who can’t do gymnastics with you in labour?
Thankfully, I met the lovely Graham Stones at a recent workshop, and I had a sense that he would be the right person to sort out my aching body. Boy was I right. As a massage therapist, I find it hard to shut off and enjoy a massage, but within moments, I knew that I was in experienced hands, and that I could trust him. What followed was a very caring, dynamic, and powerful treatment. As I started to let go of the accumulated tension, I found myself drawing parallels between my treatment and my experiences as a doula:
- I had no idea how much I was holding on to until I allowed someone else to help me. Sure, I knew I was tense, but because I was running on adrenalin, I wasn’t fully in touch with my body. I didn’t realise how other parts of my body were tight, and in actual fact, causing the tension in my calves. The pain I experienced was a blessing, it was a signal that something wasn’t right, that something needed to change. Reaching out to someone else for support meant that all the tension could start to find its way out, and this is something that I experience frequently as a doula. Once a pregnant woman and I click, they often ask a deluge of questions, and tell me their worries and fears. This is a really important part of my relationship with them. Having opportunities to let it all out to someone who can listen, without interruption, is hugely beneficial. Once those thoughts and feelings have been expressed and acknowledged, most women are also shocked to discover that they’re already aware of what they want to do next. For some of the more complicated stuff, part of my role is to pass on information and share stories with them, and this usually throws up several possible solutions for them to explore.
- Letting go created space. As Graham worked on my lungs, diaphragm, and back, I became aware of how constricted everything was, and I knew that the only way forward was to let go. This is a big moment for a woman in labour; feeling up against it but knowing that the only way forward is to let go and dive in. As I relaxed into it and worked with Graham (as women do with their babies), I experienced a sudden shift and found myself really b r e a t h i n g. Letting go allowed me to go further than I had thought possible.
- It’s often someone else that provides us with the broad perspective we may not even realise we need, and it’s this that can help us to understand our mind and body, and help us to move forward with our life/birth. I had become trapped in my way of thinking; I thought that my tension had come about from sitting awkwardly and stomping around London’s streets in the rain. Imagine my shock when he told me it was all coming from my chest, but yes I said to myself, that makes sense. A midwife once told me that as a birth progresses, the perspective of the midwives and doctors attending the birth gets narrower and narrower. She went on to explain that they get more and more focussed on the baby’s heart rate, and that she feels this is the reason why doulas are so important- it’s not our job to focus on the heart rate, and that allows us to view the birth with helicopter vision. We look at the birth environment, the people who are a part of it, the position the mum is in, we see her rhythm, the way she dances her baby out, we notice the noises she makes and the way they help her. We’re aware of any negativity that will affect her, we’re aware of the annoyances that will distract her. This means we’re able to suggest and do simple things that can make a real difference.
If you’d like to benefit from Graham’s skills, you can find him at The Light Centre in Belgravia, which is a short walk from Victoria station. Click here for his Facebook page.