Music, songs, and chanting are all powerful tonics to add to your yoga or meditation practice. Seventeen years into yoga and swapping musical faves with yogis and repeatedly approaching fellow teachers I have built my list of go-tos for those times a bit of music is a must for practice enhancement.
As an aside, if you can get yourself to a sound healing or a yoga class with live music and sound healing, hello amazing body bliss! I’m thrilled to see so many options to integrate modalities that take into account the full sensory experience of our bodies, and it’s another one to add to my bucket list of “more stuff I would like to learn”.
You bliss’n like me bub?
For the pregnant mammas, music is a lovely thing to incorporate into your practice whilst bub is womb-side as well as consider in preparation for birthing day. As music is such a personal thing, I highly recommend you spend some time browsing through iTunes or Spotify to find that musical sweet spot. Take some time leading up to the big day to listen and feel the tunes that really resonate for you and your bub. Goose-bump ripples of calm and soothing, a warm glowing feeling of heart happiness, as well as little kicks from the womb-dweller were usually the box tickers.
What I have found remarkable is how students and friends have always enquired about the same few artists and songs over the years. Below, are a few to get you started on your own little adventure down the rabbit hole. Oh, and word to the wise, if you’re off to the hospital to deliver the wee one, don’t forget the tunes at home. 😉
Super Magical Mamma Tunes – Craig Pruess & Ananda, 108 Sacred Names of Mother Divine
I fell in love with this at a little studio and was lucky enough to get my own copy. These tunes are blissful transportation regardless of your Sanskrit knowledge. Perfect for restorative, meditation and savasana.
Angel voice – Essential Snatam Kaur, Sacred Chants for Healing
I rocked and chanted with my girl in my womb to Ong Namo during meditation sessions prior to her debut. It was truly marvellous to see her little head turn once I played it after she was earthside. We still cuddle on to these when she’s not busy taking over the world or the lounge room. Many of these tunes were on my birthing day playlist.
If you just want a relaxed vibe, without the vocals, try Deuter
Sometimes this sounds a bit “spa-ish” to me but I find Deuter is pretty neutral to have on if I am feeling a bit overstimulated and need simple, soothing sounds. I have a few of his albums. Reiki Sound Healing is my fave. Nada Himalaya rocks during meditation sessions.
Sacred Earth = Australian Magic
Hmmm so blissful. A bit of mantra, gorgeous instruments. Feel the love. After all these years I still find Breathing Space, on the Call to the Divine album to be an amazing
Ambient, other-worldly chill’n try Divination by Akasha
I usually only listen to the first selection of songs that are more relaxing. Descent is a perfect 14:55 long. Just right for a nice meditation or savasana session when that’s all you have time for. The second suite of tunes is a bit robot doof-doof, but hey, perhaps you could use it for your next big rave after baby arrives.
If there’s one bummer about being a Prenatal Yoga teacher it’s saying good bye to the cool women I get to know over the months as their bellies blossom. While I’m sad to see mammas go, I know they are embarking on a wonderful phase of life which I am honoured to be a small part of. Notably, those final weeks can become a bit wearing on anyone, and as the due date approaches and passes, some mammas become disheartened.
You’re more likely to not have your bub on this day love.
When this happens I take a trek down memory lane, and the good ol’ days of waiting for a spontaneous labour that began at 41 weeks and 7 days nearly three years ago. Our perfectly healthy, 7lb, 5oz girl obviously needed just a little more time in the oven and was born at 42 weeks. This was four weeks after medical staff suggested that opting for a scheduled elective caesarean would be the safest and most convenient option for our footling breech baby. I shudder to think how unprepared for life on the outside girlie would have been had we agreed to those recommendations. I believe it would have been more harmful than the inconvenience of the, to be honest, at times insanity-inducing wait we embarked upon.
Barring the occasion where a pharmaceutical induction is deemed medically necessary (and perhaps these instances are far fewer than the number performed) there is no reason to go into panic mode if you pass the 40-week mark. It is a false predictor and there can be huge variation in gestation length. There is not one woman on the history of this planet who has remained pregnant forever. Labour will happen, so why create unneccessary stress and anxiety?.
Obsession with this mythical ‘deadline” has been a huge disservice to many women and their babies. As I’ve said in class, assuming that all pregnant women should go into labour by a specified date is as absurd as designating an age when every teenage girl should start menstruating or nominating stringent and exact days for childhood development. Nature has its innate intelligence and rhythms, and sometimes we are best to leave things so divine design can do its best work.
In The Caesarean, Michel Odent refers to the traditional belief in Western Europe; “A baby in the womb should be compared to a fruit on the tree. All the same fruits are not ripe at the same time. A fruit that has been caught before being ripe will never be very fit to eat and will quickly go bad. It is the same with a baby.” (127-8)
No you won’t have a rotten baby; but could we consider there is important fine-tuning that happens in those final days in utero that we eschew in the name of impatience, false fear and health provider convenience. Research has even postulated that gestation is linked to mamma’s unique metabolism. And if that has been proven to be the case can we assume that there is an intimate and unique dance that takes place between mamma and bub as the birthing day arrives?
Lastly, if you are planning a surgical birth and there is no medical reason to schedule, consider waiting for labour to commence before going to theatre. Giving your baby the opportunity to choose his or her birthday is one of the best gifts we can bestow as mummies.
By refusing unnecessary medical interventions, very likely avoiding the cascade of intervention that results from it, making educated decisions for your body and trusting your baby you will be setting up a positive parenting pattern. Let’s develop a little more patience towards the “need to know now” world we live in, and surrender to the mystery and magic of this rare lifetime experience.
One time at a party, chatting with a few parenting folks and admiring a couple newly arrived cherubs, the topic unsurprisingly shifted to our birth experiences.
Damn straight I am writing a birth plan!
I had a twinge of jealousy when one of the mums spoke of her twins’ vaginal birth, the second little nugget being footling breech, just like my Turd Bird was. Despite a happily anticipated home birth, the end result for me was a caesarean.
So I fessed up a couple of my hurts after the girl’s arrival when one of the mothers laughed, “There’s no point having a birth plan, it never goes to plan.”
I became a reluctant expert in drafting a birth plan with our child’s pending arrival, and knew well in advance that little one was in a less than ideal position. I had all kinds of time, to not only try every method known to woman-kind to turn the baby, but to also think about what I wanted in a variety of scenarios.
Oh yeah, we had a plan, a few in fact.
Plan A: The ultimate dream as the days trudged towards and then trotted along past the due date, baby would miraculously flip around and I’d get my home water birth. Voila.
Plan B: So baby was stubborn, but would lift up those little feet and go bum down, vaginal hospital birth with intervention if needed, but not necessary, I would rock it.
Plan C: Alas, bub decides to stay put, and we go ahead with a footling breech vaginal. We watched A Breech in the System. My heart rate increased as the days crept on and it felt as though nothing had changed, but I held faith, prayed, visualised, you name it.
Plan D: If surgical intervention became advisable then at minimum I wanted to be the first person to touch my child, so I requested a MAC.
In the operating theatre hubby got woozy and overwhelmed, and in my newfound delerium of painkillers I said it was no problem forgoing my participation. I’d realise months later that it wasn’t so. I was the fourth person to feel my daughter’s sweet skin against mine. The baby I grew, danced with, fed and loved in my body for nine months, came to me after being admired and held by others.
Looking back it still feels so inherently wrong. I was in shock and a part of me left the room that day. So while my heart was opened with this beautiful child another part of my world crumbled. It took a long time for me to realise this and start putting myself back together, emotionally and spiritually.
Back to Ms. No-Birth-Plan: do I believe in drafting a Birth Plan? Absolutely! Did I get everything I wanted from mine (the A, B, C, or D version)? Uh no. Did I get other things? Absolutely!
At 42 weeks my darling finally decided it was time to make her entrance, and despite increasing pressure from hospital staff, I stayed with what my heart wanted and experienced a slow-building, spontaneous labour. Once we arrived at hospital later in the day, the head obstetrician made sure everyone had read my birth plan; this buoyed me as I faced the unknown. Beautiful, kind, strong midwives held my hands while I groaned through contractions for over twelve hours. My husband barely left my side, encouraging me as each powerful wave rushed through me. And lastly, I will never forget the look on my darling private midwife’s face after bub was in my arms post-op, “Angie I am so proud of you.”
By putting my intentions in black and white and making my wishes clear to medical staff, my midwife and partner I believe I was eventually able to look back fondly and heal from the experience more quickly.
The point of a plan is to use it as a guiding document, not the final word or decree. Plans go astray for thousands of people and companies everyday. Do we then imply that they were silly for writing one in the first place?
Please mamma, have a plan. Here are some ideas from my experience that warrant consideration:
- Share your bottom line acceptable behaviours with your support team so they can advocate for you. If there are words you know you don’t want to hear, or approaches that you don’t think will work for your personality, let it be known.
- Consider contingencies, but don’t dwell there. Planning a home birth? Excellent – maybe have a quick tour through the hospital you’d hopefully not transfer to, so the environment isn’t completely foreign if it does happen. Planning for a vaginal delivery? Have a quick read of what a caesarean entails.
- Educate yourself on what interventions you feel comfortable with, what the impact may be on your baby and you; and think about how you would like you, your baby and family to be treated afterwards. For example bub sleeping in your room or bed at the hospital, or minimal visitations until you give the all clear.
- Nominate who you want present. Clarify the level of privacy you expect; unwished for visitors whilst you’re in labour can be upsetting. Designate an assertive gatekeeper.
- Most importantly, make a promise to yourself that no matter what happens, you will accept that you have done your best at that specific moment on that specific day with those specific circumstances that were presented to just you, and you alone.
I hope these suggestions are helpful ones. If a birth plan is important to you and your provider doesn’t take this discussion seriously, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. If your needs and desires are not of paramount importance, you’ve got yourself a red flag that your wishes will more likely be brushed aside when it comes to the big day.
Whether it’s your first, second or fifth child, walking yourself through this process can help in the long run.
I’m keen to hear from you. Have you had a birth plan in the past? Did you feel it was a helpful part of your experience? Please share your respectful thoughts below.
I wish the very best for you and your baby, and hope that your experience contains the most divine love, respect and reverence that you, dear mamma, deserve.
I remember the first time I taught prenatal yoga. It was during my training in an Advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching at the CAE in Melbourne. The ladies in class weren’t actually pregnant, but just pretending to be for the sake of a practice session in prenatal instruction. The energy in the room was palpable and otherworldly, despite only one of my classmates actually being pregnant. It dawned on me as I walked amongst the ladies and felt a tender wave of love rush over me; this was a direct way to connect with the future, creating a nurturing, loving space for women and their babies before more formal introductions took place.
That was about five years ago, and reflecting on both my yoga practice and experience of bringing our first child into the world, my approach and philosophy on prenatal yoga teaching has evolved in a way that I would not have expected.
Our baby’s pending arrival over two years ago was one that I was positively relishing. I had a fabulous, complication-free pregnancy and could not wait to give birth and experience what my body was capable of. We had a lovely team of midwives and had planned for a home birth, where I was hoping for a water birth.
And then plans were thrown way off axis. In short, bub was eventually discovered to be footling breech. Nothing much about the dream for welcoming baby into our lives happened; at the end of it I was left with a beautiful critter whom I’m grateful to call my daughter and a five-inch scar along my lower abdomen.
The weeks leading up to darling’s birth were the most upsetting, disorienting and miserable in my life and something I would never wish upon anyone. I was heartbroken, felt like a failure and illogically at times wondered if I had done something to bring what I at the time viewed as a horrendous experience upon myself.
I’ve contemplated this and looked deeply as both an instructor and student in pre-natal yoga classes, where the full realities of the birth experience, at least in my humble opinion, are not always addressed. I’ve attended yoga classes where the instructor’s sole messaging and instructional cues were skewed to the vaginal birth experience. I wondered, both before and after our girl’s arrival, where that left all of the other mums out there who, for whatever reason, birthed surgically.
You see I was a great believer, and still very much am, in the body’s ability to bring baby into the world. But I believe not giving space to the caesarean experience, as well as other interventions that mums might need or choose for whatever reason, is a disservice to some prenatal yoga students who I’d argue need just as much support, caring, recognition and space as those who have the privilege of experiencing a natural birth.
Meeting your baby under the theatre lights can be so very different, but equally as beautiful, as those who get acquainted in the labour ward, birthing centre or home. I am committed to addressing as many facets of the birth experience as possible when I commence my new class offering tomorrow at The Nest on Silas.
Whether a caesarean is scheduled or not, I believe discussing the process candidly and positively can help alleviate a lot of the fear, apprehension and potential aftermath. My intention isn’t to create complacency towards the increasing and sometimes alarming c-section rates, but rather, to give new mammas a few more tools in the treasure chest before delivery day arrives. Having a bit of knowledge can set your mind at ease before, during and after.
My hope is that all mums experience a beautiful, empowered, informed and supported birth. That mamma and baby pass through the fires of initiation with grace and strength; that if medical assistance in any form at any stage in a pregnancy or birth is logically deemed necessary and made clear from a place of respect and honesty that the mother can be at peace with the process and have faith that all is well while holding gratitude for modern medicine.
I will never forget the moment I first laid eyes on our girl, or the weight of her perfect tiny body as it was laid upon me; for that slice of time I am forever grateful. I hope all mothers are able to look back on their birthing experiences with that indescribable spark of indelible, delicious recollection, whatever path leads them to the first moment of connection with babe outside the womb.
So if you’re pregnant or practicing to be, I would be honoured to meet you in class soon, as we explore the myriad ways we can embrace our own unique journeys, support our bodies and spirits and prepare to welcome the little souls into our families.