Fatherhood can be so sweet!
Helping a mother have a healthy pregnancy and empowered birth receives a great amount of attention in today’s world. The blessingways, baby showers, prenatal vitamins and yoga, and even the special clothes made for the growing body all do their part to honor the mother. This helps her feel special, secure, and prepared for birth and motherhood.
But what about the dads, parental figures, and birth partners? What do we do to honor them, to help them feel included and loved in this process? How do we help them bond with the unborn child?
This Father’s Day, we present you, the father/partner, with a variety of ways to participate in the practice of Calm Birth. You can be actively involved in this empowering preparation for each stage of pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
For all three meditations, having you place your hands on the belly can help you feel a deep physical and spiritual connection with the baby.
Placing your hands on her belly can help facilitate a growing bond
Womb Breathing and Giving and Receiving can be done with you sitting behind the mother, and Practice of Opening can be practiced with you lying behind, in a “spooning” position. Be sure to use pillows, cushions, and backjacks to support your body, so that you can enjoy the relaxation, as well.
Practice of Opening can be highly beneficial for helping you tune in to the mother and baby’s growth and function. The physical and energetic boundaries between you, mother, and child can become blurred as the bodies relax.
Womb Breathing is the more active “practice,” the one that you will want to be familiar with in order to assist the mother by reminding her of her breathing during labor. This meditation also helps you ease your own anxiety about the pregnancy or impending birth, and to breathe into your own energy center. Womb Breathing is a way to establish a regular meditation practice. Do it for ten minutes in the morning and again later in the day, and practice this breathing whenever you remember during daily activity. This way, you will be very familiar with the meditation and be able to support her from a level of experience. The best way to support your partner’s prenatal meditation practice is to join her!
Giving and Receiving is, to me, an ideal meditation for the birth partner. When you want to do something to support the mother, child, or both, but aren’t quite sure what to do, this compassionate breathing technique can work wonders for you and the people you are practicing the healing meditation toward. It’s an empowering technique for you, as the partner, to send positive energy toward your loved ones, in any situation.
If you are physically separate from the mother, all of these practices can help you cultivate a deep spiritual bond, no matter how far apart your bodies may be.
When labor comes, here are some ways that you can incorporate the practice into the birth experience:
-If early labor is happening and it’s taking time for the mama’s body to find its rhythm (irregular contractions), suggest relaxing together to Practice of Opening. This can help the contractions become more regular, halt false labor, or simply provide restorative rest so that she has more energy later on.
-If you’re birthing in the hospital, offer to play the CD in the birth room– make sure you bring a CD player or mp3 speaker if one is not provided! Sometimes she will just want one track on repeat, or to play the whole CD, or to not listen to it at all but practice the Womb Breathing to music or her own rhythms. In any case, it’s nice to have the CD on hand.
-Inform the nurses that a childbirth meditation is being practiced, and ask them kindly to enter and exit the room mindfully and quietly. This is something you might also want to write into your birth plan.
-If a time comes when it seems like your partner could really use a rest, offer to lie down and spoon (hospital beds are usually big enough!) to Practice of Opening. I have also used touch relaxation to this track, massaging the parts of the woman’s body as they are being mentioned on the track.
-When it feels right and the mama is demonstrating a loss of connection to her breath or body, softly remind her to return to her Womb Breathing. If this doesn’t work during contractions, it can be a very helpful reminder between them. Practice it yourself, as well. Embody Womb Breathing.
-Remember that this is a big day for you, too! You can practice Womb Breathing with your baby, or you can even use Giving and Receiving to empower your own experience.
An important thing to remember is that if the laboring mother isn’t interested in doing what you suggest, please don’t take offense! Trust that she knows her body and its rhythms, and that she loves you and is glad for your presence, even if she rejects your ideas. Don’t be afraid to suggest something that she wasn’t interested in later in the labor, but if she’s repeatedly rejecting it (and this goes for anything, not just Calm Birth) don’t push it– she knows what to do.
In the spirit of the holiday, I want to end on a bit of a personal note and thank my father, Robert Humphreys. His enthusiastic, doting participation in my own gestation, birth, and infancy, all the way through my life today, has made an immeasurable impact!
Among the plethora of blessings I received from my dad, meditation is the legacy I am most deeply thankful for. Dad was an enthusiastic participant in every step of the pregnancy, and he and my mother meditated together each day. I feel that meditation deepened our bond while I was floating in the womb, and the tradition of spending quiet time together continued well into my childhood. I relished the early mornings, when the room was still so dark that the world felt like a secret place that only the lucky few knew about. The alarm would quietly sound and my dad and I would wake up, leaving my mother and baby sister undisturbed in our family bed. Wordlessly, the two of us would sit up gently, putting blankets around our shoulders, close our still-sleepy eyes, and sit in silence for twenty minutes. I didn’t understand the meaning of what we were doing quite yet, but I loved the routine. Starting each day like this was the promise of wonderful things to come.
Without establishing thus morning routine at such a young age, I’m not sure I would have the affinity I do for meditation. I almost certainly wouldn’t practice it with such regularity, unquestionably beginning each day with a return to my center. My passion for what I do, helping share meditation with pregnant women and their partners, is based upon a childhood of quiet mornings, of dreamy meditations by osmosis while I was in the womb, and of a father embodied the joys of a regular routine.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad, and to all of the amazing dads and partners out there! You are absolutely perfect for what your child needs to become who he or she is meant to be. Be gentle with yourself, and know that you are a vital part of the pregnancy and birth process, just as you are to the life of your child. Enjoy each moment.