The new edition of the Calm Birth book is slated for publication in June, and we couldn't be happier! As a special treat, here is a sneak preview: Sandra Bardsley, the president of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, wrote this shining introduction. Sandra, thanks for all that you do-- we love you!
The writings of Grantly Dick Reed and Fredrick LeBoyer were very familiar to me when I was pregnant and delivering my own children. My births were easy and fast. Unfortunately, fairly soon after those deliveries and early in my nursing career, I saw the influence of their the natural childbirth pioneers’ teachings diminish as the medicalization of birth became more predominant in our culture. Women seemed to loose their innate power and internal focus. Fear became prevalent in obstetrics.
Dissatisfied, I left hospital OB nursing and went on to study traditional midwifery. Then, following a challenging automobile accident resulting in severe head and spinal chord injuries, my carreer path once again changed. I needed to shift the focus of my work. I wanted to stay in the area of obstetrical management and so I decided to become a childbirth educator with Lamaze International. I also became educated as a lactation consultant and a doula trainer. Each of these paths gave me opportunities to observe my clients’ responses to pregnancy, labor, birth, and early parenting. I noted that women and their support persons were thrilled with the safe births of their babiesy, but many women later admitted to me that they were somehow dissatisfied and depressed. I also noted that the family/partner bond was often weakened. Both the woman and her partner were not learning how to maintain their power during times of stress.
I began searching for ways to help my clients. I saw that the majority of childbirth classes of the time focused primarily on physical and intellectual preparation (what to eat, which exercises, what to read, who to see for your care, and how avoid pain using medication and interventions, etc.). The main focus in childbirth education seemed to be that of helping women move away from awareness and the feelings that were going on in their body. True, efforts were being made to include the partner in birth preparation, but the increasing use of medical technology at birth was adding confusion for them. I could find no techniques for exploring feelings during pregnancy or methods to connect and develop a partnership with the unborn baby. Very few emotional or relationship awareness techniques were available for childbirth preparation. I continued to search and experiment with teaching methods that would focus more on these two areas.
One thing I began to notice among my students was that the more often a mother focused on her unborn baby during the pregnancy, the more secure and confident she became in herself. I continued to study ways to tap into and magnify that awareness. I observed the natural desire of the mother to tune into her unborn baby to meet his or her, needs. I also observed that not only was the mother striving to protect the baby, but somehow tuning into the baby was helping the mother be more relaxed and calm. I found this fascinating and wanted to learn more.
After the book “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child” by Thomas Verny, MD, was published, I became aware that the the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) Pre and Perinatal Psychology Association of North America (PPPANA) was being organized. I became fascinated with what I read concerning this work. I joined the group studying and learning about the consciousness of the unborn baby. The name of the organization was later changed to the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH). This organization continues to study this field of science in support of the unborn and newborn human being and society.
Following over 30+ years of research by APPPAH, science is now able to confirm for us that the baby is a conscious, sentient being, right from conception. We know that the baby is holding primal, spiritual awareness from conception throughout the pregnancy as his or her body is forming in the womb. Developing a true partnership with her unborn child becomes a great asset to the Mmother, because she taps into her own innate connection with spirit inherent wisdom as she connects with the baby's spirit. In his book “Childbirth Meditation”, Robert expresses it beautifully when he statesAs Robert Bruce Newman beautifully states in this book, “When a pregnant woman turns her attention to what is innate in her, she touches upon her primal awareness, a deep basis for bonding with her wombchild. She knows that the profound awareness nature of her child and her own primal awareness nature are one.”
As a result of my own growing awareness of the conscious baby, I incorporated more relaxation training into my classes. That was helpful, but superficial—there was a missing element of deep spiritual connection with the wombchild. During the 1990's, I had another wonderful breakthrough in my search for more ways to teach emotional and relationship awareness. I met Robert Newman and learned about Calm Birth meditation practice. I took teacher training classes with Robert and began to practice the methods of Calm Birth meditation with the Mmother's and their partners who were coming to my business, Co-Creations for Joyful Births.childbirth classes.
This life on earth is full of anxiety and stresses, big and small. How one reacts to the stresses of life is largely dependeant on being able to shift one’s attention from the perceived outer havoc and chatter of one’s mind, to inner peace. (from mind to awareness). – sifting from mind to awareness. I immediately noted that in teaching Calm Birth meditation to pregnant women, they were able to renew their inner strength and handle stress throughout pregnancy, labor, birth, and early parenting. I also noticed that, no matter what medical interventions or stresses may have occurred for the baby during labor and birth, the babies themselvesy appeared to be more calm and less stressed as well. The MotherBaby mother-baby dyad and family partnership appeared strongly bonded with Calm Birth meditation.
Calm Birth meditation became a two way communication of great value. In preparation for the possible stress of labor and birth, the Mmother breathes into her center and focuses on her unborn baby. This connecting with primal awareness strengthens and calms her. At the same time, she is inadvertently teaching her developing baby how to also prepare for and handle possible stresses of birth and mortality. Through Calm Birth meditation the baby becomes stronger and prepared psychologically for earth life, while the mother is also strenghthenedstrengthened and relieved of stress as she reconnects with her own primal, spiritual awareness. Following the birth, lactation (breast-feeding) offers another opportunity for both the Mmother and Bbaby to reconnect with their innate awareness and primordial wisdom, thus helping both to keep intact their primal connection to spirit through centering and relaxation.
I grew to love Calm Birth meditation and noted its great value for both Mmother, Bbaby, and the partner. I love how it works on a quantum physics/energy level as well as meditation science to access energies that are invisible, but very much present. I love how it draws the woman into her own experience and power, instead of using hypnotic techniques to move away from herself and her own power. Indeed, the MotherBaby ismother and baby form a unified dyad and I see the Calm Birth/Calm Mother meditation practices producing a firm foundation for greater health and stability for both Mother and Babyboth. I saw it build a stronger bond between partners, thus ensuring the baby a safer family unit in which to grow.
I truly hope you will enjoy reading this book and learning the practice of Calm Birth and Mothering Meditation. I have seen it repeatedly bring stability and healing to mother, baby and partner. May you find much joy and many blessings as you learn the Calm Birth method and develop a partnership with your unborn child for healthy pregnancy, labor, and early parenting. May these blessings continue into every breath of life.
Sandra Bardsley, RN, LCCE, FACCE, CM
President, Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health