My Birth Art Journey

I wanted to share my story as to why I believe Birth Art is an incredible birth preparation and birth de-brief tool.

My Birth Art Journey

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As my world fell about my ears on the diagnosis of my second baby’s issue, I tumbled to a dark and lonely place.

Instead of the all consuming joy of pregnancy that I felt with my first, I was in a world filled with doubt, with fear, with extreme isolation. It felt like being in a deep, dark, tangled forest of Anderson fairy tales, brambles snagging my hair and an eerie silence throughout.

I wept at night, the deep wailing howl of despair.

Sheela Na Gig

Sheela Na Gig

I had an urge to mould something out of clay, I created a beautiful, delicate fragile labyrinth and a model of Sheela na gig, all whilst watching a film that took me back to my carefree days of clubs and music.

And as I moved through my grieving for my peaceful homebirth, as I realised the futility of my fight and realised I needed to find a different way, I needed to dig deep and find me, the birth warrior a great anger overcame me. Anger with everyone, with the world, with friends, with the medical community and with myself.

I took those clay models and with a burst of uncontrollable anger I marched to our compost heap, and I broke, I smashed, I crushed, muttering primal sounds. And as they crumbled to tiny fragments I felt a deep release, a letting go, a surrendering almost to this new, frightening path I was on. I felt a glimmer of hope that I could move way out of my comfort zone and find what I needed to find to not just cope, not just survive but make this birth mine.

I found the energy to research, to find ways to create a home within a hospital room. Beautiful pictures, evocative scents, reach out to friends – blankets were made, words and pictures were sent, a necklace was made.

And then one day a new creation formed from within a delicate, new labyrinth, the labyrinth of my birth, my journey. Something to take with me into the hospital and which, although tucked away during actual labour stayed with me in my mind’s eye, I mentally walked it as the huge, awesome on the edge contractions consumed my body.

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Amongst the confusion, the pain, the medical madness that surrounded the birth of my second son, even through the possibility of a caesarean section, I found that deep, secure me, even though I still hold some traumas from that birth – they weren’t of my doing, I sit here confidently knowing that despite everything I birthed my son, vaginally. And even with the flashbacks of what ‘they’ did to me, what they said to me, I hold a tiny golden star that I did it – I outdid them I had my natural birth, I felt my own power.

It makes for mixed feelings, last night I had surges of a panic attack, a deep anger of things said and things done, a deep anger that I am unheard by them. Warrior anger. But my thoughts immediately can go to how can I work through this anger, this deep pain. What tools and resources do I know I have to battle through, will I paint? Will I sculpt? Will I drum? Will I dance? I expect all of those things. Bit by bit I can release and let go. I know I can and that’s the thing, that’s what Birth Art has given me, a deep understanding of my own true strengths. An understanding that allowing this pain, fear, anger out – to give it a voice is the first step to healing.

Moontime Musings

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What if  a girls education about periods spent more time on understanding a cycle and the different phases?

What if that education also discussed the emotional and physical aspects of  those phases?

What if we used our cycles as the basis of our self care?

What if we learned what moods we would be in at each phase, our energy level at each phase, what foods we craved and needed at each phase?

What if we could use this information to help us plan our weeks and days, we knew when we would need space to rest and huddle away , or when we would feel more creative, or when we felt the urgeto get out and socialise?

Maybe we could use it to know which times we would be better at cleaning or at financial planning or coming up with new ideas?

Maybe we would know when not to try and do something so we made sure we don’t set ourselves up to fail, or berate ourselves for ‘no motivation’, or ‘laziness’ or ‘scattiness’

What if we used our cycles as ways to love and honour ourselves rather than view ourselves as disgusting, messy, dirty?

What if we knew ourselves that little bit better?

I bet there will be plenty of women who will say -” oh yes but….” and come up with 101 reasons why this just isn’t possible – why not care for yourself, really care and spend that energy on working out what you CAN do for yourself?

Why Birth Art?

“One kind of learning comes from books. But the learning necessary for you to participate completely in your birth must come from you” Pam England

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Birth Art is a very useful addition to any antenatal class or works well on its own. For postpartum it can be useful for helping you move into your new role as mum or to help deal with a birth trauma. As time goes on Birth Art can be a very useful for working through issues you may be dealing with as a mother  and importantly enables you to realise the strengths you bring to your mothering journey.

But how?

Many antenatal classes deal with preparation for birth in a more left brained way looking at positions for labour, breathing, understanding the phases of labour and learning skills and techniques to cope with each stage. I loved my antenatal classes – I attended Daisy Birthing classes and Hypnobirthing (Mongan method).

These gave me lots of understanding about how my body would work during labour, muscles, hormones, breathing. Helped me work on ways to keep myself focussed during labour and some lovely massages and holding techniques for my partner to use if needed (it was needed in the first birth!)

However, I realised with my first birth that it didn’t prepare me for when my wanted home birth turned into a rush to hospital for a failed ventuse, which in the end turned into a forceps delivery. It left me very traumatised and on a mission to find out what had ‘gone wrong’.

With my second birth – which ended up being an induced hospital birth – something that terrified me to my core and also needed to consider the possibility it could turn into a cesarean section. I needed something more, I needed to find out how to find my inner strengths and I needed to grieve for my home birth I had so dreamed of.

As part of my healing I came across the book Birthing from Within by Pam England and in it she talks about Birth Art and how it can be used in birth preparation.

“An active, gentle exploration process not only brings overlooked resources and strengths to conscious awareness, but identifies obstacles and inhibitions that might prevent you from using them” Pam England

By sitting looking at a blank piece of paper you can explore your thoughts about taking a step into the unknown whether that be labour, birth, becoming a parent for the first time or adding to your family. For those dealing with birth trauma it can be the stepping into allowing those thoughts and feelings and memories to come to the forefront of your mind in a safe environment.

Where do you feel it in your body?

Realizing where your feelings manifest in your body can show you the physical effects of emotions. Understanding how emotions can cause muscle tensions is a way of seeing how fears and worries could have a negative effect on helping your body through labour or allowing your baby to turn into an optimum position. Tensions and tightness, which can cause shallow breathing and stop the flow of oxytocin can also have a detrimental effect on the length of your labour, slowing it down or even stopping it.

Birth Art can give you the opportunity to work through those fears and worries well before labour. Enabling you to think of ways you might cope if your birth plan deviates from your ideal. It can help you come to terms with a different kind of birth from one you had expected – if you need to have a planned cesarean, or if you will need to have a hospital birth or if your planned hospital birth ends up being a home birth you will be confident that you have the inner strength to make it a positive experience.

“In making birth art…just bringing an image to light can be surprisingly revealing (and sometimes healing). Listening to it speak to you can tell you even more” Pam England

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How would it be if you were to take a risk?

The painting is not the important thing in Birth art (although all the paintings are beautiful) it is the feelings, emotions, fears and realisations of your own inner strengths that arise during the creation of your art that are.

Putting paint on paper, how you choose your colours, whether you worry about spoiling it by doing too much or fear of using darker colours, even where you start to paint or how much paper you cover, all can give you an insight into how you approach problems, what risks you fear to take or how you want to show yourself to the world.

Having this insight can better help you to prepare for your birth – if you realise you fear to take risks or fear to take that first step with new situations, it could be indicative of how you approach birth, maybe the first contractions could leave you in a  flight or fight response which would prevent a good oxytocin flow. This in turn could slow down or inhibit the effectiveness of your contractions.

Or maybe you are frightened about losing control (making your picture perfect, not wanting to ruin it, being very precise about where you put each colour) In birth you do need to surrender, to allow your primal instincts to take over but this won’t happen if you feel inhibited in any way.

Once you realise and challenge these fears it allows you to discover your inner strengths and find ways to help you overcome them.

Pam England states in Birthing from Within that ‘For some women, making birth art may be a reassuring affirmation of their readiness to give birth’

Whatever you need to explore taking time to sit and spend time reflecting on being pregnant, giving birth, becoming a mother of one or increasing your family is a welcome reprieve in a busy world.

At Birth Art Cafe sessions we explore many aspects of labour, birth and motherhood.

LL ” Making art during pregnancy helped me documnent who I was and how I felt; what I was excited about;what I looked like – it was a way of holding that precious experience”

JR (an art therapist) ‘For pregnant women, making art can help them find the power and support they’ll need to carry them through their pregnancy, the delivery and the learning to mother’

(The above quotes are from the book Birthing from Within by Pam England)

 

I didn’t know you did that

So it has come to my attention I am not good at marketing what I do! I have posted and shared and created a website and thought I was doing a great job at letting people know what I do and what it can help with. But it seems I am not doing that great a job when I find friends are not aware of different aspects of my business.

I find it quite hard to chat about what I do (and get paid for i – but that’s a different story.) For a long while I was just a Babywearing Consultant, but before that I was a Daisy Birthing teacher, Daisy Baby Yoga and Massage teacher and a Toddler Yoga Teacher. Then I was for a brief period a BraLady specialising in maternity and breastfeeding bras. I have done training with La Leche League to become a leader but needed to let that slide right at the end when Bryn was born as there just wasn’t time and things changed. Then through a sudden burst of activity when Bryn died I have trained with 2 different people to offer Rebozo massage for pregnancy and labour, attended a Spinning Babies workshop. A Birth Art Cafe Mentors training, Sacred Pregnancy Mini Retreat Facilitator, Sacred Postpartum work for V Steams and Postpartum Herbal Teas, and Belly Wrapping and a workshop on Closing the Bones and completed the first part of a Dancing for Birth Facilitators course. In what seems to be a move away from pregnancy and birth I have trained as a Foot Health Practitioner with the Restorative Exercises Institute.

Yes, I love learning and I am so passionate about pregnancy, birth and motherhood. So the difficulty comes with trying to hone this all down and focus on what I would like to offer rather than being so overwhelmed by everything I have done.

I spent a lot, a huge amount of time wondering whether I could continue working with pregnant mums and new babies – many times during my pregnancy with Bryn and while he was alive. A kind of craziness overcame me after he died – many of the courses I took that year I was also still pumping and donating breastmilk to two babies, it did lead to questions which at times were difficult to answer. Many times I sat back and asked myself what on earth I was doing, spending all this money, time and energy taking these courses and not really knowing if this was a direction I wanted to follow. But it is, quite frankly, an enormous passion this pregnancy and baby work. It has taken me completely by surprise. Before I had my first baby I was so not bothered by babies, rarely noticed a pregnant woman. But once I became pregnant it was a completely different matter. I couldn’t imagine not doing this. Even after the miscarriage in November and knowing I should be sitting here with a big pregnant belly it’s still all consuming.

It’s an amazing, incredible, magical, beautiful thing to grow a baby, birth it, nurture it. But it’s also comes with tiredness, exhaustion, bewilderment, worry…

And I guess that is where I come in – wanting to create a space for pregnant women and mums to come and explore their feelings and discover their strengths. Share their stories and listen to others. By sharing and listening we can not only help each other solve problems but also realise we aren’t the only ones going through these situations – because it certainly feels like that at times. And importantly discovering our strengths, our intuition, trust ourselves that we do know what’s best for our children and finding the courage to stick to our guns when we need to. Creating a circle of support to help us on our journey, celebrate with us, hold us when we need it.

So what d I do?

I am working a lot on my business at the moment as well as on myself – such hardwork, lots of thinking, lots of being aware of what makes me uncomfortable, why I feel anxious about sending someone an invoice, why I try and over-provide and undercharge. Why it’s so hard to just sit down and write and talk about what I do. (did I say I was good at procrastinating? Did you notice I needed to put a paragraph after I asked myself the question ‘what do I do? – yep, I can spend a lot of energy procrastinating – in fact it is hard not to just walk away from the keyboard right now and not finish this blog post)

I have trained with 3 different Babywearing Schools now and run a sling library as well as workshops and private consultations. – Why mention the 3 training schools? Because they themselves have taken me on a journey of discovery and on the way met some amazing people. (oh look I have obliterated the information that I run consultations, work shops and a sling library in a small paragraph of waffle – let me start again)

So what do I do?

I am a Babywearing Consultant – I run a sling library, private consultations and group workshops. You can learn about many different slings, learn how to use them, get help with more specific problems and hire a sling. I love how a sling can enable a parent to keep a baby close, emulate that womb-like feeling a baby needs in the first few months. And how it gives them a safe place to view the world from as they get older. Amazing how much more you can get doen having your baby in a sling and makes walks and shopping so much fun t have someone to chat with. I struggled to get to grips with slings, having them comfy for a long period of time was more luck than judgement. My first consultant course was purely for me to learn how to wrap but I soon saw that being able to show and help people in person made for a much easier time. There’s something very special about seeing the ‘aha’ moment of a parent mastering a sling and nothing beats a baby asleep and content in a sling.

I am a Birth Art Cafe Mentor – you can come and spend 2 hours with a small group of women and explore your feelings, fears and strengths on pregnancy, birth and motherhood using art and creativity. Using art helps you to get out of left brain thinking and into right brain thinking. (right brain thinking is more intuitive, holistic, big picture, subjective thinking – essential for birth and motherhood!). Having never had much confidence with putting paint on paper I was very interested in this course. I read about it in Birthing From Within (my now first suggestion if anyone asks me for a good pregnancy book). The way feelings, emotions, thoughts can be expressed as you paint and allow yourself to be present in the moment is amazing. I have had great responses from both pregnant women and mums with older babies on the positive benefits of coming to a birth art cafe session.

I am a Foot Health Practitioner – I can help you understand your foot alignment, how this affects the rest of your body, and some simple but effective exercises to help correct issues. Also to understand shoe choice and how this can effect alignment. Yep this is not just pregnancy related – although it can greatly help with reducing or preventing ‘normal’ pregnancy ailments (such as pelvic pain, foot pain and back pain). I struggled with knee and back pain for many years – being told it was genetic and just something I had to deal with. Endless visits to a chiropractor or osteopath every year to keep a handle on it. I discovered a blog from a biomechanic and was truly stunned to realise that my issues stemmed from poor alignment, creating stress and strains on muscles and ligaments. Daily exercises  have helped reduce my aches and pains and I soon know if I have spent too much time sitting down. It all stems from the feet and my journey is taking me onto minimal shes (as in shoes with very soft soles) not only is this improving my balance (I can now walk in a straight line – something the female members of my family have always had a problem with) but my bunion pain is reducing. I am very interested in helping parents understand how soft soled shoes are important for their little ones and why when they wear wellies they fall over so much more. I can see this would help pregnant women so much with easing and preventing pelvic, hip, knee and foot issues and stands them in good stead for recovery after birth. And yes just people in general who want to learn more about their feet and how important they are and the impact a slightly turned out foot can have on their whole body

I have a new project Foot Sense – parents and children exploring the above but in a fun way using games, exercises and a sensory path. (The first one will run in Colchester for a Home Ed group). Oh my, I am looking forward to this! Something I have been thinking about for ages and then a fellow home edd’ing mum has given me a nudge to run a class and see how it goes. Let’s get those 33 joints in the foot moving and put them to the test – playing games to see how flexible they are what can you pick up? Can you write with your feet? And have fun in a safe environment on the sensory path – feel different textures under your feet and see how much your feet can really tell you about your environment.

I am embarking on running Mamas’ Morning Retreats – a time for mums to have some quality me-time , rediscover themselves, nourish their soul. Using labyrinths, meditation, art and dance. (the first one is next Sunday!) I want to provide a beautiful, space for women to come along and spend time thinking about them. Have some peace and some silence (oh the luxury) allow themselves to leave thoughts of their families behind for a while and truly nourish themselves in mind, body and spirit. Meditation with labyrinths, explore with art and free yourself with dance. Just three hours because it can be hard to leave our children for long but truly a retreat because it will be all about you.

All I am offering at the moment is helping women to help themselves. Not about me doing something to help them. That is important to me –  the confidence, the trust the love for yourself that is gained by making your own discoveries and having your own realisations and being able to do things for yourself is so important.

I am reining myself in – yep, I want to finish my Dancing for Birth Training, yes I want to do more alignemnt training, yes I want to do more rebozo work and yes, I want to do more postpartum work.. But overloading myself has so overwhelmed me I stopped. So the 5 things above are what I am concentrating on at the moment.

If you would like to know more then please either look on the website or do please email me.

And lastly could I ask a favour? Would you mind sharing this or letting your friends know what I do ? Help me spread the word – I would be very grateful. Thank you

 

Me time isn’t being selfish

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I am working through a book with a friend, a personal development type one. The first chapter was all about creating self-care – the author went so far as to talk about extreme self-care and the importance of it. Our first task was to create a time each week which was our time – no work, no family stuff, no housework but a time for us. Sounds simple! But so difficult. We were to learn to write in journals and to record our feelings of creating this self care time, any issues we had with it, any stumbling blocks, any obstacles we came up against while sorting this out.

Well, the first couple of weeks , maybe even the first month was easy – what bliss to have some time to myself. Little bit awkward working out what to do – so much I could do and was ‘allowed’ to do.

But it soon became easy to use this specified time to catch up on work things (because If I am doing work things it means less stress doesn’t it? Or housework because then I can relax some other time in my tidy clean house) We are only 4 chapters in. (This next one is on finance – I am not looking forward to going in depth into finances and money and the issues that raises) But I digress. Self care, let’s get back on track.

Self care – has self in it – like selfish – and it’s not good to be selfish is it – that brings up feelings of putting yourself before others and that’s ‘not nice’. We are busy mothers, we have our little ones to look after, a house to take care of, shopping and cooking and then work on top of that. It can be easy to shove any  of our needs to the bottom of the pile.

But then comes that niggle, that little voice ‘I’m tired, I’m exhausted, I can’t think straight, who am I, where did the me I used to be disappear to’

Remember the oxygen mask rule? I think that gets passed around when your little baby becomes a toddler and you sit with other mums and talk about just being able to go to the loo by yourself or have 2 minutes to yourself or how nice it would be to pick up a cup of tea and for it to be warm rather than cold. But it seems so hard to make that time, in some ways it is talked about as some kind of golden egg, an ideal but not able to be implemented. If one woman says she managed to have some time to herself there are cries of ‘lucky you’ and ‘gosh if only…’ it becomes almost taboo to make some time for yourself. And it is easy to lapse back into putting your needs back to the bottom of the pile.

But the oxygen mask rule is so very important to remember – maybe even worthy of being discussed in antenatal classes and being a subject of post partum care. If you don’t make time for yourself (and it doesn’t have to be long, it also doesn’t have to be one big chunk of time – much of weaving this into your way of life is being creative and realistic about how much and when it can be done).

If we are not to become a ‘shouty mum’, a tutting person, a mutterer under our breath, an exhausted mass of resentful feelings, a huffer and a puffer an ‘oh for goodness sake I have just sat down’ sayer, we need to take time out for ourselves.

So how?

For me it can be as simple as stopping myself mid flurry of multiple tasks to just spend a few seconds mindfully breathing to get back some focus, or to stand at the door and listen to the birds, let my eyes absorb the beautiful colours that nature provides.

More in depth might be to sit with a cup of tea and read a chapter of a book, sometimes even the focus of stilling my mind enough to the slow pace of a book can be hard and makes me realise just how frantic I have become.

Other times it’s putting on some great music and dancing in the kitchen, moving, jumping being free.

Lots of little things I can add into my day to just feel refreshed, rediscover me and slow down. My challenge for this month is to get out in nature everyday, even if it is just a walk round the garden and to just notice all the beautiful things, the buds coming out on the branches, kneel down and really see the colours of a plant.

Sooo – how about you – what small things can you start implementing daily to help you get some me time? How does it feel to work on getting some me time? Do you feel guilty? Excited? Anxious?…. How does it manifest in your body? An ache? A shortness of breath?…… What thoughts come into your head to try and put you off giving yourself some much needed space and me time?…. Sometimes it is necessary to really explore these feelings, examine why they come up, allow them to rise unchallenged and just feel them. Then it is easier to let them go so they don’t govern your everyday life.

I’d love to know how you get on and what you are implementing to get your me time.

Breathe, release and focus

Tips and tricks to get you through a day!  Simple things can just give you time to keep your cup full and not get overloaded, overwhelmed and exhausted. With Mamas’ Morning Retreats I aim not only to give you the chance to have a soul nourishing morning but to also come away with some ideas to use on a daily basis.

Reaching out to try how new technology can help us all I have decided to get started with a few blogs – so this seemed a good time to get two birds in the hand , if you will, and create this first blog to give you some simple breathing exercises.

Be gentle – it was a big challenge to do this!(and some unflattering thumbnails to choose from!)

 

So How can Birth Art Help Me?

Birth Art – not just for those who are pregnant but for those with older children too. No experience necessary.

For me as someone who was incredibly fearful of putting paint to paper for fear of ruining it or from making a picture that people laughed at it was an incredible thing to find out how exhilarating, how freeing and releasing it can be. As part of our Birth Art Mentor training we had to paint every morning for 7 days and then every evening for 7 days and record thoughts and feelings brought up during the process.

 

 

My first piece of morning art - experimenting - big colours - my thought was "can I ruin this?'

My first piece of morning art – experimenting – big colours – my thought was “can I ruin this?’

 

At first just staring at a HUGE (A3) piece of blank paper was so daunting. What should I do, I had no image in my head to paint. Then the procrastinating began, shall I use acrylic paint, chalk, pastels…. what colour should I use. I stopped closed my eyes took a breath and looked at the chalks I ran my eye along and noticed which colour I was drawn to, I picked it up and turned my attention to the paper. Where should I start? Middle, left side? Right side? Top? Bottom? Again a deep breath and just moved my hand to the paper and started to draw. Instead of worrying about what was being put on the paper I noticed the feeling in my body, where did I hold the tenseness? Which muscles were tight – which emotions did these relate too? As I drew different things how did I feel – light and dreamy as I drew the flower in the centre but then the scarier emotions raised their heads – here I had drawn something beautiful and dainty – could I ruin it? Was it true that you couldn’t actually ruin these paintings but only create an outlet for emotions. As I picked p the black pastel and stated to aply it I concentrated more on the tenseness in my body and the flood of emotions in my head and thoughts and feelings.  I could start to see how emotions and thoughts can directly relate to tightening of muscles. For me predominantly in my abdomen.

I reflected on how during birthing how fear could affect and influence my uterine muscles – if they were tight – the uterine muscles couldn’t work effectively – labour would not progress smoothly, baby wouldn’t effectively be moved towards the birthing canal and tight muscles stopping other muscles expanding could cause a lot of pain. So interesting to see and feel this really happening.

And how would this influence me as a mum? Dealing with a situation where I needed to do one thing but my son wanted to do another – by becoming tense and tight, shallow breathing – putting me more in a fight or flight situation would mean I wouldn’t be able to think logically or compassionately and the situation could escalate into a fight between us.

So for both of these situations I knew I had the skills within me to change the outcome – breathe – deep slow breathes allow the tension to dissipate, tune back in to my body feel it relax, allow my thoughts to calm. Take a moment – things don’t have to be such an urgent matter. Relax the abdomen, relax the jaw, relax the pelvic floor.

I looked down at my picture and could see for myself all the turmoil of the emotional and physical journey I had just gone through, For me this wasn’t a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ picture – it was imagery of what I had just felt.

And I realised – through this journey had realised a lot about myself, what fears I held, how I held these fears in my body and importantly what tools I had to get out of a fight or flight situation and bring back some control.

I now see art as a useful tool to work through emotions, to express what I am not used to expressing, putting big sweeping wild strokes on paper with abandon can give me space to work out a solution to a problem or to just process an event. And in the process create a piece of art that has real meaning to me.

 

 

If you would like to experience Birth Art for yourself come along to a session – currently held monthly. For more information click here.

 

 

Trisomy 18 and how it has shaped what I do

730694_10151496940568745_1300470035_nOn 22 November 2012, my second son was born. It had been a difficult pregnancy as at 21 weeks during the scan he was diagnosed with an omphalocele. My beautiful home birth I had planned  and that restful, peaceful babymoon period I had dreamt of, fell by the wayside. More than that it was shattered into a million pieces, it died – I had to grieve for it.

My worst nightmares came true, regular visits to a hospital an hours drive away, poked, prodded and belittled. It was scary, I was scared and had such an influx of emotions negative and positive all coming at once. I had to face the prospect of not just a hospital birth but an induced birth.

Quickly I had to work out how I could make this into a something that felt safe and would bring warmth to a very cold place.

It slowly dawned on me what a positive birth meant – not the birth you WANT, but making the absolute best of the birth you have. I also realised that there was no real support antenatally for someone like me – having to dig deep , face fears, resolve them. Find strengths buried deep inside and somewhere where I could just let it all out.

I had discovered and read about Birth Art at some point along the way and noted it as something to look into and it was 8 months after Bryn died that I was fortunate to get on a Birth Art Cafe Mentors course. I was blown away by it – the power of sitting for four days with a group of women, being able to open up, indeed feeling safe to do so, taking a risk, and even more important learning how to explore feelings and emotions through art. We covered so much more and I came away determined to bring this to women in Suffolk.

It has been a slow journey, I lack confidence (I am working on that) , I lack focus (I am working on that) but most of all I  am on a path of grieving riding the highs and lows of life.

This year I have turned a corner and am feeling more in a place where I can start giving back to others, working out a way to offer Birth Art and all its benefits to others.

Today is Trisomy 18 Awareness day – it was discovered when Bryn was 5 days old he had this rare life-limiting condition and that he would likely not make his first birthday. Today I want to celebrate him and share a little of how much he has left me – the drive and determination to hold a space for other women to find their strengths, release their fears, to have the opportunity to sit in a safe space with other women and really discover themselves.

Find out more about Birth Art here. Read my blog on Bryn’s charity page about the day we found out about his Trisomy 18 here

Mamas’ Morning Retreats

P1010928I have been a mum for nearly 7 years now! So many lovely memories already, but one thing that always needs working on is filling my cup. This is a subject that comes up in countless blogs, articles and discussions on the internet, magazines, books and at any meeting involving lots of mums.

The exhaustion, the worry, the noise, the solitude, too much socialising, too many things to try and juggle. That can all be coupled with dealing with many health problems, baby blues, post natal depression, dealing with birth traumas, not getting enough time to rest after illness. Trying to research your child’s latest developmental stage.  (Oh, and probably loads more things). All lead to an empty cup which needs to be filled by something, the elusive ‘me time’.

But one thing I noticed was that the times when I did get some time to myself I felt rushed, anxious, on one hand trying to fit in lots of nice things but also trying to get some rest. And the family would always come home before I was ready – I ended up feeling grumpy because I just hadn’t managed to fill my cup nurture myself, relax, acheive something. It was hard not to feel selfish for wanting so much more time to myself and a nagging feeling that I needed MORE time away from my family.

Last year I came across the notion of needing to empty your cup before it could be filled and this was one of those light bulb moments. (I wrote a little about it here)

Last year I trained to become a Birth Art Cafe Facilitator and ran several sessions. I learnt about how the act of painting helps you become more in tune with your right brain and therefore our emotions. How by allowing yourself to paint but with no particular aim in mind so many emotions, fears, strengths can be discovered deep inside yourself. Birth Art can be used brilliantly as a birth preparation tool, helping examine and release any fears (even those you might not realise you are holding onto) and discovering those inner strengths, that wisdom every woman has. The ability to deal with any situation that arises.

I also saw it work so well with mums of older chldren. And the feedback showed how benefical all the participants found it.

Later on in the year I managed to get onto a Dancing for Birth facilitator course – I was so excited – I had seen how dancing could be used during birth – for example by keeping labour progressing well and relieving pain. And I loved learning belly dancing , African, Caribbean and Latin moves and the idea (very similar to Birth Art) that it wasn’t to do with getting perfect steps but by getting people up and moving. (so important for birthing – to get off a bed and get moving)

An idea was forming and bubbling away and I patiently waited to see what was coming. It took a while and a few false starts, but what finally cemented it for me was attending freedancing and 5 rhythms dancing sessions. Amazing, revitalising, healing, releasing, joyful movement.

And so is born the Mama’s Morning Retreats. 3 hours plus time for a shared lunch, to not only fill your cup, but to first empty your cup. A combination of art, creativity, dance, support, sharing, listening and being listend to. A time to discover more about yourself, to find those strengths and that wisdom you have but has been buried.

Although just half a day it will truly be a retreat a nurturing, reflective, safe, space to come together with other women and feel content, re-energised and satisfied with life again.

Retreats will start in April on a Sunday morning and be held in Bealings. Cost will be £40 (early bird prices of £35 will be available). If you would like to be notified of the date for the first retreat (or be on the list for future retreats) please email rosie@natureandnurture.co.uk

No art or dance experience necessary. All welcome no matter how old your children are. (babes in arms welcome but unfortunately it won’t be the right environment for toddlers)



Shout it out Sunday IBW 2014

“The first topic is “SHOUT IT OUT SUNDAY” – what role has the internet and social media played in your babywearing experience? What can you do today to be heard and seen in your community? Arrange a volunteer opportunity, take to the streets and show other caregivers what babywearing is all about.”

The internet has helped me with finding my first slings, finding local mums who used slings (and became firm friends), find out lots about how to use slings and the various types and take a brief foray into the murky depths of the various brands.

Natural Mamas became the first forum I ever used and from here found out about the first Babywearing Consultants course I went on. Through this I made more friends, who have been with me on my professional journey and together we participated in our second training weekend. And from there my third.

Through the internet I have watched the profession of Babywearing Instructor grow, the number of sling libraries dramatically increase and been part of the wonderful pool of knowledge and experience that is generously shared from instructor to instructor all across the world.

It’s over a year now since I had a baby in a sling which does feel odd because it was the first thing I picked up in the morning and the last thing I put away at night. I no longer spend hours drooling over various types of wrap for myself, but instead read the discussions on the instructor forums about the latest new sling and reviews of them.

I am sad I cannot do as much for IBW this year as I have so much else to concentrate on but will enjoy seeing others celebrations over social media.

Keep your baby close enough to kiss!