7 Aug · Karen Melton · No Comments

How Birthing Professionals can Effect Positive Change in Prenatal Experiences Leading to Improved Birth Outcomes: Putting Early Consciousness First

Introduction

Contrary to the popular cultural views that unborn babies are not having their own experience and that they don’t need parenting until we can see them in our arms after birth, Somatic Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health (SPPPH) teaches that, from conception onwards, we are laying down our foundational imprinting for life.

The core principle of SPPPH is that we are conscious and sentient from pre-conception on. From the beginning, we are having our own experiences, and, therefore, need parenting and support much earlier than was previously thought. This field of work has cutting edge information and research available that changes how we perceive and support the mom/baby dyad during pregnancy and birth. I will share with you some ways that you can think about early consciousness in your work, what it could mean to you personally, to you as a birthing professional, to your clients and to your clients’ children and their quality of life and health.

As a birthing professional you could be educating parents about prenatal consciousness and treating unborn babies as conscious. You have the potential to positively influence and transform both your professional life and the lives of the families that you support in their journey through early parenthood. You are placed to make a huge difference to unborn babies and to their moms/parents.

Placing the consciousness and sentience of babies in the center of your work practices would create a transformation for the better of all peoplekind. This is a much needed paradigm shift in our perception of what is important and is the kind of support that is needed and necessary for an optimal developmental experience on all levels of being. Including our consciousness and sentience moves us much closer to an integral model for early development. (Read Welcoming Consciousnessby Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD, for more on an integrated model.)

When early consciousness is included and placed in the center of how we support pregnant and birthing women and their unborn babies, it naturally follows that we need to begin parenting far earlier than is currently considered the norm. In my Somatic Healing Practice I advocate for parenting to begin before conception with a preparation phase (see The 9 Principles of Conscious Early Parenting e-book at www.KarenMelton.com), followed by the cultivation of a two-way relationship between baby and parents throughout the pregnancy and birth.

Pre-conception to Post-Birth: a Continuum of Growth, Experience and Learning about Life, Relationships and the World

As prenates we are profoundly affected by both our environment (primarily our mother and her close others), and events that happen directly to us in the womb. We are also affected by what is provided and present, the level of resources, and what is not given or available from our parents and their support circle—if they have support. Stress, welcome, isolation, love, bereavement, connection, twin loss, trauma, attachment issues, and much, much more are all profoundly affecting us and are entwined in the very fiber of our cells, body and psyche as foundational imprints. Our bodies and nervous systems are wired according to our environment (mom), stress levels, sense of purpose, the levels of embodiment that are achievable, unresolved trauma, birth interventions, drugs, our parents’ relationship dynamics, our siblings, etc. Our perceptions of life, love and safety are laid down during this period. Prenatal consciousness is present before conception and never leaves us. As prenates we are having our own experience, and we are very vulnerable. Our universal need is to feel connected, welcome, included, loved and attached—in other words, we need parenting! If loving, empathic attention is given to our experiences, to our presence and who we are, we will grow feeling welcome, loved and connected instead of feeling isolated and believing that we have to cope alone. Almost all of the little ones I have listened to—be they unborn, born, or within kids and adults—are holding core isolation imprinting from their coming-in journey (see the “Transforming Core Isolation” article on my website).

As a birthing professional, you are probably already somewhat aware of pregnancy and birth as a continuum. Within this continuum, each step of development affects the next step. If a building block is developing on top of a less than optimal previous building block, it won’t be growing upon a stable foundation. This can leave us with deficits that influence everything that comes afterwards. We can heal those places to some extent during pregnancy, at the newborn stage, or later in life, but ideally we want to lay a solid foundation by providing an optimal prenatal environment in which each of the developmental stages are “healthy enough.” This is not about being perfect, but it is about providing enough good resources, connection and support for thriving and resilience to be at the core of our foundation for life. A good foundation for life is essential for whole health.

You are meeting parents when they are already pregnant—some when they are newly conceived and others later in the pregnancy. It can really help to get a clear picture of what has already taken place in the pregnancy on all levels, not just the medical or biological. You may want to have an intake form so that you can gather this kind of information, which will then inform how you proceed in supporting each family, with baby’s needs firmly in the center. Everything about how you interact with a family/pregnant mom can teach them how to include their conscious baby. For example, the first thing I ask a pregnant mom to do when she comes to my office for support is to connect with her unborn baby and say to her/him, “I am going to do my emotional work now. It has nothing to do with you, and you don’t have to do anything about it.” Immediately, I am teaching her differentiation parenting. This makes room for baby to relax, knowing it’s not about her/him, and also makes room for mom to know she can have her feelings and it won’t hurt baby. I’m not suggesting that this would be an appropriate suggestion for your client/patient; it would depend on what kind of work you’re practicing.

Prior experiences from pre-conception onwards affect, influence and color our perception of everything that happens for the remainder of the pregnancy and during the birth. I really want you to understand that you are working on a continuum in which the earlier experiences, for which you may not have been present, inform everything that comes afterwards. For example, an unborn baby whose mom experienced the shock of her mother dying unexpectedly in the first trimester, also went into shock at losing her maternal grandmother with whom she had a strong connection. Do you think baby would need some support with that loss? How could it affect her development? We have to remember that growing babies are absorbing their experiences into their very soma, cells, and psyche and that they will be impacted on all those levels. It is as though the very experience is entwined in every thread of who we are, energetic and physical.

Parents need this information about their baby’s consciousness and to know that their baby is having its own experience, so that they can parent. This new information can cause parents to revisit all that came before in their pregnancy, as they now consider it from their unborn child’s perspective. Be ready to listen, and possibly to refer them, if necessary, for more specialized support if help is needed with previous events, traumas, etc. It’s best to help an unborn baby when the stress or trauma occurs and not wait until they are born, and it is always never too late to bring help and support to those hurt places.

The nature of the conception and of discovery (when the pregnancy/baby is discovered) will have a big impact on the pregnancy and birth, as will many other factors (see article “Prenatal Developmental Milestones” on my website).You have the potential to really make a big difference in every child’s life, and their family’s life, during this foundation-making period by utilizing cutting edge information from SPPPH to enhance and inform what you are already offering. See below for training resources, further reading, and where you can train to become a pre- and perinatal educator (PPNE).

You Were Conscious Too!

In acknowledging the consciousness of the one coming in, we also have to accept that we too were conscious when we came in. We each have our own coming-in story, which is affecting us today, both personally and professionally. This early story deeply and consistently expresses itself through:

  • Relationship dynamics.
  • How we feel about life, “the world,” others, and ourselves.
  • Experiencing the world/people either as safe, or dangerous/frightening.
  • A sense of resilience and an ability to thrive in life, or through feeling stuck in survival, lack and struggle.
  • Sequencing dynamics such as being unable to start, move through or complete anything.
  • How we parent our children and especially how we bring our children in from pre-conception onwards.
  • Health and disease, and many physical/somatic experiences, ailments and illnesses.
  • Mistaken beliefs and perceptions.

Your own early imprinting absolutely influences your work in the pregnancy and birthing field. Your motivation for being in this field, how you feel and experience it daily, and what drives the decisions you make are all profoundly influenced by your foundation. Your own early story is usually what unconsciously draws you to work in the prenatal and birthing profession. Sometimes we choose this work because we are trying to work out our own issues from back then, albeit unconsciously. This usually doesn’t work as a way to achieve deep resolution of our own early dynamics and trauma.

When we understand our own deep imprints from the foundational period, it helps us to understand what’s going on in our clients, as well as inside ourselves. One of my pre- and perinatal teachers did a session with an obstetrician who had the highest forceps delivery rate in his hospital. During his work, the obstetrician discovered that he himself had been delivered quite forcefully by forceps. He was acting out his own delivery over and again on unsuspecting babies and moms. If all birthing professionals took a deep dive into their own coming-in dynamics, before beginning to work with moms and babies and as an integrated part of their training, we would be able to serve our precious client group from a clear, grounded and conscious base. When we are aware enough of our own early imprinting, we can have some healthy differentiation between what happened to us back then and what we are doing now as adult professionals. This makes all the difference to us and to our clients. I believe that this deeper and expanded awareness would also cut down the high level of burnout amongst birthing professionals. If all labor and delivery staff understood early consciousness and were deeply in touch with their own coming-in experience and their inner little one, there could be a radical change for the good in birthing practices, and especially a vast reduction in the currently very high level of medical interventions.

Knowing about your own conception dynamics and imprints, and understanding how they have affected you, is not only good for you but enables you to facilitate the holding of early consciousness for the families that you sit with through their pregnancy and birth. You have a deeper capacity to hold space for the one coming in, because you have remembered your own early experiences by reconnecting to the little one inside of you. You are able to teach parents from a confident inner knowing that is indisputable. Parents will sense your integrated knowing, and it will help them to make the shift into accepting the consciousness of their own unborn child, and their own little one inside of them. You can be aware and curious, when you meet a pregnant family, about what the family and the incoming child has already experienced. There may already be some momentous and profound events that are affecting how baby perceives everything in present time. Your deeper awareness means that you can now perceive when a family needs some healing for early stress, trauma or difficult dynamics and refer them to the appropriate practitioners.

Note from Karen: as a somatic pre- and perinatal practitioner, I have done my own deep prenatal and birth healing, and I know that I would not be able to serve my clients effectively if I had not done so. This is because my little one within (my prenatal/birth self) would be running my work, and I would be exhausted from working from a low resourced, traumatized, very young part of myself. My little one’s involvement in my work would be detrimental because I would have no differentiation between her and my adult professional self, and no awareness of how she was running me professionally. Before I was differentiated in this area, I would get triggered with a client and be unable to resource myself or to alleviate the somatic felt sense of the trigger for a long period of time. This no longer happens, and I am far more resourced and available in my work.

Prenatal Attachment and Birthing Outcomes

A conscious conception followed by consistent two-way prenatal attachment during pregnancy absolutely makes a difference to birthing outcomes. The parents’ awareness of their child’s consciousness opens the door to a level of communication and to a two-way relationship during pregnancy that profoundly changes what is possible between the unborn baby and her parents during pregnancy and birthing. This two-way connection is incredibly empowering for the mom/baby dyad. Moms feel empowered because they are the authority on their baby’s wellbeing, and on what baby needs. When secure attachment is in place long before birthing, birth is able to be experienced as the deeply private and relational dance that it is. A mom who is in charge of her unborn baby is an empowered mom who is in touch with how her baby is doing at all times. She is the authority and the center, as is her baby. This is as it should be, creating a deeply empowering experience for all, one that sets the stage for continuing secure attachment and well-being in both mother and child.

An Awareness Exercise for You

Please be discerning about whether participating in this exercise would be best for you before you go ahead.

Take a moment to connect with yourself from the viewpoint of your conscious inner prenate, to meet your Little One who lives within, so that you can get a felt sense of early consciousness. You might sit quietly, perhaps close your eyes if you wish, feel into your body/felt-sense and make an intention to listen. One way that you can connect with your prenatal self is to look back at your own conception and prenatal period with the new awareness that you were conscious back then, understanding that the conditions you came in to are currently affecting your life, and work, every day.

Choose one of these questions to help you, if you wish, and then make an intention to listen to what your Little One wants to share with you. You can hear your Little One by listening to your body, as she will speak to you through sensations, feelings, and a felt sense. She may also send messages through thoughts arising, pictures, images, dreams, etc., so open to your intuition and trust. If you are creative you can use painting, drawing, automatic writing, etc., to access yourself. Here are some lines of inquiry:

  1. What kind of relationship did your parents have before, and at, your conception?
  2. Were you planned or wanted?
  3. What level of intimacy and connection did your parents have together?
  4. What was the prenatal environment that you had to navigate to get here?
  5. Why did you come?
  6. Why did you come to this particular family?
  7. Did anything happen during your gestation that affected you?
  8. What are the family stories about your coming-in time, and about you?
  9. Look at photos of yourself as a baby, notice what feelings are present in your eyes back then, feel how the photo touches you and what feelings it evokes for you. If you are with a parent do the same with that parent. You are tuning in to your felt-sense here, not your intellect. Trust what you receive.

Write down, or draw/paint what you experience, and, if you feel like doing so, share your discovery with someone that you trust. To go deeper, find a trained and experienced somatic pre- and perinatal psychology practitioner and if you get in touch with something that was difficult, scary or overwhelming back then, please do get support immediately.

When we are Working Out of our Imprints, We can Burn Out and Feel Exhausted

In the birthing professions we are much more likely to be triggered into our own early imprints because we are in the pregnancy and birth field all day. This can, and does, trigger us into our own little one’s experiences from back then. It can be exhausting to work from early imprints, because they arise from such young, vulnerable and low resourced parts of us, whose needs and behaviors are motivated from mistaken beliefs, or who are stuck in survival mode. Ideally, you need to work from your healthy adult present self, on purpose, and be aware enough of your little one within so that you can keep her out of the work, and take good care of her simultaneously.

Our little ones can give us good information at times that can help us in our work, but they should not be in the thick of it or affecting our professional life. For example, my little one is an expert on prenatal life threat imprinting because she experienced that in the womb. At work she is allowed to tell me if life threat imprinting is in the room, but she is not allowed to get involved with the client! By taking responsibility to attend to the healing that I needed, I have reached a level of differentiation that gives me the internal resources to have good personal and professional boundaries. This constitutes the ability to practice consistent, good self-care and to consequently role model good self-care to my clients.

Happy Embodiment

Imagine a world in which parents prepared for conception, parents who were ready on all levels to receive us and make a conscious, caring home for us in which to grow. Currently, more than half of all babies are unplanned, so we are a long way from conscious conception as a cultural norm. Many unplanned conceptions turn into unwanted children and ambivalent parents, or abortions. A loving, conscious conception profoundly affects our earliest imprints about being in a body, and how much we can safely and comfortably become embodied. Our ability to be truly present in our lives is commensurate with our level of embodiment. Embodiment is a relational process, which is adversely affected by trauma, stress and early isolation all of which can be prevented and/or healed very early. Your patients/clients, by the time that you meet them, have already been through so much that you may be able to positively influence as they move forward. You can bring consciousness and compassion to the experiences they have already had, and to those yet to come, that will affect their birthing and bonding experiences and the rest of their lives (go to www.birthpsychology.com for research, a journal, conferences, and the Prenatal & Perinatal Educator Certificate course).

We now have the information available to create an optimal environment for our babies, so that our children can live healthy lives emotionally, spiritually, and with somatic integrity and balanced nervous systems. There is much evidence that points to the prenatal developmental period as the foundation for either health or disease, for living in survival or thriving, for feeling safe or not, for being present or checked out. This makes sense because we are growing our body, and everything in our environment contributes to how it gets wired.

An example of how a commonly used birthing drug affects embodiment – medical birthing meets SPPPH:

Pitocin, a synthetic oxytocin, speeds everything up and is routinely used in hospital birthing for inductions and augmentation of labor (speeding up labor). I have worked with a number of kids and adults in my office suffering from the effects of Pitocin. Pitocin imprints show up through pacing, timing, embodiment and sequencing issues in which people can’t slow down or reach deep rest (revved nervous systems) and are unable to land in their bodies enough to know where they are in themselves (e.g., kids tripping over their feet and going, going, going). It is a very debilitating drug on many levels and medical professionals seem to be unaware of what they are causing by using Pitocin, which I believe is not approved by the FDA to be used in birthing. The baby naturally starts the birthing contractions when she is ready, and feels her impulse to begin to move from the inside (womb) to the outside world. This impulse is what begins the chemical cascade that causes contractions. This impulse is crucial in life because without it we don’t know when or how to get started; we have no felt sense of the internal impulse that precedes movement forward or towards.

Pitocin, used for induction, interferes with our natural impulse to get born and with our own sense of timing and pacing when used in augmentation of labor. In a natural birth there is a healthy cycle of rising up into a contraction, coming down the other side, and then a rest period in the middle in which mom and baby can take some time to recover and come back to themselves. Pitocin removes this natural cycle and keeps us in a go, go, go, up, up mode with no rest periods in between. This creates a much harder labor for both mom and baby, but it is convenient for medical professionals to have birth happening on their schedule. We need to understand that these natural processes are there for good reason and that they are laying down necessary and deeply needed patterns somatically, emotionally and psychologically. We should not be messing with them, especially in ignorance.

Parents need to have this information so that they can consider how this drug may affect their unborn child before agreeing to its use. Drugs used in birth are not just affecting us during the birth; they affect us long after birth. We must surely wonder if many of the diagnoses being given to young children these days are related to routine birth interventions and drugs, as well as vaccines.

It’s Normal for Us to Remember Our Own Journey into Life When We Enter into Parenthood

Parents-to-be will often naturally recall or unconsciously somatically remember their own journey into life when they contemplate getting pregnant, conceive, and throughout pregnancy and birth. It is normal for us to remember our own journey into life when we enter into parenthood; our own imprints have a huge impact on conception, pregnancy and birth.

At each point in the journey from pre-conception through early infancy, we as parents are re-living our own journey. We remember our own early journey as we are entering into parenthood, or when we are sitting with people as professionals. These memories are not cognitive and must not be underestimated in their power to influence people’s experiences during early parenthood and how they can color a practitioner’s perception of what is happening. The early memories, and the little one within who holds all the memories from that time, stir into life and are stimulated and, often, activated. This natural phenomenon can help us to understand much of what a pregnant mom and her unborn is experiencing or perceiving, and we can help her to understand it in present time.

What we are experiencing in the present is not always a present-time experience, but can be a somatic memory of a time past. This awakening of early imprints is normal and can have a big influence on a pregnancy and birth whilst remaining totally out of awareness. This new understanding of prenatal consciousness can help us to understand that what a pregnant mom is experiencing may not be about now, but about what happened to her back then. Here is an example:

A doula asked my advice regarding what to do with a client who had gone into premature labor at 31 weeks and had already birthed her first child prematurely. I told her to ask her client, “What was yourbirth like?” She did so the next day and mom replied, “I was born prematurely!” This mom was smart and immediately able, with the supportive presence of her doula, to connect her present time premature labor with the premature birth of her first child. A light automatically went on for her when asked about her own birth. She was then able to have some tears and take time to talk about what it had been like for her to be born early. After this session with her doula, her premature labor stopped, she went to full term and had a good natural birth. This is a very simple example of how beneficial it can be to combine the awareness and consciousness of SPPPH with other work in the pregnancy and birthing field.

As professionals, your own journey is stimulated and remembered as you work in the pregnancy and birth field. Through this you can get a felt sense of how this may feel somewhat for a pregnant/birthing mom when her little one is waking up and speaking louder. Ideally, your own consciousness needs to be raised through education in the somatic pre- and perinatal field and by taking responsibility for doing your own personal work, in particular taking a deep look at your own early imprints. Birthing professionals who are up to date on the cutting edge information now available, and who sit with clients with enough of an understanding of their own early imprints, will truly be well resourced in their work and providing the best care. It is from this place that they can make this important information more readily available to parents, support babies and exercise excellent self-care as professionals.

Example of a trainee midwife working at a birth center:

A very distressed young trainee midwife came to me because she had been in charge of a birth in which the mom became very distressed. The stage of birth at which the birthing mom went into distress was the same stage of birth at which the trainee midwife had gone into distress in her own birth. The midwife was totally unaware that she had become triggered into her own birth dynamics. In other words, this midwife had gone into her distress from back then, and her little one triggered, at the same stage as the mom she was attending became distressed and in need of urgent care. In the midwife’s birth, an emergency cesarean section was carried out, so she didn’t get to complete her birth herself. Now as a trainee midwife she was in a challenging situation and her imprinting said (or her little one said), “Oh, this is the part where someone comes in from the outside and finishes it for us.” The midwife, in the grip of her own imprinting, was literally frozen as she waited for the outside help to arrive. The problem with this scenario is that she WAS the help. She was no longer taking full responsibility for what was happening in present time. This experience distressed her so much that she decided to get out of midwifery. She had no way to frame, process or understand what had happened to her during this birth, even though she had trained fully to be a midwife. Unconsciously, this midwife was expecting someone to come in and take over at that point in her client’s labor, just like someone had taken over at that point in her own birth.

The clearer we become about our own story, the clearer we can be when we sit with others. This example illustrates why it is so important that we know these early places inside of ourselves so we can be clear and grounded and understand how early imprints work. They are preverbal, subconscious, and can take over without us knowing what is happening. Our whole physiology can change as an imprint comes up. The earlier they are, the more pervasive they are.

Most of us are drawn to work in pregnancy and birth because of our own early experiences and imprints, so it helps us both personally and professionally to know what is driving us and how our own imprints are showing up and influencing us at work. In other words, we need to know where we are triggered because we may get caught in our own, often-unconscious material from back then.

Pregnancy & Consciousness

When I work with pregnant families, I educate them about their baby’s consciousness. I raise their consciousness as parents, so that they can understand that their unborn baby is learning so much about life from her experiences and her environment. I help them see that their little one is having her own experience and that she is very vulnerable and affected by everything. I support two-way Prenatal Bonding and Attachment, and teach parents how they can communicate with, and include, their unborn baby throughout. In other words, I support earlier parenting.

I show parents simple ways to support their unborn child when they are:

  • Feeling stressed, or when daily stressful life events are happening to them, or to their family.
  • Having a fight with their partner.
  • Experiencing something traumatic.
  • Aware that something has happened directly to their baby and s/he needs attention/healing.

We cannot prevent all the trauma or stress of life that may happen during a pregnancy, but we can certainly lessen the affects of trauma when we are bonded with, and in communication with, our unborn child. Some simple early parenting techniques can vastly diminish the impact of life’s stressors on parents and baby. From very early on, unborn babies can be held within a well-established relationship with parents who are sensitive to their consciousness and who are including them.

Babies do not arrive when they are born, and peace does not begin at birth as the slogan says; it begins at the real beginning—at least as early as conception, if not before! By the time you meet a pregnant family, a lot has already happened to them and to their unborn baby, and much of it will inevitably affect birth outcomes. Birth is not separate from the rest of the journey, but is deeply influenced by it. You may be in a position to bring resources to families that would vastly improve both their attachment and birthing outcomes, and make an enormous difference to the quality of life of the incoming child.

Examples of Pregnancy and Birth when Consciousness has Been Included:

When we arrive at our birth, we have already had many experiences of our own as a prenate. This accumulation of experiences affects our perception of our birth experience. We come to it looking through certain windows of perception based on what has come before and how it was handled, or not. Here are a couple of examples of what is possible when early consciousness has been held, and prenatal bonding was established:

  1. A birthing mom who had Strep B and was concerned about her waters breaking because of the risk of infection, told her baby when she went into labor “don’t let the bag break.” Later in the labor when her midwife said she wanted to break the bag of waters, mom connected with her baby and said, “You can let it go now.” Within a minute the bag broke “by itself.” This is a beautiful example of Prenatal Attachment in action during birthing. By the time she got to her birth this mom had a beautiful two-way relationship with her baby that she had established throughout her pregnancy, and they were completely in accord throughout the birthing experience.
  2. A pregnant couple I worked with had a difficult start to their pregnancy as the dad strongly wanted mom to have an abortion. Eventually, mom outright refused the abortion idea and gave him an ultimatum: it’s me and baby together, or nothing! Dad then got totally on board about the pregnancy, and they came to see me for some help. In SPPPH when one or both parents are considering abortion, we call this abortion ideation. The baby’s life is under threat during this period and babies know this, sometimes going into a survival state and remaining there for the duration of the pregnancy, and beyond. If no one has told them that they are now safe, and that they are wanted, they can remain in survival. These conscious parents realized that healing was required for what they had gone through. When dad understood with his heart that his baby was conscious and had been affected by their dynamics and conflict, he was able to be vulnerable and process his feelings about it. He was then able to connect with his son in the womb with a soft heart, and to apologize to him. He told baby that it was not about him, and that he was sorry, and that he is safe now and very much wanted by his dad.

This kind of work is very moving and vulnerable. It allows a baby to know he is safe now, that he can relax and does not have to spend the rest of his gestation in survival mode wondering if he is wanted or will be aborted. Instead, he can spend it in thriving and blossoming. We can’t be in survival mode and thrive simultaneously, so you can see how important it is to do this healing work as early as possible. Optimal development happens when we are thriving.

A traumatic event will impact how an unborn child experiences everything that happens to her following the traumatizing event, including her birth. For this reason, we want to bring consciousness and healing to the little one as soon as possible, and we want parents to understand this so that they can also practice prevention of trauma. I am not suggesting that you as a birthing professional be the therapist and do this work with your patients/clients, but that you hold enough awareness to educate parents and recognize when a referral is necessary or would be very helpful for a family.

Birth & Consciousness

In the nine months prior to our birth, we have formed perceptions of life, made many choices and decisions, and have beliefs in place that are often mistaken but are nonetheless exerting their powerful influence over us. Everything that has happened to us, and the nature of our womb environment, has informed us about life, relationships and our family of origin. All these factors affect how much we want to come into the “outside” world, and how we feel about coming. These are deep, core, somatic, and energetic imprints. What we bring to our birth is going to have a really big influence on how we experience it. For example, if we have felt unsafe in the womb and have felt a need to hide as a survival behavior (a common prenatal strategy), birth can feel like a very frightening prospect because we have to move (come out of freeze or possum mode) and be seen (stop hiding to stay safe) in a big way as we move towards life on the outside. To the observer, this person’s birth could look “normal” and “good,” but to baby it has been terrifying and traumatic and far from a “good birth”. Mom and baby each have their own experience of the same event. This explains why a mom can say she had a great birth and yet her baby can be traumatized by the same birth. The trauma is not always about what happens in the birth, but can also be about what has happened preceding our birth, which affects our perception and experience.

Birth is a relationship, not something that is happening to the mom alone. Baby is working very hard to get born and have her own birth, and mom and baby are in a relationship dance throughout the labor. This dance will go much better, as will birth, if Prenatal Attachment has been established and practiced throughout pregnancy, or even for just part of the gestation. Mom and baby will have a way to stay connected and communicate both during pregnancy and birthing, which can make an enormous difference for both of them.

If you can explain to your baby what is happening during birthing, and if you can tune in to her and see what is going on with her and what she needs or how she is feeling, you are going to have a much better birthing experience, and so is your baby. We can give birthing babies directions, ask them to move, and tell them what is going on or what is going to happen next, so that it is less stressful. When I teach pregnant parents this way of communicating with their unborn child, it is especially helpful when things don’t go as planned, such as an unexpected emergency C-section or a difficult labor. Babies are participants in their own birth, and they are having their own experience.

A birthing mom’s own inner little one will often come up during the birthing of her own baby and influence what is happening. This is because her little one is remembering how it was for her getting born. We can help a client to stay differentiated from her inner little one’s experience during birthing if the mom has become familiar with her own imprinting and we as the birth attendant are also aware and can spot it.

How Many Babies Are There in the Birthing Room?

You may look with your physical eyes at the birthing room, and see only a midwife and the birthing mom. Once you have done your own work with your little one within, you will understand that there is a birthing mom there with her little one within, a baby working to get born, and a midwife with her little one within. If there is a doula her little one is there, too! That’s a lot of little ones, and they influence what is going on in the room, how each person experiences the birth, and the outcomes.

This article is just a glimpse into the richness available to us when we understand and incorporate early consciousness into how we are holding babies coming in, how we are sitting with ourselves and with our clients, and how we are supporting the early parenting that is so important.

How Would You Ideally Like to Come into Life?

Here is what I have learned from listening to babies—whether born, unborn, or those within us all, they want to:

  1. Come into parents who understand they need parenting from pre-conception.
  2. Feel loved and connected to another from pre-conception onwards.
  3. Feel deeply wanted and held.
  4. Be conceived in a deeply intimate, juicy, loving union between their parents.
  5. Get help from their parents when stressful, difficult, or even traumatic things happen, either to them, or to someone close to them in the family.
  6. Have parents who talk to them and tell them when they don’t have to worry or take action if something hard is happening.
  7. Be heard by parents who know that they are conscious and sentient and having their own experiences.
  8. Have parents who understand that they need help, support and parenting to become fully embodied and attached in the healthiest way possible.
  9. Know that their parents understand their connections to all the other babies, their siblings, that either came in before and were lost (through miscarriage, abortion, etc.), or are born.
  10. Have their parents fully grieve previous losses, especially somatically, before they conceive again.
  11. Have parents who put them in the center, listen to them, love them and keep them feeling safe.

The Future

All midwifery, doula, and other birthing professionals’ training programs could incorporate Somatic Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health into their curriculums. Anyone who is already professionally supporting pregnant and birthing moms, or who is learning to be a practitioner, ideally needs to:

  • Fully understand what is actually going on in this field.
  • Somatically heal, and understand, their own early imprints, particularly in relation to their chosen field of work.

Ideally, both of the above would occur as an integral part of their training, so that birthing professionals are not unconsciously acting out their own early issues and have a deeper understanding of the dynamics of pregnancy and birth and the continuum of development. The combined lack of these two elements can be a big factor in doula burnout. Also stressful for doulas and midwives is when they have to operate inside the medical birthing community, who don’t share their philosophy.

If your little one comes up at a birth, and you are triggered into an early imprint, it can be exhausting and a bit of a roller coaster ride because most people don’t realize this is what is happening. If you don’t know you are acting out of a young part of yourself, you are not in a position to do good self-care, or to take good care of your client/patient. The feelings in a trigger come from a very young part of us that lacks the resources that our adult self has developed. Get to know your little one within, the one who holds the memories from back then, so that she is not unwittingly in charge and, therefore, recapitulating unconscious imprints and trauma in your professional life.

Please contact me if you have any questions or feedback.

© Karen Melton 2019 – all rights reserved. Do not use part or the whole of this article without my permission.

 

Karen Melton

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