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Pregancy

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A deeply personal account of pregnancy…

A few deeply personal thoughts on the process of my pregnancy.  Its taken me a few years to be open enough to share these.  I think all women need to know how pregnancy shifts the body not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually…

IMG_2093As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I noticed a shift in the reality of my world.  The space in which I lived encompassed my work (to a large extent), my home and the land we live on, and also the topigraphical area from Victor Harbor to Houghton, in the Adelaide Hills, where my family lived.  Within these mapped areas, I lived the majority of my life.  As soon as the pregnancy took hold I felt my world shrink.  The barrier, or edge that my life was lived in was marked, and I could feel it slowly becoming smaller and smaller.  My work immediately was affected as my workload capacity immediately shrunk, and I saw less clients in a day to adjust to the decrease in energy levels and so I could have an afternoon siesta each day.  I also expereinced very painful sacroiliac pain all throughout my pregnancy, which limited my ability to exercise and keep fit.  As the weeks went past and they turned into months, my life became very much centered around my home and what I needed to do to prepare for this little being.

When I left work at 34 weeks I noticed another major shift in the world in which I lived.  This edge, or barrier shrunk again as my working focus dissipated completely and my life became focussed on the birth.  I lived each day in my Pj’s in the last weeks having restless nights and feeling like a swollen water buffalo.  I went out less and less, and each trip became harder and harder to achieve.  Even pushing around a shopping trolley in the supermarket became a hard task!  I slept a lot, and really relished in the nesting hormones and cleaned my house, and prepared my babies room.  I felt my world, as the weeks go on shrink to point that my life was only lived within the boundaries of my home.  In the last weeks, the only visitors I had were those who were to be present at the birth, and my family.  My world was getting smaller and smaller each week and each day.  When I did have to go out and get something I felt distinctly separated from the rest of society.  I felt like I was in a bubble, and the world was traveling too fast.  I let go of driving as I felt like I had to drive too slow to feel safe.  I could not turn to see my blind spot, and sitting in the car became uncomfortable as my belly rested on my legs.  My walk became a slow cumbersom waddle and my mind just wanted to rest, read and meditate.

This bubble around me seemed to cloud me, and put me in a different space from the rest of the world.  I was highly sensitive to the superficial aspects of society, and only really felt at ease when people came into my home, where my bubble felt less obvious.

The day I was in labor, this edge that I felt shrink my work had continued to shrink for so many weeks and days, that today, it was only me, and the space about 1 meter around me.  As my labor progressed more and more it continued to get smaller and smaller and smaller until it was just about me, and my breath.  It became so small that my mind could only be in the present moment.  There was not the space for me to jump ahead in my thoughts, or be in the past where we had come from.  To birth this baby, I was being held in the complete present moment.  Each contraction forced this focus, and this bubble became so small that it felt like I was in that space between the breath in, and the breath out.  I had to hold myself on this pin point of present time and feel relaxed in a world that had shrunk to a place smaller then I thought existed before.  What is ironic is that in the smallness of this point, was also the most expansion within my being….

It was like I was in a tunnel as soon as I became pregnant, and then it shrunk over the weeks, with different parts of my life dropping away.  I had to move through with my family and friends, and then eventually alone, just me walking through this tight space.  People there cheering me on, and yet alone at the same time.

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The day she was born, and having her on my belly, was the point when I reached the other side.  My world immediately began to expand again.  First it became about my new family, this beautiful baby, Tim and my midwife.  Then over the days my family, and my home again.  For weeks this bubble of my reality hovered around my bed and living room.  Soon the kitchen was included, and other friends came and visited.  It slowly expanded and opened up to a new life.  It was like I had entered a world in which I never knew existed.  All the rules were different and all the priorities I previously had had changed.  It reminded me of the scene in The Matrix when the choice is offered to take the blue or the red pill.  I feel like I took the pill at pregnancy, and now at the birth, I had arrived in this new world.

When my little girl was 6 weeks old, I felt another big shift in the space of my world.  These 6 weeks are the first 40 days.  Many old traditions speak of looking after the new mother fir the first 40 days and not letting her do anything around the home.  She is catered for, and taken through a healing journey.  Many would go into a cave or private hut with their new born, and only greet the rest of the village after this time period.  I really understood this.  After 6 weeks I felt that I was able to leave my cave of hibernation and begin to show my little girl to a select group of people.

I became very conscious of this time being what some call ‘The Fourth Trimester’.

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What is a Doula?

“Doula” is a Greek word that translates into ‘mothering the mother’, or ‘womens servant’.  She is a birth attendant who’s primary objective is to support a woman during the rite of passage of giving birth.  She is an advocate for the woman, and has her best interests at heart throughout the entire process.  A doula works with the woman prior to birth, during the birth and then after the birth to ensure that she is prepared for this process, and that she experiences it in the most empowered way.  She understands that the process of birth impacts the mothering that comes afterwards.

 

A doula is there to listen to and nurture the mother during her birth.  She understands that birth is a sacred process that requires sensitivity and awareness and she has the capacity to ‘hold space’ for the mother and her partner during the process.  She can also help you communicate with your other support members, whether that is in a hospital, birthing unit or with a private midwife and she understands that the partner has the primary role of a caregiver.  Her role is to honor the mothers desires and wishes and allow her to let go and allow birth to unfold.

A trained doula also has a tool kit of knowledge and skills to support you during a birth.  They use massage, essential oils, homeopathy, awareness, visualisations, movement, meditation, voice expression, accupressure and water (amongst others) to support your body  in opening and letting go.  She will also support the partner during the birth and she understands that the birth process has an impact on bonding and unity for the family, so the partner, if they chose, is present and active in the supportive role aswell.

According to research undertaken in the US, Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, authors of Mothering the Mother, “How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth” have identified the benefits of having a doula at your birth:

  • 50% reduction in caesarean rate
  • 25% shorter labour
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in oxytocin use
  • 30% reduction in analgesia use
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery
  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Decreased incidence of postpartum depression
  • Greater maternal satisfaction
  • Better mother-infant interaction

I am a firm believer of the continuum of care for pregnancy.  Already in my work I am supporting women in their prenatal preparation,  throughout pregnancy with massage  and in post natal care.  I wanted to follow this through and be able to support them also during their birth.  This repore and continual care supports the mother physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for her rite of passage on becoming a mother (or 2nd or 3d time mother!)

As a your doula, I would.

1. Visit you three times before your birth for your preparations.  This includes helping  you decide on a birth plan and how you can make informed choices and actions regarding interventions and medical options throughout the birth according to your needs now, and if they change during the birth.

2. Be at your entire birth for support regardless of the time of day, day of the week or whether you are having a home birth, birthing centre birth, hospital birth or cesarian.  (This includes 24 hour student support for me from a supervisor over the phone, if needed, to ensure you receive the utmost of care)

3. Have two follow up post natal visits

4. Be on call for two weeks before and two weeks after your birth

Please note – as a doula I am part of your support team.  This also includes your partner (I hope so if thats what you wish), midwife and obstetrician etc.  I am not available for ‘Freebirths’ which is when there is no midwife or medical person present.

 

 

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Kahuna Bodywork while Pregnant!

I woke from a dream one morning about a month ago and knew that I had to go and visit my Kahuna Bodywork teacher Ki’a’i Ho’okahi Weber in NSW while I was pregnant.  It was one of those things that you just cannot ignore.  There was to be a two day workshop refresher at the beginning of June so the timing was great.  While there, I reconnected with her and the beautiful land around her home, as well as participated in some of the workshop – belly and all!   It was a beautiful experience doing our flying steps (martial art style exercises) in a group with my belly included.  I connected in a deeper way with the little one inside me and it was a wonderful way to introduce this little spirit to the work that I do on the ‘outside’.  I had two pregnancy kahuna bodywork sessions and had wonderful work by Ki’a’i and her husband Norbet who helped support and realign some non contributing patterns I had been holding for a long time.  This little friend is certainly opening up new ways of being for me and new ways to expand!  And not just physically!  🙂

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Maternity Leave

It’s now June with Winter here, and the days are at their shortest.  It’s time to huddle in and have lots of soup and warm wintery meals around the fire.  I am finding myself extra busy at home nesting and preparing for the birth of my baby.   I have been continuing to expand in my pregnancy journey over these last 6 months and am now 31 weeks – and have a nice big belly to show for it!   My current plan is to continue to work up until the end of June.  This is how long I have taken bookings for so far.  There is a chance, depending on my health and energy levels, that I may work one more week in July.   If you are wanting an appointment before I take a full step back, please let me know now, and I will pop you onto my cancellation list.  If I am unable to slot you in during June I may be able to see you in July instead.

Pregnancy has been an interesting journey for me as I surrender into the big changes happening inside of me, around me and at home as I prepare for this new life to emerge.  I have had my own pregnancy related ups and downs, and have an ever growing compassion for pregnant women and the big ride it takes us on.  It has been magical and awe inspiring, while also physically demanding and challenging during different months as my baby grows.  It has affected me not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally as I ride the hormonal roller coaster and realize the responsibility of bearing a new life.  Spiritually I have been touched in my dreams, and expanded in my visualizations and birth preparations.  It is indeed, a very special and unique experience to have the privilege to bare life and become a mother.

It is a process of continual surrender as I let go of my working practice for the next 6 months and trust that it will take on a transformed new life in 2014 when I return.  I have spent the last nine years building and growing this little business of mine, and I have had such pleasure and gratification watching it grow, enhancing my skills and meeting such wonderful clients.  I very much appreciate each of you, what you bring into my life and what we share together.  It is truly a wonderful gift for me to have had this privilege.  I will be back around January seeing clients again, and this time, as a mother!I will be keeping in touch over this time.  Many of you have expressed wonderful wishes for me when you have come to your appointments.  You have also requested to know who exactly pops out after this nine month journey!  For this reason, after I birth in August, I shall send out a little newsletter introducing you to my new little friend!  I shall also be in contact later as the year progresses with an update to when I shall be open for bookings, so keep posted and before we know it, we will be in 2014 with a new year swinging in. See you in 2014!

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Honouring the Sacred Process of Childbirth

As a massage therapist I come across women having experienced traumatic childbirth with their children, and with their own traumatic births as babies.  During a session they express to me their anger, guilt and grief over their personal experience when giving birth, or ‘gut feelings’ about the trauma they experienced being born.  These women hold in their bodies these memories, which for years into their adulthood impact their health and their decisions  – not to mention, their posture, digestive and reproductive health, emotional balance and personal confidence.

This sacred birth process, that is so often undervalued, needs to be supported in an elegant and empowering way, to reduce the potential for psychological and emotional trauma.  This rite of passage for mum and baby needs to open their life together in a positive and empowering way to carry them forwards, rather than hindering their path.

image credit : Christy Nielson

 

I wanted to help, not just with my clients expressed symptoms, but also in preventing these symptoms ever arising. I decided to become a certified doula.

‘Doula’ is a Greek word that means ‘woman’s servant’.  A doula is a woman offering non-medical support and information to parents in pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period.  She is there for you, ‘mothering the mother’, and taking care of the needs of parents during this time.  A doula is present while you give birth, and also in your preparation for birth and during the post-natal time. Doulas not only help women find the information you need, they also empower women to have the kind of birth they want.

Birth can be a chaotic and unpredictable process. A small birth team is a good approach and a doula can be a vital part of that team. A labour that extends into its twentieth hour (or more) will be taxing on all involved. At times like this the team can be stretched thin and, despite everyone’s best intentions, the focus on the mother’s birth plans and support of the practices she selected to help her—be it massage, aromatherapy, or just plain encouragement—can get lost. At that point the birthing mother may not be literally alone, but she may very well feel alone.

Doulas are equipped with the skills, techniques and resilience to support the mother and take the pressure off tired partners.   They do not take the place of a partner, but rather complement the partner’s role while upholding the integrity of the process and the birthing mother’s wishes.  Doulas appreciate that the birth process is a sacred time that impacts the mothering that follows.

Doulas are not medically trained and therefore are not responsible for any of the roles that midwives and obstetricians play. They are instead there to hold the psychological and physical space for the mother, allowing her to relax when she is in her most vulnerable state.  A trained doula is experienced in relaxation techniques, position options and natural and safe comfort measures to help pain management.  They are great listeners, nurturing companions and respectful of the mother’s needs and wishes. Doulas also recognise that birth is not simply a medical event but a time to honour the wisdom of the female body, and the memory and capacity it has to birth. A doula can also help with the decision making process if the birthing plan needs to change.  A doula will never make the decision, but can facilitate and clarify communication between staff and mother and take the pressure off the partner who would otherwise be the sole person to mediate this process.

copyright © 2012 Fiona House

 

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Open Night Success

The open night that we had at Rainbow Tree on the 7th May was a huge success.  We had a full house of people and Grace Portolesi MP even popped in to say hello and have a look around.

Below is Kelly Lulic -Mums and Bubs Nutritionist, Fiona House – Bodyworker, Rachel Clark – owner Rainbow Tree, Jacqueline Illes – Ayurvedic Consultant . Each of us did a great talk on the night and we had loads of give aways and door prizes from each practitioner, Rainbow Tree and all the local shops within the area.

Fiona House with Grace Portolesi and Rachel Clark

Getting ready before the talks

All the practitioners offered 20% off all bookings made on the night and each guest went home with a free goody bag filled with trial size moisturizers, massage oil, spirulina, organic ghee plus discount coupons and info sheets from the talks.  If you want to be notified of further activities with the practitioners at Rainbow Tree, or Rainbow Tree functions,  fill in the form on this website to be put into the newsletter list.

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Pre Natal and Female Care the Mayan Way

Have you ever considered your uterus to be the doorway between the infinite and the finite? Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Not according to the ancient Mayan traditions and culture.  The Mayans believe that your uterus is the ONLY spiritual organ in the body and is a being that lives inside of you and exists as her own entity. She is alive, has a consciousness of her own, she creates, and she sheds. She lives to create. Without even knowing the word or concept of the sacral chakra, the Mayans knew that she was the creative centre of the being. If she does not create babies, then she creates art, music, literature, gardens and dreams! However, if things are out of balance, she will create fibroids or endometriosis as a way of garnering your attention. She is the doorway, the gateway, and the passage that everyone on this planet had to pass through from the infinite to Earth!  The Mayans believed that because of this it is an honour to have a uterus. It is a special gift to be able to create life and to give birth.

Did you know that we need to take care of our uterus? Are you taking care of yours?  Is she happy? Are you planning a baby? There are many signs that things are not harmonious within your uterus. Firstly, society teaches us that a “normal” menstrual cycle consists of cramps, dark clotty blood, mucousy blood, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, lower back pain, headaches, depression, nausea; just to name a few. No one informs us that this is not okay. When a woman has a healthy menstruation, it should be bright red, fresh, runny blood, like when you cut your arm and it drips out. A little mild cramping at the beginning, no lower back pain, no headaches, no bloating and no dark red or brown blood. Having issues with your menstrual cycle (or lack of) is a sign that your uterus may be tilted to one side, sitting low, or just surrounded by congested tissues. The great thing is, that there is a way to change this. This is particularly important if you are planning a baby.

The Mayans carried through their culture a simple abdominal massage to improve the health of the female cycle and reproductive system, to ensure the uterus is sitting in its correct position and to prepare the woman for pregnancy and childbirth (also for post natal care). The work is focussed on the five flows of the body – arterial flow, venous flow, lymphatic flow, nerve flow, and Chu lel (chi). When there is an imbalance in one of these areas, a blockage occurs, then the signs and symptoms of reproductive issues entail. By encouraging and strengthening these five flows, the body is able to bring itself back into balance and healthier functioning. The uterus can be prepared for pregnancy and women can enjoy their menstruation as an opportunity to reconnect with their body. It is a great time to write, dream, read and be still in the shedding.

Mayan Abdominal Therapy is a beautiful way to reconnect with your body and establish a relationship with your uterus. This ancient technique empowers women to make changes to their health and prepares them for the beautiful experience of pregnancy. It is also a wonderful way to bring the uterus back into alignment and healthy functioning after childbirth.

Copyright © 2012 Fiona House

 

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Meet and Greet our Natural Therapists at Rainbow Tree

Come and explore what goes on beyond the door at Rainbow Tree!

Rainbow Tree now has three practitioners working from the therapy room.  Natural Therapists Fiona House, Jacqueline Iles and Kelly Lulic, and Rainbow Tree.  Proprietor Rachel Clark will be throwing open the therapy room door for a night of fun and insight.  This is your chance to come and meet and greet us all.  There will be short talks from each of us, plus nibbles, organic wine, special offers, free goody bags and loads of door prizes!

Fiona House – Tactile Therpaies for the Body, Mind and Spirit

Kahuna Bodywork
Fertility, Pregnancy and Post Natal Massage
Holistic Massage
Mayan Abdominal Therapy

Fiona will be speaking about the range of therapies she offers and how they support your mind, body and soul though stressful times of transition and change.  She will also be discussing women’s reproductive conditions and how her work supports the health of the hormone system and uterus,  as well as  with supporting you in conception, pregnancy and after the birth your baby.

Jacqueline Ilnes – Ayurvedic Consultant and Yoga Teacher
Jacqueline has been a yoga teacher for over 10 years and an Ayurvedic Consultant for over 6 years.  She has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom of the ayurvedic constitutions and the human body.  She will be speaking about how the ancient and powerful ayurvedic system of health and healing supports your body in all your day to day health concerns, and how it can also help prepare you for child bearing, support you in pregnancy, and balance your system reducing uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms.

Kelly Lulic – Mums and Bubs Nutritionist
Kelly is a qualified Nutritionist.  Through her study, and from her own journey of pregnancy and child rearing, she is a wealth of information and support for nutritional advice covering the childbearing period.  She specialises in prenatal, pregnancy and post natal nutrition – as well as breastfeeding, food for your baby, introducing solids and how to take care of your own body nutritionally after pregnancy.  Kelly will be discussing ways to support yourself nutritionally over this time for you and your baby.

We have so much pre-natal, pregnancy and post-natal knowledge and experience to share!