Thursday, 17 July 2014

Yin for Birth Partners

It is natural to try to help a woman in labour as much as possible, but sometimes what she needs is a little space... a little Yin from her birth partner.

Birth is essentially a Yang state - it is outward movement. So as the birth partner, to complement this, the more fluid and adapting you can be, the more restful and relaxed you may find yourself and the more benefit you may both enjoy.

Lots of talking and movement may not be helpful - try it and find out how she responds! Each woman is unique, there is no formula that will work for all.

Some shiatsu massage techniques, particularly using the extra-ordinary vessels, can provide calm, quiet and deeply supportive care for the woman, and will help you to feel those things too.

Yin exercises for a birth partner to try:
  • stroking, perhaps head to tailbone
  • massaging the shoulders
  • encourage the mother-to-be to rest in between contractions: lie together, let her lean on you, making sure first of all that you are comfortable enough so that you can continue to support her 

Self-care is extremely important for the birth partner, so take time out for yourself, make sure that you rest, perhaps with a meditation. And leading up to the birth, practise some breathing exercises and birth positions with the mother-to-be, so that you know how to physically and emotionally support her. Perhaps go to a yoga or antenatal class together, try hypnobirthing or listen to some relaxation audio together.

One of my birth preparation clients had a long labour with high blood pressure - the solution for her was to be held by her birth partner on the belly and lower back (called the Girdle Vessel or Dai Mai in shiatsu). Also rocking, circling and leaning exercises (developed by Suzanne Yates, creator of Wellmother) where the woman was able to follow her own rhythm but she was supported by her birth partner as she moved. And like this they were able to continue for several days with poise and calm...

Essentially using the same techniques for the woman on yourself as the birth partner can be really valuable, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to prepare for the birth so that the exercises become second nature and you can engage completely in your partner's and your own experience. With the balance of Yin, you can certainly preserve and increase your energy levels and find equanimity in the face of challenges during labour, helping you embrace the joy in the arrival of your new baby.

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