I’m not one for regrets, but if there’s one regret I have about my last pregnancy and birth it’s that I didn’t mark the moment or honour it with a ritual of some sort. During my first pregnancy I had a baby-shower, but since then my thoughts and ideas around pregnancy and birth have changed. As a first-time mum I was caught up in the mass market ideas around birth as I turned to the usual places that first-time mums tend to check out: BabyCenter, What to Expect, Mumsnet etc. Unfortunately, these places tend to focus on the surface aspect of birth; your pregnancy symptoms by month, what development stage baby is at, maternity clothes that don’t compromise your style etc. And what I also felt was this often came with a consumerist focussed message; what pram/high-chair/cot to buy; ideal gifts for baby showers etc. Back then, what I found was lacking in all this was a recognition of the transformative and spiritual period the mother is going through. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate the journey I was on and looking back I would have appreciated someone to highlight this aspect so that I could check it out and find out more.
Two births later and I am completely in awe of the power and magic of birth; in its power to completely transform you as a woman, and if you’re open to it, for it to propel your spiritual journey. I didn’t realise it at the time, but my obsession with clearing my fears provided me with a strong foundation that supported my spiritual growth. You will hear many spiritual leaders tell you that the path to growth begins with calming the mind, and clearing your fears is a great place to start. Looking back I feel that my birthing fears were a gift; a gift that enabled me to fully embrace the spiritual and transformative power of birth.
Since my last birth though I’ve really come to appreciate the spiritual and sacred-ness of birth, in part due to my own powerful birth experiences, but also thanks to the wonderful guests I’ve had the honour of speaking to on this podcast. So it’s from this backdrop that I’m thrilled to welcome this week’s guest, Sophie Messager. Sophie is a doula, childbirth educator and babywearing consultant and she is particularly interested in the traditional aspect of birth and the rituals that surround birth from cultures around the world. When I first came across Sophie and her work, I knew immediately that I had to get her on the podcast. Firstly I was curious about all of this and wanted to know more. But also, I just wish someone else had pointed me in this direction when I was pregnant, so if I can help another pregnant mama in the way that I would have liked to have been helped, then that makes me happy.
I originally invited Sophie on to the podcast to talk about the Closing the Bones ceremony but in the end we talked about so much more.
Closing the Bones
If you’re not sure what Closing the Bones is, let me tell you briefly. Closing the Bones is a traditional massage from Ecuador. In Ecuador, women are given this massage within hours of the birth, and receive it again at least 5 or 6 times during the first 40 days postpartum. The massage stimulates blood flow which in turn; cleans, renews, moves fluids (may help with milk supply/lochia), moving hormones, immune system, toning muscles, and tissue. In traditional cultures, the 41 days of the postnatal period represent a sacred time. In this time the woman will have the closing massage at least 5 times, the first being 6 hours after birth, this begins to put the bladder and uterus back into place. It is said that the hips support the weight of the spine and head and that they are therefore the seat of unresolved emotions and trauma, which can be felt upon the hips as adrenalin crystals, that need to be popped and released during the massage. The massage itself includes sifting with a rebozo, using the rebozo for closing the hip bones, and using various hand massage techniques using oil around the pubic bones, belly and around the hips.
This video gives you an idea as to what the ceremony entails.
During our chat, Sophie shares with us her story of how she became a doula and the other work that she does in supporting pregnant women. So, this is what you can look forward to hearing Sophie share on today’s podcast;
- Babywearing; what it is and why it’s worth considering
- The 4 types of baby-carriers that you can choose from
- Things to bear in mind when deciding to opt for a sling or baby-carrier
- Why you shouldn’t buy a sling or baby-carrier based on the online reviews
- Closing the Bones; what it is and where it comes from
- How Closing the Bones can help mums recover post-natally
- Rebozo; what it is and how it’s used
- Mother Blessings; the alternative to the baby-shower
- Ideas to inspire you for your Mother Blessing
- How cultural traditions around the world honour birth
- Why you need to create a post-partum plan for yourself
Since learning about Closing the Bones, this is definitely something that I am looking to do as I feel I’d like to honour the journey I have been on and thank my body for what it has done and achieved.
Resources mentioned during the chat
- NEW Fearless Birthing Meditations have been added to my shop: Fear of Pain, Fear of Losing Dignity, Fear of Losing Control. You can have a peek here.
- Bola necklace: a necklace with a chime that you wear on your bump during pregnancy and that becomes a necklace as a mum. Your baby comes to know the chime sound and it can provide comfort to them once they’re born.
- Sophie has created a Baby Wearing Top Tips sheet – just click the banner below to get your copy.
(I’m sorry but this free guide is no longer available. If you are looking for super useful resources such as this then join the Fearless Mama Ship. Find out more here.)
You can find out more about Sophie at her website www.SophieMessager.com
Alexia supports families planning pregnancy and birth. She helps them to overcome their fears and feel calm and confident about birth and pregnancy.
Alexia also trains birth professionals in the Fearless Birthing, a unique approach to birth preparation that is ideal for those who have fears around birth.