Welcome to another episode of Fear Free Childbirth podcast, where we delve into the incredible realm of childbirth and explore unconventional yet empowering practices.

In this episode, I am joined by special guest Sophie Messager, a doula who has integrated drumming into her work with expecting mothers. Together, we explore the profound effects of drumming during pregnancy and birth, while highlighting the lost wisdom of traditional women’s practices.

Drumming during Pregnancy and Birth

We touch upon several thought-provoking topics and intriguing questions related to drumming for pregnancy and birth.

1. Uncovering the Healing Power: Sophie emphasises the importance of healing oneself before guiding others on their journey. By attuning to their own energetic patterns and addressing any emotional blocks, practitioners can hold space more effectively and transmit the transformational power of their method.

2. Training and Specialisation: Our discussion sheds light on the availability of training options for practitioners interested in incorporating drumming into their work. From practitioner and professional levels to specialised training for pregnancy and birth, individuals can explore these avenues to deepen their understanding and skills.

3. Science Meets Tradition: Our conversation touches upon the scientific validation of non-scientific practices like Reiki and the need to bridge traditional wisdom with modern science, bringing together the best of both worlds. This holistic approach offers a comprehensive understanding of the profound effects drumming can have on the mind, body, and spirit.

Some of the key questions we explore include:

  • How does the use of drumming in pregnancy and birth align with traditional women’s wisdom and cultural practices?
  • In what ways can drumming support women in feeling empowered and relaxed during childbirth?
  • How can drumming be adapted to meet the needs and preferences of each individual woman?
  • How could Sophie’s book contribute to the existing literature on childbirth practices?
  • How does drumming affect the brain and fascias, and what other potential benefits might it have for the body?
  • How can holistic approaches, like drumming, contribute to this healing process?
  • How can we promote a more positive and empowering perspective on menopause in our communities?
  • How could drumming positively impact young girls’ experiences of developing womanhood?
  • How can we advocate for a more holistic approach to health, especially in the context of childbirth?
  • Is there a correlation between drumming and labour induction? How might we further explore this connection?

This episode takes us on a captivating journey into the ancient wisdom of drumming and its transformative power during pregnancy and birth. We shed light on the forgotten practices of women’s wisdom, emphasising the significance of creating safe and supportive spaces for birthing individuals. As we explore the profound connection between science and tradition, may we embrace the healing potential of drumming and empower expecting mothers to embark on their birth journeys fearlessly.

Resources mentioned during the episode

Throughout the episode, we mention several resources that can provide in-depth information and insights into the practice of drumming for pregnancy and birth. Here are some valuable resources to get you started:

1. Fearless Birthing Professional Training for doulas, midwives and birth professionals: For detailed information on the upcoming training programmes for learning Alexia’s fear clearance method – Head Trash Clearance – visit the Fearless Birthing website. www.fearless-birthing/training

2. Head Trash Clearance: If you’re a therapist or coach who works outside of the pregnancy and birth world, and you would like to find out more about the Head Trash Clearance method and the various training opportunities.

3. Corine Sombrun’s Research: Corine Sombrun,, a French researcher who has extensively studied the effects of drumming on the brain and psychiatric pathology. Investigate her work to gain a deeper understanding of the neurological aspects of drumming.

Episode Timestamps

00:02:26 Personal healing and using drumming in pregnancy.
00:07:10 20 years as biology research scientist and 17 years as a mother. Changed career to teach about birth and energy work. Experienced imposter syndrome. Reignited interest in drumming.
00:12:43 Reiki drum training leads to unexpected drumming practice.
00:21:30 Drumming for birth, lost wisdom revived.
00:28:48 Drumming reduces anxiety, depression, and pain.
00:32:05 Drumming impacts brain, body, and cultural memory.
00:42:01 Gentle drumming better during pregnancy and postpartum.
00:45:56 Alternative healing methods provide effective support.
00:53:50 Rest and listen to your body’s needs.
01:00:37 Powerful drumming rituals celebrate womanhood and transitions.
01:05:19 Drumming, podcast, fear-free childbirth, mama ship.

Episode Guest

With over two decades of dedicated research into reproductive physiology and the profound journey of childbirth, Sophie Messager has discovered her calling to provide unwavering support to expectant families and to train birth professionals. With more than a decade of experience in development, Sophie has assisted and trained numerous families and birthworkers, leaving an indelible mark on their journeys.

Armed with a PhD in Physiology of Reproduction and a DiPhe in antenatal education, Sophie’s expertise shines through her book “Why Postnatal Recovery Matters.” Beyond academia, she is a Reiki, Reiki Drum, and Drum Healing practitioner and teacher, weaving a tapestry that seamlessly blends scientific knowledge with spirituality and time-honoured rituals. Sophie’s passion lies in resurrecting forgotten perinatal rituals and harmonizing them with contemporary practices.

Rooting her practice in the elements, Sophie finds solace and inspiration through nature walks, year-round river swims, shamanic drumming, and the expressive movements of 5 rhythms dancing. As a guide on spiritual quests through life’s transitions and rites of passage, she nurtures souls and reveres the profound spiritual essence residing within each individual.

Explore Sophie’s insights and offerings on her website: https://sophiemessager.com/.

Connect with her on social media:
– Instagram: @sophie_messager
– Sophie Messager on other platforms

For those seeking to embark on transformative journeys, Sophie’s online courses are a gateway to enriching experiences: https://sophiemessager.com/online-courses/.

Episode Transcript

Alexia [00:00:01]:

You’re listening to the Fear Free childbirth podcast with me, Alexia Leachman. Let me help you to take the fear out of pregnancy, birth and beyond with a mix of real life stories and experts sharing their wisdom. I’ll also be sharing psychology insights to help you to cultivate a fearless mindset, be inspired and be empowered with Fear Free Childbirth. And now it’s time for the show.

Hello, and welcome back to the Fear Free Childbirth Podcast. My name is Alexa Leachman. Thank you so much for joining me today.

On today’s show, we’re going to be talking about drumming. Yes, drumming in pregnancy and childbirth. Now, the thing about drumming is it’s something that we’ve been doing for millennia and it’s one of those things that we get drawn to because it just feels so tribal and so it just connects to a part of ourselves that is deep within all of us. And one thing that maybe a lot of you didn’t realise was that drumming could really help you as part of your pregnancy and your birth experience. It’s been shown to reduce pain, which I think is going to be something at the top of everybody’s list. So today I’m going to be chatting all about how you can use drumming as part of your pregnancy and birth experiences. And I’m going to be chatting to Sophie all about that. Sophie is a doula, and she’s been introducing drumming within the pregnancy journey with her clients, but also outside of that for herself. And she’s been getting enormous benefits for her and her clients around it. And that’s what she’s going to be sharing with us today.

But before we hand over to that chat I had with Sophie, I’ve got a couple of updates I want to share with you. Now, if you’re interested in learning my Fear Clearance method, perhaps you want to learn it to use with your clients. Maybe you’re a therapist or a birth professional or a coach, anyone, really, that wants to help bring about change in people, whether that’s reducing their fears, their anxieties, their stresses to improve their focus, or their mental fitness. Head Trash clearance can be used for all of those things. So if you’re interested in training and learning this method so that you can use this with your clients to get incredible and fast results, then listen up, because I’m going to be opening up training in September.

So I just want to share with you what that training looks like, because it’s like no other. Let me tell you that an important part of all the training that we do at Head Trash is to ensure that everybody walks the talk. And that means that if you’re going to help other people to bring about change and you’re going to help others. To heal, then you need to have done a lot of that yourself. And so the first part of our training is about healing you, your stresses, your fears, your anxieties, yep, that’s it. The first part of it is all about you. And it’s all about you learning how to use the method on healing yourself. So that by the time you reach the halfway through the training, you are a different person already. You’ve had an opportunity to really dig deep and uncover some of your deepest wounds and heal them. And then once you’ve done that, you’re able to then start learning how to apply what you’ve learned on yourself to work with others. And this healing that you do on yourself means that you are better able to hold space for your clients. It means that you’re better able to be present with them and really tune in to what it is that they bring to you when they work with you.

The great thing about doing this personal work is that you’re really able to experience the true transformational power of using Head trash clearance because you’ve witnessed it and experienced it yourself. Which means you’re much better able to communicate that to the clients and the people that want to work with you. And the transformations really are incredibly potent and can come about very, very fast indeed and can often achieve results that maybe have eluded you before. In the past, there are many women that I’ve worked with, therapists that have come to me for help and support, that have experienced the level of transformation that they simply haven’t witnessed anywhere else. And they’ve thought, hang on a minute, this is incredible. I’ve been seeking this kind of transformation for me, for myself, and I haven’t been able to do that with everything that I’ve trained. I need to learn this so that I can bring this into my client session, so that they can experience this level of transformation. So if you would like to bring about this kind of rapid transformation in the emotional wellbeing of your clients, then perhaps this is the training for you. There are two levels that you can train at, whether you want to do practitioner level or professional level. And you can also have training that’s specifically for the pregnancy and birth journey, which means you can then start working with women to help them overcome their tocophobia. And believe me, we need more people out there to support women to help them to overcome their tocophobia. But if your work isn’t in the realm of pregnancy and birth and perhaps you work beyond that in a more general way, then we also have training that’s not specifically birth or pregnancy related. So if you’re interested in finding out more about the training that opens up in September, then you can head over to the Fearless Birthing website to find out more about pregnancy focused work. And there’s a training badge there, you can check out the training there or head over to Headtrashclearance.com where you can see the practitioner training over on that website. And as I said, I’ll be opening up the training in September. It’s a three month course that includes lots of online content as well as live classes and, of course, personal clearance homework. And you absolutely have to get this personal clearance homework done, and you only progress to the next levels of the training once you’ve done it and your work has been assessed. That’s how seriously we take our work at Head Trash. So if you’re interested in taking part in any of those trainings, then do head over to either fearlessbirthing.com or headtrashclearance.com back to today’s show.

As I mentioned, right at the beginning, I said I was going to be chatting to Sophie. Sophie Messager is a doula. She also trains in Robozo and she supports women through their postpartum, having written a book on postpartum recovery, which gets amazing reviews, by the way, and you should really check out that book. And so today, Sophie is joining me to talk about drumming and using drumming within the pregnancy journey and the birth journey. And she’s currently writing a book about drumming in pregnancy because apparently there isn’t one. And obviously, if there isn’t one, then she needs to be the one that writes it. So I know that she’s doing lots of research behind the scenes to find whatever information is available and to bring it all to readers in the book that she’s writing. Now, I know that drumming might sound surprising and a surprising thing that you might want to incorporate into your pregnancy journey, but please do hold that thought and just listen to what she has to say because it is pretty compelling. Okay, I’ll hand over to the time that I spoke to Sophie all about using drumming as part of the pregnancy and birth journey. Hello, Sophie. Welcome to the podcast.

Sophie [00:06:39]:

Hi, Alexia. Thank you for having me.

Alexia [00:06:41]:

So we’ve spoken before on the podcast, but today we’re going to be talking about drumming around birth and drumming during pregnancy. And I’m fascinated by this subject because I’m very much aware of the healing power of sound and frequency, and our frequency is so important on the healing journey. You’ve recently started drumming, so I really just want to start from the very top of this story. How did you get into it and what’s your journey been and what have you learned along the way? But before we do all that, just give us a little bit of an intro to you, Sophie, and where you’re coming from, what your background is.

Sophie [00:07:10]:

I was a biology research scientist for 20 years. I worked on chronobiology, the genes that control our internal rhythms. And then I went to work for biotech industry for a few years, and I went back to academia after. Anyway, I spent 20 years doing biology research, and then when I had my first child, I went from a place of being so my first child is 17. I went from a place of being really scared of births, to hiring a doula, to going to some really quiet alternative classes. And just that led me to a very positive birth experience. And that completely changed my career because I thought, I want to do the same thing that was done for me, which is how people go from fear to an empowering experience. I fell into the whole birth world. I started training to be an alternative teacher. So I went and got a diploma for your education in alternative education. I started teaching alternative classes. I trained to be a doula. I trained to be a baby wearing instructor. And I did all these things for five, six years mostly working with families. And then what happened is I organically fell into teaching birth professionals. Because people ask me the interesting thing is, about six weeks ago I got diagnosed with ADHD. And there’s a lot of things that make sense all my life. And one of the superpowers of ADHD is hyper focus, the ability to get really sucked in really deep into little rabbit holes. And that was what I’ve always done all my life. Which meant, whether I was a scientist or went to any field, usually within two or three years, I would be considered a name in my field because I’m so obsessive about learning. And I can also have a very bird’s eye view. I make, I think I make thread between things. So I’m like, well, yeah, but there’s a link between this and there’s a link between that. When it comes naturally to you, you don’t stop and think there’s a big deal, right? That thing that people said, how do you do all these things? I don’t know. It just is. So this obsessive grasping of things and making especially the link between the science and the esoteric, that’s what I became known for. And of course, people then said, can you teach us? And sort of fell into mostly working with professionals from about six, seven years ago, still working with families, but it almost took like a secondary seat. And what I love the most is bringing back traditional knowledge that’s been lost together with modern science, together. Alongside this journey of teaching professional, I also, being at birth, reignited a desire, had to work with energy, because you can’t be in the birth room and not feel the enormity of what’s happening in the room energetically. So I had already trained in being a Reiki practitioner in 2003, so way before I did all my doula work and birth work. But the being at birth as a doula reignited that big time. So I took Reiki and Reiki master in the same year in 2015. And then what happened is, ten years ago in my first year as a doula, I went to a retreat and I was exposed to a drumming workshop. There was a drumming workshop as part of the retreat. And I remember thinking, well, that’s not going to work. In fact, I remember thinking, that’s bullshit. And we did a drum journey, it did something really quite phenomenal to my brain. I’m not normally a visual person, but I had these really vivid visions in that drum journey and I was now, I just remember opening my eyes thinking that was something else. And so it made me want to have a drum because I was such like, oh, my God, I want to get more of that in my life, and went back to France on holiday. My mum gave me an Irish born that they’d bought on a trip to Ireland. I brought that back on the plane and the rest is history. Almost two stages. What’s really interesting is I started with a lot of impostor syndrome around this. All my life I’ve had imposter syndrome whenever I tried something new. Not so much now, because I’ve kind of started to learn to work with that, thinking, well, you do something new, you’re going to feel you’re not that competent and that’s quite normal. But holding that and not feeling like I’m not good enough at it is normally an issue for me. But the drumming, I came back with this drum from France and my brother is a professional musician and he had showed me that the boron you play with this little stick, right? You have a tiny little stick. You’re supposed to play in a really fancy way with your fingers, and I couldn’t do that. And I came back to Cambridge with my drum, went to see my friend Peter, who is a shaman and makes drums. And I said to him, Peter, I can’t play this drum using this little stick. And he said, Well, Sophie, what is it you want to do with this drum? Do you want to play in an Irish band? No, I want to do some Shermanic drumming. He said, Honey, you do not need to learn to play with and so. He showed me how to make a soft bitter with felt and the rest just went home with that and spent about three or four years just self teaching myself to intuitively do it, which I think was a really important part for me. Sometimes your self exploration, even though it might be slower, it’s actually more powerful in terms of learning to trust yourself, but also learning to do what’s right for you than going immediately to learn from someone. We live in a culture where unless you have a piece of paper to prove that you’ve trained to do this, it’s not seen as valid. So I spent about three to four years just doing it on my own. And eventually in 2017, I took Reiki Drum practitioner Training, where you learn to channel reiki through the drum.

Alexia [00:12:40]:

Wow, that sounds like a really niche reiki.

Sophie [00:12:43]:

And then I then took the Reiki Drum Teacher Training in 2020, literally two weeks before the first lockdown. So what’s really interesting is that sometimes you sign up for something because you think you’re going to do X, Y and Z with it. But actually, what happened is a completely different thing. So that’s what happened to me with that. I never ended up teaching Reiki drum as such. It just gave me something that meant my drumming suddenly became very present in my life. I started running a drum circle in two months before the lockdown, so I ran it twice. It was surprisingly popular. I thought I was just going to get four or five friends who already had the drums, but I got 15 women of, I think, only one or two at the drums by then. I’d acquired quite a large collection of drum. I made two, I’ve made three. Now, as you can see, this big drum here behind me, I made it on Sunday, like, really three days ago, and I’m not yet able to play it because it needs time to try. I just started doing the drum circles, I do them online. And what happened is, in 2020, I turned 50 and I vetted a few women and I said, I’d like to start my birthday 2020. We couldn’t get anybody across to do big parties. There were still really heavy restrictions on how many people you could gather with. And I decided to start the day drumming and I invited women to come and join me and two of them joined me. And what this turned into is we’ve been drumming weekly in the woods at dawn every week for three years, just the three of us. We don’t want to invite right from very early on, early on, it became clear we didn’t want to include other people. It’s our practice, it’s something we do for ourselves. It’s a really deeply spiritual practice. We set an altar, we set intentions, we drum and then we open sacred space. We close sacred space and then after we’ve done our drumming, we bring hot drinks in a flask and we have a bit of therapy, almost talking about our lives. And I just never imagined that that would happen. Do you see what I mean? And I need to backtrack a little bit. So what happened is, very early on, I started offering drumming to my clients as part of healing, and especially as part of a postnatal massage I give called Closing The Bones. And in the early years of my practice, I shied away from really being quite open and blatant with my drumming because I felt some people saying, oh, it’s too woo. So I gave women the choice and a lot of them would say, I don’t want any of that hippie shit, I just want the massage. But then I realised, when I started learning about the science of drumming and what it does to the brain, especially because what we know through recording with electrodes on the head, is that when you do this kind of repetitive heartbeat, like drumming at a certain speed, is that the brainwaves change to a really deep, relaxed state. Like a bit like that state you’re in when you’re in between sleep and being awake. But actually it can go even deeper in what’s actually akin to being asleep, but you’re still awake, so it slows your brainwaves down. And I thought when I then birthed my second drum, because we call it birthing a drum when we make a drum, really. I spent two days in a retreat making a drum with a really famous British spiritual practitioner and musician called Galilee Hillier. And it was a really powerful experience. And after that, I thought, I really need to just give people the same chance I had to not have this misguided belief that this is just some kind of nice woo thing or woo thing that they don’t relate to. I just thought, I’m going to drum at the end of the massage and tell people this is what I do, this is part of the massage. Because I thought need to give people that experience of what it feels like. And because by then I trained to do Reiki drum. Reiki drum is done over the body, so the vibrations go through the body. I started giving everybody ten minutes of drumming at the end of the massage when they were all wrapped up. And the stories that people told me is like really quite again threads. Very interesting. People say, I felt like all my ancestors were there. I felt like I was in a temple. I felt like I was back in India. I felt like I was here, there and there. And people often talked about the feeling, the vibration to their bodies and how powerful that was. Because my experience with doing reiki drum is the vibration makes the reiki faster than if you just use your hand because it button shake, the whole thing. When I did, for instance, my Reiki drum teacher training, I had to do 24 case studies. And one of those case studies had a problem with a tightening of one part of the body, like the shoulder area that this woman said. Every time I see and do  an astaire bath, it gets nice and loose, and then the next day it’s back to being rock hard. And when I drummed over that part of her body, the drum had no sound. It’s like it wasn’t there. I was like and she was a sound healer. And she said, yeah, when I do use my voice for sound healing, I’ve seen the same thing happen. It just doesn’t sound. As I drummed and drummed and drummed, eventually the sound came and she said she felt like she’d been at the Osteopath. And over the course of the four weekly session we did, she got to a place of releasing her body that she’d never been able to be. Because also my intuition guided me to ask her a specific question about what might have happened to her that caused this. And when I, one day, sometimes I get this kind of download. I just spoke this and said, did you have that this and that happen to you? And she said yes. And then she said she felt the whole tension go. There’s been some pretty powerful stuff happening with that. I would say since 2017. I’ve always integrated that in my postpartum massage practice, but I’ve always also given a lot of healing to pregnant women. And then what happened is I then started offering it to birth and I think the first time I drummed at a birth was probably in 2019, because at first, you know, this kind of thing back when I started doing Reiki. So I get backtracking a little bit. So when I started doing Reiki in 2015, I had this huge quandary, thinking, oh my God. I mean, Cambridge, most people hire me because they say, we picked you because of your PhD. You’re not a hippie. Control your face. And I was almost ashamed of my energy healing process because I thought, these people are going to be put off by that and then coach I worked with… challenged me to come out. And so then I started sharing a lot more about this. And the response I got from people was really quite amazing, because they all said most people said, oh, my God, thank you so much. I feel the same. Almost like I’m ashamed of my spiritual energy, woo, non scientific stuff. Except it’s not true. There is science in it. We live in a world that likes to box things, either science or woo. People often say to me, how come you do reiki even though you’ve got a PhD? And I’m like, because I can. I don’t even feel the need to justify it. So the first time I drummed at a birth, it was at a home birth, and it just felt like the most natural thing in the world. And the woman I drummed for was becoming really good friends since said to me, oh, my God, it was amazing. She only felt like drumming when she started to push. And then she said the minute she started drumming it really, really hard. She said, Why didn’t you do it before? And I’m like, she didn’t feel like it was needed. So one of the things people have asked me often is what’s the right rhythm and what’s the right time to drum at birth? There’s no such thing. It’s completely intuitive. So I’ve seen women who only like drumming during their pregnancy, seen women who only like drumming during their early stage of labour, seen women who only like drumming during pushing and vice versa. So that is I have had a client who the first time I drummed in a hospital, we drummed during some part of the first stage of labour. And then when she started to push, I picked my drum, thinking she could do with the support. And she said, no, just put it down and she said it just wasn’t right at that time. So the stories I picked up with that is that it’s no prescriptive ways of doing it, no right time, which is really empowering for people if they want to learn, because it’s a bit like when I teach Rebozo massage and people said, how long and how fast should I rock? And I’m like, you asked her what she wants. The woman is the one who gets to tell you, what’s the right thing? So it’s the same here. You try and you trust your intuition, and if the person doesn’t like it, they’ll tell you. But it’s really quite fascinating how much we live in a culture that thinks. When people have asked me, oh, do you do a particular rhythm? No, I don’t. I know that, generally speaking, the rhythms that are very slow tend to be more, like, calming and faster, tend to be more invigorating, but also the type of bits that tend to change the brain pattern. They’re actually quite speedy. They’re actually 180 to 220 beats per minute. 

Alexia [00:21:30]:

Oh, wow. That is fast.

Sophie [00:21:30]:

Yeah. Rather than just the thing that’s really quite exciting. So I have been communicating online for the last few weeks with an Australian midwife called Jane Hardwick Collins, because she’s the only person I found online who’s written about drumming for birth and drumming during pregnancy. She’s just got one blog post. I emailed her and, you know, you got anything more in your books about that? She said, no, that’s the longest I’ve written about the subject and I can’t really find anybody else who’s really no books, no articles, apart from that one blog post. And she does quote in an article, a book I have here, which is called ‘When The Drummers Were Women’ by Layne Redmond. It’s a scholar’s book. It’s about the history of drumming and the fact that the drummers were the servants of the goddess. But it talks on three, you can see I’ve marked three different parts of the book about people drumming to speed up childbirth, about women drumming to speed up knowing which rhythm helped contract the womb faster. So that’s the only historical thing I found. But literally, there’s three sentences in the entire book. I’ve flicked through the whole book trying to find stuff. My gut feeling is this was a thing. Like many of those traditional women, wisdom things were just gone and they were passed from women to women orally. So there’s talk written about it, as I’m sure you know, what tended to be written about in the past was more men stuff, but I’m sure that was a thing. And it has been lost because there’s been all the burning of witches and all the losing of traditional goddess practice and traditional things that wise women used to just do. So for me, it’s part of bringing back drumming for childbirth is not something new. For me, it’s just bringing back a lost skill since what’s happened to me over the last few weeks is that it’s really made itself very present in my life because I signed up to do the course. A four day women drum circle facilitated our training, where I made the egg shaped drum I’ve just showed you after I signed up to that, then also signed up to give a talk about the science of drumming at a convention of women drummers in November in the UK. That’s organised by Melonie Syrret, who I did a training with. She calls herself the Drum Woman. And then the real thing that really blew my mind because it was so unexpected is the editor of the International Journal of Birth and Parent Education emailed me to say, we’re doing a special edition on complementary therapies for births and we’d like you to write an article about drumming for birth. That really blew my mind because I thought when I got the email, they’re going to ask me to write about rebozo or something like that, but not write about drumming. I was like, that’s really unusual, because, like I said, there’s no scientific papers. I’ve not found any there’s a lot of scientific papers about the effect of drumming on the mind and body and I can go into that in a minute. That request of this article led me to start creating a lot of really deeply pointed questions. I wrote ten interview questions and I went to the women and drummed at their birth and tried to cast my net as wide as possible and asked, does anybody want to share what the experience was like? And as I started interviewing my clients, it was really interesting. The stuff they shared, I didn’t even know about. So just to tell you a few tidbits, one of my clients said, at home, I didn’t really feel I needed drumming because I felt I was in my power. But when we went to the hospital, suddenly I felt really at the mercy of the hospital. I felt vulnerable. And when you started drumming it, she said it felt like when you put on power of music when you’re jogging. Yeah. She said it reminded me of my power and of just trusting and relaxing and letting go. I didn’t know it had done that to her.

Alexia [00:25:15]:


Sophie [00:25:15]:

I knew she’d enjoyed the drumming, but I never asked those really deep, pointed questions. When I started interviewing people, they all said the same thing and I was like, wow, this is big. I had a friend who said she tried to drum herself during her labour and she had to stop because it made the contraction so powerful she couldn’t cope.

Alexia [00:25:31]:

I was going to ask you whether you’re always one drumming or do the women drum for themselves as well?

Sophie [00:25:36]:

From what I’ve found, it sounds like it wouldn’t be a good idea for the woman to drum for herself, maybe in very early labour or certainly during the. Pregnancy and during the postpartum as a practice. Because what I find it does is it really allows you to almost if you’ve got something that makes you scared or anxious or anything that bothers you or a problem in your life, when you drum, it’s almost like it’s allowing you to move to the side and look at it. It makes that thing that where we know it changes your brainwaves. I’ve had drum journals done for me by other people in the past to find the answer to a problem. It comes so fast. I said, it’s like having a massage in your brain. You know, you’ve got stiff muscles and you’re uncomfortable very well, but your brain is full of patterns, right. This whole idea that neurons that fire together, wire together, you’re unknown to yourself, locked into some kind of way of thinking. The drumming changes, it’s like it’s giving you a fresh path. So suddenly you start to look at things from a really different angle. So, yeah, drumming in pregnancy for yourself, definitively. I’ve interviewed a woman during those four days training who said she did that and it was really powerful.

Alexia [00:26:51]:

And I wonder as well, the impact of the sound and the frequency on water. We know when we think about what’s that word is, it I can’t think of now where you can see the patterns within water of certain frequencies when you think about how much we are water and then I’m just thinking about the amniotic sac and the baby and what impact this is going to be having on the baby as well. That must be just bathing in this incredible frequency that just must be so potent. Have you got any insight as to what’s going on with the baby?

Sophie [00:27:20]:

I mean, the women who have drummed out their pregnancy, they say they feel the baby really likes it. The baby usually often becomes very active, right? Report that they feel that the baby enjoys it. The baby enjoys it but if you go from the premise that we’re all made of vibration exactly.

Alexia [00:27:39]:

I mean, it makes so much sense.

Sophie [00:27:41]:

We are made of water, but we’re just made of particles and vibration and we know that. What always amazes me is people are quick to dismiss drumming because they don’t understand the science, but they believe in your dress sound, right? You treat people with your tress sound, right? You treat muscle injuries with your tressound and of course you use a trespass to look at a baby. And it’s the same technology, but because it comes with the sort of aura of modernism, it’s the same thing. If you believe in a dress sound, you believe in drumming. It’s a different frequency, obviously, but it’s a different tool. And it’s in a white clinical thing, fancy machine that goes ping. Yeah.

Alexia [00:28:20]:

Not with a woman in the flowing dress and a crazy drum look like this. You really need to make your drums more clinical looking. Sophie yeah, that’s where you’re going wrong. So let’s talk about the science then briefly. Like what is the science around? I mean, there’s a lot of science around frequency and the healing power of sound. So if anybody’s listening that doesn’t know about that, then I would encourage you to go and go and seek some of that out. But specifically around drumming, what is there, what do we know that drumming can do?

Sophie [00:28:48]:

For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the change in your brainwaves relaxed meditation thing. But what comes hand in hand with that is that it does calm the nervous system down. There’s published research that shows all this brainwave change, but there’s published research that shows it decreases anxiety, decreases depression, increases feelings of well being, improves cardiovascular health, improves your immunity, decreases pain. So the vibration themselves have been shown to decrease pain, but drumming has been shown to increase endorphin release. And then if you think about the context of giving birth, it’s going to hit three things. It’s going to help facilitate that process of going into a trance like state, because birth is a trancelike state if it’s let to be doing its own thing and not interfered by the system. We all know that women go into this like labour land when the end of fins take over and the cortex kind of gets switched off. So it’s going to help that Translite process and it’s going to help with the comfort of the contraction and it’s going to give a focus point as well. Jane Hardwick’s Collins online article about drumming for a busy woman who said the minute the person started drumming over a sacrum, it made her contractions painless. And, and that other thing that my clients have said is it felt like there was something that was holding them, reminding them of their power, reminding them to relax. But it’s not a figure of speech because like I said, there’s really cool research showing that and also it provides a sense of community. So there’s people who’ve done drumming stuff for healing people from trauma, drumming stuff for healing people from addiction. So it’s more than just what’s really difficult is I’ve not been able to discriminate what part of it is a vibration, what part of it is a sound, what part of it is

Alexia [00:30:36]:

That was my next question. I’m wondering. Part of me is like, well, I just want to get a recording, play it nice and loud in the room. But actually you think about the difference between just putting something on earbuds and for the woman to be hearing that. So at least it gives us that mental focus. But then her body was exposed to the sound waves like it would with somebody actually drumming next to her. But then if she did play that through big speakers, would she still get some of that? Or is it really like where does the sound end and the frequency, where does all the vibration you know how.

Sophie [00:31:07]:

You can do remote healing on somebody? She said you can do remote drumming on someone, can you? But of course, it’s going to be more powerful if you are actually present in the room and you have all three, the sound, the vibration and the presence of someone who’s drumming holding the space for you. Because I think the difficulty with the whole thing is we can’t discriminate. There’s no studies that’s been done that goes, like you say, just looking at the effects of the sound without the vibration, without the wave. So all of it is part of the process package.

Alexia [00:31:42]:

Yeah. And when you were talking about how, just hearing the drumming, and I’ve had some really powerful drumming experiences and yeah, the minute the drums start, it just feels so tribal. It just awakens something really deep within us that you just know that we’ve been doing this forever and that we’ve got ancestral memories and inner knowledge. 

Sophie [00:32:05]:

It is part of every culture. It still is part of many cultures, but I believe it was part, this book when the women were drummers. She goes scholarly through every single histories that she can find, and it’s everywhere. Supposed to be the oldest instrument known to man, so it’s not like an alternative third word fad. For me, when I started reading around it, I was like, wow. What’s not normal is not doing it. Yeah, it was what we know is that the process of introducing patriarchy and removing all the priestess of the goddess who were the ones who were drumming, because this book makes a case, it was women who drum, not men. Those drums were destroyed. And one of the persons I love a lot in this whole drumming thing, Not for burst, but the science of drumming is a French woman called Corine Sombrun, and she was initiated as a shaman, trained for nine years, with Mongolian shamans being the first white person to become a Mongolian shaman because she was recognised as one and she went into a trance. So she went to do a documentary on Mongolian Sherman. She went back and created a trans science research institute. There’s a lot of really really cool research that’s being done on understanding what it does to the brain, what the trance. She’s created a sound loop, so it’s reproducible what the trance does to the brain, et cetera, and what it does to psychiatric pathology. She has a story in one of her books where she cured this guy of paralysis. He had cancer in his pelvis, he couldn’t move and she made him go into a trance and that restored mobility to his pelvis. And within a few weeks, he was walking around again. There are videos on YouTube showing what the guy’s pelvis is doing and he’s a guy who is paralyzed. And, you know, it’s really quite amazing. But what you know is that stuff you’re talking about, feeling like you listen to the drumming, feeling like you’re tribal. Feeling like I think it’s part of our DNA memory. And it’s really sad that we’ve lost that. And that in our culture, it’s become something that’s seen only as outside of our culture as in some weird shit that doesn’t belong. And I found that I do several practices as well as drumming, I do a form of conscious dancing called five rhythms. And I love singing, so I also sing whilst I drum, which, again, I think was really part of it. And it occurred to me a couple of years ago that singing, drumming and dancing are part of every culture. But in the Western world, what’s really sad is it’s seen as only something special people can do. The COVID People feel very shy and self conscious about singing or dancing and drumming, but they think, oh, I’m not good enough, I don’t know how to sing, I don’t know how to drum. Last night I was running a webinar on drumming for birth and people were saying, oh, what kind of rhythm do you use? And I said it’s completely intuitive. You don’t have a set rhythm, you just start and you feel into it. And the impression I often have, for instance, when I do healings with the drum, but the same happened during birth, is that the drum drums me so I may drum over somebody’s body, for instance, for the purpose of healing. And when I reach a certain part of the body, the sound changes, the speed of the sound changes, the rhythm changes, and I’m not making that happen consciously, it’s like it’s responding to what’s going on. And sometimes I’ve been drumming really loud and really fast and not understanding what happened. And then suddenly moving to another part of the body just becomes really slow, really soft, and it’s a bit like when you touch someone, you massage someone you’re going to try to meet where they’re at. It feels like it’s the same thing. You don’t want to go. Some people like to be massaged really like a flourage, very gently, and you need to do that for them to relax, because if you’re going like that, they’re going to go and tighten even more. But it’s the same with vibration of the drums, since they actually do work on what state the body’s in, what vibratory state the body is in. What I wonder, for instance, if the drumming has a big effect, but has not been studied on fascia, because fascia is cognitive tissue that’s around and inside your muscles. And what I know from talking to my osteopath about that is that fascia, when it’s in its healthy state, is soft and pliable, but when it’s tight, it’s become like really crunchy, he says, a bit like a chamois leather you’ve left in the sun. The healthy fascia should be like a wet chamois leather. Hard, crunchy fascia is a tight fascia. It just feels crunchy under your fingers. And I think it’s very possible that the drumming, I mean, I’m sure it acts on many layers on the body, but that it acts on that connective tissue specifically because my osteopaths told me that when the fascia is healthy, it becomes absorbent of water, but when it’s tight, it repels water. That’s why it becomes crunchy. Yeah.

Alexia [00:37:25]:

And so it sounds like when you’re in that you’re intuitively drumming, that you’re almost just a channel for whatever that body, that person needs in that moment.

Sophie [00:37:33]:

And being able to trust that is very important, because at first you’re going to think, oh, that’s why am I doing it? Right? Who am I to do this? This is some weird thing, because when I first drummed that at a birth in the hospital, I remember feeling really conscious of the discomfort of the midwife and purposefully not making eye contact. And I’m always fascinated by the fact that people are not curious when they meet something that they feel, this is weird, I’ve not heard that before, seen that before. What’s that got to do about and not asking questions? And then the last person I drummed out in the delivery unit, I felt, because by then, I’d been drumming actively, constantly, for two years. So I just got my drum out and I didn’t even worry about it. I felt completely normal. I thought if the midwife is like the old thought that entered my head was like, if the midwife is uncomfortable, that’s none of my business.

Alexia [00:38:31]:

So, yeah, I was going to ask you about the hospital environment, whether or not when you’re drumming, is it loud? Are there going to be other people outside complaining about it? What happens?

Sophie [00:38:40]:

When I drum that home? It doesn’t matter, usually. And when I drum in the birth center, the birth center in Cambridge is a really big room and the building is only ten years old and it’s pretty well insulated, sound wise, from one room to the other. But the delivery unit is a building that was built in, like, the 1980s and it’s pretty crap sound insulation. And luckily, when I drummed that bus, we were in the pool room, which is a bit away from the others, but I started drumming. Somebody knocked on the door and I thought, oh, God, somebody’s going to come. Here we go, can you stop that racket? But no, it was just completely not relevant to what was happening. Midwife coming to ask a question to the midwife, I don’t drum very loud in the context of birth.

Alexia [00:39:23]:

I’m wondering the lady that the mum also, that she might be thinking, if she’s not able to fully let go, she might be thinking, oh, hang on, we’re going to disturb other people. Some women struggle to even make noises during birth and they’re worried about how that’s going to come across and disturbing others and offending whatever that’s going on in their mind.

Sophie [00:39:42]:

But again, it’s always approved with complete consent. So the people who have wanted drumming at their birth sometimes have been hired for that. As a doula woman said to me, I want someone to drum at my birth. I was like, woohoo. Bucket list. It was the first time I drummed in the hospital. So the women would choose to have that or when I offer it to them, if somebody said, I’m not comfortable with that, of course I’m not going to do it. So it’s never been an issue in that respect. It doesn’t sound like those frame drums that I use, like the one I was showing you earlier. They’re not loud, the way that say African style drum. Because one of the things I’ve been discovering reading some stuff online is that they were African style drums that they traditionally used to communicate from one village to the other because they’re pretty loud. You know those drums that shape like.

Alexia [00:40:38]:

Yeah, like a tall drum that’s almost about like I’ve got a drum that reaches up to my breath.

Sophie [00:40:45]:

And they are a lot louder usually because there’s a resonance of the entire yeah, the type of drum they use, which is known as a frame drum. It’s not very deep at all. When you’re going to start making sound with it, unless you start to beat really hard, it’s not very loud, no.

Alexia [00:41:09]:

Does it not get a little bit crazy? Like when you kind of get carried like just get really into it. Does it not kind of get quite intense?

Sophie [00:41:17]:

It can get quite intense. Interestingly, I’ve not been in a situation where it got really intense at birth.

Alexia [00:41:23]:

Even when it’s fast, it still stays quite quiet. Does it all I mean, in my mind, because I’ve been to kind of like I’ve had lots of drumming experiences and I used to play Capoeira, which is Brazilian martial arts, drumming and rhythm and it’s all very not party vibes, but it’s a samba, it’s loud, the drummers are there kind of thing. So in my head I’m equating when it gets really fast and the pace is there, there’s a lot of excitement and energy and volume. I guess I’m just wondering whether there can be this fast pace but also quiet. Whether there is, I don’t know. Does that work?

Sophie [00:42:01]:

So far, when I’ve drummed around the pregnancy and birth and postpartum Johnny, I’ve not found myself drumming very loud or very vigorously. I’m going to make an analogy, like for now, when I massage a new mother, I’m usually really, really, really soft because there’s a feeling that the body is usually really tender. You can’t just go in like being vigorous. It needs to work yourself in really gently and maybe build from one massage to the other. Whereas when I massage somebody who’s not postpartum and I feel they can take it sometimes I’m really deep. The time I’ve done very vigorous drumming, it’s usually been someone who’s not in the first pregnancy and postpartum johnny right. There’s a sense that this needs to be heard with tenderness. However, you don’t know, there might be people who drum very vigorously around that period, but especially thinking about with the baby in mind, feeling the vibration in the anointed food and all that again and the very exquisite sense of hearing and feeling a vibration in the baby. It feels like it needs to be gentle. Yeah, but that’s just been my experience. There might be people that have been curious to hear if anybody’s ever had. Really strong

Alexia [00:43:21]:

And what about around fertility? I mean, I just wonder whether or not there’s maybe those that might be struggling with fertility, whether the drumming can bring their body to align things again to maybe facilitate fertility, is there any…

Sophie [00:43:32]:

For me when I talk about the birth journey, I talk about the whole thing from conception, but I also talk about birthing outside of giving birth to a child, birthing project, birthing yourself, all of that kind of. And also I see drumming as a transition support. So when you know that sound healing can be a powerful way to shift stuck energy in the body. You can easily imagine that, say drumming over somebody’s body, especially drumming over the pelvis and the reproductive organ, that might help. And I also found that it’s not uncommon for people to have big emotional releases during those types of healings, great big subs and stuff like that. And it makes sense if there’s something that’s being held in the body.

Alexia [00:44:22]:

So I’m thinking that our wombs probably carry a lot of trauma. We hold a lot there, whether it’s our own from maybe miscarriages or anything that’s happened to us in our own life, but also ancestrally that our mothers would have carried that we’ve just brought down that maternal line. But there’s a lot of stuff that’s just being held within our womb space that potentially could be getting in the way of fertility. And I’m just imagining that the drumming can just be such a powerful healing force just for women anyway, just to kind of let go of maybe some of this trauma that’s just locked in our bodies, locked in the womb space, totally. Is anything like that happening? I mean, I don’t know. Do you do anything on that level?

Sophie [00:45:05]:

I’ve done drumming as part, so I’ve done quite a lot of closing the bone rituals for women post loss because I’ve got a history of recurrent miscarriage and supporting people through that, giving their body a healing after the loss of any stage of pregnancy has always felt really important to me. I’ve got anecdotal evidence so I can’t tell away from the drumming to the massage or the energy holding that the ceremony provided, but I’ve got quite a lot of anecdotal evidence of people successfully conceiving after that. But not like I said, it’s anecdotal, but I’ve had women who had recurrent miscarriage. I remember doing a healing on someone who’d lost twins recently and a year later I got a text saying she’d just given birth to a healthy baby boy.

Alexia [00:45:54]:


Sophie [00:45:56]:

Like I said, enough recurrent anecdotal evidence of that going to go there’s something there. The way I always approach things is I discuss things with people who are having issues like that and I go, well, you could try that or that or that or that and people will automatically choose what they feel more drawn to. I don’t push from healing or these types of ceremonies that I do onto someone where I sense it’s not their cup of tea because I think it works on every level. A bit like throwing a dart on the dartboard. Sometimes you hit bullseye but you’re going to hit anywhere on the dartboard that’s going to have some kind of impact on the whole system. So sometimes it’s like really effective, really fast and sometimes it’s more subtle, but it’s still going to participate in the process of because the Western approach is very looking at the anatomy of things, looking at your hormones, looking at your tubes and if you find nothing wrong with those things, you’re left with what? Because I believe about 50% or more is unexplained infertility and when we start looking at the more holistic approach of things and giving people a chance to explore that if indeed there is trauma or energetic blockage that lodged in there doing energy work stuff, including the vibration of the drum. But it’s not just that, it’s a bit like what I was saying earlier. How do you discriminate between the sound and the vibration and the holding space? When I do a healing or a session for someone around that, there’s a lot more that happens. It’s about the person being held in kindness and support and giving space to so often, for instance, with closing the bone massage, I will have a debrief session first, give the women a chance to really talk about if there is trauma, what happened and how they felt and process that and then do the healing behind it. Because I think all of these things need to be expressed. Sometimes people don’t even know, sometimes I’ve said, and how did that make you feel? And the person’s just burst into tears because nobody else asked them the question. The whole thing, all that matters is a healthy baby. Or being dismissive of the fact that the grief that people may experience because they can’t conceive of the grief people may experience because they’ve lost a baby at six weeks. All of that in our culture is not seen as valid, right? The grief of women may experience, a friend of mine just this morning was sharing a grief at the end of a breastfeeding journey. It’s very valid. All this in the grief of women who have not been able to breastfeed for sorts of reasons. So there’s all this kind of stuff that’s not, that’s part of our journey and are not usually held with kindness and held with the spaciousness, the space holding of being witnessed beside trying to necessarily fix you see what I mean? Just holding what is because I believe that people can heal themselves but it’s just that that’s not part of our culture, right? People think the doctor heals you. Like, I remember telling my kids when they were younger, I was like, when you graze your knee the other day, who made the scab? The doctor? But that’s the culture we live in. So it’s much easier to heal with somebody who’s holding the journey for you because I think we’re meant to heal the last half, but I don’t think we’re meant to be doing it alone. And again, the whole I do it myself, I don’t need anyone, it’s a trauma response, the whole being independent at all costs.

Alexia [00:49:46]:

And I wonder as well, for a lot of trauma that may be difficult for people to sort of tackle, maybe head on in terms of talking about it, remembering it or just processing it in a kind of very conscious way. But doing that through drumming or coming in almost like through the back door is almost a really gentle way of healing trauma because it enables them to really kind of have a purge process. The emotions allow that to come out without necessarily it coming through the conscious mind, which might then prepare them for a more head on approach, processing it, talking about it in a more real way and just takes the edge off it. I don’t know. What do you think? Do you think that can kind of help people, maybe have something that maybe is so strong that they can’t get a lot of people that have heard just I can’t talk about it, I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to, they just block it out. It’s a complete block out. Whereas if you come at it physically through something like drumming that you can kind of release some of that and then, oh, now I’ve got the strength to maybe deal with this.

Sophie [00:50:44]:

And again, I think it’s really important to be respecting consent there because I think if people said I don’t want to talk about it, then they don’t want to talk about it. Certainly I’m a big proponent, believer of the fact that trauma is held in the body and that the Western approach of just doing talking therapies only is not enough. The talking therapies can be powerful, but only doing the mind, only doing the talking, I think it just doesn’t get at the root,  doesn’t go far enough. Yeah, it’s not for no reason that shaman’s world around, use drumming to help people enter a trance-like state and then go and find out for them in the spirit world what was going on and come back with some kind of guidance and answers and stuff. And also the other thing I do is when I do healing for people using my drum, sometimes I get whether it’s drum or reiki or books, I usually mix all of it. Now I often get guidance of stuff that sometimes is very clear. It’s not in the person’s best interest to hear that right now what’s happened to them. Sometimes I just speak like a very strong example, for instance, is a friend of mine who’s now expecting his first child in a few weeks. When we first met, he said, my second chakra is blocked. And I don’t know how it came out of my it was one of those downloads. And I said, your second chakra is blocked because you’re not sure whether you want a child or not. And the minute I spoke these words, he said it unblocked. 

Alexia [00:52:19]:

Yeah. Awareness is a huge thing, though. The minute you kind of hit upon that realisation about what it is that awareness alone can unlock, can heal.

Sophie [00:52:28]:

Like the story I was telling about the woman who had the drum healing over several sessions, that was really fascinating to me. Another story, for instance, that talks about a menstrual cycle was one of my case studies. It had something I’d never come across, a period so heavy that she was losing between a pint and 700 mils of blood every time she had her periods.

Alexia [00:52:48]:

Oh my God.

Sophie [00:52:48]:

And so she was having to go to the hospital every six weeks to have an iron infusion. And when she’d gone it was a woman in her early forties. And when she’d gone to the doctors, all they offered her was a Hysterectomy. And she said, I don’t want that. And I said, Well, I think you’re very wise because right now, whatever it is that’s happening is at least coming out. But if you remove uterus, whatever it is that’s causing that, it’s still going to be there. It’s not going to have a way to come out. And so as we did the session week for week, and I started asking more questions, and I said, how does it feel to you? Because usually what I did find out is that people who have such heavy bleeds is usually people who give to others all the time. They over giving and not giving enough, like not having enough boundaries for themselves and not being able to keep the energy. So they’re literally leaking their lifeblood. I mean, 700 miles, I was like 90 miles is considered a heavy period, and the average is 30 to 50. I think I was like, what a pint?

Alexia [00:53:49]:

That’s crazy.

Sophie [00:53:50]:

So I said to her, we talked about stuff she couldn’t try. And I said, well no, next time you bleed if it feels right for you, can you just allow yourself to slow down? Because I’ve been doing training around menstrual cycle awareness. I trained with Alexandra Pope years ago, did a workshop with her. And I’ve been reading around the topic and while I was still regularly bleeding, I was like really knowing the first two days of my cycle, I had to really slow down, so otherwise I’d pay the price for the whole cycle. So if I made myself really slow down, within two days, I’d bounce back. My energy would come back. But I still have it now, even though I’m, like, on the cusp of menopause, where several days a week I have a moment where my body just says, you need to rest right now and you can’t do anything else. And so I said to this woman, would you like to try and rest a bit more? And also ask your womb what is trying to tell you next time you bleed, just ask. Tune in with yourself and ask, what is it you need? And she did that. She rested a lot more and had half the bleed she’d normally got. Just one session after that, we talked about what else she could do and she went down the route of seeing a herbalist, I think. But again, the holistic care if you went, the only answer Western medical approach is to remove the offending organ. It’s a bit like if you were driving your car and some light flashed, saying something wrong and you took a hammer and bashed at the light on driving, saying, everything’s fine, nothing to see. Now, I’m really pleased. I’ve seen lots of people going down the route of having the organs removed and I’d say a journey, but I’m really pleased for her that she was able to listen to what her body said. Again, do you talk about womb trauma and stuff? It’s often when this woman’s daughter started a menarche, she said she also had a very heavy bleed. So I think if people just carry this kind of energy.

Alexia [00:55:56]:

There’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of that. Well, before we dance into another conversation around menstrual cycle, Sophie, which I would love to do, but I’m just conscious of time, where can people find out more about your work? So I’m thinking birth professionals are going to want to probably get into some drumming. I’m thinking you said you do remote, so where can people track you down?

Sophie [00:56:20]:

Before I forget what I’m starting, by the time this podcast comes out, it’ll probably be well on the way, but I’m creating a course both online and face to face, one that’s online because I want it to be available to people outside just the UK. And I’m also doing a face to face workshop in Cambridge and I may do some more to teach people, professionals and families about drumming for birth. And I have a website. It’s sophiemessager.com and I’m on Instagram, @sophie_messager. Just make sure that people often look twice when I say my name because they can’t see how it’s spelled. So it’s Messager, it’s the French spelling of messenger. Which is like without the instead of E, there’s no N, so it’s like Message but with an R at the end. And I’m also on Facebook, if you look for my name on Facebook and basically my professional Facebook page is called the Sophie Messager because a way to go around that. So on my Instagram channel, there are some videos of myself drumming and I put them on my YouTube channel as well.

Alexia [00:57:35]:

Okay, well, I’m going to include all the links in the podcast, show notes, and I’m also going to ask you for some you mentioned some names today, books and French ladies. That’d be good if I could just have those as well. So in case anybody wants to continue digging into all of this, then we can share that with them as well. So thank you, Sophie, for joining on the podcast.

Sophie [00:57:53]:

Thank you very much. Alexa, I’m really delighted you invited me to talk about this topic because it feels like it’s pioneering. Yeah, it feels like it’s not something that’s being currently actively done and it needs to be brought back. The thing that got me the most excited when I started looking at the research and what my clients told me it did for them, because there’s also lots of women who said it allowed them to tune with the soul of their baby, like to literally have a conversation with their unborn child, to see their unborn child. I thought if you have women who get drumming during pregnancy that can allow themselves to really start to trust their body and to trust their intuition and to rebuild that inner wisdom we have, that the system is trying to tell us that it’s just like rubbish and they’re much less likely to have to listen to some random man obstetrician. Who’s going to tell them, I know what’s right for your body? You just silly little girl, just do as you’re told. And much more likely to stand up to say, no, actually, I know what’s right for my body. Sort of the story that pops into mind is one of my mentors became pregnant and expected at the age of 54 and went to see an obstetrician, was told, well, we’re going to scan you every two weeks or every week. And she did a cesarean and she said, no, my baby spoke to me in my dream and told me she doesn’t like the sound and the ultrasound and I’m having a home birth. I would have paid money to see the obstetrician’s face because I think by the time she gave birth, she was 55. 

Alexia [00:59:29]:

Amazing. And I’m also thinking that it feels like that this drumming during pregnancy is a really great way. Even those  women that are kind of outside of there that may be heading into the menopause that have birth and pregnancy behind them, that actually it’s a really great opportunity for them to kind of form part of the circle that women need around them. They talk about birth, it takes a village, raising a child, raise a village, takes a village. It’s about, well, let’s create that collective female energy support system where you can have these women coming together, drumming, supporting the woman that’s going through that transition. The wisdom that these women can bring as well, because they’ve been through it, they’ve seen it. And just supporting women through this in a way that’s what we used to do. That has been a little bit forgotten that we can start bringing that back in and there are pockets of this going on anyway. But the drumming gives a real good focus to that. It almost gives an excuse like, everyone is just going to my drumming circle. It’s really good, it’s got all these mental health benefits. But actually there’s a much more deeper, powerful reason behind it all that we can come together and support those that need it, whether or not they’re pregnant, actually because of the mental health benefits, the cardiovascular.

Sophie [01:00:37]:

And the community, as I speak to you the image that pops into my mind was Michel Odent. In his books, he always talks about having a quiet midwife when knitting in the corner. I can imagine an older woman quietly drumming in the corner. And then the other thing is you’re talking about drum circles. I have as recently as last week, a woman who was 41 weeks pregnant came to my drum circle and then went into neighbour on the next day. And I had a friend who came to my drum circle on the day that she was due because she felt she needed that feeling of vibration, calling the baby in, feeling that it would help bring the baby to the world to be taking part in that and also talking about the menopause. That’s another side of our culture, that we live in such an ageist culture that nobody sees women who are going through the menopause, the process of the menopause as positive, just like birth. It’s only portrayed as horrible. Menopause only portrayed as you’re getting old, you’re drying up, when actually all the sort of traditional women wisdom is you become really fucking powerful when you go to the menopause, because the ostrich and drops and you take no shit anymore, and you just stand up to the elder women, the powerful crohn’s. An army of powerful crohn’s armed with the drums. Sort of an image that really delights me. I think it’s beneficial to old age and I would love, for instance, to having ceremonies, including the drum, for young women when they go through their first year. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts from Jane Hardwick Collins and she talks about how they change the attitude towards period in one generation because usually it’s portrayed as only being like a pain when you start dating a curse or whatever. And she said they do such cool ceremonies for young women who reach puberty in their community that the little girls who attend the ceremonies on the side, they go, oh, I can’t wait until I get my parents because I’ll get to have that big ceremony thing. And that’s really powerful stuff. Right? So for me, for every transition of a woman’s life, whether the first bleed, becoming a mother, the menopause, all this kind of big transition, any grief, any trauma, any big life change, when you change job, when you change partner, where’s this moment where you need to be hired by the community. Having some kind of ceremony that brings back this translike community thing. Because in drumming circles, we do sharing circles as well. So there’s again this space for people to talk about what’s going on without being told, without trying, people trying to fix them, just being seen and heard. It’s really powerful stuff. 

Alexia [01:03:27]:

Yeah. And I also realised I haven’t asked you to play anything yet. Would you be okay to play something like, just so we can get a sense of what we’ve been talking about?

Sophie [01:03:36]:

Just a couple of minutes of drumming. Do you want me to sing as well or just a drumming?

Alexia [01:03:40]:

Just whatever the experience is, go for it.

Sophie [01:03:57]:

We are the women we’ve come to drum, we are the channel between the earth and the sun, we are the keepers of the ancient ways we will bring peace to this troubled day. 

Alexia [01:04:14]:

Thank you for that, Sophie. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and sharing all of this. And I’m sure that everybody listening is just going to be like, diving into all this and checking it out. And I’m sure you won’t be able to train these birth workers fast enough.

Sophie [01:04:38]:

I hope so. I wish you all an army of people I know.

Alexia [01:04:43]:

I think birth workers have got an incredibly important job and there’s so many tools available to them to support that they can adopt. And it doesn’t also mean that women can find a birth work. And it really does fit their philosophy and their attitude and what they want. Because there are so many different ways.

Sophie [01:04:59]:

In pregnancy to reduce anxiety, it can really help. You can do really deep journey meditation types, things to go into not just meet the spirit of your baby, but go in, what do I need? What am I scared of? It’s like meditation on steroids.

Alexia [01:05:16]:

Yeah, totally. Yeah. No, I’m going to get some drumming in. Thank you, Sophie. It’s been brilliant. 

Alexia [01:05:19]:

You’ve been listening to the Fear Free Childbirth podcast with me, Alexia Leachman. Fear Free Childbirth is the online destination for women seeking to take the fear out of pregnancy, birth and beyond with fear clearance, meditations, self healing products and courses, professional training and specialist programs for overcoming tokophobia. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, then check out the Fear Free Childbirth mama Ship. It’s a bit like Netflix where you can binge on a boatload. More Fearfree Childbirth content to inspire you on the journey to motherhood and beyond. More interviews, more birth stories? More expert wisdom? Visit fearfreechildbirth.com to find out more.

Alexia Leachman
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