The following is a student blog post by Joanne Magdaleno
Since long ago cultures around the world have considered self-consciousness an important part of pregnancy. They believed that the way we were conceived and the way we were carried in our mother’s womb, birthed and received into the world set the seeds of patterns that could enhance or affect us through our life. A lot of cultures like Koreans, Hindus, Nepalese, Africans and Native Americans shared similar practices that enhance awareness before conception and on. While some practices have been lost, many of them are still practiced and some of them are still easy to follow. How do we apply this wisdom into our new age lifestyle, who benefits from it and why is it so important are big questions to be answered in the following paragraphs.
The equivalent of a home in the Dagara community in Africa is the womb. Think for a minute about what we do before we move into a new home or simply travel to a new place. Most of the time when we embark into a life changing event we prepare ahead of time. This is what many cultures do during preconception, they begin thinking about birth and prepare mentally by letting go. They let go of unresolved emotions, especially emotions related to their relationship with their parents. The Dagara tribe in Africa believes that each generation has the ability to heal the wounds of previous generations. This helps our children not to carry on those burdens that might even affect our way of birthing and our relationships with them. However, we must be willing to transform and work with our unresolved emotions. We must be willing to clear ourselves from whatever weakness physical or emotional we might be holding. We might have to amend our body with nutritious meals and clear the body of toxins to prepare the body, emotions, mind and spirit to become parents. Women and men equally form part of this new home. Men provide healthy sperm and women provide a healthy, loving womb for a child to start his/her development.
Consciously or unconsciously the body is preparing for conception. The shrine of conception or time of conception was something that Koreans, Tibetans and Hindus also considered of great importance. They believed that everything that encompassed the moment of conception was going to shape the personality of the baby. In the book of Queens Jin’s Handbook of pregnancy, it relates a story of a letter sent from a father to his son. This letter is full of suggestions and awareness. The father writes to his son to be aware of the time during the month he will be intimate, to choose the place where he will be intimate, to be aware of alcohol consumption and to always take into place his wife’s feelings by asking questions. We might think this is all superstitious but when you look deeper into this knowledge it is all based in chemistry. The grandfather to be is trying to suggest effective ways for conception based on ovulation, how the couple feel about each other so this could enhance the chances of an effective and easier pregnancy for mother and father to be.
Once the pregnancy takes place a lot of emphasis is put on the mother to communicate with the baby. The mother is no longer one person, but two connected by body and heart to her baby. This connection is so deep that it is believed the mother is able to communicate with baby in dreams and by telepathy. Let’s think about it using as an example a cell phone that is close to a speaker and makes interference between them. Although we are not able to see the connection between baby and mom, there is something happening on an energetic level. The Dagara community in Africa pays attention to dreams, things that present itself over and over during pregnancy to mother and close relatives. They believe these are signs and messages sent from the baby about who they are, their personalities and their life purpose. If you pay attention to things happening in your pregnancy you might become amazed by the things you will find. At times, you will not find meaning to it right away but with time everything might become clearer. For instance, some women have food cravings, allergies or like to do things during pregnancy that later on they find are part of their child’s personality. In Korea, by the time a baby is born he/she is considered to be a year old. Almost a year has gone by from conception to birth making his/her mother the first teacher. They call this embryonic education, a time when “fetus is influenced by its mother’s behavior, by what she eats, drinks, sees, hears, thinks and feels”.
Just like a fetus is fully aware of its conception and development inside the womb, it is also aware of his/her birth process (Welcoming Consciousness-by Wendy Anne McCarty). It is said that a baby can feel how his/her mother is feeling about the upcoming birth. When women are late on their due date (per medical standards), they are suggested to go deeper into themselves and find how they are doing emotionally. Sometimes emotional worries or being afraid about the birth or becoming a parent can cause women to delay birth and even baby to be breech. It is important for women to be aware of their feelings, past regrets and present emotional being for a healthier pregnancy and birth.
Birth is team work! Mother and baby are not alone during birth, their birth team and community also influence their experience. The place and team the mother choses to birth with will have a lifetime impact on her and her child. Nowadays, mothers in the U.S. try to choose what feels best to them. They create a birth team that includes their family, a doula (birth helper) and a provider that supports her birth wishes. In countries like Africa, Tibet and India, communities are small and a mother has close relationship with her birth team. The mother does not have to find, plan and talk about her birth wishes. Her team already knows one another and share the same background and beliefs about birth. The Dagara community believes that the babies feel and remember their birth. They say babies are fully aware of how they are touched after birth, the temperature of the room, the lights in the room and the sounds and voices they hear when being born. This community even has a room full of children next to the mother’s laboring room where the children scream out loud to the baby as a way of welcoming him/her to the world. A conscious pregnancy and birth brings about many joys to mother and baby and expands all the way to their community and the world.
Joanne is a mother of a 14 year old daughter. She lives in California and has worked for 13 years in an outpatient County clinic. She facilitates prenatal Centering Groups, Childbirth classes and supports expecting mothers prenatally through the Healthy Start Program and as a Private Doula in Contra Costa County. Past work experience as a health interpreter has given Joanne a broad knowledge of the medical field. This knowledge has help her understand the relationship of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and its interconnectedness. Her work with a multicultural population and her interest in Holistic healing gives her services at JoDoula a multidimensional approach. Joanne tries to integrate traditional healing to her birth work and is always striving to expand her knowledge. Joanne was certified by Gena McCarthy as a Birth Spirituality and Healing Coach in 2017.
References and further recommended reading
Sobonfu Somé. (2009). Welcoming spirit home: Ancient African teachings to celebrate children and community. Sacramento Ca. Healing wisdom well.
Kumuda Reddy, Linda Egenes, Margaret Mullins. (2005). For blissful baby: Healthy and happy pregnancy with Vedic medicine. New Delhi. New age books.
Fred Jeremy Seligson. (2002). Queen Jin’s handbook of pregnancy. Berkeley Ca. North Atlantic Books.
Anne Hubbell Maiden, Edie Frawell. (1997). The Tibetan art of parenting: From before conception through early childhood. Somerville, Massachusetts. Wisdom publications.
Wendy Anne McCarty, PHD. (2009). Welcoming consciousness: Supporting babies’ wholeness from the beginning of life. Santa Barbara Ca. Wondrous beginnings publishing.
All student article posts are the expressions of the student who wrote them. We do not take responsibility for the content, these are done as part of the educational experience and we try to encourage students to use their voice and learn to connect with clients through blogging and social media.
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