Creating a Pregnancy Practice

Apr 19, 2016

Pregnancy Practice |

A deep breath.


Air tumbling into capillaries.  Nourishing, oxygenating. 


Eyes focused beyond the backs of her hands, the eyes of her lover, beyond the walls of the room, focused subconsciously on the thrumming power of all the Women Who Have Come Before.

The long exhale.


Letting go.  Deoxygenated breath passes through loose lips and, with it, all the moments that led up to now.  Every contraction, every thought, encounter, communication.  Released.  


At the end of her out-breath, she connects deeply into the familiarity of this – this empty space, the openness and preparation for what’s next.  She is ready for the intensity of this sacred process to wash over her.

She’s been ready since the beginning.  Since those very first days, when her hands drifted to her swollen belly as she sat quietly each morning in meditation.  Training her mind, her breath, for this moment.  


Many people say that you can’t prepare for the intensity of labour.  That you have to just wait and see, and go with the flow.


While I’m all for going with the flow, I disagree that there is no way to prepare.  The very first thing that I share in my Sacred Pregnancy weekend retreats is how to create a pregnancy practice.  Though meditation comes to mind as a natural fit, a pregnancy practice can be any ritual that a woman intentionally focuses on each day.  It could be a walk in the woods, an extra few minutes in the shower, or fingers fumbling the beads of a mala necklace.  The purpose of a pregnancy practice is to focus the mind and breath.

The benefit is both intuitive and scientific.  Practicing the exact behaviours that are most likely to help you during labour – focus and breath – on a daily basis throughout your pregnancy, will make it easier to call upon these skills when you need them the most.  The neuroscience of the process would agree:  when you repeat and ritualize a behaviour, it becomes easier to continue repeating and ritualizing that behaviour.  Your brain, the amazing and ever-changing organ that it is, establishes neural networks – shortcuts, if you will – when you repeat behaviours.  Much like Pavlov’s dog, you can be trained to begin to relax, focus and calm yourself upon that first familiar inhalation.  The more often you practice, the faster your body responds to your intention to relax, focus and be calm.  You can even help yourself out by having a particular object – like mala beads or a special candle – that is a part of your regular pregnancy practice.  After practicing relaxing and focusing breath with that object after a while, just seeing it can trigger you into a calmer, more centred state.

It’s powerful stuff.  It can change the whole dynamic of your labour when you know how to get to your “happy place” quickly and deftly.


Your turn:


Did you/do you have a pregnancy practice?  What was/is it?

What did you find helped you most during labour?


The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!