Holding The Spark
I stumbled across this image of a sparkler today and my soul lit up. That sparkler passing from one hand to another in the dark captured the feeling I have about my work as a birthkeeper (doula). I am committed to remembering the sacred nature of birth and holding space for the women I serve. I believe, as Jeannine Parvati Baker did, that we can "heal the earth one birth at a time". Birth is this amazing wild thing of nature.
There is so much power within it.
A woman who has a birth experience where she is truly respected and even revered is a woman ready to take on the world. How you give birth changes who you and your baby are forever. Not just in the immediate postpartum, but for years, decades, to come. For good or for bad, no person walks away from birth the same as they walked in. Women who come out of their birth experiences feeling empowered carry that with them in their parenting and relationships and they make decisions differently. They learn that not only are they allowed to question authority, but that taking full ownership of their wellbeing and that of their family can change the course of their entire lives.
So many people – the powers that be – the institutions – the industries – want women to stay small and in their place. They want birth to stay in the dark and women to stay silent, doing as they’re told and threatened if they dare to challenge authority. The authorities know at some level that there is magic in birth which can turn the status quo upside down. They know there is incredible potential, and power and a love that can change the world, waiting in every birth. If they can JUST get women to stay quiet and do as their told - - if they can keep that spark under wraps - - then they can carry on with business as usual.
Some doula’s come from organizations who are perhaps unknowingly supportive of this. Doula's are told that they can support women emotionally, physically, and with (caregiver approved) information, but to do or say anything that might cause the woman to question her medical care is considered out of bounds. Those doula’s can still do good work. But I want MORE. My job as a birthkeeper is not just to do double hip squeezes and pass a cold cloth or speak kind words (though there is value in those roles!) . My role, as I see it, is to hold onto that spark – to keep it alive and safe – and to pass the light on to the people I serve who are ready to hold it themselves. My goal is to create space where everyone who enters knows instantly that the birthing person is the one who holds the power, who is sparking with life, who is ready to change the world and that EVERYTHING which happens in that space should be with the birthing person and child at the center. Being a doula for me is about creating and holding space where that spark can burn bright. It’s about letting women know that the spark is theirs to hold and use as is best for them.
Years ago I took levels I, II, and III of Therapeutic Touch. It is an energy healing modality with many similarities to Reiki but also some key differences. I’ve realized that although I don’t often do full sessions of Therapeutic Touch anymore, this idea I carry of being grounded and holding space for people so that they can heal is very much rooted in the principles of Therapeutic Touch. It is one of the pieces of my history that allows me to serve the way I do today. When I step into the birth space, or prepare to do reflexology or yoga nidra mindfulness, I bring that grounded energy with me and I hold onto it at all costs. When I’m making up Hedgecraft Herbals products for my customers that same grounding healing energy, and a desire to place your wellbeing back in your own hands, is infused into every drop. Seeing that sparkler image today sent my soul soaring and my mind racing. I love what the imagery says about birth and power. If you're feeling overwhelmed by your upcoming labour, unhappy with a past birth, or searching for your sense of ownership in your life - - light a sparkler and breathe while it burns. See what comes to you. I hope it will be as inspiring for you as it was for me.