Part one of the Compassionate Birth Worker Training is a two-day immersive event called Preparing for Compassionate Birth. By the end of the event students are equipped to deliver Preparing for Compassionate Birth workshops with their clients either as part of the larger Compassionate Birth programme or as individual workshops from as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy.
An underlying principle of Compassionate Birth is that we must have a lived experience of the techniques. How can we teach compassion if we don’t practice it?
Students are also asked to approach their learning with a ‘beginners mind’. This opens the room up to sharing and learning in a transformative way and frees us from ego. Ego creates fear and by letting go, the oxytocin in the room rises exponentially; living it is understanding it!
On day one the learning objectives and outcomes are to:
- Explore the structure of the programme for parents
- Understand Compassionate Birth Principles
- Develop the foundations for Self-compassion
- Develop the foundations of Mindfulness practice
We begin by exploring Compassion.
What is compassion and why is it important when preparing for birth?
When seeking to define compassion, we repeatedly encounter words such as understanding, concern, warmth, love, brotherly-love, tenderness, consideration and humanity. Compassion encompasses all of these themes and more. The root Latin word of compassion is ‘compati’ which means ‘to suffer with’ which I often take to mean being able to walk along side and empathise with another.
The more we cultivate a compassionate mind-set the greater the benefits to us as it works on a very physical level; being compassionate leads to an increase in our endorphin and oxytocin production and these just happen to be two hugely significant and beneficial hormones in labour and birth. It also increases the likelihood of inspiring compassion in those around us. This means that their oxytocin levels are likely to be raised too. This can only be good for birth as the more oxytocin there is in the room at the point of birth the better.
We listen to some Compassionate Birth Stories and reflect on them and students are encouraged to reflect on and share stories from their own birth work.
We then move into mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
To be mindful just means to bring our conscious attention to something without judging it or wishing it was different. Mindfulness as a practice is a very popular but often misused tool. When mindfulness is misused it can lead us into self-absorption and can lead us away from the world. In the western world, we do have a worrying culture of ‘I /Me’ and poorly applied mindfulness can exacerbate this unhealthy mindset. What is often missed is that Mindfulness is only one wing of the bird. With only one wing we fly in ever decreasing circles. We need to use both wings and the other wing is Compassion.
I trained in the therapeutic use of Compassionate Mindfulness when working as the Specialist Midwife for Women affected by drugs and alcohol in Hackney, east London. I have seen it applied by women in such challenging circumstances as they try against the odds to emerge as a mother. It is a powerful tool but so often appears inaccessible to people. I believe that this is because they have been taught it in a very complicated way. The Way of the Koi is simple.
We immerse ourselves in Mindfulness and experience its simplicity throughout day one. We also explore the ways in which you can share your lived experiences of Compassionate Mindfulness and teach it to the women you serve. You are introduced to the tools that are provided by Way of the Koi for use in your Compassionate Birth workshops.
If you'd like to try a moment of mindful calm just click here.
We close on ‘setting intent’. This is a simple yet powerful process. Students are guided and supported to arrive at a place of ‘bone-knowing’ through this element of the course. It brings the other elements together in a moment of clarity that you will draw into your bones as a wisdom that you will embody. As you live your journey as a Compassionate Birth Worker your intent will change and evolve, and so it should if you are to retain your beginners mind, but the process of setting intention provides a powerful medicine to both you and the women you serve when it becomes an authentic part of your practice.
In my next post I will introduce you to the learning we do on day two of the Compassionate Birth Worker course! I hope you will join me.