IN A EMBRYONIC NUTSHELL
With isolation measures in place, many women are approaching birth and motherhood with uncertainty around where and how they're going to birth and without the physical support of loved ones. Many are feeling afraid, anxious and disappointed but our 'norm' that birth is no big deal leaves little space for these feelings. I am holding online spaces for Magnificent Mamas going into this monumental moment in their lives and want to make up empowering gift boxes to send them. The contents are designed to show each woman that she's thought of, valued and supported by so many, and will hopefully raise her spirit and her oxytocin love hormone levels as she begins her motherhood journey. Donate and/or request a box for you or a birthing woman you love. Contents listed at the bottom of this page. I can only ship in the UK.
The header photo is me (Gem) giving birth to my beautiful son, Leo, in October last year. Holding my hand while I crushed hers is my best friend, Jess. My husband, Tom, and doula, Karin, were also in the room, along with a truly wonderful midwife, Lucy.
It was the most empowering, intense and transformative night of my life, but it might have looked different without the months to work through my birth choices and the calm encouragement and loving touch from a few of the people with whom I feel the safest and most loved. That I could feel so safe and relaxed played a part in the speed, ease and peace with which Leo was birthed into this world, and how happy and confident I felt and still feel mothering him.
At six months old, Leo is a cheerful little chap and my wish to support other women on their journey to and from birth has led to the creation of Babes in Sacred Arms. We hold in-person and online women's circles, ceremonies, workshops and retreats to hear, value and empower mothers, and are working to change our cultural norms and narratives surrounding pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
WHY IS THIS PROJECT NEEDED?
Our hospitals and healthcare centres are rightly focused on slowing the virus and taking care of sick people. While isolation measures are vital to curbing the transmission of the virus, they risk negatively impacting women's experiences of pregnancy, birth and newborn mothering.
'These are sacred, tender, impactful and critical experiences in a woman’s life, what happens during her experience of her year of being pregnant and having a newborn will affect the way she mothers, feels about herself and the wellbeing of her baby and the rest of the family, forever.' - Jane Hardwicke Collins
My heart is holding all the phenomenal women who may now have limited choices about how they birth and be facing the prospect of birthing and newborn mothering without the physical tenderness and safe support of their loved ones. They will of course be supported by a magnificent team of midwives, however many women are understandably approaching this monumental moment in their life feeling afraid, anxious and disappointed while feeling like they can't talk about it or 'complain'. Physiologically a woman's body needs to be flooded with oxytocin - the love hormone - to relax and open. Stress hormones can slow down or stop this process altogether, potentially making birth and the postpartum period more traumatic for mother and baby as medical interventions become increasingly necessary. Our 'norm' that the experience of birth is no big deal leaves little space for potential trauma caused by isolation measures to be acknowledged and sidestepped or healed from.
We are in a time of transition and potential transformation where we need to reflect on and change what we consider to be 'the norm'. If we hope to create a world of love and trust instead of fear and alienation, we need to place far more value on meeting the deeper and more emotional needs of pregnant, birthing and new mothers. We need to ensure that the heroines birthing and raising the next generation of humans feel cherished and held so we mothers have the inner resource to cherish and hold our babies.
I am starting this project to let birthing women know it's ok to feel however they feel and to reflect back to them how incredible, capable and valued they are and how much they are energetically supported by every mother who has come before her. This is a time when women need to come together to lift women. Let's get that oxytocin flowing!
WHAT AM I CROWDFUNDING FOR?
I am offering free, online Magnificent Mama workshops to pregnant and new mothers to evoke in them feelings of being empowered, confident, joyful, peaceful, held, loved and re-energised - these can be booked at www.babesinsacredarms.com/workshops. With your support I can do more.
I want to make up gift boxes with items, words and practices that will lift a birthing woman's spirit and help her step into her power. I have called these boxes and this fund I AM SHE, because any mother will be able to feel how a woman preparing to birth now might feel. I already have 500 beautiful boxes waiting to be filled. Each box will cost around £20 to make up and ship. It's not much to make a difference to a woman's motherhood journey and the beginning of a new life. I will use my savings to send boxes to women that need them between now and when this Crowdfunder finishes and replace them with funds from the campaign.
ANYONE WOMAN DUE TO GIVE BIRTH DURING ISOLATION CAN REQUEST A BOX (please email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org).
IF YOU MAKE A £20 DONATION AND WANT US TO USE IT TO SEND A BOX TO A WOMAN YOU LOVE, I WILL WRITE YOUR NAME ON THE CARD ENCLOSED IN THE GIFT BOX (please email your name and her name and address to email@example.com with a screenshot of your donation).
I will send as many boxes as I am able and will notify you by email if and when I have sent one to you or your amazing woman.
I also want to send these boxes to vulnerable women who have long been birthing without the tender support of loved ones - women that have left their homes due to war, survivors of trafficking, slavery and domestic violence, women experiencing homelessness...
WHAT'S IN A GIFT BOX?
- A handwritten card to the Magnificent Mama
- Words of love, encouragement and empowerment
- Suggestions of rituals to let go of fears and set intentions, and breathing/meditation practices
- Booja Booja chocolate truffles
- Bath oil with essential oils
- Pukka tea - Love, Motherkind Pregnancy and Motherkind Bbay
- Friendship bracelet to connect her with a sisterhood of women
- Rose quartz to open her heart and bring her loving, healing energy while she's birthing and post-birth
WHAT WILL I DO WITH ANY LEFTOVER FUNDS?
I will continue to send boxes to vulnerable birthing women after the isolation has lifted and any spare funds will support this. They will also support future Babes in Sacred Arms work to hold safe spaces for vulnerable pregnant and new mothers so they feel heard, seen and championed.
CAN YOU SUPPORT YOUR SISTERS?
Thank you for reading about this project. If it resonates I'd be so grateful for your donation and for you sharing this with your friends and family. Let's show mothers just how valuable and appreciated we are.
SPARKING A CONVERSATION
My hope is to open conversation about what women need during pregnancy, birth and early mothering.
Which of our cultural norms work and which need re-thinking?
Is our cultural narrative healthy or do we need to change our language, understanding and media portrayal of birth?
Do we need to question whether hospitals are the right places for women to birth in?
Could we design accessible places where women can be supported through pregnancy, birth and postpartum with skilled care AND something more sacred that honours the profound transition she is experiencing? Could these become the standard for birthing women?
What would a birth environment look, sound, smell and feel like that floods women with love and oxytocin?
How can we sisters come together more to hold, honour and uplift one another as mothers?
If you would like to explore this with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and bear with me if I take a little while to reply.
THANK YOU :)
This is me about to hold a women's circle with Leo as my trusty albeit sleeping sidekick!