Navigating medical interventions with grace and confidence
by Crescence Krueger www.heartofbirth.org
Doubting yourself is a common experience during pregnancy. Bringing another human being into the world requires strength found in a state of receptivity so complete; you might feel very vulnerable as a result. In order to move into that receptivity with confidence, it’s really helpful to feel that you can trust those around you, including your health care providers. If you speak with them before you give birth about the issues that are important to you, it will become clear where you both stand. Hopefully, it will be together, but if not, it’s good to know that too. Then you can choose your battles or find a new person to work with, if that’s possible. Often it is.
I had two clients ask me within the same week what my thoughts were on not clamping and cutting the baby's umbilical cord until it stops pulsating. Cutting the cord as soon as the baby is born has been standard practice in hospitals for decades. Recently though, new studies have been published which question the wisdom of this; they point to the benefits that come to baby when it receives its full measure of blood from the placenta.
I told my clients what I knew and also shared my own experience when we left my daughter's cord to pulsate. What I shared was not mirrored by my clients' obstetricians, though. One of the OB's said that it was hospital policy to cut immediately and that was that! The other OB, with privileges at the same hospital, said that while studies showed it was helpful to let the cord pulsate in “third world” conditions because it decreased the incidence of anemia, the anecdotal evidence she had from pediatricians in Toronto was that it had no positive effect and actually increased the rates of jaundice in newborns.
This baffled me and also worried me. My self-doubt began to rise! Did I not have the latest research? I went online to find the study that I had read about but had not looked at directly. I found it, read it and had my understanding confirmed. Here's the link. It's a randomized control trial (published November 2011) done in Sweden, in “first world conditions”. And if you want to know more about delayed cord clamping, here’s a link to a website dedicated entirely to the topic: http://cord-clamping.com/
In reaction to their OB's response, both my clients had doubted their instinct and common sense. Pam England, author of Birthing from Within, writes that there are two kinds of knowing contemporary women need to have when giving birth. “The first, and most basic, is primordial knowing, that innate capability which modern women have, but must rediscover (and trust). The second kind is modern knowing: being savvy about the medical and hospital culture and how to give birth within it.” p.3 Hospitals function in a hierarchical system and it can be difficult not to give away your power when you are in one. Having clear and accurate information can help you be “savvy” when relating to medical personnel. And connecting to the profound intelligence of your body will give you the means to your “primordial knowing”. An effective Yoga practice strengthens your connection to this wisdom and lets you stand in its authority. It is yours.
What is “effective Yoga practice”, though? In the same way that wisdom about birth has been denied in the medical system, the Feminine has been missing in conventional yoga education. The technology that gives you the strength to receive an inhale, and with it the nurturing force of life, has been absent. This is a problem because when strength isn’t used in the service of receptivity, it becomes destructive. The profusion of yoga related injuries and the new wave of abuses of power by yoga teachers in recent years is testament to masculine force moving the yoga community in the absence of receptivity and the lack of real relationship that receptivity makes possible.
Intimate relationship has no use for hierarchy, rules and role playing because those things manipulate. Life needs freedom and since we are life, we need it too. Krishnamacharya, the renowned yogi, scholar, philosopher and healer who is considered the source of modern Yoga, understood this, despite living as a Brahmain in a rigid patriarchy. He couldn’t step out of his defined role in society but he recognized that the feminine principle was vital. His son, T.K.V. Desikachar wrote in The Heart of Yoga:
“The essence of my father's teachings is this: it is not that the person needs to accommodate him or herself to yoga, but rather the yoga practice must be tailored to each person. I would even go so far as to say that this is what makes my father's approach different from most others' around today, where everything is well organized and you have to fit into a certain structure. With Krishnamacharya's yoga there is no organization and the individual must find his or her own structure…Yoga serves the individual and does so through inviting transformation rather than by giving information. These are two very different things.” p. xix
Yoga and birth are transformative processes where, in the end, the mind needs to dive into life’s power, not try to control it. To be a true teacher of these things, you have to go beyond the giving of information, however useful some of it is. And in the end, we are each our own teachers. When we are navigating the flow of our own life and when we are following the waves of energy that bring a new life through us, we have to trust ourselves, the wholeness of us. We have to trust that our transformation is a Given, not something that we can willfully effect. Life moves us. We can't direct its movement but we can certainly participate fully in it. So fully, in fact, that the distinction between “it” and “I” dissolves. That is what embodying the Goddess means. Not struggling to become some powerful thing that we feel we are not, but receiving the power that is at the heart of what we already are.
There is no hierarchy to life. If there is any doubt in your mind, wait until you hold your child in your arms and realize that between the two of you, another universe has just been born.
About Crescence Krueger:
Crescence Krueger passes on the beautifully simple and profound Yoga teachings she received from Mark Whitwell and combines them with nineteen years' work as a Doula. As a Prenatal Educator and Yoga Teacher she integrates feminine wisdom sourced directly from the birthing environment and her own experience as a mother. Crescence's prenatal work is additionally supported by a twenty-one year connection to Isabel Perez and her teacher, the iconic midwife, Ina May Gaskin. To learn more about taking a prenatal yoga class with Crescence in Toronto see Yoga Goddess' one and only Prenatal Yoga and Birth Preparation Class. Our next (and final session) begins Thursday February 28th at the Lil Bean N Green in Leslieville.