Partner breath practices for birth and beyond
As my years in birth work continue to grow I recognise that I gently shape my practice to what is also personally of interest to me. I have now supported over 250 couples through their birthing experience. I have meaningful loving relationships and have 2 teenage sons that tower over me. I can create space in my life to reflect on what makes me happy and fulfilled. My responsibilities have also increased and I feel the challenge of keeping in balance all that is important to me.
With this awareness I have naturally expanded my attention to also focus on what will keep a family strong, loving and connected. I’ve asked myself, what will enhance loving intimacy to flow between partners as they journey through so many changes over their life span?
My work with a couple usually starts during their pregnancy. Most often what’s on their mind is a desire to reframe their worries of pain, choice and control in birth to personal growth, health and wellbeing. Their other key concern, usually expressed more subtly, is to feel safe and connected in a loving bond with their partner. And it is here where specific birth preparation practices can blend these intentions together very nicely.
The example I use here today comes from an exercise I sometimes do in a private session with my clients. The effect I notice is a softening and slowing down of their energy, so they pay better attention to what they feel and how they feel into their partner. From this place of awareness they then have the ability to better respond with more compassion and curiosity to what comes up for them or their partner. And because when a person feels acknowledged and accepted for where they are at in the present moment, it gives an opportunity to let go of habitual ways of relating. In turn there is a deepening of their connection with each other.
Thankfully none of this is rocket science and we have many ways of creating lovely moments with long lasting effects. We already do it quite naturally without thinking, like enjoying a deep heartfelt hug between friends. But when we take unconscious knowing into conscious choice, we can use it as a life skill. It can take us from a learned breathing techniques for labour to; managing stressful moments with your newborn, staying calm with your toddler, diffusing an argument, standing up for yourself, being more organized, enhancing pleasure with your partner, and the list goes on and on.
It may make you feel uncomfortable though, because you are giving yourself permission to explore new sensations. New sensations, edges, boundaries all can bring up the elements of the unknown and uncontrolled. So it’s important that the environment for this practice feels safe and supportive to you. It’s also ok to feel uncomfortable. The more we are comfortable with discomfort the more we can experience life more fully.
This is a partner exercise but you can adapt it to do alone. If you are pregnant you may wish to stand and face your partner. If you have room to snuggle close together, sit on your partners lap and wraps your legs around their waist. Usually the female is on top, but you decide. This can already start making you feel quite delightfully connected.
Then both place your left hand on your partner’s heart. The other hand can wrap around their waist or be placed on top of your partner’s hand (which is over your heart). Start with your eyes closed and begin to be aware of your breath. Let your breath become more relaxed and easy. Release any tension you feel as you notice it. Pay particular attention to relaxing your jaw, throat, shoulders, belly and bottom.
If any distracting thoughts come into your mind, let them go again. Don’t give them your attention. Let go of judging what you think or feel, just accept that it’s ok to feel things and not give it your energy. The quality of practice is not how often you have thoughts come into your mind but rather what you do with them. So observe it rather than feel like you have to act on it.
You may start to notice the rhythm of your breath and the rhythm of your partner’s breath. You may find it feels quite lovely to synchronize your breathing, alternate your breathing or just be aware of the difference in your breathing. And that’s ok. Each breath can bring mindfulness of what you bring into this shared experience. Before opening your eyes, acknowledge and affirm yourself. Say to yourself ‘I am ………………….’, “I can ………………………. ‘ for example.
When you feel ready (perhaps after a few minutes) open your eyes and gaze into your partner’s eyes. This can feel profoundly intimate and if all you do is stay connected to your breath and gaze then you will feel a shift into connection already.
If you would like to play more with your breath you can imagine yourself drawing up your breath from the earth and taking it all the way to your heart. On the out breath move that energy from your heart to your partners heart and back down to the earth. Feel the cycle of breath and play with the rhythm, the ease and the feelings of love and connection you can create.
In labour this cycle of breath can be transferred between you and your baby, or to the sensations of your cervix opening, your ligaments and muscles stretching and to opening your mind and body for the birth of your baby.
This practice offers you a place to start deepening your personal growth, playfulness, healing, love and connection within yourself. From there the world is your oyster on how, where and with whom you wish to express it.
Please contact me if you want to know more about this practice, for help to facilitate this and to explore other ways to prepare for positive birthing and beyond.