Welcome Riga, thank you for joining us at The Holistic Journal. Can we start off by finding out a little bit more about you and what has led you to creating The Mother Space?
So, I am a mother of two amazing children and nearly 13 years ago, after the birth of my first, I began running pregnancy groups for women to prepare for birth at a deeper level in themselves. I just felt at that time that there wasn’t much available to really hold women in the rites of passage we traverse each time we gestate and birth a new life. I decided to create for others what I didn’t have myself in pregnancy, and so the ‘Birth Vision’ groups were born.
These courses offer a beautiful weave of sharing, breathwork, dance, meditation and painting, and during the years since their conception I have written a new book about creativity in pregnancy and the Birth Vision process, including some of the inspiring and transformational birth stories of women who have participated. It will be released this winter 2019-20 in full colour, complete with birth-art images.
I suppose my involvement with pregnancy, birth and motherhood has been a key part of my life since those early days and, having experienced depression when my second child was two, I know how tough mothering can be, especially early on, when a mother struggles on without the support she really needs. And so many of us are in that situation today as working and/or busy mums.
I got well again through deepening my meditation practice and using it daily, so I know it definitely helps and I want to help other mums use this powerful resource so that wellness becomes a far bigger feature of their mothering life. And that’s what’s on offer at the Mother Space.
So, tell us more, The Mother Space… it all sounds very cool, who is it for and how can it help?
It’s actually for mums of all ages and stages who want to give back to themselves, to feel more present and grounded, to avoid falling into stress patterns and reflexes, as well as developing strategies for being and communicating with their children in more positive, conscious ways. Self-love and nurture features large in my approach to mindfulness. For me the work of meditation is centred in heart-connection.
There are an abundance of changes we go through from the time of even thinking about trying for a baby or sometimes even the surprise of finding ourselves pregnant.. many emotions to handle and all with our hormones boing-ing around in a way that can seem very out of control. Words of wisdom if you can?
Yes absolutely. Becoming a mother for the first time is HUGE for women and sadly this has gone unrecognised by society, as with many other topics on the female agenda. Only now are we beginning to see scientific evidence of how a mother’s experience of pregnancy & childbirth can impact upon both herself and her child longer term, physically, emotionally and mentally.
My feeling is that women can really benefit by honouring their own pregnancies, by resting more, disregarding fear-stories and hype, gathering their most supportive friends around them – perhaps holding a space where friends can really acknowledge a mother-to-be as she prepares for her coming birth. When I was pregnant I avoided synthetic fragrances, chemical cleaning products, caffeine, sugar and highly processed food. I just went about my daily life as if there were two of us rather than one, and one was very small and needed a gentle physical environment (i.e. my body) that matched their sensitivity.
Best or favourite reading material (given that there is no specific manual)
My favourite birth books are ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’ by Ina May Gaskin and Milli Hill’s ‘Positive Birth Book’. I think that together these two cover so many bases from the spiritual to the practical and they are both enriched with real stories of birth.
Top tips for creating a birth plan? Or preparing for birth?
Be confident in your body. Get to know it. Become aware of where you hold tension and find ways of freeing up these areas. Dance and free movement are great for this… in a private space with dim or candlelight, either standing or on all fours. Find whatever music suits you and just let go into your body. This helps you to tap into the reptilian part of your brain which produces your hormones for birth and also enables your body to generate more melatonin, another birth hormone.
This is a great practice if done regularly in pregnancy and even more so as birth approaches. Addressing any fears or resistance to birth is also important. Rooting out self-talk that limits us with fear and then declaring to ourselves how powerful we are, over and over, is excellent. We can’t plan a birth but we can ground ourselves in self-empowerment.
Having said that, do the practical research about birth practices and outcomes, understand your human rights in pregnancy & childbirth and create a birth plan or ‘wishes’ that reflects your choice as paramount at every step of the journey. Your birth partner can advocate for you, if you want to stay in your ‘labour zone’ and avoid discussion with medical staff. And the post-birth time is equally important for bliss and bonding. Aim for a ‘Golden hour’ with your little one when he or she is born if possible (more info in ‘Mindful Pregnancy & Birth’).
This is such a big, big topic Riga but if you can give us one top self-care tip what would it be?
A self-care tip for the whole maternal journey is finding quiet space within. Whatever that means for you. Some of us get this when we swim, for some it’s being in nature, for others it could be an evening bath or a yoga session. I experience it in meditation, nature-connection and in dance. Do what makes you feel happy, calm and connected to yourself, and make sure you get a regular dose of this practice whenever you can. Mothers need to feel good. And our children need this too.
Also stay connected with other mums; keep communicating, crying and laughing, and just getting it all out.
What are your favourite therapies?
I love deep-tissue massage, craniosacral therapy, reflexology and also sitting in a hot spring or sauna when I get the chance. But I also find painting very therapeutic and sharing with close friends.
How do you spend your down time when not holding space for all these beautiful mums?
I facilitate Art workshops with adults, and work as a therapist, writer & doula as well as taking time with my family and walking or cycling in the woods or up on the Downs with the dog. I try to hold a bit of space for me too!