Energy medicine is based upon the belief that changes in the life force of the body affect health and can promote healing. The idea of life force in traditional cultures – the belief that a special energy vitalises all life – has been shared by people around the world since ancient times. Since the 17th century, western medicine has focused on physical aspects of disease. A new paradigm emerged in the 1990s, one which celebrates the creative, subtle, empowering and wise aspects of ourselves. Energy medicine is a broad term that encompasses many therapies – hands-on and hands-off, in close proximity and remote – and what they all have in common is a focus on a person’s internal energy and ability to be well.
Having undertaken much training over the years, I believe in the power of energetic medicine. When I am with women in pregnancy or in labour, I consider anything subtle, unspoken, unconscious, dynamic, well-intentioned and without ego or desire for an absolute outcome, as working with energy. It has been defined recently by an experience I had supporting a birth of someone I know.
One of my colleagues expressed her wish that I would be her midwife in labour, an honour that I was extremely happy to fulfil. However, the matter of shift-work and the unpredictable nature of pregnancy and labour meant it was not possible to confirm absolutely; I could only say that I would do everything I could to make myself available.
As it turned out, I was on the second night of three night shifts when she contacted me to say her waters had released. I hoped she would hang on for my third night so I could be with her for the labour and birth. And it happened just like that: we were together for the duration of my shift, and she managed her birth as she wanted to. She said everything aligned and she had the birth she had really wanted.
We have talked it through since, as her perception of time was understandably out of kilter, and she wanted to piece it all together to form a complete and whole memory. She is adapting to motherhood well – sleeping and feeding are smooth, her milk supply is abundant, and she is cherishing her daughter.
The energetic aspect I sensed was as follows:
- We knew each other, she had complete trust in me, and her partner had trust in me because she did, so a layer of anxiety was instantly removed.
- She was where she wanted to be: she had been given the space with the pool she wanted to use, and this was another layer of potential disappointment removed.
- She periodically ate pineapple and drank water – sometimes adding honey – to give a sweet restorative boost to help her keep going. She kept herself hydrated and free of refined sugars and carbs.
- Her husband had total unrelenting faith in her, never doubting her ability. I gave her support and gentle touch on her back and sacrum, and eye contact to keep her engaged and not disconnected from her body’s experience as her baby moved down. I used rebozo to help calm her and shift her mindset from panic and stress to calmness.
After the birth, she took some flower remedies to help recover from the stress and to settle the shock she had felt at how intense the labour had been. As a student midwife, she said she had new-found empathy for all birthing people. She had a new respect for birth.
She took arnica to help her stitches to heal, and she took gentle walks outside to breathe in fresh air, to see the trees, plants and sky, and to feel nature. She also drank calendula tea – a tea with many purposes – which she credits with helping minimise post-birth bleeding, helping urinary voids to be comfortable, and her womb to contract down again quickly with minimal cramping or discomfort. She is extremely well in the few weeks following her birth, and very attached and bonded to her daughter.
As a result of this reflection, I can see more clearly which elements help us manage or not during pregnancy, birth and postnatally. Continuity of carer is a government initiative which all maternity services were aiming to prove was possible. It was to be implemented by March this year, but coronavirus has delayed this. Almost all the meetings I have with families are first-time meetings, and there is little time to get to know one another. The experience with my colleague has shown me how familiarity has ongoing benefits to health and wellbeing. The energy work I extend is subtle and careful and I believe is universally helpful.
Another part of my work is supporting women in subsequent pregnancies after a previous, challenging experience. I start by listening to their story; then, I show optimal positioning for baby to align and to enable a smoother birth; after that, we do therapeutic exercises to help manage unhelpful memories; and finally, we make plans for this birth. But, as experienced with my colleague, if we already know and trust our midwife, these gentle energetic additions to psyche and body would be enough, and we would get much closer to an experience in which we feel comfortable, strong, supported, able and held.
Eleanor Copp supports families across the UK, currently online. relaxedparenting.co.uk 07929 857 608
Photo by George Jr Kamau
First published in Issue 72 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.