Megan and Russell offered to host the now postponed KZN Birth Workshop on their farm in the Kwazulunatal Midlands this weekend, the 26th and 27th March 2011. Their farm is nestled in a valley in front of the Giants Castle part of the Drakensberg and their home a cottage built in 1896! I drove through the rolling hills and green valleys on Saturday morning with the boot of my little Toyota Rav 4 stocked up with white board and other midwifery teaching tools. Ginny Oosthuizen and the participating team (Megan & Russell, Philipa & Graham) welcomed me with cheery smiles, hot coffee and rusks and we started our day of work just after 10am.
I began the theoretical section with Anatomy and Physiology, as the guys especially needed to know how birth works, and there was much fun and laughter as we drew pictures of the uterus and surrounding anatomy, followed by diagrams of how the most magnificent muscle(the uterus) in the human body works. Russel was called to the cows after a few comments about how cows will fall pregnant when the “grazing is good” and calve down when the “weather is calm”. We all agreed that this applies to humans too!
When Russel returned, I used the pelvis to show how the pelvic sacro-iliac joints ‘stretch’ when the mother is in upright or kneeling positions, to allow the baby greater ease of passage during birth. Then we drew more diagrams of the actual labour process itself and participants realised they actually had accumulated alot of knowledge and just needed to arrange it coherently. We also spoke about how important it is to LEAVE THE UMBILICAL CORD INTACT after birth and NOT CUT THE CORD immediately as the baby is born. Both couples understood the mechanism of the blood flow through the cord to the baby while his body is adapting to breathing and life outside the womb. After a super lunch around the large oregon pine dining room table, the hormone and neurochemical physiology of pregnancy and birth elicited much discussion and new understanding of how the brain works with the different levels of consciousness.
Then we had fun and games with the Breath Awareness Exercises, Ice Holding, Letting Go, Singing, Toning, Labour and Birthing Positions, Massage and the Rebirthing Technique. After watching a few real live-birth clips, we completed the day with a meditation ‘Communicating with Baby in the Womb’ and I left the group for the evening and returned the following day. Ginny stayed on at the farm and kept the group entertained for the evening before everyone headed for bed and rest.
I returned to the farm on Sunday morning, after an early morning ride and after Russell had attended the milking of the cows. We settled down to work with mugs of coffee and tea and focused on trauma, how it manifests in babies (and adults) and how to prevent trauma and help to heal it when it occurs. We discussed how breastfeeding works, kangaroo mother care, and participated in a practical communication exercise.
The couples were brave, open and transparent and Ginny and I shared deeply in their sufferings and joys. We felt honoured to be a part of this group and share this wonderful weekend with the participants who were deeply interested and focused. Their honesty with and about themselves was refreshing and disarming. After such heartfelt sharing I cannot but feel confident that the babies who will be born to these two couples are blessed!