I know lots of people who say that when it comes to all things parenting, shut the books and just follow your instinct. I agree to an extent. I think we’ve got to be mindful about what we dwell on – does what we’re hearing ring true to us or does it make us unduly anxious? But I don’t think that means we shouldn’t read. Books make it possible for valuable knowledge to be passed across generations and cultures. They can challenge us to sort out instinct from social conditioning, which can sometimes feel like the same thing. They can tell us something new about something as ancient as birth. Certainly, that’s what I discovered in Dominique Sakoilsky’s Seven Secrets of a Joyful Birth.
Calling itself “The guide to preparing emotionally and psychologically for birth and early parenting your way”, Seven Secrets is not a prescription for a natural birth. It’s not a list of this, this and this and it’ll all be just fine. Instead, it’s a call to get to know yourself deeply and enjoy freedom, perhaps for the first time. It’s a radical point from which to start your parenting journey.
I have to say that at first it kind of grated on me. Dominique speaks in a vocabulary that’s so different to mine. Finally, I put the book down and asked myself what the problem really was. What was holding me back from being open to what it offered? Then it became apparent: I wasn’t sure that I believed that my emotional and psychological health could really impact on my pregnancy and birth, though I knew it doubtlessly did my parenting. And that made me wonder what I was so afraid of. Why was I so reluctant to face myself?
We birth how we live and we live how we birth, and our attitudes, beliefs and level of self-understanding are all integral to this.
So, I read on, allowing myself to accept my vulnerability, to notice the softening which happens in pregnancy and to consider that this could be a unique opportunity to take a huge step towards real change in my life – and I’m not even just talking about welcoming a new baby. I couldn’t have read this book at a better time. A number of difficult things have been happening in my personal life and I’ve been challenged to find new ways of meeting them, to put boundaries in place and to choose healthy relationships.
Bit by bit, I saw that there’s a lot of rubbish I’ve come into parenting with and I can see how it has affected all of us. I kind of always knew that but I think I’ve just been too busy to actually do something about it. That and I just didn’t have a clue where to begin. Seven Secrets is a beautiful invitation to let go, to repair and to heal.
And yes, you do find actual information about pregnancy and birth. She talks about perinatal massage, takes you through visualisations and yoga techniques. All of that is very useful but for me, the journey through seven words “No”, “Hello”, “Thank You”, “Goodbye”, “Please”, “Sorry”, “Yes” was just so necessary, so timely.
Dominique Sakoilsky, the co-founder of Relaxed Birth and Parenting, sent me her book to review on this here blog. I honestly didn’t think I’d like it but it’s proven to be one of the most useful things I could have read.