Birthlight yoga for maternity professionals update
I initially set up a Birthlight yoga service within the NHS in 2005 within the complementary therapy unit in Northampton General Hospital. This added service proved so popular that it was necessary to do an afternoon as well as an evening class. Women who attended paid a nominal fee which was an added monetary resource within the complementary therapy budget.
Birthlight Yoga for Maternity Professionals incorporates the ethos behind effective antenatal classes by offering social, emotional, psychological and physical awareness of pregnancy providing good preparation for birth and the postnatal period (NICE 2008). It encourages self confidence to approach birth positively.
With this in mind a course was specifically designed for Maternity Professionals to teach Birthlight Yoga with more emphasis on care during labour and birth preparation. This course has been accredited by the Royal College of Midwives and accredited with 15 elective educational points for the Recertification programme for NZ Midwives.
With the visit from Francoise in March 2009, we were able to offer the first Birthlight Yoga for Maternity Professionals, in Auckland New Zealand, and annually since then. In 2009 we travelled to the Lower Hutt (which is a large suburb of Wellington, at the bottom of the North Island) to present the Birthing Lightly study day.
To date, there has been a wide variety of Maternity Professionals that have completed the course including Midwives, Doulas, Antenatal Educators, Obstetric Physiotherapists and Osteopaths. Many of the students also have a strong personal background in practicing yoga.
Antenatally Birthlight Yoga Classes bring an awareness of how micro-movements can make a difference to maternal posture, especially as the pregnancy advances, and how relaxed stretching and breathing can help bring relief from many common complaints of pregnancy. Practical knowledge can be implemented during pregnancy, labour and birth using body memories gained from these classes.
The Birthlight Yoga for Maternity Professionals course provides teachings on ‘The Pelvis’ that are often a revelation to the students, including midwives who are traditionally thought both within and outside of the midwifery profession to be relative experts on all things pelvic! The holistic approach of Birthlight yoga and the interactive workshop style of teaching helps ‘the pelvis’ to come alive for the course participants in a completely different way from traditional anatomy and physiology teachings. Maternity professionals on the course attain a whole new way of understanding how to work with a woman’s pelvis and how to empower women with this knowledge, whether in an antenatal yoga class or during labour.
There is much research available now on the importance of Oxytocin in relation to labour and birthing (Uvnas Moberg 2011). Within Birthlight Prenatal Yoga, numerous techniques for increasing natural Oxytocin from 35 weeks onwards can be utilised and taught within the class. For example, breathing techniques, massage, together with Optimal fetal positioning which all encourage the lovely cocktail of birthing hormones that Michel Odent discusses in depth both in his workshops and books. Specific ways of encouraging this synergy of birthing hormones are also shown and discussed in The Birthing Lightly Study day.
The Birthing Lightly Study day is a one day event run by Wendy Gadsden, teaching Midwifery Professionals a smorgasbord of skills, tips and techniques based on the principles of Birthlight Yoga which they can use to promote a natural and positive birth when caring for women during labour. The study day is offered both in the UK and New Zealand. In New Zealand it has been accredited 5 elective educational points.
The principles of Birthlight Prenatal training could be incorporated within the midwifery curriculum within a module encompassing ‘normality’ and promoting natural birth, and also with Midwifery mandatory annual update training days to encourage a more active birth in uncomplicated pregnancies. The seed that was planted in 2005 in Northampton and has since been nurtured would effectively bring more awareness of conception, pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period to mothers and their families.
Wendy Gadsden Midwife UK/NZ Birthlight Tutor
NICE Guidelines CG62 Antenatal Care: full guideline (corrected June 2008) (Pg 82 3.3 Antenatal Classes)
Uvnas Moberg, Kerstin 2011 The Oxytocin Factor, Pinter&Martin, London
"I feel this course should be incorporated into 'compulsory education' for midwives and student midwives. It brings both midwife and woman back into their bodies, balances, facilitates and encourages the normal and emotional factors that need to be in place to promote normal birth, pregnanct and well being. I loved doing this course and the journey it took me on surprised and empowered me"
Paula - Birthlight Yoga for Maternity Professionals, Auckland 2012
"I absolutely LOVED the Birthlight teaching course in Whittington last week, highly recommended for maternity professionals or yoga teachers, mums to be, or anyone who wants to find out more about this wonderful pre-natal Yoga world! Your teachers Wendy and Alison were an amazing team, we had fun and learnt loads! thank you Birthlight"
Antonella Torti - Birthlight Yoga for Maternity Professionals, Whittington September 2012
The reflections that are provided by the Midwives are very encouraging, and the booklet they are given during the Seminar can be used for future reference. The midwives / childbirth educators are able to implement practical knowledge from the course very quickly.
"Teaching Birthlight pregnancy Yoga has brought huge benfits to my midwifery practice, not only for me but also for the women I care for. I am able to offer practical, safe, empowering suggestions to help women ease the discomfort of pregnancy with simple Yoga techniques. Women who attend the pregnancy yoga classes develop a body awareness and trust of their bodies that appears to support then to labour well and reach their outcomes of achieving a natural birth. Teaching Birthlight Yoga has added to my midwifery tool kit. There have been several occasions during labour where I have been able to use the Birthlight Yoga techniques to support women during long, difficult or posterior labours. After the birth Birthlight yoga techniques have been useful to recommend supporting and improving pelvic floor tone, and facilitating post birth recovery."
Claire Eccleston - Birthlight Yoga for Maternity Professionals, Hamilton NZ 2010