I was recently sent a podcast with Midwife Anna Verwaal, from my childhood friend Lucy Beaumont.
(Lucy used to live in Hampstead and was a journalist at the Sunday Times before doing a runner from the City Life. She subsequently became a Forest school teacher and Yoga teacher and is currently living in what can only be described as a ‘Hippy Community’ in Spain!)
‘Our Lu’ has been known to recommend and engage in some fairly bonkers stuff so I was a bit reluctant when I initially heard the first few minutes of the podcast and the lady sounded a little bit experimental! But then it BECAME REALLY JUICY.
The podcast is an incredible and mind-blowing conversation with Anna Verwaal, who has over 20 years experience working as a Maternal-Child Health Nurse, in high-risk labour and delivery, obstetric theatres, as well as postpartum and newborn nursing.
Anna’s revolutionary interpretation of the way in which our bodies remember the circumstances of our birth, and how that goes on to affect our behaviours as adults, will almost certainly make you rethink the importance of the way that we are conceived and born.
Working in a similar vein to pre-and perinatal psychologist such as David Chamberlain, (check out his birth psychology website here) Anna suggests that we each have a seminal memory, shaped by the events surrounding our birth, which creates a blueprint for the rest of our lives.
This embodied or ‘cellular’ memory, of the way on which we came into being, can equally shape our own fears, belief systems and patterns about birth.
Anna’s therapeutic work thus lies in bringing us to an understanding of the events surrounding our birth, therefore helping us to unravel the patterns of behaviour that they came to shape. Or, as she puts it, permitting people to “take off layers that don’t belong to them.”
I personally find all this stuff especially interesting in relation to my Hypnobirthing work. Since hypnobirthing aims to address and change our underlying patterns of beliefs about birth, Anna’s work gives us greater insight into the origins of these potentially damaging and restricting beliefs. Such an understanding definitely compliments our hypnobirthing work, and gives us further insight into individualising our hypnobirthing practise to each parent's specific fears or concerns.
In fact, it is an important insight for anyone working with women and families around birth; Doulas, Midwives and Doctors alike…..As Anna herself puts it:
"When everyone who deals with babies and childbirth, personally or professionally, realizes how much of an impact the conception, pregnancy and birth experience has on our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual lives we can begin to create the necessary changes that will allow for more gentle and conscious births to take place."
It might all sound a bit crackers at first, and it certainly took me a moment to get my head around it, but why wouldn’t our very first contact with the world shape our perception of the world from then on?
Love it or totally refute it, but definitely have a listen….