It was very soon after, that I discovered yoga, and since that time have been working
towards the fulfilment of that dream.
In planning this book, I wanted its message to be accessible to non-yogis,
yoga beginners, yoga adepts and yoga teachers; non-mothers, becoming mothers, new
mothers and previous mothers; the healthy, the unhealthy; the young and the not
so young. To encompass that vision I have therefore included my knowledge and experience
across a wide range of areas and levels. I apologise to the non-yogi or the yoga
beginner who may at times find the amount of theory and detail overwhelming. Like
a smorgasbord, the opportunity exists to either nibble at those topics you hunger
for from time to time, or to start at the beginning and gradually partake of a whole
Controversies Surrounding Modern Childbirth
I am acutely aware that many of the subjects dealt with in the book
are highly controversial. For each and every topic addressed there exist many varying
professional and lay opinions, as well as widely conflicting research and personal
experiences. And at one level, my own writings merely add another set of ideas,
beliefs and experiences to this ocean of dialogue. But it is not the theoretical
nor factual contents of this book which I believe to hold the most value for the
reader. Rather, it is each person's discovery of truth for themselves through life-enriching
experiences which ultimately shows the way. And this is what yoga has given me as
well as many others - a way to self-realise what matters most, what works best,
and how to find the truth of any situation already inherent in that situation.
Whilst some areas of discussion may challenge existing views and strongly
criticise the status quo, it has not been my intention to present any one perspective
without acknowledging the benefits of another. I do not mean to take unconditioned
sides between conventional and alternative, hospital and homebirth, allopathic and
naturopathic, or secular and religious approaches. I also endeavour to differentiate
between my own opinions, beliefs and experiences; the opinions, beliefs and experiences
of others; studies and research; and the age old universal truths of yoga, motherhood
and life itself. I hope that the discussions and the advice offered may help to
promote a reintroduction of the spiritual values of birthing, irrespective of religious
or medical perspectives. Above all, I did not want to write a book "preaching
to the converted" - the yogis, homebirthers, or alternative lifestylers like
myself. Rather, I hope that the book may reach a wider
audience, not usually exposed to such ideas.
Personally, I have become somewhat disillusioned with and frustrated
by the current debates in medical science, feminism, midwifery, and homebirth movements
revolving around "issues, rights and responsibilities", For some, reclaiming the
rights and rituals of natural womanhood has become a "feminist issue" where the
emphasis is on things far removed from the immediate and specific needs of
the pregnant woman. For example, in the on-going debate about the pros and cons
of natural verses medically managed birth, the focus seems to be shifting more and
more away from the intrinsic simplicity of birthing. Rather than deeper political
dilemmas to contemplate, I believe that those who care should be offering women
practical solutions and satisfying the pregnant woman's needs for holistic health
management and real birthing choices.
My own standpoint when it comes to rights and responsibilities is that
any woman in our society already has the right to become educated about her body,
to look after herself, and to choose much of her own birthing destiny long before
pregnancy. Whilst there is admittedly a mainstream shortage of early education,
media support, and community mechanisms to provide these needs, that right and those
opportunities nevertheless exist.
The main reason for the dearth of progress in these areas, as I perceive
it, is the inability of women themselves, individually and collectively, to whole-heartedly
take on responsibility for their reproductive outcomes. Rather than delegating it
to others, good health and the experience of birthing naturally is a right each
woman must work towards, not just expect unsolicited.
There is now a growing number of women who are doing this very thing.
What this has required on their part is:
• firstly an awakening of dissatisfaction with the status quo;
• secondly, the assumption of
responsi-bility for changing their
• thirdly, the will to act; and
• fourthly, practical ways to actually create the desired changes, both within
themselves and in their lifestyle.
Whereas the first factor is usually cir-cumstantial and revelatory,
the subse-quent ones are matters of choice and application. It is in these areas
that yoga can greatly assist.
Preceding taking up the solutions which yoga offers, I see the need
for better education - of the holistic, spiritual kind - as paramount in a woman's
early life. In our families, we must start