Yoga Retreat
Mother As First Guru ( By Swami Gurupremananda Saraswati
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~Approaching Childbirth~

~Direction of Modern Birthing~

   Birthing has become a very controversial issue in society today. We are all aware that many of the subjects dealt with in the book, and particularly those surrounding childbirth, are highly contentious. But even more than creating debate or criticising the birthing status quo – of which there already exists plenty – I hope my writings will touch the reader in a way which will cause the greatest effect where it most matters – within your own birthing experience. I also hope you will find inspiration, empowerment and, above all, many practical ideas for improving the quality of your next birthing experience.
   This chapter starts with a lot of thinking matter prior to getting into the doing matter of birthing. This is because I believe that as individuals, as women, and as a society, we must examine the direction modern birthing is going, and with all the analysis we can muster, reflect on the part we play in that trend. Each person must then decide if they want to participate in that trend. Institutionalism, impersonality, conde-scending medical staff, unnecessary medical intervention, insufficient and inequitable pre and post-natal support services, rising caesarean birth rates, lack of alternative birthing options – these are just some of the areas which concern many women when it comes to the standard of current mainstream birthing and which are all part of the present controversies. Most of these subjects are touched on in this chapter, and sometimes quite critically.
   It would be easy to just sit back and throw mud at the patriarchy, the politicians, the hospital administrators, the doctors and the nurses who manage and staff our maternal health system. For when events go wrong or when society seems to be going in a negative direction, it is very easy to blame “them” or even “the system” itself. In order to correctly address both the causes and solutions to these matters, I believe that every woman must address their own part in creating and maintaining such a system. After all, we are the little pieces which make up that very system and in subtle ways it is we who are steering the system.
   In the introduction to the book, I stated that I do not want to be interpreted as taking sides, either between hospital or

homebirth, medical or natural,conventional or alternative approaches. However it is difficult to promote better alternatives without criticising the status quo. But criticise we must, where commonsense and experience frequently contradict the popularly presentations. Whilst my own approach to the births of my children may seem radical to many, I do not mean to advocate my way for anyone else. I simply wish to teach the practical methods which any woman can synthesise along with the other birthing choices she may make. I hope that the perspectives offered in the book may help to promote a reintroduction of childbirth’s spiritual values – irrespective of anyone's particular medical (or religious) standpoints.

Natural Birthing – Who Wants It?
Through many personal discussions and what I have gleaned from the popular media, I have been shocked and saddened to realise that birthing naturally is not something that many women aspire to these days. Some are openly hostile to even the ideas natural birthers espouse, let alone the approaches they take. Yet I believe that any woman who is physically healthy and relaxed about her womanhood can experience the powerful fulfilment of birthing naturally. And this is why I have chosen to focus on teaching the yoga of birthing – not to ensure a completely natural birth per se – but to help those who are interested to make it somewhat more likely than it might otherwise have been. Beyond teaching women on a one to one basis, as I mostly do, the purpose of the book is to reach a wider audience who may be thinking such things, but who have not discovered the support or the means for enacting their inner desires.
   I have noticed there are 3 general mindsets towards birthing by women these days:
   The greatest majority of women, in fact the great majority of people in our society, have not yet considered the direction in which mainstream birthing is going. Some may have read about the trend towards more natural birthing but consider it a dangerous fringe movement worthy of little serious consideration. They are willingly and naively drawn into pregnancy and birth as a medical adventure. Most women having their first child believe there is no alternative to this medical model. They simply follow the well-trodden route recommended by their

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Please Note:
The complete ‘Mother As First Guru’ Set also contains Book 2 + 2 audio cds. Book 2 relating to comprehensive Yoga Practices as well as the Audio Instructional practices (2 cd set) are only available with your purchase and is NOT available on the Reading Room.

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