Prenatal Meditation for Energetic Communication with Baby
Doula, Infant massage teacher, Calm Birth Instructor (Prenatal Meditation)
Anna Humphreys is a doula (CD DONA), an infant massage teacher, and an instructor in Calm Birth—a form of prenatal meditation that is based on Tibetan Buddhism, and that develops both mindfulness and an energetic connection between a mother and her child. Calm Birth features two CDs, Calm Birth and Calm Mothering, and also a book, Calm Birth: New Method for Conscious Childbirth, all of which can be purchased online.
Currently, Anna is completing her BS in psychology and preparing for postgraduate studies. She plans to explore how prenatal experiences affect infants, and to study the impact of prenatal meditation on the baby and parents as well as its possible value for society as a whole.
Anna teaches Calm Birth to mothers in her community, and reaches mothers around the world through Skype.
Hilary: What motivates you to do this work?
Anna: I am a “meditator baby.” My parents met at a meditation retreat, and my mother meditated twice a day during her pregnancy with me. When I began to meditate at age nineteen, it immediately changed me—turned my world around! I recognized that I had been hardwired for meditation in the womb, and that I love it.
I sincerely feel that as a meditator baby, I am blessed to have come into this earth without too much pre-existing trauma. I want to share these blessings through my work with families, and also through research.
Hilary: What makes Calm Birth different from other forms of meditation or mindfulness practices?
Anna: Calm Birth teaches many components of mindfulness that are known to reduce stress and stop the fight-or-flight response, but Calm Birth is unique in that it has been developed especially for mothers. For instance, the relaxation part takes you deep into the anatomy of your entire body including your womb, and it puts you in touch with your baby’s presence. Then, there is a strong emphasis on breathing into the energy center in your abdomen, breathing into your womb, connecting with your baby with your breath, and sending your baby energy with your breath, and bonding that way.
Hilary: Have you seen concrete benefits for your clients?
Anna: My meditation students sometimes ask me to act as their doula, so I can see the benefits of Calm Birth first-hand.
Many of the moms who are attracted to Calm Birth had a traumatic first birth, with postpartum depression and breastfeeding problems, and they want to feel empowered this time. These mothers often say that they felt held in their power center during this birth experience and were able to respond to whatever came up during the birth process.
Just recently, one mother told me that as long as she stuck with the breathing, she did not feel any pain. She felt sensation, but not pain. If she was distracted from her breathing focus she felt pain that could be overwhelming, but she could transition out of the pain when she focused on her breath again. By being able to return to her center, and to her breathing, she said she was able to have the birth of her dreams.
Another mother had had four previous natural births, but she needed an emergency cesarean birth or her fifth. Afterwards, she was separated from her baby for three hours. Yet, she still tells me that this was the best birth she had had. She says that because she meditated throughout the pregnancy, and during the emergency situation was able to stay in her center, and stay with her baby, and breathe energy to her baby, she thinks that Calm Birth helped them establish a deep bond.
It’s also good for mothers to know that if they have a cesarean birth, their immune system has been strengthened by meditation, and they will have more resistance to bacteria in the hospital.
And then there are also many first-time mammas who, whether their birth was smooth or challenging, tell me how wonderful it was to have bonded with their child during pregnancy, because they felt very close with their baby after the birth.
Hilary: What does Calm Birth offer mothers who are experiencing breastfeeding grief?
Anna: There’s the nutritional aspect of breastfeeding, and the closeness, but for people who can’t have that, for whatever reason, it’s empowering to know that there are still ways you can be physically and energetically close to your baby.
Hilary: Which is what I emphasize in this book.
Anna: Exactly! That’s why I think you work is important, because it is not just seeing breastfeeding and bonding one right way. It’s about acknowledging the grief that comes with these challenges, but ultimately discovering how those challenges can bring us closer with our children, and ourselves.
Hilary: Could a mother come to you after birth and learn the meditation practices that are helpful after birth, called Calm Mothering?
Anna: Absolutely, it’s never too late. Whether your child is two weeks old or twenty, you can learn these practices, enhance your own sense of self, and bond with your child energetically. If a woman is having breastfeeding issues, the Calm Mother breastfeeding practice can be really empowering. Just relaxing your body can help your milk flow. And if that doesn’t happen, you can still “breath-feed” your baby.
The Calm Mothering breastfeeding practice that I teach is called “Breast-Breathing, Breath-Feeding,” and it’s perfect for nourishing yourself and your baby from your heart and from your deep energy center.
Hilary: If you could speak now to mothers who are suffering, if you could reach out and talk to them, what would you like to say?
Anna: The words that come to mind are just be gentle. Be gentle with yourself; be gentle with your child.