Tag: prenatal

Matrescence: Coaching During a Time of Life Transition

What is Matrescence?

(pronounced ma tres ens).

The psychological birth of a mother, similar to adolescence, involving hormonal and identity shifting. According to Dr. Alexandra Sacks, matrescence and adolescence are:

  • Hormone dominant
  • Body altering
  • Irreversible
  • A rite-of-passage
  • Confidence-challenging
  • Awkward

Throughout this profound identity transition, an expectant individual undergoes an average of about 13 doctors’ appointments during pregnancy, 3 urine tests, 4-5 blood tests, 4 ultrasound tests, 2-3 vaginal exams/swabs, and 2 monitor exams. That is if they are healthy, give birth before or on their EDD, and do not need further diagnostic or screening exams. Then, they will go through the childbirth experience – an experience in which the transparent fabric of one’s routine is disturbed by pain, fear of death, and temporary loss of control as their body expel a new human being while they are under the care of medical caregivers- most of them practice from an “expert” position – an authoritative one. This abundance of encounters with medical maternal healthcare providers amplifies the neglect of expectant individuals’ emotional state and mindset during this profound transformation. Not even one behavioral assessment is routinely recommended for this individual. Instead of focusing on individuals’ well-being and mental health as they transition to parenthood and prepare for the profound transformation of childbirth, maternal caregivers and researchers tend to focus on how the baby is doing.

Not even one behavioral assessment is routinely recommended for individuals going through the identity transition of Matrescence

The acclaimed goal of the excessive prenatal testing mentioned above is to provide parents-to-be with information about their health and their babies’. It comes with no acknowledgment of the potential mental impact of undergoing so many doctor appointments, screening routines, and diagnostic exams – the potential increase in individuals’ anxiety levels. However, Descriptive statistics indicate that almost 60% of pregnant patients feel anxious mostly because of the fear of receiving bad news

Putting aside the fear triggered by these many prenatal testings and doctors’ appointments, it is hard to understand how negligent the modern maternal healthcare system is to the emotional and mental states of those who go through the transformation of pregnancy and birth. Some researchers have tried to call attention to this social failure. 

Women are Calling Attention to the Becoming of a Mother

Since the mid-70s, reachers have been calling attention to the becoming of a mother. One of them is anthropologist Dana Raphae, who coined the term Matrescence. More recently, Dr. Alexandra Sacks, a reproductive psychiatrist, has centered her work around making matrescence a well-known word as adolescence. According to Sacks, both Matrescence and Adolescence are hormone dominant, body-altering, irreversible, a rite-of-passage, confidence- challenging, and awkward. Additionally, becoming a mother changes our social status.  

Women have not only studied the transformation but also have written poetry about it.  Sophia Stid is a Californian poet who wrote a poem called “Matrescece’, describing the experience of a modern woman while becoming a mother:

Become a mother, become room, become food,
become miracle. The heart of each devours

the other’s heart. Hurry – become faster, Barely
made myself, I knew what they said meant 

my body was a door, made for someone else
to come through. Become sacrament. 

The commandments I kept, the ones
I couldn’t keep – all practice before

this one. Become sacrosanct. In birth, the pain
is not like other pain. In birth the pain is purpose-

ful and anticipatory. Anticipate. Become vanishing
act. Become numb, shaved, cut, split, crazy with pain-

become  bare beneath the wide washed
lights of medicine and angels – become everything

and so nothing, and no one, but a mother, a
miracle room, a heart in someone else’s mouth

Need a moment to catch your breath? I know that I needed to. Reading this poem shook me to the core. I have worked with expectant individuals and families for 22 years. However, this poem has allowed me to clearly see the importance of addressing our clients’ mindsets as they go through the identity transitions of pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent.

Birth support figures who understand the nature and challenges of matrescence can become excellent birth support coaches!

I’m not suggesting that every expectant individual will engage in therapy. If we adopt Dr. Sacks’ comparison between matrescence and adolescence, we can agree that only some adolescents need therapy to successfully cope with this challenging period in their lives. Most of them are competent and functional. The missing link is coaching. Sports coaches and coaches who lead other types of school clubs become teenagers’ leaders for the transition into adulthood. It’s rarely their parents or teachers. There are so many books and movies with this theme. 

Can expectant individuals use coaching?

Yes, It’s the same as with adolescents. Birth support pros, who understand the nature and challenges of the life transition of Matrescence can become excellent coaches. Birth support coaches integrate transformational birth support coaching strategies to empower and lead throughout the transformation of pregnancy and birth. 

Coaching can help a pregnant individual to navigate throughout these transitions: to cope with the particular emotional, hormonal, physiological, and social changes that the transition entails for the unique individual, and the unique challenges that emerge for each one. Coaches can tap into expectant individuals’ mindsets and help them adopt new perspectives, which will in turn generate better mindsets. Clarity of one’s experience and vision for themselves as they go throughout the transition, higher levels of confidence, commitment to their positive and healthy transition, strong convictions about what they want and need, will all lead expectant individuals to take charge of their transformation. These states can’t be achieved by education – we don’t expect adolescents to read about the process of adulting in order to go with grace through it. We coach them! Let’s provide this complimentary and necessary care that the medical system neglect to provide, and coach expectant individuals and their family members. 

 

Revamping Labor Support with Transformational Coaching

You can learn to empower expectant individuals to perceive their own mindset and desires as the most valuable ‘data’ their providers should focus on, by doing so yourself! Learn to provide transformational birth support coaching, and you’ll get to see them conducting themselves brilliantly and with confidence throughout their birth experience, and celebrate themselves.

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Is COVID-19 Doulas’ Opportunity to Achieve Work-Life Balance?

Is COVID-19 Doulas' Opportunity to Achieve Work-Life Balance featured image

Some of the most heartbreaking news that doulas received along with the outbreak of COVID-19 was that we are banned from hospitals. Many of us were already committed to couples and families that we have come to love and care for, and with the increased level of uncertainty and fear, we knew that our clients needed us even more. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to increase, it becomes clear that this crisis might last as long as a year or even more, raising a growing concern about doulas’ source of income. As upsetting and tormenting as this ban might be, the current crisis bears an opportunity; an opportunity to achieve work-life balance.

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How to Provide Hands-Off Labor Support During a Time of Social Distancing?

In light of the current social distancing imposed on us due to COVID-19, Birth Coach Method is giving away free access to lesson #4 of the Birth Support Coaching Course-‘Prenatal Coaching’! We hope that it will help you as you keep providing valuable and necessary support for expectant individuals using online communication platforms (Facetime, Zoom, etc.) 

Birth workers are mastering strategies that relieve fear and doubt!

Our lives have been changing rapidly lately. In the past few weeks, the whole world has been reacting to COVID-19 with our fight-or-flight (FOF) response. Being alert and living every day on our survival mechanism might be as dangerous as the virus itself, if not more dangerous. We, birth workers, are experts in preventing or reversing the FOF response that leads to labor arrest. We are experts in managing the fear of pain and of what’s unpredictable or unknown. Psychotherapists might help their patients cope with anxiety and fear in a process that lasts weeks, months or years. However, we, birth workers, are first responders specializing in saving people from fear and doubt.    

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How Can a Doula Make a Difference throughout Another Doula’s Birth Journey?

I am called to support my colleague and friend. How do I step up for her and make a difference?

I have been practicing as a doula for almost three years. I’ve also certified in the Birth Coach Method as a birth support coach and am extremely grateful for the training I received under Neri Choma. I love this role of supporting families. My main goal is for them to feel supported and loved as they welcome their baby to the world. I was a teacher for over ten years prior to launching my doula career, so planning and organizing was a big part of what I did. I like structure. As a doula, I try to structure my prenatal sessions. It helps me get to know the needs and goals of my clients in a systematic way and to understand how to support them and meet them where they are at. As part of my service, I also fill in any educational gaps as needed. I want to help them understand their options.

But what happens when I have a client who is a doula? How do I inform her? Do I just offer labor support and skip all my sessions with her? I usually offer each client three to four sessions. This client didn’t need to practice the tools of labor support with me since she is a trained doula and prenatal yoga instructor. She also had taken a childbirth class with her partner. So I felt like the bulk of what I usually offer my clients was off the table.

Now what?

I needed to go beyond informing and all the way to coaching.

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Transformational Birth Support Coach vs. Doula

In 2005, while I was trained as a transformational life coach (see final subsection below), it became clear to me that prenatal coaching has got to be the foundation of successful leadership in the field of birth support.  I am certain that the coaching principles and strategies elevate birth givers’ ability to cope and conduct themselves throughout the journey of pregnancy and birth, and elicit birth givers’ accountability to their desired experience, and as a result of those will increase their satisfaction levels with the whole journey. And so, immediately after graduating, I began integrating coaching strategies into the field of birth support. About a decade after implementing coaching into my birth support practice, I felt ready to publish this method in my book The Art of Coaching for Childbirth.

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Who is the Birth Expert Here?

Does an ‘Expert Position’ serve professionals in the field of birth support? 

Do you consider yourself an expert in ‘how to give birth’? If you are a childbirth educator, a birth doula, a midwife or a labor and delivery medical staff member, I’m almost certain that there is a confident voice inside your head saying, “Yes, I know all about giving birth, it’s my profession and what I do for a living”. I believe that since the seventies, with the beginning of birth activism, birth givers have been torn between two types of “experts” – “medical experts” and “natural birth experts.
Maybe it’s time to rethink our position: Can anyone be an expert and say how another person should give birth?

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Who is Accountable for Your Client’s Positive Birth Experience?

Is your birth client as accountable as you are for her birth process?

A couple of days ago I had a beautiful mentoring session with two local doulas; we will call them Iris and Lily.  We were going over some challenging cases they experienced recently and exploring how the Birth Coach Method’s strategies and tools help.  Pretty early in our discussion, I learned that their ‘typical birth clients’ represent some degree of polarity: Iris works only with clients who are strongly committed to an unmedicated birth.  She feels that potential clients who are “willing to try [birthing] with no epidural but leave themselves open to the option of taking it” are not a good match for her.  Lily said that her clients are hiring her in order to “Check the box” of doula services; meaning that they read the statistics showing doulas reduce cesarean rates and they are hiring her to avoid a cesarean.  

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The Art of Coaching for Childbirth -New Printed Guide

You wished for a guide like this one, right?  

Scroll down to read the reviews  

The Art of Coaching for Childbirth is a practical guide inspiring every professional in the field of birth support to integrate the coaching principles, strategies, and relationships into their practice. From one blog post to another, and throughout my webinars, the coaching method has become a paradigm shift in the field of childbirth support. It has drastically changed the conversation from teaching about childbirth to individually coaching birth givers toward optimally performing throughout their journey of pregnancy and childbirth. Birth Coach Method has inspired birth doulas to shift from telling clients what they think is the best experience to asking questions, listening and exploring their belief system about childbirth, about themselves and their bodies, their strength and more.

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