Complementary Perinatal Care Series: Calm Birth Meditation
This week in our Complementary Perinatal Care Series, Amy Czadzeck from To The Moon & Back shares with us about her Calm Birth meditation practice in Gloversville, New York. Keep reading to learn about what Calm Birth meditation is and how it may impact your pregnancy and birth experience!
VB: So, what is Calm Birth meditation?
Amy: "Calm Birth Method Meditation offers a selection of meditations for childbirth, pregnancy, and beyond. In a class series or a full day workshop, participants will learn Progressive Relaxation (think nap time), Womb Breathing (think about your beautiful center), and Giving and Receiving meditation (think about relating to the tired mother in the grocery store line and sending her some love).
All three meditation practices can be help support a pregnant person when they have that dip of energy in the day, or when they aren’t sure when the last time they checked in with their tired feet was, or even right before they walk into a busy doctor’s office."
VB: And what are the benefits? Why do people practice?
Amy: "Calm Birth is not a medical program or replacement for childbirth classes. It is an integrative approach that will aid in anyone’s journey of pregnancy and birth.
The physiological and psychological functions of prenatal meditation hold such potential for our modern day busy world. For today, I’ll share just three of the many benefits of prenatal mediation:
1. Reduces prenatal anxiety and stress (Vieten & Astin, 2008)
2. Reduction in cesarean birth and epidural anesthesia (Benson, 1996)
3. Healthier cortisol levels in the baby, lasting at least five months postpartum (Chan et al., 2012)
Research is great, especially when it comes to bringing a child into the world, but the truth is many come to Calm Birth just because they want to feel more present and to let go of facts. Many come to Calm Birth meditation to connect to themselves, to their babies, and/or to their partners. Many are coming to seek stress relief. They often have fear or worry about how birth will go. And also, both the pregnant person and often the partner are holding onto some stress about the future and working out what a new addition means for them, for their work life, and for their other responsibilities, and what ample healing and together time they need and desire. These meditations help many to get clarity, feel more grounded, and connect to what matters most—the now."
VB: When is Calm Birth meditation used?
Amy: "Calm Birth meditation is used in every kind of birth. It can be integrated into any birth one is planning to have or does have.
And also, this is to say, I don’t have judgement of what kind of birth you had, want to have, or do have. It’s a judgement-free zone. I get guidance from evidence-based practices in a community of perinatal field workers. I work very hard to make each class and workshop a safe space for all to come as they are, with the fears and joys they hold and with their individualized needs to be witnessed.
Calm Birth meditation can be started as early in a pregnancy as anyone wishes. I find often around 28–30 weeks that is when many people sign up to do a class/workshop. The class covers when you can practice the meditations through the actual birth. The best part of it is these meditations are meant to be practiced daily through pregnancy and then beyond with Calm Mother meditations."
VB: What about your training, tell us about that!
Amy: "To become a trained Calm Birth meditation facilitator, I didn’t have to go away for 100 days and sit in silence. Phew! I was trained over 3 days with the founder of Calm Birth meditation, Robert Newman, who has long studied and practiced in meditation science. He brought meditation into hospital settings through Medigrace and then with help from perinatal providers created Calm Birth as it is now. The training program is assisted by Co-Director Anna Humphreys, who is a doula and all around powerhouse of a woman.
The training was an opportunity to learn how to be spacious in my body and mind. There was time for self-reflection, practicing how to be a good meditation facilitator, and then just getting comfortable with the knowledge and the meditation pieces.
But my real training has been from over 10 years of mothering. I’ve always believed my kids were my teachers from the start. I’ve strived to be more conscious to help foster their own awareness and light in the world. Sometimes that striving feels heavy but that’s when I just work to let things go and be imperfect. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine in parenthood, and in the dimensions of our journey together, I found such valuable lessons in the moments where I felt disconnected and challenged by the stages of our growth together. Sleepless, tired to the bone, and stressed out calls for me to pull back my ambitions and make a little snuggle nest for me and the kids. And now as they grow and with the state of the world, I sense the need to just breathe and integrate, when I can, a sense of calm and peace into our lives.
Prior to becoming a mother, when I was 19 years old, I attended a mindfulness center. It was profoundly life shifting for me. I went from never hearing anything about presence to sitting quietly for breakfast, focusing on mindfully chewing my food. Every little nugget of spaciousness I’ve learned along the way has filled me up and empowered me in ways that spills over into how I raise my family and live."
VB: What do your workshops look like? What should participants expect?
Amy: "What is so great about Calm Birth meditation method is I can offer it in a variety of options to many people. So whatever your schedule, whatever your distance from my office, whatever your needs, we most likely can work something out.
I offer one full day in person workshop where participants are emerged into a peaceful setting of my office. I offer it every month on a Saturday. Often a partner comes along and it’s a good getaway away from daily life. Sometimes the workshop has a bunch of couples, and the group gets inspired and engaged with each other. I allow a lingering lunch, tea, lots of pillows, and my silly humor.
Another way this can be offered is through classes as a set of four weekly hour-long sessions. I also offer additional classes if someone wants to deepen their practice. I offer these one-on-one or in groups on weeknights. This makes it a bit more personable and slows things down into digestible bites. I’ve also jumped online to do these weekly sessions for folks who live out of the region. It’s great because they get to practice all of this from the comfort of their home."
VB: And how can clients get the most out of your workshops/birth meditation?
Amy: "Calm Birth participants should expect to be invited to truly honor this time in their lives. I like to think of it as “resacralizing” this journey of new beginnings through breath and relaxation. There’s likely not anything else like this to ask you to get present. Through the days of appointments, rushing around to get things ready for baby(ies), in home, or work, and the million other tabs open in our brains; it’s a gift to feel the sensations you are having in your own body, and that special moment of what it feels like to be exactly where you are.
I ask all past participants to share advice for future students of this work. They all say in some shape or form this: 'Open your heart and mind to this experience.'
I think those who go through this experience understand what that means by the end. It’s not necessarily a tangible thing to describe and request of someone right off the bat. But I just like to affirm that it’s true though, someone will get the most out of the meditations NOT by being perfect and doing it everyday. They will receive the value of it through the act of practicing compassion with themselves and others. This is done in two ways, allowing yourself to be imperfect, and being playful and spontaneous with the meditation tools given."
VB: If you could only tell people one thing about this practice, what would it be?
Amy: "If I could tell just one thing about Calm Birth meditation, it’s [that it is] seriously no big deal and also can be a very big deal.
Meditation can actually work for you. It’s not just for “evolved” people who never watch Netflix or have an unstained couch and quieted brains that dance in fields of wildflowers and rivers. It’s especially for us folks with minds [that are] all cluttered. In the meantime of practicing it, you will actually learn how to apply something called awareness to your whole life.
If I can do it, you can do it. It’s a beautiful thing, not only for you, but for your growing family."
VB: Anything else you would like people to know?
Amy: "I just want to share how much I adore those I connect with in this work. I stay connected even after the time of the pregnancy, and many write to me to share their lovely feedback. A dear new [mother] shared this after the classes:
'Take one step towards her intention of creating trust, offering you self-empowerment towards your goals in pregnancy & beyond as a mother-to-be and know that Amy takes ten steps towards you! The entire journey was so enriching, loving, empowering, peace and confidence giving. I am grateful beyond words can ever express to her for offering this service to humanity & all those who are able to find their way to her. A person will feel held by an unconditional cocoon of love and ease.' ~Jwalitha
This means to the world to me. I love being a still point on the way to conscious growing families."
From To The Moon & Back: "Amy became certified in Calm Birth®️ Mediation with Robert Newman and Anna Humphreys in 2017 after deepening her meditation practice, letting go of perfection, and making an intention to parent more consciously with her own children. All of her teachers come into her work and she is grateful to share them. Amy's biggest teachers are her two children, who's coming into this world surely inspired the creation of To the Moon and Back." To learn more about Amy and her practice, visit her website here. To read more of what she has written regarding Calm Birth, head over to their blog!
Have you utilized meditation during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum? We would love to hear your story! Contact us to share how meditation complemented your perinatal care. And stay tuned for more discussion of complementary/alternative perinatal care available right here in the Capital Region!
In the meantime, check out the Calm Birth Meditation App here!
This blog post is the second in a series on complementary perinatal care, where we will cover a variety of practices that may be utilized during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum as methods for addressing the changes you and your body undergo during this transitional period of life. We are not doctors and, as always, recommend consulting with your provider prior to beginning additional or alternative treatments.