I am already looking forward to next time when I return to Elysia in Austria with Angelika and Jaqueline in June 2017 for two doula workshops, I hope you will join us at one or enjoy the Austrian Doula choirs birth and circle songs and sing along with us.
As I arrive in Bali, the change in climate is the first things to touch me, walking out of the airport the warm humid air caresses my skin and the sea of smiles of people waiting to welcome each person to Bali, feels so different already. As we are driving art, statues, and scooters are everywhere. The 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport to the beautiful village of Nyuh Kuning, is like a mental massage, my whole being relaxes, the cultures and pace of Bali begin to allow me to release and reflect on all I am leaving behind and all I hope to welcome and transform as Bali for me is always about transformation.
Arriving the the small, clean, green village of Nyuh Kuning my home in Bali always feels special. Each person welcomes you with a big smile and it’s not forced or fake, the Balinese smile with their heart and it will touch yours. My bed is covered in flowers as this tropical island gives us beauty all around and it’s even captured in the towels folded into a beautiful swan.
Soon the sounds of Bali – the Gamelan begin as it’s approaching Nyepi – the Balinese New Year and preparations are under ways to prepare for Ogoh Ogoh night, where giant statues are paraded thru the streets, the Gamelan band will play and all the evil spirits will be ushered away, it a time to reflect on what you need to release and replace as Nyepi the day following is a day of silent meditation and prayer. I love these traditions and rituals and each year Eat Pray Doula allows you to arrive early or stay late depending on which workshop you will attend to enjoy this colorful, traditional festival and make it your own time for reflection and rest.
I have purchased a sarong, Kebiah and sash as anyone is welcomed into their Hindu temple ceremonies if you wear traditional dress and are not on you menstrual moon and/or grieving. Ceremonies are blessings that include blessing with flowers, rice, incense and water. The Balinese is a culture of acceptance, and any religion or beliefs are welcome. You are invited to pray with them to your Divine and in your way as long as you honor theirs. If you would like to enjoy temple ceremony be sure to bring a t-shirt that covers your shoulders, a light scarf you can tie around your waist and we will be giving you a sarong or you might enjoy shopping at the market in Ubud for your own sarong and if you pick material you can have a kebaih made to fit in just a few hours, something I wear to nice dinners and events at home as they are so beautiful!
I was invited this year to my friend Congtit’s family ceremony to bless their new home and temple. Each family compound has it’s own temple. Each ceremony is started in the family temple and this day we go to their current home to their family temple to gather the spirit of the ancestors who are here and invite them to join us at the new temple. The older women chant for almost an hour as the priest goes into trance with his own chants and ringing of the bell, and different members take turns doing their blessings with flower, incense, water and rice. Although I don’t understand the words, I feel the sacredness and connect with my own ancestors. The women welcome me to sit with them, huddling close and the language of our heart makes me feel completely welcomed.
When this ceremony at the old family temple is over the women gather their baskets of fruit and flowers as offering onto their head to process to the next temple, followed by the village Gamalon and the family. I join them in walking thru the village to the temple of the deceased – the ancetory’s ground for more blessings form the village/family priest. After a shorter time here we process again to the river temple. more blessings and offerings and then onto the families new home. The Gamalon settles in the shade, the local priest blesses the ground and a high priest from a far away village has joined us and ascends to his seat high in the temple to begin his chanting, bell ringing, and prayers that look like a trance. The family and friend gathered begin a celebration, great food for all and soon men dressed in Balinese costumes with traditional masks entertain us, making everyone smile and laugh. this ancient tradition is to bring song, music, dance and happiness to the new home. The village has come out for this day to bless this new home for Congtit’s aunt and uncle.
I was not able to join them the day before but that too had been a full day ceremony with Ganesha to remove any obstacles from the new Temple, and today the second day to bring in all they would like here. Two days of processions, praying at the village and home temples. I think about when we move home, when we have life events, what does our village and family do? How do we honor and celebrate life changes. I am humbled with the connection each person has to not only each other but how the past is honored to move to the present, and the value of joy, happiness, connection and love. My saying we birth the way we live, makes me think we need more rituals in our everyday life, or ways to come together and honor or past, remove our obstacles before we move forward.
I invite you to not only join me, Ibu Robin and Katherine for Eat Pray Doula, but maybe like me to learn about a new culture, to reflect within on what you would like to release and what you would like to bring forward to birth and life and give yourself the gift of nurturing your mind, body and spirit in Bali with us. I hope you will consider enjoying Ogoh Ogoh day and the silence of Nyepi to be a part of an ancient Balinese ceremony and at night on Nyepi when the island is dark, no lights, no car, no planes, make sure to look up at the night sky where you will see more stars than ever in your life, it’s as if you can reach up and touch them. I take time to lay outside and dream.
P.S. Another way to nurture you body and spirt is with Balinese massage. Massages in Bali are incredible and so reasonable – and if you enjoy a head massage and hair washing you must check out Cantika or for a more expensive massage in a magical location visit Taksu Spa. We will arrange massage therapist to visit our villa every day after our Eat Pray Doula workshop so you can book massages by the pool waterfall or in your room.
Join me, Ibu Robin and Ibu Katherine in Bali next year to experience for yourself and see the new Bumi Sehat Birth Center! Birth Doula Workshop and Advanced Birthworker Workshop are both are taking early registration now at www.eatpraydoula.com.
Imagine the sunshine, a hot breeze with a sweet smell brushing your skin, the sounds of the Balinese Gamelan in the distance and tropical trees and sounds of monkeys and frogs providing you a chorus of nature’s’ bounty. Within the vibrant feel of nature you have arrived to a sisterhood, circle of women who share your passion for gentle birth. Far from home, from many different lands and cultures you settle in with them and begin to share your stories. Being so far from home takes you deeper into your story, feeling safe to share your joys as well as your pain and your challenges as this gentle space holds them all, without judgement but with love and connection.
It’s hard to find the words to explain what I feel as one of the teachers or as I like to say facilitators of the Eat Pray Doula – Bali workshops. This was our first advanced birth worker workshop and my wild trip there again reminded me of all the reasons why I love birth. [Tweet “Life (like birth) – is unexpected, and we never know what will be asked of us or how long the journey will be.”] I had planned my normal trip flying from Newark to Japan with a short layover, and then on to Singapore, with a few hours to enjoy the airport in the middle of the night and an early morning flight to Bali – over 30 hours of travel, but predictable. Doing this 4 times before I even knew where I wanted to get sushi in Narida airport. But birth is never predictable and so as I waited on the airplane at Newark for an hour with news our plane had a flat tire, I thought ok a slightly longer labor but all was fine. Oh…we are going to get off as things are going to take longer than expected. Another hour and we boarded again, ok my connection will be tight, no sushi in Japan but it should be fine. Relax. Sitting yet again, NO- we must get off again and move to another plane at another gate. I could feel my heart pick up with worry that I would not make my connections and what would happen? At the new gate I patiently waited and then came the news I had never dreamed of. Your flight is cancelled! We don’t know when you can fly, contact an agent and see what they can do for you. 200 people rushing the desk to book new flights. I sat and decided to call instead of standing and reached an airline agent quickly to learn there was no way to get on my planned flights for days. There must be a way I said. Can you travel another way? I could go to Shanghai and from there to Singapore to Bali. I spent a whole day and no progress at all, the good news I could go home and enjoy a wonderful sushi dinner with my husband Jimi and another night together and then I would do it all again tomorrow.
Landing in Shanghai was new to me. A far away land I had never imagined I would find myself in. The process to switch to Singapore airlines was not easy and I felt nervous that I could not navigate it, would I find my luggage and have time to wait in line to check in and make my gate in time. I stopped to breathe deeply, I calmed myself and proceeded thru. My Singapore flight was delayed an hour, so all the rushing was not needed and I could sit at the gate and relax. I arrived to Singapore a familiar airport, knowing I was close. I would arrive one day later than planned but would still have 36 hours before our Eat Pray Doula workshop would begin to settle in and prepare with Ibu Robin and Ibu Katherine. I found a little airport cabin to rest in, rented by the hour. I had a bed and shower for 4 hours which felt like heaven after 20 hours of travel. Feeling refreshed I headed to my gate, cleared security and we were ready to board. Bali here I come, I was already dreaming of being met at the airport by Pagi or Pastika from Bumi Sehat, how wonderful it would be to see their smiling faces!
The PA system, are we boarding? NO NO NO, they are canceling my flight. Two flights cancelled in the same trip. What? A volcano on the nearby Island of Lombok is erupting and the ash is making it too dangerous to fly. The Depansar airport is closed. The next thing that happened calmed me so much. Instead of how United Airlines had created panic and a chaotic rush to the counter, Singapore said don’t worry. Please stay seated we are going to take care of you! We will call you up by rows and provide you with a taxi to a hotel that we will pay for, all your meals and as soon as the airport opens we will bring you back and get you to Bali. They were calm, they were doulaing us thru the change. I waited patiently received my vouchers, printed hotel name and address and headed out to reclaim my luggage. I knew I could choose to see this as a problem or to find pleasure in this change. I choose pleasure and stopped at a store and asked for their best dark chocolate. I purchased it, opened it and took a bite. I chose pleasure and smiled. This re-framing let me say mother nature has a plan that is greater than me, so let me make the best of it and enjoy it. I am grateful to be safe. I sent messages to the two birth keepers I have come to know in Singapore, Ginny Phang another DONA doula trainer and Red Miller a Midwife and hypnobirthing instructor. Ginny quickly offered her home, to meet for dinner and anything I needed… she too was my doula there for support and Red chimed in too. I was safe!
I arrived to a nice hotel and in the taxi line met Lori and Miriam from Sacred Doula and Sacred Midwife on their way to Bali too for their workshop. We smiled and I found even more comfort finding I had two more companions on this new adventure. By putting us all at the same hotel Singapore airlines put an agent in the lobby to answer our questions and keep us updates on the volcano. They reassured us they would bring us to Bali as soon as they could. The people came together, rather than random passengers on a plane, people were talking, going out to explore Singapore and even look at traveling to other destinations for those who were on holiday and were not committed to Bali. I was thrilled to have another bed and after a nap went downtown to meet Ginny for dinner. What a treat to meet her again!
On the next morning Miriam, Lori and I walked to a local mall and had massages, heavily and painful, yes Pain and Pleasure can happen at the same time! He dug in, working all the knots out of my shoulders from sitting and traveling – it was now Thursday and I had begun my travels on Sunday! We returned to the hotel for updates and they let us know they were providing us another night hotel and would hold a 2PM update meeting once they had news from Bali. We all gathered and the Singapore representatives said we have good news, the winds changed and we can go… be in the lobby with you luggage at 4PM. Yeah! I went to pack and walked into the lobby where representatives organized us on to 3 buses, whisked us to the airport where they had opened many counters just for our flight so they checked us in quickly, thru security and boarding and off to Bali – yes in the air at 6PM. The most efficient – gently, respectful, pleasurable process with smiles and care. When we touched down in Bali the whole plane cheered and clapped. Mother Nature had delayed us, but Singapore Airlines had doulaed us and gave us an opportunity that led to new friendships, time to explore Singapore and Ibu Katherine and Ibu Robin had reorganized the schedule to allow me time to settle before teaching. They created the “Eat Pray Doula ~ Volcano Eruption Schedule : Welcome EPDoulas… The best thing about being BirthKeepers is the fact that we can be and must be flexible. Babies come when they are ready, and apparently so do Volcanoes! Airplanes on the other hand, come when Mother Nature and Father Time make space.”
I had been gently reminded of my own saying “we birth the way we live”! I had traveled 5 days to arrive here, significantly longer than I had “planned”. The process of delays gave me a special dinner with my husband, a chance to land in China a land when I was young I could never have dreamed of going, to enjoy a dinner with Ginny, to meet the Sacred Doulas- Lori and Miriam, to enjoy some awesome dark chocolate and have a painful, pleasurable massage and still arrive in time to begin Day 1 of our workshop. Each of the doulas had a story of arriving in Bali and dancing with the volcano’s energy in some way. These stories lead to many life and birth stories. Sharing a passion for birth each group forms a bond that no words can explain. Nurturing each other, taking much needed time to nurture ourselves, massages, the magic of Bali, the heat, the pool, the water temple, cleansing and blessing. I laughed, cried, learned, stretched and as Jordan so well said was transformed – we each grew or strengthened our wings, recharged, healed, were inspired, and connected. I am returning home ready to go deeper in spreading a message of love, pleasure and possibilities with a larger and ever growing circle of sisters- with overflowing gratitude for the gift of mother nature and father time and for each day we walk together.
Join us in Bali for our next Eat Pray Doula gathering for a life – changing, workshop/vacation of a life-time! Give yourself the gift that will keep on giving for years to come.
(What are you waiting for? It’ s a write off and holidays are coming, this is the perfect holiday gift)
[Tweet “Share your EPD Bali or other adventures and how – Life is like birth”]….Tweet @OrgasmicBirth
by Jordan Christopher
Originally posted Maternal Beginnings
by Debra Pascali-Bonaro LCCE, BDT/PDT (DONA)
[Tweet “A doula is in a unique position to protect, promote, support & advocate for respectful care for all MotherBabies”]
A doula is in a unique position to protect, promote, support and advocate for respectful care for all MotherBabies. Doulas offer one on one care that is often lacking in childbirth around the world. Doulas have a unique viewpoint and have become guardians of respectful birth, both for their clients in the moments of labor and birth, and also as birth advocates, a second role that most doulas take on. With their first-hand look at birth in many settings and with many providers, doulas may have the best vantage point to see the many variations of care that exist in a community and thus advocate for and share with their clients where and with which providers they are likely to receive the most respect, dignity, quality and compassionate care. Read More…
I’ve had such a fantastic time while training doulas in Austria! I’m now at the Midwifery Today Conference in Germany, another inspiring and amazing time!
“Thanks for sharing. I’ve not been comfortable to ask my students about sexual abuse. It’s really the wording that I need to work on and also how to go about helping the couples to heal their trauma before their birth.” – Yen Kong
Penny Simkin joined Debra for the Orgasmic Birth Virtual Conference to discuss “From Trauma to Triumph, Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on the Childbearing Woman” In the video excerpt below, Penny explains how to broach the subject of sexual abuse with expectant mothers. Co-founder of DONA International, Penny Simkin, PT, is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968. She has assisted hundreds of women or couples through childbirth as a doula. To view the full discussion and full conference, please visit http://www.orgasmicbirth.com/orgasmic-birth-virtual-conference/
Receive 50% OFF until December 21st using discount code: Thanks50
This birth story is submitted by Milena Dyankova who shared her personal birth story with us after organizing a screening of Orgasmic Birth in Bulgaria in 2014.
My Birth Journey – to the Bathroom and Back
About a month before my due date I could finally take the long expected leave and finally focus on birth preparation. After a few extremely busy months I wanted to do yoga and other exercises to get tuned to and fit for birth as much as I could for the short period I had. Since this was my second birth I thought I had the knowledge I needed from my previous experience (what I call a mainstream hospital birth). And here I was the second night on my leave browsing through the Internet to find exercises I would like when I came across the idea of gentle birth. From one click to another a whole new world opened to me. I could not go to sleep until the early morning hours soaking information and stories on the idea of out-of-hospital birth. And it clicked with me. Strongly.
My mind brought memories from six years earlier when I had read a story about a homebirth in the Eastern European country we were living in that had stunned me with the beauty, the calmness, the strength I had felt from the woman’s words. Now I was reading similar stories that had only recently taken place in my native Bulgaria. That gave me great courage – I thought if people in Bulgaria that was lagging behind on many areas were already doing it so could I.
The next thing I needed was to equip myself with the right reliable sources of knowledge and support. I didn’t need tons of information; I just needed something reliable and inspiring. And my research led me to Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, a book by Ina May Gaskin and Orgasmic Birth, a film by Debra Pascali-Bonaro. Ina May’s Guide gave to my husband and me a good understanding of birth physiology and the factors that inhibit or stimulate it. It convinced me that my body was perfectly capable of doing what it needed to birth a baby without artificial stimuli (no induction, thank you very much). The Orgasmic Birth film was truly transformative – not only labor and birth were a natural event but it was not meant to be an ordeal, something to put up with to have your baby. On the contrary I saw they were an important journey that could take a woman to a high, even give pleasure, and most of all give her a chance to experience her own power. So I “planned” for an orgasmic birth.
To me it was very important labor to begin when the baby was ready. My first baby was born after induction when two weeks past due date (defined without consideration for the length of my cycle and the conception date that I still remember to this day) I was no longer able to stand up to grandparents’ pressure. And even though I realized how lucky my baby and I had been to have had those two weeks, I was very sensitive to the topic, and it seemed to me the last couple of weeks everyone was calling to ask when I was going to give birth. The daily visits to the doctor’s office were the most troubling. My husband and I had decided we would keep the arrangement with the doctor who was very favorable to women’s active role in labor and birth. Yet, as due date passed he insisted on daily fetal monitoring as this was the protocol. Five days past due date he wanted us to do the monitoring at the hospital and I agreed to a vaginal check. It was rough.
In the late afternoon my palms started to itch and in the evening the mucus plug fell. I thought the reason was the harsh check and felt upset with the doctor for intervening, yet I decided to let this feeling go and enjoy the evening. Around midnight I woke up with quite intolerable itching on the palms and soles that was feeling better by touching cold surface. I found relief placing my hands and feet on different spots of a leather armchair and soon drifted off. In the morning the itching was gone. It was a weird phenomenon that I had not experienced before and I could not find any reasonable explanation.
It was Saturday. The day passed leisurely yet the cold weather prevented us from a much desired walk to refresh my mind so late afternoon we went shopping for the guests we were expecting the following day. Throughout the evening the memory of the previous night was recurring and I appreciated the itching gone so I could get a good sleep. Or so I thought…
At 1:30 AM I woke up with a feeling I had only taken a light nap as I remembered moving my palms and feet looking for a cold place on the bed linen in my sleep. I felt the itching pretty strong so I headed for the leather armchair to find the cure from the previous night. My husband also got up and went to arrange something in the bathroom but I urged him to go back to sleep as he had also stayed awake the night before.
This time the coldness of the leather did not bring the same effect. I also started to feel menstrual cramps and I became quite restless in the armchair. Soon it dawned on me – the time had come. I knew I had hours ahead and it was better to rest and gather energy so I went back to bed. Yet, pretty soon I found myself up again trying to find comfort on the birth ball. It didn’t work either. The bath tub seemed quite alluring at that point and with desperate hope to finally find my place I woke up my husband and asked him to fill it up. As he took to fulfilling my request I sensed the peace of mind one feels when the imminent and long expected is finally happening. Joy was there, too, as I was finally having the baby when he was ready to come. It was March 8th, Mothers’ Day in Bulgaria.
The contractions became more frequent and stronger. I immersed in the water and my whole body relaxed as I sensed this was my place, my zone. Suddenly the light was too much and I asked my husband to dim it. He took a seat next to the tub and held my hand. Every now and then he was handing me a bottle with water. I started to drift away in my own world, my own dimension. I was aware of all that was happening to and around me, yet I was in my own distant space where I could surrender to the sensations and enjoy the deep gratitude for actually experiencing labor in its pure power.
When contractions came my body changed its posture and arched, and I was diving somewhere deep while some strong alt sounds were emerging from within my womb. Later my husband called them moose mooing. The sensations were very strong and although my work with the Sedona Method had clearly shown me that ‘pain’ was only a label we attach to a group of sensations, it was difficult to deal with the ones I was experiencing. I tried the welcoming and allowing techniques that had done a great job for me many times, yet I could not keep my focus on anything. I was riding strong waves and the mental efforts somehow made the pain tougher. Contractions were becoming more and more intense and doubt crept into me “Oh, my Goodness, am I able to do this?”
- I can’t. I cannot do it, – a wail escaped my lips.
- Yes, you can, – a comforting voice came across and when I looked up I met a warming smile.
Around 2:30 AM our daughter appeared in the bathroom, sat down next to the tub and started asking questions. I made an effort to respond, yet speaking was beyond my power. My answer was concise and I left it to her father to explain. However speech was disturbing and soon I asked for quiet. She stayed for a while, then went back to bed.
My husband was providing great support. Every now and then he would hand me over the water bottle reminding me to drink. I would take a couple of sips motivated by discipline rather than thirst. Soon I felt and urge to throw up. As if strictly following “the rules” my body started to cleanse itself. Although I was still in the tub with the original water, I was not feeling cold. After a few efforts my stomach was empty of its content and the urge to throw up disappeared as suddenly as it came.
Some time later I felt my face muscles contracting making my lips form an “O” and I realized this had accompanied orgasms sometimes. A slight regret crept in my mind, and then I smiled. As much as it was possible. Even though I was not having the orgasmic birth in the way I had envisaged it, my body was producing a similar reaction.
Each contraction was making my body arch and bringing some mooing sounds from deep inside. The pauses were short. I felt compelled to get out of the bathtub so I went out, put on a shirt and found my place of comfort on the toilet. My husband sat down on a small chair in front of me and held my hands. That was of great help as if him holding tightly my hands gave me additional strength. I felt his presence so comforting and solid, exactly what I needed to keep my focus on my job knowing there is someone there for me to take care of everything else.
Contractions intensified further and I started having bowel movements – apparently my body needed to cleanse some more. I was looking forward to the “rest and be thankful” phase so that I could take a little break, contractions were becoming stronger and stronger straining my whole body. And while I was thinking I’d finally found a way to ride the waves they started to grow into something different. The end of each contraction turned into a burning sensation that I could bear only screaming. The screams were tearing from my throat and I was thinking about the neighbors (we were living in a 6-storey building and the bathrooms underneath and above us had windows to a common space). Our daughter was sleeping in a distant room and the noise would not reach her. I was screaming at the end of the contractions squeezing my husband’s hands. He kept reminding me to drink yet I was already oblivious to the world around me.
“These are pushes,” a lightning thought cut through my mind. But there was supposed to be a break. “Where is my break?” I grunted in my mind in a miniscule pause between contractions. A few minutes later an impulse made me get up from the toilet and take all-fours position on the bathroom floor. While kneeling down my water broke. My husband asked what was going on and I responded that was it. I felt tired already. Pushes were becoming stronger and stronger and I screamed at the peak. I needed to push myself. The next one I joined and I felt the head moving down. My body seemed to have been stretched to the limit like a fully-bloated balloon.
I reached down to feel for the head yet it seemed my arm was not long enough. My husband realized birth was imminent and prepared himself. The head was slowly making its way downward. Energy surged all over me. Then the little body turned slowly and gently inside without any effort on my side, just like we had seen it on YouTube. I was strongly aware of the sliding inside, I felt as if electricity was going through me – my senses were acutely open and all perceptions came very powerful. Just a few seconds later the little body slipped out right into daddy’s palms. I turned around and sat down to embrace our baby who had been conceived with love and came to this world in an intimate environment where his dad and I were a team, one whole. My husband and I looked into each other’s eyes and I could see the same incredible happiness I felt. When I cuddled the little body the bathroom filled up with love as if coming from an invisible hidden spring. The incredible feeling of my own power and the grand power of Nature were going hand in hand with deep satisfaction. I was in awe with the wonders of Nature that had manifested through my body and I realized there was nothing I could not do. I had women’s power and strength.