Creating a birth space
A ‘pregnant pause’ is a breath held in a story, a moment’s stillness where we linger between what has been told and what is yet to be told. A ‘birth pause’ then might be thought of as a breath at the moment of birth: a place to linger, suspended briefly between what has just happened – the mighty work of birth, and what is to come – & the unfolding of the new human life that has been placed in your care.” – Mary Esther Malloy
When I first came across the article written by Mary Esther Malloy, a midwife in America, it was definitely one of those BOOM kind of moments. She talks about the birth pause as reclaiming the moment of birth for the mother, asking us to slow this transition down and allow the mother to set the pace of when she meets her baby for the first time.
What is a birth pause?
The premise of the birth pause is to ask that the midwife or caregiver should guide the baby to the place of birth, be that on the bed, held in the water, or to a soft pad or blanket on the on the floor. This then allows for the mother to take a breathe, to turn to meet her baby in her own time. She can look at her baby, see the whole of her baby the baby she has just birthed. She can speak to her, say “hello, I’m your mum!”. She can touch her, reach out to her and embrace her, only when she is ready to do so. This pause creates space for the woman to acknowledge the effort and strength she has used in the birth, to find a comfortable position for herself, and to really be in the moment when she first casts her eyes upon the child she has carried inside her for so many months.
We talk about the benefits of skin to skin contact between the mother and the baby, such an important step in the transition for both as the skin contact directs a release of oxytocin in the mother, which then stimulates her milk to start to flow and helps her uterus to contract. Skin contact doesn’t need to be the immediate moment after birth however. Very often the immediacy of placing the newborn baby upon the mothers chest can be quite an overwhelming feeling for the woman, who may still be within her birth bubble and not entirely in the room! I can remember my son being placed on my chest, I looked down to see an eye, a bit of a hand and a chubby cheek, it was perhaps an hour or more until I was able to take in the whole of him, the child I had birthed, my son.
Birth pause and hypnobirthing
To me the concept of the birth pause is such an extension of the HypnoBirthing philosophy that I teach. Throughout the birth journey we look to slow down the process, to ask for patience from the care providers and that they listen to mum & dad’s preferences. We advocate for the mother to trust and follow her instincts in her birth, that birth is her journey and not something to be managed or done to her by others. Imagine how empowering it might be to gaze at your newborn child in front of you, to take a moment to just drink them in and welcome them to the world!
If you feel this might be something you would like to experience in your birth, you can write this wish into your birth preferences, talk about it with your midwifes before birth and be sure that your birth partner runs through this with the midwive team on the day so that you can make this moment happen for yourself.
I would highly recommend reading the original articles by Mary Esther Malloy, it’s beautifully written and very enlightening. I hope this helps you to think about the options for your own birth and making your birth journey your own.
Emma is a hypnobirthing teacher in Surrey. To book an appointment or course with her, visit her profile below.