Being pregnant in Melbourne, you’re not short of birthing workshops to support you through your birth preparation. However, they’re not cheap and they’re aimed at people pregnant with one baby, hoping for ‘normal’ birth experiences. We’re on a bit of a budget, expecting twins and have been repeatedly told by that this will be a ‘medicalised’ birth, with all the interventions you can think of and a high chance of cesarean.
I was still yearning for some time with my partner to prepare, connect, meditate, share our fears and make some birth art inspired by the few birthing books which have resonated. So last weekend, we enjoyed our own agenda and timings, in our homely venue (and with our own catering!)
I’m sharing our process here, so that you can create your own birthing workshop if you want to. I do believe those run professionally are invaluable, but last weekend showed that it is possible to Do It Yourself.
How to… Create a DIY Birthing Workshop
1. Setting the scene
Diarise it: We set aside a Saturday in our diaries in advance. We treated it like we were attending a ‘real’ event, so noone could cancel or double book.
Getting on the same page: The night before, we discussed our aims for the day. This was integral, to be aware of each others expectations. For example, he wanted to start by going for brunch, I wanted to end by going for dinner; I wanted strict timings, he wanted activities to be as long or short as needed. I had read a few books and spoken to a few people about workshops they’d attended, so I had a million suggestions for activities. It was good to narrow these down into ones that resonated for both of us, and ones that met our aims.
Our shared aim was: To confirm birth plan, discuss fears and gather tools for our Birthing Toolbox
Prep work: We individually brainstormed fears as they entered our head in the 24 hours previous and brought these with us.
2. The programme
- Brunch in a cafe nearby
- Acceptance meditation: Discuss what came up for us in the meditation, adding any tools, reminders or affirmations to our toolbox
- Birth art: from Birthing from Within (Pam England)
- Fears: Share, discuss. We went through each fear explaining its origin, how likely we think it is to actually happen and what we would do if it happened.
- Break: walk in the sun, purchase afternoon snack
- Lunch: Leftovers at home
- Pain meditation: From Mind the Bump app
- Birth Plan: We followed a template and filled it in separately on white boards, then came together to discuss and finalise
- Stressful situations: Inspired by Wellness Plans we do in my mental health job, we divided a page into 3 columns
- You know I’m getting stressed when…
- When I’m stressed, it helps to…
- When I’m stressed, I like to hear…
- This has become a reference point for us to use in those anticipated stressful times ahead (he even got it out the next day when I was stressed and said ‘I’ll cook!’).
- Confirm Tools for Toolbox: Affirmations, meditations, reminder points- add to birth plan
- Swim: We’re lucky enough to have a pool in our apartment block!
- Dinner: At a new restaurant down the road using a voucher we’d been kindly gifted, followed by a non-birth related film and ice cream on the sofa.
3. The result
How I felt: Heard, connected, at peace, reassured, ready(!).
How he felt: “Together, calm, ready.”
And these feelings have remained since. Of course it doesn’t mean the fears don’t exist or the toolbox is shut not to be revisited until ‘D* day’, it’s an ongoing process. (D* for Delivery)
If you’d like to create your own birth workshop, keep asking yourselves what’s important for you to cover. Our programme came from what we as individuals wanted to explore, in ways that resonate for us (meditation, art, food!). Yours might look very different depending on your needs and exploration preferences.
It’s been a while since I last updated this website and I feel compelled to write why. Whilst writing this, I wondered whether I was making an excuse for the lack of recent blog posts, or, an explanation of future down-time. Either way, I’d like to share why it has been, and might continue to be, a little quiet on here:
I have been creating space.
Creating Wellbeing has always been about creating space. Firstly, I was driven to create a space for people to share their wellbeing stories, journeys and tools; a space I felt was so lacking in my own recovery journey. But in creating a space for others, whilst working full-time, I made no space for me. I was exhausted.
Arriving in Melbourne I knew I needed to a different tack: I was determined to turn it into my full-time job. Despite meeting all the right people, doing extensive research to conclude Melbourne is perfect for what I was offering – I kept putting it off. Blogging, flogging, pitching and furiously networking had become activities that made my heart sink rather than sing. I was exhausted at the thought.
So I reluctantly buried the 500 newly printed CWB business cards, paused the blog and found myself a job. Whilst I feel I have landed the mental health job of my dreams, I have to look deeply at my own recovery to support others with theirs. I am forced to create space for my own healing, and this is what I’ve been doing.
I began by creating space in my calendar, then environment and eventually, my mind.
It wasn’t easy at first, and a part of me still felt I’d deserted my Creating Wellbeing dream. Now I’ve come to realise that Creating Wellbeing is me, so I have pursue what Creating Wellbeing for me. Recently, it’s looked liked this:
- I say No to some social engagements
- I say Yes to spontaneous suggestions
- I turn my phone off
- I walk along the sand barefoot
- I feel my body supported by the salt of the ocean
- Inspired by Naomi Liddell I now block out Wednesday evenings for #MidweekMeTim
- I meditate with the help of Headspace Ap
- I plan little at weekends and spend lots of quality time with my partne
- I stretch if it feels good, at home or at a local yoga studio, always practicing with Ahymsa (non-violence to body and mind)
- I cycle as slow as I can back from work, watching the water move on the Yarra
- I read books from the library
- I go to the movies
- I make simple cushion covers, rejoicing in the history and colour of the fabrics
- I put my face in the sun
- I look at nature blossom and change in the Botanic Gardens
So if this is what Creating Wellbeing is for me, what does Creating Wellbeing mean for the wider community for which it was originally intended? Well, I have faith this will evolve naturally, and I think it’s already started to. Mid-last year, very organically, a small Creating Wellbeing Melbourne group formed. I kept meeting people who passionately promote wellbeing and creativity in the community but needed a space to concentrate on their own creativity and wellbeing. A small group of us share the creation of that space and meet on a bi-monthly basis at one of our homes. It truly is co-created, with each of us taking a turn to organise and facilitate a session. And it is the opposite of exhausting. It’s exhilarating.
What’s Creating Wellbeing for you? The Creating Wellbeing FaceBook Group is also a space for you, me and the wider world to share thoughts and ideas and attend events together. And whilst blogging still doesn’t come naturally to me, I enjoy posting about #CreatingWellbeing to instagram. I hope to see you there.
I’ve always struggled with decisions, but recently, my indecisiveness took on a new challenge when I had to decide between the two loves of my life: my partner and my project.
My partner, Dan, was recently relocated to Melbourne on a 2-year contract and I couldn’t decide whether to join him or stay in the UK to pursue Creating Wellbeing. I was also worried that either decision would take me away from my connection with India.
I sought advice from friends, family, CWB colleagues and even a life coach; all listened openly. Most reassured me that I would know what to do as soon as I went on my planned two-week holiday to visit Dan in-situ. Arriving in the sunny, cosmopolitan city in winter, greeted by the love of my life, I was still crippled by indecision. I spent a lot of the time thinking and talking The Decision to death.
It wasn’t until the last day when I went to a mediation class that I stopped thinking and started feeling. At the end of this meditation we all picked a card from a pack of words and mine, phenomenally, was ‘Wellness (or for me, Wellbeing) : a feeling or state of mind which emanates outwards like love. In fact, Wellness is love.’
I realised I wasn’t actually faced with a dichotomous decision at all. My partner and my project are not mutually exclusive; Dan is Love and Love is (creating) Wellbeing. Personal relationships and wellbeing are pivotal to the success of any project. I have been so driven by my belief that CWB is what the UK needs to respond to the mental health of the nation that I have been ignoring my own heart, often to the detriment of my own wellbeing. If it is a dichotomous decision – then I can have both my relationship and my project!
As soon as I realised this, I acknowledged some incredible leads that had been emerging in Melbourne. From all the thinking and talking about The Decision I’d been blind to the potential venues I’d been visiting, the similar projects I’d come across, all the people offering to help set CWB up if I do decide to go there.
Photos: A meditation room off the busiest street in Melbourne and a craft class I stumbled across.
And as for the irresistible India – I hope to visit before I leave for Aus’ and maintain my relationship at distance, with my heart (and the internet).
Through this experience, I’ve discovered that any decision made with love can only be met with love. Quite phenomenally, a Creating Wellbeing UK committee has naturally formed with people committed to continuing the project while I’m in Australia for a few years. I look forward to seeing how it evolves with the hearts and minds of these creative, intelligent and loving people.
I’ve also coincidentally met someone working for a large happiness organisation in the UK who is also moving to Melbourne to be with their partner who wants to set up something similar over there.
The world of wellbeing is a small place full of love, if you stop and allow yourself to feel it.
Photos: More wellbeing ‘signs’ chalked up around Melbs; my creation at the craft class.
My friend B is getting married this year.
Knowing how committed she and her fiancé already were to each other, I asked her why they felt the need to celebrate it in this traditional way. ‘Because I love Love,’ She said.
Over the years, I’ve become more bemused by the celebrations of marriage. I’ve observed it to be a lot of work and money for a very short-lived experience. Sometimes not even creating any form of wellbeing for the loving couple involved. I’d heard of post-wedding breakdowns when the bride feels bereft of organising the big day.
However, B’s hen-party certainly challenged these stereotypes. Something happened in that cottage in Kent when 40 women got together to celebrate B’s Love. I learnt how strong and powerful this Love thing is, and why you’d want to celebrate it with all your friends and family.
B’s bridesmaid Mimi is a creative and holistic practitioner, running meditation and visualisation workshops for cage fighters, rugby teams and Creating Wellbeing.
Amongst the usual hen-do activities, these 40 women branching three generations sat for two hours painting hearts.
There was a noticeably calm and positive energy in the house at this time. People were sharing how they hadn’t painted for years; how much they enjoyed the feel of the brush against the paper; how they were feeling so relaxed…
The process was fantastic, and you could see each heart was made with Love. Love for B, for her relationship, for ourselves and each other.
But when Mimi showed us what our work was going towards making a bigger heart on a large canvas, there was so much love in the room!
Basking in the positivity, happiness and wellbeing that was created by this activity and whole weekend I found myself agreeing with B; Why not, love Love?
Creating Wellbeing is not just about sessions. This site is a place for people to share what they do to promote well-being. Here’s a snapshot of shares from the previous website:
Anonymous and Miscellaneous
“Today I walked into a lunchtime organ recital at a church in Bristol. The sound was so incredible it put my thoughts to shame and they shut up for 10 whole minutes. Bliss.”
“Yesterday I put my bicycle saddle at a slightly different height to usual. I saw the world from a whole new perspective. And I could still touch the pedals!”
Christmas Curry Challenge (Anon)
I could have spent the weekend crafting. I could have spent the weekend meditating. I could have spent the weekend deciding… It turns out I was to spend it facing up to the biggest bee in my wellbeing bonnet, when on Friday night I received an SMS from Red Letter Days :
‘Enjoy your Indian Cookery Course tomorrow!’
A Christmas present from my Dad which I had forgotten was booked. Thanks Dad! Thank you for many reasons.
What’s your food heaven and food hell? Simply cooking anything is my kitchen nightmare. Why? Because I am in recovery from an eating disorder; which makes cooking and public eating somewhat of a challenge.
How and when this illness developed is subject of expensive and potentially unhelpful therapy sessions. All you need to know here is that it is still hanging around. A bit like an annoying fly in your room on a hot summer’s night. You try to sleep ignoring it. You can’t. You get up to swot it. A sweaty fight later you think it’s gone. You settle back down to sleep. Peace at last. Until you hear the faint buzzing again. Ignore it, fight it, short-lived peace and then acceptance (hopefully).
I was in an ‘ignore it’ phase until I got that message. It was time to fight it.
And do you know what? It wasn’t so bad after all! The world didn’t end when I sautéed some onions and I learnt to make a pretty good curry. I even held (and enjoyed) a good conversation over dinner with strangers. Whilst meditating and crafting could have nourished my mind and soul; before all that, what I actually needed was to nourish my body.
“A little goes a long way,” Asta shares…
I have been making these owl cushions as presents. Sewing makes me relaxed and I love giving hand made presents; a little goes a long way. People appreciate hand made gifts and I feel proud when I give the finished product 🙂
Out of my head (Jeanie B)
have a vast array of projects going on – small DIY jobs, larger escapades that will bring in buckets of cash, beautiful sewing and embroidery one offs that people will swoon over, oh and a pile of Xmas stock to sell at up coming fairs – all in my head.
My head is so stuffed full of projects yet I find it hard to engage with other people’s crafting ideas without uploading them to my mental‘to do list’ adding to the crush. And the guilt – I’ve bought all the materials, why don’t I get going?
What might it be like to download these creative ventures into existence? It might ease the (very real) tension I get in my head, tension that can lead to duvet days and the sense of being overwhelmed. It takes just in one action to begin the momentum …
So step one – I emptied the Lloyd Loom chest I bought at a vintage fair months ago and took it into the garden, it’s a sunny day, birds are tweeting I’m feeling good.
I opened the tin of pink paint I borrowed from a friend weeks ago for this very project and began the transformation of the decidedly shitty brown bathroom chest into the flaming pink flamingo object it has always been in my head.
The chest is in the garden, first coat drying as I write this post which is the domino consequence of emptying and painting the trunk –because writing this post is another thing that’s been rattling around my head since I met Katie for coffee a couple of weeks ago.
Moving into action often results in more action and as a consequence creates good feelings. So as an introduction to my connecting with Creating Wellbeing, I’ve explored this idea on my blog Make It Up http://tinyurl.com/dyu2vuq