DIY Birthing Workshop

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… 
  • IMG_6321
  • 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.IMG_6250

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.


You got the love

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?

Your space

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

Previous CWB sessions

Creating Wellbeing sessions have been running since August 2012. Here’s a snap shot of what’s been happening:

August 2012: The first CWB at The Create Place. We did tin-can candle-holder making, sock-monkey sewing, Zen brushwork, 3-minute breathing space meditation and massage.
Zen brushwork

September 2012: We planted the seeds of love, and let it Bloom in the natural way…
“I would describe today as calming and colourful. I really enjoyed the creative focus and meeting lots of different people”

We were joined by Sophie, from France, her husband Jude, from India and their son Surya. Creating Wellbeing’s Katie invited them to the session after a friendship had formed 2 years ago in their shop in Kerala, India. Sophie shared with the group how their unique charitable project started. The gist: “With love, and from the heart”. There were gasps, tears, questions and silence while they spoke. If you want to categorise it, their approach to life could be seen as similar to Mindfulness; the principle is living in the present moment. Whether you are experiencing pain or sadness, pleasure or glee; wellbeing comes from living each experience fully in that moment, with no worries about the next or reflection on the last.

Everyone at the session listened to Jude and Sophie with intent and were touched by what they heard. Sophie guided us to make a flower broach and Jude led a meditation. People shared and listened whilst crafting, drinking tea and eating banana bread (a wonderful creation made by one of the group). Discussions about our wellbeing came as naturally as moments of silence.


October 2012: Helping me, helping you
Normally we are joined by a facilitator who guides discussions as they arise naturally. This week we guided each other; using tools we’ve picked up through our own experiences.

We made letters to spell ‘Creating wellbeing’, we talked about why we had come, we shared experiences and books we find useful, some people tried out massage and reiki, we spent some time being mindful and ate beautifully created blueberry muffins.

cwb 3

November 2012: “Oh, how we laughed…”
This week we kicked off by making a group agreement. Among other things we felt were important to keeping Creating Wellbeing a safe space, we agreed to listen openly to each other without judgement.

We learnt to make textile coasters under the expert guidance of Jeanie B. While we were crafting we played at being celebrities and asked each other questions from The Guardian Q&A. People shared what their super-power would be, who they would invite to a dream dinner party and what their happiest moments were.

After testing our coasters our with Hot Chocolates, tea and cakes we participated in a laughter yoga workshop. From mixing laughter milkshakes to giving directions in jibberish, Sarah-Jane of In Yoga Light had us ‘Ha ha ha’ing and ‘he he he’ing all over The Create Place. We learnt the science behind laughter and how it can be good for the body, mind and soul.

laughter yoga

December 2012: Creating Wellbeing Birmingham style
A crisp, bright December day and the first Creating Well-being in the beautiful setting of Little Heath Barn.
I have wanted to put a CWB session on in my home-town since the idea was born. I was joined by family and friends helping out in all aspects. My mom doing massage, dad doing mindfulness, sister’s partner leading some sketching, friends leading yoga, screen printing and guided psychological discussions.

screen print

January 2013: Create 2013 the way you want with Zeenat
January’s special workshop was led by Zeenat of Embrace coaching.
We kicked off with a relaxing meditation; blowing our thoughts into balloons and leaving our troubles at the door.
Everyone listened and encouraged each other as Zeenat helped us articulate our true desires.


February 2013: Catching dreams with Waterline Workshops
In essence this was a fantastic ‘two-for one’ afternoon. The Workshop explored what wishes and dreams we had for ourselves by incorporating a writing exercise done in the first half of the session into a crafted dream catcher created in the latter half of the session.

dream catcher

March 2013: Colourful creations with Mimi
Mimi explained that each chakra (energy point) has a colour. There were swirls of paint relating to each chakra colour along the roll of paper.
Then got our hands, sponges, brushes, pens and moved the colours around the paper to our hearts content. Mimi answered questions about colours and chakras throughout the session and before we knew it the whole table was covered in colour.


colour roll