Attuning to Natural Cycles to Thrive in Life and Birth | Ashley Aitken

All of life pulses with natural cycles and rhythms. The plant cycle, solar and lunar, seasons, even animal migration are based on a rotation. Nature thrives because it embraces the processes of life, death and rebirth. Our bodies are no different and we can attune them to a natural cycle for birth.

We are fluid organisms, made up of 45-75 percent water. Just as the moon affects the tides, it affects the water in our bodies, which is filled with hormones that travel through us. It makes sense that our hormonal flow would also be affected by phases of the moon, along with our mood, energy levels, menstrual cycle, and the development of an embryo in the waters of our wombs.

All cycles begin with nothing, darkness - a sacred pause - where creations are birthed and built over time, unfolding into the fullness of their expression, until they die back into nothing.

We live in a society where constant busy-ness and productivity is valued and normalized. We’ve learned to avoid, distract from, and fill the quiet moments, often because of a fear of facing darkness, feelings of inadequacy, and deeper than that, a fear of death.

In Earth-based cultures and feminine teachings the pause is honoured – vulnerability and surrender are acknowledged as qualities of feminine power and strength. This is especially true in birth, where people are given space and time to listen to their body’s impulses and allow the process to unfold naturally. Not only that, the moments, days, weeks and months after birth, a new mother is encouraged to rest and heal, and is thoroughly “mothered” in order to avoid ill health later in life.

In Bermuda, people are often pushed to birth on a schedule in the industrialized model of care.  Obstetricians encourage planned inductions, forced pushing, vacuum or forceps deliveries and unnecessary cesareans. At more than a 50% cesarean rate, this is substantially higher than the 10-15% that is recommended not to be surpassed by WHO. This recommendation is made to reduce short and long-term risks to the lives and wellbeing of mothers and babies. In addition, new parents are expected by society to “be strong” and get back to work as soon as possible after birth. Not long ago it was enslaved people who were forced back into the fields right after giving birth without a chance to recover. This narrative remains and is now a collective one, making it a challenge for all to allow natural processes, rest and healing to happen.

These limiting collective beliefs and systems will take time to change. In the meantime, we can create a more sustainable environment for ourselves to thrive in life, and in our wombs, by attuning to the wisdom inherent in cycles, such as the phases of the moon or our menstrual cycle. We can notice how the signals of our bodies and energy levels coincide with the phases and manage life accordingly. Here are some connections to look out for over the next cycle.

NEW MOON / MENSTRUATION
New moons mark the beginning of a lunar cycle and generally can’t be seen. They are the time to make space for rest, stillness and restorative movement practices, nourish your body and set intentions.

WAXING MOON / FOLLICULAR PHASE
During a waxing moon, the moon is creating and building momentum, just like the body during the follicular phase (the time between the first day of the period and ovulation). Get back into a creative flow, moderate exercise and build on your health, relationships and projects.

FULL MOON / OVULATORY PHASE
While the new moon is a time for planting seeds and intentions, the full moon is a time to release and enjoy our manifestations. During ovulation, a mature egg will be released from the surface of the ovary. To align, enjoy being most active, actualize projects and celebrate your self and creations.

WANING MOON / LUTEAL PHASE
 To “wane” means to get less and less, or to “decline”. The luteal phase sees releasing of hormones progesterone and estrogen to maintain the lining of the uterus. Join nature in clearing space within and around you – clean the house, unwind tension from your body and shift any old beliefs or behaviors that might hold you back in preparation for a new cycle.

Of course the moon cycle is only a guideline. It’s important to listen to our own unique rhythm, which may not be in sync with the moon and can change from month to month, season to season, or year to year. It’s often easier for people who menstruate to observe the changes in energy as female hormones allow for the phases to be more obvious. The gift is that as we observe and respect our rhythm, our menstrual cycle and nervous system are likely to become more regulated over time and may even begin to sync up with the moon.

During pregnancy it’s important to tune-in to more regular cycles such as the breath, and our daily or even hourly cycle – make space for rest, stillness and nourishment throughout the day, practice observing the breathing cycle often, and allow movement and activity to happen when the energy arises.

"Attuning to our unique rhythm will help us to cherish the sacred pauses, move with a sense of trust into the darkness and knowingly act on the helpful impulses that come during challenging moments like labour and birth. "

With good support, we’ll feel more at ease and able to rest into the Safety-Peace Cycle as seen in the diagram, and allow a natural flow of hormones that encourage an instinctual unfolding of life and birth.

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/guidance-to-reduce-unnecessary-caesarean-sections/en/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26870235_Traditional_Postpartum_Practices_and_Rituals_A_Qualitative_Systematic_Review

Recommended Books:

The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility – Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

Wild Feminine: Finding Power Spirit & Joy in the Female Body – Tami Kent

Wild Power: Discover the Magic of your Menstrual Cycle and Awaken the Feminine Path to Power – Alexandra Pope

 

Ashley is a trauma informed movement and embodiment coach offering private sessions and small group workshops for pelvic and reproductive health, and supporting people in preparing and healing from the journey of birth and life on Earth. Find her at www.birthingbodyandsoul.com

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