Bonus: Centering and Preparing for Birth with Monique Gauthier
Inside Community Podcast — Bonus Episode
My conversation with Monique Gauthier was too full of inspiring and helpful information, so I created this bonus episode to share some of the wisdom that couldn’t fit in the full length episode. Here, Monique leads us through the centering meditation she does with her midwifery clients as they arrive in her office as well as shares some very practical tools for expecting families to cope with and prepare for labor.
In this episode
- Meditation and parenting practices with Monique Gauthier. (0:01)
- Prenatal preparation and connecting with inner self. (1:53)
- Coping with labor fears and potential loss. (6:44)
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques for childbirth. (10:25)
- Breathing techniques for childbirth. (16:37)
- Natural childbirth techniques and mindset. (20:50)
About Monique Gauthier
Monique Gauthier has been a midwife in the U.S and Canada for 30 years. She has lived in intentional communities for most of her adult life. She currently lives in Auroville, in Southern India. She was faculty for Living Routes, which ran college-level programs in ecovillages such as Findhorn, Auroville and Thích Nhất Hạnh’s Plum Village, in France. She has produced the documentaries “Follow The Dirt Road; An Introduction to Intentional Communities in the 1990’s”, and “Birthing Peace”, about her mindful water births. She calls herself a “cultural midwife” who is tending to the birth of a conscious culture. She leads workshops and coaches for empowered birth, conscious families, mindfulness, and other mind-body-spirit topics. You can find her upcoming courses and offerings at www.Monique-Gauthier.com
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Thanks from Rebecca, your podcast host
Rebecca Mesritz 0:01
Hello friends, and welcome back to the inside community podcast. I’m your host Rebecca merits. And I have here for you a little bonus episode from my interview with Monique go TA, there were two parts of our conversation that didn’t quite fit into our full length interview. But I just thought that there might be some of you out there that would appreciate these segments. So the first is sort of a grounding and opening meditation that she took me through, it’s one that she does with her clients in her midwifery practice in Oroville, that is just a really beautiful sort of centering, just be prepared that there are going to be some quiet spaces in there. Which is kind of uncommon when you listen to things on line or on the radio for there to be no sound. So there might be a few moments where there’s no sound and just hanging in there. It’s it’s part of the meditation. And then the other part is sort of a deeper look at some of the practices for expecting parents and families that just seemed very specific to that time of life. And a little less to do with community and a little more to do with just the art of bringing a baby into the world. I hope that you enjoy this bonus episode and get something out of it and share it with anyone that you might know that is on a parenting journey. Enjoy. Well, I know that you as a part of your process and your practice like to begin your journeys with with people with a little bit of a drop in a little bit of a meditation. So I would love to just start this conversation there.
Monique Gauthier 1:53
Wonderful, thanks. Okay, so I actually use this before prenatals when people are coming here in Oroville, India, where I live, they’re coming on their motorcycles, they’ve left their, their toddlers behind with friends, and it’s quite a transition to make it to the office. And same for me to you know, kind of scurry along because life is very busy here in community. And so I do something I just call it an arriving. And it really helps for there to be more depth in the exchange. When we’re doing a prenatal we do a lot more checking in psychologically, spiritually emotionally at the beginning of the prenatal. And so this kind of leads people into deeper places, it helps them to investigate what their questions might be or what their intentions for the prenatal might be, or even a listening to the baby together. And even some, sometimes we even lead it into some sort of blessing for the baby. Anyway, so we can just do my podcast version of this which is just basically for me and to arrive and for you to arrive here in this interview fully. So what I do is I have us close our eyes and center inwards by observation of breath. So just watching breath, what I explained is that that helps us kind of knit the two hemispheres of the brain together just watching the breath, the natural breath go in and out. So I do that for a little bit.
Monique Gauthier 3:47
As we’re calming down and our eyes are closed, we can move our attention towards our hearts. And we can just start almost like breathing through the heart. Just keep the focus there where will we continue to watch our breathing
Monique Gauthier 4:16
and then in that heart space, we can kind of stretch the heart open just by thinking positive thoughts or gratitude or having an image of something we love to see if with our consciousness if we can just get a little warmer and little softer and really feel our core through that gentleness inside our being.
Monique Gauthier 4:58
So it’s a kind of connecting To the love inside ourselves. And in that kind of opening we can see for today, what what is showing up as an intention or questions or whatever, this is a place to just kind of become clear in our hearts what what do we want
Monique Gauthier 5:37
we can just kind of wrap it up by feeling our whole energy body kind of having a sense of wholeness from head to toe all around, through and all about just your whole being you could almost speak of it is like fluffing up your aura, just feeling connected to our energy being so it can be intuitive and connected
Monique Gauthier 6:09
and grounded to so grounding the feet into Mother Earth, to just imagining energy goes shooting down through the bottoms of the feet in a grounded way.
Monique Gauthier 6:32
And then we gently get here. So when you’re, you’re ready, and I’m ready, we can just move into this moment together
Rebecca Mesritz 6:44
beautiful, thank you for that, thank you for that way to start a conversation
Rebecca Mesritz 6:57
you know, you were talking about something earlier that I kind of, I just feel like we could dive a little bit more deeply into around the practices that you recommend for mothers, you know, to have peaceful birds and we talked about upasana. And, um, I would love to hear more about what you share with the the women in your practice and the people in your practice about that self cultivation. And, you know, there’s just so much there’s so many feelings for a pregnant woman, um, you know, fear, anxiety, excitement, hesitation, you know, I, I have found myself as someone who generally feels pretty, relatively centered, I don’t know, I’m doing my best here, but I have practices I take care of myself. But wow, like, fear just seems to come up out of nowhere. In pregnancy and the fear of loss, the fear of miscarriage, fear of pain, fear of not being in control through the birth process. You know, there’s just so many things that can come up, and I would love to hear from your wise experience, you know, what do you how do you coach women? And how do you coach families as they’re navigating this so that they can be in their center and they can be in their power?
Monique Gauthier 8:34
Yeah, woof, big question. There’s, there’s a couple things. So I, you know, from my own brain here at what I heard two pieces, one is, you know, can you give some specific things that would help in labor? And then the second piece is how do you deal with fear and potential the way I would phrase it, and potential loss, you know, loss of a dream, loss of a pregnancy loss of, of loss of a healthy child loss, you know, there’s this particular rite of passage is, is loaded with possible scary places. And, you know, how do we be with that? So, let me let me do both. And then we start with the first one and yeah, and then and, you know, I’m, I’m aware that we’ve been talking for a while, I don’t know, and I know that these are conversations that I have with clients, you know, through all through pregnancy through, you know, through coaching and you know, so I coach people that are not just pregnant, but through the postpartum and the adjustment and through experiences that are difficult, and a night you know, I kind of put it in a psycho spiritual framework. And so, okay, just for starting with a how do I cope with labor and potential pain? And well, the first thing I come up with is what, you know, Hypno birthing is a winner that really can really work for people. So there’s a couple Hypno birthing. Know, there’s a number now but back in my day, it was Hypno. Birthing by Maria again, and then there was Hypno babies. And then there’s a variety of spin offs from that. And I had met Marie, when I was pregnant and, you know, got her download in her story to really understand well, how did this one woman start coming up with these concepts. She was a hypnotherapist, and she understood the mind body connection. So and it really worked beautifully for me. And also, the Vipassana really kicked in as far as preparation. So I would take in mindfulness training, or MBSR, mindfulness based stress reduction is an eight week class that you can take with your partner and many hospitals. I think there’s about 200,000 hospitals around the world that now do MBSR, which is just basically how do we deal with stress on a daily basis? And what do we do with our consciousness around these fears? And so, anyway, there’s many, many tools, you know, for dealing with things I like. I like the variety of apps that we now have. One of them just trying to think, Insight Timer is probably the most popular calm is another one. And all of them have prenatal self hypnosis, auto suggestion, visualization, you know, different meditations that are recorded for 10 minutes, five minutes, 20 an hour, whatever, you just put these things on and listen to them on a daily basis, they will make a difference. So and then YouTube has plenty of how do you stay in your center, and then you could with the with the subconscious mind, you can program yourself, just by listening to certain music and certain words over and over and over in your pregnancy, especially in Especially that last trimester, you can even do this up to you know, a couple of weeks before you do this, you can train your mind to like your mind, this is what we’re going to do. And then. And then also just a note on that is the best time to train the mind is when you’re in theta. So the brain state is slower. So the waves are moving slower, kind of like when you’re about to fall asleep or morning, when you’re just waking up. Those are the two best times to really program the subconscious mind, it’s wide open, and you can put in your affirmations or your visualization or you know, right at this time, or naptime like many of us are pooped out by somewhere between two and five in the afternoon. And if you just lay down for 20 minutes, and you say your 10 favorite affirmations, just as you’re falling asleep, that becomes more of your identity, I am a peaceful birther I am believing in my body’s capacity. My baby knows how to be born. I trust birth, I trust myself. All is well on these are all great affirmations to plug into the subconscious. And there’s plenty on the internet to download or just write your own, like, what would I really believe in, I really believe I could really believe that my body knows what it’s doing, or that I can really believe and, and submit to that all is, you know, coming exactly as it should. And I completely trust the process. So as far as quick trainings that I would give, if somebody were to bump into me at the bike on a bicycle here in my community or something and saying, you know, I’ve, you know, give me something quick, I would
Monique Gauthier 13:24
I call it birthing peace technique. So I give it I had, I made a little video of my own tooth births and with commentary as to what was going on in my mind and how I was processing it called birthing peace. And so this particular technique technique is the mnemonic for it is mind body spirit. And so if we start with let’s say body, what you do when a contraction arises when a wave arises when energy surge arises, choose your words, you can at home during those quiet times during those theta moments, you can do this on a daily basis where you practice being in labor. So you practice a contraction arising and falling away, and what you’re going to do, and so the mind body spirit, there’s three things that you can do that would really be helpful. So the first one is to body, so to just relax all the muscles in your body. So pretend in your mind’s eye that a contraction is arising, you can feel a tightening in the belly. And instead of having the programming that we have from TV and film and you know our aunties, and all the people with all those stories, instead of going into that automatic Oh my God, here comes another contraction. Oh my god, I’m in pain. You know that. You don’t want to do that to your brain because that just kicks off cortisol and adrenaline and fear leads to more fear. And so you want to kick off love. So, you know, if you’re experiencing fear, all your answers reside in love and there’s various forms of love. So loving your body makes is letting your body be relaxed there on the bed or relaxed as you’re walking Walking, but if you’re visualizing and you’re creating this body experience, you can do the thing where you tense up every part and just let it go. So now your body is kind of like seaweed on water on on waves floating up and down or you’re like an Olympic dish rag. So all the muscles are unclenched. So your jaw, and your lips are very loose, the lips are very connected to the cervix. So you can just be just very loose, and then your shoulders in your hands, you want your hands to be not clenched, but just very loose on the bed like that. Let’s say you’re laying on your left side with a pillow in between your legs. And so you’re just laying there and you’re making sure every peak part of you your hips, your belly, everything is but as you’re just letting everything go. So that’s body. And then mind is your your becoming mindful. So you’re watching the thoughts and they as they come, you don’t grab on to them, you don’t take that train ride into making meaning. So if you look at a cat or a dog or a cow who’s in labor, they’re not cognate eating around what time is it? How come this is taking so long? What did the doctor say? My I don’t know, if I’m doing this, right? You know, this, that conversation is just not there. It’s not making up a bunch of story where you would kick up those unhelpful hormones. So you tell the mind, you know, you can talk but I’m not really listening. Thank you for sharing. And just let the thoughts float away. So that you can do that with mind. Or with mind, you can say here, I’ll give you a job, you just look in check to make sure my body’s nice and loose, and all the body parts that yeah, that energy is running through my feet, that will be your job, just you can watch. You can watch Mind Body Spirit, you can watch spirit. And so spirit is a is a mnemonic for inspiration, bringing in breath and exploration, you know, so bring out breath. So you breathe slowly. That’s a good way to stay connected to your spirit to your heart. Because if you use that kind of slow yo Yogi like breathing, you’re telling the mind, oh, this is just a normal event. I’m in labor, but it’s not. It doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have the panic about it, I can totally trust things. So slow breath is a quick way to get to the subconscious mind. So body, mind and spirit spirit is breathing in slowly. So during you can be there laying in bed, practicing. Okay, who am I going to be in this labor? Oh, my identity is I’m a peaceful birther my affirmation is simple and straightforward birth. And that’s that’s actually the affirmation I use for my birth, like simple and straightforward. Because I was an extrovert and I was concerned that Oh, my God, I’m going to make a deal out of this. And so I said, No, what I want to do is that this is not the deal. Because this birthing is not the deal. The deal is the breastfeeding at the end of meeting this person, that’s the deal that I want to focus on. So I just want something that’s kind of simple and boring, almost. So I programming my mind for like a just a very normal mammalian response. So, so mind, body, and then spirit, as you’re breathing in, you can visualize yourself like a golden thread breathing through the nostrils, because the nostrils are very connected to the call it the third eye or the amygdala or the you know, or the pineal gland, the slower you breathe, the more you’re you’re setting up the hormones that really work for you, then the oxytocin, the love hormone can just flow beautifully. So you slow the mind down. And you’re watching this breathing, that’s so slows, and you see how full you can get your lungs. So if you get your full lung, like a diaphragmatic breath, it’s actually kind of pushing the baby down a little bit, let’s say, you know, the muscles get full, full lung capacity. And so that might be helping you to stretch the cervix. And then you can imagine that, you know, the baby’s kind of moving through a turtleneck there at the bottom. And so as you breathe fully, you can kind of see the baby moving and opening and the cervix opening. So you can visualize that like a flower petals opening. And and then as you exhale, you can exhale just a slowly, maybe you’re counting maybe you’re saying 1234 And you’re looking like oh, can I do a count of four? Can I do a count to eight, many would do like four and eight or there’s many different patterns but slow breathing in slow breathing out fullness. So going back to mind, you can say Hey, mind, do you want a job you can see how limp I am embody and you can see if my spirit is connected if I’m slow, slowly breathing and helpful is my lungs and so you want something to do you do that. And then so now that half a minute went by that two minutes has gone by and now you can the contraction has arisen and passed away and you can just blow it away and go back to rest. And people can actually sleep during labor or they can you know for many first time moms, you know that first night is just basically softening the cervix here. It’s not you know, big dilation or anything you might get to to CMC Next, on the next morning, you know, basically the cervix is out so you know, makes sense to just kind of save all your energy in that first time. to labor and sleep through most of it or pretend sleep, fake it till you make it sleep. And you can use Mind Body Spirit to kind of just ride these waves as seaweed moving through the motion. And between each contraction, you might have five minutes, you might have 20 minutes you might have, you know, in the beginning, there’s a lot of variation. And as you shift into a more active labor later on, let’s say in that afternoon, then you would come back to that, because, you know, you might just do this mind body spirit exercise 10 times and be so bored that you just like you go on automatic pilot and you fall asleep. Anyway, and you can have your partner whispering affirmations to you know, your body is strong, you can do this, you’re doing beautifully. I trust you, I love that we’re doing this together. And just the for the mind to munch on what he’s saying, like, oh, yeah, I am doing good. You know. It’s soothing voice, many women who are in labor in the middle of the night, that’s their scary place, you know, is dark and, and they might just like the low of his voice or the recording that they were listening to On, on their phone, you know, just listen to it over and over again, women like repetitive motion in labor, it really soothes. So either you’re rocking, or you’re owning, or you’re, you’re listening to the same recording over and over, but the repetition kind of lulls the body into all is normal is okay. And that’s what you want. Because you can kick up nice hormones like endorphins by staying relaxed. And so basically, that’s it is training the mind, mind body spirit, and training the body and so that your automatic response to a contraction is deep restfulness deep relaxation is the opposite of everything you’ve ever seen on TV and movies, which in those media need drama, they need there to be a hero, they need there to be fear that you know, because that sells advertising, that is not the truth, you know, many of the peaceful birthers I’ve seen over the years, they’re their bursts are very ho hum, very, very low stress, low story. There’s, you know, the only hero is just the self moving through time and space gracefully. And then the other visualization that people can have, and I have them do this, probably in the last last couple of weeks, is actually visualizing the delivery of the head, and the delivery of the shoulders and sending images to the baby to keep the chin tucked the eyes towards the back, you know, so its belly to back is the nice position for baby to be born. When it’s flipped over and the eyes are facing front, that’s called a posterior birth. And that can be a little bit more painful in the back. So you want eyes facing the back and the hands down and, you know, chord out of the way. And you just visualize those things, and maybe you send signals, you know, images to the baby say this would be this would be really good. If you could do it this way, you know,
Monique Gauthier 22:54
really worked for mommy. And and then you’re, you’re practicing the delivery of the head and and you know, you a person doesn’t need to have a response of backing away from pushing a baby out, they can actually kind of lean into and soften into it to allow the head and the tissue just slowly. You know and to breathe slowly as you’re you know, you’re naturally having an impulse to push because you know, there’s little nerves that kind of like pooping where you just feel like I got to push for most people. And so you just naturally follow those impulses and you just kind of watch like a bullseye, watch the baby’s head, come through the center, and practice that delivery. And practice yourself as an, let’s say, as an actress who delivers in a way where she’s really conscious at that moment of birth that you’re her. Like, you know, as an example, when I was birthing my baby, I had my hand on her little her head, I could feel the head and then after that, while I could feel her cheek in her ear. And and it was probably one of my most glorious moments because they’re here here we had just delivered the head very peacefully. And I could feel her little feet kicking in my belly and a little bit you know, kicking upwards and it’s like she has a universe she’s coming from I’m in a different universe. We’re in this one unified universe. It really was kind of a I don’t know if I would call it Kundalini but it really was a an energetic experience of the Divine and of delivering consciously not kicking up any fear hormones, just savoring savoring the delivery or head and then pulling her you know, well not so much pulling but receiving her as her shoulders move through under the bone and into the world and into my hands and I was in Berta for both my babies and and just just kind of slowly lifting her up to my chest and just being so internalized so inside myself, that I could just feel God just feel the incredible power of being a woman and, you know, just the amazingness of this gift, this miracle and And so you can program yourself to stay present to love that moment, instead of the stuff that was programmed in your head from TV or from relatives or whatever, just really say, I want to love this thing. And in fact, I so programmed myself that that after the baby was born just instinctively is like, Whoa, that was so cool. I want to do that again. I said the same thing.
Rebecca Mesritz 25:25
I said the same thing after I had my daughter my husband looked at me like I was crazy. I was like that was amazing. I can’t wait to do this again. He’s just like Yeah, are you insane? Like
Monique Gauthier 25:35
exactly and that’s what I would like women to know that the experience cool that doesn’t even sum it up you know, it’s a cool experience to give birth but it’s more than that. It says it’s a holy opportunity to be completely connected to the universe God source thing that made you whatever you call it and and and so you won’t really want to be surrounded by by people that believe in you that love you into this that are totally trusting your timing so if you need three days to give birth fine if you need four fine and that you’re not pushed you know, like nobody wants somebody knocking on the door when you’re in the toilet pooping, commenting on whether or not you’re doing it well or we have to hurry this up. Or Saks like Oh, I think you should be orgasm by now or you know, like, same thing for birth like we don’t need all that chitchat about evaluation. You know, if you if you have people that totally like you got this you don’t gray I love you, you know and you will just fall into self trust and self love and for me, that’s the name of the game.
Rebecca Mesritz 26:45
Thank you for dropping in to this bonus episode with Monique go ta I hope there were some juicy tidbits in there for you. You can learn more about Monique and her work at Monique dash go ta.com And you can hear this complete episode anywhere that you’re streaming this current bonus episode as well as at i see.org/podcast Thanks friends and see you next time.
Listen & Subscribe
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- 024: Community Supported Birth with Monique Gauthier
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About the Show
The Inside Community Podcast brings folks along for an inside look at all of the beautiful and messy realities of creating and sustaining a community. We provide useful and inspiring content to support people on their quest for resilience, sustainability, and connection.
Meet Your Host
Inside Community Podcast host Rebecca Mesritz is a community builder living in Williams, Oregon. In 2011, Rebecca co-founded the Emerald Village (EVO) in North County San Diego, California. During her ten years with EVO, she supported and led numerous programs and initiatives including implementation and training of the community in Sociocracy, establishment of the Animal Husbandry program, leadership of the Land Circle, hosting numerous internal and external community events, and participation in the Human Relations Circle which holds the relational, spiritual and emotional container for their work.
In June of 2021, with the blessing of EVO, Rebecca and 3 other co-founders relocated to begin a new, mission- driven community and learning center housed on 160 acres of forest and farmland. Rebecca is passionate about communal living and sees intentional community as a tool for both personal and cultural transformation. In addition to her work in this field, she also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University and creates functional, public, and interactive art in metal, wood, and pretty much any other material she can get her hands on. She is a mother, a wife, an educator, a nurturer of gardens, an epicurean lover of sustainable wholesome food, and a cultivator of compassion and beauty.
The Inside Community Podcast is sponsored by the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC). Reach out if you are interested in sponsorship or advertisement opportunities on the podcast.