Last year, Birthing From Within co-director Nikki Shaheed published the Heart Centered Pregnancy Journal for expecting parents and birth professionals seeking to cultivate intuition, connection, and resilience in the childbearing experience. Now, she has followed it up with a wonderful new tool, the Heart Centered Pregnancy Deck!
This interactive card deck offers 35 reflections related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, including…
- Exploring Beliefs
- Creating Ritual
- Building a Support Network
- Expanding the Possibilities for Ways to Get Through Birth
- Creating Ambiance for Birth
- Taking a Compassionate Look at Interventions
- Connecting to Ancestors
- Physical and Emotional Healing
- The Importance of Rest
- Seeing One’s Self as a Parent
- The Power of Vulnerability
- Accessing Intuition
This is a beautiful tool to infuse expecting families’ preparation with ritual and intention – AND ALSO a wonderful tool for birth professionals.
Here are ten ways in which birth professionals can use the Heart Centered Pregnancy Deck to enrich their practices…
- Ice Breaker: Pull out the deck at the beginning of a prenatal yoga class, childbirth preparation class, or centering pregnancy group to help everyone get to know each other. Have one parent choose a card and the whole group will discuss their responses to the prompt on the card. You’ll be amazed at how quickly rapport is established in your gathering! If you’re leading a series of meetings, the deck can help everyone to leave their busy day behind and fully arrive each time you gather.
- Closing: Gatherings are more nourishing when they close in a sweet, ceremonial way. Close your prenatal gathering with an invitation for parents to access their inner knowing and cultivate resilience. You can have a parent draw a card, “stack the deck” by offering a handful of cards to draw from that seem most relevant to you, have people work in small groups, or choose the prompt that you would like the group to discuss. This mindful closing can be done as a group discussion, partner discussion, or even as a personal journaling exercise to close a class or meeting. Parents will leave feeling more grounded in themselves and more connected to one another after the group closes in a loving and intentional way.
- Getting the Most Out of Breaks: If you’re teaching an all-day immersion class or leading a group that just never seems to have enough time, give parents a Heart Centered prompt from the deck to discuss with one another on the lunch break, or at home in between meetings. You’ll be able to take class discussions and learning material further when parents return to class all warmed up and ready to talk about their reflections on pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
- Helping Families Connect: By asking parents to choose a card, or prescribing which card you’d like them to discuss, you can help couples and families to better understand where their partner is coming from as they prepare for birth. It’s easy to fall into thinking that everyone carries the same ideas, hopes, and experiences around birth. When partners have the opportunity to voice their needs, wishes, and thoughts to one another, they become a more connected and unified team. This activity can also help give you a quick break as a teacher or group facilitator!
- Building Community: One of the benefits of prenatal classes and gatherings is helping expectant parents build community. Have people pair up in groups of 2-3 people or families, and give each group a card and discuss the prompts among themselves. People feel more ready to learn and participate in classes and meetings when they feel connected with the other parents in their group. This 5-10 minute activity can really pack a punch when it comes to setting up positive group dynamics.
- Waiting Room: Do you have an office space? Lay the entire deck out in the waiting room for parents to explore before their appointment. You may find that you have a more juicy prenatal appointment because the parents come in ready to dive deep into discussions about birth. You might also choose one card per week to leave out in the waiting room for parents to look over, think about, or discuss. This practice will create a sense of anticipation and ritual for your clients. They also might be less grumpy if you find yourself running late.
- Postpartum Support Group: Reflecting on the birth process isn’t just important prenatally. Whether you’re leading a group for nursing parents, babywearing parents, or parents recovering from a cesarean birth, participating in guided reflections about the birth and postpartum can help postpartum parents gain perspective, clarity, and gentleness with themselves. These prompts can also help keep groups focused and nurturing to all in a space where there may be casual birth story sharing.
- Doula Bag: Keep the deck in your doula bag to share with your clients during your prenatal or postpartum appointments. Discussing your clients’ ideas about birth, medical providers, medical technology, connection, asking for help, and adapting to unexpected events can help you gain a deeper understanding of where your clients are coming from. Again, you can have a client choose a card randomly, “stack the deck,” or decide ahead of time which prompt you’d like to discuss during your meeting. This may be used as a lovely opening or closing for your doula appointments.
- Personal Growth: As a birth pro, you know how important it is for parents to be aware of how their experiences and beliefs affect the way they approach birth. It’s just as important for birth pros to consider how their own experiences with birth, relationships, and the medical system impact their philosophy about birth. Use these cards to help you find clarity and self-compassion in the important work you do with growing families.
- Gift: Give the deck as a beautiful and supportive gift. Give this deck to parents as a Birth Blessing gift. Give this deck to another birth pro to let them know you care. Gift it to a care provider to leave in their office. Give it to a group leader to help them have more tools to draw from in their meetings.