Holding the Space

Something we talk about often in our Red Tent settings is the idea of holding the space for one another, and why this is such a powerful gift to give to another person, and to yourself.

I first came across this phrase when I set out on my journey as a doula. The idea that, when you are invited into someone’s birthing space, you are there as a guest, a guardian of that sacred environment, and that one of the best things you can do for a birthing Mama is to hold the space for her.

It’s not an easy concept to put into practice for many of us, even though it requires little else than being present, mindful, attentive – really, fully being there for someone. Yet it is so often at odds with how we live our lives – amidst constant noise, chaos, busyness.

So the idea of bringing this mindfulness to the Red Tent space has become central to every aspect of our Mother Moon days. Someone articulated this in a lovely way on Sunday when she said that amongst the various birth preparation courses and classes she had taken, she was grateful for the opportunity during our Mother Moon, to explore the emotional and spiritual side of pregnancy and birth.

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And that is really what we hope the Mamas who attend our Mother Moons can do – to begin, or keep on, exploring themselves, finding the right questions they need to ask themselves, and giving themselves the time, and space, to explore those answers. To learn how to hold the space for themselves.

At a time when we are surrounded by experts telling us what to do and how to do it, we do not want to be another set of voices disseminating more information. More information is not what is needed. After all, we give birth with our bodies, not our heads, and we firmly believe that the focus needs to shift back from the outside to the inside – from trusting everyone else’s voice, to finding and trusting our own.

And so, we approach every part of the day with mindfulness and an intent to invite active participation. We spend considerable time setting up, creating a beautiful, warm, comfortable aesthetic which we hope encourages our Mamas to relax and unwind.

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We focus on the details – we cook a nourishing and hearty lunch, we bake homemade cake, we fill bowls with fruit, and water with moonstones and rose quartz.

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We surround our circle with candles and salt lamps, with prayer flags and birth affirmation cards.

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These cards have been designed and hand-painted by one of our own Red Tent sisters and incredible local artists, Ali Watson, who understood that we wanted to display our favourite affirmations in a soft, hand-written flowing script with swirling womb-like, Red Tent colours throughout, and the moon, of course, in various phases, on each card.

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We invite our attending Mamas to look inwards, and to trust that expressing our deepest fears and hopes about birth, particularly in creative ways, can also help us to change our deepest expectations about birth. We have spent our entire lives internalising damaging ideas about birth, and we need to take time to unpick those ideas.

We believe that often the best way to do this, to reach our unconscius mind and our heart, is creatively – through art, and song, guided meditation and fear release rituals.

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The work we need to do to best prepare ourselves for birth is the work of self-discovery. Not so that we can get a specific birth outcome, but so that we can bring an awareness to our births that will help us feel confident, connected and strong in our bodies.

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