I’ve been using Reiki to support my work as a doula every since I started attending births 7 years ago , and I have been meaning to write down my thoughts about this for a while.
I think Reiki is the ultimate tool for birthworkers, one that gives you the ability to support yourself, your clients, and everybody present in the birth room.
I remember a couple of years ago, a friend asked if I used Reiki at births. I first said no, because I thought I had never actively channelled it into the mum’s body, but when I thought about it I realised I used it all the time to hold the space, and hold myself and the atmosphere in the room energetically.
The only thing is that I didn’t do it so consciously at the time so didn’t realise I was doing it. It took me by surprise when clients said things referring to it in their feedback, like
” She created a positive, calm feeling in the room which I almost didn’t appreciate until it was all over and Sophie had gone home and it suddenly just felt like a hospital room again. ”
” Sophie’s warmth could be felt in the house even after she left.”
In fact during the first ever birth I attending I actively channelled energy into the mum’s shoulders at her request, with amazing effects (the baby, who wasn’t engaged, immediately dropped down into the pelvis-the change of shape in the mum’s bump was immediate and very noticeable). And then I also realised that, because Reiki tended to flow out of my hands anyway regardless of whether I intended it to or not, I had mostly likely channelled healing into labouring mothers whist massaging their back or holding them as well.
I think that when you are present at births, it’s impossible not to develop your own spirituality, because there is a real, amazing sense of energetic shift during the labour and immediately after a baby has been born. It is a huge wave of energy in the room . It is so palpable, you can almost touch it.
To quote Grantley Dick Read:
” It is not only that we want to bring about an easy labor, without risking injury to the mother or the child; we must go further. We must understand that childbirth is fundamentally a spiritual, as well as a physical, achievement. The birth of a child is the ultimate perfection of human love.”
So how can you use Reiki for as a birthworker?
First you can use it for yourself, second you can use it to help your clients, third you can use it to help everybody else in the room.
Reiki is first and foremost a self healing and self development technique. So when you learn to use Reiki, you are the first one to reap the benefits! Being a birthworker is a very demanding job on a physical, emotional and spiritual level, so being able to treat yourself with Reiki is a very good self care tool indeed.
Reiki will help you grow and heal your own personal wounds. It is a very important thing as a healer, or any giving profession, because we tend to naturally want to heal other people’s wounds before attending to our own (This is a very good article with a great analogy on this topic).
You can use Reiki at any time you need it to treat yourself, to give yourself a much needed energy boost. Self treatment with Reiki is like having a lovely, nurturing and warming meditation. It is the ultimate self care tool!
If anything stressful happens (be it related to your birthwork or not!), sitting down for a few moments, doing Reiki on your heart is the fastest way to get yourself back to a calm state (it works wonders when my children push my buttons!).
It is also a brilliant way of sending yourself to sleep at anytime when you find sleep a little more challenging (phantom texts, anyone?).
What I love the most about it, is that it is always with me! No need to worry about having forgotten a tool (like say a massage tool), because it’s always on you!
When on call waiting for a birth, and the wait gets the better of you, a Reiki session can get you back in the stress free zone. I find that after a treatment I once again trust that everything will be all right. Again during the on call if you feel a cold coming on and you’re thinking “Oh I can’t be ill right now”, a Reiki self treatment at bedtime might mean that you wake up refreshed and well.
If you are trained at level 2, you can use the Reiki symbols to empower wishes and goals in both space and time. For example when I go on call I like to write positive wishes for the birth on a piece of paper, and also ask for Reiki to be sent to myself at the time of the birth, so that I can receive it automatically when I need it.
When you get “the call” you can give yourself a brief treatment before joining your client, to ensure that you are in a centered, grounded state.
During a birth, you can call on Reiki to provide you with a boost of energy or lift your mood during a long labour. I find it especially helpful during those “dark night of the soul” moments at 3am.
Reiki can help you stay grounded and in a state of love towards all involved (I have written a blog about it called “choosing love over fear as a birthworker”), so that you are more able to deal with whatever curveballs are thrown at you , including managing your own energy, and that of the other people in the room (more on that in the “for everybody who enters the room” paragraph). It is very simple, if you feel unsure about anything, just tune into the Reiki energy, and ask for help!
After the birth, using Reiki is also a lovely and easy way to get yourself back to a clear, grounded, calm space and can help you process the birth and the emotions associated with it. Even when I am exhausted after a long birth, it only takes 5 min whilst lying in bed to clear myself of the birth energies. It also helps me wind down when I am too wired to sleep.
For your clients
The first advantage for your client is that you are more likely to be in a centered, grounded state. This really is the essence of being a present birthworker, and the most important point in my opinion. Offering the treatment to your client comes second.
You can offer Reiki to your clients during pregnancy, labour and birth, and during the postpartum period.
During pregnancy it can be a wonderful way for a pregnant woman to relax, to connect with her baby, and to help process any fears or worries she may have about the birth. It is also a wonderful way for you to connect at a deeper level with your client ,which also makes for a better labour support experience. I find it especially helpful in situations of stress such as when a women is postdates and anxious for labour to begin.
During labour you can use Reiki to help your client stay calm and help her cope better with the contractions. There isn’t much written about the topic, but American Doctor Jeri Mills have a lovely except of her book which illustrates how successfully Reiki can be used during labour.
I have used it many times at births and clients have commented on the lovely warm energy that came out of my hands, and how it made them feel good and helped them cope better with the contractions.
During the postpartum period, a Reiki treatment is a truly lovely way of nurturing and honouring the new mama and making her feel truly cared for (as she should be- I have written about this here). I once treated a new mum only about a week postpartum, I had been her doula at her birth, and had given her Reiki during the birth as well. She really wasn’t into this kind of things before the birth, but to my surprise, she asked for a full treatment, and it was one of the most lovely and life affirming experiences I had. She cried during the treatment, but these were tears of joy not sadness. She said she felt the treatment acknowledged the hard physical work her body had been through to birth her baby. She said it felt like I was saying thank you to her muscles, thank you to her uterus. It was beautiful and magical for us both.
It can also be a symbolic way to close the circle of support, after the birth, as a way to get closure and say goodbye to your client in a way that is positive and meaningful for both of you.
For everybody who enters the birth room
Again, first and foremost by staying in a grounded, loving state, we can positively influence what is happening in the birth room.
We cannot control who enters the space, but I believe that by sending loving, positive intentions (and you can do this ahead of labour starting), we can positively influence what is happening, and who is entering the space.
Our job is to stay in a state of love over fear, at all times. Sometimes it is easy and you and the medical staff present really enter a true teamwork and it is lovely and rewarding.
Sometimes, it isn’t easy, especially when unkind people enter the space. I wrote a post about this called “choosing love over fear as a birthworker“. We cannot control who enters the space, and we cannot control the behaviour of the people who enter the space. But we are in charge of our own reactions.
I also find it helpful to remind myself that even if it isn’t clear to me at the time, things are usually unfolding the way they are meant to.
Tuning into Reiki can really help you shift back to a state of love in this type of situation. We cannot fight fear with fear, but by actively tuning into a loving, connected, and benevolent state of being, I believe we can positively influence the behaviour of less than gentle people, by making them feel safe. I choose to see the people who display this kind of behaviour as victims of a system which encourages disconnection.
I run Reiki for birthworkers workshops-have a look if this resonates with you and you feel drawn to working with me.