Samsara Tanner is a doula, birth educator, mother and grandmother. She offers wisdom, strength and support to women through all the stages of their journey towards motherhood and is passionate about helping each and every one experience the best birth possible for them and their baby. She runs Birth Love together with midwife Kemi, where they also offer trainings in birth support. Here, she offers reflections on her journey as a Birth Keeper and the importance of post-partum care and support.
During the immense, profound and deeply healing journey of integrating my own birth story with my son, her love, compassion and grounded presence have been a great gift. She offered the Closing the Bones rite and ceremony for me and I am forever grateful for the sensitive and beautiful space that this allowed me to sink into. I am honoured to share her words here and truly thankful that our paths have met at this most sacred point of intersection: at the blessed gates of Mamahood.
However they unfold, our birth journeys are never what we imagined, even if they are what we thought we wanted. And coming to terms with them can often come second place to suddenly being propelled into the new role of mothering this Divine, fragile little life, who sits and your breast demanding the presence of your entire being.
In the intensity of this ongoing initiation, the birth quickly becomes a distant memory… a place hidden just below your delicate Mother skin. Yet for many of us, one small scrape or scratch and the memories come flooding back, the battle of voices chipping away at your foggy mind as you stare transfixed upon your sleeping babe. Those silent, deep and often lonely nights spent walking the floor, rocking, shushing your little one to sleep in your arms – oh how you would love someone’s arms around you on this wild ride into Motherhood. Someone to just be with you and your partner, as you tentatively tread the path of Parenthood together.
You see, we are not wired for this job to be a lone one. We are wired for sharing this, and these tired mornings of sleep deprivation, when you can’t think straight anymore and you long for someone to just come and nourish your depleted body and soul. Because the healing and arrival into Motherhood takes so much longer than anybody told us. As modern women, especially, we expect ourselves to regain our resilience so much sooner. Why didn’t anyone say that my heart would be hurting with the unresolved memories for so long? Let alone the tenderness of the changes, and new body that suddenly I see.
The huge shift in our lives as mothers does not even come close to giving sufficient time to understand the relationship that now shifts and changes constantly right in front of us… The partner that started this journey with me now putting their needs aside, trying to find a place in our changed world; uur new little family growing in strength day by day, but why is my heart still aching?
Our need to live, birth and raise a family with our tribe around us is real and it is strong. But sometimes, just getting out the door is hard enough. And to be seen in our vulnerability is hard. And the world of Mother comparison is real: it’s at the cafe as we chat together about the never-ending battle of sleep over our latte, it’s online as we search for comfort from our screens. It crops up and fragments us, seeds doubt in our faith and our path, when all we need is someone to cry with as we share our journey with them together.
My deepest passion is that you are heard, and that you have loving hands to hold you as you find your way into Motherhood. I am a doula and believe that every woman deserves a doula. A doula has been part of every woman’s birth into Motherhood since time began: she is there to bear witness without judgment; she is there to wipe your sweat and tears and support, hold, nourish and nurture. She is the quiet woman who sits by you as you rock your birth, and tends to your tired body after. She is a Birth Keeper.
I came to this path after my own Mothering experience. I was lonely and longed for my mother, sister, best friend. In fact, I longed for a woman who would just tell me as I transitioned through the gates of Motherhood that I was strong, powerful and was truly going to be able to birth my baby. That believed that my baby and I could do this. That trusted Birth unquestionably.
I made a promise during that birth, that I would never, if asked to be present at a birth of a sister, leave her birthing alone. My path as a doula was born as I birthed. The call of the birth room is magnetic. It feeds my soul. To have the honour to witness a woman become a warrior as she births new life still takes my breath away. To support her first weeks as she transitions is a pure joy: this truly is a rite of passage. We have forgotten, and we need to remember.
We are so blessed to have assistance when it is needed, but we need to remember to trust a woman’s inner birthing wisdom. She knows her body and baby better than anyone. She is longing with all her being to finally meet the little life who she has herself nourished and nurtured all this time. The birthing room, whether in a hospital or home, needs to be a space of deep reverence, and her birthing space needs protecting. This is what we do.
A woman is not sick when she births – she is between the worlds, bringing new life into ours.
She needs to be surrounded in Birth Love.
Image by Ali Cherkis