Special Delivery

Susan Homewood, West Essex Life, Issue 15, August 2004

‘I send all my girlfriends to Gowri’s clinic as soon as they tell me they’re expecting,’ writes Elle Macpherson in her Preface to Dr Gowri Motha’s new book, Gentle Birth Method, published last month. In common with an ever-growing list of other celebrity mothers including Kate Moss, Lady Helen Windsor and Gwyneth Paltrow, Elle followed Dr Motha s programme for a stress-free delivery last year and opted for a water birth, ‘It was the most amazing experience I have ever had,’ Elle claims; ‘thanks to Gowri’s preparation I was able to cope with the pain and be 100% present without drugs for the incredible moment when my son came into the world.’

Dr Motha’s method is for women considering a water birth. It has been developed on the premise that for most women, their mental confidence is no longer matched up with their physical capabilities. This results in protracted and painful birth experiences due to muscle tension, and congestion in tissues that lead to poor cell-to-cell communication – especially in the organs involved in birthing. She believes that during our recent evolution, natural childbirth has become unnecessarily difficult through distortion of natural physical actions, resulting in the mutation of the female physiognomy. This is not helped by the increasing number of Caesarean births which, performed repeatedly over generations, could eventually render the female body unfit to deliver naturally.

‘In the paddy fields of China, women squat for hours to plant rice seedlings every day. Their bodies are natura1ly accustomed to the squatting position and they have quicker and easier births than most women in the West, due to their pelvic joints being more supple and better aligned,’ explains Dr Motha. ‘Their diet is better too, being rice-based rather than wheat-based’.

‘Mothers who have followed the 20-week programme become more and more confident throughout their pregnancy and have shorter labours.’

After completing medical studies in India, Dr Motha trained and worked at Whipps Cross Hospital from 1981 to 1993 in conventional obstetrics and gynaecology. She supervised the first water birth there and, soon after, made headlines for her pioneering work on ‘birthing with dolphins’. A devoted champion of the water birth; she accompanied women to Eilat, in Israel, to help them deliver their babies in the ocean amongst dolphins. Her inspiration had come from the work of a Russian, Dr Igor Charkovsky, who in the 1970’s had organised dolphin-assisted births in the Black Sea and felt that the common evolutionary origins of humans and dolphins in water explained a natural affinity. Dolphins had long been known to show special interest in pregnant women, and their presence in the water during childbirth was found to aid a birthing mother’s relaxation and lead to a more pleasurable experience.

In London, Dr Motha frequently organises water births in people’s homes as we1l as in hospital units; she has now delivered more than 600 babies in this way. Arranging dolphin-assisted births in warm seas is more difficult, however: permission from authorities abroad is not easy to obtain. She hopes that in the future, medical practitioners will be able to create centres in different parts of the world where women can swim and give birth in the presence of dolphins.

‘The concept of the water birth is far from recent; it is a return to a tradition still held in some cultures. Dr Motha has also found out that in certain South Indian villages, women in labour would traditionally go to the local stream to immerse themselves in water to ease their contractions and often give birth there too. In parts of Mongolia, births still take place in a water-filled hammock made of cowhide, the water being gently heated from below. This has been done for hundreds of years.

The statistics shown in Dr Motha’s book relating to the Gentle Birth Method’s success are impressive, compared with those relating to mothers who have not had specialist preparation for birth. Mothers who have followed the 20-week programme become more and more confident throughout their pregnancy, have shorter labours, and suffer less tearing during the birthing. Every week Dr Motha’s phone rings with mothers expressing deep gratitude to her for a wonderful birth experience.

The book, co-authored by Karen Swan MacLeod, includes guidance on diet (including some of Dr Motha’s own favourite recipes), deep muscle relaxation, pelvic massage and visualisation techniques. It also advocates Reflexology and Creative Healing, a massage treatment using olive oil. Having originally been invented by an Englishman who emigrated to the United States, Creative Healing has been practised in America for over a century, but Dr Motha is the first person to teach it in Britain.

Dr Motha’s Gentle Birth Method is offered at her clinic in St John’s Wood and her clients include mothers (not all of them famous!) booked a various maternity units in and around London.

Dr Motha lives in South Woodford, and may be contacted locally on 020 8530 1146.

Gentle Birth Method; the Month-by-Month Jeyarani Way Programme is by Dr Gowri Motha & Karen Swan MacLeod. It is published by Thorsons, an imprint of HarperCollins.

West Essex Life. Issue 15, August 2004

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