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This one goes out to all the mamas, birth partners, midwives, doulas, obstetricians, and support teams interested in cacao’s potential as a birthing tool. This is my personal story of how Ceremonial Cacao weaved its magic into my home birth. It’s not medical advice. But it might give you some insight and inspiration into what’s possible!
When I became pregnant in 2012, it was hard to find information on the medicinal use of cacao during childbirth. I had already been apprenticing with the Cacao Deva for a few years at this point. And aside from her persistent nudges, it just made sense to me that Ceremonial Cacao might have some benefits and value for birthing.
Cacao has high amounts of magnesium which assists all the muscles in the body to relax. This could help during contractions and with dilation of the cervix. And think of the energy boost that cacao can offer. There’s also the benefit of having IxCacao herself as an addition to the birthing team. She is a fertility Goddess after all. It would be a blessing to have her around for extra emotional support, and to bring in all those beautiful heart opening love codes.
There were plenty of reasons why cacao seemed like an ideal birth support. But when I researched online I found almost nothing to back up my intuition. However my search did provide me with a lot of quality and informative info on home birthing, which was another important aspect of my birth vision.
I also discovered the game-changing book, Placenta - The Forgotten Chakra. It’s a deep dive into all things placenta, written by a phenomenal midwife, Robin Lim. Robin is also the founder of Bumi Sehat, a not-for-profit birthing centre in Bali.
Six months into my pregnancy initiation, the Cacao Deva guided my partner, and I to take a trip to Bali where we visited the birth centre and met with Robin Lim. Although we chose not to birth there and return home, it galvanised our decision to choose a homebirth and inspired me to opt for a full lotus birth, if all went well. We also connected with another brilliant midwife, Hope Medford, who has assisted over 450 births in countries all over the world. She is also the drummer for Nahko and Medicine for the People.
Growing belly and I waddled into Hope’s Rhythm & Natural Birth Class in Ubud. In the course Hope weaved her understanding of music, rhythm, breath, and birth into an inspiring mix. During the Q&A I was pulsed to ask Hope if she’d ever used cacao as a birth tool, or would recommend this. Hope lit up at the question. Having attended home births throughout Central and South America, she had worked with cacao!
Hope told us many women say yes to chocolate during birth. She always has a bar of 70 – 80% dark chocolate in her birth kit. Her chocolate is there in case the mama-to-be runs out of steam and needs a boost. (If even non-ceremonial chocolate has plenty of positives for birth, imagine what a pure ceremonial grade cacao can do?!!)
Of course, it’s all about preference. Some women might look at food and scream it away. But for those who do reach for chocolate, it’s often instinctual. As if deep in their being they are drawn to its benefits.
When I spoke with Hope about Ceremonial Cacao and my intention to work with it during birth, Hope thought it was a great idea. This connection with Hope (love the coincidental pun here) was the additional reassurance I needed before making cacao an integral part of my birth plan.
We knew the stats show that escalation to medical intervention can occur much quicker with hospital births than with home births. So having a home experience felt important. It also felt encouraging to have cacao as an ally at home to assist if I needed it. I prepped my beloved to have some cacao ready if I hit a phase of exhaustion during the birth. And so our birthing plan was finalised.
Fast forward a couple of months. We were back in our Northern Rivers home in NSW where we chose to birth. It was mid-winter and particularly cold. Our home was lit by candles and had the feel of a supportive, womblike cave with an altar to enlightened masters and guides lining one wall, and rugs softening the tiled floor. My waters broke in the morning. Our primary midwife, Bronwyn, couldn’t get to us straight away but her backup, Sarah, arrived pronto and played a key role in the birth. Along with Shaa by my side, my birthing attendants, Kaliana and El Rai, were angels, kept busy maintaining the heat of the birth pool, supplying hot towels to support in the cold, offering various flower essences, and chanting mantras to centre me and welcome the new soul in.
The love hormone, oxytocin, can help kick start things. And making out helps activate those love hormones. So early on, my beloved and I made out in the birthing pool to elevate that love state. I was inspired by the film Orgasmic Birth, centred on the intention that birth can be blissful. I intended to embrace my contractions as power surges. Ideally, I would breathe through them without resistance, relaxing through the process as much as possible.
The birth had started well and was moving quickly with regular contractions. It was heaven when I first stepped into the warm birthing pool. But it was too early, and everything slowed down. This is a common story with water births.
At one point my midwife told me I had to get out to try and get things moving again! I did not like this plan.
Reluctantly, I got out of the pool and did what needed to be done. That’s when a moment of clarity hit. Okay, things need to shift to the NEXT level. Shaa served me a dose of cacao. It wasn’t just the cacao that made the difference. I also did the soul work. Though the cacao clearly inspired this too. Sarah asked me, What are you holding onto? What are you afraid of?
I blurted out a stream of random answers that were seemingly insignificant in the moment. One of these was the bloody playlist. Haha! As my labour was a few days early I hadn't had time to prep my ideal playlist of birth songs and the random shuffle of tunes was ruining the vibe and annoying me. The damn music wasn’t right. Songs needed to be skipped. Can someone just SORT IT OUT!
But once I cleared these thoughts, I was able to connect with the deeper fear. I’m scared it’ll go too fast. I’m scared of tearing!
Bron talked me through ways to work with this fear. She reminded me of the things I could do to slow the process down, like breathwork. This was speaking my language. As a trained yogi I knew how to work with my breath. Having voiced the unspeakable fears, and with breath as my tool, I could move forwards again.
In a breakthrough moment I screamed out to the universe, Ok, I’m doing this! Cerrrmon babeee! And I cleared my fear. Then things really kicked in. The cacao gave me the impetus to connect to spirit and shift into that next gear.
And it was perfect. Our little son Marley Raphael was born, at home, in the pool. I didn’t have to go to hospital, use synthetic oxytocins, or have any medical intervention, and we had the lotus birth we wanted. I absolutely credit cacao for helping with that! Not only did the cacao seem to help with the physical aspects of birth, it helped with the emotional blockages. It’s a tool that can open you up to whatever needs to come through (literally so, in the case of birth).
Marley was born eighteen minutes past midnight. Which technically gave him a birthday two days after my own birthday. Just a little extra breathing space that I was grateful for.
Ceremonial Cacao is a potential aid wherever you choose to birth. If you’re planning to be in hospital, you could have cacao available alongside your medical options. Why not? Let your team know you plan to have some drinking chocolate ready to go.
In my own experience, cacao was not required early on. If you hit a wall or reach a slow point however, and feel you need extra physical or emotional assistance, or more energy, this could be the time for cacao. If you do choose to work with cacao, please go slow and tentatively. Stay tuned in. Listen. Your body will have unique requirements.
And remember, these are just thoughts, and are not intended as medical advice! Resourcing yourself with solid professional advice in advance will help you feel confident about your choices when you’re in the midst of the birthing portal initiation. Ultimately, your own intuition is your greatest guide.
For you mamas out there reading, I want to say, all births are precious. And all birth stories are valid. Mine is just one of billions. We’re so grateful for our experience. And we honour all the other experiences. However you birthed was perfect in the divine plan for you and your baby! Whether your birth is vaginal or tummy, assisted or natural, dream birth or not-as-planned, with or without a dose of cacao, you have done an amazing job Mama (and team)! Miraculous in fact!