Founder of Birth to Birth, Camalo Gaskin uses the power of storytelling to reimagine how we birth and become mothers. She launched Birth to Birth Talks to open public dialogue with luminaries and global thoughtleaders impacting maternity care worldwide. Co-Founder of Fearless Birth California Festival and fund to give access to birth choices for all families. She’s spoken on the Pecha Kucha stage at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Her life moving between London, Japan, Berlin, and California have found their way into her style and stories she shares with her daughter Gigi and son Giacomo.
Camalo is a Mama Glow Icon because her commitment to transforming the way women and their partners experience birth is changing the face of birth in Berlin and beyond.
What inspires you about birth?
Birth has the powerful potential to transform a woman. This amazes me. Witnessing it, I see that birth becomes a woman. It is a unique experience that comes from within. The sensations are incomparable, and the total experience is life-changing. I treasure hearing a woman tell a birth story. I know it will be a story only she can tell.
It’s natural for a woman to what to know what there is to expect. The sensations are very individual. Like any powerful bodily sensation. If we explore birth as a form of orgasm, we know every description will be her own story.
To give the experience context, I often use metaphors to speak about birth. It is like setting out to climb a mountain. You’re not always sure what the conditions will be or what terrain you specifically will traverse. There are tools to help you prepare, and time-tested wisdom from previous travellers and guides, but each journey will be unique. After any journey, the climber returns with a story. Transformed.
It is an experience you invite. A challenge, sometimes an ultimate challenge, that is rich with sources of reflection. A rite of passage. Birth can be a woman’s Everest. For me, that is inspiring.
How do you juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship?
With my platform Birth to Birth, I’m always on. Always thinking of new initiatives, new projects, forming new relationships, thinking about what experiences I can curate for the people I work with, thinking about what they need to ease into their new experience of motherhood (and often fatherhood). With work that is so personal, the lines of work and normal life get pretty blurred.
I balance this by consciously holding space for my children. To cultivate that intimate space to share with my oldest daughter, we have rituals. One is storytelling. This came about from conversations with her where time felt fleeting. To connect the smaller moments we shared, we created an ongoing story where a girl wanders the city and asks strangers what brings them delight. The strangers go into detail with their response. Gigi will always intercede with something dynamic. It gives us that chance to create feelings and invent with our imaginations. It brings us close, even when there is little time.
At times we will extend the stories by making mama dates. We dress up. She loves altering my clothes to fit her. I take her out at night. That is novel for her. Or to experience something in the day that had been the subject of one of our stories. We’ve gone to thermal salt spas where we float and must whisper for a few hours. Or we’ve gone to contemporary ballets where she will be standing in tears because she is in awe witnessing people flying. It’s special for me to witness this kind of synaesthetic response to her world. It inspires my work.
You are a birth worker, what are the unique services you offer?
Birth is rich with meaning in the life of a woman. The relationship she builds with her partner around this transition is also pivotal. It deserves its own rites of passage. Birth to Birth Immersion is an experience to help pregnant women and their birth partners develop relevant rituals and other practices to make them feel deeply connected to becoming parents in a contemporary context. The design of the program was informed by my own experience birthing alone with an engaged midhusband, and my fascination with couvade rituals that I came across in my anthropology research. In the Immersion I guide women and men through a curation of rituals that include storytelling, sensory play, and a space to invigorate their sensual bond. At the core of the experience women are gradually learning to trust in the functions of her birthing body. Both partners work with the sensory languages they best understand, in order to communicate their limits and desires. What I love about the Immersion is that her partner has a space to also engage by displaying admiration for this process through ritual building, using the senses that make them feel most alive. I want them to find a contemporary medium to become the peacock. To display their adoration. Because today partners want to be engaged beyond the mating phase!
When you invite this kind of creative space around birth, the expression of sensuality have shown up as film scripts, musical compositions, culinary experiences, re-marriages, and other ceremonies that include a total sensory reinvention. This is an immersion of our whole selves to carry into becoming new mothers and engaged fathers.
I also provide boutique consultation and programs for women who are seeking to live abroad and especially those embarking on life as a woman with child in foreign lands. As she expands globally, she also expands in her new role as an itinerant mother.
What is coming up for Birth to Birth?
I am launching Birth to Birth Talks, a platform for illuminating big ideas and practices that help us reimagine the way we birth and become mothers. This is a space to dialogue with those treasured speakers whose timeless thinking must be carried to the next generation.
For his life-long dedication to asking provocative questions that have lead to some of the most radical steps toward gentler births globally, I have invited Dr. Michel Odent to Berlin as our inaugural speaker. He will address the question, “What is the future of childbirth? At 84, he is one of the most avant garde thinkers of our time, in regard to the future of humanity and childbirth. It is a total honor to have him share.
My vision is to have this kind of dynamic dialogue be channeled into contemporary childbirth practice and policy that impacts maternity care everywhere. Birth to Birth, at the core, refers to the passage of stories from generation to generation and region to region, from one woman to the next… from birth to birth.
Camalo’s Glow Tips for Luminous Living:
Slow Down: Set aside time to slow down enough to tell intimate stories.
Morning Midnfulness: Start the day with hot water, lemon, and long deep breaths.
Love and Be Loved: I am inspired by the many faces of maternal instinct, especially the one to fall deeply in love.
Follow birth to birth talks on twitter @birthtobirth
Visit Birth To Birth and learn more about Camalo’s work!
Get updates and book tickets at http://talks.birthtobirth.com/odent2015