On today’s episode, Elle and Taylor are joined by Dr. Coco Cabrel, a Flamenco choreographer and professor, with an MD from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine to talk about the births of her children, and how flamenco dance affected her during pregnancy and postpartum. She shares the tools she learned through flamenco that assisted her during the births of her 3rd and 4th children, and how each of her births differed from each other. She talks about empowerment, the power of rhythm during labor, how to dig deep emotionally and physically, and how giving birth makes you into a god/goddess!
“It was always magic, and there was something about just watching this brand new being just come out into the world that REALLY got me!” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“It’s all about digging deep inside yourself. It’s all about oppression and then finding the place inside yourself to figure out the way out – figure out the way out of oppression, and come out of it beautiful. Right? Come out of it better – better than ever!” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“It teaches you in a physical way how to emotionally dig deep when you need it.” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“Even if you are an experienced mom, each birth is very different from the others.” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“It’s so helpful to have a tool like rhythm to pull out of your toolbox in those moments.” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“That’s actually one of the most common coping mechanisms seen across all cultures when birthing, is clinging to a rhythm of some kind.” – Elle Kennedy
“Finding a rhythm – whether that’s swaying back and forth in some kind of rhythm, or talking to yourself or muttering to yourself under your breath in some kind of rhythm-ized speech pattern, to tapping your hand. It can be external as well – someone brushing your hair, or stroking your arm or your back – it doesn’t have to be internalized.” – Elle Kennedy
“It’s also why yoga, meditation, things like that are recommended so frequently to practice before labor is to get you into the mindset of being present in the moment and not worrying, like you said, about ‘oh my god, I have to count another number, and another number.’ It gets you to stop worrying about how many numbers you’ve already counted and how many more numbers are gunna come, and just be in that present moment of ‘I’m here. I’m here right for this second. I’m getting through this right this second.’ And the next thing you know, ‘It’s another second, and I’m still here and I’m still doing it. I’m still here and I’m still going it.’ It’s constantly being in that present second.” – Elle Kennedy
“It develops that skill of being able to, in the moment, check in with different parts of your body, which is very very useful during pregnancy and during that birth process.” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“It’s that ability to isolate – pay attention to the isolated parts of your body, and be curious, and ask yourself ‘What is this body part doing? How is this body part feeling?’ Like you said, is it anchored? When you’re having a contraction, is the contraction actually painful? No, it’s just my muscles are tightening, and I don’t have control of it, and that’s scary, and that’s where that pain is coming from. But once you can recognize the physical sensation of ‘This is just my abdomen, my uterus contracting. It’s just a muscle tightening,’ Maybe it’s less painful now, and I can move through it, because I’ve recognized – I’ve isolated that body part, identified what that sensation is ‘It’s a tightening sensation.’ But there’s no judgment associated with that physical sensation, and if we can move past that, that can give us coping mechanisms.” – Elle Kennedy
“Our bodies do not make babies that are too big to be birthed! There are other ways! It’s just that so many of our hospital births and our medical-trained care-givers don’t understand physiological birth and they aren’t willing to break from their routines. They aren’t willing to let birthing people try other positions or try moving around or just give them enough time.” – Elle Kennedy
“I also wish that we would see more experiences that are beautiful, that are empowering, that show the woman mastering herself, right?” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
“You’re literally allowing a being that is not out here yet to pass through – pass through that physical, and perhaps that metaphysical tunnel to come out here and to exist here on this earth! Isn’t that part of the definition of being a god or being a goddess?!” – Dr. Coco Cabrel
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Today’s guest: Dr. Coco Cabrel
Coco Cabrel is a Flamenco choreographer and professor, with an MD from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Impeccably-trained in ballet from childhood, she found Flamenco while nursing her second child, when she wanted to return to dance but knew her postpartum, breastfeeding body needed a beginner dance class. Flamenco gave her the physical strength to heal a herniated disc without surgery, and the emotional empowerment to rise stronger from a divorce.
In a Chicago dance company, Coco met her now-husband, Jan Shane, a native of Poland who was steered into Flamenco when his college ballet professor found him “too wild.” When Coco and Jan were partnered for the first time, sparks flew in the rehearsal studio, and they were cast most famously as Othello and Desdemona in the US premiere of “Otelo,” the Flamenco ballet of the great Madrid maestro, Ciro.
Coco was pregnant with their first son while teaching both Flamenco dance and Anatomy & Physiology at the University of New Mexico in Taos. She and Jan, a set builder for film and TV, wanted a more natural birth than they had in their previous marriages. The Taos Midwifery Center gave them a Russian video on water birth, and they were hooked. Coco taught her Flamenco classes and performed full 3-hour shows throughout her pregnancy and post-partum. Jan was by her side the whole time.
The water birth was so easy that Coco thought, “I could do this again.” And she did. A water home birth at age 43. With Jan and their 22-month-old in the pool, in their living room, with her.
Resources related to today’s episode:
Who are Elle and Taylor?
Elle Kennedy is a maternity, birth, and family photographer and doula based in Orange County, California. She’s a mother of two, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an advocate for consent and respect for personal preferences during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. She homeschools, is polyamorous, loves tea and scones, and loves using her free time to create and bake.
Dr. Taylor Garcia is a Webster Certified Chiropractor located in the Orange County, California area, with a family practice that focuses on pregnant persons and babies. She is currently going through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s certification program and plans to have that completes by 2021. While not a mama yet, she is the consummate “mom friend,” and hopes to adopt with her partners in about 5 years. She is part of the LGBTQ+ community and polyamorous. She believes in focusing on health and wellness from before birth, and using that as a firm foundation for health and wellness throughout life. She believes in the importance of connection and consent in all aspects of life. She is a dancer, a writer, a bookworm, and a fan of music and musicals.
Facebook: Elle Kennedy Photography
Facebook: Dr. Taylor Garcia, DC