Why Birthing Classes are Empowering
I have never spent a lot of time thinking about how good, bad, or ugly labor and delivery would be. Never spent a lot of time of course- until the last 8 months of my life growing this baby! The more I've read and chatted with other moms, the more I've started getting really scared and anxious about it. People don't talk a lot about how grueling labor and delivery can be. We are just supposed to think of it as a beautiful thing since we are bringing a beautiful life into the world. But it is daunting- mostly because of the unknown. I have been trying to change my mindset a bit the last couple of weeks. I'm starting to think of it like one of the many marathons and triathlons I've completed over the years. Mind over matter... You can do this!
This weekend my husband and I are taking our birthing classes. A lot of my girlfriends who are moms have been telling me... "Get ready to feel empowered!" I think they are right. Knowledge is power and there's comfort knowing my husband will be there to coach me through it. There's comfort knowing women have been doing this since humans first walked this Earth. After much consideration about where to get educated on the ever important birthing process, I have decided I want to take a holistic, scientific evidence backed approach, with a program founded here in Sydney, Australia.
My husband and I have chosen She Births. It incorporates active birthing, yoga, massage, nutrition, acupressure, breathing, relaxation, & effective partner support. I interviewed the founder, Nadine Richardson, about how moms should choose a birthing class that's best for them, when it's best to take classes, why they are empowering, and what separates She Births from other courses.
1. Becoming a new mom can be overwhelming. Why are birthing classes important for childbirth preparation?
Modern families need to learn about the body and all the ancient techniques women have been practising forever! We are no longer given access to birth like we would of 100 plus years ago. Therefore, we also need to overcome all of our modern anxieties, doubts and fears…that have built up through a lack of connection with birth and a lack of normalised viewing of birth thanks to hyper dramatised modern media.
2. What are some aspects of these classes that help ease fear?
Knowledge is Power. I think the two biggest elements that minimise fear are 1 - Discovering the way the body is designed to work in a harmonious manner e.g. the pelvis, the uterus layers, the amazing hormones and our nervous system, as well as their interconnection to our mind and beliefs, is liberating for all people. 2 - Alongside learning and practising all the awesome Eastern tools for birth such as breathing, yoga, massage, acupressure os also really important to minimising fears.
3. How far out from due date is the optimal time to be taking classes? When is the best time to pick a class? Do they fill up?
It is best to do the course between 22 and 36 weeks gestation. Women tell us that earlier is better because the knowledge liberates them from fear which allows them to not only enjoy their pregnancy more but 98% of our couples also report feeling more connected to one another and able to communicate more effectively with their caregivers as a result.
4. You are the founder of the course my husband and I have chosen, She Births. I chose you because so many people have said it’s the best. If couples are new to an area or don’t know couples who have taken courses, how should they go about picking?
Very few courses have as many elements to them as She Births® and certainly none have the rigorous scientific validation we do. If you are unable to take a course with us in person I highly recommend doing our Online Course. This will give you everything you both need. However, if you are also wanting to go to classes in your area to meet other couples then look for a course that is evidence based, multi-faceted in it’s tool kit eg. breathing and active birthing but also critically it must be balanced in it’s philosophy towards pain and help you with information to create a beautiful birth, whatever unfolds.
5. The She Births website says it is the world’s only scientifically verified childbirth education program. How did you earn that label and why is it so important for expecting parents?
We earned it honestly, with years and years of hard work! I had been teaching couples the She Births® program for over 5 years and was committed to it being the best preparation. I was (and still am) continually improving and refining the course according to my studies and many hours in the labour room. A mother came to me for a private She Births® course petrified of birth, after two very traumatic deliveries, and then asked if she could study my program for her PhD after a fantastic third birth. I said YES of course. We worked together over 4 years and she conducted randomised controlled trials. The results were so great they were published in the world’s most respected journal, British Medical Journal. We achieved a 65% reduction in epidural, 44% reduction in c-section and a 53% reduction in resuscitation of babies. We even reduced perineal trauma and ‘pushing time’ by over 30 minutes.
6. She Births serves participants by teaching active birthing, yoga, massage, nutrition, acupressure, breathing, relaxation, & effective partner support. Which of these aspects separate She Births from other birthing classes?
I think all of them really, but mostly the yoga and our overall philosophy. Although other educators may be mimicking our holistic 'tool kit', they don’t understand the WAY these elements are taught is critical and must be cohesive. Everything in She Births® is imbued with a (non-obvious) spirituality. This comes through in the approach we take in techniques. For example, I have a totally different approach to teaching active birthing which is based on ancient Vedic (yogic) philosophy. Curriculum is important but we can’t begin to separate elements and throw them around the place because intention and philosophy is critical - it lays the foundation from where all things arise and the attitude we bring.
7. As women, we do almost all the hard work in the baby making process - including delivery day. But how critical are dads (partners) in the birthing process?
Partners are incredibly important. As the first generation of fathers being invited into the labour room, they carry a huge responsibility. They are pain relief and they are the advocate for mum in the busy system. This is ancient women’s business but in my experience, their biceps for a bi-lateral hip squeeze during every contraction is priceless on the day and will help you dilate so much more easily. Read more about our top tips for Dads at birth here https://shebirths.com/dads-make-darnedest-doulas/ or even our annual Daddy Doula awards for some legendary stories https://shebirths.com/birthing-stories/daddy-doula-stories/
8. I am excited about taking your weekend course not just because of the knowledge I’ll gain about childbirth, but also about recovery, breast feeding, and the early stages of parenting. Can you share a few thoughts on each of those?
REST REST REST for a solid four weeks after birth. This is key to integrating all the changes, understanding your baby and having energy a year down the line!
In my opinion breast feeding can be far more complex than birth. Allow your baby to find the breast themselves straight after birth. We call this Baby Led Attachment. There is no rush. This will help them go through all the steps required for better and easier attachment. Plus, call on your local breastfeeding counsellors and lactation consultants as soon as you feel concerned about anything or want to bounce ideas. Read more about our top breast feeding tips here https://shebirths.com/expert-interview-breastfeeding-consultant/
Parenting is one of my favourite topics, because of course, it is my greatest joy in life! Early parenting is a very sacred time and one of simplicity and service. We call this Bhakti in yoga. Allow yourself to simply be of service to your little one and let go of all the other concerns you can, just for a while. You are doing the most important job in the world. The connection you have with your little one over that first 18 months will lay the foundations for their brain and love chemistry for the whole of their life. Freedom comes later ;)
9. She Births offers weekend courses and online courses. For people who can’t make it to a live class, why is the online course a good option?
The online course is a fantastic option for people all around the globe. It is such a fun way to learn too ie. in the comfort of your own home. Lots of couples listen to me teaching while flicking through the class notes on their TV screen. They have a yoga mat on the floor allowing them to pause and practice the techniques when they like. Afterwards, lots of mums review the course in their phones while they are out walking or even send the lessons to Dads overseas who may be working. The content is the same, but delivery is different. Plus it is a bargain too! https://shebirths.com/courses/online-program/
Nadine Richardson is an expert in childbirth, pregnancy and prenatal yoga based in Sydney, Australia. She is the director of The Birthing Institute, and founder of the world’s only scientifically verified childbirth education program, She Births®, which she created 10 years ago. As an educator, doula, and prenatal yoga teacher, it is Nadine’s mission to take the fear out of childbirth – by helping women connect to, and trust their bodies, and by equipping their partners to not only provide effective support but to be an active participant in the journey.
FRIENDS! Don't forget to leave me some comment love on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Also, please tag a girlfriend in the posts if you think she's interested in the content from AnnaKooiman.com