Interview with Nadine Richardson of She Births

Pregnancy & Birth

She Births The Merge Journal Birthing Pregnancy

by Liz

When I was pregnant with my first daughter I went on the hunt for the best birth course I could find. I knew I wanted to birth as naturally as possible and wanted a course where I could learn all of my options and walk away with both myself and my hubby feeling confident and prepared for the birth of our baby.

When I came across Nadine Richardson’s She Births course I was positive that it was the perfect birth course for us and the fact that it was held in Sydney and we live in Melbourne was just a minor detail. Yep, we flew to Sydney for the weekend course. I’m sure some people would think I was crazy but I just wasn’t able to find a birth course as comprehensive as She Births in Melbourne!

Luckily for you there are now trained She Births teachers across the country and even overseas, all trained by Nadine, and an online course is also available.

The trip to Sydney was well worth it, I really couldn’t recommend She Births highly enough. I’ve now used the techniques I learnt with the birth of both of my babies and have had two intervention free birthing experiences.

Firstly, what is She Births? Many of us have heard of Calm birth and hypnobirthing courses, how is She Births different? 

She Births is very different because it is a unique and comprehensive complementary medicines toolkit for birth. SB encompasses a broad range of evidence based tools and techniques that have never been combined before. One of those tools is self-hypnosis or deep relaxation / visualisation – akin to that basis of calmbirth and hypnobirthing but SB also includes critical knowledge that empowers partners with skills to help mum during labour such as pain relief massage, acupressure, rebozo (mexican shawl technique), yoga and even nutrition for a better birth and pregnancy … plus lots more.

She Births The Merge Journal Natural Birth

Photography by Jerusha Sutton

Can you tell us how She Births came about? What made you so passionate about birth?

I became interested in childbirth after labour with my son Leroy 14 years ago. I came out of the 36 hour long experience going ‘Wow – not one second of the childbirth preparation course I did prepared me for any of that!”

I then became very passionate about learning as much as I could about birth and I wanted to help other women and couples avoid an experience like mine.

I studied and qualified in numerous courses and modalities and listened to more stories of other women through my prenatal yoga classes. There was just so many traumatic and negative stories that I was compelled to do something that would be the most influential and tangible in its impact – and childbirth education is key.

One of those early courses I completed when Leroy was only 2 years old allowed me to work as a doula (trained labour assistant) which is where I really saw how couples laboured differently. If they had prepared with calm birth, active birth or hospital courses, the labouring and the outcomes were very varied. I knew I had to give women the biggest toolkit for birth possible and try to squeeze it all into a 2 day seminar (because that’s all most folk have time and money for) and add lots of other additional books and online resources.

Every couple needs both the calming and the active skill plus an understanding of the medical tools. I knew I needed to create a course that not only empowered mum but focused greatly on skilling up dads. This is one of the key differences, despite our name …She Births® – we give numerous more for the dads and gives them much more to do on the day and understand the system and how they can advocate for mums.

She Births The Merge Journal Birthing Pregnancy

Let’s talk birth plans. Obviously we can’t fully plan our births, but you believe in being prepared and educated, having a “plan” and knowing what you want for your birth, right? Having a “plan” helps you avoid falling down the rabbit hole of intervention, yes?

I don’t believe in a birth plan! I believe that writing your birth preferences – once you are truly informed is a critical conversation piece with your caregivers before birth and during labour.

The rabbit hole – or the conveyer belt exists in every busy beaurocratic system unfortunately and we need to make clear our preferences because every caregiver, every section of the hospital has its own systematic protocols and paperwork to follow. Through the birth preferences sheet we are requesting a particular language, more natural suggestions and only involvement if caregivers believe it is medically necessary generally. So it demands ‘individualised care’ for every woman – and that is critical. Otherwise low risk women get funnelled down the hole of high intervention.

I learnt about the ‘physiological third stage’ during your She Births course and have now had one for the births of both of my daughters. Can you tell us what it is and what the benefits are?

A true physiological third stage is when caregivers wait for the cord to stop pulsing (which is the sharing of stem cell rich blood into the baby from placenta) and also for the placenta to be delivered naturally – via the mum’s oxytocin levels / contractions (which is best enhanced by skin to skin contact with her baby and a quiet environment) and then the cord is finally clamped and cut.

The benefits are very well documented now and evidence based practices are slowly being adopted in hospital systems around the world. It is even considered 1 of the 3 first birth rites amongst some caregivers (along with skin to skin contact and supported breastfeeding). What this allows for is the baby to receive its full blood quotient. After birth a transfusion takes place from placenta to child. Up to 30% of the child’s blood is still in the placenta at birth, obviously because this is how the child receives oxygenation and nutrients. It is going through a transition after birth and ideally all of the blood would be given to that baby’s major viscera (organs) at the time in the ideal world.

You recommend a sugar and gluten free diet for an easier labour and recovery- can you tell us about that? 

This works so incredibly well! Sugars, even natural, are very altering of the endocrine system but it also inflames our ligaments (that stretch a lot during birth) and our digestive tract (which is right next to the uterus during birth). Wheat has a similar effect but it also congests the pelvic space and can cause vaginal oedemas.

So we are minimising pain referral during labour, helping the body absorb more nutrients, providing better gut flora to mum and baby (via seeding of the micro biome in vaginal delivery) and shortening 2nd stage.

Let’s talk about the 4th trimester, what is it and can you explain what your ideal 4th trimester would look like?

This is a very sacred time. There is so much learning going on for the mum and dad and of course baby. A 4th trimester is a bit like a chinese medicine ‘golden month’ – where you take the time to rest and repair after birth. You bind the belly and stay in bed as much as possible – eating lots of nourishing soups and stews and simplify your life, minimise visitors and leaving home etc.

A 4th trimester also alludes to the knowledge that once we, as a race, became upright mammals our pelvis’ narrowed and thus as a species we all give birth to our babies earlier … so all human babies are actually premature. Their brains and nervous systems and still forming and they cannot avoid things like over stimulation from excited grandparents. Many complications like colic and reflux can actually be due to this simple ability to regulate self or ‘turn away’ that only takes place at around 12 weeks. I am no expert but my colleague Dr Howard Chilton certainly is!

For a first time pregnant mama, or perhaps even a mama who wants her next birth to be different than her last, what would your advice be? 

Go to a She Births® course – you will be amazed at how the right knowledge will transform your mind from fear into confidence and how the right tools will change the way you experience, perceive and even feel contractions!  Childbirth is designed to be a beautifully bonding and enriching and deeply empowering rite of passage for all involved. Embrace it and welcome it and believe in yourself!

She Births The Merge Journal Birthing Pregnancy

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