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The Surprising Things I Learnt From Doing The She Births Online Course

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Latest Stories

It’s not what you think.

I’m not what I’d call a willing student. I love learning, don’t get me wrong, but not in any kind of formal environment — the thought of “going back to study” makes me feel kinda sick. So it's probably no surprise that I was 36 weeks pregnant before I even started thinking about birth courses.

Thanks to American sitcoms, I had a very cringey idea of what birthing courses looked like, so I was pretty convinced I was just going to wing it, until my midwife suggested I look at She Births®. It was Australian (tick! no annoying voices) it was scientifically verified (tick! I didn’t even know this could be a thing!) and the other big tick was that it was online. Online I could do — and more importantly I could convince my partner to do.

My partner, Phil learns everything at the school of YouTube, but even so he was openly reluctant, and really just agreed to placate me/ stop me from another pregnancy-fuelled meltdown. His interest in the birth was more about “wetting the baby’s head” after than holding my hand during.

And then we did the She Births® course. Not once, but twice because I have two kids and I couldn’t imagine birthing without a refresher in the course that changed my whole perspective about labour, and helped me have the two dream, positive, non-intervention births I didn’t even know I wanted.

And now? Now it’s Phil that sits down the expectant fathers-to-be and tells them to do this course. It’s both of us preaching the words of course founder, Nadine Richardson, to anyone at any stage of pregnancy that will listen. It had that kind of effect on us. So you can imagine just how excited I was that The Memo have now partnered with She Births® too — because of course they have, they only have the best. And now I’m sharing my key takeaways with you; the surprising things that stuck with me, that I didn’t expect, but that I think make this course special.

Birth isn’t something to fear

Every Hollywood movie will tell you that birthing is scary, that there’s a lot of screaming and you’re always on the bed in an unflattering robe. But probably the biggest gift She Births® gave me, was taking away that fear — I went from being terrified to actually looking forward to it. A huge focus in the course was deconstructing how we deal with stressful situations and talking about our fears with our partner, which of course helped with the emotional part of my brain. But the part that really stuck with me, the part that I found most comfort in was far more rational. It explained that labour is not pathological pain, like say breaking your arm. It is literally your body doing exactly what it needs to bring your baby to you. In the depths of labour, I kept coming back to that, reminding myself that it’s not pain, but my body just doing its thing. And what a thing!

Bring on the oxytocin

I haven’t done any other birth courses so I have nothing to compare it to, but one thing that we both loved in She Births® was that explained the science/ biological part of the process in a way that deeply appealed to our nerdiness. It wasn't all just about breathwork (though, of course there was that too) but the whole course is scientifically verified – and they’ve had some impressive results from people doing the course (like a 65% reduction in epidural rates, and a 44% reduction in caesarean sections). It was here I learned the most important physiological thing I could do in labour: keep the oxytocin flowing. Oxytocin is the hormone also referred to as the “love drug” but in labour it causes the uterus to contract and push the baby down the birth canal. But the one thing that overrides oxytocin? Adrenalin – the fight or flight hormone that spikes when we’re scared. So as hard as I knew it would be, I also knew I would have the calmest, fastest birth if I tried to not freak out, and let fear take over.

Your partner is part of the experience

I never expected a birth course to bond me with my partner, yet here we are. See, so much of pregnancy we experience alone, with our partner looking in from the sidelines. We feel all the changes to our body, the kicks, the growth, the magic of it all, but they don’t. What She Births® did for us is level the playing field. It made us feel like we were in it together, and that he had an important part to do — he had a role. Learning about the birth process, through a psychological and physiological lens gave him the confidence to be a great birthing partner. In his words, he said to me that beforehand he just thought it was something traumatic he’d have to watch me go through. The course gave him the tools to support me, get the baby out safely and not to panic. He was not only a strong, but calming presence through both my labours, I trusted him completely to know what I needed, and to be there. The oxytocin was definitely alive and thriving! It was an unexpected bonding experience and I went into labour feeling like we were doing it as a team.

Control is an illusion

Although She Births® has some amazing stats from those doing the course, a lot of focus is also put on not getting too attached to your “birth plan”. Knowing your ideal birth and discussing that with your partner/ midwife team is one thing, but labour, just like every part of motherhood, is one big lesson in surrender. Sometimes, even with the best planning, it won’t go as expected, so all you can do is be as prepared as possible, trust your body and your team. For us that meant discussing, and making peace, with all outcomes, even if it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. In the end I was one of the lucky ones. I had two calm, drug-free, non-intervention birthing experiences, both in water with classical music playing in the background and my partner right behind me. In fact I was so calm, my waters actually broke at a wedding, and I insisted we stay for entree because I wanted the spring rolls. Part of it I’m sure was genetics, and some perhaps luck. But most of it I attribute to having —and using — the tools the She Births® course gave me. That and the medjool dates and coconut water (IYKYK - or at least the course will tell you).

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