We’re excited to introduce our new Boody Baby ambassador, Nadine Richardson. Mother, yoga teacher, doula, director of The Birthing Institute and founder of the world’s only scientifically-verified childbirth education program, She Births®, Nadine is also the host of The She Births® Show (Podcast & YouTube).
Phew, we’re tired just listing it all out! How does she fit everything into her day?
Well, Nadine is an inspiration to all parents, female entrepreneurs and people passionate about making birth better. We are delighted to have her as an ambassador for Boody Baby. We caught up with Nadine about the inspiration behind the program, some of her favourite birth stories and more.
What was the inspiration behind starting She Births®?
After giving birth to my son 17 years ago, I was left with so many questions. Firstly, I was wondering why the 12-week birth preparation course we’d completed didn’t prepare myself or my partner for the experience we had?
Every expert I spoke to after my birth wasn’t able to answer my questions fully. Like, why does birth unfold a particular way, or why do some women experience more pain than others?
I started reading and studying all that I could around the world. I began attending births after training as a doula (labour assistant). I then had another labour experience and lots of my questions began to be answered, especially the more births I attended.
I realised that women needed and deserved so much more than what was available – so I just had to create my own unique, comprehensive and holistic program in 2008.
As I come from a medical family over two generations, it was important to me that the program is evidenced based, professional and respectful of all women’s choices. Firstly, however, people need to be informed to make the best decisions for them.
Our mission is to restore the sanctity of birth, build stronger families and reframe the culture and attitudes towards birth both in the home, media and also within the workplace.
What is She Births®?
We’re the only scientifically-verified childbirth education program in the world, proven to improve birth outcomes for both mother and baby. We provide a unique, comprehensive toolkit of skills for mums and partners. It empowers mums to have better births and enables partners to provide effective support.
Our goal has always been to restore the beauty and sacredness of birth. Yet, birth is just the beginning. When we meet our child we participate together, in an event that is one of the most important both in their lives and ours. It’s a magic moment.
But as so many of us have experienced, if the birth process is overwhelming and extremely challenging, traumatic, disempowering, or if we’re just unsure of how to navigate the busy hospital system and if our partner has no idea how to help, that magic moment can seem like a fantasy.
We have to work to make birth special. We need to shape our philosophy and mindset in the lead up to birth. We need to prepare. We need to gather together a toolkit that can enable us to be empowered in any scenario, in order to feel the awesome pride and maternal satisfaction that we deserve.
I want that magic moment to be a reality for everyone. By preparing families for every birth scenario, we’re able to create a beautiful birth experience, no matter what unfolds. We prepare you for every birth scenario, allowing you to create a positive birth experience even when medical assistance is needed or chosen.
What does the name mean?
The name often brings up questions for people; wondering if the course is only for women. The course is for pregnant women and their birth partner or support person. We welcome all families – solo-mums, same-sex couples, elective c-section, elective epidural mums.
And of course, partners and the birth support people play a very significant and active role during the course and at birth. Most of us have never attended a birth before so to go into a birth room and be the that primary support is almost criminal. And sometimes it can even leave fathers traumatised.
She is about the masculine and feminine principles at play during birth, as well as our bespoke approach. We do not ever dictate how birth ‘should be’ or what it should feel or look like, as it is such a unique experience for everyone… only She can find that out for herself.
Apart from the obvious fact that only She can give birth, it is also She as a feminine strength that is awoken during this awesome rite of passage into motherhood, via a process of surrendering, trusting and letting go.
Just like there is a balance of Yin and Yang, there is also a He within the She, a journey that is taken together. All families can awaken to aspects of strength and surrender, support and presence, both the masculine and feminine principles within each of us.
Through the challenge of birth, we have an opportunity to connect to a deeper, stronger, clearer and more powerful part of ourselves. We can travel into the unknown and learn how to trust nature while feeling profoundly connected to our partners and our babies. Ultimately the rite of passage is a strengthening foundation for all families.
Can you tell us a bit about the programs you run?
We started out as a sharing session over a ‘cup of tea’ in my lounge room and has now become a movement of like-minded families around the world.
When you enrol in a course, be it face-to-face or online, you are guaranteed to receive the same quality program. Our 4-week Online Program follows the same structure as our face-to-face Weekend Course and the Weekend Courses also give access to all the online resources you need to continue learning and practising for the big day. Our app allows you to prepare for birth and parenting with quality education and free resources in the palm of your hand.
Our Weekend Courses are available in NSW and VIC. We have a team of experienced and passionate certified educators who alongside myself facilitate the weekends. We are in Vaucluse, Manly, Newcastle, Byron Bay, Orange and Geelong. I’m teaching in Byron in September and many couples are coming from Melbourne and Sydney and making it their babymoon.
Our prenatal yoga is an integral part of many mums’ preparation too. I teach weekly prenatal yoga in North Bondi and if you enjoy a home practice, we have that too.
Australian workplaces have come a long way in supporting parents. We are encouraging that support to start during pregnancy. We work with a number of corporates to empower them to support their people through pregnancy and prepare them more fully for birth and parenting by fostering a positive culture of parenting within the workplace. “Childbirth and Parenting should be celebrated, not hidden” within workplaces is the way one dad put it.
And we support our fellow birth workers too by providing ongoing professional development for midwives, yoga teachers and doulas.
Of course, it is also important to understand that us here in the wealthy developed countries have access to the best medical assistance that many of our fellow families on the other side of the world miss out on. We have implemented a Buy 1 Give 1 program that supports families across Africa to receive free birth and parenting education over one year via mobile technology provider, TotoHealth.
What are some of your favourite birth stories since creating She Births®?
I love to hear how women have been able to manage the challenges of birth by using our program. It’s not just about all the awesome drug-free water births – which we have a lot of. It is about the women who have been induced and coped with the stress and pain of that so much better because of their preparation with us.
For me, it’s about the mums who have c-sections that tell me their birth was connected, loving and wonderful because of the resources we gave them.
I can’t choose one particular story but I do know that reading, listening and watching positive birth stories is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a better birth. We provide an indexed blog, podcasts and birth story interview videos within the app and as part of our Online Program and Weekend Course to help families build that knowledge and belief in birth and themselves.
You prefer to use the terms 'tools' instead of techniques. Why is this?
It is actually impossible to simply ‘apply a technique’ to our labour. Take hypnosis for example. In my opinion, all hypnosis is actually self-led bodily relaxation plus positive self-talk. It is a natural state we can fall into thanks to our birthing hormones but it is also a state we can evoke through practising downward body scanning and being conscious of our internal dialogue.
We are all unique and we all experience birth differently. I have discovered that people need tools and philosophy, more than techniques. We need to test and try the tools during our pregnancy so we are familiar with them, and the same again during labour. But you will need to apply the tools in your own way.
You will need to make that breathing ‘technique’ your own in order to ride that contraction in the calmest way. That’s how it is with a tool – as though you were choosing a spanner out of a toolkit, holding it in your own hand and applying it in a specific way, place and time. Context is so important with labour and a woman’s unique experience of sensations while her baby moves down inside her own body is so important.
Which birthing tool would you recommend the most?
Birthing tools help all of us in different ways and at different times. We survey our mums regularly and have found that families use all of the She Births® tools during birth, but also across pregnancy and early parenting too. They become life skills.
In those surveys, however, our four breathing techniques always come up first. Learning how to breath for birth and how to orchestrate a calmness within the body-mind changes your life. These skills are critical for pain relief and happiness. They allow us to respond rather than react when your child throws a tantrum in the supermarket and how to make space in your belly, for example during a contraction so you allow the fascia to relax and your baby to move down more easily.
What advice would you give newly-pregnant women right at the beginning of their journey of deciding what sort of birth they want?
Only choose the type of birth you want after you have completed your birth education. Don’t make a decision based on your friends, family or TV exposure!
Whatever you do, stop listening to negative stories. If someone is sharing their story and they can’t explain to you exactly why something happened to them or share with some degree of humility that not all births are ‘their experience’ then they shouldn't be sharing their story with you! They should probably be in a professionals office going through a proper debriefing session and bringing clarity to the unanswered questions.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like She Births® to be available to every woman on the planet, in whatever way she needs it. At the moment I am starting to develop a universal free birth education model that could be implemented across developing countries, regional and remote areas including our own indigenous communities.
I would like to expand our WorkPlace program too and change the conversation for families within the corporate environment so that we don’t feel afraid, judged or discriminated against because of our family-led choices.
Last but not least, we're excited to share a special offer for the Boody community – 10% off the Full Online Program with the code boody10