How to feel confident going into birth – Interview With Shevonne Hunt

How to feel confident going into birth – Interview With Shevonne Hunt

Written on 06/17/2022
She Births®

Our Founder  @nadine_shebirths  and Shevonne Hunt cover all your birth preparation and postnatal planning questions 💕 Including how to feel confident going into birth.

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Labour can be an unknown and frightening prospect.

But what if you could go into this experience feeling confident and empowered?

Nadine Richardson founded SheBirths to help women have better birth experiences.

She explains the most practical ways a woman can prepare for birth.

Shevonne –

How do you or did you feel about giving birth?

Nadine –

When we got into birth feeling confident in ourselves in, our partners in the team in nature’s design in our hormones, then we put ourselves in a sort of grouping that gives us a better chance of having a more natural and more gentle and more joyous experience and a more loving and connected experience.

Shevonne –

On this episode of feed, play love, we’re going to show you the way to feeling confident about having a baby – (intro) feed play love with Shavon hunt.

Shevonne –

Childbirth is not something to be sniffed at. It can feel entirely unknowable, particularly if it’s your first time. And that can make some women feel afraid and unsure. Nadine Richardson is the founder of she births. She believes it’s possible to prepare for birth in a way that will leave you feeling confident before it all begins and empowered while you’re in it. Hi Nadine. And how are you?

Nadine –

Hi, Shevonne Good to be here. There is an element of labour that will be unknowable until you’re experiencing it. But what are the kinds of things that we can know before it all kicks off?

Yeah, there’s lots to know and a lot more agency than what we’ve been fed by media, except not kindling. Now, of course not, standard media that sensationalised and dramatised things, what can we know to make us confident we can discover it specifically things that empower the mind to trust birth. And so, to trust birth, we need to have like a clear intellectual understanding of how the body is actually designed to work. So how the anatomy of the pelvis changes, the physiology of the uterus, all the beautiful hormones that run through the system, and also how that all interplays and connects to the state of our nervous system, and then how that plays out in the different stages of labour, how the strategies and the tools that you bring in, are all connected to that anatomy, physiology, endocrinology, nervous system spectrum. So it’s a mouthful. I know, that’s like a big sentence. But that’s pretty much it, you know, we need to know how it all works. In order to be able to trust it, we need to know when we feel a sensation, oh, that’s like the stretching of my lower back. Because it’s making space for the baby’s head to come through and down, it sounds really obvious. But if we don’t have a bit of connection to the body and understanding in the mind, then we can just do an automatic instinct of tensing lifting up, which we do when we feel discomfort, right, we tense we resist, it’s normal. So we need to practice those skills of surrendering of letting go. But an absolute foundation of that is the knowledge to liberate the mind from fear.

Shevonne –

How important is it to really understand the choices you can make whilst in labour? So you can choose different ways to have your baby, you can go straight into hospital, you could go into a birthing centre, you can have your baby at home. But in the process, we all know we can’t completely plan our birth; some things will happen. So, how important is it to understand those elements as well?

Nadine –

Yeah, we need to firstly when we understand the choices we make. Often we make them from a pretty naive place very early on in pregnancy, you know, maybe based on one or two friends or you know what our parents did. And then as we become more informed, like, we know, everyone’s trying to get a master’s degree, you know, it’s like five months time before the quick before the brain shuts down before labour starts. So, you know, as we gain knowledge, I think it’s often a reassessment and a reconsideration for a lot of people have I made the best choices because if you do something like She Births, you know, we’re going to present you with the statistics. So, you know, the New South Wales birthplace study shows that you know, among the sort of 250,000 women a year that give birth in Australia, of those like 90% of the home birthing women will be able to have a natural vaginal delivery. And then, if we look at the birth centre, women in the public system, around 70% of them will be able to have 70 to 80% will be able to have a natural vaginal delivery. And then say we look at the private system. We’re looking at 50%. So one in two women having a caesarean in a private hospital system. So you couldn’t really justify that you can’t, and this is a standardisation. Like they’re low risk, and they’re, you know, not obese, and they’re not geriatric, which is such a horrible term. And so standardised across that you have to start to think well, potentially the systems might be actually tailoring our experiences. And so it’s really important that every woman gives birth where she feels the most safe. Wherever she feels the safest is where she will have the safest birth. But we need to have conversations, we need to look at stats, we need to interview our providers and make sure we are a match, and we can be on the same page. That’s what birth preferences sheets are all about. So choices can get changed, even if they’re not changed, having good conversations so that when you get in that car to go to the hospital, for example, you feel super pumped and excited that those are the right people for you, that can support you through the vulnerability of labour, as well, that you feel safe there.

Shevonne –

There are different choices you can make in terms of where you’re going to give birth. But if you’re someone who’s chosen to give birth in a hospital, that can feel like a very big institution. So you’re just mentioning there, you know, you want to know that that you’re in the right fit. You want to have confidence that you’ve got the right team. But I wonder how many people feel confident in that hospital space? Because even some birthing centres are in a hospital, right? Yeah. And majority. Yeah, yeah. And it depends, I suppose on your personality as well. But I know that whenever I’m in a medical situation, I’m like, you know, more than me. And of course, in certain situations, even with birthing that, that’s going to be true. But I find it interesting in that kind of conversational space and trying to trying to make your preferences and your needs be heard in a big, bustling, busy hospital. You, I’m thinking many women would probably just say, I’m just going to do what you tell me.

Nadine –

Yeah. And I think this is where education is so important to really understand the nature of evidence base being utilised in hospitals. So the research tells us that it takes about 17 years minimum for evidence-based practices to be implemented within a hospital system. Wow. Yeah. Wrap your head around that one. They’re dinosaurs, you know like they’re very slow-moving bureaucratic dinosaurs. And then as well, it’s really important to understand that protocols, policies get passed down to the caregiver that you have the caregiver might not agree with, say an induction at 39 weeks. But they are going to recommend that according to a policy and a protocol. So I suppose you think well, I trust the policy in the protocol because the government is looking at the latest evidence and gold standard, but that’s about 17 years on average to actually catch up to the latest evidence, some of the time. And it’s important to realise as well that say, between the public hospital and the private hospital, like we have here in Sydney, the Randwick system, that Prince of Wales, they’re right next door to each other for them for a geriatric mum its protocol to induce at 39 weeks in the private, it’s protocol at 40 41 weeks to induce different assessments. So Wow. And then, you know, and then within the Prince of Wales, you can have, you know, two metres between, you know, obstetrician’s offices, and they could have different suggestions that they’re going to present to you. So it’s just, I think, knowing that means that ultimately, it’s up to you to ask questions, to do some research, to get that knowledge and to hold all of that in your decision-making along with your intuition. So we like this acronym brand at She Births, which helps you make a decision that’s best for your family because there’s no one decision that is right for all. And I think that’s really important that we take our education, and we just feel confident to ask and assert and navigate this involvement in decision making. So with brand, you can simply remember the word, and each letter stands for the next action to take. So in the conversation around an induction, say, it’s like, Could you please tell me and explain all the benefits for that? Where’s the evidence on the benefits for an induction at this time? Could you also explain to me all of the risks, and you can also go and research these things and on the She Births website and other links that we have to the latest research, it’s actually really hard to stay up to date with all the research that’s coming out all the time, and we’ve got a few key websites that we send people to and what are the alternatives? And and what if we do nothing? Because often what’s really good in pregnancy and labour is mom and baby are safe is just like, let’s just hands off and wait and see. Right? And and also stands for in intuition. What is that? What’s my body, what’s my heart was my baby even speaking to me, you know, if you really tune in there is a dialogue there there is a communication that’s happening and often women don’t notice it until the second or third pregnancies, but it’s there in that first if we trust it. And then D give us time to discuss and decide and often in privacy as well, stepping away having time. You know, just like, if you’re making a big decision about work, it’s like, I’m just gonna sleep on that for the night and get back to you or even in the throes of labour. Even if it’s just like, it’s inevitable, you know what the next step is? It’s obvious right to you and your partner, can you just give us the time to get our heads around that, you know, could you just leave the room for like 90 seconds, and my partner and I can just have that chat to get our heads around what’s going to happen next, because that wasn’t part of our plan. So this is what I call individualising care within the system. I think a lot of women don’t feel safe birthing at home. And that is understandable. Given the bad rap, it’s been given in media, the data is not a bad rap. So a lot of doctors actually choose to birth at home with a private midwife these days. Or they might birth in a public hospital that has access to an ICU if they feel safer there because a lot of private hospitals don’t have ICUs because they’re smaller. So you have to make the decision that’s right for your family. And you got to ask questions, and just dig a little deeper. Don’t take everything as a have to.

Shevonne –

What about those of us who are doing this with a birthing partner? So there are of course, people who will be birthing on their own? Yeah. But what role can the birthing partner play in making us feel safe and secure?

Nadine –

Yeah, so if we’re birthing on our own, we still need a birthing partner. Like that’s key. And um, you know, it could be your parent, it could be a sister, it could be an aunt, but it actually has to be someone that really is there for you 24/7, like a doula. And I highly recommend if you’re bringing someone in that isn’t a doula, then you bring them along to the she births course with you, is critical. Because it’s a big, big job. And it’s a trained profession. It’s not something to just like, Yeah, no worries, I’ll just make you some sandwiches and I’ll pop over when the kids are in bed. No, you have to have someone to look after your kids as a doula so that you can go immediately if that’s what the labouring woman needs, right. So the birthing partners, role is advocacy, providing safety and oxytocin and, you know, implementing tools to help with natural pain relief, as well as navigating conversations with you. And the system. So without education and empowerment, I don’t know any partner that can really do a great job, in all honesty, because again, they’re gonna go from zero to hero, like in a moment, and I think it’s mean to send them into the room. It’s just not fair. Yeah, it’s not fair. And I saw it too much. When I started as a doula, like 20 years ago, I just saw resentment building between couples, really out of no fault, but apart from the fact that they hadn’t prepared to get that they hadn’t been educated. Partner didn’t know what to do. The mum was in the throes of labour and couldn’t ask for what she needed. She didn’t know what was going to work as pain relief. So you’ve got to get skilled up. And I think, yeah, we see that in Schubert’s I think the partners come out often as our biggest raving fans. Yeah, because they are going from zero to hero. The birthing mom has often read some books and read, listen to podcasts and so on. knows a little bit more, but it’s Yeah, once they’re in there on.

Shevonne –

you were just speaking about the stats around home births, and how doctors are even preferring to give birth at home because they know what the stats are. So I’m assuming that there is something about the environment in which we give birth that can help us feel grounded and confident through labour. So what is it about that environment? What is important about the environment?

Nadine –

Yeah, so firstly, again, number one, wherever she feels most safe is where she will feel most safe. So safety is so critical. We just think about a cat, a dog, you’ve had a pet, you know, in your childhood or whatever. And where do they like to birth? Dark warm quiet, you can asked me a drawer or whatever, or under your bed or something like that. And then you think for a moment about the olden days when we used to watch the Bondi Vet and as cute and gorgeous as he was, you know, he would come on in and the TV crew would be there, and they’re like, Oh, look at this beautiful Labrador, she’s in labour right now, light to that camera with like, switch on, and they start stroking the dog, you know, in labour. And then all of a sudden, the poor little Labradors, Labour stops, you know, and then they rescue it with a cesarean. And, you know, I remember that show distinctly thinking this is what’s wrong with birth, you know, we require safety and safety comes through oxytocin, which means, particularly dark lights, for example, you can’t have bright lights, the pupils are dilated, melatonin has to be high, for oxytocin to be Hi, love has to be high, there’s got to be skin on skin contact, there’s got to be people in the room that aren’t projecting fear, because that is all felt as well. And, you know, you can have your dogs there, maybe if you’re labouring at home, because when you look into your dog’s eyes, you get a 300% increase in your oxytocin, that’s why I got two of them. You got to have the oxytocin, you’ve got to have that space where you feel safe. You know, you’ve got to respect the hormones and respect the absolute fact that our cervix, and our vaginas, or sphincters, right. And I don’t know about you, but like, I didn’t go to the toilet properly in a school cubicle, you know, even those doors that went to the floor, someone else walking in the room, my son still didn’t go to the toilet sphincters are shy, we don’t often open and show our bits to the world. Unless we feel really safe and comfortable. With those people in the room. Everyone has different degrees of shyness. And that shyness is up to you to work out what it is to try and preempt to try and visualise like, Who will I feel really safe and comfortable with opening letting go. And you know, the lovemaking hormones, oxytocin, endorphins, and so on. Like, they often we often say, like the energy that makes the babies the energy that gets the baby out. So it’s dark, quiet, intimate space.

Shevonne –

So beautiful. Yeah, that’s lovely. Something that can make women unsure, or less than confident, let’s say is other people’s birth stories. Oh, yeah, that’s true, because everyone loves recounting how hard it can be their battles, stories, so to speak. But I can also see the value in hearing about other people’s experiences. And I’m wondering what your take is on that, like, is it a good thing to ask people about their birth experiences? Or should we just be saying politely, look, I’m, I’m interested in maybe talking to you this after my own birth, that I’m not ready for it right now.

Nadine –

Yeah, wise words, wise words. Everybody deserves the loving space to have their birth story heard. And when we share our birth story, you deserve to be felt to be seen, to be understood to have questions answered, as well. It’s not an easy thing to do in our culture. Because if you’re having a coffee and your baby’s crying, or if you’re, you know, out and about our birth stories actually change according to who we are speaking with, and will often go through it many times and share it in lots of many different ways after giving birth until it starts to set into its own little neural pathway as the primary story. So I think that’s really important to understand that it’s, it’s flexible. So it is really important that every woman has that space. It can be great to see a therapist, but I would also suggest talking to a birth expert, someone that actually attends at the coalface because I’ve had moms that have been doing therapy sessions for years about their birth come to me and prep for their second birth. And I just explained to them well, that was because of the induction. And that was also because of the posterior presentation. Like you did so many hours, like without an epidural, like you’re friggin amazing. And they’re like, Wow, I just thought I was a failure and nothing was ever like, helping me. Anyway, that’s an aside. So I just want to frame that for all women. But the pregnant woman also has to respect her neuroplasticity and understand the nature of the brain. As humans, we receive an encode negativity five times faster than we do positivity. That’s a design for survival. I could be a sabre toothed tiger in that bushes on Bondi road. You know, I have to think of worst case scenarios. So we have to be really protective of the stories we hear and for every negative story, you really need at least five positive Use just to counteract to give some sort of balance. And that is the same ratio and your relationship. By the way, you need five good things that you tell your partner about them to the one complaint, just to keep things alive just to keep it floating where it’s at, right? It’s got to be more than that five. That’s Dan Siegel’s work into the neuroscience. So I think it’s really important to also remember that when we hear a story, because the brain works through narrative, we make meaning of our lives and the world all the time through creating stories, that you’re 36 times more likely to remember that information if it’s told to you in a story. If you just think about like how you empathise as a woman with other women, and they come up to you and they say, Oh, I just want to help you out. So I just need to tell you exactly what you need to do. Because birth is blah, blah, blah, and my experience was blah, blah, blah. That’s really important. She gets the opportunity to speak that to someone who’s actually able to hear her. And it’s really important that you protect yourself from that wiring by something like you said, I’m so full of stories right now. I can’t take any more. Thank you so much for your care and your love and for helping me out. But I just can’t hear another story. You know, just speaking like that, it doesn’t have to be personal.

Shevonne –

Yeah. But that’s a really good thing to remember about needing to hear five times as many good stories as, as the perhaps it’s not necessarily negative. I don’t think even when people are telling those stories, they mean it to be that way. No, but we can get involved in the telling or retelling.

Nadine –

So yeah, and I think, you know, on the She Births show on our podcast, and inside that app and the resources that people who do the courses see there’s lots and lots of different stories, and there’s all the blog stories, it’s hundreds of stories that maybe 1000s I don’t know, but they are not perfect stories. And there can be challenges. Of course, there is this is a rite of passage. And like we said it, you know, the very beginning, you don’t always know how things are gonna unfold. It’s a mystery as we step into labour. So things can happen. They can appear negative, they can be challenging, there can be big decisions, it won’t go exactly to plan. But was the trauma resolved? Were they able to process in the time were they able to frame it in a positive way? Or soon after that event? Were they able to see it in that way? And that’s usually when there’s a doula in the room, to be honest, that’s the big role of the doula is helping with that framing. And that mindset, we increase maternal satisfaction dramatically, as well as reducing interventions. So that’s what we’re really helping with in that poorest plastic time, helping the mum realise that she did great because she did. And that way,

Shevonne –

so if someone’s listening, and they’re pregnant now, what would you want them to take away from this conversation about preparing for birth and being confident as they head into labour?

Nadine –

Yeah, believe in yourself. Believe in your body, believe in nature. And if you don’t 1,000% believe in that, then go and get the knowledge. Like, let the fears arise, because they’re there to drive you towards the right place for you. So I would I was pregnant, I’d sign up for our free holistic pregnancy guide, you know, for body, mind and soul work across those three paradigms. It’s not just about the intellect. It’s also about caring for the body, feeling good, lowering anxiety during practices, yoga, and so on. meditation and breathing. And, you know, embrace the journey, and keep diving into the knowledge until you feel 1,000% confident and trusting in your ability.

Shevonne –

Oh, that’s beautiful. Nadine, thank you so much.

Nadine –

You’re welcome. Thank you.

Shevonne –

That’s Nadine Richardson. She’s the founder of She Births®. And if you’d like to know more about childbirth, check out the links in the notes of this episode. I hope you enjoyed this episode of feed, play love. If you did, please rate review or favourite. That way you’ll get all the new episodes first and we can reach and help even more parents. And if you have a topic you’d like me to cover, email me at feedplaylove@listener.com Bye for now.

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