Yesterday there was a knock at the door.
It was a Dad who had attended my Calmbirth® classes with his wife a couple of months ago.
This man was beaming.
He had come from the nearby hospital to the share the glorious news of the birth of his son.
I hugged him, and I felt my heart swell. I felt so happy to hear this news.
The birth of a baby is always wonderful news, but this one was pretty special. When I first met this couple they were fearful as their previous baby was stillborn. There were a lot of complex emotions around this pregnancy and birth.
I watched this couple bravely take steps towards planning for their birth during the classes, and I witnessed them change a little. Their body language changed, they let go of some of their fear, and they re-focussed and prepared for this birth.
By the end of the weekend they were openly sharing their story, and there was a sense of optimism about their future.
Please forgive me if I say so, but I have the #bestjob in the world.
I love teaching Calmbirth® classes to pregnant couples, attending births as a doula, and being an infant massage instructor with new mums and babies.
I love learning about pregnancy, birth and babies.
I love sharing this knowledge with parents and I love, love, love to watch the growth in, and transformations of, the families that I am working with.
I am often asked “what is Calmbirth®?"
Whilst it’s the best independent childbirth education class in Australia, I think there is some confusion about what Calmbirth® actually is.
Calmbirth® can be confused with the American Calm Birth book and CD, or the “The Calm Birth School” YouTube videos that do the rounds.
They are certainly NOT the same.
Also, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “...I didn’t do the course but I’ve read the book...”! The supporting booklet from the course is not the course - in the same way that there’s more to assembling flat-packed IKEA furniture than just reading an IKEA catalog!
Many people assume that Calmbirth® equals natural, unmedicated birth.
Actually, it doesn’t. Birth can be unpredictable. None of us can predict how a mother and baby will respond in labour and birth.
Calmbirth® acknowledges this, and prepares you for all possibilities without prescribing or assuming that a given outcome will occur. It teaches the birthing couple skills that enable them to work together as a couple, allowing them to navigate together any situation they may find themselves in, thus creating an ultimately positive birth experience.
I get the impression that some people assume that Calmbirth® is an ‘airy-fairy’ “alternative” course.
In fact it is quite the opposite.
It is an entirely evidence-based program, referencing contemporary scientific research in a range of fields including obstetrics and midwifery, biochemistry, cardiology and neuroscience.
Calmbirth® is a 2-day (or 4 shorter session) workshop that teaches couples how a woman's body works in labour and birth, and outlines strategies and techniques to manage labour. Calmbirth® helps a couple understand the mind-body connection, and how this can work positively or negatively in birth through a hormonal response.
Calmbirth® will help you understand what causes pain in labour, how you can work with your body to be as comfortable as possible, and how to allow your contractions to be as effective as possible.
Calmbirth® teaches practical strategies to access the ‘relaxation response’, employing tools such as guided relaxation, breathing techniques and visualizations to achieve this. It facilitates a supportive space to engage a couple regardless of their initial confidence levels. The course brings couples together to work as a team through this incredible stage of life, and empowers them to create their own positive experience, even if things don’t go to plan.
Calmbirth® was developed in Australia by Australian midwife Peter Jackson in 2005.
It is taught by birth professionals, primarily midwives and doulas.
The program has evolved over time, and continues to evolve, with new understandings and developments around birth. It just gets better and better, and couples often return for a refresher course before a subsequent birth to reacquaint themselves with the techniques and tools.
It’s not just me that thinks Calmbirth® is a really brilliant preparation for birth. It is now being taught in two Sydney hospitals and the impact of these has classes has been extremely positive.
Between 2008 and 2013, the antenatal program coordinator at The Royal Hospital for Women in New South Wales conducted a study on the benefits of doing the Calmbirth® course. The results were compared with the statistical data published in the Mothers & Babies report released in 2013 on all the births recorded in public and private hospitals in NSW. This analysis clearly showed a significantly higher rate of natural birth and lower rates of chemical pain relief usage for mothers who did the Calmbirth® course compared to the statewide averages.
The results of the study can be found in this downloadable document: Survey Results - Pilot Study (226 KB)
Significantly, analysis of the survey responses by Calmbirth® course participants clearly shows a decrease in fear and a corresponding increase in confidence in the couples after doing the course. Combined with the analysis undertaken by the Royal Hospital for Women, this indicates that the confidence and understanding gained through the Calmbirth® course positively impacts and measurably improves the birthing experience for the couple and child.
I know that Calmbirth® has such huge potential to turn around a couples expectations of their upcoming birth experience from one of fear and trauma to one of confidence and joy.
The beaming father I mentioned is just one example of this.
I hugged him, and felt my heart swell. I felt so happy to hear his news.
And this is why I do what I do.