Welcome to Soul Chat - be Inspired by Empowered Women Thriving with Heart & Soul.
Meet Katie Oliver from Natural Beginnings.
- What is ‘Natural Beginnings’ and how did you come to birth this initiative?
Natural beginnings is the start of something..... I am a HypnoBirthing childbirth educator and also training in supporting mothers in processing their birth experiences through birth story medicine. I will eventually branch out into supporting women with menstrual awareness and menopause support. But all in good time. My family is still young and need me more!
This opportunity came to me in the middle of the night, 'why don't I become a HypnoBirthing instructor'? It was SO random! When I googled it the following morning I found there was a course being held in Winton the following month. This is unheard of as courses are normally only run in Auckland and Christchurch.
My first birth was life-changing and I am grateful for the pain and suffering because without that experience, I wouldn't be doing this. That was the spark to want to birth differently. So when a friend put the hypnobirthing book in front of my nose it all clicked. It all made sense and my following two births were great.
And there we have it..... I followed my gut, my heart and the signs and I've never looked back. I birthed my fourth boy with the whole of the HypnoBirthing wisdom. It's been life-changing!!! Women need a different approach to birth. There are too many traumatic stories that this is now "normal" and it's not right! It doesn't have to be this way.
- How does Natural Beginnings differ in its vision/philosophy from traditional Childbirth Education classes?
Natural Beginnings aims to equip mothers and the birthing support person with many labour management tools. These include breathing and positional techniques, massage, relaxation, affirmations and self-hypnosis. Parents are empowered to navigate the best birth pathway for them.
The intention is to put parents at ease about how their birth may, or may not, unfold and that whatever they choose to do it is okay. Parents are taught the tools to confidently discuss their birth plan options with health professionals so they feel informed and empowered.
I help prepare the birth companion so they feel useful. I teach them life-changing tools of relaxation, the power of our mind and how it can benefit us in all areas of our lives. The aim is to take the fear out of birth and fill it with love and excitement instead.
- I (Kate) have experienced HypnoBirthing with two of my children and found that I approached birth from an empowered, holistic and conscious way. Can you briefly outline what HypnoBirthing is and its benefits?
The HypnoBirthing philosophy is based around the belief that when we are scared or fearful we affect the physiology of our body so we inhibit how it works in labour. This can make it longer and more painful.
When we practice relaxation and breathing techniques we give our bodies a better chance of maintaining a good supply of oxygen to our uterus (which is a muscle) and so it works more efficiently to bring baby earthside with less stress on the baby and our body.
It teaches the birth companion to also stay calm so they can support mum in keeping her as relaxed as possible but also to know that it's ok to feel out of control. Birthing is very intense after all. The birth companion also becomes an advocate for mum and baby while they are labouring so they feel more confident making choices that are right for mum and baby.
- You state “I strongly believe that stress, fear and social conditioning have led us to expect that birth can be painful and traumatic”. Society has largely been removed from the birth process in day to day life. In doing so, have we made birth taboo, clinical, medical; something to be feared of?
Wow Kate! A great contemplation. Just look at what we see on TV and how we talk about our birth stories! Society has made out that birth is a most horrific, traumatizing experience. My thoughts are always evolving about this especially as the birth experience is a web of current and past physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental factors as well considering our relationships with others and ourselves.
Birth is absolutely a right of passage and I feel we have lost connection to our divine feminine. One of those rites is to acknowledge and to understand and connect with our menstrual cycle and it is so important that we teach our daughters this now. When we can connect deeply with the gift that our menstrual cycle offers us then conception, pregnancy, birth and mothering will be a much easier process physically and emotionally.
Birth is not just about labour and birth. It is the birth of a mother and a father and this transition is very challenging for many of us in today's society. Birth can be a time when we are plunged into the depths of our underworld or to confront our shadow self, especially when things unfold in an unexpected way or we feel violated or out of control because of the intensity of the sensations or situation.
One big contributing factor to us fearing birth because of the "expected pain" is that (generally) as a society we have handed over the responsibility of our health to the health system and we are taught that suffering and pain is bad and to take pills and medication to cover it up and make it go away. Meaning we are ill-equipped these days to deal with pain and suffering whether physical or mental.
Through menstrual awareness, we become familiar and loving and accepting of our shadow self (the pain and suffering) and realise that it is okay and acceptable and we are resilient enough to experience this. We are conditioned to be in control 100% of the time including labour and birth, which is just not reality. Through menstrual awareness, birth will become less frightening for the future generations.
We also need to heal from our birth experiences by acknowledging the pain and suffering that some women have experienced at birth and postpartum through counseling and therapy. There is still a lot of shame, embarrassment, sense of failure and lack of support for our parents. I am currently training as a birth story listener so I can offer support to mothers, birth workers and birth companions to process their experiences that may be affecting their lives and relationships.
- Your vision is “It is my dream to achieve happier and healthier babies, children and families and I believe that HypnoBirthing classes can help contribute towards that dream”. Have you seen this vision manifest with families that you work with?
I would like to think that understanding how powerful our mind and language is; as well as the effect that stress and relaxation can have on the health of ourselves and our babies is helping our families to be stronger and healthier. The work I do is a stepping stone towards making better life choices for you and your family. I want to teach parents that they can make their own informed choices for themselves, their children and their parenting and not just do what they are expected to do by others and society.
- Would you consider birth and mothering a rite of passage, a sacred offering, valuable ‘work’?
From the moment we decide we want to conceive... we will never be the same woman again. Preparing and supporting your body and mind in preparation for birth and mothering is never wasted 'work'. For some, it can be the most challenging transformation of our lives. Especially when we perhaps don't live up to our own high expectations and visions of what we believe birth and mothering to be like.
- Yin Yang questions
Fire or Ice? Fire
High-tech or Low-tech? Low tech. Face to face, person to person contact and communication.
Big Party or Small Gathering? Small gathering
Bath or Shower? Shower. I hate sitting in my own scum and the baths go cold so quickly here in NZ. In the UK the bathrooms are upstairs so they don't lose all their heat to the underground.
Coffee Cup or Thermos? Um... don't really do either.. a swig from the kid's water bottle, when I remember.
- Does the work you do feel purposeful, deep and empowering to yourself and others?
Absolutely. Guiding and supporting mothers and fathers in preparing for what we hope to be the most joyous experience in human nature. For many it is not joyous and I hope to be able to change that one birth at a time.
- Do you believe it takes courage to live your truth and align with your soul’s purpose?
I am still to realise my soul purpose!. I'm not entirely sure I understand what this means but I think I am along the right track, Lol. My passion is supporting and teaching people that want to listen! (Haha, I used to be a high school teacher!) It is certainly a challenge at times and it brings many issues to the surface for me personally to confront, acknowledge and grow from. But it is so good when you are aligned and doing what feels right and this is when it feels like it flows and is meant to be. It kind of just happens to you really.
- Are you inspired by the women and families that you work with at Natural Beginnings?
Oh, all the time. I take more from them in every class than I feel I can give them. I learn so much from every person. They are such lovely people. It's really a deeply connecting experience and I feel very humbled being a part of such a vulnerable and intriguing journey. I love the connection as it brings partners closer together. I love seeing them grow especially through their challenges. I love it when they challenge the norm and overcome obstacles and difficulties. I love how they are wanting the best experience for their baby(s). They are truly incredible.
To discover more about Katie and Natural Beginnings see