“In All Cultures, the Midwife’s Place Is on the Threshold of Life, Where Intense Human Emotions, Fear, Hope, Longing, Triumph, and Incredible Physical Power-Enable a New Human Being to Emerge. Her Vocation Is Unique.” – Sheila Kitzinger
Sarah. Dreamer and birther of Down to Birth Midwifery. Gypsy soul. Birth keeper. Space holder. Wellness promoter. Midwife. Passionate advocate for women, birth and breastfeeding.
Sarah is a passionate ambassador for women's health (& a very special brand ambassador) and kindly agreed to share her wisdom with the Ibu Journal. This is a MUST READ, her journey of bringing traditional postpartum care to the West is inspiring!
Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your wisdom with us...
From my experience of visiting women in Australia in the days after birth, I have noticed… We do postpartum SO poorly in the West.
Women at home, with no support, trying to juggle looking after her other children whilst unpacking her role as a new mother, healing from birth, obstetric trauma, interventions in birth contributing additional challenges to breastfeeding. Lucky if she gets the time to make herself a piece of toast, far from the nourishing food she needs.
Weighing a baby, checking breastfeeding latches, asking about bleeding, is so far from postpartum CARE.
I was so fortunate to have learnt the art of postpartum care whilst living and working in India. And in Kerala too, the home of Ayurveda. I learnt that postpartum care is an investment in the woman’s health and wellbeing. Ayurveda believes that care in the first forty days after birth invests in the woman’s health for the next forty years.
I feel like the long-term reproductive health issues that have become normalised in the West, were just not as prevalent.
Ultimately care involved, nurturing and nourishing the newborn mother.
Women were bathed with herbal washes, kept warm, their hair washed, nourished with specific foods at certain times to aid healing, received full body oil massages and had their belly’s bound.
Memories I will cherish for a lifetime involve driving a scooter through Indian traffic, with my sari waring Chechi (Aunty) Rema on the back, providing these cares for women. The knowledge she shared with me and the time we spent nourishing women, I hold close to my heart.
It has taken me a long time to decide if this was something I wanted to offer women here, because of how sacred this sharing of knowledge felt to me. But that is exactly why I needed to start sharing it.
Seeing the contrast of how women were feeling after birth, when they are nourished compared to when they are not, is something I couldn’t deny. Investing in the wellbeing of the woman, is investing in the wellbeing of the baby and her whole family.
I was taught the Bengkung art of belly binding, this style can be found in India, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is a beautiful hand dyed and printed, 14m long 20cm wide piece of fabric. Starting from around the hips and is wrapped and knotted over the abdomen to underneath the breasts.
The bind itself is to:
Support the core and resolves abdominal muscle separation.
Provide postural support.
Rid the abdomen of extra fluid and air.
Support the lymphatic system.
Stabilises loose ligaments.
Helps properly reposition your organs, which is essential for their long term function.
Feels really great and supportive!
The bind is intended to be worn all day and removed prior to going to bed. With a bath and oil massage prior to binding a part of this nourishing process. Part of my care involves showing partners how to bind, or how to bind yourself. Ideally the bind should be done daily for 6 weeks.
An important part of the binding process is the massage performed prior to. I use IBU Ayurveda Vata restoring oil when performing massage. Labour and birth is a full body marathon. Tension is held, muscles are sore, you have expanded beyond what you thought was capable. Intention is brought to healing your whole body with particular love and tenderness to your womb.
During the massage I incorporate a range of modalities. With the use of a Gua Sha to release facial and neck tension. Research supports the Gua Sha’s use in treatment of blocked milk ducts and preventing mastitis.
I also use a Rebozo to release tension in the pelvis, spine, neck and limbs. A Rebozo is a traditional Mexican shall with many uses. It can be used to release discomfort in the body during pregnancy and after birth, is used to ease labour pain, optimally position babies, as a post birth abdominal bind known as a Faja in Mexico and also to carry babies.
I combine my knowledge of body work and somatic healing to relax the body and calm the nervous system after birth. Commonly birth can leave your mind wired and racing and despite being tired, it can be hard to sleep.
I provide nourishing meals for the newborn mother. When women are nutritionally depleted after birth, their chances of experiencing postpartum depression are significantly raised.
During breastfeeding calorie requirements are increased beyond what they were during pregnancy, so it is so important to stay well nourished. I am particular with including ingredients and spices which support breastmilk supply, are easy on the digestive system, encourage warmth and contain properties to calm the nervous system. I use medicinal mushroom powders, particularly a lot of Reishi, in my meals and hot drink mixes.
I love being invited into this intimate space after birth. Along with all the physical support these practices provide, it’s the art of nourishing the newborn mother that is most important. This time together often turns into debriefing about the birth, which can provide important integration.
Women feel held and cared for and attention is paid to the miraculous, transformative experience they have just undertaken.
Thank you so much Sarah for sharing with us and answering our classic Journal questions:
What does self-care mean to you?
Self care to me is nutritious food, going to bed early, drinking enough water and grounding myself in nature on the regular. I also have a team of practitioners I see on the regular; chiropractor, acupuncturist, breath work specialist, naturopath and kinesiologist.
I have a supportive network of midwives to lean on, which is so important. The care I provide and relationships I build with women are so full filling that even when the days are busy, it keeps me going.
What's next for you?
Where to next for me. Well at the moment I feel like I am where I’ve dreamed to be for a long time.
But I’m still working towards a family centred, holistic pregnancy, birth and healing centre.
Somewhere surrounded by beautiful nature and supportive community. Investing in my care, invests in that goal.
Sarah is qualified to the extreme, some her greatest achievements include:
- Australian Registered Midwife
- Masters of Midwifery as Primary Healthcare (Griffith University)
- Bachelor of Midwifery (Australian Catholic University)
- Active Mama’s pregnancy workout instructor
- Spinning Babies
- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
- The Thompson Method
- Microbirth School:
- Creative Ways for Making Space: Pelvic workshop
- Releasing the Pelvis: Myosacral workshop
- Antenatal Educator Training: Da La Luze holistic Midwifery school Spain
And follow her inspiring journey as a midwife and postpartum care specialist @down_to_birth_midwifery
If you are interested in booking for a postpartum session with Sarah, please enquire here.