Birthease Podcast with Michelle Smith

SPEAKERS
Michelle Smith, Rhione Zeixchel, Jacqueline Rowan

Intro

You’ve decided you’re ready to become a parent. And suddenly you’re overwhelmed with people who feel they have the right to inform you on the correct way to conceive, give birth, what fears you should have, and the proper way to parent. How do you filter through the opinions? How do you know what’s trustworthy information? And what’s a myth? or just plain outdated? Welcome to the atheist podcast. Join your hosts Michelle Smith and her guests as they cut through the noise and fear by sharing valuable tips, tools and proven methods. They help you connect with your own inner wisdom as you navigate the sacred journey that is pregnancy, birth and parenthood in a more relaxed and confident manner. This podcast does not constitute nor is it intended as medical advice.

Michelle
Hello, Birth Ease families. I’m your host, Michelle Smith, and I want to welcome you to my listening to midwives series with this series that is my intention to create a sacred space for midwives to voice what is on their heart and in their soul. This series is for anyone that loves and supports midwives, or for someone that wants a deeper understanding of what midwifery care truly is. If you are a fellow birth worker listening to this podcast get ready to hear some of the names of the icons in our birth world being mentioned in this conversation with Jae Rowan and Rhione Zeixchel. Owners of sanctuary birthing these incredible women have worked with and learned from the icons in our birth field, whose books are sitting in a special place in my own bookshelf, and perhaps they are in yours as well. We recorded this episode several months ago. And as I edited the episode this week, I got huge goosebumps as I relisten into the story Rhione shares that has guided her own journey as a midwife. The significance of this story is really hitting me regarding the challenges birthing women and hospital staff are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So I invite you to grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle back to soak up the wisdom of these Sage birth keepers and the brilliant project that they are up to now. Welcome Jae and Rhione to the Birth Ease Podcast. I am so incredibly honored and grateful to have you here with me today.

Rhione
Thank you.

Michelle
You’re welcome. I’d like to have each of you introduce your work. So if you would like to go first Rhione because you have 60 years combined experience together and midwifery, correct?

Rhione
Yes, well that’s good estimate. it’s at least at least that Yeah.

Michelle
yeah. Yeah. Over I should say over 60 years. Yes. So, if you’d like to go ahead, Rhione, please and share a bit about who you are as a midwife, and a little bit about what brought you into this work, and then we’ll share what is on your hearts and this exciting project that you have in the works for moms.

Rhione
Well, what brought me to this work? There was no one thing I just woke up one day or in a moment, I woke up in my 20s and realized, Oh, my gosh, I’m a midwife. And that was after a few years of agonizing soul searching feeling like there’s this really special important thing that I’m led to do, but I didn’t know what it was. I was really lost and looking for what is this thing because I can feel it. It has to do with women. And I felt like it had to do with women and rhythms.

Michelle
Interesting.

Rhione
So this is Rhione in her 20s just being lost and wondering how to find. What is this thing that’s calling me. And then one day I was on the phone with a friend and she had been at her friend’s birth in the hospital. And this was something very unusual. We didn’t talk about birth. It wasn’t part of my thinking, really. And she said, yes, there was a midwife there. And when she said the word midwife, like this waterfall of brilliance inside of me, and I realized, Oh, my gosh, I’m a midwife. I mean, isn’t that strange, but that’s actually how it happened. And it was so profound that I immediately took action. The background before that is that my grandmother, my mother’s mother had all her children at home. That’s how it was done. She lived on a farm in rural Central Pennsylvania, and they had all their babies at home. And so that was just like, normalized. When I was sitting by my grandma, I knew she did this. She had her babies at home. And then my mother was a nurse, and she was very much, I’m sure she was a great nurse and she was very much given over to the medical system at a time so she would never want anyone to have a home birth of course. But so then I went on then came to that moment in my 20s, many, many years later, realizing I was the midwife and it’s something has never been described to me or talked about. So that’s the beginning.

Michelle
It’s a wonderful story that we have parallels in that. My grandma had her children at home except for the last three, and she gave birth to 14 living children, and also had a couple still births in there. But as I’m listening to your stories, and my mom’s a nurse, and oh my gosh, I am a doula and more. I love home birth and things. And so there’s just these parallels and how birth can call to you from the time you’re young.

Rhione
call-. Thank you. That’s, that’s the word called to me. Yeah, I was very surprised when that moment happened.

Michelle
So where did your career go from there?

Rhione
It went to I literally on that afternoon after that phone call, I ran down to the Boston woman’s health collective. I was living in Cambridge at the time. ran down there and every textbook they had that had anything to do with midwifery. I bought it then I just dove in. However, the real training came because I quickly after that got pregnant myself, and that was very exciting. And I had a miscarriage. And that was also super stunning for me and I realized interesting with that miscarriage I, of course, I was shocked and I was screaming, but I was mostly like, Whoa, my body can do this. I was so amazed at the woman’s body. So I was still quite like, full of that passion. And then I very quickly got pregnant with my oldest son And the midwife I found to help me with that birth. She just looked at me she was extremely experienced, and very intuitive, really, really intuitive. I called her a spiritual midwife. And that was in Hawaii. And she said, I will teach you anything you want to know, anything. Like she just looked at me and said, I can download anything you want to know. And in reality, that didn’t turn into like we sat in classes together or anything it it really was me imbibing a lot of her wisdom through her helping me with the birth. And I still have so much appreciation for everything I learned during that pregnancy, birth postpartum. So you know what I was doing. I was having a baby and experiencing that and then learning what it is to be a parent and nurse a baby. And still having this vibrating ball of passion in my heart that I’m going to be a midwife. I’m a midwife. I don’t know how that’s gonna happen. And then when my son was, I’m guessing it was between one and a half and two years old. I called I had a talk with my friend who was working at an herb shop, which was owned by Rosemary Gladstar and now we’re back in Northern California. So my friend said, Oh, well, you know, Nan, she’s teaching something to all the natropathic students a big midwifery course and you should connect with her. And she was referring to Nan Kohler, Nan and Rosemary were really good friends and and I remember knowing at that moment, I have to talk to Nan and I was also fairly petrified Because I’m shy, and what was I gonna say? And but once I made the connection with her and said, I’d like to be part of that class, she was open arms. I mean, she, it’s like we recognized each other. And it was immediate and that I took that class but I went on to be her student, she and her husband, who was a doctor at that time did home births together and they both taught classes to small group of students, and I joined them and then later became her apprentice. So that’s, that’s the quick summary. So I have nothing but gratitude to rosemary. Sure, she doesn’t know me but she changed my life Rosemary Gladstar and what I learned from her and association with Nan and what Nan passed on to me about the normalcy of birth, and how to Be with a woman in labor. And, yeah, Jeannine Parvati Baker just was routinely coming through there and hanging out and giving classes and big circles. And certainly from Jeannine, I learned about accessing the deep inner knowing I mean that she would go there. And that was lovely for me. That was like, that made sense to me. So, and then it all just grew. I had a few more children and it kept growing and helping women.

Michelle
It’s so wonderful for me to hear your story, because these are names of people that I know and admire, that you’ve worked with personally. So glad to share the history.

Rhione
I feel so lucky. I mean, how lucky I am so lucky. It’s not just in a book. I was with those people and heard what they had to say and walked up the road with them and took a walk across the land and sat in circle. Yeah, I’m so grateful. I’m sure that that informs the wisdom that happened back then. I’m sure it’s still informing my everyday life right now. And how how I work with women, of course,

Michelle
I’m sure. I’m sure. Again, thank you for sharing history. Those of us that are all birth junkies, we’ll all be oh my gosh, she sat with she sat with them that was so great. So great. So Jae, do you mind sharing what brought you to midwifery and birth please?

Jae
Yeah, so for me it’s there’s some similarity in that I grew up hearing about my grandmother. Um, she both birthed thirteen children on a rural farm as well as helped women have babies. I think probably in the way that a community midwife helped women back then. And my mother had some traumatic birth experiences. She had one before me. And so she really didn’t talk to me about birth at all, which I guess ultimately is a good thing. So I’m more just kind of knew about my grandmother stories. And I guess the story I told myself as well, Wow, she could do it must be a natural thing. And my mom was her last pregnancy and she had twins. And she delivered this unassisted just with her husband, my grandfather. So that was like one of the main stories that I knew. And that was because the doctor at the time in their area, who was helping with birth was not someone she trusted. So, in any case, I was also just a super active kid, and probably went to the emergency room a number of times, you know, because I smashed this or I twisted that or whatever you know. And so for me, the hospital was just something I really associated with that more than like, Oh, this place you have babies. So when I became pregnant pretty young, I was pregnant at early in my 20th year, it just never occurred to me to think, Oh, I’m gonna find that doctor and go to the hospital and have my baby. I probably didn’t think about it real clearly. But at the same time, I wasn’t drawn in that direction, and I wasn’t afraid. And there was a free clinic where I was living, and I was getting prenatal care there while I was deciding what I wanted to do, and they gave me a list of midwives. And at the time in California, midwifery was illegal. So it was pretty cool that they could give you a list of people’s names and phone numbers. And so I ended up working with a midwife that worked two midwives that worked as a team and had my first baby at home And I, you know, there’s a lot of things I learned in that experience. I mean, part of it was just I had a background from a young age in yoga and relaxation. And I had this kind of amazing moment after he was born, where I realized, wow, I had relaxed more, that would have been really different. It was just one of those, like download experiences where no one said anything to me, I just had it because I knew relaxation in my body, because I’d had experience of that and practicing yoga and deep relaxation and things like that, I realized that and that that’s a very foundational thing for me, in my practice as a midwife, but anyway, so that’s kind of how I came to birth. And then in terms of becoming a midwife. I was my first was maybe two and I was at a baby fair and there was a midwife there who was offering a 10 week class, and I was there with a friend and we decided to take her class. I had never thought about being a midwife mind and I, I kind of have a scientific mind and I had been studying biology and chemistry in college. And that kind of got interrupted by starting a family but you know, as interested in it, and that kind of started my journey as a midwife working with her. I worked with her for like three years after taking her class. I had two more children one child while I was kind of working with her, and then got pregnant with a third and moved to Oregon, from California, and so that I kind of took a hiatus from midwifery but I ended up deciding I saw a sign for Rhione’s. Rhione was offering a similar kind of class and even though it was a basic, free class, and it already taken that before I thought, well, maybe this is a way to just kind of get back into midwifery, my youngest child was two or three at that point, and I think I was feeling like okay, maybe I can get back into this again. And so yeah, that was my journey and I interestingly Enough, also studied with Nan Koehler, but kind of in a different capacity, she was offering up kind of a summer school that lasted for, I think, like a month. And I ended up going and staying up in Sebastopol for a month and doing this, you know, like classes every day. And it was after I had my second baby. And I had also just taken a lot of different workshops. I took a couple workshops with her as well, prior to that, so I already had some experience. I was just I’m kind of a voracious learner and kind of a nerdy person in a lot of ways. And I just like to keep learning and keep studying and growing in different ways. So I just immersed myself in it, and not as long story as Rhione’s, but it’s a journey that’s continued many years so.

Michelle
Wow. Well, how did the two of you begin working together? You took her class, right, Jae?

Jae
I took her class and I think that, I mean, this is what I remember Rhione is just that you kind of reach out

Rhione
I actually don’t remember I’m so excited to hear this.

Jae
What I do because I was the most experienced person in the class. So you kind of reached out to me. And I think at that time, were maybe looking for an apprentice. Think you were in a little bit of a transition of who you’re working with and whatnot, but I ended up you invited me to go to a birth. And I had a no, it was an interesting birth because it had there were four midwives that were involved with this birth. And I think you were still kind of working as a team to some degree and this mom was a close friend of yours, but also someone who had been riding horses your whole life and she had a long labor the lasted over several days. And so I got called in kind of, at the, you know, maybe like the beginning of the third day or something. And when we had met prior like you and the other midwives, they had told me, Well, we’d like you to take notes about this and that and I’m just When someone tells me they want me to do X, then I just do x. I took all these notes and just pretty much did exactly what they wanted me to do and we kept working together for a year or so before you took a break. But that kind of got me back into midwifery. In this area was a little hard when you move to a new place, sometimes it can be hard to get into the community and start working with midwives. And so yeah, that’s how we started working together and, and then I had a fourth baby. And then we just started working together again. I mean, that next year when my daughter was 11 months, we went to the first of four births together in that year, and then we just kind of been working on and off together ever since.

Michelle
So with all of this experience that you both have, and knowing some of the really greats in the birth field, as I know there’s such a wealth of knowledge between you two, what are some of the changes that you’ve seen that excite you in birth? And what are some of the changes that you’ve seen that are perhaps painful to your heart as birth has evolved all these years? Does that question Make sense? Okay, Jae, how about you?

Jae
Well, I think that the changes that excite me, I get really excited about all the people who are doing work to bring birth back to women, for women to own that and I feel like you know, Marie Mulligan was probably the first person that I really heard say that a lot because we studied with her in 2001. I loved that her whole focus was to return birth back to families. That was really instrumental for me in understanding birth differently and moving from being you know, someone who thought about myself as knowing to recognizing that this is a partnership, we’re working with women, they know themselves the best. And we are working with them to help build their health. And there was another midwife that I studied with who I wish that I had prepared with her name right now. But I went to this five day workshop in Eugene, she was from, I think she was German, but living in Italy. And that was her whole focus of that five days, it was all building from signs of health, you know, what are the signs that you see, as healthy and work from that perspective, and I love that, looking at it from that perspective, rather than I’m the midwife. I’m going to tell you how to do this and I know better than you kind of thing. So all of the work that’s being done now evidence based birth and a persons Pascucci and improve birth and there’s so many different people working to help women really feel empowered in this experience, rather than you know, this is your first baby. You don’t know what you’re doing. Listen to your doctor or whoever, your midwife, instead to be, how can you listen to your own body? How can you learn from your body? How can we help you to learn what you need to learn to really be prepared to be confident to really own this experience. And that’s all the part that really excites me about birth and the parts that really break my heart. And maybe this is some that you want to speak to more Rhione, but women are just being traumatized and abused, in birth in horrible ways. I mean, it’s just like, to me, it’s what really fuels my passion to keep working rather than just retiring after this long career to really be a part of the change that help women understand that they can be in charge, that they do have a choice, that they do not have to be traumatized in this experience and, you know, to hopefully be a part of changing this broken system in the US.

Michelle
I agree about the trauma. And I interviewed a holistic pediatric nurse practitioner. And one of the things that she said that she’s noticing lately working with the babies is the birth trauma, not only for mom, but for the babies. And it’s amazing to me to think we just celebrated 100 years since women could vote. So in a way, that makes sense that we’ve had to really strive to take back our rights, our autonomy in birth and over our bodies. And it’s sad that we’re still experiencing that, but at least there are these big changes happening and I did my hypnobirthing training in 2002. And I am so grateful for Marie Mongan. She really did do so much for empowering families and the natural birth movement. But unfortunately, we still have so much to do, because I feel like women are so they’re afraid. They’re afraid to trust their body. They’re afraid to trust their babies. They’re told what a horrible experience birth is going to be by most people in the media. And I don’t know if you find that to be true as well. But sometimes there’s a lot of work to do just to help women to trust themselves again.

Jae
Mm hmm. Definitely. I mean, some of them maybe never have trusted themselves and certainly not in this realm of birth, where everyone’s told to do what’s safest. And what they believe is safest is just to go to the hospital and kind of move through the experience in that way not knowing what that experience might be like or that you have choices. So

Michelle
I think women don’t realize they have options. I think you get kind of conditioned to just go to the OB go to the doctor and you do what you’re told. Right. And remember a midwife friend of mine, talking about, you know what other capacity in life to use. If you go to buy a car, you don’t sit in the office with the people that you’ve never met and sit there just sitting in a little paper gown with a paper towel over you. Right? But that’s what happens when we have our first visit with our practitioner. How often do women start their visit with this position that they don’t know, and sometimes midwife that they don’t know. And you’re completely naked and vulnerable? No, but midwives tend to when I was working with midwives here in Orlando, we would always women, they would have their visit first. And then the midwife they would ask him if they were ready for their exam and then they’d have them undress and wait and then come back in. Am I making any sense but I’m conveying just how We unknowingly give our power away at times, and we’re so vulnerable in birth. Because of the way it’s set up.

Rhione
Totally. Michelle, I want to tell a story. Please, please. Like, I didn’t know that I would talk about this. And in fact, it just came to me now. But your question about what are you excited about? I want to Jae to answer because I’m like, Oh, am I excited? But when Jay was talking, I second everything she said. And it’s like, oh, yeah, I’m excited about all of that. And I’m excited that we can be on a podcast talking about this. That’s pretty cool. There’s a movement, and I certainly expected that. I thought we would be further along. And now you’re describing again, women not trusting themselves, women being afraid a woman. That picture you just gave it’s like, oh, here, you’re pregnant. Sit here in a gown, pee in a cup and fill out this form and then someone will like see him. Right? I mean, it sounds so horrific to me that picture. Maybe it’s not horrific to everybody but to me, it gives me chills what you just said. So here’s the story. It’s actually a story of a dream. It’s a dream I had, but I had been midwifing. And as well as I had had four sons, so it must have been after 1988 I was doing a lot of inner work, deep inner work, and I had a big impulse that I needed a vision quest. And I didn’t even really know what that meant. But I felt like there’s something I need to do on my own to get deeper insight. And I called it a vision quest. And I actually don’t remember anymore, how that all got filled out in my brain. But I did indeed have a vision quest and it was In the winter months, what that meant was I got someone to stay with my kids. And I had, I was a single parent at that time and I, I went off by myself for a day and then overnight and came back the next day. I stayed alone in a cabin on the mountain and I received, I received a lot. That’s not what my story is about. So then I came home. And it’s the day after the vision quest, and I’m in a big open space internally with my life with my work and just open to receiving. And that night in bed. I had this dream. And oh my gosh, here I am so many years later, still being motivated by that dream. Wow. The dream was really simple. I was looking at a scene. So I’m all you know, as I’m looking in at a scene. And I go in that room and I’m watching in the room. There’s a woman in a hospital bed, just classic, you know, she has a hospital gown on and all looks like a hospital and she’s in the bed alone. And she’s looking up at her doctor, plaintively, just like she think vulnerable, helpless, kind of look. And she’s looking up at her doctor and saying, How much longer doctor how much longer and I was looking at that. And then above that scene. This is crazy. Oh my god. Above that scene. There floats in these two corporate executive men in suits, and they were corporate executive guys that had to do with this hospital. So they were placeholders for that role. And they’re having a talk and I’m hearing their talk. And it’s all about meeting money, needing to raise, you know, we have to get more and we have to was how can we make more money? That’s the big scene that was over this a woman going help me doctor. And then I was like, Whoa, and I backed off from that walked outside the little room that I had walked into. And then I got this message. And it came in the form of a banner. Oh my gosh, I’m a little embarrassed to say all this. But anyway, it came with a form of a banner. draped over my mind. Or the space in front of me in my mind, and it said, “this must die.”

Michelle
Wow.

Rhione
So it was talking about the scene I had just witnessed. Basically, I was given the whole story, here’s the story. And then as I was leaving, “this must die.”

Michelle
Wow.

Rhione
And I was blown away. And I was also very motivated. I think that speaks to what we were talking about. Like, what is our motivation? It’s like midwifery. Certainly being a home birth midwife. We’ve taken on over the years, a midwifery path where we show up 100% I know you know what that means. Sometimes that is really, really hard. Really, really hard over the course of a life. for a human to do that, and that dream, I think gave me strength gave me motivation give me it’s like, yeah, keep on going. And it’s actually why we’re having this talk right now because we’re not done. We’re not done yet. You need to keep going.

Michelle
Yeah, it’s so significant. I have tears. I’m teary because I just attended a beautiful, beautiful birth yesterday. Gorgeous, and the doctor very much used informed consent. And it was so nice to see. And overall, it’s come so far, ya know, but there’s still things sometimes work to be done in women taking back their autonomy and women taking back birth because it doesn’t always happen that way. And I am so incredibly grateful that you felt comfortable enough to share that story. Because those of us that are here to serve women and babies and families, we need to hear those kinds of stories. So Thank you.

Rhione
Women need to know, there, of course are health issues. Of course there are issues. I mean, it’s not like oh, everyone just have your baby. It’ll all be fine. I mean, you need help. You need to do the research. You need to become informed. You need some guidance, you need to know how to trust your own impulses. But basically, yes, women need to have autonomy. Oh my goodness. This is about their own body. This is about the baby inside of them. Who knows most about that baby. Women need to know That it can be in their hands. And just as you saw at the beautiful birth you just attended. Yes. With respect, consideration informed choice. Women can have these beautiful births with their helpers around them and still be in their autonomy and still be owning their births. But sadly, that is not normal here. That is not the norm. And I know, well, we want to take it back, right, I want it’s like a message. You can take back your birth. Let’s figure that out. And don’t be naive and think that in this system that we live in today, you will be handed that because you will not

Michelle
right,

Rhione
you will not be handed it

Michelle
right unless you fall into the right ob practice and a really supportive hospital. It saddens me sometimes, as a doula people tell you, I want this type of birth. And then you say, well, you might really want to consider this practice this hospital, because where you’re going, in my experience, I’m not sure you’re going to be able to get it there. Unless you fight really, really hard. And even then, sometimes there’s lip service. I’m not trying to be really negative with the medical community, but because, you know, we can have such a wonderful collaboration, but it saddens me when women will say this was this was my fear. This wasn’t what I wanted, or I wish I hadn’t been so afraid to change practices. And now here in Florida, it’s getting hard to do that some practices you can’t change after 28 weeks. They won’t take patients after 28 weeks of pregnancy. So what do you do? Kind of in that system. So research is important.

Rhione
Research is important and deciding, finding out what’s important to you.

Michelle
Yes, yes.

Rhione
Not what your sister did or your friend did or what your mother thinks you should do. What’s the most important thing to you and then being able to do the research, I want to clarify. I mean, after I heard myself tell the dream, and realize what the words in the banner word, this must die. It’s like, ah, I don’t want to scare people. It’s not that I want our wonderful doctors and nurses and our labor and delivery staff to disappear. like they’ve been godsend to us. It’s not what I’m talking about. It’s the bigger system that is steering step by step. Steering our healthcare into Something put on us in a factory like way instead of it’s coming from what the individual needs. I mean, every woman is special is individual. So I’m clarifying I hope that wasn’t scary. What I said I didn’t mean to be dissing on medical personnel as much as we need to wake up.

Michelle
Right. Right. Because often it’s it is it can be the system because there’s midwives and physicians and nurses that want to support women. And the way the mechanisms and the protocols of the hospital are makes it difficult, where they get shamed and bullied

Jae
or they leave their jobs.

Michelle
Yes, yes,

Jae
as out outliers wanting to take care of people in an individual way. There was a doctor who lost her job, in a hospital in our area. and It seemed pretty clear that I was coming from that. And I think it’s really hard. It’s really hard if you believe in something different than what the system is telling you to do. People are worried about job security, or they’re worried about losing their license, especially nurses, I think,

Michelle
right

Jae
A lot of fear for nurses about not even understanding what their rights as nurses are in, in taking care of women with birth. And so I think, from the perspective, that this is the situation in the system, and the fact that we are a monetary system, it’s based on money, it’s the people that have to make the change happen,

Michelle
right.

Jae
I feel like the rest of us, as midwives and doctors and nurses, the people who want change, and this isn’t something that can happen right before someone has their baby. You know, it’s it’s a rare person who can suddenly have a radical transformation right before they have their baby. That’s why I think for us that we’re so passionate about the new program that we’ve created is because

Michelle
yes.

Jae
We understand that this is something that you know, you plant the seeds for your mind and that you work with throughout your pregnancy on many different levels so that when you walk in To your hospital and your birth, you are confident you are empowered, you know what your rights are. And there’s a lot of ways that women can be supported. And I feel like the change when it comes from the parents, the mothers themselves. It’s hard for the system to say no, Yeah. When one person here and there sure they can say, well, that’s a unicorn birth or whatever. But I mean the more people, I feel thought the change that’s happening, all the different people that are working really hard on that change, and reaching women and families about change. With all of this happening, the more support families can get in that day to day preparation for their birth experience, the more likely they are going to be able to create a different experience for themselves the experience they want, and even if it doesn’t go exactly as they want it to knowing that they’ve invested themselves fully in that process. Then they’re there to make the choices with their care provider. You know, they can’t just get scared into making choices they can recognize, okay, I’m making this choice now because this feels like the best choice in this moment. I’ve given it my all and-

Michelle
Right Yes, 100%. I agree. I agree. And when you have caregivers that listen, and present the options and give families the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons and make that decision. I feel like even if their birth doesn’t go the way they planned, as you mentioned, that there’s less trauma around it, because they do feel like they had those options and they were heard and they may need to grieve the birth that they didn’t have it. I find they don’t have the same amount of trauma around it.

Rhione
Yes, of course. That’s true.

Michelle
So tell me more about your program.

Jae
So basically, we have spent the last probably 15 months working with the knowledge that we have about how we’ve worked one on one with people as homebirth midwives providing care from, you know, early pregnancy through the early postpardom or early period of new parenting, and we basically have organized that knowledge in a way that allows us to put it into it kind of a, what we’re calling a journey,

Rhione
owning your amazing birth journey

Michelle
I love that.

Jae
And the idea that we had in the beginning and we’ve been just like you had mentioned before we get started that you’ve been working for years to get your information online. It’s like for years we’ve been talking about this, like how would we do this what it look like because we recognize that- Well, part of its from teaching hypnobirthing classes for so many years, like our classes included home birth people, as well as people in the hospital and just hearing stories even in that group who was educated and making choices of how difficult their birth experiences were or serious trauma that happened with them. We felt really motivated to provide this type of really supportive partnership style care for people choosing other birth locations besides home, recognizing that most home birth midwives are offering something similar to what we can offer, recognizing that there’s so many people out there who just have no idea what they’re getting into. I mean, they might think this is a natural process. My body knows how to do this, I’ll just get my doctor and then when I walk into the hospital, I’ll tell them, I want to have a natural birth. And it’s all gonna work out and recognizing that no, it’s not all going to work out because there’s so many pieces that go into being prepared to have a birth. And so that’s what we spent all this time doing is organizing our knowledge into this basic system we call the birth system, BIRTH and with the idea that we’re helping People prepare by walking them through these five steps. And then we’ve created three different programs around that we’ve created a one on one coaching, which is similar to having it’s you know, it’s like having a pregnancy coach through six months of your pregnancy, which we figured is probably an average time that people would want to have that type of coaching where they can have one on one support throughout. And then we have a lot of small group classes, where they would have support in small groups, the opportunity for coaching in that way, as well as having access to our foundational basic class. And then we have the basic kind of self study class, although we’re, by the time you hear this, we will launch that first class, which is going to be a live class. And then after that, it will just be something people can access at any time. It’s kind of an evergreen class. That’s a basic overview. Maybe he has some questions or maybe Rhione wants to add some things to that.

Rhione
I like what you said, that’s what we’re doing. It was really a beautiful day, actually, when we had a wall of our office, covered in notes, and realized, oh my gosh, this is everything. And look, it’s a sanctuary. We realized sanctuary birthing has to do with these sanctuary of the mom of baby. And the concentric circles of sanctuary created by the support around her. And oh my gosh, we actually do have a system and we didn’t know that we had a system. So we put it into the BIRTH as ways of organizing and now we have a way of sharing to more than just people in our own neighboring counties. We can share with anyone, anywhere.

Michelle
Across the world. It’s amazing. The technology, so amazing. So what are some of the things that a mom a family would learn in your course? What are some of those fundamentals? Some of those key points, that when you created this sanctuary process, what were the points that just felt alive and like this is it? This is what women need?

Jae
Well, we decided to start with birth. So the first step in our process is the “B” just birth. And because most people kind of start out once they get pregnant thinking about the birth, and it’s also a big important part in the third trimester as a woman is heading to her birth. And so in the birth process, I think the biggest key to that is owning- owning the birth and we recognize that for a woman to really feel like she owns that process. It’s a mindset shift that needs to occur over some months, you know, because To go from maybe being afraid of the process to thinking you don’t know anything about it, that you’re going to turn all this over to your care provider, because they’re the authority. They’ve done this maybe thousands of times, and you haven’t even done it once yet. So it’s a big mindset shift to recognize and see yourself as a partner in this process, working with your care provider, making choices that are based on your own beliefs and needs. And even understanding what those beliefs and needs are. That’s a step and we think about our journey as being more of a spiral. So it’s, as we’re working with people say over six months in our live program or in our coaching, one on one coaching program, we keep touching back on these areas as those areas are growing and developing and each person is doing their own work around what they need. So that’s one important thing. We also have an assessment that we start with people at so People kind of doing an assessment of where they are now. And what’s important to them, it could be health related, it could be they’re really tired, they’re exhausted, they’re not sure what to eat. They’re having trouble sleeping. You know, they’re nauseous all the time, like I mentioned. So that could be that person or it could be someone who is really in a place of recognizing like I haven’t chosen my care provider yet. I don’t really know what’s important about this concentric circles that Rhione talked about in terms of team and so our, our fourth part in the journey is team and teams begins all the way with just the mom and the baby at the center to whoever her partner is or in whatever formation This family is in whether, however, they are gendered, however they’re growing their babies starting in that center, and then moving out to what kind of support would help to optimize this pregnancy to help The pregnant one to grow a healthy baby so have a healthy body that feels good, you know, so that women understand. Pregnancy doesn’t have to be a horrible thing. You don’t have to feel terrible through the whole pregnancy and then just hope that it can be over. It’s like having been midwives. All these years, we’ve helped so many, many women to feel great in their pregnancy to recognize, wow, this could be an amazing, wonderful time in my life where I’m really bonding with my baby and really connecting with my partner and setting up the kind of support that I need during my pregnancy and after, which is a another really important piece in the team is recognizing what kind of support you need after because so many women come home from the hospital with their baby and just don’t know, or families come home with their baby and don’t know what to do and feel overwhelmed or that can be a risk for people getting depressed and having a really hard time and so preparing for these things. That’s a big way that we think about this is to anticipate what is the Next thing that’s coming up for this person and supporting them in understanding what they need, and how to create that and how to set that up. So those are some basic overviews of some of the steps and maybe Rhione wants to add some more to some of the other parts of this journey.

Rhione
I like how you spoke to each of those adults basic ground, it makes sense from my point of view. One of the things that is really important to me in our BIRTH systems is you can’t drop any one of them. In the system, they’re all super important and they hold each other together. And that’s why today talked about spiraling through, but the I, the inner knowing the inner journey is really important. I’m super touched by that and I want women To know, we want women to know that they can have a way to access and trust their deep inner knowing that they can rest in it. They can make a path to that. I’m calling it deep inner knowing you could call it intuition or you could call it instinct. There are many words, but when a woman is pregnant, she’s receiving, she is able to receive a lot of beautiful information for herself, for her body for her baby, for this new life, for this birth, and I call that her deep inner knowing and it’s available. It’s available to anyone who wants it to be available. And once a woman has that sense of Yeah, I trust this. Then, if her midwife is saying, we really want you to do this, and we’re worried about this, so, you know, we’d like you to do this, she can tune in. Of course, she wants to get information, like I need more information, I need some evidence about this or that, but in the end, she is the one and she can tune in and really trust that inner guidance and situations that need a person or this what I want to say is this can be relevant in situations through the entire pregnancy, birth, early, postpartum and later, because we are bombarded in this culture with what you should be afraid of what you should expect, how you should listen to the experts and where are the experts? Is it on Google? Or should I call the doctor or my friend? You know, it’s like we’re bombarded with information. And in the end, we get information. We collect evidence, we do our research. But in the end, the decision best comes from someone who trusts their deep inner wisdom. She will know as a mother, this is what my baby needs. This is what I need. I trust

Michelle
The whole time the two of you have been speaking, the word that keeps coming to me is brilliant. This is just brilliant. And the wealth of knowledge that you both have. It sounds like an incredible, incredible program. It really does. And I feel so much of what you’re saying it echoes what I have found to be true in birth. So I’m so excited to be able to have this venue for you to share about it. So if someone wanted to reach out for your program, how can they find you? I’ll have it in the show notes, but please share.

Rhione
Well, we are on Instagram we are on Facebook, sanctuary birthing. And of course, the website is sanctuarybirthing.com and we have several different ways to connect. One would be you can just, make an appointment, we want to talk to you. So go to our website and schedule what we call a discovery session, which is a 15 minute block of time where we just listen to where you’re at what you need, and help you figure out okay, what would your next step be your best next step. We have several of those blocks saved out during the week. And we also have a workbook an amazing birth workbook for people who just want a peek into how they can get their feet wet get started at looking what this journey might entail. Did I miss anything, Jae?

Jae
I don’t think so I mentioned that we have this basic class, it’s going to be a self study class that’s ongoing that people can join anytime. So it’s another way if you want to go a little deeper to get your feet wet and learn the basics of this amazing birth journey, owning your amazing birth journey. So that’s another thing people can find on our website as well. So-

Michelle
Excellent. Again, I find it so brilliant, and I’m so excited to be able to help you share it and get it out there. So before we end our time together, that’s been so incredible. Thank you both so much. I’ve loved it. I’ve loved every minute of it. I’d like to ask my guests if they could share a pearl of wisdom, something that they would like families to know, any bit of wisdom. And again, you have over 60 years of experience and wisdom between you both what was a pearl for each of you, please?

Jae
Well, I can go first, I would say that I feel like the most basic important piece of wisdom is that your body talks to you.

Michelle
Yes.

Jae
And I think in our really, really busy, fast paced, media oriented, screen oriented culture, we stopped listening. Or maybe we never learned to listen. And yet every pregnant woman, her body will start to talk to her almost from the beginning. So in any case, I think sometimes people need help, learning how to listen, but it’s an important thing. start listening to your body, your body is talking to you.

Michelle
Yes, I agree. I agree.

Rhione
That’s beautiful, I love that your body is talking to you. I really liked that, Jae. Saving that pearl. What is my pearl of wisdom? That women I would hope that each woman before during her pregnancy would take some time. Take some time to be still think and connect with a deeper layer underneath all the mind chatter. Just even five minutes. begin making time. start listening because I believe that that inner knowing can inform us in the best possible way. From this day on and your baby’s counting on it. It can change your baby’s life and it can change the world. One baby out at time-

Michelle
Yes-

Rhione
in that way.

Michelle
Yes. So thank you both. So very much. I appreciate it. And thank you all for listening.

Jae
Thank you so much for having us on. We really appreciate this opportunity to spend this time with you.

Rhione
Yeah, Michelle, it really felt right to be received. And to understand that, what is it called? I like getting got, it feels like you really get where we are, and what’s important to us. And that means everything. So thank you very, very much.

Michelle
Oh, you’re welcome. You’re welcome. Every part of my being has resonated with everything you’re saying. So again, thank you so much. And remember Mama’s just as these wonderful midwives stated, you can trust your own inner wisdom. And remember, just like other guests have said well, you know your baby better than anyone. Thank you again for listening. And if you’re enjoying the show, please share it with a friend. And you can rate review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Because when you do that helps get the show and the information out to more people.

 

Outro

For more great conversations like these, where to find out more information and access Michelle’s library of amazing gifts. Go to birtheaseservices.com for slash podcasts, more information on the birthease methods, Michelle’s classes, meditations and other services go to birtheaseservices.com