Pregnancy and childbirth can be both a joyous yet daunting time for many people, with so many life changing decisions to make and loads of new information to absorb. Local childbirth experts Sarah Waite and Leanne Smith have skills and qualifications as a prenatal yoga instructor, doula, childbirth educator, nurse and midwife between them, and together they’re offering four week courses approaching pregnancy and childbirth from a more holistic perspective. If you’re a mum or a dad-to be, Leanne and Sarah may just be able to help you on your exciting new journey into parenthood …
Hi Sarah and Leanne. What brought you both to the Manning-Great lakes area to live and work?
Leanne: My husband and I reached a time in our lives to put roots down in an area that was close to the coast, had employment for us both and a selection of schools to choose from for our children. I applied for a job through Hunter New England Local Health District in a hospital that offered a large selection of modalities, including an Obstetric unit, where I could continue my career as a midwife.
Sarah: We relocated from our busy lives in Sydney for a quieter lifestyle, to continue raising our children on our small acreage. I also wanted to bring my yoga and birthing support experience to families in our regional community.
What is your career background, and why did you choose to work in your current field?
Leanne: I achieved my Bachelor of Nursing in 1994 and then a year later I continued to do my Diploma of Midwifery in Sydney. I then attended a course in Remedial Massage, achieving my Diploma and followed this up with doing my certificate in Infant Massage. I really enjoy working with people and educating them to improve their health, or teaching them to explore different options that are available to them. I believe people need to be well informed in order to make well educated decisions.
Midwifery is all about pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period, and I would like people to be empowered to make those important decisions that are involved in this journey. I am a mother of two, and I felt I was able to understand the processes of my pregnancy and childbirth and empowered to make decisions, even if it did not go to plan.
I enjoy the field of midwifery, because I love seeing the joy and excitement on the parents’ faces when you talk about their pregnancy and explore the process of pregnancy and childbirth. I love being part of that, and ensuring the new parents are active participants in this journey.
Sarah: I am a mum of three children and starting exploring the educational options for women and their families during my third pregnancy, where I found a real personal passion in the birthing journey and how combining yoga and education can make a profound positive birthing experience. I began my yoga training and studies 10 years ago, finalising my yoga certification in 2015.
In my Doula/Child Birth Education journey, I began with offering to support family and friends through their labour, and from there decided to combine prenatal yoga with education. I have experienced many positive birthing journey experiences since. I am now a certified pre and postnatal yoga teacher, a certified birth doula and a certified child birth educator.
You’ve combined your skills to offer some unique classes to our community. Firstly, why did you feel there was a need for this type of offering locally?
We both feel that our community offers a limited holistic approach to birthing that is required by a woman and her family and support people. Birthing is a physical, mental and spiritual process; we need to ensure these are met in order for the woman to feel she is entering these processes well informed. We encourage participation from our women and their support partners by offering an interactive class combining yoga and education.
Through our experiences, people often feel lost or bewildered in the birthing rooms; we hope to alleviate these fears by giving them confidence to understand the birthing process and to provide valuable input into what they want to achieve.
Run us through a typical class; what happens in each session?
Leanne will be leading the one hour education class; her classes are an interactive and fun experience, where you will learn the fundamentals of approaching birth and prenatal care. Sarah will follow with a one hour gentle prenatal yoga class, which will include relaxation/breathing techniques, mediation, gentle poses to prepare your body for birth and to deeply connect with your baby. Your support person will also be encouraged to participate with you in yoga.
We are also fortunate to be involved with local community organisations that will be coming along to let you know about the amazing additional support networks that are available in our area.
When/where are your classes offered, and who are they aimed toward?
We will meet at the beautiful studios of Yoga @ Wallabi Point, 10 Shelley Close, Wallabi Point. Our next class begins on Monday 7th May from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, every Monday for four weeks. Our classes are open to any stage of pregnancy, and we encourage you to bring a support person with you.
Over the four weeks you run each course, what do you most hope participants will most learn/experience?
We hope to achieve a sense of community through meeting other people in our area and sharing with each other their birthing journey and into early childhood. Families will experience a relaxed, peaceful and supportive environment, where they will learn and be confident with the process of pregnancy, labour and postnatal care.
How much do your sessions cost – and what equipment/supplies will participants need to bring with them?
The fees are $130; we will supply everything you need for our classes.
How can we sign up/find out more information?
You can email us: avocadoprenatalyoga@gmail com or find us on Facebook: Avocado Yoga.
Thanks Sarah and Leanne.