Southern Highlands Calmbirth
Karen McClay is the Director of Calmbirth® PTY LTD. She is also a Southern Highlands Calmbirth Educator, practising Registered Midwife (RM), and a Registered Nurse (RN).
Karen is a highly experienced Calmbirth® educator having seen over 1500 couples complete the Calmbirth® program since 2009.
Karen has a passion for sharing her knowledge and experience with pregnant couples and caregivers, and she’s doing her bit to change how our society and culture views and experiences birth.
Karen says, “when you are making such an enormous contribution to how our culture is perceiving birth and how women and couples are feeling about birth moving into and out of their birth experience, I get a real sense of satisfaction when I see the confidence in the Calmbirth couples and see how the program contributes not only to reducing the intervention rates and the use of pain relief, but most importantly seeing our couples speak far more positively about their birth experiences, no matter how their birth unfolded. I am proud of the fact that Calmbirth is helping to change birth outcomes and experiences.”
Karen believes the Calmbirth® program restores our faith in the wonderment of childbirth and the vital role a family unit plays in having a positive birth experience.
Calmbirth has stood the test of time since its inception in 2004, and now the Director of Calmbirth, Karen McClay is taking it to the next level by continually evolving it and incorporating it into the ante natal structure of as many maternity hospitals in Australia. Calmbirth continues to lead the way in childbirth education and research in Australia and abroad because it is a holistic program based on scientific and clinical evidence, as its teachings are drawn from midwifery, obstetrics, psychology, epigenetics, neuroscience and mind-body medicine.
The Calmbirth program continues to come up favourably in comparison to other childbirth education programs available, by not only increasing the feelings of self confidence, but also well and truly supports Dr Kate Levett’s most recent study conducted in 2016 that examined the effectiveness of childbirth education courses that offered complementary medicine (CM) techniques for the support of natural birth for first time mothers by significantly reducing epidural use as well as reducing the impact of medical interventions.
Karen says,“I think the whole scope of practice as a midwife is amazing. From the beginning of following a couple through that journey of pregnancy, preparing for labour and birth and going through that process, and then watching them blossom into a family. Only to bump into them years later at the supermarket, the kids older and them still talking about their birth and the impact you had on that birth at that time, that’s what I love the most about being a midwife. I love seeing their strength and confidence in their own abilities and the sense of empowerment they feel.
“The thing that makes me really sad is watching women walk away from their birth feeling like they have failed. There is never any failure in birth and women should never feel that way after giving birth.
“I think that my role as a Calmbirth educator and as a midwife has probably taught me more about life and the enormous capabilities and strength of women and of their partners when they are supporting women in birth, and for that I am eternally grateful. As the French obstetrician and childbirth specialist Michel Odent says, ‘if you let them – every birthing mother will teach you something’. I truly believe this.”
About our Calmbirth program and why we are different
Calmbirth focuses not just on the physical but also the emotional component of pregnancy and birth. It has evolved over its many years of experience to ensure that we are meeting and addressing the educational, emotional and physical needs of birthing couples. Calmbirth is constantly working collaboratively with experts in all areas of our program so that our teachings are up to date and supported by credible and current research.
Because our program focuses on both the physical and the emotional, Calmbirth more than prepares couples to meet any birth journey and challenge they may encounter with knowledge and confidence. But more than this, what we teach are tools for life, lessons that go on to extend beyond birth to their parenting, relationships and everyday life.
The ideal time to attend a Calmbirth class is between 24 and 34 weeks gestation.
This, however, is not a strict guideline; if you are feeling particularly anxious, we suggest coming earlier on, and if you have left it a little late to book, you are still welcome to attend after 34 weeks. We feel that the ideal time frame of 24 to 34 weeks gives couples enough time to reflect on and practice what you will learn in the Calmbirth class, using the tools and techniques to help you prepare for your birth.
Calmbirth focusses on:
- The importance of their headspace and emotional space leading up to and during birth, and how this not affects their emotional state moving out of birth but also how their body responds to birth. Calmbirth couples are taught simple yet powerful tools that allow them to maintain a positive and confident headspace, and how to recover when this wavers or becomes challenged. But, as I am sure you would agree, it is hard to keep a positive and confident headspace in a situation you know nothing about. That is why our program explores every facet of birth physically and emotionally.
- A better understanding about the physiology of birth. Couples come away from the Calmbirth program with a very strong understanding of how a woman’s body functions during birth and the impact those external elements such as environment, support and safety have on birth. Couples are taught very practical tools from positioning and movement, to massage techniques, to the role that the support team plays in maintaining an effected physical and emotional birth environment.
- That every birth is different. Calmbirth is for first time parents as well as for couples that may have had a previous challenging or traumatic birth and for couples that know they may require intervention, such as a caesarean. Calmbirth covers in detail medical intervention, what is involved and how to work with these birth journeys, utilising the Calmbirth teachings and tools. Often it is with these journeys that the teachings of Calmbirth shine.
Calmbirth is not just theoretical but is a very practical program that caters for both the woman and her birthing partner. Calmbirth embraces and accepts all pregnant couples regardless of their age, culture, socio-economic and sexual orientation. As a partner or birth support person the need for support and encouragement is essential. Being and staying connected with your birthing partner is crucial. This connection, support and encouragement makes all the difference on both an emotional and physical level for birthing women, and strongly contributes to the overall experience of the birth regardless of how the birth unfolds. This support transcends into communicating and bonding better with each other, with your baby and with your birth experience.
Karen says, “Calmbirth believes having a baby is the most precious moment in your life and it should be treated with respect, honesty and a sense of security – a woman and her partner should feel safe, private and supported. Calmbirth’s goal is to educate and improve the birthing outcomes for all women and their families not just physically but emotionally as well.
“I believe when we learn how to embrace birth as a natural part of life and not fear it, and stay connected by working together as a family, then not only will unnecessary intervention rates be reduced but the way we experience and talk about birth will be far more positive and empowering for future generations of families.”