Sarah Lockwood and Sophia Paskell, Home Birth Aotearoa trustees and Trust Homebirth Tauranga members, warmly hosted the 2020 Home Birth Aotearoa National Hui and Conference ‘Te Whare Tangata’ (the womb/home of humanity).

Te Whare Tangata is the perfect safe space for new life to grow. Here, our babies are protected, nourished, loved and safe. Pregnancy and birth are often considered separate processes but birth is merely a gentle transition from one safe space into another- a continuation of love, nourishment and protection.

The Conference was held within a tranquil venue on Saturday the 31st of October and involved a line-up of incredible speakers, empowering workshops, nourishing food and brought together parents, practitioners, and leading birth experts to educate, inspire, and motivate anyone with curiosity or invested interest in empowered birth to better understand how this transition can be facilitated in a safe and loving way.  This year also coincided with International Year of the Midwife and of course, lessons and research resulting from the Covid pandemic.

Conference Programme

9.30 – 10.00 Karakia and welcome

10.00 – 10.30 Sharon Robinson – ‘Homebirth in the Jungle’.
Sharon shares her story of adventure, expertise, instincts, and nature, when she responded to an international advertisement from a European couple seeking a midwife to assist them with the birth of their first baby….deep in the Peruvian Amazon.

10.30 – 11.00 Adam Sharplin – ‘Mana and Masculinity at Home’.
Adam talks us through his role as birth partner and homebirth pāpā, within a context of kiwi blokeness that challenges gender norms.

11.00 – 11.30 MORNING TEA

11.30 – 12.00 Arianna Nisa-Walker – ‘Upholding tikanga Māori throughout the haputanga journey during Covid level 4’.
Arianna, a University lecturer in cultural birth practices talks us through the obstacles she faced during her first pregnancy and birth, and how she was able to navigate the significant challenges and institutional fears that threatened her hopes of an empowered birth experience.

12.00 – 12.30 Matilda Green – ‘My Body, My Choice’.
When Matilda, a well-known influencer chose to birth her first baby at home, little did she realise that everyone felt entitled to have an opinion about it. In her presentation, Matilda talks about what led to her choose homebirth, the social pressures and media scrutiny, and how her experience shaped her role as a mother.

12.30 – 13.00 Sophia Paskell- ‘Birth & Death’.
Sophia, a local Childbirth Educator and Birth Doula, explores societies ingrained fear of death and how this impacts women’s care during pregnancy and birth. She discusses the impact of the medicalisation of birth and death and how fear encroaches on the sacred experience of life.

13.00 – 14.00 LUNCH BREAK

14.00 – 15.00 Rob McGowan – Rongoa Workshop
Rob, a rongoa Māori practitioner, leads us through an interactive workshop sharing and teaching various gentle rongoa practices that can be used throughout the pregnancy and birth journey for both māmā and pēpi.

15.00 – 16.00 Midwife panel discussion
In honouring International Year of the Midwife, this interactive panel discussion involves an interview style format with a group of midwives across the spectrum, discussing a range of relevant topics that will both challenge and inspire how we conceptualise pregnancy and birth.

END OF DAY SESSION & AFTERNOON TEA

20.00 – Soundbath meditation
You are welcome to join us back at the venue for a truly healing and meditative soundbath experience, led by local artist and musicians. Drawing on the energy from a full moon, this will be an experience not to forget.

Conference Speakers

 

Sharon
Robinson

‘Home Birth in the Jungle’

 

Midwife Sharon Robinson shared her story of adventure, expertise, instincts, and nature, when she responded to an international advertisement from a European couple seeking a midwife to assist them with the birth of their first baby….deep in the Peruvian Amazon. She shared this story within a context of the extreme highs and lows that come alongside the profession of midwifery.

With a background as a physio of 12 years, then completing midwifery training in New York (with placements in the Bronx), Sharon has since assisted women to birth in the US, Cambodia, Tonga, New Zealand, Benin (West Africa), Peru (Amazon Jungle) and Mexico. Her experiences are rich and diverse but with each she is reminded that the care a woman receives, during birth stays with her for the rest of her life.

 

Adam (Mani)
Sharplin

‘Mana and Masculinity at Home’

 

Mani talks us through his role as birth partner and homebirth pāpā. Challenging the pervasive narrative that labour and birth is ‘a woman’s domain’, Mani speaks about the intergral role that a man plays in this process, as the protector and provider to his whānau. In this kōrero, Mani argues that being present and engaged in the birth process is the height of masculinity.

 

Arianna
Nisa-Walker

‘Upholding tikanga Maori throughout the haputanga journey during Covid-19’

Arianna is a hauora Māori lecturer at the University of Otago and is passionate about weaving together te ao Māori and health practice to make a difference for hauora Māori across the lifecourse.  Most importantly Arianna’s work is firmly about empowering future health professionals to become agents of change for hauora Māori in the pursuit of improved health outcomes for all.

Arianna shared her first birthing journey and the challenges that were encountered and the decisions that needed to be made, which led her to choose home birth during the level 3 covid-19 lockdown. Themes within her story were of a woman’s right to choose, to be informed, to have tikanga Māori upheld in the birthing process and to feel empowered in her hapūtanga journey regardless of the obstacles.

Matilda
Green

‘My Body, My Choice’

 

Matilda Green is an entrepreneur, influencer, and more recently, mother. In this talk, Matilda discussed what led her to choose homebirth, the public criticism she received after it was revealed she had chosen to birth at home, and how these experiences have shaped her role as mother.

Weaved throughout her story is a narrative of ‘my body, my choice’, and the impacts of social pressures and opinion – both public and private- on a mothers’ wellbeing.  But also amongst all the negatively and harsh social media comments, follow home birthers stood up and showed their love and support.

Sophia
Paskell

‘Birth and Death’

 

Sophia Paskell is a local Childbirth Educator and Birth Doula. In her presentation ‘Life & Death’, Sophia  explored how societies ingrained fear of death has an impact on women’s care during pregnancy and birth.  She had us focus on our breathe and reminded us our next is never guaranteed, as is the first breathe.

Having supported hundreds of women and their partners through their pregnancies and birth experiences, Sophia discusses the impact of the medicalisation of birth and death for both women, their partners, and midwives, and how fear encroaches on the sacred experience of life.

 

Rob
McGowan

‘Rongoā—Workshop’

 

Rob McGowan (also known as Pa Ropata) works for Ngā Whenua Rāhui and is the lead tutor at Titoki Education. He sits on the Bay of Plenty Conservation Board and is the recipient of the Department of Conservation Loder Cup.

Rob’s foundation knowledge of rongoā comes from kaumatua on the Whanganui river. Rob has a keen interest in helping Māori look after their ngahere and keep alive the mātauranga that belongs there. Rob’s korero will involve rongoā that can support and assist women navigating their haputanga and birth journey.

Visit Rob’s website
https://www.tiwaiwaka.nz/

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Birth isn’t something we suffer, but
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SHEILA KITZINGER

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