In our ongoing Meet the Mentor series, you’ll get a chance to meet some of our amazing Birthing From Within Childbirth Educators and Doulas. You’ll learn a little bit about their Birthing From Within work – and, just for fun, get a glimpse into their personal lives and opinions! Today, let’s meet…
Nicole is a mentor, facilitator, birth story listener, birth story listening facilitator, and mother of three based in Shepparton, Australia. She was the first certified BFW mentor in Australia, and is the only facilitator there. She has been with BFW since 2012, and in addition to her birth practice, Your Birth Support, also has a thriving business as a naturopath. Nicole’s depth and breadth of experience add incredible value to the BFW team.
How did you get your start in birth, and how did you encounter Birthing From Within?
I entered the birth field when I became a Hypnobirthing instructor in 2005. After several years, I found that I was uncomfortable with some aspects of the Hypnobirthing philosophy, and saw that it had the potential to plant seeds of trauma, so I was looking for something more realistic, honest, and holistic. I first saw the BFW book mentioned on a birth forum; it was frequently recommended that people with birth trauma do some of the birth art exercises from the book, a recommendation that I found intriguing. I read the book after my sister bought it, and realized that this was the philosophy that I had been seeking. A BFW training came to Australia a few months later, so I felt that it was meant to be. My intro workshop was really confronting but also blew my mind in the best of ways! I changed over to offering BFW classes in mid-2012.
Can you tell us a little about the other work that you do?
In addition to childbirth mentoring and birth story listening, I run a busy naturopathic practice. In fact, it’s this work that really got me interested in birth — I work mostly with women’s health, hormones and fertility. Over 23 years I’ve helped hundred of couples conceive — and many have gone on to take my birth classes, too. I think that the same things that drew me to birth work also drew me to naturopathic work — I wrote a little piece about that idea.
Another part of my work is as a trainer with A Celebration Day for Girls, which celebrates menarche. I find this to be a really nice complement to my naturopathic and birth work, because it’s all about rites of passage and preparation. I also run mother blessings and women’s circles, and I love engaging in those rituals and ceremonies because they are so often missing in our culture.
What’s on your altar for classes?
I have a jade cup that Pam England gave me — it reminds me to “empty my cup.” I have a pregnant goddess statue that I was given for my birthday when I was pregnant with my oldest child. I believe that it represents mother earth, so it reminds me that we are part of something much bigger than we can comprehend. I also have “patchwork life cards” that I use in many of my classes. I find them a great way for the people I work with to express where they are at or how they are feeling about big life transitions, in a picture. They are a great way to help people open up and share what’s on their mind.
Any hidden talents?
I’m pretty crafty. I learned how to knit and sew at a young age. I haven’t done much of this for a while, but I sewed 10 bridesmaids dresses for my own and my sister’s weddings.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your down time?
I need a fair bit of quiet time to function well and de-compress. It depends what mood I’m in, but I love yoga, walking in nature, cooking, reading, having a quiet dinner with my sister, and sometimes watching movies — I mostly like true stories that are inspirational.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
I used to own a colonic irrigation business!
What personal goals/big projects are you currently working towards?
I have been enjoying writing on birth and birth trauma topics, so I would love to continue this and learn how to be more efficient it. Some articles take me months to write! I’m looking forward to more doing more birth story listening facilitating work, such as coming up with new ideas for courses. I’ll be running some online BFW workshops for professionals soon, giving people a taste of Crossing the Threshold.
What’s your favorite vacation spot – or fantasy vacation?
I’m a big fan of the beach. I love Byron Bay especially. I would love to travel to Europe, especially Italy. My fantasy vacation right now would be visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy, then to Naples and to San Marco in Lamos where my Nonna lived.
What keeps you in BFW?
I love the honest, compassionate approach. I love helping prepare couples for the real emotional experience — doubt, confusion, the unknown, as well as joy, love and determination. I feel the importance of helping people face their worries, explore the meaning they might give unwished for events, and build coping and resilience. This is also why I’m so happy to be a facilitator and bring BFW and BSL to more birth workers and clients in my part of the world.