Resolutions / Wellbeing

Birth Beat’s Edwina Sharrock on the importance of accessible birth education

Birth Beat

In partnership with Cartier.

 

"What could be more majestic than the pregnant woman? I am in awe daily of how our bodies can grow little humans, birth them and then provide everything that little baby needs to not only survive but thrive. To me that is truly majestic." Edwina Sharrock is on a mission to have pregnant women and people feel as majestic as she believes them to be, and what better way to do so than equipping them for the journey ahead? This is how Birth Beat, an online service that delivers childbirth education classes, baby and child first aid classes and sleep and settle support for new parents, was born.

As one of the 2021 finalists for the Cartier Women's Initiative – an initiative brought to life in 2006, which helps women reach their full potential by shining a light on their achievements and providing them with the necessary financial, social and human capital support to grow their businesses and build their leadership skills - Sharrock's achievements in the birth space are not to be overlooked. The impact this kind of work has on parents reaches beyond what statistics will measure. The program, in which Sharrock is a 2021 laureate for, aims to have a strong and sustainable positive impact on society as defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and has supported over 260 women entrepreneurs hailing from 59 different countries. Among them this year, is Sharrock's Birth Beat.

Conceived while she was pregnant with her daughter, Sharrock noticed a gap in the system when she found that classes offered through the medical system – often based solely out of hospitals – were, at times, hard to access and outdated in practice. For Sharrock, access is everything, and an online portal to offer pregnant people across the globe access to experienced midwives who teach the courses in an easy-to-follow and non-judgmental way, in short videos and downloadable modules felt like the best solution.

Below, we speak with Sharrock on the necessity of this kind of work, what it means to be leading the charge with accessible birth education in Australia, and what being recognised as a laureate for the 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative means to her and her work.

 

MICHAEL LO SORDO jacket; ST AGNI Top; CARTIER bracelet and ring.

 

Please tell us about Birth Beat?

 

The idea of Birth Beat was born when I was pregnant with my daughter Polly. The classes offered by the hospital were a little outdated and inconvenient times. I thought, surely there was something we could do online and in the comfort and privacy of our own home, and there really wasn’t.

As a Midwife and nurse, I knew how important classes were, and I started Birth Beat when I discovered more and more parents were feeling anxious and scared about their pregnancy, labour and birth, and not going to classes. I wanted to be able to support parents with a community but also a course they could do around their already busy lives.

Birth Beat is an online service that delivers childbirth education classes, baby and child first aid classes and sleep and settle support for new parents. We educate and support you throughout your pregnancy, birth and early parenthood journey, so that you can feel prepared, confident and have your best experience possible.

 

Why are Birth Beat’s practices important for parents to have access to?

 

Working as a midwife and nurse, I see first-hand the difference between birth experiences, and how the parents who have done birth classes are more relaxed and well informed compared to those who have not that are scared and anxious. As a working mum, I found the model of hospital classes a little outdated and difficult to get to with my husband. It made me realise we need to offer a more modern, convenient way for parents to have access to knowledge.

As a Midwife and nurse, I felt confident in how to care for our baby when she was sick or had a cold. However, I know many parents do not know what to do, and many parents would not know what to do if their baby choked or stopped breathing. That is why we created our online first aid course, so all parents know how to respond in an emergency.

 

 

Birth Beat

LUXE DELUXE jacket; ST AGNI Top; CARTIER bracelet and ring.

 

How important is it to you that women and people who give birth feel safe within their pre and postpartum needs?

 

This is so important, it is such a huge life experience, you are creating and birthing a little human being. You and your body are incredible but if you don’t understand what is going to happen and when, it can be really frightening. The way I teach is fun and engaging. I let you and your partner or support person know what to expect so you both can feel prepared.

 

 

LUXE DELUXE jacket; ST AGNI Top; CARTIER earrings, bracelet and ring.

 

Do you feel there is stigma around expressing pre and postpartum needs?

 

I think like all things with mental health, there remains stigma with perinatal depression and anxiety and I believe there is huge amounts of pressure on women in the pre and postpartum time. Pressure around looks and adjusting to this new little person in your life can sometimes be hugely unrealistic. I would love us as a society to work on removing this pressure, it is okay to not be loving all of the stages of pregnancy and having a newborn. This is 100% normal and does not make you a bad mum. It is a huge and amazing life adjustment. I think often social media and all the super styled nurseries, designer baby clothes and mums bouncing back into pre-maternity clothes can place some pretty unrealistic pressure on us. We should be honouring women after birth and not only spoiling the baby but making sure we spoil and care and nurture the mum.

When a baby is born so is a mother and that mother needs to be cared for too.

 

 

Birth Beat

LUXE DELUXE jacket; ST AGNI Top; CARTIER bracelet and ring.

 

How do you feel Birth Beat can positively impact people who have given birth and the birth industry at large?

 

We know first-hand from the emails, cards, messages and photos we receive every day from Birth Beat parents about how we supported them and made them feel excited to meet their babies; and what a huge difference it made to the days before and after they birthed their babies. We also think it is important that the industry values education in this space not only for mums to be but also their partners so they can feel excited rather than scared for their new role.

I also believe we should offer baby and child first aid classes to all new parents like getting a licence to drive. We should all complete a first aid class when we have a new baby.

 

How has it felt for you to offer this education to others?

 

The running a business side of things has been a huge learning curve for me and the constant pressure I put on myself to ensure every parent feels well cared for in our community can be a little exhausting some days.

However, I love my job and feel honoured to play a role in improving the experience for new parents. We start all our work meetings reading daily notes of thanks from our Birth Beat community which keeps us so committed to continuing this support.

 

 

LUXE DELUXE jacket; ST AGNI Top; CARTIER bracelet and ring.

 

What does it mean to be selected as a laureate for the 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative, and what will it mean for Birth Beat?

 

This has been such an honour to be recognised with these incredible 21 women all doing amazing things all over the world. We have been given so much support with the business and coaching but the biggest honour is that I get to learn from all the other women in my cohort. I could never have imagined that Birth Beat would grow this much and impact so many new parents. It truly has been a dream.

 

Discover all the women driving the change through the Cartier Women's Initiative.

 


Feature Image: MICHAEL LO SORDO jacket; ST AGNI top; CARTIER bracelet and ring.
Photography: Sam Armstrong
Talent: Edwina Sharrock
Fashion: Angel Jhang
Hair: Kyye @ HM Division
Makeup: Cherry Cheung
Fashion Assistant: India Stibilj
Director: Ella Jane

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