Meet Our Professional Contributors
Dr Sarah Buckley MD
Dr Sarah J Buckley is trained as a general practitioner (GP) with qualifications in GP obstetrics and family planning. Currently Sarah is fully occupied as an internationally acclaimed author and speaker on pregnancy, birth and parenting. She is best known for her bestselling book, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: A Doctor’s Guide to Natural Childbirth and Gentle Early Parenting Choices. She is also the mother of four homeborn children. Dr Buckley’s work critiques current practices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting from scientific, anthropological, cross-cultural, psychological, and personal perspectives. Her writing has been published internationally, incorporated into numerous parenting books and translated into eight languages.
She has also contributed to many professional texts. Dr Buckley has presented at conferences internationally and has been interviewed on issues related to birth and mothering for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, and for educational and birth-related DVDs.
Shivam Rachana is the founding principal of the International College of Spiritual Midwifery and former co-director of the Centre for Human Transformation for 28 years. Rachana’s teaching career spans 40 years.
A pioneer of conscious birthing practises since the 1970’s, she specialises in water birth and Lotus Birth. She connects women to the source of their feminine power and wisdom and trains doulas and rebirthers.
Her book, Lotus Birth, now in its second edition and translated into Italian, Polish and Czech, is a world first publication. She is executive director of the acclaimed DVD The Lotus Birth of the Malcolm Twins and co-author of The Tantric Path.
Diane Gardner is a professional doula and hypnobirthing practitioner and has trained more than 500 mothers. She studied the work of Marie Mongan, the founder of Hypnobirthing Institute, and has been a hypnobirthing practitioner since 2001 and an NLP master since 1997. In 2005, she was instrumental in the early development of the Calmbirth program. She has a Diploma in Professional Counselling and an Advanced Diploma in Solution Oriented Hypnosis.
She is the creator of an advanced birthing program for women to overcome their fears and experience a more gentle, natural and empowering experience. She is passionately involved in helping mothers have a more rewarding birthing experience and believes more than ever, that birth is not meant to be a medical incident, but rather a gentle, natural and empowering experience just like nature intended.
Jo Thomson has worked as a private hospital midwife for more than 12 years. In the past two years she has also gained qualifications as a life coach. This work has highlighted the need for women (and their partners) to be better prepared both emotionally and mentally for birth in order to be empowered throughout and have the birth experience they desire. With this aim in mind, she has now added Hypnobirthing Trainer to her qualifications.
As a life coach, Jo also offers women support through emotional healing if things have not gone to plan and they are feeling at all disempowered by their experience.
Nicole MacFadyen is a naturopath and natural fertility specialist with more than 15 years of clinical experience. Nicole specialises in pre-conception health, infertility, IVF support, pregnancy and postnatal care, women’s health and menopause and children’s ailments. Nicole also works closely with other health professionals to enhance the success of IVF where necessary.
She holds a Diploma of Applied Science, Naturopathy (SSNT) Advanced Certificate in Natural Fertility Management and Better Babies Preconception Health Care and is a Member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.
Sonya Wildgrace is a professional birth trauma counsellor, independent sustainable natural birth educator and experienced doula. Her birth knowledge comes from more than 14 years of holding the space, listening, supporting and watching women birthing, hearing their stories, sharing their intimate space and seeing the erosion of natural instinctual birth unfold in a non supportive clinical environment. Also as a birthing mother, she witnessed the stereotypical management of birth in an industrialised small town hospital.
The mother of five began offering private antenatal classes for couples and intimate groups. Offering mentorship, she encouraged a core group of women to train as doulas in her area to offer more services for birthing women and their families. She ran pregnancy survival workshops and co-facilitated a postnatal support group through the Woman’s Health Centre.
Having had four successful vaginal births after caesarean (VBAC), she decided to specialise in VBAC counselling and education and offers classes with small groups of women and their partners wishing to explore their VBAC options. She works extensively with women and their partners to navigate through the modern minefield of today’s obstetric practise, assisting in the re-emergence of a new empowered natural birth model.
Cas brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her role as a birth doula and postnatal doula, writer and speaker about pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
Cas lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband of nine years and her young family. She is a spokesperson for the national consumer advocacy group Maternity Coalition Inc. on issues related to vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Postnatal Depression, a participant in the Brisbane support group Birthtalk, and co-founder of Mums In Touch Forest Lake, a community-based support network for new and isolated mums.
Cas is also a published freelance writer in parenting magazines and a committed campaigner and speaker on birth care reform. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English Literature and a Master’s degree in Business (Communication Studies) and now with 15 years PR experience behind her uses her professional skills to do pro bono PR and Marketing work for Maternity Coalition Inc. as well as work for grassroots arts organisations such as Flipside Circus.
Cas is the former editor of Birth Matters Journal, past president of the Maternity Coalition and co-founder of Caesarean Awareness Network Australia. Since 2008 she has also been listed in Who’s Who of Australian Women. Cas provides support services for birthing women and new parents, offering practical assistance and a range of quality resources that promote natural and sustainable family living.
Shirley-Anne Lawler, a trained midwife, gives pregnant women tools to make conscious choices for an easy birth. She uses these tools to change the energy of fear, worry and concerns relating to conception, pregnancy and birth.
Shirley-Anne discovered Access Consciousness in 2007 and fast tracked her training to become a facilitator, saying she ”finally found a set of tools and processes that allowed me to use my ability to identify and change limiting thought patterns and belief systems.”
She says her goal is to increase the happiness quotient on the planet and one of the ways to this is to facilitate an easy, relaxed, joyful pregnancy and birth experience!
Davini Malcolm has 29 years of experience in film and television as an actress. She was also one of the producers for the internationally released and acclaimed DVD Lotus Birth, featuring the homebirth of her twins in water. Davini is a director of the International College of Spiritual Midwifery (ICSM) and has been involved in Women’s Mystery circles for 20 years.
She believes this sacred time in the company of women has created the foundations. She says she “feels the blessings of this every day.” Davini is a mother of four Lotus-born children. She speaks with the informed clarity of a woman who is deeply aware of, and has fully embraced her feminine process, as woman and mother. She shows an authority that is palpable in its ancient knowledge, its wisdom and beauty.
Unmani has blended the best of the bush and the wider world since settling in the Wimmera after moving from her Irish Western District origins. Her life outside the family and farm with John and her two (now) adult children has been filled with a passion for sharing music to the world in it’s many guises – singing, playing, dance.
From the comparative isolation of her farm base at Wal Wal, Unmani has been part of a deeply connected ongoing women’s circle for well over fifteen years which meets twice yearly usually in the Melbourne/Tasmanian area. She currently works with The International College of Spiritual Midwifery helping promote gentler birthing options and practices.
She also studied tantra and hypnosis with the Centre for Human Transformation.
Robyn Stitt brings her own, unique blend of experience and intuition to every session with a client and is a firm believer of ‘Practice what you Preach’. Using Complementary Therapies, Robyn loves being able to assist her clients get the most out of every day. Whether its juggling work, kids and yourself, or needing help with health issues, a series of appointments at Overcoming Overwhelm might see a new you blossom.
Robyn is a Holistic Therapist combining Kinesiology, Reiki and Ear Candling. Kinesiology is a relatively new Complementary Therapy with ancient roots. It combines Traditional Chinese Medicine based on Energy (Auras, Chakras, Meridians and Acupressure Points)with modern scientific understanding of Anatomy and Physiology.
Ellie Burscough is a professional fitness trainer specialising in outdoor group fitness classes for mums. She is also a qualified pregnancy and postnatal exercise instructor.
After losing 29 kilograms in the seven months following the birth of her daughter, Ellie was inspired to provide a service to help support and motivate mums through their journey. She says what she offers, “Isn’t just about exercise, it’s a community of strong, powerful women.”
Kathryn Williams finished Bachelor of Midwifery in 2004 and then moved to New Zealand to work as an Independent midwife. She started her homebirth career there and her passion for it just keeps growing. She returned to Adelaide in 2007 and until mid 2011 worked as a homebirth midwife in Adelaide with some part time work at the Women’s and Children’s hospital also.
Her role is to believe in women; to trust the process and help women trust birth. I feel I am like a guide: helping women along the way as they learn and blossom into wonderful confident mothers. She provides support and education. She has worked in hospital and home environments and has extensive knowledge and experience of natural physiological birth.
Her passion is for women to “realise their inner strength” through birth and for the mother and baby to come through the process emotionally, physically and spiritually intact.
Deanne Schmid is a homebirth mum, former Homebirth Network South Australia Committee Member, natural birth advocate and professional relaxation therapist.