Come and join us for an awesome night out!

home birth Canterbury

If you are interested in pregnancy, birth and newborns come and join us for an evening of inspiration and information! I'm really looking forward to being part of Kāhuarau, an event put on by Home Birth Canterbury as part of Home Birth Awareness Week 2017. I will be sharing about the role of a doula, what opportunities lie at the feet of future NZ doulas and how these could benefit future NZ parents. Whether you are a health professional, parent, or parent-to-be, planning to give birth at home or not, you'll definitely get heaps out of attending! Don't miss out on your ticket!


The Birthing Room Conference 2017: Cultivating Our Roots: Let The Tree Flourish


skin to skin benefits breastfeedingThe Birthing Room is thrilled to announce our 2017 conference, Cultivating Our Roots: Let The Tree Flourish! This one day hui will focus on traditional Māori birth practices, and how tikanga can be integrated into today’s maternity system. Cultivating Our Roots: Let The Tree Flourish is a hui for midwives, childbirth educators, obstetricians, doulas, plunket nurses, other allied health staff, and whānau (families), who would like to feel more empowered and knowledgeable about integrating traditional Māori birthing practices into their clinical practice or the birth of their pēpe (baby).


Kelly Waiana Tikao 32 Kelly Tikao
Waitaha, Kāi Māmoe, Kāi Tahu
“E tama! And he pointed to this cousin of mine. Na! He commanded and I thought no way, no way, no way. It was the next thing you had to do after the baby had come away that I had difficulty with…they always said go and get a shell and I thought they were going to use it for that, severing the cord. They didn’t, they bit it off, tied it in a knot both ends! It’s sacredness ceases after the cord has been severed then it becomes another womb ready for another baby, twins or triplets but that cord belongs to that child, so you sever it and then you go and bury it. We had a tree under which we buried all the umbilical cords in the village.” (Porter, 2011)

Ngāti Kahu Kaumātua Pereme Porter was chosen at the age of 12 to cut the umbilical cords of the newborn babies in his village whilst reciting ancient karakia. A task he initially found very difficult to do but over time Pereme felt honoured to be part of such a rich cultural process.
Kelly Tikao filmed Pereme for her student film “Iho – a cord between two worlds” Traditional Māori Birthing Practices in 2011, along with a thesis on the same topic for her Masters in Science Communication Degree specialising in film making at the University of Otago in 2013.
Kelly’s own fascination with indigenous birthing practices and the ongoing public interest in her Masters film and thesis encouraged her to extend upon her Masters research with a doctorate at the University of Canterbury. She is currently in her second year of study specifically exploring Kāi Tahu birthing traditions and practices pertaining to conception, pregnancy and birth. Kelly was fortunate enough to be financially supported by the NZ Health Research Council and the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre with two research scholarships to help her carry out this project.
Another important component for Kelly is to ensure her research can be used practically to aid and support the implementation of traditional Māori birthing practices into New Zealand’s current maternity services. Therefore, she already has plans drawn up for the production of resources post her doctorate to return the research into the hands of midwives and whānau.

Kelly is quick to declare that she herself is not a midwife although she has the upmost respect for her colleagues in this field. Kelly is an experienced Registered Nurse currently working for the Southern District Health Board in Public Health. She has completed the Huarahi Whakatū PDRP Programme to expertise level through Te Rau Matatini and has worked for Māori Health Providers and in a variety of clinical areas under the Auckland, Wellington and Otago District Health Boards over a 20-year period.
Her current Public Health Role involves working with priority tamariki and vulnerable youth. Kelly completes health assessments, provides health education and navigates youth and whānau towards appropriate and needed health services. Having a variety of health interests and working through barriers to wellbeing as an advocate for young people and whānau have been Kelly’s ongoing professional focus.

In 2008, Kelly decided to extend her nursing into health research and worked for the Donald Beasley Institute (a research institute that promotes research and education in the field of intellectual disability) as a research assistant. She worked on a number of short and long term national and international research projects and remains with the Institute as a Research Associate of the Donald Beasley Institute.
Alongside her health and academic research Kelly thrives off the many creative opportunities that have been presented to her over the years in: radio, film and dance. She has produced a number of radio documentaries, created short films for exhibitions, danced for Puaka/Matariki Performances and generally enjoys viewing or being part of Māori arts in it’s many expressive forms.

Kelly’s te reo Māori journey began when she started her first tertiary qualification and after many years of various courses including: Kura Reo, Kia Kurapa, Kainga Reo and the many other fantastic Kāi Tahu reo initiatives Kelly has gained an intermediate fluency (of sorts) and has resigned herself to the reality that it will take her many more years to feel confident in the tongue of her tupuna.
Kelly is completely dedicated to her PhD topic and she is honoured to be able to share a little of what she has learnt so far at this very special Birthing Room Conference – she admits she has a long way to go on this project but knowledge of generations will never be achieved in just one life time, so she reckons she better get on with it!

Alice Spittle

Alice SpittleAlice is a Māori Contemporary artist based in Christchurch, New Zealand. She finds it hard to define herself as a painter, weaver or mixed media artist but she would consider herself as a Māori contemporary artist, exploring life creatively through as many art forms as she can. Each art form inspires and compliments the others and they allow her to stay motivated and focused on her passion. “As long as I am doing something creative and I am in my studio exploring and playing, I feel free to channel my life’s experiences through my art”

Alice studied Māori Design and Art at Te Wananga O Raukawa in Otaki (2002) and started her journey into the expression of art in Christchurch where she exhibited and sold her works nationally and internationally. Alice has exhibited her work in galleries and events throughout New Zealand and most recently in Australia. She has spent the last 5 years enjoying motherhood and being creative.

Alice runs weaving (raranga) workshops in Australia and New Zealand. We are delighted to announce Alice will be holding a muka cord tie demonstration workshop as part of The Birthing Room’s conference. She will demonstrate a traditional technique of making muka cord ties with New Zealand harakeke (flax) and together the group will explore and talk about processes, traditions, tikanga/protocols around weaving as well as how to nurture the plant and how to harvest sustainably.

Whether you are a beginner or have experience in other weaving techniques, you will enjoy this demonstration of weaving muka in a safe and nurturing environment.

Whānau AdobeStock_85669744 [Converted]-01

As part of The Birthing Room’s conference we will be having a panel of whānau (family) members sharing about their experiences of birth, and how they incorporated Māori tikanga (customs) into their births. Hear first hand of the joys and challenges they faced, and how incorporating tikanga (customs) influenced they way they and their whānau felt about pregnancy, birth and parenting.


As well as sessions with Kelly Tikao, Alice Spittle, and our whānau panel this hui will include a workshop on making clay ipu whenua (a vessel in which to place a placenta for burial), and an interactive discussion on obstacles to implementing tikanga in birth and ways to overcome these hurdles.

You will also receive an awesome conference bag filled with goodies, delicious kai (food) and the chance to meet like minded individuals who are passionate about seeing whānau have empowered birth experiences.


The Birthing Room has been serving New Zealand’s midwifery community and hapu whānau (pregnant families) since 2013. We have had hundreds of expectant families come through our antenatal education service since then, and love to see families come away feeling empowered and equipped for their journey ahead. In 2015 we began offering antenatal education for young parents-to-be in partnership with The Youth Alive Trust, funded by the Canterbury District Health Board, which is still going from strength to strength today. Since opening our doors in 2013 we have run numerous events for health professionals and birthing families, including movie nights, educational workshops, conferences and ‘Bringing Māori Tikanga Back to Birth’ hui. Our purpose is to equip families and their care providers with evidence-based information, so that families can make informed decisions and have positive birth and parenting experiences.


Friday March 24th 2017, 0900-1700hrs The revolutionary round table

Registrations from 0800-0850. Tickets must be pre-purchased through Eventbrite. No door sales.

Grace Vineyard, 111-113 Seaview Rd, New Brighton, Christchurch, New Zealand.



This year The Birthing Room is looking to partner with an organisation to give each participant a FREESET CONFERENCE BAG! This means that not only will you receive a beautiful bag that you will use forever, your attendance will also be helping set free women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. Say goodbye to useless conference bags that are thrown away after conference ends. Your amazing conference bag is going to be life-changing!

Find out more about Freeset click here


To register please click on this link: The Birthing Room Conference 2017 Registration


Tickets can be purchased from as little as $90NZ* for exhibitors and $145NZ* for participants.

*Excludes Eventbrite fees


Opportunities are now open for your organisation to partner with The Birthing Room to promote your Clay ipu whenuabusiness/services, as well make our 2017 conference awesome. These opportunities range from exhibitor tables to sponsorship & promotion packages. Please contact us to be emailed a sponsorship prospectus and find out how our 2017 conference can benefit you contact us here



We are looking forward to having the following exhibitors and sponsors as part of our conference:

ALR&R-stacked A little R & R provides clinical therapeutic level massage to pregnant bodies of all trimesters. We have wonderfully comfortable ‘Body Form’ pregnancy pillows that enable you to lie face down safely and easily up until mid 3rd Trimester (or 2nd Trimester depending on shape of bump). We promise: To Listen, To be 100% present while we treat you, To do our best to ease your pain in body and spirit & give you the best tools we know to empower you to help yourself out of discomfort.


image001International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), is a non-profit organisation that certifies health professionals who provide lactation and breastfeeding care to mothers, infants, and their families worldwide. There are now over 28,880 currently certified IBCLCs worldwide, in 105 countries.

To become certified one must meet the eligibility criteria and pass a psychometric exam. Once certified the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is able to use the acronym IBCLC to identify as a professional who has demonstrated their lactation knowledge. The IBCLC certification program is accredited by National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) of the Institute of Credentialing Excellence (ICE).



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The MOST exciting week ahead!

Rosemary (10 of 22)

What a privilege it is to wake up everyday and love life. Not only do I have a gorgeous family who have taught and grown me as a person in so many ways, but I also LOVE my job! Today was kicked off by serenity on the beach followed by a run through the forest (body protested profusely after its much quieter winter). Tomorrow is Kiwi Companion visits with parents-to-be, and BUMP antenatal class with The Youth Alive Trust -an utmost privilege to facilitate such a fantastic group of young parents. Wednesday, empowering BirthWorks private sessions. And Thursday -Hello Wellington! It's TAKIAHO HUI A MOTU 2015! 

Jan Wicksteed (The Birth Connection) and I are thrilled to be flying from Christchurch together for the first national hui for Maori childbirth education. This special hui features kaupapa Maori strategies, resources and programmes, and supports student childbirth educators. The 3 day event will include a great range of speakers and forums introducing pioneers of Maori childbirth education and the creators of excellent resources such as Wahine Marohirohi and Talk Cards.

I'm really looking forward to sharing with you the knowledge I will gain, as well as bringing you lots of pics of this fabulous event!

Have a great week! X Rosemary

Gorgeous picture by Bloom Birth Photography. Capturing the precious moments in life since 2012 <3 


Rosemary (5 of 22)

Are you passionate about seeing New Zealand families have positive birth experiences? Does talking about empowered birth make your heart beat faster and light a fire within you? Now is your opportunity to be part of a powerful movement, that is seeing more amazing births and decreased caesareans and birth interventions around the country, whilst bringing like minded people together. IT'S BIRTHWORKS!

BirthWorks International is having their first Accelerated Childbirth Educator and Doula (ACED) Workshop in Christchurch very soon, followed by a Childbirth Educator Workshop in Auckland. You have the option of attending the workshop to begin your career as a BirthWorks Childbirth Educator or BirthWorks Doula, or can simply attend the workshop for continuing education purposes. The workshop is open to:

  • Those interested in a career
  • CBEs or Doulas
  • Midwives
  • Midwifery students
  • Breastfeeding supporters and peer counsellors interested in birth support and education
  • Chiropractors working with pregnant women
  • Registered and enrolled nurses
  • Well Child nurses

Registrations need to be in asap, so don't delay! To find out more information, CONTACT US

(Photo thanks to Bloom Birth Photography)


New Zealand has one of the best midwifery systems in the world. And within that system, many New Zealand midwives provide a service that is above and beyond their call of duty. Those amazing midwives will provide continuous care in labour and birth, transfer with the home birthing woman to hospital if the situation arose, offer physical and emotional labour support, and assist with breastfeeding support postnatally. And many, many other things. So within that system, what is the role of a doula, and who should have one?

The first thing to be aware of is a doula is not a midwife. The two roles are independent of each other and complement each other superbly. To find out a doula's scope of practice, see below.
Secondly, not every woman will want or need a doula. Many women have a sister, a mother or a friend who would make an exceptional birth support person. BUT THERE ARE MANY MANY WOMEN WHO WOULD HAVE AND WILL BENEFIT FROM A DOULA BIRTH COMPANION, AND MOST DON'T EVEN KNOW THIS IS A CHOICE AVAILABLE TO THEM!

So who benefits from having a doula birth companion?

-First time mothers:
How I wish I'd had a doula birth companion at my first birth! A doula supports the birthing parents from in early in labour as the mother wishes. That means for all of those hours of "pre labour" you would have someone continuously with you, explaining things, telling you this is normal, and offering positioning suggestions to help baby move down in a great position. She would keep the love high and the fear low, so when it is time for your midwife to arrive you are feeling empowered, and not full of fear and exhaustion.

-Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC):
-Previous birth trauma:
-Pregnancy complications:
Research shows having a doula reduces rates of intervention, pain relief and caesareans (Klaus and Kennel). Having a continuous empowering presence at your side, no matter where your birth takes you cannot be understated. Although hiring a doula doesn't guarantee you a vaginal birth, it does also help with the way you FEEL about your birth experience, no matter what the outcome.
Pre birth appointments provide you with an opportunity to talk about your fears and hopes, and the postnatal appointment with a de-brief about how things went for you. For those with previous birth trauma or a pregnancy complication, it can be really beneficial to have a non-medical professional and a non-family member with you during your birth. A doula can provide birth support and a listening ear without having to make clinical decisions, and without the emotional difficulties a family member may experience from your previous birth experience. A doula will also provide emotional encouragement, explanations and support to your partner and family members if they are there with you.

-Home birthing women:
As a general rule, women who choose a home birth are often better informed about labour and birth, simply because they need to be, and intervention rates are obviously lower. So at a home birth, a doula's presence is less about helping a woman to feel empowered to make informed decisions about medical intervention, and more about empowering a woman with confidence in her body's amazing ability to give birth. A doula will often arrive when labour begins, usually at least a couple of hours before the midwife arrives. A doula's job is to help set the scene and get the love hormones flowing. After all , its love that makes a baby be born! She will massage the labouring woman, provide lots of encouragement, and help set the environment to decrease neocortex stimulation. She will continue to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support, alongside the midwife throughout labour and birth. She will also help fill the birth pool, encourage Dad, prepare food, and look after any siblings as needed. She also helps with tidying up.

-Women from overseas, giving birth in New Zealand:
When you are new to a country it can be extremely difficult and isolating preparing to give birth and navigating that countries maternity system. Doula birth companions assist international families with interpreting and clarifying information, making informed decisions, finding out information about birth choices etc. New Zealand doulas can also assist with postpartum support and care, taking on the role a mother would if she were in New Zealand.

If you have already worked with a doula, you will already know the benefits a birth companion brings to the team. For those that haven't, you have nothing to fear. The doula's first answer is frequently "Have you spoken to your midwife?". She is there to help you, not to hinder you in the partnership you have with your client. It is a wonderful thing to know your client is in a great head space when you arrive at her birth, and that she will continue to be well supported if you need to leave the birthing mother for a period of time to talk with the team etc.

-Those who would like to have a birth photographer:
Photographer birth companions have the double advantage of taking amazing photos, as well as providing a doula birth companion service. This is especially beneficial for families whose baby is not expected to live or are having a still birth.

So if you are having your first baby, had previous birth trauma, have a pregnancy complication, are planning a home birth, or would simply like a "sister" or a "mother" figure to love and support you in your birth, don't hesitate to consider hiring a doula birth companion. She will be a valuable asset to have at your side.

To find out about a doula birth companion in your area check out

To find out about a doula's scope of practice CLICK HERE

Special thanks to Bloom Birth Photography for the beautiful photo. To find out more about Bloom Birth Photography CLICK HERE

Doula Birth Companions in New Zealand

It has been an absolute privilege to pioneer doula birth companion service in Christchurch this year. Even I am truly in awe of the incredible empowerment of this role, as I have been adding up 2014 statistics today. THERE HAS BEEN NOT ONE WOMAN WITH A CASCADE OF INTERVENTION. Zip. Zero. Nobody at all. Although every birth has been unique, and had it's own journey, every woman has gone into birth well informed, empowered, and unafraid. Every person was able to make informed decisions, and was at the centre of her birth experience. While we all know the research showing the impact of a doula internationally, it was uncertain how this would play out in NZ. I can say without a doubt, a NZ doula is something very special, unique and powerful to have at your side during your birth! The Birthing Room Doula Birth Companion Service


Such an interesting read! We get asked all the time -"How is a doula relevant in the NZ maternity system?" NZ doula birth companions work in a very unique role, quite different to overseas, that is complementary to NZ midwifery care. This article demonstrates how NZ doulas work, not only in home birth, but also in birthing centres & hospitals. And if nothing else -having a doula birth companion increases the amount of oxytocin in the room. Just what you need for giving birth!
Would you consider having a doula at your birth?
Top 5 Reasons for Hiring a Doula at a Homebirth

BirthWorks Doula Workshop

The first ever BirthWorks Doula Workshop held in the South Island of New Zealand!
Three full days of dynamic and interactive learning, designed to equip, inspire and mobilise you into your journey as a Doula Birth Companion.

“Our workshop serves as a highly effective model for building your own doula business and opens opportunity for personal growth. We invite you to experience how speaking from the heart can bring more love and caring to your doula clients and help women realize that the knowledge about how to give birth already exists inside every woman.

This Workshop is a requirement for BirthWorks students enrolled in the Doula program. However, this workshop is also open to anyone looking to expand their skills as a doula. This is a three-day dynamic and experiential workshop held regionally.” BirthWorks International


Do you believe the term “doula” is fitting for NZ?

The Birthing Room 100% supports the NZ College of Midwives stance on "Doulas" in NZ -that a lesser skilled workforce should not be employed as a substitute for midwives, but also that every woman should be able to have support people other than her midwife at her birth.

This article by NZ College of Midwives highlights the importance of support people/birth companions within the NZ system alongside the essential midwifery continuity of care.

"When asked how important she felt it was to have a support person other than her husband and midwife for her home birth, Anita answered: "Extremely important. I think, I think even if I had have been in the hospital I would’ve felt a bit lost without her."

Oct 2011, Issue 45: First-time New Zealand mothers’ experience of birth: Importance of relationship and support.

Here’s your chance to get on board!

Do you want to help improve rates of breastfeeding, lower rates of intervention, caesarean & overall birth complications, & increase the number of positive birth experiences? Well here's your opportunity! Either register for the BirthWorks Doula Workshop & begin your journey of supporting women in birth, tag someone you know who would make an awesome doula, or share this event on your facebook time line. We need your support to ensure this event goes ahead & see birth outcomes improved! The workshop is running from June 28th-30th in Christchurch. There is also the BirthWorks Childbirth Educator Workshop & Doula Workshop in the North Island in June. (see BirthWorks Doula & Childbirth Educator Workshops Auckland)

BirthWorks Doula Workshop Christchurch

For more information contact

Post by The Birthing Room.