Mom leaves corporate world behind to help other Moms have positive birth experiences

I am originally from Madras (now Chennai), a city in Southern India, but have lived in 4 continents and 6 cities - West Africa (Ghana & Nigeria), United States of America (Minneapolis – City of lakes) and now The Netherlands, all moves related to my husband’s work. My husband and I met in India.

We used to be colleagues in an Information Technology Education company. After our stint in West Africa, we decided to expand our family. We became pregnant and had a baby in my hometown. My birth experience was an extremely positive one although I got to know later that I was an exception and not a norm of having such a straightforward experience. Our family moved to The Netherlands as expats in 2007 from the US. My daughter is now almost 15 years old and what was supposed to be a short-term stint in The Netherlands is now 14 years in the running!

Having said that, I struggled as a new mother in the first few weeks of Postpartum. My Breastfeeding journey was a huge challenge and I felt very let down by my body and the pressure from society to not offer any professional support then made a huge impact on my mental health the first few weeks after my daughter’s birth. I was lucky enough in finding a maternity nurse who spent a few days with me to help me unlearn a lot of things to be able to feed my daughter and help me bond better. Having watched my mother breastfeed my younger brother, I somehow assumed breastfeeding was going to be easy, normal and natural but it certainly was not the case. I found the whole postpartum journey quite challenging and very testing.

I was also subjected to a lot of body shaming especially during the Postpartum period. I read this quote somewhere and it resonated with me so much “We live in a culture where mother’s pregnant body is beautiful until the moment, she gives birth. That’s when it’s time to wrap things up, tuck away the evidence, apologize for the mess”. As soon as I read this quote a lot of memories of body shaming came flooding back to me. I once had someone tell me, 6 months into postpartum that I ate for two people and looked so healthy that it’s time to not look so healthy and lose some weight. I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak up then, I excused myself from that social gathering and went to the toilet to cry. It’s been almost 15 years and I still remember that moment vividly.

The kind of pressure that we go through to fit in to being immaculate looking, perfect body, perfect life, perfect everything - that perfect life just doesn’t exist. We are being sold a fantasy that doesn’t exist. I put myself under a lot of pressure to lose those 10 kilos that I gained during pregnancy. I wish someone had told me that it was not needed, and it was not good for my mental and physical health. I am so glad I am no longer that person who worries about her body or weight. I am strong but not skinny so that my daughter can grow up with a strong sense of self, understanding her body and being compassionate for herself.

In my previous avatar as a Human Resources expert, I was working for big Information Technology giants at various capacities – Recruitments - campus & lateral, Employee Relations, Compensation & Benefits, Employee Grievances, Performance Appraisals, Exit Interviews and Soft skill Trainings. My love for all things birth started with my own birthing experience and also the move to the lowlands and finding out about home births and the long-standing tradition of the Dutch Midwifery care that I moved away from the Corporate world to the world of Babies.

I then did my Lamaze Birth Pathways training & mentorship under two lovely birth experts in Los Angeles, and I became certified as a Childbirth Educator, HypnoBirthing, HypnoMothering, HypnoBirthing Infant Massage & HypnoFertility Practitioner. I started my own practice Akriti (meaning - to begin, to shape in Sanskrit) in 2010. I am passionate about Women’s health, wellness and the need for dignified Positive Birth outcome. My clientele is predominantly expat, but I do have a lot of Dutch clients attending my classes in English at Amsterdam. I also hold a Certificate of Waterbirth Education Approved by the American College of Nurse Midwives through Waterbirth International, USA. I teach my birthing classes (Childbirth Preparation, HypnoBirthing & HypnoMothering (for sleep deprived mothers) in English at Amsterdam, Utrecht, Hilversum & Online (due to Covid- 19).

HypnoBirthing® is a remarkably simple, relaxed and natural approach to this most important transition in a parent’s life. The HypnoBirthing program teaches self-hypnosis techniques, Visualization, Breathing, Deepening techniques & Positive affirmations which helps expectant families to prepare for their upcoming birth in a positive way. Mongan Method HypnoBirthing® is the most comprehensive birthing education program available, offering women and their partners opportunities to explore their choices and develop the decisions-making skill necessary to achieve their birthing goals. The HypnoBirthing® Institute has been in existence since 1990.

I really enjoy my role as someone who can support, help and guide a birthing person before conception, during pregnancy, preparing for Childbirth and help and guide during breastfeeding. I truly believe in preparing the expectant families for all eventualities in Labor & Birth. When expectant parents are empowered and prepared, they are ready to make informed decisions. Childbirth practices have a huge cultural element. I try to understand a culture through the lens of Childbirth practices. It is interesting how the cultures adapt (or do not adapt) to emerging scientific research and working with clients from different nationalities and helping them have a good birthing experience is personally enriching and fulfilling. I also run a support group for all mothers who work with me. I truly believe that mothers need a support group, a tribe, with whom they can talk and share, especially when their babies are young as they navigate life as new sleep deprived parents.

Unfortunately, due to Covid, we have not been able to do any face to face meet ups and the initial enthusiasm for people to do zoom gatherings have now disappeared but I am hopeful that I will be able to revive the support group once the restrictions ease out and we know we can gather safely.

I also have launched my own podcast, Baby Ahoy with various birth stories as season 1. You can find the podcast on Google Podcast, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and my website.

My goal for the future is to add more birth stories from The Netherlands, around the world and expert interviews to normalise all sorts of birth & support during postpartum period. I want to let my podcast grow organically and to reach as many families as possible.

Read more about Chitra, the courses she offers on her website and follow her on Facebook & Instagram & like, subscribe & share her podcast Baby Ahoy on Google podcast, iTunes, Stitcher or her website.

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