Birth Beat provides online, evidence-based childbirth education to improve health outcomes for mothers and families globally.
Acknowledging the challenges around giving birth
Bringing a child into the world can be joyful, but the birth experience is not always positive. Birth by cesarean, trauma from a difficult birth, or an infant’s health issues may lead to postnatal depression and anxiety. The worldwide average infant mortality rate remains high. Although Australia’s perinatal mortality rate is lower than the worldwide average at .9 percent, it faces other challenges, including the closure of maternity centers, especially in rural areas.
Prenatal education can be an antidote. Health outcomes of all kinds—mental, physical, and psychosocial—improve when women and families are prepared and empowered for childbirth and early parenting.
Edwina Sharrock didn’t think she needed classes when she was pregnant with her first child. After all, she was a midwife. “If I'm really honest, I was probably a little bit arrogant about it,” she says.
She felt differently once her daughter was born. She began investigating prenatal education programs. Many had a strong point of view about how women should give birth. But, she says, “Birth isn't about doing something the right or the wrong way. It's about what's right for the woman.”
I'm an educator. I'm good at being able to engage with adults and bring them on the journey and make them want to improve their birth experience.
Access to empowering information about childbirth—from anywhere
Edwina started Birth Beat to fill a need for supportive, nonjudgmental birth education. She began by offering small, in-person classes in her home. Soon, the classes began attracting families who traveled long distances to attend, and became so popular she had to move them out of her living room. Transitioning to an online platform was the natural next step.
Birth Beat delivers childbirth education through an online portal. Experienced midwives teach the courses in an easy-to-follow and non-judgmental way, in short videos and downloadable modules. Parents who participate in Birth Beat courses also get support after the birth, as well as access to a closed Facebook community. Birth Beat’s model addresses some of the problems with existing childbirth education, such as scheduling and course lengths that are inconvenient for busy parents.
I'm not about telling mothers how to give birth. I'm actually about saying, ‘how can we improve your birth experience through preparing and supporting you, and informing you to make your own decisions?’
More information to more mothers to improve outcomes
As part of its growth, Birth Beat is partnering with hospitals and other businesses to make its courses more widely available, and has expanded beyond its initial childbirth education offering to other areas involving newborn care such as sleep and nutrition.
Birth Beat’s impact goes beyond what can be measured in numbers. “What the research doesn't do is talk about how the parents felt,” Edwina says. “Did they feel prepared? Did they feel anxious? Were they depressed? Did they feel like their dignity was maintained?”
With its accessible-everywhere, evidence-based childbirth education, Birth Beat is moving toward its mission of changing the world by helping to reduce infant mortality and improve outcomes for mothers, babies, and families.
There's a huge demand. In Australia, 300,000 babies are born each year. In India, there are over 360,000 babies born each day.