We wish to create a learning space for women to connect body, mind and spirit - therefore facilitating
health & wellness for an optimal pregnancy, birth & parenting journey.

KeiShana Coursey BM, RM.

As a teenager twenty five years ago, sweating profusely on a yoga mat, with a distorted view of my body following a childhood drenched in gymnastics, I realised that Lycra and puberty didn’t mix well. In the wake of a suffocating esteem, I traversed down many avenues of personal growth including a myriad of alternative retreats and therapies. 

Finding myself pregnant whilst living in Australia, I had been sent a treasure box of books bursting with positive birth stories and philosophy strongly grounded in normal birth. This was the match that lit the fire still burning in my belly. I came home to New Zealand to birth my two babies who are now tall and incredible, and became an active member of Homebirth Association, attending and organising birth conferences as well as supporting friends and family in their birth experiences. Babes in arms I was soaking up all that was on offer in the area of Women’s Health. 

With a zeal and zest for the footprint we place upon the planet, especially after experiencing firsthand the consumer frenzy that is thrust upon new parents, my husband and I designed a range of cloth nappies in a time where there weren’t any New Zealand made. We worked with councils nationwide to raise the profile of using sustainable baby products and became advocates for baby wearing and attachment parenting. I relished the connection with women. They would share their childbirth journey stories and I was often struck by their fear, and the trauma that ensued, noting the stark contrast of those who were calm and confident. 

During this time of early parenting and developing a new business, I trained in massage therapy, Humanistic Neuro-Linguistic Psychology (HNLP), Hypnotherapy, Life Coaching, Adult Education and remain a Master Practitioner. Over the years of clinical practice where I often worked with women in their childbirth journey, I was most excited by seeing the change from fear to excitement, from resistance to surrender, from pain to joy and I wanted more. From this place I dreamed of facilitating groups of women in their graceful birth experience.

We sold our business and I took an enormous leap of faith, returning to school to complete a Bachelor of Midwifery. I initially worked with women in the community alongside a practice of incredible midwives www.ratamidwives.co.nz - who birth predominately at home or in birthing units and transitioned to working in the hospital providing tertiary midwifery care. It is in these settings where my midwifery colleagues and I see the irrefutable need for early pregnancy, quality education that offers women the knowledge they are far more than they ever thought possible.

I am a passionate yogini and lifetime learner therefore have recently completed a 20 year dream to train as a yoga teacher at Contemporary Teacher Training in Auckland, New Zealand. When I’m not working I can be found at any spare moment on my yoga mat or teaching at Flow Hot Yoga in Christchurch.

Over the years I have been surprised and delighted to reveal the depths of the learning available through an ongoing commitment to practising yoga, breath work, meditation and mindfulness; all of which have profoundly transformed the quality of my life and those I live in relationship with.

I am deeply humbled to be working with Lorna and in a constant state of ‘goosebump’ to have birthed Opti-mum, designed for families who deserve to be gently guided through an extraordinary, yet ordinary life transition.

 

Lorna Davies RN, RM, BSc (Hons), PGCE(A), MA. 

Nau mai haere mai 

Many years ago now in 1987, I read an article by a social commentator that claimed that paradoxically, although we claimed a desire to leave a better world for our children, we were in fact plundering its resources and “squandering the substance in the pursuit of our here and now”.   As the mother of two small children, the article had a profound effect on me and how I viewed my role as a mother. This wake up call has served to shape my worldview and my personal philosophy and has influenced how I feel, think and do in all aspects of my life. 

I am originally from the UK where I qualified first as a nurse and then as a midwife. I became a midwifery lecturer nearly twenty years ago and I have taught on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in both the UK and New Zealand in that time. I still practice as a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) midwife on a small scale and this helps me to keep in touch with the reality of midwifery. I am also an accredited childbirth educator and I love working with women and their partners as they move from one phase of their life’s journey to another as parents. I see my role in education as a facilitator, a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage, never as a teacher in the conventional sense. My favourite maxim is “You don’t have to teach them, you just have to help them to learn” and this has served me well as a principle for many years. 

I originally set out in life to become a journalist and although I never fulfilled that dream I have never stopped writing throughout my career. I have published many articles in journals, written chapters for a number of text books and I have edited and contributed to five of my own midwifery and birth related books. If you are interested, some of my publications are listed at Research Gate.  I have many areas of interest but I am especially drawn to birth physiology, sustainability, infant development and nutrition in pregnancy. I feel that I have been incredibly blessed in my working life to date.  My work has enabled me to travel to amazing places, meet wonderful people and to have the most unbelievable birth related adventures. 

I have been practicing meditation and using mindfulness techniques personally for a number of years. I have found that this has given me priceless tools that I use in many areas of my life. This appreciation has led me to research the value of using a mindful approach in pregnancy and the early days of parenting. 

Finally, I am married to Tom who is a teacher here in Christchurch and I have three grownup children who live not too far away from us. I love reading, running, yoga, socialising with friends and travel.  For me Opti-mum is in many ways the culmination of many years of gathering knowledge and developing understanding in my life and work. I feel honoured to be working with Keishana to be bringing a new and exciting approach to childbirth and parenting education.