Debbie Clarke and her children Asher, Freya, Tilden and Lily.
Debbie Clarke and her children Asher, Freya, Tilden and Lily.

Mysteries of Red Tent Festival

In the next 60 seconds, 245 babies will be born. While birthing may seem to be a common event, to every mother, it is an epic journey. On November 7, to celebrate the experience of birth, the first Red Tent Festival has been organised to encourage women to come together, share their birthing stories and learn about different birthing options.

“There is a lot of stigma surrounding the birth experience,” festival promoter Annie Bryant said. “It's important we discuss birth realistically and get the message across that women are amazing and have always done it, that birth is a gift.”

The idea for the 'red tent' comes from the practices of the Middle Eastern nomadic people.

“Traditionally, women would meet in the red tent at their moon (bleeding) time and spend time there without working - sharing and connecting with each other. They would also go there to birth their babies with the help of their sisters,” Annie said. “It's important that women's choices are honoured and that they get to give birth the way they want to. I felt most comfy birthing at home, but others feel comfy birthing in hospital.”

During the festival's evening program, a diverse group of women will share their unique birthing stories. One of the speakers, Rebecca Clarke from Clunes, has had four children and has experienced the birthing process differently for each of her children.

“I think it's important for women to surround themselves with supportive people and birth the way they want,” she said.

When she found out she was pregnant with twins, Rebecca was determined to negotiate the birth that she wanted in a busy city maternity hospital. This experience gave her the confidence to birth her fourth child at home in water, surrounded by her family.

“During my second pregnancy, I found out that one of my twins wasn't growing well and that I would have to have my children in hospital by caesarean. I needed a high level of medical support, so I did some research and rang around to find care providers who were willing to listen to me and support my wishes,” she said.

Rebecca's advice to women who are pregnant is to trust yourself, listen to your intuition and know your body is capable of giving birth.

“There is lots of negativity around birth,” Rebecca said. “It is really confusing and we need to take away the fear and generate some positivity. Women need to look around at the birthing choices available.”

Some of the featured afternoon workshops include: art therapy for women who are preparing for birth and processing pervious births; workshops for women processing and moving on from challenging birth experiences; and a three hour intensive workshop for women who want to have a vaginal birth after experiencing a caesarean.

Organised by the Northern Rivers Maternity Action Group, the festival will be held at Federal Hall and features workshops, films and short talks. With workshops filling fast, women interested in attending are encouraged to book their tickets early. To see the full festival program and buy tickets, go to the festival's website at www.redtentfestival.

com.au.


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