EMMA SUTHERLAND – A CHANGING WOMEN and A WOMEN OF CHANGE 12 January 2012
I was very fortunate to meet and interview Emma Sutherland recently. Emma is our latest Changing Woman, and Women of Change! Emma has first-hand experience of the challenges and joys of being a ‘Changing Women’ and she as a ‘Woman of Change’ she has a message that will surely resonate with all of us.
She is the nutritionist presenter from Fox Network’s ‘Eat yourself Sexy’. Inspiring and uplifting, ‘Eat Yourself Sexy’ encourages women to take control of their lives and get back on the road to loving themselves. As a successful naturopath and TV presenter, Emma’s mission in life is to inspire women to ‘get their mojo back’.
“The series follows the stories of eight women, one per episode, as they transform their bodies and find the power to reignite their relationships with the help of a team of experts. From the salad dodging housewife whose libido has gone missing to the frantic mum-of-three who never has time for herself, this series helps Australian women lose weight, regain health and reclaim their long-lost mojo once and for all.”[i] (Eat Yourself Sexy, 2010)
Emma has also collaborated with fellow foodie, Michelle Thrift, Senior Home Economist at McCormick & Company, to write a new cookbook that not only gives you healthy and easy recipes, it provides nutritional information so that you know why the foods chosen by Michelle and Emma are good for you. The cookbook is a blend of nutritional advice and carefully chosen recipes that are both easy to make and good for you as well! The cookbook is scheduled for release soon, you will find information about purchase by using the link in the resources section of Changing Women.org.
Emma was the August 2011 a guest Editor for Insight Magazine here she wrote her own story of ‘Overcoming Unexpected Challenges’. In this story, Emma talks candidly about the unexpected changes in her life that challenged her to the core and by necessity lead to some life changing decisions. When Emma lost her long term ‘soul mate to a serious illness, her ideas of the white picket fence, happy family home, and children with her partner were shattered. She needed to re-evaluate her life so she decided to pursue her long held dream of spreading her message to a wider audience. After working with a publicist, she successfully landed the role of nutritionist on ‘Eat Yourself Sexy’. With a new career in television with a new show just starting, and after a short-term relationship, she found that she was pregnant! This was not in the plan! Already with so much on her plate and a schedule that would exhaust most people, she was to face even greater challenges when her own health suffered. Add to this, the anxiety of a having a new baby alone! Emma has agreed to share her story with Changing Women, and has talked about the details of her birth journey as she sits in her home nursing her beautiful baby daughter, Sophia, as a single parent.
Emma grew up taking homoeopathic and natural remedies, so using natural remedies and eating healthy was second nature to her.
Emma: “I have a Greek heritage that came from a healthy way of life back in Greece. I always remember the Greek term “Kefi” that loosely translates to something like, ‘your ‘mojo’. It is more than that really – it is an exuberance from the inside that radiates out. I remember seeing the older people in the village exhibit this ‘kefi’, so I watched them and studied them doing the small things in life. There was no processed stuff in their diet, for example, they would pick Dandelion leaves straight from the plant and eat them every day. I thought; I need to find a way to share this and make it my life!
Originally I did accounting when I left school, but at 25 years old I ‘flew the coop’, and travelled for four to five years in search of my passion. I found it with these people and that is what led me to the study of Naturopathy”
Emma has spent years working with patients in the areas of therapeutic infertility, miscarriage prevention, IVF support and HypnoBirthing and her website explains HypnoBirthing as;
“HypnoBirthing® – The Mongan Method is as much a philosophy as it is a technique. The concept of HypnoBirthing is not new, but rather a “rebirth” of the philosophy of birthing as it existed thousands of years ago and as it was recaptured in the work of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, an English obstetrician, who, in the 1920s, was one of the first to forward the concept of natural birthing. The method teaches you that, in the absence of fear and tension, or special medical circumstances, severe pain does not have to be an accompaniment of labor.” [ii] (Sutherland, HypnoBirthing, 2011)
Emma: “HynoBirthing was founded by an American woman, Marie Morgan and is becoming more accepted in the field of childbirth. There is some evidence that the Chinese have used a similar method for 1000 years. Essentially, it is about ‘going with it without fear’. Allow for that state and remove the fear often associated with the pain of childbirth. We de-program all the fear based talk and feelings and re-program the positivity of the birthing process. More doctors are recognising the place for natural medicine and I find that if you talk to them in the right way, using science-based research they are much more supportive of its use. It is ultimately about following the client’s wishes and working with the doctors to make sure that is achieved.”
With such a background in natural healing and specialising in women’s health care, she now had ideal opportunity to use these concepts first hand during her pregnancy and Sophia’s birth. Emma has cared for many mothers to be and has a great passion for natural birthing process. She believes that calm, serene and empowering birth provides the most solid foundation for the physical and emotional health of mother and child.
Even with this knowledge, the prospect of carrying and giving birth to a child can be a daunting prospect for any women. Many go into hospital with all good intentions of wanting to have a natural birth, or with an expectation that they can create a process where there is warmth and closeness, providing the best experience for both the parents and the child. So often, once in labour women come under pressure to change their minds, or simply require medical intervention that they had not expected. This can leave many with a feeling of loss, guilt or even anger as they become part of the ‘medicalisation’ of the birth process by our medical system.
Changing Women: In terms of the actual birth process, do you think it is becoming harder to have a baby or was it always difficult. Women are much more educated about the birthing process and their options than they were even fifty years ago. Has this additional information helped or do we over complicate something that is just natural?
Emma: “Yes, there is a lot more fear about birth and the medical system is very quick to intervene (with caesareans, inductions, etc). Research has found that women who have mid wives looking after them had a have higher incidence of natural birth than those looked after in the traditional medical system[iii]. Many women are overwhelmed and find that they ‘just go with the flow’ of the medical system as it is often very difficult to stay firm on your birth plans when under the stress and pain of a difficult labour.
It is good to have a ‘birth advocate’ to stand in when required to ensure that your birthing plans can be achieved even when you are not able to communicate your wishes. I had one of these at Sophia’s birth.”
Changing Women: This may be something very private to you, but would you like to share your recent birthing experience with us?
Emma: “Yes, I would like to. I was booked into the RPA (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney) birth centre, but at 37 weeks, Sophia was still breach and just could not turn. They (RPA), only offered a caesarean for a breach birth, but I fought for a natural birth. Eventually I chose to leave RPA and found Dr Bisits, who runs the section of the Royal Women’s hospital, Randwick and specialises in breach births.
At 40 weeks and 5 days, my waters broke, but the contractions didn’t come. For two and a half days, I waited in hospital and Dr Bisits and I talked through every possible scenario. By now, there was a risk of infection developing since my waters had already broken days before, so I went on the drip to induce the contractions. Seven hours later, I was 1 cm dilated, after a further 2 hours, I was still only 1 cm dilated! My body just never initiated labour! My key goal was to have a natural birth even if that meant a breach birth, but by now, it was clear that I needed to have a caesarean.”
Changing Women: How did you feel about having a caesarean at this late stage since a natural birth was your goal? Was it more difficult for you to accept considering you specialise in HypnoBirthing and natural remedies?
Emma: “I had high expectations and it was about ‘letting go of the outcomes’. I had a spiritual coach and psychologist helping me; in fact, I had three support people with me including the birth advocate. We had candles in the room and it felt good. I felt the connection with Sophia. I have no guilt and no regrets about the way it turned out. Breast feeding was a bit of a challenge, and she is a reflux baby but we are managing now.” (Emma’s relationship with Sophia’s father was short and he was not present at the birth)
Emma’s mother and father divorced when she was eight and she and her brother stayed with their father. Her mother moved overseas to Greece when she was fifteen and whilst they have remained close, there have been many clashes over the years. Emma wished that her mother could have been with her for the birth of Sophia, but that was no possible. Her father eventually remarried. He was a schoolteacher and made pottery to sell at markets on the weekends to make extra money for the family. It was hard for him in the early days after the divorce, as men didn’t look after children in those days. It was unusual to be divorced in the first place, but for the children to be with the father after a divorce was even more unusual. Emma grew up in the middle class suburb of Camberwell in Melbourne and they were the only divorced family that they knew. In those days there was social stigma attached to being divorced. All three of them did the housework, her father, her brother and Emma and she remembers that even from a young age it was a shared team effort.
Emma’s father was non-judgemental, had an open mind and solid work ethic, and she later translated those attributes she saw in her father and used them in her own life to ‘work hard, be resilient and have self-belief’.
Changing Women: You have a CV that would be the envy of many. How did you get involved in the television industry and was this something you had planned?
Emma: “I got a publicist about two years ago because I wanted my message to be bigger, to get to a bigger audience. She, [the publicist] went to the media and I worked with her for four months. I started doing interviews and writing with some radio work in between when the opportunity for a television show came up. My publicist wanted me to go for it. I didn’t think that I would get it, but this show was going to be the vehicle to get my message out to a bigger audience. I got it and we started “Eating Yourself Sexy” on Fox. It is a very educational show. We are now waiting to see if Series 2 will be commissioned by Foxtel.”
Changing Women: Changing Women is about embracing our shape, our inner strength and who we are as women so that we can bring about positive change in the world, so just some questions about the way you perceive yourself;
a) Did you find it difficult to adjust to your changing body during pregnancy and after?
b) What were the biggest changes for you in terms of your holistic self?
Emma: “I really embraced the shape I became during pregnancy. I had boobs and hips and found it very feminine. You do feel those expectations to get back to shape quickly, particularly being on television, but I resisted the pressure. I recognise that it’s just the way society behaves, but women need to have more realistic role models on television. ‘Mojo’ or ‘Kefi’ is about how you feel. I was already healthy so the weight was secondary; it was more about how I feel I look good.
In terms of my holistic self then the biggest changes were extreme sensivities to energy and emotions. I would pickup people’s feelings, their energy. I found that I couldn’t watch the news or I would have bad dreams, but in general I had a healthy pregnancy.”
Changing Women: Where to from here for Emma?
Emma: “I would like my message to be bigger again and have co-authored “The Golden Naturopathic Cookbook” with fellow foodie, Michelle Thrift to promote it even further.
My message is:
Regain your mojo
Find your own personal self
Loving the inner you and shining
I love what I do. I feel very honoured to do what I do. Working with women is such an honour.”
Eat Yourself Sexy. (2010). Retrieved January 31, 2012, from Lifestyle.com.au: http://www.lifestyle.com.au/tv/eat-yourself-sexy-australia/
Sutherland, E. (2011). HypnoBirthing. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from Emma Sutherland: http://www.emmasutherland.com.au/index.php/services/hypnobirthing/
Sutherland, E. (2011, August). Overcoming Unexpected Challenges. Retrieved January 23, 2012, from Insight Magazine: http://www.emmasutherland.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Overcoming-Unexpected-Challenges-Insight-Magazine.pdf
Lesso , John 1996, ‘The medical monopoly targets homebirth’, CAFMR Newsletter, (Spring), Campaign Against Fradulent Medical Research, Lawson NSW, Australia.
[i]Eat Yourself Sexy - http://www.lifestyle.com.au/tv/eat-yourself-sexy-australia/
[ii] Emma Sutherland – HypoBirthing http://www.emmasutherland.com.au/index.php/services/hypnobirthing/