The first time I met Sheila Kitzinger was at a conference many years ago in Sydney.
I was breath-taken!
I had read her books during my first pregnancy and felt so nourished and uplifted by all the information, it was so magical to meet Sheila… I walked up to her and I was shaking with nervousness… clearly she had met this situation thousands of times before and she was so warm and welcoming and gave me a big hug.
Years later I met her again and she was still the same remarkable woman… she made me feel so welcome in her own lovely home… we sat and talked about all her life’s work, her myriad of books, countless titles, all focused on helping women understand that birth need not be a scary medical event but instead a most beautiful awe inspiring normal experience for a woman.. the amazing rite of passage for a woman moving from womanhood to motherhood.
Reading Sheila’s books really is just the same as meeting the wonderful woman herself, she is the essence of motherhood, kind, wise, warm, gracious and such an inspiration to me… I don’t know where I read it… and I think it was many years ago that Sheila Kitzinger was labelled the “Queen of Childbirth Educators” and I do agree this is true as she was one of a small group of highly motivated informed women who actually commenced and set up the NCT, the National Childbirth Trust in the UK.
The NCT organisation has been a strong feminist organisation lobbying for the rights of pregnant women, laboring women and mothers.
Consumer pressure triggered by the teachings of the NCT has brought many improvements to the Maternity System in the UK, thanks to the many volunteer workers and their passionate supporters who believed women deserved better services and conditions as they had their babies.
The last time I saw Sheila Kitzinger in 2006 in England she told me her portrait had just that week been hung in the National Gallery in London, although she told me in a modest way I could tell she was very proud.
Sheila Kitzinger had birthed her 5 babies at home and I had read about her experiences through her books and as I climbed her stairs to use her bathroom I suddenly remembered she wrote she had just finished painting them when she had the twins…
I was very proud to have brought my homebirth baby when I visited Sheila, by now Ryan was a fine strapping 15 year old and of course he was very polite and respectful towards Sheila.
In the UK in 2006 when I had returned to our hotel room I later emailed Geoff saying “I have just had a pinnacle life moment today, when I met Sheila Kitzinger on my London visit”…
I’m sure I’ll remember the special experience forever, thank you Sheila…
Julie meets Sheila Kitzinger in Sydney 2007. Paddington Town Hall, Homebirth Conference.