BRITTA BUSHNELL, PHD
Dr. Britta Bushnell (she/her) is a wife and mother, author of Transformed by Birth, veteran childbirth educator, celebrated speaker, mythologist, and specialist in childbirth, relationship, and parenting. For over 20 years, Dr. Bushnell has worked with individuals and couples as they prepare for the life-changing experience of giving birth. Her work with parents has been enriched by her doctoral work in mythology and psychology, her years spent as a co-owner of Birthing From Within, as well as her dedicated study of solution-focused brief therapy, storytelling, and sustaining sexual vibrancy and helping romantic partnerships thrive even during parenthood.
Britta is an engaging teacher, speaker, and presenter. Whether addressing a room of expectant parents, new mothers, or seasoned birth professionals, Britta has a way of captivating and inspiring them all. She has presented at conferences such as DONA International, MANA, and ICEA. Additionally, Britta has been featured on several popular podcasts including Informed Pregnancy, Birthful and Atomic Moms. In 2016, in recognition of her transformative childbirth classes, Britta was awarded "Educator of the Year" by the Southern California Doula Association (DASC).
Britta's work focuses on the transformational journey of pregnancy, birth, and new parenthood. Using a grounded, honest, and a playful approach, she helps parents navigate birth and parenthood with strength, confidence, and a deep connection as a couple.
"Britta, you are an incredibly gifted and hard working teacher. You have such an unique way of allowing us to access the information using our own thoughts and analysis, and your intuitive sense of when to push and when to wait is truly special."
When I was eight years old, my stepmom gave birth to my little brother. While in labor, as her contractions came and went, she taught me gin rummy. When a contraction started, we would pause the game so she could focus until the contraction subsided. I didn’t know then that this experience would be the first of many times I would sit with a parent during labor.
In 1999, I was pregnant with my first child and teaching prenatal yoga classes at the now-famous YogaWorks in Santa Monica, California. Several times a week I led a group of pregnant women through ninety minutes of stretches, breathing exercises, and visualizations, helping them to leave the class grounded and “in their bodies.” After birth, parents would often come back to the classes, and time after time these new moms would exclaim, “My birth was really intense!”
I began to understand that I was somehow communicating that to do birth “yogically,” parents should be able to simply breathe, relax, and meditate through labor as we had done in class. I never mentioned pain, hard work, or effort. Without realizing it, I denied the very real possibility of facing hardships in labor or parenthood. I was unwittingly rendering these birthing parents underprepared for labor and birth.
By that point, I had given birth to my first child, an experience that was intense, unexpected, and powerful. I knew personally that yogic breathing and relaxation were helpful for birth and parenthood, but also that these experiences required far more.
I began to hunt for a more balanced way to support birthing individuals and their partners in preparation for the full range of experiences possible in birth. I knew that labor, birth, and new parenthood required far more than yogic breathing and relaxation.
This quest led me to take a class early in 2002 with Pam England, author of the book Birthing from Within and director of the organization Birthing From Within. What she was doing with birth preparation felt revolutionary, personal, and spiritually rich. I was hooked!
Pam became my mentor, a colleague on my journey as a childbirth professional, for a time my business partner, and ultimately, a trusted friend. The Birthing From Within approach and my close relationship with Pam have highly influenced my work, my life, and with her blessing, this book.
Late in the summer of 2009, in search of the next step along my career path, I saw mention of a graduate degree program in mythology. I was pulled deeper, salivating at the course titles and reading every description. This program focused not just on the great stories themselves but also on the psychological impact they have on us as humans. That fall, I enrolled in graduate school in pursuit of a doctorate in mythological studies.
In grad school, I vowed to branch out beyond childbirth. But it didn’t matter which course I took, be it Hinduism, Fairy Tales, The God Complex, or Ritual, I couldn’t help but hear themes related to childbirth. As I explored topics for my dissertation, the loudest voice within me kept calling me to write about birth. For over two years, I researched, studied, and wrote my dissertation titled, Forceps and Candles: Cultural Myths in American Childbirth, which turned out to be the research phase of my book.
During all of these experiences, I was also raising two kids who are now young adults. One is successfully launched into college and the other is not far behind. I have learned a huge amount in the experience of parenthood. My kids have been profound teachers. I’ve made mistakes—learned from some and repeated others. Parenting teaches me the importance of openness, resilience, and strength…DAILY!
And, my relationship with my husband has been an important focus for over 25 years. Parenthood challenges our connection with each other—it challenges our communication, our power dynamic, our sense of personal and couple identities, our sex life, our roles as co-parents, and so much more! Through it all, we have made it a priority to attend to our relationship too. With so much going on, this simple statement belies the difficulty of doing so! Still, we are conscious about the needs of our relationship. We share a strong commitment to personal practice and relationship as personal/spiritual practice. Through our thirst for knowledge and skills that would help our relationship, we learned and adopted several specific practices that have profoundly supported our relationship throughout our 25+ years together and 19+ years as co-parents. Our work as a couple was so powerful for us personally that it began to seep into my work with couples.
All of these influences and more have woven themselves together into the work I offer parents and couples today. I am forever learning, creating, and sharing. My book is the next step along a path that continues to lay itself out before me, sometimes by choice and sometimes unbidden.
Britta is quite simply one of the best teachers I have ever had for any subject.
Dr. Britta Bushnell is a writer, teacher, storyteller, and mentor who blends her eclectic training, years of experience, and areas of study into a unique offering for individuals, couples, professionals, and groups. Britta is currently on the road sharing her new book Transformed by Birth: Cultivating Openness, Resilience, and Strength for the Life-Changing Journey from Pregnancy to Parenthood with parents and birth professionals in many cities. Visit media and events for more details about where you can connect with Britta in person.
>> Curious to learn more about my background and training? See my CV...