"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ethical Holiday Gift Giving

During the Holiday Season, we often get mixed up in the hustle and bustle and crowds at the mall.  Our children's Christmas lists are longer than a roll of paper towels and we, too, may have our eyes on the latest techno gadgets.  However, throughout the year, families are in need all over the world.  As a birth doula, children and expectant mothers are, of course, especially on my mind this time of year.  So, I thought I would share a few gift giving ideas with you that are selfless and bring a world of help to families in need.  If you'd like to help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty and give the gift of life this Holiday Season, please visit the following links:

World Vision Online - HIV/AIDS related gifts

World Vision - Maternal Health in Afganistan

World Vision - New Mother & Baby Kit

PlanCanada Home Birthing Kit

In Honour of World AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

In honour of World AIDS Day, here is a link to an exceptional blog post by another author: 

Blacktating: New Recomendations for Breastfeeding & HIV

Friday, November 13, 2009

Honouring Birth

"Attending births is like growing roses. You have to marvel at the ones that just open up and bloom at the first kiss of the sun but you wouldn't dream of pulling open the petals of the tightly closed buds and forcing them to blossom on your time line." — Gloria Lemay

A doula friend of mine shared this wonderful quote with me today.  I can't think of a better attitude to have as a birth professional.  Birth is meant to be honoured as an emotional, spiritual event that has it's own timeline.  To force it is to go against the very core of nature.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Difference Between Doulas and Midwives

Probably the most common question I am asked, as a birth doula, is whether I deliver or, catch, babies. While the answer may seem simple enough, no we do not catch babies, it is easy to see how one can be confused. After all, doulas are wholistic, as are midwives. Midwives promote breastfeeding and natural childbirth, as do doulas. The difference is, midwives are clinically trained to provide medical care to healthy expectant mothers and their babies. Doulas are non-clinical professionals who provide emotional, physical and informational support to expectant mothers and their families. The following video starring a midwife, explains perfectly the difference in our two roles.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breastfeeding & Healthy Portrayal in the Media

In honour of Sesame Street's 40th Anniversary, enjoy the following clips of breastfeeding portrayed in a healthy positive light!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Doula's Focus - Is your doula putting you first?

You are the reason a doula does her job.  Her responsibility is to "mother the mother."  Is your doula putting you first?  Here are some things to look and listen for:
  1. Your doula leads in gently, asking you how you found out about her practice, etc.  Not pressing for too much information too soon.
  2. Your doula asks questions beginning with - Who, What, Where, When, How
  3. She does not ask leading questions with the answer "built in," i.e. "You're not going to do that are you?"
  4. Your doula offers the information you request.
  5. Your doula does not offer her own story unless requested by you, but may give insights when appropriate.
  6. She is a reflective and interpretive listener.
  7. She offers helpful feedback always keeping you and your desires at the forefront.
  8. Your doula does not overwhelm you with what ifs, too many statistics or technical jargon.
  9. She is supportive, positive and caring.
  10. She is humble, genuine and empathetic.
In short, you are the primary focus of your doula.  Her opinions, desires, etc. do not come into play.  She is 100% focused on you and your experience.  She is there to listen, comfort, inform and gently guide you through your birthing journey ~ honouring it as your precious life experience.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All about our mom - by Sydne & Nicolaus

This idea was shared by fellow blogger PHDinParenting

Q1. Why did God make mothers? (modified question: What are mothers for?)

To love their children. (Sydne, age 6)
Because they have babies and they rock them to sleep.  (Nicolaus, age 4)

Q2. How did God make mothers? (modified question: How were mothers made?)

With water and love and care. (S)
Uh...I don't know (N)

Q3. What ingredients are mothers made of ?

Help, kindness, and love. (S)
I don't know!! (N)

Q4. Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mum? (modified question: Why am I your mommy your mommy instead of another woman being your mommy?)

Cause He knew you were the one who would love me. (S)
Uh...like...because God made you (N)

Q5. What kind of little girl was your mommy?

You were a girl who wanted to be a doula. (S)
You played Barbies and watched cartoons. (N)

Q6. What did Mommy need to know about Daddy before she married him?

That he was the perfect one. (S)
Dance then eat. (N)

Q7. Why did your Mommy marry (choose) your Daddy?

Cause you both have M's at the start of your names. (S)
Because it's nice. (N)

Q8. Who’s the boss at your house?

Our parents. (S)
You! (N)

Q9. What’s the difference between mommies and daddies?

It's because uh...girls wears skirts and boys wear pants. (S)  * Side note:  I hardly ever wear skirts!
Daddies are stinky and you smell nice. (N)

Q10. What does your mommy do in her spare time?

Read. (S)
Relax and computers. (N)

Q11. What would it take to make your mommy perfect?

Um...serve spaghetti everyday. That's more like it! (S)
More make-up. (N)

Q12. If you could change one thing about your mommy, what would it be?

No time outs. (S)
A pirate. (N)

I’d like to learn more about you too…would you ask your kids these questions, post the answers on your blog and link back here? Drop your post URL in the comments below too if you do

Monday, October 26, 2009

Video - The Facts About Waterbirth

***Please Note: Some information on this video can be contradicted, for the latest information on waterbirth please visit http://www.waterbirth.org.  This is not a production of Waterbirth International.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stay on your feet!

Both of my children were born in a hospital setting.  My first child was born after nearly every intervention possible and never breastfed.  My second child, with a doula in attendance, was a natural birth in hospital and I took as much of the following advice as I could - interestingly enough, before I had even read it!

Thank you to http://homebirthwaterbirth.com/home.html for this insight!

If the hospital is your choice...and you want a natural birth.... This will be helpful to know.

STAY ON YOUR FEET In the hospital the first thing they do is issue you one of those ugly backless nightgown-things, and show you to a bed, like any other patient. But you are not "sick" when you are in labour, you are doing a job--an important job, that of bringing forth a new life.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, then, because you have an important job to do.
STAY ON YOUR FEET and keep walking because sick, weak people are the ones who need to be in bed. Try to think of yourself as a client, using a service, not a patient. Keep upright and keep walking, so you feel freedom to move and not confinement.

STAY ON YOUR FEET, because that raises you up to eye level, where you won’t be looked down upon.
STAY ON YOUR FEET like a capable, healthy person, confident and in control.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, because gravity helps the baby to move down, pressing on the cervix, shortening your labour.
STAY ON YOUR FEET because there is less pain when the weight of the uterus is not pressing on your back.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, because when you lie down, the very bed you lie upon offers resistance to your pelvis, which is doing its best to open up for the baby.
STAY ON YOUR FEET, walking, walking, walking through the contractions, rocking, rocking, easing your baby lower and deeper into the birth canal.
STAY ON YOUR FEET so the doctors and nurses can't keep invading your body with their painful vaginal exams. They have to ask you to lie down for them, and that puts you in control!
If you STAY ON YOUR FEET they'll only be able to do things when you're ready to let them.
If you STAY ON YOUR FEET, you can look them in the eye, say no, and walk away.

STAY ON YOUR FEET, walking, refusing a lot of unnecessary vaginal exams, until you realize your body is pushing.
How long can you stay on your feet? Well, if you like, you can push while you are standing, or you can go down into a squat, and deliver your baby like that. You don't need to lie down to have a baby!
Does that surprise you? Did you know that lying on your back, with your legs in stirrups is the WORST position to be in when giving birth? It’s bad for the mother and bad for the baby, but the doctor needs you on your back because it makes his job easier.
Hey, wait a minute! Whose job should be made easier? There are three very important players in this birth scene: There’s the woman in labour, in pain, struggling to give birth to a new life, pushing with all her might to get a human being through her pelvic bones. No, we won't worry about her discomfort, we can give her some drugs. There’s the baby, who may be oxygen-deprived if the mother lies on her back causing fetal distress. No, don't worry about him, we'll resuscitate if we have to. Then there’s the doctor, who is being paid --well-paid --to catch the baby. Let’s make sure he’s comfortable! Does this make sense?
Staying on your feet and walking isn't just good sense physiologically - working with gravity instead of against it - more importantly being up and about affects how you feel about yourself. A simple thing like staying out of bed makes you feel more capable, confident, and ready to take on the challenge! Lying in bed makes you feel more like a weak, sick person; like a little girl, dependent upon others instead of an adult doing the most grown-up, womanly thing she can do.
Pick up any book on childbirth that shows you the inside view of the baby’s birth. It shows the mother on her back. Now turn the book sideways, and note the angle at which the baby emerges when the mother is upright. Which would be easier?

The doctor likes it better that you are on your back because it makes it easier for him:
to do an episiotomy -- which he won’t need to do if you are upright, because the weight of the baby is not resting on the perineum;
to use forceps to pull the baby out -- which he won't need to do if you are upright because you will be able to push more effectively;
to get the baby out faster -- which he won’t need to do because the baby won’t be distressed from the lack of oxygen it would experience if you were on your back;

to keep close watch on the mother’s blood pressure -- which isn't as much of a concern when she is upright and in control and not exhausting herself from ineffective pushing, or getting dizzy from the weight of the baby pressing on the major blood vessels.
It may not seem like a big deal, pushing the baby upwards, but think how hard it is to work against gravity for easy things. Yesterday I was hammering a nail up above my head, and I found it hard pushing that 16 ounce hammer up into the air each time, much more tiring than nailing something lower.
In fact, if your doctor thinks it doesn’t make that much difference in pushing against gravity, agree with him: since he says it’s no big deal, let him work against gravity, catching the baby from beneath while you give birth comfortably low, reclined in an armchair.
So, the moral is -- Stay on your feet!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Whose birth is it anyway?

Last spring, an obstetrician gave the following letter to his patient
An OB's Birth Plan - Nursing for Nurses:
Dr. ________ "Birth Plan"
Dear Patient:
As your obstetrician, it is my goal and responsibility to ensure your safety and your baby's safety during your pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. My practice approach is to use the latest advances in modern obstetrics. There is no doubt that modern obstetrical advances have significantly decreased the incidence of maternal and fetal complications. The following information should clarify my position and is meant to address some commonly asked questions. Please review this information carefully and let me know if you feel uncomfortable in any way with my approach as outlined below.
* Home delivery, underwater delivery, and delivery in a dark room is not allowed.
* I do not accept birth plans. Many birth plans conflict with approved modern obstetrical techniques and guidelines. I follow the guidelines of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology which is the organization responsible for setting the standard of care in the United States. Certain organizations, under the guise of "Natural Birth" promote practices that are outdated and unsafe. You should notify me immediately, if you are enrolled in courses that encourage a specific birth plan. Conflicts should be resolved long before we approach your due date. Please note that I do not accept the Bradley Birth Plan. You may ask my office staff for our list of recommended childbirth classes.
* Doulas and labor coaches are allowed and will be treated like other visitors. However, like other visitors, they may be asked to leave if their presence or recommendations hinder my ability to monitor your labor or your baby's well-being.
* IV access during labor is mandatory. Even though labor usually progresses well, not too infrequently, emergencies arise suddenly, necessitating an emergency c-section. The precious few minutes wasted trying to start an IV in an emergency may be crucial to your and your baby's well being.
* Continuous monitoring of your baby's heart rate during the active phase (usually when your cervix is dilated 4cm) is mandatory. This may be done using external belts or if not adequate, by using internal monitors at my discretion. This is the only way I can be sure that your baby is tolerating every contraction. Labor positions that hinder my ability to continuously monitor your baby's heart rate are not allowed.
* Rupture of membranes may become helpful or necessary during your labor. The decision as whether and when to perform this procedure is made at my discretion.
* Epidural anesthesia is optional and available at all times. The most recent scientific data suggest that epidurals are safe and do not interfere with labor in anyway even if administered very early in labor.
* I perform all vaginal deliveries on a standard labor and delivery bed. Your legs will be positioned in the standard delivery stirrups. This is the most comfortable position for you. It also provides maximum space in your pelvis, minimizing the risk of trauma to you and your baby during delivery.
* Episiotomy is a surgical incision made at the vaginal opening just before the baby's head is delivered. I routinely perform other standard techniques such as massage and stretching to decrease the need for episiotomies. However, depending on the size of the baby's head and the degree of flexibility of the vaginal tissue, an episiotomy may become necessary at my discretion to minimize the risk of trauma to you and your baby.
* I will clamp the umbilical cord shortly after I deliver your baby. Delaying this procedure is not beneficial and can potentially be harmful to your baby.
* If your pregnancy is normal, it should not extend much beyond your due date. The rate of maternal and fetal complications increases rapidly after 39 weeks. For this reason, I recommend delivering your baby at around 39-40 weeks of pregnancy. This may happen through spontaneous onset of labor or by inducing labor. Contrary to many outdated beliefs, inducing labor, when done appropriately and at the right time, is safe, and does not increase the amount of pain or the risk of complications or the need for a c-section.
* Compared to the national average, I have a very low c-section rate. However, a c-section may become necessary at any time during labor due to maternal or fetal concerns. The decision as to whether and when to perform this procedure is made at my discretion and it is not negotiable, especially when done for fetal concerns.
I can argue against many of the physicians points, but all research aside, the most important question that remains is – Whose birth is it anyway?  The physician isn’t giving birth to the baby, he is merely a facilitator in the process: a process that is natural and has been working well for the majority of women for centuries.  In the end the birth experience belongs to the mother, her baby and her partner.  The choices made by the mother require the respect of all of her caregivers – doctors, midwives, doulas, nurses, partner, family, friends, etc.  She will remember her birth experience for the rest of her life and we, as her caregivers, are there to protect the memory.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Informed Choice

"If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment (promote) a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." - Abigail Adams

For too long women have been told to accept things at face value. It is our time to take responsibility for our lives, our health and our informed decisions. We need to regain our trust in ourselves and our instincts. Then, we can live our lives the way they are meant to be lived.