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

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Benefits of a Doula

Many thanks to Gina, aka The Feminist Breeder, for sharing this incredible slide presentation.

*Note: After pressing play, use your mouse to move from one slide to the next.The Benefits of a Doula
View more presentations or Upload your own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When to Say When: Choosing to Complete Childbearing.

I have pondered often about writing this post for many reasons.  I wondered if it was appropriate to discuss completing one's family when many of our readers are just beginning.  I also recognize that many of our readers are also our colleagues, some we work with and some we do not.  Word travels fast, and as this is an intensely personal post, I have worried about the potential fallout.  Ultimately, however, my reason for writing today is to share my thoughts, emotions, joys and fears about saying, "We're done having babies."  You, our friends and clients, deserve to know that your feelings surrounding this topic are valid and you deserve support in whatever stage of childbearing you are in.  Someday many of you may also come to this cross road.

This past year, I turned thirty-one., and my youngest child began kindergarten.  I often thought that the day I took my son to his first day of school I would immediately start crying and my baby buzzer would start wailing.  I never thought I would ever be able to say, "I'm done."  I was shocked when, rather than a longing for another child, I felt a sense of relief and even joy (GASP!) that now a new part of our lives would begin.

It may surprise you that only a couple of years ago, I was thinking of trying for another baby.  I even chatted with my doctor about it.  When we were trying to have our two kids, I remember envisioning these little beings.  I fantasized about their births, feeding them, cuddling them and wondering what they would look like.  Funny thing is, when I thought about adding a third child to our family, I couldn't see a thing.  I couldn't imagine another pregnancy, another birth of my own... none of it, and not for lack of trying.  I had wanted a water birth at home with a midwife and all of the trimmings... but I just couldn't see myself with another baby. Perhaps that was my answer.  I am meant to be a mother of two.

Usually, I am fraught with mommy guilt - I mean major, clutch your heart and rack your brain mommy guilt.  In this case, however, I began to feel that our family was complete and I could see how that would benefit my children.  I could enjoy really watching my kids as they move through each stage and learn new things.  We wouldn't have to cinch the purse strings even tighter to afford another mouth to feed. We could afford to support our children's talents and take them to games, lessons, etc.  Certainly, parents of more than two children can do these things as well, it just turns out that two is our magic number.

I have chosen to undergo a tubal ligation.  Again, I never thought I would make such a permanent decision regarding childbearing; however, once again there are many reasons.  I have been told by several doctors that I may have something called polycystic ovary syndrome.  While it has not been effectively confirmed, I do display many of the symptoms including irregular cycles.  For me, this has meant basically keeping the pregnancy test companies in business over the last ten years.  The constant state of "not knowing" has been stressful.  Hormonal birth control methods have had adverse effects on my wellbeing, therefore, after much research, I have opted for the tubal ligation.

My decision to complete the childbearing phase of my life has not come easy.  In addtion to the  many personal factors, I have also wondered how it would affect my professional life, aside from achieving my goals.  As a birth doula, I was initially concerned about how it would "look."  I am a childbirth professional who no longer will be experiencing childbirth in a personal sense.  I am having a medical procedure rather than using natural methods of birth control.  Am I being a hypocrite?  After much soul searching, I realized that no, I am not.  In fact, I am doing exactly what I promote and encourage - I am taking control of my health and my body.

Looking ahead... Personally and professionally, I have a desire to see what else is out there for me.  I have goals to pursue and tasks to complete.  I'm looking ahead at my future as well has the future of my family.  It's exciting and a little daunting, but it's my future to form!

~ Michelle

Monday, August 23, 2010

12 Weeks to Go! Diabetes Check...

Well I am 28 weeks now! My belly is growing and our baby is moving about all day. I am loving every moment of this pregnancy. I am also getting excited to meet our baby in about 12 weeks.

My husband and I have been busy doing some house renovations and getting the nursery ready. We decided to do a pink and brown nursery. It is going to look amazing once it is done. Hopefully I will get the room all put together tomorrow. We also made a couple big purchases for our little girl. Our stroller, car seat, playpen, and crib have now all been bought. I had the hardest time making up my mind about exactly which playpen, stroller, and car seat I wanted. Thankfully my husband was with me to help me finally make up my mind. If I can make any suggestions for a mom to be who has not yet started shopping I would say don't over look. I looked at everything, everywhere so many times that nothing seemed "wonderful" to me. I am now very happy with the purchases we have made.

Today I had to do the one thing that I heard everyone dreads during pregnancy; the diabetes check. I must say that I was told that this orange stuff I was going to have to drink would be thick like syrup and taste like undiluted orange pop. I am happy to report that I didn't find it overly bad. It wasn't thick at all! Thin like water. The taste though is not the greatest but not as bad as everyone made it seem. Sitting there for an hour waiting was the worst part. I felt very light headed and really wanted to drink some water. Even after I finally got to leave I still was light headed and really just needed some water to make me feel better. For all of you who have not yet done this test don't worry about it. It isn't the greatest tasting stuff but it is not unbearable.

Well 12 weeks to go until we meet our little girl. We now have doctors appointments every 2 weeks instead of 4. Our doctor here in Brooks does not do deliveries so we will also be switching doctors in the next couple weeks. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why I Choose to Breastfeed

“Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month!” This is the line that I have repeated over and over to people as I have breast fed my baby anywhere that he has been hungry. What a wonderful time to be able to help raise awareness that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing for moms and babies everywhere.

Isn’t technology amazing?! It is hard to believe that I can carry with me a phone that can send pictures over it and now videos to someone across the world. The world is changing so quickly, however science has never been able to duplicate the formula that makes up mother’s milk. For more information on this check out:  What Every Parent Should Know About Infant Formula.

My body can create for my child the most advanced combination of nutritional and beneficial ingredients to sustain my child’s health. From my mammary glands I produce the most complex combination of antibodies for fighting germs and giving my son the best possible start so that he can explore the complexities of the world with his mouth and with his tongue feel the textures of whatever he can get his hands on. Unfortunately no matter how many times I remove the bits of paper, mud, and sticks from my baby’s mouth he continues to shove something else back in as soon as he can. I shake my head but feel better knowing that by nursing my babe I am giving him what he needs to fight bacteria and that he will develop a stronger immune system because of it.

I was fortunate and breastfeeding for me came very naturally and I have had three babies who have fully enjoyed their time spent at the breast. There is something so beautiful about the quiet time spent with a baby nourishing them at your breast, staring down into the deep trusting eyes of my newborn as he stares back up at me eyes brimming with unconditional love. Those quiet peaceful moments can never be taken away and carry a mother through the trials of raising little ones. Is it no wonder that looking at a sleeping child renews that love that was formed while bonding with the child as a babe at the breast?

Can you imagine what a wonderful place the mother’s breast must be for the newborn? So much of who we are is formed before we can even remember it. My sister told me that her daughter has a preference for the color orange and recalled that the nursing cover she used with her daughter was orange. I still have memories as a child of being held in my mother’s lap and feeling that it was the warmest, most comfortable place in the world. Memories that probably connect back even further than I can recall. For my own babes my breast is a place that they come to for peace and quiet, when it is time to rest, to quiet fears and comfort pain. I am so grateful for my ability to give my children so much through breastfeeding. I feel sad for those who struggle with breastfeeding and have difficulties with lactation. Remember that giving your milk to your child for the first time is something that is a learning experience for both you and your babe. The newborn is not born with the instructions for breastfeeding. It is a time where both of you must learn together and work together. Do not get frustrated if it seems that you are doing things wrong. Breastfeeding should be unforced and natural and can be difficult and even painful. However, persistence usually pays off and can benefit you and your newborn.

Our current culture is a place where breastfeeding is considered to be out of the norm. It makes me laugh to go to the beach and see bikinis with so much skin showing and yet I get thrown awkward, uncomfortable glances while nursing with my baby latched on and my skin covered by my shirt or a blanket. I feel like I need to nurse publicly to help people see that breastfeeding is normal. I hope that others will join me in spreading breastfeeding awareness. My favourite breastfeeding quote I read on a poster said, “It’s not about my right to breastfeed. It’s about my baby’s right to eat.” Every time I feel uncomfortable about being stared at while providing nourishment for my baby I remember that it is not about me and my baby deserves the right to eat when he is hungry regardless of my insecurities. My baby also does not deserve to be fed in a dirty bathroom. I would not want to eat in a place that smelled of excrement.

I have been fortunate that my babies have stood up for their rights by demanding food (quite loudly) and refusing to eat while covered with a blanket forcing me to get over my embarrassment and put my babies needs before my comfort. I have learned to be flexible and supportive of my babies needs. I have also been a mother with children who have felt the need to breastfeed for an extended period. I recently read somewhere that the average breastfeeding age in the world is three years. So I have realized that although among my peers I may stand out as being different, I am well below the average in the world since I usually wean around two years. It is hard for me to quit giving breast milk to my babies until they are ready since I cannot find anything that is as beneficial and supportive of natural growth as the milk that is produced by my breast. I have also not been in a hurry to quit breastfeeding because I use my breast milk quite frequently for other purposes besides just feeding my baby.

Did you know that because of the natural antibodies and healing properties of breast milk it can be used for many other purposes besides just the nourishment of an infant? I use my breast milk frequently on my skin as it is a wonderful and natural cleanser and helps to clear acne and prevent wrinkles. When my baby has goop in the corner of his eye I squirt him in the eye with breast milk to clean it and the immunities in the breast milk help to heal the infection. After breastfeeding I squirt a little milk to rub on my breasts to prevent nipple soreness and cracking. Breastmilk can be used for so many purposes from itchy mosquito bites to sexual lubricant. For more great uses for breast milk check out this website:  Breast Milk and Its Many Uses.

Please consider breastfeeding if you have not before and if you are not a mother then be supportive of those around you who are trying to breastfeed. If you see a mother trying to breastfeed do not make her uncomfortable by trying to avoid looking at her. Look her in the eyes and smile at her. It is so good for babies to have breast milk from their mothers. Remember that it is about the baby and the baby has the right to eat wherever and whenever they are hungry and to have the best start to their lives with natural mother’s milk. If you were breast fed thank your own mother for giving you such a great start in life.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Career or Calling?

I've never been a typical "career woman."  I don't identify with high-powered corporate scenes.  Before motherhood, I worked for two busy accounting firms.  While such employment was financially rewarding, I wasn't all that motivated to become an executive.  I longed for more meaningful work.  

Eventually, following the births of my children, I was drawn to support families throughout the childbearing year.  I wasn't immediately sure which avenue to take or how it to go about it all, but I knew I had to do something.  Our family had benefited from the support of a doula, so it made sense to look into becoming one myself.  I was struck by the selflessness of the work.  The most amazing doulas I met, the ones I would most like to have as my own, had such giving hearts. They gave not only of their time, their expertise, but they truly asked little in return.  These doulas did not view their work as a business venture or a "job."  They did not turn families away due to economic or social standing.  No, to them, such work as a doula, literally a servant or slave, was a calling rather than a career.  That is the kind of doula I wanted to be, and still do.

From time to time I am asked about how one pursues a career as a doula or in the childbirth field... Such questions make me truly uncomfortable.  If I were to speak bluntly and merely looking at dollars and cents, I would  say that it is not realistic to expect to make a living as a doula.  If I were to answer by looking more deeply at the true spirit of a doula, I would say that one should not aspire to make a living as a doula.  

The life of a doula should not be a career, it is not a job... it is work - wholistic, unselfish, work of the heart.  We care, we give of our hearts, our souls, our hands...  It is emotional, raw, and intense.  Yes, we must be knowledgeable about the physiological and psychological processes of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period; however, we must also respect and hold the space of the spiritual and emotional beauty and trials of the miracle of birth.  We must show unconditional love and support to the childbearing family.  There are times when we mourn with these families as well as rejoice with them.  

We do not punch a clock.  We serve.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Already?! Breast Change

Well I am 24 weeks pregnant now! I have been enjoying my growing belly and feeling our baby move about during the day. It's an amazing feeling that I don't think any mother can explain. This is one thing I am told I will miss once our baby is born. Therefore I am enjoying every minute of it.

During this pregnancy my breasts have got larger and have sometimes been tender. Both things I knew would happen early in pregnancy. Tonight I was absolutely shocked when I felt something wet around my nipple area. It just felt a little damp so I touched my shirt and looked down. There it was a tiny wet spot from my leaking nipple. The first thing that came to my head is "Really this early? Is that possible?" I called my husband over and all he could say is "No way!" with a smile on his face. I was completely shocked!! I expected it to happen at some point just not at 24 weeks. This was definitely the "weirdest" pregnancy thing I have experienced thus far. Just weird in the way that I wasn't expecting it and was caught off guard. It is safe to say that I have never experienced leaking from my nipples before.

After doing some research I realized that this is completely normal. Which was great for me to hear. :) Just a way for my body to get ready for breastfeeding. Excitement is coming over me as I realize I'm getting closer and closer to meeting our baby.

Now the questions that are on my mind are: Is this just going to happen the odd time? Or is it going to happen daily? Is it time to invest in breast pads? Well all I know for sure is every woman is different so I will just have to wait and see.

Friday, July 16, 2010

22 Weeks Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I am currently 22 weeks and I'm feeling fabulous! Besides the morning sickness in the first couple weeks I have been feeling pretty fantastic this pregnancy. :)

My husband and I found out the sex of our baby on the day we left for Victoria. Therefore I have not yet had a chance to reveal the gender to our blog followers! Well it's a GIRL! I was super excited when we found out it was a girl. My husband on the other hand was a little shocked but after about an hour it settled in and we started decided about baby names. His excitement really started to kick in then as we went shopping that day for items for our baby girl.

We are finding that there are so many decisions to make! What stroller and car seat should we get? What's the difference besides the hundreds of dollars price difference? Bassinet and Playpen combo? What kind of breast pump? The list goes on and on!

Our birth plan will become our focus in the next couple weeks. This I feel is one of the most important decisions for us. I am the type of person who needs to feel in control and I need to know what's going on. Therefore the birth plan is a huge must do for us. To be honest I never heard of a birth plan before I took my doula training. Now I see how valuable it is and why it's a must have for all soon to be parents. Your doula will be able to help you come up with a birth plan that works for you and your partner. It will help you make decisions on things you may not initially think about, and that you will not have time to think about during labour and childbirth.

The following website is great for helping with birth plan decisions. Remember you can always check out www.wombtocradle.com for resources.


Thanks for reading! I'll keep everyone updated as we start making more decisions.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Share and WIN!

We're having a contest for fans of our Facebook Page!  Fans in Alberta are eligible to win a hardcover copy of The Birth House by Canadian author Ami McKay.  To win all you have to do is invite your friends to fan the page as well, then post on our discussion page how many friends you've invited!  The winner will be chosen on Friday, July 30th using Random.org.  Tell your friends, and WIN!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why I want to become a Midwife

Some people ask me why I am so interested in pursuing midwifery. It is very simple. It is because I got to experience being a birth goddess! What is a birth goddess? A birth goddess is someone who is empowered and enlightened by their birth experience. She is someone who is able to climb the mountain of contractions and enjoy the exhilaration of reaching the top. A birth goddess embraces and takes control of her birth and gets to experience the ultimate moment of being a woman; becoming somebody’s mother. My natural birth experience was doubly rewarding because I had been told that I could not be a birth goddess. Because I had delivered my first two boys by caesarean section, I was told that I could not deliver a baby vaginally. This is a hard thing for any woman to hear. To me, it made no sense that there was something wrong with my body, when I had been nothing but healthy my whole life. It made no sense because my ancestors were all pioneer women who birthed their babies unassisted and had multiple children. For me, I was unwilling to accept that there was a limit to the amount of children I could have. I could not accept that I was supposed to bond with my newborn babies while feeling weak and in pain from having an incision across my abdomen and feeling that my insides were about to fall out. I wanted to birth my babies not have my babies delivered.

I cried when I discovered that I was pregnant with my third. The birth of a baby is not supposed to fill a mother with terror. When I was able to accept my pregnancy I began to read. I read books by Henci Goer and by the wonderful midwife, Ina May Gaskin. I read story after story of birth goddesses reaching their true potential through embracing their births. I realized that this was my birth and only I could create the experience that I wanted. The birth goddess began to stir within me. I surrounded myself with people who were supportive of my choice to pursue natural childbirth.

Before my labor began I would close my eyes and imagine the feeling of my abdomen contracting. I would focus my energy on feeling the contraction and picturing the uterus squeezing my baby down into my pelvis and feel my body opening up to release my baby. I would practice relaxing and focusing on the things that gave me comfort. I practiced squatting, rocking and letting the tension flow from my body. I enlisted my husband in my practice sessions by coaching him on ways to soothe me with touch and massage. I discovered that he could make me feel amazing by massaging my head. This sent shivers through my entire body and made me feel like I was floating. These practice sessions were much like an athlete uses to prepare their body for a competition.

By the time labor finally started I was so anxious to practice the techniques that I had tried and envisioned for myself. Everything went so smoothly in labor because I had anticipated these contractions for so long that I was anxious to feel them for real and wanted them to become stronger. The massage my husband had practiced with me was incredibly helpful with allowing me to relax. I labored for well over 24 hours and was grateful for the long labor as I feel that I would have felt gyped after all of my preparations to not have the time to fully experience the birth process and use all of the techniques that I had practiced. I was so blessed to be able to labor in my own home with the use of a birth tub and a traditional childbirth attendant to watch over me.

In the end the reason for the slow labor was because my baby was being born bottom first and was unable to put the weight on my cervix to allow it to open up. With a bit of gentle pushing I was able to fully dilate and as my baby’s body slid into my hands I experienced the full exhilaration of becoming a birth goddess as I, who was supposed to be incapable of natural childbirth, birthed my baby breech with two caesarean scars. He was absolutely beautiful and I got to be a part of it. I was not drugged. I was not cut. I was fully awake and aware of my body’s tremendous power. The endorphins that flowed to my brain as I held and bonded with my child were overwhelming. I could not have imagined the triumph that I would feel with childbirth.

The memories of my son’s birth day have driven me to want this experience repeated. I thought I could be satisfied by watching shows of mother’s giving birth to their babies. However, I tried to watch a birth show on tv and became so angry that the mother was not in control of her birth and looked so scared and in pain. Interventions were given to this mother to “help” her with labor. My mind screamed out, “NO, this is not how birth is supposed to be.” In the end the result was a beautiful, screaming baby but the mother was not empowered. She experienced so much fear and pain that her body fought against the contractions. This was nothing like my birth. I cried for this mother and her birth experience.

I could not stop hearing of mother’s birth experiences. So many of them were unlike mine and mother’s commented again and again on the pain of labor. I thought, “Yes, I do remember the pain and getting to a point where I felt I couldn’t go any farther, but once I pushed my baby out and felt the rush of adrenaline the pain was instantly erased and seemed so insignificant”. I began to wonder how could I help women to feel empowered by birth? I wanted others to experience what I had. I realized that the answer is very simple. To be empowered by birth women need to be in charge of their births. Mothers need to prepare their minds and bodies for birth by educating themselves about their bodies and knowing why their doctors make the decisions that they do. I am on the path to midwifery so that I can help mothers to know their choices and help them to be in charge of their births.

I hope to become a doula as well, while I continue my midwifery training, because I feel that doulas are a wonderful resource to mothers in understanding how to labor with their bodies and in preparing mothers to be strong through their labor and birth. The advice I have for expectant mothers is that you need to prepare for your birth long before labor begins. “Birth is an opportunity to transcend. To rise above what we are accustomed to, reach deeper inside ourselves than we are familiar with, and to see not only what we are truly made of, but the strength we can access in and through Birth” (Marcie Macari).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Half Way!! Ultrasound Experience

Well at this point in my pregnancy I am 20 weeks and 1 day. At the half way mark!

My husband has been feeling the baby kick on a regular basis now and loves to poke my belly and wait and see if the baby responds. I am happy to feel some movement everyday. It's that one thing that I know will brighten my day.

Today I started my day by having some breakfast and then drinking a ton of water. I have no idea why they say you must drink that much water before an ultrasound but I must say it is crazy! It was extremely uncomfortable to sit with a full bladder and wait to get in for the ultrasound. At one point I looked at my husband and told him I couldn't wait any more and I just had to pee. My eyes started filling with tears as the cramping and pain felt unbearable. My husband hugged me and to help me keep my mind off of it played I spy. I know crazy game to play while waiting to see your baby for the first time on an ultrasound but it just helped me keep my mind off the fact that I was extremely uncomfortable.

Once the ultrasound technician came and got us the excitement once again took over. He could tell my bladder was really full so he just took the pictures that he needed to while my bladder was full. Then he let me empty my bladder and come back and enjoy the rest of the ultrasound.

We got to see everything! And according to the measurements our baby is 20 weeks and 2 days! Very close to what we initially thought. Our little one is weighing in at 12oz. The ultrasound technician told us that everything is looking good. Our baby was on the move the whole time throughout the ultrasound. Moving his/her hands and arms all the time. We saw our baby open it's hands and close it's hands and even put it's arm in front of it's face. We also saw the heart. It was very surreal to watch it beat, 144bpm.

I could have sat there for hours!! My husband and I walked out of there super excited. Seeing our little one on an ultrasound for the first time was amazing. There are no words to describe the feeling you get when you watch the little one inside of you moving about. Also a huge relief just to know that everything seems to be developing well.

We were hoping to find out the sex of our baby but the ultrasound technician would not tell us. So now it will be a long two days while we wait until Friday comes! On Friday we are expecting a call from our doctor to tell us what the gender is. At this point my husband is predicting boy, and as for me I am not really sure. Boy or girl it doesn't even matter. We will be thrilled with either. But we are excited to do some shopping on Friday before we head to Victoria on Saturday for our honeymoon!

Thanks for following this pregnancy journey with us! We are enjoying every minute of it. On Friday I will try to write a quick blog to let everyone know the gender of our baby and hopefully post an ultrasound picture. Although there is no way to predict for sure what the sex of our baby is it would be great to hear everyone's predictions! :)


Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day

"Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!" ~ Lydia M. Child

To all of the wonderful fathers and loving partners we have been privileged to work with, as well as to our own very supportive husbands and partners, may you have a wonderful Happy Father's Day! You are loved and very appreciated!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

18 weeks! Babywearing on the mind.

I am now over 18 weeks pregnant!

My fiance and I had a prenatal checkup on Monday, June 14th. I went in so excited to hear the heartbeat and find out my weight gain so far. I stepped on the scale and found out I have gained about 5 pounds in total this pregnancy so far. That is hard for me to believe because my belly and boobs seem to have grown a ton! I guess it's just my body changing shape. The doctor started looking for the baby's heartbeat and panic set in when he couldn't find it. I have heard it cane difficult to find the heartbeat sometimes depending on ho the baby is laying and where he/she is; but I never knew how scared I would be if they couldn't find it. This was something I did not prepare for. But after a couple minutes and a lot of searching we finally found the baby's heartbeat. The baby was just laying low and sleeping. This was such a relief to my fiance and I.

We are now looking forward to our ultrasound on June 30th! We are hoping to be able to find out the sex of our baby. :)

I'm almost at the half way mark with this pregnancy and I'm starting to think more and more about what I should be purchasing. I have heard a lot about slings, wraps, and carriers but never realized how useful they will be. They are a great bonding experience for baby and his/her parents. I am posting a link about what babywearing can be used for and the many benefits it provides. I will most definitely be purchasing a sling. If you have any babywearing stories, or would like to share the benefits you experienced please feel free to comment.

"SLING TIP: The womb lasts eighteen months: Nine months inside mother, and nine months outside"

On a side note my fiance and I will be getting married on June 25th! A wedding that we have been planning for a year. On this day I will become Amanda McIvor. A couple days later we will see our baby for the first time on an ultrasound! I will let you all know how it goes. Thanks for reading.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Lamaze Healthy Birth Pratices - #3: Have Continuous Support

In this installment of our series on the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, we explore the need for continuous labour support.  Women who receive such support during labour are less likely to

  • have regional analgesia
  • have any analgesia/anesthesia 
  • give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps 
  • give birth by cesarean 
  • report dissatisfaction or a negative rating of their experience. 

Download the .pdf file Bring a Loved One, Friend, or Doula for Continuous Support.

~ Michelle

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Empowerment Recipe for Moms

It can seem like such a long wait when you are expecting the arrival of your new baby.  New motherhood can also be exhausting. Take some time out for yourself and follow this lovely Empowerment Recipe from Cindy Angell Keeling:

Empowerment Recipe for Moms
In a long day, mix:

  • A walk in the park
  • Ten minutes reading a positive book
  • Uplifting and relaxing music 
  • Some time spent on a hobby or personal project
  • A cup of tea in the afternoon
  • A little quiet time alone
  • A twenty-minute nap
  • An adult conversation with your spouse/partner
  • Lots of hugs and kisses.

Enjoy each moment with your little one, either under your heart or in your arms.  Time passes quickly so make some memories!

~ Michelle

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Pregnancy Journey - In the Beginning

My fiance and I found out I was pregnant on March 13. I found my self waking up with morning sickness a couples times a week. I soon figured out that "morning sickness" is actually all day sickness. I was sick up until about 12-13 weeks.

My belly started to grow at about 11 weeks. Between my 12th and 13th week my belly seemed to explode. I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror and was shocked! My belly literally grew over night. (Picture on the left is 12 weeks and picture on the right is 13 weeks) I remember thinking to my self "oh my gosh I look massive". Looking in the mirror made me a little upset that my belly growing was now a reality and I knew it was only going to get bigger. After the shock wore off I remember being extremely excited that my tiny little baby must be growing if my belly is. This thought is what makes the growing belly easier to deal with. At this point I am enjoying my growing belly. :)

On May 17 my fiance and I heard the baby's heart beat for the first time!! This was a moment full of emotion. I was laying on the bed with tears in my eyes trying not to let any fall. It was so great to look at my fiance and see his reaction to the heart beat. We were both in awe and the only thing I could say is "Wow! That's so cool." At this appointment I also asked the doctor if there could be more then one baby in there. He told me that the ultrasound will let us know for sure. I told him I felt my belly was huge for 14 weeks. He told me not to worry that everyone grows at different speeds and since I am small framed I might grow faster than others. I still am looking forward to the ultrasound to find out one way or another whether there's one or two babies in my belly.

I am extremely excited that I finally felt the baby move. For the past couples weeks I have been thinking to my self "Oh that could have been the baby moving"; but wasn't completely sure. But yesterday I felt it for sure! It is so exciting to have this experience. It makes my pregnancy feel so much more real. Now I am anxiously waiting to feel another movement. My fiance is hoping to be able to feel the baby sometime in the next couple weeks.

Thanks for reading. :)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hello Everyone :)

Hi Everyone,

I am Amanda Kleinsasser. I work with From Womb To Cradle as a doula in the Brooks, AB area.

I first became interested in becoming a doula when my mother in law mentioned to me that having a doula was the best decision she made while pregnant with her first born (my fiance). I looked into some courses and found the DONA doula course. I took this course in June 2009. It was an amazing course! At this course I learned more about labour and birth then I could have ever imagined. I attended my first birth in September 2009. This birth was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It was at this time that I decided to pursue a career as a doula.

This past year has been extremely busy for me. Taking my first doula course, attended my first birth, and I also got engaged. My fiance David proposed on June 25, 2009 and we will be getting married on June 25, 2010. This year has been busy with wedding plans. To make our lives even more exciting I got pregnant in February!! I am pregnant with our first baby and I am currently at 16 weeks and 4 days.

I have decided to write a blog about my pregnancy journey. I will write about whatever I am feeling at the time or about questions that have been running through my mind. I will also post any information I find about pregnancy, labour, birth, and breastfeeding that I find helpful.

Hope everyone will enjoy reading about my pregnancy journey. I know many of you are currently or will be going through your own pregnancy journey so feel free to comment.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices - #2: Walk, Move, and Change Positions

Continuing our series on the Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices, here is practice #2: Walk, Move, and Change Positions.  Research shows that compared to those birthing in centres whose policies restrict movement during labor, women who are free to move and change positions throughout the birthing process are more apt to experience the following:

  • shorter labors
  • more efficient contractions
  • greater comfort, and
  • less need for pharmaceutical pain relief during labor

For more information, please download the pdf. file - Walk, Move, and Change Positions Throughout Labor

~ Michelle

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Moments to Cherish

As summer quickly approaches, I have found it increasingly difficult to get my children to sleep.  Of course, they are party animals anyhow, but they still maintain that if it is light outside, it cannot possibly be nighttime.  Facing the prospect of another late night, I began to think back to my children's infancy.  It was much easier back then to put them to sleep.  I know, many parents may disagree, but for us it was only a matter of when and where they would go to sleep and never how.  You see, we didn't plan it, but we were a co-sleeping family.

My daughter, our first-born, arrived in 2003 after a traumatic birth.  Due to an injury to her scalp from vacuum-assisted delivery and aggressive suctioning, my daughter screamed at every attempt to breastfeed.  She never did latch on.  I was distraught.  I did not know if I would be able to bond with her in the way I had wanted to.  I had done research and knew the benefits of breastfeeding were more extensive than the obvious nutrition.  Because of the trauma I, too, experienced, I also developed postpartum depression, which left me disconnected from my baby girl.  Fortunately, I began treatment quickly and by the time my daughter was one month old I had begun feeling better.  Still, we worked on developing attachment.  It was about this time that my daughter caught her first cold.  Concerned about her breathing one night, I brought her into our bed.  Following the sleep safety tips I had read in Dr. William Sears' The Baby Book, we continued co-sleeping until the birth of our second child.

My husband and I found out we were expecting our son shortly after our daughter turned a year old.  Though she was walking and talking up a storm, she was still very much a baby.  I cherished our nap time and nighttime cuddles, knowing that soon there would be another little one next to me.  I worried that I may not have as much love for another one or that my daughter may not receive enough of my attention and love and miss out.  Little did I know that these moments spent together were building her confidence and our attachment to one another in a beautiful way!

When my son was born, following an amazingly peaceful birth, he immediately took to nursing.  I was overjoyed!  This meant, however, that we were presented with a new set of challenges.  How to nurse the baby while still providing continuity for our toddler.  My husband and I had purchased an infant co-sleeper that fit in our bed, which was fantastic.  Still, our 22-month-old was missing out on mama cuddles and needed some extra attention.  So, we laid a mattress on the floor of her room and she cuddled with my mom while she was visiting us after our son's birth.  It worked out quite nicely.  Once our son was older, we welcomed our daughter back for cuddles in the early morning hours.  I'd often feel a little hand on my cheek or a tiny arm wrapped tightly around my neck.  What lovely cozy mornings we spent together!

As time went by, of course, our children had their own "big kid" beds and rooms all their own.  They slept in their beds all night long, but when morning arrived should one have looked in our room one would have found four in the bed!  Our morning ritual has continued over the years, though it has become less and less frequent. Some days I long to look over and find a soft dark blond head snuggled next to mine...

This brings me back to this evening... "Yes," I thought, "How much easier it was when we were co-sleeping!" The cuddles through the night and the soft sweet breath of my babies peppered our dreams.  My instinct this evening was to somehow go back to that time.  Of course, I know that children must grow and change as years go by, but the memories of those moments are so precious.  It was more than cuddling a babe to sleep or being nearby for that 3 a.m. feeding... it was about creating a bond between my children, my husband and I...about fostering security so that one day when things get tough for our girl and our boy, they will come to us knowing that we will always be there for them.

So, what did I do tonight when that thought crossed my mind?  I went into my 7 year old's room, then into my 5 year old's room... and I held them tight.

~ Michelle

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices - #1: Let Labor Begin on Its Own

Today we are continuing with our series on the Lamaze Health Birth Practices with tip number one, Let Labor Begin on Its Own. It is important to note that interventions such as induction carry many risks (as stated by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists):

  • Change in fetal heart rate
  • Increased risk of infection in the woman and baby
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Overstimulation of the uterus
  • Uterine rupture

Stronger more painful contractions may limit oxygen supply to the baby thus causing fetal distress.  It is also important to note that there is an increased risk of cesarean birth, increased usage of pharmaceutical pain relief such as epidural, and, because of the uncertainty of due dates, and the variation in the amount of time any given baby requires to reach maturity, early induction carries a risk of causing premature birth.

For more information, please download the .pdf document Let Labor Begin on Its Own by Lamaze and Mother's Advocate

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices - Intro: Safe and Healthy Birth

Beginning today, we will explore the six Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices. Look for them all to be featured here! In addition to the videos on each practice, we've also included a link to a .pdf handout on the topic. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you may download it here.

Download the PDF document ~ Birth - As Safe and Healthy As It Can Be

Monday, May 17, 2010

Butterflies and Babies

It is spring... a time of where flowers bloom and so do mamas!  This year, my inspiration has been the chrysalis - a symbol of transformation.  As a mother goes through the processes of pregnancy, labour, birth and parenting, she experiences life-altering changes. When women have an amazing birth experience, they realize their strength, power and true beauty.  Witnessing this is awe-inspiring!

While preparing to write this post, I did a brief search of the word experience.  I was amazed to find that two of its synonyms were elevation and enlightenment.  Truly a woman's spirit is elevated when she is able to enjoy a blissful birth.  She is enlightened by the knowledge she has gained and the strength she has uncovered because now, she believes, she can do anything!  

Birth changes us deeply.  Owning our experiences is essential.  Preparing for birth and making informed decisions is vital.  Hold on to your butterfly spirit....allow yourself to soar!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Labour Support Survey

We would like to help you achieve your desires for childbirth. Knowing a little about your previous experiences gives us insight on how best to support you. We have put together a brief anonymous survey on prior birth experiences and labour support. Please take a moment to complete the survey!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Limits, Standards and Ethics

As a birth doula, I am not considered a medical professional; therefore, I can provide medical information, but never medical advice.  I respect the professionals I work with including midwives, doctors, nurses, childbirth educators, lactation consultants and other doulas.  I abide by the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics of my training organization.  If you have any questions regarding the standards I practice by, please email me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

DOULA! The Ultimate Birth Companion

Coming June 2010, a new film about the role of the birth doula! Enjoy the following preview!

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

The following video contains images of cesarean surgical births.  For more information on cesarean birth awareness and vaginal birth after cesarean, please visit the International Cesarean Awareness Network.

Call for guest blogger(s)

From Womb to Cradle Doula Services, Inc. is looking for a guest blogger to write about their experience working with a doula during pregnancy and birth. Moms, dads, partners, grandparents all welcome! If you are interested in writing for the blog, please send us an email at wombtocradle@gmail.com with a brief description of your story.  Please be advised, discrimination or slander will not be allowed.   Bloggers can chose to remain anonymous.

If we get several applicants, we make make this a series, so send us your story today!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Doula Training: Did you know?

Looking for a doula?  Did you know there are several organizations that train doulas in North America and the world? There are a variety of types of birth doula training to suit both the potential doula's interests and that of the expectant parents.  Some doulas apply for certification within months after taking a doula training while others may take a few years and still others do not choose to certify.  Doulas should continuously be studying up-to-date information on pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum issues. Her training should also include a breastfeeding component.  Parents need to ask whether a potential doula has received formal training, what her training has entailed, and how much experience she has.

Below is a list of many organizations that train doulas:

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the above organizations to know what a potential doula's training should have included as well as the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of her training organization.  Best wishes!  

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Passing it on...A fascinating blog about meeting our children's needs

Blogger Laurie A. Couture writes about child advocacy, children's rights and attachment.  Her latest post Child Advocacy and Children's Rights Resolutions for the New Decade details many of her concerns regarding the rights of the child, the trend of medicating children, and suggestions for practical attachment-based parenting.  My favorite section of the post, entitled So What Should Child Advocates Do? states the following:
The most basic and critical need of all mammal children, including human children, is for a secure, deep, permanent attachment to at least one parent, either by birth or adoption. Secure attachment is the result of a parent immediatly responding to and meeting the needs of their child, in a manner that is warm, loving and compassionate. The result of secure attachment is a parent-child relationship which is loving, warm, cooperative, respectful, healthy, and which grows stronger and more reciprocal as the child grows older
Laurie goes on to state:
The human attachment cycle is the basic mammalian blueprint for a world-wide children's rights movement. The agenda of children's rights advocacy should be based upon the basic physical, emotional and developmental needs of children viewed from an organic, nature-based perspective, untainted by industrialized, religious, political or financial interpretation. Any other agenda is superficial and superfluous at best. At worst any other agenda is a front to protect adult power and control over children and financial and political agendas.
The blogger goes into wonderful detail about the natural study of peaceful nonviolent tribal cultures.  Her posts are intelligent and well-researched. Putting the needs of our children first to secure a brighter future....it just makes sense.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

In with the new!!

Wow!  It has been over a month since my last post.  The holidays were such a busy time.  I hope you all had a wonderful season filled with joy and the love of family and friends.

From Womb to Cradle was pleased to be a part of this year's Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund auction. The auction was just a small part of the Santa Claus Fund's effort to give families in our area a warm and happy holiday. Their efforts continue year round - http://www.mhsantafund.com/

In keeping with the new year, I'm excited to announce new changes to the From Womb to Cradle Doula Services practice!  We have added a new doula to our team.  Amanda Kleinsasser joins us from Tilley, just outside of Brooks, AB.  She will be serving Brooks, Drumheller and surrounding areas.

In addition to our new team member, we have also launched a brand-new website!  The design is breathtaking and ease of use has improved greatly.  We have included the same wonderful resources that were available on our previous website, now with clickable headings.  We also have a great new webmaster/web designer who welcomes contact regarding any issues with our site as well as design inquiries.  Visit our updated website today and see for yourself!  http://www.wombtocradle.com/

Thank you for your continued support and may you have a beautiful 2010!!