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

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Doula Philosophy - Michelle's Musings

As I sit before my computer screen today, I'm drawing a bit of a blank.  It is not because I cannot describe the concrete aspects of my doula "philosophy," as it were.  No, it is because what I believe about work as a doula is based on more than studies, books, papers, classes, etc.  For me, work as a doula is work of the heart.  In a recent workshop, Barbara Harper mentioned that the word doula is not entirely accurate.  Our work is not to really do anything, rather it is to be.  My greatest joy in practice is simply being present for a family on the most beautiful, emotional, spiritual day of their lives.  Holding the space for a mother and her partner to welcome a child is a blessing.  We, as doulas or birthing companions, are honoured to bear witness to miracles.

Through the education that we are continuously pursuing, doulas and other birth workers learn how conception, pregnancy, birthing and postpartum experiences shape the life of the mother, the child and the entire family unit.  We learn about the concrete - such as the use of interventions in birthing; how medications during labor can effect baby, mom and the breastfeeding relationship; the importance of skin-to-skin contact immediately following birth and how it initiates the stimulation of vital neurons in the child and hormones in the mother, etc.  The list goes on and on.  But, I feel that to overlook the emotional and spiritual aspects of birthing is to deny its full power.  I believe that conscious conception, a connected pregnancy, and an understanding of the way baby and mother work together during birthing and breastfeeding is as much a part of childbirth preparation as are prenatal care, nutrition and an understanding of the physiology of labor and birth.  Conception, pregnancy and birth are more than women's issues, they are family issues.  It is this wholistic view that inspires us to support informed choices, integration of any spiritual or religious views, and the intrinsic values belonging to each particular family we work with.  Birth belongs to the family!

I also believe that birthing does not have to be painful.  Birth is a natural process that the female body was designed for.  The uterus is a muscle just like those in our arms, legs, etc.  It does not only function during birthing, but also during menstruation and during sexual intimacy.  Certainly, when one experiences pleasure with one's partner, it is not a painful sensation; therefore, why should birthing be any different? One word: fear.  We must work to eliminate the fear of birthing.  I believe that, as Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  We do not fear connecting intimately with our partners.  We do not fear a sneeze.  We do not fear blinking, breathing, the beat of our hearts...no other natural function of our bodies is met with fear other than birthing.  Interestingly, in cultures where women live in more rural communities and are not connected as readily to media - there is much less fear and anxiety about birthing.  Why?  Because birthing is seen as a natural part of life and an emergence of a soul, rather than a medical emergency.

Hearkening back to the beginning of my musings, when I work with a birthing family, I always try to lead with my heart.  Occasionally, a doula (myself most definitely included) may get caught up in relaying all of the facts and necessary practical information, but as time passes, she learns more about herself and the kind of doula she aspires to be.  Knowledge, not only of the mind but also of the spirit, increases with experience.  I have seen births go so smoothly, that they are literally seamless.  I have also seen special circumstances occur, where medicine has truly worked miracles.  I have seen mothers embrace the power of their birthings and gain confidence that translates throughout their lives.  I have also cried silently while holding a grieving mother.

I can give scientific data and clinical references to birthing families; but, without lending my heart, I will not have given what is truly needed.

With Love,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wisdom Birth: The life-giving benefits of the placenta

We recently watched this short video featuring internationally renowned midwife, Robin Lim of Bumi Sehat, discussing delayed cord clamping and cutting and the benefits of the placenta.  Within thirteen short minutes, we learned so much that we had to share it with you here and we sincerely hope you will share it with your doctor, nurse, midwife, doula, childbirth educator, family and friends.  The placenta does more than sustain life during pregnancy, it can also save lives after birth!

Again, please share this link with your loved ones.  We cannot say that enough...

"Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon; which should always be left till the child has not only repeatedly breathed but till all pulsation in the cord ceases.  As otherwise the child is much weaker than it out to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which out to have been in the child." ~ Erasmus Darwin, Zoonomia: The Laws of Organic Life, 1801

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Hypnobirthing Story (Guest Blogger - Niki Gray)

We're please to welcome our second guest blogger, Niki Gray.  Niki and her husband just recently moved here with there almost 1 year old little girl! She runs a day home, is a Stella and Dot Stylist, and loves creating diaper cakes on the side. Before becoming a Mom, she worked professionally with children on the Autism Spectrum in Calgary and then for the Heartland Health Region in Saskatchewan!
Hey Fellow Mamas, Mamas-to-be and From Womb to Cradle Followers!
I was asked to share my labour experience with some fellow Moms, so here it goes…
Finding Hypnobirthing...
I never considered or even really heard of natural birthing until I was delighted with news of becoming preggers!  About 4 months into our pregnancy I was doing some researching on natural birth. My main reason at the time was because I had experienced anxiety during high stress times in the past and I was afraid drugs would enhance any anxiety I would feel in the delivery room. The more I looked into it, the more I learned the facts on the affects both drugs and stress have on both our babies and our bodies during labour and delivery. I also became intrigued when I stumbled across a book titled HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan, and I instantly made my order! At the time I lived in a small Saskatchewan town where a Hypnobirthing coach or classes were unheard of, so I read and studied the book learning to relax and meditate on my own with the DVD/CD that was included with the book. At the time my hubby was not really onboard (something about "hypno-mumbo jumbo"), so I didn’t practice with any sort of "coach." As the weeks neared forty, I was letting go of fears and was more excited than ever to meet our daughter!
The Delivery Room…
I let the baby lead the way as I encouraged her with slow and birth breathing, relaxation and visualization of her safe and easy arrival! I laid with my eyes closed while I quietly breathed through each contraction and once the nurses decided to let me push (they were waiting for the doctor on-call) my daughter was out in 40 minutes! I truly believe the reading that I did and learning to let go of all the fears and anxieties that I had associated with the birth of our daughter, we were all able to experience a beautiful and natural delivery, with zero stitches to follow! So it really is possible to have a fast, pain and drug free delivery. It really is all "mind over matter!"
For more information on Hypnobirthing please check out www.hypnobirthing.com
If interested in getting a Diaper Cake created personally for an expectant Mama please contact me at nikimgray@gmail.com or check out my website with Stella and Dot to see some great jewellery! 
~ Niki Gray

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Doula Philosophy - Kaitlin

I believe in every woman's ability to birth in the way she wants! Every woman should be allowed to birth however and wherever she pleases and no one should tell her differently.  I strongly believe that as a doula, I am there to support my client without judgment or telling her what to do or what is right from wrong.  I will gladly share any information, techniques and advice but at the end of the day it is not my birth but hers.  I believe every women knows her body best and what she is able to handle and what she is not able to handle.  I am there to provide her as much support and techniques to relieve pain but it is ultimately her choice in how she wants to birth whether that be in a pool, in bed, at home, with or without pain medication and otherwise.  The other thing I think is important to keep in mind is that there is a tremendous mind-body connection.  While labor is definitely very physical, where you are in your mind can have a huge effect on how your labor progresses.  A large part of a doula's job is to help a woman feel safe and comfortable.  It does not mean that there will not be any pain.  But if the energy in the room is good, the woman feels that her wishes are being respected and that she is coping well with the contractions, it makes her feel more relaxed and helps her progress in her labor.  I feel that every women should be allowed to have the birth she wants!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Maternity & Newborn Photography 101 (Guest Blogger: Jenn Galloway)

We are proud to begin bringing you the voices of our colleagues working with families in Medicine Hat and area.  We will be showcasing guest bloggers on a monthly basis.  Today's topic is maternity and newborn photography.  Enjoy! 
Hi, everyone! I'm Jenn from A Day In The Life Photography. I am a maternity and newborn photographer located in downtown Medicine Hat.  I just want to quickly say thank you to Sherel and Michelle for teaming up with me to "guest blog".
I think that one of the most frequently asked questions that I get from moms, and soon to be moms is... When is the best time to have professional maternity and newborn photos taken?
I always tell my moms that the best time to come in for maternity photos is around 7.5-8 months. This really does vary from woman to woman though, with twins, you'll want to have photos taken earlier for sure, just in case those babies decide to come early, or in case there is bed-rest involved later on. You want to have a nice round belly, but before the babies foot gets permanently lodged in your ribs. I will try my best to take it easy on you, but you don't want to be too uncomfortable to move.
For newborns, the sooner you get in for photos, the better. If you want the curled up sweet, sleepy photos that you see, the ideal time to come is within the first 8 days. I know that no one is getting any sleep, and the last thing you want to do is comb your hair and put on something clean, but they are this tiny and cozy and sleepy for such a short amount of time, only days. You need to capture these moments, so that you can remember them this way, this size, forever.

You can check out my website here and visit me on Facebook here.
And because, let's face it, reading is always better when there are pictures, here are a couple of some recent clients - one of which was Sherel's client a couple of months ago.

What should I talk about next time? Send Sherel and Michelle some questions, or I'll have to make up my own, and you never know WHAT I'll come up with! ;)
Until next time!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Breastfeeding is Our Business - Make it Yours, Too!

Mothers often begin preparing to breastfeed before they are even pregnant.  They do their research, read books, purchase nursing bras, plan a birth without interventions and look to their partners for support.  Did you know that even if you don't currently breastfeed, you can have an influence on those who do?  Providing a supportive, non-judgmental and comfortable environment for nursing mothers has a positive impact on women continuing to breastfeed.  Knowing that their community is behind them and that they don't have to try to be "covert" or stay hidden gives nursing mothers confidence.  Breastfeeding is nature's design for optimal nutrition and provides health benefits for babies and their mothers.  Make breastfeeding your business and support a healthier future for your community!

Friday, May 20, 2011


the latest addition to our doula family - Kaitlin Young  

You may remember her from her blog entry this past February and her own beautifully honest blog Milkin' Mama. She is such a delightful, inspired mama whose pursuit of education will be a blessing to families wanting a pure and peaceful birth.  Her journey began with the pregnancy and birth of her own little miracle, son Zephran, in September 2010.  Nursing school has given her insight into the hospital setting and caring for families.  Kaitlin received her training through DONA International and is excited to begin serving parents-to-be and gain her certification.  We are thrilled to welcome her to our team!

Kaitlin can be contacted at BirthingNatural@gmail.com or (403) 581-1825.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's the "Pits"

We just had to share this informative blog entry with you from Nurturing Hearts Birth Services in Mesa, Arizona.  Pitocin has become a standard in many hospitals and information is not always readily shared with expectant families.  Here is what you need to know:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post Coming Soon!

We are thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming Jenn Galloway, from A Day in the Life Photography, to share with you some information and tips about maternity and baby photography.  Jenn has enjoyed photographing little ones since the birth of her son five years ago.  She is active in the photography community in Medicine Hat and also networks with other mom-entepreneurs.  Check back soon to read her first post!  In the meantime, you can also find Jenn on Facebook.