Pregnant in a Pandemic? Don’t panic, prepare.

It’s World Doula week and worldwide Doulas are being banned from hospital labour and delivery wards. In some places partners are not allowed in either. Covid-19 is ravaging the planet, and babies are coming into this madness whether we like it or not. Prenatal education is designed to prepare people for the unknowns of childbirth and to help alleviate common fears.  In this current situation, our common fear is the unknown of Covid-19.

I’m getting my information about the effects of this virus on pregnancy and newborns from Evidence Based Birth. Rebecca Dekker and her team are posting the latest information about Covid-19 as it arrives, and it is arriving daily.  What we do know is reassuring – Covid-19 has not been found to cross the placenta and it is not present in breast milk or amniotic fluid. It is too soon to tell if Covid-19 causes birth defects or is responsible for miscarriages. The World Health Organization is not recommending routine separation of Covid-19 infected mothers’ and their newborns, as antibodies against Covid-19 are present in breast milk and it is vital that the baby receives them.

Pregnant women do not seem to be at higher risk than others to contract Covid-19 and the recommendations to avoid it are the same – wash your hands and all surfaces that you and others may have frequent contact with (door handles, light switches, stair banisters, door bells) and stay at home as much as possible. Many women are choosing to reach out to midwives and home birth physicians and changing their birth plan so that they can avoid hospitals, and this is a great option for many people. But if you can’t avoid the hospital, how can you prepare for a birth experience unlike any you have previously imagined?

Step 1) Sign up for Zoom or Skype. If you can’t have your birth team physically with you in the hospital, you can at least have them virtually. Make sure your laptop or tablet is ready to go and the charger is in your hospital bag. Zoom lets you have up to 100 people! This is perhaps too many.  You do not have to have your video on, and you can mute them.

Step 2) Prepare the most awesome music play list imaginable. Shakespeare said “if music be the food of love, play on.” Oxytocin is the hormone of love, and it’s also the hormone that drives your labour. Unfortunely it’s inhibited by stress. When labouring people feel unsafe, the wrong hormones are produced and they put the brakes on oxytocin production. Keep that oxytocin flowing by keeping your eyes closed and your tunes playing.

Step 3) Practice daily self hypnosis. Listening to guided relaxations or visualizations can help pregnant people learn how to relax, and once you’ve mastered the art of deep relaxation at home, it can be easier to get into a deep state of relaxation in the hospital. If your birthing suite has a bath tub available, play your relaxation mp3 and relax in the tub at the same time.

Step 4) Pump up your yoga balls.  Many hospitals provide yoga balls for their birthing clients, but maybe you want to bring yours from home. Get a round one for bouncing on and a peanut ball for helping you labour in bed. Make sure you get the right size, you can find some guidance here.  Peanut balls help your baby progress if you are confined to bed and cannot get into productive, upright birthing positions.

Step 5) Befriend and love your nurse. She continues to show up for work in a world gone mad. She is a superhero, and she has your back.  Describe to her what you had hoped for your birth so that you can say goodbye to it and move forward. If you cannot see her face properly through her PPE, imagine that she is your best friend, your mother or your doula.

Step 5) Be unafraid. Generations of women have birthed their babies without their partner present. You can do this. You are a strong, resilient woman. You can walk into the fire alone and come out the Mother of Dragons. Yours will be the birth story told for years to come. You will survive this and grow stronger. You are surrounded by the love and support of all the generations who came before you. Close your eyes and let them guide you through.

 

Politics and Making Nice

So it was my birthday yesterday. I am 48, and I took myself out to buy new boots. I told the clerk they were my birthday present to me, he asked my age and complimented me by saying I didn’t look 48. I’m thinking, ‘but this is what 48 looks like.’ Today I strapped on my new boots, grabbed my home made sign and took my kids to a rally. This is what 48 looks like. I’m making my voice heard . I’m writing letters. I’m marching in protest. I’m fed up with making nice when no one else seems to be. I’m disillusioned by politicians and I feel it in the air, we all are.

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My new boots are ass kickin’ boots. Watch out.

 

17 years!

My very first client was a dear friend, so every year around this time I have a reminder of my first birth when she posts photographs of her daughter’s birthday celebrations. This year she drove off in their car. Today is my son’s birthday, marking 7 years since I was last pregnant. I want to thank all the families who have invited me into their lives.  I feel blessed to have been part of your family’s birth story.

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To celebrate these milestones I’m making some changes in my pricing, something I haven’t done in several years.

My best deal remains the Best Birth package, for those who just want support during labour.  This is a good choice for parents who have family close by to help in the postpartum days, or for people who have taken childbirth ed classes and are feeling pretty confident about their birth choices, or for families who are having their second child.

Package includes 1 prenatal planning session, labour and 2 hours after birth, newly born photography and 1 postnatal visit in the first week. Also includes unlimited texts and emails until 17 weeks.  $870 +HST

The Ultimate Birth Support Package is the Birth and Beyond package, for those who want education as well as labour support. Ideal for busy couples who can’t make it to prenatal class, or for those who are feeling anxious and need more personalized support. This is a good choice for couples who don’t have extended family nearby to help them in the first few weeks.  If your family are coming immediately after the birth you can book your postnatal visits for the time after they go when you may be feeling vulnerable without them. It’s also helpful to book your doula for after your partner returns to work.

This package includes 2 prenatal planning visits, labour and 2 hours after birth, newly born photography and  4 postnatal visits. Also includes unlimited email and text questions for the first 17 weeks. $1177 + HST

If you feel you  have a handle on the labour and birth part but just want additional support when your baby comes home, the Best Start Package is for you. You can pre-book your doula ahead of time to support you when you need it.  This package is also a really good gift to give an expectant family at a baby shower. Booking in advance saves you $40.

17 hours of postpartum visits, minimum 3 hour calls.  First visit in the first week. Unlimited emails and texts for 17 weeks. $387 + HST
Postpartum hours can also be booked more casually. $25/hr + HST, minimum 3 hour call.

For a free consult please click here!

I will be your calming goat.

I just watched Ferdinand with my kids and I just love the character of Lupe. She’s so fun and enthusiastic and a bit vulgar and I’m not going lie, I enjoy that. Being a city girl I didn’t realize that it is common practice to put goats in with the bulls and horses to keep them calm, and I has the realization that goats are basically doulas for expensive livestock. Keeping their anxiety at bay makes it easier to manage the prize race horses or fighting bulls. In pregnancy women quite rightly feel anxious and nervous about the birth to come and hiring a doula can help you feel better about your ability to handle labour.

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The statistics are clear – just the presence of a calm, confident third party in the birthing room decreases the use of medical interventions and improves satisfaction with the birthing experience, even if all they do is sit there.  What I bring to the birthing room is my belief that birth works. I bring my confidence that you can do this, like so many women have done before. I bring experience of other births, my own included, so I feel comfortable with your movements and vocalizations and nothing phases me. My surety that everything is going to be alright is contagious and it helps relax you and your partner so that you can concentrate on birthing your baby calmly and with confidence.

I will be your calming goat. Keep labouring on and you will get your prize – a beautiful baby.

Click here to book a free consultation.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl

Nine years ago my daughter was born, and my life changed forever.

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This journey I’m on now started long before her birth, my obsession with babies started young and I was a seasoned baby whisperer long before I had my own baby, I was a doula before I got pregnant myself.  I was ready to be a mother, ready to experience birth. I was eager for it.

This time nine years ago I was on my hands and knees in a rented birthing tub in my spare room, soon to be the baby’s room. My mother poured water on my lower back with each contraction. My midwives watched from the hallway. My mother wore the apron she usually wore for doing the washing up.  I remember my cat curled up on the stairs, not wanting to get too close to the action but not wanting to leave either. I remember my friend arriving, rather late in the action, and calling to her that she should come up. She was wearing white, perhaps not the best choice when called to a birth but I think it worked out for her and I’m so glad she came.

When you are in labour time works differently. I was in labour for 17 hours, birthing in the late afternoon at 4:36pm. I feel like I was in the tub for most of that time, the tub was magical, but my midwives notes say differently. I thought I pushed for maybe an hour, but apparently I pushed for nearly 4! I remember pushing in the tub and not liking it, trying the birthing stool and then side lying in the bed. My baby was stubbornly OP, meaning she was facing front ways instead of back, and despite all the pushing she didn’t seem to want to come out. I remember the moment when she decided she would be born today after all, feeling her corkscrew from front to back and then it was all a flurry of movement and panting and “don’t push!” and then she cried and I felt so relieved it was over…. and then one of the midwives said “push for the shoulders!” and I thought, how could she not be born yet – I can hear her – and then she really was born and it really was over and I was so tired and she was so small.

And I was different. I was a Mother.

Thank you for making me a Mother, baby girl. I love you today and always.

 

If you want to know more about doula care, click here!

If you want to book a consultation, click here!

 

#Metoo, “is it affecting you negatively?” and the ick factor.

I started this blog to promote and discuss my doula business, but before all things prenatal took over my life I worked for many years as a dresser in the Theatre. My former colleagues are reeling over the revelations about Albert Schultz but a common thread is this: no one is surprised. I worked for Soulpepper many times during my career, and while I was not personally subjected to Mr. Schultz’ advances I have no doubt in my mind that the four women accusing him are telling the truth.  One of the first Soulpepper shows I worked on was directed by him, and I remember the discomfort I felt witnessing what I can only call his overtly sexually aggressive directing style. I was shocked by his liberal use of the ‘c-word’.  I heard all the gossip, and I felt the atmosphere in the air. When the revelations about Harvey Weinstein came out, and everyone was shocked/not shocked, like everyone else I thought ‘how could such stuff go on for so long, under everyone’s nose, without anyone doing anything?’ But I do understand. The atmosphere is set by the boss. And young people coming in think, “I guess this is how it’s supposed to be or he wouldn’t be the boss” and we suck it up to keep working.

I’d like to think if I’d walked in on something more obvious, more sinister than just ‘locker room talk’ , something that looked like assault – I’d like to think I would have said something, stepped up, helped out. But it’s more likely that I would have just backed out of the room and mumbled ‘sorry’ and felt awful. Trish, Kristin, Hannah and Diana – if I let you down, if I was there and chose not to see what was happening to you, I’m so sorry. I believe you. I’m here for you now.

I worked on a show once at another theatre, it was set in Africa and the costumes didn’t leave much to the imagination. The wing space was limited, and there was a point in the show when I and most of the cast -the handsome, fit, half naked cast- were squashed close together waiting for a scene change. Every single show I was subjected to some kind of suggestive comment, joke, grope, pat, lewd facial expression – you name it. When I mentioned it to my supervisor she asked ‘Is it affecting you negatively?” And the truth is, I was single, they were hot, it was kind of fun and no, it was not affecting me negatively. But it could have. It was inappropriate, and it should have been shut down.

Maybe the only thing that separates flirting from harassment is the ‘ick factor’.  And in retrospect it was totally icky.  I know what it’s like to brace yourself for what you know is coming, what you can’t avoid, and what shouldn’t be part of your job.

This shit has to stop.