Don’t be a martyr, you’re a mother now!

It’s really hard, after a lifetime of pretending everything’s fine when it’s really not fine, to stand up and advocate for yourself. I understand that. Women are socialized from birth to be polite and nice and do as we’re told. I’m trying hard to raise my daughter to question this. I want my kid to ask questions, get the information she needs and do what she believes to be right without concerning herself with being nice, whatever that means. When we’re pregnant there’s a lot going on in our bodies that feels different and new and even strange, and you will have things come up that you need help understanding. If you feel like you’re bothering your obstetrician or midwife with your endless questions and concerns, then perhaps you have the wrong caregiver. Helping you understand what’s going on in your body and mind is their job. As your doula I can help answer some of your questions and concerns, but I am not a medical professional and I want you to go over my head and feel comfortable doing so – your doula, your doctor (or midwife) and your partner should work as a team and not get in each other’s way. Pregnancy is not an illness and while you may feel uncomfortable you shouldn’t be suffering. If you are in pain, if you feel sick all the time, if you spike a fever these are potentially signs of preterm labour and you must contact your caregiver right away.

Check my handy postcard size hand out for the warning signs that you should not ignore.

3rd Trimester Discomforts

Hire a doula to help you plan your pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery!

 

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This Doula’s on fire!

Sorry Folks I’m so friggin’ busy I haven’t had any time to blog. I’ve just come back from a doula collective meeting and I’m all fired up so let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to.

WORKchildcare-at-yoga-mamas-elaine

Yes, I’ve been leaving the house for paid employment, not just dreaming about it. I’m using my postpartum doula skills at Toronto Yoga Mamas where I will cuddle your baby so you can take care of you. Take a yoga class, get a massage, see a chiropractor or pelvic floor physiotherapist secure in the knowledge that your baby is in good hands. I will only bother you if your sweet babe is completely inconsolable – and I have a lot of baby whispering tricks up my sleeves. Also a high pain threshold when it comes to listening to babies crying. After all, crying is how baby communicates. If they are just saying “I miss Mommy” then they’re okay. Enjoy your shivasana. Ohm.

SCHOOL

This time last year I signed up to do my prenatal educator training at Douglas College. I’m about half way through the program and would be further if it wasn’t for WORK and FAMILY sucking up my time. I’m really looking forward to travelling to Coquitlam in the spring to do my teaching intensive. I didn’t realize that I would have to go to BC when I signed up to do the program online but I can’t say I’m feeling sad about it. Springtime in Vancouver? Yes please.

FAMILY

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Working as a postpartum doula allows me to be home for my children when they get home from school, most of the time. My children are getting very big and don’t need me so much anymore which allows me to spend time helping families with babies who are small and needy.  I’ve been working hard with my husband building his business and getting him ready to fly – now it’s my turn.

 

 

 

 

THE FUTURE

I’m so happy to announce that I’ve joined the newly born Doula Collective at Mums and Tums Canada. Mums and Tums are distributors of the Ontario Baby Box, modeled on the Finnish Baby Box that has been proven to lower infant death rates.  Finnish families have been putting their newborn babies to sleep in free cardboard sleeping boxes for 75 years and they boast one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. You can sign up for a baby box of your own here, and pick it up at Mums and Tums distribution centre. Oh, and if you are not in Ontario check out Baby Box University and see if they have a free program in your community. Thanks to the popularity of the Baby Box program Mums and Tums founder Heather Dolimont has big plans for the future of her company and I am thrilled to be in on the ground floor. Watch this space for more information!

This Doula’s on fire!

Sorry Folks I’m so friggin’ busy I haven’t had any time to blog. I’ve just come back from a doula collective meeting and I’m all fired up so let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to.

WORKchildcare-at-yoga-mamas-elaine

Yes, I’ve been leaving the house for paid employment, not just dreaming about it. I’m using my postpartum doula skills at Toronto Yoga Mamas where I will cuddle your baby so you can take care of you. Take a yoga class, get a massage, see a chiropractor or pelvic floor physiotherapist secure in the knowledge that your baby is in good hands. I will only bother you if your sweet babe is completely inconsolable – and I have a lot of baby whispering tricks up my sleeves. Also a high pain threshold when it comes to listening to babies crying. After all, crying is how baby communicates. If they are just saying “I miss Mommy” then they’re okay. Enjoy your shivasana. Ohm.

SCHOOL

This time last year I signed up to do my prenatal educator training at Douglas College. I’m about half way through the program and would be further if it wasn’t for WORK and FAMILY sucking up my time. I’m really looking forward to travelling to Coquitlam in the spring to do my teaching intensive. I didn’t realize that I would have to go to BC when I signed up to do the program online but I can’t say I’m feeling sad about it. Springtime in Vancouver? Yes please.

FAMILY

20170205_130752.jpg

 

 

Working as a postpartum doula allows me to be home for my children when they get home from school, most of the time. My children are getting very big and don’t need me so much anymore which allows me to spend time helping families with babies who are small and needy.  I’ve been working hard with my husband building his business and getting him ready to fly – now it’s my turn.

 

 

 

 

THE FUTURE

I’m so happy to announce that I’ve joined the newly born Doula Collective at Mums and Tums Canada. Mums and Tums are distributors of the Ontario Baby Box, modeled on the Finnish Baby Box that has been proven to lower infant death rates.  Finnish families have been putting their newborn babies to sleep in free cardboard sleeping boxes for 75 years and they boast one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. You can sign up for a baby box of your own here, and pick it up at Mums and Tums distribution centre. Oh, and if you are not in Ontario check out Baby Box University and see if they have a free program in your community. Thanks to the popularity of the Baby Box program Mums and Tums founder Heather Dolimont has big plans for the future of her company and I am thrilled to be in on the ground floor. Watch this space for more information!

Hello from the other side…

Hello from the other side.

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I wasn’t going to do a post on Miscarriage awareness month. I have not experienced infant loss first hand;  I’ve never had the horrible experience of losing a wanted pregnancy. I can only imagine the pain people go through.

But I have been thinking about Rainbow Babies.

For those who don’t know, a Rainbow baby is a child born after a child is lost. I guess it is the ‘pot of gold’ at the end of the rainbow. It is the beautiful thing that only comes with the rain. I have mixed feelings about this analogy, because I am a Rainbow Baby.

My mother has said she was pregnant for a year before I was born. She was. She miscarried my older sibling and conceived again so quickly she didn’t really have time to mourn. So what that means is if that pregnancy had not failed, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.

Chew on that.

I cannot be happy that my mother went through the unpleasant experience of miscarrying a much wanted baby. But I wouldn’t be here now if she had not. And, you know, I like it here.

I have read a lot of posts about lost babies over the past few days, some of them are pretty emotionally devastating.  I am so lucky to have never lost a child. But I’m also lucky that my mother did.

Mixed feelings.

I don’t know if my parents still think about that child that was never born. We’re English; we don’t talk about such things. But I have to be grateful that my sibling didn’t make it, because if they had I would not have.

So, I want to take a moment now to acknowledge that life that was not lived, and say thank you to my lost sibling.

I remember you.img_1321

Another pair of hands

another pair of hands

Feeling overwhelmed? Not enough hours in the day?

We hear you!

There’s so much to get done in your baby’s first few weeks and months and with family and friends far away or unavailable it all falls on you, at the very time you are feeling your most emotional, vulnerable and weepy. Sometimes you need a little help so that you can take care of yourself, too!

Baby Ready can help you. We can accompany you to your Dentist or Doctor’s appointment and entertain your baby or toddler in the waiting room so you can focus. We can come with you to your massage or hair dresser or pedicure so you can actually relax and not worry about your baby for an hour or two. Job interview? Audition? Take one of our experienced baby whisperers with you to keep your nursing baby calm so you can concentrate on what you need to do, secure that your baby won’t make you look unprofessional at just the wrong moment.

Last minute, emergency, occasional childcare by Baby Ready.

We are postpartum doulas, experienced Nannies and parents of little ones who have been where you are and know how you feel.

$22/hr +GST, minimum 2 hour call.

info@baby-ready.ca

The Uncomfortable Feminist

 

I am a birth worker,

arguably the most woman-centric job on the planet. I work with women at their most vulnerable, most powerful, most female. Giving life is something only we can do. It is beyond awesome. And yet, women in childbirth are subjected to disrespect, abuse, and downright misogyny on a daily basis. I am confused by the number of hospital staff I have encountered on the maternity floor who do not seem to like working with women. Perhaps a career move should be considered?

As a doula it is my job to support my client. It is not my job to speak for my client, and sometimes I have to sit and listen and hold my tongue while others try to knock my client down. As a doula I have no power, but I try to make my client feel powerful, powerful enough to stand their ground and say “I’m doing this my way” when faced with pressure from those who feel the need to run the show. Sometimes I feel very uncomfortable.

As a doula I am a witness to a lot of underhanded stuff.

As a feminist I want to scream. “Don’t talk to her that way!” “She is an adult not a child!” “You are her doctor not her boss!” I want to say, “He’s not right.” “He doesn’t have the right” “She’s impatient; her agenda is not the same as yours.” I want to say “a healthy baby is not the only important thing. “  I will be misunderstood. A healthy baby is important -but what about a happy and healthy mother? What about an empowering birth experience?

What about respecting the woman as well as the child?

I am a birth worker, and a feminist.  But I rely on my husband’s income to support our family. If giving birth is not respected, how can I expect birth work to be respected either? I believe in the work I do, but my belief doesn’t put much food on our table.  I am told to charge what I’m worth, but if the birth experience is not respected, the worth of a doula is not clear.

I am a doula and a feminist.

I love my work. I do it because I believe choice in childbirth is a feminist issue. I never wanted to be political, but I will fight for this. We were all born. How can we not respect the one thing that we all have in common?

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To Test or not to Test

During a rare quiet moment the other day I stumbled upon this article in the Toronto Star: ‘Over-testing can have a serious downside’. Written by Dr Sacha Bhatia, it’s a quick sum up of a phenomenon we are more than familiar with in the maternity care industry: that more tests and procedures do not equate to better outcomes. His article led me to the website for Choosing Wisely Canada, a new campaign by the CMA and the University of Toronto.  They are encouraging Canadian patients to think for themselves and ask their doctor 4 simple questions:

  1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?

  2. What are the downsides?

  3. Are there simpler, safer options?

  4. What happens if I do nothing?

This is exactly what I encourage my clients to do – use their brain and ask intelligent questions. Think of a simple procedure like the Nuchal Translucency ultrasound most women have around 12 weeks and ask the 4 simple questions.

  1. Do you really need this procedure? This is a test that screens for Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. For most women this is the first chance to have a look at their baby and they jump at the chance to do so. But do you really need this procedure? Will you abort a baby with Down Syndrome? If the answer is no then this is not a necessary procedure for you.

 

  1. What are the downsides? If the test indicates abnormalities, you will undoubtedly feel anxious and worried about your baby. The test generally used to confirm any issues is the amniocentesis which is a much more invasive and painful procedure with higher potential risks. So if you agree to the non-invasive NT test, you may find yourself in a position where you are forced to choose to undergo an amniocentesis to alleviate the stress brought on by the first test.

 

  1. Are there simpler, safer options? This test is already pretty safe and simple.

 

  1. What happens if you do nothing? If your baby is fine, then he will continue to be fine. If your baby has chromosomal abnormalities, he will continue to have chromosomal abnormalities.  So this test only affects your peace of mind. It’s up to you to decide if knowledge is power or if you would prefer to stay ignorant.

 

 

So you can see the Choosing Wisely Questions are pretty easy to apply to most maternity tests and procedures.  Take Continuous External Fetal Monitoring in labour:

  1. Do I really need this procedure? This monitors your baby’s heart rate continuously during labour. The research shows that continuous fetal monitoring holds no benefits over intermittent fetal monitoring, and in fact often creates problems. So no, you don’t really need this procedure.

 

  1. What are the downsides? The downside for you is that EFM limits your mobility and forces you to stay in bed or at least in your hospital room. If your hospital has portable wireless units you will have a little more mobility but you will still be expected to stay in range. Being tied down during labour is not ideal. It also steals your thunder, meaning that your caregivers will concentrate on what the monitor is telling them and ignore you.  Sometimes the information on the monitor will indicate fetal distress when there is none. Obstetricians err on the side of extreme caution, so any momentary irregularity in the tracing will cause them alarm.  The research shows that CFM does not actually catch things that IFM does not –but it does appear to cause distress in healthy obstetricians.

 

 

  1. Are there simpler, safer options? Yes, the simpler, safer option is intermittent monitoring with the EFM or even a Doppler.

 

  1. What happens if you do nothing? If your baby is in distress then no one will know. In this case occasional monitoring is the better choice over continuous monitoring or no monitoring.

 

So it’s wonderful that the CMA are on board with this initiative to stop overuse of unnecessary testing in medical care, but what is not wonderful is that

The Women’s Health section does not have a single word about maternity care.

Not a one.

So what’s up with that?

Now, Choosing Wisely had their inaugural meeting at the end of March, 2016, so I guess I should be a little kinder and give them a bit more time, but in the mean time if you feel like I do that there should be a large section on Obstetrics on their website, please visit their site and give them feedback! And please let me know what you said in the comments section below.