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.

calming goat

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.

 

 

Gift the gift of a doula!

Gift of doula

Some partners are concerned that having a doula will mean they will have no role in their baby’s birth. This is not true! A doula can help give you the confidence to be a fantastic supportive birth partner. Your doula can reassure you that your partner’s labour is progressing normally and help keep you both calm if it is not. Your doula can teach you comfort techniques that will your partner will come to depend on during her labour. You will be as involved as you want to be for the entire labour and delivery. And if you need to step out, you can feel confident that your partner is being taken care of in your absence. Give the gift of doula support – and get it for yourself too.

 

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!

 

click here to contact us!

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!