But, WHY not? Dietary Restrictions in Pregnancy. Part Two: Foods That May Pose Developmental Risks for Babies.

photo credit: jessica_wimer via photopin cc

photo credit: jessica_wimer via photopin cc

Finally! Here I am, ready with the long-awaited part two of my post on dietary restrictions in pregnancy. As discussed last time, it can be frustrating to face so many “don’ts” when pregnant, especially when that list doesn’t give any actual indication of what the rationales behind those warnings are. In this series, I’m exploring different foods and beverages that are typically not recommended for pregnant women including the reasons they are considered unsafe or unwise to consume. Part one was concerned with contamination and the increased risks associated with food poisoning in pregnancy. Today, in part two, I’ll be talking about food and drink items that are associated with developmental problems in babies.

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Exercise in Pregnancy Part Two: Body Trust

Last month I posted about the many physiological benefits for moms and babies that can be reaped by exercising during pregnancy. As promised, this post is a (somewhat delayed!) follow-up to that one, in which I’ll be exploring the concept of ‘body trust’. What does that mean? How does exercise help us get it? And why does it matter? Read on to learn more! Continue reading

Exercise in Pregnancy Part One: It Does Your (and Your Baby’s) Body Good!

As a fun addition to my doula and childbirth education work, I have recently been training to become a pregnancy fitness educator. Pretty soon I’m going to start offering classes for moms who want to stay fit and limber during their pregnancies, and who want a little guidance, as well as a group to join, in order to do it. All of the reading that I’ve been doing as part of this training has made one thing abundantly clear – exercise during pregnancy is (for the vast majority of women) a good thing. Today I’ll be talking about the physical benefits of exercise for mom and baby (mom may be doing the exercise, but everybody wins!) and then in part two of this post I’ll delve into the less well-known, but equally important concept of body trust and why it matters for pregnancy, birth and the postpartum. Continue reading

Late Summer Weekend Prenatal Classes

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I am offering another weekend prenatal course in Toronto in August. This is a two-day intensive course designed to help you feel confident, calm and prepared as you approach your birth and new parenthood. It will also provide your partner with skills and knowledge that will aid them in supporting you during labour and birth, as well as postpartum.

Join me on Saturday, August 17th and Sunday, August 18th, 2013 from 10am to 5pm at the Centre for Social Innovation (Annex – 720 Bathurst St.).

To register, email register@labourdoula.com with the following information:

  • your name and your partner’s name (if applicable)
  • your phone number and email address
  • your expected delivery date and expected place of birth

This course is ideal for those expecting a baby between September and November. The course is $240 per couple. Discounts are available for doula clients.

Topics for the course will include (but are not limited to):

  • natural pain management and coping strategies for labour
  • the physiology of labour and birth
  • positions for labour and birth
  • risks and benefits of common interventions (including pain medications)
  • self-advocacy/informed decision-making skills
  • breastfeeding
  • postpartum care
  • newborn care and characteristics

Wondering why you should take an independent class instead of one offered by your local hospital? 9 great reasons here.

photo credit: peasap via photopin cc

June Weekend Prenatal Class

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There are spaces available for my June Weekend Prenatal Class at the Centre for Social Innovation. This is a two-day intensive course designed to help you feel confident, calm and prepared as you approach your birth and new parenthood. It will also provide your partner with skills and knowledge that will aid them in supporting you during labour and birth, as well as postpartum.

Classes will be held Saturday June 15th and Sunday June 16th, 2013 from 10am-5pm, at CSI Annex (720 Bathurst St.). This series is ideal for those expecting to give birth between late June and August.

To register, send an email to register@labourdoula.com with your name, your partner’s name (if applicable) & email address, your estimated delivery date and your phone number. The fee for the course is $240 per couple. Discounts are available for doula clients.

Topics for the course will include (but are not limited to):

-natural pain management and coping strategies for labour

-the physiology of labour and birth

-positions for labour and birth

-risks and benefits of common interventions (including pain medications)

-self-advocacy/informed decision-making skills

-breastfeeding

-postpartum care

-newborn care and characteristics

Wondering why you should take an independent class instead of one offered by your local hospital? 9 great reasons here.

photo credit: Steve took it via photopin cc

It’s MINE! Shared decision-making and evidence-based practice in childbirth

This is a brief, but interesting interview with Maureen Corry, MPH, Executive Director of Childbirth Connection on the subject of shared decision making.

Right off the bat, Corry mentions exactly what came to mind for me when I was confronted with the term “shared decision making”. She says,

…we’ve heard some concerns from women that shared decision making means giving up some control of decision making to the care provider – essentially a move away from informed consent and refusal. Because of the history of childbirth in the United States, and many troubling practices that still happen today, childbearing women are justified in being concerned about their rights.

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Weekend Prenatal Classes!

Too busy to attend a six-week prenatal series? Then you’re in luck! Due to popular demand I am now offering weekend prenatal courses at CSI Annex (720 Bathurst St.). Email me now to register!

The first weekend course will be held Saturday March 16th and Sunday March 17th, 2013 from 10am to 5pm.

The course is $240 per couple.

Topics will include (but are not limited to):

-pain management and coping strategies for labour

-the physiology of labour and birth

-positioning for labour and birth

-risks and benefits of common interventions

-breastfeeding

-newborn care, characteristics and abilities

-parenting options

Education is the key to having a birth experience in which you feel confident, calm and in control.

Don’t Believe the Hype

This article from The Wall Street Journal provides some great historical information that connects meaningfully with my previous post (Home)Birth is Safe.

The author, Nathaniel Johnson notes that,

In 1923, Mary Breckinridge started the Frontier Nursing Service in rural Appalachia….Within a decade, the astonishing impact of that care was apparent. The women the Frontier Nursing Service cared for, who were desperately poor and usually gave birth at home, were 10 times less likely to die in childbirth than the average American at the time. The nation as a whole wouldn’t catch up until the 1950s, after the widespread acceptance of antiseptic and the discovery of antibiotics.

Given that antiseptic practices and the use of antibiotics are available and in use in midwife-attended home births today, it makes sense that, as Sheila Kitzinger has argued, it is not a high level of medicalization that makes birth safer – it is overall health: access to good pre-conception, prenatal and postpartum healthcare, good quality nutrition, access to clean water and access to skilled birth attendants. This has been borne out the world over, regardless of whether women are typically birthing at home or in hospitals. Access to medical interventions for the few women who actually need them is important, which is why midwives are thoroughly trained to detect possible complications before they become problematic and why they only support home births for women who are not at risk. Obstetricians are trained to deal with problems when they arise, but midwives are far more likely to be able to prevent them in the first place. Continue reading

How to pay for your doula

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A few years ago I began the process of cleaning up my diet and lifestyle. I started buying organic produce and sustainably caught fish, I started making my own deodorant, lip balm and cleaning products and I started thinking more carefully about everything I brought into my home and put into or on my body. Some things truly saved me money – making my deo and window cleaner, for example. Others, cost me more. Buying organic food was the biggest adjustment in that category for sure. Like many people, I thought, “ugh, why are organic veggies so expensive?” but then I learned a really important fact that changed the way I look at my food and the way it fits into my budget. In the 1950s, the average North American spent about 25% of their household budget on food. Other than housing, it was the single biggest expense for most people. Now contrast that with today, when most people spend only about 10% of their household budget on food and far, far more on toys, gadgets, clothing and other material goods. What that boils down to is this: organic food costs what food costs. Non-organic food is cheaper than food, it has been made cheap by factory farming, genetic modification and wide use of pesticides. As with most things, there are compromises that must be made for going the cheap route (eating pesticides that can cause cancer, GMO products that have not been thoroughly tested in terms of their impacts on health or environment, etc.). In other words, organic veggies aren’t too expensive, non-organic veggies are too cheap. This is an issue of priorities. If you think about the things that are most important to you and your family, does eating good, clean food come before or after electronics, the latest fashion or entertainment? If you make food and overall health a priority in your budget, suddenly the organic produce doesn’t seem that expensive after all.

Ok, ok, so eating well is a question of priorities, so what? What does that have to do with paying for a doula who wants $1000, $1200 or $1500 of your hard-earned cash to do her job helping you prepare for and supporting you through childbirth? Continue reading

You Can’t Beat Mother Nature

I’m always excited to read about good hard science that reveals more about the awesome power of women’s and babies’ bodies. Check out this article about the hundreds of different bacterial microorganisms that have been identified in breast milk through DNA sequencing.

In addition to the further confirmation that a mother’s milk can’t be duplicated in its richness and complexity, this article also lends support for minimizing interventions in labour where possible:

The type of labour also affects the microbiome within the breast milk: that of mothers who underwent a planned caesarean is different and not as rich in microorganisms as that of mothers who had a vaginal birth. However, when the caesarean is unplanned (intrapartum), milk composition is very similar to that of mothers who have a vaginal birth.

These results suggest that the hormonal state of the mother at the time of labour also plays a role: “The lack of signals of physiological stress, as well as hormonal signals specific to labour, could influence the microbial composition and diversity of breast milk,” state the authors.

Our bodies truly are amazing.