A new home…

I am thrilled to announce that as of yesterday, my doula and childbirth education practice has found a new home in Cobourg. I couldn’t be happier to have joined the team at House of Wellness!

Beginning next week I’ll have office hours there on Tuesdays and Fridays and I will be teaching both prenatal education and pregnancy fitness classes there too. I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be working alongside some amazing health professionals, including Kristi Prince, ND; Marissa Wopereis, RMT; April Boyd, MSW, RSW and one of the midwife teams from New Life Midwives!

Keep your eye on my class schedules page and on the House of Wellness website for more info on upcoming courses.

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

Two Prenatal Series Options!

CSI_LogoWCH_Logo

I will have two new prenatal education series’ starting in the new year for those expecting a baby between late February and early April, 2013. Classes at the Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) will be on Tuesday evenings, from 6:30 – 9pm, beginning January 8th. Classes at Women’s College Hospital will be on Wednesday evenings, from 6:30 – 9pm, beginning January 9th. Both courses are six weeks in length. You can choose the series that best suits you in terms of day and location.

In taking the role of prenatal instructor at Women’s College, one of my top priorities was that I would be able to use my own curriculum and that there would be no imposition of a hospital agenda upon my prenatal course content. In other words, these two courses will be identical in content and will focus on preparing for birth as a normal, healthy experience that can be anticipated and experienced without fear and in a calm an relaxed manner. We will also cover topics related to the postpartum phase and parenting.

To register for the course at CSI Annex (Tuesdays), email me at heather@socialinnovation.ca. To register for the WCH course (Wednesdays), email janelle.noel@wchospital.ca or call 416-323-6494.

For more info on topics that will be covered, hit the jump! Continue reading

Prenatal Classes at Women’s College Hospital

Women's College Hospital - Health Care for Women, Revolutionized

As many of you are already aware, I was recently hired to teach prenatal education classes at Women’s College Hospital here in Toronto. I’m very excited about this opportunity as I hope that it will allow me to reach many more women and their partners, from more diverse walks of life. I firmly believe that education is a vital component of a healthy pregnancy, a positive and empowering birth experience and a strong start as new parents. Taking group classes over a six-week period gives you the opportunity to make new connections with other parents-to-be and affords you the time to absorb the wealth of information and ensure that your questions are addressed.

Another reason that I am excited about teaching at WCH is that they are permitting me to run the courses using my own curriculum – in other words, the content will be the same as  it would be in any other location where I teach. This means that my students will not have to worry about anyone else’s agenda interfering with the education they need to make informed choices. All of the content in my courses is firmly based in current, reliable evidence and respects a woman’s ability to know her body and to give birth with confidence and strength.

Unlike most other hospital prenatal classes, you do not need to be a patient at WCH. Regardless of where your midwife or doctor has privileges and whether you are planning a hospital birth or a home birth, you are welcome to register.

For more information or to register, please visit the WCH website. My courses are on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm (until 9). The first series begins November 14th.

Where Have I Been?

Wow, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted! Things have been busy, both personally and professionally and I’ve been neglecting my poor little blog.

In an attempt to remedy that, I thought I’d write a quick update post to let you all know what’s been going on in Doula-la Land…

  • I’m teaching a fabulous prenatal series at the Centre for Social Innovation. Yesterday was class 2 of 6 and I’m already having lots of fun with this group. I’ve got another series coming up in August that is only 1/3rd full so far, so if you’re expecting this fall, drop me a line for more info!
  • I’ve just formed a brand-spankin’ new partnership with Spadina Chiropractic Centre. Drs. Beth Croszman and Eva Chan are experienced chiropractors who are passionate about working with moms prenatally and postpartum, as well as with newborns. Hip pain? Back pain? Colic? These docs’ll sort you out in no time!
  • I’ve got several doula clients in the queue and am looking forward to being back on-call as of mid-June. If you’re looking for birth support for August, September, October and beyond, I still have some availability depending on your EDD. Remember, a preliminary meeting to discuss your options and individual needs carries no obligation!
  • I just recorded my first podcast yesterday! The brilliant and talented Desmond Cole is producing these for me and I’m super excited about the whole thing! I’ll be posting the finished podcast here once it’s ready for your listening pleasure. Hopefully this will become a regular feature on my site.
  • I’ve got a couple of community presentations coming up this month and next that I’ve been preparing for. I’ll be speaking to women in Regent Park (at the Centre for Social Innovation, Regent Park) on June 28th about the benefits of labour support and accessing doulas for reduced cost or for free. I will also be speaking at LAMP Community Health Centre in Etobicoke on July 9th (their July calendar hasn’t been posted yet, but keep your eye on their site for details). These talks will be specifically geared to women who want to learn more about what doulas do and why and who may be facing financial constraints in their ability to pay for labour support. I will also be touching on issues facing women who are uncomfortable with receiving care from male healthcare practitioners for religious or cultural reasons. If you’re interested in attending, drop me a line and I’ll send you more details, or you can get in touch with the powers that be at either of those two organizations for more info (see websites for contact info). Both talks will be free to attend and questions will be most welcome.
  • I’m also excited about a new cross-promotional partnership with Lila Yoga in the Annex. Prepare your body for childbirth and meet other mothers-to-be in a safe space at prenatal yoga, or bring your baby for postnatal yoga to build strength and enjoy freeing movement while connecting with other moms and babies!

That about sums it up for me…good thing too, because I’m officially out of time. Off I run! Hope you are all well and enjoying the Spring!

The Race to the Bottom?

Is anyone else tired of the controversy, the judging and the alleged “mommy wars” that are dominating media coverage of all things birth and baby related lately? Me too! Today I wanted to write about a subject that, while not without differing perspectives, is hopefully a topic that won’t make anyone feel judged or stressed out or guilty and that might help women to make healthy choices that fit their goals, their lifestyles and their parenting styles (whatever those may be).  Continue reading

Summer Prenatal Classes at the Centre for Social Innovation

If you are expecting a baby in later summer or fall of 2012 and are looking for prenatal education that works for you, you’re in luck! I am offering a full series of Prenatal Classes at the Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) from May 30th to July 4th, 2012. This is a six-week series, Wednesday evenings from 7:00-9:30 pm. This series is already half-full – I have, at present, room for three more couples (or singles with a support person).

Now, you may be asking yourself, “why would I pay for independent prenatal classes when I can just attend the free ones at the hospital?” This is a great question and there are a number of excellent reasons.

1. While the information provided by public health prenatal classes is useful, these courses often omit a large quantity of information that is considered “alternative” or that is not routine at that particular hospital. For example, while my prenatal classes cover labour coping techniques ranging from massage and acupressure, to breathing and vocalizations,to hydrotherapy and heat, to epidurals and other forms of pain medications, a hospital class will generally only cover the epidural with any depth. Even if you plan to have an epidural, there are still many useful options available to you that won’t be explored in a standard hospital course. This is just an example of how hospitals tend to teach to the norm, rather than to what is possible. It’s understandable given the number of people they have to teach, but not exactly desirable if you want your birth experience to be as satisfying and positive as possible.

2. Public health courses tend to be two-day “crash courses”. This may seem ideal – get it all done with in one weekend! – but a course that is drawn out over a number of weeks will give you the chance to really get to know other couples in the class (start building up that new-parent social network now, before the baby arrives) and also opens up the possibilities for asking the questions that matter to you, even if they don’t occur to you until four days after class. You’ll also retain more of the information, as you’ll only need to digest two hours of material at a time, with time to reflect in between each class. I also cap my attendance at twelve people so that there is time for more questions and to facilitate group interaction.

3. Many people report being frightened or discouraged by the content/approach of hospital prenatal classes. It is vital that you understand all of your options and what is happening to your/your partner’s body during labour and birth, but it is not helpful to hear horror stories or to be inundated with negative information. My classes provide clear and detailed, evidence-based information while focusing on the positives – helping you to feel informed and fully prepared, but also excited and optimistic, not afraid.

4. I tailor my courses to the participants in them. Upon registration I’ll send you a questionnaire that asks you about your pregnancy, your current level of knowledge, your interests and your hopes for the course. That way I can focus on areas of particular interest and reduce coverage of topics that people already understand.

Prenatal education is the first step to an empowering birth experience. Feeling like an active, informed decision-maker prior to and during your labour and childbirth is the key to birth satisfaction. Knowledge is essential for confidence and self-advocacy.

The cost for the entire series is $240.00 per couple. If you are interested in hiring a doula and would like to talk to me about the doula services I offer, I also provide package deals for doula clients who enrol in my prenatal classes.

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

-pain management and coping strategies for labour

-relationships and sexuality during pregnancy and in the postpartum period

-the physiology of labour and birth

-positioning for labour and birth

-risks and benefits of common interventions

-breastfeeding

-newborn care and characteristics

-nutrition and exercise

This course is ideal for people expecting to give birth between late July and September of 2012. Email me at heather@socialinnovation.ca to register or if you have any questions.