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.

Prenatal Classes at CSI Annex – Spaces Left!

I still have room left in the prenatal series beginning on Tuesday, January 8th at CSI Annex (720 Bathurst St.). This is a six-week course, running from 6:30-9pm Tuesday evenings.

Register now! heather@socialinnovation.ca

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

New testimonial!

I’m excited to post another lovely testimonial from a recent client!

I was initially hesitant to hire Heather due to her age and perceived lack of experience. However, after our first meeting with her and our subsequent experiences we couldn’t be happier with her expansive knowledge on not only birth coaching but everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy, labour, birth and post partum (we had her not only for our doula but also our prenatal class teacher). The enthusiasm she has for what she does is apparent in her thirst for knowledge and connection to the community. 

This being my first child I didn’t know what to expect from a doula. How could a relative stranger help me when my very own husband was unable to calm me down? As it turned out, Heather’s presence was invaluable; her cool head, confidence and pure enjoyment of the process put me in the best possible head space to have an unforgettable positive birth experience. Where I was tense and uncertain, Heather was calm. Where my husband was frazzled and scared, Heather was reassuring. She lead our fragile selves delicately and confidently through the most important and crazy moment of our lives, and for that I’m forever thankful! 

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.

Big News!

I am very pleased and excited to announce that, just today, I was offered a job as a prenatal instructor at Women’s College Hospital here in Toronto! I’ll be teaching an evening class, weekly, likely starting in September.

I’m really psyched about this opportunity. I’m also thrilled that WCH is letting me use my own curriculum, which means that women accessing prenatal education through the hospital will receive the same quality, evidence-based information that I provide to my students when I teach as an independent CBE. Not having to teach to the “typical experience” was really important to me, as I firmly believe that women are capable of and entitled to better than the standard base level of care that most women are receiving today. I am also really jazzed, because unlike every other hospital in Toronto, WCH opens their classes up to all women, not just those who are patients at their own hospital. In other words, if your OB or midwife is at St. Joe’s or Mt. Sinai or Scarborough General or any other hospital in the city, you can still take childbirth education classes at WCH!

I’ll post more once I have more info on the date that my first WCH series will be starting and other relevant stuff. Can’t wait!

Birth at the Movies!

I have been absolutely terrible about posting lately – things have been super busy with lots of births, teaching, speaking engagements, event planning and Community Animation at the Centre for Social Innovation. All good things, but I miss having more time to write and share with all of you out there. Hopefully I will have more time soon!

In the meantime…I’m feeling pretty excited about the number of films coming out on the subject of birth these days. I think that the idea of birth as an opportunity for empowerment and birthing rights as a human rights issue are really starting to edge towards the mainstream (have you told someone about doulas today?!) and that these films are a sign of that movement. I thought I’d link to some trailers and things for those of you out there interested in checking out the latest and greatest in birth cinema. Continue reading

What is a ‘good’ birth?

I am one of the very lucky people in Toronto who gets to work out of the Centre for Social Innovation. This shared workspace is teeming with brilliant, engaged minds belonging to individuals who all want to make the world a better place. Every day I am surrounded by people working in social justice, the environment, food politics, public spaces and other important fields. With such a committed group of people come a lot of shared values and the interest that is fostered between members here is really motivating; everyone truly seems to care about each others’ projects, even when they seem to have very little in common with one’s own. As the only (I think!) doula in the space, people know when they see me packing up and rushing out the door mid-day, or when they don’t see me at all for a couple of days, that I am more than likely supporting a woman in labour. Upon my return I am often warmly greeted with questions like, “Were you at a birth?”, “Did somebody have a baby?”, and sometimes the hardest to answer, “Was it good?”. Continue reading

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