Happy International Women’s Day!

“The way a culture treats women in birth is a good indicator of how well women and their contributions to society are valued and honored.”
― Ina May GaskinBirth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta

The Motherbaby Dyad: Can maternity care ever truly be ‘baby-friendly’ without first being ‘mother-friendly’?

medium_3233086359

Most people now acknowledge that close physical proximity between mothers and babies during the first hours, days, weeks and even months of life is ideal for both. We know that being skin-to-skin encourages the baby’s oxygen levels to remain stable, that it regulates her temperature, that it encourages bonding between the two, that it stimulates milk production in the mother’s breasts and that babies held skin-to-skin for long periods tend to cry much less often (and have lower levels of stress hormones as a result). We know that breastfeeding on-demand helps both mother and baby adapt to life after birth; that room- and even bed-sharing helps everyone get more sleep, can prevent SIDS and make breastfeeding easier; that picking up a crying baby rather than letting them ‘cry it out’ keeps stress levels low and tends to lead to less anxiety later in life. Basically, the goal in all of these things is to allow the newborn to live outside of the womb in a manner that resembles life in the womb as closely as possible. Human babies are born essentially premature when compared to other mammals. While the calf can walk at birth and the baby chimp can cling to it’s mother’s back while she climbs, human babies are still essentially foetal. Why? Simply put, we walk upright, which affects the size and shape of our pelvic bones and we have big brains, which require large skulls to keep them in. In order for our human skulls to fit through our human pelvises (which they do very well, thank you very much – remember, as Ina May says, “Your body is not a lemon.”) we must be born early relative to other mammals. This works out ok, as long as we are prepared to care for what is essentially a foetus living outside of the womb. Doing so is even more demanding than pregnancy and requires support systems, maternity leaves, lots of encouragement and the ability to pick oneself up again time and time again (i.e. self-compassion). I have written before about the importance of community and social support systems for new parents but today I am thinking about the process of labour and birth and how they affect both mom and baby (or, motherbaby as many people are now referring to newborns and their moms to signify the importance of caring for them as a single entity). We accept that what happens after birth affects both mother and baby, but the evidence also shows that how a mother is treated prenatally and during labour and birth affects both individuals as well. So what does it mean for a hospital to be considered “mother-friendly” or “baby-friendly” and why are these two separate sets of considerations? Continue reading

Late Summer Weekend Prenatal Classes

medium_1209483624

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

REMINDER: BirthFire is this Friday!

 

 

BirthFire_banner

Don’t forget that BirthFire – originally scheduled for May 10th, but postponed due to rain – is this Friday, June 14th at 7pm in Dufferin Grove Park. We’ll be at the main campfire site (the one nearest the rink house).

Check out the website for more info. Remember, this is an event for anyone* with an interest in birth, not only those who have given birth themselves. All are welcome, regardless of whether you wish to share something or simply to listen and support others. I hope to see you there!

*We would like to remind expectant mothers that there may be upsetting stories and information shared at this event. No one will be turned away, but we do not encourage pregnant women to attend, out of concern that negative birth stories may adversely affect your mindset as you prepare for your own labour and birth.

BirthFire 2013

BirthFire_banner

After the tremendous success of last year’s BirthFire, we have decided to make it an annual event! I hope that you’ll join us on May 10th as we share our fears, past experiences, expectations and frustrations about birth. This event is a wonderful opportunity for anyone with an interest in birth and a desire to let go of something associated with it to do so in a supportive, respectful and safe environment.

Learn more about BirthFire 2013 here. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the event.

Related: Is Birth Fire For Me?

June Weekend Prenatal Class

small__3632440776

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