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.

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! 

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

Summer/Fall 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 August 15th to September 19th, 2012. This is a six-week series, Wednesday evenings from 6:30-9:00 pm. People have already started registering for this series – I have, at present, room for four more couples (or singles with a support person). If you are interested in taking my summer course (May 30th to July 4th), there are still a couple of spots available in that series too.

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. Continue reading

It’s OK To Admit You’re Uncomfortable

This is a great little post on the beauty and benefits of nursing toddlers. Following up on the controversial Time magazine cover, this article provides an excellent overview of why some moms choose to let their babies self-wean, and why we shouldn’t judge them for it. Breastfeeding duration is a personal choice and it’s nobody’s business but your own one way or the other. I hate to think that we may be letting fabricated or sensationalized notions of “mommy wars” get in the way of advocating for real support for real moms who are making individual choices based on what’s best for them, their babies and existing evidence. Ensuring that all women have access to the resources they need in order to make informed decisions and then making sure that they are supported in those decisions (whatever they may be) by their healthcare practitioners, their partners, their families, their employers and their peers is fundamental. You don’t have to approve of everyone else’s choices, it’s ok to admit it when something makes you uncomfortable. Everyone feels that way about something, sooner or later. Just because something makes you feel uncomfortable though, that doesn’t make it wrong, it just makes it wrong for you.

While writing this, I got a little stuck on how I wanted to wrap up. I popped over to another tab to read an interview with Jamie Lynn Grumet, the woman on theTime cover in question, and her final statement expresses exactly what I wanted to say, so I’m going to let her do it for me:

“There seems to be a war going on between conventional parenting and attachment parenting, and that’s what I want to avoid. I want everyone to be encouraging. We’re not on opposing teams. We all need to be encouraging to each other, and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job at that.”

Related: The Real Breastfeeding Scandal

BirthFire! This Friday!

Just a quick reminder that BirthFire is this Friday, May 11th at Dufferin Grove Park, from 7-9:30pm.

Whether you want to celebrate your birth experience, let go of negative or unwanted feelings about your birth or birth in general, or just support others, we hope you’ll be there!

This event is open to everyone with an interest in birth.

In honour of International Doula Month, sponsored by doulaC.A.R.E.

Good Motherhood Is Not A Myth

There was a recent article in the Globe and Mail in which Elisabeth Badinter, author of The Conflict was interviewed. Badinter argues that women are in a no-win situation when it comes to motherhood and feminist values. She believes that women in Western society today are pressured by the tyranny (she even uses the term “ayatollah” to describe lactivists) of an ‘all-natural agenda’ to embody a form of motherhood that resembles an old-fashioned ideal, rather than an image that is informed by the feminist discourse of the past few decades.

I don’t want to rehash each of Badinter’s arguments here, so I’d suggest you head on over and read the interview before you continue reading… I can wait 🙂

OK, now that you’ve read Badinter’s take, here’s mine. Continue reading

BirthFire – May 11th, 2012

Birth can be a magnificent, empowering and overwhelmingly positive experience, but it can also be frustrating, disappointing or traumatic and that can leave a lot of strong emotions behind. 

DoulaC.A.R.E. invites you to join us at 7pm on May 11th, 2012 at Dufferin Grove Park for BirthFire. This is an event, in honour of International Doula Month, for letting go of any negativity related to birth. We invite everyone – moms, dads, partners, children, friends, parents-to-be, midwives, doctors, nurses, doulas – to come and share your fears, your anxieties, bad advice, social pressures, medical practices, cultural attitudes or disappointing experiences related to birth by burning them in the fire. You can speak about your experiences or fears if you wish, keep them to yourself as you let them burn or simply come to support others with your presence. You do not need to have given birth or attended births to participate. 

We ask that anything you bring to put in the fire be safe and non-toxic to burn. 
 
For more information, check out the website or contact me directly.

 

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.

Embryonic Stem Cells – To Bank or Not To Bank? Part 2 (Periods!)

Following up on yesterday’s post about fetal blood and whether or not to bank what remains in the umbilical cord, allow the baby to receive the blood still contained within the placenta before clamping the cord or both, today’s post will explore the amazing discovery of stem cells within menstrual blood and their viability for treating illnesses of various kinds.

This incredible realization, presents an awesome opportunity to harvest and store stem cells in a way that is non-invasive, regularly available, easy to procure, cost-effective and free of the usual ethical concerns that plague stem cell research. In addition, the stem cells found in menstrual blood have been found to be highly proliferative – reproducing every 24 to 36 hours. While stem cells from ‘cord blood’ can be subcultured a maximum of 12 times, the stem cells found in menstrual blood have so far been subcultured up to 47 times. Also incredible to note is that the stem cells found in menstrual blood retain embryonic markers, meaning that they can morph into a wide variety of healthy cell types including heart, nerve, bone, cartilage and fat. When you think about the number of menstrual periods that the average woman will have in her lifetime (roughly, about 480), that is an incredible number of stem cells that could, theoretically, do an incredible amount of good. (Please note that the research I am drawing on – linked to above – was partially funded by a stem-cell storage company – clearly more research of a significantly more impartial nature is in order).

Continue reading