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

A New Tool

I recently acquired an Obi-TENS unit to use with my clients. Many women swear by these devices as an alternative to pain medications and I am really excited to begin using it in my practice! They are frequently used by physiotherapists for helping individuals manage musculoskeletal pain and to help encourage blood circulation. As for use in labour, they tend to be very popular in the UK, where many hospitals have them available. In North America you need to have a doula who has one or buy one of your own. The unit is controlled by the birthing woman, which is helpful in encouraging her to feel in control and like an active participant, rather than a passive ‘patient’. As many of you are, I’m sure, aware, research shows that a sense of control is the key factor in how women report feeling about their birth experiences days, weeks and even years later.

Check out this handy blogpost about how TENS works for labour: http://www.meghanprice.ca/2012/11/03/handheld-magic-elle-tens-machine/

Take Action!

jordyn_contract

Since April 1, 2011, 25 000 babies have been caught by midwives in Ontario. Since then, the midwives of this province have been working without a contract. Today is the Social Media Day of Action. Email the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, tweet #backtothetable and urge @DebMatthews to restart negotiations with @OntarioMidwives! For more information and ideas on how to make an impact today, visit http://www.ontariomidwives.ca/support/backtothetable

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.

Freedom For Birth – FREE Screening

On Thursday, September 20th, 2012 there will be hundreds of screenings worldwide of the new documentary Freedom For Birth. Twyla Kowalenko, a local mother and passionate birth advocate and I will be screening the film at the Centre for Social Innovation, Annex at 7pm (more details on location below) as part of the global premiere. Continue reading

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

Spots Left for Summer/Fall Prenatal!

I still have room for a few more couples in my Summer-Fall Prenatal Series! For more info, see my earlier post here.

This course is ideal for anyone expecting to give birth between late September and December of 2012.