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.

At Long Last….

Baby held in parents' palm

After many years and many promises, Ontario finally has a breast milk bank! This is amazing news for those babies who most need donated milk. Until now, milk for vulnerable babies whose moms were unable to feed them directly had to be shipped in from outside of the province. Now moms in Ontario can donate milk if they have oversupply and this will mean access to donated milk for a much higher number of at-risk babies.  If you need milk, you need to get a prescription in order to access the bank. For more info on that, go here. If you have milk that you would like to donate, please visit this page to find out more.

Every baby deserves the most nutritious food possible and for the vast majority, that food is breastmilk (the only real exception that I know of being babies with galactosemia). Eventually, it would be wonderful to see the system open up to all babies – not just at risk babies – whose moms are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons and who wish to have breastmilk for their babies. This might further encourage the powers-that-be to ensure that all moms are given adequate education and consistent, good quality support so that they can realize their breastfeeding goals. Believing that you can’t breastfeed your child is a frustrating and heartbreaking experience for many women and sadly, in a huge number of cases, support and education are all that stand between breastfeeding success and failure. We can’t continue to let so many moms and babies fall through the cracks, given the tremendous health benefits of breastfeeding and how much it can mean to moms to be able to achieve their goals.

This is the announcement about the milk bank that I received this morning from The Maternal Newborn and Child Health Promotion (MNCHP) Network:

Located at Mount Sinai Hospital, and in partnership with The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Milk Bank collects donated breastmilk from lactating women, pasteurizes it, and distributes it by prescription to medically fragile babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units across Ontario.

The Milk Bank has been developed by some of Canada’s foremost experts in paediatrics and neonatology, including Dr. Shoo Lee, an internationally recognized neonatologist and Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health and an inter-professional clinical team from all three hospitals. The process for creating the Milk Bank included ensuring regulatory approvals for donor milk banking and conducting research about the benefits of donor breastmilk for very low birth weight babies. The safety and quality of donor human milk is the Milk Bank’s top priority, and The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank meets or exceeds all safety standards for donor human milk banking.

Evidence from the medical literature was used to determine the eligibility criteria for babies to receive donor breastmilk. The research determined that providing donor breastmilk to a specific group of infants – preterm or very low birth weight hospitalized babies – can protect them against life-threatening illnesses such as necrotizing enterocolitis and potentially against serious infections and other complications related to preterm birth.

The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is made possible through the generous support of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Rogers Foundation.

http://milkbankontario.ca/

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

New testimonial!

I received another lovely testimonial today that I wanted to share. This one is special in an unusual way, because the client is herself a doula-in-training. I am so proud of everything she’s accomplished and honoured to have been a part of her birth experience.

We couldn’t have done it without Heather! The birth of my second child didn’t go as planned. Does it ever? It didn’t go the way I had thought it would for nine months, yet I was still so happy with it. I attribute much of this happiness to Heather’s support. I went into pregnancy and labour well informed about my choices. I had read all the books, taken the classes and had personal experience. Despite all of this Heather was still able to teach me so much. She is a wealth of information, valuable resources, and an incredibly calming presence. During my labour, at the end of every painful contraction I smiled. I was made to feel secure amongst what can seem like a bit of madness. I came out of a long labour feeling strong and proud of what I had accomplished. Heather truly cares about supporting women and families. She so clearly has a passion for what she does.

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.

Come hear me speak tomorrow evening!

I will be speaking tomorrow evening at the Centre for Community Learning and Development in Regent Park about the importance of a satisfying and empowering birth experience, doula support and how it can help get you there, and options for those in financial need who would like to have doula support. The talk is free and begins at 6pm. There will be tons of time for questions, so come armed 😉

Come down and say hi!

Check out the poster for details

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!