Where did Slow Birth come from?

I started thinking about the modern society's need for speed and how that related to birth in 1995 when I read Milan Kundera's novel Slowness. Then, in 2004, the idea of Slow Birth bubbled up as I read Carl Honoré's In Praise of Slow. His call for society to slow down mirrored my ongoing work as a doula. Rather than encouraging clients to buy buy buy, or sign up for classes, or follow a prescribed method during pregnancy and birth, I had been encouraging clients to slow down. We talked about taking time for introspection, walking on the beach or in the woods, and slowly finding their own way towards becoming parents.  I would often talk about slowing down to "Fiji Time," winding down to one scheduled "thing" per day by 36 weeks. The concept of Slow Birth was born.

In 2004, I had already been a doula for 17 years, and had witnessed many changes over that time. When I was a new doula, the cesarean rate was under 15%. Breech births were seen as a variation of normal, and I hardly knew anyone who had an epidural. By 2004, I had watched the increase in use of medications to start and speed up labour, and seen the alarming rise in cesareans to well over 25%. Our local hospital started to be called "the baby factory." My own client cesarean rate was under 10%, and most of my clients took life slow and had lovely births. But, I wanted to spread the word and help others to just. slow. down. 

Now, when I talk about Slow Birth, I'm not talking about living and labouring like a sloth, I'm simply encouraging people to reclaim the natural rhythm of life and birth. There's a merging of knowledge and intuition. During pregnancy, it's about both trusting your body while discovering the best evidence, considering it carefully, and slowly merging the science with your own life lessons. Slow Birth is about being undisturbed, and letting your body take the time it needs to birth a baby. During the Slow Birth of parenting, you watch as your child develop at his or her own pace, without pressure. Learning from your baby. Taking it slow. 

Now it's 2018, and I have been part of the slow movement for 14 years. We live within walking distance of two birthing hospitals. I reduced my client load and catchment area, and cycle/carshare/walk to client visits when I can. I take time out for projects with my family. By going slow, I can listen to my clients more effectively, and provide better care for my doula clients.

Clients understand that Slow Birth means that there's no need to sign up for everything, buy everything, or follow a specific method. Birth and parenting thrives when it's undisturbed. Trusting our own bodies, and our children's bodies is key. Slowing down to your newborn's pace reveals many gifts. And by the time your child is five, if you just spend an afternoon sitting on a porch and watching your child at the other end of the garden, observing a spider spin its web, then it's been a good day. Allowing labour and life to unfold as it wants to, without pressure, is key to Slow Birth.

Trying to get all the grandkids into the selfie with Bob and I, after a good day of slow building!

Trying to get all the grandkids into the selfie with Bob and I, after a good day of slow building!

What does it take to have an intervention-free birth?

According to a Perinatal Services BC report, in the first quarter of 2013 almost 1 in 3 (31.7%) women in BC gave birth by cesarean section, and 1 in 5 women (20.1%) were induced. These are the highest rates of cesarean and induced deliveries ever recorded in BC and it forces me to reflect on how things have changed over the past 26 years.

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The Lumineers playing...


A woman spiraling
a partner drawing
a woman in the shower
a cat watching
a doula holding
a fan blowing
a strong woman
a boy crying
a midwife whispering
a bird singing
a grandma helping
a boy in the rain
a lost cat
a push
a pant
a baby at home!

(Photo courtesy of dad Chad Smith. Extra love always to mum Carie. Love to midwives Gillian and Carolyn and Patti. Hugs to grandma Smith and big brother Bruce, the boy in the rain...and the cats. And kisses to bonny Alice.)

Doula Myths...and the Reality

Oh, those urban doula myths...they just keep circulating...

Myth #1: 
I'm always fully booked. 
The reality:
 It's never too late to call to see if I have an opening! Many clients call as soon as they're pregnant, but, it's never too early nor too late to call. Sometimes, clients birth early (or move away) making room for a last-minute client. So, please email, text or phone me and then you'll know for sure!

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