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.Read more
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 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.)
Pssst. I think I have discovered a secret formula for birth. I know, I know, every labour is unique and distinct, and you just can't apply a formula to birth. But, this has worked so many times recently that it's blogworthy. Here's the secret:Read more
With maturity there comes
that there is darkness at birth
Walk with it. Respect it. Never forget it.
But do not make your choices
out of fear
of the darkness
A baby called Wyn was born this week, and in that moment I reached 1000 births.
Wyn is connected to all those 1000 births through his mother, through me. Every birth, every woman, has left me with a lesson, a memory* - something that has helped the next woman and baby. One touch of the hand connects us.Read more
Each year, we try to head to Europe for a month. Since I am on call 24/7 for the rest of the year, this is our only opportunity to turn off the iPhone and be fully present, and physically and emotionally recharge.
It's a pilgrimage of sorts. We seem to move from one Madonna and Child to another in France, Italy, or Spain. We climb hills to listen to chanting monks in empty chapels, and scramble down terraced vineyards towards sparkling seas.Read more
Your face is soft
Your shoulders are heavy
You are safe
Your baby is safe
This is your power
You are strong
Feel your cervix melt like butter
Your muscles open
Your baby tucks chin on chest
You are wide open
Your hands are soft
You are safe
You are with all the women in labour
The women are with you
You are doing this
Breathe in strength
Breathe out worry
Breathe in power
This is your power
These are my words
As you sleep, Finn, I stroke the world onto your forehead
Circling, drawing the lines of our planet with my fingers
Transferring the love of your great grandfather into your skin
Just as we did to your mother.
"Around the world
Down the Prime Meridian..."
You sleep, your eyes playing beneath their lids
Soaking in the words, the touch.
Are you dreaming of where you were three days ago?
You were hiding behind your brother Jack
Ready to make a surprise entry
like a parachuter.
I can't even remember what it felt like to believe
that your mother was having only one baby.
We waited that bright Saturday
waited for "the baby"
sitting outside in the sunshine
in the buffeting wind
at a cafe table
watching two men play UpWords
the same game your grandad and I played
when I was in labour.
Every movement on 4th was a sign
The woman pushing a bicycle
The pregnant women heading
yoga mats tucked under their arms
Heading to the noon class
where your mother was supposed to be...
...where you would have been
Listening to the music chosen by your mother.
But you weren't at that class
You were with your mum
in the tub
hidden behind Jack
waiting to be born
waiting to surprise everyone!
"Across the Equator
Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Capricorn
You have always been with us
and we never knew it
You have always been part of our bodies
You have always been...
Tomorrow I will stroke
the cartography of love
into your brother's face...
(Finn, the hidden water fairy, was only discovered a few minutes after his older brother, Jack, was joyfully born into his mother and father's arms, at home, on a Saturday afternoon. Finn then declared his presence, kicking the midwife's hand... "Jack was not alone! I'm here!" Then, over an hour later, Finn, already master of the great entrance, responded to his mum's pushes and came, splash, feet first, before a large audience in the hospital...
Bright surprises can still happen in this world!)
as we open ourselves to birth
Close your eyes
and feel the whispers of women
(written in the Shrine of the Black Virgin, Rocamadour)
Remember my very first client in the 1980's? Vaginal breech? Well, you might remember that I wrote about her stopping off to pick up a hamburger on the way to the hospital. Yes, her doctor was in the car with her, encouraging her to eat. All was well...and boy, was that birth smooth! During my early years as a doula, though, I discovered that the hamburger-eating client was not the norm. Eating in labour was discouraged. "The digestive system shuts down in labour..." "If you eat and then have general anesthetic, you might vomit and then aspirate the contents..."Read more
Slow Birth lives outside of time. Women in labour are often supported by caring people who are unwittingly blocking the slow birth process by writing down the time, charting, calculating, commenting on the progress of labour.
We are all guilty of this. We turn our heads to the clock. We look at the numbers on the monitor. We whisper of our own need to eat lunch, dinner, breakfast. We are stuck in time. But a labouring woman needs our help to stay out of her left brain, her 21st century mind. If we help her to labour without time constraints, her autonomy is supported. There is no pressure. She is undisturbed.Read more
I've been on a journey of slowness during the past few months. Reflection, recovery, rebirth. Every free moment has been filled with cycling, running, long walks. I needed to be incredibly fit to face the births this winter. I was fit and well, but I just couldn't write.
I needed to be totally private this winter, in order to grieve for my dad, help my mum, support my family, and have the strength to help other families walk through their searing life struggles or challenging pregnancies and labours.Read more
We had a beautiful nurse for the birth yesterday.
Pauline, originally from Togo, is a mother of five, and a grandmother of two. Her last child was born on her own bed, birthed into her own hands. She birthed this baby on her own, with joy.
Our time with Pauline was magical. She spoke to us like she was taking us on a spiritual journey. She spoke low and slow, rolling her R's. Her words were like poetry...or a prayer...
As she was speaking, I copied her words onto paper...hear her...Read more
My daughter just asked me why I haven't been posting to my blog for some time. Well, like my mum, who just can't seem to read an entire book since dad died, I seem to be having trouble writing. Oh, I could write and write about all the amazing encounters that I've had with my father's spirit, especially in France (that time in Shakespeare and Company in Paris was extraordinary!)... But, write about birth? There's been a block...Read more
It's been a long time since I wrote a new post...but so much has happened. The greatest joys and the greatest sorrows.
I took this photo while sitting and crying in a bathroom stall at the hospital, while my dad was in Emergency with a subdural hematoma caused by Acute Myeloid Leukemia, just ten days before his death. So much to take in...so little time. The positive graffiti really helped me.Read more
Just make a sign like this (the red crepe paper heart will take a long time to make!) and put it up above the head of the bed in your birthing room, and everyone will make darn sure that you don't tear!!!
Then, the nurses will put it up in their staff room to make sure that they never forget, and pass on the message to all the other wonderful women who pass through their doors.
Thanks to Lisa for her strength, determination, and love of glue-stick and crepe paper!
I loved statistics so much in university. Honestly! I'm still such a geek, that I love to look at my client's stats...not at regular times of the year (like December 31st), mind you. I like to do it when the spirit moves me (the happy convergence of left and right brain.) Or might it be tax-procrastination time?
So, here's this past 12 month's basic statistics...Read more
Dr. Lauren A. Plante, a US obstetrician, has written a wonderful article (a MUST read!) in response to the increasing industrialization of childbirth (wasn't Canada's own Dr. Andrew Kotaska one of the first to argue against "industrial birth"?) Dr. Plante asserts that on-demand cesareans do not represent the height of women's autonomy, but are, in fact, the opposite. She calls for true autonomy for women - the right to choose from a spectrum of choices.Read more
"Next time I'm just booking a cesarean."
"My first birth was so traumatic - I want drugs the moment I start labour."
"I can't walk through the door of a hospital again."
"I think we'd better adopt our second child."
To all the women who say these words...
Please know that it wasn't your fault.
It wasn't your faulty body.
It wasn't your faulty mind.
It wasn't that you lacked will power.
It just wasn't a normal labour.
No guilt or blame.
It just wasn't a normal labour.