"I help you to realize that you have the abilities, wisdom and courage to give birth. Birth is something that you know on a basic level. I just help you to access that knowledge."
I have been interested in birthing issues since I studied developmental psychology at UBC in the early 1980s. I put my studies to practical use during my two pregnancies, first with medical, then with midwifery care. Soon after, I became involved with the birthing community to promote family-centred care, and studied to become a Certified Childbirth Educator and Doula. I was the Co-ordinator for Vancouver Childbirth, a founding developer of the Douglas College Doula Course, the BC Doulas of North America representative, and developed a holistic childbirth education series for The Midwifery Group.
I have been a doula and childbirth educator since 1987, supporting over 1200 women and their families at home and in the hospital, and teaching thousands of expectant parents. Iʼm the grandmother (aka “Deecy”) of identical twin boys born in 2010, and 2015 will bring another grandson, so Iʼm right in the thick of things! Read more
Lyndsay's birth was an emotional triumph. It had been a challenging pregnancy, but she faced it one day at a time. She gathered together her team - family, friends, doula, doctor. On the sunny birthing day, my memory is of so many women (including her sister and her dear friend, who had also been my client) - our hands, our quiet voices, and our hearts, helping Lyndsay through the waves. Read more
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
One more thing...she now officially hates being on her back. She will sleep so peacefully on us then the second we put her down she goes nuts. :) Oh the questions.
That is just one of the text messages that I've received this week. Day or night, weekday or weekend (as my husband will attest!) the messages flow in from clients who are pregnant, newly birthed, or even facing their first nursing strike at 6 months! Read more
Today, the report "Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth" was released. I saw that the data suggested that the highest percentage of cesareans came from the induction group. Their chart is below: Read more
Oh, those urban doula myths...they just keep circulating...
Myth #1: Read more
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!
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
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
I've been delivering Slow Birth doula cards to different practitioners' offices. One supportive physician read the words "slow birth", and laughed - "Some of our doctors won't like that. They're always complaining about births that are progressing too slowly!" Read more
Googling during pregnancy can be a big bad scary activity. For sanity's sake, I encourage clients to avoid general googling of pregnancy topics at this time, or joining large forums. I do, however, encourage clients to become informed about birth, breastfeeding and parenting. How can you filter all this information? My favourite books and research resources are linked on my site, so that's a great place to start. Read more
As part of my doula service, I provide two prenatal visits, attend my clients' births, then make a postpartum visit to debrief and hug, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.
I encourage my clients to call or email me frequently...for years (yes, I mean that). I'm often on the phone for a few hours each day, answering clients' questions, brainstorming, or providing support and encouragement. I encourage my clients to call me whenever a question arises during pregnancy or postpartum, which is SO much more helpful than asking them to store it up for visits. We're able to work through each concern in the moment. Read more
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
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
I started to take notes during each birth after November 1, 1993. I know that because Kieran was born on that day. Kieran was a warrior baby. In fact, he was born face first. He never gave up with that chin-up attitude (and probably still hasn't to this day!)
The midwife did one final vaginal exam just before he was born. "Is that a bum?" she asked, just a little confused for a moment. "No, it couldn't be...you're hearing the heartbeat in the right place. It must be a mouth," I said. "It's the baby's lips!" she called out. So, Kieran was born, after a crazy challenging labour, with his mum on her high bed, holding up her silk dress (dad had grabbed a dress for her to wear, and I think it was one that she'd recently worn to a wedding). Read more
I fulfilled a childhood dream yesterday. As a child, I always wanted to be one of those women who rides her bike to visit mums and babies.
I must have heard about it from my mum and her friends, talking about their pregnancies in the north of England in the 1950's and early 1960's. The image of the local village midwife, riding to visits on her bike, just stuck with me. It seemed slow, perfect, just the way someone should visit you when you have a new baby. Read more
Women often ask me if they can eat once they're in labour.
"The books say I shouldn't, but I'm such a hummingbird eater, that I'll keel over if I don't keep eating!"
"Oh, please listen to your body, and it will let you know what you should eat, and when you should eat," I answer.
Think of the fuel that your body needs to do this amazing work! It needs fuel and fluids to function properly. Can you imagine doing a marathon, triathlon, or long-distance bike race without any nourishment? You'd be the one saying, "I bonked so early, it was embarrassing!" Read more
I've noticed that I can manage most things as long as I move slowly through the day.
Within a few weeks, my children and parents will all be living within an easy bike ride.
I can walk or ride my bike to visit most of my clients. (Yes, you can expect helmet head when the weather is good!)
I can walk home from both BC Women's and St Paul's after births (there's nothing like breathing in the crisp early morning air as I walk over the Burrard Street bridge at 6am.) Read more
Okay...this is starting to become a real pattern...
After each birth, the lovely nurse sighs and says to my client, "I haven't seen a birth like that in ages. Thank you!" Well, actually, yesterday's quote (by a British nurse) was, "I haven't seen a birth like that since I came here!"
Then, I ran into a nurse who had helped us at a birth last week, and she still was in shock that my client gave birth standing. "I tried to get her back onto the bed, I ASKED her to get on the bed, but she just didn't! I had to think, how am I going to do this, where's my stuff? I hadn't done anything like that before!" Read more
I promise my clients that I will always tell them the truth about what's happening during pregnancy and labour...but I must admit that I do downplay things during prelabour. Now, this is only to help the clients to make it through the crazy unexpected early stuff that really, REALLY, isn't labour.
This is the denial phase of labour.
Too often, people have the TV image of labour - your water breaks, off you go to hospital, get the drugs, and the baby is born on the bed (surrounded by gowned and gloved anonymous people). This may be what 90% of births are like...but they're not the kind of births that my clients have. They dare to be different. They live in denial. This is Slow Birth at its best. Read more