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...

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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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Äpfel schütteln

"Komm, wir wollen Apfel schütteln,
Äpfel schütteln;
alle Kinder helfen rütteln.
Ria, ria, ria, rums."

This German children's song would be perfect to sing while shaking a woman's hips with your hands in labour. One of the many indigenous practices used for centuries to loosen the pelvic muscles and ease a baby's journey through the pelvis, "shaking the apples" works really well with first time mums in early labour, as well as multips as they approach birth.

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Crossing the Portal, the Old School Way

I stood still in Pottery Barn the other week, in front of a phone that looked just like the lovely heavy black phone that we had when I was little. You know, the one with the rotary dial that, when you needed to dial 9-1-1, took such a long time for that 9 to rotate. No wonder they didn't stick with the British emergency code of 9-9-9. The emergency would have been over before the dialing was done.

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Why do babies come in groups?

Do they get inspired by other babies that have made it through recently, and decide to come early just to join in the fun? It's a funny image, but it kept coming to me recently as seven babies came in a steady stream. The due dates ranged from August 28th to October 14th...but they all decided to come in a 10 day period. So funny :)

When I have time, I'll write more about the amazing lessons that we all learned from these babies...

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7 in the month before 7/7/07...things are going swimmingly...

In the month before 7/7/07, I attended 7 births.

To honour these families, here are the condensed stories...

1. In labour, trying to make sure the men renovating her house wouldn't notice ("we waited so long for them to come and do the fireplace"), she dashes over to the contractor's house...only to be told by me to run down the stairs, get into a car, and meet me at the hospital. I could almost hear the dilation in her voice, and feel the baby's descent... So, we did perhaps the first "doula on headset" birth, dad and I driving to converge at the hospital, my voice quietly speaking into her ear through each contraction...and calling the hospital and doctor on my other cell phone. Dad remained calm...mum remained calm...and the baby was born in short order upon arrival at BC Women's. Phew!

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Putting the Slow in Slow Birth

I'm going to have to time the ride to be more precise, but the trip from Vancouver Doula's new home to either St. Paul's or BC Women's Hospitals takes about...4 minutes.

Add that to the fact that the majority of my clients will now live within 15 minutes of me...and the result will be even better care.

I'll be able to pop over to check on clients having long prodromal labours, do emergency breastfeeding visits, actually get to meet former clients for tea (right, Brooke?), or even walk to "meet and greet" visits on South Granville or in Kits.

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Statistics for the Utterly Confused

I usually wait for a full year to pass before doing my client stats, but a lot of doctors, nurses, doulas, childbirth educators, and clients have recently been expressing concern about the high epidural rate (reports are as high as 80%) at local hospitals. A recent article in The Vancouver Sun also reported that the cesarean rate in B.C. had climbed to almost a third of all births, far in excess of what the World Health Organization deems acceptable.

So, here's a glimpse into my own client outcomes from January 1/07 to June 7/07. Now, remember, these are not a special group (i.e. highly motivated multips under age 30 with a history of fast births). These are 30 women with an average age of 36, most (73%) having their first baby, who hired me to help them and their partners. The majority entered the process without hard and fast expectations about the birth experience. They all hoped to "do their best on the day", some wanting an epidural at the door (and not needing it), and some wanting to avoid a cesarean (and needing it). They are all capable and amazing women.

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