Doula as "Obstetric Technique"

Check out the MedWire News synopsis of a new study that was recently published in the journal Birth (2008: 35: 92-7)

Doula support reduces cesarean and epidural rates
by Lucy Piper 03 June 2008
Examining the perinatal effects of doula support for nulliparous middle-income women accompanied by a male partner during labor and delivery.

MedWire News: The continued presence of a doula during labor significantly reduces cesarean delivery rates and the need for epidural analgesia in middle- and upper-class U.S. women accompanied by their male partner or another family member, researchers report.

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Ten Questions

I think there’s a purpose behind the nine long months of pregnancy. This time is vital for introspection, reflection, setting boundaries, and discovery. As I’ve said so many times before, birth is not a “body” act...it’s an act of the soul and the mind and the will.

Yes, I have a checklist of the things that I need to discuss with clients...and worksheets for them to fill out if they’re “paper people”. But, in order to serve my clients well, I need to go further, deeper. So, over the months, we talk on the phone discussing everything from diapers to spirituality. I often ask couples some unusual questions to help them uncover how their life experiences may affect them during the birth and postpartum. Usually, the deeper we go, the greater the understanding, resulting in a much more positive emotional experience for everyone.

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The Baby is Breastfeeding - Not the Mother

Hot off the press! In the March 2008 issue of Birth, check out the article "The Baby is Breastfeeding - Not the Mother" by Dr. Lennart Righard. The ending sums it up:

"In natural birth the woman is moving around in upright positions trying to find the most comfortable position and turning to herself to find her own inner strength. Such a woman is not so easy to control! She follows her own impulses and intuitions and her own body’s signals. She relies on nature. The same is valid for breastfeeding. The mother does not know how much her baby is eating, she has to rely on nature. This is the secret of success in the triad of reproduction (coitus, giving birth, and feeding from the breast): rely on nature, relax and let go, and you will be amply rewarded."

Then, take some time to view the WHO/UNICEF Breast Crawl video. Perhaps we all need reminding that instincts work! 

Body Surfing Mama

We were sitting on the sand at Po'olenalena Beach in Wailea, taking a break from snorkeling and boogie boarding. I looked up and saw a pregnant woman. She looked about 6 or 7 months. She must have been having the "last fling" holiday. There she was, boldly heading into the surf with her husband, just glowing.

She lined up with the other couples trying out body surfing, waiting for that "just perfect" swell. She went for it on a big wave, and got totally tumbled in the surf. She came up for air, laughing and laughing, then bounded back into the water to wait for the next wave.

It was glorious to see her, tummy shining, fearless.

I sent her a wish that, on the day of labour, she draws on that fearlessness, and leaps into the waves just like she did at Po'olenalena Beach.

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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Walking the Labyrinth

"You are a gift to me beloved
trust my body
trust my baby
breathe..."

Last night, friends and family painted the labyrinth in the living room of a woman in early labour, hoping that she would have a chance to walk the labyrinth as the labour progressed. But her labour skyrocketed and her baby was born sweetly before the paint had time to fully dry!

But I think she had been metaphorically "walking the labyrinth" for a long time and was fully ready. There were no blocks. She trusted her body, trusted her baby, and held firm and fast to her husband, whose hands held the baby's head as it slid out into the flickering light of a candle.

With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. With the smooth and quick birth of this beautiful boy, the choice was made. What a joyful entry to the world.

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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