"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
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
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
Well, it's been 8 months! I think I must have been rather busy, to have left my blog for this long!
In addition to my doula work, "loving the grandsons" was added to my list of passions. With twins, there's a lot of room for family involvement, so we've all been chipping in daily to help our daughter and son-in-law and their brood. My memory of this past summer is long long walks by the seashore with my husband, carrying the boys in slings, allowing their parents a break at home...to sleep or eat, or just plain enjoy the peace and quiet. Read More
We've not met, but I just wanted to thank you for my daughter's birth. I live in Edinburgh, although I'm from Victoria, B.C, and I stumbled across your blog about a year ago. My son (who's now 2) was born in hospital: my flat wasn't big enough to fit a birth pool and 2 midwives, and I hoped I could have a water birth in hospital instead. In the end, I was induced due to blood pressure and got a very controlled, restricted labour: I was on my back, monitored, for the whole thing. 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
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
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
How do I write about the hidden realities of pregnancy? How do I write about the "opposite of birth"? How do I write about that unknown space between life and death?
In this blog I focus on the joy of working with pregnant women, attending their amazing Slow Births, and helping them through their postpartum journeys. But there are other journeys that some must travel. I hear their stories. Now, it's time to start telling some of these stories. Read More
Maybe I'm just a little slow...but I've finally decided that I have to act on my decision (2004) to start focus-writing on Slow Birth (think slow dancing, slow cooking, slow kisses, slow lane, take it slow, baby...) Don't you just take a big breath and sigh when you read those words?
I loved reading "In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honore, and discovering the Slow Food and Slow Travel movements as they emerged. We had always raised our children according to the "slow" philosophy. We talked, we listened to music, we read books together, and my husband and I kept our lives in pace with our children's development - we kept things slow, and the family flourished. When the slow movement began, it was nice to see that other people were discovering this way of living. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
Last night was a perfect example of a final prep visit...with a bonus. When I walked into their living room I noticed some special items on top of a shelf, obviously placed with care. I could see potted hyacinths, coloured eggs, wheat sprouts, and more. The shining couple explained that it was Persian New Year, and that the altar held seven items that each symbolizes some aspect of rebirth and rejuvenation. I was honoured to be a guest in their home on this special day. It seemed fitting that we were talking about welcoming a new life into their home at the new year. Then, the cat jumped up and tried to eat the sprouts (to the cat it looked just like catnip, I guess...) So, ancient ritual and custom met the quirky reality of the animal world. That's kind of like how labour works... Read More
"Komm, wir wollen Apfel 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. Read More
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. Read More