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
Singing in labour is sacred. In the middle of a contraction, without warning, the note rises out of the woman. She sings to the baby, to herself, to all women. Her song can connect her to both the earth and the sky.
This past week, without planning, each woman has found her voice in labour, grabbed onto the edge of a note, and used it to take her through to the end of the contraction.
On Monday...we might not have heard her sing aloud in labour, but my first client this week drew power from the Dixie Chicks and others, by candlelight... Read More
Here's a little excerpt from an article by Dr. Michel Odent, noted French obstetrician.
"According to traditional wisdom in rural France, a baby in the womb should be compared to fruit on the tree. Not all the fruit on the same tree is ripe at the same time. A fruit that has been picked before it is ripe will never be fit to eat and will quickly go bad. It is the same with a baby. In other words, we must accept that some babies need a much longer time than others before they are ready to be born. If you have some apple trees in your garden, you will listen to your common sense and choose an individualized and selective approach: you will not pick all the apples on the same day." Read More
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! Read More
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. Read More
In the past, it was the partner’s job, as coach, to time each contraction with a stopwatch. I still have my old list of “...8:27...8:39...8:45...8:54...”from my first labour in 1983. The fixation on time has continued. Now there’s even a program that you can download to your Blackberry which will graph your contractions!
In contrast, I encourage my clients to let go of actively timing contractions at the beginning of the labour process. I think timing contractions is almost too simplistic a gauge of how labour is progressing. It makes you focus on an external reality and lose touch with your inner rhythm, your inner knowledge. It can also make you fixate on how long things have been continuing which, in turn, can lead to frustration or impatience. Read More
In 1982, I was obsessed with everything to do with babies. I ducked into every book store for months before I got pregnant. You’d find me sitting on the floor by the Pregnancy and Childbirth section, surrounded by books. These weren’t “Earth Mother” books. I started with the encyclopedic books, looking for the ones authored by doctors with the most letters behind their names... FRCP, etc. You know, the books which scare you half to death with descriptions of all possible things which can go wrong. Then, I went to the university medical bookstore to look at obstetric textbooks. I even studied an obscure Swiss method of breathing for labour, which I photocopied from the main library. This method left me exhausted, out of breath, and very, very confused. It didn’t help when my husband and I went to prenatal classes and pretty much “failed” breathing. And when the nurses at the hospital asked us what our “birth plan” was, we just said “to have it go well”, and then I asked if I could blow-dry my hair before the obstetrician started my induction. Yikes! Over-prepared with book knowledge....under-prepared with inner knowledge. Read More