...she jumped up and grabbed onto the edge of the note.

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...

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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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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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So, what’s the best birth book to read?

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.

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