I have a dilemma. After all my years as a doula, I'm still trying to discover the best way to help pregnant women have a successful start to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding classes are great, La Leche League meetings are supportive, our talks over months of pregnancy provide continuity, the breastfeeding books are inspiring, KellyMom and Dr. Jack Newman's videos are linked from my website, and I encourage all my clients to "like" his Facebook page. But one client just nailed the problem on the head in a phone call tonight: "It feels like I'm putting the cart before the horse if I try to think about breastfeeding now! I'm trying to finish up at work! I feel like I'm not prepared to have the baby yet! I have to get the baby born! I can't think about breastfeeding now!" Yes, I know, I'm paraphrasing, but the exclamation marks were certainly there. Read More
I just melted when I saw this photo of a client with her two sons. It brings back memories of her youngest son's birth, at home, in the heat of a summer night, the fan blowing hot air around the room, the cool sound of the water in the tub, the midwife fanning herself, the speed with which this little one came... I believe the birth was everything that they could have hoped for. Complete joy.
But, what this photo also brings to mind are the many phone calls and emails I receive from clients who have just had their second baby...whose births were so beautiful, but are now reeling from how busy life has become, how challenging it is to manage two children, how guilty they feel at giving less than 100% to their firstborn child, how it tears at their hearts when their firstborn just wants grandma or daddy, "NOT mummy!" Read More
I always say that we can only hope for the best on the day of labour - that the baby is the wonderful and unpredictable 'wildcard.' So, we must trust our body and our baby to give us strong clues about what needs to happen, then make the best choices on that particular day, with the support of those around us...
Here’s George, introduced by his mother:
“George was born Feb 16th - I had the induced labour that didn’t progress well and a cesarean - and he turned out to be 11 pounds! Remember us? These women who labour in the park, cooking turkey dinners...well, humbug. Not at all how mine went, although it was totally great in its own way.”
Here’s my memory: Read More
Okay, I’m going to share some secrets about what goes on behind closed doors. Before pregnancy, no one tells women that there are going to be a lot of tears. All they see are the groups of shining skinny women pushing strollers (complete with a sleeping baby) along 4th Avenue, Starbucks cup in hand, laughing. What they don’t see is the anxiety, the tears, the loneliness, and the loss that women can experience as a result of this enormous change in their lives.
I’m glad pregnancy is nine months long. It takes that long to work through the issues that crop up...family boundaries, financial pressures, relationship issues, old wounds, loss of mobility, body image, career choices, birth worries... Women look to their baby’s birth as the end of the process, only to find out that it’s just the beginning. Then all the same issues resurface, in addition to a general sense of loss and loneliness...oh, and a crying baby. Read More
I love the drive from a client’s house to the hospital. I’m following my clients, watching the labouring woman’s hand reach up to the roof of the car during each contraction. For me, it’s an in-between time of quiet watchfulness, similar to that “out of time” feeling I remember while feeding a baby in the middle of the night.
Last night, we had a long drive from Surrey to Burnaby General. So, I turned on the radio to CBC Ideas and heard an amazing piece by Jeff Warren called "While You Were Out" about the changes in sleep patterns over the last three hundred years. Read More
This week is shaping up to be “postpartum visit week.” Lots of wee boys (and their tired mums) to visit. I’ve also heard from clients whose babies range in age from three to eight months. We’ve discussed everything from sleep deprivation to “what the poo should look like.”
The major issue this week isn’t (thankfully) breast-feeding. Pretty much everyone is doing well and producing abundant quantities of breast milk. One client is even donating her extra milk to the Children’s Hospital Milk Bank, (604) 875-2345, ext. 7607. Another just phoned to say that, with the help of Renee Hefti-Graham (604-733-6359), her little girl finally latched successfully at six weeks and is doing so well! All the other babies are latching well, gaining weight, sleeping (at times) and peaceful (at times).
What seems to be causing anxiety this week is the overwhelming contradiction between a mother’s instincts and outside influences. Books, family, friends and complete strangers are undermining the mothering instinct for so many of my clients. Read More
I’ve attended so many second births recently, and I have 8 previous clients pregnant at the moment. So, I wanted to convey some of the joy and excitement of working with these second-time clients. I also wanted to talk about predictions and expectations surrounding second births.
So, today, for inspiration, I called a very special client whose little one is now about 18 months old. She picked up the phone and we both started grinning from ear to ear. “I’ve been thinking about you all this week!” she laughed. That’s the joy borne out of spending such an intense and sacred time together during her labour in 2004. Read More