"I'd like to order one epidural in the parking lot, please"

During our initial phone call, many first-time mums nervously laugh, then ask me if I can just order them a fast birth "and one epidural in the parking lot, please." It sounds like a drive-through order.

"Why?" I ask myself. Really fast births don't allow the body to churn out all those wonderful pain-relieving endorphins (boy, do you want them!) Fast births don't allow any time for the brain to keep up with what the body is doing. Actually, my least satisfied client had a 45-minute labour and birth. She said, "I waited 40 years to give birth, and THAT'S IT??? It was so fast, I missed it!"

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The Girls!

Man, I do love working with clients for a second (or third or fourth) time!

I get to really connect with the mums, dig deeper into what makes them (and their labours) "tick", and watch the emergence and transformation of a mother.

I love the postpartum visit, where I always manage to have a tea-party (or, in this case be presented with a wooden mixer and a plate of wooden toast, wooden egg, and a special spoon) laid on by a little sparkling one in a tutu, play a song or two, and hold a crying baby.

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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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Vancouver or Bust!

One of my recent clients is a doula from Fort McMurray. She drove all the way to Vancouver to have her baby. I was honoured that she asked me to support her and her partner (and sister) through her labour. With her permission, I'd like to share a part of her email that she sent me after she had driven all the way home with the new baby (only a few days after the birth!)

"I really wanted to email you and say thank you once again for a terrific job and your incredible support. I drove to Vancouver with hopes for an amazing birth, and I couldn't have imagined it being any better, even though it was longer than I anticipated! I wrote down my birth story as you suggested, and literally just finished reading your notes. Like you said, it's so funny what a different perception you have when in labor. I love the quotes you wrote down, and I honestly thought you had arrived at my sister's place at 4am, not 4:45! You make the birth sound like it happened a heck of a lot faster than what I remember it feeling to be. What an incredible experience! Thank you for making it be so.

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An Undisturbed Birth

I've been talking a lot about "an undisturbed birth" lately.

The language that we use in labour is so potent. I'm uncomfortable with many descriptive terms surrounding birth, such as "I'd like a normal birth"...or "She had a natural birth" ...or "We did a pure birth." It sounds like all others are abnormal or unnatural or impure. Birth just should be.

So, it came to me, recently, when I realized that so many of my clients have what I describe as "she just went into labour and then had the baby" births...they had all been undisturbed in labour. My role is to keep her private space protected and undisturbed, to help her feel free to move undisturbed, to be the guardian of her cave. She remains hidden, unobserved, in a safe space.

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Phone calls to a doula

To all pregnant clients...here’s a “head’s up”. Some time after the baby’s born...you will make this phone call. The wording and timing may vary, but the questions will be essentially the same.

“I’ve got this pile of books here. One says to get the baby on a schedule, another says to feed on demand. But what does “demand” mean? What if the baby comes off after 10 minutes. Is that a feed? When do I change the baby? Before, after, or in the middle of a feed? Am I wrong to want to grab my baby away from visitors? You know, they’ve come all this way, and brought presents, but I just want to hide...”

We’ll probably spend up to an hour on this particular phone call. We’ll laugh together...we might cry together...then you’ll hang up the phone floating on air. Why? Because you will have been reminded of your infinite strength, your inner wisdom, and your ability to trust your body and your baby.

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The Contraction Question

“I don’t think I’m in labour yet. I feel it really low down, all in front. It’s not hurting ALL OVER.” said the doctor on the phone.

“ALL OVER?” I asked, sounding like a parrot.


“Um...if all is well, it shouldn’t.” I was just a little bit confounded. Here I was, talking on the phone with a physician who’s been attending births for years. She’s amazing with her patients, so intuitive. Now, in labour for the first time, she was just as confused as everyone else in labour.

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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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