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
Googling during pregnancy can be a big bad scary activity. For sanity's sake, I encourage clients to avoid general googling of pregnancy topics at this time, or joining large forums. I do, however, encourage clients to become informed about birth, breastfeeding and parenting. How can you filter all this information? My favourite books and research resources are linked on my site, so that's a great place to start.Read More
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
Each year, we try to head to Europe for a month. Since I am on call 24/7 for the rest of the year, this is our only opportunity to turn off the iPhone and be fully present, and physically and emotionally recharge.
It's a pilgrimage of sorts. We seem to move from one Madonna and Child to another in France, Italy, or Spain. We climb hills to listen to chanting monks in empty chapels, and scramble down terraced vineyards towards sparkling seas.Read More
This Christmas Day, I offer you the gift of a story told by a new client:
I see that going into the sweat lodge in remote northern Ontario when I was 17 is something that I can use to propel me through birth. The experience was a powerful one then and now, as I face a long pregnancy and its culminating labour, the event is taking on new significance and its power is spinning in the expanding darkness of my womb.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
Your face is soft
Your shoulders are heavy
You are safe
Your baby is safe
This is your power
You are strong
Feel your cervix melt like butter
Your muscles open
Your baby tucks chin on chest
You are wide open
Your hands are soft
You are safe
You are with all the women in labour
The women are with you
You are doing this
Breathe in strength
Breathe out worry
Breathe in power
This is your power
These are my words
As you sleep, Finn, I stroke the world onto your forehead
Circling, drawing the lines of our planet with my fingers
Transferring the love of your great grandfather into your skin
Just as we did to your mother.
"Around the world
Down the Prime Meridian..."
You sleep, your eyes playing beneath their lids
Soaking in the words, the touch.
Are you dreaming of where you were three days ago?
You were hiding behind your brother Jack
Ready to make a surprise entry
like a parachuter.
I can't even remember what it felt like to believe
that your mother was having only one baby.
We waited that bright Saturday
waited for "the baby"
sitting outside in the sunshine
in the buffeting wind
at a cafe table
watching two men play UpWords
the same game your grandad and I played
when I was in labour.
Every movement on 4th was a sign
The woman pushing a bicycle
The pregnant women heading
yoga mats tucked under their arms
Heading to the noon class
where your mother was supposed to be...
...where you would have been
Listening to the music chosen by your mother.
But you weren't at that class
You were with your mum
in the tub
hidden behind Jack
waiting to be born
waiting to surprise everyone!
"Across the Equator
Tropic of Cancer
Tropic of Capricorn
You have always been with us
and we never knew it
You have always been part of our bodies
You have always been...
Tomorrow I will stroke
the cartography of love
into your brother's face...
(Finn, the hidden water fairy, was only discovered a few minutes after his older brother, Jack, was joyfully born into his mother and father's arms, at home, on a Saturday afternoon. Finn then declared his presence, kicking the midwife's hand... "Jack was not alone! I'm here!" Then, over an hour later, Finn, already master of the great entrance, responded to his mum's pushes and came, splash, feet first, before a large audience in the hospital...
Bright surprises can still happen in this world!)
as we open ourselves to birth
Close your eyes
and feel the whispers of women
(written in the Shrine of the Black Virgin, Rocamadour)
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
There's so much expectation surrounding the preparation for birth in our culture. Strangers will ask, "Have you signed up for your prenatal classes? Have you prepared your baby's room?" Friends and family can press all the wrong buttons, too. "You shouldn't even think of labouring without taking the Inner Barracuda Course"...or whatever the prenatal class of the day is called.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
We had a beautiful nurse for the birth yesterday.
Pauline, originally from Togo, is a mother of five, and a grandmother of two. Her last child was born on her own bed, birthed into her own hands. She birthed this baby on her own, with joy.
Our time with Pauline was magical. She spoke to us like she was taking us on a spiritual journey. She spoke low and slow, rolling her R's. Her words were like poetry...or a prayer...
As she was speaking, I copied her words onto paper...hear her...Read More
My daughter just asked me why I haven't been posting to my blog for some time. Well, like my mum, who just can't seem to read an entire book since dad died, I seem to be having trouble writing. Oh, I could write and write about all the amazing encounters that I've had with my father's spirit, especially in France (that time in Shakespeare and Company in Paris was extraordinary!)... But, write about birth? There's been a block...Read More
Six weeks in England, Scotland, and France...walking miles to ruined castles, riding bikes through Paris, climbing Munros, hiking through hidden valleys, reading good books, exploring pilgrim's paths and spiral staircases, swimming in the sparkling Mediterranean...then returning to our own cottage to create wonderful thoughtful meals (and eat those French pastries!)...now that was slow travel at its best!Read More
It's been a long time since I wrote a new post...but so much has happened. The greatest joys and the greatest sorrows.
I took this photo while sitting and crying in a bathroom stall at the hospital, while my dad was in Emergency with a subdural hematoma caused by Acute Myeloid Leukemia, just ten days before his death. So much to take in...so little time. The positive graffiti really helped me.Read More
Just make a sign like this (the red crepe paper heart will take a long time to make!) and put it up above the head of the bed in your birthing room, and everyone will make darn sure that you don't tear!!!
Then, the nurses will put it up in their staff room to make sure that they never forget, and pass on the message to all the other wonderful women who pass through their doors.
Thanks to Lisa for her strength, determination, and love of glue-stick and crepe paper!