Posts Tagged "childbirth"


Posted by on May 14, 2014

Pain. I am in the midst of a horrible back spasm. My low back and right hip have been in a spasm since last week. I cannot stand or walk without sharp, knife-like pain, and even sitting is very uncomfortable. So I have been spending a lot of time thinking about pain. I talk about pain a lot in my work as a doula and childbirth educator. I talk about the pain of labour and how it evolves to tell the mother about her progress. I talk about strategies for coping with pain.I talk about ways to accept the pain, and work with it. But it’s been 20 years since I had my last baby. I have forgotten how intense and all-consuming muscular pain can be, especially when it goes on for hours or days. So I am trying to use this week of pain as an opportunity to practice my pain-coping strategies. I am trying to doula myself through this back spasm. I am using a lot of the same techniques my clients use: Heating pad, ice packs, position changes, distraction. Movement, music, snacks. Shower, bath, rest, silly TV shows. Whining, complaining, conversation, laughter. Just like a woman in labour, I know intellectually that this pain in finite. It will not go on for ever. Just like a woman in labour, I find it feels better when I lean forwards and worse when I lean back. Just like a woman in labour, I feels that my pain gets worse when I tense up. Just like a woman in labour, I get breaks from the pain. When that happens I try to notice it and relax completely. Just like a woman in labour, I feel trapped by the pain. My body is doing something I can’t control. I don’t know when this is going to stop and I can’t help letting my mind wander to the possibility that it will never stop. Just like a woman in labour, I sometimes feel angry, or sad, or discouraged. Just like a woman in labour, I need to feel safe and supported. My family and friends and colleagues have rallied round to help me. They bring me lovely things to eat and ask how I’m doing, and cover the classes I can’t teach. And I am SO grateful! Unlike a woman in labour, I cannot say that this is pain with a purpose! I will not get a lovely, squishy, warm, cuddly baby at the end of it all. But at the end of it, I will have had some peaceful solitary afternoons of knitting, some blog posts written, some email attended to, some sweaters mended, some naps. So maybe there is a purpose to this pain after all....

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Ten Myths about Doulas

Posted by on Mar 13, 2014

#1 – A doula will prevent my baby’s other parent from feeling fully involved with our baby’s birth A doula works with the whole family. When the partner is looking tentative, the doula can say something like “Why don’t you stand here and hold her through the contraction while I rub her back?” Right away, the partner feels involved and knows what to do. In a study comparing families who had doulas with families who didn’t, it was found that partners who had a doula’s help touched the labouring mother MORE than partners who did not have a doula. And mothers who had a doula were more likely to feel satisfied with their partner’s role at the birth. For more on this – see #2 – A doula is the same as a midwife A doula works along with the mother’s midwife or doctor to provide emotional, physical and informational support during pregnancy, labour and the post-partum period. She can help them find information, provide reassurance, help them communicate with their care-provider, hold a hand, rub a back. She adds to the experience of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding by helping parents feel safe and supported. She is not a clinical care provider and does not have the level of training of a midwife or physician. For more about doulas see #3 – A doula will boss me around and tell me what to do during labour. A doula’s role is to help the mother feel in control and “on top of” the events of her labour. The doula spends several hours in prenatal meetings getting to know the mother and her partner, their preference and plans. The doula helps the parents implement the birth plan while helping them to accept the changes to the plan that may be needed as labour progresses. For more on how a doula can help, see #4 – Doulas are all natural childbirth types who will look down on me if I choose to use pain medication or need to have a caesarean. The doula’s priority is for the mother to feel that she had every support she needed during labour. If those supports include an epidural or a caesarean, the doula helps the mother to feel good about her choice and to experience her baby’s birth fully, with no regrets. #5 – Doulas only go to home births. Most of the births attended by doulas are in the hospital. Doulas’ clients may be in the care of a family physician or a midwife. Doulas work with all sorts of families and care-providers, in the hospital as well as at home. They work where their clients need and want to be. #6 – A doula will just be an extra stranger at the birth – I want it to be an intimate time with my partner and family. Labour and birth in a hospital are not intimate times – nurses, lab technicians, the obstetrician, the anesthesiologist, the paediatrician, the resident will...

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Why I Am A Doula

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013

I became a doula because I was a childbirth teacher who got curious and went to a “labour support” course thinking I would learn some useful things to teach the dads and partners in my classes.  This was way back in 1994, when I didn’t know the word “doula” and had a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old.  There was no way I was going to be a doula.  I couldn’t leave my kids.  My youngest was still nursing. But only a week or two after the doula course (which I loved), a woman called to ask me to be her doula.  She was going to be in my prenatal class and didn’t have a partner and knew she needed support in labour.  Of course, I said yes.  It was irresistible. After that birth, I realized how much I learned from being with the parents, how it informed my childbirth teaching and how much of a difference I could make in the parents’ experience.  I was hooked.  I took three clients that first year, and five clients the next.  And then I started taking a client a month – that was as many as my family could handle.  Nowadays, I run the Mothering Touch Centre, but I still take on five or six clients each year.  I have to. I have to keep going to births because it helps me stay current with the hospital practices and that is important for my childbirth teaching.  It also stops me from forgetting the intensity and the unpredictability of birth.  I need to remember what hard work it is to support a woman in labour.  I need to not develop a rosy memory of how lovely it all is.  I want to be able to give the parents in my childbirth classes and the doulas in my workshops a realistic idea of what birth is like. But mostly, I have to go to births because I love them so much.  I love the excitement and the intensity of it.  I love how doula work helps me to stay in the moment and be with the parents as they move along their journey.  I love watching the power and the strength of the chilbearing body.  I love watching the partner’s awe.  I love seeing the parents’ response to that tiny, new baby – and the baby’s response to the parents’ touch and voices. I love being part of a team to support the birthing parent.  I love working with Moms and Dads and Parents and Partners and midwives and doctors and nurses who are all devoted to this family’s safety and well-being.  I love working with a person as they discover their childbearing power and go through this immense change that leads them to parenthood. I am so grateful to all the families who have allowed me to join them on the journey to parenthood.  It has been such a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about birth, about people, about life.  That’s...

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