Friday, December 11, 2009

The Goings on at MotherWit

At the MotherWit HQ (which is on the corner of my couch on my wee Net Book where I can hang out with my family and snuggle various children and a German Shorthair Pointer dog named Lola on my lap), we are being very productive. I am in communication with my doula A-team as we prepare for our next "Meet the Doula" Soiree. My genius MotherWit Postpartum Doula Millie and I are structuring her postpartum doula care packages and creating a PHENOMENAL post-partum doula training for 2010.

The MotherWit website is being formed a little at a time. I work almost every day, fully booked with pre/post natal appointments, and then come home to be here for the kids, make dinner, etc. So of course, things go slowly when a working mother undertakes the expansion of her business. Thank goodness for the constant help in organization and technical stuff from my husband, not to mention the moral support.

I am also working on the MotherWit Intensive Doula Training, scheduled to take place in July. This is really a pet project of mine, as I love teaching, and good doula training seems to be very lacking. I am super excited at the interest that's been expressed about this training, and I want to make it spectacular.

One of the challenges with popular doula training, is how little it offers in terms of coping with the harder aspects of being a doula. Doulas with a lot of experience call it "Doula Kindergarten", yet women are feeling like they're actually prepared to deal with the intensity of hospital situations when they come out of these weekend workshops.

I think a doula's main job is to help keep a woman in "primal brain" mode while she's in labour, meaning she should protect a woman and her partner's space to allow their labour to unfold with as little interruption as possible. Many new doulas like to exist in "do" mode, meaning they do things like time contractions, and oh, the constant suggesting of positions! My wonderful Polarity Therapy teacher John Beaulieu has a great saying..."sometimes, the more you do, the more you doo doo." And it makes so much sense. Being over-solicitous, meaning always checking in to see how a woman is or what she needs, using tools that might not be necessary, doing all these weird walking and jumping around tricks when perhaps all the woman needs to do is sleep, and THE WORST is arguing in a hostile way with hospital staff members, serves to make labour longer and harder.

This is not the fault of the lovely, well intentioned women who go into doula training. It is simply that trying to fit so much into a couple of days of training is just not going to teach students more than the very basics, and not necessarily the finesse with which to use the tools with discrimination. The students are asked to follow childbirth preparation classes, many of them very mainstream, in order to gather education about the birth process. But these classes themselves are usually not taught by people who have tons of experience sitting and observing labour in a non clinical way. These students generally do not have the option of apprenticing with an experienced doula, which is such a valuable way of learning...going to a birth without having to do anything but observe and do a few errands for the primary doula.

I have to say,the doula training I give is pretty good. I say this not with Ego, but because I myself did a doula training oh so long ago and wished I could have had so much more input and supervision than I received. I know where the holes in my learning were, so I try to fill those gaps in the training I give. There was really nobody to talk to when the first birth I went to, I actually caught the baby accidentally at home, because there was not enough emphasis in my training about HOW FAST a second baby can come after the signs of active labour present themselves. There was nobody to talk to when at the seventh birth I attended, the baby was stillborn. I have learned everything through experience, through trial and error, and I will always continue learning.

A doula trainer should help doula her students through the process of learning such a challenging art and science. She needs to be a shoulder to cry on...a new doula is tender and gets upset really easily when she sees how big the hospital system is, and how her fierce belief in natural, un-intervened with birth is not necessarily going to play out no matter what she does, and that her job is to work with WHAT IS NOW, not with what she wishes would be. A new doula needs to talk through the first time a nurse or doctor makes her feel ashamed for being a non medical person, and for being a young, inexperienced one at that. It can be ROUGH without support and guidance. I try to encourage new doulas to work in partnership, whereas I spent years working alone, feeling very isolated. I learn SO much more in partnership. And I never mind when a student of mine, even an allumni of a few years, calls me up to ask me questions or for help to talk her off a ledge of the despair that can come with feeling powerless at births sometimes. I try to do everything I can to prepare my students and give them guidance when they start off.

MotherWit is woman-ed with some wonderful former students of mine. I have worked with all of them at births, and I have a lot of faith in their abilities. They are committed to building a community for our birthing ladies in Montreal, and a community for we doulas, who's need to talk through situations we've encountered is intense. When you are in a profession that has you working with primal, unpredictable energy and have to do this support within an environment that is full of fear for it, you often need to do some serious debriefing for your emotional health. I have no idea how I did it before hooking up with other experienced doulas.
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MotherWit is also helping to raise funds for Montreal Birth Companions, which is an organization run by my beloved Sister Doula Rivka. MBC provides free doula care to women of need, often refugees from other countries who have no support whatsoever. The more challenging a situation, the more support a birthing woman and new mother needs, so, as MotherWit clients are able to pay for our services, we ask for donations to help fund Montreal Birth Companions. The students Rivka and I train do a lot of volunteer work with this organization, which is both so helpful to the moms who need this service, and a great learning experience for new doulas.

We are also going to be working on a great series of doula-taught prenatal classes. We will NOT give out little charts with smiley faces demonstrating how one feels when ones' contractions are coming at such and such a time apart and the cervix is dilated to such and such a number of centimetres. Truly, that concept is SO ingrained in people's thinking, they can't see the forest for the trees. If we could eliminate the whole timing contraction thing, I think we could lower the epidural rate by a whole ton. I have had women have their babies waiting for contractions to get to 2 minutes apart, had women never have contractions closer together than 7 minutes or so, have had people have 2 minutes apart from the get go, but labour still took over 24 hours of increasing intensity. There are far more telling things to look at to figure out how close the baby is.

So, folks, that's where we're at. I will let you know when the site is up and running. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, that you are warm and safe, and that you have everything you really need.