Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Birth Stats: A Doula's Year in Review

I just got home from an absolutely gorgeous birth of a nice big boy. This is most likely my last birth before the new year, though anything is possible. As I have time to do so now, I'll share how things went this year.

Before getting to the birth stats, let me just say this has been a HUGE year for me, full of growth. Though I have been a doula for quite some time, MotherWit is just over a year old. In this year I created and we launched our very successful Birth Essentials: A Course in Childbirth Empowerment prenatal classes. I taught my birth doula training in intensive format for the first time with great success. I also taught for the first time a four day postpartum doula training course. Both trainings required many hours of creation and hundreds of pages of doula training manual writing. The work was well worth all the effort, and I am very very pleased with my amazing apprentices and students.

The MotherWit team opened a physical space, something we had been hoping to do for quite some time. In this space we teach our classes, see our clients, do trainings, have mom/baby groups, apprentice meetings, "Meet the Doula" soirees, and will soon be doing infant massage teaching for parents. We have parties, too. I am thrilled with our cozy space.

MotherWit was asked to do 2 informal, in- hospital doula-led workshops...one 8 hour workshop for new nurses, and one 1 hour workshop for family medicine residents. Oh, what fun! This was a very eye opening endeavour, and we learned a lot about where many medical people's hearts are at...it was all good news. We also learned about how restrictive protocols and policies can be and how they inhibit some of the ways some of these people really wish they could work. There is lots of exciting work to do in these areas to create more satisfactory birth experiences for families who want/need to birth in a hospital. Working together, I truly believe good changes can be made. People often think I'm a PollyAnna and a dimwit for holding onto that hope. But I stand by it. Yes, I am myself a home birther. Yes, I point women who want to take that route to all the resources available whenever it seems they want this option. Yes, I sometimes feel I am being asked to witness train wrecks. Yes, sometimes what happens in hospitals is terribly hurtful and frustrating. But as MOST women are still wanting to birth in the hospital because this is where they feel safest, I feel focusing my energies on ensuring these potentially overly managed births, often the price for this sense of safety, have a lot of input from well informed, well prepared parents. I also feel it is crucial for these women and men to have emotional buffering when necessary. Everyone deserves support in labour, to have their choices honoured, and to feel heard and loved. This is the essence of doula work.

I also went to Madagascar this year! Yes, I am still intending to blog about this experience, but as you can see, work has been crazy! I will get there. It was incredible! The preparation to get this trip underway was no easy feat, and it took a lot of time and energy, again, well worth the effort.

On a personal note, my eldest baby turned 18 and my youngest baby started Kindergarten this year. My sisters came from the UK to visit because one of them got married here in Quebec...a truly lovely wedding. My mom and stepfather had some health challenges that are now, thank Goodness, behind them (ptu ptu ptu). It felt like a real blessing to have Christmas together with everyone in good health. I lost my friend Lhasa to breast cancer early this year. If it taught me anything, it was to seize opportunities and to be very grateful for every day.

I attended 42 births this year and saw 47 babies enter into this world. This is, thank Goodness, 21 births less than I attended last year. My goal had been to attend much less births. While 42 births is still a ton given everything else I've been doing, it was technically still a bit of an easier year in terms of birth attending. I am so glad for the MotherWit team who are slowly beginning to take over the volume of births I'm trying to let go of little by little. My goal is to do significantly less this year so I can focus on teaching, as I have been receiving requests from different places to train doulas. I also REALLY want to finish my book. I had hoped it would have been done this year, but not yet.

Many people think doulas have good stats because we attract couples who want natural births. This is so not always the case. As doula work becomes more mainstream, it is not necessarily those who are hoping for a natural birth who seek out our services. Often it's couples who are savvy of how lost they may become within the hospital system, and just really want an anchor, or to ensure there will be someone there to trust them and give them support when they feel afraid. As I said, everyone deserves support in childbirth, not just those who have the goal of natural childbirth in mind.

The main demographic of my clients are educated middle to upper class couples. They are of varying races, religions, and sexual orientation. While having a large percentage of educated, prosperous couples as clients may sound easy, I assure you this is not often the case. Many of these couples come to birth having been very focused on careers up 'til this point, and are educated about birth via friends (who love to share horror stories), media, and their doctors. The connection they forge with their bodies and their emotional needs as soon to be parents (with our guidance) is often very new. Our way of helping couples prepare for birth is less intellectual and more about encouraging them NOT to trust a clock or a number, but to tune into themselves. It is not easy encouraging women who have spent all their lives in control of things to let go and allow this primal process to unfold organically. They often refer to "those other ladies" who can squat in the fields, not realizing that they are capable of that too. Their doctors also often assume that because they are educated and career oriented that they will be thrilled with the "civilized" way of birth (induction and epidural), so it's often promoted as a good thing for them. One of my clients was offered a planned Cesarean (not often done in Quebec at all), probably simply because she comes from a very wealthy family, and it was assumed (wrongly) that she would feel too posh to push. Believe me, we have our work cut out for us to help women connect to those fledgling, barely whispered of hopes they hold that maybe they could have births like the women in those documentaries, even if they're not planning to give birth at home in a kiddie pool but with a high risk obstetrician at a tertiery care hospital because they're on the long toothed side of 35, and in spite of the fact they are getting most of their childbirth education from a culture who looks to A Baby Story for inspiration. To those of you who really know birth, I know this sounds like an impossible dream. But I am telling you, even though they're not birthing in pools, they are getting to places they never thought they'd go, and these ladies who are often told by their friends and doctors that they WILL be begging for "their" epidurals (as if there's one just waiting to scoop up every birthing woman) as soon as the going gets really tough, ARE BIRTHING NATURALLY! With doulas, anyway. Yes, we still see way more epidurals and Cesareans than we otherwise would if most of these women planned to give birth at home, but substantially more than half of my mamas birthed naturally this year.

Out of these 42 births, only 2 this year were planned outside of a hospital (both were planned at a Maison de Naissance, or Birth House for those of you who don't speak French or Frenglish, which is a free standing birthing clinic run by midwives...no doctors on staff). One lady was transferred from there to the hospital to give birth, and another gave birth so quickly her midwife barely had time to run to her house to catch her baby. All of the rest happened in hospitals. In the downtown Montreal area, hospital birthing women have up to 98% epidural rates, meaning about 2% of first time mothers here birth without epidural. According to nurses, most of those women wanted an epidural, but didn't get it on time. Midwives do not make up hospital staff here. All of these births were attended by doctors.

I had a higher percentage than usual of Cesarean births this year. So, in total, 7 surgical births: 1 planned for twins because both were breech (the doctor on call said he would attempt to assist with a vaginal birth, but the mother chose otherwise), 1 planned for twins because one twin was definitely showing signs of distress before labour had even begun, 1 mom induced with 41 week twins (after 36 hours of labour, things didn't progress), 1 singleton birth planned at 37 weeks for vasa previa, 1 attempted singleton VBAC attempting lady had a repeat C-section for fetal distress due to an abrupted placenta (they thought maybe the uterus had ruptured), 1 planned for twins with a pre-ecclamptic mom with a breech first baby, and one long singleton labour that ended with fetal distress and an emergency Cesarean. All babies were born healthy, or became healthy quickly after birth. This is just shy of a 17 per cent Csection rate, which is the WORST I've ever had. As you can see, the majority of these surgical births involved twins. There is SO much work to be done to support twin moms, who are subject to a crazy amount of intervention.

8 of my ladies had epidurals (the ladies who had Csections only had epidurals at the very end of labour because they knew they were going to have surgery, or were planned, so I don't count them in this stat). 3 were for long, hard posterior labours, 2 were for Cervidil/Pit induced labours, one lady got one at 8cm after her Cervix hadn't changed after 1.5 hours with transition contractions...wasn't attached to natural birth, , and two wanted them when labour started getting really tough because they had both had traumatic birth experiences before and were terrified of experiencing that level of pain for a long time again. They felt it was what they needed to feel safe. Epidural rate, 19%

27 of my clients experienced natural birth. Some were "augmented" because of waters being broken for a long time before labour starting, but they gave birth without epidural or IV narcotics.

Out of these natural births 11 were first time moms (one mom of twins in there), 3 were VBACS, and the rest (13) were subsequent vaginal births, most second and a couple of third babies. 64% natural births.

So, folks, that's this doula's year in review. I cannot thank those enough who had me at their births, and to all those who have helped and supported MotherWit get off the ground. You are all appreciated.

I will leave you with a nice story. I encountered a lovely resident at the hospital today who told me she had been one of the residents to attend the workshop I gave earlier this year. She told me this workshop had really touched her, and that it had been exciting and eye opening. After my client gave birth with her usual beautiful grace, on her hands and knees with her husband helping, and she and her husband and baby had had some time to bond and bask in the glory of their experience for a while, the resident came up to them and said with her eyes shining, "Thank you so much for the honour of sharing in such a special time in your life." The message I really tried to give to the residents was to remember this...that no matter how many births they attend, no matter how interesting of a "case" it may be, these patients of theirs are bringing life into the world, and that it is sacred and special. I emphasized that if those patients will remember anything about the people who were involved with their births, it will be how honouring their caregivers were of them. It was really moving to see this resident not only act as if were not just an ordinary part of her day, but to express the sacredness of their experience with her gratitude. May this trend continue....

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Doula Boundaries re: Finances

Occasionally I will have a client who finds out that when she must have a planned Cesarean, she feels she no longer wants doula services, or wants extra postpartum care instead. If this is planned in advance and all are on board, this is fine. Doulas are flexible, and usually don't mind doing some extra postpartum visits instead, or a friendly termination of services if this is appropriate.

I have heard a few doulas tell me, however, that their clients decided at the last minute they felt a doula at their Cesarean birth was pointless, and demanded other services that were not really within the scope of the birth doula's work, like night nanny-ing or older child care, in order for the doula to earn the fee. If this is something the doula is really happy with, whatever a client and doula want to do is their business. I feel, however, as a reasonably experienced doula, that contracts are essential to establishing clear boundares. I know they can feel uncomfortable to a doula who is so willing to give everything and bend over backwards to serve all the desires of her client. Doulas serve. This is our essential definition. And because birth is so incredibly unpredictable and changeable, flexibility is part of our natures. But boundaries are important. Doulas need to honour their worth and refrain from feeling badly for taking pay because, for example, a birth went very quickly, or from allowing their family income to take a huge financial hit because they weren't comfortable standing up for themselves. This can cause resentfulness and burnout. Contracts make things clear. They are important for doulas, especially for newer doulas who are scared of making a client uncomfortable.

If a client signs on for a birth and has agreed to the listed things in the contract such as "if you choose not to have your doula after your prenatal meetings, you are still responsible for the remainder of the fee", this fee is still owed. Period. Doulas meet with their clients before any official prenatal work is done in order to ensure both parties like the chemistry. That can usually be sensed immediately. If the client decides at the last minute she'd prefer her best friend to you after the work you've done together and fails to contact you for the birth, your contract protects you. It is certainly her right to not have you come at the last minute, but your fee is still due. If a baby comes too fast, for example, we still must be paid. A planned Cesarean is still a birth. It is wrong to assume that a doula's presence is not very valuable for a Cesarean birth. While she cannot go into the operating room with a client much of the time, especially if the mother's partner is going in to support her, there is much we can do after the surgery.

A doula's work is so unpredictable, and outcomes are beyond her control. She should not be penalized for her client's last minute choices. She will not have had time to book another client with such short notice, and this can severely affect her livelihood.

Sometimes clients will expect special services because they decided a doula at their C-section was not necessary, and this is not fair. A doula lovingly and thoroughly prepares her clients for the birth of their baby, however that unfolds. We cannot guarantee a vaginal birth. We can't guarantee anything. To expect that we'll just do something convenient for the parents in place of birth attending is like their asking for a free dessert from a restaurant because despite the effort of our crafting a wonderful and elabourate meal that was requested by them, for whatever reason it turned out they didn't want to eat it, or pay the balance. As it was the customers who came to the restaurant in the first place and placed a request that you have refused other requests for in order to accommodate this one, it is only fair there is financial accountability for the original order instead of having to delve into the chocolate mousse resources to "make up" for the balance they owe. It's not the restaurant's fault the client now doesn't want the caviar and truffle souffle. Now, granted, if the meal were terribly prepared and served, this would be another issue, and should be something the parents can dispute. But generally, signing on for all the prenatal preparation, postpartum follow up, and a birth means that regardless of how the birth has to go, the doula has been asked to provide a service and must be paid according to her contract and not get ripped off because she didn't replace her service with another coveted one. Birth doulas are not babysitters or night nannies. We attend births. Cesarean is birth. The vast majority of clients who want these other services don't even ask whether or not this would require a different payment structure or a different service provider...it is apparent to most. But occasionally some don't, and when this happens, the doula must be firm in standing up for herself, even if this means taking action to get the pay her contract states is owed to her.

I had a client recently who knew before our first face to face meeting she would have to birth via C-section. We decided to do less prenatal visits, decided I would be at the hospital for her and her partner while she birthed, and that I would do extra postpartum work. We were all very happy with this arrangement. I have had other couples ask me, "If I end up having to have a planned Cesarean, I don't feel I'll need you there as I've been through Cesarean before. Can we have something in the contract which states I can refrain from paying the birth attending fee?" And I will agree to that if they know a few weeks ahead of time. This gives me the opportunity to book someone else in their spot. Requested flexibility is not an issue. However, if a client signs her contract in advance knowing she is bound to pay for birth services, whether she asks her doula to be there or not, then that's what she needs to do.

Birth attending is an amazing joy. Sometimes births are short and we make quite a great wage if you add it up hourly. And sometimes with loooonggg births, especially if we missed another birth because someone's birth was very early and loooonngg and another person went very late (this can happen even if you only book one lady per month), you can end up in the hole financially. We have to plan for these occasional contingencies, and take those rare but sad hits. But if our flexible natures which love to serve and to please our clients make us pushovers, we will inevitably get taken advantage of at some point. And yes, it IS true that if we speak up for ourselves and claim our right to decent pay, we can get the reputation of being hard assed. But it also shows we respect ourselves and value our work. Being firm has in fact only helped my business as opposed to send clients running to someone else. When YOU know your value, it is apparent to potential clients as well.

I personally don't quibble about my prices. I don't give people money off here or money off there because they feel my price is high. Every doula knows the feeling of walking into the home of someone who owns a BMW or you see a $1000 stroller in the corner, or the couple just came back from a big vacation to Jamaica, and then the clients want to negotiate a "better deal". I have never had a problem lowering my price for people who clearly are struggling with finances and who seem very committed to investing in their birth experience. A colleague of mine was recently approached by a pregnant teenager who said, "I need a doula, but I have no money. I can bake, and I can knit." This honest, upfront approach impressed her, she agreed, and they both had an incredibly rewarding experience. If women are genuinely disadvantaged, I send them to a doula organization which specifically helps women in need. But for the vast majority of my clients, my price is my price. Those who initially found it quite high change their minds after the birth is done. The 24 hour on call committment, doing our best and pulling out all stops in terms of support in the throes of extreme sleep deprivation, helping clients gather enough information to make choices that in the end spare them from a potential C-section and the recovery time and breastfeeding challenges ensuing from a high tech birth, having to reschedule sometimes 2 days of appointments, missing our 2 year old's birthday party, etc.....this kind of service is incredibly valuable, and the far reaching effects of a satisfying birth and postpartum experience are global. When the birth is done, clients are very aware of all you have done.

Doulas out there, you are amazing. Within a scattered, unpredictable, crazy making job, a firm backbone of boundaries in the area of finances is crucial for your mental and emotional health, as well as that of your family. Never doubt your worth.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Missing the Forest for the Trees: Birthing in an MRI Machine

I came across the above article from a Facebook friend, and have to say it left me with a dizzying sense of sadness. A woman gave birth in an MRI machine in Germany. The stated intention behind this crazy endeavour was to set up a study which seeks to examine why doctors "have" to deliver so many babies by C-section. They want to unlock the mystery as to why some women can birth 10 pounders and others have 7 pounders which get stuck. They want to understand why so many babies' craniums are disproportionately large for their mothers' pelvises. When the article went on to state the researchers were trying to get a better understanding of the mechanics of birth, I didn't know whether to laugh my head off, barf, or hit someone.

Firstly, even open MRI machines, which is what this woman birthed in, are not in any way conducive to normal labour. I highly doubt she could have been any way but lying on her back. I could be wrong, but from images I've seen it doesn't appear to be possible in another position. So if you are trying to study the mechanics of labour yet put a woman under a machine on her back, can you be seriously believing you are studying something that even remotely approaches normal labour mechanics? The vast majority of women in this world who have given birth normally, meaning unmedicated and largely undirected, would not even conceive of lying on their backs to birth. If the baby is trying to push that nice flexible sacrum away with his face as he begins to extend his wee head, the joints of that sacrum being suffused with lovely, bone-opening Relaxin, what kind of slap in the face is it to find that the sacrum won't move because it's sandwiched between his head and the bed his mother is lying upon...on her back? Mom is directed to resort to purple pushing with people yelling at her that she HAS to create intra-uterine pressure by holding her breath and popping her eyeballs, effectively turning herself into a human pop-gun. The rush and stress of all that direction and being yelled at not to yell when it is all you want to do, makes MY pelvic floor contract at the the thought of it. Purple pushing is NOT NORMAL!!!! But close off the space, and Mom may have to resort to it.

I doubt this nifty MRI machine, closed or not, accommodates the positions most women adopt during physiological labour, which are more hands and knees or crouching stances. And they will probably want to YELL as they push their babies down, and move around a lot, which is probably not great when you're trying to get an MRI image. She will not actually be "wasting" her contractions, or "lessening the efficiency" or "be doing it wrong" if she doesn't surrender to the needs of the MRI machine and the desires of the doctors who "deliver her". But she will likely be made to feel like she is in the wrong, the negative emotions created by this circus contributing to some of the mess I as a doula have to help a woman process after her birth to heal from her experience so she doesn't remain unconfident, traumatized, and subject to depression..and this is without even having birthed in a machine. Women don't birth "wrong". Yeah, sometimes the unexpected happens, and thank goodness for science then, but the way women adjust and adapt their bodies to the process is instinctive, and to change them is usually inappropriate and problem CAUSING. Just check out the powerful, gorgeous, loud birther of Jason Shawn in this YouTube clip. I dare you to tell this woman to shut up and get on her back because that's the "best way"! I in no way see in this clip a woman suffering or out of control...I see a woman expressing her most authentic power, and it is pretty much the opposite of a medicated woman in a machine lying on her back. I don't see why this kind of birth can only happen either with midwives or unassisted. Why can't OBs hold the space for this kind of birth too? It's obviously not like they have to do much.


If you observe a woman birthing and you have the attitude there is something inherently wrong with our birthing design, and you're creating a study to determine her potential biological flaws so the people in white coats can "fix" us, I assure you, you will not be watching a normal birth, mechanics aside. Your doubt filled observations will affect the process. If you are trying to have an orgasm and you sense you're being observed and judged, you're going to lose your mojo a little. If you're trying to have a crap, you have a time limit in which to achieve it, people are observing you and perhaps even commentating, would the efficacy of your bowels not be affected just a smidge? Is it not considered a common thing for gentlemen to have pee shyness when another guy stands beside his urinal? How on earth can we expect a woman experiencing an event as challenging and dare I say as sacred as childbirth be remotely normal in this INSANE context? We're not even scratching the surface here, as there are other reasons many of the cases of shoulder dystocia and "CPD" could be occurring, such as the over use of labour stimulants, epidural anaesthesia, etc, which are all known to have a potential effect upon normal hormonal flow AND mechanics.

As a woman, a woman who knows the triumph of having birthed normally 4 times, and as a doula who has witnessed so many potentially unnecessary hospital horrors my tears could fill an ocean, this whole article did not make me execute jumpy claps at the marvels of science. It made me feel terrified for the future of birthing women, because I really think much of what this study will find is blame for the woman and her brilliant design to justify the expense and effort put into it, as opposed to illuminating the sheer arrogance and danger of trying to determine how birth fails by breaking it down and examining it right down to its smallest particle. What if we were to focus more upon the preventative benefits of nourishing the whole process, perhaps even doing a little humble bowing in the face of such Mystery...woman's mystery...now and again? You know, even Joe Public understands that many Cesareans are iatrogenically generated. Don't these researchers know this?! There is no motherwit here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New MotherWit Birth Doula Training

The MotherWit team and I are excited to officially announce the new MotherWit Holistic Birth Doula Training, which will be taking place in Montreal, Canada. It will be 2 four day intensives, the dates being: February 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th 2011, and March 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th.

Having been a doula for going on 2 decades and having been training doulas since 2003, I feel very confident students will find this the most thorough training on how to begin to make a real change in our modern birth culture. By providing accurate information, supporting a woman through the emotional ups and downs of the childbearing year, lovingly and without judgement advocating a couple's choices, and helping to create a cocoon of safety within which a couple can confidently put their feet to the path of birth and parenthood are ways in which doulas contribute to better birth experiences. We help women reclaim their innate knowing, their intuitive wisdom...their motherwit....trusting they are the experts in what they need to give themselves the best chance at birthing triumphantly.

Birth doulas contribute to the healing of a struggling birth culture, and this potential lies in remaining grass roots, true to our natures, while everything else grows rapidly more clinical and structured around us. While we learn the often challenging essentials of birth, as women we learn through story, through sharing, by paying attention to our own emotional landscapes and the feelings of others. As we build scientific knowledge, we build emotional intelligence, learning skills such as diplomacy towards those who hold different views from ours, non judgement, and active listening. Babies and nursing toddlers are welcome within our circle, as mothers should never be excluded from learning skills that support other women. If we have trouble learning women's work in the presence of noisy babies, we have lost our way. MotherWit is about reclaiming our ways.

While we are grassroots at heart, we work within a highly structured system when attending hospital birth. It is essential to understand thoroughly what a client may expect while birthing there, and how to skillfully bridge the gap between a highly technical and grassroots approach. While we maintain a holistic approach, we strive to be non-flakey, as our real job of healing is not about preaching to the converted...it's helping everyone feel safe within our presence by being knowledgable and compassionate about where people are coming from. No true healing will come from an antagonistic approach to birth support. Respect for all is essential. And when things make you feel powerless, which they sometimes will, we have ways to help you cope with that too.

We believe firmly in the apprenticeship of new doulas as they embark upon their new work with their hands held for awhile. It is simply not enough to say, "Here, take this information," and expect you to have enough knowledge and wisdom to support a birthing couple, especially in the hospital system, without having seen a big sister doula in action a few times. To truly understand the scope of our practice and the strength of the space of safety we hold for our ladies to birth within, it takes time. It takes observation without pressure, and a safe space in which to process witnessed birth experiences, and ask many questions. MotherWit provides the opportunity for apprenticeship.

What some former students have said about the MotherWit Birth Doula Training:

" I could not have picked a better guide to lead my journey into finally claiming my life's work: empowering women in their birth choices." MT

"You are enriching so many women's experiences and opening the doors which enable women to find their truths." KdeJ

"Thank you so much for encouraging me to come and helping to facilitate what I needed to do for my own healing. It's more bearable when there's someone willing to stop justifying and just agree that sometimes 'that just sucks, dude.' Absolute heart felt gratitude for your teaching and support." KO

"Thank you for being our teachers, our mentors, and our healers."LT

We are very much looking forward to seeing you in the new year.

If doula wannabes in the Toronto area are looking for some doula training, let us know, as this summer we're hoping to travel to your fair city.

For doula organizations or experienced solo doulas (30 plus births) who are interested in providing excellent mentorship to future doulas, MotherWit also provides a weekend workshop in being a MotherWit Birth Doula Mentor. Embrace the art of teaching apprentices, and share the wisdom of your experience, woman to woman. We will travel for a group of 10 or more.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In the Wake of SuperMom


This has been an intense past three weeks. I attended six births, several of which were extremely challenging. I opened up the MotherWit Doula Care Centre, which meant a lot of shopping, building, painting, decorating, and all those little things it takes to make a space for parents and babies as warm and welcoming as can be. Obviously, I had a lot of help with that, and owe endless gratitude to Lewina and Sesch for sewing, Millie for painting and cleaning, and Steph for cleaning and furniture building. Most of all, I thank my husband Mitchell, who does every single little thing I don't have time to do, can't figure out how to do, or don't anticipate is necessary. It takes a village to support a doula. Also, I began a new series of MotherWit Birth Essentials Prenatal Classes, and prepared for the MotherWit Postpartum Doula Training, which entailed creating a 100 page training manual in 2.5 days (my apologies for wonky editing to all my students who are now discovering it). Lastly I taught, with the assistance of Millie Tresierra(MotherWit Postpartum Doula extraordinaire), the training itself. Any of you who have ever given 4 full days of training know how much energy it takes to hold that space and give what is needed in the time you have. There was the added emotional stress of having a mother who has been having serious health challenges (though all seems to be fine now, thank goodness).

So again, Phew.

Sometimes as trainers, it takes our own trainings to make us see up close and personal how we don't always walk our own talk. While all of these things I had to do were necessary at the time, it was only during and after the training I realized a few things. One thing in particular I noticed was the overwhelming amount of praise I received for working at such a manic pace. I was being congratulated for all the energy I had, and there were encouragements to keep on going. And to be honest, my ego sucked all that praise up to fuel the fires of insanity. All those who bestowed praise upon me had nothing but the best intentions in mind and at heart, and I do thank them for their appreciation of my efforts. But next time anyone sees my running around like a manic chicken with a newly missing head, sit me down, make me some tea, and tell me what I'm doing is crazy.

As those who have trained with me know, I am not just about giving information on how to help women have and mother babies. I craft the trainings within a framework of acknowledgement of how our culture is severely wounded with regards to the fundamental feminine experiences of birth and mothering. I see doulas as healers of this culture, bringing about balance as we illuminate other potential paths to our ladies, helping them to reclaim their motherwit, their intuitive, innate knowledge about their bodies and ways to tend to their babies. It is nothing new or magical, simply a reminder of what they, in their heart of hearts, already know. We seek to bring choice back into the hands of the woman and her family, empowering her through providing information and offering her emotional support as she finds the confidence within to make choices about birth and mothering appropriate for her and her baby. We trust the mothers in our care deeply, when others may try to erode their confidence about their instincts or attempt to lead them away from their most personal beliefs.

In order for the doulas I teach to be able to facilitate this empowered choice making and hold hearts full of non-judgemental support for those choices, I strongly emphasise doulas take their own emotional healing into their own hands, making regular personal time for reflection/meditation/journaling/etc. a requirement.

Our postpartum doula training introduced the coiffed, perfectly made-up, uber-Pilated, jauntily caped and leotarded vixen we referred to as SuperMom. She's quite a character, is SuperMom. She can, as the 70's commercial for some perfume used to brag, "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget you're a man". We may laugh. We may swear we are not like her at all. Oh, dear ones, but we are. Her June Cleaver facade may make her pretty, but her intention is to enslave us all.

SuperMom is the energy which spurs us to take up crazy feats. She is the energy which says, "you have just given birth. Your baby is sleeping. Excellent, that gives you time to clean the house, send thank you notes, do your exercises so you can fit into your prepregnant jeans in record time to make your friends jealous, and meal plan." Our inner wise Grandmothers, who have always known the key to postpartum healing is rest and nourishment, may give us a little extra bleeding or plugged ducts as a sign it is time to slow down and be present for ourselves and our babies. "Nonesense!" cries SuperMom, eshewing the wisdom of Grandmother. "What's a little plugged duct? Suck it up and keep going!" So new mothers put these signs aside and slog through the fatigue and discomforts, slaves to the ideal of "woman who is the highest achiever after birth is the best."

We know intellectually this pushing ourselves isn't healthy. We know in the deep wisdom of our bodies this hyper productivity is damaging. Yet there is guilt when we don't live up to the SuperMom ideal. Our mothers tell us, "When I had you, I was alone all day and managed to get everything done. Your father always had dinner on the table waiting for him and a clean house. We didn't go running to you every time you cried like all you new mothers do today." When we are running on fumes alone, our plugged ducts threatening to blossom into mastitis, our bleeding giving way to hemmorhage, SuperMom spurs us on, hidden in the voices that tell us how AMAZING we are for all we are achieving, how ENVIOUS everyone is of our energy and accomplishments. And wow, you just gave birth! I wish I could be just like you!

It's of no matter to SuperMom you have feelings of deep sadness about your birth experience if it didn't go how you'd hoped. The voices of Supermom assure you there is nothing to feel angry about or grieve over because, after all, you have a perfectly healthy baby and that's all that matters. The blues Grandmother sends your way to dampen your spirit so you will stop and look inward for answers are ignored, and your feelings go farther and farther underground, your truth depressed.

I want postpartum doulas to bring wisdom into a culture of insanity, embodying the voice of Grandmother so her words are louder than those of SuperMom, who, underneath all that makeup and washboard abdominal muscle is a newborn mommy needing someone to validate her strength and power as well as nourish her vulnerability.

As the training went along, I realized how active SuperMom has been in my life these past few weeks, and how much pride I took in her using and battering my body and mind for her own single-minded purpose of total control over everything, perfectly executed. My plan after the training was to jump right back into work and see all those clients ASAP who couldn't POSSIBLY do without me for one more day, thinking how much better a person I was for believing rest is a luxury, or simply for the lazy. Silly. Thank goodness my wise students were strong channelers of Grandmother, and in that spirit I took to my bed all day yesterday, dozing for hours, doing fun things like reading and taking my kids out to see Harry Potter. And nobody perished or fell apart without my presence. Duh. And now that I've refueled, I have so much more to bring to the world anyway.

One doesn't need to be a mother to have an overactive SuperMom flitting about in her tights (with no runs in them, of course). It's just an energy of overachievment and the pride our ego takes in response. But for a mother, it takes on a whole new tone because there is just SO much to tend to, so many emotions at stake, and so many expectations and criticisms to endure. For new mothers, this energy is particularly dangerous, and to encourage one to value her rest and honour her need to take life slowly sets the tone for a saner motherhood as the role develops and grows. As every new mother gives herself the permission to rest, eat, and stare lovingly at her baby with a full, present heart and leaky, drippy boobs, we heal.

My advice to those stuck in the wake of SuperMom: make a little sign, post it on the ceiling over your bed so it's one of the first things you see when you wake up in the morning, that says, "Dear One,I can take care of the world just fine by myself today. Love, God". (or whatever word you may want to interject there).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Doulas Teaching Doctors

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do a little workshop yesterday with medical residents on the role of the doula in childbirth, and how to help a woman deal with the strong sensations of the second stage of labour.

Just to give a bit of a background: I work at all the hospitals in Montreal pretty much, and have always tended to favour the birth experiences in which family doctors are the primary caregivers. For one, I see a lot more consistency in their practices. If the woman's doctor can't be there, the one who is on call tends to have a very similar approach, and she isn't shocked by a radically different philosophy that sometimes exists between one obstetrician and another. I am of course generalizing, however I do see a strong tendency towards consistency. Consistency builds security, and security contributes to better birth experiences.

Another reason I enjoy births in which family doctors are present, is that they tend to have a much more relaxed approach. In Montreal, I see more babies caught in the hands and knees position by family docs than I do with their moms in the stranded beetle posture. Family doctors tend to hang out in the labour room more, building rapport. I also generally find they encourage questions, respect concerns, do their best to answer questions, and are invested not just in a good clinical outcome, but in the emotional well being of their patients too. Plus the continuity of care is attractive to many couples. Often the same family doctor who took care of them prenatally will take the baby on as a patient too...perhaps even all the family members. In a city where finding a family doctor is nearly impossible, this is an appealing option for medical care if indeed a hospital birth is desired, but with as little interruption/routine procedures/sledgehammer obstetrics as possible. Not to knock sledgehammer obstetrics...it certainly has its time and place, and thank goodness for that. But many women want a low tech birth even though they are not comfortable birthing at home or at a free standing birthing centre. For these women, the care of family doctors provides them with what they're looking for.

A nice thing about the family doctors I've worked with over the years, is that they are generally very supportive of doula care. Because of this mutual appreciation and respect, the birthing environment is usually really nice for Mom and her partner. No, it's not home birth for all you readers who don't feel safe or like birthing in a hospital, yes, there are still strangers, shift changes, and not total control over your environment (in my town you won't get to birth in a bathtub or squatting over the toilet even if it's what you really want when it's time for the baby to emerge) and yes, there are rules and restrictions that are hospital policy no matter who the caregiver is... but as I said, for those who WANT a decent experience AND embrace the benefits of medical care even if it means following a few rules, the phrase "nice hospital birth" does not have to be an oxymoron. If I didn't often have lovely hospital birth experiences, I couldn't do my job. I'd be a depressed wreck.

What I'm basically saying is that my highest ratio of truly lovely hospital birth experiences takes place under the care of family physicians. In fact, my second child was born into the hands of a gentle, loving, encouraging family doctor after my midwife felt it was necessary to transport me to the hospital, and my one hospital birth experience was just fine. True, an impatient nurse literally made my exhausted midwife cry by blaming her because I was choosing not to stay on a monitor (I was not trying to be a "bad" patient, I had just been in way too much pain for too long to be able to stand still long enough to get more than a 30 second trace), but the doctors themselves were godsends. One of them actually slow danced with me through a few contractions. Her comfort with touch and willingness to use her body to support a woman in nutso labour is not something you see every day.

At the MotherWit Doula Training Intensive I gave this summer in Morin Heights, Quebec, I was graced by the presence of a lovely student who happens to do administrative work for the group of baby catching family doctors I like best. She had a lot of ideas about how cool it would be to do some doula-led info sessions to residents to help them learn how to appropriately and effectively be with a labouring lady.

At first I thought this was a great idea. A couple of doctor friends of mine, though, didn't. Both thought that time is so tight for residents, that learning now to hang out with birthing women and rub their backs wasn't going to be time well spent, that improving basic skills was much more productive...not to dis my profession, or anything. And truly, I heard that, and figured, "oh, true...good point". After all, that kind of "fluffy" stuff (that's how it's perceived, anyway) is my job, not a doctor's. I agree that a new doctor's focus is going to be on medical care, not doula work. However, after having now done the workshop and having reflected upon some experiences I've had with residents in the past, I am absolutely glad I did it and my suspicion that imparting a few simple doula tricks to medical residents would prove to be valuable was true.

To be an excellent clinician in no way means you automatically know how to approach birthing women with wisdom. Wisdom grows, and planting a few seeds is not time wasted. Yes, doctors needing to improve their clinical skills is crucial. But to be a doctor means to interact with patients, in this case vulnerable, open, life giving women who are having peak experiences of pain and physical/emotional catharses. Some manners to keep that experience sacred, if you will, are important to learn.

I have known of and seen residents do the following (please don't judge them harshly...they are learning, and most of them are young and sweet...they make me want to feed them soup): talk about the baby in the next room who just suffered from major shoulder dystocia while they are standing between the legs of a woman whose baby is crowning...answer and talk on a cell phone WHILE doing a vaginal exam...allow a discussion to unfold, inspired by the fact that the woman in front of them has been pushing for a long while, about the baby earlier in the day who died from a complication and that that mom had been pushing for a long time too....tell a woman that she CANNOT deliver unless she BLOCKS her air and GETS MAD at the baby and PUSHES it out HARD....examine a woman because she has had some mild bleeding and cramping and given what's going on with her cervix tells her in no uncertain terms that she will NOT go into labour on her own, will have to be induced, and that a natural birth will be impossible, and not to set herself up for disappointment (the lady birthed completely normally 6 hours later, by the way...I have known of this resident to say this to a couple of my clients, only to be wrong each time). This is but a small sample of many anecdotes.

So instead of us getting mad at them and irate about their insensitive treatment (and many of them are born with an acute awareness of others' emotional needs...we're just discussing a few who need to develop this awareness), why not get more pro active and guide them towards a bit more awareness of the quality of their presence? I believe in people's hearts, and I truly do not think any of these residents held bad intent in theirs. They are simply so busy learning how to be fantastic clinical care providers that it can be easy to forget that behind the pelvis is a woman and her partner...who are extremely vulnerable. The fact that doctors are entering into their practices NOT necessarily having been taught Ina May's words to live by: "If a woman doesn't look like a goddess in birth, someone isn't treating her right," means there are major gaps in medical training. Because as midwives and doulas, we are acutely aware that labour can malfunction when a mother becomes physically and emotionally distressed. Labour can stall. The sensations become more painful and make it much harder for a woman to embrace them. They can panic. It is not a wonder that lots of doctors don't view birth as beautiful and transformational, but as an act of suffering. Most doctors I know claim they will probably want an epidural when they themselves give birth. Most of the births they have seen have not been normal.

If the quantum physics theory (and obviously I'm being very general here) states that the observed "object" changes given how it is observed and by whom, Ina May may has hit the nail on the head. Be calm, present, aware, and respectful of the sacredness of the birthing woman's work, and maybe, just maybe, the quality of one's presence can influence the mother's sense of well being, thus creating a greater potential for smoother physiological functioning. It sure doesn't hurt, does it? Midwives and doulas believe and embody this belief, and act accordingly. Doulas do not just rub backs, suggest positions, and have our clients just talk about their feelings with us the live long day. We actually hold an energetic space...a strong, loving space within which a mother can birth confidently and hopefully as normally as possible. And if it doesn't work out that way, the benefit of our support is just as important, if not more, to keep her feeling strong and centred. I think this is the magic inherent in our better than average outcomes. Given the much studied and well documented fact that a doula's presence in the birthing room can, quite simply, make birth go better, I believe we have a lot to teach.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to show up on a particular date, but didn't have any information about what I was supposed to talk about until 2 days before the scheduled workshop. Then two days ago I received an email. The email basically said, "talk for 5 minutes about what a doula is and what she does, then for 25 minutes provide some concrete techniques for pain control in the second stage of labour. A doctor will talk more about pain control for about 10 minutes, and then there will be a question and answer period."

Give me a birth related topic and I can talk about it for hours, so I just jotted down a few notes. As I got closer to the building the workshop was being held in, I began to get a bit nervous. I don't normally get nervous anymore before teaching or public speaking, but I was feeling antsy. I walked into the room, feeling more confident because some of my MotherWit colleagues joined up with me, and was pretty surprised to see how many residents were actually there. More nerves. The family doctor who was facilitating this workshop was finishing up teaching about communicating with women they suspected were in abusive situations. Finally, it was our turn to speak. A few of the residents there had never heard of a doula, so we talked about who doulas are and what we do, and why what we do works.

To make a long story short, as I've been blathering on for long enough, we discussed the fact that though I was asked to talk about "pain control", I couldn't do that, as doulas don't do pain control, that in fact if a mom wants to birth normally, trying to control her pain could actually affect her progress. So that led to a discussion about the benefits of labour pain, which are probably not extolled as a virtue in medical school. We help moms embrace their sensations, work through their pain and provide the comfort measures and emotional support to help them with that task. Of course if they need or want pain control, we stand back and embrace anaesthesia too. We talked about how doulas don't really have an agenda about how a woman gives birth, but that we are invested in her feeling as powerful about her experience as possible.

Then I talked about oxytocin. A simple thing that residents can do to make birth more comfortable for Mom is to respect that the oxytocin/ endorphin interplay is fickle, and that things don't function as well when people are not respectful of the birthing environment. I asked them to imagine what it would be like if they themselves were trying to have a major poop, and people kept knocking on the door, asking how things were going and telling them the clock was ticking. Keeping that in mind, I asked them how it may feel to be a labouring mom who is experiencing some crazy sensations, feeling like a watermelon is in her rectum, is put on her back so strangers can see and touch her privates, and yelled at to PUSH! What might the mojo feel like to her? We talked about being wary of talking about other cases while in the presence of a birthing woman, or making her feel negatively judged, etc. We talked about oxytocin as being "zee 'ormone of looove", and that the more oxytocin, usually the more endorphins, which will contribute to helping a mom deal with her pain without us having to do much.

We talked about respecting physiology...why birthing on the back is, for most woman, probably a lot more painful than doing what feels natural, which is using gravity and utilizing the mobility
of the sacrum instead of sandwiching it between the baby's head and a bed. We talked about purple pushing...y'all know my views about that. Sesch and Lewina (my sister MotherWitties) and I demonstrated different pushing positions women seem to like. I passed around pictures of a woman giving birth on hands and knees and showing how a sacrum allowed its full range of motion will sometimes result in the baby's posterior shoulder coming out first. We showed a video clip of a woman birthing unassisted making the most powerful, loudest, beautiful-est, guttural noises you have ever heard, showing that no, purple pushing in normal birth is usually not necessary.

Sesch, Lewina, and I demonstrated how the residents could help to facilitate relaxation by centering themselves, speaking calmly, using reassuring touch and gentle guidance to help talk a really frightened, freaking out woman off a ledge. Sesch is fantastic at playing a stressed out birthing lady, and she yelled out while crossing her legs and drawing up her bum, "I HAVE to POO. AAARRRGHHH!" while I did the doula thing and calmed her down between her "contractions" and provided reassurance. We actually got a big round of applause for our role playing.

The doctor who was facilitating gave great feed back. She reminded us to talk about how to support women who were on epidurals, and also asked us to discuss how they might support a mother who has been sexually abused in her past. Interestingly, she also asked us how on earth we managed to have private lives given all the doula work we do. That's a whole 'nother blog. The best answer I can give to that one is to have a partner as supportive of my work as mine is. I couldn't be me if I didn't have him.

It seems there was some miscommunication, as it had been this doctor's belief that we were going to talk about the first stage of labour instead of the second. But it didn't really matter. Hopefully we got some messages across as well as provided some entertainment. I like things to be fun. We did focus heavily on physiological, unmedicated birth. This was not because we don't believe in pain relief in labour when a mom needs or wants it, but because we live in a culture in which natural birth is considered radical. In their worlds it's a rarity to see normal birth. I hope that talking about it as if it is an every day occurance might create balance and an inspiration to support more women to have normal births. If these residents understand that natural birth is the norm for most of our clients, perhaps it might make them say to a woman asking them for an epidural.."you're doing a great job...I know you can do it." If medical people understood how much their patients look to them, and realized that those few words could actually help many moms get through birth normally, that moms just might think, "if my doctor thinks I can, then I guess I really can!", they would realize how much power they have to make a woman's birth experience feel really positive to her, even if it doesn't go the way she had hoped or expected. Someone having faith in you is always a nice thing. A dear client of mine told her doctor that what she needed from her (as well her medical care) was to know that she believed in her. These fledgling maternal hopes should be nourished with great tenderness. Doctors aren't just clinicians who take case histories, scout for complications and treat them with their skills and tools, but witnesses to a birth experience! How special is that? May they never forget the honour.

Thank you, residents, for listening. Thank you, Doctor H, for your support, and thanks, Gen, for getting it off the ground. Let's do more.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I promise I'm still around

I have in no way abandonned my poor neglected blog. I am busy putting together my postpartum doula training manual, and am soon holding a grand opening for the new MotherWit Doula Care Headquarters.

I will soon get cracking on writing the Madagascar story, and add pictures to what I've already posted.

Love to you all,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shopping Nightmare

Yes, I am working on a blog about Madagascar, but in the meantime, life still happens.

I had very little scheduled today besides checking out a space for the potential future MotherWit Headquarters (which, by the way, looks like it just might work out great), so decided to do the dreaded dress shopping excursion I have been putting off. It has been knawing at me like a toothache that won't go away, so I figured I'd get it over with. My sister Jennifer is getting married to her lovely man Jon in a couple of weeks. They are coming here all the way from England with my delicious little nephew Antony so we can share in their special event. I'm thinking this occasion warrants some fancier duds than I usually wear. Usually, I'll buy a little stretchy wrap from H&M, those being just about the only things that fit me from that store, but my sister's wedding is worthy of something a little more special.

I have to say that I abhor clothes shopping. I am not the type of person things fit easily. I am 5 foot and half an inch soaking wet, with a very wide rib cage, a postpartum tummy (nobody has to know that I haven't had a baby in over 5 years), barely any hips or bum, and boobs that are over DD. I refuse to even know how much higher in the letter scale they go, but let's just say that for my frame, they are big. Shopping for clothing is a freakin' nightmare. Especially when I'm looking for dresses, as my waist is size 6 to 8, my hips size 2 to 4, and my top at least size 10 for tailored shirts, even though it's not even possible for me to wear buttoned things. If it buttons in front, it will be laughably huge in the shoulders, back, and sides. Shopping makes me feel misshapen, and feeling misshapen makes me feel angry. Not at my shape, which I'm happy enough with, but with the people who make dresses.

I traipsed all along St. Catherine Street, popping into this place and that, marvelling at how slim the pickings were for appropriate dresses. They either looked like they were made for prom queens, club chicks, or dowagers. There was nothing in between for a 40 something, reasonably concerned with style person. Nothing I liked, anyway. I usually depend on Winners to get me through difficult shopping sprees, but trips to 3 different Winners yielded nothing. BCBGs clothes all looked like sparkly candy. Betsy Johnson had cute stuff, but holy high price tags, Bat Man! Mexx and Tristan all looked business casual. Everything else was in shades of black and gray or were ridiculously strapless. I just don't have enough interesting accessories to spruce up these colours, which don't generally look so hot on me anyway unless I'm striving for Jaundice Chic.

Even Mango had nothing to offer. Then I found Olam. Right away 3 cute, interesting, well cut, reasonably priced little dresses popped into my vision to say "hello". A nice young sales lady took my finds to the changing room. Finally, feeling confident I would find something wonderful, I went to the changing room....only to find they did not have mirrors inside! On PRINCIPLE I will NOT buy clothing from places that don't have mirrors hidden privately away inside the changing cubicles. I will NOT emerge from these tiny caves of furtive clothing tranformation to bare my unchecked, lumpy underwear-ed and dingy bra strapped self to a store full of onlookers. It is not that I'm that vain. It's just that I think this is the sneakiest, most underhanded way of insisting you are "cared for" (sales pitched) by a sales person probably hustling for commission. And I strongly object! I do not WANT the store to assign me an "ooher" and "aaher" (despite what's really going through her mind), or an accessory draper whose favourite colour is puce. If I have my own private shopping doula with me, like my friend Nat, she fulfills that role for me, but with honesty. I refuse to have some stranger oggling my body and making suggestions without my express consent. When you have no mirror to look into privately and must come out to be viewed by the awaiting sales person and any other stragglers who are dragged along with other dress seekers to "shopping doula", you don't have much of a choice about the matter without sounding like a bitch.

I asked the lithe, perfectly decked out girl who was young enough to be my daughter if there was a changing room with a mirror. She said, "No, but I can hold the mirror up in front of the cubicle if you want so you don't have to come out." Yeah, like that wouldn't look to everyone observing like some person too unconfident to come out of her hidey hole! That just makes people want to oggle even more. Besides, given that she was tiny and the mirror was about 7 feet tall, I felt doubtful. And pissed off. Nothing against the girl, as she didn't design the store or make the rules and is, after all, just trying to make a living. So I kindly said, "No thanks," and left. Too bad for them. I would have shelled out some cash. Alas.

I wandered along the street feeling glum. Surely there must was an affordable, not too ugly dress that fit me SOMEWHERE in Montreal? Though I kept meaning to grab the Metro and head for home, something kept pulling me to the final Winners on the strip. I didn't want to go. I resisted, knowing another attempt to find something there was futile...yet why did I feel compelled?

I dragged my feet into the Alexis Nihon Mall Winners for one last look. I went to the dress rack that in the other Winners yielded absolutely nothing cute or interesting. And lo and behold, several sweet little numbers looked somewhat appealing. I had not seen in them in the other stores. I took 4 different dresses in varying sizes. I always have to try a few. I took them to the changing room (WITH mirrors...bite ME, Olam) and became very discouraged when everything made me look heinous. Then I tried on the very last one...a black and white Calvin Klein dress with wide shoulder straps, a high waist, and pencil-y skirt...all things Stacey and Clinton say are good for people with my shape. And wouldn't you know...BAM! Except for a teeny little adjustment that will need to be made in the strap to make it smaller, it fit my monster boobs, it fit my rib cage, it camoflauged my post baby belly (I will claim that until Finn is 40), and came just below my knees. And it was less than I thought I was going to have to pay for a dress appropriate for my sister's wedding.

I could have cried with relief! I called my husband right then and there in the changing room, jumping up and down saying, "I found it, I found it!" He wasn't sure what I was talking about at first, but when I clued him in, I knew he was extremely glad to hear I had found something, thus eliminating a wasteland of weeknights of him having to trek through stores with forced cheer, me trailing in an absolute funk of dejection, listening to my arguments to convince him that I am simply not made to wear nice clothes. I felt like we had just bought hours of time and spared us nights of heartache.

So that was my day. Ladies, if we all refuse to shop in stores that don't allow us the right to look at ourselves in the mirror privately, thus allowing us to choose whether or not we want to reveal ourselves, practices would change.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Madagascar Diary: On our Way

I woke up on the morning of September 2nd with a feeling I usually get in my gut before I travel anywhere. It's a slight feeling of unease, like maybe I shouldn't have planned this trip in the first place. Maybe I'm not made for this. Maybe I should cancel. Maybe I should continue to live my white bread life in the suburbs of Montreal. I was leaving for Madagascar. How the heck did that happen? Who thought I was cut out for this?

I was already all packed, so I burned off the pre-flight jitters by writing a bunch of receipts for my clients that were long overdue. Finally, it was time to go.

My husband and little son drove me to the airport and dropped me off at the Air France departure area. As we approached the Dorval Airport, an amazing feeling overtook me. Instead of anxiety, I felt an overwhelming sense of happy anticipation. This is unsual for me, as I'm usually a wreck before flying off somewhere. I admit I am a neurotic traveller. So leaving for a country like Madagascar should have had me in paroxyms of panic. But I wasn't. Instead, I just felt really excited.

I met with my companions Dr. Deborah Goldberg, Sarah Hunter, a friend who usually lives here in Montreal and practices midwifery when she lives in the US, and her baby daughter Keelia. Everyone was in good spirits as we navigated our way around. We had a lot of baggage. We had our own clothes and gear like sleeping bags, as well as a fair bit of midwifery equipment, rain gear for the Malagasy midwives, 400 bottles of donated children's vitamins, and every nook and cranny crammed with women's and children's clothing we had purchased at the Salvation Army. Some of our bags were slightly over the allowed limit, so we had to do some creative redistributing. One of our bins was extremely heavy, and we had to pay $300 to check it.

I was a little worried when we had to take out all our liquid objects and put them in a clear plastic baggie for examination, because I had lots of herbal tinctures and essential oils with me. But nobody cared, as nothing added up to over a litre. Phew. I would not like to have flown without my Motherwort tincture or dealt with stomach issues without oregano oil.

Finally, we waited to board. Every once in awhile one of us would say, "Oh my God...we are actually going to MADAGASCAR!" After all the dreaming, planning, organizing, fundraising, meeting, packing, and arranging, we were finally about to accomplish what we had set out to do: fulfill the wishes of the members of Taratra Reny sy Zaza, an organization of women and children in the area of Mahatsinjo, Madagascar. The facilitator of this project, Karen Samonds, asked these women if they would be interested in having any friends she knew from Canada to come out there and do some workshops discussing nutrition, health and environment, family planning, general health, goals for their future, as well as provide training for the local traditional midwives to increase their skill level. They seemed excited by the prospect, as their community definitely experiences a lot of health issues. That put the wheels in motion. So there we were with bells on, ready to board the plane. not knowing exactly what we were in for, but so grateful to have the opportunity to do whatever we could. We didn't really know what to expect, but we were willing to share whatever information and skills we had to help improve the lives of these people Karen and her husband Mitch have alway spoke of with great fondness.

None of us could stay for very long. Deborah is a family doctor who focuses on maternal/newborn care. She has been catching babies for about 7 years. Sarah is part of a co op that sells soap and natural products, and spends much of her life helping to run the store and tending to a new child. I have my own children at home and many clients counting on my presence at their birth. Our trip would be 10 days, though with the immense amount of travel time required, we would only really have about 5 days and six nights in the forest doing workshops. A crazy whirlwind endeavour, for sure, but what is life if not for a little adventur

Right away it was apparent that as travelling companions, we were all going to get along well. Sarah and I have been friends for years, so I knew that wasn't an issue, but it was clear immediately that Deborah was really open, willing, positive, and supportive. We all clicked, and am happy to say that the vibe remained that way throughout the trip, with each of us lending support to each other whenever we could. Sarah and I have our schtick after years of adventures together. We normally speak together with every second word being four lettered. We bitch about stuff a lot. We laugh at radom things other people wouldn't understand and have inside jokes. We've experienced things in our work as birth attendants and general lives that would make the average person faint and doctors cringe. And Deborah took it all in stride. She comes from a very different background altogether. She is a medical professional. She is stable and contained. Not that Sarah and I are unstable, but neither of us have exactly led the white picket fence existence nor had our young lives shaped at the bosom of a Clever like family . Deb has, and as a result is a naturally easy going, confident, grounded, practical, focused person. An upstanding citizen, even. And good on her for that. For whatever reason, our co-existence worked. We respected each others' values and differences, and came out of our time together with an even higher regard for each other than when we went in. This is a rare and precious thing. Nobody chose to get caught in any conflict of ideals or of judgements, and as a result our combined respect, efforts and resources made our work together far more powerful.

Because Sarah had Keelia and a cane (her hip gets messed up sometimes, so she brought it in case she needed help walking), she was always moved up to the front of the line. Deborah and I figured we would take turns pretending they were our wife and child. We got a little cocky, thinking we'd get some special treatment along the way. HA! Did I tell you we were traveling Air France? If you would like to sit back and watch some of the weirdest, rudest, snottiest service ever, just grab a flight with Air France. This in no way reflects upon the one or two lovely individuals throughout our entire trip who were actually kind and considerate, but as a whole, the experience was so shocking I had to laugh. I don't meant to be ungrateful, as they did get us to our destinations safely and in once piece, but not without us being horribly treated, dehydrated, and half starved. I am not one to complain much about things like service, as I tend to be pretty easy going...but wow. It was something else.

We kept to ourselves mostly through the first leg of the trip, which ended in landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. You kind of have to prounounce the name of this airport fast,as if it were all one word, the "s" on "Charles" being silent, the "Ch" said as "Sh", the "e" at the end of Gaulle being pronounced as if you had just been tapped in the gut, all the while with your lips pursed as if you had just laid eyes on someone behaving rudely. I watched a couple of supremely bad movies, listened to some music, and was constantly aware of being very thirsty with no offers of water coming our way. The flight attendants all wore a nauseating amount of perfume. This should not be allowed, a flying tin can full of smelly neurotoxins. They also had this thing where they would act totally pissed off at you because you were too stupid to intuit their protocols. For example, at one point I wanted some coffee. The woman held out a tray that contained milk and sugar. I tried to take some milk and sugar and practically had my hand smacked off. "NON!" I got scared. What was I doing wrong? Was I breaking some sort of ancient French custom? I was being looked at with loathing and contempt that should only be reserved for someone who has done something really awful, like farted loudly in church. My heart started palpitating. Beads of sweat broke out. Then I realized I was supposed to place my cup upon the tray for the flight attendant to fill it. I complied, but in my nervous state flubbed up and put my hand on the whole tray as if to take it, not just the cup on it. "MADAME!" was shot at me like a freakin' bullet. I forgot that I could speak French and had enough word skill to verbally eviscerate her 'til Tuesday if I so chose. But I was just so surprised at the level of vehemence over something so small, I was silent. Meek, even. She left in a cloud of indignation at being affronted by our North American idiocy, and I drank my coffee, feeling like I wore a mark of shame tatooed on my forehad. Sarah looked at me with her eyes and mouth wide open in disbelief. Ah, this is but one example.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle at about 4am Paris time and had to wait about 6 hours to board the 10 hour flight to Madagascar. Keelia was awake and running around. We found a little playground area and hung out there. As shops in the airport opened, we popped our heads in. We washed and brushed our teeth in the bathroom, and had some tea in a cafe. Keelia ran around, flirting shamelessly with other travellers.

After awhile, it was time to hang out at the boarding area. We thought the plane would be mostly full of Madagascar natives, but mostly, the travellers seemed to be white tourists from different parts of Europe. There were a couple of interesting characters: A Malagasy nun carrying a colourful statue of Jesus with its hands all bandaged up....a very churchy looking family with several little girls with braided blonde pigtails....an extremely grumpy man who looked at all the children waiting to board as if they were loathesome, even though he had about three of his own in tow. Finally, we boarded, ready to endure another onslaught of Air France brand hospitality.

Deb had sneezed at least 100 times at the airport...possibly the result of too many perfume fumes....and decided to take some decongestant before boarding. As a result, she practically fell asleep in her food when it came. Because it was very early morning in my stomach's time, there was no way I was going to be able to eat the heavy meal they wanted to give me, so I refused it. Sarah and Deb kindly grabbed a couple of pieces of bread and cheese off my tray to save for me for later. We tried to sleep, but all Sarah and I really did was shift consciousness a little. Keelia remained a great sport, and finally slept a bit. I had headphones in my ears while she apparently had a small freakout.

Every once in awhile we would check where we were. It was amazing to know when we were flying over the Nile, or directly over Kilamanjaro. It was all very strange to us that we were actually over the continent of Africa. As the time came closer to land, we got more and more excited. Like SUPER excited! As we landed we were all practically holding hands with giddiness, bouncing on our heels the way children do. When you get out of the plane in Madagascar, you go down a bunch of stairs and land directly on the tarmac. The first thing I noticed when I stood in the doorway of the plane was the sweet scent of woodsmoke, a smell I had always loved. That smell would permeate our lives for the next week. The feeling of the air was cool and still. We had arrived. I took a couple of photos, but the airport people clearly objected for some reason, so I put my camera away.

We had been told before we left that a guy named Shady would tend to us when we got there. Yes, Shady. Of course, when we saw him and he turned out to be a pretty skinny dude, we called him Slim Shady, and in our sleep deprived state sung a lot of "Na na na NA na na." Before Shady came on the scene, though, we had to get visas. Again, because Keelia was in our presence, we were forwarded to the front of the line. We were a little nervous that the guy who led us there grabbed our passports and took them away from us for inspection, but that seemed to be the protocol. We received our passports with the visas completed, then went off to wait for our bags, which took forever. Even Slim Shady was getting impatient.

As we got out of the arrivals area, we met up with Karen, who looked fabulous in her purple Lilla P wrap. Finally, with all our many bags in tow, we went through customs, and thanks to Shady, nobody even questioned what we had with us. For all they knew we could have been smuggling heroin. But when we said the bin was full of children's vitamins, they didn't question. Yay, Shady! We could have been held up there for an awfully long time given all our stuff.

Jean Luc, a founding member of Sadabe, (Karen and Mitch's organization), who was born and lives in Madagascar, was in the parking lot to meet us with a truck. We packed our stuff in, then Deb and I went back inside the airport to change some our money into Malagasy Ariary. 2000 Ariary equals about $1. Given the amount of mosquitos flying around, I was very happy I had chosen to take Malarone.

Finally, we were off to the house just outside of Antananarivo Karen, Mitch, and their girls Anne and Evelyn rent for when they are not living in the forest. We were all completely exhausted. It was interesting seeing bits of the capital at night with everything closed. Karen's house is right beside a cell tower. It is nestled beside a larger home. In the parking lot were broken down tourist buses. In the house was Jean Luc's wife, who is due to have her first baby in December. We greeted her and learned that the Malagasy do 3 cheek kisses, as opposed to our Montreal 2 kisses. There was a child sleeping on the couch, and when she woke up she looked excited to see us. "Salama!" she greeted with enthusiam.

In Karen's house there is a living/dining room. There is a sink for washing up, and in a teeny little room a stovetop to cook on. There is no fridge. There is a bathroom with a sink, toilet, and porcelein square with a drain to bucket shower over. There is no hot water, and the running water stops frequently, necessitating a bucket of water dumped into the toilet to flush it. There is electricity, but it apparently goes off a lot. Upstairs, there are two rooms to sleep in. Karen led us to a room with a double mattress, and a little sleeping nest set up on the floor. We eyed them gratefully. As Karen was explaining that we would get to sleep for about 4 or 5 hours before heading off to the forest early in the morning, her elder daughter Ann woke up.

Ann exudes pure love. She has big blue eyes like her daddy's and a face that expresses joy with ease. She ran into the room practically wriggling with glee to see us. I took her into my arms giving her a big snuggle. Evelyn toddled into the room soon after and it was so good to hug children. I felt pangs of missing my own. I realized that all three children in the room were babies I had seen born. I never forget what an honour that is, and what a bond that creates. We all settled down to grab some sleep, the happy sound of nursing, cosleeping toddlers filling the air, anticipating a long, busy day tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Addendum

I just heard that Kandy and Vince had their baby this morning...natural birth, perfect latch. Thanks to MotherWit Doula Steph Bouris and MotherWit apprentice Andrea Legg for their superb, reliable support. All unfolded as it should have.

I'm Baaaaack!


I thought I'd let y'all know that I am back from Madagascar, safe and sound. I am firmly out of commission until tomorrow evening, but thought I'd send out a little update.

I am experiencing a level of jet lag that is making me want to crawl out of my own skin. I have already had a couple of lessons thrown my way since I got back, too. Yesterday I found out that, as is typical when I go away for any length of time,a couple of people were either in or threatening labour. My first reaction is always to say, "Oh, well, forget about that day off for recovery, I'll just go to those births." But when my beloved neighbour drove up beside me yesterday while I was talking to another neighbour on my street and said, "You're back! I'm in labour," I just knew I couldn't do it. To agree would have been stupid. In fact, given that she will be in fantastic hands with any of the MotherWitties who back me up, it would have been an ego based-workaholic-prove to the world I can do anything-extreme endeavour. And who would that serve? Not my beloved neighbour. So I let it go and told her to call upon my backup. I also learned an expecting mother of twins, my third in 2 months who have gone way over their due dates, was being induced yesterday. My backup for that birth asked if I would be going in. Oh, man.

Let me explain. Sleeping in a tent in a surrounding far from any "civilization", where all energy of the people of that area goes towards surviving with limited resources, you learn by observing that there is just no time to wallow in distractions. In Mahatsinjo, Madagascar, tending to the basics of one's life in a focused manner is not just about creating a state of balance, which we First Worlders have the luxury of indulging in or not (if you don't have groceries for supper one day, you can order out, if you don't balance your cheque book, you have overdraft, if you run yourself ragged and become ill, you can get medical care and sick leave), but a matter of staying alive. If I learned anything, it is to tend carefully to my life. Birth attending is a huge part of my life...I adore it and feel it is a calling and a path. But if I were to attend a birth wasted by jet lag, with digestion that, while not exactly "runny", is rather delicate at this moment, worried because one of my travelling companions called me with the report of having rapidly proliferating fleas, and 3 children and a husband who are feverish and coughing and desperately in need of my maternal nourishment, would this be tending to my life? Not really. And truly, it wouldn't be heroically attending the woman either, as what good would I be to her with all this in my presence right now?

I find that whenever I come to an important decision about things, in this case a resolve to make a concerted effort to tend more deeply to what I have in my life rather than allowing work to justify the constant state of distraction and harriedness which has been impinging terribly upon my life, I am tested to put my money where my mouth is. Whatever that means. But there you go. Back to the neighbour pulling up beside me in the car. I had a choice. I know what Pre-Madagascar Lesley would have done. But this time, I took a deep breath, and I let it go. With love and best wishes. With the knowledge she will be better served by another. That she can, indeed, do this without me. With the knowledge that I can be here to help when she's back home. That to allow myself to take proper time to rest and recuperate from an adventure I cannot even begin to describe at this point, is not the self-indulgence of a weakling who can't heroically do whatever is asked of her without boundary, but a necessity....for myself and my family. Today I will tend to my home and my health. I WILL tread gently, depsite the pull, which I accept will always be there, to choose the more harried path which, while making me feel "accomplished" and even "heroic" in the moment, often has extremely depleting repercussions, leaving me in situations of such ungroundedness, that I do things like walk around without an updated Medicare card for literally years, or forget to get my son's birth certificate in time for him to start school, or get shockingly behind in administrative duties, despite the tons of help I have. It is time to tend to my foundation with more focused attention, letting go of the shame over the cracks in it, that shame making the pull to harried distraction more magnetic, thus exacerbating the severity of the cracks. It is all a matter of choice, and this trip, along with the crazy Malaria pill dreams I had (I know Malarone is not supposed to have this side effect as much as Lariam, but I had CRAZY illuminating dreams all the same), showed me that "I just can't manage it," in reference to tending to the basics of my life is a huge freakin' cop out.

I know you're all dying for stories, and I have so many. Every night before I went to bed I jotted down notes so I would remember details. I will take a little time whenever I can to have this adventure unfold, photos included. I have decided this is not just another distraction, as blogging is wont to be on occasion, but an important way for me to process my experience as well as bring attention to the beauty, the ravages, the energy, and the spirit that is Madagascar.

Karen Samonds, the lady responsible for bringing me there, told me when I arrived in the capital city, before heading off to the forest, that this place changes you indelibly...that you don't come back the same. And the tears brimming in my eyes writing that statement speaks to me of its truth. While I am still me, I feel a subtle shift of awareness, a greater capacity to be present without being drawn into the alluring buzz of the constant "business" which I now see clearly to be more about preferring distraction than tending to matters at hand. I have the power to make better choices.

My neighbour Kandy, the very lady who drove up to me in early labour, presented me the day before I left for Madagascar with a quilt she made for me during her many days on bed rest. It is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen, and she made it to thank me for guiding her towards a network of support during a time she and her husband Vince felt like they didn't know how to manage navigating their birth experience through the challenging waters of our hospital system. They knew it would possibly be someone else attending their birth given I was going away, but their gratitude lay in my providing them with solid education and support, with or without me. On the back of the quilt, Kandy stitched a square which quotes Mahatma Gandhi, "If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it in the beginning." So thanks to Kandy not only for the inspiration, but for the opportunity to exercise my power of wiser choice.

I am off to experience the sheer luxury of a hot shower. Then, I am going to tend to my home, grateful that I have one to tend to. Then, I am going to make a nice after school snack for my convalescing children, grateful to have the ability to do so, and grateful for well fed, strong immune systems which give them the ability to convalesce. We take these things for granted, yet where I have been lack of nourishment and ability to heal is a reality. I digress. One story at a time.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

MotherWit Postpartum Doula Training in Montreal November 18-21 2010

MotherWit Postpartum Doula Training
MotherWit Doula Care is pleased to present a comprehensive training in holistic postpartum doula care.
In a culture that puts a lot of pressure on new mothers to live up to the mythical image of SuperMom, a MotherWit Postpartum Doula has the power to bring a sane, calm perspective. We believe in nurturing the new mother so all she has to do in the precious few weeks after birth is focus on her new baby/babies and her loved ones.
Full healing of everything a woman has gone through during the childbearing year requires some space and reflection. By providing opportunities for rest and proper physical and emotional nourishment, the MotherWit Postpartum Doula creates a special space within which a woman who has just given birth and her partner can heal and come into their own power as a mother and father.
We like to call this space the BabyMoon.
As a MotherWit Postpartum Doula Trainee, you will learn the following:
􀁺 good listening skills: new mothers need to share their birth stories and discuss the intense
emotions that becoming a mother brings up
􀁺 proper physical and emotional care of the postpartum mother, with focus on nutrition and safe,
natural remedies to soothe a variety of common complaints, such as breast engorgement,perineal discomfort, fatigue, etc.
􀁺 how to provide education about attachment style parenting, and give non judgmental support
for new parents' choices
􀁺 basic baby care such as bathing, diapering, baby-wearing, swaddling, etc.
􀁺 how to provide basic breastfeeding support, and how to know when to call in a lactation consultant
􀁺 how to recognize signs of postpartum depression
􀁺 how to help with basic organization of a home with a new baby
􀁺 how to support a mother with multiples, and how to engage older children
....and much much more!
This training will either be a 4 day intensive.

$850.00 total -this is $700 for the 4 day training, plus $150 for your apprenticeship...all costs include
MotherWit Doula Care looks forward to offering this training in Spring

For more info please contact info@MotherWit.ca

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MotherWit vous propose des cours prénataux en français dès le mois de septembre 2010, à Montréal.

Cours Prénataux MotherWit
Les Essentiels de la Naissance
Les cours prénataux Les Essentiels de la Naissance, offerts par
MotherWit Doula Care, visent à vous préparer à la naissance de
votre bébé, ou bébés, et à votre nouveau rôle de parents. Pour
obtenir de l’information sur l’accouchement, la majorité de futurs
parents participeront à des cours prénataux traditionnels donnés un
hôpital ou une clinique.
Ces cours ont tendance à présenter le travail comme un événement
qui suit un rythme prédéterminé, et décrivent la façon dont
l’hôpital prend en charge la mère et le bébé. L’emphase est mis sur
les chiffres (les contractions, la dilatation…) qui servent à
déterminer le progrès du travail ; la mère et l’expérience qu’elle est
en train de vivre sont des éléments secondaires. Il y a peu
d’instruction pratique pour doter les parents d’outils leur
permettant de faire face aux sensations du travail.
Les accompagnantes à la naissance sont de véritables mines d'or
d'informations à partager au sujet du travail et de l’accouchement.
Nous demeurons aux cotés de la mère pendant toute la durée de
son expérience, jusqu’à la naissance de son bébé. N’ayant aucune
responsabilité médicale vis à vis de nos clients, nous sommes
libres d’observer et de soutenir. Lors de nos observations, nous
avons appris beaucoup de choses à propos de l'accouchement que
vous ignorez peut-être, et nous observons même des choses avec
lesquelles le personnel médical a peu d’expérience. Par exemple,
comment soutenir effectivement une femme en travail sans la
péridurale. Chez les mères qui accouchent pour la première fois, le
taux de recours à la péridurale est de 98%. Ces chiffres ne sont pas
forcément représentatifs des désirs des couples par rapport à la
naissance de leur bébé. Souvent, une femme choisira la péridurale
car elle et son partenaire se sont sentis démunis face aux sensations
qui accompagnent le travail et n’étaient pas suffisamment pas
préparés à l’événement de par la simple lecture de livres sur le
Il est de notre avis que les cours prénataux Les Essentiels de la
Naissance vous donneront les outils qui vous permettront de faire
des choix éclairés par rapport à cet événement si important. Plutôt
que de nous concentrer sur les “plans” de naissance, nous
encourageons une attitude ouverte et équilibrée afin de faire face
aux inattendus qui font partie de l’accouchement. Nous mettons
l’emphase sur la pertinence de l’observation et le besoin de
regarder la femme en travail versus la montre.
Les accompagnantes de MotherWit sont convaincues que la
plupart des femmes sont capables de mettre au monde leurs bébés
avec un minimum d’intervention à moins qu’une situation
particulière n’exige autrement. Nous souhaitons vous aider à
trouver votre sagesse intérieure, une sagesse qui a permis à des
milliers de générations de femmes d’accoucher. Nous prenons le
temps de discuter de vos soucis par rapport à la naissance, et de les
valider. Selon nous, la meilleure éducation consiste à présenter les
différents choix et à respecter les décisions que vous prenez avec
votre professionnel de la santé (médecin ou sage-femme). Bien
que notre objectif soit de vous donner la confiance d’accoucher
naturellement si vous le souhaitez, et si les circonstances en sont
favorables, nous soutenons pleinement vos propres choix.
Les cours prénataux MotherWit Les Essentiels de la Naissance
sont une série de cinq cours de deux heures et demie chacun qui
ont lieu le soir, une fois par semaine durant cinq semaines. Les
cours sont donnés par des accompagnantes à la naissance et aux
relevailles expérimentées. Les cours sont destinés aux femmes et
aux couples, peu importe leur situation. Une mère qui accouchera
sans la présence d’un partenaire peut venir avec une personne de
soutien si elle le désire. Le meilleur moment pour participer aux
cours prénataux est autour de la 25ième semaine de grossesse. Des
cours privés à domicile sont aussi disponibles (cours en format
Coût pour les cours de groupe: 250$ par couple – 12.5 heures de
formation en groupe
Coût pour les cours privés (format condensé): 400$ par couple -
environs 8 heures de formation individuelle en trois séances (ou
deux séances intensives).
Tous les participants des cours prénataux MotherWit Les
Essentiels de la Naissance sont les bienvenus dans nos soirées de
rencontre MotherWit. Venez partager vos histoires de naissance,
rencontrer d’autres parents et découvrir les ressources de votre
Descriptif des cours:
1er Cours: Votre Corps et l’Accouchement Normal
 la naissance aujourd’hui, le reflet de notre culture
 nourrir le corps et l’esprit pendant la grossesse
 anatomie et physiologie de l’accouchement
 les signes annonciateurs du travail
 le travail – à quoi ça ressemble, qu'est-ce qu'on ressent ?
 mettre au monde votre bébé
 le rôle du partenaire
2ème Cours: Faire des Choix
 quoi apporter au lieu de naissance prévu ?
 quand partir pour le lieu de naissance prévu ?
 une fois arrivée, que se passe-t-il ?
 procédures médicales de routine et interventions pendant
l’accouchement: les avantages, les risques, les alternatives
 défis rencontrés lors du travail et de l'accouchement
3ème Cours: Comment Agir Face à Votre Travail
 ne pas vous préparer à la réalité de la douleur, une piège à
 la valeur inestimable de la douleur normale du travail
 comment gérer vos attentes
 comment déterminer le moyen par lequel vous arrivez à passer
à travers la douleur
 affrontez la douleur du travail avec la respiration, la
visualisation, le mouvement, l’alimentation, le repos et les
changements de position
 encourager un positionnement optimal du foetus
4ème Cours: La Douleur (suite), Préparation Émotionnelle au
Travail, Fondements de l’Allaitement Maternel
 la théorie du portillon (Gate Theory of Pain Inhibition) mis en
pratique – massage de la mère
 encourager la détente
 les femmes enceintes: exploration de vos craintes par rapport
à l’accouchement avec la visualisation guidée et l’art
 partenaires: quelles sont vos craintes ?
 jeux de rôle
 l’allaitement mené par la demande du bébé
5ème Cours: L’Allaitement (suite), la Période Postpartum, le
Rôle de Parent
 défis fréquents de l’allaitement et comment dépister un
 la famille pendant le période postpartum
 questions fréquentes sur les nouveau-nés
 prendre soin du couplePublish Post
 un entourage qui prend soin de vous

Les cours débuteront le lundi 13 septembre à 19h00 chez Materni-T, 3289 Saint-Jacques O, Montréal de 19h00 à 21h30. Pour plus d'informations, appelez-nous au 514-569-5878