Welcome to My Blog!!

"So what do you do?" "I'm a Doula." "(pause) What's that?"

This is the usual response I get from people when I'm asked about my work. Every hundred or so people I get the "Oh really? That's great", and I nearly fall over in surprise that they know what it is!

Doula's are still a fairly new breed within Australia, and even newer in SA, so it's a bit of an uphill battle to educate people about who we are and what we do, particularly as the period of time that someone needs us is relatively short, but we're getting there.

I absolutely love my job. Supporting women and their husbands or partners during the most significant time of their lives is an incredible privilege, one I do not take lightly. I have toyed with the idea of midwifery, but for me, I am far more interested in supporting a woman to have the most magnificent birth experience she can have, than in worrying about the clinical side of things. I want to be there to support women and their families on an emotional, mental and spiritual level, to "hold the space", as I watch a woman transform into a mother. What can be more beautiful than that!

I hope you enjoy my blog. There will be plenty of joy, some helpful tips for those on the journey toward parenthood, and lots of things that inspire me as a woman, wife, mother, Doula and friend! Welcome!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

3 months!!!

3 months is a shamefully long time to neglect a blog, but yet I managed to do so a little too easily! My sincere apologies to everyone, I can blame my busy life, and my gorgeous daughter who let loose a virus on my computer(grrr!), but really, if Lisa can keep her blog updated, then I have no excuse, she's way busier than me thats for sure!!

I have managed to attend 3 beautiful births in that time, 1 being the amazing homebirth of Harper Irvine, whose birth pics are displayed in all their glory on Lisa's blog,(along with a nice little plug for Doulas and particularly me, cheers Lisa!)the birth of the handsome little samuri, Takumi Satamura; and on Tuesday this week, the lovely little Olivia, who arrived after 24 hrs of labour and a pretty determined effort to stay inside! I promise I will write more on all of these in the next few days, and include some beautiful photo's so you can share their birth journeys with me. But for right now, I'm still feeling pretty jetlagged from supporting Olivia's amazing parents, so it's off to bed for me!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kath and Tom's Birth

Finally I've worked out how to upload pictures!! Woohoo!!
These gorgeous shots are of the beautiful Kath and her partner Tom waiting for their little girl to arrive.
Kath and Tom had changed care provider towards the end of their pregnancy, when they realised that the OB they had chosen was not supportive of their birth choices. They changed hospital and OB so they could have the natural labour and waterbirth they wanted.
Kath was so focussed throughout her labour, this pic is of her blowing onto the water to help her focus on breathing through the contractions.

Tom was absolutely fantastic. He was really involved and supportive of Kath, and very protective, NO-ONE was going to do anything to Kath that she didn't want! His presence and strength was such a huge comfort to her.

Kath was determined to have a waterbirth, but as she got closer to birthing, we discovered that there were no midwives available who had experience with waterbirth, and it was starting to look like it may not "be allowed". The lovely dutch midwife caring for Kath informed her that although she would be happy to support a waterbirth, she had no experience with it and protocol demanded that she get out of the bath to birth. Kath and Tom faffed around in the bath until it was too late to get out, so the midwife rolled up her sleeves and with Tom in the bath with Kath, their beatiful baby was birthed exactly as they had planned, with her father lifting her out of the water into her mothers arms!

What a beautiful mother and baby!! It's such an honour to be able to support women and their families during birth, and to be able to support 2 such amazing people as they welcome their baby into the world is an absolute privilege!

In Kath's words, "Both my partner and I walked away in disbelief, amazement and excitement at both the miracle of birth and that we had been so lucky to have such a wonderfully positive birth experience."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital

Over the last few years I’ve periodically received letters from the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, detailing the incredible healing work they do for the women of Ethiopia. This is a brief explanation of fistula and the wonderful people caring for the young women of Ethiopia.

It is estimated that throughout the world, one woman in every twenty will have difficulty in childbirth. In the 19th Century, the death of both mother and child was not uncommon.
Modern medical care and treatment, with easy access to Hospitals and doctors, has eliminated this threat in our western civilisation.
But this is not so in developing countries. The joy of parenthood is frequently marred in the aftermath of obstructed labour. Days in obstructed labour can cause a hole or fistula to the birth passage, the bladder and sometimes the rectum. As a result, the woman leaks urine constantly. She then has an offensive odour. Her husband will leave her and her family and friends will avoid her.
Many a young girl with fistula injuries has suffered a fate worse than death, experiencing a life of rejection, separation, loneliness and "shame".
In 1959, two Australian doctors Reg and Catherine Hamlin, went to Ethiopia to train midwives. Seeing the plight of these poor women, they became determined to help them.
They developed a delicate surgical technique that, in most cases, will result in a complete cure. Then they built the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Since then more than 30,000 women have been treated and cured. The Hospital now trains doctors from other developing countries. The effect of their work is spreading world-wide, restoring new life and dignity of thousands of young women.

Every time I read one of the stories of the young women that are cared for at the Hospital, I end up crying all over myself. We are so lucky to live in a country where we have immediate access to medical care when we need it, and particularly for those women who do have genuine difficulty in childbirth.
I will be donating a percentage of all my Doula earnings to the Fistula Hospital, in that way all my clients will be a part of supporting these young women (most of them teenagers) and helping them to regain a life of dignity.
For more information on the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, and to read some of the stories, go to www.fistulatrust.org . I hope it impacts you as much as it has me.

(Fistula is really only an issue in third world countries, where healthy diet, good sanitation and education are not available for everyone. Most of the people affected are not women, but young teens and girls, far too young to be birthing, but in a culture and society where early marriage and therefore motherhood is common.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Choosing an Obstetrician

If you are thinking of choosing an Obstetrician as your care provider for pregnancy and birth, it is essential that you choose someone who is the right fit for you. Just because your sister or friend had a particular OB and was happy with them, doesn't mean that you will be. After all, you wouldn't choose their husband/partner for yourself, so why would you automatically go with their OB?

The movie Knocked Up was less than impressive on the birthing side, but they did get a couple of things right. Interviewing at least 3 OB's is vital in discovering whether that person will respect your wishes for the birth you want. I wouldn't accept the "intimacy" of the interview process in Knocked Up (totally un-necessary!), but at least they didn't settle for the first OB they met. You might form a really good opinion of OB #1, but when you interview #2 you may discover that the first was really not on the ball with current evidence-based care.

Be informed of what is acceptable and safe obstetric practice before you begin interviewing, otherwise you won't know if what you're hearing is myth or reality. Unfortunately there are many OB's who would rather do a caesarean for their own convenience than wait and give you time to birth your baby naturally. However there are also some fantastic OB's who will not rush in to perform un-necessary surgery, and will give the birthing mother the respect, time and support to birth the way she wants to. But how do you work out who is good and who should be avoided?

Firstly, work out what you want your birth to be and why you want that. Do you want a completely natural, drug free birth? Do you want a natural birth, but are open to the idea of drugs if you decide to use them? Do you want every drug under the sun? Do you want a caesarean? Are you basing these decisions on what is best for you and your baby, or are you making decisions based on fear? Have you considered and researched all the options for maternity care? Don’t forget that although some women may need obstetric care, for the vast majority of women the very best maternity care you can receive is from a midwife.

Secondly, take responsibility for your birth. It is not the OB's responsibility to make the decisions and tell you what to do. It is your responsibility to accept this birth as yours, and make wise well thought through decisions about what you want, and then tell your OB what will be done. If they try and push you to do things a certain way that is against what you want, then they are not the right one for you, and you should take your business elsewhere. Do not forget that you are the client, you have the business they want, and they need to be respectful.

Thirdly, inform and prepare yourself well. Read the good books, not the ones written just for a laugh, (see recommended reading list below) remember that knowledge is power, and if you are well informed you will make wise decisions. Speak to people who can help you find answers to your questions, not just your mum or girlfriends, as helpful as they may be. Talk to midwives and Doula's. Even if you would never consider homebirth, talk to the independent midwives, they are highly trained, experienced and a wealth of knowledge, they will offer a different perspective which can only ever be helpful in giving you a more well rounded understanding of birth.

Fourthly, hire a Doula to support you and your partner throughout your entire labour and birth. Doula’s, unlike hospital based midwives and obstetricians, will stay with you throughout your entire labour and birth. Having that continuity of care makes an enormous difference to your ability to cope with labour and both mother and baby’s well-being.

Write down all your questions, so that you won’t forget them at your appointments. It’s all too easy to get distracted by listening to baby’s heartbeat and the myriad of other checks, and forget the questions you’ve been waiting all week to ask.

Here are some Interview questions for Obstetricians.

Under what circumstances do you consider Induction necessary?

If my waters break but I do not go into labour immediately, how long would I have before you would want to intervene?

What is your policy on breaking the waters, epidurals, episiotomies?

What is your episiotomy rate?

What is your policy regarding monitoring of the baby?

What is your policy on eating and drinking during labour?

What is your policy on Vaginal Breech Birth and Water Birth?

What is your caesarean rate for first time mothers?

What is your VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Caesarean) rate?

Under what circumstances would you consider doing a caesarean?

How do you try to avoid the need for a caesarean?

If an Obstetrician is very vague and dismissive of your questions, or if they patronise, ridicule or try to use scare tactics to convince you of their reasons, go somewhere else. It is better to choose a new care provider than to try to fight for what you want while giving birth. It is never too late to change care-providers. I know of women who felt unsupported by their Obstetricians, so at 8 and 14 days past their respective due dates, they changed care-provider and had the wonderful births they wanted.

Remember this is your birth and your baby, and you deserve to be supported and cared for in the way YOU require.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Shape of a Mother

I was doing some study for my Childbirth Education course, and came across this amazing site!(see links) Photo's and posts of real mothers and their real bodies, celebrating our similarities and diversity. Very few of us have a "perfect" body before birth, let along after, but yet we punish ourselves for being normal women with normal bodies, why is that? And who decided what was perfect anyway?

All of us are beautiful, a mothers body even more so in my opinion. We have carried, protected, birthed and nourished our babies with our bodies, that should be celebrated!! I remember looking in the bathroom mirror about 5 days after birthing my first baby, everything was so different! I prodded at my still very soft belly (cloud belly my husband called it - he thought it was great!) remembering the pre-baby bod and despairing of ever seeing it again, when I had an incredible revelation of just how incredible my body was. I had made a baby, birthed it and was feeding my precious baby with my very own body, I was Wonder Woman!! My stretch marks are my badge of honour, I am a Mum, and I am proud of myself!! I will never have the same body I did as a 22 year-old, but what I have now is better. I am strong, healthy and more confident than that 22 year-old. And if anyone doesn't like it I don't care - I make my own people now!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Love Birth!!

I am passionate about all women having the most amazing, empowering birth experiences. Birth has the biggest impact on our lives as women and mothers, so it makes sense that it should be a positive, incredible experience, and not one filled with fear and pain. There is nothing better than facing a huge challenge and coming out victorious, that's where all those strong mama's come from. They birthed, they birthed well, and having done that, they can do anything!!
I know this because I'm one of those Mama's! I had a negative 1st birth, but I learnt from it and I was determined that I would never experience that fear again. So 2nd time around I made sure I was prepared, and I had an amazing birth!! So good that I went back 2 more times, and it was better and better!! You've gotta love birth!

"Brains 'rewired' to aid motherhood"

This is the little article in Sunday's paper that caught my attention;

Science has finally caught up with what mothers have been saying for years.
They are superwomen with superpowers thanks to an influx of hormones during pregnancy and labour to enable them to cope with the demands of childrearing.
Neuroscientists have discovered that women's brains are rewired during that period making them faster, more robust and less stressed than before.
Professor Craig Kinsey, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond, Virginia, found the lifelong transformation is caused by an influx of hormones, including estrogen and oxytocin, to the brain.
The revolutionary findings could lead to a new world of chemical therapies to transform "bad" mothers.
Professor Kinsley said if females with a deficit of the brain chemical oxytocin can be identified, "when they are first interacting with the baby you can give them a boost of oxytocin at a critical time".
Sunday Mail April 27, 2008 p26

Have they considered the natural rush of oxytocin that a mother's brain is literally washed with when she births naturally? This rush of hormones only happens during a natural birth, as the drugs used for epidurals stops the natural oxytocin from doing it's job. Synthetic oxytocin fools the body into producing contractions, but it blocks the natural oxytocin from being produced and having the incredible effect it is designed for.
Maybe, instead of trying to identify the "bad" mothers (their quote) after birth, perhaps they should be working on supporting mothers properly before and during birth, to maximise the opportunity for these women to start motherhood with every advantage that should be theirs, naturally.