Friday, March 13, 2015

Updates - Natural Fertility in Montreal

It has been a long time since I last wrote.

Life has been... busy. Between traveling for teaching and chasing the sun, I've been busy planning my new "project." For a long time I've been passionate about working with pregnancy and birth. Fertility has always been on my mind too and more recently I've decided to 'specialize' in natural fertility treatments. Last August I met a woman named Rosita Arvigo who is a Naprapathic doctor. She has traveled around the world teaching about Maya Abdominal Massage. I was really impressed and felt so led to learn from her. In November I took the first Maya Abdominal Massage class - self care. It helped me so much with my own women's health struggles that I've decided to take the professional training so I can offer the technique to my clients. Turns out, it's amazing for fertility too. I'm also very happy to be the first to offer this amazing therapy in Montreal.

So to reveal my new 'project' - my website for Natural Fertility treatments in Montreal.

Click here.

Enjoy! And pass it along to any woman or couple you think may benefit from this deep work.

With so much love,

Maya Abdominal Massage Montreal

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Pitocin & Induction: How Does it Impact Our Later Lives?

I'd like to write this article as an introduction on a theory I have about the implications of artificial induction on our later life. This article is coming straight from my heart as it contains many elements that are personal to me.

If you work in the birth field, then you know that not all babies respond well to pitocin. Heart rates can fluctuate, babies can become tired, and in really extreme circumstances, the mother will have to have an emergency C-section.

I was an "induction baby" - meaning my mother was induced with pitocin while she was giving birth to me. I recently did a really deep holistic counseling session that brought me all the way back to my birth. I could actually feel the sensation of how it felt to be in the womb while it contracted with artificial oxytocin. I felt very frightened, and I realize now that if I did anything to fight back then I could have died. My way of dealing with the really strong contractions was to be paralyzed with fear. I also felt totally dominated, and very angry, actually.

Fast forward to my adult life - I've really struggled with feeling forced to do things that I'm not sure I want to do, even if it's a small suggestion or a favor that someone asks. I've felt dominated . . . and that I've had no voice. I've also worked deeply on myself and have healed a lot of this struggle, but I was still plagued with the residue of these emotions.

As I was diving deeply into this theory, I counseled a woman whose story was very similar to mine. She often felt very forced in her life. She didn't want to do anything that anyone else suggested or asked of her. In the moment I felt it was appropriate to ask her if her mother was induced for her birth. She curiously responded "yes" and inquired why I asked. As I explained my own story and this theory, her face lit up and she took a deep breath. It really hit her hard and spoke truth to her core. She really felt like it was true for her as well, and a deep healing happened for her in that moment.

Since then I've been really thinking about the implications of artificial induction on our human race. Our species has the amazing capability of adapting to our environment.

Will artificial induction change our bodies so we won't be able to give birth without it? 

implication of artificial labor induction

How does it really affect us mentally/emotionally?

We now know that babies have emotions and feel pain. This seems obvious to us, but in the late 19th century and early 20th century, doctors were taught that babies feel no pain. In those days babies were given operations without pain medications. This act would now be considered quite barbaric - although even today many medical professionals believe that babies aren't capable of having emotions, let alone store traumatic experiences from their birth.  Today there are quite a few amazing books out there discussing the fact that babies can be traumatized from birth, and some people can even recall their birth experience. If you are interested in reading any books, check out David Chamberlain. One book I really learned a lot from :Windows to the Womb: Revealing the Conscious Baby from Conception to Birth.

In addition, as a Naturopath I work on a very deep level with my clients. I often ask them about their own birth and if they know anything about it because, in many instances, it has such a profound effect on their life. I have also found that the recognition of the experience and forgiveness begin to loosen the grips of the trauma, and a constitutional homeopathic remedy helps to clear it completely. 

In conclusion, it's really difficult to say all of the implications that artificial induction can have on one's life. I just know my own personal experience and how it affected me. I urge you to look further into your own story - what was your birth like? Did you mother have any regrets or traumas? How do you feel about how you came into this world? 

***As a disclaimer, I do know that artificial induction is sometimes medically necessary for the life of mother and/or baby - but I also know that it's often misused, and women can even request it without any recommendation from a doctor. ***
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Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah!!!

Just wanting to wish all of you a Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah (a couple days late on this one).

Hope you all have a great end of 2014 & many blessings in the year to come.

doula Montreal

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Herbal Vaginal Steams & Mayan Abdominal Massage

As summer comes to a close, I realize how busy my summer has been (is it October already?!). I haven't had much time to post a blog.

In August I attended an awesome birth conference in Quebec called Yonifest (don't judge the festival by the name!). There were so many awesome speakers and I left the conference feeling refreshed and ready to assist women giving birth again (I was having a bit of "birth burnout"). A week later I assisted a beautiful couple who had a totally natural birth.

I also attended the Women's Herbal Conference in New Hampshire at the end of August. It was also an amazing conference! I felt so blessed to be able to take so many awesome classes this summer. While I was at the herbal conference, I met Rosita Arvigo - the founder of Mayan Abdominal Massage. I learned about vaginal herbal steams and herbs for women that assist in womb cleansing and healing. I've since decided that I would love to add all of these things to my Naturopathic practice. I've tried the vaginal herbal steams and I can't even begin to tell you how amazing they are. Here is an article if you want to read more about them. They are great for maintenance cleansing as well as if you are trying to get pregnant. I will be taking the self-care Mayan abdominal massage class in November and will hopefully be able to take the practitioner training in 2015 (so I can offer it to my clients as well). There are currently no Mayan Abdominal Massage practitioners in Quebec (I would be the first). Apparently this technique is incredible for infertility, menstrual cramps and pain, and a whole host of other complaints.

I'm excited and will keep you updated with my progress.

Be well & enjoy the last bit of warmth before the winter.

Doula in Montreal

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Choose the Best Doula for YOU

When you are building your birth support team, it is important to choose people who share your common beliefs (your doctor or midwife included), and who you feel comfortable with.

If you decide to hire a doula, there are some important things to take into consideration:

  1. First off, what does she charge? Does your budget fit what she is charging? Does she provide insurance receipts? Doulas work in all different price ranges and it's not impossible to find a doula to fit your budget, even if it's very small. 
  2. How does your doula support you during childbirth? Every doula is different and practices differently. Some doulas are really hands off, while others are really hands on (and many doulas are in between too). My personal philosophy as a doula is to provide whatever support the woman needs in the moment. I've gone to births where I thought they would need more support, but when I got there I realized they really were doing quite well without me, and that I actually slowed labor a little (which is quite normal with a change of environment). If I was a doula who thought every woman needed to be saved from her pain, then I may have tried to be near her and rub her back, when actually she needed me to hide away (which I actually did!). Ask your potential doula what her philosophy of childbirth is and see if it fits yours. 
  3. How reliable is she and how many births does she take on per month? How many times has she had to call her backup doula? This is something to take into consideration - doulas who take on more births are more likely to use their backup doula. If you're okay with that, then make a point to meet the backup doula before your estimated due date. 
  4. Do you feel comfortable with her? THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT!!! If you don't feel comfortable with her from the start, then you probably won't feel comfortable with her on your baby's birth day. This can actually stall or slow labor. Even if she's a super experienced doula, if you don't feel comfortable with her, then pick somebody else that you do feel comfortable with. 
Most doulas offer a free get-to-know introductory meeting. This is a great time to ask the above questions (and any others you want to ask). I hope this article helps you find the best doula for you

West Island Montreal Doula, Lakeshore hospital

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Montreal Doula Tuesday Tips: Why Writing Your 'Birth Plan' Can Be Helpful

Doula in Montreal
"Birth Plans" or "Birth Wishes" are becoming more and more popular for women having their baby in a hospital. Some hospitals in Montreal even have a birth plan form that they hand out to all of their pregnant women. I will refer to the birth plan as 'birth wishes' for the remainder of the article.

Most couples have at least one thing that they either really want or really don't want at their birth. Some examples include: being able to freely move around, using the tub for natural pain relief, delayed cord clamping, no epidural, etc. I'm not a promoter of having a set birth plan, but I do think it's important to write down and discuss the things you want and don't want before and during your birth.

It can be very helpful to write down your birth wishes and desires and review it with your doctor before the big day. This can do a couple of things for you:

  • You will know how your doctor feels about your birth wishes. If you want something like delayed cord clamping, and your doctor is against it, it may be a good idea to switch providers. You won't know how he/she feels about it until you ask. 
  • You can have your doctor review and sign your birth wish form. In Montreal, most doctors don't go on call for their patients, so most women have their babies with doctors they have never met before. If you have your birth wish form that your doctor signed, then you can show the on-call doctor. Even if he/she doesn't agree with what you want, they are more likely to go along with your desires if your doctor signed off on it. 
  • The nurses will know exactly what you want. The nurses are there more than the doctor and if they know what you want, then they can give you better support. If your nurse knows that you don't want an epidural beforehand, then she/he will be less likely to ask if you want one. 
  • If you have a request that the hospital is not used to, it is best if they know right away (like keeping your placenta, for example). This will give you more time to discuss it with them and come to an agreement. 
Here are some helpful tips to writing a good Birth Wish form:
  • Try to keep it short and precise. A one page typed letter is best so it can be easily reviewed (and quickly - the nurses and doctors are often very busy). 
  • Rate which 'wishes' you want most and put them right at the top. 
  • Be respectful. Your birth wish form can set the tone for future communications with hospital staff. Try to use phrases like: "Thank you for helping me to achieve a natural birth." or "We appreciate your support with..." or "Please don't ask me if I want an epidural - I will request it if I want it."  - "Please" and "thank yous" are great. 
  • Decide what you can ask for in the moment, and leave those things off your birth wish form. Don't feel like you have to write everything down. There are some things that can be asked for in the moment - like walking around, or using the shower, using the birth ball, etc. 
  • Find out your hospital policies beforehand - for example, most Montreal hospitals do immediate skin-to-skin contact for 1 hour after birth. This is something that you don't have to put on your birth wish form since they already do it. 
Don't be afraid to express your desires. It is your birth.
Home birth doula Montreal

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why Postpartum Doulas Are AWESOME

Are you an exhausted new parent? 

Is your house a mess with piles of dirty laundry?

Are you struggling to prepare meals, or to even eat? 

Do you have questions about newborn care? 

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, then you may consider hiring a postpartum / postnatal doula. In this day and age most new parents are forced to fend for themselves, without much support from family and friends. Many new parents are exhausted from lack of sleep, where they may feel like they are barely able to keep it together. A doula who specializes in postpartum care can help you get through the first few weeks of parenthood.

Postpartum doulas come into your home and can be a beacon of light to new mothers and fathers. They care for your baby while you nap, or shower, or even have a bite to eat. They prepare beautiful and healthy meals. They clean and do laundry. They are a great support if you have questions about baby care or if you need help with breastfeeding.

Most postpartum doulas charge an hourly rate, while others have packages you can chose from. Keep in mind that you should feel comfortable with your postpartum doula, since she will be in your home, caring for you and your child. Here are some questions to ask yourself (and her) when you interview her:

  • Does she seem warm and caring?
  • Is she knowledgeable about baby care? 
  • What will she do when she's at your home? What won't she do when she's there? Some doulas will do anything that you need, while others won't. 
  • What does she do if you give birth early or late? Is her schedule flexible?
  • What are her fees? 
I hope this article helps you chose the postpartum doula that is perfect for your family. 

Montreal Doula


**Svea offers postpartum doula services for families in Montreal and surrounding areas.** 
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Montreal Doula Tuesday Tips: What to do in early labour

Many couples who are having their first baby get really excited when contractions begin. They get their bag packed and head to the hospital right away, thinking the baby will be coming soon. When they get there, they may feel frustrated when the doctor tells them they have to go back home because labour hasn't progressed enough.

The best thing to do in early labour is to ignore it. Ideally you want to stay home as long as possible, since you feel most comfortable in your home.  Labour can actually stall when you head to the hospital. Also keep in mind that some women experience early labour over a span of several days. Here are some tips on how to handle early labour comfortably:

  1. If it's at night - prepare yourself a high protein meal, take a bath and then head to bed. Try to sleep between contractions, if possible. Try not to get too excited (I know, easier said than done). If you can't sleep, just lie in bed anyway. 
  2. If it's during the day - take a nice long walk. Walking is so beneficial while in labour. 
  3. Watch a movie with your partner. This may be one of the last times in a long time where you have two hours, uninhibited, to spend time with your partner. Take advantage. This will also keep your mind off labour. 
  4. Do you like to do any form of art? Prepare a project that you can complete on the day you go into labour. 
  5. Make sure you are eating and drinking. High protein meals will help you feel stronger throughout labour. 
  6. If you feel like there is something you HAVE to do, then do it. Some women have strong feelings of needing to do odd jobs like washing their walls or scrubbing their floors ("nesting"). Trust yourself.
You can do these things until you feel like you can no longer focus on anything other than your contractions. Remember that birth is like a marathon. 

Doula Montreal prenatal classes

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Montreal Doula Tuesday Tips: Avoiding Morning Sickness

Many pregnant women experience morning sickness during their pregnancy. There are a few tricks to avoiding this unwanted phenomenon.

  1. Eat protein every two hours. During pregnancy a woman's protein requirements are higher. If she isn't getting enough, then she may feel nauseous. A spoonful of nut butter (almond, peanut, etc) is a great snack as well high in protein. Other protein sources include: dairy products, eggs, beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds & meat sources. 
  2. Eat smaller meals throughout the day. This tip goes with #1. If you are eating every two hours, you may not feel like you need to have three big meals. Smaller meals throughout the day will balance your blood sugar. Many experts believe that low blood sugar can cause morning sickness. 
  3. Examine your multi-vitamin. Not all prenatal vitamins are made the same (or absorbed by your body in the same way either!).  The iron and calcium don't always come from natural sources and can cause morning sickness. Actually, many of the ingredients in your prenatal vitamin come from synthetic sources. I believe (and this is just my opinion, not medical advice!) that the best vitamins come from whole foods (folic acid from dark green leafy veggies, iron from food sources like spinach, dark red cherries, red beets, etc). There are companies that make whole food prenatal vitamins. Ask at your local health food store. 
    Natural Morning Sickness cure
  4. Make sure you are well hydrated. Sometimes morning sickness can be caused by dehydration. I know, it can be difficult to drink or eat anything if you feel lousy. But, the more dehydrated you become, the morning nauseous you may feel. The recommended amount of water you should be drinking is 1/2 your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 140 pounds, then you should be drinking 70 ounces of water per day. If you don't like water, consider adding lemon or drinking a diluted juice (100% fruit juice - no sugar). Additionally, coconut water is a completely natural "gatorade". It restores your electrolytes, as well as hydrates you. 
  5. Consider drinking ginger tea. Ginger is commonly known to decrease nausea. It's an amazing tool for women who still feel nauseous despite trying everything else. Just buy some fresh ginger from the store, put it in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and then drink. You can even add a bit of lemon and honey. 
  6. Try to get out and exercise. If you feel nauseous all the time, you may not want to get out and exercise. But, many women report that they feel much better during and after a walk or run. Fresh air may also help you too. 
Avoiding morning sickness

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Montreal Doula Tuesday Tips: Family & Friends in the Labour Room

Each woman has different preferences for whom she wants in her birth room. Some women prefer to have only their partner while others have many support people. This Tuesday Tip suggests thinking about what your preferences are ahead of time. Don't be afraid to set your boundaries if you need to. The worst thing is to have someone there that you really don't want. I have seen plenty of unwanted family members peaking their head into the birth room and disturbing an otherwise peaceful environment.

Also, discuss with each support person how you see their role in your labour room. Do you want them to take pictures? Do you want them to massage or touch you? Additionally, make it clear that you may change your mind at any time during childbirth and that you still love them anyway!

Natural childbirth

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Montreal Doula Tuesday Tips

It's almost our 1 year anniversary here at Montreal Earth Doula blog and because of that I'm launching a new weekly post!

 "Tuesday Tips"

These tips will be geared toward pregnant women and couples and will include ways in which your family and friends can support you during labour, as well as nutritional snippets and holistic healing tips. Enjoy!

Healthy Pregnancy Tips
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Pregnancy Food Cravings: What They Really Mean

Pregnancy Food Cravings
Just about every pregnant woman has had food cravings at one point. Some women have severe cravings, even for items that are not considered food (pica). Every craving means something.

Many women crave chocolate around their period. That usually means that your body is actually craving magnesium - a mineral that helps to minimize cramping. Of course you can indulge in chocolate every now and then, but what you really should eat is food that is high in magnesium, like nuts & seeds, legumes and some fruits.

Your body is amazing. It knows which foods contain which vitamins and minerals. If you are deficient, then your body will crave the food that contains elements of that deficiency (even if it is an unhealthy craving). An example of this would be a craving for red meat during pregnancy. That means that you aren't getting enough protein, which you need a lot of to build a baby. If you are craving a food that is healthy, then trust yourself and eat as much as you feel you need. If the food isn't so healthy, like cheez wiz, then you should try to figure out what you're really craving.

Some other common cravings & what you really need:

  • Sweets - This one is a bit more complex, but could mean that you need more good sources of sweets (like fruits, honey and/or maple syrup, etc). Sugar is extremely addictive and actually suppresses your immune system. If you don't eat processed sugar, then you are less likely to crave sweets. Switch over to the good stuff - honey and maple syrup and fresh fruit. 
  • Bread - Your body actually needs more protein. You can get this through meats, beans, nuts & seeds, eggs and dairy sources.  
  • Pickles - This could mean a couple different things. #1 - that you are craving the salt in pickles. Pregnant women should not limit their salt intake. #2 is that you need a little extra liver support. Eat dark green leafy veggies. 
  • Ice - this could mean that you are anemic (iron deficiency, which is also common during pregnancy), or that you need more zinc. Foods that are high in zinc are also usually high in iron. These include: beef and lamb, spinach, and pumpkin seeds. 
  • Ice cream - This could mean that you need more calcium and/or that you need to eliminate your processed sugar intake. 
  • Spicy Foods - Your body will crave spicy foods if you need to cool down. I know, that seems odd, but if you eat spicy food it makes you sweat and that cools down your body. Don't believe me? Eat a bowl of hot soup on a hot day and see what happens. You will probably feel REALLY hot while you are eating it, but after you break a sweat you will cool down to a healthy level. 
  • Potato Chips - This could be a craving for salt or a craving for protein. Pregnant women should be eating a lot of protein throughout the day. If you aren't, you will crave foods that are high in carbohydrates. If you do eat a lot of protein and don't limit your salt, then you may be craving fat. Your body needs an adequate amount of healthy fat to build your baby. 
  • Fruit - Your body is telling you that you need the vitamins and minerals in the specific fruit you are craving. Please do indulge - this is a healthy craving. 
  • Soda - Many women experiencing morning sickness crave carbonated beverages. You should avoid caffeine during pregnancy, so you could consider healthy alternatives (like Spritzer, or Izzy - both carbonated fruit juices). Also, try to avoid unhealthy sodas because they contain high amounts of processed sugar. 
Never underestimate what your body is trying to tell you! A healthy diet during pregnancy can curb your cravings as well as provide a great foundation for your baby's health. 

Natural birth Montreal

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Holistic Healing For Moms After Childbirth

Childbirth is like a marathon. Women need to take it easy after they've given birth for optimal healing. As a holistic doula in Montreal, I find that the following tips provide the fastest healing for women in their postpartum period. 

  • 7-10 days of Sitz Baths with healing herbs (check out this website for ingredients as well as how to do it)
  • Stay in or around your bed for at least 2 weeks - and for much longer if you've had a c-section (6 weeks). 
  • Take it easy with household chores. Let your partner or family member do it. Your main concern right now is resting and feeding and caring for your baby. Try not to do anything for at least a few weeks. 
  • Limit your visitors for the first few weeks to family and close friends, and don't be afraid to ask guests to leave if you are feeling tired. 
  • Sleep when your baby is sleeping. You probably won't be getting a full night sleep for a long time, but if you sleep when your baby is sleeping, then you will feel much more rested. 
  • Have your baby in a bed close to yours, or consider co-sleeping. When your baby is hungry in the middle of the night, you will hear his/her cues right away and be able to feed easily and go back to sleep. If you wait until your baby is crying to feed him/her, then you will have a much more difficult time getting yourself and your baby to sleep. There are many studies out there that conclude that women who sleep near their baby feel more rested. 
  • Drink nutrient dense herbal tea 2-3 times per day. Pregnancy Tea is great during pregnancy and after you've given birth. Mother's Milk Tea is another good one.  
  • Drink a pregnancy smoothie every day. 
  • Eat a well balanced diet with enough fat and protein. I really like Weston Price, and their suggested diet for pregnant or nursing women. You can find that diet here
  • Consider hiring a postpartum doula who will take care of your household chores and care for your baby while allowing you to get some rest. PP doulas also prepare healthy meals and take care of whatever you need. They are amazing with babies and very helpful!
  • And finally, consider consuming your placenta. I know, that sounds really crazy. But, a lot of women who have done this report higher levels of energy and faster recovery periods after they've given birth. Additionally, it helps with milk supply, as well as decreases postpartum bleeding. There are doulas and other birth support personnel who offer placenta encapsulation services. If you want to know more about it, you can read here

Holistic childbirth natural birth

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Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Prepare Your Family & Friends For Your Baby's Arrival

After you've given birth, family and friends can be a great support for your transition into parenthood. It's a great idea to prompt your loved ones before your birth so they know how to best support you. 

Here are the things in which you can do prior to birth:

  • Don't be afraid to tell your family & friends how you really feel. Do you want your family &/or friends at the hospital or birth centre while you are in labor? If not, set a clear boundary that you will contact them when you're ready for them to come. The last thing you want is an unwanted guest popping in and out of your labor room. If you have a birth doula, she can help you to set these boundaries if an unwanted guest does come. 

  • Write down useful ways that family & friends can help you after you've given birth. Some visitors will know exactly what to do when they come over, while others will sit and want to talk. Some helpful things on your list could include: folding laundry while they are over, making a meal and bringing it over, cleaning up your house, or taking your other children out for a couple of hours. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't be afraid to ask people to leave if you've had enough. 

  • Your birth is your day. Honour yourself and set clear boundaries if needed. As you can see above, setting boundaries before you go into labour will help your family & friends know what you want and don't want. These boundaries include who you want at the hospital or birth centre, who you want to visit you in the first few days postpartum, telling people that it's time to go (maybe you're feeling exhausted...and rightly so - you just gave birth!), and setting "max visitation times". 

  • Having a baby shower? Ask for help then. Some women make a creative "wants & needs" list prior to their baby shower. Some of the items listed include: frozen meals for the new family after the baby's birth, time slots for people to come and pick up laundry & drop it off (no visiting though.. just pick up and drop off!), time slots for people to come and help tidy your house, if you have other children - time slots to take your other children to a fun activity. Don't be afraid to ask for support.

  • Consider having a gathering to introduce your baby. Invite all of your family & friends that want to see your new baby. This will get the visit done in a short period of time, instead of people constantly coming in and out of your home. Don't do it too early though, you want to make sure you are mostly healed following your birth. 

  • Consider sending out a letter or email before you've given birth. The letter can go something like this:
"Dear Family & Friends,
We can't wait to introduce our new baby to you. Please keep the following things in mind when visiting:
  • Wait for an invitation. We may not be up to having visitors right away. It's really important for mommy, daddy and baby to have some good bonding and healing time. Know that we love you and are thinking about you, and will invite you when we are ready. 
  • Short visits are better. One hour is best. As our baby grows and we feel more rested, we may be able to handle longer visits. But in the beginning, please keep the visits to a 2 hour max.  
  • You may not be able to hold the baby. We know - babies are so cute and cuddly, but you'll get lots of time to hold him/her when he/she is a bit older. 
  • We would love if it you brought us some food! We may not be in the mood for cooking, and it would be helpful to have some healthy prepared meals. 
Thank you for your support during this huge transition. We love you and can't wait to introduce our baby to you. 
Soon-to-be Mom & Dad 

I really hope you enjoy this article as this information has proved invaluable for my birth doula clients in Montreal, Canada. Remember, it's your day and you should feel totally comfortable.

Natural birth Montreal doula

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Birth Abuse is Real - A Call for Reform in the Hospital Setting

The amount of abuse that happens in the birth world is quite appalling. As a birth doula, I have witnessed comments from nurses and doctors that are quite unsettling. I have also reached out to my doula community and was even more shocked with what other doulas have experienced while supporting laboring women in the hospital. 

Here are some real comments made by OBs, nurses and other support people in the hospital setting:

"We are going to move you into the OR when it is time for you to push, this will make it easier on us when your uterus ruptures, so your baby won't die". - to a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) mom

I'd like to discuss some of the research about vaginal birth after cesarean and uterine rupture. 

In this study, they examined the risk of uterine rupture in women who had had a previous c-section. They found the risk for uterine rupture was 0.3% (based on 1,922 women).

Also, this study found that uterine rupture occurred in 1.3% of their patients going for a VBAC, and that "uterine rupture was associated with the use of epidural analgesia."

If you average these two studies out, the risk of uterine rupture after a previous cesarean was 0.8%. Women are bullied every day into repeat cesareans by nurses, doctors, and even friends and family. This is not good evidence based medicine. As you can see from the above statement, this comment was unacceptable and wrong. 

In my experience, many doctors and nurses act like a cesarean is much safer for the mother and baby than a vaginal delivery. I have even experienced a doctor laugh about the possible side-effects listed on the consent form to a woman prior to a cesarean, expressing that they rarely happen (and then the most severe complication actually happened to this person). C-sections do have their own risks. 

This study concluded that delivery via C-section was related to a longer length of hospital stay in late pre-term babies.This study concluded that cesarean delivery "increased the chances of unfavorable neonatal outcomes."

Cesareans also have other risks, including: increased risk of bleeding, longer healing time compared to a vaginal birth, breathing problems in babies, increased risk of injury to your bowel or bladder, wound infection and more. 

"At my very first birth as a doula, the mom was shaking while in transition (no epidural) and the monitor kept slipping. the nurse came in and very rudely kept repeating "STOP SHAKING" to the mom, who obviously couldn't help it."

A nurse who works with birth every day should know that involuntary/uncontrollable shaking is a totally normal part of labor. If you have ever seen or experienced this shaking, you know that it cannot be controlled or stopped. Additionally, transition is a time during which women feel very sensitive to suggestions or comments. I'd like to propose that these kinds of people should not be working with women who are in such an intimate and vulnerable experience.

"To a mom in the NICU with her 1 day old: you better not make him work too much to eat (mom wanted to breastfeed), Formula will be much better because then the baby won't get too tired while eating."

There are so many studies out there that conclude that premature babies should only be fed breast milk, be it from the breast or a cup (if the breast isn't available). There are so many things wrong with the comment above. First, formula should be a last resort to a premature baby. Mom's breast milk is the best, and if that's not available, then the preterm baby should eat donated breast milk from a milk bank, if available. The International Breastfeeding Center states the following:

Work in NICU’s friendly to breastfeeding, especially in Sweden, have shown that babies can start taking the breast even by 28 weeks gestation and many are able to latch on and drink milk from the breast by 30 weeks gestation. Indeed, some babies have gotten to full breastfeeding by 32 weeks gestation. This means breastfeeding, not receiving breast milk in a bottle or tube in the stomach. With Kangaroo Mother Care and early access to the breast, it can be done elsewhere as well. 
This study also shows that the use of exclusive breast milk (no formula) to extremely preterm infants in the NICU is the best.  

"I overheard an OB say, "You are not really in labor, We need to start pitocin or you never will be" to a mom who was 4cms and was in the middle of a contraction"

Do you know that stress and fear contribute to "failure to progress" in labor? When an animal goes into labor, they find a quiet and private space to birth their babies. If they feel threatened or disturbed, they begin releasing stress hormone, and it shuts down their labor until they find an undisturbed space. The same goes for women in labor - if they do not feel safe or protected, they begin to release stress hormones and labor will slow down or stop. Think about the hospital environment for one moment - the woman is meeting nurses and possibly the doctor for the first time, people are coming in and out of her room, support personnel are talking to her during her contractions, she is strapped to a fetal monitor and sometimes forced to lie in a position that is excruciatingly painful for her... this scenario often leaves the woman feeling the opposite of safe or protected. 

It's quite shocking that so many people deny this emotional and hormonal aspect of childbirth. Every doctor knows that when stress hormones are released during any other time, the body is in fight-or-flight mode and many other functions (like digestion) shut down until the person feels safe and at ease again. How is childbirth any different?

"Your baby doesn't know how to nurse. You have to teach him (as the nurse forcefully put the baby on the breast, and opened its mouth with her finger)."

This isn't necessarily abuse, but it is ignorance at its finest. Many babies are born as nursing machines! They immediately latch on and know exactly what to do. Every baby, including animal babies, has the innate instinct of how to feed themselves. Breastfeeding can be difficult if you don't have the right latch (which usually takes only a couple of adjustments), but babies certainly know how to do it.

As a side note, babies who were born to mothers with an epidural may be slower to feed, or have more problems nursing (although not always the case). This study found that "intrapartum analgesia was associated with partial breastfeeding and breastfeeding difficulties in the first postpartum week." 

Scare Tactics During Childbirth

Some situations are real emergencies. I get that. But many doctors use scare tactics in situations where they aren't warranted (which causes the release of stress hormones in laboring women, and we all know what happens next). This can lead to depression and post-traumatic-stress-disorder in women who had a less than ideal birth situation. If it was a true medical emergency, the woman is already feeling scared and traumatized - it's not necessary to throw the "your baby is going to die" card in her face. Here are some real examples of what doulas and mothers have experienced:

"The OB called for a c-section, and mom asked for monitors to be repositioned as she could still feel baby moving vigorously inside her. The ob nearly bellowed, "By all means, argue with me while your baby dies!" This was after the mom had already been bullied into every intervention, and it seemed clear the OB wanted to give the mom a c-section from the beginning."

"Had an OB point his finger in a mom's face while was screaming at him to shut up during contractions, he growled at her that she was in "his house" and he would talk to her when HE wanted and he wasn't on her schedule. It was one of my first births and I spoke out of turn, tried to quietly say "Dr I think she's in a lot of pain right now, if you can just wait until the break between contractions..." never got any further because he turned and pushed his finger in MY face and told ME to shut up because I didn't know anything and didn't need to be there. I was then asked to leave for almost 2 hours while the epidural was placed (it didn't take 2h, OB was being punitive)."

I'm wondering if doctors like this actually like delivering babies. Doctors can be tired, but honestly? 

"My OB told me that I was putting my baby at risk by hiring a doula to support me throughout labor. Needless to say, I switched providers (even though I was late in my pregnancy) and had a great birth experience." 

Research clearly shows that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of the labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40% and requests for an epidural by 60%.*

Additionally, in the article Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Deliverythe American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists states that: 
Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery (**). Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.
"I saw an OB threaten to call the cops & have the mom "baker acted" if she wouldn't be induced (baby looked perfectly fine on the monitors)."

Do you remember what I said about stress hormones above? Talk about a labor stalled because of of an abusive doctor...

For those who don't know what the Baker Act is, this explains it: 
The Baker Act allows for a person to be picked up and transported to a crisis stabilization unit for an involuntary psychiatric examination. It is based on the behavioral criteria that the person may be harmful to himself or others. If the person meets these criteria, the judge signs the Emergency Admission Order prepared by the Clerk.
"According to the ultrasound, your baby is big and you will probably need a C-section"

This baby ended up weighing just over 7 pounds at birth. I have heard this countless times, and in my experience, the estimation is often inaccurate. This study concluded that "all ultrasound estimated fetal weight formulae would either over or under estimate the fetal weight." 


The following are crazy comments made by medical professionals. I don't think they need much explanation.

"A nurse to my client (who was being cared for by social services) after having baby #3 said that maybe she should keep her "legs crossed or get the tubes tied"!!! I could have strangled this woman for making her feel bad about her situation! She had no idea about her history, or the hardships she had been through!"

"While walking the halls with a VBAC client, there was a very loud conversation at the nurse's station making fun of a woman's birth plan. Particularly her request for immediate skin-to-skin in the event of a cesarean. It angered and shocked both my client and I."

Come on... we all know the benefits of skin-to-skin. If you don't, read here. This article also points out the importance of skin-to-skin following a cesarean. 

"As a doctor yanked the placenta out before it had separated, my client was screaming in pain. He said in a sarcastic voice, "Get a grip.""

"As on the on call doctor was sewing me up from a repeat c-section (my doctor wouldn't give me vbac options), she said, "yup you weren't pushing that one out.""

Doctor to doula: "You need to press right here (points to two spots on back)." 
Doula: "She really doesn't want to be touched right now - it's making her contractions more painful, and she's handling her labor so beautifully."

Doctor: "But the key is to press and make pain somewhere else so she will be distracted from her contractions."

"Mama wanted to natural birth - she was induced at 39 weeks and after 4 vaginal checks in 10 hours (doc was in the room to do another vaginal check) the doc said, "if I can't get these two fingers up there how do you expect the head of the baby to come out from here!""

Stress can also cause tension. Increased tension = difficult vaginal exams. 

"I had an OB tell me that I had to be in bed, on my back, and on monitors while attempting a natural childbirth...."because we need to know ahead of time if it is a bad baby.""


Folks, abuse in childbirth is real. It happens all the time and, unfortunately, nobody says or does anything about it. If you experience it or witness it, there are actions you can take. Contact the hospital ombudsman and report the doctor or nurse. If it's a nurse, contact the nurse manager of the unit. We should really be taking steps to correct this - verbal abuse and bullying is uncalled for and should be taken seriously. 

A Call For Hospital Birth Center Reform

Birth trauma is also real. Most of the doctors and nurses, who made the above statements, or something similar, do not see their patients after they have given birth. They don't see the trauma they may have caused her. They don't see the postpartum depression that she is experiencing because she hasn't come to terms with her birth experience. They don't experience the post-traumatic stress disorder that she developed from a traumatic birth. Woman are human beings, capable of emotion and hurt. 

This system must be changed. Doctors and nurses should be respectful and kind, promoting a safe and protected environment. This article, in the Journal of Perinatal Education, about health-care reform for pregnant and laboring women, states:

Health-care reform must promote, support, and protect natural, safe, and healthy childbirth. Because most childbearing women and their newborns are healthy and at low risk for complications, it is important that women have access to appropriate quality health care in a safe environment that supports a woman's innate ability to give birth, breastfeed, and begin to mother her newborn. In such an environment, overuse of costly interventions that interfere with the normal process of labor and birth are avoided except in the rare situations in which women are at high risk for serious health problems.
In Conclusion

I'm certainly not saying that all nurses and doctors are bad. I've had the pleasure to work with some of the most caring and wonderful health care professionals. Those support people are a beacon of light for women during their birth. But, abuse happens and we should do something about it. No woman deserves to be verbally abused and bullied while she is experiencing one of the most powerful and intimate experiences of her life. 

Natural birth doula Montreal

**Klaus, M., Kennell, J., Klaus, P. Mothering the Mother.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1993.
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