New Video from DONA: Reducing Infant Mortality Rate

Infant mortality in the US is higher than many well-developed countries. This video provides some insightful information and observations as to why that might be, and what we can do to prevent infant mortality.

One aspect they bring up is pre-conception health and it’s role in infant mortality. Some parents may not feel the initiative to improve their diet and well-being until they are actually pregnant, when in fact we find that your health before you’re pregnant plays a substantial role in the health of your pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience.
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Like many films about birth, this one speaks to the role of medical intervention in the rate of infant mortality. As you open your minds to this part of the film, please also acknowledge that there are times where intervention is helpful.

If you find yourself becoming scared of what birth may bring for you, please take a moment to consider how you would know when an intervention would be helpful. What would you need to know from yourself, from your health care team in order to feel that medical support was being used compassionately for your experience?

It’s not uncommon for us to have many feelings arise when learning about birth and the politics that surround it. Please use our discussion board as a place to share your thoughts and consider the perspectives of others.

http://www.reducinginfantmortality.com/

Mother’s Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby

This amazing story written on Dr. Momma’s blog has been circulating the internet with intensity. The story speaks of the incredible bond that exists between mother and baby that cannot be understood fully simply by physiology. I give thanks to the parents who were open to sharing their experience with us so that we may feel touched, have deeper trust in our own instincts and understand the intensity that so many experience with birth.

Click on the image below to view the story.

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Birth and our relationship to our wombs can be quite intense and can take on many forms. We don’t need to have lost a baby ourselves to feel a sense of loss or disconnection around our fertility, sexuality or birth experience.

Terra Wise, an incredible faciliator and Midwife for the Soul is in Toronto for a limited time offering private and group sessions for women who have experienced womb loss in some way. Her compassionate and dynamic approach to healing includes deep discussion, sound healing, visualization, drawing/painting and so much more. If you feel a disconnection or have difficult feelings around your womb, please take advantage of her support while she’s in Toronto.

You may find her at www.TerraWise.net or terrawise@gmail.com

TENS Machines Help Women Cope with Labour Pain

TENS machines can a have a significant effect in reducing pain or feelings of panic in labour. TENS is an acronym that stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator. This small machine is used as a pain coping device. It consists of a small box attached to four sticky pads that are placed on your lower back.

A small electrical current (the intensity of which is controlled by the birthing mother) is emitted into the lower back. This signal interferes with pain transmitters and consistently signals your brain to release endorphins, your natural pain killer hormone.

I found this great video on youtube that explains and demonstrates the way TENS machines work for labour. Take a look!

labour-tens-machine-video

In order for a TENS machine to have the best effect, it must be used beginning in early labour.

You may rent a TENS machine from a physiotherapist or your doula may have one.

Many women who have used TENS machines have reported feeling more confident in themselves and seem to hold focus well. For those of you who have used TENS machines before, please share your experience in the comments section!

The Labyrnth of Labour: A metaphor for the felt experience of birth

labyrinthWalking a labyrinth brings up a lot of feelings we may also feel in labour. As we walk the curvy, long path of a labyrinth we may want to ‘get it over with’ and run to the centre; as we find ourselves weaving back and forth we may feel we haven’t actually made much progress even though we’ve been walking for what feels like a long time; when we get to the centre (which represents your baby’s birth) we may feel pressure to rush out and start our journey out of the laborynth, back to what we know to be daily life.

Like labour, the work of the labyrinth is practicing mindfulness. To remain present with every step, with every contraction. To do what needs to be done in the moment, without looking too far ahead or judging how far we’ve come.

To practice mindfulness now can be a great way to prepare for the mental challenges of labour. As you find yourself rushing to get the dishes done, or complaining about traffic, or struggling with nausea, bring your mind back to the moment, do what needs to be done with what the moment is calling for. INVEST in being present with where you are. Everything feels so much more manageable when we do this for ourselves.

You may even want to walk a labyrinth to practice. Visit http://www.labyrinthnetwork.ca/ for a listing of Toronto’s laborynths.

How do you practice mindfulness?

24 Hour Crisis Lines to Use in Postpartum

I came across some crisis lines that offer support to parents needing support or perspective on their situation (often in postpartum) and thought I’d share them here.

Please post these on your fridge so they are visible and accessible should you want to use them.

Toronto Distress Centre 416-408-HELP (4357)
Gerstein centre 416-929-5200 24 hours
Telehealth 1-866-797-0000

Cute Commercial About Breastfeeding in Public

I saw this commercial on facebook and thought I’d share. We’re lucky now to have a few places in that provide nice rooms for women to breastfeed in should they feel they want privacy. However, it is not necessary that women be asked or required to leave a public area to breastfeed.

The commercial has a cute way of illustrating this point:
Breastfeeding Commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_2v6a6ybaI&feature=player_embedded

Postpartum Program at St. Joseph’s Women’s Health Centre

The St. Joseph’s Women’s Health Centre has a great program for women who want more emotional support after their baby is born.

Women can set up a support schedule in which they recieve over-the-phone counseling as needed and can attend a weekly support group with other women.

The convenience of private phone support can be a huge asset if you are unable to leave your house for awhile in postpartum or do not feel comfortable sharing your experiences with other women.

Call them to find out more about their program 416-530-6850 or visit them online at www.stjoe.on.ca/programs/family/women.php

Cindy Crawford, Homebirth and NOT Sharing Your Birth Story

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The newest project from Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein is called My Best Birth and follows the stories of a number of women describing their birth choices.

Cindy Crawford is amongst these women and shares with us some very real and thoughtful insights into what it’s like to share your birth plans with your family and friends.

When sharing the decisions we make around an event as intimate as birth, we sometimes feel as though we need to justify or defend the choices we feel are right for ourselves.

Cindy’s approach to this aspect of birth preparation reflects how she was able to protect her birth space and comfort as a mother preparing for birth while at the same time, appeasing the
concerns of her family.

Take a look:

http://www.mybestbirth.com/page/cindy-crawford-part-1

The same idea of being protective of our experience can be extended to how we share our birth story in postpartum. It may not come as a surprise to you that birth is deeply personal and intense. Sometimes simply talking about your birth before you’re ready can feel like it’s a little too much.

However, it is a reality that one of the first things people ask when they see new parents is “How was your birth?” In the event that you do not feel ready to share your story when this happens, it can be helpful to have a couple of key phrases ready to respond with.

Other mothers have used:

“It was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I’ll give you a call soon and tell you about it.”

“You know, I’m pretty tired right now. I’d rather tell you when I’m a little more present.”

“It was pretty special. I’m still working through it and I’ll send you a copy of my birth story when it’s ready.”

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Similarly, sharing pictures of the birth can be pretty surreal, especially for the mother who laboured. Partners are often ready before the birthing mother to share the birth story. While it can be reassuring that partners want to share the birth in this way, it is of utmost importance that sharing this story is not rushed.

Mothers often feel vulnerable and skeptible about birth for awhile after the baby is born. Showing pictures or sharing details about the birth before she’s ready can significantly influence the way she remembers her birth and see’s herself as a mother, and not always for the better.

When we feel vulnerable, we are more likely to internalize criticism, opinions or good intentions as judgements. We may also feel that some perspectives minimalize our experience, as we often hear reassurance instead of validation when we’re sharing intense feelings or experiences. Until you’ve been through your birth story in your own way, feel some acceptance within yourself and are ready to recieve and respond to other’s perspectives on your birth, it is ok and important to protect your story in some way.

If you find yourself listening to a mother share her birth story, it can be a great gift for her to have you give over your full attention, acknowledge that sharing is a part of her personal process and validate the myriad of feelings that come along with birth.

More about the art of listening to birth stories can be found here:

http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/birth_shock

Look Mom! No Hands!

Pumpease Hands Free Pump Supports have to be one of my favourite products to introduce to women who find that pumping has become a part of their postpartum lifestyle. A manual pump can be tedious and awkward, while you just simply cannot use your hands while you hold an electric pump to your breast.
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Wendy Armbruster-Bell started making Pumpease in Vancouver and they’re now distributed across Canada and the US. The support is a similar concept to a bra or tube top. It’s goes around your body and clips between your breasts in the front. There are slits in the material over the nipples where you put the pump. The material holds the pump in place and you now have your hands to soothe your baby, or eat, or brush your teeth, or change your pants….any number of things that have become luxuries in your new life!

Pumpease has recently introduced a funky new ‘Classic’ designs so we can indulge the aesthetic of wearing something pretty too!

The first time I brought this over to a new mom’s house, she hadn’t left her pumping chair in three days. I helped her with the fit, she put the pump in place and she said “This is great! I can get up! I can change my pants! I’m going to go brush my teeth!” And off she went! It was so amazing to see how her sense of freedom shifted so quickly once she had it on.

Buy them online at www.pumpease.com or buy them off the rack at Evymama

Fathers, Partners and Postpartum Depression

Recognizing and preparing for postpartum depression (PPD) is a concern that most parents consider in their pregnancy. However, we often limit our concern of PPD to the birthing mother. Likewise, a vast majority of support groups, resources and preventative programs for PPD are mother-oriented.

While it is important to become aware of signs and symptoms of PPD in women, it is also necessary to consider the resources and support that partners might need if they find themselves supporting a woman experiencing PPD.

Unfortunately, in Toronto you might need to get creative in this area. From my searches, I haven’t found many resources that are specifically geared toward supporting partners, but especially men with their experience of PPD.

Instead, you may find the help you need in a marriage or relationship counsellor, your health care provider, a strongly founded community of friends family and other fathers.

I’ve also found this website to give helpful information about identifying PPD in your partner and providing guidance as to what a father might do to support their partner.

http://www.postpartumdads.org/

We also mustn’t rule out the possibility that partners may suffer from PPD as well. While birthing mothers may be more susceptible to postpartum depression, approximately 10% of fathers experience postpartum blues or PPD.

I recently came across this article published by CTV in 2005 discussing PPD in fathers:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1122071977072_38/?hub=CTVNewsAt11

And this article published in USNews in 2008:

http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/sexual-reproductive/2008/05/21/postpartum-depression-strikes-new-fathers-too.html

While these articles speak specifically about the experience of PPD in fathers, we mustn’t rule out that a similar experience could be felt by same sex partners. We’ll begin to see more PPD support for partners as our society becomes more aware of the ways in which partners who have not birthed are affected by depression.

In the meantime, it may be helpful to include ways to identify and support PPD for both mother and partner in your preparation for postpartum. To start off, please check out this website that gives a comprehensive description of PPD in fathers and leads to you to helpful resources for coping and preventing depression.

http://www.postpartummen.com/index.html