Guest Blog: Taxes on your Kids by Tera of Playful Grounds

It was refreshing to walk into Playful Grounds cafe the other day and find enough space for strollers between tables and seating large enough to accommodate a toddler on your lap or a breastfeeding baby in your arms. Playful Grounds is a gem in Toronto as one of those rare family friendly cafes that actually practices what it preaches. There is a play area for the children, great food coffee (and beer!) and an awesome staff that will welcome your children into their space.

Upon speaking to one of the owners, Tera Goldblatt about the motivation for her cafe, she shared a recent frustration that has come up in the news! Lucky for me, she’s already written a blog all about it so I thought I’d share. It’s about (if you can believe it!), restaurants charging parents for the space that their strollers and infants take up while they enjoy their time out….Here’s what Tera has to say about it, what do YOU think?

Taxes on Your Kids
By Tera Goldblatt
Guest Blog Posting
Original posting:

I’ve been thinking a lot about what moms go through, feeling like their children are an imposition on the people around them. I myself spend a great deal of time apologizing to strangers for myself, my bag, my stroller and my child; I am mortified when my three year old son behaves like a three year old in public. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that I am just as entitled to be on the bus, in the restaurant or walking along the sidewalk as anyone else. It’s just that I’m not sure my fellow TTC companions, café patrons or pedestrians feel the same way and there is plenty of evidence to back up that fear.

Recently, several news media outlets picked up on a story out of London England which described a scenario in which a mother was charged a ‘child tax’ on her bill. Two mothers in two separate instances were charged an extra 3 pounds, or 5 dollars, because they had children in tow who were not ordering from the menu. One child was 6 weeks old and the other was 6 months old. Both were exclusively breast fed. Turns out the employees at the restaurant who added the tax did so in error. The restaurant does reserve the right to enforce their ‘Minimum Charge Policy’ which “is intended for toddlers who eat but not as much as a child. It was and never will be intended as a charge for Prams or for babies”. The restaurant issued a formal apology on its website and that was that. Case closed, ya? Far from it.

News outlets ranging from CBC to Breakfast Television are debating this issue. The big question? Should parents be allowed to take up space with their “spittle-strewn bundles of joy”? Should parents have to pay for the space the stroller is occupying? I’ve never heard anyone ask that about an elderly person’s walker. What about a Seeing Eye dog? For that matter, what about a wheelchair?

There are plenty of places which cater to the stroller and its occupant; toy stores, drop in parent centres, and of course, McDonalds, to name a few. The thing is those places are all for the child; places mom can take baby where everything will be for the baby. But what about the mom? The good news is the tides are changing. Mom and Tot activities are beginning to be available because of the recognition that mom still wants to maintain some semblance of a life. Raising a child with all of the modern accoutrements is an expensive enough endeavor without having to pay a ‘tax’ just to bring your child/stroller into an establishment. To me that’s just prejudice plain and simple.

As for myself I will continue to apologize in the restaurants, the sidewalks, the streetcars. I’m gracious that way. Most moms are I think. Would I ever pay extra just to enter a restaurant with my kid? Never. I’ll hand my hard earned money over to the establishment that welcomes me, not the one who merely tolerates me.”

Childcare Choices in Toronto

So, you’ve spoken with a few parents and have heard the gruesome news… you really have to put your child on a wait list for daycare before it’s even been born! Since most daycares only take children above 2 years of age, what do you do before then? What is the difference between a public and private daycare in terms of cost, care, provisions, availability? How would a nanny service work and would it be worth it?

Instead of doing all the research yourself, we’ve put together a little workshop (free) to go over all of the details with you. Take a look at the information below and let us know if you can come! We have enough spots for 12 more people (6 more couples) and have space for strollers and small children if you have them to bring with you :)

Email to register

When: Feb 29, 2012 at 7-8:30pm
Where: CIBC Building 2 Bloor St West Suite 702
Cost: Free (Spots are limited. Pre-registration is required)

Lindsay Laurence of Nannies on Call will be introducing key concepts and resources for the following childcare options in order to help you decide which is right for your family and what the next steps are:

-Daycare: licensed vs. unlicensed, home daycare, wait lists
-Nanny: definition, live-in/sponsored vs. live-out, full-time vs. part-time, long-term vs. short-term, nanny sharing, using an agency vs. looking on
your own, salary
-Work-from-home Parent: strategies, realistic goals
-Back-up/Flexible Care: drop-in daycare & on-call nannies

Nannies on Call is located at 2 Bloor Street *West*, Suite #702, directly on the North-West corner of Bloor & Yonge (in the CIBC building). After 5pm the elevators require a key card, so I will be leaving a list of attendees’ names with the security guard at the desk in the main floor lobby – he or she may check your ID and then will let you up the elevator with their card. When you get off on the 7th floor, the seminar room is right next to the elevators

Sandy and Jason’s Birth Story

*Posted with permission of both parents*
Jason’s story is in italics, Sandy’s in normal font

To view the story with photos click “Jason and Sandy’s Birth Story” on our Homepage

Sandy and I would like to announce that we are the very proud, very happy parents of our new baby girl! It has been a truly amazing experience the past four days and we are extremely grateful that our Red Bean has arrived safely. Thank you everyone for their well-wishes and thoughts. Sandy and I will be “cocooning” with the baby in the next few days so we won’t really be very accessible but we will be in touch very soon as we would like you to meet Red Bean.

First off, allow me to apologize to anyone who tried to reach either Sandy or myself in the past few days without much success. We know some of you were concerned and we are very appreciative. We were just going through some challenges with the labour and we wanted Sandy to be free of distractions. So, we felt that we owed at least some of you a detailed breakdown of what happened :)

When my doctor first referred me to a ob-gyn at Mount Sinai, I was thrilled. The best hospital with the best team of doctors. Out of curiosity, I went for a consultation with the Riverdale Community Midwives, since it was conveniently located on my street. I end up going with a mid-wife because I really like their philosophy: birth is a natural event and they would try to minimize any unnecessary medical interventions e.g. epistomety (a cut..eek!), c-section, vacuum, forceps, etc.. Plus, I end up developing a really good relationship with my mid-wife, Cynthia, who gave us lots of 1-to-1 attention, stuck with me during labour, and will be providing 6-week care post-partum. All this covered by OHIP – sweet! With Cynthia, I had the option of delivering at home or at the hospital.

At first, Sandy was pretty adamant about getting an epidural as she anticipated that she would not be able to deal with the pains of labour. We eventually enlisted the help of a midwife, Cynthia and a doula (labour coach) Amanda to help us with the birth. Interacting with them exposed us to the idea that Sandy could birth naturally, perhaps even at home. So after much research, we were going to try to have the baby at home without any intervention. We rented a birthing tub, laid down lots of towels and plastic shower curtains, stocked up on snacks and bendy straws, and … waited.

Earlier in the pregnancy, I was positive I wanted to deliver at St Mike’s hospital with the mid-wife, because I knew “help” was close in case anything went wrong, and an epidural would be at my fingertips if I changed my mind. However, over the course of a few months, after reading many books by Ina May Gaskin and Sheila Kitizinger, talking to our mid-wife Cynthia, and watching countless documentaries (e.g. Orgasmic Birth, Business of Being Born with Ricki Lake), and with Jason’s encouragement, I decided to “try” for a home birth, stock up on supplies, maintain a positive attitude, and above all… remain flexible.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Sandy woke up in the morning feeling like she had wet herself. So, it was just like any other day. Just kidding :) . Anyway, we weren’t sure what was going on so we went to our midwife, Cynthia, for an appointment. Cynthia examined Sandy and determined that it was likely that her water had broken. She sent us home with instructions to rest as much as possible and try to distract Sandy if any contractions occurred. The rest of the day was spent with me doing work, Sandy baking pies, and just trying to relax. Sandy was occasionally cramping but nothing regular so it was an uneventful evening.

Due date – Sunday July 4th, came and went. Nothing happened.
So, Monday night- Jason and I decided to take matters in our own hands and get the grove on :) On Tuesday, I woke up, and felt like I had wet myself… more of a slow leak, rather than a sudden gush like you see in movies. I started getting period-like menstrual cramps, so I knew things were going to turn up a notch. Feeling excited that things were starting to happen, I waited for Cynthia’s prognosis. After the exam, she told me that it was likely that I broken my water, but it was difficult to tell without doing a physical exam. She didn’t want to do one, in likelihood of increasing infection. So she made a few suggestions: 1) eat over-ripe fruit 2) go for long walks 3) stimulate the nipples for a least an hour to release the body’s natural oxytocin hormone 4) go see an acupuncturist to induce labour and 5) eat some home-made homeopathic remedy which consisted of castor oil, peanut butter, and orange juice… can you say yuckkk!???!

At home, I pretty much tried everything she suggested (except the acupunturist part and castor oil concoction) and waited for some ACTION!! The rest of day, I worked on my “labour project” to distract myself which included baking 3 pies (2 apple, and 1 cherry, for our mid-wife, doula and for us) popped in a movie, bounced on the yoga/birthing ball for a few hours, and waited. At one point- it was pretty hilarious – me walking around the kitchen island, Jason following me, and Jesse too! We walked and circled around the kitchen island for hours – like one big family!! Honestly, pre-labour wasn’t too bad. I laughed, moved around, and it seemed pretty much like a normal day.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I woke up to the sounds of Sandy crying out in pain. Seems like contractions had started! So we did the coping exercises that the doula had taught us (breathing, moving, referring to contractions as “surges”) and things seemed to be progressing. Sandy was coping beautifully, able to breathe through her contractions without much difficulty and with enough ease to point out a couple of times that I was blowing my bad breath (e.g nachos, butternut squash soup) into her face. Since Cynthia had gone out of town for the day, the backup midwife Linda came and examined Sandy. Sandy was 1-2 cm dilated but Linda assessed that her water had not broken yet. The leaking fluid was likely just that, a leak, not a rupture. Linda gave us some homeopathic pills to help with the contractions which continued and grew close enough apart (5 min) that we called our doula at around 8 PM. Amanda came and mysteriously, things started spacing out. Five minutes became 7 minutes which became 10 minutes. By around midnight, both Sandy and I were pretty tired and, since contractions were slowing down, we decided to try to sleep that night. Well, we didn’t end up getting much sleep because Sandy was still getting contractions every 10-15 minutes which were pretty strong.

Wednesday morning was such a blur. Things started heating up! I can’t even remember how or when it started. Surges (contractions) started at about 7am, and I did a lot of walking around our kitchen island to cope. Anytime it felt like hurting, I would close my eyes, breath out-loud, spread my legs open and sway from side to side, and hang onto the kitchen counter or the closest wall (per Amanda, our doula’s recommendation). This seems to help alot!!! Linda, the back-up mid- wife came to check-up on me and told me I was only 1-2 cm dilated, gave me some homeopathic pills to speed up the surges, and left us. The rest of the day, Jason would feed me these pills every half an hour, and we continued to watch movies, and walk around the kitchen island to cope. I remember Amanda coming around 9:30pm but the surges slowed down, so we decided to take it easy, send her home at about midnight, and get some rest. What this really meant… was me sleeping on the downstairs couch, and Jason was sleeping in the arm chair, and every time I would have a surge ~15 mins apart, he would jump out of his chair, and motivate and encourage me through each painful contraction. What a horrible night sleep!!! But thank goodness Jason was such a good labour partner!

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Surges started our day and Sandy kept coping. A little bit more difficult now but still able to breathe her way through the surges. At this point, I was totally impressed by Sandy, especially considering she usually has a low pain tolerance. But with zero sleep and labour pains that I’ll never be able to describe, she was managing extremely well. We got to a point sometime in the early evening where surges were coming every 5 minutes. Since Cynthia was still out of town, Linda dropped by for another checkup. Her assessment was that Sandy was 3-4 cm dilated and the cervix was 80% effaced (thinned out) which was a bit disappointing, considering Sandy had been in labour for almost 36 hours. Sandy forged on and with Amanda’s help, we were down to contractions about 2-4 minutes apart at around 3 AM Friday morning. At this point, it had been about 43 hours so both Sandy and I were getting very tired but very excited to be entering what appeared to be active labour. Amanda sent me off to bed since I was a zombie at this point so I thankfully caught a few hours of sleep while Sandy continued to labour with Amanda.

Thursday … we called Amanda back once the homeopathic pills, walking around the kitchen island, and bouncing on the yoga ball seemed to take effect — surges were now 4-5 minutes apart. Linda came back, and I was SOoooo disappointed that she told me that
I was only 3-4 cm dilated. Crap!!!!! All this work, and that’s it!!??? holy smokes! Amanda was ABSOLUATELY AMAZING!!! She talked me through every single surge, and kept me strong and motivated. Plus, it was really good having an extra pair of hands and having someone there whose been through many births. I remember taking a long hot shower, walking up and down the stairs on my hands & knees, and listening to Amanda who told me “to make each surge work as efficiently as possible.” Amanda sent Jason to bed at about 3am, and she stayed up with me through the entire night helping me talk through each surge. I remember sitting in the chair sleeping (‘cuz at this point it was too painful to lie down), and she would say “Don’t move away from the pain, let your body sit into the pain, and let yourself go into the pain.” As weird at that sounds – it actually worked!!!

Friday, July 9th, 2010

I was awoken at around 7 AM by Cynthia’s arrival – she had returned from vacation which was great but we never thought that Sandy would still be in labour! For whatever reason, things had started slowing down again to 10-15 minute apart contractions. Needless to say, this was very discouraging and Cynthia presented us with a few options. Since the water had still not broken and we were 48 hours in, we could A) go to the hospital and get drugs (pitocin) to induce stronger contractions or B) manually break the bags of water to hopefully progress the labour to the birthing stage. We decided to go with option B but go to the hospital anyway so that we could check out the health of the baby. Baby was good, Sandy was 5 cm dilated, so Cynthia manually broke Sandy’s water with a huge chopstick-like contraption. Sandy’s contractions were pretty strong by now so she seemed ready to set up shop and get pumped up with some drugs. However, knowing that this was not what she really wanted, the birthing team (i.e. Cynthia, Amanda, and myself) encouraged her to continue trying at home.

Friday morning – I was getting desperate. Where was Linda? When is she coming back? How far along was I dilated now? Would it be time to deliver soon? I was really tired both physically and psychologically at this point and wasn’t sure how much longer labour was going to be. Linda informed us Cynthia had returned from vacation, and was coming over to check up on us and talk to us about our options at this point. In an hour, Cynthia finally came over to our place and gave us our options A) go to hospital to get drugs to speed up labour B) Check the baby’s stats using the hospital equipment which would give us the well-being of red bean C) break the bag manually. So – we grabbed our hospital bag, jumped into the car, and with Amanda, met Cynthia at St Mike’s maternity ward.
Once there, I have to admit – I had my weak moments. Cynthia had just manually broke my water bag with this chopstick like thing (which surprisingly didn’t hurt, and I felt a gush of warm liquid slide down my legs). But then, when I saw the big spa-like tub, I changed my mind and just wanted to stay at the hospital. I even thought to myself – heck! Now that I’m here, I can get an epidural and be rid of this pain, and avoid the jiggly car ride home. I remember Cynthia saying “You DON’T WANT to deliver here! It’ll be way better to deliver at home”, and Jason said “Yea, Jesse’s home, and you can be with her”, and Amanda said, “Yes, plus, there’s better snacks at home!” So I caved, and went home to deliver.

Friday, 2 pm

At this point, Sandy was in the birthing tub, coping with the increasingly stronger contractions. It had only been two hours since returning from the hospital and Sandy was already feeling the urge to push! Holy birthing tub – the thing was an insane labour accelerator for Sandy. Amanda paged Cynthia who rushed over. She examined Sandy and, to everyone’s delighted, declared that she could feel the baby’s head and that Sandy was ready to give birth. After dilating 5 cm in a span of 48 hours, the insane labour accelerator had increased the dilation by 5 cm in 2 HOURS! Highly recommended.

In the end, I’m so glad I went home. Once the birthing tub was filled with hot water, I jumped in and went into high gear mode. My body completely took over. It was like a whole another part of my instinctual side took over the intellectual thinking part of me. Amanda warned me, “When you feel the shudders, don’t be scared, just let it take over.” Okay… and boy did my body shake. That was scary. I closed my eyes, writhered around like a snake, and groaned in the tub for 2 hours. The hot water felt relaxing, and Amanda, was putting a cold face-cloth smeared with lavender essential oil… sweet blissful relief!!

During these shudders, I remember even telling Amanda … “I can’t help but feel like I need to push”… uh-oh! Amanda quickly called Cynthia, and she rushed over. When Cynthia finally arrived and examined me, she was surprised that I had dilated to 10 cm in 2 hours and said she could feel the baby’s head really low in my pelvis. When she called the back-up mid-wife, Linda, and ran to the car and grabbed her medical bag, I knew there was going to be some ACTION!!! Yippeee! Finally, it’s happening!!!! I was totally excited!!

Friday, 5 pm

For 2 hours, it was an awesome scene at our house.

1 sheepish Jason getting yelled at for having “Peanut Butter Breath!” + 1 obliging Amanda getting ordered with “FACECLOTH!” after every contraction + 1 midwife flashing everyone twice + 2 other midwifes yelling “PUSH!” + 1 beautiful, courageous, awe-inspiring, woman that I proudly call my wife EQUALS the delivery of the newest member of our family at 5:16 PM.

I’ve tried to describe best in words what I consider to be an indescribable experience. Over the course of the last two hours of labour, I gained even deeper respect for Sandy. Her strength, resolve, and endurance blew me away and I feel so very lucky to have her in my life. Yet if you talk to her about it, she will be humble about it. So I’ll toot her horn for her. As we held our baby together for the first time at 5:17 PM, I told her that she is my hero. What a great day.

So over the next 2 hours I pushed in the birthing tub, squatted on the birthing stool in the tub, and finally was coaxed into moving onto the couch so that I would be in better position. With my legs spread wide eagle, I had completely lost all care for dignity or covering up. I just wanted this baby out. They kept telling me “Yes! You are doing great! Just in a couple of more pushes, and this baby will be out!” Little did I realize that in the middle of all this pushing, you really lose a sense of time. When I shrieked in pain, Amanda kept encouraging me to keep the noises low, purse my lips together, and use my abs to push baby out. That was helpful. And every after surge, I would yell out “face-cloth” for my sweet relief!!!

Surprisingly… Jesse, our pooch, was wonderful. Calm. Attentive. And amazing. She watched me in the birthing tub, licked my feet, and was right there when red-bean was born. I’m so glad we didn’t send her away. Ever since the birth, Jesse has been my “guard” every time I am nursing… I kind of feel like she’s protecting my space, and watching out for intruders.

At one point during the labour, it was funny – because Jason tried to take over the mopping my face with the face-cloth but I didn’t like his technique. He wasn’t giving me enough pressure, and was smearing my hair like an old man’s comb-over… YES! Comb-OVER!! So, I bluntly asked Amanda if she could keep doing it, and Jason said he felt dry. :) hahahaha…

Even at 3 different points during the labour, Jason kept blowing his smelly breath in my face. While his intention was good to try and “breathe” through every surge with me, I kept smelling his nacho / butternut squash soup/ peanut butter breath. And, I even yelled out to stop it during each surge ‘cuz it was making me very irritated!!! LOL =) I’m glad he understood. So point of advice, make sure you have your partner/spouse/etc. brush his/her teeth!!! LOL =)

So looking back, it honestly didn’t feel like a 58 hour labour!! Time all blurs together. Must be the blend of adrenalin, oxytocin and excitement your body produces that makes you lose a sense of time. All I can say, is that I’m so happy that red-bean’s heart beat was strong and healthy throughout the labour. When she was born, I said to myself “Shit! I can’t believe this just came out of my body!” It’s an incredibly surreal experience. I’m still in a bit of a daze.

The team of mid-wives were amazing!! And, the doula… incredible. Highly recommend it!! They helped put a warm cloth and massaged olive oil over my perinneum so I was lucky to have NO stiches… just a minor tear, which I can’t even feel now. And, they placed the baby on my chest and got me to breast-feed. Apparently, if you can do this within the first 2 hours, it helps with the baby latching and makes breast-feeding easier. So far, it’s worked!

Amber Joyce Yuen

Born: 5:16 pm Weight: 7 pounds 10 ounces
Name: Amber Joyce Yuen – I wanted a name from nature, and I always thought the amber stone is beautiful… a golden honey brown colour. Fitting, I think. Apparently, according to the internet, Amber in Hindi means “sky.” Joyce is Jason’s grandmother’s name, so we decided that as the middle name.

Thanks to everyone who called and left us messages of concern. I’m sorry I haven’t called each one of you back, but I just want you to know that your emails/voice mails are all appreciated. I can’t wait for you to meet Red-bean ( aka Amber!!! )

It’s Day 7 now… and there has been lots of ups and downs. Exhausting with the 2-3 hour feedings. I’ve been trying to take naps during the day whenever Amber is sleeping. Had a bit of scare earlier this week ‘cuz the baby lost 11% of her birth weight, a bit jaundice (which apparently is pretty natural), and not peeing or pooping. With Jason’s attentiveness to all things, he’s been keeping us on track for timely feedings, washing bottles, preparing meals, washing dishes, getting me drinks so I stay hydrated and changing all the diapers!! A truly amazing dad and hubby. And, my parents and Jason’s parents have been amazing – bringing us meals, and helping around the house. We’ve been using a supplemental tube, and renting a breast pump from the hospital. (MOOOoooo! I feel like a cow pumping out the milk, but heck, it works, and it’s been helping Amber regain her birth weight.)

Much love and thanks for reading, Jason, Sandy, La Red Bean, and Jesse.

Free MIRCI Motherhood Conference in Toronto September 20th 2011.

It’s not often that an academic conference is open and free to the public, let alone the topic of said conference to be about birth and mothering! So I’m especially excited for this one coming up as I can imagine every other birth fanatic will be once they hear about it!

Read on to hear the whens and wheres if you’re interested :)

The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) announces our continuing 2011 events for the Mother Outlaws’ Speakers Series. The Mother Outlaws Speakers Series is a free monthly event open to the public presenting topical issues on motherhood and feminism.

Tuesday September 20th, 2011
6:30pm- 9:00pm
Women’s College Hospital , Boardroom E252
76 Grenville Street (Bay and College), Toronto
(scent-free environment please)

Please distribute flier widely: Mother Outlaws September flier []

The 21st Century Motherhood Movement

This panel will address several motherhood organizations featured in the ground breaking 2011 anthology by Demeter Press that highlight maternal advocacy, activism, and social change.

The keynote address will discuss the challenges and possibilities of maternalism, detail the strategies of 21st century maternal activism, and affirm a much-needed mother-centered theory and politics of feminism.

Maternal Activism as Matrocentric Feminism
Andrea O’Reilly
Associate Professor in the School of Women’s Studies, York University and Founder/Director of MIRCI

Mother Outlaws: Building Communities of Empowered Feminist Mothers in the Mother’hood
Linn Baran

Empowering Women to Become Mothers: Midwifery in Ontario, 1900-2010
Judith Mintz

Toronto Feminist Mothers
Tania Jivraj and Rebecca Lee
Single Mothers by Choice: No Time to Wait for a Perfect Partner

Veronika Novoselova
Changing the World One Mother at a Time: The International Mothers and Mothering Network

Melinda Vandenbeld Giles

For further information, please visit our website

For Mothers with a Proclivity for Academics and Visa Versa

I’m happy to be a strong supporter of a new academic community called “The Motherhood Initiative” founded this past year in our own Toronto, ON!

The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) is the newly launched feminist scholarly and activist organization on mothering-motherhood, developed from the former Association for Research on Mothering at York University (1998-2010). The initiative houses the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative (formerly The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering), Mother Outlaws, The International Mothers and Mothering Network (formerly IMN), Young Mothers and Empowerment Forum, The Motherhood Studies Forum and is partnered with Demeter Press.

This proactive group will be hosting events open to the public to establish a community dialogue on the social, economic and political influences that impact ourselves as mothers. They also look to more academic crowds for submissions to their publications and will be hosting a conference this September with presenters speaking on the multitude of factors that influence the role of the mother as we know it today.

Please take a look at the list below for their recent calls for papers and events including topics such as “The History of Motherhood,” “Caribbean Women’s Writing,” “Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism,” “Other Mothers/Other Mothering,” and “Disabled Mothers”:

Calls for Papers

1. The MIRCI editorial board is seeking submissions for Vol. 3.1 of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (JMI) to be published in spring/summer 2012.

Mothers and the Economy: The Economics of Mothering


The journal will explore the topic of Mothers and the Economy from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. We welcome submissions from scholars, students, activists, government agencies and workers, artists, mothers, and others who work or research in this area. Cross-cultural, historical and comparative work is encouraged. We
also welcome creative reflections such as poetry, short stories, and artwork on the subject.

Topics can include (but are not limited to):

The economics of maintaining sustainable family systems; mothering, appropriate technology and economics; mothering and microcredit; mothering and economic activism; mothering and economic activism through the arts; mothering with reduced resources; social and economic supports for mothering; mothering within the neoliberal context; motherwork and valuation of motherwork, mothering and the economics of unpaid labour; mothers-as-providers, mother-led cooperatives; the effects of privatization/commodification on women; mothering and the economics of raising children with disabilities; the economics of maternal mortality rates; the “selling” of mothering and the economics of consumerism; consumption and the marketing of mothering; the economics of reproductive
technologies and surrogacy; structural adjustment policies and mothering; the financial implications for mothers of family law reforms and welfare state developments, the economic impacts of environmental degradation on mothering; quantifications of mothering/caregiving/parenting as a part of the base structure of the economic productivity of society; children as economic assets/burdens; the actual value of domestic/unpaid labour; motherhood and the gender pay gap, mothering and the feminization of poverty; mothering, occupational
segregation and the wage gap; the impacts of economic globalization on mothering and kinship networks; the envisioning and articulation of more human-centered economic systems and policies to enhance mothering/caregiving practices; transformations of male breadwinner-female caretaker models; the economics of caregiving/parenting in nontraditional households; mothering and the “new home economics”; mothering,
feminist economics and social justice; mothering and welfare policies; mothering and health care costs; the commodification of domestic labour; global and transnational motherhood, transnational families in the new global economy; the economics of the second shift; global care chains; mothering/caregiving/parenting and economic justice, motherwork in organisations; mothers’ economic transactions; mothers’ labour paid and unpaid; mothers in enterprise and mothers in alternative enterprise; mothers and non-monetary economic flows; mothers in the workplace; homeschooling mothers; mothers as consumers; mothers and Marxism; mothers and neo-liberalism; mothers in a capitalist economy; mothers in a diverse economy; mothers and food economies; mother’s milk and breastfeeding; the economic roles of mothers in undeveloped economies; the economic roles of mothers in non-Western cultures; mothering and economic subjectivity; mothers as alternative economic activists.


Articles should be 15-18 pages (3750 words) including references.
All should be in MLA style, WordPerfect or Word and IBM compatible.
Please see our style guide for complete details:

2. Mothers and History: Histories of Motherhood

May 10-12, 2012, Toronto, ON, Canada

Deadline for abstracts: September 15th, 2011

We welcome submissions from scholars, students, artists, mothers and others who research in this area. Cross-cultural and comparative work is encouraged. We are open to a variety of types of submissions including academic papers from all disciplines and creative submissions.

This conference will explore the nature, status and experience of mothers and motherhood in various historical, cultural and literary contexts, and examine the many ways in which mothers in different historical periods have been affected by, viewed, and/or challenged contemporary cultural norms and dominant ideologies regarding
their role.

Topics may include but are not restricted to:

Normative & disruptive discourses about mothers and motherhood in any historical period, including but not limited to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment; the Victorian era; mothers/motherhood and early feminism(s); mothering bodies: mothers and childbirth/lactation and maternal health in any historical period; mothers & midwifery; mothers and education in any historical period; mothers and sons/daughters in any historical period; mothers of color, teen mothers, First Nation/aboriginal/Native American mothers, low-income mothers in any historical period; “good” and/or “bad” mothers in history; mothers and paid/unpaid work in history; mothers and infertility in history; adoptive motherhood/adoption in any historical period; wet-nursing, and surrogate motherhood in any historical period; transmitting maternal knowledges, creative expression and motherhood; patriarchal mothers/motherhood; mothers/motherhood and oral histories/family histories; motherhood and colonialism; mothering encounters across cultures; othermothering; state(s)/ nationalism/religion(s), and motherhood; mother love: transhistorical and/or historically determined; representations of mothers/mothering in art, literature, narrative, popular culture throughout history; maternal feminisms/mother movements/maternal activism in history; mothers and politics across history; famous mothers in history; immigrant/migran/transnational mothers in history; mothers’ changing relationship with “the experts” regarding birthing, infant care in the age of infectious diseases, baby books, birth control and eugenic sterilization, infertility, etc.; reproductive rights and wrongs, including rise of contraceptive technology alongside state-coerced sterilization; momism and mother
blame with the rise of psychology; mothers and the state, especially welfare rights and wrongs ; maternalist political rhetoric in favor of suffrage, labor rights; rise of intensive mothering; queer/transgendered mothers/mothering in a historical perspective ; mothering queer/transgendered children in a historical perspective; mothering in the Information Age ; maternal associations/mothers’ groups.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Patrizia Albanese, Ryerson University, author of Child Poverty in Canada
Kim Anderson, University of Guelph, author of Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood
Rima D. Apple, University of Wisconsin, author of Perfect Motherhood: Science and Childrearing in America
Susan Boyd, University of British Columbia, co-author of Reaction and Resistance: Feminism, Law, and Social Change
Fiona J. Green, University of Winnipeg, author of Practicing Feminist Mothering
D. Memee Lavell-Harvard, President, Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) and
Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, President, Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC)
Lynn O’Brien Hallstein, Boston University, co-editor of Contemplating Maternity in the Era of Choice
Rebecca Jo Plant, University of California, San Diego, author of Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America
Stephanie Shaw, Ohio State University, author of Grandmothers, Granny Women, and Old Aunts: Rethinking Slave Families and Communities in the Nineteenth-Century South
Wanda Thomas Bernard, Dalhousie University, co-author of Race and Well-Being: The Lives, Hopes and Activism of African Canadians
Shari Thurer, Boston University, author of The Myths of Motherhood
Lauri Umansky, Suffolk University, author of Impossible to Hold: Women and Culture in the 1960s
Jodi Vandenberg-Daves, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, author of Woman’s “One Vocation”: The Making of Modern Motherhood in the United States

If you are interested in being considered as a presenter, please send a 250 word
abstract and a 50-word bio by September 15th, 2011 to


3. Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection entitled: Reading/Speaking/Writing the Mother Text: Essays on Caribbean Women’s Writing

Co-editors: Cristina Herrera and Paula Sanmartín Publication Date: 2014

Deadline for abstracts: January 15, 2012!

Scholarly work on Caribbean women’s literature has grown since the 1990′s, and much of this research examines maternal themes, as the topic of motherhood is highly visible in written works by women of the Caribbean regions. While there are several book-length studies on Caribbean women’s literature, and a limited number of them do focus on the subject of Caribbean mothers, many of these studies lack analyses of the Spanish Caribbean, and the subject of motherhood, when explored, is also presented in rather specific contexts. Therefore, this collection seeks to expand this previous scholarship by offering a more expansive view of motherhood that encompasses a wide variety of thematic concerns, as well as a broader geographical scope that places a stronger emphasis on the understudied (Afro)Spanish Caribbean writers.

In addition, the collection will strive to recover and discover new (Afro)Caribbean voices, by including essays on writers whose works have received little or no critical attention. The editors seek article-length contributions in all areas of literature, including poetry, novels, short stories, drama, autobiography, and essays.

Articles may discuss (but are not limited to) the following topics:

*Comparative studies* Postcolonialism/Critical Race Studies* Afro-Caribbean women writers from the Spanish Caribbean, British Caribbean, French Caribbean, and the Dutch Caribbean* Matrilineal heritages and narratives* Maternal (her)stories* Maternal sexualities* Mothering and (im)migration, (im)migrant mothers and diaspora writing* Mother/daughter relationships* Grandmothers and “other mothers”* Mothering, home and the mother(land)* Maternal absence, maternal death* Abandonment, mother/daughter loss and gain* Madness, illness, the mad/ill mother and/or daughter* Maternal silences and mother tongues* Trauma, memory and mothering* Mothering and agency* Womanhood and motherhood* Revision and recovery of (m)other histories* Family narratives*Traditions of motherhood/mothering

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit abstracts of 250 words and include your 50 word bio and citizenship.

Deadline for Abstracts is January 15, 2012

Please send submissions and inquiries directly to Cristina Herrera and Paula Sanmartin: [],

4. Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection on Mothering in the Age of Neoliberalism

Editor: Melinda Vandenbeld Giles


The term “neoliberal” has come to define our current global age, yet definitive understandings of what “neoliberal” means remains a contested terrain. In the past three decades, neoliberal economic/social ideology has created a global world governed by free-market principles. The purpose of this edited collection is to explore the meanings and effects of neoliberalism from the perspective of “mothers.” Arising from an inclusive and broad understanding of “mothering,” the intent of the collection is to compile diverse works from an assortment of geographical areas and interests pertaining to mothering and neoliberalism. For the purposes of this volume, neoliberalism is to be understood as a social as well as political/economic ethos whereby the free-market focus has come to infiltrate all aspects of society. The collection will focus on ethnographic (research-based) and theoretical submissions.

Topics can include (but are not limited to):

Marginalized mothers, mothering and homelessness, mothering and the social welfare state, mothering and childcare, intensive mothering and neoliberalism, mothering and migration, transnational mothering, mothering and capitalism, mothering and maternity leave, mothering and employment, mothering and “working from home,” mothering and individuation, mothering and neoliberal child-rearing practices, neoliberal representations of “mothering,” single mothering, connections between neoliberalism, feminism and mothering, neoliberalism and re-conceptualizing the “nuclear family,” eco-mothering, neoliberal policies and reproductive rights, mothering and the economy, mothering and collective political mobilization, mothering and finance, entrepreneurial mothers, mothering and neoliberal education, neoliberal reconfiguration of public/private dichotomy, mothering and neoliberal discourses of health, gender roles and neoliberalism, mothers as niche markets, mothering and urban living, neoliberal redefining of family/home spatialization, mothers and microcredit, mothering and poverty, mothering and media, mothering in the informal economy, mothering and governmentality, mothering and risk discourse, mothering and transnational spatiality, mothering and Marxism, mothering and NGOs, global neoliberal maternal health discourses, mothering and volunteerism, mothering and the global labour market, effects of privatization and decentralization on mothering, effects of neoliberal structural readjustment on mothering, neoliberalism and reconfigured kinship networks, mothering and globalization, neoliberalism and family law, mothering and social activism, mothering and alternative sustainable economic paradigms.

Submission guidelines:

Abstracts: 250 words. Please include a 50-word biography (with citizenship information.)

Deadline for abstracts is November 1, 2011

Please send submissions and inquiries directly to:

Melinda Vandenbeld Giles: []

Accepted papers of 4000-5000 words (15-20 pages) will be due July 1, 2012, and should
conform to American Anthropological Association style.

5. Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection on: Other Mothers/Other Mothering

Editor: Angelita Reyes Publication Date: 2013

Deadline for abstracts: October 12, 2011

Other mothers and other mothering roles may be found throughout history and across diverse cultures. Other mothers may be the paradigmatic first responders, the first-teachers of informal and formal learnings, or first care-givers for the formative triage years of children and youth. Other mothering denotes the continuity and contemporary practices of shared, communal, or assumed mothering responsibilities that are empowering and inclusive of social transformation. Despite the prevalence of this practice and increasing scholarship about other mothering, an edited collection on this important and central cultural paradigm does not yet exist. The aim of the present collection is to investigate the history, possibilities, differences, continuities, transformations, or advancements of other mothering, paying particular attention to liberating potentials of destabilizing patriarchal representations of motherhood and family structures. As interconnected and transnational cultures are in full swing into the 21st century, both men and women can perform and enable diverse and holistic roles of other mothering. How does other mothering transform the language implications of gender? How do we interrogate the roles of mothering for both women and men? This collection will explore the fluid, empowering and diversified roles of other mothering across cultures. Thus, of particular interest are submissions that interrogate other mothering from global perspectives, comparative ethnicities and historical contexts.

The editor of this collection seeks article-length contributions in the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences that may include, but are not limited to the following topics:

· foster mothering · queer co-mothering · gay mothering and the “modern family” · open adoption mothering · closed adoption mothering · grandmothering · non-residential mothers · non-custodial mothers · men and mothering · co-mothering · fictive kin mothers · community mothers · African American, African, Caribbean, Latin American, and Native American other mothers · other mothering in religious practices · Godmothers across cultures · tiger mothering · single mothers · representations of other mothers/other mothering in literature, popular culture, the arts ·

Abstracts should be 250 words. Please also include a CV.

Deadline for abstracts: October 12, 2011

Accepted papers of 4000-5000 words (15-18 pages) will be due on April 2, 2012 and will conform to MLA style format

Please send submissions by email directly to:
Angelita Reyes, School of Social Transformation,
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85284,

6. Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection on DISABLED MOTHERS*

Co-editors:Gloria Filax and Dena Taylor

Publication Date: 2014


While there are several books on raising children with disabilities, the literature is scant on experiences of disabled women who are raising children OR the experiences of those parented by a woman with disabilities. Bringing together disability with mothering has the potential to challenge dominant narratives of both mothering AND disability. Noticing dominant ideas, meanings, and/or stories/narratives (normative discourses) regarding both ‘mothering’ and ‘disability’ expose the limits beyond which disabled mothers live their daily lives.

The goal of this edited collection is to add to literatures on mothering and disability through providing stories by disabled mothers or their children as well as chapters of scholarly research and theorizing. We intend that both stories and research in this collection will raise critical questions about the social and cultural meanings of disability and mothering. Whether a birth mother, an adoptive mother,a foster mother, a co-mother, someone mothered by a disabled woman, or someone whose research explores disabled mothering, we invite you to submit to this collection.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

How are disabled women discouraged from having children? How does the medical model of disability shape the meanings assigned to disabled mothers? How do chronic illnesses affect mothering? Are disabled mothers healthy mothers? How do the social and cultural models of disability shape how we understand disabled mothers and mothering? Are disabled mothers oppressed? How doissues of race,class, and sexuality affect disabled mothers and their families? Should disabled mothers ‘pass’ as normal? How are pregnancy and birth experiences shaped by disability? How do children experience and understand a disabled mother? What support is needed and received by disabled mothers? How does the built environment, both public and private, shape the experiences of disabled mothers? What kinds of issues are there with children’s schools, health professionals and/or children’s attitudes? What form, if any, does social and political activism take? Do legal remedies work to assist disabled mothers (for example, disability as a protected category in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Americans with Disabilities Act)? How does a mother’s disability expose the expectations of mothering? How does a mother’s disability expose the assumptions about disability? How is society disabling of mothering? How can we ‘do’ disabled mothering differently?

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be 250 words. Please also include a brief biography (50 words) with citizenship.

Please send to [] and

Deadline for Abstracts is December 31, 2011

Accepted papers of 4000-5000 words (15-20 pages) will be due October 15, 2012 and should conform to MLA citation format.

*Tanya Titchkosky argues that referring to “disabled people” is preferable because it emphasizes disablement as a social process that prevents certain people from access to resources and goods available to others. “People with disabilities” implies that disability is not part of what it is to be a person and leaves disability as a problem. We agree with Titchkosky and therefore our choice of the title for this collection is “Disabled Mothers”. (See Tanya Titchkosky (2003) Disability, Self, and Society. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, chapter 2).

7. Demeter Press is seeking submissions for an edited collection on Mother of Invention: How Our Mothers Influenced us as Feminist Academics and Activists

Co-editors: Vanessa Reimer and Sarah Sahagian

Publication Date: 2014


This anthology will bring together essays from feminist activists and academics alike. The goal of this anthology is to act as an antidote to matrophobia and mother-blaming by bringing together a variety of feminist narratives about how our mothers, intentionally or not, have influenced and inspired our feminist work and identities. The purpose of this book is to show mothers as a productive force in their children’s development. While not exclusively a celebration, this anthology will affirm mother work’s importance.

Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

Race, ethnicity, sexuality, lesbian mothering , class, ability, age, religion, feminist mothering, empowered mothering, maternal thinking, intensive mothering, diasporic mothering, social mothering/community mothering, lone mothering/single parent mothering, foster mothering, adoptive mothering, transgendered mothering, mothers in the academy, activist mothering, mothers and work, mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, motherlines, cultural bearing, othermothering, matroreform, challenging matraphopia, feminist mothering, feminist allegiances/alliances across the generations, modeling/mentoring feminism, radical mothering, young mothers/mothering, maternal activism/movements, mothers and daughters and 2nd/3rd/4th wave feminism, mothering and migration, feminism in a global context.

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts: 250 Words. Please include a brief biography (50 words) (and include citizenship information)

Please send submissions to both []
and []

Subject Line: Mother of Invention Abstract

Deadline for Abstracts is September 15, 2011

Accepted papers of 2000 to 5000 words in length (7 to 20 pages) will be due March 15, 2012 and should conform to APA style.

Guest Blog: Pregnant, Paranoid and Feeling Past My “Use By” Date

Pregnant, Paranoid and Feeling Past My “Use By” Date

By Angel LaLiberte, Founder
The Truth About Motherhood After 40
Real mom stories, expert advice forums, and the first online community to empower women on the journey of motherhood after 40.

I’ll never forget the day I signed on the dotted line at the age of 44, consenting to an amniocentesis, and feeling like Christopher Walken in the 1978 film Deer Hunter, putting a gun to my head while in a smoke-filled den during a big stakes game of Russian (Miscarriage) Roulette.

I couldn’t help feeling sordid when the hospital counselor handed me the pen to put my name to what Frank later called their “Cover Our Ass” contract. Committing to the procedure was just like pulling the trigger, uncertain if the baby-bullet was in the next chamber, even as I agreed to waive liability to the hospital in the event it hit home.

As we sat in the small windowless hospital room, she shoved a clipboard at me which listed the oldest mother to have had an amniocentesis so far that year. My baby preservation instincts were on high-alert—lit up like a Christmas tree in Central Park on a cold December day—in an atmosphere that smacked of a shady sale transaction on the baby black market.

Was today going to be the day I signed my baby’s life away? When I looked down at the clipboard, I saw that the oldest mother had been 46. Even though she was a stranger, in that moment, she felt closer to me than a sister. We’d both sat in that same spot and shared the same fear and uncertainty. I wanted to hug her, like two parents waiting to hear the doctor’s word on the life of a child. Did hers make it?

I got up from my chair, went to the waiting room, and began to pray. While I huddled in my chair, the other midlife mother who was before me in testing order got up from her chair with tears welling in her eyes and protested she could not go through with it.

I realized then (and I am equally assured now) that the medical establishment does not comprehend the degree of angst—all too often verging on bald, raging fear—that older mothers feel about their high-risk pregnancies. In fact, they do much stir the unwelcome sediment of our darkest nightmares so that, despite our “advanced age”, pregnancy can feel like traversing a decision-making minefield while still as wet-behind-the-ears as any other novice.

In the moment of our greatest joy, we are all but robbed of the pleasure of it. And there’s something inherently wrong with that—against the nature of motherhood.

Jennifer Hoeprich, a certified Doula and Childbirth Educator based in Phoenix, AZ, agrees that midlife moms are generally more anxious. About them she observed: “Many had shadowy fears about the birth—not sure how to name them, but just fears about something going wrong due to their age”

According the Hoeprich, the medical establishment can exacerbate those fears by subjecting older moms to more rigorous testing and warnings about risk factors.

“I observed that these moms had to do non-stress tests twice a week, starting at 32 weeks, and I think it instilled some fear in them“ she says.

Hoeprich also noticed that over-40 moms tended to have control issues during natural childbirth and had more trouble letting go. (It begs the question whether long careers with lots of responsibility might have something to do with ‘vaginal-retention’, although Hoeprich suggests that being an IVF mom might play a role.)
Chicago-based Midwife, Elise Erickson has worked with a number of over 40 moms, either prenatally or for birth, and says that midlife moms make up 10-20% of the clientele at her practice and that their numbers are increasing.

In her experience pregnancies for over-40 moms, some of these fears can be reality based—underlying health problems such as obesity, hypertension, or a history of infertility can make for a rougher road for pregnancy and birth. She adds that “unless these women keep very active and are in good shape prior to pregnancy, labor and birth can be more challenging because aging makes the body less flexible and can affect endurance.”
However, both Hoeprich and Erickson have noted some behavior of older mothers that might make them good ‘mom’ Scouts–meaning that they tend to come well prepared in terms of getting all of the support they need by hiring midwifes, doulas and childbirth educators as well as doing lots of research.

But Erickson warns “there a risk with TMI (too much information) for any woman exceptionally educated to every aspect of pregnancy and birth that we (her midwives) may spend a good deal of time trying to relieve anxieties and stresses from reading horror stories online or from relatives. High anxiety or fear doesn’t help a healthy pregnancy or birth. “

She says, despite the fear-mongering, she’s attended a number of “lovely natural births of ‘advanced maternal age’ women who have birthed beautifully”, and has learned to appreciate the wisdom and mature approach that the majority of older moms she has worked with bring to the clinical relationship.

Talking with Hoeprich and Erickson, who have dedicated themselves to supporting mothers—including the rising older breed—through the rite to which they have a birthright (motherhood), sets me to remembering my brief and miraculous two pregnancies.

If I could have a do-over, it would be this: to have embraced each and every day of those fleeting few months in the calm and grounded knowledge that all was well and would be well.

It puts me in mind of a saying a French midlife mother gave me. It doesn’t translate well, but here it is in raw, unrefined English: “The dog may jump and bark, but the circus still passes by.”

And now refined for our purposes: Your baby will grow, form and enter this world as he or she is meant to, whether or not you jump, bark or fear the worst. © Angel La Liberte

Our Letter to the Editor: We’re Not Expecting This!

Addressed to: The Peterborough Examiner

Written: Sept 6, 2010.
Published: Oct 26 2010.

Re: Careless Comments to Pregnant Women

It was my experience last week at a popular, local health food store to be referred to as “humungous” by the

Sheena Howard R.N. and BFW Mentor

store owner. To be more specific, she looked at my now 7 month pregnant belly and said “Oh my GOD! You’re humungous!” In my state of shock, anger and remorse for such a thoughtless and hurtful comment, I was left with no words in which to tell her just how harmful comments like this can be to women preparing to give birth.

As a pregnant woman begins to show, it seems that her body becomes public property for people to touch and comment on. Comments such as the one described above and others that reference her size, likelihood of vaginal or cesarean birth or due date are meant to be well-meaning or a means of creating small talk I suppose. However to the pregnant woman who is coping with feelings of fear and anxiousness about her body size or even her ability to birth, these casual, off the cuff comments are anything but helpful.

The language we use around pregnancy and birth is powerful and with our words, we have the ability to either build confidence in parents or contribute to (or even create) birth fears. Expecting parents are often very vulnerable in the time leading up to their birth, during the labour and for weeks afterward and are particularly sensitive to even mildly critical sentiments.

As a Birthing From Within prenatal instructor, I believe that part of fully supporting expecting parents is protecting their emotional state of mind. Birth is primarily an emotional experience and our fears, hopes and flexibility in mind frame play a significant role in the way we interpret our birth experience.

In addition to getting information about what to expect in birth and postpartum, the parents in my prenatal classes are engaged in hands on activities that strengthen their ability to speak gently to themselves and deepen their confidence for birth. Developing an ability to speak gently to oneself, even when others are being critical is of utmost importance to parents during this particularly vulnerable part of their lives. Not only does it protect you when someone exclaims about your apparently gigantic size, but speaking to yourself lovingly and with acceptance is a necessary step in developing the coping mindset required for birth.

In class parents work together to shift what is typically a habitual negative self-talk to a more accepting, flexible one that contributes to feelings of increased self-esteem, connection to oneself and each other and confidence in one’s ability to move through challenge or the unexpected. Parents feedback has indicated that in practicing these coping activities, they’ve not only felt more confident going into labour, but they felt they were more prepared for moments in birth where they didn’t know what to do or were overwhelmed by the experience of birth.

While we have seen the profound positive impact of integrating this practice into our prenatal classes, the idea of being mindful of the language we use around birth is not one I typically see in practice within the casual context of social exchanges. With this letter, it is my hope that readers begin to notice how their words and the words of others colour the experiences of those around them. I invite all of you, pregnant or otherwise to experiment with choosing your words carefully, both in relation to what you say out loud and quietly to yourself and to notice just how much power your have in creating positive, nurturing spaces around you.

With Deep Sincerity,

Sheena Howard R.N.

Sheena Howard, a family practice nurse and Birthing From Within instructor, is 7 1/2 months pregnant, and blossoming, with her second child.

Presenting: Birthing From Within in Peterborough, ON

The Nesting Place is very pleased to offer you Birthing From Within prenatal classes now in Peteroborugh, ON. These one-of-a-kind classes work with the philosophy that there is no particular ‘right’ way to give birth. Presented in an interactive non-lecture format, parents are free to explore the choices that are right for them, identify their strengths for labour and deepen their coping or labour support abilities.

Unlike other prenatal classes, Birthing From Within uses practical, hands-on activities to help parents integrate information, build their knowledge of labour and postpartum, learn to advocate during birth, prepare emotionally for the challenges of childbirth and deepen their intuitive relationship with their bodies and each other!

Birthing From Within’s unique approach to childbirth preparation considers three modalities of learning:

Information: Participants receive information about stages of labour, what to expect from home and hospital birth, postpartum preparation….

Intuitive Knowing: Through hands-on activies, parents build their relationship with their intuitive selves. In labour, often the first thing to leave us is our ‘book learning’ and we are left with only our intuition to guide us. It is so important that parents build confidence in themselves to improvise even in moments where they don’t know what to do

Self Knowing: Our beliefs and ideals of birth and birth support significantly impact our experience of labour. In class, parents are gently invited to consider how their beliefs about birth support or limit their ability to open to the birthing process and access support for difficult moments in labour.

Parents of Peterborough can now enjoy this dynamic class with facilitator and R.N. Sheena Howard in Kalico Healing Arts Centre’s beautiful and nuturing space.

Sheena Howard is a Family Practice Nurse who recognizes that pregnancy, birth and parenting is a personal, spiritual, unique and transformative experience for the birthing mother, partner and their family. She has been described by her clients as a joyful, open, compassionate and funny RN who has an innate ability to create an inclusive and non-judgemental atmosphere in which to explore birth.

Sheena brings a background in Public Health and Primary Care of families from Peterborough, Ontario and Haida Gwaii, a remote island in Northern British Columbia. Her years of support in the birthing community provide her with the tools to support a range of experiences including breastfeeding, childbirth loss and grief counseling, primary care of infants and toddlers, postpartum recovery and adjustment support during the journey into motherhood and parenthood. Sheena also brings experience in specialized work with First Nations and LGBTQ families.

Read more about Sheena’s Peterborough Prenatal Classes or contact her directly at or 705-868-6261.

Clary Sage: Another non-medical option for pain relief and stimulating labour

Many of us have experienced the theraputic effect of essential oils whether it was through massage, scented candles or heat packs containing herbs. Doesn’t it make sense then that the same oils would help us to relax and feel centred during labour?

I’ve heard many a great thing about the effects of Clary Sage during labour and recently interviewed aromatherapist, shiastu therapist and former midwife Guiomar Campbell about its positive effects for birth. Below is our conversation.

A: What is Clary Sage exactly and where does it come from?

G: Clary Sage or Salvia sclarea is a plant native to Italy, Syria and Southern France and grows in dry soil. The essential oil is distilled from the flowers and flowering tips.

A: I’ve heard that Clary Sage is pretty impactful in helping women relax in labour. Have you found this to be true?

G: Yes, one of the numerous health benefits of clary sage essential oil is to promote relaxation and pain relief during labor. It is specially useful where muscular tension arises from mental or emotional stress.

What I realized is that unprocessed emotions can block the process of labour. Women in labor experience a lot of fear which in results affect the Kidney and Bladder energy flow. The energy gets stagnated in the colon
making it difficult for the cervix to ripen.

The scent of Clary sage oil along with acupressure treatment can help a woman feel more connected with the intense emotions. Specially when it is applied during last stage of labor, as it may calm and enhance the dream
state, helping to bring about a feeling of euphoria.

A: Yes, that ‘dream state’ you referred to is what we call ‘labour trance’ or ‘labour land’ as doulas. It’s when women’s awareness drops into their bodies and they really begin going with the flows of their body. It’s so important to let this transition happen to allow labour to unfold.

G: Oh yes! So important! In fact a study at Oxford explored the effects that essential oils can have on helping a mother mentally cope with labour and more effectively relax into that trance state. During the eight-year study involving 8,000 mothers, they found that Aromatherapy was effective in managing labour pains. The study was conducted by Oxford Brookes University during 1990-98 and they found that using essential oils lessened maternal anxiety and fear while inducing a sense of well-being. Fear and anxiety are two things which can slow labour and make the mother to be unable to cope with the pain of labour. The study showed a drop in the use of opiate pain relief by those mothers who used aromatherapy during labour. The normal uptake of opiate pain relief would have been expected to be 30% in the Oxford study this dropped to 0.4%.

The oils that were used included, Lavender, Clary sage. Frankincense, Rose, Jasmine, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lemon, Mandarin and the methods of delivery used were massage, added to baths and foot baths and then as drops on the forehead and palms of the hand

A: Some midwives have told me that Clary Sage can help to bring contractions on. Have you found the same to be true?

G: Certinaly, Clary sage can be used during labor to help contractions become more effective, or to induce labor during the later part of the third trimester. It may induce contractions and stimulates the release of oxytocin on pregnant women. Therefore it is highly recommended during labor.

A: Is there a particular way of using Clary sage in labour?

G: You can dilute in gentle carrier oil and rub it into the skin over the reproductive organs, acupressure points in the legs and feet. Either during or between contractions. More specifically between contractions it can be best to apply one to three drops of the essential in the palm of your hands and inhale deeply three times. In my experience women generally can fit two deep inhalation before next contraction.

The other choice is to use Clary sage is to place a few drops of undiluted oil in a cotton balls, once the oil is absorbed, the mother can place the cotton balls under her pillow or somewhere nearby while she is
giving birth.

During contractions you’d apply 1-3 drops of Clary sage essential oil blend to the acupressure points
SP6, Ki1, Bl 28 and massage with finger. Important to hold the pressure for 1-2 breaths. Than stroke along the meridian line. i.e. Sp meridian continue massaging the lower legs towards the inner side of the foot towards the big toe.

A: What about if contractions have slowed down and we’re trying to help them to become more effective? Is the application different for this purpose?

G: Inhalation is the best remedy. The pungent fragrance helps quicken the labor process by intensifying the muscle contractions. You can also rub diluted (see recipe below) Clary sage essential oil on her belly while in
labor. It releases muscle tension and provides the necessary calm and comfort to the mother.

It also helps in muscle dilation, required for the baby to come out.

A: You’ve mentioned that combing the use of Clary sage with acupressure points can be particularly helpful for labour. What acupressure points would you use?

G: The KI 1 point, located in the bottom of foot. Hold that point while appling deep pressure. It helps to ground and bring the energy down to the legs.

A: It sounds like Clary Sage really does have quite a lot of effect on the woman’s body. What safety precautions should parents take when using the oil?

G: Of course, parents should consult their midwife or doctor before using an herb or oil that has an impact on their body’s systems. Herbs and essential oils have been used for hundreds of years for medicinal and theraputic purposed but that doesn’t mean someone should self-medicate.

I’ve provided a recipe for Clary sage dilution that is safe for parents to use for their labour. Parents can bring this to their health care provider to consult them on it’s use. If they experience a headache or a feeling of euphoria, they should take a break from using it.

A: Thank you Guiomar! This has been amazing to learn that Clary sage is a great option that parents can make use of as pain coping support AND contraction stimulation for their birth! Is there anything else you’d like to add for the parents who’ll be reading this?

G:If parents would like to buy a ready-made version of the Clary Sage oil for labour, they can contact me at or for their own aromatherapy or shiatsu session they can find me at

*Recipe from Guia’s Lotus Blends.*

I put this formula together for my second pregnancy and and loved it! I added fennel for nausea and Ylang ylang to increase pleasure and feeling of sensuality. It also balances yin energy male and female energy in the body


*Labor oil*

10 drops of Clary Sage oil

10 drops of lavender

4 drops of fennel

4 drops of Ylang Ylang

50 ml of either Grape seed oil, Coconut oil, Sweet Almond oil or Jojoba oil

This blend can be massaged on the palm and the feet of the woman in labor.

It releases muscle tension and thereby provides the necessary calm and comfort to the mother. It also helps in muscle dilation, required for the baby to come out.


Burns, E., Zobbi, V., Panzeri, D., Oskrochi, R., Regalia, A. Aromatherapy in childbirth: a pilot randomised controlled trial. School of Health and Social Care, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK. Jul;114(7):838-44. Epub 2007.

Burns, E., Blamey, C., Ersser, SJ., Lloyd, AJ., Barnetson, L. The use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice an observational study. Oxford centre for health research & development, Oxford Brooks University,
U.K. 2000 Feb;6(1):33-4.

Essential Oils Reference Desk by Gary Young- Compiled by Essential Science Publishing-Third edition-Clary Sage- pg 44.

Aromatherapy an A-Z by Patricia Davis published United Kingdom 1988. pg 76.

Healing with Aromatherapy by Marlene Ericksen- pg 155