Welcome to Birthyourway's Blog. This space is intended to serve as an interactive site for Doula related stuff based in Ottawa and around the globe. The archive links on the right hand margin will help you identify topics of interest to you. Your pictures of real pregnant bodies- stretch marks and all- would be most appreciated as contributions. Share your birth stories, concerns and comments by submitting to

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's been a bit of a challenge writting this blog about birth because, even though I am a student midwife, I am not around birth a whole big bunch these days...or for all of last year really. I the last twelve months, I have only attended 4 births. I think that is absolutely ridiculous, but then anyone who has read this blog in the past knows that already.

So, even though I don't have much to share about birth these days, there are a whole bunch of awesome places I've visited on the web these days. So I am going to list off a bunch of links to check out. I don't know blogging etiquette, but I am not going to ask permission to link to the pages I want to link to. If there is any reason I should ask permission, kindly say so! In no particular order:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

a summer in the life of a student midwife

All the flowers have bloomed and the sun shines brightly. I love summer and am really happy to be away from midwifery school, aka academia. I have to admit that starting a fifth year of university and being a student again, still seems a bit redundant. At the same time I am following my dream and I can't even begin with how blessed I feel about that.

I know this semester promises to teach me good skills and that all of my courses are directly related to midwifery. I know I need to learn these skills and this knowledge so on some level, I know the medium by which I learn it is not so important. On the other hand, I think the production of knowledge is incredibly important to our future behaviours. Symbolic imprints in our minds inevitably influence how we will be with our clients. Becoming a midwife, I have learned I need to put an awful lot of trust in the MEP. I still don't believe that the MEP creates a midwife the way I think of a midwife. I trust that I will have the skills requiered to practice in a safe and educated manner. I trust Ontario midwives with my life. I just still have reservations about the intentions or mode of educating. Last year I never felt like I had time to consider how our actions impact women, or how to think in the best interest of the individual woman, or or to really connect with the views and emotions of spirituality in birth. That was hugely alarming to me. I get that anatomy class is a cold sterile environment and not the place to even think subjective thoughts so...I get that. I was still very much upset by it. I also know that that I will have a chance to created myself as a midwife when I go on placement, a finally BE with woman. I just hope that I can see past the cookie cutter and not feel like there is a constant grooming for clipping of the wings. Maybe if I wasn't so dramatic. ;)

Summer so far has been great. I am living with my partner again after being separated for 6 months. So it's been great having my life back that way. I can't help but feel like it is temporary though, since I have to go back to school in 5 weeks, and I still feel a bit like we've rented a hotel room since we moved into a new condo in May and I am not entirely used to it yet. I love it here though and look forward to coming back to it.

I attended two births this summer and have been employed as a post-partum doula this entire time by the same couple who's child was born in mid may. I would share their birth stories here, but they are not mine to tell. All I can say is that I spent little time with a woman in labour as one birth was a planned cesarean for a breech baby, and the other was a 4 hour birth start to finish. Both births were beautiful and I was present for. I think it is safe to say that neither birth was anything at all like the way the mothers had planned them. But that is life. Both mothers did exceptionally well and I am proud of each one.

In other news, I am traveling down to the Southern states in a few days. The point of the trip and our destination is The Farm. It is a dream of mine to visit this legendary place and I am over the moon to be able to go. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ooops and thank you!

Wow. I just realized that I had a bunch of comments sent to me that I had not read since january...did blogger stop sending me comments to my inbox? I just read some things I wish I could have responded to when they were sent. I love that some of you take time and send me messages. I still think it's a pretty unique experience to be passionate about midwifery and I realize its a bit of a challenge sometimes to connect to other women. I love sharing with you. I love to hear about you and what its like for you too. If you are stalking your mailbox these days...if you just had a baby and your birth brought a new awareness, if you are a student... a midwife...or someone who is in an interdisciplinary field...or whatever place you are coming from... I love midwifery and I love to share with you. Thank you for taking the time to send me comments and really brightens my day when I read them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

High time for spring thoughts

All the applications are in and it is time for short lists and selection. Prospective midwifery students are stalking their mailboxes and I can't help but feel the anxiety with them. That was me last year. It's hard to believe this blog has been up for over a year now (mind you it is the first time I blog in 2007...) And it is even funnier to think that this first year in midwifery school will be over in less than a month. I don't know where to start with a new post since it has been so long, but I thought I should post something. This semester has been much more relaxed than the last one and I really can't wait to start next September again. I will be back in my hometown this summer working as a doula and I am very greatful for that. I want to be with women again. I miss it. I miss that primal connection and the intensity of the intimate moments.

Monday, December 11, 2006

In many ways, this is how I feel. Pushing myself out of this tighly bound cocoon and dusting myself off picking up whatever shreds of myslef are left. I used the imagery of the light house whenever someone upset me this semester, which was surprisingly often. This process left me feeling vulnerable and raw. There were many times when I felt that being pinned down and squirmy was not enough. Sometimes I was vocal, sometimes I just sang realllly loudly in my head. And concentrated on my facial muscles, heart rate and breathing. Trying to look like I was calm. Listening to heartfelt monologues about medwives (Come on people! What is wrong with medwives?!!) Don't get me started on what I think is wrong with medwives!!! I wanted to leave the room that day. But I thought I should stay and listen to the reasoning behind the banter. Excuse my disdain. The anti abortion stances...the way some women found turkey basters ridiculous and suggested lesbian women should just have sex with a man since that would be less ridiculous(!) Then there were the discussions about pelvic heart just sank...completely deflated for a moment in time when I heard the words : Yuk!! Gross!! coming from a future midwife's mouth when talking about vag exams. What did you think you where in for?!! So here is a question I might suggest we ask the midwives who help us birth our babies: How do you feel about vaginal exams? I suppose one of the only answers a professional midwife could give while being conscientious about protocols and harrasment is : well sometimes they are helpful in determining the position of the baby... It just really makes me wonder about the treatment of women's bodies when we are literally in the hands of homophobes? Or people in general who have sentiments of YUK associated with womens bodies.

Sometimes we just glide along with a bucket full of happy in our heads and pay no mind to how things are good...sometimes we get snagged on a glitch and focus of negative associated with the process. In the end, I feel like I payed for the ride, got in got strapped down (cocooned) and am once again free to emerge. Alas one last push (biochemistry exam) and I am a free woman. I suppose the iminent birth was that of my emergence as a student midwife. I feel a bit bewildered as I shake off the feathers and prepare to fly back 'home' (where exactly is that again?) for the season.

Perhaps the most perplexing thing about this and the big picture of it all, I've waited most of my life to be here, was involved in the field for a while and now that the first semester is done...I won't be studying midwifery for a full 9 months?!! Weirdess. This winter semester I will study anatomie/physiology and intro to social welfare. Can anyone explain to me why I couldn't have stayed with my family to do this part?

Back to being positive. I did learn the scientific reasoning behind GBS testing and use of antibiotics VS choosing not to be screened for it to avoid the overuse of antibiotics. I learned what the issues are that I am not willing to bend for, my reasons for these and how I might go about being aware of this. Namely women's rights, rights to choose, that medicalization of childbirth is hugely problematic, that intuition has as much value as authoritative scientific thought, that heterosexuality is only one of the many ways women express sexuality... and how I might go about constructively expressing these. That one is a learning curve though and I suspect it is a lifelong one. I learned that how I define midwifery and what I think a midwife is is just as offensive to some as their perceptions of midwifery and what a midwife is is offensive me. I suppose some people find comfort in diversity and others seek shelter away from it.

I loved writing the final midwifery exam. Loved it. I loved studying for it, staying up until 3am reading the CMO binder, calculating para gravida filling in antenatal was fun. The exam was long, unbelievebly long, but somehow felt like a right of passage. So here I am, freeing myself from the invisible cocoon and emerging with a twinkle in my eye.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

So how's the weather?

This fast and furious semester is winding down. I can count the days now, 10, until I can come down from the north. On my early morning drive to campus, I was struck by this awsome sight: a bright sun and two beams of rainbowy goodness on either side. Apparently they are called sun dogs. It was spectacular and it is still up there in the sky at the moment. Wow!
What else, it is -17 and the snow is knee deep and fluffy. We had a 4.1 Earthquake last week and an ice storm. I love it!! The way the intensity of the weather mimics the craziness that is school.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The winning Icon!

Mothering Magazine held a contest to come up with an Icon for breastfeeding:

"The purpose of an international symbol for breastfeeding is to increase public awareness of breastfeeding, to provide an alternative to the use of a baby bottle image to designate baby friendly areas in public, and to mark breastfeeding friendly facilities."

I'm not sure when the symbol was unveiled, but I am really excited about seeing the winner. I like that it looks like the standard bathroom symbols we see. I think we can read so much from such a symbol. I don't know that I really like the argument that it will further segregate breastfeeding mothers. I see it more like the rainbow symbol where some years ago it seemed to be everywhere to show that gay people could shop or dine in the establishments...normalizing things makes it so that eventually we don't need these symbols anymore. Breastfeeding should be as normal as drinking water in public....

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pictures from the classroom

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Prospective students

There was an info session this weekend at Laurentian for prospective midwifery students. I had fun with it and learned so much from the upper year students myself. There is really so much to know!! I remember spending countless hours on the internet trying to get all of my questions answered: how do I get in??!!!

I don't really know the answer and I don't think there is just one answer or way to get in. I know that the class I snuck into is very very diverse. The age span goes from 18-40, some have kids some don't, some have previous birth experience others none at all, some have previous degrees and others not. There are a few doulas, paramedics, nurses, there is also a historian, a tree planter, secretary, and an is all rather random. What do we all have in common? An understanding of what we've gotten ourselves into and a strong drive to succeed coupled of course with a strong passion to support midwifery and be good midwives.

If I have any advice to the prospective students, just remember that you're not just applying to be a midwife. There are at least 4 years of school to get through. Midwifery is not just a job it's a lifestyle. Be prepared to be challenged with academics and with change. There is constant change already in 3 months I've been here. 2 students have dropped out, a few have gone through breakups, I'm geographically separated from my partner, we are all constantly challenged with how we perceive things. Mostly I think we are challenged with facing ourselves. You think you know yourself and where you stand, and suddenly you are surrounded with brilliant women who have different views and challenge you to think or see it their way (in a class of 20 that’s a whole lot of mind-bending!)

The whole thing is challenging. But it is a remarkably worthwhile challenge. The group of women I am surrounded with has allowed me to really face myself and we've made room for each other to explore and grow. It feels exponential. Maybe what I am trying to say is that the midwifery program acts a bit like a catalyzer: be prepared for rapid personal growth. The trick is in balancing academics and a strong spiritual journey. Of course, you have to be open to it and it is my experience and not that of everyone else’s. I am sure there are students who see this program as a logistical process: do assignments, move, go to placements, learn skill, get degree, become midwife. It is all a matter of how you live your life and who you surround yourself with. Like birth, the midwifery program will amplify who you are. Just something I thought you might want to consider when applying to become a midwife.

I know there are students out there who wonder if this program is a good premed program. Personally, I'd have to say not in the least. I am sure the knowledge and skills you would acquire are excellent. But to succeed in this program, you really have to want to be a midwife! Otherwise, the challenge just wouldn't be worth it.

To those of you who really desperately are ready for this challenge, my advice is to get all your prerequisites in order and tell the admissions committee what you are made of. You don't need any specific experiences, use the ones that you do have and show them you can do it and that you are worth investing in and that you will succeed.

Best of luck to all of you who will one day make excellent midwives. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you!!

Feel free to contact me
try the yahoo group.

Friday, November 17, 2006


There are moments in time that are just plain beautiful. We had a blessingway for one of our fellow student midwives last week and it was awsome! Blessingways are a wonderful way to honour a mother to be and shower her with love, strength, courage and wisdom. There is a brilliant power that comes from being in that space that reminded me of the intuitive nature we all carry within. Women have a wonderful healing power. There is strength and incredible power in the humanity of our actions, words and wisdoms. I was empowered and relieved in sharing and being with a wicked brilliant group of women. I love that we are able to create this space within our journey into midwifery, despite the strange oppression some of us may feel in the quantitative, superficial, clinical and tightly structure academic mode of becoming a midwife. In keeping with the analogy of becoming a midwife being like becoming a mother, the blessingway was in many ways a symbol of our collective motherhood and passage into the realization that we are on our own journey into midiwfery. Of course, the focus was on the mother and child to be, it was just made to symbolize something greater than the journey of one woman but the journey we all share together in supporting one another along the way.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scenes from the lighthouse

There are about a million little things that I want to talk about here! So little time to sit and enjoy what is happening each day, let alone post about it! The lighthouse image came to me in a moment where I felt I really needed to ground myself. I was sharing these feelings with a friend and she said: silly woman, there is no such thing as grounded! Life is not that static! I don't know if it made me feel better or worse. Part of me thought: oh good! I can stop trying to control everything and just go with the flow. The other part of me said: ARGH! I can't just let myself be swept away like that! So the image of a lighthouse with huge crashing waves came to mind. As long as I am in that lighthouse, all the waves can crash around me and I can choose to participate in their action or to let them stir around me without having to be them. All the drama will be there when I'm trying to sleep, it will be there during exams, it will be there when I'm feeling feisty, or holding a peaceful sleeping infant. It's ironic since I think I am one of the drama driven students, but still, I need to feel like the urgency can wait. I can't always be tending to it. Sometimes I need to just be in the lighthouse where no one or nothing can reach me no matter how much they try.

Since the semester started, I've gone back 'home' to visit family. It was interesting to want to burst at the seams and talk about all the new stuff I've been exposed to and learning midwifery related. But it's strange since I found out that I am going to be an aunt, which was and is extremely exciting for me, I found it challenging to know what and how to talk midwifery. I suppose it feels like the more I become a midwife, the less credibility I have. There is a huge mistrusting of midwifery in my family. It is as though what I am doing is cute and romantic, but with all seriousness, shouldn’t I just realize that Dr. knows best and get over myself?!! It is hugely frustrating. Also, my sister in law is a GP. So it would be sorta politically incorrect for either one of us to claim out loud that our profession is better than the other. I think both have their own merits and values and that neither should be undermined. I often feel silenced in order to protect the integrity of my family.

I feel like I often have the loudest voice in class. I was the only one to say anything when pregnancy was proclaimed as being exactly like a heart transplant. More importantly, the students in class (all midwifery students) said I was distorting the facts and being too negative. One student stood up for me and said I was right in saying that a central tenet of midwifery is that we don't view pregnancy as pathology. It's still early so there is plenty of time for us all to learn right? But what about the fact that we are being taught all wrong?!! My director says I'm feisty. I'm not sure about what she really meant, but I'll take it as a compliment. Either way, I find it challenging to have a voice when no one wants to listen. It makes one want to stay inside her lighthouse, and share a sacred space where those who like to share knowledge can do so in the safety of a supportive peer group. Even when the thoughts are diverse, you know listen and share and learn from one another without putting the other down for having a different way of seeing things. But that seems too exclusive. So maybe there’s only room for me in this lighthouse?! Oh I'll get it right one day!! I'm beginning to really see why midwives say this is a lonely journey. But fulfilling and empowering nonetheless.

Part of the reason I went home was because the CAM conferance was being held there this year. Surprisingly, a group of 8 first year students from laurentian attended the conference. It was a real bonding experience for us. It was great to get to know each other outside of academia. The conference itself was interesting. Very white, very cliqu'y and very expensive. Kind of the old boys club… Only for midwives...always a critic. It was great though to be immersed in new ideas, what people in this profession are thinking and researching, hearing opposing and diverse views on a common platform...I am very happy that I went and experienced the whole thing. I did feel that students had not real voice or place in CAM. I wish that the 'older' midwives who love to complain about how we are loosing the art of midwifery would acknowledge the student and allow us to acknowledge them. All too often, I feel like the generational division is what causes us to loose knowledge intergenerationally. I hear complaints about the 'new' midwifery yet many midwives who blame the new generation themselves don't take a responsibility to us. We are the future of midwifery, and unless we enter in a dialogue, we cannot have an exchange.

Also on the forefront of my thoughts lately, my partner had to move back to Ottawa for a job. I can't help but resent that we are, as midwives and student midwives, always concerned about keeping birth in the community and all that jazz (which by the way is absolutely one of things I do want to fight for and respect)yet the process of becoming a midwife...well it's anything but!! To be able to study this, I've had to disconnect from my entire social network: my family, my community, my peers, my everything. And now I am living without my partner for the first time in 6 years. It is yucky. And still, in my class alone, there are students who have left their young children with their partners in far away community. One student is 10 hours away from her partner and child and she is expecting a baby any day now, so she will likely give birth outside of her community. This week a single mom dropped out of the program and then the placement when we all need to struggle so much just to get by. Don't get me wrong, I consciously made the decisions it takes to be here and I wouldn’t change that. But, why can't we treat student midwives and midwives with some of the same respect that we treat the women we work with?

I realize that this program is still very young and incredibly imperfect. I have a lot to say about that. But the bottom line is, I am following a dream and there are some excellent moments along the way. I have no doubt already forged some deeply rooted friendships here. There are some very amazing women in this program whose intuition and love for women can transcend any b.s. along the way. And I love that most on this journey. There is abounding strength here and it is sacred.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Midwifery Info Session - Ottawa

Date: Monday November 13th

Currently Pregnant, or thinking of having a baby someday?
Fully covered under our healthcare system, midwives attend births at hospitals or in your home.

Details:Learn more about the midwifery option, have your questions answered, meet local midwives and talk to families who have had midwife-assisted births, in a relaxed setting.

Children Welcome!

Light refreshments served.

Where: Canadian Mothercraft, Ottawa

When: 7-8 pm

More info: midwiferyconsumers

Thank you!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Trust Birth

Friday, October 06, 2006

The beauty of it all!

Despite the challenges, there have been moments of great inspiration ;) These are pictures of Georgian Bay. My very supportive partner and my sweet puppydog and I enjoyed a 3 hour hike out to the waters. The further away we got from the car, the more layers of doubt I shed. The beauty of these lakes and the's huge! To all the prospective midwifery students out there: Sudbury is so much more than an industrial town! If you enjoy the outdoors, this is the place to be.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Signs along the way

Fall is officially here! I rang in the occasion with an overnight hospital shift as an observing student. I'll spare the details but I did get to assist in a premature twin c-section among other things. I had a good laugh since when I arrived at the hospital the obgyn asked what my backround was so I mentionend I'd been to births as a doula but had never seen anything like twins or a c-section. No one could have predicted that a woman would have walked in 5 hours later needing to deliver twins via c/s. The obgyn smiled and said: sometimes you get what you ask for. It gave me goosebumps...

It might sound like I appropriated the woman's birth as my own experience. There wasn't much room for anything else. That is part of what caused all the moral dilemas I have with the MEP. How strange it is to be in a position of fully taking advantage of a woman's rite of passage into motherhood. Especially for someone who anticipates being 'with-woman'. I do have to note however, that this particular woman had planned an elective c/s and wanted nothing to do with vaginal birth, she fully saw her pregnancy and delivery as a clinical process (means to an end in becoming a mother since she had IVF and did not want to risk the effects of labour on her kids/precious investments. These are her words not mine and I know that her situation is not fully representative of all women having elective c/s and or using artificial means of reproduction) All in all, this was a rich learning experience. Despite all of the controvertial stirrings it raised.

More on what I experienced as an observing midwifery student to come.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Processing the process

I have officially reached the 1 month mark in my new life as a midwifery student. It has not been comfortable. I've protested and struggled with a clash of philosophy. The night before I started, I felt as though birth was imminent. It lasted about a week. I was excited! And then, very suddenly, I resented the inside baby - the one I had hopped and dreamed for, the one whose perfection aggressively turned to imperfection. Then by the end of week two I cried uncontrollably. I felt I needed to purge. I felt I was loosing myself. My identity. I felt like at 25 I had finally come to know myself and actually like me. Enjoy me. Be comfortable with me. When suddenly, I had to give myself up. I felt there was no other way to get through this program but to surrender to it. And for a while that felt very oppressive and unlike anything I could ever expect Midwifery to feel like. I mourned the way I have in the past during funerals. It was all very bizarre. Finally, finally. I've found a way to be at peace with the imperfections of post legislation midwifery in Ontario.

The funny thing is, I was warned that I would feel this way. But I refused to believe it. I thought: Hell no! I won't feel that way! Are you crazy?! I will be so happy to finally have the priviledge to study, to become. I accepted and embraced the fact that midwifery has become a profession paid for by our health care system. I felt it only made sense that midwifery mainstream into the everyday life of our culture and be standardized via formal education.

I still believe that. But something is missing. Something I expected would be here that just isn't. Academia does not teach the art of midwifery. I don't know why I thought it would. I was naive to think so.

So I've come to terms with the fact that the MEP is 1/3 of my education and the rest is up to me to complement. It took realizing that and being at one with that notion to be okay with things.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Relocating perception of self and B for balance

It's a strange place being where you've wanted to be for so long. I'm not sure what I thought it would feel like, but it has been a whole lot more work than I ever imagineg. I'm not talking academically, I think the course load is reasonable so far. I've just had to take a step back and look at what exactly it is that I am bringning into the midwifery education program and I've been very critical about how that will fit with the program. It has been an rather personal experience and a real existential challenge for me. The introduction to the program so far has left me feeling like I need to dissasemble myself and allow myself to be processed into a midwife. It feels like a giant though small scale midwifery production factory. This aversion might seem dramatic, but I don't see midwifery as a job but rather an identity and it's shit when it feels like you need to discard who you are to fullfill a prescribed role. That said, I remain really positive that there are ways around feeling this way despite knowing that other students are in similar situations. I'm not the only one who feels that this program is well beyong feeling clinical. Since no part of me is even going to consider dropping out, I've taken the time to address this conflict of interest and find a solution. I suppose I've gone from being on strike to serious late night negotiations and have begun to find a a happy medium. Part of that included having a conversation with the director of the program. Part of it was to accept that it will be what I make of it. Right now, I am very happy that I have the opportunity to learn the clinical skills I will need to handle my responsibilities as a midwife. I am also happy to know that all of my transfer credits make the extra room in my schedule for me to continue persuing and cultivating the art of midwifery. And that's how I choose to continue being me through this process.

"i sit by my window with everything i've done,
doors that i've opened and webs that i've spun.
the candle beside me burns to the left
the rain on the clay sends a lizard to its next.
there will be a time when i will hold you again
with my arms spread out on my chest you will rest,
i'll write you a letter with everything i know
about the weight of the world and the way things could go.

so give up my friend, step back again
for some things will be given
for some you'll have to bend
you'll have to bend my friend to hold on to this
for some things will come easy and some will be a test,
you'll have to bend

now the ocean connects me to everything i know
by mellowing my mind so my heart it can call
with these trees as my witness i'll slice up some fruit
and each to their piece for good intentions and truth
there will be a time when i will hold you again
with my arms spread out i will give right in
so now here is your letter with everything i know
about the weight of the world
and the way things could go"
Xavier Rudd

Monday, July 17, 2006

Birth Videos

Friday, July 14, 2006

Love Blogger

Even though I don't get to blogging as much as I would like, I find myself thinking of things to share online at really random times. I often hesitate because I question the repercussions of my private life being open to the grand public. It's a bit of a feeling of being submissive to big brother and I read something about identity hacking a while back. In any case I still love blogger. And all the things you can do with it like this blog for example:

The countdown is on!!

Today there are officially 14 days until I pick up my roots, my puppy and my loved one and make the move to Sudbury. And there are 45 days until the first big day as a student midwife. Since the letter of acceptance all sorts of doors have opened up. Especially this week where I got access to the forum to read about the issues and concerns of interest of the students that came before me. And I got to see the individual pictures of the other Midwifery students at Laurentian. I am amazed at all of this unfolding and very excited about this new world of opportunities. For years I've been searching for all the nooks and crannies on line and at the library searching for new people to talk to and all that jazz and now…I feel as if I’ve been given the all access key. I anticipate the readings and discussions (imagine a world where everyone wants to talk about midwifery related topics…!) I am also a bit nervous that for the first time in my life, I may actually feel over saturated with those elements that have become my passion. Naturally I will curse the anatomy course at 3 in the morning when I try desperately to make sense of the human body…but there we are. I look forward to this year and to the selfish dedication of my own growth and development. Life as a student is much, much more fulfilling than working for corporate crap. And it appears that I will in the end be able to continue my research work from my new location!! This summer, I have attended over 140 births. So to speak I guess since I’m playing with birth data, I feel like I’ve attended all of the births since I get the paper trail of all imaginable clinical detail for these births. Though in actual fact I have not seen one woman sweat in labour or seen the newborn puckered lips of a babe since last May and I miss it terribly. In any case, this summer has been bittersweet as I leave behind so much history and begin a crazy journey I’ve anticipated my entire life. It’s been surreal.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hurry up and wait!!

Today I received a big white enveloppe from the office of the reigistrar. It contained a pile of papers but most importantly, it had the 'Course Selection and Timetable' catalogue in it. I still have not ironed out the transfer credits yet so I am not entirely certain of the courses I will be taking. But I have a pretty good indication. The year begins with a one week intensive which is an introduction to the profession of midwifery at the end of august before classes officially begin. The year itself will consist of these course: Anatomy and physiology, introduction to social work, health sciences for midwives, Biology and a lab, and women studies which I will no doubt be excused from. At the moment, it appears that I will have the day off on wednesdays as well as the weekends wich is a good way to break up the week. Oh it is starting to feel real! In any case, I am really happy to have already done a previous degree since making my schedule this time is a piece of cake compared to the first time around.
Now, about finding a place to live up there in the cold of northern Canada...can anyone help me? I guess it's still too early to rent for August. Bring on the waiting game...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

How I became a midwifery student

I knew I wanted to be a midwife the day I walked into my friend's mother's home office one day when I was 13. When she opened the door for me I saw first an office and then realized how mesmerized I was with a grownups work environment. I pulled some books off the shelf about herbs, nutrition, women's bodies, and babies all while looking at beautiful pictures of happy families holding joy and new life and love in their arms. Some of those babies still had their umbilical cords leading into their mother’s bodies. It was pre legislation in Quebec. That something I was mesmerized with was the sacred truth of life. I was an extremely rebellious teenager doing all things under the sun that I should not be doing and today I tremble at the sight of innocent youth doing terrible things no child should do. I remember in a moment of teenage angst marching into my living room and begging my family to tell me that there was more to life than the humdrum of dragging yourself to work in a robotic fashion only to come home to a robotic life of watching tv. Unfortunately the answer was a yeah like it or leave it, working class people work to survive and that’s the reality. I wanted to leave it. I thought “oh my gosh what am I going to do with this life of mine...” and then I walked into a midwife’s office. I think it saved my life.

Today, as I write this blog entry, I sit in my own home office surrounded in books with titles like "plant power, gentle birth choices, heart and hands" and a number of sweetpea baby pics to fall in love with over and over again.

I did not get here by chance. No, I worked for it and created this life for myself. And you can do it too. I really think its fundamentally important to surround yourself with what you value be it buildings if you're into engineering, cookbooks and flowers if you love the home life and babies and women if you want to be a midwife.

The hard part is getting to where you want to be. For the longest time I thought I could just sign up for what I wanted and get it without doing all the baby steps. I learned to come up with meaningful plan B's along the way. Which is something needed to keep yourself sane in the craziness that is competing for a spot in one of Canada's midwifery schools.

There are of course many ways to get involved with those experiences that will help you compete for a spot as a midwifery student. But be prepared for a competition since you can only apply to one of Ontario’s 3 schools plus UBC and trois-riviere if you speak French. That’s a maximum of 3 schools per year. And most programs accept about 20 students per year and have approximately 200-300 applicants. Most other prospective students will have similar experiences and hopefully a passion for midwifery so it's important to gain experience and understand what it is you are applying for as well as bringing something to the table that is worth investing in.

Naturally, you will need the prerequisite courses being OAC biology/chemistry, OAC English, your social science courses and an overall average of 70%.

Those prerequisites are mandatory and a pain in the behind for anyone who studied in Quebec and did not go to CEGEP ie me. Having a liberal arts degree from an English university does not substitute for OAC English regardless of how many 20 page A papers you've accumulated.

I knew that it was difficult to get in to a midwifery program in Canada so I did some research on who my competition was. I called the programs in Ontario and at UBC to find out exactly how many people were applying each year and what the profiles of the people actually being admitted were. It became evident to me that if I wanted to be competitive, I needed to get a university degree prior to my application. I got a degree in women studies and in psychology from Carleton University. I really loved being a student and all that came with it. In retrospect I am glad to have done that since I now know what to expect as a student and what academia is all about.

I also knew that it was important to get some significant experience in the field of midwifery before applying to the program. In my third year of women studies, I did a practicum with a midwife. I helped her with research assistance, I transcribed video interviews with midwives from around the world including Canada and Afghanistan, I attended clinicals at the midwifery group in town and I did a presentation about midwifery to a captive group of students. It really opened my eyes as to what a midwife's daily life can be like. I had the opportunity to meet many midwives and ask a ton of questions. I also took the liberty to ask the mothers and their families about birth, their expectations and the care they were receiving. I met some truly wonderful people. I even met some midwifery students who answered some tough but truthful questions about financial and family issues as a midwifery student.

On the day that I graduated from University (June 17, 2005) I flew to Vancouver from Ottawa. This was a 5-hour flight across the country, which cost me all of the money I had reserved for emergency through the years-$1000. It was one of the biggest days of my life! I had applied to UBC midwifery program in January and had been invited for an interview. It was the opportunity of a lifetime of hopes and dreams. I flew there because they refused to interview me over the phone and went as far as to say that I was jeopardizing my chances of acceptance to the program by asking for a phone interview. I found it odd. But away I went, completely jeopordizing my financial situation. The interview was awful. I never got a straight answer but I am convinced that they used an interview technique called the 'stress interview'. It was one hour of answering drill style questions, personal ones and difficult ones like why I did a previous degree or to describe how I dealt with stress and to describe a conflict I had had with diversity. There was one man and one woman both in power suits sitting at a small round table with me. They seldom looked at me and offered no opportunity to know how I was doing. I tried to make a joke once or twice just to break the tension in the room but I barely got more than a instinctive smile quickly pulled back into a tight lip.
I had originally made a list of 15 questions to ask them at the end of the interview since I knew they allotted time for this, but when they asked me if I had any questions for them, I was incredibly shocked at what had just happened in the room (the odd reception and intimidation) that I said no and never asked a single question.
When I was excused from that room, I met with 3-4 other students of varying ages and styles of dress. We were brought to a room with the director of the program who gave us a pep talk of sorts. In fact, it was more of a bizarre rendition of how we would be miserable students, poor with no financial potential during 4 years of school, that it was terribly difficult on students with families and that most families end up breaking up. She also mentioned that since the program was still relatively new, we would have to put up with all the disorganization of a new program and all of the wrinkles that needed still to be ironed out.

I immediately knew that I had not been accepted. I could feel it. I was upset to be so far away from any comfort like friends or loved ones. I took a bus to Seattle to go fly a pontoon plane with an old friend who is a pilot. That was the highlight of my trip. I came home to an email stating that I had been rejected. It was a strange relief. I was devastated to have been rejected but I did not get a good vibe from the entire experience so I was pleased not to have to go back.

They offered to do a follow up interview with me and I was certainly not going to fly back there to get some answers as for how I did. Finally, I convinced them to accept a phone interview. But I was only given one 30-minute time slot to place the long distance call. I had to take the afternoon off from my new job in order to be home to place that call. Oddly enough, I discovered that I had done exceptionally well in the interview. I was told that I had one of the best interviews/personal profiles. So I asked why I had not been selected. It turns out that all of the women chosen had grades above 80% and that 5 of the 10 admitted were already nurses. Apparently there was pressure on the program to admit students with a nursing degree so that they may practice as both a nurse and a midwife. Two birds with one stone. In any event, I knew I would apply again the following year-just not to UBC since they told me straight up not to apply again.

Certainly other women must have better experiences with UBC. I can only imagine that I had a bizarre fluke of an experience with this school because I was guarded away from it by the mischievous faeries of the universe. I wasn’t meant to study there.

In my year 'off' between graduating and this upcoming fall, I became a Doula, a volunteer birth companion with Mothercraft, I worked a crap job at a hotel, I got a credit for that prerequisite OAC biology, I worked as a paid research assistant for a midwife and I applied to Laurentian University for the midwifery program.

The story about how I did get accepted into midwifery is half as interesting as how I got rejected. Simply put, I wrote the 5 page paper required for the application, got all of my prerequisites in order and sent the application. Mind you, the night before the deadline, I was at a tumultuous birth for 38 hours. This was a bit of a tragic story in itself since this baby was a crack baby and all sorts of unmentionable words and truths came out that night. I only hope that the mother is in jail and that a kind soul is caring for that child. In any event, I came home exhausted but high on birthrenalin and finished the last 2 pages of my application essay. I was only partly worried about the words I wrote. I worried for typos and the likes. But I felt that I could not be writing the essay from a more personal and birth conscious place. When I arrived at the post office, the quirky man behind the century old heritage counter handed me a tissue and said "I hate to see women cry!" I said to him oh no I'm not sad! I just have not slept in two days, I saw a crack baby make it into the world this morning, I just finished this important paper and it's a bit of a miracle so my eyes are just watery! He didn’t say much more but he promised to send the envelope safely to the university. Also miraculously, he knew the postal code for the university and filled in the address for me. I went home to sleep.

Three days later, the midwifery program contacted me requesting that I apply to the French program. I knew then that they wanted me as a student and quickly agreed to be a French stream student. It was actually my preference to study in French (my maternal language). I figure it the English terminology will always permeate so learning the French stuff will be a benefit to me.

When things are meant to be, they are meant to be.

B line on the happy highway

I can't believe how fast time can just slip by... I have spent the last few weeks in high gear reorganizing the logistics of my life and trying to smoothly pick up my roots and my family with minimal bruising. Truth be told, when I received my acceptance letter to the midwifery program, I still needed to complete a prerequisite biology class. It became rather stressfull knowing that my future now rested on this one final exam, given that I needed a 70% average to pass. I wrote the exam, and as I waited for my results, a letter arrived in the mailbox much the way it had when I recieved my acceptance package. I was out the door with my pyppy for a summer walk. When I saw the return address I thought: "oh how exciting! A welcome letter!" Only when I opened it, hard words went through me like the apocalipse: "We regret to informe you that you have not been chosen for the..." Oh My G.... I walked through the dark of my mind back upstairs to the computer where I could find a phone number to the administration of this unforgiving school. I felt a variety of emotions as my body temperature rose and the world came back to colour. On the phone a sweet voice said to me " Yes, we had to reject you for the english program since we accepted you for the french one..." So everything is okay?! Yes yes all is good, just a momentary tragedy of plumeting high hopes. My grades came in and all is pickety boo! Hurrah for the faeries however mischivious they may be.

So I packed my partner and my puppy into the van and drove the 6 hours to the place I will relocate us to. We toured our new city and drove down every single street looking for the good neighbourhoods -park space for the pooch, safety a pretty flowers for me and a coffe shop and music store for the man. Not sure we found it but we did meet up with friends. I had a wonderful opportunity to meet up with a good friend and second year midwifery student who showed me around town. As student, we get the keys to the midwifery building on campus so I got an early bird tour of the classrooms and such. I thought to myself how fortunate I am to have a chance to be in those classrooms and in that space before the start of classes in september. I loved loved loved every minute of it.

Now it's a matter of finding a new place to call home, pack up and move my family. Thankfully I have a tremendous amount of support and a partner who is willing to give this crazy midwifery life a go. It's no coincidence that I got him to do paid research with a midwife in town. Now he has a seasoned midwifes( and her entire family's) perspectives on what to expect in the years ahead. And so do I.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's a girl!!

Fast as fast can be, baby girl makes it into the world. Contractions for a few days, on and off changes from the norm but nothing indicating actual labour. This evening contractions were very strong abdomen hard as a rock and gradually getting to be almost exactly every 5 minutes with small peeks in between. A good pattern is determined on the monitor at the hospital and the nurse comes in and says yes you are contracting in a good pattern, let me check you. Oh, you're only 1cm I must send you home. A shot of demerol in the bottom and off to sleep at home for mom. Only within about an hour of getting home Splah!!! a huge gush of amniotic fluid comes out. It's midnight now and suddenly the contractions are intensified.12:30 arrive at hospital. 1 am epidural. 1:40 6cm (at 10:30 she was 1cm) 2:05 fully dilated start pushing. 2:23 baby born! 13 minutes of pushing, 2.5 hours of active labour. No vacuum or forcepts no episiotomy no stitching required, just a beautiful baby happy at the breast. This birth had a very rapid flow to it once things got started. There was a scare with the way the decel patern was happening, it was actually very dramatic with every contraction but baby seemed to be bouncing back very well. The threat of cesarean was enough to speed things up down the normal natural route. It turns out there was a true knot in the cord, which in my true birth junkie spirit took many pictures of. I also was asked to cut the cord, a first for me and that was very exciting!! Baby is happy , healthy and gorgeous. Mama is thrilled to have had the birth she so desired, it happened just as she had envisioned. Now it's 4:30 am and I really must get some sleep, oh but that adrenaline is pumping!! Love those sweet baby smells on my sleeves...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

waiting for baby...still!

I think it was a month ago that edd april 30 called to announce she was in labour, 3cm and contracting every 8 -20 minutes. She's been having this on and off labour type stuff going on for a long time now. The contractions gradually slowed to a stop and she started back with braxton hicks for the last 3 weeks. Today, some amniotic fluid trickled out and the mucus plug came free. Her Dr. said today that she was now at 4cm. That was 6 hours ago. 2 hours ago I went to help her with her kids (all five of them). I picked them up from daycare while she made dinner for them. She says she must continue with her routine so as not to make a fuss of this labour. She's anticipating an epidural since she must conserve her energy to come back as a single mom with 6 children to her name. Whoa baby, we've been waiting for you and finally, now we know that you will arrive and probably sometime in the night! My guess is that baby will be born at about 8 am based on what the afternoon has been like. Let's see what happens.

A beautiful baby boy was born on friday morning. I got a call at 7am from the mother and she said that things where just starting and that she was going to call the midwife next. She said she'd call me when things picked up. Baby was born at 8:46. In fact, things picked up so dramatically for this mother that she barely made it to the hospital to deliver. I think she must have left her house when she was fully dilated since baby came out less than 15 minutes after arriving in the hospital. When she arrived, the staff told her to lie down for an exam and she strictly said NO! There was a power struggle and then the midwife arrived (and saved the day). The mother said I'm going on the bed on all fours. Which she did. Baby was crowning and came into the world in a few valuable pushes. And this one was born on his edd.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Meatrix

This is why I havn't eaten meat in over a decade...sound on to watch a mini video.

The Meatrix
The Meatrix 2

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

To baby or not to baby... is this a question?

I personally have never been pregnant. I deeply want to have children in this lifetime and all that jazz but I still have 4 years of university ahead so not now. As a doula, I've noticed that this is a sticky point for some people (mothers and other doulas alike). Sometimes I read in books, magazines and articles that doulas are women experienced in childbirth and are themselves mothers...there is often a huge emphasis on a doula having given birth herself. This is very important to many women who want to know that they are being supported by a woman who knows and can attest to the feelings of labour and childbirth. I have always been upfront with the fact that I have not. Some women are happy to know in advance and decline my services. Others say 'thats great, it means you can come see me in labour on the spur of the moment and won't compare my birth to your own and super-impose your expectations on me.' I don't doubt my capacity as a doula because of these personal preferences. But I do wonder about the (new) age old question: can we have it all~at once~? For career women, when is it appropriate to have children? Is it possible for me to continue my work as a doula and become pregnant, have a baby and carry on with my professional life? Our country still owes women so much in the way of support for surviving while having a baby. And on that note, since I've chosen to study midwifery, when then, will it be a good time for me to have a child? Will I again be faced with decline on account that I have not myself given birth? And what about midwives who are infertile or chose to adopt? What then do they represent?
A dear friend and midwife that I know asked me "so how do you really feel about this?' when I first told her of my acceptance into the programme de sage femme. I sighed and said "well I'm just thrilled that I can now have my children before my mid 30!" Her answer: "You're in now. You can have them anytime. It will never be a perfect or easy time to have them."
A pregnant midwifery student, a mother of a young child midwifery student? Is this really possible? How and why are women expected to do it all at once?!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

A collection of questions - and some potential answers

This might seem really un-private, but that's just the way the internet works...something as cute as a 'cookie' can tell the world alot about you. I've gathered some of the questions and ways people have found my blog and thought I could try to answer their questions. NB: I'm not a reliable source of information. Nothing I say here is more than my own personal opinion and especially where your health is concerned, it's best you ask your primary healthcare provider. In fact, every piece of information here is posted just for my own fun and sharing that is part of it but...get the picture? On that note, I do invite other bloggers to add their insight to these questions.


Absolutely. read this - enough said-

"epidural" "what stage of labour"

The earlier interventions start, the more chances for the domino effect. If you can manage without it, you don't need it. It's a drug people. Use it wisely.

are doulas covered under ontario insurance plans?

Unfortunaly no. Unless someone has a private health care plan that really kicks ass.

doula wage canada

The average cost for a doula in Canada is $500. That typically includes 2 prenatals, the entire birth and 1 post partum. That can typically break down to about $20-25/hour. But then there are a massive amount of hidden expenses such as gas, parking, photocopies, all the time investments, books, supplies ect ect ect. Also, most doula's can manage only about 4 births per month. Sometimes it's impossible to find even one paying birth per month, so when you start this career, make sure you have another source of income.

doula fees

You can expect to pay anywhere from $0 if you get someone as a volunteer who either is offering limited experience or because that's their kind way of volunteering in a cause they believe in. The average is $500, but I've also known women who have charged as high as $1200. I think this was a complete prenatal birth and postpartum package though.

believe in birth

Yes!! Believe in birth. Your body knows how and you can do it!!

on becoming midwife

Becoming a midwife is a process of lifestyle changes. You're entire philosophy, heart, shedule and family support should like to believe and be called towards it. My best advice is become a doula first! I didn't believe this at first, but now I believe it can make a huge difference. You get to be at births earlier than if you started to study midwifery, it lets you try out the lifestyle of being on call and working odd, sometimes 30+hour shifts and all that jazz. This is a much smaller investment htan relocating and paying tuition for a programme you might drop out of if you've never lived the experience and figure out you can't handle the life style(including political pressures to conform to mainstream ideologies)

birth rituals

A couple of years ago I did a project in a women in christianity course. We had to create a christian ritual. I, naturally, chose to create a birth ritual. Not be a very believing kind of person, I created a ritual that is multy faith instead. Basically, I boiled it down to the need to involve a community of support (family, friends). Birth(and death) happen behind closed doors in our society so I think its very important to widen that practice and make birth a part of our every day lives (because it is). I recommended that we set time aside each day or each week to come together as a family and be aware of the idea that birth is a very special part of our lives and that it is also a natural thing that is a process. Socially, birth is much like a funeral in the sence that there is social disruption. When we add or remove people from our social network, all of our roles change. Including becoming parents, grandparents, aunts...birth alters our social network so the transition might be helped with some sort of ritual.

birth art canada

Personally creating your own birth art can be fun and beneficial way of exploring issues such as fear, source of stregth and so on. Mediums to use can be clay, paint, crayons, weaving ect. Birthing from within is an excellent source. As for birh art to decorate your house with, I'll get back to you about that.

if your are pregnant can you give birth at 38 weeks

Yes. Babies are viable much sooner than that. But it's best to let nature take its course for uncomlicated pregnancies.

suggested questions for interviewing prospective midwives

My favorite is "can I or my partner catch the baby?" I think this is telling of the midwifes philosophy and hangups about births. I'm anxious to see what my eventual answer to this will be some years down the road.

Human cesarean pictures

I have some lovely vaginal birth pics...

body representation

How do we perceive the world around us? How do we interact with the imprinting of our world as we perceive it? How do symbols and representations of abstract natures come into being in our psychological mind, translate into our lived reality? As a multi-lingual person and I suppose also as a psychology major as well as a women studies major, I guess I always come back to these questions. How is it that we individually, culturally and cross culturally come to experience the symbolic interactions of daily life? I am always trying to deconstruct the way that the order of our interactions affect our culture I guess. So it's no wonder that I was little less than shocked when I came across this body representation. I imagine that it is my liberal ideology and country girl approach to things,
( and no doubt others have reached this conclusion through their own unique a possibly opposite path), but its plain freaky to think of practicing on such a model. Maybe it was the language... "This comprehensive system is designed to provide a complete birthing "experience", including before, during, and after delivery." Almost sound like a doula pitch...
In any case, I find it repulsive to think that one would learn to understand the body, to read the body and to be 'provided a complete birth experience' on a dummy. It makes me think of learning to make love by using a blow up doll.
Perhaps new interactions in the future will help me to overcome my initial issue with this body representation, then again I'm still weirded out by this other foetus in a bag thing that I was given last year. It was designed to help one identify the position of the baby in utero. It's this bizarre bright yellow bag that can be filled with air and there is this relatively anotomically correct baby inside kind of have to feel around and try to figure out the position of the baby...Everytime I see it I feel like liberating the baby but then I think this device is costly and is suppose to serve a purpose. I just cannot help but wonder how these strange and unsettling body representations make us subconsciously perceive our bodies. It reminds me of the pregnant barbie, of women as cyborgs too. Eeek! Ireally think I would prefer to be used as a model in a class than to pawn off these models for learning. Resolve the disconnect!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Home Birth study and Birth in Canada

Today is the day to go get the globe and mail and read the health section...the CTV covered the story last sunday...
Also, some interesting articles for those interested in giving birth in canada link to some reports.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Self Actualization

On a personal note, I very recently(2daysago) went outside with my dog Teaka for a walk in the rain. On this particular day, I chose not to look at my mail box thinking that, what the heck, the answers I look for will just plain and simply not be in my mailbox today. So off for a walk we went. Long story short, when I returned, I found that infact, the answer to my life long question was literally in the mailbox in a big brown enveloppe. I'm going to be a Midwife!! I received my acceptance letter to my chosen Midwifery school. In a few months, I will relocate to a new city and I will finaly be able to call myself a midwifery student. It's amazing to me. I've been involved academically for 3 years already and working as a doula and on midwifery related research, I've done a 300 hour practicum in midwifery and all this fantastic experience...It's just such a relief to finally make it in. Until then, I will continue with my doula clients and with research. This blog will most likely evolve through the 'becoming a midwife phases' and 'student midwife experiences' and so on. I'm loving this!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Some babies do have two mommies, or two daddies


Prime Minister Harper has confirmed that he will re-open the equal marriage debate thereby contradicting a majority vote that was decided only last year! Not only has this issue already been discussed, debated, and voted on for far too long and at too much of an expense (your money, by-the-way!); but now Harper wants to re-open it because he wasn’t happy with the decision. Given the health crisis, the education crisis, the military “encounters” abroad, do you really want your taxes spent on this already-decided-upon “issue”?!

Please act to tell PM Harper that you (and two-thirds of the rest of Canada*) are against re-opening the equal marriage debate.

Canadians for Equal Marriage ( has drafted an e-petition that will be sent to the PM, the addition of your name to this e-petition will help convince the Prime Minister that he is wasting money and time on an issue that has already been decided. Simply click on SIGN THE PETITION. I also encourage you to forward this email to people who feel the same way you do.

Thank you.

* Environics polls – from November 29, 2005 and from January 24, 2006 – showed that two-thirds of Canadians are against re-opening the equal marriage debate. As well, a recent survey of Canada’s top executives revealed a strong consensus against re-opening the issue. |

Friday, April 07, 2006

HomeBirth study a smashing hit!

There is a fantastic homebirth study that was published in the BMJ last spring. It is the largest study of it's kind and demonstrates some statistically significant data on the safety of homebirths with CPM in comparisson to the standard hospital births. The BMJ has ranked it #3 top article of the year and #3 of the top 10 articles emailed to a friend. Given that this article is second only to heart conditions in topic of interest demonstrates that homebirths with CPM in Canada and the States(data collected from both countries) is of significant interest to the population at large. The authors of this amazing article, Betty-Anne Daviss and Ken Johnson have put a tremendous amount of time and otherwise investments into the production of this article and I am forever thankful for their dedication to work of such magnitude within the birthing community and for women around the world.
Betty-Anne has been interviewed by the Globe and Mail as well as a local (ottawa) TV station. Publication of these interviews about the success of the homebirth article will happen sometime this weekend so keep your eyes peeled!
The article can be read here.
The top 10 list can be read here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Due Dates: Not an Effective Means of Date Control

April was supposed to be a very busy month...This morning at 6:30 I got a call from EDD april14 -water broke in a trickle. Maybe it is pee? 11:30 call comes in contractions are suddenly every 5 minutes for an hour. She's headed for triage now and I won't be far behind her. Just waiting to see if I should meet her at home or hospital. Something about friday babies. I know most babies are born on the weekend, partly 'cause weekends last longer than midweeks, but also I think because weekends are more relaxing, you let your guard down and there is more support available. Just a theory. In any case, I also had EDD on the 28 and 29 of march. Both babies were born on the 17 and 24 respectively. 12, 5 and now15 days early. Oh and that thing about first time babies comming 10 days late....not this month!
I'll be posting some more substantial entries just as soon as I can get some time. In the meanwhile, I am now accepting april babies again!

Midwifery Info Session

When: May 3 7:30 pm
Where: Mothercraft Boardroom (ottawa)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Music as medicine and gate keeper

I had a really fantastic experience with music within the birth environment this week. We had been using music as a relaxation technique and the parents chose Vivaldi and a shamanic dream cd for spiritual meditation. The music was helpful in creating a peaceful environment and was useful as a distraction, it helped the time pass and it was good for doing some positioning/belly dancing to. The most interesting thing was not necessarily how well the music worked for meditative or medicinal purposes for the mother but in how it created a powerful environment. It was very interesting how the field of energy in the room surrounding the mother and myself intimidated the nurse. I really liked the nurse we got for the most part, as did the mother and we certainly did not intend to intimidate her. It was the nurse who mentioned it stating that she felt awkward since she knew that the mother and I had built a strong relationship and had certain ideas about how the birth was to unfold. I was happy that the nurse felt comfortable in sharing these feelings with us as opposed to becoming aggressive towards us which sometimes happens when the nurse feels like an outsider in her own work environment. (this is what happened with the second nurse who came in at 7:20 am when the shift over happened. Baby was born by then and I was helping mom get a good latch when the nurse came in and said that I shouldn't be showing the mother how to breast feed?!!)

In any case, the reason we used this music was to create a relaxed atmosphere and because we believe in the power of music as medicine. After all, humans are made of energetic molecular structures and music also vibrates and has it's own energetic properties. As a good friend of mine said: "it's proven physics!"

I'm always interested in encouraging my clients to own their experience. With hospital births, one of the first things I do when we get in the room (time permitting) is to give a tour of the stuff in there. Humans are symbolic creatures and all this stuff is filled with meaning. Until we become acquainted with stuff, all we have is our perception of what it is. When we meet and greet the stuff, we can attribute new meaning to it. I try to present the stuff in a positive way and make the room as friendly as possible despite the threat of the IV drip, forceps and invasive medical supplies. I find that the mind is often set at ease when we familiarize ourselves with the unknown.

The second thing I do is to personalize the room. I recommend that the mother wear her own clothes while in the hospital. I recommend that their own music be played, that they place their birth art in the room and so on so as to change the room from its original state. When women want to have an intervention and drug free birth, I suggest that they put a sign on the door stating their intentions: "drug free birth, please respect and do not offer". This way, those entering the room know the intentions and are also made aware of the fact that this room is not the room they were last in. Also, I find it sometimes works better than a code word when a mother is serious about requesting an epidural for example. When a mother is serious about diverting from her birth vision she can ask to remove the sign on the door. This way everyone in the room can support her in her boundaries. It also helps her support people advocate for her.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Holistic Doula Services

My dear friend and back-up Doula just got her very first blog!!

We have known each other for approximatly 5 years, and met as neighbours while she was pregnant. We share a passion for childbirth and women centered healthcare. She and I keep close contact and share information on the birth politics in Ottawa, new ways to practice and other key information. Each of our clients will meet their back-up at least once prior to their birth. This meeting takes place during a consultation/workshop typically in their home. At this time, you can have access to a new source of insight and take advantage of asking new questions and so on. As my backup, Amanda is made aware of your due date, your birth vision and prefered birth environment. I let her know when you are in early labour and in labour so that she may be prepared to join you if need be. Although I have never had to request for her to relieve me at a birth, she makes herself available if the need emerges.

She and I have a very similar birth philosophy and approach to preparing women for their unique birth experience. Feel free to go visit her blog for more information and insight.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cyborg cesarean rate increase

I was recently interviewed by this student and invite you to consider answering some of her questions.

Hello! My name is Emily and I'm a fourth-year anthropology student working on my honours paper. I'm interested in looking at changing perceptions of the female body and how those perceptions have influenced birth and delivery, most specifically looking at the links between the concept of the female body as a cyborg or as a machine, and how that correlates to rising caesarean rates. I'm looking for more insights on this from people who work with birth. I'm looking for answers to the following sorts of questions:

Have you noticed a change in the type of woman (eg. age, class background, ethnicity, medical or health conditions, etc.) who delivers by caesarean since you began practicing? Please explain.

What do you see as being the reasons for a rise or decline or no change in caesarean births?

What do you see as the benefits/drawbacks to caesarean birth?

Do you think that the change in childbirth practices affects women on a socio-cultural level?

Do you think that the change in childbirth trends affects society at large?

Do you think that societal changes have affected childbirth practices? How so?

Also, I'm interested in looking at power relations within the emerging childbirth model (of rising ceasarean births) and of resistance to this model. Any feedback would be great!

Thank you.

Birth Art and Mind-Body Birthing

Birth art is one of the mediums I use to explore birth and it's possibilities. On occasion, women are not interested in drawing pictures of themselves because they consider it childish or because they feel they can better express themselves in words. The majority of women though are curious and excited about birth art. The reason I like to use birth art (in the form of drawing, clay, dance and acting for example) is that it has been very helpful in discovering the more intuitive, mind/body birthing strength in each woman and partner.
In the first drawing above, I asked the woman to draw her fears. She said she had none and didn't know what to draw. I suggested that she draw a self-portrait while keeping in mind the word fear. The large heart represents her and the little one represents her unborn daughter. They are both happy and connected. Green is the colour she feels strongest about it also represents assertiveness. Both mother and child are in the same colour, sharing a connection that they are in this together. The green lines around the mother and child represent the mother's radiating strength of body and mind. It is unbroken and surrounds her. The blue swirls around the outside of the drawing represent infinite protection of the birthing mothers strength. I asked this mother if her fear was that something would come and break this infinite protection of strength. She said no, because it is infinite and unbreakable.

The second illustration is a drawing of the mother in the birth environment during labour/delivery. I asked her to make a self-portrait of the birth room. She said it was similar to the first drawing in that it was about her and her daughter surrounded by an infinite amount of strength and protection. She said there was no one else in the room, no material objects or presence other than of her and her child. This is because no matter what happened, if she was on a bed or the floor, if there were doctors she didn't like, they were irrelevant to her. She felt that she had sufficient support from her connection to her child, and the strength of her mind to get her through her birth. This was her experience and no one could touch it.

During her labour in the delivery room, she squatted on the bed (it was in an L shape and she hugged the upper part of it) and her self-portrait was tapped to the wall in front of her. It helped her to remember the mental strength she knew she had and helped her have the strength to believe in the infinite protection.

This woman had incredible power in her birth experience. Her birth art helped her express her birth vision and supported her through her delivery. It also helped me (her doula) be aware of where her strength came from so that I could help her use it as a focal point to get through the pain and discomfort of labour. Her birth art was a source of power in keeping her on top of the pain. She had a natural labour with no interventions (not even an IV, no drugs).

Every time an intervention was recommended, I was able to remind her of her strength and she was able to avoid the intervention, rather than become discouraged and disempowered. The birth art made us both aware and served as a reminder to be aware of her infinite strength and protection.

Monday, March 20, 2006

~Tribal Yoga Dance~

~Tribal Yoga Dance~
with Amanda Porter and Leslie McLaughlin

Explore the connection between Hatha yoga and Tribal Style
Bellydance, through breathwork, asanas(postures) and dance
movement. Designed to develop mind-body awareness with emphasis on
the belly in a fun and comfortable setting. We will utilize yoga
postures to release the lower back and hip joints, build core
strength, and strengthen the upper back, which facilitates the
practice of basic tribal bellydance movement.

Tribal Style bellydance is a modern descendant of traditional
Oriental dance. Originating in San Francisco, it can be thought of
as a modern improvisational folk dance typically danced as a
group, using a subtle system of cues and core strength oriented

The fusion of Hatha yoga practice and Tribal Style movement is
beneficial for development of a strong posture, core strength, and
learning how to communicate in a group dance setting. If you liked
women's yoga, you'll love this workshop!

Experience with yoga or dance not necessary, open to men and women.
Recommended for pregnancy, postnatal, menopause, and women
expeiencing menstrual difficulties.

When: April 9th 11am-1pm
Investment: $49 early registry, $59 at the door.
A 2 hour workshop held at Rama Lotus Yoga Centre
visit under 'workshops'(if info not there yet,
check back in a few days)
or email Amanda Porter at: for more info.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Morning protest

Another day, another year at war. Another day, a new prime minister, happy at war. 3 years at war. Morning sunshine.
Sometimes the fathers of the families I work with are soldiers. I feel for their pain at being away from those who need them most. It reminds me of the barriers we all face in our own unique ways. All the senseless sorrow we suffer. And how we are all in this together. But we become seperated my policies, rules, laws, mores, ideas, morality, immorality, beliefs... In some moments, as in birth, a mother cannot be denied her strength to perceviere through her fear, her pain her experience. Her plea for support cannot always be ignored on account of policies. One by one, when we begin to see each woman as a unique individual, and we hear her needs, we may begin to unravel the policies of the maternity wards and replace them with what a mother needs. Piece by piece, we can put birth back into the hands of the birthing women of this world. All it takes is to listen to one another, and respect.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Politics of birth-today's rendition

As the 2nd wave feminist slogan goes "the personal is political". Yes yes. I get that. It just happened to smack me in the face today that’s all. I have an important announcement to make and though I consider this blog to be my professional blog and try to reserve my rants for other venues, this one is important to us all. I contacted one of the hospitals in town today to ask them a question regarding their policy regarding doulas. My question was as follows: "What is your policy regarding the number of people who can attend a birth including a doula?" The answer was two. So for a woman who desperately wants her mother, her partner and a doula attending and supporting her in labour, she must pick just two. I questioned her very carefully and politely about how doulas are not part of the family but are there as a health professional. Her answer? "Well the Doctors don't like it. It's too many guests." I politely said "Oh, okay thank you" and hung up.

Now, I understand that I don't work for the hospital so policy wise, I might be considered a guest. What I am concerned with is the nonchalant "the doctors don't like it". Let me just remind my reader that doctors normally are in the delivery room only after the mother has started pushing and the head is soon to be crowning. Doctors typically are in a birth for a relatively short period of time, sometimes only 20 minutes. An average first time birth is 16 hours. 20 minutes...16hours....
A labouring woman will not always have a nurse in the room with her. Nurses sometimes are fabulous and will massage you, breath with you but usually if this happens it’s only for a brief moment.

Whatever the situation, for a nurse to say, "Well the Doctors don't like it. It's too many guests" is a clear indication that birth in a hospital setting is not about the mother. Maternity wards are not mother centered health units. The important factor is what the doctors like, even when they are not there to enjoy it.

Birth is an immensely powerful life transition. You become a mother. There are incredible amounts of hormonal, emotional, and spiritual factors in every birth. It's intensely beautiful, miraculous, challenging and personal. Birth has the power to shape whom you psychologically experience yourself as. If you have a powerful birth experience, you can take that and negotiate whatever life throws your way with equal strength, courage and esteem.

When birth becomes someone else’s (dr.) experience, and when it's up to what the doctors like, you run the risk of being passive in your most personal, intimate moments.

This is not about how many people can be in your labour and delivery room. No, this is about who gives birth. Is it you, or the Dr.? I ask this question to all birthing women as a collective identity- however problematic that may be- because this is a gender based, systematic problem.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call "obstetrics" and something completely different, the art of midwifery. If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back childbirth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.

Michel Odent, MD

Birth rituals

During birth, a woman naturally interacts with the environment in a rhythmic way. Partly, this is because of the pattern of contractions. They come and go. Between contractions, a woman can come back to what is happening in the room, talk, drink, walk. During contractions she focuses on her breath, she repeats low guttural sounds, she leans into someone. The pattern of her ritual emerges in her birth. The environment she is in shapes her rituals. Many of these factors are subconscious though it is possible to prepare a positive environment to enhance the birth rituals that emerge.
How do you see your birth unfolding? Think of the rituals you can predict. What activities will take place? What will make it happen that way? How does it make you feel?

Consider what our culture and what your subculture has determined birth culture is. What rituals are prevalent in our culture? How will this support your emotional being and your self-esteem? How will you prepare for a positive birth experience?

So I ask you some difficult questions. But I think it is worth it to evaluate how your personal platform intersects with what is expected of birthing women. How will this affect you on a psychological, emotional, spiritual level? How does western birth-culture and its rituals reinforce what women are considered to be in our society?

Visit this link for an evaluation of birth rituals in western culture.

Economics of A Doula's Fees

Question: How do you set your fees?

[Ed. note - This is from a sheet of Frequently Asked Questions provided by a midwife who also offers labor support as a private-duty midwife. Some of the details may not apply to doulas who work strictly in accordance with DONA guidelines.]

[Other people are completely welcome to borrow the text from this page and tailor it to their own needs. Best wishes getting decent compensation for this vital work helping birthing families!]

Answer: The economics of professional labor support work are a mystery to many people; I offer this information so that you'll have a better idea of what you're paying for:

Hours - Couples having a first baby may imagine that I'll only be spending a few hours with them during the labor and birth. In reality, an eight-hour labor would be considered pretty zippy; most first labors last longer than 16 hours; the longest continuous time I've spent providing labor support is 38 hours. Average time spent with a woman for her labor and birth is about 16 hours. I spend another 10 hours in prenatal and postpartum meetings, and another hour or two in phone calls. My fee translates to an hourly rate of about $35/hour, before expenses and self-employment taxes.

Clients per Week - When I make a commitment to be available to attend you in labor, I have to limit the number of clients I put on my calendar so as to avoid birth conflicts and to ensure that I am reasonably rested when you go into labor. The rule of thumb for birth professionals providing in-home services is that one client per week is a full schedule. Since most of my clients are first-time mothers, I find that three clients per month is a full-time workload.

Clients per Year - When I put your due date on my calendar, I commit to being available two weeks beforehand and two weeks after that date. This means that when I schedule a two-week vacation, I have to add another four weeks during which I cannot accept clients. A full calendar is 32 clients per year; in reality, there are some weeks where I have to turn clients away and then there are other weeks where I have no births on the calendar.

Consultant Factor - The rule of thumb is that a self-employed professional's income is only half of what they earn, after deductions for vacation and sick time, self-employment taxes, health insurance, and business expenses. As you may imagine, my communication expenses are high - business phone, pager, cell phone and computer connection; I also have routine professional and office expenses and unusual transportation and supplies expenses. In addition, I bring several thousand dollars worth of equipment to your birth as part of providing midwifery care.

Putting It All Together - The annual income of someone providing labor support services with a responsible client load and a strong commitment to being available for your birth is 1/2 the number of clients per year times their fee per client. This is about 16 times the fee per client, and, yes, that's before taxes, including extra self-employment taxes. Although I am dedicated to this work, being on-call all the time requires a very high level of personal sacrifice, including a willingness to be beeped awake after half an hour of sleep to go attend a labor for the next 40 hours. About 25% of my clients have some kind of early labor which starts and stops, resulting in two trips to their home and being beeped awake twice. This past year, I spent most of my birthday at a labor, I spent Thanksgiving Day in a hospital, and I was beeped away from a big family gathering. I cannot take weekend trips away from the area, and even day trips to Santa Cruz or San Francisco have to be planned around traffic conditions. I never know what I'm going to encounter at a particular labor - I may end up wearing out my body supporting the woman in different birth positions; I may end up holding a vomit bowl for someone vomiting with every contraction during transition; I may end up with blood, meconium or worse on my clothes. Given all this, I'm sure you can understand why I bristled when someone once asked me why I charge "so much".

Bottom Line - Nobody's getting rich doing labor support work. I wish I could offer my services at a rate than everyone can afford, but that would require that I make even greater financial sacrifices than I am already making to do this work. I am a self-supporting professional, and my options are to earn a living wage working with birth or pursue more conventional employment, which would pay much more. There are people offering doula services at significantly reduced prices. They are either offering significantly reduced services, are still in training, or are basically offering charity. If you need charity, I encourage you to get labor support however you can; otherwise, you are doing future birthing women a disservice by making labor support an underpaid profession that cannot attract or keep talented, skilled individuals. If you end up selecting a doula who is undercharging for her services, I strongly encourage you to pay her more than she is asking; otherwise, she may not be around to help you with your next child.

Advocacy Suggestions - My services are covered by many health insurance plans because I'm a licensed provider; however, most non-midwife doula services are not. You can talk with your Human Resources representatives to ask them to lobby to include all doula services as a covered option in your plan. Additionally, you could talk with your midwife or doctor to encourage them to offer universal doula care to their clients. By hiring several doulas to be on-call for their clients, they could substantially reduce the cost per birth, although the doula might be someone you've never met before. You could also advocate for the hospital to provide universal doula care, so that it would be covered in the same way as their in-house lactation consultants are covered.

(text taken from