Erin: On Being a CLC

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Breastfeeding is something I’ve felt drawn to and so passionate about since I was pregnant with my first child. I can’t place my finger on the moment or the event that turned this part of my brain on specifically, but I remember thinking about it daily during that pregnancy. I read about it, I worried about it and I found myself falling down the infinite worm hole of the all-knowing Google. I thought I was completely prepared to have an amazingly successful, long-lasting, picture perfect breastfeeding experience!

Then my sweet daughter was born, we had a touch of skin to skin and her cord was clamped right away. She was a little phlegmy and was taken over the NICU to be observed, I sent my husband with her. I remember lying on the cot in my labour and delivery room, without my new baby, crying to my sister and wondering when I would be able to see her next and thinking she must be hungry?

She was given the okay to come join me in our postpartum room about 2 hours later. I remember awkwardly holding her, fumbling to get her latched on to my right breast, then my left one, then my right one again and on it went. I’m sure I looked confused and distressed because I certainly felt confused and distressed. Nursing shifts changed and the dance went on. Visitors came and went and held my sweet girl while I worried about the clock, the minutes spent on each side, the minutes spent between feedings and why it was hurting on the one side?

My daughter and I went on to continue breastfeeding until she was nearly 1. That year was a struggle, it was this strange balancing act between “successful” feedings, having a small and slow to gain child, supplementing and then not supplementing, sometimes having nipple pain and sometimes not. I waxed and waned on how badly I wanted to do this and for how long. When I decided to wave my white flag to say I was done, I was so so done. Everyone around me told me how great I’d done and that she was getting too old anyway. I KNEW that I had nursed longer than we typically see in my mid-twenties age demographic, and I knew that I had a healthy and beautiful child, so why did I still feel like I was failing her, and failing myself? How was I ever to meet this standard I had given myself in relation to what breastfeeding success really looks like?

There was just so little guidance, so little support and so little help. I knew about the breastfeeding clinic and about IBCLC’s but I felt like my problems didn’t qualify for “real” help. I went on to become a birth doula, to get rebozo certified, to be a car seat technician, to be a cloth diaper educator, a sacred pregnancy instructor, and a childbirth educator.  However, in the Spring of 2017 I took and passed my CLC designation (Certified Lactation Counsellor) in a class with many other wonderful and capable doulas and nurses. I felt at home.

In the last few years my husband and I welcomed another baby, this time at home, and had what felt like a much more positive and empowering breastfeeding relationship. It healed that place in my psyche that ached deep down for what I hadn’t had with my daughter. I had doulas, I had lactation support, a care provider that was my advocate and I had control. In a textbook kind of way my breastfeeding relationship with my son was more complicated with a labial frenotomy (upper lip tie revision), mastitis and later on vasospasms; but even still, I feel at peace and I feel complete when I think of our nursing relationship, because I had access to good support and good information when I needed it.

When I sat down to write this blog I hadn’t meant for it to be a story. I had the intention of going over the importance of lactation support and its availability, but there’s so much more than the statistical facts that bind us to our breastfeeding relationships and outcomes. Breastfeeding can be such a duality; it’s blissful sweet happiness but sometimes it’s also tearful worry and despair. It’s emotionally charged and we all want to be successful in it, if that’s what we hope to do. This is why I think breastfeeding success can only be dictated by the breastfeeding dyad. To some, success is 2+ years of nursing with a self-weaning child, to others, it’s 3 months of exclusive breastfeeding and to someone else it’s colostrum in those first few days and nothing more.

My goal and my driver in getting my CLC certification wasn’t to tell everyone that they should breastfeed for a minimum of 2 years, but it was because there is such a societal disservice for our new parents when it comes to our health care system and postpartum care. I want to be part of the solution. I want to spend time helping individuals who are sitting in bed at 3 am nursing a new baby and wondering why it’s pinching or how to know if it’s a good latch. I want to teach our breastfeeding people how their body works and how milk is made. I want to help people who are wondering why their 6 month old all of a sudden stopped wanting to breastfeed and if they have enough, the list is infinite.

I already felt honoured and privileged to be invited into the pregnancy and birth of my clients’ babies but to now have the knowledge, skills and ability to be invited into this other realm of the postpartum experience only compounds those feelings. I look forward to supporting your breastfeeding goals.  If this is something you are interested, please use the “contact us” form to set a time up for us to get together.

Please check our Lactation Services page for information on investments for this service.

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Just Be With Me

At my last client’s birth, I was very mindful of all I had learned with Whapio of the Matrona.  I was working hard to hold space for my client, aware that she wanted to have the most natural birth she could.  She responded to my suggestions of moving to new positions to offer comfort without  much interference from me.  She spent a good deal of time in the shower with her partner close by.  Lights low and beautiful music playing.   As we moved to the labor room from the assessment area, she leaned over the bed, swaying in rhythm to the surges that washed over her.  Later she moved to the bathroom and sat on the toilet at my suggestion as we needed to move forward in her labor.  She moaned softly as she sat on the toilet (a most excellent place to labor by the way – we all sit on that throne with hips open and relaxed bottom).  As I leaned in the room to see if she needed anything, she said, “Just be with me.”  So I entered and she leaned into my body and we stayed like that for a moment; a moment that felt like forever and in another time and space.

Truth be told, I feel that is what we need to remember as doulas.  We may not know all the “tricks” and have not been a doula for ages, but we can “be” with women as they enter that journey deep within.  When she goes between worlds and enters the delta and theta brainwaves, we need to be cautious not to disturb her.  She needs our presence but likely not our words.  She needs us to “be with her.”  She is journeying to the peak of the mountain and heading to transition, but she doesn’t need you to fix anything, but just witness her power and just be there.

It is not likely that I will ever forget those simple four words, “just be with me” as I go on to support other birthing persons on this sacred journey.

The Holistic Stages of Birth: a New Perspective

In May I had the great opportunity to study with Whapio Diane Bartlett of The Matrona.  My understanding of birth was changed greatly.  As a new doula, I focused on the more clinical side of birth for my clients.  I looked at numbers of contractions, dilation, fetal heart rates and tried to respond to my client’s needs within this framework.  After the weekend with this amazing midwife, I realize those things are important but my job as doula needed to change.  I needed to focus on the needs of my client in a new way.  I needed to surrender my “need” to “do” to my client and just be there for her and her partner, responding as needed.

As part of the training as a holistic doula, we looked at the stages of birth through a new lens.  It became more about building a relationship with my client instead of focusing on the clinical happenings of birth.  Of course, I want my clients to know all about birth and know what to expect, but I think I can approach it from a different angle; one that will support a client to come to birth with a fresh attitude that is not fear, but excitement and surrender.  From this point on, I will approach the stages of birth from a holistic view.  The following is a summary of what I learned…

The Embarkment (Pre-labor and early labor)

This stage is all about preparing for the journey.  Collecting and packing items necessary  might occur and this is more commonly known as nesting.  There may be some contractions or tightenings and maybe even some discharge of cervical mucous. At this time, the birther is talkative and excited about the coming journey.  She may call her midwife and doula if she is having a home birth.  She may call her doula is she is having a hospital birth. She may feel waves of contractions that repeat with increasing intensity.  In more clinical terms, the would be the first stage of labor.  The cervix is beginning to efface and dilate to about 4 cm. As the contractions increase in number and intensity, the mother may become more centered and away from ordinary reality.  She is being “called away” to enter the veil…

Entering the Veil (First stage, active labor)

The mother reaches the point in her journey when she must go alone.  During this stage, her endorphins begin to change her as she moves inward to the more altered state.  This veil is the curtain between ordinary reality and the altered state of birth.  The deep state of alpha brain waves allows the mother to focus on the journey.  It doesn’t mean she wants to be alone but she will be in a more self-directed space. Mothers may approach the veil several times without going through.  Some things that will prevent the mother from going through the veil include constant questioning or interruptions to a mother’s rhythm she is establishing.

At this point in the journey, the mother becomes less chatty and more focussed. Others may even notice a different smell in the room.  In clinical terms, the cervix may be dilated to 5 cm and the character of labor changes.  Contractions may last for 60 seconds and be about 5 minutes apart. Mother may seem a bit more spacey and unfocused to observers who are still in Beta brainwaves.

Between the Worlds (First stage, active labor)

During this part of the journey, the mother needs privacy, silence, warmth and the dark.  She pulls her partner in to the journey and together they speak a silent language as the sensations become more powerful.  No one should disturb them as they create a rhythm.  The mother moves beyond alpha brain waves and down to theta and delta. Mother will remain upright and move with her labor and her contractions.  Clinically, dilation may move from 5 cm to 8 or 9 cm.  Labor is considered hard at this point in the journey and may be felt as painful, but mother has coping strategies.  She will take what she needs to find her way.  She just needs the presence of her companions and words are often unnecessary. Quiet murmurings of respect and affirmation may offer the simple support needed.  Even soft singing may offer support for this hard leg of the journey. This part of the journey is likened to climbing a steep hill.

The Summoning (End of the first stage – transition)

The mother realises she is close to the peak of the hill in this phase.  She is past anything she has ever known but this is what she has come for- the summoning of her child. She hears this summons and gathers all her reserve and may want to be sure her partner is right there with her in the storm.  While it feels like a storm, in fact, she IS the storm.  She may rage and say she wants to be done, to go home.  She may look wild-eyed at this point, but this is not a need for someone to do something but instead for those witnessing to just be there.  This will often be enough to restore calm. How she faces this part of her journey may be different than the next mother, but she is in her authentic power and however she experiences this leg of the journey is her way and the right way for her. Again, the important thing is to witness, yet not disturb the journey. The clinical notes include dilation of the cervix to 100% or 10 cm.  Contractions may last 90 seconds and be 2- 4 minutes apart.

The Quiescence (The resting phase)

This is a period during labor that is often ignored in our culture.  This is a period of great stillness and rest after transition.  Everything becomes calm and still and the mother may fall asleep. This can last from 5 minutes to 30 minutes or longer.  Think about a time you have climbed a mountain. Did you take a quick look around and then head down the mountain again?  No, you enjoyed the view. At this point, the mother may be deep in her altered state with her brainwaves in Delta. This is the realm of transformation.  The mother knows she is going to meet her babe.  She knows she must head to shore to see the tides.

The Tides (First stage of the second stage)

The mother puts her feet back on the ground at this point in the journey. Contractions may resume, but the mother may not feel ready to push her baby out yet.  Her baby is coming down the birth canal as she comes down the mountain step by step. She may feel little urges to push without fiercely bearing down. But these pushes are bringing baby down the canal and closer to the perineum.  Allowing this to happen undisturbed without directed pushing will protect the perineum.

The Breakers (Second stage of the second stage – Pushing)

At this point in the journey, close to crowning, the mother experiences a rush of adrenaline.  She is in two worlds – her oxytocin birth trance and the earthly reality of imminent birth.  She is ready to bring her baby to “dry land.” If women are left alone in this stage, they will likely drop to one knee to give birth. The partner looms over the woman as he/she takes charge of the birth, protecting the woman and his baby.  Her body pushes the baby down and she may roar through this leg of the journey.

Emergence (the birth)

The mother may rise up at this point and arch her back in order to initiate the fetal ejection reflex as described by Dr. Michel Odent.  Then the mother simply births her baby.  She doesn’t need directions to do so.  She doesn’t need someone to catch the baby.  She gives birth.

The Return (Immediate postpartum)

Baby slides into a new world. A transformation has occurred as mother and baby re-emerge into the ordinary reality. This stage is about 5-10 minutes and is often ignored in our culture.  It is more common for the baby to be birthed and then immediately placed on the mother’s chest. As the mother is seeing her reality through new eyes, baby is changing from fetal circulation to neonatal circulation.  To support this transformation, it would be prudent to give the mother and the baby a minute or two to return.  Then the mother will reach for her baby and it is that moment of bonding that is crucial.  The oxytocin runs high at this point in the journey.  The mother recognizes her baby, the partner recognizes his family.

Acquaintance

At this point in the journey, mother and baby become acquainted.  Partner and mother are in awe of baby and of each other realizing the journey they have completed.  This golden hour is a period of time where no disturbance should happen from others in the room.

Communion

This is point where the parents share the baby with others in the room.

Completion

About 30 minutes after birth, the mother turns her attention to the birth of her placenta. If not rushed, the placenta will be sitting in the yoni (vagina) and is easily birthed. The mother then settles in to her new family.  This is the time for the caregiver to return to the scene and assist the mother and her needs.  The mother may wish to shower and the room may be tidied.  Phone calls are made and the mother may want something to eat.

Weaving the Story (postpartum)

The days and weeks to follow are filled with establishing the rhythm and relationship which will go on forever.  This is also the time of revisiting the journey with others.

This holistic approach to a birth gives the birthing mother the autonomy to travel the journey on her own terms.  As doulas, we need to be witness and hold the space for the birthing woman. Rather than hovering and feeling like we have to be doing something all the time, we can be present and meet her needs as they arise.  If we have built a good relationship, we will know when to step in and when to give space.  Having recently experienced a birth with a client, I could clearly see these holistic stages.  Witnessing the birth through this new lens offered me, as a doula, a calm view of the miracle of birth.  And holding space for the client offered her the autonomy of her birth, her way.

Let us support you in such a holistic way.

Peaceful Passage Doulas Now Offer Placenta Encapsulation

We are excited to offer this service now! Brenda is now our Postpartum Placenta Specialist.

What is placenta encapsulation?

Placenta encapsulation is the process of steaming, dehydrating, grinding the placenta and placing the material into pills.  These pills are then taken by the mother regularly shortly after birth.  This is thought to be an ancient, centuries old practice from Chinese medicine.  However, there are no real studies done to prove or disprove the benefits of ingesting the placenta and most information is anecdotal in nature. That being said, the possible benefits of placenta encapsulation include increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the baby.  It may increase the levels of stress reducing hormones and decrease the levels of postpartum depression.  It may restore the iron levels in the blood and increase in milk production.

What process do we use?

We use the traditional method of encapsulation which is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine.  The process includes steaming the placenta prior to dehydration in order to kill germs or bacteria.

What do I need from you?

As your postpartum placenta specialist, you can feel confident that all of my equipment and supplies are sanitized and prepared for your encapsulation.  I will bring everything I need with me when I come to your home to prepare your placenta.  All I need from you is your placenta, access to your stove, sink and an outlet to plug in the dehydrator.  Everything else is my responsibility.

What do you do with the placenta until I get there?

The placenta must be placed in a cooler on ice or in a refrigerator within 2-4 hours of the birth, until I begin the process. If I am not able to begin the process within three days of your birth, you will place the placenta in the freezer until I arrive.

When do I start the process?

Ideally, I like to begin the process within 2 days of your birth, so that your capsules will be ready for ingestion by day 3.  If this is now possible, freezing your placenta is necessary.  You can freeze your placenta up to 3 months and still encapsulate.

Why do I process in your home?

As a Prodoula Certified Postpartum Placenta Specialist, your safety and peace of mind and my professionalism are my priorities. The guidelines that I am required to hold myself accountable to far exceed the standards of this industry.  It benefits you to have this process done in your home in the following ways. You can be confident that your placenta is in fact yours as it is the only one you have brought home.  There is no risk of your placenta being exposed to any unfamiliar bacteria that may interfere with your postpartum recovery.

What if family or friends think you are crazy?

Your decision to encapsulate your placenta is a personal one and it may not be for everyone.  Sharing decisions about birth, parenting and postpartum recovery that are personal to you, may expose you to unnecessary judgement from others.  Choose what is best for you and make no apologies for your decisions.

Do you need to be home during the process?

This is completely up to you and your comfort level.  Whatever you decide is how I will move forward.  As a professional, it is my desire to make the process as smooth and comfortable to you as possible. If you are worried about “smell,” worry no more.  Using lemon and ginger in the short steaming process helps with this.

How long does the process take?

The entire process will take approximately 24 hours.  I will be with you for 2 hours each day for 2 consecutive days.

Questions? Want to book?

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.  If you would like to book your placenta encapsulation, please use the contact form below:

Emotions in Early Labor

You feel a “cramp” and you wonder if this is the time to have your baby.  What emotions start coursing through you?

Woman who feel they are in early labor are often either excited or start to experience fears.  At this time, the reality of the impending birth actually sets in.  They may feel the need to rush to the hospital or quickly pack their hospital bag (because TV tells us this is what should happen!) and they may need to be reminded to slow down and enjoy the beginnings of labor.  Staying in this fearful state causes adrenalin to make an appearance and this can interfere with the flow of oxytocin.  Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone,  is the hormone responsible for causing the contractions to come steadily.  Adrenaline interferes with the flow of oxytocin and can have a slowing effect or cause the contractions to become irregular.  So even though it is exciting to be in early labor,  it is important to keep focus on everyday things that are happening around you.  You may have errands to run, children to care for, cooking to do, or tasks to complete.  Keep doing those things in early labor. Don’t stop and focus on the contractions.  In fact, if you can sneak in a nap, do that too.  You will need all your energy later to birth your baby.

Other women may become fearful of the impending birth.  They may be unsure of what is coming and have heard many “war stories” from other woman all too willing to share.   As a partner or friend, you may need to be remind this woman  to relax and surrender to their early labor in order to allow the oxytocin to do its work and to keep the effects of adrenalin at bay. Remind them to keep doing all the things they would normally do as we stated earlier.

All of these fears and uncertainty can be alleviated with a prenatal class facilitated by a caring individual who will share facts in such a way as to educate but not create fear.  Please watch for our up and coming prenatal classes in the fall.  We can be those teachers who will share all of the facts that you need, but in a way that you will feel empowered by the information and ready to surrender to your labor in order to meet your new baby.

Peaceful Passage Doulas Welcome Two New Partners

We are so excited to offer our clients the services of two new partners;  Cerra Wyatt of  Spread the Love Babywearing Education and Jasmine Giourmetakis of Honey Lime Photography.  We are thrilled to be able to offer clients who are interested in babywearing an option to learn.  As well, we are pleased to offer another photography option for our clients.

Here is a little bit of info about Cerra:

 

Baby wefullsizerender-1aring entered my parenting journey in 2014. Our family was expanding,  I needed a way to keep up with two older children and keep an infant close. Feeling the bond and closeness, it became more than a parenting tool. It became my passion! I knew very early on I wanted to become an educator. I love sharing the knowledge of how beneficial wearing can be and teaching parents how to safely and comfortably wear their baby. Exploring different carries and trying new carriers can be overwhelming alone, my goal is always to make it as stress free and fun as possible.
Watching the beginning of every different wearing journey is beautiful and I am honoured to be there to watch it begin!

Check her out on FaceBook : Spread the Love

A bit about Jasmine:

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I am a proud mother of two beautiful little girls. They are 18 months apart. My husband is my biggest fan and greatest supporter. I would not be where I am without all his love and courage. I have found my passion in not only photography, but Birth and families in general. I love everything to do with babies, pregnant mommas, birth, motherhood, and fatherhood. I truly believe that having frozen memories is something so important, not only to us as parents, but to our children. I always love seeing pictures of my family growing up, and the fact that I get to help families continue to add to their collection of memories makes me super happy! I am super easy to work with, and absolutely love what I do. ❤

Check her out on Face Book or at her  web page: http://www.honeylime.ca

We look forward to working with these lovely ladies and know you will as well!

Bengkung Belly Binding

One of the services we offer is Bengkung Belly Binding. There are many benefits to belly binding shortly after the baby is born.   Belly Binding supports the womb after birth.  It protects and assists swollen internal organs to return to their pre-pregnant state.  It assists in uterine contractions to expel any left over blood.  Belly binding reduces shoulder and back discomfort by promoting good posture.  It relieves water retention and improves circulation. It stabilizes loosened ligaments and helps relieve muscle and tendon tension throughout the torso area. This ancient practice just feels good!  We are happy to provide pretty binds and to bind you that first time!

Here is a video from DONA to show you how this works when you bind yourself:

New Service Added!

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We are excited that Peaceful Passage Doulas have a birth pool for their clients to use now!  We will supply the connections, the hose to drain, the pump to drain and a pump to blow up the pool.  The client will be responsible for a clean hose and a liner for the pool (however, we can pick these up for you if needed).  Pools are available for use in any home birth and limited hospital births.  Only the Sturgeon and the Lois Hole will allow birth pools to labor in if you have a midwife present.  No hospital allows birth in the pool at this time, however.  Cost for the pool rental is $100 and is only available to Peaceful Passage Doula Service clients.  We look forward to serving you in this new way.

Going the Distance and a Lesson in Patience

By Brenda Giourmetakis

I learn something from all of my clients and their births but my last client taught me patience.  And if you know me, you know I like to get things done so I can move on to the next task.  Well, this baby had another idea.  She was not in any hurry to exit her momma’s womb.  In fact, until the minute before she was born, the doctor kept commenting on what a happy heart beat she had.  Her mom is a marathon runner and this may have had something to do with her approach.  She had a plan and worked steadily to give birth to this little girl.

This was probably the longest labor I had attended and my biggest learning is to think about self-care during a long birth (both for the partner and for the doula).  The first night we went to the hospital, I forgot to add snacks to my bag.  Since it was late at night, there really was no place open to pick up snacks and I had perfect little gluten free muffins in my fridge!  Even my water bottle was left on the counter.  Hmmm.  How can I help myself remember these important items in the excitement of the moment?  That is a process I am going to have to think about.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.

We went home after a night of pretty productive contractions that were long and close together and gaining in intensity.  But the magic dilation number was not were the hospital would want it.  There are more ideas emerging to support a labor process without getting to the magic number of 3 -4.  Here is an article about some alternatives: http://birthwithoutfearblog.com/2013/06/06/alternative-methods-of-checking-dilation-the-purple-line-and-more/.  As well, it is important to remember that dilation is only one piece of the puzzle.  Is baby turning?  Is the fundus building to push the baby out?  Here is another great article: http://midwifethinking.com/2010/08/18/the-effective-labour-contraction/  Finally, a facebook article about the fundus becoming thick enough to push the baby out: https://m.facebook.com/myNOVAbirth/photos/a.375689399130797.93734.288908944475510/1103754056324324/?type=3

Well, we were sent home and my client had a lovely cranio massage to relax her jaw (and that would in turn relax her bottom).  By three in the afternoon we headed back.  By this time she was at the required dilation to head up to the labor and delivery rooms.  She asked for an epidural (she was so tired) and then was ready to push by 10 p.m.  We thought this babe would be born soon, but she had other ideas.  “Have patience,” she whispered with every heart beat.

Mom pushed for three hours and the beautiful Morley was born at 1 a.m. Baby was not particularly thrilled to be on the outside; she pooped on the way out and then three more times on her mom.

All in all, we cannot rush birth.  We must be patient and take the time that is needed to have a beautiful birth that mom  will remember with joy rather than trauma.  Big kudos to the Dr. Ching and the staff at the Sturgeon for holding space for the mom to have her birth in her own time.

Marathon