Upcoming Birth Fair

Are you pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant?  Do you know someone who is pregnant?  Then you want to check out the Birth Fair on March 7 at the Grow Centre. Start the day with a yoga session with Clara. and then stay for lots of great information and birth talks.

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Our First Birth Journey Prenatal Classes

Peaceful Passage Doulas are so excited to offer this new prenatal class to pregnant mommas and their partners. Class is weekly for four SIMG_0343unday evenings (one afternoon is included in order to cover all necessary materials). Each week we will explore new topics to contribute to the birth journey as mommas and their partners to prepare for this path. Be prepared to connect deeply with your partner and your baby, to understand the process of birth and how to work with that process instead of against it and to be fully present in all aspects of birth through the senses. As a part of this small, intimate group, you will have ample time to explore all aspects of this journey and be fully prepared for the birth that you envision.

dates and times:
Feb 1: 6-8 pm
Feb 8: 6-8 pm
Feb 15: 2-5 pm
Feb 22: 6-8 pm

These will take place at 6117 37A Avenue in Millwoods.
Cost is only $85 for the four weeks as this is the first offering of these classes (value of $150). Email peacefulpassagedoulas@gmail.com for more information or to register for the class. Space is limited as we hope to maintain small, intimate groups.

Meet the Doula Night

Peaceful Passage Doulas invite you to meet their new collective of six doulas. Learn about their full services including birth support, postnatal doula support, Sacred Pregnancy support (Bengkung Belly Binding, Closing the Bones Ceremony, vaginal steams, herbal craft, Birth Journey Classes), car seat tech service, birth photography and soon to be placenta encapsulation.  This will take place at the Grow Centre  in the basement, 10516 – 82 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6E 2A4 at 7 p.m.  There will be some fabulous door prizes including a free Tuck in Ceremony and a photo package (mini-maternity session with an 8×10 print, yoga discounts, and others).

Full of Questions

My last two births did not go as the mommas had planned.  In fact, both ended in c-sections and I can safely say that was the furthest from both of their minds.  I have been mulling the situations over in my mind and I think by writing down my thoughts, I will get some peace and perhaps be able to “let it go.”

Momma number one was having her first baby and was overdue by one week on her estimated due date.  Her doctor told her if she hadn’t gone into labor by the Monday she was scheduled for an application of cervadil.  She tried many different things to hopefully get her labor “going.”  She tried  walking, nipple stimulation and two sessions of accupunture to hopefully “relax her into labor.”  All of this to no avail.  So she packed her bags and arrived at the hospital Monday morning.  Throughout the day we texted back and forth and I kept reminding her that her body knew what to do and baby would come when he was ready.  She agreed and kept a positive vibe.  Sometime in the late morning, her doctor checked her cervix and found it to be completely closed and not thinning at all.

She was disappointed but again I reminded her that she should try and rest and I thought the doctor would send her home and try again another day.  Maybe an hour later, she texted to say she was hooked up to the drip and they were trying the oxytocin to get things going.  She said she had a few contractions but nothing she couldn’t handle.  I told her if she needed me, I would come.  She said she didn’t think she needed me yet.  Everything was going well and baby’s heartrate was great.  Once again, I told her to let me know when she needed me.

The next thing I read on my phone was a text at 330 pm from her husband saying they had just done an emergency c-section because the baby’s heart rate had dropped dramatically.  He expressed that everyone was well.  I popped up later to see them and their new little bundle of joy but I was puzzled that the doctor had started oxytocin with a cervix that was completely closed and I remain puzzled to this day.  Even after a discussion with one of the head RNs from the hospital who found this situation to be odd, I still do not understand the passage of events.

Momma number 2 was having her second baby with the strong hopes of a VBAC.  Her water broke late one evening and we met at the hospital.  From the time she arrived, it was clear she was in labor and it was progressing well.  When we finally got into a labor and delivery room, the nurse checked and told the momma was dilated to 10 cm but she needed to push a little lip to the side.  She did this and encouraged the momma to push.  However, when she checked later she noticed something that wasn’t there prior and got the doctor to come and check.  He said the momma was only dilated to 8 cm and was somewhat swollen and that she needed to stop pushing.

Well, you can imagine how disappointed this momma was and what this did to her repose.  She started to get upset and felt as though she was losing control.  At this point she told me she might need an epidural.  She had put this in her birth preferences so we let the nurse know that she would like to do this.  The momma was quite tired as it was now early morning (around 5 a.m.) and her contractions were so close together, she was getting no rest.

This seems rather routine, don’t you think?  Momma gets epidural and things go along until baby is born.  Not this time!  Apparently there was a crisis with another momma and the anaesthetist was working to save her life.  While we were sympathetic to a very sick momma, the momma I was working with began to get frantic as she really wanted to push and knew she shouldn’t.  However, her contractions continued to pile up on one another.  She asked for laughing gas to help her wait, but as the wait went from minutes to three hours later, the pressure was on from the doctor on call for her to “just have the c-section” as the anaesthetist was not going to be available any time soon.  The momma refused as she told them, “I don’t want a section, I want an epidural!”  She was offered Fentanol and had several doses of this drug to help her manage these contractions.

Finally, three hours after she asked, a new anaesthetist was finally on shift and gave her the epidural she had been begging for.  The doctor returned and told the momma that she didn’t think there was any point, she would “let” the momma try to relax that cervical swelling down.  She let her rest for two hours but the swelling at this point was quite severe and would not subside.

At this point, the momma and her husband asked several questions and finally consented to a c-section.  She was exhausted and I think she just needed to see her baby.

My questions are these… In my (un-medical) opinion, it seems these two c-sections were avoidable and somewhat unnecessary.  I mean, in the moment, they were necessary as the babies needed to be born and were experiencing some distress, but really, were they really necessary???

Why would oxytocin be applied to a momma who’s cervix was completely closed? Check out this blog for information on a current “trend” called pit to distress. I hope this isn’t a new trend and if it is, what is the point?

Why would there only be one anaesthetist on at a time with no back up?  It would seem unusual for no back up plan to be in place in a large city hospital that must experience emergencies from time to time.

It was a lot for a new doula to take in and when you read all the data about doulas lowering the c-section rate, I wonder what else I could have done here? What are your thoughts?

Faster Than a ???

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What an interesting day.  I got up this morning and went to a prenatal visit with a new client I am “care-sharing” with another doula.  Meeting a lovely couple was a wonderful way to start the day.  I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and when I arrived, I put things away and ate my lunch.  I looked at my phone and noticed three missed calls.  I called the number and lo and behold, the voice on the other end was my momma who was due on the second of November.  She was distressed and explained her water had broken at 1130 a.m. and she and hubby were on the way to the hospital.  As we were on the phone, she was having a contraction and we talked through that.  I reminded her to breathe and to take a big, cleansing breathe after the contraction.

Thank goodness, my bag was packed and ready to go.  I grabbed my birth ball and threw a snack in my bag, expecting a long night.  I arrived at the hospital at 12:20 and was told by the desk nurse, “You won’t need that ball, she is pushing.”  I hustled down the hall and arrived in the room. Sure enough, the momma was bearing down and the baby’s head was crowning.  I went right to the momma and she grasped my hand.  And there I was helping with her leg as the nurse asked me to and I hadn’t even taken my jacket off.  With a couple more pushes, baby S was born at 12:55.  The nurses delivered the baby as the doctor never made it either.

Beautiful baby S had great apgar scores and weighed 5 pounds 3 ounces at 36 weeks gestation. She was a beautiful surprise today to momma and daddy who were so excited to meet her.  I spent time with them to see that baby S was breastfeeding and they were doing well.  I stayed with mom as she had a shower while daddy went with baby for a further check up as she arrived early.  She was pleased that her birth was drug free as she had hoped and even though she hadn’t shared her birth preferences, the nurses were very respectful about asking before doing each procedure.

I would think for her next birth, she might want to move closer to the hospital or consider a home birth!

 

Supporting a Mom Who is Having a Planned C-Section

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Recently I had the opportunity to support a gal who was having a planned c-section.  At first, I wondered what I would do to support her so we just let the support evolve as the pregnancy progressed.

To begin, we looked a good practices for good positioning for baby and for good posture for mom so she felt comfortable throughout the pregnancy. I gave her a couple of rebozo sessions to take the pressure off of her back.  We looked at exercises to do for good health throughout pregnancy. I shared links with her with specific exercises and yoga for pregnant women.  We looked a good nutrition as she was diabetic.

I shared a book from my doula library about what to expect in a c-section.  This helped her formulate questions for her doctor and gave her good information around what to expect.

We talked about birth preferences such as skin to skin and delayed cord clamping that could happen even in the operating room.  I answered questions from personal experience about the healing process after the c-section in terms of incision care and good healthy practices like walking after surgery so gas doesn’t build up.

Early in the pregnancy, her hubby wasn’t sure he could “do” the surgery part and it looked like I would be the one supporting her in the OR but I gave her good reasons why he should go in and she convinced him.  He was really glad he decided to do this!

After the baby was born, I headed up to the hospital to offer postnatal support.  We talked about breastfeeding and got the baby latched on.  We talked about good nutrition for breastfeeding mommas and how important it was to keep him nursing and why he would NOT need formula (this was offered by the hospital).  We looked at the comparison of size of baby’s new born tummy and that was a surprise to mom.

I have checked in with mom on a couple of occasions since she went home to see how things are going and all is well.

I believe she was happy with the support offered in this situation and I would definitely do this again. I think all mommas need support and a doula can be helpful even in a planned c-section.

The Tuck In Ceremony

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In order to warm the momma after being open, raw and cooled both mentally and physically, during birth, we can use warm, soothing baths and wraps with deliciously warm rice and lavender bags.  Finishing off with firming belly paste and a bengkung belly wrap.  I had the opportunity to offer one of my moms this service.  When she was all tucked in after her bath and belly rub, her comment was, “I will just stay here for a while.  I am SO relaxed!”  Music to my ears! I am happy to offer these services should you be interested.  See our fees section for possible packages you may be interested in.  What a great idea for a shower gift for the mom who has everything!

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We have been busy!

We have been busy new doulas over the summer!  Not only are we doing our reading, writing and collecting of data, we have been attending births in order to get to our certification.

AND, we have been taking advantage of a variety of learning opportunities that will improve our service for all of you new mommas.

First, we took the rebozo course.  A rebozo is a long shawl that can be used in a variety of ways to offer comfort to the momma during labor.  This versatile tool was used a a blindfold to give the momma some darkness and focus at my last birth.  I have used it to support the belly while the momma is sitting on the ball during contractions.  I used it as a pull in the bathroom while the momma labored on the toilet.  I have used it to do the lovely double hip squeeze during contractions.  I have offered it over to dad either on his own or with me at the other end during contractions.  I used it to sweep over the momma’s head and back for a treat during labor (she loved that!).  At any rate, this has become a regular tool during labor for both of us.

Next, we took the Step 2 Breastfeeding course.  This course was invaluable to learn the mechanics of breast feeding, the stand of the World Health Organization on breastfeeding, and problem solving for new moms. This is the same course all RNs take at “Breast Feeding Friendly Hospitals” like the Grey Nuns.  All staff must take this course to get that label!

Then we thought we wanted to give full service so we took the online Sacred Pregnancy course on Bengkung Belly Binding (please see our link on the menu to learn more about this).  We vowed to care for the moms as an artist of Sacred Postpartum care.  We now can offer the belly bind and the belly firming paste and are the proud displayers of this seal:

Sacred Belly Bind Wrap Artist Seal 2014-05-08-01(1)

 

Then, not to sit still, I (Brenda) took the Sacred Pregnancy course to learn about hosting two day mini retreats for pregnant mommas.  These two day retreats will promise to offer mommas opportunity to dig deep and learn about body image, fear release, creating sacred space, nutrition, honoring, as examples of the many topics throughout the weekend.  Watch our website for future weekends.

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Finally, I (Brenda) am completing the Full Mother Roaster (or warmer) course with Sacred Pregnancy.  This course will give me tools to support the momma in the postpartum period and includes the belly bind, plus tuck in ceremonies and many recipes and herbal tinctures or mixtures to support healing for the momma.  I look forward to sharing new found information with new mommas.  Please see our menu for information at a later date along with fees for services.

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Our goal is to offer you a peaceful passage from belly to birth.  We look forward to holding this sacred space for you and your babe.  For information about Sacred Pregnancy see www.sacredpregnancy.com

The Blessingway

I was honored to have the opportunity to host my first Blessingway in August.  We have all been to a baby shower where the focus is bringing gifts for the new baby.  While the gifts are welcomed and needed, the focus is on the baby.  The Blessingway focused completely on the momma’s journey from maiden to motherhood.  Women gather together to honor, celebrate and offer support for the momma in this journey.

During this time together, each woman brought a meaningful bead that was shared to create a birth necklace for the mom.  Each woman also brought a written blessing, wish or prayer for the momma.  Every participant commented on the power of the evening.  This powerful “tribe” of women lifted up this young mom and promised to support her in this uncharted journey.  We finished the evening with pampering of the mom including hand massage, shoulder and head massage and an herbal foot soak.  The “icing on the cake” was the henna painting of the momma’s glorious belly.  We couldn’t leave dad out so he prepared the feast for all and it was delicious!

If you are interested in honoring a momma that is in your circle, feel free to contact me.  I would be happy to help plan, create invitations and ensure all was ready for a powerful evening of honoring the momma with all of her favorite women!

Enjoy the video of a Blessingway:

Contact me if you want more info.

Birth of Baby T – Erin’s First Experience

My very first birth as a doula. As mama’s due date came and went I knew my first experience as a doula as drawing more and more near, that sweet babe couldn’t stay in there forever after all. Another week passed an induction was scheduled for the following Tuesday. With the threat of a medical induction looming, I received word at 11:24 pm that her water had broken and she had just contacted her other doula also (I was so incredibly lucky to have my first birth be with one of Edmonton’s best and most experienced doulas). She let me know that she and her partner had decided to hang out and relax at home for a while to get some rest before they headed to the hospital. I heard from mama next at 2:25 am letting me know that they were heading to the hospital as no contractions had begun and she felt more comfortable getting assessed.

 

At 3:48 am I got word that she had in fact been contracting according to the fetal monitoring at the hospital but wasn’t feeling those little surges yet! Soon after she said her contractions were a little less than 10 minutes apart, and being as keen as I was to use all my new skills and at the mama’s go ahead, I decided to head to the hospital around 5:30 am. When I arrived I was greeted by a very calm and relaxed mama who was sipping on coconut water and sitting cross-legged on her bed! Dad was sitting happily in one of the other chairs in the room and seemed very ready for the whole experience. I was there for the next couple hours and the happy couple seemed to have things very under control and contractions were still very manageable for mama. But because nobody likes to feel like a watched pot and I feel that the transition of birth can be such an intimate time for a couple or family I kindly showed myself the door until things progressed further.

 

I returned at about 2:45 in the afternoon after speaking to mama and hearing her breathe through a contraction on the phone. With her confirmation that the intensity had picked up significantly since I spoke to her last I began to make my way back to the Sturgeon. When I arrived back at the hospital she was breathing well through a contraction and greeted me happily at its end. Dad offered to fetch some Timbits from across the street for mama to munch on and to have a break from the room for himself. In the mean time we had mom move onto the birth ball to do some rocking and to help encourage her pelvis to open and allow baby to move down. We would spend a lot of time on the birth ball in the coming hours.

 

After dad returned with the treats, mama had a good snack and decided she would like to walk the hospital grounds in hopes of encouraging those contractions to increase in frequency (and intensity). It was a beautiful sunny day so we spent the next 30 minutes or so walking the corridors and outside near the hospital entrance. This is where we met mama’s other doula who had just arrived. We began chatting about the labour’s progression thus far and how mom was feeling and had mama breathe through a couple contractions with one leg up in a lunge on a nearby bench; again we wanted that babe to work his way down!

 

It was decided that because things were still moving relatively slowly the other doula would go have a nap at a nearby relative’s home until the contractions picked up.

 

It was now 4.30pm and we went back to the labour room to begin the “Miles Circuit” in an effort to welcome more contractions and ward against a slowing . Mama was able to work through the first two positions of the circuit, holding each for the suggested 30 minutes and with luck the surges had found their way back! Her other doula joined us again and mom requested to be checked for progress and perhaps be put on a drip if no changes had been made.

 

The resident and nurse both performed a cervical check at 6.00pm and exclaimed that mama was 8cm! While the cervix still had some thinning to do, we could hardly believe it! Both the resident and mom decided to hold off on the drip as progress seemed to be happening without it.

 

However, because it had been many hours since the mom’s water had spontaneously broken at home her doctor recommended some IV antibiotics to combat any possible infection. Mom and dad agreed and the drugs were ordered.

 

The nurse taking care of mom tried to administer the saline lock twice with no luck and requested a second nurse to come and try. Upon her arrive she said “It’s so zen and nice in here! Mom you look amazing for 8 cm!” which was true on both accounts! It took a third nurse, a very patient mom and a total of 6 different attempts to finally place the saline lock.

 

Mama’s sister arrived at 6.45 pm and they exchanged hugs and well wishes and played a short game of “headbands” with her iphone (Which was totally endearing to watch). Mom, dad and sister were in very high spirits and you could sense the room was filled with anticipation. Shortly after her sister’s arrival, more family members, a well as the mom’s first child arrived. The other doula and myself ducked out so that some private family time could be had. Unfortunately for mama the change in environment and people put a halt to her labour progress and the next 45 minutes or so saw zero contractions.

 

With the exit of the guests it became our goal to get mom’s labour rolling to where it had been previously. We dimmed all the lights in the room again and pressed play on my trusty doula ipod. Mom sat on the bed while the other doula and I practiced acupressure (1 minute on, 1 minute off) for the next 30 minutes. Within 5 minutes mom had her strongest contraction yet, and they kept coming routinely in 3-4 minute intervals while the acupressure was being done. From here we had mom move back onto the birth ball where there was lots of bouncing, back rubs, some double hip squeezes and calm soothing words from dad through contractions. Mom then began to feel she had tired of sitting and began walking around the room and slightly squatting with each contraction. With the contractions visibly picking up in intensity mom returned to the birth ball to lean onto the bed and dad to the stool next to the ball to catch rest between contractions.

 

It was 10.00pm now and the resident suggested another cervix check be done as no pressure to push had come to mom in the time since her last check (In which it was determined she was 8cm). The resident checked and thought mama might be fully dilated but requested the charge nurse come to confirm as she felt it was unlikely since mom’s contractions were not quite where they needed to be to push that sweet babe earthside yet. The charge nurse came in and did a vaginal check and said, “Honey I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I would place you at a 4-5cm and very posterior. An error must have been made in your previous check.”  Mom and dad took the news in stride and agreed with the resident that they would like to start a drip as she had already been in labour for almost a full 24 hours and evidently still had 5 or more cm of dilation to go.  The Oxytocin drip was started at 10:15 pm.

 

The next 2 hours saw mama coping extremely well with her now very intense, frequent and long contractions. She practiced calm, deep breathing with her eyes closed with no prompting and was really going within herself to manage the labour. She found it very helpful while reclined in the bed to have the top of her thighs rubbed firmly during contractions. At this point I retrieved the list of moms favorite birth affirmations and repeated them to her as a reminder of this important job she was doing so well at, a job that only she can do and that in only a little longer she will be rewarded with the most amazing prize she could imagine. At 12:20 am we moved mama into the shower (very spacious at the Sturgeon!) and onto the birth ball. Dad was sitting on the stool beside the shower and rhythmically spraying moms belly in time with her breathing. Mom did wonderfully with this routine. I got into the shower behind them both and helped to remind mama to release the tension in her shoulders and performed effleurage massage during contractions. Here in the shower we remained for the next 20 or so minutes while mama received the laughing gas she had requested. Here is where I learned that the beauty of the Entonox really lies in it requiring mom to take full, deep and long breaths during the contractions, which of course serves to help in dilation and relaxation. She did superbly and I was truly amazed at her ability to take those deep cleansing breaths in what was recognizably transition to anyone in the room.

 

We left the shower at about 1:45 am and made our way back to the bed. Here mom sat reclined for the next 10 minutes and requested a dose of Fentanol. The Fentanol (both doses) were given through IV quickly and though mom was feeling the incredible intensity of the tail end of her transition, myself, the other doula and dad were able to notice the slowing of her breath and the tension leaving her grip. It appeared the Fentanol had done its job and seemed the take the edge off, giving mom and babe the break between contractions they both so deserved after the hard work they had both been doing.

 

It was 2:30 am now and with each contraction you could hear it end with the smallest spontaneous push by mom. The nurse and resident determined now that mom was fully dilated and the room was promptly set up for the arrival of the baby. With the coming 2 contractions mom made quick work of pushing and her sweet and healthy boy was welcomed earth side at exactly 2:42 am! He was a big boy at 9 lbs 2 oz and 21 inches tall. I witnessed such joy as a mom and dad greeted the new child they had been wondering and dreaming about for the better part of the last year.

 

What an experience. My first birth as a doula had just ended. I felt tired, I had along drive across the city and I wondered how much sleep I would be able to catch before my 14-month-old daughter was ready to start her day ( and my contacts were burning in my eyes). But in all honesty and from the deepest bottom of my heart, none of it mattered. I was just part of a new person making his entrance into the world. That is monumental! That is so incredibly special and I will surely savor this memory of the rest of my time here. What a privilege to be asked to participate in one the most significant moments in these people’s lives. June 8th, 2014 (and the days leading up to it) solidified in me the feeling that I had met a new life long love, being a doula.