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Becoming a Doula

Learning comfrot measures

What are your plans for this year? Are you up for learning something new? Developing some new skills? Starting a new career? Finding a new passion? Why not take a Birth Doula Workshop?

What is a Birth Doula?

A Birth Doula is a person who accompanies pregnant families through late pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting. The doula’s role is to provide informational, emotional and physical support. The doula helps the parent or parents to find the information they need to make decisions about their care. The doula provides a listening ear, a compassionate voice, and holds space for the parents to process their experience. The doula holds a hand, wipes a brow, provides a cup of tea or sips of gingerale, rubs a back or massage a foot, suggests positions and movements to ease a long labour.

The doula’s focus is on the parents’ emotional well-being. Doulas do not diagnose, prescribe or recommend. Knowing that the midwife, doctor or nurse is taking care of the safety of the parent and baby, the doula is available continuously, throughout the childbirth experience, to ensure that the family feels safe and supported.

What do you learn in a Birth Doula Workshop?

I LOVE teaching Birth Doula Workshops! It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet with a group of people who are passionate about helping, who honour and respect the power of childbearing parents, who are curious about the process of labour and birth, who are compassionate and caring.

We talk about the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy and birth. We talk about the process of birth, both the physical and the emotional unfolding that happens. We try out and practice many different pain-relieving comfort measures – breathing, massage, visualization, positioning, movement. We discuss medical interventions, pros and cons, indications, how to help clients cope with them.

We also discuss starting a doula business, how to create a referral network, how to find clients, how to interview clients.  We help you plan your startup. A panel of practicing doulas comes in to meet with you and share tricks of the trade.

We discuss the emotional aspects of doula work, how to support clients through disappointment, or depression, or loss, how to find resources, and how and when to refer, so that it’s not all on us. And we talk about the postpartum period, and breastfeeding, and the new baby, and how to say goodbye at the end of the relationship.

We spend four days together, immersed in all this juicy, subtantial stuff. It is SO satisfying!

Who can be a doula?

Anyone! Anyone who is prepared to be compassionate, respectful, open-minded, open-hearted. Anyone who is ready to be on call for weeks, and ready to stay up all night, and press on a sacrum until your wrists and thumbs ache. You don’t need to be any particular age, or gender, or to have any particular education. You do not need to have had children. People of all sorts become pregnant, and they need people of all sorts to support them.

Are there laws restricting who can practice as a doula?

No. Not in Canada. Anyone can call themselves a doula. But I encourage you to get proper training and to become certified. Do your research. Make sure that the organization training you and certifying you is credible. Consider: is it an associaton of doulas which works for its members, or is it a privately-owned business trying to turn a profit? Is it an organization whose training and certification will be recognized in other provinces, states or countries?

Does the trainer you are going to learn from provide any mentoring or support after the workshop? Will they help you find clients? Will they support you through certification? Do they run meetings for doulas to meet and connect and network? (Yup. I do those things…)

DONA International

The doula organization I have been certified with for over 20 years, and for which I train doulas, is DONA International. DONA was the first international doula organization. DONA developed the Standards of Practice for doulas which have been studied, determined to safe and beneficial, and which have become the industry standard. DONA has certified thousands of doulas in over 50 countries around the world.

How can I find a Doula Workshop?

Funny thing that. I happen to be teaching a doula workshop in Victoria from March 6-9, 2020. You can read all about it here.  

I offer one bursary (full and partial) in each workshop to folks in financial need. As part of my efforts towards Reconciliation, I offer one full bursary in each of my workshops, to an Indigenous person. Please contact me directly – eva@motheringtouch.ca

If you can’t be in Victoria that weekend (too bad, it’s a great time of year to visit), you can find a DONA International Birth Doula Workshop here. 

I have so many more questions!

If so, contact me. I love to answer questions about being a doula.

 

In the Doula Spirit,

                 Eva

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Is a Prenatal Class about Childbirth or about Babies?

Prenatal Childbirth Preparation for Doctors' Patients

This term we use – Prenatal Class – is confusing, isn’t it?

Some parents-to-be are fascinated by, or worried about labour and birth and are wanting to spend a lot of time talking about it. They come to our 12-hour, six-week Childbirth Preparation classes and are happy to spend most of the time on labour and birth, and practicing comfort measures and coping skills, and find that it’s great that we also spend two entire hours talking about babies and breastfeeding.

Other parents, who are more worried about how they are going to cope with the baby once it is out, feel they would like to spend more time talking about babies and breastfeeding.

It’s for this second group of parents that we have designed the Parenting the Newborn series. It’s a three-week, six-hour series in which a postpartum doula and breastfeeding educator takes you though two hours on baby care and two hours on breastfeeding, and then a First Aid Instructor comes and teaches two hours of Infant First Aid and CPR.

Many of our parents take both sets of classes. And we encourage this by giving parents a $15 discount if they sign up for both classes at the same time. (We also acknowledge that there will be a little overlap between the classes.) Some parents take only one, or only the other.

I would say, that if you take only one, the Childbirth Preparation Class is the one to take. Experiencing childbirth in a healthy and satisfying way takes knowledge and preparation. Labour and Birth happen all at once, in a big storm. There is little time to consider, or problem solve during labour. The learning and considering and deciding needs to happen before labour starts – even though you may change your mind during labour itself – in fact you probably will.

You can learn baby care and breastfeeding over several week and months. Babies are very patient with fumbly parents, and every parent figures out their own way through the challenges of of the first weeks. In fact, the hormones you make (yes, parents of all genders make hormones when they are around babies) will help you be more attentive and respond more sensitively to your baby.

At Mothering Touch, we believe in people’s basic ability to give birth and care for their babies. We want parents to feel well-prepared and well-supported, to feel satisfied with their birth experience and to be able to enjoy the first weeks with their baby. That is the goal of all our classes and groups.

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Every Monday is Grandparents’ Day! 15% off all regularly-priced merchandise

Grandparents are important

As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and often the most important members of that village are those of the previous generation. Grandparents are important for so many reasons.

Grandparents have such a special role in the life of a baby. They are often the first people parents rely on after baby’s birth. Grandpa may hold baby while mom has a shower or manages a quick bite to eat. Grandma may be there to help with baby’s first bath, or to help get ready for the first outing. This role helps establish a bond between baby and Grandparent. Grandparents are the first adults other than moms and dads that demonstrate to baby that they can trust other adults to provide comfort and basic necessities such as feeding and diapering. This is an important lesson in baby’s life.

Grandparents fill many roles in the life of the new baby. They are caregivers, giving parents a break when they need it most. They are the tradition keepers, passing on family customs and history. They are playmates, often having more time to play now in this new role and in this different time of life.

This is an entirely new phase in the life of parenting. Grandparents are now watching their children parent. It is sometimes a tricky transition. It is a role shift. This also means that it is a time of reinvention. Grandparents get to decide what this new role will look like. They can choose their new name, Grandma, Grandpa, Opa, Nona, Nanna, Papa… And they can choose their role. Taking baby to a music class once a week, or keeping a baby book of important events, or keeping the family close by having extended family gatherings or reunions. And of course, there are those grandparents that, for many reasons, end up taking on a much bigger role than expected, sometimes becoming primary caregivers. For these Grandparents as well, they must define their role.

At Mothering Touch we value Grandparents. We know how important Grandparents are to their children and grandchildren and that it takes more than the nuclear family to raise children. For this reason we are making every Monday Grandparent Day! Show off your grandchild by bringing in a photo (or ultrasound image) of him or her or them and we will give you 15% off your purchase.

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Thirty-Six to Forty Weeks Pregnant

 

Thirty-Six to Forty weeks Pregnant

This is the last full month of your pregnancy. You may be winding up at work, finishing up projects at home. The baby is coming soon!

Although the baby is getting bigger and is almost ready to be born, it is not full term until 40 weeks. Although it is safe for a baby to be born at 37 week, most first babies are born after 40 weeks. And 40-week babies are bigger and stronger and often breastfeed better. Don’t start expecting the baby too early – it makes for a long wait!

 

How you might feel between thirty-six and forty weeks of pregnancy:

  • Your growing baby is using up almost all your resources. You may be feeling very tired at the end of the day.
  • Back pain, caused by the increasing weight of the baby and softening joints, may slow you down too.
  • Baby’s movements are not just kicks anymore, but feel more like stretches and rolls. Baby’s hiccups – a little, slow, pulse-like feeling, deep inside you – can feel odd.
  • You may find it difficult to sleep through the night, waking frequently to pee or to roll over. Try to take the sleep interruptions lightly. Stay relaxed. Sleep will come again soon.
  • Heartburn becomes (or is still) a problem.
  • Braxton-Hicks contractions, also called pregnancy contractions, may start to become more intense. Remember your uterus contracts more if you are dehydated or over-active. Take it easy and have a glass of water if the tightenings start to bother you.
  • Feet and ankles may be swollen by the end of the day, or if the weather is warm.

Things you may do between thirty-six and forty weeks weeks of pregnancy:

  • Getting ready for your baby to come home. Washing clothes, tidying, installing car seat.
  • Cooking and freezing meals for after the baby comes.
  • Enjoy time alone with your partner! Go out for some meals, to the movies.
  • Buy nursing bras around 37-38 weeks. An experienced fitter can help you find a bra that will fit as your breasts get bigger when your milk “come in” around day 3 of your baby’s life.
  • Think about daycare? It sounds ridiculous, but if you are planning to go back to work outside the home after your maternity leave is over, you need to think ahead.
  • Think about the Fourth Trimester  (first three months of baby’s life) … Who will be available for physical support right after the baby is born? Partner? Birth-helper? Family? Friends? Post-partum Doula? All of the above?

 Between thirty-six and forty weeks of pregnancy, your care-provider will probably:

  • Be seeing you once a week at this stage.
  • Weigh you at each visit and discuss healthy weight gain.
  • Check your blood pressure.
  • Check your urine for protein and infection.
  • Palpate and measure your abdomen.
  • Listen to the baby’s heart beat using a hand held Doppler ultrasound device.
  • Review test results.
  • Discuss breastfeeding, the importance of feeding early and often.
  • Newborn care in the hospital, including eye ointment, Vitamin K and newborn screening tests.
  • Infant sleep and safety
  • Postpartum moods and support
  • Options if pregnancy is prolonged – monitoring and induction.

Your care provider is one of your best sources of information.  Keep a list of questions to ask at your monthly appointments.

Things you can do for your health and your baby’s health:

  • Might be a good time for a pedicure! Very relaxing, and totally justified when you can’t reach your feet!
  • Aquafit classes really help with swollen feet and legs, and backache. Or just go for a gentle evening swim.
  • Be aware of your baby’s movements. Although babies slow down in the last few weeks, they still move a lot! Keep track of times when you expect your baby to move. Note your baby’s daily patterns.
  • Keep working on perineal massage to increase health of perineal tissues and give you practice relaxing as perineum stretches.
  • Learn about Postpartum Mood Disorders.  What might it feel like?  Where can you find help if you need it?  20-40% of women are diagnosed with some mood disorder (anxiety or depression) after giving birth.  We’re pretty sure other women have the same feelings but never seek help.  Support makes it all easier to deal with.
  • Ask friends to throw you a shower where they all bring casseroles for the freezer or tell a friend about MealTrain (I think this is really cool!) and get them to set up a meal rotation for you after the baby comes.

Resources:

Finding a Doula in Victoria, BC: Greater Victoria Doula Directory

What to pack in your hospital bag: Packing for the Hospital.

Home Birth Supplies – an example: Access Midwifery, Victoria

Instructions for Perineal Massage: Perineal Massage in Pregnancy

Organizing friends and family to help with meals: Mealtrain.com

Learning about postpartum emotions: Pacific Postpartum Support Society

Coping with postpartum depression and anxiety: Healthy Families BC

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Yoga for Labour and Birth

 

exp-yoga

Come and try out our Monday night Drop-In Class taught by Yoga Teacher and Therapist and DONA-trained Birth Doula, Ann-Kathrin Martins.

Yoga for Labour and Birth focuses on preparing, toning and stretching muscles and joints which will be supporting and working for you through labour. We will practice yoga postures for various stages of labour. We will practice relaxation and breathing techniques as well as visualization, affirmations, mantras and helping the mother learn self-healing methods to allow for mind/body/breath connection.

Yoga for Labour & Birth is suitable for mothers at any stage of pregnancy who are ready to think about and prepare for labour and birth.

Monday Evenings : 5:15pm – 6:30pm

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Elle TENS Machine Rentals

Have you considered using a TENS machine in labour? Or maybe you’ve heard of it but do not know what it is?

Elle TENS Machine Rentals

The Elle TENS machine is a small handheld device that uses mild electrical impulses through the skin to stimulate nerve fibers.  In labour, a woman can use a TENS machine to help reduce back pain while having full control over the machine and the impulses.

We are excited to now offer our clients Elle TENS machine rentals!

Click here to learn more about the Elle TENS and how it might help you during your labour.

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Knowing What’s Important

"I really want to thank you for teaching us about having a birth plan and being open and ready for change.  Our plan went from a natural water birth at home to finding out baby had flipped into a frank breach position at 38 weeks then going into labour on Christmas Eve and having to have an emergency C-section.  I guess we got all of our cards flipped except the most important one, Healthy Baby!" Having that plan and knowing what was most important really helped us get though all of the surprise twists and turns."

~ Rachael

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You’re Pregnant : The 1st Trimester

You might think, "Wow!  It worked!" or "Oh no!  What now?" or both.

You might have some early symptoms of pregnancy – sore breasts, moodiness, cramping, a little spotting (implantation spotting around day 21-22 of your cycle is normal and nothing to worry about) – or you may have none of these.

Your pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period, which can be confusing since that was probably two weeks before your egg and sperm met!  But your doctor or midwife will count from there, so you might as well too.

 

Tasks:

  • Read the tasks from Trimester 0 – many are still relevant now.

  • Telling people you’re pregnant – your partner?  Your parents?  Your friends?  When do you tell them?  How?  It’s all up to you.  There is no right way or right time to do it.  Some women wait until the end of the First Trimester because of the small risk of miscarriage during this time.

  • Start taking a pregnancy vitamin tablet with folic acid.

  • Find a care-provider – do you want a doctor or a midwife?  Click here for our Resources page, where you’ll find both midwife and physician listings.

  • See your chosen care provider.  If you can interview a couple or care-providers and decide who you like best, that is ideal.  But often, given the demand in Victoria for midwives and maternity care doctors, there is not much choice.

    Upon your first visit your care-provider will probably ask about your medical history, examine you and get to know you a little; they may also order a few blood and/or urine tests.  You may be offered prenatal screening for genetic abnormalities and given information about maintaining optimal health for you and your baby during your pregnancy.

    Your care-provider will see you every 4-6 weeks until you get to 30 weeks.  Ask about getting a Pregnancy Passport to keep track of appointments, tests and results.

  • Continue your normal physical activity routine – unless you have some special risk, there is no need to reduce your activity.

  • If you are not regularly physically active, find an activity you can pursue throughout pregnancy – walk, swim, dance or consider starting a Prenatal Yoga or Fitness Class – these are a great opportunity to meet other pregnant women.

  • Come to Pregnancy Happy Hour on Friday evenings at the Mothering Touch Centre – "You don’t have to be showing to show up!"
  • Buy a pregnancy book or two.  Our favourites include:
    • Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
    • The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
    • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Click here to visit our Resources page for a list of local pregnancy, birth and early childhood resources.

Continue on to…

The 2nd Trimester : The Middle Months of Pregnancy

The 3rd Trimester : The Last Months of Pregnancy

The extra Trimester : Those First Three Months With The Baby

Or refer back to…

An Introduction to The 5 Trimesters

The 0th Trimester : Planning To Get Pregnant

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Planning To Get Pregnant : 0th Trimester

For some couples, this is like falling off a log.  They talk about it while cuddling in bed one night, idly speculating about how it would feel to have a baby and the next thing they know, they’re pregnant!  For others it is a long and difficult journey, fraught with disappointment and hope, waiting and hurrying, decisions and hesitations.

If you are planning a pregnancy sometime in the next year, consider the tasks below.  Remember that no-one can do ALL these things.  Choose the ones that make sense to you and that you think will make the most difference for you.

Half of pregnancies in Canada are not planned.  So if you are already pregnant, don’t worry about the tasks you don’t have time to do.  Consider yourself lucky, you got to skip a grade!

 

Pre-Pregnancy Tasks:

  • Talk, talk, talk with your partner about your plans as co-parents.  This is a good time to work on your relationship and make it as strong and harmonious as possible.
  • Note that all the tasks below are just as important for the non-childbearing parent (the father or other-mother) to undertake.  The health of a child is affected by the health of the whole family, not just the mother’s.
  • See your doctor or midwife for a pre-conception check-up…
    • Discuss any prescription medications you are taking and consider replacing them with ones that are safe for pregnancy, if that is possible.
    • Discuss any concerns you may have about genetic conditions in your family – consider genetic testing or counselling.
    • Talk about taking folic acid, vitamin D and calcium.
    • Have your iron levels checked.
    • Update your vaccinations – Mumps, Measles, Rubella (MMR) and Tetanus, if you’re due for a booster.
  • Is there anyone is your social circles who is carrying out doula training?  Planning happens 9 months to 2 years before the birth of your child and in between planning and birth a friend or an acquaintence could complete their doula courses and become available to assist you.  Keep your ears open for soon-to-be doulas.
  • See your dentist for a cleaning and a check-up.  Make sure your teeth are healthy, it affects you own general health.
  • Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking recreational drugs – if you do.
  • Cut down on coffee or switch to decaf.  Caffeine is thought to restrict the growth of a developing baby by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the uterus.
  • Evaluate your exposure to environmental toxins in your workplace or your home and reduce it as much as possible.
  • Improve your nutrition by eating nutrient-dense foods, emphasizing whole grains, vegetable and fruit, lean protein and high-quality fats.
  • Limit your intake of salt and caffeine.
  • Be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Start or continue a physical activity you can pursue during your pregnancy (yoga, swimming, hiking etc)

Click here to visit our Resources page for a list of local fertility resources.

Continue on to…

The 1st Trimester : The First Three Months of Pregnancy

The 2nd Trimester : The Middle Months of Pregnancy

The 3rd Trimester : The Last Months of Pregnancy

The extra Trimester : Those First Three Months With The Baby

Or refer back to…

An Introduction to The 5 Trimesters

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My First OFFICIAL Blog Post

Well, of course, I have been blogging for years: writing short essays for my website on topics that I hoped would be useful to my clients and my colleagues.  But now Mothering Touch has an actual Official Blog.  This is a little intimidating.  And yet, so much happens here every day of the week, I should never have trouble finding something to write about.

Right now, in the big activity room, Do Stier, a Doula Trainer for Vancouver, is running our annual DONA-International Post-Partum Doula Training.  Fifteen enthusiastic and caring women are learning how to help mothers and families in the Post-partum period (the first six weeks after birth).  Last week I ran a DONA-International Birth Doula Training and twelve new birth doulas have now joined our birthing community.  One of my trainees, came from as far away as Edmonton!

A couple of moms with their babies, on a stroll downtown, have popped in to nurse on the comfy brown couches in our smaller back room.  That back room – officially called the Resource Room (now "The Nest"!) – is one of my favourite things about this place.  We planned it as a room for breastfeeding consultations and private prenatal classes.  It houses our lending library which contains books and DVD’s on pregnancy, breastfeeding and early parenting.  The room also gets used for meetings of local community organization, like the Doulas of Victoria or Breastfeeding Matters.  And on most days, a few mothers and fathers and babies find their way there for a quiet time and a peaceful breastfeeding moment.

Tonight, when we’ve tidied up from the four-day doula training, there will be a prenatal yoga class in the Activity Room.  Elke will lead the lovely round-bellied moms through invigorating and then relaxing poses.  After that, I will teach the fourth class of six-week Childbirth Preparation Class for Doctors’ Patients.  Having spent the last three weeks learning about childbirth and natural self-help and coping measures for labour, tonight we will examine pain medications and other medical interventions.  I look forward to seeing this group of excited parents-to-be, whose questions and curiosity always make the evening lively.

I hope this this blog can become an extension of our store – a place where new and expectant parents can be sure of a friendly welcome and balanced information.  We hope you’ll visit us often.

– Eva