For as long as I have been attending births as a doula and providing breastfeeding (lactation) support in London, Ontario, I have only witnessed about a dozen times the beautiful “final step” in birth that babies take. This step is Delivery Self-Attachment. Left unaided, a baby placed on its mother’s abdomen will crawl to the breast and self-latch. Babies have an intuitive drive to breastfeed. In other cultures there is a belief that the linea naigra ( the dark line that forms on mothers’ abdomens) is a direction- like road map that leads the baby to her breasts- where in most cases, the areolae have darkened during pregnancy and are easier for the baby to locate.
The Montgomery’s tubercules- the raised bumps around our nipples and areolae – secrete keratin, an antibacterial natural lubricant that smells very similar to amniotic fluid. As the baby moves up the mother’s body ( and can do so because the stepping reflex allows it!) his fists will knead her flesh and often times pummel her breasts as he attempts to self latch. This skin to skin contact will cause the posterior pituitary gland to release oxytocin and the anterior part of the gland to release prolactin. If the cord is still not cut (and we hope it is not…delayed cord clamping is optimal for proper oxygenation of the baby, vital nutrients delivered to babe via placental blood and a whole host of other benefits like reduction in the occurence of jaundice..) once the babe does latch on the delivery of the placenta will be expedited by the extra release in oxytocin. This extra shot of oxytocin will enable stronger contractions of the uterus and the placenta will begin the process of detachment. This is a beautiful process to watch and I have observed in the cases where the staff are patient enough to let it happen that mothers will not shake after the delivery. When a baby is whisked away from its mother the result is generally a lot of shaking in the woman until her baby is given back to her. What this tells me is that the mum has a very defined nervous system response to her child being taken from her. Why do we not let our babies complete this “final step” in London, Ontario ( and I am sure it is the same all over the country)? It is because the process of birth is expedited. Babies are “processed” in most cases before they are even allowed to have the first attempt at latching. Studies show that if a baby has its cord clamped, is taken from its mother and given medication in its eyes, a shot of vitamin K in its leg and is poked, prodded and handled roughly and THEN dressed – it has lost out on this imperative step in the physiological and psychological process of self-attachment. Babies that are skin to skin with their mothers maintain a more regulated body temperature, have better respiration and are not thrown into their parasympathetic nervous systems! I can only surmise that APGAR scores would be better if babies remained with their mothers. If the baby is healthy, breathing on its own and there are no issues, we need to stop cutting the baby away from its mother and allow it to take that last step. Both mum and baby (and ultimately Dad!) will benefit in the short and long runs. In hundreds of countries all over the world, this is the norm for that final step of delivery. It needs to be the norm here too.
Tell us if you were blessed enough to experience this with your baby!
With much love,
Category : Blog
Inspired by my friend, Romily, I decided to change Grateful Monday up a bit and let you know the things about myself that I am grateful for. Rom asked “when do we ever make lists about ourselves stating what we are grateful for?” to which I reply…”today.”
1.) I am grateful that I am a natural defender. In life…lead me to the truth and I will follow you. Then I will defend it. In birth, breastfeeding practices…I will defend you. Show me your side of the argument and I will defend you. On the soccer pitch..I will be your central defender. My clan motto as a MacFarlane is “This, I will defend.”
2.) I am grateful that I am honest about parenting. Sometimes, it sucks. Really bad. And I want to get off the bus and never, ever get back on. Then I realize I have taught these children to be who they are and we work it out.
3.) I am grateful for my crazy curly hair.
4.) I am grateful that my body has been through so much and yet it continues to carry me through each day.
5.) I am grateful that I have a really wicked sense of humour.
6.) I am grateful that it does not take much to make me happy and that the simpler life is, the happier I am.
7.) I am grateful for my acceptance of all of my imperfections.
8.) I am grateful for my ability to listen. Sometimes, (see #2) it is not always easy, but this quality is one I covet.
9.) I am grateful for my intuition. It is always right. There are certainly times I have not listened…and learned big lessons about myself.
10.) I am grateful for my capacity to love.
11.) I am grateful for my thirst for knowledge.
12.) I am grateful for my love of every day.
Please tell me what you are grateful for ABOUT YOU!
With much love,
Category : Blog
When I discovered that I was going to become a mother, it was not planned. I was young. Not ‘teen mom’ young, but I was 23 which is young by today’s standard, and I was not living the lifestyle of someone who was looking to settle down.
I lived in BC at the time, and my partner who would father my child was even more shocked and unprepared for what parenthood would mean in our lives.
I’ve often heard the expression that men become fathers the first time they hold their child, and women become mothers the second they find out they’re pregnant. Although this may not ring true for everyone, it certainly did for me.
Immediately my focus became this growing baby inside me, and I knew that I would do anything and everything I could do give my child a good life. I also knew that I had a rocky road ahead of me, and that from that moment on, everything would change. The whispers of my intuition were speaking to me even then, and deep down I think I knew it would eventually be just me and my girl for the long haul.
I wanted what everyone usually wants. I wanted a little family, a nice home, financial security, and all of it held together with love glue. It became painfully clear fairly early on that my wishes were more like dreams, and my reality was going to be something much different. None the less, I maintained what I had told myself from the beginning. That it was on me to make sure this child was taken care of, and that she deserved the best I could give her and nothing less. I made a promise to her, and to myself, that nothing could stop us from having everything I originally set out to have. With or without a partner, we would be a family.
I moved across the country to be close to my support system, I finished school and worked full time in order to make ends meet. I went without more often than not in order to make sure my daughter wouldn’t have to. I made due with what we had, which was not always a lot, but it was enough. I think these things are true of any parent, single or not. Admittedly, without the support of family, friends, and a remarkably accommodating babysitter, I don’t know if I would have been able to pull it off.
The statement I have heard more often than I can count, is “I don’t know how you do it.” To which my answer typically is, “I just do.”
This type of philosophy can be applied to almost anything, but in particular, birth and evolving into a mother. This way of thinking has helped me most in my work as a labour support practitioner, and as a therapist. I say therapist because like any RMT will tell you, our services often go beyond physical treatment.
The fact that a woman’s body is capable of birthing a child is a miracle, and all scientific and anatomical explanations aside, how does she do it? She just does.
She does it because the baby can’t stay in there forever, and because women for centuries have been doing it, long before we had medical genius to dissect the process. Every mother in labour has reached that moment when they know they are at the point of no return, and they hear their child whispering “ready or not, here I come.”
Giving birth is just the first step in a very long and challenging journey of becoming a parent. If my journey has taught me anything, it is that the things I most appreciate are the things that I have worked hardest for. The top of that list being my daughter, who floated in like an angel and saved me from my selfish ways.
Somewhere along the way, our minds and our resolve has become clouded by what, in my opinion, is too many options. This unrealistic need for everything to be easy and painless.
If we didn’t know any different, than we wouldn’t know what we’re missing. I’ve always been a single mother, so that is all I know.
My life up until now has just been a series of challenges preceding lessons, and being a mother has forced me to face them head on. For those days that I wished I could pull the covers over my head and hide, I am grateful to my child for reminding me that I don’t have that luxury and that breakfast still needs to be made. If I didn’t do it, then who would? The motivation at the very least, becomes necessity, and anyone is capable of anything with the right motivation. There is nothing more empowering than the ability to surprise yourself, and the satisfaction of knowing you have accomplished something truly awesome. Even more so when it is done out of love, compassion, and empathy.
I tell my labour support clients the same in regards to unmedicated birth. If there were no drugs available, how would you do it?
The answer, when there are no other options presented to you may not be easy, but it is clear.
You just do.
With much love,
Category : Blog
We are launching a new profile for each of our practitioners! Every Wednesday evening or Thursday, you will be able to find out a little bit more about one of our team, and this week it is Allison Luksts, Registered Massage Therapist and Perinatal Support Practitioner. Allison has been attending births for a few years now and has recently opened a brand new massage studio. She specializes in and is certified in prenatal and postpartum massage. Allison is the mum to a wonderful 9 year old girl and will share her story with you on our Friday blog this week. Feel free to email email@example.com with questions or to book a massage treatment with her! Check out the testimonials from her clients on our website or leave her questions on our Babies Naturally facebook fan page!
Category : Blog
With the full moon last week I felt a shift in energy. We are all so affected by it!
This week I am grateful for a return to balance, a feeling of hope and once again the pace of summer.
I am very grateful for/because:
1.) A beautiful birth that I was honoured to bear witness to. It was very healing for the mamma.
2.) A bountiful garden share. Snap peas dipped in hummus are awesome!
3.) Gorgeous sunflowers from said garden share – they are majestic.
4.) The prospect of boarding a plane soon.
5.) Four really amazing students are confirmed for the course I am teaching this fall.
6.) The rain that fell last night and the thunder that accompanied it.
7.) A great evening last Friday with wonderful smells, tastes and people.
8.) Easy dinners and cool salads.
9.) Beach weather and an anniversary spent on it.
10.) New running shoes. They are pink. They make me think of Shannon.
11.) An amazing morning at the JLC yesterday…yoga with my husband, daughter, sister, good friend…Yoga Shack was once again amazing.
12.) Knowing that I am loved…for the dark and the light of me and accepted for both facets.
Share with me what you are grateful for this gorgeous Monday. I really do want to know. xo
With much love,
Category : Blog &Uncategorized
A safer night sleep for baby means a better sleep for mom and dad!
When a new life begins it is a joyous celebration, followed by many decisions to be made before baby’s arrival. Many choices come down to style, but some decisions weigh more heavily where a child’s health and safety are concerned. It can be a jungle of product to sort through with most of us not knowing how to choose what we need over what we want. In the end, family, friends, the honesty of product manufacturers and knowledge of retailers influence most decisions. The unfortunate truth is most of us only know bits and pieces about any given product and rely heavily on retailers, blogs and the media to learn from. In most cases they only know what the manufacturer has told them and even that often fails to reach the sales staff charged with guiding us through the products.
When it comes to a safe sleep environment, sadly, most parents do not have all of the information to make informed decisions. And the common sources we seek out often share either a conflict of interest in providing the best information possible, or completely lack the most current information. After researching what Canada offered as far as crib mattress safety was concerned, I am compelled to write about what I learned.
When it comes to mattresses, Canada has no mandatory standards or regulations. Flame resistance regulations for example are a voluntary Canadian compliance. You may want to read that last sentence over again. The safety of your child lay in the hand of the Manufacturers, retailers and distributors. The general public is the one that is largely affected by this as infants can easily sleep 16 hours in a day; many of those hours will be in their cribs.
Breathable itself has become misleading, much like the misuse of the word “ORGANIC”. Loose definitions allow companies to jump on the bandwagon, using words that are important to families of newborns.
There is a better choice on the market, one that surpasses American standards (which form the basis of Canada’s voluntary standards) for flammability for instance. The Heaven Sent sleep system can also back up its claim of Breathability, Air Permeability and Flammability, as they have had their product tested by accredited independent testing labs, and it makes the test results publicly available at Secure Beginnings website
( www.SecureBeginnings.com/testingandsafety.php ).
The Heaven Sent Mattress goes above and beyond industry standards for safety. There are NO toxic chemicals or fire retardants used, allowing for a healthy environment. The primary contact surface is an “open weave” spacer fabric; a breathable medical-grade porous polyester surface allowing for passive airflow knitted to a mesh tension under-fabric. Below the primary surface of every other mattress on the market are more layers, and often plant and animal fibers. Many organic mattresses tout rubber or other water resistant (and pooling hazard) materials.
With the Heaven Sent, the next and only other layer is AIR. And you cannot get more organic, or breathable than air.
There is no magic to this, just a dedicated caring couple (Kelly and Julie) who spent over a half a decade trying to rethink, and re-engineer the crib mattress after SIDS touched their lives. As we grow in knowledge, the understanding of infant safety, and things that contribute to health problems, we need to rethink what we do and how we approach parenting.
The first step to this, I believe, is the ability to let go of traditional definitions of a sleep surface. A baby is able to now breath through their bed, this is a comforting thought for parents when their baby first begins to roll over and sleep facedown. This will definitely allow for a more relaxed parent, and better sleep for all.
The additional benefits of the engineering of the Heaven Sent are many; it is machine washable, unlike organic mattresses cannot grow fungus, mold and collect allergens, dander and foul toxins from smoke and more; the tension surface allows benefits that address other medical conditions infants are subject to; and the passive air flow allows for a natural regulated body temperature, just to touch on a few.
Safe sleeping is one of these areas where we can find much room for improvement. We believe that the Heaven Sent mattress is the first step in this evolution, providing a foundation for healthy sleeping environment, and an important function for infant development.
With warmest regards
Designer Baby Cakes
Category : Blog
As a doula, the number one thing I hear when talking to expecting parents is “we don’t want anyone with us when we have our baby. It’s a moment for me and my husband”.
I 100% agree with this statement. Well, part of it anyway. It IS a moment for the couple. A moment to welcome the baby they created together. I celebrate and honour that. But if you think for one moment that you are “alone” as you are birthing, you will be extremely surprised and disappointed with how busy your hospital room can be.
There are nurses…plural…who attend your birth. First, you see a nurse who checks you in. Then, you’ll see another nurse who assesses you at triage. Then, yet another nurse will be assigned your “case” when you are admitted. But she needs to take breaks periodically, so someone will have to relieve her. And, if labour longer than her shift, then someone else will come in and take over your birth. Then, she will need breaks. You could see as many as 4-8 nurses while you’re birthing. Then, if you choose to get an epidural, you’ll have an anesthetist administer the meds. And because the hospitals here in London, Ontario are teaching hospitals, you’ll likely see an obstetrical resident at some point, maybe with an intern or student in tow. Finally, when your baby is born, you will see the OB. If there are any issues during your labour, you may also see a team from the NICU (separate nurses and residents from that department).
I’m sure I’m missing some people. Not one of those people really care about the fact that this is a moment you want to treasure as a couple. They care about delivering a healthy baby and preserving a healthy mom. That’s it.
Even with a midwife-assisted birth, there are multiple midwives present. One for you, one for the baby, perhaps even a student. If you’re at the hospital and the midwife needs assistance, your birth has just been opened up to the team mentioned above.
The role of a labour support person is two-fold. The obvious one is to be there to emotionally support the labouring mother. But the second job that is often misunderstood is this — our job is to be there for the couple as they go through labour together, and to empower the husband/partner to support his wife/partner as she brings their child into the world. We care deeply about the overall experience and want to ensure that the couple achieves the birth they want. Or desire is not to “take over” a birth experience, or to usurp a husband’s position as his wife’s main support person.
My husband is a fantastic man. He is kind, sensitive, empathetic. He was also amazing labour support. I would never dream of giving birth without him present because I need him. I need his physical strength, but more importantly, I need his emotional strength. But no matter how much he loves me, no matter how much of my weight he holds up during contractions, no matter how many times he sees me birth, he will NEVER truly understand what it is that I am going through. When it comes to birthing our children, his only shortcoming is that he is not a woman. He loves and trusts our doula as much as I do, and he recognizes that I needed her as much as I needed him, but for different reasons. I needed her to tell me I could do it, to remind me where I was at when intensity was increasing. I trusted her because she KNEW what I was going through. I needed her voice in my ear while my husband held me. They were my team, and yet when it comes right down to it, the moment was still about me and my husband and the life we created together.
If you think you don’t need labour support, ask yourself the reason why. Is it because you want to have a moment that is just you and your husband? You may not get that sense of “alone” that you are trying to achieve no matter what. Ultimately, labour support is meant to augment your experience, not take away from it. If you aren’t sure how labour support can help you, feel free to email our team with your questions.
With much love,
Category : Blog
Monday is here again and I am grateful. Grateful for the weather, again, grateful for the bounty that is summer and for the slower pace of the season. Here is this week’s grateful Monday blog!
1.) I am grateful for the teenager pressed up beside me making friendship bracelets as I write this.
2.) I am grateful for being able to come back to yoga this week.
3.) Roadside stands of fruit are something I am very grateful for.
4.) Lots of sweat, every day, means I am still moving. That is something not to be taken for granted.
5.) Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” is something I am grateful for.
6.) The new students I will be teaching this fall are amazing and I am grateful for what they will bring to the birthing community.
7.) I am grateful for the grace that my son’s teammates exhibited this weekend in a competitive soccer tournament….when other teams could not do the same.
8.) I am grateful that I get to play in new positions on my soccer team.
9.) The energy that fills my house when I am making soap stays with me for days… I am very grateful for that.
10.) I am very grateful for new books that have come into my life this week.
11.) The different leaf lettuce in my crisper makes me very grateful.
12.) I am very grateful for the birth I am on call for right now…I cannot wait to see this new baby.
Tell me what you are grateful for…I really do want to know.
With much love,
Category : Blog
Watch out for our upcoming dates for our fall Childbirth Education Classes, Labour Support News,( Doula News), Breastfeeding Support Tips, and Programs for Multiples! Tell us what you would like to see as you journey in motherhood!
Today’s quote for parenting:
Loving, holding, caring is the ultimate intelligence. Babies are the masters of this. xo
Category : Blog
Last night, at 4am, I started thinking about all the reasons I love being awake at that time of night (because there are certainly plenty of reasons I don’t). While listening to my daughter’s comfort moans while she was feeding (another love), I came up with this list of some things I love about breastfeeding:
1. My daughter is now at the age that she will stroke my chest when nursing. All of my children have done this, and I love it. It’s clearly their way of communicating their comfort. I love that they get (or got!) that comfort from me.
2. I love that I am the only one who can feed my child. My husband is an amazing father and very involved with our children. There is plenty that he can do with them and our kids are very close to him. Sometimes they even want daddy more than they want me! But when it comes to feeding time, I am it. Makes feeding time a special time for us to bond.
3. I love seeing my daughter’s chubby cheeks and legs, and seeing her grow out of clothes. She is growing based on the food I’m providing her. She’s happy and healthy, and it’s all thanks to my breastmilk.
4. It is convenient! With three children, two who are active, I always seem to be on the go. I love that my daughter’s food is always the right temperature and always available. And because I can barely seem to remember enough diapers and wipes for everyone, it really is a good thing that I don’t have to remember bottles and sterilized water.
5. I know where it came from and what’s in it. I don’t have to worry about BPA lined cans, bottles that leach toxic chemicals into the milk or a company not putting all the ingredients on the label because there is no legal requirement to inform. I am familiar with the source and know without a shadow of a doubt that my milk is safe.
6. I love that in this hot weather, my body knows what my baby will need and adjusts accordingly. Even when I am not awake enough to be smart (and really, even when I am awake and still not smart), my body knows what to do and adapts.
7. I love that I can feed my child in any position, any location, anytime. Don’t want to be awake in the middle of the night? Baby can feed lying down with me! Need to prevent ears popping on an airplane ascent or descent? Latch baby on!
8. I love the cost. I don’t have to worry about finding a sale or price matching. Free is always the best price for anything.
9. I love that by breastfeeding in front of them, my children are learning the normal way to feed a baby. My boys have “breastfed” their teddy bears, and if you ask them how to feed a baby, they lift their shirts (not reach for the nearest bottle). My children have also witnessed me pumping and donating my milk. I love that they are learning that this, too, is normal.
10. I love the hormones that are released when my baby nurses. I feel relaxed and calm. When things are busy, or we’re in a group of people, I love that she and I can have some quiet time together to regroup, reconnect and relax.
So while I have lots of things I love, I’m sure you’re wondering if there is anything I hate about breastfeeding. Sure! I hate the bras. Hate them. Yes, they are comfortable and convenient, but they have zero support and I end up sporting an awful looking uni-boob most of the time. I do own a very pretty “dress up” nursing bra. It’s pretty. And torture to wear.
I also hate the fact that I’m so hungry when I’m nursing. I end up eating more than I should. I am not one of those lucky people that loses weight when they breastfeed. I think my metabolism hates me.
So tell me…what’s your love/hate list?
With much love,
Category : Blog