Christmas Vacation!

I wanted to take this time to wish all the families who welcomed new babies this year a very Merry First Christmas! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season with your new babies.

My breast feeding course is almost complete (exam this week) and after that it’s clear on till Christmas. One thing that my family is doing is taking our first family vacation!! We are taking the kids to Disneyland!!! It is my first time and their first trip too, so it should be such a magical time! And as such, I will be away for the week of December 12. If you email or call me during this time, I will get back to you after December 18, sorry for any inconvenience.

As this time of year is full of cheer, lights, and festive air, please also remember to give back to your community. If you have old coats, scarves, gloves, hats, or if you can lend a hand at a Christmas meal. You can purchase a toy for a child in need, or donate food to the food bank. Please think of those who are less fortunate at this time of year and help them out too.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me this year, and I look forward to hopefully helping many families in the future as a certified birth doula and a breastfeeding educator.

Merry Christmas to all of the families that I have had the pleasure of helping this year! Have a fabulous holiday time with your babies!

Melissa

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Certified Doula!

I received a call today from a DONA official to congratulate me on completing my certification requirements!!! I want to express my gratitude to all of my clients so far that have helped me complete these requirements, who allowed me into one of the most glorious times of their lives, and who taught me so much about pregnancy, birth, and labour.  I am so excited to be able to support the families in Victoria in pregnancy, labour, birth, and the early postpartum period.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me on this path to becoming a certified birth doula, I will make you proud!

With Love,
Melissa xo

Melissa Harris CD(DONA)

Penelope Jean – August 2011

What a fun birth to be born at! Little Penny was born a little early, but as soon as she was head down, she was eager to meet the world. This couple had waited a long time for her to arrive and she is finally here to complete their family. With dad’s hilarious commentary and mom’s focus and determination, Penny was born into a lot of love. Having a baby was goal number one, having a vbac was goal number 2, and I’m happy to say that we accomplished both of those goals. Thank you for allowing me to be there to help you through this and thank you for keeping me entertained. You have a new beautiful daughter!!

Gemma Rose – August 2011

When little baby Gemma decided she was ready to greet the world, she moved quickly. She was born to two wonderful parents who worked together so beautifully during labour. Dad knew exactly what to do to keep mom grounded and calm and worked with her the whole time. Mom was so strong and committed during the birthing process that we were all so amazed at how she found the focus. Sometimes our body knows that we can do something that we are unsure of, and goes with it. I am so thankful to have been able to support such an amazing couple in bringing their daughter into this world, and to have seen the strength that I did. You are an amazing woman, and you are so strong!

Vanessa Rose – July 2011

VBACs are pretty rare in Victoria, and unmedicated VBACs are even more rare. This birth was a special thing to witness. Mom had such amazing strength and dad supported and helped keep mom stable the whole time. A quick labour and intense pushing and little Vanessa was here and ready to cuddle and coo and make us all melt. I’m sure that big sister will be in awe of how great you are. Remember to keep your pinky finger out at the tea parties!

Ellyssa Belle – June 2011

Waiting until she was the exact same birth size as her older brother and sister, Ellyssa Belle came into this world with a very determined mother. A slight scare would not deter her from her birth plan, and luckily she was successfully able to deliver this little angel into this world without a cesarean. Thank you for letting me be with you as Ellyssa was born.  Congratulations to this growing family, hopefully baby number 4 knows how to sleep for you!

Doula Myths Solved!

My friend at Buddah Belly Doulas in Vancouver wrote this, and I love it. To see what they offer in the Vancouver area, visit http://buddhabellydoulas.com/

When I first heard the word “doula”, I had no idea what it meant. When I heard that a doula is someone who supports a woman through her labour and postpartum period (or fourth trimester), I didn’t realize such a service even existed. I was also surprised to hear some of the benefits to having a doula were shorter labours and lower chances of having postpartum depression.

I have to admit, when I thought of a doula assisting me in my labour, I pictured a woman with hairy armpits who was yelling at me for having my baby in a hospital with drugs. I never thought that three years after first hearing the word doula, I would become one. That’s why I want to debunk some of the most common myths about doulas today:

1. Myth: A doula won’t allow a laboring woman to take any pain relief drugs.
Truth: A doula is there to help support a laboring woman and help ensure a safe and satisfying childbirth as the couple defines it. A doula will not make medical decisions for the laboring couple. A doula will not judge a couple’s decision to have pain relief. Instead, a doula will help the couple explore and understand both the benefits and drawbacks of using pain relieving drugs.

2. Myth: If you’ve met one doula, you’ve met them all.
Truth: While every certified doula abides by the certifying body’s ‘scope of practice’, each doula is unique. Interview several doulas to find someone whose philosophy, personality and areas of specialty most closely meet your needs.

3. Myth: A doula will interfere with medical advice.
Truth: A doula will not interfere with medical advice. She facilitates communication between all involved and encourages the couple to ask relevant questions so they can make informed choices. Doulas do not make decisions for their clients and doulas DO NOT offer medical advice.

4. Myth: A doula will “take over” the role of the partner.
Truth: A doula is there to enhance the relationships between the hospital staff, the laboring couple and others present. Often times the partner will become more involved with a doula present. As Penny Simkin, P.T. states “While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman’s personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he or she loves the woman more than anyone else there.” A good doula will reinforce the fact that this is your birth, not hers. She will strengthen the pair bond by instilling confidence in the partner and facilitating open communication between the couple and others present.

5. Myth: A doula will take away “the best part of a nurse’s job.”
Truth: A laboring woman can never have too much support. Nurses and doulas realize this. While a doula is not a nurse, she is still a birth professional who is skilled in the art of labor support. A doula strives to work as a team with the nursing staff and welcomes any suggestions and physical support that the nurse may provide. Nurses are often responsible for several laboring women at the same time and their shifts may end before you deliver. The doula is there just for you. Her obligation, unlike a nurse, is completely and sovereignly to you.

6. Myth: A doula has a negative opinion about a hospital setting.
Truth: A doula has the utmost respect for the lifesaving technology available for unexpected circumstances in a hospital. While doulas have a strong belief in a woman’s ability to birth her baby and always strive to ensure that the birthing process remains normal, doulas appreciate the judicious use of life saving technology when the situation becomes abnormal.

7. Myth: Doulas are not necessary because the nurse (partner, family member, friend, fill in the blank) is there.
Truth: A doula does not perform clinical skills, is not encumbered by hospital procedures, and is not overwhelmed by caring for several women at the same time. She is the only member of the maternity care team who is focused completely on the mother’s well being and will remain with the woman constantly from the beginning of labor to the end. A doula is not emotionally involved with the laboring woman, as are other family members and close friends. The doula knows what to expect and remains calm and objective when she sees the laboring woman in pain. Often, a doula has seen significantly more unmedicated births than the hospital staff.

8. Myth: A doula will leave if the mother gets an epidural.
Truth: There seems to be an urban legend of sorts about the doula who left as soon as the mom got an epidural. This is not usual. A doula is there to support the laboring woman with any decisions she makes. She still needs continuous support even with an epidural. The doula can give dad/partner a break to go get something to eat or to take a nap if it’s been a particularly long labor. She can take pictures, get ice-chips, do hand massage or just sit quietly while the woman rests.

9. Myth: Doulas secretly want to catch the baby.
Truth: A doula does not have the clinical skills or the knowledge to want to receive the baby on her own. Trying to deliver the baby on her own would be a dangerous decision that would not ensure the safe passage of mother and baby through the birth process.

10. Myth: Doulas only attend home births.
Truth: Doulas attend births at home, at the hospital and at birth centers. She will remain at home with the laboring woman until it is time to go to the hospital/birth center (where applicable). The fact is that the vast majority of women living in the United States birth in a hospital setting and therefore most of the births a doula attends are in the hospital.

12. Myth: All doulas are “patchouli-wearing, tree-hugging, earthy vegetarians”
Truth: The majority of doulas are professional, well-educated women. The key is to find a doula who suits your individual needs and personality.

13. Myth: A doula has her own ‘birth plan’ and strives to make the couple follow it.
Truth: A good doula will help you formulate your own birth plan and then bend over backwards to follow it.

Birth Doulas and Cesarean Birth Rates

There have been many studies done to show the link between a continuous support person and the rate of cesarean births. Studies show that not only do birth doulas lower the chance of cesarean birth, they also lower the rate of epidurals, forceps, vacuums, and other medical interventions. As a result, doulas can increase the immediacy of breastfeeding, and bonding for the family.

The advantage to having a doula, especially if this is your first child, is that the doula has been the support in labour before, and has been trained to support the couple in labour. (Keep in mind that every labour is different, and even if you are pregnant with your third child, you can still benefit from having a doula) Many times, the labouring woman and her partner are in the room alone, and unless the partner has read the books and remembered everything from the prenatal classes, they may be at a loss as to what to do. Doulas can suggest different possitions, can reassure the woman that she is doing a great job (and that the partner is doing well too), can get water for the woman so that she is never alone in the room, and so much more.

A randomized controlled trial of continuous labor support for middle-class couples: effect on cesarean delivery rates.

Alternative Strategy to Decrease Cesarean Section: Support by Doulas During Labor

Continuous Emotional Support During Labor in a US Hospital

To find a doula in your area, contact your local doula organization or DONA International for a list of certified doulas in your area. The local Victoria network for doulas can be found here.

Harley Bruce – May 2011

Ever wanted to be fashionably late for something? Take note from little Harley, born 19 days overdue! He was much too comfortable in his litte hot tub and refused to come out until he was ready. New mom and new dad welcomed him with open arms and are overjoyed with his arrival, finally! Amazing strength, a lot of patience, and unyielding support brought this little guy into this world. I can’t wait to hear what the dog and the cats think of this new little being. Thank you for allowing me to share this great experience with you, and so many congratulations to the new family.

Laila Grace – April 2011

Making an appearance a few days early is the beautiful Laila Grace. She had a fast and speedy entry into the world, and she was very eager to take everything in and greet everyone. Strong, intense contractions were managed like a pro by a very strong mother and extremely supportive father. She was excitedly greeted by her older brother who showed her his toy bus and baseball. Great job and many congratulations to the family that has grown by one exquisite little girl! Thank you for allowing me to be there to support you and relish in the amazingness of your little angel.