My own birth story

Baby TylerWhen we found out we were expecting another baby, we were so excited! Our third boy! Below is my birth story, as remembered by me.

While being 39 weeks pregnant, I won tickets for my son’s hockey team to attend the Canucks’ Heritage Classic game on March 2. This was a big deal! The boys hadn’t been to a Canuck’s game in a few years, and what a bigger event than the Heritage Classic?! It was all set that Gary (my husband) would take the boys over and I would stay home and not have a baby.

Fast forward to 1am on March 2, when my water breaks. Right, no heritage classic after all. I called my wonderful midwife who came over to administer my antibiotics – because I was GBS+. I went back to sleep with tiny twinges. At 5am, we woke up to the alarm to take the boys over to Vancouver. I convinced Gary that he should still go, and things may not get started soon anyway. Previously, my water had broken with both boys and both times took 8+ hours to begin labour. Gary left at 5:30 to pick up another player on his way to the ferry. Contractions began as they left at 5:30am (of course they did). At 6:30 when Gary arrived at the ferry, he called and let me know that he was going to send the boys over on the ferry with the team, and his mom would meet them on the other end to take them to the game, and he would come home. He got back to the house around 7am.

While he was gone, contractions were coming every minute-minute and a half. They were about 45-60 seconds long. I was managing pretty well on my own. I kept doulaing myself through the whole thing! Relax the shoulders, bend the knees, use gravity, drink water. We called Michele back at 7:30 to come back to the house as things were picking up rapidly. Gary was being helpful making sure everything was in order, and pushing on the right spot on my back during contractions. Michele arrived close to 8am, did a quick check and happily said I was 7cm dilated! (If she said 3cm I was going to FREAK OUT!) Contractions kept coming every minute with not much rest in between. They were hard and fast. I kept repeating out loud, as I was bending my knees rhythmically, “I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok”. 20 minutes later, we checked again and I was almost 10cm dilated with a little cervical lip left. I knew that the only way to get the lip out of the way was to completely relax my body and ride the contraction. I relaxed and went to a place I’d never been before. I was calm, I was rested, I was riding the wave. Then for the last half of the contraction, I lost it! I needed to move, and I needed to do it now. The lip was gone, and I could start pushing my baby boy out!

His head was way down already, and he was easily seen. After several pushes, he was almost out! The second midwife, Joanne, arrived as the ears were coming out. A casual “Hey! I’m having a baby, come join the party!” from me, and a few more pushes and his head came out! I remember thinking, just get the head out and then everything else will be easy! Right, I forgot about the shoulders! Once the shoulders were out, I was holding my squishy new baby. 9lbs 13oz of pure love was born at 8:33am at home – only 3 hours after contractions began. His head was said to be that of a 6 week old baby, and not one tear for me. Yay perineum!

Being my own doula has really shown me how if you can relax, give in to the process, and embrace labour, miracles can happen exactly as you intend for them to. There is a difference between pain and suffering, hence my mantra “I’m ok”. I was in pain with the contractions, but I knew that I was ok. Pain is just a side effect to receiving an amazing gift, and it was all worth it. (again)IMG_2469

One of the first things I said to my husband was “You can still make it to the game!” To his credit, he didn’t go. 😉



*Each of my births have been completely different. The first one was a natural hospital birth 13 hours. The second one was an induction in hospital with an epidural, 6 hours after contractions began baby was born. This time was a natural home birth, 3 hours. Each one happened perfectly for the time I was in and for what I needed. I wouldn’t change any of them.

Superhero Doulas

I recently read a great blog post from about doulas being superheroes. These are the numbers that really stood out for me. Remember, this is all based on scientific studies.

“No. 9. A doula-supported mother is 50% less likely to need a caesarean section = mother and baby healthier = world is a better place”

In the era where the woman who didn’t have a cesarean is a superhero, and not just normal, we need to perhaps re-evaluate what women were built for. I’m not here to harp on cesarean births, in fact I think that they do have their place, however, it is unacceptable to have a cesarean rate higher than 30%, (it should really be much lower), which we do have here in Victoria. It’s not hippy, granola, or unsafe to have a home birth, just as it’s not a negative decision to give birth in a hospital. But, there are MANY things we can do to lower our cesarean rate, like this hospital in Ontario.

“No. 7. Benefits of doula = 60% reduction in epidural requests = mother and baby healthier = world is a better place”

When a mother is recalling her birth story for family and friends, or maybe sharing stories with a mom in the park, and mentions that she had an all natural birth, she is not gloating or trying to prove that she is the stronger woman. She is simply saying that she was able to cope with the pain of labour in her way. She prepared. She had tools and knew how to use them to her advantage. Moms-to-be can use a doula to her advantage!

“No 2. Benefits of doula = 67% mums still breastfeeding at 6 months = world is a better place”

Breastfeeding is on the decline. I feel that sometimes it is viewed as a “hippy” thing to do. Breastfeeding your baby past a certain age (and I would guess that age is under 6 months old), isn’t seen much out in society any more. Long gone are the days when breastfeeding was normal. Breastfeeding used to be on Sesame Street! You aren’t doing the “better” thing for your child by breastfeeding, you are doing the “normal” thing by breastfeeding. It’s free, you don’t have to prepare anything, the milk is packed with immunities that your child needs, it lowers your risk of several cancers, it provides a lot of bonding time, and it helps prevent postpartum depression. Some women have trouble breastfeeding, and there is A LOT of help in your community. Lactation consultants, public health nurses, breastfeeding educators, other moms. REACH OUT for help if you need it. You will do yourself and your baby a lot of good.

I really enjoyed this article, but I don’t feel like a super hero, I just feel really grateful that women choose me to help them bring their beautiful babies into this world. What do you think?

See the full article here

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!

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

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.

The “Real” Hospital Bag

When I was pregnant, I was getting ready to pack my hospital bag and looking at all the crazy lists they had online, listening to all the advice from people (who didn’t have kids), and watching all the looks my husband was giving me (are you bringing that???). I’ve now compiled a REAL list of things you will ACTUALLY use.  Let us all know what you packed that you loved or hated for your labour experience.

For the baby

  • 2 outfits. (one for a girl and one for a boy, or if you know, 2 so that you can pick) I recommend a sleeper. If you are having a c-section, you may want to pack 3 or 4 sleepers depending on how many days you will be in the hospital with the baby.
  • Car seat (base already installed into the car and checked by a certified car seat installation specialist. You can have this done weeks before at a fire station or a hospital. Ask your hospital where you can have this checked. This is very important to do to keep your child safe)
  • A stuffed animal or blanket you got especially for this moment. You want to be the first one to give your child a present? Bring it with you!

Wow, what a short list for a baby. really? that’s it? Yes. That is it. The hospital will have everything else you need. Diapers, wash cloths, even a little hat for them to wear outside. They have babies everyday in the hospital, they are prepared. I took a few diapers into my take home bag to make sure, and I even took the pads for the heavy bleeding. (I do recommend an extra blanket if you are having a winter baby)

For you

Make sure you bring your birth plan if you have one or make decisions about what you want during the birth of your child. It won’t happen as you imagined it, but if you set out some guidelines they will help you balance the labour process and avoid any confrontation with doctors. Try to talk to your birthing coach, doula, or prenatal instructor, about this.

  • If you are being induced or having a c-section and will have to wait around:
    • cards, or something else to pass the time. this sounds dumb, but we actually used ours for 5 hours while the Oxytocin was working through my veins
    • Snacks for hubby or birthing partner – they get hungry, you are not allowed to eat
  • Comfortable PJ’s for after the baby is born. Many many lists say a night gown with buttons, but I found those super ugly and expensive, seriously I’m not going to wear it again! I opted for comfy pants and I wore the hospital gown backwards (opening side to the front instead of to the back) so that I could breast feed.
  • Something to drink. You can’t eat, but they let me drink. I had Emergen-C with me in the hospital which we just mixed with water. It has tons of vitamins and is super good for you, so if you’ve been in labour for a while this is a great pick me up. As long as the hospital lets you drink, this is your friend. Much less sugar than Gatorade and they are like $0.99 per package. However, I can never drink them again because they remind me of labour, but it worked at the time.
  • Note book/Notepad and Pen to record baby’s time, weight, height, etc. I recommend this. You will remember it forever, but if you are hopped up on Fentanol or an Epidural, you may not remember in the moment. This is also a good place to put a list of people to call with phone numbers.
  • Camera with fresh battery and an empty memory card. Nuff said.
  • Music. Find out if your hospital will have a CD player or Ipod player for you to use. We played classical music during the labour (you couldn’t hear it through my screaming), and at 6 months, it was the only music our baby would fall asleep to. Amazing, strange, and awesome all at the same time! Pick something you like, you may have to listen to it a lot.
  • Your own Pillows in your own pillow cases. The hospital will have some sort of shortage on pillows. I guarantee it.
  • Lip Balm, a hair tie, toothbrush, brush, any other toiletry you think you’ll need. It can make you feel like a real person again after going through labour.
  • An extra pair of socks or two. This is my NUMBER ONE tip for mothers to be. Many say that they didn’t think of socks. I birthed in socks, they got dirty, I wanted more socks. Your feet will probably get cold, and the blankets they give you at the hospital leave much to be desired. You cannot wear slippers to bed, so bring socks. 2-4 pairs of socks. they don’t take up much room.
  • Full-Butt underwear. No tampons after labour! Big, Giant, Monster sized pads is what you get to look forward to for 5-14 days after. Fun! They will give you some pretty sexy mesh underwear to wear after labour. That’s right ladies, I said MESH. They recently changed the post birth underwear to thin cotton. If your nurse will give you an extra pair or two to take home, do!
  • Clothes to go home in. Think Yoga/sweat pants and a loose fitting top. Of course if you are one of those women who lose all of your baby weight as soon as the baby comes out, you may want to bring your old Jeans, they might fit.

Things you DO NOT need to bring with you

  • 5 different nursing bras. Bring ONE. Do not buy many nursing bras. Day 3 after labour, your boobs will magically grow another 2 sizes or so. You will not know what size you need. WAIT until you need them!
  • 3 suitcases full of stuff. You will most likely be fine with one small suitcase or duffel bag.
  • A million snacks. YOU cannot eat anyways once labour starts. You can eat afterwards, but then you can get the good stuff from anywhere!

Dads should pack a change of clothes and swim shorts if they want to get into the tub or shower with mom. They should also have some cash for anything they want to buy at the hospital (Starbucks, Tim Hortons, etc).

If you do not have a doula, things like a tennis ball for massage or massage oils might be handy as well. If you do have a doula, ask if they will be bringing these things with them.

Good luck out there all you moms and moms to be! I wish you a relatively pain free labour!!