Surfing the Waves of Contractions

  Surfing the waves of contractions, photo by Folkert Gorter Active labor.  Contractions are hard and occasionally whipping up higher than expected. Massage and hip squeezing isn’t working. The birthing mother’s voice is getting higher and tighter. As a doula, sometimes in these situations I reach for a visualization. And for active labor, there is no better metaphor than waves. There are so many ways to use this metaphor. Here’s an outline you can use and embellish as you like on the spot. Here comes the wave… Take a deep breath… Now dive under this wave and through it and through it…. and now you’re coming out on the other side… swim up… Take a breath… Let it go It’s OK if there are moments of silence in between your words or sentences. You don’t have to be talking the whole time. Speak slowly and use a low, calming voice. If she follows your lead, her own imagination will be filling in most of the details. You are just there to give her a bit of guidance. By focusing on this image of a wave, she can more easily let go of other thoughts that might have been causing anxiety (like, “How much longer will this go on?” and “I’m afraid of the next one.”) Our minds will fill with thoughts if we don’t give them something to focus on. If you’ve never talked someone through a visualization, it can feel strange to do it the first time. I think we fear that everyone will look at us strangely and wonder why we have started talking in a sing-song voice about...

Holiday Gifts for the Birth-Obsessed Friend or Doula in Your Life

What do doulas need in their stockings or in their Hanukah packages? Hmmm, I thought I would dream about good gifts for doulas. I am VERY practical gift-giver. I like gifts to be useful and not anything that will add to clutter. I suppose some will think “thank you notes” could add to clutter, but I think they also add to a nicer world, so they remain on the list. Cheers! I am reposting this list from a few years ago, but it’s all still true! 1. A  rolling pin from Palumba (http://www.palumba.com/full-size-wooden-pastry-rolling-pin.html) I always carry one in my doula bag in case a laboring mom wants back pressure during contractions. After about an hour, I can’t do hip squeezes anymore. My wrists give out. But I can run a rolling pin over a mom’s lower back for 20 hours. I know. I’ve done it! If I use the rolling pin during labor (probably about 1/4 of the time I do), I give it to the parents as a baby gift along with a cookie recipe at my first prenatal visit. It usually gets a smile. 2. Beautiful Thank you notes, maybe with her name embossed on them? Always a good idea to have a package of thank you notes in your doula bag for nurses, doctors, midwives, lactation consultants. For anyone who is helpful in any way at the birth. Helps spread the love for doulas a little bit further. 3. Essential oils I get my essential oils at a great local shop called Indigo Forest. Beth will ship to you and consult by phone about your essential...

Breastfeeding: “Low Milk Supply” in another cultural context

Russia Breastfeeding article This looks like strikethrough text, but click on it! It is the link to my article about breastfeeding and “low milk supply” in Russia. We are so used to our own cultural context that we can forget that we ALL see pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting through our own particular culture. As a breastfeeding conference is underway in my favorite city (Toronto!), I thought I would share this article I wrote a while ago about my experiences in Russia. Things have changed in Russia since I did fieldwork there in 2000-2001, but I still think it is valuable to understand how others in the world think (or thought) about women’s reproductive bodies. You can also get to this article by clicking on the words ‘Related articles” below. That brings up the Google link! by C Gabriel – ‎2003 – ‎Cited by 2 – ‎Related articles THE EFFECTS OF PERCEIVING “WEAK HEALTH” IN RUSSIA: THE CASE OF.BREASTFEEDING. Cynthia Gabriel. The state of Russian health has...

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