The Farm

I haven’t posted in a while, I’m sorry about that.  There is so much to talk about!!  On April 10th a friend and I flew in to Nashville and made the pilgrimage to the “Holy Land”, THE FARM.  If you don’t know what The Farm is all about, you can check out this link for the community info and this link for the Farm Midwifery info.  To make a really long story short, The Farm was formed by a large group of Hippies who were caravaning accross the USA and decided to stop in Tennessee.  The Farm used to be all about communal living, although they do not practice that anymore.

Ina May Gaskin was one of the first Midwives at The Farm, basically because people were having babies on the caravan and she and her hubby Stephen Gaskin chose to help out.  From that came The “original” Farm Midwives, including Pamela Hunt, Joanne Santana and Carol Nelson.  

We went to The Farm to take a Midwifery Assistant Training workshop, which was absolutely fantastic by the way.  It was one week and we were taught by all of The Farm midwives.  We learnt so so much, including how to find blood pressure, how to check dilation, effacement and station, how to use oxygen, usage and sterilization of instruments, midwifery history, all about the Safe Motherhood Quilt project, Watsu and much much more.  Keep in mind that this was a Midwifery Assistant program and not a doula workshop.  What this means is that most of the skills I learned can only be practiced when apprenticing under a midwife, I cannot perform them as a doula.  Well, except Watsu, I’m pretty excited to offer that to my Doula clients.

During the week we were there we ate a strict vegan diet.  I am actually pretty amazed and how good it was!  We ate so much kale and yet I could hardly even tell.  Another staple seems to be beans, they even made “ice bean”.  yummmm

The Farm was an experience that I will never forget, it was intense in the best sort of way.

**pictures to come**

Waterbirth

Waterbirth is pretty much one of my favorite things to talk about.  I strongly believe that it should be an option for every woman to have a waterbirth.  Currently in Lethbridge, the only way to have a waterbirth is to have it at home.  There are no registered midwives and no dr.’s currently helping with waterbirths.  There have been some cases though where the mama just didn’t get out of the tub at the hospital, more of an oops I guess.

In 1977 an obstetrician in France (Dr. Michel Odent) introduced the idea of a home like birthing setting in the hospital, along with birthing pools.  By the 80s, waterbirth had spread all across Europe and made it’s way to America.  Even though it’s been 30+ years of active waterbirthing (in hospital) the idea is still completely new and foreign to many people living in Southern Alberta and specifically Lethbridge.

I would like to see that change.  After the waterbirth of my 3rd baby I can attest to the many benefits from birthing in water.  Here are a few of the many benefits:

  • pain management
  • comfort and ability to move/change positions – it’s not easy on land to flip from front to back to side to knees, but in the water it’s easy peasy.
  • reduction of pressure on the abdomen (bouyancy)
  • easier transition for baby – waterbirth is such a gentle way for baby to enter the world, no bright lights, no cold air, no instant suctioning…. just nice warm water.
  • helps minimize tearing
  • relaxation
  • fewer interventions

With my first waterbirth, my baby came out and was calmer than any other baby I have ever seen!  He was so peaceful and I felt great.  You see, waterbirth creates a different result.  Babies don’t come out screaming, it’s so amazing to see them so calm.  After that experience (my 3rd), I knew that I would have any future babies that way and that I would also advocate for women to be able to have waterbirths in the hospital.  It should be an option for everyone, not just those who travel or pay for a local lay-midwife or TBA.

If you would like more information about the use of water during labour and birth, please feel free to contact me.  There is also a great organization and website that is definitely worth checking out, Waterbirth International.

Babywearing

One of the services that I provide my mamas is hands on, one on one babywearing instruction and help.  Actually, I will help anyone and everyone, not just my mamas.  I currently co-lead the local babywearing group and help moms all the time.  I will also teach doulas or professionals working with mothers, so that they can help their mamas/clients safely  and comfortably wear their baby.

There is information all over the web about babywearing and there are also a few books on the topic.  One in particular is “Babywearing” by Dr. Maria Blois.  Taken from Dr. Maria Blois’ website:

“Biologically, babies need to be carried in order to thrive. Studies have shown that otherwise well nourished and cared for infants who are deprived of human touch fail to thrive and can even die. Good things happen when baby is carried.  Research shows that babies who are held often:

  • cry less: Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry. The long-term consequences of letting infants cry without responding are just beginning to be understood. One study found that letting babies cry permanently alters the nervous system by flooding the developing brain with stress hormones. This makes these babies overly sensitive to future trauma and may lead to incidents of post-traumatic stress and panic disorders in adulthood.  Babies who cry less in the first few months cry less in the following year.  Responding quickly to your crying baby is an investment – the less she cries now the more peaceful the upcoming year.  Well worth it.
  • are more calm and content: Carried babies have a more even respiratory rate, heart rate and steady internal body temperature.  Even very tiny premature babies can be carried safely in a sling without danger of compromised breathing or heart rate.  Regularly carrying a baby encourages baby to feel secure and content.
  • sleep more peacefully:  Keeping baby close helps baby organize his sleep/wake cycles.  Naptimes are spent in constant motion, close to mother’s heart and night time is dark and still with a loved parent near by. This helps baby make a difference between daytime and nighttime, an important step in sleeping longer stretches at night. One study of premature infants found that babies had longer intervals of quiet sleep when they had skin-to-skin contact with mother.
  • nurse better, gain weight better: Research has shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not.  Full-term babies nurse more frequently when they are carried close to mother.
  • enjoy better digestion: The constant motion and frequent small feedings associated with carrying baby can promote good digestion.  Babies who are carried often spit up less. Babies with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can benefit from being carried in the upright position after a feeding.  When baby is upright, the force of gravity helps the acid stay down in the stomach where it belongs.  Most babies outgrow this condition.
  • develop better: Babies who are held experience human touch and movement.  This stimulation has been shown to have a positive effect on the baby’s development. Carrying baby enhances motor skills by stimulating the vestibular system (used for balance).  Baby constantly readjusts as mother moves around, using his developing muscles to hold his head up, kick his feet and use his arms to cling to mother. Because soft carriers keep pressure off the back of the head, carried babies are at a much lower risk for plagiocephaly (asymmetrical head shape). Carrying baby naturally limits the time baby spends in hard plastic carriers, such as carseats, automatic swings, and such. Holding baby while moving counts as “tummy time.”

There are other physical advantages of being carried for baby. Babywearing can be kind to baby’s developing hip joints.  Baby hips are unique in that formation is not complete at birth.  The acetabulum, or the ball and socket joint of the hip, continues to develop for the first few months of life. When baby straddles our front or our back, his legs are said to be in the abducted position, or turned out from the hips. This position aids in healthy hip development. In fact, children with congenital hip dysplasia are often placed in this position to help correct the problem.”

If you are in the Lethbridge area and would like more information on babywearing and all the different carriers available, please let me know, I’d love to help!