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Saturday, October 17, 2009

International Midwifery

October 17, 2009

Should start keeping track of the date.

So new horizons forced by unfortunate occurrences have brought me back to the UK and to Manchester. I quite sad to have left Shell and her (our) mommas, but I hope that when I return I'll be able to support them throughout their labour and birth. I always cry.

I've been seeking connections with midwives here, joined the forums and been in contact with some local women involved in maternity care. It has been a slow start, but I'm still adjusting to my new time zone which has been harder than usual to do. Last night was a wonderful break through. I was connected with a women from AIMS (Association for the Improvement of Maternity Services) by a local NHS midwife (independent at heart). Both are great contacts to make.

I suppose my position and interest here has changed or expanded a bit to research international maternity services. I'm being given this wonderful opportunity to experience first hand how midwifery is practiced in very different settings.

My first experience of course was in The Gambia. Quite a shocking one at that. Whether that was typical or not, I'm not sure, But I have a feeling that an on-call midwife is the way it goes. The hospital itself did not have a midwife on staff, but it seemed as though there was a repository from which they could draw. I believe most women gave birth in the local clinics at home, and if they were anything like the birth I witnessed, they included the use of induction (and in my opinion completely needlessly and purely to speed up labour rather than to get it going - but what do I know? It was by first birth and I was sent out of the room to get towels when the drugs were administered).

Then there were the hospital births at home which occurred without access to midwives. One a planned c-section the other a super-fast hypnobirthing mom, who laboured all by herself beautifully, showing up at the hospital fully dialated. Need to take a step back from those. The fact that there was no access to midwifery care in these instances is what is important.

My first real experience with midwives and to me initiation into the birthing "profession" was in Phoenix. While both in Regina and Phoenix there is a strong birthing and natural parenting community, there are significantly more midwives in Phoenix. Of course, we have the population difference. There are Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) work somewhat laterally with each other. I can not say together, although a new partnership is in the works which will do wonders for bridging that gap and hopefully dissolving that hierarchy.

The CNM is the direction Canada is going and represent the majority of the NHS system here in the UK. This is where we must look to if we want to understand the pros and cons of community practices run by a group (ranging in size from 5-6 to more commonly 10-11 CNM's). Based on the forums I've been reading and the discussion I had last night, the concept of normal birth is being dissolved. Many midwives no longer facilitate unmedicated noninterventive births, due to volume and policy. This begs the question of malpractice insurance for midwives and how that changes their practice (a topic for another post).

Returning the community practices and the number of midwives that consequently are involved with a single woman's pregnancy continuity of care is sacrificed. This single factor alone is what sets a women up for a successful birth and what should define midwifery itself. If we've lost one-on-one care then are midwives any different than OB's? If you can not promise a women that you will be at her birth, how can she trust that she will be supported? A women should be able to chose her caregiver. This sentiment is lost. After the conversation last night, I discovered that although women do have the right to chose a midwife to care for her from within a community practice that right is not exercised, usually do to not being informed of that right.

What I have gotten out of my short time here so far is that the NHS model of midwifery is not one for the rest of the world to base themselves upon. They are fast moving away from evidence based care and traditional midwifery is being threatened.

My questions have expanded to include woman's thoughts on birth, their preferences and their experiences. Also included in this is the care providers perspectives, their beliefs, their practice and their restrictions.

I'm blessed with support on this path from new friends. Lets see where I am taken.


Thursday, August 20, 2009


So, I have been researching on how I am going to obtain a visa to continue to apprentice under Shell. Some days it looks positive, but as of late not so much. Not really sure where to go from here.

Midwifery isn't exactly at the top of the list when it comes to the government. They say they are hiring midwives, but they make it very difficult. Acknowledging that most of their midwives are educated outside of Canada, there seems to be no easy path to work with a preceptor for a prolonged period of time.

Schools. That is a joke, and not a funny one. UK schools, allegedly the highest standard, comes at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000 at the end of it being an International student. On the other side, I'm blatantly not ELIGIBLE to study at most schools, because their programs are NHS funded. Another hit to a socialized healthcare scheme? Only for us foreign students who are desperately trying to find their way.

Canadian schools not much help. Half the time I can't even reach them...either by email or phone. Understaffed? Typical across Canada. SO what's left?

Risk living illegally yet not on the shoulder of another country? i'm more than capable of supporting myself (along with the help of a very supportive community). Risk losing my national healthcare? Beginning my own fight to follow this path, which has now become such a passion. Not only because I want it for myself, but if I've ever needed a cause to advocate for, this is it.

Keep posted on my upcoming analysis on the state of Midwifery affairs in Canada.

Dire, but hopeful?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

have you posted a new blog?

question was asked, this is written in response.

Ok so much has been accomplished in the last few months. I've FINALLY begun my books studies. something that i should have been doing for ages now. but was so discombobulated before that i needed a bit more guidance.

Of course there have been struggles particularly revolving around my personal life, but they seem to matter less now that i am finally DOING what I've been wanting to do for several years now. Who knows, had i not walked the path i had i may not be where i am...alternatively I could be much further along. that is an unnecessary question though.

I did my first vaginal exam yesterday. yes i just said vaginal. does that make you cringe? I felt a babies head bob on my fingers while still in utero. pretty damn cool if you ask me.

is this a calling? a passion? I don't know. there are definitely women i have met along the way that it is clearly obvious that THIS is what they are supposed to be doing. Alls I know is that this is the first time in years that i am not depressed. None of it grosses me out, though some of it scares the heck out of me and makes me nervous...but that is more a result of Shell throwing me into the deep end.

I wish i had more expereince..more knowledge. either through memorising of all the books i've read or through life experience that has imprinted all that knowledge into me. perhaps i'd feel more confident if i were initiated into the club?

that is all irrelevant when you can comfort a women in her time of need. i may not have all the answers, say all the right things, but I KNOW what comes naturally. you can't fake that, you can't LEARN that. you are BORN that way. all your life expereinces helps to create that empathy. it doesn't matter that i haven't pushed a baby out of my vagina (yes i said it again) or had a surgical birth. but i can sit there and be engaged while other mommas talk about all the issues that surround it. I can cry along with them when they speak of the loss they feel through unfortunate experiences.

does that make it a calling? or my passion? regardless of where this current life lesson takes me. it has been just that a lesson. one that solidifies within my being that this is what i want to do.

i am so grateful for this opportunity.

thank you Shell (and of course Michael who feeds us and brings us coffee)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Relocating to the East Valley

I suppose it would be best if I read back in my post to see what I've said, so there are no gaps, but that's not my style. With the birth centre on hold because of the Monte Vista location I've had to move...this was not a bad thing despite the fortunate situation I was in. It's too bad the property won't work out, but with Shell's practice expanding the pace of things are picking up. I meet my second mother tomorrow. I look forward to helping these mom's and by the sounds of it this next one will probably be teaching me a lot as this is her third home birthed baby!!

I'm so excited and things are really starting to come together. My studies I feel are coming along. I'm definitely engaged in the material, but there is so much to know. so much to learn. and i'm excited about it all!!

so back to the title of this post. I've moved! it was touch and go for a bit, I had a lovely offer from my new friend Rafael, but this seemed be where I was meant to go. I feel a bit bad that Ralph and Marshall went through the effort of cleaning out the room for me. I do feel bad about that, but I'm now living with three lovely women, all socially and environmentally consious. We have ten chickens, solar panels on the roof for the water heater, composting, communal...its wonderful! down part is the new commute I have to make into Phoenix, but we're currently working out a transit/bike plan that may work.

Anyways, all is well in the state of denmark.

My focus attention right now is on our lovely Echo and hoping she goes into labour soon. I wish I could be there with her, but I know she is strong and powerful and it will be a beautiful birth.

Links to Blogs, News and Research

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One Month

Happy Canada Day!!

OK. I've been here in Phoenix now for just over one month. It has been an interesting and exciting month. Filled with ups, downs and unknowns. With the birth centre on hold I have all the time in the world to focus on my own studies which at some point should get philosophical about, but for now...strictly academic.

My studies are coming along, various readings. Various projects. Working on a report of gestational diabetes. best way to learn. sitting in on prenatal visits and next we are starting having student days/classes once a week. will all see where this goes.

had some minor setbacks this week. found out that in order to practice midwifery in europe i more of less have to go to a canadian school for midwfiery. most american programs won't cut it and definitely self directed or apprenticeship route in a homebirth setting won't be accepted. I will have pretty much no chance or practicing in the UK. this has all put intense pressure on my personal relationship and the decision was made to take a step back. there is not much i can do about that one at this point, but to carry on. Its difficult to think that a career choice has so much impact on other aspects of ones life.

Perhaps the life of a midwife is best being a solitary one?

I've met some great new friends here in Phoenix and they are good company. Found a wee cafe open late where I can be most productive or like tonight, whittle away the hours. I am a tired one tonight. Made lots of progress early on in the day, but that quickly dropped off this evening. but that is OK.

I feel at peace and a sense of belonging here.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Well I have arrived in Phoenix to work with midwife Shell Walker. It's been nearly two years since I first contacted her and made the decision to pursue midwifery. The road has been adventurous and at times I've deviated, but I'm here now.

I won't elaborate on the diversions as most of it was preparing me for this moment. Since I made the decision I quite my job as an archaeologist, trained as a birth and post partum doula, spent time in The Gambia (with my dear friend Echo) and volunteered at the Bijilo Medical Centre where I attended my first birth! It was here any fears that I would not be cut out for a profession that involved birth were dispelled and I was confident this is what I want to do. After leaving The Gambia I continued travelling, I made my way to India where I trained as a yoga teacher. I want to provide wholistic care and for me yoga in integral. I also wanted to develop and deepen my own practice. In this year I spent outside of Canada I also reconnected and fell in love with my soul mate. I spent nearly half the year in Manchester building a bond with him, unfortunately the UK is currently not the place for me as I struggled to enter into the birthing and yoga community there. I returned to Canada and to Regina, a place I haven't lived for ten years, but a place where the community had welcomed me before I had even arrived.

In the last 5 months I have met some incredible women. All who have given me such great strength and energy. I attended another two births, the first happened so fast neither of us could really do anything but go with the flow. It was an amazing expereince and I witnessed such great female strength from Risa as she birthed baby Gaia into the world. The second birth I was part of was Amandas and it was twins!!! I spent more time with Amanda and worked more intimately with her in yogic practice. We had fun. They babies were beautiful and healthy.

There is so much for me to learn and during part of this last 5 months I was fortunate to work with many teachers. Angela was the first to take me in and influnced me with her Birthing Within teachings. Marie graciously allowed me into her prenatal yoga class and gave me the opportunity to teach. Confidence through practice! I also spent a great deal of time with Sonya Duffee and wonderful women and midwife struggling against buracracy. We all must send positive vibrations out for her and the women of Regina who currently do not have the option of midwifery care. The greatest achievement was being part of an organizing committee for a fundraiser bringing awareness to Doula care. The night was fabulous and a great success.

After surprising my father with a 60th birthday party and the arrival of Gavin (his first visit to Canada!!) I began the journey here, to Phoenix. We took our time driving across the prairies and foothills, into the Rockies and to Vancouver. We had a great time, were taken well care of by Nova and Daniel, but unfortunately never met up with all that we could have. We expereince a festival at a magical place and then continued our journey south winding our way through diverse landscapes that we never knew existed. It was a beautiful trip and one of the best I've ever had. It was so special to share such a trip with someone so special.

We arrived in Phoenix only a few days ago, it was a sad parting with Gav as I saw him off to the airport, but a new beginning for me.

i'll leave this here for now...there is more as i've already begun my studies with a class yesterday, but there is still so much to digest. i feel so blessed. so excited and feel so special with all the support i am receiving from new and old friends alike.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pregnancy and Birth Affirmations

My baby is strong and healthy.

I trust my body.

My belly is full of light and love.

I am a strong and capable woman.

I have patience.

My cervix is firm and strong to hold my baby safe.

I am at peace with the world.

There is no need for us to hurry.

I have an open heart.

I am strong and calm and beautiful.

Birth is a wonderful, safe experience.

My body knows exactly what to do.

My baby feels my joy.

I trust my labor.

I am open to the energy of birth.

My baby is born in pure pleasure.

I ask for and receive what I need.

My baby is healthy.

I embrace the wisdom of my body.

I have an open heart.

I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support.

I trust my inner wisdom.

I fearlessly surrender to the power of my body.

My body is nourishing my baby perfectly.

I trust my knowing of what is true for me.

Pregnancy is a joy.

Birth comes easily to me.

I feel good being pregnant.

I am whole and at peace.

My baby loves to breastfeed.

I love being pregnant.

I am aware of my balanced, calm center.

My body knows how to birth my baby.

I have everything I need.

Breastfeeding feels wonderful.

My body becomes stronger and more flexible every day.

I listen to my body and my heart.

I am patient and composed.

I believe in birth.

I cooperate with my body and my baby.

My baby knows how to be born.

I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby.

Untapped sources of strength are available to me.

I am relaxed and happy that my baby is finally coming to me.

My baby is free to choose her own destiny in the world.

I am focused on a smooth, easy birth.

I trust my body to know what it is to do.

I welcome my coming labor as the perfect one for me and my baby.

My mind is relaxed, my body is relaxed.

I am an active and powerful laboring woman.

I feel confident; I feel safe; I feel secure.

I welcome this opportunity to grow and change.

My muscles work in complete harmony to make birthing easier.

I desire foods that nourish me and support my health.

I relax as we move quickly and easily through each stage of birth.

My baby is in the perfect position for birth.

My cervix opens outward and allows my baby to ease down.

I am a link in the endless chain of birthing women.

I fully relax and turn my birthing over to Nature.

I am willing to release my baby into the world.

I choose a gentle and natural birth.

I see my baby coming smoothly from my womb.

My baby's birth will be easy because I am so relaxed.

My breath is easy, deep, and full.

My baby will be born at the perfect moment.

I turn my birthing over to my baby and my body.

My body knows exactly what to do.

Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.

My body is wise and purposeful.

I am totally relaxed and at ease.

I can handle whatever comes up.

My body remains still and limp.

I trust my intuition.

I release my birthing over to my body and my baby.

My baby is safe.

I put all fear aside and welcome by baby with happiness and joy.

I love and trust my body.

I deserve and receive all the love and support I need.

I deserve a gentle, natural birth.

I claim my birthright for a wonderful birth.

I am a wonderful mother.


Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra means psychic sleep.  You enter this state briefly between sleep and wakefulness. During the practice of yoga nidra you enter and prolong this state. Entering this state creates a connection with the inner self, the subconscious and higher consciousness. Once envoked, this awareness promotes yogic growth and increases positive emotions of love, peace and harmony will permeate your life. During pregnancy you develop a deeper connection with your baby and gives you an opportunity for spiritual growth and rebirth. 

During the practice of yoga nidra you are directed into a state of deep relaxation and can be used before sleep; preparing you for a deeper, more peaceful and rejuvenating sleep. During yoga nidra you train your mind to rest rather than trouble it throughout the night with life's stresses. Practicing before sleep relaxes both the body and mind. Sleep with be deeper, requiring one to sleep less and wake up feeling fresh and energetic.

Once entering into psychic sleep the mind becomes clear and thoughts more powerful. The mind opens itself to suggestion. By creating a resolve or intention that is deeply important to oneself you hold within yourself the power to change your life.  During pregnancy you can use yoga nidra to overcome any fears you may have about your pregnancy or upcoming birth. Set a resolve such as "My body is strong and capable of having a happy and healthy baby" or "My body knows exactly what to do"or anything else you may find meaningful. Repeat your resolve at the beginning and end of your practice before you open your eyes and use this intention throughout your regular yoga practice to reinforce its effectiveness.  

In yoga nidra the mind should follow all directions unquestioningly and without understanding or rationalization. You must remain awake and alert, but do not try and remember the words as it will exhaust your mind and send it to sleep. Practice yoga nidra in a supine position or while pregnant side lying, supported by pillows, bottom leg straight top leg bent and resting on a cushion so that there is no pressure on the abdomen. The body should be completely relaxed and still. There should be no physical movement once yoga nidra has begun; eyes remain closed. Yoga nidra can be practiced at anytime throughout the day and vary in length from 20 minutes to one hour. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Choosing a Doula

  • What training have you had?
  • What is your philosophy of childbirth and supporting women and their partners through labour? How do you work with my partner to support me?
  • Tell us your experience with birth, both personally and as a doula?
  • What service will you provide us prenatally?
  • May we call with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
  • When do we call you in labour? How do we reach you?
  • Do you come to our home or to the hospital when I am in labour?
  • Do you work with a back up doula (for times when you are not available or in case of a very long labour?) Can we speak with her if you anticipate needing her?
  • Do you meet with us after the birth to review the labour and answer questions?
  • What is your fee? What does it include?
The above are a list of possible questions when interviewing a doula (adapted from Elmont Professional Birth Services).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Introductory Offer

While I am working on my certification I will offer my services on a karma basis. I ask for nothing, but if you feel like giving a donation it would be greatly appreciated.

In addition to my regular services I will offer to my first 3 mothers a 3-1 hour yoga lessons (private)/or relaxation session free. 

What is a Doula?

"Doula" is a Greek word meaning "servant" or "helper". A doula takes on the role that in more traditional societies is filled by experienced women related to the childbearing woman (mother, aunt, sister). In many of these cultures women remain with their families and are supported throughout their pregnancy and for an extended period of time afterwards. She relies upon her elders for their knowledge as well as their physical and emotional support.

In modern cities we have lost this connection; not that we don't have a loving caring support system provided by our families, but jobs and different life choices have spread us apart.  Many partners move away from their families leaving themselves without direct access to the knowledge gained from these elder females. This role then falls solely on the mothers partner, who unrightfully is expected to know how to care for her in an unfamiliar situation. No one could ever take the place of the partner in the loving support they provide, but the addition of a doula to their team can make the experience less stressful and hopefully more positive. 

A doula is trained on many aspects of pregnancy and childbirth and is knowledgeable on how to initiate breast feeding in those early postpartum hours. Her goal is to help the couple by providing them with the tools they need before they enter the birthing room and the support they may require during this amazing experience. A doula, however, does not have a medical background and though may be able to provide answers to general questions, she is not there to help make medical decisions or give advice. She is there to work with you and your caregiver to give YOU the most positive experience possible.

A doula is there in the wee hours to give you that boost of energy when your partner may be fading. She is there to help welcome your newborn. It is your happiness that we live for. And though many of us wish for the least amount of medical interventions we will support you in whatever decisions you choose.  In the end, we want all birth experiences to feel valid and full-filling and to minimize any feelings of loss that one may experience because the event didn't go as planned. A doula wants to prepare you for the unexpected and to let you know that it's OK.  

Resources and Links

Regina Childbirth and Infant Care Links

CAPPA: Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association -

Whole Birth Yoga (for Prenatal and Postnatal classes) -

Birthing from Within:

Spiralbound Birth Resources (links to natural products related to all aspects of childbirth and early infant care) -

YWCA (health and fitness as well as childbirth education classes) -

Baby Signs (learn to communicate with your baby through sign language) -

Healthy Meals Delivered by Imagine Eating -

Body Fuel Organics: Fresh Food for you and your baby available for home delivery or pick up -

Spinning Babies (information on natural ways to help reposition a baby that is Occiput Posterior) -

Pregnancy and Childbirth Information -

Breastfeeding resources -

La Leche League Canada (LLLC) -
Regina phone contact - 306-584-5600

INFACT Canada: Infant Feeding Action Coalition; Fact sheets on Breastfeeding -

Breastfeeding: Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants (Government of Canada) -

FIRA : Fatherhood Involvement Research Alliance -

Dad Can Do: Resource for fathers and their children (information and ideas for fathers) -

Services - Doula support, Relaxation/Meditation, and Yoga (private or semi-private) classes

Individual packages can be customized, a typical package would include:

- 3 prenatal visits
- unlimited phone and email support
- on-call support in the last weeks of your pregnancy beginning at ~38 weeks until you go into labour
- available throughout late stages of labour and birth 
- remain with you for at least 1 hour following the birth of your baby to help initiate feeding
- remain with you for at least 1 hour following the birth of your baby to help initiate feeding
- 3 postpartum visits (including continuous phone and email support) 

Upon request I can provide extended postpartum care for as long as needed, including:

- overnight stays
- hands-on breastfeeding support
- caring for baby or other small children so you can have some ALONE time
- light housework (i.e. dishes, babies laundry)
- meal preparation
- unlimited email and phone support to answer any questions or just listen

I am also a certified YOGA teacher and although I am beginning to work in the pregnancy aspect of it I can work with you (upon the approval of your care giver) in developing an individual practice:

 - outline positions that are safe and beneficial
- relaxation and meditation techniques (including yoga nidra)
- mantras and affirmations

If you have a group of friends and can provide the space, group yoga classes (semi-private) are also an option.

I will provide you with as much information as you need and would like, if you prefer more individualized instruction (such as yoga meditation or prolonged postpartum care) this will be a charge on top of my regular doula fees. 

Creating a Birth Plan