Birth & Family Life
A blog about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding,
parenthood & everything in between...
parenthood & everything in between...
I spent a weekend in April at the Birth Boot Camp Retreat 2018 in Grapevine, Texas. You may be thinking...woah, Texas is a long ways away from Calgary Alberta. And it is. And it was worth the trip. I was able to see people I chat with online on a daily basis in person for a hug! And it rekindled the fire inside me for birth education.
I fell in love with Birth Boot Camp originally for 3 reasons:
What kept me certifying annually (I'm on my fourth year), is the people. The people care about everyone's success. The people are continually evolving...ideas are growing and reshaping as needed. Change can be scary, but staying the same is scarier. Look at our medical system...in many ways standard practices are far behind the evidence based recommendations.
I also love the Birth Boot Camp 10 week Series. The information is all there, the hands on comfort measures and relaxation pieces are there. The chance to discuss the information between the birthing person, their partner and their birth team is so important! The time to let information soak in and reiterate the importance of informed care...priceless. However, it is a long term commitment. And I can only hold so many of the 10 week birth series each year...did you know I'm the only certified Birth Boot Camp Instructor in Canada? More on that in a moment...
Over the past year, Birth Boot Camp Headquarters has developed new series, broken down in a way that people had asked for...meaning they listen to you!! Check out the infographic below that lists all the classes and what's included.
They are all shorter time frames and are more specific to your birth plans. They are not compressed courses, but are specialized. My great love is still the original Birth Boot Camp 10 Week Series due to its comprehensive nature...but if you're set on having a hospital based birth, the Hospital Birth Series is the one you want! Looking to birth with a low risk midwife at home or in the birth centre? The Out of Hospital Series is made for you. Did you take a birth class with a previous baby and want to reconnect and focus on this one with your partner? Check our the Reboot Class. The Comfort Measures Workshop is a great addition to an informational birth class or a previous birth class (I have a workshop happening May 25, a perfect date night). The Homecoming: Life with a New Recruit class is perfect to reassure yourself with caring for a newborn.
As I said before, I'm the only certified Instructor in Canada. I think there are two reasons for this. The dollar exchange rate was much better four years ago and the data is US based. However, I find the quality of the materials far exceed anything else I've seen. Don't expect a photocopied hand out for me, its a beautifully crafted and referenced workbook for each class (check out the snippets of the workbooks within the class pages). The birth videos are all recent, between 2010 and 2017. As an Instructor, you get access to amazing online and phone support, both headquarters and people within the instructor/doula world that want to help you succeed, not tear you down. Birth, pregnancy and material photography is all available to you. The Birth Boot Camp certification process is well laid out with all the readings and work to be completed before your training, so you end up at training with the knowledge and learn how to share that information effectively. The recertification process is not difficult and is set-up to help you build your knowledge and business.
The theme was 'Be Amazing' and I think the list of presenters at the Retreat really set the tone for the event. Listening to what I, a white privileged woman, can do to be a better human being when it comes to women of colour and the systemic racism they are facing in medical system and how its related to the racism that exists in their every day lives was beyond eye opening. I trained with Ebon'Nae Piggee of Royal La Mere Birth Services back in October 2014 and was moved by her words and her compassion. Her presentation has been going through my mind every day since I heard her speak.
There were two panels, one discussing about Vaginal Births After Cesareans (VBACs) with a panel of Instructors and Doulas that have had VBACs. The focus revolved what their best tips were (hello providers that support and understand VBACs) and what we can provide for birthing people considering a VBAC. As someone that does not have the real life experience of a cesarean or a VBAC, I found listening to panel was very informative. It also reminded me that the material in our classes provides a great basis for providing information to parents' considering a VBAC in Calgary.
The second panel was on the topic of processing difficult births. As a doula, I found that every now and then I took trauma away from a birth, even if the family didn't. I also took away some strong feelings with my last birth (twins) and I've been actively working on processing these so I'm not putting these thoughts out to my students. The panel was excellent, providing useful tips and strategies.
Patrica Harman, a midwife author, was there as well selling her books and did two readings for us. It was lovely to hear her stories from her days as a midwife. I shared a couple issues of Birthing Magazine with her and she was thrilled with them.
I'm looking forward to taking part in an Instructor training next year as a refresher. Birth Boot Camp has Instructor and Doula trainings all over the US now, one was even held in Montana! The movement to holding trainings across the US has made it a shorter distance now for travelling to a training...and if there was enough interest, we could host one here in Calgary. If you would like to see the materials or ask questions about what is included or what needs to be done to train as a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and/or Doula, reach out to me! I'm making an evening a week available for meet-ups and if playing with toddlers is cool with you, I can usually meet up one morning per week with kids in tow. There is also a tonne of information available on the Birth Boot Camp website.
Now, are you ready for your amazing birth? Are you ready to support others looking to have an amazing birth? I am!
With Love & Light,
Rachel's Remedy Hot/Cold Packs Review
Remember way back when I was chosen as a Brand Ambassador for the Guidance Guide? Well soon after the arrival of our twins Amelia and Beatrice, I received the Rachel's Remedy Hot/Cold Packs to review for Guidance Guide! I wish I had received them a few weeks earlier when my milk first changed from colostrum to milk as I was so very engorged! Engorgement is not fun nor does it feel good.
I tried the hot packs out on a day that the girls slept a bit longer than normal. My breasts were full and latching would have been difficult for their little mouths if I tried without doing anything. Previously, a warm/hot shower would have been my go to for relief. The hot packs were a lot faster than a shower. I warmed the pack part up in the microwave, inserted them into the pack holder and wet the fabric on the outside. The wet warmth felt great on my swollen breasts. Warning...be careful you don't make them too hot. I heated them up too much the first time, and combined with the wetness, it made for a too hot adventure.
The inner pillow contains flaxseeds and it goes inside of a waterproof pouch. This way water and milk are kept off the pillow! The waterproof pouch is easy to clean and quick to dry.
What I really liked is the versatility beyond breastfeeding. Need to put cold on your breasts? Easy, stick them in the freezer (or outside if you live in Canada like me). Need a hand warmer? Put them in your jacket pocket after heating. You can use them on sore shoulders or any muscles that are hurting if you're not needing them for your breasts. Kid takes a tumble? They make a great ice pack!
What's your favourite way to get relief? Please leave a comment below.
With love & light,
Disclaimer: I receive free products from Guidance Guide for review purposes but my opinions are all my own. @guidanceguide #guidanceguide #mystuffmystory #realreviewsforrealparents @rachelsremedy #rachelsremedyrelief
Birth Bubble? Do you need one? What does it mean?
During a recent private refresher birth class, a phrase was used a lot...lock it down. What does it mean and and why is this phrase important to birth and the postpartum period?
It's time to LOCK IT DOWN!!!It happens all the time...unsolicited advice and words of fear about birth coming from strangers...and family/friends. They may have the best of intentions, but typically its garbage that you don't need screwing with your head. Here are a few suggestions on how to LOCK IT DOWN!
1. Set-up boundaries. Being honest about your intentions, especially with close family, in your pregnancy can be freeing. Your birth is not about them. Sit down with your partner and hash out a plan. Then, have a conversation with the individuals that you are closest too. He needs to talk to his mom/sister/dad/aunt if you aren't comfortable. Only attend family events that you want to attend in the weeks leading up to your due month.
2. Hide the Facebook groups or take a Facebook hiatus. People say dumb stuff and its gets worse over the internet when you lose tones. Either limit it to groups that are more focused on positive help or ditch it completely. Negative information and stories get a lot more attention than positive. It's okay to block it out. And remind people that you and your partner will announce your birth when you are ready!!
3. Don't tell people your estimated due date. People ask because they are curious. And then they inquire daily once you reach that date. Their intentions may be good, but you don't need the added stress. Give them a due month or tell them something a few weeks later. Keep in mind that only 50% of women have their baby by 40 weeks 5 days.
4. Keep your babymoon time limited to select people that will provide you with the support you need. Once baby arrives, its a whole new ballgame. Your little family needs time to figure each other out and get to know each other. A constant stream of visitors prevents you from resting and nesting with your little one as well as introduces your babe to germs that are not needed. Keeping the people limited to true support, ie. people who will make you food and whom you feel comfortable hanging out naked from the waist up in your pjs, will help make the transition easier. If you feel like you have to entertain or feed your guests, you will become stressed and so will babe. Plan for this before baby arrives and make your intentions and needs known. Some people may have hurt feelings, but they will recover and hopefully understand it not about them...its about your new family. I made a cute little poster to help stop traffic at your door during the immediate postpartum time.
5. Don't tell people that you're in labour. Limit the people to a needs-to-know basis when labour starts. Labour can be long and boring. The more people that know, the more constant the buzzing of your phone with people who have good intentions...but are constantly checking in with you. Your partner needs to be focused on you and you need to be able to let go during labour. Its a special and intimate time.
Don't feel guilty. Right, easier said than done. Parenting is essentially about feeling guilty LOL. As women, we tend to put others needs above our own or try our best to not offend people. F it. Take care of yourself and your family. Your needs matter. Don't feel guilty blocking out negative people. Don't feel guilty telling a stranger it's none of their business when they say you look like you're going to explode at any minute (or feel free to ask them when they last had sex...anything awkward...).
To summarize, don't be afraid to LOCK IT DOWN!
With love and light,
Sometimes you end up with beautiful surprises in life...
They are overwhelming and chaotic but they are part of your life. We found out a few weeks ago that we were expecting a new babe! It was a bit of a shock, but I registered for a midwife immediately and was accepted the same day at a clinic 2 blocks from our home. After two rounds of sub-par prenatal care that I received in Fort McMurray, I was going to be under the care of a midwife! Midwifery care in Alberta has something I've been using my voice to bring attention to throughout elections and changing policies. I believe in midwifery care as a prenatal/postpartum option for all low risk women. I was so happy at my first appointment...10 weeks and a great start!
And then it all changed...
I decided to have a dating ultrasound to confirm my dates as I was fairly certain but I didn't want the pressure to induce at the end of the pregnancy to be so great if I was mistaken. I took my two girls, 6 and 8 years, along with me (summer break from school) as they have been thrilled with the idea of being big sisters to a new baby. Right at the start something looked off. It looked like the there was two sacs and two babies...
Yes, there were two. The tech kindly showed me both babies and asked if I was surprised. Umm, WTF!! I covered my eyes with my hands and then look over to the girls to ask them if they understood what she meant. They were busting with excitement! TWINS!
They got to share the news with their dad once we got home. We are still in a bit of shock and I'm starting to prepare as twins are considered high risk...no more midwife and no more home birth. My disappointment in those losses is still high, but the idea of two babies is growing on me!! I'll be sharing insights, ups and downs throughout the pregnancy here on the blog.
I'm starting a new Birth Boot Camp 10 week childbirth series in NW Calgary August 16...how cool is it that I get to be pregnant along with my students!! There are a couple spaces open. I'll be sharing loads of information for low and high risk births including discussions about prenatal testings, supporting each other with relaxation techniques and comfort measures, prenatal nutrition and exercise, breastfeeding and life with a new baby! Our evidence based information aims to help facilitate discussions between mom and her partner as well as her caregiver.
Partners love the Birth Boot Camp curriculum as it gives them tools to fill their birth tool box. Moms love the confidence they build!
Unsure? Call me and we can set-up a 15 minute online meeting to answer any questions you may have.
Thanks for joining me and my family on our next adventure!
With Supporting Arms,
Surrounding yourself in positive feelings and with positive people is one of my biggest tips for making your birth matter. This includes family, care providers, friends, service providers and your own personal environment. Part of setting up a positive atmosphere is finding one or more birth affirmations that really strike deep within yourself. In the Birth Boot Camp classes, we talk about affirmations for mom and for the partner. You can take a live birth class with me in Calgary or sign up for the online childbirth classes!
I've taken some of my favourites and made them pretty, just for you! If one of these doesn't work for you, I challenge you to find one that does and make it beautiful! Digital, watercolour, acrylic, pencil crayons...whatever speaks to your soul! Feel free to download the images, print the images or share.
With Love & Light,
Understanding the level of vulnerability of birth as a first time mother can be mind blowing. With each client and student, I talk about vulnerability and what it can mean to us an individuals. Many of us as women have experienced shame throughout our lives. Sexual, verbal and physical abuse. Never ending thoughts of obtaining perfection. Push to change ourselves to meet other’s expectations. Shame of bleeding and the symptoms that go along with our menses each month. Shame with normal bodily functions like pooping and farting.Good girls don’t...Birth is a time where we need to say FUCK being the "good girl". Allowing ourselves to do what our body needs, move as we need to move, release those noises that help us to relax and roll through each contraction. To accept the changes our bodies have made.
Please take a real through this awesome Mother Magazine article that talks about vulnerability and birth. She says it all. Birth Makes You Very Vulnerable, and That’s a Good Thing by Sarah Clark.
People fear vulnerability, and birth is deeply vulnerable. When you speak of the realities of it, it triggers some of our deepest fears and things we have been trained since childhood to feel shame for." ~ Sarah Clark (aka Mama Birth and my super hero).
Looking for more information on shame and vulnerability? Brene Brown has some amazing resources in the form of TED Talks and books. Her research into shame and vulnerability has been life changing for myself and many others.
With Love & Light,
In 2015, an epic series called Transformation to Parenthood was compiled with love. It is a lovely collaboration that brings the many choices parents make along the journey and highlights the people that support families along the way.
Does It Matter Which Class I Choose?
I was fortunate to be interviewed for one of the segments talking about support from professionals other than the caregivers in Episode 2. In my opinion, a comprehensive childbirth class is part of the puzzle as we make this transition into our roles as parents. Being well prepared nutritionally, physically, mentally and emotionally allows the parents the ability to make informed choices and feel confident in themselves. Parents also learn about themselves: how to relax each other, how to comfort each other, how to talk to each other, and what other professionals can help. A method type birth class will provide you with a limited set of tools that are not individualized. A class that provides birth tools and the time to practice them gives you options.
Please enjoy this episode and check out the other episodes that have been released!Transformation to Parenthood - Episode 2 from Business on Camera on Vimeo.
Expecting a baby in Calgary, Cochrane or Airdrie in 2016? Check out our class schedule for NW Calgary or our online option!
With Love & Light,
There is a lot of information out there about breastfeeding...mostly good, some crap and some dismal. This post will be continually updated with great breastfeeding links as I come across relevant and well informed information on breastfeeding. Think I'm missing something? Please post the link in the comment section and I'll add it if its good. Pregnant and want more info? Sign up for Birth Boot Camp where you get a 3.5 hour breastfeeding video plus lots of class time spent on the topic BEFORE baby arrives!
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With Love and Light,
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Baby coming any day? New baby just arrived? Let your visitors know the ground rules before entering...and to stop ringing that darn doorbell! Everyone has different circumstances, so pre-plan your rules and make sure they get posted!
The first few weeks after baby arrives are important for the family. Mom and babe have to rest, recuperate and get to know one another. Let recovery take as long as needed. Visitors can be a blessing and a burden. Guests bringing healthy postpartum food, snacks or meals and helping out around the house without the expectation to hold baby are helpful and considerate. Don't be afraid to make boundaries for your family members and friends.
Below is an example of a sign to post on your front door. Feel free to download it and use it by clicking on the image. It will take you to a Dropbox location for the PDF! Students in my childbirth classes receive a similar sign in Class 10: Life with a New Recruit. You can take a live birth class with me in Calgary or sign up for the online childbirth classes from anywhere in the world! I've also made a twin or multiples version for all you parents of multiples!!
If you'd like to share it, please credit Adventures of Little as the author.
Do you have visitor expectations or rules? Share them in the comment section please!
With Love & Light,