First Moments | Winnipeg Birth Photographer

Some moments just stand out. Today I'm going to skip the long words and just share some of my favorite photos to capture-- the first time you lay eyes on that beautiful baby. These minutes are like nothing else-- seeing for the first time this soul you feel like you've known forever and yet never met.

Grab some tissues!

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Winnipeg Doula Winnipeg Birth Photographer
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Sophie21
Grace-18
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Do you have a picture from your first moments with your fresh babe? I have from all three of mine and they are seriously amoung my very favourite things ever. Being able to see both their tiny details and the looks on our faces at the time are so special to me!

Hello Enzo! | A St Boniface Hospital Birth Story

April is Cesarean Awareness Month, and I am so excited to share this beautiful St Boniface Hospital birth story with you all in honor of it. Some cesareans are planned, and some happen despite all preparation and persistence. These births can be incredibly hard to process, especially if the family has gone through a long or intense labour in addition to their cesarean birth. I believe these mamas are some of the strongest I know.

I met Anna and Andrew last spring and we had a super fun coffee date together. I loved the twinkle in their eyes as they talked and teased each other, sharing stories to help me get to know them. They planned to deliver their baby at St Boniface Hospital and I could tell already that working together would be so much fun.

Anna was very relaxed as her due date came and went. It was encouraging to see her so trusting in her body and that things would start on their own time. As anyone who has gone overdue knows, these last days can drag on, but she kept herself occupied and was in good spirits! On Thursday morning, Anna texted me that she'd started having light contractions. We made a plan to check in again later, and in the meantime she was going to eat, rest and keep busy-- a perfect early labour plan!

Around 8:30pm Anna let me know that they were ready for me to join them. I arrived and she was labouring beautifully in their baby's nursery. She made great use of distraction and movement, spending time on their yoga ball and talking to her mom on the phone and to Andrew and I. Contractions continued to get closer and intensify, and when they were about 5 minutes apart and feeling very strong with lots of pressure, we made the decision to slowly get ready to move to St Boniface Hospital.

winnipeg birth photographer winnipeg doula st boniface hospital
winnipeg birth photographer winnipeg doula st boniface hospital

We got to St Boniface Hospital very early Friday morning and were disappointed to hear that despite feeling tons of pressure and increasing contractions, Anna wasn't dilated enough to be admitted to the labour ward. We made the decision to go walk the halls and the stairs for some time, trying to move baby down more and encourage these contractions to continue changing her cervix. We amused ourselves going through the desserted hallways in the basement, reading notes on people's doors and funny posters and artwork. Andrew did a great job working to keep Anna's spirits up, and she was a trooper, trying funny walking positions and lunges, and stopping every so often to lean against Andrew for a contraction while I provided counterpressure.

After a few hours, Anna headed back to triage to be checked again, and to all our surprise she hadn't dilated any further. She talked with Andrew and they made the decision to head home to rest for a couple hours on their own. As soon as she climbs into bed at 7am, her water breaks! Her contractions picked up again, and Anna headed into the shower to see if the rhythm and heat would help her to rest and get some relief. Soon her contractions were very close and very intense, with lots of pressure. Feeling a bit worried, Andrew called me and they made the decision to head back to St Boniface Hospital right away.

At 10am Anna was able to be checked again and we were heartbroken to hear that she was 3cms still. She had been working so hard, and her symptoms didn't seem to make sense! We took a while to process and decide what Anna wanted to do next. Eventually she decided to receive some pain medications so that she could get some rest! Thankfully this gave her a break and she was able to sleep for a bit while her body continued its hard work.

Saturday morning (If you're keeping track, Anna has been labouring like a rockstar for 48 hours now!), Anna had progressed to 7-8cms! I checked in on them as she woke up, and I remember smiling as she looked so serene just peacefully laying in bed and chatting with Andrew. I was so grateful she'd been able to find some relief from the constant pain. Fully dilated now, Anna starts feeling more pressure, and she decides to continue labouring down until she feels a strong urge to push. Labouring down is a wonderful tool, because your body will put in the work to move the baby down and into position without you having to work as hard while pushing.

In the early hours of Saturday morning Anna is ready to begin pushing. She's making good progress and the St Boniface Hospital nurses work with us to come up with different pushing options that may feel good. For someone who has been in labour for so long, she is such a trooper and so focused.

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After a couple of hours of pushing and moving baby down, we receive news and everything falls into place-- Andrew and Anna's baby has settled into a firm position with his head sideways and he has no interest in turning that cute little head of his! This explains so many of the weird symptoms that Anna has been having- the extra pressure, the hip pain, the contractions that don't quite want to fall into a pattern, and some of the transition like feelings. Her body has been working overtime trying both to contract and change her cervix, and also to move that baby into a more favourable position so he can come through the birth canal. All this work and we didn't even know!

After taking some time to go through their options, Anna and Andrew decide to give her body some more time to labour down while she relaxes. We hope that with some relaxation, baby may be able to shift more easily into a good position that will work with all that effort Anna has been putting in. They rest up for a bit while preparing for the next step!

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winnipeg birth photographer winnipeg doula st boniface hospital

After a rest, Anna resumes pushing. She has renewed strength and works so hard with her body, but unfortunately the baby is firmly in an occiput transverse position and doesn't want to move. We can see on her face how hard Anna is trying to push through the pain, but it starts becoming clear that their little baby does not want to be born this way, no matter how strong she is. They make the hard decision to stop pushing and wait for a cesarean birth to bring baby earthside safely for both the little one and Anna. Thankfully Anna receives a break after this while they wait to meet this little person that has made her work so hard.

I can see the defeat in her face, but all I can think is how proud I am of her, and I can see that Andrew is too. She has worked through everything this labour has thrown at her, trying one thing after the next, and I hope in these moments that she can see how amazing she's done. I talk a lot in my prenatal meetings about honouring each baby's story, and I remind them that this is their babes story, nothing to do with their abilities. For reasons we don't understand, this babe needed this birth.

Finally just after 4:00pm we are taken down the hallway to the birthing room where Anna will deliver their baby. She goes in, and Andrew and I begin the long wait in the hallway. We talk about what to expect, and chat to pass the time, which seems to slow like molasses. After what feels like ages, they come and invite him in to join Anna and meet their precious babe.

4:41pm Anna and Andrew welcome the most adorable little boy into their family. I rejoin them in recovery and I can see the elation and joy in their faces. It's been such a journey, but now that he's here, it's all worth it. They start breastfeeding and getting to know this amazing little guy, and I see so many more of those ridiculously connected looks that I remember from my first meeting with them. My heart swells at the love between these three.

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winnipeg birth photographer winnipeg doula st boniface hospital
Winnipeg birth photographer Winnipeg doula

Thank you for inviting me into this sacred space with you Anna and Andrew. Welcome sweet Enzo! You are so loved.

The Face Behind Embrace: Meet Your Doula

When choosing a Winnipeg doula or birth photographer, there's one criteria that I always feel is more important than training, or numbers of births, or history-- personal connection.winnipeg doula

Inviting another person into your birth space is inviting them to witness your most vulnerable moments. And it is so important to be comfortable with this person! How safe and respected you feel during your birth directly correlates with how you feel about your experience and even your perception of pain. As birth professionals we are used to holding space in a calming and respectful manner, but finding someone you really connect with is the best way to ensure a birth environment that allows you to relax and get that oxytocin flowing.

I try to be an open book for my clients. I believe knowing me and feeling connected is super important for our relationship and my ability to serve you best during your birth. So today I decided to throw down some fun facts about me. Still super curious about something? Ask! I'm always happy to share.

 

  • When we go out to dinner I almost always order a clubhouse sandwich and fries. I believe poutine should be a weekly staple, and I cannot eat stew without thinking of my mom's homemade recipe (Which I still haven't managed to replicate...). Comfort foods win out for me almost every time.
  • I'm an instant fan of any shows with female leads, great music and characters who show strength in their vulnerability. I've watched Grey's Anatomy since the very first episode, and I still go back and rewatch them with warm fuzzies. My Netflix list also includes Scandal, The Crown, This is Us, Gossip Girl, and One Tree Hill.
  • I decided to pack up and leave my small town high school at the end of grade 11 in favor of a tiny Christian boarding school 3 hours away. It was a huge lesson in independence but also knowing when to lean on those around me for support. It was the most soul healing, wonderful year of my life, surrounded by real, open and gentlehearted people. I will carry those memories with me for the rest of my life.
  • I have a psychology degree that I affectionately refer to as my most expensive piece of artwork. I'm thankful for everything I learned but so glad I followed my heart!
  • I am married to my high school sweetheart and totally get a kick out of the realization that we've now been together almost half my life.
  • I am totally ok drowning my feelings as long as it's in cheesecake. Peanut butter oreo gets my vote.
  • I was a doula for five years before having my own babies.
  • I can be sucked into any music with great lyrics. James Arthur is getting a ton of playtime around here right now, as is Nichole Nordeman, and Macklemore after a recent client had me looking them up again. Old steady favorites are Ed Sheeran (my third baby was born listening to him!), Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan. I'm the type that will be driving along in the car, hear a song, break down into tears and declare instant love. Want to hear what's playing right now? Come join me!
  • But I'm not above dancing like a fool around the kitchen to a good beat. I am *all over* dancing it out Grey's Anatomy style.
  • Playing Wii Lego games while cuddled on the couch with my family is my idea of a perfect Friday night.
  • I felt like a princess on my wedding day, but one of my favorite memories is eating my leftover wedding meal in sweats the next morning because I was too excited to eat during the reception.
  • I'm a long term kind of girl. Two of my best friends I've known since birth and since 9th grade. They know me inside and out.
  • My second baby was a precipitous birth and ended up being caught by his daddy on our kitchen floor. I'm pretty sure neither he nor I will ever live it down.
  • I am a lefty. For fun science-y facts- So is my husband, and we have two kids who are lefties, and one odd man out who prefers his right.
  • Star Wars rules all in this house. My three year old wants to be Luke Skywalker when he grows up, and I'm not entirely sure he won't find a way through sheer determination alone.
  • I love pinterest, and keep my boards carefully curated, deleting things as my tastes change or we complete a project. Welcome to my Type A world.
  • Don't confuse me with a pinterest mom though. No smiley face sandwich has ever graced my daughter's lunch box.

Burning questions left over? Leave them in the comments and I'll answer!

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Photo Credit AliciaTPhoto


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Sophie’s Story | Winnipeg Breech Birth

The first time I met Soraya and Fabio I fell instantly in love with them. They exuded so much love for each other and excitement for their pregnancy that it would be impossible not to get swept up in it. I knew I wanted to work with them, and was so excited when they contacted me to say they'd chosen me as their doula. This wonderful couple were relatively new to Winnipeg, and we talked a lot about what to expect as they moved through their pregnancy here in Winnipeg. We started preparing for the birth they wanted, and every time we met, I was shown again how connected they were. After keeping their baby girl safe, the first thing on each of their minds was always how the other one felt. They were gentle, soothing and intuitively seemed to know what the other was thinking. It was so refreshing to see!

As we know, the only thing predictable about birth is that it is unpredictable, and at the end of their pregnancy, Soraya was told that their baby girl had decided to settle into a breech birth position. After talking through the options with their doctor, they decided that they felt safest and most comfortable with a planned cesarean to get their sweet babe here safely. We switched our focus instead to things that would make this new birthing experience a positive one for them, and worked to soothe the fears that lingered. Even when you feel confident in your choices, going into a cesarean can still be a really overwhelming thing!

On October 23, 2017 Soraya contacted me to let me know that their birth was planned for the next week, October 31st- she would be a Halloween baby! How exciting! Except, baby girl had other plans! Just a couple hours after that call came another one-- Soraya's water had broken! It turns out their baby girl wanted to celebrate Halloween with them instead. After a couple hours at home, they made their way to Winnipeg's St Boniface Hospital to be checked out, and were informed that yup, that was indeed amniotic fluid, and this baby was coming to meet them! I joined them in the early hours of the morning on October 24, and we prepared to welcome their little one. They were filled with excitement, and we talked some more about what to expect from the cesarean and afterwards. Soon it was time!

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula
Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Preparing for mom to be taken down the hall to get ready in the operating room is always an emotional experience. A couple who has worked through every aspect of their pregnancy up until now is forced to separate. The minutes that follow seem to take hours. I always make sure to talk to my clients about how long it may take before the partner is allowed back, but once the time comes, it still drags on. I'm glad at least to be able to sit with dad and talk a bit to help fill some of the silence. Fabio took the time to sit quietly and reflect. It's clearly an emotional time, but he was so brave, anxious to join Soraya and meet their sweet girl.

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula
Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Eventually they came and let Fabio know that it was time to join Soraya and meet their little girl. I was able to wait in recovery for them to come back, and before long- they were on their way back with sweet baby Sophie. She was absolute perfection, and it was a joy to watch the beaming parents start to get to know this new little person in their lives. It was precious watching them exam each detail, and smile at each coo. The road was long, but now that she was here, so was so worth it! They were able to spend some time quietly breastfeeding and snuggling before having Sophie's first exam and then getting ready to go to their new room to rest.

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

It was such an honour to be a part of sweet Sophie's breech birth story. Seeing the love and connection with which Soraya and Fabio approached each step of their story was inspiring and I'm so glad I had the chance to get to know them, and now to get to see Sophie grow. If you're interested in a Winnipeg doula or Winnipeg birth photographer, I'd love to sit down for coffee or tea together and chat. Adding support to your birth is always a good thing!

Embrace Turns ONE | Winnipeg Birth Photographer and Doula

Can you believe it has been ONE YEAR since www.embracebirth.ca was launched? I have had the most amazing year learning and growing with all of you. I can not thank you enough for following with me on this journey! I have worked as a doula for over ten years now, and last year decided things needed a little refresh. I am SO glad I did!

In the past year Embrace Birth Services has:

-And in between it all, I was invited to hold space with some truly amazing and breathtaking families as they welcomed some adorably sweet babes to their families.

 

I can only hope that this next year is as amazing as Embrace’s first official year of business has been. Some days I seriously feel like I need to pinch myself when I realize how lucky I am to get to do this work each day. And I want to send out a huge thank you to the families who have welcomed me this year. For teaching me, trusting me, growing with me. I have been in awe of the love, strength, wisdom that each of you has shown. Thank you for walking this journey with me!

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Do Life: The Best Early Labour Plan

While some lucky birthers find themselves starting labor with active contractions five minutes apart or less, most of us will have labors that ebb and flow in the beginning, contractions starting as mere annoyances, and slowly progressing into an active pattern. Ah, the joy of early labor.

Early labor can be long and drawn out, reaching 6-24 hours, especially for first time moms. Contractions during early labor can be anywhere from 20 minutes apart to about 4-5 minutes apart. Generally you know it’s early labor if contractions are progressing closer, but you are still able to focus on life, pausing only briefly during the height of a contraction. They may be 30-60 seconds long.

While there is important work being done during this time, it often doesn’t feel like it. Watching the clock can make time seem to stand still, so I recommend “doing life”. That is— continue to go about your day as you normally would, stopping just long enough for the contraction to pass, and then brushing it off and continuing on as normal. The longer that you can deny labor and keep doing life, the better headspace you will probably be in once active labor hits.

 

If you’re unsure what to do, some ideas are:
-take a long leisurely shower or bath.
-take a nap
-make food, or bake!
-play a game
-cuddle on the couch with a blanket and your favourite Netflix series
-clean your house- slowly though- don’t burn extra energy
-paint your toes!
-go shopping
-take a walk around your neighbourhood
-take a last set of maternity photos

If you think you may be in early labor, send a quick message to your doula to let them know— and then continue business as usual. Use one of the tips from this list, or pick something of your own. The important thing is that the activity keeps you comfortable and focused on anything other than your beginning contractions!

Once you find that you are having to stop and focus through your contractions, or they are five minutes or less apart, it’s time to call your doula (and your midwife if need be!). Start thinking about moving to your chosen place of birth if not planning a homebirth, and settle in to meet your baby!

5 Signs It’s Time To Contact Your Doula | Winnipeg Doula

Am I in labor? Is this real? When do I call my doula? Such common questions at the end of pregnancy!

Many birthers find that they have prodromal or “practice” labor at the end of their pregnancies for days or even weeks before starting to labor in earnest. This can be frustrating and confusing all at the same time! These warm up contractions help your body and uterus to practice and warm up, but generally do not work to significantly dilate your cervix (although some dilation and movement of the cervix can happen!). Don’t confuse that with meaning they don’t do anything-  prodromal labor is a good thing, even when it doesn’t feel like it!

Still, it can be confusing trying to figure out if it’s practice labor or the ‘real deal’. These warm up contractions may feel very real! The most common way to tell the difference is over time-- while “real” early labor contractions will get noticeably stronger, longer and closer together, prodromal labor will typically not get significantly closer together or longer. For most people they will happen for several hours and then fizzle out, starting again later or another day. This is a good sign that these are the important priming contractions-- but not a sign that true labor is starting.

In this case, I recommend trying to get rest, and remain positive- these contractions can give you a good chance to practice some of your relaxation techniques, but I urge you not to get caught up in planning for the birth yet! The best thing that you can do is to rest and keep your mind off of it.

So how do you know when it’s time to start preparing for the birth and calling your support people? Below are a couple signs that productive labor may be starting- and it’s time to alert your partner, your doula, birth photographer and/or midwife! Your doula will have different preferences for how you contact them, so make sure you ask! Often an email or text during overnight hours is preferred (or waiting altogether until morning), while during daytime you can use whichever method you prefer. For my clients, I tend to prefer a text or waiting until morning unless your mama sense tells you something may happen quickly! But as always, don't hesitate to pick up the phone if you feel you need me! 

 

1. If your water breaks

Whether a trickle or a gush, your water breaking can be a dreaded and exciting moment. It may not mean that contractions will start immediately, but it's a good sign! If your water breaks and contractions have not started, or they are still light, I personally treat this as a perfect time to grab some food and then climb back into bed. Getting some rest before labor starts in earnest is always a good idea! Not sure if it was your water? Amniotic fluid should be clear, and have a mild scent- not like urine. Some people say it is sweet smelling.

2. You lose your mucus plug and/or see bloody show

Seeing bloody mucuous on the toilet paper after you wipe can see a bit scary, but it’s also something to be excited about in the last weeks of pregnancy. This is a good sign that your cervix is starting to move and dilate! If noticable contractions have not started yet, they may soon. Just to keep you on your toes though- some birthers will lose their mucuous plug and not go into labor for days or even weeks. Still- it’s a good idea to keep your care provider and support people in the loop if this happens!

3. You start feeling like you have the flu

It’s a common occurance. You get to 39 weeks pregnant and it hits-- You’re achy, tired, your stomach gets upset and you may have loose stools or even diarrhea. This may feel like the worst thing in the world, and many people worry that they are now going to have to go through labor while sick, but it’s actually a common sign that labor is getting ready to start! One of the ways your body prepares for labor is by dumping hormones-- and some of these will cause your body to mimic signs of sickness. Again- this isn’t a foolproof sign, but it’s a good one to be aware of- especially if you’re finding yourself in the bathroom a lot. Many birthers state that the night before or hours before labor started, it was like their body got spooked and “emptied out”- that’s a strong fight or flight response there-- your body is preparing to do hard work!

4. Backache

Wait, how do you know the difference between regular sore back and one that signals labor? You can’t always. But if you notice a backache that switches from a generalized soreness into a concentrated pain that may ebb and flow-- this may be a sign that things are gearing up.

5. Contractions Pick up

Braxton hicks are frequent during late pregnancy, so how do you know when they’re the real deal? If you’re noticing contractions that are easily timable with an obvious start and end- labor may be starting! Early labor contractions will continue to progress longer, stronger and closer together, so it may take a few hours before you know for sure. If they’re coming at regular intervals though, even if still fairly far apart-- it’s time to give your support people a heads up! True labor contractions will also not let up with rest, position changes or increased water, and tend to include some back pain with them. Many birthers also report that their labor contractions felt like they wrapped more around the belly, as opposed to the low down menstrual cramp feeling of braxton hicks.

Feeling some signs? Maybe it’s your time! Don’t forget to get some rest, and contact your care provider and support people!

 


 

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Don't have a Winnipeg doula yet? It's never too late to ensure you have the incredible support of a doula at your birth experience. Contact me today for your free consultation.

Winnipeg New Baby

Winnipeg Pregnancy Guide: Welcome Baby! A Visiting Guide | Winnipeg Doula

Adding a Winnipeg baby to your house? Overwhelmed about keeping up with visitors and expectations? It can seem like a daunting task to settle in with your precious newborn without having to add the worries about entertaining guests, or trying to navigate new feeding and sleep routines while someone else looks on.

Leading up to our first child’s birth, our own new Winnipeg baby, my husband and I were dead set that we didn’t want visitors– we were really craving that time to settle in as a new family of three, uninterrupted. We were worried that having a revolving door of visitors would make us more stressed out, and were also a bit concerned about dealing with all the (sometimes not so) helpful advice that new parents get. So we encouraged family and friends to wait a few weeks before stopping by.

As it turns out, we were pretty overwhelmed anyways, and probably could have used some helping hands! In hindsight, I wish we’d felt confident enough to encourage visitors– on our terms. I’ve learned a lot over the past six years, and we were incredibly grateful to have wonderful family and friend support after our next two births. Our visitors were amazing at coming at convenient times, never staying too long, and making sure to be helpful while they were here.

I’ve jotted down a quick list of ways to be helpful while visiting a new Winnipeg baby. Share it with your family and friends, Post it to Facebook, or use it for yourself if YOU are the new visitor. You want to be invited back after all!

Come at a convenient time

Dropping by unannounced is never a good idea in a house that has a newborn. Communicate with the family and ask what time is best for them. And be flexible– Sometimes what seems like it will be the perfect time ends up being 12 minutes after nap time has started and all those sleepy new parents want is to go to bed with baby. No one needs guilt on top of exhaustion.

Keep your visit short

Unless Requested otherwise! In those early days and even weeks, short visits are usually key. Give them a bit of adult interaction, swoon over the gorgeous new baby, and then get the heck out of dodge and let that family rest. However– some parents really find themselves craving this companionship, and may encourage you to stay. Read their cues! If they’re settled in and keeping the conversation flowing, it’s ok to keep chatting. But watch for signs of tiredness, hunger or anxiousness- sometimes it can feel awkward to deal with those new baby tasks when you’re worried about your guest. Which brings me to the next point…

Image courtesy of WordPress.

When In Rome… Let the baby eat

For a parent who is new to breastfeeding, it can be an overwhelming task. There is no covering up or being discrete when you’re still not sure exactly how to latch baby on properly. And the last thing they need to worry about is making someone else feel awkward. Take your cues from the parents- if they request privacy, this is a perfect opportunity to make yourself useful! Tidy the living room. Wipe down the table. Offer to make tea or a snack. If however, the parents don’t make a big deal out of it– don’t make it into one. Continue talking, make eye contact, and reaffirm that a baby eating is a totally normal and acceptable thing!

Make yourself useful

It’s important to acknowledge that everything with a new baby takes twice as long- if not more. Help out a little while you’re there. Help an older child put away their toys, offer to make the parents a cup of tea or grab a quick snack. Walk the dog or swipe a cloth over the counter quickly. If you’re close with the family or have permission, offer to empty their garbages or throw a load of laundry into the washer. It doesn’t have to be much, but these small gestures are so appreciated! Time spent visiting is often time when the parents aren’t able to get other tasks done- a visitor lending a hand quickly on their way out makes the visit less stressful.

Visit with the big siblings

One of the biggest sources of guilt for parents is often trying to spread the attention between a new baby and older siblings– be they human or of the furry variety! If you have time, try to acknowledge these forgotten members- take a pup for a walk or give them a good long back scratch. For human siblings, take a moment to talk to them about this new development, and make them feel special by reading them a book or playing a quick game. They will appreciate it, and so will the parents.

 

Any other tips you would add? What worked best in your household in those early newborn hazy days?

Embrace Birth Services has created this handy printable for those first weeks with your Winnipeg baby. Post it on Facebook, send it out with a birth announcement, tape it to your door.

 

Winnipeg Baby
Winnipeg Baby

But what does a doula even do? | Winnipeg Doula

"Oh you're a doula? That's like a midwife, right?"

While birth doula care is increasing in popularity, it's still a mystery to many people. After we've established that as a doula I am actually not just like a midwife, (Wichita Doula covers that distinction fantastically here) the next question is usually "Well, so what do you do then?"

That answer... isn't an easy one. You see, a doula's duties are as varied as the families that choose to hire us. The great thing about doula services is that they are completely tailored to your unique experience. What works for one person may make another turn up their nose- and that's ok. Here's just a small sampling of what your doula may do for you during your pregnancy and birth.

Answer your questions and share in your joys (and fears).  One of the benefits of hiring your doula early in pregnancy is that she's there along with you for the entire ride. Your doula can act as a first point of contact for those "I'm not sure if this is normal" questions or the "I'm so over these stranger belly rubs" moments. Consider me your personal sounding board.

Help you decide if this time it's really labor. Your doula can assist you in recognizing the signs of labor, and knowing when to ignore and keep 'doing life' and when to start making forward progress to your chosen place of birth and settling in.

Help you get settled. Whether your place of birth is home, birth centre or one of our hospitals (Women's Hospital at Health Sciences Centre and St Boniface Hospital are both great choices)- a doula is a great resource to put those finishing touches together- whether that means inflating and filling a birth pool, setting up your favorite music or walking you through the strange hospital hallways and settling in to your new home away from home. Feeling comfortable and secure in your birth space makes such a difference in your ability to confidently handle the sensations of labor- and your doula makes sure the job gets done.

 

Winnipeg doula

Provide support while you move. Movement during birth is linked with shorter, less complicated labors. As a doula I will suggest different ways to use movement and position changes to help you cope with each contraction. It may mean we go for a walk around the halls or the neighborhood, stopping to lean on me during contractions, or it could mean providing a firm foundation while you handle contractions on the birthing ball. If you've chosen an epidural, a doula can help you change positions in the bed for greater comfort and to encourage baby to move down easier.

Remind you that this is normal, this is good, and you are doing just fine. While birth is inherently normal-- it can also be intimidating and scary! Your doula is there at each turn to explain the unexpected and reassure you when you're feeling worried. Having a doula who is experienced in pregnancy and birth and can soothe your fears is priceless. Sometimes all you need when you're struggling during labor is someone who can whisper in your ear that you are rocking those contractions.

Soothe aching muscles and release tension. Touch relaxation and counterpressure are truly truly wonderful tools. During labor a doula may use massage techniques or touch relaxation to pinpoint areas that you are feeling tension and help you release. The looser and more relaxed your body, the less pain you will experience. Another one of my favorite doula moves is providing counterpressure or a double hip squeeze. Many birthing people feel their contractions primarily in their backs- providing steady counterpressure during contractions can greatly reduce the sensation and allow you to focus on releasing and breathing through contractions.

Help your partner find their feet. I have been blessed to witness many amazing partners offering support to their significant other during birth. And they almost unanimously have told me before labor they were nervous. That they wouldn't be enough, they wouldn't know what to do, that they didn't know enough to be a good support. The labor room can be an overwhelming space, and partners thrive knowing that all the pressure isn't on them. With a doula present, your partner is able to watch, learn, and step in as much (or as little) as they are comfortable. Having a doula present also allows them to take food or bathroom breaks without worrying that you'll feel abandoned.

Give Postpartum Support. A doula provides nonjudgmental support during your postpartum period as well, whether you have questions about feeding, sleep (or lack thereof!), babywearing, diapering or more. Having a doula means that there's always someone just a text or call away, ready to encourage or answer questions.

 

If you're already convinced that a doula is right for you, head on over to our Contact page to set up a time for us to chat and get to know each other better. If you're still needing a bit more information, stop on over at the Services tab for a list of what is included with your birth doula care. And as always, don't be shy to ask more questions if you need. I love to talk about my work!

Winnipeg Pregnancy Guide: A Look Inside My Doula Bag | Winnipeg Doula

I often feel like I need to explain myself when people ask me what I carry in my doula bag. People expect to see a lengthy list of magical and crucial items which I cannot attend a birth without. The truth is- I carry less and less as time goes on. At first glance this can look like a lack of preparation or experience, but it really comes down to perspective and trust.

See the thing is, you don’t need me to pack 83 tools and gadgets to rock the heck out of your birth. Your strength and perseverance, your knowledge and focus, are what are going to help you through the journey that is labor. I’m just there to support you along the way.

There’s sometimes a comfort in “things”. If I pack enough items, if I read enough books, if I’ve stressed over writing the perfect birth plan– *then* I will have the birth I wanted. The truth is that none of that is the key to a satisfying birth experience. 

When you hire a doula, you’re not hiring me for massage tools, bendy straws or lotion. You’re making the choice to hire this doula for my experience, my expertise, my deep seated belief that you have within you all the tools required for a wonderful birth story. I am holding space for your birth, but I am not the writer of your birth story.

What I bring in my doula bag are primarily items designed to help me serve you. To be the best doula I can be for you, every step of the way. So without further ado, I present an inside look into what I’ve found to be the necessities.

winnipeg doula bag

Spare Clothing.  Sometimes birth is messy. Being able to support you fully means that sometimes, a change of clothes comes in handy later on.

Toiletries. Because after 20 hours together, you’ll be happy I brought the toothbrush. All items in here are designed to keep me fresh in mind and body- self care means that I’m putting my best foot forward for you.

winnipeg doula bag

Snacks. This is a sampling of what I keep in the bag for if I need to run quickly. Usually I throw in some fresh foods right before I head out the door. Keeping up energy during your labor and birth is important for the entire team- I encourage my families to eat and drink, and make sure that I do too. Labor is a marathon, not a sprint, and the better we treat our bodies, the better they’ll treat us!

winnipeg doula bag

Massage Tools. Touch during labor can be a magical thing, soothing aching muscles and serving as a reminder of support all in one. To enhance your experience I bring grapeseed oil, a roller ball massager, and a sensory ball to hit all the right tense spots. You can also see a sleep mask for if you’re having trouble resting in between contractions, a small heat bag, a some crystals. I’ll be honest that I’m not 100% sure where I stand on crystals and their usage, but I do know I found it grounding in the last weeks of pregnancy and early hours of labor to hold and rub the smooth cool stones. There’s something about the firmness of a stone or crystal that is extra reassuring when everything around you feels a little shaky. 

I also keep on hand a kneeling pad, a copy of The Birth Partner books, and the gloves and chux pad (the bright blue one). These have come in handy while laboring at home or during a car transfer!

And that’s it! All the important things that assist me in helping you. Add in a willing heart, peaceful open mind and body that’s willing to work- and you’ve got a doula! And the stuff that really matters? That’s already inside you.

winnipeg doula bag