Winnipeg Birth Photographer Winnipeg Doula

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!

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!

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
*Photo from Essie and used under Creative Commons License.

Winnipeg Pregnancy Guide: Creating Your Hospital Packing List | Winnipeg Doula

Many years ago, my husband shared with me that as a very young child he had believed that babies were born- with hats! In every media depicted birth, you always see the fresh baby with a tiny beanie on their head. Right from the get go, they're always seen sporting their new accessory. And so when it was time to pack for our first birth, it became an inside joke between the two of us- don't add a hat to your hospital birth packing list- babies come with hats!

Winnipeg hospital bag packing list- Winnipeg Doula

But what *should* you pack be on your hospital birth packing list? I believe in prepared minimalism, and haven’t found a list that suited me, so I’m sharing mine for you! This list is based off the birth packing list I made for my first baby, and is customized for the experience you may have in our Winnipeg hospitals.

We know that when it comes to birth, plans can always change, but most people seem to prefer a short hospital stay- and a short hospital birth packing list! Be reassured that anything you need is just a short car ride away. And if you have a longer than expected stay, your support person may just welcome the fresh air on the drive home to gather supplies! Here’s what I couldn’t have lived without during that first day.

*Photo from Essie and used under Creative Commons License.
Photo from Essie  used under Creative Commons License.

When I thought about packing my bag for my hospital birth, it was all about comfort. At both Women’s Hospital and St Boniface, you may have the option to labor in water, and working through contractions in the shower can be heavenly, so I made sure to bring a bathing suit. I didn’t want to wear a hospital gown, so for my hospital birth packing list, I added a comfortable outfit to labor in- a bra top and a loose flowy skirt. The only unneeded “extra” that I packed and would do so again is fancy shampoo/conditioner and soap. The hospital supplies some, but after all the hard work of labor, it was glorious to grab my yummy smelling Aveda products and freshen up in the shower.

Since babies come on their own time, and weight guesses are notoriously inaccurate, I recommend having two different sizes of clothing available- just in case! With my third baby I put aside a couple newborn outfits. It provided comic relief later when I pulled out the teeny outfits and held them up to my 41+ week 10lb10.5oz babe, but wasn't very helpful for dressing him! For your hospital birth packing list, I recommend only a couple onesies and sleepers. It sounds basic, but skin to skin is wonderful and I prefer to just snuggle up with that fresh babe smell. We only dressed ourWinnipeg hospital bag packing list- Winnipeg Doula daughter once it was time to go home.

Our Winnipeg hospitals supply the basics- wash cloths, diapers, receiving blankets, so leave them off your hospital birth packing list. I do bring a muslin for snuggling up with baby afterwards. Bonus that it looks beautiful in photos! I also brought our favourite blanket for the ride home. I distinctly remember snuggling with the blanket on the ride to the hospital, thinking how in just a few short hours, I would be snuggling with our babe instead.

We choose to delay the first newborn bath, and avoid hats on babies, so keep it light and don't bring any fancy baby washes or pretty hats. I see a lot of hospital birth packing lists suggest bringing items like nail clippers and burp cloths. Most of these you truly won’t need during that first night. Pack light, and don’t give yourself too many ‘tasks’ in those early hours. Focus on meeting your new baby, I promise their nails can wait.

There’s many other items you can add to your hospital bag list. And if you will feel better to bring them- do it. In the end, you being able to relax is the goal. In my experience though- most of it stays in the bag. The hospital provides the basics. Your doula and support partner will have their hands and words at the ready- willing and able to help you rock your birth. All you need is your confidence and trust in your body!

 

Click below for a copy of Embrace Birth Service's FREE Hospital Birth Packing List printable. This Winnipeg doula has you covered!

Winnipeg hospital bag packing list- Winnipeg Doula

In the Eyes of a Child

Our next fun stop in #worlddoulaweek puts a youthful spin on things. I wanted to let you all know a bit more about me, and what better way to do that than through the ones who know me best- my kiddos! This fun quiz was going around Facebook several months back and I didn't get a chance to test it out with my two oldest- until now. I thought it would be fun to get their perspective on their doula mama, and I'll throw in a few comments of my own too!

Doula Mom Interview

1. What is something I always say to you?
T  Clean up!
E  Clean up!

2. What makes me happy?
T  When I got you soup, when you were sick at the old house and I brought it to your bed.  (When she was 4 I was sick once, and she lovingly went into the fridge in the early hours of the morning, poured soup to the very brim of a new bowl, and carried it down the hallways onto my bedside table, and then left it there without saying anything :|)
E  Playing downstairs

3. What makes me sad?
T  When I don't listen and throw a fit. 
E  Ummm peeing on the floor. (Can you tell we're in the midst of potty learning over here?)

4. How do I make you laugh?
T  *Makes a funny face at me*
E  Give me happy birthday cake!!

5. What was I like as a child?
T  You were like your mom, and your dad. 
E  Like me! (Not too far off! I've always been a quiet, shy, introspective person. You'd most often find me hiding somewhere silly (under the bed, in the closet) with my nose in a book)

6. How old am I?
T  31  (She's too smart for me...)
E  one two three four six. You six. 

7. How tall am I?
T  As big as a giant
E  BIG

8. What is my favorite thing to do?
T  Play with Oakley. Have ice cream. 
E  Going on the bed. Having Happy Birthday Cake. (I think they both get points for this- sleeping in and eating decadent rich cake would count as two favorites! I also enjoy the gym and watching sappy drama tv shows and movies though!)

9. What do I do when you're not around?
T  Get really sad and want to pick us up. 
E  Play!

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?
T  Being the ruler of your hotel and doula job!
E  

11. What am I really good at?
T  Taking care of us. Taking care of me when there's a fire drill.
E  Happy Birthday Cake. Then you and daddy and Tenley and me and Oakie when he is bigger eat Happy Birthday cake! (One track mind this kid has- I like it!)

12. What am I not very good at?
T  Buying toys.
E  Putting the baby gate up...

12. What do I do for a job?
T  Ruling your whole doula world and helping people have babies. 
E  Babies! Play with me. 

14. What is my favorite food?
T  Pancakes, birthday cake and ice cream. 
E  Toast. (I'm gonna call this one a fail. I'd love some good Chinese, followed with poutine and mocha cheesecake.)

15. What makes you proud of me?
T  Baking and taking care of us.
E  Having Sushi (Fail again. I don't eat sushi)

16. If I were a character, who would I be?
T  Darth Vader. Han solo. 
E  Luke Skywalker!!!

17. What do we enjoy doing together?
T  Going out places. 
E  Having battle (Light sabre battles dancing through the house)

18. How are we the same?
T  We're girls. Our hair. 
E  Hair! (True. All my kids inherited my poor sad natural hair color.)

19. How are we different?
T  I'm 5 and you're 31...
E  

20. How do you know I love you?
T  Cause I'm your child! You cuddle with me. 
E  *Starts pointing to all his stuff*

21. What do I like most about dad?
T  You're best friends (<3)
E  Sushi

22. Where is my favorite place to go?
T  Museum, the Zoo, The Y
E  Store. And get more sushi! (He's obsessed! And trying to use his Jedi mind tricks on me!)

23. How old was I when you were born?
T  30. No um 29. (False.)
E  Bigger!

 

Hope you've enjoyed this insight into our crazy lives! Do YOU have any questions for me? Comment, or send me a message so we can chat!

Winnipeg Doula Embrace Birth Services

Why Embrace Birth Services? | Winnipeg Doula

For today’s post in honor of World Doula Week, I wanted to share a little bit about how Embrace Birth Services came about! As many of you know, I’ve been at this doula gig here in Winnipeg for over ten years now (wow!). When I started thinking about returning to my beloved doula work after the birth of my last baby, I knew that I needed a new name that would reflect my services better. Over nine years of welcoming babes into the world, and three births under my belt myself, I’ve matured, my view on birth has changed, and it seemed fitting that my name would too.

And so began the impossible task of coming up with a name that would encompass all of the magic that I believe birth and doula work to be. No easy feat! Hours and hours were spent brainstorming, throwing down words on paper, trying to find something that spoke to me. And eventually, I had it. Embrace. Embrace Birth Services.

Embrace Birth Services Winnipeg Doula

There are many facets to this word, just as there are many facets to birth doula work. On the surface, I love the visual image of embrace during labor and birth. Physically, many women seek to be held, comforted, supported during their journeys. This concrete feeling of not being alone is reassuring, it affirms the belief that mama is strong, that the ground she walks on is secure, and that she and her team have what it takes to venture to the other side of birth. As a doula it is my goal to ensure you feel my embrace- physical or symbolic.

But what made me fall in love with Embrace Birth Services is the less obvious meaning. Acceptance. Surrender. By definition, embrace means to accept or support a belief, a theory, or a change, willingly and enthusiastically. To welcome with open arms, take to one’s heart. And isn’t that so true about birth? Labor and birth to me, is a little like that children’s song “Can’t go over it, Can’t go under it, Can’t go around it, Got to go through it!” Indeed. The only way through birth is through it. What this looks like is different for every laboring family, but I find a common characteristic in the amazing families I’ve supported- they embrace birth.

While labor and childbirth is very much a physical experience, it’s the emotional side of it- the headspace, that I see make the most difference in how a family copes with labor. Dive in, immerse yourself in it. Accept the unknowns, the sensations, the challenge. Embrace the very idea of labor- Work. Important work. Which must be done, but doesn’t need to be a hardship. As you surrender your trust to your body, to this babe about to come earthside, as you embrace the journey you are embarking on- it gets easier. Not pain-free. Not without work. But opening your mind and your mind to what lies ahead changes the dynamic in the birthing space.

One of my favorite articles about birth includes the following excerpt, which I find myself referring to over and over in my birth work.

I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual. To give birth, whether at home in a birth tub with candles and family or in a surgical suite with machines and a neonatal team, a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey.

We need time and space to prepare for that journey. And somewhere, deep inside us, at a primal level, our cells and hormones and mind and soul know this, and begin the work with or without our awareness. – Jana Studelska

Birth is not just biological. It is emotional, It is spiritual, It is transformative. And it demands a certain degree of acceptance and surrender. Embrace the birth that is upon you. Trust your body, Trust your baby, Trust your team. Hold your head high as you head into these hours, and surrender to the magic that comes when you bring a babe earthside.

embrace birth services winnipeg doula

As your doula, I will be there with you every step of the way. Reminding you of your power. Urging you to embrace this birth. Embrace your strength. Each surge that comes on can feel exciting, but also intimidating and a bit scary. And I will be there to guide you along the path, to accept this birth. Accept the sensations and the fear, look it in the eye, and do it anyways.

So why Embrace Birth Services? Because I believe each one of you deserves to feel power in this experience. To take control of your destiny. Embrace life, Embrace birth, Embrace strength. I know you can.

 

Love,

 

Jenine

Happy World Doula Week from Embrace Birth Services!

Did you know that today, March 22, marks the start of World Doula Week? The Spring equinox, symbolizing the return to fertility, seems like a perfect time to celebrate and bring empowerment to my powerful sisters who hold space as new souls enter the world. I’m thrilled to get to celebrate with you this year!

World Doula Week Winnipeg Birth Doula
World Doula Week Winnipeg Birth Doula

To celebrate, I’ve got some fun things planned this week, so make sure you check back! The theme of this year is #doulasbenefiteveryone, which is so so true. Your doula is truly there to support whichever birth experience you desire- YOU are the boss of your birth experience, and us doulas are just here to help navigate.

I’ve been blessed to support births that were at hospital, and at home. Parents who chose no intervention, and parents who chose belly births. Mamas who were alone, and those surrounded by family. Each of these people benefited from having an experienced, judgment free doula by their side. And I benefited by knowing them. It sounds cliche, but I truly am blessed to be able to call this work my “job”. Doulas benefit everyone- even the doula!

Before I leave you for today, I wanted to share this perfect graphic I found. Doulas are for #thatkindofmom