Dads and Doulas | Winnipeg Doula

With Father’s Day almost upon us, I wanted to talk about one of the elephants in the room. One of the most common concerns when a couple is talking about inviting a doula to their birth, is what about dad? Doesn’t he feel displaced? What if he wants to be part of the birth, helping his partner through the experience? I hear stories from families where the birther wants a doula, but dad isn’t sure. He worries about being “unneeded” once they hire a doula.

Rest assured, having a doula present does not mean that the mother’s other support person, be it her partner or another loved one, is replaced. On the contrary, having a doula can help support the partner so they can better support the birthing mama.

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With my first pregnancy, I know my husband was hesitant to invite someone else into our birthing room. By just a few hours into labor though, he already expressing how thankful he was that we’d chosen to have a doula. While my husband remained by and large my primary support, my doula was our rock. She was there to offer tips or encouragement when I needed, and having her perspective was priceless. My husband knew me- he knew what things relaxed me and could read my facial expressions. My doula knew birth. Together they were an unbeatable team.

But she didn’t just help me. She was around to grab snacks and water when my husband needed. She was able to stay in the room with me when he needed to make phone calls or go for a walk. The birth room can sometimes be a stuffy place, and getting even just a few minutes of fresh air while knowing your partner is still supported is such a relief. My daughter is almost seven, but he still talks about how unburdened he felt as soon as our doula got to the hospital– he was still my support, but it wasn’t *all* on him anymore.

As a doula I see the same thing in the families I work with. Partners who are worried that they might not know enough or have the right words to say, gain confidence as they watch an experienced doula care for the birther. My favourite thing to see is when they start to copy things that they see me doing, providing the perfect combination to their partner. A dad who started the labour maybe just lightly rubbing a back learns exactly the right way to prov

ide counterpressure during contractions, or how to sway with the rhythm of her breathing. As he’s able to step into a larger role and feels more comfortable, I’ll take the opportunity to grab snacks or water, maybe grab lotion for moms back, or help her fix her hair. Sometimes one of us will be provoding physical support while the other stares into her eyes and talks to her. Dad and doula complement each other, always one ready to step into the role that mom needs.

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And when things get intense, as a doula I’m able to lend support to both partners– I’ll often provide physical support to the birther while explaining to the partner what is happening, reminding them that these sights and sounds may seem intense, but that it is all normal. Especially as you get close to the moment of birth, the hospital staff or midwives are often focused on the medical side of things– as they should be. This can leave both mom and partner feeling a little lost and sometimes scared. Having a doula there who understands birth and typical protocol can be incredibly reassuring when everyone around you is talking above you– not TO you.

I love working with families, and especially love seeing these strong dads become more confident as they support their partners. For more information about working with a doula to support both of you, head on over to my doula page.  If you have questions, send me a message! I’d love to hear from you. Happy Father’s Day!

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Hello Henry | Winnipeg Cesarean Birth Story

I met Lea and Mark last year just as fall was settling in. Their easygoing natures and warm personalities were such a breath of fresh air. As we got to know each other, I fell in love with their trust in the process of birth and in the story their little one was cooking up for them. If I could come up with one phrase to describe their vibe to the upcoming birth it would be settled. It was just a lack of fear or stress. They knew what their preferences were for the birth, and they prepared for it thoughtfully with both prenatal classes and a doula. But they also had a fantastic relationship with their care providers and between being well informed and holding a trust in those providers, they were prepared and open to whatever path they needed to head down.

In January Lea and Mark found out that their little one was breech. They talked about their options with their doctor, and agreed that they would follow baby’s lead. If baby decided to stay bum down, the safest delivery for both Lea and the little one, would be a planned cesarean. A few weeks later when baby was still breech, they proceeded to plan their cesarean birth. Of course this wasn’t Lea's first choice, but I loved her understanding and security with the path they were heading down. It wasn’t the experience she would have picked for their birth, but she was confident they would make the best of it, and knew that it was the right decision. In so many births where the parents feel satisfied, I hear that common thread— regardless of the type of birth, or what happened during it— what makes the most difference is that the parents had a voice and were able to make their own informed decisions. Lea and Mark did, and I am so proud of them for being able to look so calmly through their options and choose the right one for them.

Right away, Lea began speaking with her doctor about her preferences for the birth and the possibility of having me attend, and thankfully her amazing provider was on board. We talked about what else to expect for their birth, and made plans for their special day, February 16th.

As is the case so much of the time, their little one had other plans! Despite being the one day Lea said she didn’t want to have a baby, she started having contractions on February 14th. We laughed a bit about the irony, and they made plans to go to the hospital and be checked out. After a couple hours it was confirmed that she was in labour (gee thanks, she could have told you that!) and they would be meeting their baby tonight!

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I headed over to meet them, and could feel the excitement in the room when I joined them in triage. Mark updated me while they started getting Lea set up with her IV, and we were able to confirm that both Mark and I would be welcomed into the OR for the birth. I was so happy to be able to continue supporting and documenting their journey! Often doulas and birth photographers are not allowed into the operating room for cesarean births due to a one support person limit at both Women’s Hospital and St Boniface Hospital. Thankfully this tide seems to be very slowly turning, as care providers and nurses are seeing the benefits and focusing on how they can improve the experience for these families as they welcome their babies. And we are SO thankful!

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Scrubs on and ready to go, we counted down the time until they came and got us for the birth, excitement building as each minute passed. Finally we went down the hall and waited in recovery. When they came to get Lea she made it to the door before running back in to give Mark a hug— their last as a family of two! I’m pretty sure I grinned like a fool.

Once in their birthing room, it’s like time speeds by. Mark comforts Lea, whispering in her ear and keeping a reassuring hand on her. As they await the birth, Backstreet Boys start playing on the radio. Lea laughs and they tell me that in a previous surgery she had, one of her requests to make the experience better was to have Backstreet Boys playing in the background. What serendipity that it randomly came on now, just as they were meeting their baby!

Before long, we’re able to peek over the curtain and Mark announces that they have the most beautiful baby boy! He looks big and strong, has the most annoyed look on his face (what a shock to the system birth must be!) and is absolutely perfect. He lets out his first cry, and I’m pretty sure all of us tear up.

The emotional moment as we hear baby cry for the first time <3

They take him over to the warmer to get his first checkup, and Mark gives Lea a continuous update on how he’s doing and what’s happening. It’s been months and I can still hear his voice in my ear as clear as day, proclaiming over and over how perfect their son is, voice dripping with emotion and love. Finally they have him wrapped up and bring him over to show Lea her son for the first time. It can be hard to see when you’re still lying down but Lea immediately starts to talk to him and is able to reach her hand out and touch him. I feel so blessed to be able to witness these amazing moments.

   

Mark sits down to cuddle with baby while they wait for Lea to be ready to go back to recovery. She can’t see their little guy, so he makes sure to continue giving her all the details. I love how much he makes sure at every moment to keep her involved. It can be so isolating to lay on the table covered by the drape while so much is going on around you, but Mark continues to reassure Lea and recount for her everything that she can’t turn to see.

Finally it’s time to go back to recovery, and like some kind of miracle mama, Lea is able to sit up right away and wastes no time getting to know each detail of her son. She talks to him and rocks him like a pro when he fusses, like she’s been doing this for years already. They latch him on for his first breastfeed and start to learn together. I watch quietly, lending a hand when needed, but mostly just being witness as the three of them transition so well into their new role as a family of three. It seems like such a natural move for Mark and Lea, and I think how lucky baby boy is to have their soothing personalities in his life.

Time flies by as they take in each detail and soak up the newness of this amazing new personality. He's content to just sit and hold mom or papas finger, knowing he's safe and loved here.

   

I am so honoured to have gotten to know Lea and Mark and to support them as they become parents. I can't think of two more deserving people, and I know Henry will be a very loved little boy. Welcome to the world little Henry!

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.

winnipeg birth photographer winnipeg doula st boniface hospital
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.

Your Birth Is Not My Story

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You may have noticed that I don’t “check in” at the hospital or birth centre, nor do I make an announcement post after the families I work with welcome their little one. This isn’t because I’m not over the moon excited about what I do and the hard work these families have put in— I am! These new names and stories and faces are etched into my brain forever. Birth is an amazing love story of epic proportions.

But this story? It’s not mine to tell. That announcement? Not mine to make. Sharing the news about your brand new bundle of joy is usually one of the most exciting announcements a person ever gets to make, and I don’t ever want to be the one to take the wind out of anyone’s sails! I see posts from doulas often who are either on their way to a birth, or so excited about what they have witnessed and want to share that with their followers- I get it! There is a magic in birth that you just can't replicate, and as birth workers we sometimes want to shout it from the rooftops.

It may seem a little reaching that my checking in at a certain place of birth would ruin someone’s news, but unfortunately you hear about it happening all too often! All it takes is someone who knows the family and know that they’ve hired me, to see me check in at the hospital they’ve chosen to put two and two together and figure out the exciting news before the family is ready to share. I know of several families who have had their babies announced by a well-meaning friend or birth worker who thought they were being discrete enough. And that's the last thing that I want. I am extremely grateful to be a part of these birthing days, but I am not the story, and I don't ever want to make this amazing accomplishment about me. These families- they deserve the kudos and the chance to share their own news.

So I will continue to jump for joy on the inside, but I will leave all the big reveals to you— exactly the way it should be. I typically send a few sneak peak images to my birth photography clients within a day of their birth, and I love when they're able to use them for an announcement! I am always happy to be tagged in posts and love to see the photos you choose to share-- on your own time. Once the news has spread a bit, then I'll share my awe and excitement. But it is so improtant to me that you get your big moment first.

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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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