When you Come Unglued | Holding Space as a Winnipeg Doula

I talk a lot in my work about ‘holding space’. It’s a beautiful and breathtaking concept, and Glow Doula captures it perfectly in this article.  What does Holding the Space Mean? As they underwent some business changes, the article was unavailable for a while. Now that it’s back up, I wanted to share it with you again.

“In a strictly spiritual sense, to “hold space” for another is to make yourself a centering force.  To hold the space for a woman giving birth is make yourself the rock-solid ground beneath while labour throws everything it’s got at her.  It means passing no judgement or holding no sway over her decision making, nor her perception of her experience.  It means not trying to fix the unfixable, or reason with the unreasonable. It means accepting that there will be times in labour when she comes a bit unglued, and will be convinced she can’t do it – and knowing what she needs to hear (and doesn’t need to hear) when that time comes. It means making it emotionally safe for her and her partner to live through this most intense of experiences in their own way, and to feel whatever emotions come with it. It means making sure they know there’s a safe space if and when they need to talk afterwards.”

 

At Embrace Birth Services, your doula holds space for your birth- whatever that may mean. I will be your firm foundation, your soft space to land, no matter what choices you may make, or twists and turns your labor may take. Your doula’s support is not dependent on any criteria- I am there to sit with you through the quiet and the storms.

Continuous support during labor has been associated with numerous benefits, but perhaps the most important is the peace that comes with knowing that you have someone on your side who is an unshakable presence- who is there 100% to support your experience. “Not trying to fix the unfixable” is such a beautiful way to put it. As a doula I don’t claim to take away the sensations or pain of labor. A magic wand I am not. But I can sit with you as the waves crash, as you come unglued and assure you that your feelings are real, that your experience matters, and that I will be there every step of the way.

My amazing doula holding space for me during my third labor. No fixing, no magic, just an unwavering presence who exuded acceptance and support.
Other great articles on what it means to hold space:

Heather Plett

Birthing From Within

 

Are you ready to find out more about how a doula can support you during your birth experience? Fill out the form below to set up a complimentary consultation with your Winnipeg doula.

 

 

You Want Me to Wear What? | Winnipeg Doula

If you’re expecting in Winnipeg, you’ve probably heard the news regarding recent health care cuts, specifically those surrounding the postpartum period. We could talk til we’re blue in the face why this is the wrong choice for Winnipeg moms, but instead, I’m here to offer some constructive advice.

The first issue that has been discussed the most by Winnipeg moms lately seems to be the disappearance of those famed mesh undies. Love them or hate them- they get a lot of attention! And unfortunately, many expecting parents lately have been receiving letters from their care providers announcing that they are no longer being provided by WRHA at Winnipeg hospitals. If you’ve read my previous packing list suggestions found here, you’ve got a sneak peak into a fabulous solution.

While no more stylish than the mesh underwear and monster pad option, many women swear by Depends post birth as a hands down better choice. I’d have to agree. I know it sounds wrong, but hear me out. The postpartum period is filled with enough uncertainty and perceived loss of dignity. Depends cuts down on the leak factor, so you can go about the day getting to know your fresh babe without worrying if your new couch is sporting a new stain. They fit better and more comfortably than a one size fits all mesh underwear, and means no need for the King Kong size pad weighing you down.

And now that Winnipeg hospitals may no longer be supplying the beautiful mesh underwear and postpartum pads, choosing Depends also means having an easier item to purchase. While mesh panties may need to be hunted down at a medical supply store or online, Depends are readily available at any grocery store you or your partner may have a moment to run in to. It’s win-win.

So while I still want to blow a giant raspberry in the direction of whomever is responsible for taking away more services from Winnipeg moms, in this case at least- fear not, you have other (and better!) options!

*Photo from Essie and used under Creative Commons License.

Babies Come With Hats- Creating Your Winnipeg Hospital Bag 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 bag packing list- babies come with hats!

Winnipeg hospital bag packing list- Winnipeg Doula

But what *should* you pack be on your hospital bag 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 bag 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.

For myself in my hospital bag, 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 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 bag 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 bag 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 bag 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 Bag 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

Embrace Birth Services- Winnipeg Doula

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