Archive for November, 2011

What do I bring when I am called to a birth?

November 30, 2011

When I am called to a birth, what do I put in my bag?  I could bring a massage roller, some aromatherapy oils, a straw for mum, a flannel for wiping her face, some energy boosting drinks, etc.  The list goes on, and I have seen extensive lists of what other doulas bring with them.  But I don’t bring anything for mum.  I bring stuff for me.  I bring spare socks, a drink, some nuts, an energy boosting drink, a spare top, a 10 minute hypnosis energising MP3, some chewing gum.  Does this make me a selfish doula?  Does it make me lazy?  Well, I can be both of those, but actually, I’ve thought it through and I think it makes me a better doula.  Here’s why.

My job is to prepare the couple for their birth and empower them.  Great preparation means that THEY have the oils, the comfort measures, the right foods in the house.  It is their birth, their way, and getting them to prepare for their birth empowers them.  I might WANT to arrive with a flurry of fabulous comforters, but that just makes the couple more grateful or needy, and me feel better.  It doesn’t empower them.   Furthermore, by taking care of myself, I become a stronger support for them.  Who wants a doula who is tired?  A doula who is faint with hunger?  A doula who is stressing because her socks are wet , or who worries that she has bad breath?  If I can be at my very best, then I can be there for others in my very best capacity. I think this approach runs through all our caretaking. It is what mothering is all about – you have to take care of yourself to be able to be there for your baby.  It is what I teach in my Compassionate Midwifery workshops – you have to take care of yourself, if you are to be a compassionate and caring midwife.  And it is important advice for dad during the birth too.  Dads have to remember to eat and rest, or they will find themselves feeling faint on the day, or getting ill in the few days after the birth.  We are reminded on a plane to take our own oxygen before we oxygenate those we are caring for.  This applies to all areas of our lives.  So, for mums, dads, doulas and midwives, the message is the same.  Take care of yourself so you can be there for those that need you.   It doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you stronger.

Treat your baby’s birth like your wedding day

November 17, 2011

I was at a wedding recently. I love weddings. I love the happiness of the couple, the excitement as we contemplate their future, the love and affection from friends and family. As I sat at the table, watching people dance, my friend commented on how much money must have been spent, and how crazy it is that we blow so much on our wedding day. And I began to wonder how lovely it would be if we could approach our birthing day in the same way as our wedding.
There would be lots of time spent planning our birthing day. We would research what is available out there for us in terms of preparation – the best antenatal classes, antenatal yoga, aqua-natal classes, chiropractice, homeopathy, hypnobirthing, and more. We would indulge ourselves in preparing our body and baby with reflexology, massage, health spas, indian head massage, reiki, etc. As well as services and pampering, we, of course, need to buy things for the special day! There’s the “must haves” such as birth ball, birth pool, relaxation cds, aromatherapy oils, massage lotions, candles, cute baby clothes, digital camera, music which makes you weep and a birth doula. Why not extend that – to a fabulous new bed, beautiful “birthing outfit”, lovely new knickers (what are those ugly disposal things all about?), dressing gown, slippers. We could have our hair and nails done for the special day, darling! Then of course, there’s the food. Well, if ever you needed an excuse to buy lobster, strawberries, chocolates, champagne, from Marks and Spencer’s, surely, this is it! And of course – a very special cake. The most special birthday cake you will ever buy.

Finally, there’s the baby-moon. This is the best bit. We would plan how we would spend that precious two weeks following the birth while our beautiful baby adjusts to their new world. Those adorable announcement cards would have been carefully selected in anticipation (with a note of when visitors are welcome – and when they aren’t!). We need lots of herbal remedies for healing, calm and energy, including a great hypnosis cd for calm parenting.
And we need to really enjoy this special baby bonding time, so we need to think carefully about managing our time. How often will the cleaner come in? Which postnatal doula are we going to select – have we got the best lactation consultant?
As always, food ranks highly in our celebrations. Would Ocado or Sainsbury’s deliver our deluxe food order? Does our favourite restaurant deliver? Would we really allow ourselves truffles and caviar every day? In terms of entertainment, which cds would we get in? Have we got a phone that we can access from the bed? Wow – the only time when we can really stay in bed for two weeks with justification

Lots and lots of planning, excitement, love, and affection. Just like a wedding! Even if you add up the costs of everything I have listed, we still don’t come close to the cost of a wedding (for the pedantic among us, please note that I’m not including the cost of baby equipment, because that isn’t a one off spend. It gets used for months or years). And of course, just like a wedding, we can enjoy the preparation, but we can never control the outcome. We can never be 100% sure that bride or groom won’t bolt, or that the car doesn’t have an accident on the way to the church. We can’t know that the lovely dress won’t get stained or torn during the celebrations. We can’t know that we will enjoy being the centre of attention. And with the weather as unpredictable as it is – well, it might storm like crazy. The caterers might turn out to be awful! But that doesn’t stop us preparing and planning with excitement and the presumption that it will be a wonderful day! Here’s to doing the same with your very special birthing day. After all, we can all get married again, but we can never be born again.

Mia Scotland,