Random thoughts about Birth, Babies, and Breastfeeding from a Doula's perspective.

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A Placenta is a Drug?

Posted on July 23, 2019 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (4601)

In response to Health Canada’s recent recommendations and attempted regulation of this service, I thought that I would write my thoughts to help our clients make an informed decisions if this service is right for them.

The Case

Health Canada is following the footsteps of the America Centre for Disease’s recommendation for the practice of placenta consumption to stop. Their recommendation follows their study of one infant that got sick. Please read the story here:

After birth, the infant tested positive for GBS and was treated in hospital. GBS can be passed from mother to baby during the normal birth process, and this is why usually the mother is treated with antibiotics in labour.

Five days later, the infant fell ill with GBS again and was admitted to the hospital for treatment. The hospital was confused as to where the GBS has come from, so they tested the mother’s milk (which came back as negative). They did not test the mother or the other family members to see if they were the carriers of the infection. Instead, they tested the encapsulated placenta, which came back positive, nearly matching the same bacteria from the infants 2 blood samples (one from initial infection, one from secondary infection).

My question is how did the infant catch the secondary infection from the pills that the mother was reportedly taking? It could not have been transferred to her breastmilk as it tested negative, as well the acid in the stomach would have killed any and all bacteria.

The article even states “This led the doctors to believe that the placenta pills were likely responsible for the infection -- though they could not definitively rule out that the infection could have come from another of the baby's family members.” Say what?!? You are only blaming the placenta for causing the secondary infection even though there is not link to how the infant would come into contact with the encapsulation, and you didn’t test the family members who would have been in direct contact with the infant? Or maybe, the first infection wasn’t cleared up with your initial treatment, and got ‘re-sick’ from the primary infection (how many times have we had to take a second round of anti-biotics for a persistent infection?). Instead of looking in the obvious, direct transmission routes, let’s instead attack the ‘hippy’ practice that we do not understand and wish to regulate.

The Regulation

So this moves me onto the regulation of placenta encapsulation. Those that know me know that I do have a wee bit of a conspirator complex. If placenta encapsulation does have all the benefits that people claim they do, how can governments and drug companies get their hands on it? Short answer, they can’t. unless they shut us all down. And this is exactly what I think they are trying to do.

You can read Health Canada’s statement here:

First they say that: “There is currently no scientific evidence that supports claims of health benefits associated with consuming human placenta.” Ok, so if you choose to do it, there is no guarantee that it will work.

Later, they say: “Placenta products prepared by a third party are considered drugs and therefore subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. Information about the safety and efficacy of the product must be submitted to Health Canada for review and obtain approval before they can be sold.” They are calling a placenta a drug? What is there definition of a drug? From another government webpage (, I found “Drug products include prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals, disinfectants and sanitizers with disinfectant claims…When a product is offered for sale in Canada to treat or prevent diseases or symptoms, it is regulated as a drug under the Food and Drugs Act.” So first they are saying that it does not have any health benefits, but they wish to classify it as a drug because it treats and prevents diseases or symptoms. Which is it? So are you telling me that chamomile tea, which we all know has a soothing effect, must be sold as a drug because it alleviates symptoms? What about all those doTerra people selling essential oils, are they regulated as drugs? Let’s do down the rabbit hole further and are all the CBD oil people registered as selling drugs?? No, they are not. This is the only way for the government to try to stop families from making fully informed decisions about their health care.

The Science

Ok, so let’s move onto there being ‘no studies done on human consumption of placenta’ or ‘no health benefits. A quick google search brought up this meta-analysis of several studies from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. ( They reviewed many studies, and even found the same flaws as I did with the one case of infant illness stating:

A single case published by the American Center for Disease Control describes a late-onset infection in a neonate from group B streptococci (GBS) 32 . The mother had consumed her own placenta post partum in the form of capsules. Group B streptococci were identified both in the dried placental tissue and the blood of the newborn infant, but not in the breast milk. In case of maternal, oral ingestion it is assumed that the stomach functions as a barrier against bacteria, including streptococci. The maternal intake of placenta as a route for infection is therefore debatable. Prenatal transmission of bacteria, colonization of the maternal gastrointestinal tract with GBS, and transmission due to close postpartum contact between mother and child, can more likely be assumed in this case.

Notice that last sentence. So it is more probable that close contact between the mother and infant was the more likely cause, not the placenta.

If you read the whole NCIB article (which was published in September 2018, and the Health Canada ‘recommendation’ was passed down in November 2018), it states:

The risk associated with ingesting oneʼs own placenta following a spontaneous, non-interventional delivery without long-term pharmacological treatment during pregnancy is relatively low…. Placental tissue is a source of natural hormones, trace elements and essential amino acids – the ingestion of raw or dehydrated placenta could influence postpartum convalescence, lactation, mood and recovery.

The risk of intoxication from individual intake appears to be low in terms of microbiological contamination and the content of potentially toxic trace elements. However, the mother should be advised that the processing and use of the placenta is her responsibility and that the transmission of infections cannot be ruled out.

Further studies focusing on the bioavailability of the hormones after oral ingestion and their potential physiological effect are necessary to evaluate the use of placental preparations. Patients with an interest in placentophagy should be informed about the potential risks and effects.

We always take the stance of Informed Consent; if you do not know your options than you don’t have any. The above potential benefits were included for families to make decisions that are best for them; they can decide if they feel that the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Where We Stand

We have never claimed that placenta consumption will cure you of anything, and any one that has had a consult with Lindsay knows that she says ‘even if the effect is purely placebo, what harm has it done?’ A simple cup of chamomile tea has calming effects, where is that line that distinguishes what is a drug, and what is not. A placenta is not a drug as it does not fit Health Canada’s definition, nor does it fall within the guidelines of the Natural Health Product Regulation. We are not charging you for your placenta, we are not selling you back your placenta, we are not making any health claims that placentaphagy will cure you of anything. Our fee is for the preparation of your placenta, something that you could easily do yourself. We are not selling you a product, but rather offering you a service.

Our contract clearly states:

Bellies2Babies Doula Services (hereinafter referred to as B2B) is not a pharmacy, pharmaceutical representative, holistic practitioner, herbalist, or medical doctor. Benefits of placentophagy are supported by ongoing research but have not been evaluated by Health Canada. Placentophagy, (as it pertains to this contract agreement, is for natural nutritional supplementation and is intended solely for ingestion by the mother who has birthed the placenta(s) and not for her family members, friends, or other individuals), is a natural nutritional supplement and as such cannot be guaranteed to produce specific results.

I will stand by to say that it has not been evaluated by Health Canada because they have not evaluated it yet! They are moving forward on this ban out of fear and ignorance.

The Food and Drugs Act states:

drug includes any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in

(a) the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder or abnormal physical state, or its symptoms, in human beings or animals,

(b) restoring, correcting or modifying organic functions in human beings or animals, or

(c) disinfection in premises in which food is manufactured, prepared or kept; 

As we make no health claims that placentaphagy will cure, treat or prevent any thing (and Health Canada agrees that there are no scientific evidence to support it), we are not manufacturing a drug.

We are not selling encapsulated placentas to anyone; the placenta that you give us, we charge a fee for processing it, and we give it back to you.


Health Canada is trying to have the situation both ways; they will not say that placenta encapsulation has any health benefits but are trying to classify it as a drug when it does not fit into either the Food or Drug Regulations, or as a Natural Health Product. They have not demonstrated why a placenta fits into the ‘drug’ category aside from simply stating that it is.

Placenta Encapsulators are not ‘selling’ a food, drug, or natural health product. We are providing a service for a fee, and the government does not have an avenue to stop people from providing a service for a fee. This is a can of worms that they cannot open and fight, so they resorted to trying to classify a placenta as a drug.


Lindsay's Guarantee!!

Posted on December 13, 2017 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (2256)

You just had a baby; you are tired, overwhelmed, and sore. Breastfeeding is natural and should be easy. Baby, put to boob, this should work! For some reason, it is not going the way you imagined it to.

What Lindsay has learned in her years of practicing is that often new parent’s preserever through the discomfort to the point where that 'loving, perfect breastfeeding relationship' they envisioned, just ain't happening! Their doctor isn't helping, their midwife hands them a nipple shield, their friends say to tough it out, and their partner just wants to make it all better! They contact us and gasp at the price of a breastfeeding consult. We try to explain to them that that is cheaper (and healthier) than formula, but they just can't seem to see it....

So here is my guarantee!! If your baby is less than 5 days old, mom and baby have no medical concerns, and you have been trying to breastfeed since birth, I will do my in-home breastfeeding support and if I cannot get baby to latch more comfortably and you do not feel better about our visit...IT'S FREE!! That's right. If I don't help you, you do not pay.

(Some conditions apply. During our intake I will advise if your situation applies)

50 Shades of...Birth??

Posted on November 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (1778)

50 Shades of ...Birth?? How Having A Baby Is A Lot Like Making A Baby

If you think about it, and I mean really think, having great sex is just like having a baby; at least it has been in my experience. Here are a few of my many observations on the similarities between the two.


The hormones necessary for great sex and orgasm are oxytocin, cortisol, pheromones, and prolactin; in birth these same four hormones play leading roles. Oxytocin stimulates contractions in the uterus. Cortisol aids in conversion of progesterone to estrogen. This elevated level of estrogen stimulates prostaglandin secretion and oxytocin receptor development, the hormones needed for labour! Pheromones help us feel at ease, and feel good about ourselves; a woman that feels safe and confident will labour and birth smoother. Prolactin, the mothering hormone! It is interesting to note that estrogen has little to do with sexual desire, and it is also lowest levels during pregnancy.


Do we plan, or place time limits (ok, nooner’s aside) on the act of sex? Do we expect ‘The Deed’ to progress in a linear fashion? Or do we allow the event to unfold and simply enjoy the moment. Birth is the same. How would your partner feel if every two minutes you asked (or checked) him how far he was? If you ask me, that kind of takes all the fun out of it. Do you think that you would be able to sexually ‘perform’ under these conditions? Mothers in labour often crack under this pressure and get labeled ‘failure to progress/perform’.


Remember those awkward classes where you were taught Sex-Ed? I don’t know about your classes, but nothing in those classes had anything to do with sex or taught me how to be a good lover. They kind of took all the fun out of it. I feel the same way about most Childbirth Education Classes. Watching my 9th Grade teacher put a condom on a dildo was about as much fun as watching my CBE teacher run a baby through a pelvis. Neither one of these classes gave the good lessons. For sex, experiment until you find what works for you or watch porn where people are actually doing it. For birth, experiment and watch videos that show birth! Or do it with someone (hey, everyone wants a 3-some) more experienced; a midwife, doula, or friend.


I don’t know about you, but I have never had sex with my mom or dad in the room. My first birth, I made the mistake of allowing my sister and mother-in-law to attend. What was I thinking! I just could not find my groove with an audience during the birth. My ‘ideal birth’ was derailed, augmented, and drugged.


So, ladies, when you are fanaticizing and ‘going solo’, do you dream of spot lights on your crotch, smells of antiseptic, strangers all around coaching you on how to do it, and alarms incessantly beeping? Or do you envision a dark, candle lit room with rose petals strewn on the bed, romantic music, and soft, sexy voices? Your cat knows the atmosphere needed for birth; she grabs your favourite sweater, runs to the shoe closet, and makes a perfect nest to birth her babies in. We need to give more consideration to what a labouring mother requires in her birth to create the correct ambiance for birth.


It is interesting that how a woman sounds during great sex is very close to a woman having an amazing birth. These sounds are low, visceral, and sexy even! In supporting your partner in a great birth, encourage them to make these low, sexy sounds.


Imagine if we tried to de-sensitise ourselves during sex. Would we make condoms thicker, would we add numbing agents to lubricants, or would we inject ourselves with drugs that knocked us out completely? What do you think that it would do to our sexual performance or pleasure? This is exactly what we do to women in labour, yet we expect them to birth their baby. We give nitrous gas, analgesics, and even epidurals that numb everything from the rib cage down. Sure, they take away the pain, or make it so that you don’t care, but when push comes to shove, they need ‘purple pushing’, vacuum extractions, and forceps. Those nerves that have just been numbed play an important role in biofeedback; we need them to work.


Oh the lies we were told to keep us away from enjoying sex; it hurts, if you masturbate you will grow hair on your palms, only bad girls enjoy it. But we have come to know the truth, haven’t we? Childbirth is not exactly an organism for most of us, but it can be enjoyed.


Oh, erotica. We love to read you, but are ashamed to share you in public. My friends are all over The Outlander series, ‘Who is your Jamie?’. Well, mine is my big, redheaded husband. That book series is so long and hot, I got pregnant reading the first, and the last 18 months later reading nothing in between. But when we do come across a great erotic book, it spreads like wild fire…you may have heard of a wee book similar to the title of this article. Why is it that we feel comfortable sharing those great sex moments, but shamed about great birth stories?


If a woman is not ready to have sex, and she is forced, we call this rape. If a woman is not ready to birth her baby, we call her ‘post date’ or ‘failure to progress’. Scare tactics of fear such as ‘you baby is too big’, ‘your pelvis is too small’ or ‘the longer we wait, the risks of a dead baby increase’ are employed. We make her feel like it is her fault that she is not ready. Thankfully we do not have this same opinion with sex.


What is birth other than the final act of sex? Most babies are still conceived in the bedroom (or bathroom, kitchen, backseat of a car, what have you). The man gives a woman a gift of sperm and all the other yummy fluids that go with it. The woman takes that sperm, nourishes it, nurtures it, grows it, and 40’ish weeks later she gives it back to him in the form of a beautiful baby, a placenta, and a bag full of water.


Lindsay Matthews © 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Water Birth |

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (1009)

What is 'Waterbirth'? Waterbirth is the use of a heated water bath or pool by a woman during labour and birth. Some women use the pool for labour only, choosing to birth their babies on “land” while others stay in the pool to birth the baby, leaving to deliver the placenta, and still others stay in the pool for the entire process. There is no right or wrong way. What feels right for the mother and is safest for mother and baby is what counts. 

Currently, waterbirth is not an option for hospital births in London; however you may use the tub and showers available in the birthing suites.  For those choosing to have a homebirth, there are several options available.  You can use you existing tub and shower, use a blow-up kiddie pool, or rent a full sized Birth Tub.  Bellies2Babies is proud to offer this service.

 Is waterbirth safe?

Yes! To date, there are estimates that more than 100,000 waterbirths have taken place world-wide with no reports of life-threatening complications for either the mother or the baby. 

 What prevents the baby from breathing underwater?

There are four main factors that prevent the baby from inhaling water at the time of birth:

Prostaglandin E2 levels from the placenta cause a slowing down or stopping of the fetal bre7b8athing movements. When baby is born, the Prostaglandin level is still high. Simply put, the baby's muscles for breathing aren’t working yet.Babies are normally born with mild hypozia or lack of oxygen.  Hypoxia causes apnea and swallowing, not breathing or gasping.Water is a hypotonic solution and lung fluids present in the fetus are hypertonic. So, even if water were to travel in past the larynx, they could not pass into the lungs.The Dive Reflex and the larynx. The larynx has five times as many as taste buds as the whole surface of the tongue. So, when a solution hits the back of the throat, passing the larynx, the taste buds interprets what substance it is and the glottis automatically closes and the solution is then swallowed, not inhaled. How long can the baby be left underwater?

Standard practice in Canada is to bring the baby out of the water within the first ten seconds after birth. There is no physiological reason to leave the baby under the water for any length of time.

Physiologically, the placenta is supporting the baby with oxygen during this time though it can never be predicted when the placenta will begin to separate causing the flow of oxygen to baby to stop.

 How is the baby monitored during waterbirth?

The manufacturers of monitoring equipment and hand held Doppler’s have developed waterproof varieties of monitoring equipment. In typical waterbirths the baby’s heart tones are listened to every 30 minutes during first stage and after every pushing contraction during second stage.

 How do I have a ‘waterbirth’?

If you are having your baby in the hospital, you will not be able to birth your baby in the water.  However, most birthing suites are equipped with tubs and/or showers.  You can use them even if your water has broken if you practice proper hygiene. A Danish study revealed no increased infection in women who bathed throughout labour. Another study proved that water does not enter the vagina when a woman remains upright in the tub.

If you are planning a homebirth, you have several options.  You home tub is not deep or wide enough for proper buoyancy.  Sometimes an inflatable kiddie pool works, or you can purchase or rent a Birth Tub.

The water should be whatever is comfortable for the mother, usually between 35-38°C (95-100 °F).  You can easily increase the temperature a few degrees with a kettle or two full of hot water.

Tips to do as soon as labour begins:

Increase the temperature of your hot water tank to insure plenty of warm water. Have lots of towels and receiving blankets on hand. Keep hydrated, this is commonly overlooked because the mother’s temperature is being regulated by the water temperature.

You want me to do WHAT with my placenta??

Posted on February 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (10647)

I want you to eat it. Yes, that’s right, eat it.

Your placenta is an amazing thing!


It is the only organ that the body discards. And your next baby, it makes a new one. How cool is that!

It is an organ that you and your baby share! It is made up of 50% of your (the mom) cells and 50% of your babies! (I will be honest, if you have more than one baby in there, I don’t know how that math works out) If you think about that, and you know about antibodies and organ donation, how amazing is it that our bodies do not reject something that isn’t ours.

The placenta not only nourishes your baby, but it tries to protect it from stuff like alcohol, tobacco and other stuff that we might be avoiding in pregnancy. If you examine the placenta of a smoking woman, you will see calcifications. If you examine these, they contain high concentrations of nicotine. This is not to say that the placenta stops and filters everything out, but just that it is trying to protect your baby.

Most other mammals do eat their placentas. The hormones contained within help “eject the milk and help clean and return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size”. How often have you heard a woman state that she didn’t make enough milk nor has problems with breastfeeding? Modern science says that although the placenta does contain a high amount of protein, hormones and other nutrients, there is no reason for a healthy, well-fed woman to consume her placenta. We are well-fed, but highly undernourished as a society (another rant), but are we missing out on a key step to optimal maternal nutrition by not eating our placentas?

When is the last time you heard of an animal with postpartum depression? While it is true that some animals will eat their young, I doubt that this is a manifestation of PPD. If you look at the hormone fluctuation that a woman can go through during ‘her time of the month’, multiply that by 10 to get what her body does in the first week after baby. The very hormones that her body stops making (and has been used to for the past 9+ months) are the very ones that are rich in her placenta. Most methods of encapsulation do recommend a tapering off in the capsules, making a gentler transition out of your pregnancy hormone high. They also allow for more ‘Happy Pills’ when those bad days occur, kind of perk me ups. Placentophagy (that’s the act of eating your placenta) has been shown in scientific double blind studies (basically as fool proof as it gets) to decrease the symptoms and occurrences of PPD. Makes me want a fourth kid just to see if it works!

The placenta contains high levels of various vitamins, such as B6, which can help curb postpartum depression. Eating the placenta enables the mother to "reclaim" these vitamins and put them to use in her own body. Placentophagia may also increase a mother's blood levels of a hormone known as CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), a known stress-reducer. This hormone is normally secreted by the hypothalamus. And we all know that a Happy Wife makes a Happy Life!

How about that ‘helps the milk eject’ situation? In 1954, a study was conducted in which 210 women, expected to have low milk supply, were administered dried placenta. 86% of the mothers noticed a significant increase in milk production ( I makes sense that placentophagia can be beneficial in stimulating breastmilk production, even for mothers who are not at risk for low supply. Eating my placenta is a better option, in my opinion, than the modified milk of another species (or plant).

It has been a long standing truth amongst homebirth midwives that if a woman is hemorrhaging, placing a slice of the maternal side of the placenta between her cheek and gums will help slow/stop the bleeding. Now this is a fresh slab of placenta. But if I had the choice between “here, eat this” or “we have to go to the hospital, you’re bleeding out”, I would be grabbing that hunk of love and mowing down.

Thankfully, we have the ability to capture most of that placenta goodness in a pill! (If only they could make me a size 4 via pill) There are 2 common methods for this, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Raw Foods (I will go into each one in subsequent posts). Each has its own benefits and unique properties that may appeal to each woman.

Bellies2Babies does offer both types of Placenta Encapsulation. If you would like more information on our services, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

Delayed Cord Clamping As Explained by Penny Simpkin

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (1606)

Check out this video on YouTube and decide for yourself. I wonder why would you not wait?

According to Penny Simkin, studies done by Hutton ( prove that the bilirubin levels in babies who have received the additional one third of their blood volume from the placenta -through delayed cord clamping- have not been high enough to cause clinical jaundice. Why would you keep this part of the baby’s blood from him/her? This blood is oxygenated when it reaches the baby. Essentially, when you cut the cord immediately after birth and do not allow the placenta to give this blood back to baby you are preventing one third of your child’s blood from reaching him/her. Who would like for one third of their own blood to be removed? Would we ever deprive our newborns of oxygen? When you clamp and cut the cord just minutes after birth, this is what happens. One third of the oxygenated blood does not reach your babe, so his/her oxygen levels could be deficient by one third at birth as well. Your baby could be breathing much harder than a baby with all of its oxygen in order to catch up, right?

This truly puts into perspective the gravity of my own decisions. I recall that my full term, uncomplicated twins (surgically born with immediate cord clamping) both needed some help breathing randomly within the first 48hrs and my youngest son (born vaginally with delayed cord clamping) was discharged 8 hours after being born with no trouble breathing at all. It makes me think that there maybe something to this.

I also consider the thousands of dollars spent by parents to preserve this same cord blood through cord banking. They cord bank so that if your child or relative requires stem cells as part of a treatment process, they will be there. Kind of like an insurance policy. I would prefer to give my child(ren) the best start by giving them the gift of cord blood and all of its benefits, instead of holding it in trust. Why would you not want as much of this ‘gold’ to be collected by your babe….and give him/her the best chance that you can.

For great information on the benefits of delayed cord clamping check out or google “benefits of delayed cord clamping”. This is a practice that can be brought to the attention of all health care providers (midwife or OB) and is available by maternal request. Please talk to your caregiver about this before you go into labour to get more details and their take on this practice.

Have a great week!!!


London Multiple Birth Association

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (2987)

The London Multiple Birth Association or LMBA is an amazing volunteer organization that provides support to families of multiples in London and surrounding area. This group truly saved Erika’s sanity when her twins were born; her twins arrived first with family living seven hours away. She needed support and who better to support her than those who had been there themselves.

Erika joined the LMBA while pregnant and the support began right away with a phone call from a fellow twin mom to see if she had any worries or questions. That was comforting because of course she had questions and it was easy to open up over the phone. She continued to get phone calls as the yearly LMBA events neared. They throw a Halloween party, a Christmas party, a sugarbush trip, a summer picnic and many social events – some for parents and some for families. These events are so interesting. It is neat to see a whole room full of multiples and their siblings all playing together. A plus at the Christmas party is that there is a Santa and a Mrs. Claus and we are able to take photos of them with their children without the cost.

Another perk to mention is the bi-annual Used Clothing and Equipment Sale that the club runs. Held at the Western Fair, they fill up a warehouse full of toys, shoes, clothing and equipment and sell it all at great prices to other members as well as the public. It is impeccably organized by the sale committee (all volunteer based). It is a great place to find strollers, wagons, outdoor play equipment and clothing – including snowsuits, costumes and footwear. Members are able to sell as well as their friends and they are also able to shop early to better benefit from the deals. We highly recommend these sales!

One of the best parts of the club though is their Facebook site. There is SO much information and support at members fingertips. If you are having a problem, all you have to do is post a question and immediately there are MoM’s (Mother’s of Multiples) there answering you and making you feel better as they too have experienced whatever it is that you are struggling with. From teething to sleeping, from poop fights to school info it is all there. You can also set up playdates on Facebook and meet other families with multiples the same age as your own. When Erika was on maternity leave she got together with four other MoMs every Friday morning. They all had twins and they were all our first children. Although we have different professions and are of different ages we have become very close friends and have just celebrated the third birthday of our babies together. It is a friendship that will never be shaken and we try to have monthly family playdates as well as a monthly MoMs dinners out now that our maternity leaves have ended.

If you are looking for more information please check their our website at or feel free to email them at [email protected]

Thank you....for the ability to continue to learn.

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (1176)

I started a list of all the things that I have to be Thankful for hoping that one would just leap out at me as my biggest ‘Thank you’ to start us off. It turns out that I have a lot to be thankful for. Some are small things like a great cup of coffee this morning or the guy that brought my grocery cart back while I was getting 3 kids and groceries into my car. Others are quite large, like my incredibly supportive husband who is getting used to the talk of placentas, mucus plugs, and breasts at the dinner table, or my children who have taught me so much and continue to challenge and teach me every day. This one allowed me to narrow in on what I am most thankful for: the ability to learn.

Some of you know that I went to school to be a Chemical Engineer. Why? For the challenge of seeing what I can learn. Engineering changes the way you look at things, no longer is a toaster just something that makes your breakfast, you start to think the second to plug it into the wall and consider the amazing brain power it took to get the electricity to your house. Where did it come from? Solar, wind, coal? To the chemical reaction it took to take a pale, gummy bagel into a magical Cream Cheese Delivery Device. It that not what that hole it there for, to fill with cheese? When I was done with that, I wanted to still know more, and the Inner Environmentalist came out, so off to College I went for Environmental Technology. In College I got the biggest learning opportunity; we got pregnant! How our live was going to change. It was all learning, learning about pregnancy and birth while taking Analytical Chemistry and identifying algae. It was challenging, but I am always up for learning.

We did everything that ‘They’ said to do while pregnant. Read the ‘Right’ books, took the ‘Right’ classes; everything that ‘They’ said to do. The exception was that we choose to have a Midwife and have a homebirth. We thought that we could do all this while still listening to ‘They’ and what ‘They’ had to teach us. Our daughter’s birth was a huge learning experience; we learned that ‘They’ did not have all the answers. We no longer fit into what ‘They’ wanted. Were we so counter-culture that wanting to have a baby naturally was frowned upon? We wanted to listen to our baby and do what they needed, no what the clock said she wanted. We sought new teachers to learn from.

I learned what a Doula is and sunk myself into learning all that I can by reading all the pregnancy books that are stuffed to the back of the shelves in Chapters, even some that are only available online. I became a new sponge for information. I learned that Technology and Science does not have all the answers (talk about a total 180, my prior life depended on technology). To this day Medical Science still does not know what happens the second that a woman starts to go into labour, it is certainly not a date on a calendar! I learned so much from working with my clients, especially those early Moms! Even to this day, when I think that I have it mostly figured out, something happens and unravels a part of Birth Philosophy. I am still learning.

What have I learned in all this ‘Learning’? No one has all the answers all the time; they are on their own learning journey. What will we learn tomorrow?

The Right to Choose Our Transportation on Our Birth Journey

Posted on November 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (1635)

I knew I wanted to discuss vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) this week, but when I came across the following article: I was reminded of how important our transportation truly is in the days/months and years after our births. One of the women –Callie- in the article still has nightmares from her experience and Evelyn feels that she was lied to.

This article’s metaphor got me thinking about my two birth journeys. I have 3 boys – twins born by surgical birth and a singleton who arrived 2 years later by VBAC. My first birth left me feeling like Evelyn, I was never told about the surgical risks or – more importantly- the long term effects that having a c-section has on future births. Although I do not have nightmares from the surgery - as I did not have any complications and found it to be less of an ordeal than I had built up in my mind - I was not prepared for the uphill battle I would have to fight during my second pregnancy in order to achieve a VBAC.

I have been told that I was lucky to have had a choice -which is true because a generation ago choices were not given- but I was not given a choice for my first birth and had to fight for a ‘choice’ the second time. Today there is a huge discrepancy in the type of birth attendants we may choose as well as a discrepancy within those categories. You may choose a midwife because they are rumored to be less invasive and find yourself fighting interventions the whole way through or you may go with an OB and find yourself having a VBAC breech delivery (as experienced by one of my doula clients). Due to this discrepancy it is imperative that we, as expectant parents, thoroughly explore all of the options that are available.

Many of us have heard about the ‘intervention slide’ that often occurs to get labor going. It starts with the artificial rupture of membranes or a drip of pitocin to get things started, which may lead to the use of some type of pain medication to offer some relief from the induced contractions and can end up with a surgical birth after hours of labor that a woman’s body was just not ready for. If these interventions were not enough -after nine months of waiting to meet your new babe- we also need to plow through a plethora of risks quoted to us by our care providers. The part that is left out is that these ‘risks’ are not accurately communicated. Bruce Flamm, MD states in Birth After Cesarean: The Medical Facts , that VBAC parents “have been erroneously told that they are in a very high-risk group” as well as “the chance that a VBAC candidate will require emergency surgery is, for all practical purposes, no higher than that of any other pregnant woman” and “the risk of VBAC is not substantially greater than the risk of any type of childbirth.” He also states, “Midwives generally give care to low-risk or ‘normal’ pregnant women. However, VBAC mothers are not excluded. Numerous medical reports have revealed that VBAC is not associated with substantially more risk than any other childbirth.” All of these results have been quoted from a handful of medical studies. I suggest exploring the following studies: Rageth (1999), Mankuta (2003), Landon (2004), Fang (2006), Silver (2006), Mercer (2008) all of which have been quoted on Check out this VBAC facts site for all of the real risks of VBAC!

Enjoy choosing your transportation! We support all of your birth choices ~ Bellies2Babies

We all know that "breast is best", but is it always?

Posted on February 11, 2011 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (1850)

Recently I participated in a debate on the merits of obtaining good breastfeeding advice and support. Some of you may be shocked to learn that a hospital in my hometown has a horrible track record for supporting women in that key first 24 hour period. They send moms who have made the decision to breastfeed home pumping because they “have no milk, you gotta pump to bring that in”, nipple shields, and supplementing with that handy free formula (never mind the WHO regulations against this).

Two friends of mine kind of went head-to-head on breastfeeding. One mom, Pam, exclusively breastfeed her 2 children for 1 year, the other , lets call her Shelly, had the misfortune of giving birth in the above hospital and came home with a pumping, feeding, sterilizing schedule recommended to her by the Postpartum care nurses. Shelly was also given Nipple Shields by her Midwife to help ease the pain from all that damn pumping and sucking. Let’s just say that after weeks of working with a Lactation Counsellor, supplemental feeding devices and herbs, poor Shelly was still struggling to get her baby latched and made the choice to formula feed. Was Shelly being a lazy mom and taking the quick way out?

I was chatting with Shelly later that week, encouraging her to write a letter to the hospital to inform them of her breastfeeding plight. How else is a hospital supposed to know that they are doing a poor job? They only see a Mom on the Birthing Floor for a period of a few hours to a few days. No follow up appointments, no after care. Just “Thank you, come again!” How much vested interest do these overworked, under informed nurses have in these new mothers? How many have received training in breastfeeding? Even the Midwives, I asked them at a breastfeeding course one day how much training they get in school for breastfeeding. I was stunned at the answer; one day. A 3-4 year education on how to take care of a Mother and Baby during pregnancy and birth and just 1 day spent on how to breastfeed.

I offer breastfeeding support and the problem has gotten so systemic that when a Mom calls me in tears and tells me her story, I can tell what hospital in my Middle-sized city she has birthed in and if she had a Dr or midwife (and sometimes who). Knowing that this is a road that so many new moms have travelled, is it any wonder why I see such a number of moms formula feeding, that didn’t intend to.

Shelly, my ‘formula feeding’ friend, has a huge guilt upon her shoulders for not breastfeeding, and with people like Pam, my ‘breastfeeding friend’, out there judging people like Shelly, is it any wonder. Does openly accusing formula moms of being ‘lazy’, help the relationship between Moms? Why do we not instead ask them about their journey to formula feeding? Maybe they tried desperately to breastfeed; maybe they were given poor advice and no support. Why, as breastfeeding advocates, do we not take the opportunity to inform or educated these women so that if there is another baby in their future, mistakes of accepting poor advice can be changed. You do catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

I was reading some online blogs on this topic after the debate with my friends. It seems that some women can get right on nasty when hidden behind the computer screen. Sometimes the issue is not a black and white; the path travelled by so many women is coloured grey. We will solve nothing by attacking each other and touting “Breast is Best…No matter what!” and making those most vulnerable feel guilt. The problem is much bigger than a blame game between the sides of Extreme Lactavists and ‘Pro-Choice’ formula feeding.

I will be honest, I am a Lactavist. I do not agree that formula should be directly advertised to Mom’s, as outlined in the WHO formula marketing guidelines. The studies have been done, formula feeding results in more allergies, more asthma, more Type 2 diabetes, more breast cancer, more ovarian cancer, and the list goes on. Formula advertising even says that “Breast is Best”. However, if Mom’s were properly informed of the risks of formula, had unlimited, free access to proper breastfeeding support, we might be a more breast-friendly culture and would not have the great divides. We would have compassion for the Mom’s that must formula feed due to poor advice, poor support, and misinformed on the ‘benefits’ of formula feeding. Formula is a necessary drug, but as with all drugs, overuse and misuse leads to problems, like we are seeing with increased rates of certain diseases. If more Mom had better, unbiased, information, the choice would be more clear; Breast is Best, but formula does have a place.