The Benefits of Continuous Labour Support

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Of all the ways birth outcomes could be improved, continuous labor support seems like one of the most important and basic needs for birthing people. Providing labor support to birthing people is both risk-free and highly effective. Evidence shows that continuous support can decrease the risk of Cesarean, the use of medications for pain relief, and the risk of a low five minute Apgar score. Labor support also increases satisfaction and the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth. Continuous support may also shorten labor and decrease the use of Pitocin. Although continuous support can also be offered by birth partners, midwives, nurses, or even some physicians, research has shown that with some outcomes, doulas have a stronger effect than other types of support persons. As such, doulas should be viewed by both parents and providers as a valuable, evidence-based member of the birth care team.
— Evidence Based Birth

Toronto Love: Kidcrew Lactation Clinic

 Photo by Jo Frances

Photo by Jo Frances

Excited to launch our weekly post dedicated to Toronto based businesses and supports for expecting and new families entitled Toronto Love. To kick it off we are sharing a write up from the incredible new lactation clinic at Kidcrew. This is a fantastic new breastfeeding/chestfeeding resource staffed with some of Torontos finest lactation consultants. If your are encountering a few hurtles in your nursing journey we can't recommend Kidcrew enough! Read on below about the services/supports they provide

Kidcrew is a forward-thinking clinic focused on patient experience, family centered-care and wellness for children and families of all ages. With a mandate that includes providing mothers with superior lactation support, our team includes two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and pediatricians trained to release tongue ties.  Kidcrew is located in central Toronto at the intersection of Bathurst and St. Clair. 

We are aware that there may be circumstances where your birth and / or postpartum clients are unable to afford a home visit and that it is sometimes challenging to find support for clients that require a tongue tie release or a speedy prescription for necessary medication.  We aim to provide central, affordable and year-round lactation support to help breastfeeding dyads succeed in reaching their goals. 

Mothers seen at Kidcrew will have a one on one 60 minute appointment with one of our lactation consultants.  Latching, feeding management and other breastfeeding concerns will be addressed.  Baby will then be examined by one of our pediatricians.  This examination will include an assessment for tongue-tie and release if necessary. 

Currently, the Kidcrew Lactation clinic is open on Wednesdays and Fridays with additional timing being added due to demand.   The cost to families is partially OHIP insured and a consultation is just $65.00 (all taxes included).   Appointments can be made via the Kidcrew website www.kidcrew.com, by calling 416-654-KIDS (5437) or emailing medical@kidcrew.com.  A referral from your client’s doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner is required.

Thank you Kidcrew!! We have referred many families we work with and will continue to do so with confidence.

Motherhood Quoted

 The Glow 

The Glow 

When it comes to being a mother, don’t listen to anyone. Absolutely no one. Ignore all of it: the breastfeeding tips, the sleep-training dogma, the attachment parenting books, the wooden toys credo, food allergies hysteria, EVERYTHING. Being a mom is about developing your own style, just like anything else. Your kid is going to be complicated and tormented and amazing just like every other human being that walks this earth no matter what, so trust your instincts and drown out the noise. The only person who knows what your child needs is you.
— Molly Guy of Stone Fox Bride for The Glow

Pain with a purpose

 Apple Blossom Families Photography

Apple Blossom Families Photography

FUNCTIONAL PAIN // "We know it takes working with pain to achieve peak performance of the human body. Acceptance of ‘functional pain’ goes with this territory of physical achievement and power. By ‘functional pain’ I am referring to the physiological pain felt in a healthy body working at high intensity, well beyond usual comfort levels. I am not talking about the pathological pain that arises from injury or disease.

Maybe if birthing women connected with pain in labour as the functional physiological pain of a body working at peak performance levels then, rather than falling into the culturally reinforced ‘victim to the pain’ role, they could reframe pain as the functional potency of their body working at an extreme edge. And claim it, ‘as a badge of physical and spiritual strength and courage’. Oxytocin, plus endorphins, plus adrenalin: this is the simple version of the basic hormonal formula for normal physiological birth. And functional pain is one of the catalytic agents for this hormonal mix. We need high levels of oxytocin to drive the contractions; these contractions create functional physiological pain, which causes the release of endorphins. The endorphins give some moderation of the pain, but more importantly they swamp the ‘thinking brain’ to release the labouring woman’s birthing instincts. Then there are two important surges of adrenalin at particular points in the labour—right when they’re most needed.
It’s an amazingly tailored recipe, refined over the ages. And embracing and working with the normal functional pain of labour is a key to unlocking this hormonal formula.

Endorphins take the edge off the pain and bring on a ‘runner’s high’. Surely you want to experience the equivalent ‘birther’s high’? But even more important than this high, as far as normal physiological birthing goes, is the way endorphins ‘take out’ the cerebral cortex (the judging, thinking, planning brain). They bring on a trance-like state and reduce our inhibitions, setting off a shift in consciousness that triggers what I refer to as ‘the evolutionary regression’

- Rhea Dempsey author of Birth with Confidence

An Unearthly Season

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Those first few weeks are an unearthly season. From the outside you remain so ordinary, no one can tell from looking at you that you have experienced an earthquake of the soul. You’ve been torn asunder, invested with ancient, incomprehensible magic. Its the one that we never quite get over, that we contain our own future
— B.K

How to fuel a healthy plant based pregnancy: Guest post by the lovely Natalie Prhat, Holistic Nutritionist

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Natalie Prhat is a Holistic Nutritionists, mother to two incredible gals and just an overall shining light. She is passionate about nutrition and its impact on our overall well being. She specializes in vegan nutrition and is here to share how to nourish both yourself and your baby during pregnancy the vegan way.  Thank you Nat!!

Are you pregnant and freaked out about what to feed your baby breeding body?
Take a deep breathe.
Actually.
Amazing.
You are going to be fine.
Since the 80's and 90's massive progress in pregnancy has been made.  The connection between nutrition and the health of the baby was indeed foggy. Thankfully that view has shifted and today women understand that good nutrition has benefits and what they eat, their baby is eating too. Proper pre-natal fuel will make a world of a difference to you and your budding new bestie's happiness, health and nourishment. Here's how to make it happen:

Get more folate, calcium, vitamin D and protein than the rest of us. Pregnant women require more
of it because these things do not self replenish and as the pregnant women of the 80's and 90's would remind you, you are now eating for two. Plant nutrients is the number one source of these nutrients.

Here's what to eat to increase your caloric intake for pregnancy: Eat avocados, walnuts and hemp
hearts. Those are a few examples of high quality fats that pack a nutritional punch.
Advice for pre-natal protein: An abundance of protein is found in cooked quinoa, teff, brazil nuts,
spirulina and chickpeas and will have you feeling glowingly great. They are also high alkalizing foods that are non hybrid so the quality of the bioavailable nutrient are far surperior. Adding foods like teff to your diet while pregnant will add significant value to your daily vitamin and mineral requirement. Teff is a high protein food packed with fibre, iron, manganese and calcium to name a few. Plus teff is seriously delicious. Eating foods from the plant kingdom is also very fun and offers a ton of variety. Get your daily dose of B12. If you are not eating foods with fortified with B12, speak to a naturopath who can help you properly supplement.
Create plant based replacements for all your favourite foods. There are a plethora of creulty free
concoctions on my instagram page, @naturalienat. You'll be eating these meals a lot so give your body and your baby the tender loving nutrition they need. To start, chickpea flour is a perfect replacement for eggs (mixing equal parts of water to flour and seasoning it the way you like your eggs seasoned will create the perfect egg consistency). Vegan does not mean mock meats and tofu everything. It really is so easy to put together plant inspired dishes filled with flavour and fun. For real.

*Giving your body the highest quality nutrients is the best way to ensure your healthiest and happiest pregnancy.

Visit my website for more information and recipes for healthy eating.

Natalie Prhat, Holistic Nutritionist
@naturalienat
www.naturalienatalie.com

A True Knot: The Wonder of Wharton's Jelly

 Photo of Honey Guide Holistics Birth

Photo of Honey Guide Holistics Birth

This incredible photo beautifully displays a true knot. A true knot although rare, happens in roughly 0.3-2.2% of all births, can occur with active babies as they flip and turn in utero creating a knot within their umbilical cord. Although it can at times be of great concern with very close monitoring if detected it is more often well protected thanks to Wharton's Jelly a gelatinous mucous tissue. This acts as a moveable part of the umbilical which allows the knot to move up and down decreasing its ability to tighten.  Adding to its wonder Wharton's Jelly will also harden once exposed to oxygenated air after birth tightening itself around the vein/arteries of the cord essentially clamping itself if left undisturbed. The birthing body is nothing short of miraculous. 

Top 5 Reasons to Encapsulate your Placenta

 Photo by Jennifer Mason Photography

Photo by Jennifer Mason Photography

Placenta encapsulation has become a growing trend and for many its for good reason. The benefits that new mothers report experiencing have positively impacted their physical and emotional recovery easing their transition into motherhood.

Here are the top 5 benefits of placenta encapsulation 

1) Less fatigue and more energy despite irregular sleep 

2) Decreased postpartum bleeding and overall faster healing time

3) Increased release of oxytocin which encourages positive bonding and helps the uterus return to its normal size

4) Increased milk supply

5) Decreased risk of baby blues and postpartum depression  

 

The Power of Positive Birth Stories

Birth is unchartered territory for many women and with many unknowns come many unnecessary fears. Inviting and listening to positive birth stories in all of births beautiful forms is one of the easiest and most peaceful ways to educate and empower yourself as you eagerly wait for your own positive birth experience to unfold.

These stories can be close to your heart. Your friends, siblings, neighbours birth stories or even your mothers story of her birth with you. Or they can be farther reaching through books, blogs and podcasts. Invite them, learn from them and get excited about the birth story you will soon be able to share. 

Podcasts we love:

The Longest Shortest Time: http://longestshortesttime.com/ 

The Birth Hour: http://thebirthhour.com/

Positive Birth books we love:

Great Expectations 24 true stories about childbirth: (I read and loved this inclusive Canadian based book in preparation for my first birth) 

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Positive birth stories are stories of support and love. Where informed decisions were made and empowered experience occurred even when they varied from original expectations. These are stories of birth in all of births beautiful forms.

"Positive birth stories only please. My baby is listening"

 

 

Breastfeeding Support: How a partner can help

 Photo by Pomegranate and seeds

Photo by Pomegranate and seeds

A partners support while breastfeeding whether its hands on, emotional or simply a presence while you nurse can dramatically and positively transform your breastfeeding experience. Here are a few ways that a partner or any other support person can support your breastfeeding journey

1) Hands on support: The first few weeks of breastfeeding can feel like navigating through unchartered territory. Positioning your baby and positioning your breast all while ensuring your tender bottom is in the right position and your baby is latching properly can feel like a juggling act. An extra set of hands to help position your baby or hold your breast ready to latch can make each feed feel much more manageable and enjoyable in those early days. You will quickly get the hang of it all but don't hesitate to ask or accept help in those early days.

2) Emotional Support: Studies have shown that when both parents are in support of breastfeeding they have higher success rates. Going further then being on the same page the emotional daily support, reassurance, and cheers from your partner can help to motivate, increase confidence and solidify your breastfeeding journey. "You are amazing! Look at how sweet and chubby our baby is getting!! Thank you for feeding our baby!!! ......  now I'm off to cook you a healthy hearty meal, get you a glass of water and tackle the laundry" 

3) A presence: Breastfeeding can be really lovely but it also requires a lot of time spent in one place. This can feel isolating at times. Having someone cuddle up on the bed or couch beside you can make such a difference. Someone to chat with while you nurse will help bring the outside world back into your little nest. 

Although you have the boobs breastfeeding can still be a joint journey. A united front growing your sweet babe together.

When "No" is often the right answer

There really is nothing quite like the excitement of a new baby. The desire for those around you to be a part of the experience to hear, see and touch your new baby almost immediately after birth is strong. The text, phone calls and hopes for a visit will begin as soon as the announcement is made and although for some this is lovely for others and often most this can be overwhelming and exhausting. Labour is called labour for a reason, its hard work. You have worked hard to grow your baby and even harder to birth them. As your body heals, shifts back into place and nourishes your new babe honour and unapologetically take the time to move slowly. Feel free to say no more times then you say yes to visitors, social events and day to day expectations and say yes more times then you say no to extra help. The visits will happen, the outings will occur and routines will settle in all in due time. For now as you and your baby get to know one another feel free to say no to the outside world and yes to your sweet intimate new world. 

Delayed Cord Cutting. A Visual Guide

 Image by K.Reeder Photography

Image by K.Reeder Photography

Look at that cord! Did you know that if left untouched the cord will turn from this beautiful blue/purple colour to this white colour below once all of the blood from the placenta has made its way to your sweet baby. Visual proof of the benefits of delayed cord clamping/cutting. 

 

 Image by Monet Nicole

Image by Monet Nicole

Nourishing New Parents: 10 Ways To Truly Help

 Art by Spirity Sol

Art by Spirity Sol

By: Rachel Walker

If you ask parents of a newborn baby what you can do to help, and they say nothing, don’t give up that easily. There are a ton of things to make life easier for new parents. Here are some great tips that from experience really help!

1)Run A Couple of Errands. If the grocery store is on the way, offer to stop by and pick something up- or better yet, just bring over a bag or two of essentials- milk, bread, fruit, veggies-  she will be grateful to avoid the trip. Continue to offer to help- if they turn you down one time, they might accept your help the next.

2)Bring Fresh or Frozen Meals. New parents do not have the time or energy to plan meals, grocery shop and cook. Bringing someone a meal is more than a nice gesture.  When you have a baby, people who bring you meals are truly life savers. New parents especially with older kids they will always appreciate a good meal.

3)Give a few hours of time.  Go hold the baby while mom has a shower or a nap (or both!), fold laundry (or do laundry!).  The new parents may appreciate you stopping by for a couple of hours on a regular basis if they can get some uninterrupted sleep or relaxation time.

4)Help out around the house.  Put a load of dishes in the dishwasher, wash and fold the endless laundry, wipe down the countertops or do a little food prep. Never stop by the house of a new parent without offering to help out with some kind of chore and on your way out take the garbage with you ;).

5)Make a list for others. Create a list of chores to put on the fridge so that other family and friends know what is needed and takes the weight of the parents to have to ask.

6)Invite conversation.  Giving her the opportunity to speak about her birth is a great way to help process her experience.  Sometimes a new mom just needs someone to listen, especially without judgment or criticism. A new parent may simply need to unload on a trusting ear.

7)Give Them Space. Let the new couple enjoy their short time with their newborn without feeling the need to entertain guests. If you do visit, keep it short.

8)Bring treats. Breastfeeding moms and bottle feeding parents are often cozy in a chair or bed for hours as they establish breastfeeding/bottle feeding.  Gift them with goodies they can keep close by such protein bars or cookies, a water bottle, smoothies, a book, magazine or a link to great podcast

9)Help out with older siblings.  In the first few weeks, helping out with the bigger kids will be priceless! If the older child is involved in activities, offer to take them to or pick them up. If the children are in school, offer to help out with lunches, rides or homework. Offer to host a play date for a couple of hours once a week after baby arrives.

10)Help to hire a Postpartum Doula.  From recovery after birth to emotional wellbeing in the weeks that follow, postpartum doulas can help parents make a smooth and easy transition to life with a new baby. Postpartum doulas are experts at helping parents find the newborn care practices that match their needs, values, and beliefs without any judgement.

All of these suggestions are sure to be taken well, but sometimes all a new mom needs is love, support, reassurance, and time to rest and recover!

Why Delay Cord Clamping

 image by Monet Nicole Photography

image by Monet Nicole Photography

Delayed cord clamping/cutting is a simple way to gently transition your baby from their internal uterine world to their external uterine world. Delayed cord clamping is allowing the cord to continue to pump oxygen and nutrient rich blood from the placenta to your baby via the umbilical cord for 2-5 minutes, until it stops pulsating or by never cutting it all. This simple step can increase a newborns blood volume by over 30%, decrease their risk for anemia, increase their red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells and reduce interference to both the mother and babe as they transition between two worlds. 

What are your options if you would like to delay cord clamping/cutting:

1) Delay clamping/cutting for 2-5 minutes which is the time in which the majority of the blood flow from the placenta will pass through the umbilical cord providing your baby with the majority of the above benefits

2)Delay cord clamping/cutting until the cord stops pulsating and turns from a beautiful blue/purple to white. This is visual proof that the all of the blood from the placenta has passed through the cord and has reached your sweet baby. This can take any where from a few minutes to a few hours.

3)Never clamp/cut the cord. Allowing for a lotus birth in which you naturally allow the cord to detach from your baby leaving the umbilical cord and placenta in tact. This usually occurs within 3-10 days after birth and ensures all of the benefits of the placenta reach your sweet baby without interferance. 

Which ever you choose to do include it in your birth hopes and reconfirm your wishes (or have your supports confirm as you will be a touch busy :) ) at the time of delivery. 

Born in the caul

Born in the caul. A rare occurrence legend has it that babies born in the caul would never drown, creating hearty sailors. In Victorian time preserved cauls could be fetched for a high price at auction by anxious sea dwellers to gain protection. It is also thought that to be an indicator that the child would have "second sight" providing them supernatural powers of premonition.

What to pack in your hospital bag

That sweet bag ready by the door step. You smile at it every time you walk by with eager anticipation. Your hospital bag represents a transformation. You will carry it out of your home as one being and return with it as another. So with the weight of the world in one small bag what should it contain. 

For your sweet baby:

4-6 Sleepers in an assortment of both newborn and 0-3 month sizes (These babes come in all different sizes and often surprise us :) )

4-6 onesies also in an assortment of sizes

Hats! The hats provided at the hospital are very thin. Pack a few additional cotton hats to keep your baby's head toasty warm 

A package of diapers also in newborn and size 1 and a package of wipes. Newborns often go through a lot of diapers and wipes in the first 24 hours so come prepared

Coconut or Olive Oil- amazing at helping to remove sticky meconium if applied before diapering and a lovely all natural lotion for your baby's new sensitive skin

All natural baby wash. Its recommended to delay your baby's first bath but if you wanted to bathe them at the hospital toss in your own wash to ensure the gentlest soap is used. 

Receiving blankets. The ones provided are a heavy flannel if you wanted a lighter blanket be sure to pack a few of your own. You will also want a few to keep your baby warm on the ride home

Car seat with the base securely installed

 

For You:

Comfortable clothes to labour in. Pack an assortment of clothes including a robe, cotton pants and shirt, a few pairs of underwear and sports bra. As your body temperature shifts in labour pack a few layers being mindful of clothing that is easy to put on, take off and pull down/up for delivery. 

Bathing suit - Many women find water to be very comforting to labour in. Although many women are most comfortable nude a bathing suit is good to pack as an option if wanted

Very comfortable clothes for after your baby is born. Your uterus will still be swollen so pack clothes that have room and that breathe well. This can include pyjamas, sweats, nursing tank tops/bras and a few pairs of large cotton high waisted underwear. Also pack a few extra layers to find your comfort as your hormones adjust. 

Flip Flops/Slides/Slippers for labour and postpartum

Coconut Oil for massages during labour, chapstick, and hair elastics and bobby pins

Toiletries including your tooth brush, body wash, shampoo and any lotions/potions that make you feel your best

A pillow and blanket. The hospital pillows are wrapped in plastic and flat as a pancake. Bring a pillow (or two) and a blanket from home. This will help you feel comfortable for both labour as well as postpartum.  

FOOD!!!! Pack food for both labour (fruit, protein bites, nuts, juice, electrolyte drinks etc) and after (what ever your very deserving heart desires). 

Labour tools- heating pad, essential oils, massage tools, Himalayan salt lamp (a personal favourite to provide ideal lightening to labour in), positive affirmation cards, tens machine etc

 

For your Partner/Birth Support:

Comfortable clothes and shoes to labour in and a change of clothes to sleep in. Pack a few layering options as your temperature may shift as well.

Bathing Suit to be able to get in the shower or the tub with the labouring mama

Camera, Phone and Chargers! As long as the labouring mother approves start taking photos early and take them often when you can

Food! Bring snacks or small meals that you can easily eat. Try and avoid foods with a strong scent or big crunching sound as a labouring women's senses are heightened. Be sure to make time to fuel and hydrate yourself so you can be the best support. 

Pillow and Blanket. The hospital typically doesn't provide pillows or blankets to supports so bring your own so you can get some rest as well

Identification, Insurance Card, Credit Card and Change- You will be in charge of registering your partner so have all of her information/identification ready as well. 

 

Pack as little or as much as you feel is necessary to make you all feel comfortable depending on your birth plan and estimated stay if you have a hospital birth.

The bag is packed, the anticipation is high and the waiting game begins.... See you when the time is right little one

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Positive Thinking: Shaping your birth mindset

As both Jo and I have new babies on the horizon, her any day now, I’ve been thinking a lot about birthing space. I’m not talking about the physical environment where we labour and birth, but the space inside our minds.

Self-talk has a major impact on our body and mind. Our thoughts produce stress and tension in our body which can have an effect on our muscles and organs from doing their best. During labour, negative thoughts can create stress and can make labour longer and more uncomfortable. Labour has a purpose and changing our mindset a bit can work wonders - the mind is our greatest tool we have during labor.  Giving up control and letting our bodies take over a process is not something we do very often.  

Birth affirmations are a powerful way to help let our minds step out of our bodies. Affirmations are sentences aimed to affect the conscious and the subconscious mind. The more you read them and repeat them to yourself, the more they anchor themselves in your mind and become new useful beliefs about yourself.

Here are some affirmations to get you started throughout your pregnancy and birth. I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, so make these statements your own.  Find the words that speak to you and write them out, post them on small cards throughout your home.  These uplifting statements could play a big part in your positive birth story.

 

I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support.

I trust my inner wisdom.

My body is nourishing my baby perfectly.

I trust I know what is best for me and my baby.

I am aware of my balanced, calm center.

My body knows how to birth my baby.

I listen to my body and my heart.

I believe in birth.

My baby knows how to be born.

I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby.

Untapped sources of strength are available to me.

I am focused on a smooth, easy birth.

My mind is relaxed, my body is relaxed.

I am an active and powerful laboring woman.

I welcome this opportunity to grow and change.

My muscles work in complete harmony to make birthing easier.

My baby is in the perfect position for birth.

I am a link in the endless chain of birthing women.

I fully relax and turn my birthing over to Nature.

I am willing to release my baby into the world.

I choose a gentle and natural birth.

I see my baby coming smoothly from my womb.

My breath is easy, deep, and full.

My baby will be born at the perfect moment.

My body is wise and purposeful.

I trust my intuition.

I deserve a gentle, positive birth.

I claim my birthright for a wonderful birth.

The power and intensity of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, because it is me.

I follow my instincts and give birth in the way I desire.

I am ready and prepared for my birthing experience.

My body has a wide-open space for my baby to descend.

I trust my body to grow my baby, and I trust my body to birth my baby.

I let these waves wash through me as I go deeper into relaxation.

Every contraction brings me closer to our baby.

I am calm, I am safe, I am relaxed.

Birthday frosting! Soaking in the benefits of vernix.

 Gorgeous Image by Kate Murray Photography

Gorgeous Image by Kate Murray Photography

Vernix the thick cheesy coating that can cover your sweet new borns skin carries many benefits after birth. By leaving vernix on your baby's skin you help them hold in their body heat regulating their body temperature, provide them with antibacterial properties and maintain moisture within their sensitive skin as they transition into their new environment. Simply delaying your baby's first bath allows them to soak in all the benefits of their sweet coating.  

Birth of a mother: Our very own Rachel's positive birth story shared with love, honesty and humour from her Mama Deb Chard

 Sweet baby Rachel and her wonderful Mama Deb

Sweet baby Rachel and her wonderful Mama Deb

At 4:00 AM on Wednesday, July 11th, I awoke with contractions. I slipped out of bed and went downstairs to relax in the reclining chair and time what I thought maybe would be Braxton Hicks. Some came at 5, 10 and even 20 minute intervals. By 7 AM they stopped just when I was becoming excited and about to wake Eric. At 7:45 Eric went to work and I thought I would go back to sleep but by 8:30 the contractions were back again. I didn't want to stay alone thinking that this might really be labour so I called Dad and he picked me up immediately. He had difficulty concealing his excitement as he helped me into the car loaded with suitcase and pillows. He seemed to be convinced that he was going to be welcoming a little granddaughter relatively soon.

When I arrived at Mom and Dad’s, I left a message for Eric to call me from work. I told the receptionist that I was in labour however Eric did not get this message. He tried to reach me at home and when there was no answer he called Ajax where I had left a message with Dorothy. However she had gone out and not passed on the message to Chuck. So when Eric spoke to his Dad he learned nothing. By the time Eric called my parents he was in quite a state. I told him there was no point in coming up right then as I was quite comfortable and relaxed.

The contractions were regular and easy to handle. I had some toast and tea but didn't want to eat too much if I truly was in labor. I spent some of the morning just waiting around the apartment and talking to Mom. Dad had gone out shopping. Later on however, I found it more comfortable to stay in Dad's rocking chair. The contractions did seem to be getting stronger but when I would hit a half hour interval the possibility of false labour would be quite discouraging.

Mom sat and chatted as I timed and breathed. This was her first experience with being present while someone was in labor. She appeared relaxed and composed. By 1 o'clock I started recording my contractions. They were coming at approximately 20 minute intervals. I had some consommé and toast although I didn't feel hungry I thought energy was important.

At 4 PM the contractions were at 10 minutes. I called Dr. McKay to tell him that it had been 12 hours and could this still possibly be false labor? He said it could be but I could be having a baby that night. And not to call him until the pains were five minutes apart and ‘hurt like hell’. He wasn't exactly heavily into natural childbirth jargon. Since I had had a number of discussions with him during my pregnancy and I felt he was well aware of what type of birth experience I was hoping for, this really didn't bother me. His attitude was simply that it was up to me during my labor. He assured no one would be forcing medication on me, unless I lost control completely.

Eric arrived at the apartment at 5:30 and had his dinner. By six I felt a noticeable change in the timing and intensity of the contractions. By seven I called the doctor to tell him I was at 3 to 5 minute intervals. He gave the OK for the hospital.

We packed up our pillows and suitcase, I brushed my teeth and hair and off we went leaving a rather anxious and excited set of prospective grandparents. Dad had been there for the afternoon and considering that this was the closest had ever been to anyone in labour before he was remarkably calm- making small talk, thinking that it would take my mind off contractions. I doubt he was aware of the concentration I was having to employ near the end of the day.

The trip to the hospital was awful. I was hit with a case of nerves at this point. The lack of proper shocks in the mustang did little to help me cope with the contractions and it seemed like an awfully long ride though in reality it couldn't have been more than five minutes.

Throughout the short time that Eric had been present during that part of my labour he had timed my contractions for me, massaged my back and just generally been supportive. Once he arrived at the apartment I felt much more secure. I didn't relish the possibility of going into hard labour without him with me.

Once we had parked and walked into admitting armed with pillows and suitcase full of goodies for labor, we got the paperwork out of the way. They took us up to the second floor labour and delivery. Eric was asked to wait in the lounge while I was prepped. Next time I don't see any reason for Eric not to be present. However we wanted to get off to a good start with the staff on that day. My biggest apprehension was the enema. I was absolutely terrified of it. The nurse was as reassuring as she possibly could've been, and it did help. She asked routine health questions, and also asked if I planned on having an epidural. I told her I was hoping not to but I would like to stay open on it. She shaved me and gave me the dreaded enema which really wasn't all that bad. The anticipation was far worse than the reality.

I had been sitting on the toilet for some time when I heard Dr. McKay come into the hall and say to a nurse that he was going to rupture some membranes. It never occurred to me that he might have meant me. When I came out Eric was waiting for me. Armed with lemon drops and a watch he was there and ready. Dr. McKay came in and explained he was about to rupture my membranes to speed up labor. Again, Eric was asked to wait in the lounge. As the membrane was ruptured and what felt like gallons of water spilled forth I went immediately into my first contraction of hard labor. It took me completely by surprise. We had read of the gradual buildup from dilation into transition and I certainly didn't expect this. My reflex action was to go into breathing, but I couldn't get the control at all. The nurse tried to breathe with me but I was so overcome with this new intensity of pain that you could say my first real contractions got the best of me. Eric came in and brought me under control right away. The practice sure paid off. I had been frightened and unprepared for this third stage of labour as I had not experienced what had been described as the second. I think it was between 8:30 and 9 o'clock. Eric fed me crushed ice and ate his lemon drops. He timed my contractions and told me when I was at the apex and that it was halfway through and downhill from there on. I lived through each contraction just to hear him tell me that it was half over. I have heard the expression a sea of pain before and had conditioned myself to look at the contraction as a wave to ride and stay on top of, but it was really like drowning. Trying to breathe and stay on top of this incredible wave of pain that would engulf my body, trying not to flail my legs, was an exercise in self-control- mind and body, like I had never come close to in my life. If I hadn't had Eric beside me, reassuring me, breathing through each contraction with me,  I'm sure I wouldn't have had the wonderful birth experience that I did. Effleurage was out of the question since I didn't want to be touched so Eric sponged my face with a cool cloth and fed me ice. I hyperventilated almost immediately. I was dizzy and was losing sensation in my hands and feet. Dr. McKay came in and took my pulse. He told Eric to slow down my breathing, that I was blowing off too much C2O. Eric did and so did I. I was so afraid that Dr. McKay would feel I was losing control, however he was very supportive and compassionate. When I flirted with the idea of having an epidural the doctor said I would have to be catheterized. That was more than enough deterrent for me.

A doctor's assistant came in at one point and asked the same repetitive health questions rather impatiently between my contractions. It was unnecessary at that time and stupid and inconsiderate of anyone to expect conversation from a woman at that point in her labor. However, that was the only negative aspect that we encountered with the hospital staff while we were there.

Our nurse was Ilona Disher. She would come in from time to time to ask if we wanted medication, but she wasn't pushy and accepted the first no each time. And so it went… What seemed a long long time to me really was only about three hours of transitional labour when suddenly in one contraction something changed drastically. It felt like a huge weight was dropped on my abdomen and my response was to push. Response is not the right word. The most intense physical demanding urge I can ever imagine experiencing is what happened. To push. Eric said ‘pant’… We had read that normally, when this point in labour is reached, the cervix may not be fully dilated and the woman should hold off pushing. I told him rather emphatically that I was going to push, that it felt so good it had to be right. He went out to the hall to find the doctor. I heard him ask the nurse and the nurse replied that the doctor had gone home but she would call him right away. He lived quite close to the hospital. That was the first time that I was alone in the room with my contractions and I'm glad that was the only time. It's amazing how frightened you can become at a time like that. It's no wonder that our mothers had such a hellish time of childbirth going through it with ignorance and being alone most of the time to boot.

Eric came back followed by the nurse. She examined me and to our delight said I was fully dilated and to get down to work. She called Eric down to the bottom of the bed and told him to look and see the hair of his child that was making her way down and into our lives. He saw dark wet hair. It was wonderful. The excitement in the room was tremendous. Ilona told me to put my legs up and hold the underside of my thighs with my feet almost touching each other. Also, keeping my eyes open during the push and not making any verbal sounds preserved energy according to her and she was right. What an amazing amount of physical work and what a fabulous cheering section I had with Eric and Ilona at the bottom of the bed telling me that I could do it in reassuring me that my pushes were really working.

Then Dr. McKay came in and Eric was sent off to change into a gown and mask. I was wheeled through the hall during one of my contractions pushing for all I was worth. I had to crawl onto the labour table between contractions and my feet were put into stirrups. At this point I should mention that Ilona was at the end of her shift just before I went into the labour room. She stopped in to say she was sorry she wasn't going to see our baby born and goodbye. I wasn't able to say much to her and I wanted to tell her how fabulous she had been and how much we appreciated her being with us. However I did go back a couple of months later to see her. We had a new nurse in the labour room and I don't remember her name but I do know she was pleased with the natural birth happening. Eric entered gowned and masked. He propped me up with our pillows and the nurse adjusted the mirror so that we could see… And what a sight. As I contracted and pushed a wonderful dark wet head of hair was appearing. At the end of the contraction it receded. With each push more progress was made down my vagina. The flood of happiness that consumed me at the sight can't be described accurately. With one push there was a spurt of blood over the head and for a moment I felt panic. Dr. McKay reassured us that it was from me and not our baby. A few more contractions and then Dr. McKay said something… I couldn't hear, he said it again and I still didn't understand what he said then Eric translated. Pant! Pant! Behold a tiny head is eased out into Dr. McKay’s hands. He suctions quickly and the most beautiful sound in the world rings through our ears… The cry of a healthy newborn child. Baby keeps coming, one shoulder than the other. A little person is appearing right before our eyes. Eric is beside me at my left shoulder. I hear him say ‘Oh my God!’  Baby slides smoothly out. Dr. says ‘you have a little lady.’ What joy. Double Joy for Eric I think then. Dr. says push with next contraction to deliver placenta. He severs the cord after a moment. The nurse has taken her to the side to do her eyes and wrap her. The nurse is holding her beside me now on my right well doctor does stitching. I asked Eric if he thought she looked like a Rachel. That was when we decided on her name. Rachel was then placed into my waiting arms. What a feeling! Then Eric held her. I moved back onto a bed. Before I did I remember seeing my legs start to tremble uncontrollably. The doctor said it was very common and a form of shock. Then the three of us were moved into the recovery room and I offered my breast to Rachel and she nursed like that was what she had been waiting for. Neither one of us could believe it. She was healthy and beautiful and nursing moments after birth. Dr. McKay came in and watched her feeding. He made a few comments and joked but I can't remember specifically what he said except that he appeared to be very pleased. Rather difficult not to with Eric and me beaming all over the place. After about 10 or 15 minutes the nurse took Rachel away and Eric and I were alone together. We were both so high, we had done it together and were filled with joy. Eric left armed with dimes for phone calls and a promise to phone in the morning. The nurse came in and bathed me and then for the most comforting and luxurious sensation she covered me with heated sheets. I hadn't realized until then that I was still cold and trembling. I was wheeled upstairs to my room and was told that I could have Rachel for the 5 AM feeding. Upstairs the nurse came in to see if I was comfortable. I was ravenous. A full hot meal would have been wonderful. However, by that time it was 1 AM and she was kind enough to get me some toast and tea. I was grateful for even that at that hour. I called mom. I wanted her to know how great I felt and that everything turned out to be perfect even though I knew Eric would have spoken to her. I think she was still up when I called and she seemed happy to hear from me.

And then I was alone. I was exhausted but didn't want to sleep. I wanted Rachel with me and I wanted Eric to be sleeping beside me. I woke up at approximately 4 AM and waited for the 5 AM feeding. It finally came and so did my daughter. She was hungry and incredible. I couldn't do anything but watch her as she fed contently. So it went every four hours that day although she was on demand. However during the nights they did bring her to me when she cried. That was another of the incredible highs I experienced there was to be awakened by a nurse bringing Rachel to me to be fed.

Eric was there every evening for a feeding. He would hold Rachel and we would open her covers and look at her on the bed marvelling at this tiny person who is so complete. I have never felt such a lack of control over my emotions. I never wanted to see Eric leave. I did miss being at home but I was so tired it was just as well that I was in the hospital. I had rooming in after the second day. The first day rooming in was not allowed. I was so full of energy and joy the first day, I couldn't believe it on the second day when I was hit with light-headedness and fatigue. My blood pressure dropped a fair bit on the second day apparently but came up by that night. I have never been so hungry in my entire life.