Birth!? Ew!

Birth can be gross sometimes.
Birth can be gross sometimes.


I recently came across a post in a Facebook group for doulas that was posted to discuss a recent Buzzfeed article about umbilical cord art. The article discussed how much the author thought that the idea of taking the umbilical cord and making art and keepsakes out of it (drying it, specifically), was gross. The doula’s in the facebook group were saddened and some were even furious that people can think it’s disgusting.

It has taken me a long time to learn this, but it is ok with me if you don’t like birth, or placentas, or umbilical cords! If you want your baby washed before touching them, I don’t want you to feel guilty because you read somewhere that it is good to wait before giving baby a bath, you won’t receive that judgement from me.  It can be empowering to some birthing persons to see or feel their baby’s head as it is being born and for others it could be traumatizing to force those options on them.

I acknowledge that I am one of the weird ones. I used to watch surgery shows with my family while eating dinner. “How’s your Mac and Cheese?” “Good. Did you see that vasectomy!?”.  Having grown up in a home with a mother with a disability, medical stuff was part of it. And some of it was pretty gross stuff. I am not phased in the least by the ick that comes with birth.

But, I realize that many people are.  Where I can see the beauty and wonder in a placenta, many others just see a disgusting piece of literally bloody grossness.  And while I love to gush and geek out about all things birth, I understand that not everyone wants to hear it.  (Though I am still working on not oozing birth talk all the time!)

I believe that part of being a doula is accepting that.  Coming to my clients where they are, instead of trying to persuade them to see things my way is integral to my mission of nurturing a culture of doula work that offers truly non judgmental support. 

Whether birth grosses you out or not, I support you!


If you liked this article and want to book a consultation with Amanda, you can contact her here.

An Un-Doula Experience?

Not your typical doula!
Not your typical doula!

“I thought doulas don’t eat hot dogs? Ha ha.”

It was a comment that was said off-handedly and was not sincere, but the truth behind the comment was there. It said: Aren’t doulas supposed to be all-natural, no bra, burning herbs, and get in touch with your inner goddess type people?

No, we’re not.

I eat hot dogs. And dairy, even if I am lactose intolerant. I don’t make sure everything I eat is organic, and I need to wear store bought sunscreens. I don’t know an herb from a spice. I love my underwire bras and I don’t care how many studies you show me that say sugar is evil, I love my sweet treats.

It comes down to what works for me.

Which is nothing more than what I want for all of my clients. To be able to take the information about their options and decide what works for them. My job is to support that, not what my idea of what their birth should be.

Maybe that makes me a bit of an Un-Doula, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Let’s un-do some of the stereotypes about doulas that exist out there.

There are all kinds of doulas.

I am the kind that can provide you with information about different options and support you through the preferences you choose. This is your show, not mine.

So if you have been apprehensive about contacting a doula because you feel like they only support a “natural” birth, contact the Birth Nerd Kelowna for a truly personal and professional experience.

When Evidence Based Means Squat

Sometimes an evidence based choice is not the best choice.
Sometimes an evidence based choice is not the best choice.

Recently we had been having some troubles with my youngest son having emotional outbursts. We finally went to the doctor and his diagnosis (from seeing us for all of five minutes, after sitting in his boring office waiting room for over an hour right after school with no chance to grab snacks) was a lack of consistent parenting. Thanks. That made me feel awesome. He “prescribed” an over the phone one on one parenting course.

A few months later we finally made it in the next round and started this program focused on positive parenting, with lots of charts and rewards systems for encouraging good behaviour. We had difficulties using many of the tools offered and when that was expressed to our coach, I was repeatedly told “This program is evidence based.”

When the program ended and our little guy kept having these outbursts (though a lot less frequently and less severe), I decided to try another plan of action and took him to a free drop in counselling program I had heard about. After a more thorough discussion with me, the counsellor and my son, it was suggested he had a learning disability. But not your typical reading or math type. He was having troubles learning how to manage disappointments, frustrations and changes in routine. The more I learned, the more I felt it described him to a “T”.

It was frustrating to learn that we had spent that much time and effort (15 weeks!!) in a program that didn’t really address the problem, but as I learned more about his needs, it was clear that that type of parenting program could have the opposite effect. A child with this type of disability can become so focused on the outcome that they ignore the method to get there (behaving appropriately). By setting up charts and rewards systems for good behaviour, you can actually trigger an explosive response when the child doesn’t get the reward at the end.

What this has taught me about evidence based care is that it doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t apply to your situation. This evidence based program was not designed for us in our circumstances. And so, it was useless (for us). Having someone repeatedly tell me that it would work if I just did it right was degrading, frustrating and made me feel like a bad parent, when I was doing nothing wrong.

Evidence is a collection of information that we look at as a whole. If a treatment works for 80% of people when used correctly, guess what? It doesn’t work for the other 20%. That is a big deal if you are one of the individuals that are the 20%.

Doulas like to tout “evidence based” this and that. I have been guilty of this myself, and may still do it now and again to be honest. Old habits and all that, and I apologize. We do this as if somehow, knowing the evidence is going to change the actual situation. Knowing the evidence that vaginal breech birth is as safe as cesarean delivery for the baby and safer for the mom, does not change the fact that for many women, they do not have access to a provider that will support that. Evidence will not change the mind of a woman who was sexually assaulted and does not want to have a vaginal birth, or breastfeed. And many times, the reasons why are none of our business. Evidence also cannot change a deeply ingrained culture around birth overnight.

Evidence based care is still needed. Having care providers basing recommendations on what is proven to be true is definitely preferable to the alternative. But, it is also important to remember the individual and their situation. And to respect when and if a client is requesting information, or would prefer to not know.

I am committed to learning and offering only evidence based information, but I am working to do so only when requested, and I even better understand now when my clients may choose not to follow it. You know what will and will not work for you better than I do and I fully respect and support your choices.

If you are looking for unbiased and non-judgmental support during your pregnancy and birth, contact The Birth Nerd Kelowna today.

Orgasmic Birth – Audiobook review

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As a Birth Nerd, I love to learn about birth.  I like to read articles online, books, magazines – anything birth related I can get my hands on.  One of my new favourite things is podcasts and audiobooks.  These are great to listen to while cleaning, tidying or even driving around doing errands or going to meetings with clients.  For audiobooks, I have subscribed to and I have yet to be disappointed. (While audiobooks are great to listen to when you are busy at home cleaning or in the car driving, I will always love a good hard copy for reference).

My latest listen was Orgasmic Birth, written by Elizabeth Davis and Debra Pascali-Bonaro, and narrated by Aimee Jolson.

When I first heard of this book, it sounded to me like a “manual” type book, an instruction manual on how to have an Orgasmic Birth, as in actually orgasm during labour and birth.  I was interested in reading it one day, but it never became a priority.  Then, I was bummeling (boom-eh-ling, a term my family uses for “window shopping, wasting time”) around in the app on my phone, looking for birth related audiobooks when I found it, and decided now was a good time to try it!

The narration of this book was very well done.  It was a lot like listening to a friend discuss a topic they are passionate about, which was great.  The only issue I had was some of the pronunciation of birth specific words.  Episiotomy was pronounced Eh-PISST-ee-ah-toe-me.  That threw me off so badly the first few times that I had stopped listening to try to figure out what the narrator was saying.  Also VBAC is actually pronounced vee-back, not vee-bee-ay-see as done in the audiobook.  Other than that, it was easy to listen along and not get too lost.  The tone was very conversational, and not monotone or “instructional”.

As for content of the book, I honestly don’t know why I waited so long to check this book out.  I cannot wait to get my hands on a hard copy of this book to add to my reference library.  Like I said earlier, I had delayed reading this book due to concerns that it was a manual on how to achieve an orgasm during birth.  However, the book explains that they interpret “Orgasmic Birth” as any birth where the mother felt powerful, supported, and joyful, and not frightened or suffering.  It is filled with great, practical information on pregnancy, how to have a more mindful approach to pregnancy and birth, setting up your village of support, ideas on accepting, enhancing and maintaining intimacy (not just sex) with your partner and more.  Tips on nutrition, exercise, as well as mental preparation for birth and parenting.  Debra Pascali-Bonaro explains in detail the hormonal changes of each trimester of pregnancy and how they affect the pregnant woman, physically, emotionally and mentally.  There were also some great activities included to help prepare for birth that I can’t wait to share with my clients!

Then there are the birth stories.  There were some beautiful, inspiring birth stories in this book.  If you get this book for one reason, I hope it is to immerse yourself in the positive stories at the end of this book.

Altogether, this is a very well written, and well-read audiobook that I will recommend to my clients.  It will be making a debut in my lending library soon!

My overall recommendation: Highly Recommend – one of The Birth Nerd’s Top Picks!

If you are a client (or want to be) and are interested in this or other books in my lending library, please let me know!

Have you listened to audiobooks?  What is your favourite time to listen?

Why “The Birth Nerd”?

I have been working as a doula for almost five years now.  In that time, I have searched my soul for my “thing”, the one thing that makes me and my doula services unique.  It has taken a lot of hard work, soul searching and frankly, trying to force myself to work with clients that I just don’t mesh with because I felt I was supposed to doula a certain way.

So over the last few weeks, I really asked myself a lot of difficult questions, searching for an answer.

And suddenly, it struck me. I am an avid inhaler of information.

When I was pregnant, I was the one reading birth stories, borrowing stacks of books from the library, and buying any books that I wanted to read over and over.  I had a small library worth by the time our first was born.  I could not (and still cannot!) stop myself from learning more and more.  Anytime I come across a new word I don’t know that might be about birth work, I google it for a quick definition.  Then I look it up in my books and I learn everything I can.  In our prenatal class, I was the one in the back of the class rolling her eyes and going “How can you not know this!?” at the eight month pregnant woman who didn’t know what a placenta was.  (Disclaimer:  As a doula, I absolutely understand that everyone chooses to approach their birth differently; as someone who deals with things by learning as much as I can however, I could not understand how you could not know this stuff!)  In doula training, it was the same for the doulas-to-be who regularly stopped the class to have certain words or concepts – that were in the required reading- explained to them.  What happened to, you know, actually reading the books (there were several, by the way) that were on the required reading list!?

My strength lies in information and non judgmental support.  While I have my opinions on how I do things with my children, and I will share if you ask (because who doesn’t love talking about their kids?), I am not here to judge, make you see my side, or do things my way.  The only perfect way for you to give birth is your way.  I will give you information to find your way and then stay by your side on your journey. Think of me as your travel guide for birth.

So, on my journey to find out what kind of doula I am, I discovered that I am a bit of a nerd.  I geek out learning about this amazing process and how to support women and their families through it.  I am sure I have frightened a few potential clients away after getting too excited and sharing a little bit of TMI about birth at an interview.  So, let’s get this out of the way now: I love birth.  It is amazing, it is powerful and wonderful and miraculous.  It is also a minefield of choices, options, opinions and misinformation.   Wading through all the information is very difficult to do alone.  If you are looking for support, are up to learning about it, what your options are and discovering what your preferences are, give me a call, and we can talk birth!