Blush: What’s a doula? Why do I want one? – Guest Post by Tricia Surette

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Part 1: What’s a doula? Why do I want one?

Pregnant women often say that what matters most is the health of their baby or babies. Our society focuses heavily on the arrival of baby often to the detriment of the mother. One of my favourite quotes is, “the moment a child is born, the mother is also born,” and according to the internet it is attributed to Osho, a controversial figure. But the quote captures a truth about childbirth.

The woman is as integral to the process of birthing as the baby is, and her importance and her need for support is just as important as the health of the child. The act of labour is a symbiotic relationship between the woman’s body, mind, and soul working along with the movements of the newborn descending through her birth canal. The more we can allow that process to happen unhindered and for women to be free to listen to the intuition of their bodies, often the better the outcomes are for both the mother and child.

Here a doula holds a woman in early labour, providing support through the intense surges of her labour, as her body works to bring her baby earthside. Image taken by Nicky Rhea De Souza and shared here with permission.

Unfortunately, our highly medicalized birthing system in North America has forgotten the power of the female body – but this is starting to change.

Women are remembering, they are learning to trust themselves, and they are demanding more support. One of the forms that support might take is a doula.

“[A doula] is somebody who helps you see your strengths, helps plan, helps craft questions for your healthcare provider,” says Courtney Holmes, the family outreach and birth companion support worker at Mothercraft Ottawa. “They really help instill a sense of confidence and empowerment moving through the experience.”

Mothercraft Ottawa provides doula services to at-risk women in Ottawa. At-risk includes new immigrants and low-income mothers. The support the doulas provide those women is invaluable.

“How women feel about their labour and delivery is a huge marker for postpartum mental health issues afterwards,” says Holmes.

Pia Anderson, a local doula and Hypnobirthing teacher, has been a doula for over 14 years and has supported hundreds of women physically, emotionally, and informationally through their journeys of birthing their children.

Anderson tries to meet with each family at least three times prior to the birth. This helps build her relationship with the woman and her partner.

She is a big supporter of a birth plan, not because she expects everything will go according to the plan, but it gives a chance for the woman and her partner to explore their options and be aware of the different scenarios that might come up, as well as to explore questions they might want to bring up with their healthcare provider. It also gives them a chance to voice any fears or worries. Anything that can be addressed ahead of time or can be anticipated to come up during the birth, can help increase the chances of a positive birthing experience.

Anderson worries about the mothers who make a birth plan that they are too attached to.

Birth is not a predictable process and getting too entrenched into an idea of how it should go, ie. having your heart set on a “natural” birth (meaning no epidural, vaginal delivery, etc…) can set a woman up for disappointment if anything deviates from her vision. The birth plan is a great tool for educating yourself on what could happen and to help you be prepared for various outcomes, but it’s important that it’s viewed as a tool to help create an optimal birth in spite of anything that happens, and not a carved in stone agenda. Very few births go completely according to plan.

Melaina Landriault is a mother of three in Ottawa. Her first birth was a c-section as her daughter was full breach and stuck, but her two subsequent pregnancies were homebirths with doulas. Her second birth didn’t quite go as planned. It was supposed to be a hospital birth, but the hospital sent her home thinking she was still hours away from delivery. Her daughter had other ideas.

“I delivered her myself,” says Landriault. “[My doula] caught the baby!”

“We really believed what the doctor and midwife had told us and I’d never birthed before,” continued Landriault. “Then I remember pushing and [my doula] was like ‘Don’t push!’ and I was like, ‘I can’t stop this!’”

Landriault’s daughter was born in her living room with only her doula to support her. Her midwife arrived after the birth and an ambulance arrived to check everyone out as well.

This is not a typical scenario for a doula and most doulas will actively avoid a birth without any medical practitioners in attendance, but this one thankfully had a happy ending.

Unfortunately, if a doula attended a birth with no medical support and it didn’t have such a happy outcome, the doula could be open to a lawsuit with devastating results and charges could even be laid if the outcome is deemed the fault of the doula in any way.

Doulas are not medical practitioners and should never provide medical advice on your pregnancy or how you choose to birth. They can provide information to help you make a decision and will direct you back to your OB/GYN or midwife for answers, but they should never tell you how or how not to do something. The main goal of a doula is to support you in whatever choices you make and to help you achieve the best outcome for your birth so that everyone, including the mother, is healthy.

Stay tuned for Part 2 and Part 3 in two and four weeks respectively.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

The Louvre

I knew that the Louvre was considered one of the biggest museums of art in the world, but I wasn’t prepared for just HOW big that meant. We couldn’t see the full size of the building on this day, but the Seine cruise the night before really showcased the immensity of the building.

And this? This is just the entrance.

Breathtaking.

Breda, Netherlands

While Fandom Travel is near and dear to my heart, Accessible Travel is supremely important to me as well.

So when an article crossed my path about the city of Breda in the Netherlands and how it is the most accessible city in Europe, I knew I had to share it.

Breda. Image from theguardian.com.

Europe, generally, is NOT built with accessibility in mind. Cobblestones, stairs, narrow doorways, etc are the norm.

Read about how Breda changed all that, and their website, to make them the most accessible city in Europe.

Also, a huge happy birthday to my amazing husband, who is turning six squared today!

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Blush: Guest Post on Asexuality by S.M. Carrière

This post has been copied with permission from S.M. Carrière’s blog.

Good morning, Readers!

The easiest way I can think of to explain my experience as an asexual and what I understand about it is to do so in a Q&A format.  As I do so, I cannot stress enough that not all asexual people have had my experience or my understanding on the subject, and their answers may vary.  This is just how I see things.

Clear?  Cool.  Here we go.

By AnonMoos (SVG file); AVEN (flag design) – This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Asexual flag.png., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11521997. Image from wikipedia.

So… what even is asexuality?

You know, human sexuality is this wonderfully rich, complex thing.  I firmly believe that there are as many sexualities as their are people on the planet.  That said, asexuality is simply the lack of sexual attraction to anyone.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t feel any romantic attraction or are unable to fall in love.  It’s just that sexual attraction isn’t really part of their world.

Read the rest here!

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Guest Post: HP Studio Tour

Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca and I’m so happy to be writing a guest post for you today!

I’m turning 28 this year, and like a lot of people my age, I was BIG into Harry Potter as a kid. Midnight releases for books and movies, all the merch, playing Harry Potter games with my sisters, the whole deal.

So when a good friend from University invited me to a conference in London, England, I knew I would have to visit some Harry Potter attractions.

We had a busy trip, and while I didn’t make it to King’s Cross Station (oh look, a great excuse to go back to England!) we did go to the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour to see the sets and props used in the making of the movies.

And it was so worth it.

The Studio Tour is outside of London and the tube doesn’t run there. However, there are lots of travel packages  that offer a bus to and from the tour, departing from convenient places around London (often near major hotels).

The only downside of taking the bus is that you have to catch it to get back to the city! I could have stayed all day! That being said, the timeframe that we had (approx. 3 hours) was reasonable and I never felt like I had to rush by something super fast to be able to make the bus.

The tour is set up a bit like a museum; most of the items are behind railings so you can’t touch, and there are information sheets all over telling you about each item, and fun “behind the scenes” facts. There are also video clips playing –  from the movies, as well as interviews with the cast and crew.

The tour begins in the Great Hall, as if you were a student arriving at Hogwarts for the first time!

One thing I appreciated was that there was no forced Sorting ceremony. While this might be fun for some people, I know that for many adult fans, we know our houses and definitely have strong house loyalty! (Team Ravenclaw here!)

The great hall was amazing, (the whole tour was) but there were two instances in particular that gave me the WOW factor.

Do you remember in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley for the first time ? That was a magical scene in both the book and the movie, where you really get to experience the magic of the wizarding world.

Walking into the set for Diagon Alley – it all came flooding back. Suddenly I was 8 years old again reading my first Harry Potter book. That magic and pure joy was truly something special.

The second location where I got that feeling was the Hogwarts Castle room. This is where they have the model of the castle that was used for all the external sweeping shots. You can see every tower, all the grounds, Hagrid’s hut. I actually teared up a bit.

Aside from the marvel of all the sets and props, the staff were also amazing. In Ollivander’s wand shop, they’ve written the names of cast and crew on the wand boxes. When I was there, a staff member was sitting with a young child who was asking where all of the character’s wands were. And the staff member knew each one! She was using a laser pointer to indicate the appropriate wand boxes all around the room.  I’m sure that was a special moment for that child, and the staff member sure made an impact on the guests!

I could go on all day, but I don’t want to spoil that magical childhood transportation moment for anyone!

I would highly recommend this tour to any and all Harry Potter fans – no matter your age! I will note that part of the tour does go outside to the Knight Bus, Number Four Privet Drive, and a few other locations, so check the weather and bring a jacket if needed.

Thanks again to Jen, Eric, Dragon, and baby Pegasus for the opportunity to write for you today!

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca