Blush: So how do I find a doula? – Guest Post by Tricia Surette

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Part 3: So how do I find a doula?

But how do you choose your doula? Where do you find one?

If you have a midwife, most offices keep a list of doulas that work in the area. Even OB/GYN’s are beginning to come around to the idea of doulas as partners in the birthing process and asking at your doctor’s office could be a good place to start.

Ottawa is home to the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Center, located on Walkley Road. It can be a huge resource for parents looking for birth options and for links to local doulas. On the third Wednesday of every month, if you have a midwife, you can attend their Choice of Birthplace seminar and it can be very informative if you are on the fence about where you want to birth and the type of birth you are looking for. Especially for a first-time parent.

There is also word of mouth. Ask around among other pregnant friends, see if anyone recommends someone, and doing a google search for doulas in your area can also give you a place to start.

Once you have decided you want a doula, do the leg work needed to find the one that will be the support you need when labour starts. Here a doula looks on as a happy mother initiates nursing her newborn baby. This is what all women deserve and a doula can help achieve that whether it’s a hospital, a birthing center or home birth, or even if it’s a c-section. Image taken by Nicky Rhea De Souza and shared here with permission.

Finding a doula and choosing a doula are two different things. It’s a good idea to interview your doula options, ask about their previous experiences, their training (if they have any), maybe some references if they are really new. But when it comes down to choosing your doula it’s about connection. You might connect with the one who has 14 years experience or you might connect with the one who has just finished training and is looking for some experience. Pay close attention to how your gut feels about the doula.

“I think connection is one of the most important things,” says Anderson, “because it’s very intimate giving birth. You need to be careful with who you have there and the people who are there should be on your side and you should feel good about that.”

The process of birth can be an incredibly empowering experience for women, and a doula can help avoid traumatizing pitfalls that can stay with women long after the labour is over, affecting their mental health by increasing the chances of postpartum depression and making it more difficult for a mother to connect with their newborn in the days and weeks that follow.

Whether you enlist a doula to support you in your labour or not, please do your homework on what your rights are and be aware of the cascade of interventions that can lead to a less than optimal outcome for both mother and child. Medical advancements have saved a lot of children, but when people rely too heavily on machines and stop listening to their bodies, the scales tip back towards there being a potential for more trauma due to unnecessary interference. The US has some of the most medicalized births, relying very heavily on machines and interventions, but they also have worse birth outcomes than some third world countries, so those machines do not necessarily know better than a woman’s body what it needs to do.

Trust yourself.

References

Wise Woman Way of Birth

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Fanfiction What? – Guest post by Lindsay

I made a goal for myself this summer…to read some books. I even went to a library and took out nine books of a variety of genres and authors in the hopes to kick start this goal. It’s August 1st as I write this and I haven’t touched a single one of them. Yet, I have read over 1 749 260 words since July 1st. A MILLION AND A HALF WORDS! Which, based on an average 80k word book, is roughly 22 books. But I haven’t opened a physical book…or actually, I haven’t opened any published books. Allow me to introduce to you a written world often unknown, often disgraced…the world of fanfiction.

For those of you not in the know, Mirriam-Webster defines fanfiction as “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet — called also fanfic”. So basically, a story created by someone who isn’t the original author. Sound familiar? Your thoughts might automatically jump to Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most infamous examples of current media that started off as a Twilight Fanfiction. But many popular stories can be fit into this definition. Lion King? Simply a lion AU (alternate universe) version of Hamlet. While on the topic of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet? One of the most famous love stories of all time? Basically a fix-it fic of Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet which could be viewed as an AU of the legend of Tristan and Iseult and it just keeps going.

My first experience with fanfiction was asking my sister what she was reading on the computer when I was in grade 6 (after the fourth book came out). “A book about Harry Potter written by a fan,” she answered after several minutes of my persistent asking. WHAT? My brain was so confused – why would someone a) write a Harry Potter book that wasn’t J.K. Rowling and b) why would someone read a book written by someone who wasn’t J.K. Rowling? Fast forward four years to me in high school, lamenting to my friend that I really wanted Ron and Hermione to develop a romantic relationship in the series. “Why don’t you just read some fanfics? I know a couple you would love!” WHAT? Fanfiction? NOoooooooooo. But I gave it a go…and haven’t looked back since.

So why is the main social perspective of fanfiction viewed so poorly? What uses are there for this form of storytelling? The answer to the first question is one I cannot answer, but probably stems from the fact it is mostly written and read by marginalized people looking for representation. That is a whole other aspect that could be examined in another article (there are some awesome posts and threads about this on Tumblr and Twitter that are far more eloquent than anything I could write). The answer to the second question is far easier to express.

Writing fanfiction is a great tool for writers.

  • Want to work on characterization without having to world build? Write about original characters in a certain fandom world
  • Want to explore creating a functioning society but don’t want to character design? Write an AU for characters you know well
  • Struggling with dialogue? Struggling with descriptive passages? Practice with characters and worlds you already know well
  • Spelling and grammar a problem? Practice with fanfiction!

Reading fanfiction is fun and easy for readers.

  • TAGS – the best thing about fanfiction is how easy it is to search for the kind of story you want. Want angst with a happy ending? Hurt/comfort. Want sweet wholesome anxiety-free stories? Fluff. Want raw emotions expressed physically through vigorous lovemaking? Smut…well…just adjust the rating to R or E and you can pair that with any other tag to really hone down the type of story you want!
  • Short or long – based on the amount of time or energy you want to invest in a reading session, you can find short stories to novellas to novels to epic long series
  • Tropes galore – like reading a certain trope? People love writing them too so you can spend as long as you want exploring the same flavour of story again and again
  • Unsatisfied with the media you consumed or you simply want more of that world – Fanfiction will fix it or provide you with enough content to satisfy your needs

So yes, I’m obsessed with reading fanfiction and have even dabbled in writing it. There’s a fanfiction from your fandom, about your favourite characters waiting for you for whatever kind of story you are interested in reading. Go forth with an open mind and you can discover some literary gems. Explore fandoms you haven’t even seen the original media of (I’m so into Teen Wolf fanfic right now without ever having seen a single episode), read a genre you don’t normal expose yourself to, and have fun!

Resources

(some of these I hesitate to recommend but I’m trying to be impartial):


Lindsay is an all around geek who mostly spends time consuming fan-created content rather than the original piece of media.

She can be found pottering around TumblrTwitterInstagram, or her portfolio site.

Blush: A doula’s toolbox – Guest Post by Tricia Surette

Read Part 1 here.

Part 2: A doula’s toolbox

Doulas have many tools in their repertoire that can help a woman in labour.

“When I first go to a birth, I observe what my client is doing and ask her some questions,” says Anderson. “For instance, if the mother says the pain is all in the back, I would start straight away with counter-pressure and ask her, ‘does that feel better?’”

Communication with your doula is key. Anderson will check in with her clients repeatedly about what is working, what’s not, and will change up her techniques accordingly. She can offer the use of a TENS machine, which can help some woman cope with the pain better. Anderson will also remind the labouring woman to stay hydrated, to rest, to breathe.

Doulas provide both physical and emotional support during labour. They have many tools to help a labouring person cope with the pain as their bodies move through the stages of labour. Here a doula uses a rebozo, basically a large scarf, to provide counter pressure to a client’s lower back. Image taken by Nicky Rhea De Souza and shared here with permission.

It’s not uncommon in birth for emotions to come up.

“If somebody gets really emotional, if they need to cry, I tell them, ‘Just cry’,” says Anderson. “I can ask them questions as to what’s coming up, what are you worried about and sometimes they’re very valid worries.”

And if something comes up on the medical side, Anderson can help remind the woman or the couple that it’s okay to ask questions. Rarely is there ever anything in birth that requires such an immediate response that there isn’t time to ask questions and find out what’s happening before making a decision.

“Sometimes in a hospital setting people can find it overwhelming where [information] is often presented as ‘this is how it is’ and some people have a hard time going against it,” says Anderson. “Sometimes it’s really hard to collect your thoughts when people are looking at you waiting for an answer, so I might say to them, ‘Ask for five minutes’.”

The discussions a couple has with their doula at their pre-meetings, as well as work they did on the birth plan, will make all of this easier to navigate, as there will be a bond and the couple will already be privy to a foundational understanding of the choices they may face during labour.

“Many times, at the hospital,” says Anderson, “the nurses would say to me, ‘You’re really lucky because you got to know these people. I just met them and they’re in labour’.”

The support a doula can provide for the non-birthing partner is amazing as well.

“[Partners] have a hard time because they feel like ‘oh, my love is in this much discomfort and I can’t do anything’. They feel helpless and that’s a difficult place to be.”

Doulas can help partners learn massage and counter-pressure techniques to help reduce pain, which gives the partner something to do and can help them feel more connected to their labouring partner and the birthing experience as a whole. Doulas can remind partners to breathe and to take time to rest, eat, or drink, especially if it’s a long labour as was the case for Chris Brown’s wife Debbie. Her labour went on for several days and they were sent home from the hospital a number of times, plus there were other complications such as meconium, a complication where the baby poops inside the amniotic sac and runs the risk of aspirating it into their lungs before they are born.

“I actually hyperventilated and left,” said Brown. “I think it was because I was afraid for Debbie and the obvious pain she was undergoing.”

But he credits their doula with providing them with a lot of information ahead of time, that allowed he and his wife to navigate the overwhelming elements of their daughter’s birth.

“She was genuinely there for us when we needed her and she did provide a lot of comfort and knowledge,” says Brown.

There have been some studies conducted on birth outcomes for woman with labour support and while some of the results are harder to quantify, in general most woman did better with continuous labour support. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, “Doula-assisted mothers were four times less likely to have a low birth weight (LBW) baby, two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving themselves or their baby, and significantly more likely to initiate breastfeeding.”

(At the end of the article there will be an additional of list of resources and recommended reading that you might want to explore if you are contemplating a doula for your next birth.)


References

Oakville Family Birth
NCBI
Science Direct
Dona

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

My Favourite Content Creators – Guest Post by Jonas

I’m not young. I remember a time back when we rode dinosaurs. Ok, maybe I’m not that old. But I do remember growing up without the internet. I’m somewhat fortunate in that in my late teens I *did* go to a private school that offered students laptops and internet access. So I had a bit of a jump on the rest of my generation.

There’s a lot of great (and not great) stuff out there. But growing up as a budding nerd, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to share and talk about my passions. Plus I was limited in the opinions I could find based on geography. Sure I could go to a Star Trek Convention. But the only people who I’d be able to interact with were those other people who were there.

Now, of course, you can connect with a fellow nerd who is on the other side of the planet in a few seconds. And it’s so much easier to find and spend time with local humans who may share your passion.

It’s also so much easier to consume media that dives deep into topics you are interested in. Talk about the philosophy of Star Trek. The history of miniatures gaming. A documentary on the making of your favourite video game. I wanted to take a moment to share some of my favourite content creators.

Note they’re all YouTubers mostly because it’s the content delivery medium I am most familiar with and the platform, despite them “optimizing” it on and off, it’s pretty user-friendly.

1. Moviebob

Moviebob *is* my favourite content creator. He dives deep into a whole host of nerdy subjects. And even topics I’m not interested in, I’ll still usually watch. I never thought I’d be interested in Yogi Bear’s collar, I was wrong. Also COMICS ARE WEIRD! (Seriously, search “Moviebob” and “comics are weird” you won’t be disappointed. I mean, unless you don’t like comics.)

Really That Good: Superman:

About Yogi Bear’s Collar:

2. Steve Shives

Steve talks about Star Trek and Social Justice Issues. I don’t always agree with him on both. But I’m always edified by the experience. He just did a video about the new Star Trek: Picard trailer and I enjoyed it.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/user/stevelikes2curse

3. How to ADHD

It’s not nerdy per se. But I think it valuable.  I have ADHD, it’s….challenging. This channel has helped me understand myself better. It’s also helped me know I’m not alone in my struggles.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

4. Lindsay Ellis

Another brilliant media commentator. Also someone who, even on topics I’m less interested in (like Game of Thrones) I’m still interested in her opinions. If I were half as smart as she is, I’d be twice as smart as I am now. Oh! And she was nominated for a Hugo award for her Hobbit Trilogy.

The Hobbit, A Long Expected Autopsy:

5. Noclip

I love video games. I also enjoy learning more about the games I love. Danny interviews industry luminaries and dives deep into how some amazing games came to be. If you’re a fan of the Witcher 3 or 2016’s DOOM, I really recommend checking out those documentaries.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0fDG3byEcMtbOqPMymDNbw

Bonus: Mick Gordon talking about the creation of the DOOM Soundtrack

6. Guerilla Miniature Games

In addition to video games, I also enjoy tabletop games. In my experience, there is a dearth of commentators on the industry who bring insightful industry knowledge and who aren’t governed by “hot-takes”. Ash is one of those and the discussions on issues of the day are well worth listening to.

Channel URL:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbO4Vs1vlAA9hz7Ad7IMgug

About the Author

Jonas is a nerd who loves many many different nerdy things…. Except Anime! Anime was a mistake!

If asked what he thinks is most under-rated in nerd culture he’d probably say Babylon 5.

*Note* All opinions are those of the author and not JenEric Designs.

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

Follow Tricia Surette here!

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.

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

Looking for guest writers!

Hello readers,

As you may be aware, we are expecting a baby in July. Our blog doesn’t get a parental leave, but we would love a break from it for a couple months.

This means we need guest posts!

Image from technologytherapy.com. Initially from Beauty and the Beast.

Fandom travel: have you visited a place that was featured in a movie or book? PEI, Petra, New Zealand, etc are all examples.

Blush: these posts can definitely be anonymous! Do you have something that you’d like to contribute? We already have a post about Doulas that has been promised (so excited about that!), but the options are WIDE open!

Travelling TARDIS: I can easily set these up in advance, but if you’re going somewhere exciting, even if it’s just an event in Ottawa, you can ask to borrow the TARDIS to take pictures.

I can’t speak for Éric’s posting days of Tuesday and Thursday, but those are full of variety. If you have an idea for a post, give us a shout.