Author Archives: cherrypumpkins

About cherrypumpkins

A postpartum doula with 19 years of nursing and midwifery background. I am caring, compassionate, sensitive to others' needs, supportive and have good sense of humour. I love to cook and have this ridiculous dream to feed the world. Another passion I have is crocheting and knitting. I am happily married to the most wonderful man and we have 2 amazing and beautiful children who are in their teens.

Milk Jugs, Tits, Cow!

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I had this interesting conversation with my client the other day which had to do with what people think they have the right to say when perhaps they should keep their comments to themselves.

This has to do with breastfeeding, with is very close to my heart as I believe that is the best start to the world a baby can have.

Why do relatives and friends feel the need to make fun of the breastfeeding mother? Or more to the point, the vital equipment that allows for breast milk production, the BREASTS.

We are the only mammals that have enhanced breast tissue when not lactating and feeding young. All other mammals only have larger breast tissue when lactating, for example, dogs and cats. When these female mammals are not pregnant or lactating, they have the same amount of breast tissue as their male counterpart, well, visually anyway.

So, we are the only mammals that have prominent breasts when not lactating, and they have become sexual objects. They differentiate the males from the females. they are called many names like breasts, tits, boobs, jugs, fun bags, puppies, boobies, knockers, udders. Some of these terms are not very nice!

When a baby cries and is need of feeding, a relative or friend says the baby needs her cow, how does that make the nursing mother feel? She is not a cow, but it’s inferred that she is one as she’s feeding her baby like a cow would a calf. But, she’s breastfeeding her baby human milk, not cow’s milk. It’s extremely derogatory and undermines what is one of the most important things a mother can do for her baby.

Saying, baby needs some tit now, doesn’t help either. For the well endowed women amongst us, saying the baby needs his/her jugs of milk is offensive.

These are the kind of comments that would make a woman very self-conscious about what she’s doing. Making her feel like that’s all she is, a baby feeding machine, a cow, a vessel for the baby’s food.

What she’s actually doing is natural, beautiful, vital and important. She’s giving her baby the best start in life, she’s bonding and nurturing her baby. Using these terms really cuts some women up, some even giving up breastfeeding because of it.

Are these comments made because people feel embarrassed about the whole breastfeeding thing? Are they making what they think are light-hearted jokes to alleviate that embarrassment?

Whatever the reason, it is not helpful to the breastfeeding mother. Especially ones who are self-conscious about it. It affects the confident ones too. Something as beautiful as breastfeeding your baby should not be subject to crass jokes and terminology.

Respect and support the nursing mother. She is nurturing our future.

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Death of a Mother and Baby in Bristol, UK

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I feel a bit sad this weekend on hearing of the news of a mother who took her own life and that of her baby’s a few days postpartum, in Bristol, in the UK.  All life is precious, and any life lost is sad, but this double tragedy is close to heart as the hospital she walked out of in her slippers was one that I had worked in as a midwife from 1995-2000. She must have been in such a terrible, unreachable place to have done what she did. She is at peace now, but it leaves all those left behind with a big gaping hole in their lives that they will have to learn to live with.

It said in the news that she had a history of schizophrenia and depression, and some of the tabloids said she was afraid that the social services would take the baby from her. These allegations have yet to be proven. Whatever the reason, two lives were lost tragically.

It must be so difficult to have a history of mental illness hanging over you when you decide to start a family.  Difficult that you feel like society and the authorities are judging your capability to bring up your children safely. Mental illness remains such a stigma in society. Need this really be? With proper care and support from the multi-disciplinary healthcare team antenatally followed by careful observation in this postnatal period, could this have been prevented? I don’t have the answer, but this was a case that slipped through the net, which is very unfortunate and sad.

Some papers have been saying that recent cuts to the NHS in recent years, have left many maternity units short-staffed and maybe this contributed to some oversight, which in turn contributed to this tragedy. I myself know what it’s like to work in a unit that is short-staffed. You try your best to cover everything and see to everyone, but it’s nigh on impossible at times. You prioritize as that is all you can do, and thank goodness, almost all of the time, everything goes to plan, and nothing amiss happens. You leave your shift shattered, but feeling good that you did and gave your best to your clients that day.

I know the hospital I worked in was a great hospital and feel for all my ex-colleagues. The coming weeks will be difficult, with investigations going on, trying to discover how this could have happened.  This can only be viewed positively, in order to learn from this tragedy and to prevent further tragedies of this sort happening again.  I know when I worked in that hospital that it had a no blame culture, and I hope this still exists, as blaming is negative and does not help improve anything.

For whatever it’s worth I am sending out a virtual hug to all my ex-colleagues that work at this hospital.

Now Offering Labour Doula Services at Cherry Blossom Doula Services

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Another string to add to my bow. Have recently completed a Labour Doula training workshop with Kimberley Healey Fernandez of the Toronto Doula Group.

I also recently attended a niche marketing workshop too.

This doula is ready to rock and roll.

I am busy this December, am currently waiting for the birth of another client, and I will be pretty busy all through the Christmas Holidays till mid January.

My website has been updated and can be found at http://www.cherryblossomdoula.com

I also have a new email address for doula work and that is suyin@cherryblossomdoula.com

Labour and Childbirth… some of my thoughts

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I am a true believer in all women having the labours they want and want to experience, some want it all natural, with a doula, birth coach, midwife, whale music, water birth, hypnobirthing, some want all the drugs available, an epidural at the first contraction and some choose an elective caesarean section. One of my personal favourites was the Entonox or Gas and air as it was called in layman terms. I am not sure how widely used this is in Canada.

My role when I was a midwife was not to judge but to support what each individual client wants and needs. women also need to understand that sometimes, things don’t go to plan and many did come in with a birth plan.  Another one of my roles was to monitor the mother’s and baby’s wellbeing whilst in labour and watching the progress in labour, trying not to think about the medical model of labour, but keeping it tucked in the back of my mind. In my 6 years as a practising midwife in the UK, I have attended a variety of births, normal cephalic, high risk, breech presentation, premature labour, twins, quadruplets, the sad stillbirths the late terminations for abnormalities and many more… of course I did not experience everything and I still have a lot to learn when I gave midwifery up after my 2nd child was born and I felt I could not do a good job as a midwife as I was constantly sleep deprived and my children and family always came first. I felt I did not have much left to give women and their families going through such an amazing time, and so decided leave the profession. 

Childbirth is still something that can only be deemed normal in retrospect. We really cannot predict that everything will go as planned.  We sincerely hope that a normal and healthy pregnancy will result in a smooth labour and birth of a healthy baby but occasionally, babies do get distressed or labour does not progress for reasons like there may be cephalopelvic disproportion. It could even be something like the umbilical cord having wrapped itself inconveniently round the baby’s neck, the baby’s body, and the baby get distressed with each contraction. Whatever the cause, we don’t want these things to happen but they sometimes do. We have a duty to educate women about these possible events, not to scare them but to prepare them for things that may go awry. This way, if any of these events happen, then they will not be so traumatized or shocked and feel like the perfect labour and birth was denied them, or they were robbed of the wonderful experience of a normal birth.

I feel sometimes like my friend Katie Clinton puts childbirth is portrayed as the 2 extremes of the serene amazing natural birth (which does happen) and the horrific ones where everything appears to have gone wrong. In reality, most people fall in between these two extremes.

Finally, another friend has shared her experience of childbirth and parenthood, and I especially like the bit at the end where she says, I have had 12 years to experience being a mum, it’s not all about the labour or birth, it’s so much more.

LK Koay posted this on one of my posts

Suyin, fr young I saw how childbirth was being portrayed on tv and I grew up being afraid of all the pain, screaming and the propped up legs. To me, it’s painful, messy and unglamorous. I almost didn’t want kids! 

When I got pregnant, I cried. Tears of fear. When the 1st child’s due date loomed near, I told my doc n hubby that I want it as painless as possible n I wanted C-sect. 

On the day my water bag broke, the 1st request I made after the hospital settled me in a labour room was…. “where’s the anaesthetist? I don’t want to feel pain!”. When I realised the pain I felt wasn’t a stomach ache from wanting to visit the loo, I panicked even further that the most important person has yet to arrive! And I’m not talking abt the obstetrician! Anyway… overall birth experiences I had were wonderful. I felt almost no pain and I didn’t go thru what I saw depicted on tv. I had good birth experiences if you ask me. I wasn’t traumatised. I’m glad I did it the way I want, rather than what I should have done because others do it naturally to feel ‘how it feels like to be a mother’. I had so far 12 years to feel how it feels like to be mom anyway. 

Laid Back Breastfeeding AKA Biological Nurturing

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Recently I discussed this method of breastfeeding to a new mum who was having a few problems with obtaining a good latch resulting in sore nipples. She was pretty sceptical and because I was the only person amongst all the health care professionals she had encountered since the birth of her baby, including nurses and a lactation consultant, who had mentioned it she was mulling it over. In the meantime, I had suggested side feeding, which seemed to be the best bet for a good latch. After going to the 2nd Lactation Consultant a week later, who convinced her it was worth a go, she tried it whilst with the lactation consultant and found that it was a great way of getting the baby to latch. She came home, tried to replicate the experience and did not succeed, she went back to cross-cradle hold and side feeding. Baby was having the most success with a good latch in the lying sideways position.

When I visited the next day and we we talking about how things went with the IBCLC, she said that she wanted to give the laid back method another go, and would I help her to achieve this. I said of course I could and we set on an adventure, baby, mum, dad and I. We undressed baby, placed baby on mum and watched in amazement as baby made her way to the breast. She had some assistance from mum who placed her within the vicinity of a nipple and she appeared to do the rest. How wonderful, baby led breastfeeding and attachment. Admittedly mum had to be careful that baby did not clamp down too hard on the healing nipples, by directing the breast towards baby’s wide open mouth, but it was minimal assistance as opposed to having had to bring baby to her breast as in all the other positions and methods that had been used previously. Mum too felt more relaxed and comfortable, bringing her arm down to support baby’s head as in a modified cradle position. Mum said the laid back position she was in also reduced the back and shoulder strain she had experienced previously in the more traditional feeding positions. Success.

The first time I heard about biological nurturing was when I attended  CAPPA lactation educator’s training, being delivered by Attie Sandink IBCLC extrodinaire. I had been a midwife in the UK and practised for 6 years, till the year 2000 and a nurse after that until 2009, and never once had I heard about laid back breastfeeding.  The DVDs were amazing to watch but to see it for oneself live is the best thing ever. For this I can thank my current clients. Dr S Colson brought this method to us and we should teach all new mums about it.

Here is a link to an article by By Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA about biological nurturing. 

https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/some-ins-and-outs-laid-back-breastfeeding

 Here’s a link to Suzanne Coulson’s video on Biological Nurturing

http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/video/bn3clip.html

Yet another link to Dr S Colson’s work and words

http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/biologicalnurturing.asp

Lactation Cookies Doing the Doula Style

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I decided to make some of these for the mum I am looking after at the moment, as baby wasn’t putting on weight and the IBCLC diagnosed a problem with mum’s milk supply.  I got the main gist of the recipe from Housepoet’s Famous Lactation Boosting Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Flaxseed cookies… but added my own twist to it as this is what I normally do to recipes.  I  tend to alter recipes to suit my needs and I decided to add some dried apricots and cranberries to the recipe as dried apricots are a good source of iron.  I also did this because I wasn’t sure how the brewer’s yeast would taste as I had smelled it and wanted something to mask the rather distinct flavour it may give.  I had made some choc chip, oatmeal and cranberry cookies for this mum before and she really liked them so thought the cranberries would be a good idea to add.  Dark chocolate is also a good source of iron but I am not sure how much dark chocolate there is in the semi-sweet dark choc chips. In addition, I also altered the amount of flour used to make a softer cookie.

So, my lactation cookies contains all the vital milk producing ingredients… oatmeal, flaxseed meal, brewers yeast but also has a few lovely tasting bits in them.

Lactation Cookies Doing the Doula Style (makes about 80 small cookies)

1 cup butter, you can use margarine if wished

1 coup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

4 tbsp water

2 tbsp flaxseed meal ( available from health food shops and bulk barn, I went to bulk barn)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 and 3/4 cup flour, or if using wholemeal 1 and 1/4 cups

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

3 cups rolled oats, I used thick cut

1 cup choc chips

2 oz dried apricots, snipped into small bits

1/2 cup dried and sweetened cranberries

2 tbsps brewers yeast. No substitutions, has to be brewers yeast. Be generous and I got this from bulk barn too

Method

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

Mix together the flaxseed meal and water and set aside for 3-5 minutes. Cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix well, add the flaxseed meal mixture and vanilla. Beat well. Whisk together the dry ingredients except the oatmeal, chic chips and dried fruit. Add dried ingredients to butter mix, stir in oats, chic chips and dried fruit.

Drop cookie size blobs onto baking sheet, I used 2 teaspoons to do this, cookies will expand a bit due to baking powder. Bake 8-12 minutes depending on size of cookies.

I made about 80 cookies with this recipe.

They tasted quite nice, soft and slightly chewy. I was generous with the yeast and so my normal food tasters weren’t too keen on them but the mum I gave them too really likes them. So, now to see if they work!

 

 

 

Baby Whisperer Part 2

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This name was given to me by 2 sets of parents recently. I happen to turn up for work and their babies just happen to be going through a fractious phase. I step in, say hello, and offer to have baby and, voila… baby calms down and quietens.  The parents stare at me in disbelief and awe, which I am almost unaware of. Then they say, “What did you do?” Or, “How did you do that?”  In all honesty, I don’t know myself, but I have some theories to explain what is happening.  I am penning this right of the top of my head and it’s by no means evidence based. It may be interesting to explore the evidence in support some of my techniques for settling babies… I guess that will be in Baby Whisperer Part 3.

The early days of parenthood are wonderful and amazing times. It can also be a time of stress and these precious miracles called babies are very adept at feeling the stress their parents feel.  So, my theory is that when I take over from them, being the calm, confident postpartum doula that I am, the babies sense this too, and calms down, as the stress around them has been removed.

Once the babies are clam and quiet, stop crying and fussing, the stress levels in their parents drop too, so that when I hand the babies back to them, all is calm and great.

Now, in the back of my mind, I see a potential drawback. I want to empower my clients to become confident parents. I don’t want to be the only one who can calm their fractious baby. So, I explain to them about the stresses of the early days of parenthood and discuss ways of dealing with these stresses and anxieties. It’s a huge learning curve becoming a parent for the first time and of course they are going to be anxious and have a lot of concerns and questions.

Why do babies cry?  Babies cry primarily because it’s their only means of communicating with us until they learn how to talk.  And it is our duty as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ parents to decipher what that crying means. They are trying to communicate to us that they may be hungry, they may have  wet or soiled their diaper, they may have gas or they may have been startled. It may even be too quiet for them.  They are not used to being left alone, after all, they have spent the last 40 weeks in their mother’s uterus listening to the swishing, pulsating of the placenta and their mother’s heartbeat. Not to mention all that borborygmi! They can also hear mum’s voice and that of others all through their watery world of amniotic fluid.

And so they are born. All of a sudden their noisy world becomes a relatively quiet one. It must take a bit of getting used to. Maybe this is why white noise machines seem to be a must thing to have these days, though I must admit I did not have one for my children. I co-slept with them, and I guess that having us close to them comforted them enough to negate the need for any white noise.

So, in order to calm a baby, go through the list of why she/he may be crying, one by one until you solve the mystery. Eventually, you’ll get used to baby’s cries and reactions, and discover the reason fairly easily. In the early days though, going through the list mentally in your head may help. If baby is rooting – opening her mouth as though searching for a breast – feed her. If she has been fed, and is not settling, burp her, check her diaper and maybe check if she needs topping up.  Swaddling is going out of fashion and there have been some recent recommendations by the Ontario Nurses Association advising against swaddling.  The following link is just one write-up of many written about the new guidelines.

http://www.canadapress.org/health/2014/03/05/new-guidelines-reopen-great-swaddling-debate/

Bearing this in mind, I do not advise my clients to swaddle their babies, if they decide to do so, I advise them of the risks so they can make their own informed decision.

In conclusion, I don’t think I am a baby whisperer nor do I profess to be one. I am an enabler and educator. There are many ways of settling a baby and it may seem like a mystery but if you go through the possible reasons as to why a baby may be unhappy, you’ll soon discover the cause and solve the problem. It’s all about learning,  learning to be confident parents and babies learning to communicate with their parents.