Category Archives: childbirth

It’s been a while…and volunteers needed!

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It’s been a while…and volunteers needed!

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on here. I have decided to start blogging again as I used to enjoy doing it. I have been pretty busy with the business and work and so the blogging  got pushed aside.

Since I last penned anything on here, I have become a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, joined CAPPA Faculty and started training postpartum doulas, took the CAPPA New Parent Educator training Teresa Maskery, took a CAPPA approved working multiples training which I hosted, Kimberly Bepler came from the US and we did training at CSI, Spadina- Birthmark allowed us to use their space. I also embarked on a sleep consultant’s certification with IPHI- International Parents and Health Institute, training with Mar De Carlo, and her holistic science of sleep method. I am hoping to be a certified maternity and child sleep consultant by August, 2020.  It is for this qualification and certification that I am seeking some volunteers. If you are pregnant and experiencing challenges with sleeping, if you are a parent of a baby, toddler or older child and want some tips on helping optimise sleep for your baby please get in touch with me. Email me at suyindoula@gmail.com. You don’t have to be in Canada to volunteer! Sleep consults, optimising and coaching can be done remotely and virtually. I have consulted with clients in Jordan and Taiwan recently.

In other news, I have trained 6 postpartum doulas, since the beginning of 2019.  Andrea Lorenzo, who did her postpartum workshop with me at the beginning of September, 2019 has just gained her certification from CAPPA, and is now a CAPPA Certified Postpartum Doula. She has worked really hard, been so conscientious and is a great doula- a big shout out to her for achieving her certification within 6 months of taking my training. Awesome!!!

 

This is a picture of the 4 postpartum doulas who did my workshop in September, 2019. Andrea is the one by the white board.

I will be blogging about Andrea soon, I interviewed her on why she wanted to be a certified postpartum doula.  A lot of doulas do not certify, as the doula profession is not regulated here in Canada. They feel they do not need to certify. I will ramble on more about this in my blog about Andrea.

This year will be my 2nd recertification with CAPPA for postpartum doula, which means I have been a doula for almost 8 years.  I have been privileged to support many families and have transitioned them into parenthood.  They welcomed me into their homes and trusted me with their babies and I have had such great experiences working with them. I am truly grateful to have a job that I love.

Here are some pics of my little clients, I have their parents permission to post their pics.

 

I have attended about 2 births a year for the last 6 years too, being a birth doula. This too has been rewarding. I don’t tend to take on many births as I am predominantly a postpartum doula and my schedule is pretty full. Trying to fit a birth in and being on call can be difficult. Therefore, I only do 1-2 births a year.

Back to today! I have decided to blog every week, and more often if I have time. I will be using this platform to reflect on my week, like a form of journalling. I feel like the time is now, for some self care and reflection!

I hope you have enjoyed reading and if you know of anyone who can benefit from holistic science of sleep coaching, please get in touch via my website http://www.cherryblossomdoulas.ca  or email me at suyindoula@gmail.com.

Thank you for dropping by…… more to come in the days and weeks to come!

 

 

 

 

 

Sitting the Month – The Chinese Confinement Period (CAPPA Article Contribution)

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As a Malaysian postpartum doula of Chinese origin, a large proportion of my clientele are Asian (Chinese). I have supported quite a few Asian clients who observed the traditional practice of sitting the month or Zuo Yue Zi or Zhor Yuit. I am sure a lot of postpartum doulas are aware of this tradition, but if you aren’t I will share with you briefly what this involves and share a few recipes with you.

This cultural practice is meant to allow the postpartum parent to recuperate and recover form the birth of their baby. They are supposed to rest and do very little, and not leave the house for a month. During this time, the postpartum parent is said to be in a ‘cold condition,’ giving birth has caused them to lose a lot of heat. Moreover, their pores are said to be open and they are predisposed to getting chilled. In order to protect and improve their health, a diet of ‘warming’ foods is vital and avoidance of cold water is important so that their bodies return to one of equilibrium – not cold or hot. Cold drinks are also forbidden for this period.

The Chinese diet is a combination of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ and neutral foods. Ginger, Chinese rice wine, sesame oil, red dates(Chinese jujubes, usually dried), dried longan-a tropical fruit, dark green leafy veg, adzuki beans, black beans are all ‘hot’ foods.

‘Cold’ foods are lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, mung beans, most root vegetables ( as they grow underground where it is dark and cold) and anything raw- think salad items.

Consequently the Chinese postpartum diet consists of mainly ‘hot’ foods with the addition of meat- chicken mainly but pork ,beef and eggs are also eaten. Seafood is not eaten as it’s thought to be s cold food as it comes from the sea which is cold, and also toxic for the recovering postpartum parent. Nothing cold or raw is to be consumed.

In addition to a specific diet, the postpartum parent is also not allowed to touch cold water, or wash in water that has not been boiled with ginger skin and then cooled ready for use. They are not allowed to wash their hair as their pores and joints are said to be open following birth, and that would cause them to get chilled. They may not feel any ill-effects immediately, but the Chinese believe that it will cause arthritis and other problems in 20-30 years time.

In modern times, I have not looked after any Chinese postpartum parents that have followed this practice completely as they have found it very difficult not to shower, bath or wash their hair for a month! I usually advise them to ensure they have a hot shower/bath, and that their houses are adequately heated, and if washing their hair, to dry it immediately with a hairdryer.

I would like to share with you a tea that I make for my clients. It’s called red date tea. This is drunk throughout the day in place of water.The red dates (jujubes) are said to be warming and will replenish the heat that was lost in labour and birth. In addition, it is said that it is also good for replenishing and nourishing the blood, thus improving blood circulation. This can lead to better liver and digestive function, balance of inner body energy (Qi) and improved immunity. Goji berries are a known for their antioxidant qualities. How wonderful is that? You can get the ingredients from most Asian grocers or traditional Chinese medicine shops.

Before you make and drink this tea though, please check with you healthcare provider as there are some contraindications if you are taking certain medications. References for the ingredients of this tea are given at the end of this article.

Red Date Tea

15-20 red dates, stones removed

1/4 cup of dried longan

2 tbs of goji berries

6-8 cups of water

 

Put all ingredients in a bowl and soak for a minute or two then rinse in a colander.

Combine all ingredients and water in a medium – large pot.

Bring to boil, then simmer for up to 25 minutes.

You can add sugar to taste but I don’t for my clients, as the tea has a mildly sweet flavour from the dates, longan and goji berries.

The tea can be served with the ingredients or without. I personally like to serve it with the fruit as it’s pretty and also adds fibre with is beneficial, especially if my clients slightly constipated or have haemorrhoids!

Keep tea in a flask so it keeps hot and drink throughout the day.

Ginger, eggs and chicken feature large in the dishes that are eaten in the postpartum period. If you follow confinement practices strictly, a chicken a day should be consumed by the postpartum parent. Though this practice is difficult to adhere to.

With this in mind, I would like to share 2 simple dishes that I cook for my clients- ginger fried rice and chicken with ginger and sesame oil.

 

Ginger Fried Rice

1 cup cooked rice that has been cooled, or left over rice that has been stored in the fridge in a covered container overnight.

Thumb size piece of ginger- peeled, thinly sliced and julienned

1-2 spring onions, cleaned and sliced thinly on the diagonal.

1-2 eggs

1-2 tbs of cooking oil

1tbs sesame seed oil

1 tbs soy sauce- optional

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Heat wok/large fry pan over medium heat.

When oil is hot, fry ginger until it turns golden brown and is fragrant.

Break eggs and add to the pan, stirring as though making scrambled eggs.

When eggs are nearly cooked, add the green onions and fry for another minute.

Turn heat down a little, add the rice and stir continuously until rice is evenly heated and fried in the ginger, egg and onion mix- about 5 minutes.

Season with soy sauce if using, salt and pepper.

Turn heat off and drizzle sesame seed oil over and mix in.

Serve whilst still hot.

You can serve this as a side to the ginger chicken in sesame oil dish.

 

Chicken with Ginger and Sesame Oil

 

4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs- sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices

1 boneless and skinless chicken breast- sliced into 1/2 in thick slices

3 in ginger root, skinned, sliced thinly and julienned

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

2tbs dark soy sauce

1tsp cornstarch-optional

1 tbs Cooking oil

1tbs Chinese cooking rice wine

2tbs sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Sesame seeds for garnishing- optional

 

Mix the dark soy sauce with the sliced chicken in a bowl, you can add a tsp of cornstarch to this mix if you wished.

Heat wok/ large fry pan over medium heat, add ginger.

Fry until fragrant, add minced garlic and stir, be careful not to burn the garlic.

Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the chicken, turning up the heat slightly. Cook the chicken, stir frying for about 5 minutes, add about 1/4-1/2 cup water, turn heat down and simmer until chicken is cooked through about another 15 minutes. Add the Chinese cooking wine, sesame oil, stir, taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Be careful as the dark soy sauce may be salty enough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using and serve! Bon Appetit!

I have used a photo from http://www.rasamalaysia.com as I can’t find a photo of my own for this dish, even though I have cooked it numerous times over the years!

 

I invite you to try cooking some of the dishes and making the red date tea. As I mentioned earlier, please consult your healthcare provider if you are taking regular medications before you start making the tea as there are some contraindications to certain medications. You don’t have to be postpartum to try them. It’s winter in Canada as I am writing this, and the warming red date tea would go down well on a snowy winter’s day.

Here are some links and resources if you would like to know more about the Chinese postpartum period.

Doing the month: Chinese postpartum practices

Article in MCN The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing · November 2006 DOI: 10.1097/00005721-200611000-00013 · Source: PubMed

https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/doing-month-confinement-and-convalescence-chinese-women-after-childbirth-1978-barbara-lk

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1913060/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujube

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/jujube#downsides

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longan

https://www.webmd.com/diet/goji-berries-health-benefits-and-side-effects

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.

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.