Category Archives: mental health

Covid 19 and A Shift in Support

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So beautiful yet capable of causing havoc in the human body. The SARS-CoV-2, or SARS Coronavirus -2.

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We are currently in a state of emergency in Ontario in response to the Covid 19 worldwide pandemic. Many countries are on lockdown, with their borders closed in an effort to control the pandemic. This has been in effect since the beginning of March, and Ontario announced these measures on March 13th, 2020.  Luckily for me, it was a week after I had returned from Malaysia, and it did not affect my return much apart from my flights being rescheduled, route changed and delays at Vancouver airport on my last leg home to Toronto.

My father passed away on February 19th, 2020 and I had to return to Malaysia at short notice, as the funeral was arranged for the 22nd of February. I had 4 days to get home, well actually 3 as Malaysia is ahead by 13 hours. It takes about 2.5 days to fly home, due to the time difference. To my amazement, I was able to get a flight on the same day that I heard about my dad’s passing. My mum called at 3am, crying on the phone, and my mind just went into autopilot. My dad’s death was unexpected and sudden. Yes, he was ill with dementia that had progressed to dysphagia and he had to be tube fed, but I was planning on visiting them in June, 2020.  Anyway, I had booked my ticket at the normal price by 5am. I was pleasantly shocked. By 12 pm, I was at Pearson International and my flight for Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong was at 2pm. The airport was quiet, almost deserted. At the boarding gate there appeared to be only a handful of passengers waiting. We boarded quickly, the plane was virtually empty- 2 passengers in business class and another 20 something in coach! We all had 3 seats to ourselves to stretch out on.  It was a weird experience and an omen about what was about to transpire.

Moving on to the present, I am providing doula and sleep coaching  support virtually, as the government of Ontario could not say if we were essential workers in view of the lockdown. I am supporting one family in person in a “nanny” capacity at the moment. I have been supporting them since January, and both my clients and I are practising strict social distancing, with minimal outings for essentials that we cannot get on line or delivered to out front doors. We have masks and gloves for when we do have to go out.  I do not use PPE when supporting them. I do wash my hands a lot, and my phone gets zapped in the phone soap (https://www.phonesoap.com/products/phonesoap-3-phone-uv-sanitizer) to kill off any bugs when I enter their home.

How does virtual postpartum doula support work? Usually being present physically to help out new parents with breastfeeding support, meal prep and light housework, reassurance, maintaining the calm, I now had to do this virtually. Of course, the meal prep, housekeeping and other chores could not be fulfilled and went out the window. Technology has definitely helped with the other roles, having me at the end of the phone when clients needed questions answered was vital. I am also able to observe breastfeeds via video calls ie face time, messenger to WhatsApp calls.

Here is what I offer virtually   https://www.cherryblossomdoulas.ca/virtual-postpartum-services/

I am hoping to be able to train postpartum doulas again later in the year, when the government tells me I can resume training. In the meantime, there are quite a few CAPPA faculty members who are offering virtual trainings, mostly in the US. I have decided not to carry out any virtual trainings at the present time as the Association of Ontario Doulas will only accept doulas who attended an in person training as members. Membership with the AOD is vital for a newly trained doula, it connects the new doulas with other doulas, and crucially, gives them the opportunity to purchase liability and general commercial liability insurance at a discounted price. They have also secured a group pricing for medical insurance if members need it.  CAPPA has been in touch with the AOD and we are waiting for their reply as to whether they will approve our virtual training platform for getting membership for new doulas trained this way.

I currently have no availability for in person support for the rest of the year, and possibly into next year. I do have colleagues that I work closely with and the doulas I have trained in the past that may have availability, so please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any support. I am also doing a virtual New Parent 101 webinar in conjunction with Thornhill Doulas and Petra Nobel. This  is a 3 hour course that covers all things newborn baby, new parents, tips and tricks, baby and parent sleep and a lot more. Learn more from the link below.

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That’s all from me for now. I think I will talk about sleep in my next blog. Keep safe everyone, even if lock down rules are loosened and more services and facilities are allowed to open. Be cautious, wash your hands, wear a mask if you have to go shopping, stay healthy, and don’t forget to breathe…. when it all becomes overwhelming, stop and take a deep belly breath, and sigh it out in a loud ahhhhhhh and repeat until calmness returns.

 

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.