Tag Archives: doula

Covid 19 and A Shift in Support

Standard

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

12F1373E-FF08-4D25-BFA3-99CA71E17535

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.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fthornhilldoulas%2Fphotos%2Fa.2410046715733879%2F3691896110882260%2F%3Ftype%3D3&width=500

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.

 

Baby Whisperer Part 2

Standard

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.

 

 

A new testimonial

Standard

I have been a postpartum doula  based in Thornhill for the last year. After practising as a nurse and a midwife in the UK for 19 years, we took a leap of faith as a family and moved to Trinidad and Tobago to work and live for 2 years. We had a wonderful 10 months out there before we were told we were being transferred to Toronto, Canada. Another move, another adventure.

I was hoping to be able to nurse here in Canada but for various reasons this was not meant to be.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it gave me the opportunity to try out a few occupations I have often wondered about.  In my nursing days, when things got me down at work, usually due to stresses from workload, staff shortages and disagreeable managers, I would say to myself… “I should just go and stack shelves in Sainsbury’s than deal with all this stress!”  Now was my chance. I could venture outside nursing and see how non nurses fared.  I did a short stint working at a McDonald’s 5 minutes walk away from home, working the dreaded night shift. Then found a job at a local pharmacy who were willing to take me on as a pharmacy assistant, even though I had no previous pharmacy or retail experience. They provided me on the job training. It helped that I was a nurse prescriber as I knew mostly what all the drugs and medications were for.  This lead to another pharmacy job which I am just about to leave after being there for 2 years.

The work I was doing was ok, it paid just above minimal wage, provided me with a little job satisfaction but something was missing. I was missing out the caring element. I did care for the customers at the pharmacy, but closer personal care that you get from  being in the caring profession was missing from my life. I had to find something else that would fill this gap. I have a wealth of knowledge and skills that were under-utilized, and I wanted to to change this.

I scoured through the internet, talked to some friends who were nurses and midwives in the UK but were now  doing something else here in Canada and wondered what I could do. Being very interested in women’s health and the promotion of breastfeeding, I stumbled on the profession of the Doula. I thought I could possibly do that, it would let me use my skills in a non-clinical way and better still be supporting mums and their families with a precious new addition to their lives.

I researched the various doula trainings available and decided to train with CAPPA. I was familiar with them as I had been a volunteer at the Mamatoto Birthing Centre in Trinidad, and they were a worldwide recognized organization, plus I loved their ‘Vision’ and philosophy. The rest is history and now I am about to embark on being a postpartum doula full- time.

This brings me back to my title. I have created a web site to support my doula business and to promote it, how much that is happening, I don’t really know, but I had wanted to tweak a few things on it and discovered that one of my recent clients had posted a testimonial on there for me.  And here it is…..

“My husband and I are the type of people who like to do everything ourselves. But when my second daughter arrived with a big appetite and a distaste for sleeping, it finally became apparent that we needed some professional help. It really eased our minds after learning about Su Yin’s background in nursing and midwifery. We were overjoyed that she turned out to be a warm, easy-going and knowledgeable person whom both my children adore. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made to have her in our children’s lives.”
Qin
Second time mom
I have been meaning to blog about my doing the doula and now seemed like a good time to share this positive testimonial.  My website address is :-
My Facebook page is
If you’re a tweeter, my twitter username is @doulasuyin