Sunday, January 9, 2011

11 Step Program for Parenthood

Wow....over 2 months since a blog! Obviously we don't have much time to muse these days!
Days are getting longer now, but to me still don't have enough hours in the day!
I know....excuses excuses!

Well here at Richmond Midwifery Care Center, we wish you all a Happy New Year with a promise to be more verbose in the coming months.

With that....a little humour to start us off. For those of you thinking about have a baby, for those of you having a baby, and for those of us who have already been there!


The 11 step program for having children.

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.

2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.

3. Go home.

4. Pick up the paper.

5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...

1. Methods of discipline.

2. Lack of patience.

3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.

4. Allowing their children to run wild.

5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)

2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.

3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.

4. Set the alarm for 3AM.

5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.

6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.

7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.

8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.

9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.

2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.

3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.

4. Then rub them on the clean walls.

5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.

6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.

2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.

Leave it there.

2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.

3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.

4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.

2. Make a small hole in the side.

3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.

4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.

5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.

6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say 'it's all worth it!' Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sniffing Lavendar

Smelling is such an amazing sense. It takes you back to happy memories, relaxes , excites, repulses and even can evoke a sense of calm. That’s what I want to talk about, how lavendar essential oil can be a really useful tool for early and active labour. Essential oils are powerful for external use only. French doctors prescribe essential oils for internal use in France as medicine just to give you an idea of their potency!

Essential oils such as lavendar oil works amazingly well with raised blood pressure in labour for instance. This mother was having her 3rd child at the birth centre in Wales and her blood pressure was creeping up. I was the second midwife and the primary midwife was working towards her Aromatherapy Certification. If the blood pressure went any higher then she would require a transfer into the hospital. The primary midwife had the labouring mum sniff this lavendar oil on a kleenex before, during and after her contractions. To my amazement her blood pressure was lowering. It seemed slow only because high blood pressure worries me,but in actual fact, within the half hour, she had stabilized herself to having a respectable blood pressure. Thankfully she was then able to stay at the birth centre and have the birth she wanted.

In the birthing pool room we had a little blue bottle of lavendar oil sit on the window sill ready to go in the pool once it was full and the mum wanted to go in. We would drop it in then stir the oil so it would disperse and then it’d do it’s magic. It amused me that some midwives just dropped in the oil 'willy-nilly' and others were more respectful of the amount. Once the oil hits the water the entire centre would smell like a lavendar field. It was divine. I eventually learnt the ‘right’ amount for the giant tub. Sometimes an over enthusiastic dropping session would make me so soporific that I just wanted to sit and do nothing but relax...not what a labouring woman wants her midwife to be doing! Sometimes it was so strong it stung your eyes and you had to wait for it to evaporate before you could go into the pool room. That amount had the reverse effect almost making you nauseous.

None the less, lavendar was and is still my oil of choice for almost everything except cooking of course so don't get me stared on the olive oil. Rarely some women didn’t like the smell but we’d check first. The other day we didn’t have a bath tub for the active labour but a hot shower, plastic chair for her to sit on in the shower and a bottle of lavendar to sniff. The mum was so pleased and relieved by the smell. Her body responded by dilating at a good pace due to her new found ability to completely relax and let her body do what it was designed to!

Lavendar in aromatherapy boasts being able to treat:

“...Insomnia, depression, stress, headaches, burns ,acne, sore muscles, sprains, bruises, bites, stiff joints, nervous tension, and hair loss (Edwards H. Victoria). The application of lavender essential oil can be applied with water, a base oil or by inhalation. A lavender oil is one of the few essential oils that can be applied to the skin without dilution. The aroma is sedative to the nervous system and the 160 different components in lavender are soothing to the skin.”
Taken from: Lavender Essential Oil: The Natural Healing Properties of Lavender Oil in Aromatherapy

More specifically:

“Nervous System: Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves. Therefore, it helps in treating migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness and increases mental activity.

Sleep: Lavender essential oil induces sleep and hence it is often recommended for insomnia.

Pain Relief: Lavender essential oil is also an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore muscles, tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache and lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil provides relief from pain in the joints.

Urine Flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders as it stimulates urine production. It helps in restoring hormonal balance and reduces cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces any associated cramps.

Respiratory Disorders: Lavender oil is extensively used for various respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. The oil is either used in the form of vapour or applied on the skin of neck, chest and back. It is also added in many vaporizers and inhalers used for cold and coughs.

Skin Care: The health benefits of lavender oil for the skin can be attributed to its antiseptic and antifungal properties. It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammations. It heals wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns rapidly as it aids in the formation of scar tissues. Lavender oil is added to chamomile to treat eczema.

Hair Care: Lavender essential oil is useful for the hair as it can be very effective on lice and lice eggs or nits.

Blood Circulation: Lavender essential oil is also good for improving blood circulation. It lowers blood pressure and is used for hypertension.

Digestion: Lavender oil is useful for digestion as it increases the mobility of the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile and thus aids in treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Immunity: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to diseases.
Other health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea. It is also effective against insect bites. The oil is also used to repel mosquitoes and moths. You will find many mosquito repellents containing lavender oil as one of the ingredients.

As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender essential oil. It is also recommended that diabetics stay away from lavender oil. It may also cause allergic reactions to people having sensitive skin. Some people may also witness nausea, vomiting and headaches due to usage of lavender oil.”
Taken from:

Pretty winning argument to use it in labour don’t you think?! Though not advised in pregnancy a lavendar essential oil burner/infuser can smell up a room and give that sense of calm we can all use! And a lavendar bag warmed up in the microwave is delightful for a sore stretching tummy. Your local health food store or pharmacy will have good quality pure essential oils.

Take care and happy sniffing

Monday, October 11, 2010


Somebody slow the spin of the world, I need to catch up! You know there was a reason that we fall back and have that extra hour....for people like me who need 25 hours in the day to get things done! Too bad it only comes once a year.

So I've had many moments where blogs have come into my head, but finding the time to put them on computer has been difficult. I'll be glad when Apple comes up with an Ipad that reads minds! But I had a chat with someone the other day who actually reads this blog and she really got me to thinking, and I promised her instead of keeping it my head, I'd write it down. She really got me thinking about the expectations of birth and the pressure that goes along with these.

Go with me on this thinking....there really is method to my madness.

One of my favourite movies, don't laugh, is Baby Boom with Diane Keaton. It came out in, I think, 1988 and in that movie, she's a high powered advertising executive who gets left with guardianship of this little girl who's probably about 14 months of age. Anyway, of course the initial funny part is seeing this non maternal woman dealing with this baby but in one scene she's sitting in the park one day playing in the sandbox and she overhears 3 mums talking about how upset one of the mum's was because her 3 year old didn't get into Dalton preschool. She asks the mums why was this important, and these mothers basically leave her with the impression that if she doesn't get Elizabeth (the little girl) going now on studying, she won't get into the good preschool, which means she won't get into a good school and her life is ruined. Naturally, wanting to do the right thing and feeling pressured, Diane Keaton's character enrolls Elizabeth right away into a special preschool program. The movie goes on from there, and while it was funny it was very true about societal expectations that are placed not only upon our kids, but also upon ourselves when birthing those kids. The pressure starts early to have perfections.
I wish I could promise perfection for everyone going through labour and birth. But like with kids.....they are who they are, and so too will be your birth experience. It took me nearly 10 years of my oldest son's life to realize he wasn't going to be the next Stephen Hawking, no matter how much I read to him, encouraged him, made him flashcards etc. He is what he is, and to me that's pretty near perfect. (Oh come on, I can't tell him he's perfect yet.....he's a man, what a burden I put on his future wife if I do! :)
The same applies to birth. There are so many things to read, so many methods to go by, so many expectations that you will walk, sit on a ball, do the bath or shower, try every position, hang upside down, have no drugs, and have a perfect birth, intact with no support. Sometimes you're lucky and your child really is the next Stephen Hawkings or Sidney Crobsy and all the tools you put at his/her disposal are used and bring about the perfect societal ending. And sometimes, you can use every tool available and the child simply becomes who they want to be, no matter how hard you bat your head against the wall. We are simply not all the same. That's a good thing. And just as no two people are alike, neither is any two births. Your birth may be different from your sister's, your friend's, the lady down the way. Not because you didn't try, but because everyone is different. In the end, as I do today, you look upon that child or that birth and think, well....maybe you're not exactly what I envisioned, but you are/were perfect to me.
So take off the pressure on yourself. Tell everyone to mind their own business. You, your baby and your partner (where there is one) are going to do it your way. Thank you for all the tools available, you're going to give them all a try, but if this baby decides that's not who they are, that's not how they will come to be, so be it! It is still ..... perfect.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Dreaded Cold Virus!

Wow, it's been a while since we've been able to post. It's been a busy summer, both with the practice and for me at home. We did however manage to get time off this August, well Sara and I did, which gave us an opportunity to spend more time with our families, travel a bit, and regenerate for the coming fall which is going to be busy as we work with present clients and set up some of the plans we have for the practice.
Last week I recently returned home from my vacation which was a cruise of the Mediterranean including Turkey, Greece, Crete, Italy. It was a fantastic cruise. We got home on Tuesday night, loaded with memories, pictures, souvenirs, dirty laundry....and for me, a virus. Wonderful...thank you Air Canada for your parting gift! It was so totally unnecessary, the fact I got all of my luggage considering I had connecting flights was bonus enough.
Well, I shouldn't really rag on Air Canada, they do their best, and really the fact that I have this virus is probably my fault as well.
The most common way to catch a cold or virus is through touching a surface that was recently in contact with someone with the virus to share. Back in my working days at BC Children's Hospital, we had a very particular infection control nurse named Miss Bonner. I never ever called that woman anything but Miss Bonner, although she did ask me once to call her Mavis. She was English, and when I first starting working at Children's, she wore a nurses cap. She had short hair, no make up, no rings, short fingernails, dresses with duty shoes and hose, and she used to go ballistic when the nursing staff got cold on nights and would wear yellow isolation gowns. But I digress. The woman was wise in the ways of infection control. She used to tell us how much she hated the "dirty scissors" we carried in our pockets and was feral about handwashing. These were the days when we walked to work in 6 feet of snow with wait....sorry....channeling my mother......these were the days when we didn't have disposable gloves, antiseptic hand wash etc. We had strip your skin dry chlorhexidine and water. If you went home with your hands not obviously had not washed enough.
Probably the most important thing I ever learned from Miss Bonner, was to keep my hands out of my face, especially my eyes. Your eyes are direct portals into the body because of the mucous membranes. She said to me that your eyes were the first portal of entry, then your nose and then your mouth. Keep your hands clean and away from your face and you defeat one of the main portals a virus takes to infect you.
Wise wisdom I follow to this day. Handwashing is a must, regularly throughout the day and please please keep your hands away from your face.
The second method of transmission of a virus....sadly....the air. Sadly I think that may have been the method by which I was toast. Nothing like two plane loads of people, close proximity and recirculated air. Add in lack of sleep, lack of fluids, lack of decent food and have my right bronchus attempting to turn itself inside out.
So as this flu season begins, we will talk about the flu vaccine, but most importantly, keep your hands out of your face, wash those hands frequently, and keep the germy people who didn't follow these directions at a distance!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Measuring Tapes and Pregnancy

If I had a nickle for every time a client said to me that they'd been told by other people they looked "big" or "small", I'd be a rich midwife today and would be writing this blog from some cruise ship somewhere.

For some reason, when a woman gets pregnant, it seems to give everyone license to make comments about her physical appearance. "Oh wow, you're so big! Are you having twins!?" or "Gosh you are really small, are you sure your baby is growing okay?" These are probably two of the most common statements that women bring to me during their visits to our clinic. Some bring it with fire in their eyes with the look that "the next person who makes a comment about how I look...loses a body part!" Some come with concerned looks and need us to reassure them about the growth of their babies. And others come with tears.

Change in body image is a process women must go through in pregnancy, and people need to realize that they aren't being helpful by their comments. I'd love it if just once, someone would go up to a pregnant woman and say..."wow, you look great! You look just right for your gestational age!" Okay....well maybe the last part isn't going to happen, but consider saying the first comment to a pregnant woman. She'll love you forever.

So how do you know if your baby is growing okay during your pregnancy. The most common and the easiest method used by care providers is the measurement of fundal height. Simple in method, and yet seems to have pretty good reliability in helping spot a baby who may be growing too slow, or even too fast. At every visit after 20 weeks (measurement prior to that seems to have little value), the care provider measures from the top of the woman's pubic bone to the top of her uterus (fundus) or vice versa . The number of centimeters of that measure is usually within 3 cm either way of her gestational age. Meaning if I measured a woman at 28 weeks, I would expect to get a value anywhere between 25 to 31 cm. But many factors can skew this number. Things that can cause a variation in the measurement are - different people measuring, full bladders, long babies, curled babies, short moms, tall moms, good abdominal muscles etc. If you get an odd measurement, your care provider will reassure you of the normality and the things that can cause skewed measures. Often they will suggest that if at your next visit the measurement is still off, they will send you for an ultrasound. An ultrasound will be able to identify any present or potential concerns by looking within the baby's environment as well as measure the baby specifically.

Why not do an ultrasound every visit? Wouldn't that be more reassuring, catch things faster? Well in fact, there are care providers out there who have access to ultrasound and will do so. But there are issues regarding regular and frequent ultrasound use for well babies (another blog in the making I think). Instead, measurement of fundal height appears to be an inexpensive, reliable, non obtrusive method for the care provider to "check in" with your baby's growth.

So, next time someone says to you that you look so big or so small, whip that measuring tape out of your purse or pocket and suggest if they know so much, perhaps they'd like to measure!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting started

Have you ever had a project that you think will take just a few days, that ends up taking a few months? Well we've recently experienced this as Esther, Sara and I began the process of setting up our new midwifery practice. Seemed simple enough initially. We all had solo practices, all we needed was an office, some furniture, a website and voila...good to go. How naive we were.
We found our beautiful new office in January. We are now at Ironwood, 5rd and Steveston Highway in Richmond. Great office. Lots of room, free parking! A bonus! That was easily settled by February. Move in April 1......did I say move? We started with 3 chairs, one old computer table, and a massage table. No phone, no fax, no computer, no other furniture! I called it the minimalist visit with clients. Very slowly, for some reason moms kept having babies while we were trying to move in, we finally got furniture in place, a phone, a fax, a computer and even a receptionist! We are now finally settling in, although I like to say still fung shwaying the place! We'd love for those of you that have worked with us in the past to drop by and see, and for those of you looking for a midwife, the time was never better to see us.
And the final piece in all of this brand new move......the website. Launched today. Still with a few tweaks, and pictures needed, but basically done. We hope you like it, and feel free to give us some ideas of what you'd like to see.
We hope to blog quite regularly. Talk about the practice, timely topics, or anything you would like to hear about from us. Even if you're not having a baby, hopefully we'll have something interesting for you to read and ponder.