Evidence Based Research

When it doubt, check it out…

It seems like I spend a lot of time calming parents over topics they’ve seen online. You know the one…the fear-mongering “YOUR BABY WILL BE DOOMED IF YOU DO/DON’T...” posts.

Whether it’s about the size or position of baby, due dates, GBS status,, pain management, tearing…the list goes on…it’s always from a place of fear. Typically, the conversation starts with “my friend said…” and then it smacks you right in the face… “my vagina will blow apart if I get an epidural”.
Whoa. Let’s slow this train of doom down a bit.

Whoa. Let’s slow this train of doom down a bit.

Can epidurals be amazing? Yes. Can epidurals be horrible? Yes. Can they be somewhere in the middle? Yes. Is your story her story and her story your story? No.

There are so many variations of birth. No right or wrong. There’s only what works best for you, in your birth, in your local hospital (or house). Every hospital has a set policy, but that’s their policy. Not your policy. Every pro has a con. Every situation has a different outcome, no matter how similar they may seem.

If I could offer a pro-tip – do your research.

Not via a Facebook pregnancy or birth group, but via legitimate sites that are evidence based. Social media groups can be amazing for pointing you in the right direction but they should never be your sole source for information. There’s a birth site called “Evidence Based Birth” that has studies that go beyond “my friend said so”.

Whether it’s pregnancy, birth, or even your daily-life stuff be mindful of where you gather your facts. Are there studies you can read? Are the sources legitimate? Are there hidden motives or agendas? Can you google the writer of the article to see their stance on the subject? When in doubt, check it out, via respected source. You’ll likely find that you lose a bit of fear as you do more and more of your own research.

Partner Support

“Why do I need a doula if I have a partner?”…

Well, for starters, nobody needs a doula. But everyone deserves a doula. Even your partner.

A doula isn’t just there for the person giving birth. A doula can help calm a nervous dad. A doula can remind a frantic grandma that “this is normal”. A doula is there to point out to a withering partner that they also need to take care of themselves and that it’s time to take a quick break for food. A doula is there to make sure you aren’t allow when your partner has to leave the room for a few minutes (partners poop too!)

A doula isn’t just there to support the birth. The doula is there to support the entire birth journey…which includes the partner. They are also tired and overwhelmed and anxious and feeling all the feels of a new baby being born…except the physical pain (for which a doula is there to remind them that their sore feet/hands/ back don’t count today!)

Whether your partner is your spouse, your friend or your family, they are more than likely emotionally tied to the birth of the baby.  It’s their baby too. Or it’s their grandbaby. Or it’s their first time witnessing birth. There are a thousand potential reasons why your partner needs support.  A doula can you’re your partner how to do proper counter-pressure or some them some tips for a more relaxing massage. Having a supported partners means a calmer, more reassured partner who can support you.
It’s a full-circle journey. 

A doula can help you communicate more effectively with your partner. Have you talked about how what you’d like from them on your birth day? Have you discussed whether you want their prompts for pain meds or whether you’d rather they wait for you to ask? Have you talked about expectations and the reality of sharing the responsibilities of having a newborn? We throw them to birth wolves and expect them to be our everything.  We expect them to just know what we want and need, in the moment. We often expect that they read our minds, not only in birth, but in daily life too, and then get frustrated when they don’t do it right. Sometimes that works out beautifully. Sometimes our partners are just fully intuitive to our needs and emotions.

Other times, not so much. Most partners haven’t spent a lot of time around on birth.  Some partners have their own sense of insecurities around how to help.  There’s no reason for them to feel any extra pressure.

Let Yourself Cry

The tears you hold back hold YOU back. They hold you back from feeling.

They hold you back, not allowing you to move forward.

They hold you back from your authentic self.

Those tears, the tears you fight to control, they end up consuming you instead.

So, let them go.

Let them fall.

Release them, so you can be free.

Life Jacket

Imagine you are a competitive swimmer. You were born to swim. You’ve worked hard for all of your teenage years to become the best swimmer. It’s finally time for the Olympics. It’s right before you jump into the pool when your coach ties a life jacket around your waist. Wait? Why? You’re a professional swimmer. But he says, “Just in case”. You trust your coach, so off you go…swimming, slower, but still swimming.

A few laps go by and he pulls you out of the water. He’s worried the life jacket isn’t protecting you enough, so he adds a helmet over your swim cap. He mumbles something about it being safer. “Safer than what?”, you ask. He tells you that he read a study online that said helmets have been known to help save cliff divers from trauma when they hit the water. But…wait?! WHAT?! You aren’t cliff diving, you’re only swimming. You’re a natural. You were meant to do this all your life. You’ve trained hard for this moment. He insists. He’s only trying to help you. The study shows it’s better. He clips on the helmet and pushed you back in to the water. Everyone is cheering for you, but you can feel how slow you’re moving. It’s becoming so exhausting.

Just as you reach your breaking point, he pulls you out again…this time, he wants to poke holes in your suit because he hear that sometimes it can speed things up. Sometimes. Other times, though, it backfires and you end up having to be pulled from the race and rushed off to get your stomach pumped because you’ve swallowed so much water. It’s a risk your coach is willing to take though just to see you win the race. He offers you some steroids to give you a boost of energy to finish the race.

By this point in the race, you’re beyond tired, can’t catch your breath, your lap stats are starting to go way down. Everyone is staring at you. Watching and waiting for your epic comeback.

You start to resent the coach. Why did he have to fuss over the helmet? Why didn’t you say no to the life jacket?! So, you take the steroids. You see the look of disappointment in your family’s eyes. It’s not YOU they are disappointed in, it’s the coach’s rules. But you don’t see that. In the moment, all you feel is complete defeat. Not only did you lose the race, but now you’ve opted for a path you wouldn’t have chosen if the coach hadn’t weighed you down in the first place.

Now, imagine you’re not a swimmer but a birther. Your doctor is offering a sweep/induction. That induction seems beneficial for reasons 1-10. Doctor is genuinely doing this based on research (which way or may not still be valid). The induction is just too much to handle, so next comes pain meds, maybe the epidural you didn’t want. That ties you to a bed and creates even more issues.

See how one well-intended intervention can spiral to another? How one study or research paper might seem valid, but if you dig deep it’s not actually? There’s always a time and place for medical interventions. It’s like antibiotics or visiting the ER. When it’s needed, it’s needed. But when it’s not, it’s worth questioning. Know what’s happening. Ask the questions. Make sure you have given informed consent. Not just consent. Never say yes (or no) to appease someone.

The benefits of an induction should outweigh the risk of staying pregnant.

find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pigeonposeemotions

Stress Ball

I spend quite a bit of social media time fielding questions of pure panic and anxiety.

My mother said this, my sister said that, my doctor is telling me I have to do this but I really want to do that…I think part of the stress of birth is attributed to the vast amount of pressure we all put on ourselves to compete with each other. It’s not always in-your-face but it’s there. If you’re honest with yourself…it’s there.

Imagine birth before Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest? Pregnant people did not know they needed to out do each other when announcing the pregnancy. There was no expectation of announcing the sex (it’s literally a penis or a vagina). They didn’t throw elaborate baby showers and then complain about all the horrible gifts they received (and how stressed out they are, and how they didn’t even really want Aunt Sheila there in the first place and how much their MIL took over the show). There was zero mention of a birth plan, especially not one wordy enough to make their doctor’s head explode. The birth plan was just to have the baby.

They also didn’t know that they had to research all about vaccines, eye goop, inductions, and certainly not whether or not to hire a birth doula and a birth photographer or just a doula who maybe takes photos. They didn’t freak out about how much they would be judged by their decisions…all the while posting their decisions on the world wide web for all the crazies to jump on.

They also didn’t have such high rates of induction or cesareans either. Sit with that for a moment…do you think maybe all of this is somehow connected?

Before social media, they just carried on with their pregnancy and birth as if it wasn’t anything extraordinary. We can all agree it is definitely an awe inspiring event, but honestly….half the population does it. Literally every single second, of every single day someone is birthing. Minus the panic, minus the Facebook updates, minus the milk bath photos…and they are birthing quite admirably.

I’m not sure when the rise of the birth panic started. Maybe somewhere in the 2000s? But, oh boy, did it ever come in full-swing. Long gone are the days of just trusting birth and your body. We are consumed by our “due dates”. We count down the days to 40 weeks as if we are carrying a ticking time bomb in our belly. We are instantly overdue at 40 weeks, 1 day.

We start hyper-focusing on how to ‘naturally’ induce labour. So we eat the gross dates we don’t even like, we have uncomfortable and often unenthusiastic sex, we say yes to cervical sweeps (and then panic when they cause bleeding, cramps and false hopes), we chase all the magically solutions to a problem that doesn’t even exist. We’ve created our own monstrous birth woes. What if my baby never drops? What if the baby flips breech? What if my doctor say I have to induce? What if my photographer can’t make it in time? What happens if I don’t know I’m in labour and the baby falls out on the floor while I’m shopping at Costco?

The irony is how much the added stress and anxiety can actually hinder labour. Stress can stop a spontaneous labour. Add that to the list of things to worry about…while you contemplate what you can and cannot eat based on more panic from stories you’ve read online. DON’T EAT THE MEAT!!! For the love of god, you will all die if you don’t follow every single rule on the internet. Also, for shits and giggles, add in some breast feeding horror stories, everyone freaking out when you mention encapsulating your placenta, and the looming threat of a cesarean section. PANIC CITY.

The craziest part about all of this…nothing you are freaking out about right now is unique. Find another pregnant person and ask what they are panicking about and I can guarantee it’s along the same lines.

It’s like we can’t even be chill anymore. Life must be at full stress, full-time or we can’t possibly be doing it right. How can I be over here with my calm, quiet pregnancy if you’re over there setting off fireworks every time your app tells the size of your baby in comparison to a fruit?

My point here is…what’s the actual point of freaking out? What are you accomplishing by worrying so much? Can you change it? Can you guarantee a birth that goes 1…2…3….nope. You can plan for it but you can’t control it. You can educate yourself, you can weed out the fact from the bullshit drama, but you cannot guarantee an outcome. Will your day being ruined if you forget to upload a pregnancy photo? Better yet, will your pregnancy be a complete waste of time if you don’t have all the fancy birth photos or if you can’t come up with the most clever birth announcements?

Will those 9 months be wasted if you don’t win the stress ball contest?

This week, take a break from the anxiety and stress. Find one thing to just let go of. Remove yourself from a Facebook birth group that drives you nuts. Go take a prenatal yoga class…and don’t freak out about what you’re wearing. Cancel that last order of baby stuff that you really don’t need.

Trust me, the stress ball contest is not worth winning.

Please!

For the first weeks, please respect our privacy and sleep requirements.
Understand that you may not agree with all our parenting choices but it’s not you raising them so it’s okay.
Come for a visit, with food, but only when invited.
Keep reminding yourself that unsolicited advice is not necessary.

Only with permission is it okay to post photos or baby information, it sucks when you steal our thunder.
Family and friends do not get automatic passes to overstep boundaries, even though you think we’re not, we really are talking to you.
Forgive us for being distracted, we are too busy loving our baby.

Feel free to send us well wishes, but please don’t get upset if we don’t respond right away.
Offer lots of love and support, unconditionally.
Remember to wash your hands before holding the baby and no kisses on the lips.

Not staying too long is also appreciated.
Only healthy visitors please, sniffles and fevers are not what we need right now.
We appreciate that so much!

Parenting is hard. We’d love some help.
Leave the place cleaner than when you arrived.
Each load of laundry you help with is more time spent with our baby.
Always hand them back if they are hungry…my boobs will thank you.
Seeing a boob is a given.
Everyone who helps us fulfill these wishes are awesome!

Accept My “NO”

We’ve all seen the abundant posts on social media about standing up for yourself.

“How to become more assertive in 10 easy steps”, “Saying NO without regret”, “Live Authentically”

We spend so much time practicing saying no and saying it with authority. We read about how to become braver, and stronger, and more authentic. It’s all about honesty and being true to your inner self. There’s nothing more satisfying than the first time you properly execute a good NO. The ability to say no to things that do not bring us happiness is a valuable skill to have.

But more importantly, the ability to accept and be okay with someone telling you NO is a skill that we are desperately lacking. Hearing NO is like someone literally kicked us in the gut. We literally go right to that person hating us, or being mad at us, or not really meaning it. They can’t reeeaally mean NO?!
Because of this, the NO-sayers have had to also master the art of avoidance. We, wild and crazy NO-sayers, have pushed ourselves hard to get to a place where we are comfortable to say NO. We have worked past the guilty feelings. We have worked hard at being open and honest. But then the eternal conflict arises with the NO-hearers. You know who you are…you don’t take no for an answer, you assume they don’t reeeeallly mean no, your ego would never allow, even for a second, to think that maybe some people just don’t like you…so you push, and you push, and you push.

Do any of these sound familiar?
“Oh, sorry I can’t because ________”
“OMG, I totally didn’t see your text”
“I don’t know what’s wrong, it must be food poisoning”
“My aunt died”, “My cat died”, “My dog ran away”

If they sound familiar it’s probably because you have a friend who doesn’t actually feel comfortable enough with you to be honest. They may feel hounded, or pressured. They may feel that you aren’t actually their type. Do you know they did a big study where it was proven that over 50% of the “friends” in your life don’t actually see you as a “friend”? While you see me as a BFF, I’m over here wondering why you won’t leave me alone?? The coworker you laugh with every day at lunch doesn’t even think of you over the weekend. There are work friends, kids’ parents friends, same yoga club friends, but that doesn’t mean we are FRIENDS. Sometimes we move on from friendships. Some relationships are built on couple-statuses, or close proximity to each other. Other friendships are there for short time and then we see we have nothing in common anymore, or that we don’t have the same schedules or priorities. I’ve had the very best of friends that meant the world to me, at the time, and I’ve since moved away from. Distance takes over. There is no longer as deep of a connection. We don’t talk anymore, maybe we vaguely interact via FB but otherwise that’s it. Now, if we ran into each other at the airport it would be a totally different circumstance. But day-to-day, our lives are no longer the same.

The NO-sayers see this. We appreciate that sometimes friendships run their course. But what we don’t see is how you don’t also see that? So you force the NO-sayers back into their frustrated holes. No-hearers put their earplugs in and we are forced to start all over again.

We make up excuses; we deliberately ‘miss’ calls and take too long to respond to texts; sometimes when we feel too pressured we end up doing things we hate just to make it easy, less stressful. Essentially, we sacrifice our authentic selves to avoid hurting the feelings of people that half the time we don’t even like anyway.

It’s already damn hard to say NO. We feel guilty, we know we are bad friends, we know you want to involve us. Trust us…we know. Because you refuse to let it die. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to parties or social events only to spend the entire night hating it. Why do I do it? Because it’s easier to be miserable than to be honest. I have just unravelled all my hard, soul-searching, self-help reading work to appease you. It’s like honesty is only meant for when you have lipstick on your teeth or snot hanging from your nose. Unless it’s one of those two things, we don’t actually want honesty.

We don’t like honesty. Women don’t like it. We want to BE honest but we don’t want to HEAR honesty. Our egos can’t handle it. We’ve spent our entire lives being told to be polite so people like us. Be fun, be bubbly, be smart, be skinny, be a good hostess, be a good guest. Be gracious. EVERYONE MUST LIKE YOU. I must be invited to and attend every single function. I must have the biggest party, I must have the most friends, I must be the most liked. We do not want to feel any differently or that there’s fun being had that we aren’t included in.

The very best friends are the type that invite you without a predetermined agenda. I once had a friend say “I’m always going to invite you even though I know you’ll probably say no anyway but I want you to feel included”. Because, yeah, I’m going to say no…because I’m an introvert who loves alone time. I will probably say no 9.9 times out 10. But maybe if the mood is right and the crowd is good one of these days I will say yes. The rest of the time when I do say no, the friend says….wait for it…she says ok…that’s it. Just ok. Not “but whhhyyyy?”. She doesn’t try to make arrangements for me to make it easier to go. She doesn’t automatically assume I’ll just change my mind or that I didn’t really mean it. She takes me at my word. She isn’t threatened by it. She doesn’t take it personally. She doesn’t see this as some sort betrayal. She knows me. The real me.
And Oh. My. God. THANK YOU FOR GETTING IT.

She’s okay with being a NO-hearer because she is confident and brave and strong. Plus she’s also read all the 10 easy steps to assertiveness too.
This all seems harsh, even as I write I know life is way more complicated than whether or not I like you and you like me. Some personalities just do not jive. There are introverts and extroverts and introverted-extroverts. There are partiers and friends who like to dance all night. There are people who small groups of friends vs people who loooove everyone. It’s not as black and white as like or not. It’s really more about just respecting my NO. Listen to my NO. Hear my NO. Don’t hound me about my NO. Be genuinely OK with my NO. For you. Not even for me. Be ok that I might miss your party because I’m actually busy, but also be ok with the fact that maybe I just don’t want to go to your party. Accept my NO.

That Girl

For most of my life I’ve never been able to properly vocalize my thoughts or my feelings. As a teenager is came out in pure rage (sorry Mom). As a young adult, it was often a complete mental shut down. Denial? Inability to just deal? The lack of knowing how to actually spit out the words that bounced around in my head?!

I’m the girl that lets the jerk cut in front of me in the grocery line because maybe he just didn’t mean to. I’m the girl who never asks for the change back if a waitress doesn’t offer it. I’m the girl who doesn’t speak up in meetings because I know nobody gives a shit what I have to say. I’m the girl who knows her husband is lying to her everyday but still stays for a miserable ten years. I’m the girl who has daddy issues but still struggles to realize it’s not MY fault. I’m the girl who lets her ‘friends’ walk all over her. I’m the girl who just shuts her mouth and takes it. And I’m the girl who has anxiety about all of the above.

I am that girl.

I am that girl.

I used to be that girl…

I am not that girl…

I am not that girl…

I am the girl who says “Excuse me sir, I was here first”. I am the girl who doesn’t care any more that it’s just $1.00…bitch, give me my money. I am the girl who runs the meeting like a pimp. I’m the girl who left because I knew I deserved better. I am the girl who’s getting better at realizing it really isn’t MY fault. I am the girl, who without the need to explain or justify, has cut you right out of my life because you know exactly what you did and it stung my soul.

I am the girl who is finding her way.

I am that girl…

~ Wendy ~

Baby A

I never walk away from a birth without some sort of life lesson. A week and a half ago, I learned yet another valuable lesson.

Meet beautiful Baby A, born still.

I won’t lie, I was downright terrified about being at a birth where I knew the baby had already died. I had no clue how I would react, or what I would do in my role as a doula. There was no way this could possibly be the same as any other birth. Yet, it kind of was.

The day was long, with moments of humour to fill the silence. The advocating was furiously strong for mom’s wishes to be met. My job remained the same, look out for mom as best as possible in this given situation of pure agony. This time it just wasn’t a physically agony. It was an emotional one.

The time came when Baby A was born, without sound or breath. I took my first look at her and without a doubt realized this was not an occasion to fear. She was sweet, with tiny curls of hair. She was over 6lbs. She was a beauty.

We took pictures of her, ooh’ed and aah’ed over her tiny features and long fingers. Everyone took turns holding her. We spent hours together, mom, baby, friends, doula. I left the hospital, hours later, expecting a full sobbing crying shit show on my way home. Instead, it was kind of like the same vibe I get at any other birth. I was starving. I was sore. I was exhausted. I even got up and went to work on like four hours sleep. Typical doula day.

The next day I went back for a visit at the hospital, I noticed mom had put pillows beside Baby A when she wasn’t being held. So instinctual. Like any mom with a new baby would do. Just a typical reaction to a typical situation.

Well, that did it for me. (Shit show sobbing took place as soon as I got home)
It doesn’t matter how your baby is born, every mom has a bit of anxiety that they won’t know what to do.
That mothering instinct that new moms always fear they won’t have is always there. Always. Birth is never something to be feared.

Born still, but still born…and protected by her mother’s instincts.

~ Wendy ~

Selfish Games

I was part of a conversation last week where one participant was very adamant that becoming a parent makes you less selfish. As I stare at my secret stash of junk food, hidden safely in my room, I beg to differ.

Parenting definitely does not make you less selfish.

It makes you greedy. Greedy for uninterrupted quite time. Greedy for peeing alone. Greedy for watching adult television shows. Does it make you more patient? Maybe. More caring? Perhaps. Less selfish? Absolutely not. Maybe it’s the only-child part of me, but if parenting has taught me anything…it’s to hide my nice stuff. I’m not sharing my nice blanket, the good chocolate or the fancy shampoo. I have flat-out lied to my kids for some peace and quite. Sorry, I can’t pick you up…I’m on my way to a doula appointment. Oh, I would run you lunch money but I’m on my way to the hospital. I’m sorry you had to make your own breakfast…I was just so tired from doula-ing all night. Hugs and kisses…thanks for letting me sleep!

The way I see it, I’m just helping them spread their wings for when I push them from the nest into a world where no one shares their junk food with you either. It’s MINE.