Archive for November, 2009

Midwives are now covered by Alberta Health Care and are in extremely high demand.   That has really brought some attention to doula’s because it is sometimes assumed that we are one and the same or always work in teams.  Sadly, that is not the case.   Many doula’s aspire to be midwives, and cannot practice as a midwife until they are certified.  There are definite restrictions in our roles.

The difference is, midwives are clinically trained to provide medical care to healthy expectant mothers and their babies. Doulas are non-clinical professionals who provide emotional, physical and informational support to expectant mothers and their families. The following video starring a midwife, explains perfectly the difference in our two roles.

You Tube, Difference between Doula’s and Midwives

Everyone deserves to have a strong support team in their corner.  A doula can offer that to you!

 ~ Meagan


Read Full Post »

I’m sure I’m behind the ball on this and you guys will have already heard about the Taye Diggs endorsement on doula’s and supporting natural birth.   If you’ve already seen and heard, it’s great isn’t it?  If you haven’t, read/watch on, it’s nice to hear a man being so supportive!

Taye Diggs and his wife welcomed a bouncing baby boy in October. They opted for a natural childbirth with the aid of a doula.  Taye Diggs spoke about his experience with a doula and a midwife on both Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel.   While on the Jimmy Kimmel show, Diggs said, “It got rough at moments because you have no idea [about] the sounds your wife is going to make. There were moments when I had to excuse myself and just take a deep breath, but at the end of the day I was there and I was a cheerleader and we worked it out.”

“She [being the doula] basically told us everything that was going to happen before it was going to happen because regardless of all the books that you read, for me personally, when I’m in the moment, I forgot everything.”

It’s nice to see someone endorsing natural birth and the value of a doula; especially a man – who knew!?

Taye Diggs/Ellen DeGeneres Interview

 ~ Meagan

Read Full Post »

Once we find out we’re pregnant we immediately start thinking about the labour and what is going to happen.  It is one of the highest stressors in pregnancy – fear.   A lot of us will go in with three thoughts: 

  1. I’m getting an epidural, why do I have to be a martyr, that’s what drugs are for?
  2. I’m going to go as far as I can!
  3. I’m going 100% natural and there is no intervention or drugs coming near me! 

We all want to achieve what is best for our baby and we all have differing opinions on what that is.  There are definite pros to a natural birth with no interventions and if you can achieve a natural birth that’s wonderful.    However; you are no less a woman or a mother if there is medical intervention during your labour!  Remember, do what is best for your family and you.  

If you want to try to achieve a natural birth, here are some things to think of and steps to try: 

  1. Exercise throughout your pregnancy.
  2. Eat healthy, nutritious foods before, during and after your pregnancy.
  3. Prepare yourself by reading as much as you can about ‘natural’ childbirth before your birth day. 
  4. Learn about possible medical interventions and their consequences.
  5. Try to avoid the first medical intervention.
    1. Induction, unless medical deemed necessary.   Your medical interventions will usually, not always, increase from this point on.
  6. Remember women have been giving birth naturally for centuries.
  7. Take childbirth education classes to help you prepare.
  8. Prepare a birth plan.
    1. Know that it is a “plan” and that things don’t always turn out according to plan.
  9. Have a supportive team.
    1. A doula is a great addition to any team she can help you take one contraction at a time.
  10. Deal with your fears before your birth day.  
    1. Conversations with your doctor and support team will help you work through them.
  11. Practice visualization and breathing techniques before your birth day. 
  12. Learn different positions to help with birth and pain before your birth day.
  13. Clear any past birth experiences from your mind, each experience is unique!
  14. Know you will do what you have to do to get through labour!  There is no right or wrong way to get through the process.
  15. While you are in labour you try to tune into your inner strength when labour gets tough.
  16. Understand your beliefs about yourself and your birth will determine the course of labour
    1. Think positively, “I CAN do this!”
    2. Develop a positive attitude towards giving birth naturally.
  17. Stay out of the bed during your labour as much as you can.
  18. Have a labour coach who is willing to remind you of your birth plan and help you achieve your goal.
  19. Think about your baby with every contraction.  It will help you make it through.
  20. Remember the people attending your birth are there to support you and love you.   Lean on them!
  21. Use massage during labour.
  22. Remember you can create the kind of birth environment you want.  
    1. You may have some restrictions such as aromatics in a hospital environment.
  23. Think about how much quicker you can heal and how better you will feel after giving birth.
  24. If you’ve had a previous caesarean it is very possible for you to have a VBAC if the conditions are right.
    1. Join a VBAC support group.
  25. Try to choose a doctor who believes in natural birth and understands your goals.

It’s all about your own beliefs and your confidence.   If you want to do it and have your mind made up, you may surprise yourself and succeed.

~ Meagan

Read Full Post »

H1N1 – what to do?

This is going to be a long one… this is a lot of information and only you can decipher what is important to you and your family! Getting quality, complete information is a challenge and often we’re left feeling even more confused than ever.

When it comes to vaccination, there’s a fairly specific set of things to consider when you’re making your decision:

1. How likely are you to get the disease?
2. If you do get the disease, how severe is it likely to be?
3. How sick could you get (or could it be fatal)?
4. If you did get sick, how likely are you to pass the disease to someone else for which it may be more severe?
5. Are there other effective things you can do to reduce these risks?
6. How effective is the vaccine?
7. What are the risks of the vaccine – long and short term?


The population of Calgary is approximately 1,277,700. To date, there have been 194 confirmed cases of swine flu in the Calgary area, with 46 (26%) of those being children under 9 years of age. The chance you may contract is based on these numbers is: 0.01%. However; using the Alberta data, 20 people (out of 480 cases province-wide) have died due to complications following H1N1 influenza with one of those being an out of Canada resident. That represents roughly a 4.1% chance of death. The death rate is the scary number, not the actual chance you may contract H1N1.

What you need to know about this is that people are not dying from the flu directly. In North America, nearly all of the reported deaths are caused by bacterial pneumonia. People’s immune systems are taxed by the flu virus and they end up developing a bacterial infection in their lungs… and it’s the bacterial infection that proves fatal.


You may be at higher of risk of getting H1N1 if:
1. You or someone in your immediate family/social network work on or around a pig farm.
2. You or someone in your immediate family/social network is a healthcare worker.

You have higher risk of severe illness and/or complications from H1N1 infection if:
1. You are a pregnant woman.
2. You have a pre-existing medical condition that affects your lungs or immune function.


Concern around the H1N1 virus relates mostly to world history with this virus. In 1918, the H1N1 flu (“Spanish flu”) caused hundreds of thousands of deaths all over the world. But contrary to some of the media reports on this, the 1918 outbreak wasn’t the last time we saw the swine flu.

• H1N1 viruses reappeared in 1976/77 and caused major outbreaks mainly in those aged 25 or younger over the following few years.
• The 2009 H1N1 virus is also closely related to a series of human virus outbreaks from 1918–1956.
• This is why younger people are more vulnerable to the swine flu, whereas people born before 1957 have been largely protected against the new pandemic virus.


The Canadian government has set-up “fast-track” approval processes in order to ensure that the vaccine is available in time to be useful. Fast track approval means that a vaccine might be licensed without the usual safety/effectiveness data requirements. That does not mean it is not safely tested. The individual active components are tested for immediate safety, and/or historical data on safety of the individual components is used.

Preliminary data:
• Approximately 99% of adults who got the vaccine developed seroprotection. (That means it worked.) This is an excellent rate of seroprotection!
• Typically, seroprotection provides about 85% protection against the virus. (15% of people will still get sick if they come in contact with the virus, but may have milder symptoms.)
• A single dose of the vaccine appears to be sufficient.
• Duration of protection has not been established.
• The vaccine has not yet been studied in children or seniors.
• Pregnant women are advised against the regular vaccine (should instead consider a variation that does not contain the protein-primer/adjuvant).
• People who are severely allergic to eggs should not get this vaccine.
• Avoid the H1N1 vaccine if you’re received another flu vaccine with the last 8 weeks
• However, you can get the regular seasonal flu vaccine at the same time as the H1N1 vaccine (in different arms.)
Public Health Agency of Canada’s website reveals findings that healthy adults that tested positive for H1N1 were twice as likely to have received seasonal vaccine. This suggests that the seasonal flu vaccine may make you more susceptible to the H1N1 virus.


The 1976 H1N1 vaccination program in the US resulted in unusually high incidence of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) following vaccination. That vaccination program was ultimately suspended due to safety concerns.

GBS presents as progressive neurodegeneration and ascending paralysis, which can ultimately progress to paralysis of the muscles of respiration and death. Severity/progression of symptoms varies widely among affected individuals. Some people spontaneously recover completely. Some are paralyzed for life. Some die fairly swiftly. (And there is a full spectrum in between.)
• GBS is an auto-immune reaction against myelin, which is the sheath around nerve cells.
• In Canada, the current reported risk of developing GBS after regular seasonal influenza vaccination is around 1 in 1,000,000.
• In 1976, the incidence of GBS after H1N1 vaccination was more than 1 in 100,000
• While there is evidence of causal link between the vaccine and the increased incidence of GBS, the definitive reason was never established.

1976 You Tube 60 Minutes Warning, Part 1

1976 You Tube 60 Minutes Warning, Part II


Take some time to digest this information! Consider whether you (or your family) fall within the higher risk categories. Consider how you are affected by the regular seasonal flu or other communicable illnesses – do you tend to fall very ill every time the flu comes around? Or do you usually experience a few mild symptoms and recover swiftly?

Weigh the benefits of the vaccination against the potential risks and decide what is best for you and your family, given your own specific situation

~ Remember, do what is right for YOUR family, not what you “think” everyone else wants you to do~

General Info

What to do if you get sick in 2009 with H1N1

Feeding your infant through H1N1

Dr. Sears’ look at four vaccines, their manufacturers and recommendations

Statistics on incidence and rate of complications (Canadian)

Breastfeeding with H1N1

H1N1 Clinics (and their re-opening)

½ Dose for Children ** Watch updates, keep listening!

Fighting Influenza Naturally

Fighting H1N1 Naturally

2009 You Tube CDC H1N1 Press Release

Good Luck with everything. I’m sure you may have even made up your mind now. It’s so hard to say what is going to happen and what isn’t.

Health and Happiness for the remainder of 2009!

~ Meagan

Read Full Post »

Pregnancy can sap your energy, but regular bouts of exercise will help you get through your day. And the good news is that you can safely start an exercise program during pregnancy even if you’ve been an avid couch potato until now. 

It boosts mood, improves sleep, and reduces pregnancy aches and pains. It also prepares you for childbirth by strengthening muscles and building endurance, and makes it much easier to get back in shape after your baby’s born.

The ideal workout gets your heart pumping, keeps you limber, manages weight gain, and prepares your muscles without causing undue physical stress for you or the baby.

If you are interested in signing up for some prenatal or postnatal work out classes, check out FITMOM Calgary West! 

13 Rules of Safe Exercise:

1. Check with your healthcare provider first

If you exercised regularly before getting pregnant and your pregnancy is problem-free, you can most likely continue working out as before — with modifications.  There are exceptions to this general rule, so talk to your doctor or midwife about your fitness routine to make sure your activities don’t put you or your baby at risk.

2. Take in extra calories

Get the 300 to 500 additional calories a day you need during pregnancy, especially if you’re exercising. Make sure to eat well to help nourish and strengthen your body.

* If you want to speak to a dietician about your needs, contact First Step Nutrition local to Calgary.

3. Steer clear of dangerous sports

Avoid contact sports, as well as activities that might throw you off-balance. Even if you’re normally graceful, keep in mind that the increased levels of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy, which relax pelvic joints in preparation for childbirth, loosen all ligaments and joints, making you more susceptible to sprains and injury from falls. See our list of safe sports and those to avoid.

4. Wear the right clothes

Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing. Dress in layers so it’s easy to peel off a layer or two after you’ve warmed up (or if you simply feel too hot). Make sure your maternity bra offers enough support, and choose athletic shoes that fit your feet properly and offer good support. If your shoe size has changed because of mild swelling, stash away your pre-pregnancy sneakers and buy a new pair.

5. Warm up

Warm-ups prepare your muscles and joints for exercise and build your heart rate up slowly. If you skip the warm-up and jump into strenuous activity before your body is ready, you could strain your muscles and ligaments and experience increased post-workout aches and pains.

6. Drink plenty of water

Drink water before, during, and after exercising. Otherwise, you can become dehydrated, which can cause contractions and raise your body temperature, sometimes to levels that are dangerous for you and your baby. 

There is no official recommendation for how much water pregnant women should drink while exercising, a good guideline is to drink one cup (8 ounces) before you exercise, one cup for every 20 minutes of exercise, and one cup after you finish your workout. In hot and/or humid weather, you’ll need more.

7. Don’t lie flat on your back

Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester. This position puts pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which will diminish blood flow to your brain and uterus, and can make you dizzy, short of breath, or nauseated. Some women are comfortable in this position well into their pregnancies, but this isn’t necessarily a good gauge of whether blood flow to the uterus is affected. Placing a pillow under your right hip or buttock will allow you to be almost supine without compressing the vena cava.

8. Keep moving

Standing motionless for prolonged periods — as when you’re lifting weights or doing yoga poses — can decrease blood flow to the uterus and cause blood to pool in your legs, making you dizzy. Keep moving by switching positions or walking in place.  Your pregnancy yoga teacher will know this, feel free to take these classes!

9. Don’t overdo it

Don’t exercise to exhaustion. A good rule of thumb: Slow down if you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation. In general, the best guideline is to listen to your body. When something hurts, that means something’s wrong, so stop. You should feel like you’re working your body, not punishing it.

10. Don’t get overheated

Avoid letting yourself get too hot, especially during the first trimester when your baby’s major organs are developing. Although there’s no proof of a danger to humans, some animal studies suggest that overheating can cause birth defects.

Increased blood flow and a higher metabolic rate mean you’ll feel warmer than usual when you’re pregnant, and doubly so when you exercise. And since feeling warm is common in pregnancy, you may get overheated much faster than you normally would, even before your belly is big.

Signs of being overheated are largely individual, but pay attention if you’re sweating a lot, feel uncomfortably warm, or feel dizzy or short of breath. On hot and/or humid days, skip your workout or exercise indoors in a well-ventilated, air-conditioned room. Wear loose, non-binding clothing and drink plenty of water.

To cool off quickly, stop exercising, take off layers, and change your environment: seek out air conditioning or step into a cool shower. Hydrating is key too, so drink lots of water.

11. Get up from the floor slowly

As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts. That’s why it’s important to take great care when you change positions. Getting up too quickly can make you dizzy, and may cause you to lose your footing and fall.

12. Cool down

At the end of your workout, take a few minutes to walk in place and then stretch. Heart rate increases during pregnancy and it may take as long as 15 minutes for your heart to return to its resting rate following a workout.

13. Make it a habit

Make a commitment to work regular exercise into your schedule. Keeping up a routine is easier on your body than periods of inertia interrupted by spurts of activity.   You should be able to safely engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week as long as you have your healthcare provider’s go-ahead.

Exercising is beneficial in all ways!   Before, during and after!

~ Meagan

Read Full Post »