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Apr 28, 2009

Postpartum doulas help moms to cope

"Helpful services given after birth to avoid the baby blues."


Colette and Paul Pritchard knew they'd have their hands full when they returned home from the hospital with their second baby.

So they hired an extra pair -- the experienced hands of Maria Keirstead, a postpartum doula.

While a birth doula helps parents through pregnancy and birth, a post-partum doula helps new parents and their babies in the first weeks and months after the child is born.

"It's been wonderful," says a smiling, laughing Colette, sitting in the sunny family room of their Beaumont home with Maria and two-week-old Adrian.

"I wish I had known about her before.

"The benefit is getting some sleep and not worrying that the baby is going to wake up and I won't hear him. And she's been there a lot for emotional support."

When Colette's first son, Grant, was born four years ago, the new mom was overwhelmed.

She had trouble breastfeeding and was getting little sleep. She began to get dragged down by the "baby blues," she says. Her own parents are older and were unable to help much with the newborn, and Paul's parents live far away.

"That put a lot of burden on Colette," recalls Paul. "And that post-partum depression is a sneaky thing. It just creeps up on you." This time, Paul was determined to be more prepared.

"I wasn't aware of the depression that women can suffer because it isn't talked about that much," he adds.

He read books, looked online and found the Doula Association of Edmonton. Through them, he found Keirstead.

Some of her clients, like the Pritchards, have other children and need extra help to keep their busy households running. Others are first-time parents who appreciate her advice and guidance on caring for a newborn.

"We're really there to help the family get a good start," says Keirstead. "We're not there to take over. We're not a nanny and we're not a nurse, but at the same time, we're not there to be their maid."

Keirstead has done everything from helping Colette with Adrian's first bath to folding laundry -- anything to help the new mom take better care of herself and her new baby

When Colette headed out shopping for the first time since Adrian's birth, Keirstead came along for support. When Grant had questions about the new baby's behaviour (like, why does he cry so much?) Keirstead helped answer them.

"She's been a lifesaver," says Colette. "She's there to help you, to listen, which is what I need. And I'm not worried about being judged."

Postpartum doulas are like the modern-day version of the baby nurses of old, hired by mothers to help in those first, sleep-deprived, trying weeks and months of new parenthood.

It's a small but growing specialty, says Megan Lalonde, co-chair of the Doula Association of Edmonton. The group's certifying body, Doulas of North America, lists only about two dozen certified, postpartum doulas in all of Canada.

But many more have taken the specialized training and haven't yet applied for official certification, or have birth-doula training and will do post-partum work as well, says Lalonde.

"There's definitely a need for new families to have extra help," she adds. "I think there's more recognition of how challenging the postpartum period can be." Keirstead says there is a huge demand in the Edmonton area for the kinds of services she provides. Postpartum doulas typically charge $20 to $30 an hour.

Virtually all new parents in the region get free help from the province's Healthy Beginnings program, which has baby nurses who phone and visit the home in the days after a new baby is born and who are available by phone to answer questions and provide referrals to other agencies.

But some families want, or need, extra support, says Keirstead. For more information, go to or

Today's new mothers are more likely to live away from extended family, who traditionally have helped out when babies are born. Some women have been busy with careers or have moved here more recently and don't have large networks of friends to help them. Fathers may be working out of town or unable to take time off work.

Keirstead helps as many families as she can, but her schedule is limited by the needs of her own five children. Usually, her services are offered for a few weeks or months postpartum, but she has helped families for longer periods, particularly if they have special-needs children or are hampered by postpartum depression.

Apr 16, 2009

Elimination Communication

Can Infants Really Be Potty Trained?

Elizabeth Parise of Concord, Mass., is mother to six, so to say she has her hands full is probably an understatement. But this mom also has found the time and commitment to essentially "potty train" the youngest three children from birth, in a method called Elimination Communication.

"When I first heard about Elimination Communication (EC), my first thought was that it would fit well with my parenting style," Parise says. "I already had three children and I was pregnant with my fourth and had always practiced natural or attachment parenting. I breastfed, co-slept, carried my babies in slings and other carriers, and I thought EC would fit right in. I especially thought it made sense because I breastfed 'on cue,' now I could potty 'on cue,' too. This meant that just like I fed my babies when they showed signs of hunger I also offered the potty when I noticed signs of needing to eliminate."

To read more of this article... Click here

Diaper Free Baby

DiaperFreeBaby Ontario is hosting a Potluck Picnic in the Park on 
Sunday, June 7, 2009, in Toronto. Everyone is welcome!

Date: Sunday, June 7, 2009
Time: 12 - 2 pm
Rain venue: none
Place: Dufferin Grove Park - East side of Dufferin St., just south 
of Bloor, across the street from Dufferin Mall. We will meet at the 
main firepit, in the centre of the park.
Food: Potluck - bring something to share

Take the DiaperFreeChallenge!

The DiaperFreeChallenge is inspired by the phrase "I tried it and I 
was hooked". For many people "trying is believing". So, we are "challenging" parents and other caregivers to try Elimination Communication (EC) for just one day. For those already ECing the 
"challenge" is to pick a day to let your child go completely 
diaper-free- if you haven't already. Others not ready to "take the 
plunge" will be "challenged" to find out more by attending our potluck picnic!>

For more information, please email:
carol_7301 at <> or claritee at>

Faith in student pays off

"Boy succeeds beyond expectations after school saw potential and mobilized support."

David Burke's school life started to turn around the day an educator looked into his eyes and saw promise. Until that moment in Grade 6, on his first day at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Scarborough, his experience had been painful.

He was the kid with a learning disability who struggled to read. He was the student who needed constant one-on-one help to do his school work. He floundered in a system that didn't recognize his creativity, determination and generous spirit, or accommodate his learning style.

David arrived at his new school three years ago with a thick file listing all his challenges, recalls his mother, Nicole Bourassa-Burke. The principal took one look at all the paperwork "and was determined to help David succeed."

The school applied for funding to get him a computer that would help him read and write so he could follow the curriculum. The boy soon discovered he loved history.

As David mastered his new equipment, teachers spotted his talent for technology. They set up a student tech team and put him on it. In short order, David was helping other kids learn on their computers, setting up interactive SmartBoards for teachers to use in classrooms and laptops for assembly presentations and overseeing photography and videos of school events. He became the school's go-to guy for all things digital.

Last year, in Grade 8, he was head of the tech team. Realizing that soon he would be off to high school, he set about training other kids to take over the reins.

David's special education teacher, Elyn Catli, nominated him for an award from the Toronto chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, which advocates for kids with special needs. In her nomination letter, Catli noted that technology opened the door for a child who had "been silenced in class" with no outlet to demonstrate his learning.

"His achievements in technology have enabled him to express himself and give back to the community by his generous and selfless way of sharing," she wrote in the nomination letter, now framed on David's bedroom wall.

His contributions to the school "will be felt long after he graduates."

Last spring, David was presented with the council's "Yes I Can" award at a dinner at the National Yacht Club. In the fall, he received the council's provincial award at a lunch in London.

"It felt pretty good that I'd been nominated," says David, now 14 and in Grade 9 at Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School. "It was good to feel appreciated."

Most parents know that one teacher can change a child's life. David had several.

"In this school, we try to identify a child's needs and strengths and work with that," says Tonya Williams, his classroom teacher in Grades 6 and 8.

The public school system can get caught up in red tape and the formal processes of assessing and diagnosing problems. Williams says her school's support team – which includes teachers, the principal and a school psychologist – tries to be proactive and also offers clubs and teams that allow kids to shine and learn new skills.

"We don't have to wait for (formal) identifications in order to help a child," she says.

While building on a student's strengths makes sense, a growing number of education advocates and psychologists worry that the process of qualifying for special ed support is too focused on identifying deficits.

They argue that creating resilient kids requires looking at the whole child and helping each understand and value his or her own particular learning style and talents.

To Bourassa-Burke, the dividends of that approach have been enormous for her son.

"They got a child with huge, huge difficulties and said, `Let's do the best we can for him.' He just blossomed under that and, in response, he gave back."

School is still tough for David but, with the help of assistive technology, he says he enjoys it.

"The most important thing about this is I think it has turned him into a lifelong learner," his mother says. "He wants to learn and he's not afraid to try."

Toronto Star

Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision

The critically acclaimed documentary on male circumcision by Chicago filmmaker Eli Ungar-Sargon. For the unabridged version, please buy the DVD at:

Apr 4, 2009

The Audacity of Help

The Audacity of Help
By Shanna Brewton-Tiayon

What's faster than the speed of light? The stride of a working mother trying to accomplish a two page to-do list during a half-hour lunch break. What is the best tag-team collaboration around? The mother and father duo, attempting to balance a full-time job, extracurricular activities for the children, family time, church, and, oh yeah, household chores.

This was my reality growing up in Hampton, Virginia, in the 1980s and '90s. As an adolescent and eventually a college-bound teenager, all of what I amassed to file under the how to be a good parent category of my mental library was discovered and learned in the Tidewater area. I grew up as a typical overly socialized child with a mile-long activity list, but with no alternative logistical resources, except my mother. I became used to my mother—a single parent wearing multiple hats at once, with no complaints or requests for breaks. My life was full; I was happy. What I didn't know was that my mom was overwhelmed and very tired...

Apr 1, 2009

Effect of food intake during labour on obstetric outcome: randomised controlled trial

This is a new study in the British Medical Journal to investigate the effect of feeding during labour on obstetric and neonatal outcomes... the findings are remarkable.

The HypnoBirthing® Experience.

HypnoBirthing® is as much a philosophy of birth as it is a technique for achieving a satisfying, relaxing, and stress-free method of birthing. This amazing program teaches you, along with your birthing companion, the art and joy of experiencing birth in a more comfortable manner. You will learn how to call upon your body’s own natural relaxant and thus lessen, or even eliminate discomfort and the need for medication. When a woman is properly prepared for childbirth and when mind and body are in harmony, Nature is free to function in the same well-designed manner that it does with all animal mothers in Nature.

You will be fascinated as you view HypnoBirthing® films, showing labouring mothers, awake, alert and in good humour as they experience the kind of gentle birth that you, too, can know when you are free of the fear that causes pain and tension. Through self-hypnosis, special breathing, and visualization, HypnoBirthing® teaches you to release all prior programming about birth, how to trust your body and work with it, as well as how to free yourself of harmful emotions that lead to pain-causing fear and unyielding muscles.

You will learn the art of using your own natural birthing instincts. With HypnoBirthing®, you will not be in a trance or a sleep state. You will be aware and fully in control, but profoundly relaxed.

HypnoBirthing® Advantages
 Teaches deep levels of relaxation to eliminate the fear that causes tension and, thus, pain.

 Greatly reduces and often eliminates the need for chemical painkillers and drugs.

 Shortens the first phase of labour.

 Leaves mother alert, fresh, awake and with energy.

 Helps keep oxygen supplied to baby during birthing.

 Reduces the need for an episiotomy

 Reduces and often eliminates fatigue during labour.

 Empowers parents with techniques to achieve a gentle, calm birth for themselves and their baby.

 Gives the birthing companion an integral role in the birthing.

 Embraces the concept of pre-birth parenting.

 Teaches breathing techniques that allow a woman to gently breathe her baby into the world without the violence of hard, physical pushing.

This unique prenatal series is being offered at:

Becoming Maternity April 26th-May 31st (with a 2 week break between May 11th and May18th for Mother's Day and Victoria Day). Couples can register with Becoming.

The JCC with Baby and Me Fitness (couples can register with B & M Fit) April 22nd-May 20th.

Please contact Amanda Burke for more details:

Have something to say? Question to ask? Something to submit? I'd love to hear from you.

Welcome to Mama Sayana Doula support. I started this blog as a way to provide real, unedited information about pregnancy and birth to pregnant mothers and couples.
The true heart of this blog lies in the stories and pictures submitted by you.
Please feel free to visit often and post your comments.

Happy blogging.