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What disservice do we do to women?

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Think about the last movie you saw that featured someone giving birth. I’m guessing there was a woman screaming, a man freaking out, and a doctor yelling “Push, push push!” 

Katherine Heigl in ‘Knocked Up’

Now tell me how many of your friends are terrified by the thought of giving birth? Maybe you’re included in that group!

Popular culture does a really good job propagating the culture of fear around birth. 

And that translates into our everyday lives. 

You hear negativity about birth all the time. Even friends who haven’t had kids say things like “oh, you’ll be screaming for the meds” or “are you ready for your body to be destroyed”. 

I remember in my first maternal and newborn care class, so many of my friends whispered to each other during lecture about how scared they were.

I was scared too – how could I block out all that negativity?

But those lectures taught us about physiology. About how pregnancy is not a medical condition, it’s normal. 

This drove me to look further, to learn more.

So, I dove head first into the birth world. Reading books, articles, watching videos. This led me to a doula training. Everything confirmed what I learned in those first lectures.  

Birth doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t even have to be painful! 

My education and understanding of physiology took away my fear. 

It also got me incredibly excited! I NEEDED to learn how to help parents achieve empowering birth experiences.

This lead me to HypnoBirthing. This training taught me techniques that help parents remain calm and relaxed. Techniques that work WITH our physiology, to facilitate empowering birth regardless of circumstances. 

How we view things matters. 

So, that crazy pop culture birth scenario doesn’t have to be my experience. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s experience. 

The more I go to births, the more I see how beautiful these moments could be. Labour can be a sacred space. Parents can connect with each other and welcome their babies into warm, nurturing environments. 

All of these experiences have completely change my outlook about birth. Now, I look forward to becoming a mother and naturally birthing my baby. There is no more fear.

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Resources for a Calm & Confident Birth

Confident Birth Prenatal Class

Hypnobirthing Classes

What Services Do We Offer?

Are Prenatal Classes Necessary?

Prepared Partners Mini Doula Course

Book a Free 15 Minute Virtual Meet & Greet

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Perineum Discussion Part 2: Besting Your Chances for Minimal Injury

Dr. Ee Von Ling, ND

Dr. Ee Von Ling, ND

Trigger warning: Discussion about vaginal birth and perineum. Discussion about perineal injury and tears. 

This post will go right into the discussion of how to reduce perineal tears and injury. To learn about the 4 different types of perineal injury and read my personal account of having a 2nd degree perineal injury, first read My Childbirth Experience

Is there anything you can do to help reduce perineal injury? 

YES!

The most important factor that influences your risk of a perineal injury will surprise you. 

Your care provider is one of the strongest factors of having an intact perineum: 

Having a homebirth with a midwife is the best way to help avoid a perineal injury. Second to this is having a birth centre birth with a midwife. The main reason is episiotomies and repairing a 3rd or 4th degree perineal tear are not within a midwives’ scope of practice, so they are skilled in helping birthing people avoid or minimize these injuries. 

Having an OB with a high 3rd or 4th degree perineal injury rate or has a high rate of episiotomy use will have the highest risk of developing a perineal injury. 

If you want to give birth in a hospital, get a midwife to help reduce your chance of a perineal injury. 

If you don’t have access to a midwife, ask your OB what their 3rd and 4th degree rate is (it should be 3% or less, if it is much more, it means they are not taking preventative measures). Ask  your OB how often they are doing episiotomy, or under what circumstance they are doing this. Fortunately, hospitals in the GTA have a no routine episiotomy policy, meaning, the OB should not be doing them as just a matter of routine.  Ask your care provider if they obtain consent from the client first if they are considering to do an episiotomy

Other tips to help reduce severe (3rd and 4th degree) perineal tearing: 

  • Be in an upright birth position (If you have no epidural)
  • Be in a side lying birth position with delayed pushing (If you have an epidural)
  • Warm compress against the perineum (Done by your care provider – this helps reduce severe tears and reduce pain)
  • Perineal massage by the care provider might help lower your risk of a severe perineal  trauma, increase your chance of having an intact perineum, or it might make no difference (They need your consent first!)

These other factors that can increase your risk: (Unfortunately, these factors are less under your control)

  • Size of baby (the bigger the baby, the bigger the risk)
  • Position of baby at birth (if baby is “sunny side up”, OP or face up at birth)
  • Very long or very short 2nd stage (pushing time)
  • Shoulder dystocia (difficulty with birthing the shoulders)
  • Use of forceps or vacuum
  • Family history of severe perineal tears

Among the research, there was a particular group of midwives with an amazing 73% intact rate! What did these expert midwives do differently?  

  • They performed slow, calm and controlled delivery of the baby’s head
  • They guided with non-valsalva pushing
  • They delivered the baby’s head between contractions

Additional tips from these expert midwives: 

  • When the baby is crowning, they warn clients to blow instead of push
  • Avoid coaching to push
  • Avoid pushing during crowning
  • Encourage hands and knees position
  • Allow the baby’s head to remain on the perineum for a number of contractions
  • Wait until baby has rotated before trying to birth shoulders

What about doing perineal massage? 

Studies conducted have shown that doing a minimal amount of perineal massage (1-2 times/week, 10 minutes each time, starting from 34 weeks of pregnancy) can help reduce the chance of perineal injury for people birthing for the first time. People who are birthing after the first time generally have a lower chance of perineal injury, and doing perineal massage has not shown to reduce the rate further. However, doing perineal massage has been shown to help reduce perineal pain from childbirth. Interestingly, there is no added benefit in doing more than the minimum amount. 

Also, no study showed that perineal massage made it worse for perineal health. Thus, I always recommend that you do some perineal massage to help prepare physically as well as mentally for childbirth (learn to relax and practice breathing exercises while doing it). 

Injury to the perineum is cited as one of the most common fears that people have about giving birth. The fear is strong enough to influence people to not have children. It is the unseen and unspoken part of birth.  We don’t properly educate the public on the ways that help reduce perineal trauma, leaving the power and decision making to the care provider. I hope that in sharing these evidence-based tips and my own personal experience that you feel more empowered to gain control of this part of the birthing experience. 

Links: 

Perineal massage video

Evidence Based Birth: Perineal Massage

Evidence Based Birth: top 5 tips on protecting the perineum

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My Childbirth Experience (Perineum Discussion Part 1)

Dr. EeVon Ling, ND

Dr. EeVon Ling, ND

*Trigger warning*: Discussion about vaginal birth and perineum. Discussion about perineal injury and tears. 

Injury to the perineum is cited as one of the most common fears that people have about giving birth. (I prefer to use the word “injury” rather than tear, as I feel “tear” in the context of childbirth can produce such a visceral response that can be disturbing for many people)

Ask any group of people of child-bearing capability “How many of you have felt frightened at the thought of tearing during childbirth for yourself or someone else?” Almost all will say yes. This fear is so impactful that it can influence the decision to not become pregnant at all.

So what is it really like to give birth vaginally?  What happens if you have a perineal injury? 

This is my account of what it’s like to vaginally birth and have a 2nd degree perineal injury. 

To give some background info, perineal injuries due to childbirth are divided into 4 categories, based on severity and tissue and organs that may be involved (It is not based on the number of stitches needed as many people believe): 

  • Intact perineum – no injury occurred
  • 1st degree – least severe, involves only the skin around the opening of the vagina. Depending on the nature of this, stitches may or may not be needed
  • 2nd degree – involves the muscles between the vagina and anus – usually needs stitches
  • 3rd degree – affects the muscles around the anus
  • 4th degree – the most severe, reaching the tissue lining of the rectum

3rd and 4th degree injuries require an OB to repair in the OR of a hospital (for example, if you have a midwife and a homebirth and a 3rd or 4th degree injury occurred, you would be transferred to the hospital and an OB would  be assigned to help you). 

Generally speaking, up to 80% of people birthing for the first time experience perineal injury. Of that number of people: 

1st and 2nd degree perineal injuries are most common

3rd and 4th degree occur in less than 10% of that number – when no preventative measures are taken. 

Upon digging into the research on this topic, I learned that there are a few factors and preventative measures that can help you significantly reduce your chance of having a perineal injury! If you want to go straight to the evidence, read Perineum Discussion Part 2: Besting Your Chances for Minimal Injury.

Back to my experiences. I had 2 wonderful home water births, about 2 years apart, with 2 very different perineal outcomes. 

First birth: “She flew out of me”

I woke up that morning with a sore back, causing me to curse the really long walk I did the day before. As the morning progressed, I realized it was labour starting. I had learned HypnoBirthing (YDD HypnoBirthing) in preparation for our planned home birth and the techniques helped me cope with the progressing labour. As we got into the evening, our midwife arrived, checked me and my baby and everything was healthy and going well. At some point I got into the birth pool and continued labouring there.  

As my labour really ramped up, the midwife asked me “Did your water break?”  I had been in the pool for a few hours at least and so I had no idea. The midwife suggested that she check my cervix, which I agreed to.  I got out of the pool and during the check it was discovered I was 8cm dilated but my water had not broken yet. Labour was really intense at this point and after having a short conversation, weighing my options (yes, you can still have a logical conversation weighing the pros and cons of an intervention in the thick of labour!), I agreed to have my water broken by the midwife (also referred to as “rupture of membranes”).  

Once that happened, things progressed extremely fast. My baby quickly descended and was crowning within just a few minutes. One moment I could just feel the tip of her head. The next moment I heard a “Floomph ” and I saw my husband and midwife fish our daughter out of the water and put her on my chest.  Our daughter literally flew out of me in 1 contraction. 

As a result I had a 2nd degree perineal injury. 

Because she was born so fast, I did not feel the commonly described “ring of fire” that many birthing parents report. Because she was born unexpectedly fast, my midwife didn’t have a chance to do anything to support my perineum. Would it have made a difference to my perineum had I not had my water broken (I believe that really sped up what was already a fairly fast labour)? Would it have made a difference if the midwife were able to actively support my perineum during crowning? I did perineal massage (link to perineal massage video), did that help reduce the severity of my injury? I’m not sure, but later I will discuss what can help in reducing perineal injury. 

My labour and birth were a great experience that I owe to having the birth pool and using the HypnoBirthing techniques. The repairing of my perineum? That SUCKED. 

For me, getting the stitches was the worst part of my birth experience. Why? During labour and birth I sort of knew what to expect based on what I learned in my naturopathic medical training and from the HypnoBirthing prenatal classes. I was sitting in a padded pool filled with warm water and listening to relaxation music and affirmations and breathing like a real pro. 

Getting the stitches, on the other hand, was quite the opposite of zen. I had to lay on my back on a bed. I was wet and cold (despite my husband’s best efforts to dry me off and our condo was an un-air conditioned 28 degrees in the middle of July). Before doing any stitches, the midwife injected local anesthetic. My perineum felt very raw and vulnerable and all the poking and sharpness of the repair process was harder for me to handle than the labour and birth. Luckily that part was very short, only a few minutes. I used my breathing exercises during that time. In hindsight, more distractions like music playing, having my husband close by (he was tending to the baby in a different room as the bedroom we used was very small) and having other coping measures available would have been very useful to reduce the intensity of that experience.  Would it have been helpful if someone disclosed the details of what it really feels like to get your perineum repaired (without an epidural)? I’m not sure, and I still grapple with this question when I teach HypnoBirthing Classes and our Confident Birth Prenatal Program to my parents. 

Recovering from a vaginal birth and 2nd degree perineal injury:  It took me about 2 weeks before I felt normal down there. It is very normal, and very alien-feeling, to have all that swelling and tenderness. A girlfriend, who gave birth a few months later and who has a very crass sense of humour, called it her “hamburger”.  

I didn’t pay much attention to my perineum before, but for the 2 weeks after birth I had 2 all-consuming jobs 1) feed the baby 2) look after my perineum.  I was quite diligent with the ice packs and sitz baths. I used 2 peri bottles filled with hot and cold water so I could do a mini hydrotherapy session each time I used the toilet. (I always remind my new parents to take the extra time to care for their perineum.) I think I spent those first couple of weeks horizontal as standing, walking and sitting made me really tired and caused my pelvis to feel heavy and dragging. It was helpful that I was sort of observing the Chinese tradition of “confinement”  – resting and staying indoors for 1 month after the baby is born. Meaning no going out to run errands or doing things that would further exhaust or deplete me. 

The stitches get itchy making you want to, but also don’t want to, scratch them. 

When your perineum starts to feel better, and you know you’ve rounded the corner on your recovery, it’s like the fog has lifted and you start to feel more like yourself. That said, please still take it slow as doing too much too fast can regress your recovery. After my perineum fully recovered, I did experience a bit of a lingering sensation. It wasn’t pain exactly, but a bit like a ‘pulling” sensation with sex and sometimes with peeing. I didn’t know much about pelvic floor physiotherapy at the time, although I wished I did and it’s something I recommend to my clients postpartum to help address any issues that remain after recovery from childbirth. 

Second Birth Experience: Much better

The birth of my second daughter about 2 years later was almost a rinse and repeat of my first experience. I say almost because I came away from it with an intact perineum (that and the labour was much faster).  What was different this time around? Experienced birthing parents do have a decreased risk of perineal injury  to begin with (almost 50% less chance), so the odds were in my favour. My second child was almost the same weight and size as my first, but the difference was the speed of her entry into the world. My midwives (different than the first) were very hands off and it wasn’t until my baby was crowning that they realized my water hadn’t broken yet! With the water intact maybe that helped slow down the crowning a bit.  Once they realized she was about to be born, they were able to guide me and my breathing so I didn’t push her out too fast and they provided perineal support. 

I did not have to go through the repair process. Thank goodness! 

Recovery from birth without a perineal injury is so much better (as you can imagine)! I felt like myself just days after giving birth. But there was still some swelling so I still made sure I took care of my perineum (a bigger challenge when you have a baby and another child). 

I feel pretty lucky that I didn’t have any lasting pain or incontinence issues after giving birth.  Unfortunately many people do develop chronic pain or some degree of incontinence after childbirth as a result of the perineal injury. Having serious perineal trauma can affect your recovery, your ability to care for yourself and your baby and can impact your mental health. Perineal injury can lead to problems with incontinence, pain with sex and chronic pain in general.  If there was some way to help avoid or at least reduce the severity of a perineal tear, we have a duty to inform those who are pregnant. 

Is there anything you can do to help reduce perineal injury? 

YES!

The most important factor that influences your risk of a perineal injury will surprise you. 

To learn more, read Perineum Discussion Part 2: Besting Your Chances for Minimal Injury

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YDD is turning 5!

Dr. Sarah Winward, ND

YDD Managing Members
Our Leadership team, Dr. EeVon Ling, ND, Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND, Dr. Sarah Winward, ND.

Five years ago my classmate, Olivia, convinced me to do a doula course because she thought I’d really enjoy it. I hadn’t heard of ‘doulas’ before but students got a discount and I had been enjoying our maternal and newborn care class, so I figured why not? It was so fascinating and I was eager to get my feet wet so Olivia and I signed up for our schools’ doula club and we co-supported our very first birth together. We were both in complete awe of the whole process. And I think we were both hooked right then and there. 

Your Downtown Doula was started at a computer hub at the clinic where Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND, and I, did our clinical internship. I knew I wanted to support pregnant parents, but I also knew that I didn’t want to do it alone. So, I asked her to come on board so we could back each other up in our doula work. 

I got pregnant with my first baby literally the same week we signed those papers. I got my ND license the same week my son was born. Somehow, Olivia and I managed to keep it together in the first few years. Most of our meetings at that time had a baby involved. But we kept growing and soon we were a collective with multiple practitioners all with a passion for helping new parents!

Dr. EeVon Ling, ND, joined our leadership a few years ago, and Olivia and I could not have been more excited! EeVon has kept us heading in the right direction, and helped to steer the ship while Olivia was having her first baby and I was having my second. 

The last 5 years have been quite the wild ride of starting a business, having 2 new babies on our doula team, adapting to a pandemic all while striving to give the best support possible to our clients.

We are so grateful to everyone who has joined us on this journey and we are excited to see what we’ll build together next!

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Are Prenatal Classes Necessary?

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Yes! Yes! A resounding YES! 

You are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t take a prenatal class.  

(I know that sounds harsh, but this is too important of a topic to tiptoe around.)

I know what you’re thinking: “Well of course you would say that, you teach prenatal classes!”  True! But, why do I teach them? 

Because I truly believe that a GOOD prenatal class is the #1, (yes, NUMBER 1) factor that leads to improved satisfaction surrounding birth. And I’d argue satisfaction with your birth experience is pretty important. 

Here’s why this really matters:

About 1 in 4 people who have given birth in the UK, and 1 in 3 in the US, describe their birth as traumatic. (Unfortunately, we don’t have stats in Canada). Not just hard, not just tiring, long or painful, but TRAUMATIC.  The birth of your baby should not be a traumatic experience! Even if there are unexpected circumstances, you should not come away from your birth feeling traumatized. It has always been my goal to reduce this statistic. 

Knowing this, It honestly shocked me to learn that only 50% of pregnant families in the GTA take prenatal classes.  But, I understand why this happens. 

  1.  You’ve been told childbirth is unpredictable and the doctor will “tell you what to do”.


Yes, birth is unpredictable. And yes, your doctor can tell you what to do, but is this how you want to experience birth?  In an effective prenatal class you learn techniques that help you cope with the marathon that labour can be.  Being prepared means you have the tools and skills to cope, even when unexpected things arise.  Each birth is indeed a unique and individual experience, and yet, there is a benefit to knowing what to generally expect and what to do.  Even explorers had a compass to navigate unknown lands.  

Your OB is definitely an important resource but they don’t arrive until the baby is literally ready to be born. Unless there are complications. (I like to say a birth is going well when you barely see the OB). You will have some assistance from the nurse but their primary role is to perform regular medical checks of you and the baby. Your birth is likely to progress normally, which means you and your partner are largely on your own: first labouring at home, then making your way to the hospital, then waiting in triage to be assessed, and then continuing in the labour and delivery room. 

It is very possible that some of the recommendations from your nurses and even your OB will not be evidence based. Many things are simply hospital policy or individual bias of the care provider. Did you know that on average it takes about 20 years (yup) for policy to catch up to current evidence. The unfortunate reality is that the onus is on you to come armed with knowledge, questions and the ability to advocate for yourself and your baby. 

  1. “I’m going to get an epidural, so I don’t need to prepare or learn coping skills”

In the movies: Water breaks. Rush to hospital. Get an epidural. Aaah, relief.

In reality: Early labour may last days. You get to the hospital triage and wait for a long time before getting assessed. Hopefully you didn’t arrive too early (or you’ll be waiting some more). Eventually you get to your labouring room and you request an epidural. If it’s a busy time (labour and delivery is the busiest place in the hospital), you may be waiting up to a couple hours more. Very occasionally, the epidural doesn’t work.  Or, your labour is progressing so quickly that there is no time to get an epidural. 

No one seems to tell you that you may be in labour for a long time before you get an epidural. So if getting an epidural is your only “coping” mechanism, you’ll be in for a rough ride. 

Learning comfort measures and relaxation exercises for labour and birth is not just for those wanting a natural birth. Learning these things gives you tools you can use in any birth situation which increases your chance for a positive birth experience. 

Read more here → Quick Tips on Having a more Comfortable Labour 

  1. “I’ve heard that hospital classes are not very useful.” 

“I can’t find one that works with my schedule”. 

“I’d rather have just the information that applies to me and my birthing situation and preferences”  


I get it, you have access to all the information you could ever dream of on the internet. However, it takes time to filter through all of it and do you even know what to look for? If you’ve never given birth before, how will you know what “method” to learn? What if someone who has supported many families in a range of birth situations was able to teach you the inside tips and tricks to help you feel calm and confident during labour and birth. Yes, being calm and confident during childbirth is entirely possible! In fact I believe that every pregnant person DESERVES to be calm and confident during this very important life changing event! 

If group classes and their schedules don’t work for you – consider a private prenatal program. I’ve noticed that clients seem to get more out of private classes because I’m able to individualize information. Clients also love that the classes are scheduled around their convenience. 

  1. Birth has basically been a terrifying mystery your whole life.

    I remember the initial joy I had when learning about birth in medical school.  I finally understood what goes on, from implantation, pregnancy and birth.  It resonated with me, my intuition, it was normal – I didn’t have to be afraid of it.  My education empowered me. However,  the joy was quickly followed by frustration.  Why did it take a medical degree to learn this, why didn’t I know in my prime “child bearing age” anything about birth outside of the dramatized ER births on television. 

Most people are very afraid of giving birth, and don’t really want to think about it. But knowledge truly is power. If you understand what you body is doing during labour, how the muscles work, how your baby is working with you then you can learn how to work with your body and not against it.   

Read more here → How Can My Partner Prepare for My Birth? 

Ok, so prenatal classes are essential for a positive birth experience. But how do you figure out which class to take? Not all classes are equal – do your research. For your convenience I’ve created the following checklist:

Will your prenatal class include ALL of the following? 

  • Ends when you are 37 weeks pregnant or earlier
  • Teaches and practices in-class practical relaxation exercises that you can use
  • during labour (helpful for after birth too!)
  • Teaches your partner how to be a GREAT birthing partner
  • Covers stages of labour and birth from a non-fear based approach
  • Covers the birth plan in an evidence-based approach so you feel educated and empowered about what to
  • expect and how to manage labour and childbirth
  • Includes a workbook with exercises to help you prepare mentally and emotionally
  • Includes additional resources such as audio recordings, videos and props
  • Allows you to contact the instructor directly in case you have any questions or concerns
  • Treats birth as a physical and emotional experience and not simply a textbook reading assignment. 
  • Celebrates the miracle and power of pregnancy and childbirth!

If you’re on a budget, the City of Toronto has a free online prenatal class here “Welcome to Parenting”

Yes, that’s right, I’d rather you take ANY prenatal class, even if it’s not mine. 

However, I and another birth-loving ND’s and doula colleagues, have created our Confident Birth Prenatal Program specifically from our experiences as mothers who have given birth, and as doulas who have supported birthing families. From our many years working in this area, we observed and listened. The result?  A prenatal program that meets all the criteria above. And as the name implies, you WILL feel more confident and prepared for childbirth. 

Learn more about the Confident Birth Prenatal Program

I want families to feel empowered, calm and confident. Getting educated and having resources helps.  I teach and work with families because I LOVE sharing all the wonderful, interesting, mind-blowing things that your body does in labour and how you can help it do its job easier.  

We’re so passionate about helping families get a positive start to parenthood through positive birth we offer not just one but two different prenatal programs! 

Confident Birth Prenatal Program

HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method Program

Would you like to learn more about how a doula and naturopathic doctor can support you in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum? Click here to book a free 15 min Meet and Greet today! 

** Your prenatal class with a naturopathic doctor may be eligible for coverage by your work benefits/ health insurance plan. Inquire with us today! 

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND
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YDD Welcomes Dr. Yasmin Amini, ND back to the team!

Dr. Yasmin Amini, ND

Hi, I’m Yasmin! I am a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Doula! My focus is patient-centered care with a realistic approach to reach optimal health and comfort. My priority is to support my patients’ health by providing them the education and tools they need to live healthier and happier. I incorporate diverse and unique modalities, including acupuncture, physical medicine techniques, lifestyle modifications (nutrition and physical activity), botanical medicine, proper supplementation, counselling and homeopathy into individualized treatment plans.

Background and Experience:

After completing my Bachelor of Science with Honours in Kinesiology, I completed my degree in Naturopathic Medicine. During my time at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, I knew I wanted to become a Doula and support women through pregnancy and beyond. In addition to treating patients within multiple clinics, I worked with family members and friends to gain experience with labour and birth and saw the differences in experience outcomes. I then followed this path to support, empower, educate and instill confidence in women during pregnancy, labour/birth and postpartum.

Why Birth?

I have seen far too many times the gaps and challenges that women face during the time of pregnancy, labour and birth. This experience stays with us forever, so why not make it the most positive one? Pain management is one of my biggest focuses and I use techniques and naturopathic tools to allow women to cope. Let’s take on this adventure together as your body is worthy of the best care and was built for birth!

I offer care in English, French, Farsi and Spanish.

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Top 2 Tips for a Good Latch when Breastfeeding!

Dr. Sarah Winward, ND YDD Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Infant Craniosacral Therapist

The 2 most common tips I give parents to help improve their baby’s latch are:

  1. Lean back
  2. Tuck your baby’s bum

I say these to almost every parent I help with latching! So, I wanted to explain what I mean and why these two tips are helpful.

FIRST, let’s talk about leaning back – this is so helpful for so many reasons. Leaning your body back further in your chair helps bring your baby on deeper. Deeper means that more of your breast tissue is in their mouth and your nipple is further back on their palate. All of these things mean that you’ll experience less pain, if you’re having pain. It also takes the weight of your baby off of your arms and more onto your chest. Holding the weight of your baby when they’re 6 lbs may not be a big deal, but a 15 lb baby can be hard to hold with just your hand! Lastly, if you have fast let downs, leaning back is going to help to make the flow more manageable for your baby.

SECOND, what do I even mean by “tuck their bum”? Honestly, this is easier to explain with some hand gestures so check out this video for more information! But, the goal of this adjustment is to bring your baby’s head further away from their chest. If I were to ask you to chug a glass of water, what would you do with your head? You’d tip it back. In order for baby’s to effectively stimulate your breasts and to easily drink the milk that’s coming, they need to be tipped back in the same position.

Check out the infographic below to get a visual of what I mean!

A Good Latch.

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My Top 2 SURPRISING tips to help prepare your home for sleep with your new baby

– Dr. EeVon Ling, ND, YDD Doula and Sleep Consultant


Expectant parents can easily get caught up in getting all the things for their baby.  When thinking about what you’ll need in preparing for baby, the item of consideration should answer the following question: 

“How is this going to make my life EASIER as a parent?”

(Yes, yes, developmental benefits for your baby are important too, but the reality is that babies, especially newborns, need very few things outside of diapers, clothing, food, a safe place to sleep and YOU). 

When working with expectant families, I am of the mindset of making things easier for the parents (because raising a baby is very hard work!) and this should extend to arranging the home so it can maximize sleep for everyone.  

Here are my top tips to help prepare your home for sleep with your new baby: 

  1. Have various safe options of where a baby can sleep. 

Your baby can sleep anywhere, it does not have to be in a bedroom. Having alternative sleep locations gives you flexibility. If your home has several rooms or different levels, having these options could also be safer because your baby can always be near you. 

Here are some suggestions: 

  • Pack-n-play (also called a playard)
  • Bassinet for stroller 
  • Baby box (on the floor) with a mat that fits tightly on the bottom
  • Empty laundry basket (on the floor) with a mat that fits tightly on the bottom
  • Floor mat or floor mattress in the middle of the room away from the wall and other furniture and pets. 

Having on-the-go options are particularly useful: 

  • Age appropriate carrier (with head support and you should be able to see the baby’s airways while being carried)
  • Stroller that lies flat or has a bassinet (could be used indoors too)

**A safe sleep location is one where the baby can lie flat on their back, there is no risk of falling out, getting entrapped in a tight space or being strangled or suffocated, and there are no blankets, loose fabric, stuffies or very soft surfaces (these can all pose as suffocation risks). There are many things that parents use for baby that are not considered safe (such as swings, dock-a-tot, baby bouncer, car seat, any surface that is very soft or that is inclined etc). If you are using such things, it is important that your baby is supervised by an awake adult. 

  1. Have alternative places for the other parent to sleep.

Here are some suggestions: 

  • A couch that converts into a bed (such as futon sofa or pull-out couch, or at least a couch with a firm base of cushions long enough for an adult to sleep comfortably on for many nights)
  • A twin sized mattress for the floor (If you think you’ll use it regularly, it should be a proper mattress versus a blow-up mattress or cot.) The mattress can later be used by the child when they are older. It can also be moved around as needed. 

This suggestion of a separate sleeping place usually surprises (even shocks) many families. Some feel it’s “unfair” if one of them (usually the dad or non-breastfeeding parent) gets to sleep while mom has to stay up all night with the baby. It’s only unfair if the sleepless parent is also expected to take care of the rest of the house and family at full capacity. The intention here is that the fully rested parent can do all the other house chores while the exhausted parent (usually mom or the breastfeeding parent) only has to focus on resting and feeding the baby. It is also my belief that 1 fully rested parent is better than 2 very exhausted parents. 

I am going to fully disclose what we did after we had our first baby. Our first born child was a terrible sleeper (a-breastfeeding-waking-every-hour-terrible-kind-of-sleeper). We initially all slept in the same room. But my husband has a fundamental need for more sleep than me. He also had a job that required his full alert attention. And he was fully hands on with taking care of our dog and housework. So, we made the decision of buying a futon couch for the living room and he would sleep there full-time for nearly 4 years (we had 2 children). This was the best decision for us. At the very least, we had a proper extra bed for anyone to sleep on if needed (for a while we switched when the second baby arrived, and I slept out on the futon in the living room with the baby sleeping in the stroller bassinet next to me). Having these options is what saved us, especially living as a family of 4 in a 700sq ft condo. 

Now, even as I’ve made these suggestions, I don’t advise that you immediately run out and buy a bunch of new stuff. In fact, you can wait and see how it goes after the baby is born. Keep these suggestions in the back of your mind in case you need a solution. 

If you would like to feel more fully prepared for sleep with your newborn I offer the Prenatal Newborn Sleep Program and Home Assessment. It’s a great way to prepare you home and your mind for life with a newborn. 

And if after your baby is born you need help with any sleep challenges, I also offer sleep consultations. All services are eligible for benefits coverage as naturopathic services. 

If you’d like to learn more, book a free 15 min meet and greet with me! 

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How can my partner prepare for my birth?

Is my partner truly prepared to help me in childbirth?

Do a quick google or amazon search on “childbirth preparation” you will get a list of results that are overwhelmingly geared towards you, the pregnant person. You might notice that there are very few books written that would help prepare your partner for childbirth.

Why is this a problem for me?

How you are cared for and supported during childbirth affects how you give birth and how you feel about it. How you feel about your birth experience can also influence how you feel about your own ability in being a mother as well as affect your chance of developing postpartum depression and anxiety. Knowing this, it’s pretty clear that ongoing emotional and physical support during the very transformative experience of birth is of the utmost importance.

What about a doula?

A doula is a person who provides continuous and on-going emotional, physical and informational support for the labouring person. It has been shown that doulas help to reduce the rates of interventions, including epidural use and c-sections and help to increase reported satisfaction in birth experience. In other words, having a doula increases the chance of having HEALTHY AND HAPPY parent and baby.

But what if I can’t have a doula?

Not everyone can access a doula. Even though having doulas would actually reduce health costs, increase positive outcomes and would be a good basic addition to any healthcare system, hiring a doula is not possible for everyone.

At the time of this writing, COVID-19 virus (simply referred to as coronavirus) is emerging as a global and local public health concern that is resulting in changes in hospital policies. Hospitals are restricting the number of people who can attend births, in some cases reducing it to only one person, usually just your partner. As a doula, when I attend births, the more support the birther can receive, the better their experience. Sometimes, in addition to their partner and me (their doula), their own mother and/ or a friend will be there too. So this change in policy can greatly impact your birth experience and well-being.

How should my partner best prepare to support me? 

Here are some tips to help your partner be your “doula”

  1. Communication! Be honest about your fears around childbirth and be honest about your partner’s strengths and weaknesses in handling high stress situations. Play up those strengths and how they can be best used to help you during labour and childbirth

Take a high quality prenatal class that focuses on teaching techniques and skills that your partner can use to help you during labour and childbirth. We at Your Downtown Doula offer HypnoBirthing classes for a comprehensive approach to help you feel relaxed and confident during childbirth and labour.

Labour at home for as long as possible. If the concerns around infection still exist at the time of your childbirth, then reducing your hospital stay is a good idea. Your partner can help you with relaxation, help distract you, do massage and attend to your basic needs. Doing most of your labouring at home can also reduce unnecessary interventions.

A great book for partners is Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner. It is specific to doulas and partners and contains very comprehensive information.

Don’t have time to read a 374 page text book or attend a 5 week class? We have the perfect solution:

The Your Downtown Doula Academy Prepared Partners Course is perfect for pregnant moms who want to fully prepare their partners to become their own doula without going to more classes, reading a thick textbook or just “winging it”.

Because we know you're scared, and we want to support you in having the best possible birth,

 we are offering 30% off this course with the promo code SUPPORT at check out.

This offer will be available until the current COVID-19 crisis is over.

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Should I take a prenatal class?

Yes, yes, resounding yes. You are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t take a prenatal class.  I know that sounds harsh, but this is too important of a topic to tiptoe around. 

I know what you’re thinking: “well of course you would say that, you teach prenatal classes!”  True! But, why do I teach them? Because I truly believe they are necessary. They are the #1, (yes, NUMBER 1) factor that leads to improved birther satisfaction surrounding birth.  I’d argue that how satisfied you are with your birth experience is pretty important. And yes, I make money teaching them, but if you keep scrolling you will find a link to a free online class- this isn’t about financial gains for me. Here’s why this really matters:

1 in 4 birthers in the UK and 1 in 3 in the US, describe their birth as traumatic. (Unfortunately, we don’t have stats in Canada). Not just hard, not just tiring, long or painful, but traumatic.  The birth of your baby should not be a traumatic experience. Even if there are unexpected circumstances, you should not come away from your birth feeling traumatized. It has always been my goal to reduce this statistic. 

It honestly shocked me when at a recent conference, the presenter reported that only about 50% of pregnant families in the GTA take prenatal classes.  But, I understand why this happens. 

 

1. You’ve been told childbirth is natural, unpredictable and the doctor will tell you what to do

All of this is true. But, in a good prenatal class you learn techniques that help you cope with the marathon that labour can be.  Being prepared makes things easier to cope with, even when unexpected things arise. Every birther is an individual and really truly does have their own unique labour. But, there is a benefit to knowing what to expect.  Even explorers had a compass in unknown lands. Your doctor is definitely an important resource but they are usually absent until you are ready to birth your baby. Unless there are complications. Your birth is more likely to be normal than not, which means you do not have the constant support and reassurance you may be hoping for. It’s also likely that many of the recommendations from your nurses and even your OB will not be evidence based. Many things are just hospital policy. On average it takes about 20 years (yup) for policy to catch up to the evidence. In our medical system it is up to you, as the patient, to come armed with knowledge, questions and the ability to advocate for yourself. 

2. Hospital classes are embarrassingly awkward, slow and you don’t have the time to commit to the hours they ask.

And maybe, you don’t want to sit in a group environment where people are asking questions that are not relevant to you, or you don’t want to hear them talk endlessly about their stories - you want the information quick and efficient and tailored to you.

I get it, you have all the access to all the information you could ever dream of on the internet. However, it takes time to filter all of it and do you know what to look for? As much as I’m totally behind Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting - you can definitely teach yourself without paying big bucks. But, it is way easier for someone to present it to you concisely, be able to answer your questions and find answers for you. Plus, do you really want to sort through every birth vlog out there to find relevant and accurate information?  If group classes and their group schedules don’t work for you - consider online courses or private courses. Personally, most of the classes I teach nowadays are private. Both the client and I seem to prefer this. I’m able to individualize information and they have their preferred times and the convenience of the class coming to them. 

Nervous about labour? You don't have to be! Get our FREE Top 5 Tips for Loving your Birth here!

3. Birth has basically been a terrifying mystery your whole life.

I remember the initial joy I had about learning about birth in medical school.  I finally understood what goes on, from implantation to birth. It resonated with me, my intuition, it was normal - I didn’t have to be afraid of it.  My education empowered me. However, the joy was quickly followed by frustration. Why did it take a medical degree to learn this, why didn’t I know in my prime “child bearing age” anything about birth outside of the dramatized ER births on television. Most people are very afraid of giving birth, and don’t really want to think about it. But knowledge truly is power. The more you know, the less you will be afraid. 

Ok, so prenatal classes are essential. How do you figure out which class to take? Not all classes are equal - do your research - what matters to you? Do you just need the basic information? Do you want as many tips and tricks as you can get?  Most cities offer FREE ONLINE courses, see Toronto’s : https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/children-parenting/pregnancy-and-parenting/pregnancy/during-pregnancy/prenatal-programs/welcome-to-parenting/

Yes, that’s right, I'd rather you take ANY prenatal class, even if it’s not mine. 

Also, prenatal education doesn’t just focus on birth but on breastfeeding and post-natal care too.  Labour is hard but it ends, breastfeeding, if you chose to, is ongoing - it helps to get a head start.  I want families to feel empowered, feel confident, feel calm and feel supported. Getting educated and having resources helps.  I teach classes because I LOVE sharing all the wonderful, interesting, mind-blowing things that your body does in labour and how you can help it do its job easier.