All about Postpartum: Doula Dialogue Replay, Postnatal Education, Doula Services and Postnatal Yoga offerings
There was a time when, like many of my friends, I was obsessed with pregnancy and birth. Don’t get me wrong, these things are still some of the most important things! But these days, where my heart is, where my work is is supporting people in the Postpartum period.
Notice I say “people” and not “moms” or “women.” The majority of people I work with postpartum do happen to be women who have recently given birth. But as Birth Doulas are there to support the whole family, as is the Postpartum Doula.
What do I do as a Postpartum Doula? Anything the family needs. I wear babies in carriers while I tidy up. I cook lunch or chop vegetables. I fold a lot of laundry, sweet floors, help with breastfeeding, teach parents how to massage their babies. Sometimes I feel babies formula that I can help prepare. Sometimes we do yoga. I might arrive with something I’ve cooked or with groceries that the family was missing. Really, truly, anything that needs doing, I do. Fun? You bet.
So I’m writing this to explain what I’ve been up to and tell anyone interested about some of the services I offer if you’re starting to see the appeal. I have an equal amount of clients that have family in town, as those who are in Canada with family far away. because I really don’t think you can have too much help in the first days, weeks and months of baby’s arrival. Especially the unobtrusive, impartial help of a hired pro!
POSTPARTUM SUPPORT AT HOME
If you’re looking for help at home, in the capacity I’ve explained, it’s a good idea to get in touch before baby is Earthside. We’ll get organized and you’ll have an idea of when I’ll be coming to check up on you. Rates vary depending on the amount of time I’ll be chez toi. You can email me at Jenny @ jennybeeyoga dot com. or call me at 514.318.4566.
ABCS of AFTER BIRTH
This is a brand new workshop happening at naada yoga, for couples on Sunday, Dec, 9. It’s a continuation (or rather prequel) to the Couple’s Birth Workshop that I’ve been offering for years.
It’s easy to imagine how yoga is useful in pregnancy and labour, the postpartum period is generally a little more abstract.Join Jenny Berthiaume, postpartum doula, postnatal yoga teacher and mother of two, for this workshop on how to prepare for what comes after baby is born.
-pelvic floor health, diastasis recti
-safe exercises you can do at home, postpartum, including a link to exclusive online video clips
-herbs and products to heal tearing
-what the postpartum period looks like
-postpartum depression or baby blues?
-feeding baby (breast, bottle and beyond)
-finding your sangha (community)
-simple recipes to nourish mama
Participants will receive their own free perineum herb healing sachet, prepared by Jenny, for free. REGISTER
These classes are given by the wonderful team I am blessed to work with, Rock the Cradle. I don’t always teach the classes, but am happily teaching the second weekend (postpartum) of the last session of the year. See the website for all the details.
Mondays 11am for walkers and crawlers and Fridays 1:20pm from 6 weeks old and on
Yoga and Birth stories by Katherine
Guest post by Katherine Seiler
I never would have thought that my experiences during childbirth would change the way I see myself, that they would have such a profound impact on myself as a person. Obviously having children is a big impact all around but I mean the specific act of going through birth. It still resonates strongly and I doubt that will ever diminish.
When I was pregnant with my first, my daughter, I was twenty years old and avoided any panic by taking things one step at a time. I wouldn’t think about the ultrasound until the day of the appointment, I wouldn’t think of the tests until the day before, I wouldn’t think of that terrifying concept of labour until the contractions started. I knew there was no way around any of it so I handled it the same way I handle anything I’m not particularly fond of but have no choice in – I put my head down and kept pushing forward until I got to the other side. When I got to the other side I was astounded at my very first thought, sitting there holding my baby for the very first time. “That was amazing, lets do that again!”
The whole experience was roughly four hours, from the very first contraction to that very first thought. I didn’t take the epidural, not because I knew anything about the discussion of natural vs medicated but simply because I have a hatred (and anxiety) of medication and was terrified of the concept of a needle in my spine. Which is fortunate as it turns out I didn’t have time to get one anyway! In the end it was my experience with yoga that helped me tremendously. The breathing, the concentration, the stamina, and especially the ability to release my muscles (particularly when a contraction hit), it was what I called upon and oh did it ever serve me well. But the real key was my doctor, this woman I had never met before that just happened to be on-call at the time ended up being such a core piece of my experience. She massaged my hand, gave me tips on better use of the birth ball, she encouraged me the whole time. She never nagged me with a “are you sure you don’t want an epidural?” and gave a word to the nurses that were. She never questioned my decisions or actions but backed me up at every step with full support. After my daughter was born she told me the benefits of skin to skin and then stayed with me for an hour to help with our first latch, to make sure she was nursing properly. It was with my first birth experience that I discovered the Joy.
My second experience, my son, was the complete opposite in every way. For starters, I researched everything and actually wrote a birth plan (pretty much all of it ended up going out the window in the end) For the first time I was experiencing morning sickness (tremendous amounts of all day non stop morning sickness), my back was hurting, I gained twice the amount of weight as my first, I tore my abdominal muscle during my second trimester and was put on immediate bed rest. In short, my daughter had set me up with totally unrealistic expectations in regards to pregnancy. Nevertheless I was still excited for the birth even with the ever growing concern that it wasn’t going to be quite so easy as the last.
I knew from the first contraction that it wasn’t right and it grew after a night in the hospital when they all but stopped. I told my then-partner almost immediately that it was headed for a c-section but he thought I was just getting worked up. At the time there weren’t any signs but… I could feel it. The atmosphere was completely different from the first. The staff wouldn’t let me eat, they wouldn’t let me get up as they had me constantly attached to monitors, and the nurses wouldn’t stay for small talk. In that position I did what I could to help move things along with exercises but it wasn’t until eight hours later that a ray of light came through… they had a shift change in the morning and in walked the doctor that delivered my daughter. She went to break my waters only to discover that I had none to break and it was a bit of a mystery as to when that had actually happened as nothing had been wet, even slightly, the whole time. But the action at least forced the contractions to start up again and finally things were moving. Until the nurse came in to hook me back up to monitors so I confronted her with the question “what’s wrong with the baby?” “His heart rate slows with each contraction. We believe the cord is around his neck.” All I could think about was how my brother was born the same way. In my mind a cord around the neck automatically meant c-section. But the doctor came in, helped me move, massaged my hands, talked me through it. “It would only be surgical if his heart rate dropped below a certain point…” and he was getting close. But then I got hit with a contraction that never stopped and the pain felt like my body was catching up for all the time it had wasted, like it was doing everything all at once to make up for eight hours of a stalled birth. It lasted minutes and never let up, I couldn’t move or speak, I could only breathe and focus. It was meant to be the big home run but then the doctor discovered his head was facing sideways and the only hope was for me to stop pushing and for him to turn.
They gave me a relaxant to stop the contraction, put me on an oxygen mask, but I told them they needed to give it time. I needed him to turn and he was going to but they needed to step back. But instead the doctor stepped forward and she helped me with position changes and whatever I wanted to try. Even to the point where my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I actually felt myself on the precipice of unconsciousness. He had taken his sweet time but at the last minute they were willing to spare he turned and out he came. The doctor stepped aside and his father was the one to catch him and cut his cord.
The whole experience took about sixteen hours (in a hospital room so cold my ice chips sat there for half the time and didn’t melt). Upset when she heard the staff hadn’t let me eat my doctor grabbed their pastry tray from their lounge and brought it for me before hanging out for a while, asking me questions about how my yoga experience had helped me through sixteen hours of difficult labour, while silently helping me get my son to latch.
I can’t put into words the power it took for me to go through that. I also can’t put into words the power it gave me in return. My second birth experience is where I found my new Strength.
Might I also mention… that doctor was the reason I became a doula!
Katherine Seiler is a 27 year old part time doula and full time single mom of two from Montreal. She enjoys spending time with her kids with impromptu dance parties in the kitchen, spontaneous yoga sessions, light saber battles, and bed time stories about genetics and the periodic table of elements. “We’re a slightly crazy and totally crunchy household and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”
Keep your child’s unique light shining. It’s too easily dimmed
As a child, I do not remember picking out my own clothes or doing my own hair. My mom did that, as she did everything, for me. I promise you, it came from a good place.
I have memories of school picture day. That was certainly not a time when I remember deciding how I wanted to present myself. My sister, who is three years older, and I still cringe about the years we were sent in matching dresses. But in some ways I’m grateful. Because look how AMAZING I looked. I could not have crimped my hair and put it up in that genie comb all on my own.
I had a moment this week, when I felt myself slipping into a place that might place more value on appearance than I like. I wanted to help my girl pick out matching clothes. I wanted to do her hair for her.
Maybe I was a more complacent child than she is. Maybe I legit didn’t care what I wore and was happy to be told what to do. That, I don’t remember. But I could tell with a few gentle comments, that my desire to control how my 7-year-old appeared moments before stepping out of the house, could easily dim her very bright light.
She decided on leopard pants and a flowered t-shirt. I asked if she wanted to wear something that matched. She looked disappointed or hurt and then quickly assured me that her outfit did match– leopards and flowers are both from nature. Boom. She didn’t say boom. So her outfit was intentional despite it not being matchy-match like her grandmother would have chosen.
I suggested we put water in her ringletty hair. She did and then slicked it into a ponytail. As I watched her tame her unruly mane, I felt my own insecurities as an adolescent with curly hair. And I heard my mother’s voice yammering about “the beautiful curls!” A phrase which undoubtedly led me to spend five years as an adult with a buzzcut.
Keep their light shining with yoga (excerpt from A Yogi Mama’s Guide to Yoga, Ayurveda & Your Child)
Our five- and six-year-old kids are in yoga classes saying, “Ooh, it hurts, I’m not flexible enough…” They are too young to feel this way. Too soon, they are losing flexibility in their bodies and in their minds. They are limiting themselves before they’re even in the first grade.
A few years earlier, they were quite literally sucking on their toes. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby pose) gets its name with good reason. A few years earlier, Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose) and Bhujangasana(Cobra pose) were a daily occurrence—even before they could walk.
We are born yogis. Born flexible, in every way. In a short time, we can quickly become rigid. Rigid in body, rigid in mind, rigid in spirit. Doing yoga as a child helps that not happen. When we keep a kid flexible, we are helping her become her best self. We are instilling confidence and helping her learn to follow herdharma (inner guidance).
I believe it is our duty as parents to keep our child’s shining light alive, as she grows and enters a society that mostly wants her to… blend in. If we do not extinguish our child’s light, but learn who she truly is, we can accompany her on her path, her dharma, every step of the way…
I would personally rather a kid whose clothes never matched in a conventional way, grow up overflowing with confidence, than a kid looking outside of herself at every turn, never quite sure if her instincts are good enough.