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Vancouver Doula (...and Slow Birth)

I help you to realize that you have the abilities, wisdom and courage to give birth. Birth is something that you know on a basic level. I just help you to access that knowledge. - Jacquie Munro

Updated: 2018-03-05T15:50:06.801-08:00


Slow Birth


This is the end of the line for this blog address.  Follow the path to  You'll find more doula, slow birth, slow parenting and slow living posts.  You'll also find more information on how I can help you along your own path.

(image) The births this month have been beautiful and surprising and powerful.  You might think that, after attending more than 1200 births over 28 years, I might have seen it all.  But I haven't by a long shot! These mothers and babies and families teach me something new every day. From a sweet girl who was born "face first" (so rare that most of us have only seen this once before) to a client who "pedalled" her way up and over the mountains of labour. Another new mum thanked me for helping her to see that birth doesn't have to be scary... after she breathed her daughter into her arms while floating in water.  And another client whispered, "Do you think anyone will believe me when I tell them how amazing it was?! Don't get me wrong, it was way bigger than I had imagined, but that was great!"

I am currently working with 4 clients per month, and still have some openings in October and December 2015, as well as January, March and beyond in 2016.  What's with busy February? Anyone???

We're off to Europe in August and September, so please get in touch before August 10th or we will have to have a "virtual interview" by email while I'm sitting in a little B&B in the Outer Hebrides or in a small cottage in Provence!

So, please walk on over to now! Thanks to Communications Designer Alanna Munro (aka ma belle-fille) for brainstorming new projects and services, and doing all the technical and design work that is beyond me.  I'll be rolling out new offerings soon enough. Until then, you'll find lots to read that you won't find anywhere else!  - Jacquie



After the deep bathwhere they breathed togetherAfter the rug from Azerbaijan has been rolled upThe deep red duvet coverripplesred waves spilling to the floorreminding me of an oil paintingI saw oncein a window in the MaraisPicture a man leaning over the textured fabricintentwatching for movementlooking for the outline of a legthe movement of a handHis eyes liftHe looks at meThere is a soundIs it purring?Yes"like a tiger" he whispers"like a lioness across the plain" I whisperYesShe is labouring in her cavefar from usunder the fabrichair clinging to her foreheadlike a toddler's hair clings to his neckafter a napWe have our hands lighton pulse pointshand touching anklehand touching wriststillnessLight crosses from the window to the bedLionessLightAnd the baby is comingAs the cherry treesspill confetti onto the sidewalk outside- Jacquie Munro  (Thanks to Grace's mum and dad for being present and slow for her birth)[...]

On peat, kelp, the blowing wind, the white sand, and our DNA


I've been doing a lot of family research this month, in preparation for the next bucket-list trip with my husband. This trip will take us back in time, to the Outer Hebrides, to Stornoway, to the Isle of Berneray. It might take a year or more to even begin to understand this place where the Munros were "born", but we will get there.  I'm looking forward to standing, in our "weatherproof" gear, on a white sand beach, holding onto each other, face to face, hoods touching, eyes bright, hanging on for dear life in a 65 mph gale!The peat, the kelp, the blowing wind and the white sand are in my husband's DNA, and I love that part of him the best! However distant Berneray is in time and space, the struggles and joys of the Munros come from there, and I need to fully understand the place to fully understand him, us as a couple, and our children (the work never stops). How is this connected to birthing, parenting and family? In every way.I've been reading the Scottish census records, right back to the early 1800s, discovering large families - husband (Head) and wife (Farmer's wife), with sons and daughters - up to 13 children living with their parents in thatched blackhouses on small crofts on windswept islands on the edge of the "civilized" world.  On the tiny Isle of Berneray, Harris, each family had a herd of sheep, a few highland cows, and a few acres of machair fertilized with dung and kelp, gathered from the beach by the family, for growing the Berneray potatoes that taste like the soil and the sea. On good days, they could fish in the calmer waters of the eastern shore. In 1851, there were just a couple of hundred people (really only about 20 families) living on Berneray in rented crofts. They were cleared from the land a few years later by the landowner and were flung away like sand. Some headed north, some south, and some crossed the seas to North America and Australia.Our children are their great great great grandchildren.Did these women and men have time to consider their preparedness for each new baby?  How did they cope with the work load of caring for so many children? How did they cope with the fragile nature of their own life? their children's lives? Did they lie awake every night wondering what would happen to their children if they contracted consumption or pneumonia? Did the workload wash away their sadness? Or did it make it worse? Their joys and losses were no less powerful than our joys and losses.They had jobs to do. Life was hard. They sang. They got things done. They had to. They figured things out. They worked cooperatively with the other families. The mothers nursed their babies. The older children went down to the sea to gather kelp or muck out the byre. The seasons and the weather dictated what needed to be done. right. now. These women strapped their babies onto their bodies and just headed outside into the wind.This is a wind that blows so hard that you can hardly open the door.Today, birthing a baby is still the hardest thing that you will ever do. It rocks you to your core. Your body, which takes 9 months to make a baby, takes twice that time to physically recover afterwards.  Imagine doing that 10 times or more. (Maybe you'd be happy when your husband left to join the militia. He might leave for years to live on the mainland in barracks, but you might just have a few years free of pregnancies.)Today...when you approach the birth of your second child or third child, you worry whether you will get your body back, or whether that 10 extra pounds will really be yours to carry always as a reminder of your last baby. As a man you wonder how you will balance work and family. Will you need a new car? Will you lose your autonomy, your dreams, your old self? Will you lose your connection to your love, the person you married? Will you lose your couple-bond in midst of daily chores and the continual work load of caring for children in this fast-paced world? Will you emerge stronger together? Will you emer[...]

Why I Love Maps


Why do I love maps? Why would I never use GPS?It’s all about the story.For me, the journey tells a story – as important as the destination. GPS is just about the destination – its clinical precision can be both boring and utterly wrong. When you can read a map well, you are able to tease out the stories in the landscape. You can see how the new road follows an old riverbed, skirts an iron-age fort, or marches ramrod straight along a Roman road. You can see how a town lies on a raised beach, even though it is now 10 miles inland.In my work as a doula, I see each woman as a having unique body map for each pregnancy. My job is to read the map of the woman and help her navigate the journey. How does her past inform her present body and its response in labour? I read the tightness here, the release there. I follow the path of the acceptance or the fight. The emotional wounds rise up like a raised beach. It is all visible and easily read unless a piece of the map is missing. I can search for months for that missing piece.  I read the journey of the body and the baby, the traveller.Where did this love of maps, of the landscape and of the body, come from? It all started (as it always does) in childhood.I was trained in map-reading by my dad. He was a cartographer and artist (with a love of geology), and I remember sitting beside him at his drafting board adding trees to the UBC map he was working on. He taught me how maps were created, how he would layer transparencies over the base. He taught me how to read the layers like a story, and how to make the two dimensional world turn into 3D in my mind. Whenever we went on road trips, he would put my brother and me in charge of the map and the AAA book, and we would act as navigators from the backseat. We could read contour lines, read the glacial effects on the landscape, call out igneous! and sedimentary!, then point out all the 3-star motels with swimming pools. In the winter, we would read Country Life magazines, and write longhand letters to faraway places to request information. We would write to consulates and visit the BCAA to collect maps, and study study study. I can still smell those new maps. I could visualize (and connect with) what a bird must see and feel flying over the British countryside. My dad’s descriptions and the map contours turned into real images in my head. Then, when we landed in the UK  in 1966 (after an emergency landing in sulfuric Iceland), I remember seeing the patchwork green fields and being amazed that it was exactly as my dad had described. “Look at the tiny cars!” he would say, as we were circling the airport. “They look like ants!” I was hooked on maps, hooked on changes in perception, hooked on travel.My dad told stories of escaping grimy Manchester and cycling through Derbyshire with friends in the late 1930s, following metal signposts to places like Pott Shrigley (all signs point to Pott Shrigley – I know!), camping in farmer’s fields, then riding up to the Cat and Fiddle Pub on top of a peak and watching the smokey towns below. He would show me the map and tell me stories that brought the Peak District to life, from the plague village of Eyam, to the moveable landscape of Chatsworth House. My mother would add stories of the midwives (who taught prenatal yoga in the 1950s) riding their bikes from house to house in the village, and I would trace my finger over the lines on the map and imagine myself riding my bike along those lines. (Did my wish to attend births start then?)Fast forward to 1982, when Bob and I took our first overseas trip together. By that time, we both felt like veteran European travelers  (8 trips between us, and he had lived there with his intrepid family in the 1960s). So we combined our passions and skills and headed off. We went to the places that we had loved as children – to “Squirrel’s Wood” in Elstead, where he had lived, to the Yorkshire Dales where his dad had been stationed during the S[...]

A note from Teddy's mama


Lyndsay's birth was an emotional triumph. It had been a challenging pregnancy, but she faced it one day at a time.  She gathered together her team - family, friends, doula, doctor. On the sunny birthing day, my memory is of so many women (including her sister, as well as her dear friend who had also been my client) - our hands, our quiet voices, and our hearts, helping Lyndsay through the waves. I say waves because most of her time at the hospital was spent in the bath. Low toning, the splash of the water...our are are safe... Those are my memories of the day.  I don't think her eyes ever opened until her son was born into her arms, and then...what joy! Her birth was open, raw, supported, undisturbed. It was a day that I will never forget!Here are Lyndsay's words describing how I helped her on that day...and how we are still connected now:Jacquie is an incredible woman. Her strength, knowledge, compassion, empathy, understanding, calm, wisdom and experience carried me through my nine months of pregnancy. I had a particularly rough one, emotionally, as at the time I was on my own. Jacquie was never judgemental, always empathetic to the diversity and complexity of humans. She always, always had words that were so wise and thoughtful, words which would would allow me to feel supported and just a little bit stronger. I called her many times in tears, unsure if I could do it, overwhelmed by the uncertainty of my situation and the unknown world of pregnancy and childbirth. The day of my son's birth arrived and Jacquie led me through every contraction, movement, sound, emotion, sensation. It was her words that calmed me and allowed me to realize that my body was just doing its thing. "Feels crazy but it's safe." She would tell me I was safe, that my body was doing what it was meant to be doing, that even though it felt like I was trying to pass a bowling ball out of my vagina that this feeling, this immense and unbelievable physical pressure, was normal. I felt no fear - I closed my eyes, gave in to these unknown sensations and knew I was in a safe place. Just had to move through. I must have crushed Jacquie's hand about 50 times through the labour. After it was all over Jacquie told me she knew from the moment she met me that my birth would be as it was: powerful, strong, no complications. I apparently birthed like a champ. I needed to feel that - I needed that insane strength, to feel that power of being a woman warrior, to overcome my emotional and personal sadness and to embrace labour and birth. I thank Jacquie for this. Jacquie will forever remain a huge part of my memory of my pregnancy and birth experience! She was also so helpful in postpartum -nursing issues and ongoing personal issues - and I truly felt cared for by her. I can't recommend Jacquie enough!Go to DoulaMatch to read a few more "testimonials" from my many amazing clients!- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula, Slow BirthPhoto Credit: Jonetsu Photography[...]

What does it take to have an intervention-free birth?


(Laughing at 5cm)According to a Perinatal Services BC report, in the first quarter of 2013 almost 1 in 3 (31.7%) women in BC gave birth by cesarean section, and 1 in 5 women (20.1%) were induced. These are the highest rates of cesarean and induced deliveries ever recorded in BC and it forces me to reflect on how things have changed over the past 26 years.I just re-read the Statistics Canada paper (1996) "Declining Cesarean Rates: A Continuing Trend?" and felt a twinge of nostalgia. Take a look at the study. The cesarean rate in BC during my first year as a doula (1987) was 21.9%, and a few years later in 1992 and 1993 the rate was declining! At that time, there was hope that the overall cesarean rate would continue to drop, with the goal of reaching the World Health Organization's recommended "medically warranted" cesarean rate of 10-15%. One local study (Janssen, Klein and Soolsma, 2001) found that Burnaby Hospital had a cesarean rate of 10.3% in 1995, which was appreciably less than the BC Women's Hospital rate of 22.9% (less than half an hour's drive away). They concluded that "Differences in use of epidural analgesia may contribute to differences in institutional rates of cesarean delivery. Use of epidural analgesia may be related to use of ambulation, consistency of caregiver during labor, availability of epidural, and suggestion for its use by caregivers." What does this mean for birthing women? It means, as more recent studies suggest, that inductions and epidurals – technology that have become more and more common throughout my years of doula practice – are influencing the rising cesarean rate.But why are inductions and epidurals more common now than two decades ago? What has shifted in the past 26 years in the general population? I'm currently working on compiling and analyzing the statistics for my first 1000 clients and it looks as though their intervention rates have been consistent over time. Just to give you a snapshot of recent births, of my 18 clients in the first quarter of 2013, the cesarean rate was 5.5% (1), the induction rate was 11.1% (2), and the rate of epidural use was 22% (4). Here’s what happened:The lone client who gave birth by cesarean was over 40 and had been induced at 40 weeks. (Have you heard of the 40 at 40 trend? What are your thoughts?)The second induced client had prolonged ruptured membranes and gave birth without any other interventions - almost birthing her baby in the bathroom!Two of the four epidurals were planned in advance, due to non-pregnancy-related medical conditions.Among other clients who used analgesia, one woman was given a shot of morphine and gravol (and gave birth without complications or any other medications) and two women used nitrous oxide gas after reaching 8cm dilation (and while remaining mobile).Without an induction or epidural, how did 78% (14/18) of my clients manage the power of their labour? Are my stats low because my clients are highly motivated to avoid interventions? Do they all deliver at home or with midwifery care? Do they avoid cultural messages that describe birth as risky and dangerous? Maybe the women in 2013 are totally different than in the 1980s. Twenty-six years ago, the average age of birthing women was much lower than today. So are the high cesarean, epidural, and induction rates in BC related to the increase in older first-time mothers? That could be true. But, the majority of my clients are well over age 30, with 22% over age 40. So that idea doesn't explain the low intervention rates among my clients (though I’m going to explore the influence of age and other potential sociodemographic confounders in my case series analysis).And, yes, my clients would all love to avoid a cesarean. But, those who are planning a home birth are the first to acknowledge that they don't know what their body or their baby will need on the "b[...]

Texting: Trends in Doula Life


One more thing...she now officially hates being on her back. She will sleep so peacefully on us then the second we put her down she goes nuts. :) Oh the questions.That is just one of the text messages that I've received this week. Day or night, weekday or weekend (as my husband will attest!) the messages flow in from clients who are pregnant, newly birthed, or even facing their first nursing strike at 6 months!I quickly reply by text, which releases a flurry of iPhone alert sounds. Um...I'd better phone her.  My husband and I are good at taking long walks arm in arm, communicating by hand signals, while I'm calming a client on the phone. Forty-five minutes later, I hang up, confident that we have covered all of today's fears (at 41+ weeks, with no baby in sight, there's a lot to cover!) (p.s. She went into spontaneous labour the next day!)Each morning, I check in with my clients who have just given birth. Many times, it's an opening move of an hour long phone chat.  Other times, my text "How was your night?" or "How's breastfeeding going today?" results in these responses from new mamas...Breast feeding is pretty good, working on getting a better and more productive latch but overall she feeds great. She is already above her birth weight! (mama at 3 days)orHad a phenomenal night. 3 feeds each 3 hrs apart and she went straight back to sleep. It was bliss. (mama at 6 days)orShe seems inconcolable at night she will feed well at 10 then sleep three hours then one hour naps I'm exhaused (mama at 13 days)Some women need to see their midwife, family doctor, or lactation consultant, or they might need the name of a good postpartum doula service. Which one above do you think needed a referral? But most women just need to hear me say "I hear you".  Jacquie pep talks are famous! You've breastfed successfully before. Confidence (even if you fake it) is key, because your baby is a sponge for feelings. If you're calm, she'll be calm. If you're freaking out...well... (Day 1)Trust your instincts and keep her skin to skin and nursing as much as humanly possible today and tonight. (Day 2) Anticipate another mega feeding (aka breastfeeding bootcamp) night. Try to beat 12 feeds in 24 hours then your milk should be in tomorrow. (Day 3)Just a reminder that no baby will self-wean before 18 months. Anything that appears like rejection is probably a short-lived nursing strike. Is he teething? Please call me. (7 months)But it's not just the women who send me text messages.  The dads, the partners, the grandmothers, the midwives, the lactation consultants and the family docs - they all check in. Because this is a team effort!Hopefully she will feel good about the experience and her decision making. (Family doctor after a birth)Sounds like still early labour but progressing... (snippet of long family doctor update about a client at home)Or I will send an update to the client's caregiver (with their permission):She's thrilled that something is happening. We had a good walk. I came home for dinner. I'll check in with her in a bit. I hope it's tonight! (41 weeks, and baby was born before breakfast.)When one physician heard that I connect with postpartum clients and caregivers by text, he said, "I like to go the old-fashioned way and meet them face to face." Oh, absolutely! I agree that face to face is best, but is it practical on a daily basis? Does it meet the clients' needs? When a breastfeeding mama is curled up on a sofa and wants to know if she can bath her baby, is it really best to bundle up the baby into a carseat and take a trip across town for a 5 minute doctor visit?Many postpartum questions do not require a medical visit. Sometimes, just a woman to woman (aka doula) chat is needed. Often, postpartum women just need me to say, "It's a crazy ride, but it's normal!" Face to face is best, but I can also offer an immediate virtual hug via [...]

Conversations with babies


I was at a home birth many years ago. The new mother had nursed the baby, and was just drying off after showering (and chatting to her husband about what had just happened!), while I was quietly tidying the bedroom. As the parents came out of the bathroom, shining and clean, the midwife approached the baby, who was lying in a moses basket. With the parents' permission, the midwife was going to do the newborn exam. She leaned close to the baby, and said something like..."Hello - I'm Patti. I'd like to pick you up and weigh you and measure you." She waited a moment, then gently picked up the baby. Each movement during the newborn exam was preceded by an explanation of what she was doing. She moved slowly. She held the baby respectfully. "Babies are not fragile, but they are vulnerable," she explained to the new dad, as she moved her finger along the baby's spine. The baby was engaged, focused on Patti's words. The baby was content to be weighed and measured by these calm hands, washed by calm words. I had always spoken to my own babies and clients' babies as people, as equals, but what Patti was doing took it to another level. "I'm going to put a diaper on you now (pause)..." She provided ample time for the baby to take in her request and respond. She was asking the baby to be a partner in a conversation, right from birth. She was also modeling a wonderful slow parenting method which the parents then continued with their baby as he grew.When Jack and Finn were newborns, I didn't want to interrupt their time with their mum and dad by holding them too much (unless a parent had been "touched out" and needed a quiet moment in the bathroom!). Before picking one up, I would tell him what I was going to do and pause for a (then silent) response. I still go through a day with the boys, telling them what will happen next, what we've just done, and how our day will flow. The rhythm helps them to make sense of their world, and shows that we respect their need to understand the world. They are active, and now very vocal, participants in the conversation. "We'll go to grandmama's house, and then she will give us scones!" How we parent our babies at birth flows through the toddler, then preschool, then school years. Everything is connected.Montessori teachers have practiced this for a long time. Michael Olaf says, "Gentle handling from birth on also builds trust in the world. Talk to the child gently, explaining what you are doing as you dress and change him. Provide soft clothing, peace, and soft lights, in the first days as the child is getting used to the world outside the womb. We can learn to listen to the sounds a baby makes, to watch quietly, observe, see what the child is trying to tell us, and to get to know this unique human, giving the message that the child is cherished and the world is a safe place." Rudolf Steiner stated that a newborn is a "sense-organ" (she is a sponge for touch and sound and movement and taste). Parents should pay close attention to the sensual input surrounding their newborn, limiting their time outside in loud traffic or having noisy toys in the first years. Babies take some time to "come into their body", so our words and movements and their environment should be respectful and calm. I especially love Rahima Baldwin's book, "You are Your Child's First Teacher", which points to practical ways to bring this gentle Waldorf approach into your home.  It was only after about two years that Jack and Finn were able to process the overwhelming sensory input of a crowded space. Slow and quiet outdoor green spaces were more their style, and we respected and honoured their needs by keeping the pace slow for a few years. Magda Gerber, one of the founders of RIE, the new "hot" (and slow parenting) approach, said “We not only respect babies, we demonstrate our respect every time we int[...]

The Lumineers playing...


A woman spiraling
a partner drawing
a woman in the shower
a cat watching
a doula holding
a fan blowing
a strong woman
a boy crying
a midwife whispering
a bird singing
a grandma helping
a boy in the rain
a lost cat
a push
a pant
a baby at home!

(Photo courtesy of dad Chad Smith. Extra love always to mum Carie. Love to midwives Gillian and Carolyn and Patti. Hugs to grandma Smith and big brother Bruce, the boy in the rain...and the cats. And kisses to bonny Alice.)

Cascade of interventions in first-time mothers with term births who experienced labour


Today, the report "Listening to Mothers III: Pregnancy and Birth" was released. I saw that the data suggested that the highest percentage of cesareans came from the induction group. Their chart is below:


I looked at my own data from the past 12 months (N=30) for first-time mothers at term who experienced labour (so gone are the multip births, the scheduled cesareans for placenta previa, the premature births, etc.) Of the 87% of clients who did not have an induction, there were NO cesareans. Of the 13% of clients who had inductions, 100% of them had epidurals and 50% of those women had cesareans. Overall, of the 30 clients who fit the criteria (two were at home), the epidural rate was 40% and the overall cesarean rate was 13%. The numbers are small, but they still closely mirror the large study. Interesting stuff.

I will publish my complete stats for the past few years soon, and will tease out some more of the interesting results, including VBACs (I believe the past year's VBAC success rate was 100%), home birth stats, and more.


"I see someone has been food shopping!"


“I see someone has been food shopping!”One little sentence spoken by one little boy, In an epic pose, Hand on hip,Peering into my fridge.We just looked at each other Eyes shiningAnd we laughed!It was a simple statement.At three years old, Finn knows that his Dagum (Grandad) and I (Deecy) keep quite an empty fridge. We tend to do European-style daily shopping for our meals - whatever we can carry home in baskets or on my bike. We eat very well. He was just genuinely surprised to see that we’d filled the fridge before he (and Jack, of course) arrived for a sleepover.But, what if an adult had said that to me? Would those words have been interpreted as a comment on my (lack of) organizational skills? If I had just announced a pregnancy, or embarked on a postpartum weight loss challenge, think of the potential impact. My confidence would have been shaken. I might even remember the comment for a lifetime.“Does she think I bought the wrong stuff? Is she going to critique me on my fruit purchases? Do I have too much dairy? Too much carbs? I shouldn’t be eating meat…or maybe I should? So glad she didn’t open the freezer! She just eats nuts and seeds.”Yes, Finn’s innocent comment started me thinking about how much we read into what other people say to us, especially when we are pregnant. “What was she implying when she said that?” “Was he judging me?” The resulting guilt and loss of confidence can really shake us to the core. I still remember the sleepless nights spent thinking about my weight gain (or lack thereof) and eating habits (or urges) during my pregnancies, just as clearly as if it was yesterday. At 16 weeks in my first pregnancy, I had a nutritional consultation at our local health unit. I’d had to record my food intake for a week.  “Not enough cheese, I see,” said the nutritionist, shaking her head. “Not enough crackers. You’ll have to add more snacks throughout the day – cheese and crackers.” She looked me in the eye. I’m sure she would have been fine if I ate something different, but I spent the rest of my pregnancy scouting out different cheeses and something other than Carr’s water biscuits.I had an obstetrician (for no particular reason). At 35 weeks, he said, “Let’s see if you’ve grown this week.” Yes, there were italics in his voice. All I could think was, “Didn’t I grow last week? What’s with the emphasis?” I went home and worried. At 38 weeks, I was sent for an ultrasound "for suspected IUGR"...growth RETARDATION???, and told to expect a baby under six pounds at birth, and told to eat more.At 40 weeks, I stood on the scale so the nurse could weigh me. I had gained fifteen pounds in a week! “Oh, my!” said the nurse. “You’ve been eating some good meals this week!” I looked down, shocked, but then I started laughing. I was holding heavy shopping bags in each hand! It wasn’t until I was home that I felt the true absurdity of the situation. If I had been able to weigh myself (or even been given the right to NOT be weighed) like an autonomous healthy adult, I certainly wouldn’t be recalling this event 26 years later! No one ever asked about our food habits. No one knew that we rode our bikes to Granville Island to buy our food, cooked wonderful meals, and grew our own summer vegetables.Just to let you know…at birth, my daughter was a happy chunky 8.5 pounds…cheese or no cheese.In contrast, during my second pregnancy, I was in charge of my chart. I wrote down my weight (if I liked) and checked my urine myself before each prenatal visit.  I was treated as an adult. I was trusted. We talked about nutrition, sharing recipes and ideas and laughing about the comedy of pregnancy. No judgment. No pronouncements. All the comments were positive. “Oh, what a bonny [...]

The Garden and the Family


When I joined my husband's family, I found that I had to learn a new language...latin! All his sisters seemed to be avid gardeners and would chatter about moving the pieris japonica, or the joys of alchemilla mollis (I love showing children how the rain drops glisten on this plant, also known as Lady's Mantle). Three of us were pregnant at the same time, and we would dig and plant flowers and vegetables at the family cabin as our bellies grew, after our babies were born, and as our extended family expanded. Pregnancy strengthened our need to nurture the gardens.As my love of birth grew, so did my bookshelves fill with gardening books that linked women's bodies and plants, from Herbal Healing for Women to Susun Weed's Wise Woman's Herbal, The Complete Book of Herbs, Plants of Coastal British Columbia (great on car trips!) and Michael Pollan's books, the first of which was my favourite, Second Nature.  I discovered that the Lady's Mantle that I loved has been used since medieval times as a medicinal herb, and rainwater collected in the leaves was used for its alleged magical powers. I never tested its use as a tea to reduce excessive period bleeding, but I like knowing that women in the past had used this plant for that purpose.Crawling on hands and knees, digging and dividing in the perennial garden, helped me to turn my son from posterior to anterior.  Squatting and weeding between the vegetable rows helped prepare me for my daughter's birth. There's no sitting still when you have a growing garden! Sheila Kitzinger's daughter laboured in her garden and held trees as she pushed. My own clients have laboured on hillsides in the dark, in Queen Elizabeth Park by the flowers, leaning on trees, and squatting on the grass. Many birthing centres in warm climates encourage women to labour in gardens specifically landscaped for labour and birth. This "Birth in Nature" video shows a woman whose labour is entirely outdoors.One Master Gardener, Donna Guillemin, opened my eyes to the "art" of gardening, and the world of Plant Spirit Medicine. While I would work in my garden, raising my children and attending births, she would (seemingly magically) help clients of mine to conceive, or cure their PUPPS, or relieve their anxiety. She would send them (or me) to Finlandia Pharmacy or Gaia Garden for tinctures and teas, if her own tinctures and teas weren't quite what was needed.Fast forward to today - and we have two more helpers, Jack and Finn, in the garden. They have changed the soundscape of my mother's garden - windchimes, stellar's jays and shrieks of laughter are now heard over the sound of the sprinkler. They are also learning to ask if they're pulling out a weed or a plant, or if the berry they hold in their hands is a "bird berry" or a "people berry". We pull and squat and crawl in the dirt and work hard and play hard together. From age 3 to 89, our family work together in the garden, connecting to the earth and each other.Do we garden safely? Pregnant or not, we try to remember to wear our gloves (or at least have a good soap and water wash at the end of a gardening session), and take precautions to avoid toxoplasmosis or chemicals, and avoid strains or sprains. But any potential risks of gardening during pregnancy (or postpartum or otherwise) are far outweighed by the positive emotional, physical and spiritual benefits (check out the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association for more). Our gardens in Point Roberts, Tsawwassen, and Vancouver have nurtured four generations of our family. They have helped our babies turn into the perfect position, strengthened our legs for labour, watched us nurse our babies on the grass, calmed our minds when we've been anxious, and cleared [...]

Doula Myths...and the Reality


Oh, those urban doula myths...they just keep circulating...

Myth #1: 
I'm always fully booked. 
The reality: I usually have openings! Many clients call as soon as they're pregnant, but, it's never too early nor too late to call. Sometimes, clients birth early (or move away), making room for a last-minute client. So, please email or phone me and we can have a good chat!

Myth #2:
I work with 7-10 clients per month. 
The reality: Eek! I'm a busy doula, but not because I work with that many clients.  I actually book an average of 4 clients per month (to a maximum 50 births a year). That way, I am able to attend 98% of my client's births each year, and rarely need a back-up doula. (In fact, my last missed birth was in September 2011, when I was in Europe.)

Why the myths might have started:
Myth #1: Yes, I am often fully booked within a month or two of a due date, so please call early.
Myth #2: Yes, there are some rare months when I might attend six births. Earlier this year, one baby was born at 32 weeks, one at 38, one at 40, and another at 42 weeks - all in a 6 day period. Then two more babies came the very next week. Nature has a wry sense of humour. My "4 births a month" can be theoretical at times.

Deeper into the reality:
So, with just four booked clients a month, I often do short "tea visits" before a client books me. Then I make two prenatal visits with each family in their home...and I might squeeze in an extra visit if a client would benefit from the extra care in the final anxious weeks.  I also allow lots of time for postpartum visits, and any extra breastfeeding help that might be needed. Yes, I often have to reschedule some visits so I can attend a birth, but that's the way birth works. It's random. It's unexpected. It's also amazing.

Going slow:
Because I walk, cycle, or car2go to client visits in a small catchment area, there's a natural slow pace to each day. Today, my first prenatal visit was at 9am, but I was able to chat with another postpartum client on the phone as I walked over.  Then I walked to Matchstick to warm up before my second "repeat client" visit, while answering new client emails. Later, I talked with some postpartum clients before popping over to see another family for their first prenatal visit. All told, I had three client visits today, and connected with another 11 clients.

Yours forever:
11 client chats in a day? That's right. I always tell my clients that "I'm yours forever", so I do spend time each day connecting with former clients, answering their questions, brainstorming, and talking about breastfeeding, parenting, sleep!, growth spurts, baby-led weaning, and more sleep! It keeps me current, connected. And I hope each client comes away feeling uplifted, confident that she can trust her instincts and her baby.

Slow and Simple Parenting:
I keep current with "the boys," my twin grandsons. I'm with them on Wednesdays...and as much as I can between client visits.

So, please don't hesitate - give me a call. If I don't pick up right away, I might just be slowly riding my bike to a client visit. Or I might be bike riding to Jericho Beach with the boys. Yes, I'm a busy doula. But be assured, I'll call you as soon as I pull over!

The Possible Effect of Yaletown Condo Living on Labour Length


Pssst. I think I have discovered a secret formula for birth. I know, I know, every labour is unique and distinct, and you just can't apply a formula to birth. But, this has worked so many times recently that it's blogworthy. Here's the secret:Take one new condo with a view of the water (False Creek, especially).Add one spacious and powerful shower.Add one first-time labouring woman whose contractions have just dipped under the 5 minute mark.Take one doula who says, "I will sit silently on the floor outside this door so you can labour undisturbed. I hope you will be able to stay in the shower for at least 45 minutes. I won't disturb you, but I will respond to you if you express a feeling or a need or ask me a question. But remember these words. Trust your body. Trust your baby. You are strong. You are spiraling your baby down, down and through. You are open, wide open."Take one partner who says, "I will make sure everything is ready for you when you need to come out of the shower. I will put towels in the dryer for you, and place the clothes you will need on our bed. I will not disturb you. I will be here when you need me. I trust you, I trust our baby, and I trust your body."Add filtered sunlight through a crack in the door.Add liquids and food within easy reach.Add the sounds of an iTunes playlist created by the woman, her partner, or loved ones.Gradually, add the apparent dissolution of time and space.Add one fast elevator and a short drive to the hospital (or the arrival of two midwives at home)...and the addition of a baby soon after with very little (okay...maybe a little) drama.Okay...there's more to Step 10, but you get the idea. I've just had such luck lately with condo labours, with unlimited showers, beautiful views of the water, no disturbance, a fast elevator ride, and a short drive to the hospital (if planned) with few stop lights. And, recently, one woman never made it out of the quiet dark space, and gave birth on her bathroom floor (yes, her midwife was there).Am I just in the middle of a statistical blip that balances the challenging births, or am I onto something here?I pulled the info from my database, and was truly surprised to discover the high percentage of women living in the tall condos around False Creek (think Yaletown, Crosstown, Fairview, Olympic Village, etc.) who have had relatively short labours requiring limited technology or assistance. Okay, I'm not just imagining things. But why are these labours going so well???Perhaps, it's the women who live in condos in Vancouver? Okay...I'll give you that one.Perhaps, it's the unlimited hot water.  I have had similar experiences with women who have laboured at home in tiny basement suites with flash hot water heaters. But, it's rare to have a flash heater in a single family dwelling in Vancouver.Perhaps, it's the speedy elevators. One study linked a fast elevator ride with a reduction in cesareans (strangely, the working theory was the elevator ride to the OR somehow repositioned the baby, resulting in the cancellation of the surgery).Perhaps, it's the ability of these women to remain undisturbed high up in a concrete condo. No one knocks unannounced if you live on the 23rd floor. There are no mail carriers tromping up your stairs. No garbage trucks barreling down the lane. No neighbours to worry about. We know that disturbance can slow down a labour (we've seen the effects of jackhammers in the hospital during renovations and a labour speeding up after the roofers go home for the day).Perhaps, the answer is as simple as one word. Many women have said the word "spiraling" had a huge impact on their labour. "I saw myself as being calm, zen, quiet, in the middle of a storm[...]

A Lesson from Nardia


With maturity there comes

that there is darkness at birth

Walk with it. Respect it. Never forget it.

But do not make your choices
out of fear
of the darkness

Trust birth



1000 Births


A baby called Wyn was born this week, and in that moment I reached 1000 births.Wyn is connected to all those 1000 births through his mother, through me. Every birth, every woman, has left me with a lesson, a memory...something that has helped the next woman and baby. One touch of the hand connects us.It's not a straight chain. It's a wonderful, tangled, messy linking of hands. But birth is wonderful and that's just about right.Someone asked how I'm sure I've reached 1000 births. I've kept a record of every birth that I've attended, every family, and all their connections, right from the first birth I attended in 1987. At first, my notes were written in a coil binder. Blue cursive writing. Now, I have my complete database on my MacBook. It's organized, but not as much fun to read through as those early binders, stuffed with baby photos and years of Christmas cards showing taller and taller children.But there's one part of the dry database that I love to study - the connections. Wyn's mother is connected to Evan's mother through me...and Kian's mother through work...on and on...interwoven connections, through three generations. I'm now a grandmother. My first clients' babies are grown up and are starting to have babies. I have attended the births of all the women in some families. I have learned so much from this community of 1000 women.I love running into them on my rounds..."Hi Beth!" (on Granville Island, as I run to grab a car to head downtown to visit a week old baby and his mum)  "Hi Sarah!" (at Elysian Coffee while I meet someone new). Even after the babies are born, I try to keep those links strong. "Beth - I have another client who's interested in EC." or "Tara...I have a client who would dearly love to hear from you." then "Leigh...someone might be calling you." We are always making more connections.After 1000 births (there's more than 1000 babies - think twins!), you'd think that the births would blur together. But, nope.  I have lightbulb memories of each and every woman who has given birth. It's never usually the moment of birth.  It's often the memory of a sound "shhhhhhh, ha ha ha, shhhhh"...or the memory of the smell of ylang ylang in the tub...or the glorious snapshot of how she threw a scarf around her neck as she grabbed the keys and ran out into the snow at 7 centimetres.  A thousand connected images stretching back 25 years. Each one, a lesson.2012 was strange. The most challenging births started to coming one by one as summer (and birth 1000) approached. Everything seemed to slow right down.  I was forced to take notice, be aware. I couldn't write about any of it. I just had to live it. It was like the birth gods knew I could handle new and unusual scenarios now. So they came.One. at. a. time.The births were messy and tangled and, in the end, in the end, the drama ended. The stitches have healed. A boy called Finn has a new heart. The preemies are home. The babies have safely left the NICU. They are all at home, in their mum's arms. But the emotions are still swirling.So, I will leave the story-telling of these births for another time. Right now, I'm weaving one memory from each of these births into the memories of all the other 1000 births. Making connections and giving thanks. And I'm hoping that birth 1001 will be smooth...- Jacquie Munro, Slow Birth, Vancouver Doula**With so many thanks to the 1000 mums...and dads and babies and families and friends...who have held my hands and taught me for 25 years.**In memory of Dr. Kerry Telford Morrissey and Debra Karby, who are woven into our hearts.** Thanks to Adam and Ever, for the photo of their hands.[...]

The challenge of slow birth


I spent today delivering the new Slow Birth doula cards to different practitioners' offices. One supportive physician read the words "slow birth", and laughed - "Some of our doctors won't like that...they're always talking about births that are progressing too slowly!" ...slow...birth...These words might prove challenging for some people. I am an example of Slow Birth. I think maybe, just maybe, after over a quarter century as a doula, I'm starting to understand birth. It has been a slow gradual process. Each birth teaches me what I need to know for the next birth. Birth forces me to slow down, then stop, then really look at it. I feel like I'm just starting to fully appreciate the nuance of birth. It shakes me and demands my respect.I have heard some people say that I know birth. I don't. None of us can truly know birth, because each birth is totally different.  But, I know this much - Birth takes its time. Birth is challenging in every way. Birth doesn't respond easily to control or what we want. Birth loves surprises....slow...birth...So, think about it. Slow Birth is not about having a slow labour, or having a fast labour. Slow Birth is about honouring birth and surrendering to the rhythm of the body and the baby.Slow Birth reminds me to take whatever time is needed to prepare each family for the early years of parenting. This takes time. Time on the phone. Time in person. Time texting back and forth. Time talking, laughing, crying. Every client requires a different approach. This is not a conveyor belt. It's not textbook. It is a creative process. It is bespoke. It is organic. It is slow.As a Slow Birth doula, my job is to remain aware, to remain flexible, to read the body, to translate its messages, to listen to each woman and family, to remind each woman that she can trust her body, to help her draw on her life lessons, to help her build her own community. Slow Birth, as an extension of the slow movement, is my commitment to each doula client and her family to nurture stronger connections, and to discover each family's pace, each family's needs.  Slow Birth is about supporting the birth of each family with time and care. Ultimately, the aim is to help clients build their own connections within their community, slow down, and enjoy the first years of family life together. Whatever is long as it takes...that's what Slow Birth is about. - Jacquie Munro - Slow Birth, Vancouver Doula[...]

On Surfing...and Facebook...


(image) Googling during pregnancy can be a big bad scary activity.  For sanity's sake, I encourage clients to avoid general googling of pregnancy topics at this time.  I do, however, encourage clients to become informed about birth, breastfeeding and parenting. How can you filter all the information? My favourite books and research resources are linked on my site, so that's a great place to start.

But, another easy way to have a steady flow of current research and opinions and an overview of "best practice" is to "like" some of the great sites below on Facebook. And don't forget to bookmark the best birth and parenting websites that I have linked in the sidebar (for those burning questions at 4am!)

In no particular order, here are some recent articles/sites/videos that I recommend:

The Alpha Parent The Timeline of a Breastfed Baby
KellyMom (!!!) Sleeping Through the Night
Lakeshore Medical Breastfeeding Clinic (Dr Jen) Just One Bottle and Breastfed Newborn Weight Loss
TED Talks The Shocking Truth about your Health and What We Learn Before We're Born and The Linguistic Genius of Babies
NPR What's Behind A Temper Tantrum?
Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab Dr James McKenna
Infant Sleep as a Public Health Issue (10 parts) Dr Wendy Hall
Mothering Car Seats are for Cars

These are some great Facebook pages that you can "Like":
Power To Push (Best Birth Clinic)
Family Practice Maternity Service (BirthDocs)
Science & Sensibility

Enjoy the surf! More to come...

12 Times a Day...


I have a dilemma...after all these years as a doula, I'm still trying to discover the best way to help pregnant women have a successful start to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding classes are great, La Leche League meetings are supportive, our talks over months of pregnancy provide continuity, the breastfeeding books are inspiring, and Dr. Jack Newman's videos are linked on my blog. But one client just nailed the problem on the head in a phone call tonight: "It feels like I'm putting the cart before the horse if I try to think about breastfeeding now! I'm trying to finish up at work! I feel like I'm not prepared to have the baby yet! I have to get the baby born! I can't think about breastfeeding now!" (Yes, I know, I'm paraphrasing, but the exclamation marks were certainly there.)My clients say that everything flies out the window as soon as the baby is born.  In the first few days, despite my encouragement to each woman to feed her baby skin to skin, and to feed early and often (12 feeds per day gets you a gold star!), both sleep deprivation and the overwhelming nature of being a new parent can shatter prior learning and all self confidence. Add to that a stream of visitors, and you have a perfect storm. No wonder the breastfeeding relationship suffers or sputters to a halt.So, what will work? Talk to each other. Find yourself a friend who will be your breastfeeding mentor. Put the cart before the horse. Start to build your breastfeeding community!To start you on the right path, I've asked some of my clients to write down their words of wisdom after a year of breastfeeding. Many clients are ready and willing to offer their support and be your mentor. So, first up, let's hear from Abby!  "When I gave birth to my daughter I, like every other new mom, was completely exhausted. I was (and still am) dedicated to breastfeeding my daughter so when the nurses in the hospital told me to breastfeed 8-12 times per day I made sure to feed her at least 8 times per day (sometimes 9) and I thought I was doing great! 3 weeks later she wasn't gaining enough weight and I was diagnosed with "low milk supply." I was devastated and I couldn't understand it -- I was doing everything right, wasn't I? After many visits with lactation consultants, many hours with my pump, and many breastfeeding articles later I had a realization: I should have been feeding my baby AT LEAST 12 TIMES A DAY, or even better every hour. You're going to be tired anyways, so buy a good breast feeding pillow, sit back, watch TV, snooze, avoid visitors, and feed your baby all day! You'll be surprised how relaxing it is. Your breasts need the stimulation from your baby and your baby's brain needs nutrition constantly. It took me months to learn all this so I hope that my experience can help other new moms learn this in minutes instead of months. My daughter is now 1, and I have met many women who were diagnosed with "low milk supply." Every time we went to a baby class there was at least 1 or 2 women who had the same problem as me. That just can't be right. We were made to feed our babies to it can't be possible that so many women "can't make enough milk." Many women may be able to make enough milk with minimal stimulation (i.e. 8 times a day), but a large minority of us cannot. So PLEASE FEED YOUR BABY AT LEAST 12 TIMES A DAY!" - Abby, mum to Ellie (One way to keep track of those 12 feeds per 24 hours, without relying on a clock, is to have two bowls by your breastfeeding "station".  One bowl is filled with 12 pennies.  Just move a penn[...]

The Sweat Lodge


This Christmas Day, I offer you the gift of a story told by a new client: I see that going into the sweat lodge in remote northern Ontario when I was 17 is something that I can use to propel me through birth. The experience was a powerful one then and now, as I face a long pregnancy and its culminating labour, the event is taking on new significance and its power is spinning in the expanding darkness of my womb. I went into the sweat lodge to heal. I didn’t even know what parts of me needed healing. All I knew was that I was being offered a chance to experience something profound that might just change the course of my life. The sweat lodge itself was like a womb--dark inside but for the orange glow of rocks heated by fire until they took on their own light. The air was wet from water sprayed periodically on the burning rocks that would immediately vapourize and turn the tight dome into a small ocean that housed us all. There were perhaps ten girls and two men -- our first nations guides on this journey into the Sweat. Once we had all gathered inside and been given instructions the animal skin flap of the sweat lodge was closed and we were cradled in primal darkness. I could feel the other girls breathing around me. I could feel the warmth of their bodies and their anxious energy. We didn’t know where we were journeying to or what sort of people we might be once we emerged from our process of rebirth. It was a moment very similar to what I have been experiencing in my state of early pregnancy, where very little has changed on the surface of things but I can feel strange ripples of energy coursing through my body and smell the electric smell of great change rolling in like a summer storm. My memories of the Sweat are hazy. But images flash back to me like prophecies. I think there was a drum. The steady heartbeat of the world reminding us of our embodied state. The sweat has four stages each marked by one of the sacred herbs--sage, sweetgrass, cedar, and tobacco. At the end of each stage the lodge would be opened and we would have the choice to leave or to stay on for the next stage. We could decide that we had learned what we came to learn or that we needed to go deeper to reach whatever lesson was meant for us. Inside the sweat lodge I descended into the core of the earth to access the essence of myself. I imagine labour will be much like that--a spiralling downward into the most secret spaces of the soul where reserves of power you never imagined you had can be accessed and put to use. I floated in the humid air of the sweat lodge as the ceremony commenced. It wasn’t long before I was soaked with the wet air and my own sweat that poured out of me like rain. My body slowly emptied itself of fluids and I’m sure that I became severely dehydrated. Stories poured out of us with the sweat. We told of our young lives’ greatest hurts, the things that were holding us back and torturing us. Tears began to mingle with the sweat. Girls cried out in pain or because they saw visions emerging from the blackness. Each time the flap was opened at the end of a stage some would leave, desperate for water, content that they had gleaned all they could, or simply exhausted physically and mentally. I was becoming worn down myself. My body needed water and I was deeply aware of that. But I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I was sure that there was something at the end of all this that would be worth the suffering and somehow, amidst the agony of the Sweat I was able toembrace the experience as transformative. By th[...]

"It doesn't get easier, it just gets different"


As part of my doula service, I provide two prenatal visits, attend my clients' births, then make a postpartum visit to debrief and hug, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. I encourage my clients to call or email me frequently...for years (yes, I mean that). I'm often on the phone for a few hours each day, answering clients' questions, brainstorming, or providing support and encouragement. I encourage my clients to call me whenever a question arises during pregnancy or postpartum, which is SO much more helpful than asking them to store it up for visits. We're able to work through each concern in the moment. Please don't be shy about calling! It makes everything smoother in the long run!Recently, I checked in with a former client to see how things were going (three years after she gave birth to twins). "Any words of wisdom?" I asked."It doesn't get easier, it just gets different," she said. With those few words, she reminded me of the daily reality of mothering little ones. Change comes in an ever widening circle. Change comes daily with a newborn, then weekly...then monthly...then yearly, as she grows. The physical and emotional challenges of raising children are dynamic. "Someone keeps moving the goal posts!" said one client. "Did they cover this prenatal class!? I can't remember anything anymore!" Who knew that flexibility, creativity and spontaneity (along with a whole whack of family and community support) were the keys to successful parenting? In the beginning, we thought we just had to learn the basic rules of "How to Parent" and everything would be smooth sailing! Boy, were we wrong! It's all about rolling with the changes...But you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You are not alone! Someone else is going through the same thing...right now...So, give me a call. Whatever you're dealing with...I've probably chatted with another client about something similar, just yesterday. And maybe, you might just want to connect with her. Together, we can support each other through the daily changes and challenges of mothering.For example...One day this week I was standing in the rain on Granville Street, discussing a woman's overabundant milk supply, then an hour later I received a call in the IGA about another baby gagging and spluttering on his mum's gushing breast milk. Then, the next day, I was sitting in my parked car talking with another client about how to increase her low milk supply, just before receiving a call from a different client to ask about donor milk. Various solutions, including the "Human Milk 4 Human Babies" Facebook group (community milk-sharing), the local Donor Milk Bank, and my favourite lactation consultant, popped into my mind. Personal connections were made...and they were off!Yesterday, a mum called looking for some support dealing with the changes that happen around six weeks. She had found her rhythm a few weeks earlier. Feeds had been going well, sleep had become more predictable. Then...wham! the six week growth spurt had begun. Her baby had become more alert and started to sleep less. She was having to feed more to increase her milk supply. The goal posts had moved! We talked...I made tea while we talked...and we talked some more...I'd better call her again on Monday to check in, and encourage her to go to her local community mum's group.Every time a client calls me with a mothering question, it increases my ability to support the next woman. Each woman teaches me something completely new. I encourage her to share her experiences at the local mum's gr[...]

What have I been doing all this time?


In addition to my doula work, "loving the grandsons" has been added to my list of passions. With twins, there's a lot of room for family involvement, so we've all been chipping in daily to help out. My memory of this past summer is long long walks by the seashore with my husband, carrying the boys in slings, allowing their parents a break at sleep or eat, or just plain enjoy the peace and quiet.

It's been eight months filled with love and joy (we're not the sleepless ones).

Is there any downside? I tend to forget things more easily now, with so many things happening every day, but my calendar alerts keep me on task. So, clients...I may whisper when I answer my phone (sleeping babies!), and I might screen some prospective clients' calls if I'm rocking a tired boy while another stands holding my leg (I just can't reach my phone). Please accept my apologies in advance. BUT...the upside is that I now have a renewed and updated understanding of breastfeeding issues, sleep issues, introduction of solids, safety issues, attachment parenting...and a multitude of other topics. It's like I'm living a daily refresher course in how to support my clients through their pregnancies and postpartum experiences. You will benefit!

I'm now taking on fewer clients per month (4-5 at the most), so that I'm (hopefully) able to provide the best care to all. So, you'll need to call me early in pregnancy to book a spot. With this growing family, I'm learning to multitask all over again - and love it!

So, please don't hesitate to call or email! I'm here...just covered in babies from time to time....

Jacquie - Vancouver Doula

Dear Jacquie...


Dear Jacquie,

We've not met, but I just wanted to thank you for my daughter's birth. I live in Edinburgh, although I'm from Victoria, B.C, and I stumbled across your blog about a year ago. My son (who's now 2) was born in hospital: my flat wasn't big enough to fit a birth pool and 2 midwives, and I hoped I could have a water birth in hospital instead. In the end, I was induced due to blood pressure and got a very controlled, restricted labour: I was on my back, monitored, for the whole thing.

When I became pregnant last spring, your blog was the final inspiration I needed to plan a home birth. You and Ina May were my encouragement through 4 days of slow contractions. In the end, though, my beautiful daughter came racing into the world, one hand over her head, into an empty bathtub. (The midwife had arrived 17 minutes before and let the water out of the bath to check me over...never happened! The birthing pool was filled and waiting in the next room but into the empty bathtub she came.) I had a wonderful, wonderful birth with no one monitoring, examining, or worrying me and the difference in my two birth stories still amazes me.

I'm attaching a photo of me and Rosa with my midwife team, an hour after the birth (the one in blue was the midwife, the one in white was a student on her first week - I was her first birth!, and the one behind was the second midwife who arrived 20 minutes too late).

I have loved reading your blog, and I really can't thank you enough for the inspiration you gave me.

All the best,
R (Edinburgh)

My Words



Wide open
Your face is soft
Your shoulders are heavy
You are safe
Your baby is safe
This is your power
You are strong
Feel your cervix melt like butter
Your muscles open
Your baby tucks chin on chest
You are wide open
Slow breathing
Your hands are soft
You are safe
You are with all the women in labour
The women are with you
You are doing this
Breathe in strength
Breathe out worry
Breathe in power
This is your power
Wide open
Wide open

- Jacquie Munro, Vancouver Doula - Slow Birth

"Around the World, Down the Prime Meridian..."


As you sleep, Finn, I stroke the world onto your foreheadcheekschinCircling, drawing the lines of our planet with my fingersTransferring the love of your great grandfather into your skinJust as we did to your mother."Around the worldDown the Prime Meridian..."You sleep, your eyes playing beneath their lidsSoaking in the words, the touch.Are you dreaming of where you were three days ago?You were hiding behind your brother JackFeet downReady to make a surprise entrylike a parachuter.I can't even remember what it felt like to believethat your mother was having only one baby.It feels...incomplete.We waited that bright Saturdaywaited for "the baby"sitting outside in the sunshinein the buffeting windat a cafe tableoutside Caperswhere your parents metWe waitedwatching two men play UpWordsthe same game your grandad and I played when I was in labour.Every movement on 4th was a signThe woman pushing a bicyclehummingThe pregnant women headingto Sempervivayoga mats tucked under their armsHeading to the noon classwhere your mother was supposed to be......where you would have beenChild's poseListening to the music chosen by your mother.But you weren't at that classYou were with your mum and dadat homein the tubhidden behind Jackwaiting to be born......waiting to surprise everyone!"Across the EquatorTropic of CancerTropic of CapricornNorth PoleSouth PoleMount EverestMariana Trench..."You have always been with usand we never knew itYou have always been part of our bodiesour planetYou have always been..."Tundra..."...Blue Pacific"Tomorrow I will strokethe cartography of loveinto your brother's face...(Finn, the hidden water fairy, was only discovered a few minutes after his older brother, Jack, was joyfully born into his mother and father's arms, at home, on Saturday afternoon. Finn then declared his presence, kicking the midwife's hand... "Jack was not alone! I'm here!" Then, over an hour later, Finn, already master of the great entrance, responded to his mum's pushes and came, splash, feet first, before a large audience in the hospital...Bright surprises can still happen in this world!)Jacquie Munro - Grandma to Jack and Finn, Vancouver Doula, Slow Birth[...]