Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

Insightful Articles

Here are some of my favourite 'must-read' articles about various topics to do with birth and parenting. Happy reading!

Get Your Baby Lined Up! Optimal Foetal Positioning at the UK Homebirth Reference Site. The premise of OFP (Optimal Foetal Positioning, as put forward by Jean Sutton, a New Zealand Midwife, and Pauline Scott, an ante-natal teacher, is that as our livestyles have become more sedentary (couch-car-computer), more mothers are starting labour with babies in the posterior position - baby's back to mother's back. By assuming the hands and knees and forward leaning positions, the idea is that gravity can encourage a posterior baby to swing to the front, in the ideal anterior position, which may lead to an easier, shorter labour - especially for first time mothers. The article explains how you can use OFP to help your baby be in an anterior position, before and during labour, and how this must be a lifestyle rather than something you just do for a few minutes each day.

The Pain of Labour - A feminist issue by Andrea Robertson, at Birth International - Specialists in Birth and Midwifery
This is a kick-ass article. Kudos to our own Andrea Robertson, an Australian childbirth educator and researcher. If you are ready to be challenged, read this and prepare to come to terms with the pain of labour, to understand the important role of various hormones during labour, and to stand up for your rights as a birthing woman: demand safe havens for birth, like birth centres and homebirth; resist unwanted intervention; demand un-biased information; and get good labour support.

Maternity Coalition Infosheets - free, printable infosheets on a variety of helpful topics, such as:
* A Healthy Pelvic Floor After Childbirth
* Bearing Down of Directed Pushing?
* Births After Caesarean
* Induction of Labour
* The Third Stage of Labour

Pushing for First Time Mothers by Gloria Lemay
Birth complications, especially in the first-time mother, are often the result of 'helpful' tampering with something that simply needs time and privacy to unfold as intended. Gloria explains how by avoiding directed pushing, and instead waiting patiently until a first time mother is "11 cm dilated", she will eventually experience the foetal ejection reflex and, by going with her body, can birth effectively. This patient and wise approach could prevent much hassle and distress for many a first-timer, and enable her to find her own way to birth. I experienced this myself as a first time pusher - and I have seen, that by "reversing the energy", as Gloria explains, and trsuting and empowering the first time mama to take her time and do her own thing, she can and will find her way and birth effectively. It is a beautiful thing to observe!
Gloria is a Private Birth Attendant and teacher of wise woman birthing, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. You can read more about Gloria here.

Pelvises I Have Known and Loved by Gloria Lemay
In this article, Gloria discusses cases she has seen when mothers have been told there is something wrong with their pelvis and they can't birth. And have then gone on to give birth vaginally, normally. Gloria points out that those of us here to day are the result of thousands of years of natural selection.

A Butcher's Dozen by Nancy Wainer
Nancy Wainer is the Midwife who first coined the term VBAC - vaginal birth after caesarean. In this article, she describes her experiences with women who have successfuly given birth vaginally after one or more caesareans. After 30 years of research, Nancy knows all to well that the saying "once a caesarean, always a caesarean" is bogus, that most women CAN have VBACs - and that they are safer that repeat caesareans. Nancy finds it a travesty that most caesareans and repeat caesareans are unnecessary. If you are seeking hope and inspiration for the possibility of VBAC, you will love this article.

How to Know How Dilated You Are - Without Vaginal Exams!
from an article by Gloria Lemay, "External and Observed Signs of Dilation, Descent and Progress."
Vaginal exams are not necessarily an essential part of the care of a labouring women. They are intrustive, uncomfortable, can be disruptive to the flow of the birthing woman's hormones, and can undermine her concentration and confidence. Like most interventions, they have their appropriate place in rare situations. But the routine, 4-hourly vaginal exams expected by many hospital protocols have a counter-productive effect. Is there any alternative? I know many midwives who very rarely resort to vaginal exams. For such experts of normal birth, they know well the obvious signs of labour progress. As mothers, these are signs we can familiarise ourselves with as well. There is no reason why you should not be the only person palpating your cervix during your births. This is an article by Birth Attendant Gloria Lemay, based on her experiences. (I found this somewhere on the internet once several years ago, but now I can't find the original page I got it from!) It grabbed my attention right away and has been very useful to me in my work as a doula, and has offered encouragement to my clients. Gloria writes, "It is time for women to take back ownership of their bodies." Amen!

Fish Can't See Water - the need to humanise birth in Australia by Marsden Wagner
Marsden Wagner explores the rates of technological intervention in birth and the treatment of women during birth arguing that birth has been dehumanised. He notes that many people within the medical model of birth are so used to this model that they cannot see how inhumane the management of birth can be - just as a fish doesn't see the water it is immersed in.

What Women Aren't Told About Childbirth

The Real Risks of Caesareans - from Medscape

Birth is not an illness - 16 recommendations from the World Health Organization

Better births feature continuous care for mothers and kangeroo care for babies

Alarm over jump in induced births 
26 November 2011
Obstetricians in NSW public hospitals will receive strict guidelines this week about when they should induce labour, after a state-wide surge in the practice that may be responsible for a continuing rise in caesarean births.
Among women aged 20 to 34 who had their first baby in 2009, 34 per cent were induced - a record high which represents nearly 3 per cent more women than the previous year.
And for the first time, three hospitals induced more than half of mothers in this category, according to new figures released on the Ministry of Health's website.
Overall, more than a quarter of all deliveries were induced, using techniques that raise the risk of needing a caesarean section because they speed the birth process and make it more difficult.
The Second Nine Months - extrogestation and the need to be held

Why Dads Leave - a lecture by John W Travis. In this insightful talk, Travis discusses the affect that the disruption of the critical bonding window immediately after birth, due to various birth practices, holds for the individual and for the wider community. An understanding of this will help us value and protect that precious time when a mother and baby greet each other for the first time, and support practices such as uninterrupted skin-to-skin, which allow both to receive the full "baptism" of oxytocin, the "hormone of love", during this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.