Why do babies say 'nana' for banana...

...But not 'berreez' for 'blueberries'?*



It's simple, really.

Most words in English have the emphasis on the first syllable. Like the words 'English' and 'emphasis'. Also, 'syllable'.

Babies are smart. So when baby hears you say 'banana', where the emphasis is on the second syllable ('baNANa'), they think you're just making a funny random 'ba' sound before the real word starts. Which is 'nana'.

I explained this to somebody and he was like, "Nah, kids are just lazy" and I was like, "You're an idiot lazy." Because guess what? The same thing happens for 'computer' and 'mosquito repellent'. Or, as my 5 year-old friend Amanda (who was so not lazy) used to say, "'squito 'pellent'."

This (the joy of language development) is at least half the reason I had a kid.



Banana from Svea Vikander on Vimeo.

*In fact, 'blueberries' is a bad example. It's a compound noun. When nouns (or in this case, a modifier and a noun) are smushed together like that, they both take a stress. This helps to differentiate their meaning, the difference between, "Oh, what a nice, green house" and, "Oh, what a nice greenhouse" (where both 'green' and 'house' are stressed and yes, greenhouses sure are nice). Basically, anything else would have been a better example. I just love that picture of SBJ with a blueberry mouth.

August 6-12th: OB Nursing, Extended Breastfeeding, Petting Zoos

New this week...

OB nurse extraordinaire (and future midwife-in-training) Christy Anderson discusses the forces that brought her to the placenta-eating dark (crunchy) side. Her Sunday Brunch interview has been so popular, she's coming back next week to talk more babies, birth, baby-friendly hospitals, and how she can just tell a woman is in transition.

In honour of World Breastfeeding Week, Svea collects 11 of the most popular objections to extended breastfeeding and applies them to herself. Breastfed until over the age of 3, she has undoubtedly become the friendless misogynist perv these concerned citizens predicted.

It's a flashback to the 1980s on Too Hot For Stroller, where a young mama takes her kiddos to the petting zoo, managing to look awesome while keeping her baby from the nuzzling mouths of sheep.

Week of July 29 - August 5th: Post-Colonialism


Post-colonialism. Because yes, you really need to read about exoticizing the Other during baby's nap-time. Sarah writes about the loss of archival heritage in Canada, and how it fits into the colonial mindset; Svea opines on the crappy ways Westerners take photographs of 'exotic' people.

And this week features a picture of... a white woman crouched down in front of the fire with a baby strapped to her back in an exotic piece of cloth, from a 1990s sporting goods advertisement in Too Hot For Stroller.

The DANGERS of extended breastfeeding, or Look How Bad I Turned Out

My boobalicious profile picture. Hallowe'en.
SBJ is Sir Winston Churchill.
Me? I'm Sir Winston Churchill's mother.

This week, as you may know from every nursing mother's boobalicious profile picture, is the WHO's World Breastfeeding Week. I wanted to write something about 'extended' breastfeeding. 'Extended' breastfeeding is any breastfeeding that happens after the normal time for complete weaning. Yeah, normal, our favorite word here at Mama to Mama. According to Our Babies, Ourselves, the worldwide average age for total weaning is just over four years old. So that could be considered normal.

BUT In America, only about 75% of babies are nursed at all, and most of those are weaned by 6 months. Normal takes a nosedive.

People have all kinds of ideas about what constitutes a good age for weaning: when the child is old enough to ask for it, he's too old to nurse (and those babies who master Baby Sign Language for 'milk' at the age of five months? They're SOL); when mama goes back to work (ummm… in the USA we don't have maternity leave, some mamas go back before their stitches have even healed); and when the infant is ready and willing to eat other food (like, breast milk is this crappy not-food, why deprive your kid of the real chicken mcnugget experience?).

From the other (crunchy, placenta-eating dark-) side, some people prefer to call it 'full term' breastfeeding, to reflect the understanding that infants and children evolved to drink it by the tonne. They like it. They find it comforting. It keeps mama around and can even delay her conception of a pesky younger sibling. Most importantly, kids don't have fully developed immune systems until they're about 6 years old -- which is, not coincidentally, about the time their 'milk teeth' fall out. Breast milk provides all kinds of immunological benefits, which is why when the nuclear apocalypse comes, and everyone's richitic and diseased (thank you, Cormac McCarthy), y'all are going to be lining up to get just a squirt of the milky goodness. 

And it's controversial and Time magazine cover and yadda yadda yadda (more about this later). So I wanted to write something about how mamas who breastfeed for years are not the devil incarnate. But Sweet Baby James isn't quite an extended nurser, yet. He's just a seventeen month-old who loves his la-las more than life itself. Also, I just may be the devil incarnate.

McBride Park playground, Vancouver.
See the blue elephant with a slide for its trunk?
My dad and I campaigned door-to-door for that.
It was my first, and only, triumph in community activism.
And then it dawned on me: ME! Me, I was breastfed for a long, long time. My dad says four years at least, my mom says she doesn't remember. I have a vague memory of getting hurt on the McBride park playground and running to my mom to nurse. So I'm going to put it at about 3.5 years. Following are some of the accusations leveled at mamas who do full-term breastfeeding, and my analysis of whether I turned out as bad as they think. The best ones came from here (http://bethesda.patch.com/articles/poll-is-extended-breastfeeding-a-problem-or-solution).






Objection #1: It leads to spoiled kids


Becky D, RN
4:46 pm on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
...I for one am sick of hearing about extended breastfeeding. It is just what it is, extended past what is recommended. Parenting is about setting limits and boundaries. How backwards to let the child decide...Breast milk is for babies. NOT children.!

And, 
If I relied on my sons to tell me when they were finished breastfeeding, I'd be in real trouble! You can't let an addict decide when it's time to stop!  (Clorissa)

Well. Really.
Am I spoiled? Currently, yes, though I like to think it means something if I know I am. Was I a milk, or any kind of addict as a kid? In a word: no, except that I have always loved sweet milky things. Cheese, yogurt, ice-cream, mascarpone, whipped cream, milk shakes, butter, icing, whole milk… mmmm….

What's better than milk? Milk with strawberries!
In all seriousness, I was such an annoyingly well-behaved kid that it actually cost me friends. As I have told my many therapists many times, I feel like I was born to defer my own pleasure. Case in point: when I was eight years old, we went strawberry picking at one of those you-pick-and-pay-by-the-pound farms. I picked a lot of strawberries. When we all met up at the end of the afternoon, everyone else had red rings around their mouths. I was like, "Wait wait wait -- you guys ate some strawberries?!" It hadn't even crossed my mind. It was, like, stealing or something.




Objections #s 2 and 3: If it's a boy, he's going to be perverted, if it's a girl, she's going to be a lesbian.

My mother also said that my daughter might grow up to prefer women over men b/c she breast fed so long. I dont' see that and I really hope that's not true. (Kendra)

The perverted part, folks, is 100% true.

And for those who find this concerning, let it be known that I am a married SAHM, in a monogamous relationship with a man, who was born with a penis. In case you thought that was your business or something.



Objection #4: It means the mama is perverted.

Karl Schuub
3:47 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
That woman has issues that have little to do with being a mom. Sorry only a sick freak would nurse a kid that can verbalize they're hungry.

My mom is a lot of things. 'Sick freak' is not one of them. She is a very nice woman, with a lot of opinions. She's comfortable with her body and has a terribly wholesome view of sexuality (please note: if you're reading this, and you've had sex with my mom, I prefer to remain deluded).



Objections #s 5 and 6: It will cause co-dependency and it's only fulfilling the mother's needs

Ashley
8:29 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
I have no problem with women breastfeeding babies. Babies are mean't to be breastfed, toddlers are not….I feel like if they continue to breastfeed after the kid is a toddler it's not as much for the benefit of the kid (I actually believe it will cause co-dependency) but more for some sick need the mother needs to fulfill in herself.

It's true that I do love intimate relationships, and I do love my mom. But I also happily spend time alone, like the time I spent three months traveling through Sri Lanka while the civil war was still happening, and stayed in noble-silence meditation in an isolated Buddhist nunnery, bitches. As a kid, I walked alone to and from school every day, babysat my sister, and had my first job at age 11. 

And fulfilling the mother's needs… What needs might these be? There's a hint of something sexual ("little to do with being a mom"), but nobody ever really pinpoints it. If there's a "my child nursing me" fetish, I have yet to come across it. Maybe it's more about closeness: mother has a need for physical contact for which she is using her child when she could be using more appropriate sources, like her MAN (who has a penis). I can't answer for my mom, but she seemed pretty happy in the ten years she spent without a significant other. She never seemed starved for affection, and I never felt it was my responsibility to fulfill her. Sometimes men would ask her out and she'd be like, "I dunno… do you play scrabble?"

Sexy Scrabble
from Julierivard, flickr

From my perspective, it's like this: I like cuddling my mom. I wish I could cuddle her more. Maternal touch helps to calm the autonomic nervous system, and decreases the risk of all kinds of chronic health conditions (e.g. those related to stress: eczema, asthma, insomnia, etc.), most of which I had anyway. Plus, I was basically the cutest kid ever. My mother's need to hold me makes perfect sense to me.



Objection #5: Breastfeeding isn't sexy. 

Sean Tully
8:58 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
Breast feeding really isn't the issue. Time's cover is. As mentioned above, it is exploiting the issue and trying to sex it up. Breast feeding really isn't that sexy.

First, I disagree with this sentiment – in the sense that breastfeeding is beautiful and demonstrates the wonders of the human body, it is sexy. This is not to say that you, Sean Tully, are entitled, simply by virtue of your manhood, to a world full of women (including my mother!) whose only aim in life is to give you a popped fly. And guess what? She totally could. My mom is the hottest sixty-something I know. She could give Yoko Ono a run for her money, she looks that good in a miniskirt.

I love this woman so much, I named my son after her.

Objection #6: It's child abuse.

Get Real
12:15 am on Saturday, May 12, 2012
This is sick and disturbing on so many levels, it is borderline child abuse.

This is really just a variation of earlier accusations, but it's so egregious that it deserves its own column. Fuck off, child abuse?! Get real, Get Real. My mom could have BF'd me until I moved out at eighteen and it never would have come close to any of the crappy, crappy things that happened to me as a kid.

As Svea Boyda-Vikander, I feel that I am the authority on abusive experiences in Svea Boyda-Vikander's life. Extended breastfeeding? Not one of them. 



Objection #7: It's impossible to wean an older child.

Another problem is that it is often very difficult to wean an older child. He understands that your breasts are available – they have been available for as long as he remembers – so why stop now? He does not understand or want to relinquish that special relationship between you and him. Unlike babies, an older child is more verbose and can whine, argue, and negotiate for days and days. Some children can be bribed. For example, he will stop nursing and in exchange you will buy him a substantial toy that he has wanted for a long time.  (http://www.breastfeeding-mom.com/extended-breastfeeding.html)

I don't remember my mom weaning me, and she doesn't either. Obviously, it wasn't too traumatic for either of us. To this day, I await my substantial toy. Whatever that is.


Objection #8: It's going to raise a child who objectifies women.

Children who experience prolonged breastfeeding also tend to view their mothers, and often women in general, as mere objects who provide, not as people. (http://www.circleofmoms.com/breastfeeding-moms/breastfeeding-at-8-139114#_)

Yes… I definitely see my mother, and women in general (including myself) as mere objects. Who provide. Milk, optimally. I believe women should just put out (milk) or get out (of the fridge). I am... at a loss here.

Aside from the fact that my favorite joke is, "How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" (answer: That's not funny), I am a REALLY FUCKING SERIOUS FEMINIST. I believe in the value of women's subjectivity, stories, experience and empowerment.

The author of that comment goes on to say, 
If its okay to see, touch, and suck mommy's breast, why can't i do the same to other women? And as they get older, why isn't it okay for others to do the same to me? And I know that girl said no, but If she loved me…

This has to be the craziest one yet. It's so full of baseless fears and assumptions about male sexuality, I don't even want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Which is why I'm going to devote an entire blog post to it someday soon.


Objection #9: There is no nutritional value in breast milk past one year.

Brings back so many memories...
I don't really know how to assess the nutritional benefits of my full-term BFing, but I do know that I was a relatively healthy kid. I had shiny hair and strong nails. I did lots of climbing trees and wandering the woods, but I never broke a bone. Except for that time in college when I survived off canned beans my roommate had scammed from the foodbank, I've always eaten well.

There is plenty of nutritional and immunological value in breast milk, which is why those most vulnerable members of our species are hardwired to want it (newborn babies will literally crawl to find the breast. Thing is, newborn babies don't even know how to crawl! Encroyable!). People with autoimmune deficiencies can be found on milk-bank forums, willing to pay good money for this 'liquid gold' (...white gold). And come on. Do we really have to argue about this one? This is, like, the one thing everybody knows. As my fb friend Sasha says, "breast is best, and all that jazz."



Objection #10: It will rot your kid's teeth. And/or it will wreck your nipples, because she has teeth. And other strange things about teeth.

If the kid has teeth it should be eating solid food. This picture is disgusting. (Ashley, above)
...from a dentists perspective a baby should never nurse that long ever. (belltree, relating her sister's statement, http://www.mothering.com/community/t/1284792/nursing-a-toddler-bad-for-teeth)

People say that extended breastfeeding will magically rot your child's teeth (you know, the ones that are going to fall out anyway), and Whoopie Goldberg said that she wouldn't nurse her newborn because she was born with a tooth. I got my one and only semi-cavity (I kind of think the dentist was just trying to sell me some sealant treatment) at the age of 21. I didn't go back to the dentist until my then-fiancĂ© paid for it when I was 25. The hygienist was all, "Your teeth are great, you make my job so easy", so we just talked about my wedding plans for the greater part of the hour. 

And about the rest of it? I could be wrong, but as far as I know, my mother's nipples are just fine.


Objection #11: It's bad for the child's social standing.

Donna
10:27 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012
I feel so sorry for this boy. He'll probably run away, dye his hair, and change his name first chance he gets. Can't say I blame him if he does.

Nobody ever made fun of me for being Milktastic Svea or anything like that. They had more obvious targets, like my pixie haircut and the fact that my mother rode around town on an oversized tricycle.

This is the same argument that's been made against LGBTQ people raising children, and people with physical disabilities raising children, and basically anybody else who doesn't fit the boring norm, and it's bullshit. If you think you can magically do everything right so that your kid never gets made fun of, never gets picked on, never gets left out, you're deluding yourself. 

Instead of trying to fit in, try this: think about the society you want to live in. Then act like you're part of it. That's how change happens. 


Milktastically yours,

Svea B-V

Sunday Brunch: Interview with Christy Anderson, Obstetrics Nurse Extraordinaire

Christy Anderson, OB Nurse

I first met Christy Anderson, an obstetrics nurse and a dear friend, in the early summer of 2009. I was a few weeks pregnant but (having taken one of those super-expensive, high-tech pregnancy tests purchased in a Manhattan pharmacy) I didn't know it. My then-fiancé and I were driving around the US, stopping for beer and hashing out such monolithic couples' disagreements as whether or not we should have a wedding and if we did, if we should have a band, and if we did have a band, if they should play classical music or songs more germane to our generation.

But I was planning to be pregnant soon so I picked Christy's brain over a campfire and a bottle of wine(!), looking for her educated opinions about the birthing process. I like to think that, in the three years since, Christy and I have both experienced a sea change toward natural birthing processes – she, from an informed place working within the medical system; and myself from a general obliviousness and belief that it's all a bunch of hippie hoo-haw. Christy's entering a nurse-midwifery master's program in January and I keep telling people I lured a nice nurse over to the placenta-eating dark side. ***speaking of plancetaphagy, check in next week for my exclusive interview with a bonafied planceta-encapsulator!***

For this week's Sunday Brunch, the first of a two-part interview, Christy talks about the amazing hospital she works for (seriously, they offer prenatal yoga. how sweet is that?) and her experiences as a compassionate and fiercely hard-working obstetrics nurse. Her later interview will examine some of the reasons she is looking to further her education in the midwifery field.

Buon appetito!
– Svea Boyda-Vikander

------

SV: Let's start at the beginning. How did you know this was the field of nursing you wanted to go into?

Christy, after assisting in the delivery of her cousin's baby, Bree.
Let it be said... Newborn babies sometimes cry too!
CA: I didn’t immediately know. In high school I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician. I was so lucky to be able to job shadow a wonderful pediatrician. I learned a lot of great things from her but the most powerful lesson was that I didn’t want to work in pediatrics! Crying babies with ear infections all day was not my idea of a great job. However, I knew that I wanted to work with babies so my next thought was about newborn babies. This led me to do a summer job shadow with certified nurse midwife named Lori. I spent a good portion of my summer with her and fell in love with the job and the amazing process of labor. From then on I knew I would go to nursing school and one day become a certified nurse midwife. 

SV: And now that you're doing it, what's it like to be an OB nurse? What does your typical shift look like?

CA: I work 12-hour night shifts, which means I arrive at work at 7pm and leave at 7:30am. I wear one of three hats while at work during these shifts. The first would be as a charge nurse. This means I answer all phone calls and triage all patients who come in who might think they are in labor or are having some type of pregnancy problem. I am responsible for knowing what is going on with all the patients on the floor at all times, assisting other nurses with help when they have questions, and attending all births to be the “2nd nurse.” Being a 2nd Nurse means I am there to care for the baby once it is born for the first half hour. As a charge nurse I am also responsible for staffing the unit.
The second hat that I could wear would be a labor and delivery nurse. This is by far my favorite hat to wear. It is during this time I am able to really connect with my patients and help them have the birth experience that they are hoping for. This is where I am responsible for the laboring mother, supporting her during her labor.
The third hat I might wear would be as a post-partum nurse. During this time I am responsible for either three or four mother/baby couplets. I help facilitate bonding, breastfeeding, and teaching a wide range of infant and mother care practices. I also assist the families to finish some of the hospital paperwork that needs to get done so they can go home with their babies.

SV: Shift work is so hard. Especially all night. What's the hardest part about your job?

CA: Breastfeeding assistance. No matter what position I put myself and the mother in, it always hurts my lower back! So that is a personal thing. In general, though, nurses can find it hard it to make a connection with the patients. Often you only have minutes to meet the patient before almost immediately being in an emotional and stressful situation. You have to get them to trust you and make a connection as soon as possible. Sometimes that is hard to do at the end of a labor that is very intense or when patients come in thinking we are the enemy. Patients’ attitudes are often the result of thinking we are merely agents of the hospital’s policies, here to enforce practices that they would not choose for themselves, rather than as a partner in their birth experience.

(from the Aspen Women's Health Centre, via Denver Doula)
It's nice to know not all OB Nurses are created equal.


SV: And, in your case at least, this simply isn't true...

CA: Well, no. The thing is, I can't say our hospital, St. Francis, is typical. Recently I have been reading more blogs, hearing from friends, and attending more conferences and have noticed there is something special about the hospital I work for. We are a regional hospital and usually do around 1200 deliveries a year. Our providers consist of OB/GYN’s, certified nurse midwives and some family practice physicians. Within the last year we have started offering water births with our midwives. A few months ago we began to use aromatherapy to help our patients with pain, stress/anxiety, nausea and relaxation/sleep. A large percentage of our nurses are trained in integrative health techniques such as: massage, guided imagery, meditation, music therapy and deep breathing techniques. These have proved to be very helpful for our patients. We also have a lot of our nurses trained by Gail Tully and her Spinning Babies techniques. We have a different approach from most hospitals when it comes to cesarean births. I think some of this has stemmed from a few of our nurses, personally, having bad experiences at other hospitals during a cesarean birth.

SV: That's amazing! Policy informed by people's actual lived experiences!

CA: (laughs) Yes. Another thing that has shaped this new approach is our belief in the research that supports immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. Most hospitals during a cesarean will show the mother the baby quickly if at all and then take the baby away. The mom will then see the baby again only after her recovery phase. Our hospital is very different in that aspect. If a patient is going to have a cesarean birth, myself or another labor nurse plans to be in the operating room the whole time. Once the baby is born the doctor places it on the warmer (they are sterile and need to place it in another safe sterile place). As the nurse, I will wipe off the baby quickly and if any stabilization needs to be done, it will be done quickly. Then the baby is placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest as long as she likes while the surgery is finished. Some mothers choose to do skin-to-skin the entire time, others choose to have us weigh and measure the baby in front of her while still in the operating room.

SV: That's exactly what maternal-issues therapist Helen Dunn recommended when I interviewed her, in terms of dealing with C-section trauma: giving the mother choices. It can help to give her a sense of control and reduce the incidence of PTSD.

Want to learn more about V-BAC, TOLAC, and the BAC-lash?
Check outICAN: International Cesarean Awareness Network
CA: It also helps to simply ensure that she has the birth that she wants – or as close to it as possible. After the surgeon is finished the mother is moved to a new bed and then mother and baby are transferred back to their room for recovery. During this phase the mother can continue skin-to-skin contact if desired or start breastfeeding. Breastfeeding during this time can sometimes be difficult as the mother is in a mostly reclined position. Nurses have been known to stand and hold the baby in a good position during this time, in order to better facilitate this first breastfeeding. I actually do not think elective primary cesarean birth is something that should be an option to people. I think it might be a while before that is a rule.

SV: Really? No elective cesareans? Why is that?

CA: I think often women make this decision based not fact or need but more of a socially accepted norm these days. Some will choose it because they don't want to push or don't want to ruin their sex life. These seem like trivial things when you look at the recovery period and increases in potential complications with next pregnancies and next potential cesarean delivery. Often times once women are educated on what it truly means to have a cesarean and what it could mean for future deliveries they realize this is not the easy way out. I think there is a time and a place for elective cesareans for those people that aren't just looking for the planned delivery to try to fit it into their schedule. I would hope that any provider that is willing to offer an elective cesarean also talks about the potential risks, what this means for future deliveries and the possibility of emotional distress that can happen between a mother an her new infant from this type of delivery.

SV: And I guess something a lot of women aren't told is that having one C-section will make their later labours more likely to end in C-sections – in fact, a lot of doctors won't do 'VBAC' (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian), they insist you have another C-section.

CA: There is a time and a place for a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC), which could become the VBAC you're talking about and in certain situations I would really recommend it. Sometimes, I have a hard time recommending it to friends who ask as I have seen it go really bad really fast, but that's a very small percentage.

SV: What about the commercial aspects of C-sections and birth interventions?

Vintage shot of Ina May Gaskin
in The Business of Being Born
CA: Many people have seen the movie The Business of Being Born and I have to be honest – I only watched it for the first time last night! As this movie insinuates, a lot of hospitals are keen to induce their patients, give them epidurals and offer elective cesarean births or at least push towards cesarean birth when it is convenient for the doctor. This, however, is not my hospital. We now have a policy on the induction of labor, which reduced our induction rate significantly. We use pitocin conservatively. As more of our nurses become competent in the above techniques, we are having more and more “natural” un-medicated vaginal births. That being said, we are still a hospital and have certain policies and procedures that some may consider controversial. But we have a much more holistic approach to labor and delivery than other hospitals.

SV: I remember when we first met, you said that you'd seen a doctor write 'birth plan' on a patient's record, under the reason that a labour had failed to progress. What are your personal feelings on birth plans?

CA: Birth plans are very interesting. It is my recent opinion that they should be called “birth preferences.” The semantic of birth “plan” means your labor will be this way and you will not stray from it at all. Sometimes that is fine but sometimes it needs to be a little more fluid. One of my favorite quotes from a fellow co-worker is, “I have read your birth plan and it is so very lovely and I will do everything in my power to have it the way you prefer. However, sometimes we make plans and God laughs.” I think this sums up a lot because we can plan all we want and sometimes things just don’t go the way we were planning them to go. I think the best thing to do is have an idea of how you want things to go and inform your provider and nurse of these things. A written plan may not be necessary.

SV: I guess that makes sense if you really trust and feel connected to your care-providers. What about rooming in?

CA: Rooming in is great, it facilitates on-demand breastfeeding and attachment. We promote it but also offer the nursery at night. More often than not, parents take advantage of the nursery. I think they think I only have one or two nights that I might be able to do this so I might as well do this after having had such a long labor. If I had to guess, at our hospital at night maybe about 70% or more of parents send their baby to the nursery, to be brought back when the baby is ready to nurse.
Christy, during The Night Eight Babies Did Not Room In


SV: Have your ideas about pregnancy and childbirth changed over the course of your education and career?

CA: Yes, looking back over the last seven years, my thoughts have changed quite a bit. When you start a career like this there is so much information to learn that it is easiest to learn the black and white parts of the job. The more mechanical things, such as electronic fetal monitors, starting IV’s, epidurals. As I became more proficient in these areas, I started to work on really understanding and being able to support natural childbirth. I have always loved it and I’m in awe of it. I am the first to volunteer to take natural birth patients when they arrive. I am just truly amazed by the human body and how it works. I have seen so many of them now that I can actually hear when a woman is ready to give birth. I love that even though every woman is different the body is so similar that at the end of labor you can just hear when a woman is going to deliver. It isn’t always necessary to do an exam... you can just have a sense of it.

SV: That's amazing. I remember when I was in labour with Sweet Baby James, the labour progressed much faster than we expected. Zu called my mom to ask her to get the car ready in an hour or so. She told me later that she could hear me having contractions in the background and she 'just knew' that I would have the baby very, very soon so she went to get the car started right away! (she forgot the keys and had to backtrack to her place in the middle of a Montreal February night, but that's another story). That kind of primal knowledge really is incredible.

CA: Exactly. And that's what I want for my own births. When I first started I thought for sure I would want to have an epidural when I have a baby of my own. As I have grown in the profession and my own learning I think I’m going to trust my body to tell me what I need.

SV: What kind of a birth do you hope to have? Where would you hope to give birth?

CA: I hope to have a very open mind in this situation. I would like to keep my mind and body healthy and continue to practice yoga in preparation. I would like to think I would be able to have an un-medicated water birth but I am going to try not to have any expectation on my birth and just see what my mind and body need at that time. I feel very safe in the hospital that I currently work. I work with some wonderful midwives that I would like to provide my care. I think I could have the birth I hoped to have with them with the medical backup right there if needed. Not to mention to have all my wonderfully supportive co-workers there to help me through it.

SV: That sounds great. I'm sure that your experiences from working in labour and delivery will inform your birth, and your birth will then inform the further work you do.