Sunday, May 30, 2010

Farmer's Market Fun

This past week I enjoyed an afternoon of catching up with my friend and back-up doula, Sarah. Neither she or I have ever had to call on the other to fill in at a birth, but we have met each other's clients and we keep each other posted about upcoming births. I have enjoyed getting to know her and learn from her, as well as being able to process my questions and insecurities with her. She is a wife, a mother of two, and is currently hosting a postpartum support group for new mothers in her home. I recommend her highly to anyone looking for a birth or postpartum doula in Round Rock or North Austin!

Here's a great photo of Sarah and equally awkward photo of me with my eyes closed. :) Sarah visits the farmer's market at The Triangle every week and she invited me to come along with her last Wednesday.

Sarah and I both decided that the farmer's market would be a great place for postpartum mommas to come hang out. There were lots of young families sitting on blankets and enjoying the atmosphere, letting their children play in the green space, and getting grocery shopping done, too!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tactile and Emotional Support During Labor

This month's issue of the Charis Childbirth newsletter included great introductory information about the role of birth doulas. I've included an excerpt below, but there's more info at this link:

A doula is a layperson, most often a woman, who understands the biological and medical processes involved in labor and obstetrics, and who usually has assisted in at least five or six deliveries under the supervision of another doula. Her training also provides her with knowledge of obstetrical interventions, so that she can explain them to the woman and her partner in the event they are needed.

Doulas typically function as a part of the "birthing team," serving as an adjunct to the midwife or the hospital obstetrical staff. Physicians and labor and delivery nurses may appreciate the doula's sustained attention to the mother, especially in hospitals where demands on the staff interfere with exclusive contact with the mother. The doula also serves a critical role in supporting and educating the woman's partner, enabling him or her to be as involved and as effective as possible in supporting the mother.

In the United States, most doulas work as independent providers hired by the expectant woman. (In fact, many hold full-time jobs outside the realm of health care.) Increasingly, managed care organizations are offering doula support as part of regular obstetrical care. In some European institutions, doula support is offered as a standard of care by midwives or nursing students. In many cultures, of course, the practice of a knowledgeable woman helping a mother in labor is not labeled anything as official as "doula" support; it is simply an ingrained, centuries-old custom.

Overall, the defining characteristic of doula-type care is continuous, uninterrupted, emotional and physical support of the woman for the duration of the labor and childbirth.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Babies Documentary Beautifully Captures Family Bond

I've been looking forward to this film since I first saw the trailer. And I've watched the trailer a few times since then! :)

It's still not showing in Austin. But here's a review from someone who has seen it.
French director Thomas Balmes brings us the daily ins and outs, from mundane moments to milestones, of four infants living disparate lives: Ponijao, a girl from Namibia; Mari, a baby girl in Tokyo; Hattie from San Francisco, and Bayarjargal, the only boy (and the biggest scene-stealer) in Mongolia. Balmes does this without narration, without marking the passage of time or even subtitles to clarify what's being said; then again, there are very few words. Instead, he roams from one baby to the next as they cry, eat, sleep, play and — eventually — crawl, stand up and walk.

It's a bold storytelling approach: Balmes runs the risk of alienating his audience members, the vast majority of whom won't be able to understand what's being said. "Babies" frequently lacks momentum because there's no strong narrative drive, just an easy, casual stroll from baby to baby, moment to moment. Then again, the familiarity of infancy emerges in time. When a mother assuages her child on an African plane or in a Japanese high-rise, it's clear what she's saying.

At the same time, the differences are striking. Helicopter parenting doesn't seem to exist in Mongolia, for example, where adorable Bayarjargal crawls out by himself into a scruffy field in the sunshine wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a diaper. Soon he's surrounded by cattle, all of whom seem to know instinctively to step carefully around this delicate creature, to protect him. When Ponijao bends down to sip water from a stream in the desert, you can almost hear the moms in the audience cringing because it's not sanitary.

But parents in the United States will also get a kick out of Hattie's reaction when her mom drags her to a crunchy-granola, mommy-and-me song circle. Her instinct is to run screaming for the door. (Smart cookie. Learning early.) Similarly, Mari has a prolonged and hilarious tantrum when she can't figure out how to stack a series of blocks in her bedroom. These are little people with big personalities, and Balmes lucked out in finding them; after all, he arranged to film these families while the babies were still in the womb.

Balmes shot nearly all this footage himself, 400 hours of it, all on a tripod, and the stillness of the lengthy moments that result can be mesmerizing. In crisp high definition and accompanied by Bruno Coulais' gorgeous score, he shows us everything from grand vistas of the Mongolian planes to nighttime quiet of a Namibian family's hut.

Read the full review by Christy Lemire of the Associated Press: