B.R.A.I.N. or B.R.A.N. are two commonly used acronyms that you may come across in your pregnancy journey to help you make informed decisions in birth.
B - benefits
R - risks
A - alternatives
I - intuition
N - nothing
B - benefits
R - risks
A - alternatives
N - nothing
(p.s. why did someone decide removing intuition was a good idea?!)
While these are great starting questions and a wonderful guide when discussing things with your care provider, I encourage you to go beyond that and ask yourself some questions too.
When I was a baby doula, I put all my focus of getting my clients informed of everything that could come their way. I did this because of my own personal experience. As a first time parent, I did the common "go with the flow" technique which really for me meant putting my hands up and releasing responsibility over the experience and the outcome of my birth. With the second baby, I became so hyper focused on flipping that, and getting super informed about everything. I remember reading the line "If you don't know your options, you don't have any" from Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer and it really struck me. Because of that, I thought that I had to spend all my time getting to know everything so that I always had options.
As I start my 7th year in birth work, so much has happened in this journey. I took my original doula training in my second pregnancy, not with plans to be become a doula, but because I was so determined to have a different kind of birth than my first. In my second pregnancy I became so engrossed with anything to do with birth. I wanted all the information and felt if I knew more, then I would make better choices for myself. While I do think knowledge is power, I also realized after that in birth, there is so much more to it. I began actively attending births after my births after my second pregnancy.
I was super focused on getting my clients to know all this information I had just learned that in hind sight, probably left a lot of them overwhelmed with the information overload. I was attending 3-4 births a month and even added a team to my doula company, The Maya's Nest Birth.
Throughout those years, I went to a lot of births and saw almost every kind of birth there is. Again and again, I also saw the system we are birthing in fail many clients.
The system controls birth. Not families. No matter how many times some care providers may say they believe in family centered care, the truth is, it is system centred care. And this isn't an attack on medical care providers, they are simply doing the best they can in the system that likely isn't making too many of them happy either. Overworked, stretched too thin, not enough support, hospital hierarchy, horizontal violence, not enough resources - these are things I hear my friends who are doctors, nurses and midwives say.
Now let's be real - I can't fight the system by myself. Even doulas all together can't just change it. The power to change things is with the birthing families. As doulas, with every family that we work with and remind them of their legal right to informed choice, and help them figure out how to get the information and ask the questions they need, and then back them up when families demand better, that is what will change things.
So what does that mean for me and my upcoming clients? Well, I've changed some things.
I took some real time to sit back and ask myself a few things:
1. What makes me excited to attend a birth?
2. What are my strongest skills?
3. Who do I want to work with the most?
You see, attending births is multifaceted. While it is the highest of highs, seeing families in their power as they birth their baby, it is also hard. Living life on call 24/7 is challenging when you have a young family and a busy separate business. Being witness to mistreatment is the hardest. If I am going to continue to attend births for the rest of my life (okay until retirement age maybe haha) like I want to, I need to put boundaries surrounding my work.
Here's what I know. I am really skilled at working with birthing families who want physiologic births. They want as little interventions as possible. They want to birth in power. They want to connect with their wisdom to guide their births. They want to birth joyfully. I know that if these are the goals, they are more likely to achieve it if they plan a home birth. Because of this, right now I am limiting working with only families who plan to birth at home. Not only does the evidence reflect that even just planning a home birth with a registered midwife gives better outcomes, I also know physiologically speaking, birthing at home makes sense. I am only attending a handful of births per year now, so I am able to give much more of my time to my clients as well as really make sure we are the perfect match.
I will do another post soon going deeper into home birth in BC and I will be starting up home birth info sessions on zoom again. I also hope to build up my Home Birth in the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley facebook group to become a better resource for local families.
Another new change is that I am now teaching prenatal classes both privately and in groups with my dear friend Michelle Tyliakos in her My Powerful Birth prenatal classes. If you don't know Michelle, get to know her. Together, I know we will really make a huge difference in our prenatal students pregnancies, births and postpartum. Our first session together starts in June.
Aaaaand if you didn't notice - I've done a rebrand. I said goodbye to The Maya's Nest and am now just working under my own name. My focus this year is on really simplifying life. For so long I was so busy with so many things and now, I want to keep it simple. I said goodbye two a few places that took up so much of my time so that I can say hello to this high touch doula support I can now offer, prenatal classes, start dabbling in home design which is a side passion, continuing to grow my other business bellies inc. and spend lots of time with my kids who are only this little for such a short time.
So, here's to a renewal of my birthwork. Expect more honestly. Expect more truth. Expect more me.
Hi. It is me, your long lost doula friend.
It's been a good year since my last blog post. Three kids is no joke, plus I still have my doula clients!
Today as I was looking through some photos of my third birth, it got me thinking about the main thing everybody told me about third babies -
"OH - THIRD BABIES ARE WILDCARDS!"
As in EVERYBODY said this - from Susan in the freezer aisle, to friends and family and even doulas and midwives who really should know better about how to not freak a pregnant person out! What it ended up doing is scaring me. Yes, even though I have all this birth knowledge, constantly being told that this birth was going to be a wildcard made me fearful of what was to come.
Now, sitting on the other side of the birth and the first year as a parent of three, I want to say this -
THIRD BABIES ARE NOT WILDCARDS. THEY ARE JUST DIFFERENT. Just like my first birth was different to my second birth, my third was just different.
Samantha Garcia Gagnon is a birth worker in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. She has a special focus on supporting physiologic home births and shares her years of experience and knowledge in this blog.
Proudly supporting home birthing families in Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam. Port Moody, Langley,
Surrey and New Westminster.
Filled with gratitude to be living and working in the unceded and ancestral home of the Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Kwantlen, and
Semiahmoo First Nations.