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Twenty-two years ago, I bought a copy of Spiritual Midwifery at the original Big Carrot, a small wooden floored health food store on the south side of the Danforth.  The book was filled with pictures of long haired hippies and accounts of their birth stories.  It blew my mind.  When I finished it, I knew that someday I wanted to give birth at home with midwives.  Two years later, I did.  Ina May’s presence in my life has continued.  My midwife, Mary Sharpe, is friends with her, and Isabel Perez, my back-up over the last eighteen years, trained as a midwife with her and worked with her for four years before coming to Toronto.  When I was just beginning to attend births, Isabel and I drove down to Tennessee in a van filled with midwives and midwifery students to take part in a conference that was hosted by Ina May and the Farm.  I learned a ton and felt like I had had a little taste of living American history.

Isabel and I did a much easier drive to Ottawa a couple of years ago to hear Ina May speak at another conference.  There was a whole new generation of young women with their men there, some of whom had yet to have babies.  Ina May was able to connect with them and they with her.  It’s a very inspiring bridging of the generations and one that is essential to the continued transmission of feminine knowledge and wisdom.  As I have gotten older and my daughter has become a woman, I am more aware that we all need to keep passing on what we know.  We all have a responsibility to be teachers.

Ina May has a wonderful sense of humour and a very down to earth and crystal clear way of communicating.  She hasn’t been in Toronto in many years so this is a rare opportunity to hear her speak.  With Isabel Perez, Lisa Caron and Lisa Doran have organized this event.  They are doulas and mothers and healers and writers and they are doing a wonderful job of passing the wisdom on.
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Eating and drinking well during early labour (when contractions are gentle and short and spaced more than five minutes apart) will give you the strength you’ll need for the intense part of the birth process.  Focus on complex carbohydrates and easily digested protein.  A bowl of rolled oats with yogourt and fruit, whole grain muffins or bread, pasta, brown rice and steamed vegetables, eggs, soy, baked sweet potato…might appeal to you.   Staying well hydrated in active labour (when strong, long contractions are happening five minutes apart or less) is essential for you and your baby.  Having frequent sips of fluids which contain some calories is ideal.  If you are feeling nauseous, try plain water.

Otherwise, watered down fruit juice is good.  Choose something that isn’t citrus as the acidity can upset your stomach.  Natural apple, apricot, or pear juice are easily digested.   Herbal tea with honey is another option.

Below is a recipe for a drink that will help you maintain your electrolyte balance.  If your labour is particularly long or you have thrown up a fair bit, this can give you energy and help you avoid dehydration or clinical exhaustion.  It’s an alternative to Gatoraide and can prevent the need for I.V. fluids.   Drinking this after you have given birth is helpful too as you will have lost some blood with the birth of the placenta.  I remember gulping it by the glassful.  Yum.

Labour-aide

1 litre water or 1/2 litre water and 1/2 litre non-citrus fruit juice

1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

optional: a couple of tablespoons liquid calcium/magnesium supplement (helps with efficient muscle contraction and relaxation)

All creative acts come from the same source and unfold according to the same principles.  I discovered this when I instinctively used the techniques I had learned in my Voice training to give birth to my daughter.  Just recently, I have been the receiver of two creations that are close to my heart.

My niece, Sophie, is the first.  She was born at home in peace, attended by my brother (her father) and in the last few hours, by two midwives.  My sister-in-law used her strength to receive the power of Life and release her daughter into the world.  We are all grateful!

Having  just written about how Yoga is Strength Receiving, I got an email from Caylie Staples letting me know about the upcoming release of her first album, ‘Receiver’. Caylie writes:

I was working with you a lot during the time that I was writing the material and… recording it…you were a big part of my ideas about giving and receiving – thank you!

The album was recorded by Alex Unger and features myself (voice and songs), Katie Dutemple (voice), Felicity Williams (voice), Matt Brubeck (cello), Daniel Fortin (bass) and D. Alex Meeks (drums) -all wrapped up in a beautiful package designed by Emmott Clancy and printed by Standard Form!

CD RELEASE PARTY for ‘RECEIVER’
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm
The Southern Cross Lounge at the Tranzac
in downtown Toronto
Free show; albums $10.00

The release will feature the band from the album, with Cory Latkovich subbing in for Matt Brubeck on cello – if you want to hear both of these fantastic cellists, get the record and come to the show!  The band is very excited to hear what this new member will bring to the table!  We will also be joined by some very special, secret GUEST IMPROVISERS for part of the evening.  Material from the album as well as very new material will be played!  Toronto folks can pick the record up at the release show or from ‘Soundscapes’ on College Street.

 

Ina May Gaskin and Isabel Perez

Ina May Gaskin and Isabel Perez

 

Isabel Perez has been my friend over the last fifteen years. Her life encompasses the ancient and modern, the rural and urban, South and North America. Birth has always been at the centre of Isabel’s life. She lives within an effortless recognition that the seen is evidence of the unseen, that heaven and earth are one condition.

Isabel was born in Guatemala to Mayan parents. Her great-grandmother was a nodrisa, a traditional midwife. Her father was a shaman. After the devastating earthquake in 1976, Isabel, her husband and children were brought to the U.S. by Ina May Gaskin, a pioneering midwife, now world renowned. Isabel trained and worked with Ina May for four years on The Farm in Tennessee. She contributed to a community whose way of handling birth resulted in a caesarean rate of only 1.4% amongst 2,028 women from 1970 to 2000. Home was the environment for 95.1% of the births. Isabel then moved to Toronto where she practiced midwifery until it was integrated into the Ontario health care system in 1993. Subsequently, Isabel has worked as a doula.

What follows is some of the conversation we had in her kitchen this past May. The sounds of living accompanied our talk: splashing water running from the kitchen sink, rice being washed, boiled and stirred; tea being poured; spoons touching bowls; our swallows. Isabel cooked and shared a breakfast of rice pudding while she carried the thread of her narrative. These sounds place her story in the current of daily life. Hear them as you read!

Crescence Krueger What is the most powerful thing that you bring to a birth?

Isabel Perez Confidence. Peace. Love. And trust. Those are the words my clients use, eh? So I’m just repeating them. I have a very simple personality. And that works for me almost everywhere. It’s very simple, the way that I work. Very simple. You have seen.

CK  That’s what I love.  Read the rest of this entry »

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