Tag Archives: Birth

The Birth of Caroline*

Toronto Naturopathic Doctors

I have attended hundreds of births, of almost every type, since I began to work as a naturopathic birth doula. Many imagine that I must be involved only in “hippy-dippy” births where everyone is naked, involving chanting.

I love all births, each birth is special to the people involved, and a privilege to participate in.

Caroline’s birth is an example of a fairly conventional birth that I smile, every time I think of it.

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula

I received a call, early Thursday morning on August 25, 2016. It was Stuart*. His wife, Kaylee*, was labouring and thinking about going to the hospital. She got on the phone and described her night: she had gone to sleep at around 11 PM, but has been up on-and-off since 3 AM. She hadn’t wanted to wake Stuart until just now.

Contractions were coming every 5 minutes or so; 20 to 30 seconds long; intensity of about 7-out-of-10. I encouraged her to walk around, keeping moving, as she felt best standing and swaying her hips from side-to-side. I recommended a good breakfast and to start getting ready to go to the hospital. I was also going to get ready and be on my way.

Around 7:15 AM Stuart called again. They had decided to go to the hospital and asked me to meet them there. Kaylee was coping very well, but had decided she would like an epidural. I spoke with her on the phone to offer more encouragement. I gave her a visualization to work with: a mountain. With each contraction, she was simply to focus on getting to the peak of the mountain – once there, all the work was done, and she could relax and release the contraction.

The visualization, having an image to focus on, helped comfort Kaylee as the contractions passed while waiting for an anesthesiologist to become available. Kaylee remained focused and comfortable for several hours until she received her epidural at 11 AM, and was able to relax again, in comfort.

At this point, with all well, and in anticipation of the work to come, it time for a short break for Stuart and I.

By 12:30 PM, Kaylee began to feel “the pressure”. At 8 to 9 cm dilated, her “membranes were bulging” which meant her “water may break” soon (which meant “go time” was imminent). Kaylee remained comfortable, and I reminded her to continue to hydrate with apple juice and perhaps eat some JELL-O (easy to eat, quick energy).

Within an hour, Kaylee was fully dilated and ready to push. This being her second birth, she easily found her place of focus.

She pushed out her baby girl, and was skin-to-skin with her in less than 30 minutes.

Kaylee and Stuart waited for several minutes after her birth, until the umbilical cord had stopped pulsating (to allow for maximal maternal blood transfer), for Stuart to cut it.

Caroline was born, happy and healthy.


*Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.

Three Things a Birth Partner Can Do to Help at Birth

Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

The role of the birth partner can be perplexing, we all want to help, but how? Jessica Dupont (née Sanguiliano) helps, with three simple guidelines!



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Posted: 2017 May 24

The Birth of Roland

The start of the holiday season always brings to mind the following birth story. As a naturopathic birth doula, I am always honoured and grateful my patients allow me to to be a part off this very special moment in their lives, a feeling that I am reminded of each time I recount the story of this birth.

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula

Erika had called me for the third time since her contractions had begun, two days previous. She had felt a noticeable change in her contractions and asked me to come to her home, the setting in which she had decided to birth. It is pretty amazing how a little experience (this was her second birth) made such a difference. She knew things were really happening now. She knew she needed her support people in place. Her husband was with her, her midwife, Nicole, was on the way, and I completed the birth team. Erika’s mother had come and picked up Erika’s daughter so she could focus solely on her needs and those of her new baby.

I arrived at her home soon after the call. It was a beautiful snowy, Christmas Eve morning. When I entered her home, I was aware of how comfortable Erika was and how relaxed everyone was together. We had all been present for her first birth and excited to be part of her second.  Erika was labouring well.

Erika had decided to have a water-birth. The birth tub was in place, and her husband, Adam, busied himself with the final steps of inflating and filling it with warm water. Birth tubs are great for the labouring mother’s comfort, but also as a means involving dads or partners (and keeping them busy if they’re anxious).

That morning, after two days of mild cramping, Erika’s cramps required more effort to ignore and were not subsiding, a sure sign of the “official” beginning of labour. With increased intensity of cramping, we began to employ comfort measures: Focus on breathing with each contraction, “hip squeezes” during contractions, and pressure applied to the low-back and over the sacrum. After two hours, Nicole checked her dilation. At “3–4 cm dilated” she was entering “active labour”, a relief to a labouring mom because it means the longest portion of labour is behind her.

Although longest portion is over, active labour is most physically intense portion of the birthing experience. During active labour contractions are strong, and are often characterized by a “peak”. The onset of more intense pain will sometimes undermine a labouring mothers’ confidence. With her contractions increasing in intensity, we guided Erika to the birth tub. The warm water offered immediate pain-relief, helping her entire body to relax. Once relaxed, Erika was able to center again and we were back on track.

After a couple of hours in the tub, Erika experienced a sudden change in emotion, and began suddenly to cry. Pulsatilla nigrans is a homeopathic medicine that can be given to persons who have the tendency to be overwhelmed by emotions by responding, specifically, by crying (rather than, for example, with anger). Erika fit that description at that moment, and after a few pellets of Pulsatilla nigrans and a few moments, she felt calmer.

The final stage of active labour, just before birthing, is called “transition”. Fear is another commonly experienced emotion during labour, and in my experience, it often occurs at transition. It is essential to offer mothers at transition a lot of support and reassurance. We reminded Erika of her strength, we coached her in her breathing to help her feel relaxed, but the fear was becoming difficult to control. Gelsemium sempervirens is a homeopathic medicine that can be used to calm a person in an acute state of fear, specifically fear with an anxious quality (e.g., “I don’t know what to expect/how this will turn out”).

With the fear receding, Erika began to feel a natural urge to “push”. The intensity of her body’s natural urge surprised her, and her baby was out with three strong, well-controlled pushes. He was born into the water of the tub (baby’s are still supplied oxygen through the umbilical cord) and placed immediately, skin-to-skin, on Erika’s chest. Immediate skin-to-skin contact with their mother is essential to a newborn in so many ways: They are happier, their temperature, heart and breathing rates are more normal, and they are able to be colonized by their mothers’ bacteria (an important preventative measure against developing allergies later in life). They are also able to exchange sensory information with their mothers, stimulating the development of “baby behaviours” such as rooting for the breast when hungry and natural breathing, as well as developing emotional attachments that cannot be quantified. Immediate skin-to-skin contact is not a given in many hospital environments.

Adam joined Erika and baby Roland in the tub, where they spent their first time together as a family.

As a doula, I recognize this as an essential time for family bonding. Her midwife and I receded into the background to let it happen. I stayed with Erika until her placenta was birthed, and until Roland had had his first and second “feeds”, to ensure he was latching to her breast well. As I left for my own family Christmas Eve celebration, Erika, Adam were beaming, and Roland was sleeping.

Thank you Erika, Adam and Roland for allowing me the honour of participating in your beautiful birth.

What is a Doula?

Toronto Naturopathic Doctor

Pregnancy is a period of big changes in a new mother’s life, a time filled with beautiful moments and serious challenges. As your baby grows, it’s normal to want comfort, reassurance and support from the people around you – both loved ones and medical professionals.

A birth doula can provide you with all of these things and more during your pregnancy and labour.

What does a doula’s work involve?

A doula is a close caregiver who gets to know the expectant family, especially mom, and who helps with every step along the way as you design and carry out your birth plan. If you choose to consult a Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (TCNM) doula, you’ll receive:

  • Assistance in choosing the birth plan that is the best fit for you
  • Naturopathic care during your pregnancy and labour
  • Calm support in arranging the type of birth you want and need
  • A caring friend on call to ease your fears and help you during labour
  • A professional birthing expert with years of training and experience

How is a TCNM doula different from other doulas or midwifes?

Fifty years ago, the care options available to expectant mothers in Canada were slim pickings. Today, doulas and midwives are everywhere in Toronto, each offering their own unique brand of pregnancy and labour care.

At TCNM, all of our birth doulas have completed four years of training in naturopathic medicine as well as the schooling to become a doula, making them a breed apart. We provide not only the educational and support services of a doula, but the knowledge and skill set of a naturopathic doctor. What that means is that in addition to education about your options and support in creating your birth experience, we also offer acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicines that can make your pregnancy more enjoyable and ease your labour.

If you’re worried about birth or you’re experiencing any kind of discomfort, herbs and homeopathic remedies can help you to prepare. Acupuncture is often useful during the birth process to help babies get into the right position and to relieve mom’s labour pain.

Your doula is on call and will be at your side to assist you throughout your baby’s birth.

Why use a doula?

There are many good reasons to choose a doula. Research has proven that doula-assisted labours are shorter, with less need for epidurals, c-section deliveries or other medical intervention. Mothers who rely on a doula’s support are happier with their birthing experience. Last, but certainly not least, many women say that working with a doula leads to a more relaxed labour and better early bonding with their newborn.

A doula offers the warmth, caring, and support of a loving friend, along with the training and experience of a seasoned labour professional. For families seeking a little bit of extra care and assistance in making the right decisions for them, a doula offers reassurance, guidance and support. A doula who is also a naturopathic doctor provides a wealth of knowledge and practical medical care before and during your baby’s birth.

Interested in learning more about a doula’s work, visit our Naturopathic Birth Doula page? Looking for a naturopathic doctor to help with your pregnancy and birth? Get in touch!



Posted: 2013 January 28