Welcome to my site! I'm excited that we might be working together before, during and after your labor and birth! Birth is such a life-changing event for the whole family, I consider it a privilege that I might be included on your big day!

Doula is a Greek word which means "woman who serves." Today, the word doula is used to mean a woman who has had special training to help a woman during labor and birth, as an emotional and physical support person.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Midwife for Every Mother

"A Midwife for Every Mother" read the blue bumper sticker on the back of the blue minivan.  I was glad to see it, because I was driving rapidly up to Rochester to attend a birth myself.  I sped up a little to see who was driving, picturing a midwife (and since I know most of the local midwives, I assumed I would recognize the driver.)  But it was a middle-aged, rather handsome man, and that made me smile even more.  We definitely need men to be behind the midwife thing, we can't do it alone.

The birth I attended ended up being a C-section.  The baby had been transverse, but momma went into labor and the baby turned to breech.  In the old days, when doctors still delivered breech babies, this wouldn't have been a problem, and I'm sure the baby would have been born vaginally; but doctors are no longer trained in breech births, so C-section it was.

So what would a midwife have done in this situation?  Well first of all, once she discovered, through palpation, that the baby was transverse, she would maybe perform an external version.  If she thought that was too risky, or she wasn't confident that she could do it, she might contact a local acupuncturist to put needles into specific locations to help the baby turn.  If neither of those things worked, she might bring a chiropractor into the mix to do some work on momma to see if that might help move the baby.  There are also many exercises and different positions that can be tried to get the baby into the right position to be born.

But do hospital staff try any of these well known ways of getting babies to turn?  Of course not.  In the hospital, we typical go right to a C-section, bypassing much less minimally invasive steps that could potentially get a baby into a good position for birth.

Our birth culture needs to change.  I think, even hospital staff, recognize that.  I have seen, in recent years, some really positive improvements in the hospital-birth world.  For one thing, breastfeeding is on the rise, I think in part because many maternity nurses are now trained to be coaches and advocates of breastfeeding.  Most hospitals now employ lactation consultants who see each new mother and baby, and try to encourage breastfeeding.  At the birth I was just at, I was impressed by the staff knowledge and support of breastfeeding.

We encourage active participation of family and friends in births now.  We no longer keep babies in nurseries and mom down the hall somewhere.  I think it is great that we have rooms where the whole family hangs out, and gets lessons on baby care, before sending the family home with their precious little bundle.

All of those things are huge improvements.  However, I do think we have a lot of work to do.  When midwives are trying things that have been shown to work, that doctors aren't even considering, something is wrong.  

How do we fix this situation?  I'm not really sure.  But I think we could start by looking at the maternity systems that are in place in England and Canada, for one.  In both those places, midwives are front and center in every birth, unless a surgery needs to happen, in which case a doctor is brought in.  The holistic, midwifery model of care is standard, and surgery is reserved for serious emergencies.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sugar slaves...

I worked on my father's farm today, cleaning timothy, and as I often do while doing farm work, I thought about all the reasons I want to grow most of my own food, and be as self-sufficient as possible.  I was reading a National Geographic article today about sugar, and our national addiction to it, and how Europeans got the taste for sugar.  The article also talked about the Caribbean islands became slave islands, with the slaves growing sugar for Europe.

When I was in Malawi, I saw the modern day sugar slaves.  Although not technically slaves, the people I saw lived like slaves, while growing sugar cane for Europe consumption.  Malawi will never be free of debt owed to England, from infrastructure England decided to build in Malawi when they had Malawi as a colony.  Also, a corrupt government in Malawi means people don't get anything for the taxes they pay.  Anyway, I find it ironic (and also cruel,) that Malawians are still growing tobacco and sugar for Europe despite the fact that they are technically free, and while they grow the cash crops tobacco and sugar, their children starve.

I'm getting sick of living in a world where white people get more and more obsess, get diabetes, get sicker and sicker, off of food, sugar, etc., grown on plantations where black folks live a life of hell, and their starving little babies suck on sugarcane endlessly, trying to satisfy their hunger.

When people lie and say children are starving in Africa because of drought, overpopulation, war, or any of the other things they say, it is because they don't want the weight of guilt on them.  The truth is, children are starving in Africa so we in affluent counties can eat candy and smoke cigarettes.  The world is cruel, and often, the truth is hard to face.

Why do I want to grow my own food?  Because I've seen babies in Africa going hungry.  If I can depend more and more on the resources I produce myself, I will not have to buy resources shipped from plantations in far away places, where slaves work to grow things for me.

I want to create a world where nobody slaves for anyone else.  I want to create a world where all people are viewed as equals, and therefore, resources are shared equally, among all of us.

I want to create a world with no more starving babies.

Who is with me?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Finishing School and Prepairing To Move

You know it's funny.  Sometimes, you get to the end of a program, and your insecurities kick in and you think "how the hell am I going to be a nurse?"

I'm not sure how.  I often think I'm the most incompetent human to walk the face of the Earth.  But I need a job that pays ok, and I care about people, and especially about health, and people tell me I'll be an excellent midwife, and maybe an ok nurse, as long as I'm careful about the jobs I pick.  But in this economy, who can be careful about the jobs they pick?  Do I have the choice to "pick" a job?

I wish I knew how to get paid for doula work.  It seems like only broke people have babies, and I can't ask a broke momma to pay me.  I'd love to be teaching childbirth education and getting paid doula clients, but I'll likely be working long-term care for a few years, which is ok too, as long as I find a better way to deal with stress.  It's hard to watch people with dementia struggle to understand where they are, and why we have to do the things we have to do to them (even bathing a person with dementia can be a struggle,) and I frequently feel like a cruel person for doing things against a person's will, even when they are so demented they don't know what they want.  I guess I'll get over that.

In Kaplan Review class today, we where talking about restraints, both physical and pharmalogical, and I was having a hard time even thinking about putting someone in restraints, even though I know at times it is necessary.  Maybe I need to have some kids so I'm more callused about doing things to people who don't know what is best for them?  I don't know.  I feel like working in long term care for a few years could be very good for me, since I really need to learn my meds, inside and out, yet I feel terrible being the "med nurse."  We know that polypharma is very dangerous and detrimental, yet, look what we do to our elderly.    But maybe I can make peace with my distrust of most meds, and get over my feelings of wrongness about giving many patients somewhere between 10 and 20 different meds.                            

On top of endless ethical dilemmas, trying to study for my boards and apply for my New York State Nursing License (which easily transfers to Indiana, once I move there,)  I'm trying to prepare to move to Ander's farm, possibly named "Work in Progress Farm."

And I feel very unsettled about all of that as well.  I love Anders, and I love some aspects of farm life; but I never pictured myself as a farm wife, or at least not in recent years.  I've seen my parents struggle with farming my whole life, and I know that, for most farmers, good years are pretty good, but bad years are really bad, poverty is a very real issue for farmers, and a lot of kids who grow up on farms got this advice from their parents "get out while you still can!"

On the other hand, rural life and farm life is what I know, what I'm comfortable with.  I think it is a privilege that I grew up that way, considering that less then 2% of the kids in this country grow up that way anymore, when once-upon-a-time, this was a farming nation.  I want my children to have fresh air, fresh water, and fresh, organic food.  I want to live in a way that is less destructive then many other lifestyles I can picture.  I want to teach my children about edible wild foods, and to not fear the woods, to love nature, to respect the planet they inhabit.  But I'm a lazy creature, and farming is a hard thing to do if you are, by nature, a couch potato.

But I realize that I'm happiest when I'm forcing myself not to be lazy, when I'm busy from dawn to dusk, when I'm working hard, in the sun, using all my muscles, sweating all day long, using critical thinking skills to irrigate crops, or build a chicken coop from scrape materials, or what have you.  Maybe all people kind of want to be lazy, but it is more satisfying, often, to live a life that is busy and full of accomplishments.

Well, nursing doesn't have to be an ethical dilemma either, I suppose.  There should be a job, among the plethora of nursing jobs available, which would fit with my ethics, for the most part, and not cause me too much anxiety.  I've been thinking a lot about finding work at a low-income health clinic, or maybe a hospice house?  I've got to get in somewhere; bills that have been piling up for years now are starting to get out of control; life isn't free, especially when you've got student loans up to your eyeballs....

I'm going to visit Healing Spirits Herb Farm this evening to clear my head and gain some perspective. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Welcome to my blog!!!

It has been a seriously long time since I've written anything here, and a lot has occurred since then!  I need to seriously revisit this blog, and do a lot of updating.  Lets see; my life is full and busy, as always (I wouldn't have it any other way!)  I'm just finishing up LPN school, with my goal still being to become a homebirth midwife eventually (lots of loans and higher education later,) and I've met the man who is my male counterpart (seriously Anders, could we be more alike?,) and I'm planning a big move out to Beanblossom Indiana, to my sweethearts' farm.

I also have a few doula clients due before I leave.  I'm sitting on pins and needles, praying nobody goes into labor during my graduation ceremony or during my last few hours in clinical at nursing school!  Somehow, it seems, everything works out.  But most of the time, it seems like some type of miracle!

And what will I do in Beanblossom Indiana?  My boyfriend's farm is currently off the grid, meaning there is no electricity, no running water, no plumbing, no modern conveniences.  My nursing school classmates where teasing me about becoming "Amish," which is not too far from the truth!  We are embarking on a grand experiment, to see just how "green" we can live.  I hate the term "green" by the way, I'm only using it because it is such a widely used term that people kind of understand.  Maybe a better term to use would be how low impact we can live, or how low carbon we can get away with?  I honestly don't like any of those terms, because all of them are now being used by large businesses to sell more stuff, which is not helping our environment, but anyway, I digress.

Anders and I will be living with several other families on his 36 acre farm, and trying to raise our own food (meat, eggs, milk, fruits and veggies,) and also have extra to take to market.  We will be building our own house, which frankly, scares the dickens out of me (I've never built anything,) but I'm also excited to make it from materials right on the farm, maybe make it like a hobbit house, by digging into a hillside, or perhaps out of cob, or a straw bale structure?  We aren't sure yet, I feel like we need to do a bit more research, and really figure out what will work best in Indiana weather.  But the possibilities are endless, for the house, and our lives.

In the meantime, Anders and I will probably be purchasing a school bus to live in, so we have a dry place until our permanent house is finished.  We will rig up some type of solar shower, and a composting toilet, a greenhouse, shacks to house animals, but I know all of this will take time, and it may be years before we are living really comfortably.

Besides helping with numerous farm projects, I will need to get at least a part-time job as nurse.  I have a LOT of federal loans to pay back, from Birthingway College of Midwifery, and now, also, from Marion S Whelan School of Practical Nursing, and besides that, we won't be living completely bill-free.  I will have my phone bill, car insurance, gas for my car, any medical expenses for my cats and myself, food (until the farm is fully operational, which may take years, some of our food will be purchased,) and of course, all the other random expenses which are too numerous to list here.  As time goes on, we hope to become more the more self-sufficient, but I am realistic and I know it will take years and years to be truly "self-sufficient."  Well, we will never be 100% self-sufficient, but even coming close will take a long time, I'm sure.  (Unless one of us wins a lottery or something.)

Anyway, lots of exciting things to look forward to!  I'm also looking forward to going on in school, attending more births, having babies of my own, and getting married!  I will never be bored, that is the one thing I'm certain of!

Well, I've got to go meet with a doula client!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

                                      Bio: who I am

Hi!  I'm so glad you found my site, and congratulations on your pregnancy!  Feel free to look around, ask questions, and learn more about doulas.  My name is Kimberly Henderson and I am a young woman who is a doula, a gardener/farmer, a nanny, an actvist, and a student of midwifery.  As a person who has always been interested in the organic processes of life, I've been fascinated by birth for a very long time.  I started reading about birth at the age of twelve, and started attending births at twenty three after attending a DONA doula training in Ithaca, NY.  At the first birth I attended, I met some Rochester midwives, and I quickly realized I wanted to become a midwife.

I attended midwifery school in Portland, OR for three years.  The midwifery school I attended, Birthingway College of Midwifery, taught me a lot and was very exciting, but in the process I realized I wanted to practice midwifery back on the East Coast, close to my family.  So now I'm back in New York, looking forward to becoming a certified DONA International doula and helping lots of families have enjoyable and healthy births!

Contact info

1) home phone: 607-522-5674
2) cell phone: 503-863-7568
3) Address: 11038 County Route 122, Prattsburgh, NY  14873-9774
4) e-mail: kimhendersondoula@gmail.com

What is a doula?

Doula is an ancient Greek word which means "woman's servart."  In today's world, a doula is a person (most often a woman,) who helps a family through the last weeks of pregnancy, labor and birth, as well as a little bit into the postpartum period.  She meets with the expectant family a few times before the birth, to teach them what to expect during labor and birth, and to help the family make a birth plan, if they want, and also to learn comfort measures they can use to help the woman during labor and birth.  Then, the doula accompanies the family in the home, if they wish, during early labor, then in the hospital later, during the rest of her labor and birth.

Afterwards, the doula will visit the family a few more times to be sure that everything is going smoothly with the mother, baby, father and other family members, that the baby is nursing ok, and reviews the birth with the family at this point.  The doula is prepared with a list of community resources if the family needs referrals to anyone, such as a lactation consultant, WIC, nannies, pediatricians, and so forth.

What comfort measures do I as a doula, offer?

There are numerous non-pharmaceutical techniques that I, as a doula, have been trained to do, which can lessen pain, and increase a sense of well-being, during labor.  Below is a list of comfort measures that I employ to make the mother (and baby,) more comfortable:
  • Comforting touch
  • Positions which help the baby move into a good position to be born, and relieve pain
  • Aromatherapy
  • Visualization techniques
  • The reassurance of having a support person always there, since doctors, midwives and nurses are often busy with other clients, and can't support you through the entire labor and birth (fathers often mention to doulas after the birth that they thought they where "being replaced" by the doula, but the doula actually helped them be there more for the mother, since they weren't so stressed with an overwhelming task, and feel grateful for the doulas presence.)
  • Affirmations
  • Acupressure points
  • Hydrotherapy

Do studies suggest that using a doula during labor is really helpful?

Many studies have been done starting in the early eighties, to see if an extra support person at the time of birth is really helpful.  The overwhelming result of the research is that, yes, it is helpful to have a doula.  Most studies suggest that doulas not only shorten the length of labor, but they decrease the need for pain medications, including the epidural, they decrease the chance of a mother getting a C-section, they decrease other interventions, such as forceps, vacuum extractors, etc, they increase a family's overall satisfaction with the birth experience, and they increase a mother's feeling that she was empowered by her birth!  This, in turn, has the effect of making a more confident mother, who has more success breastfeeding, lower rates of postpartum depression, and more satisfaction with her newborn.  In short, hiring a doula can have a profound and long-term, lasting effect on the entire family!


 Contact info:  feel free to contact me with any questions or inquires!

Kim Henderson

e-mail: kimhendersondoula@gmail.com


-cell: 503-863-7568
-home: 607-522-5674


11038 County Route 122
Prattsburgh, NY  14873

I work with women in the Rochester, Ithaca, Penn Yan and Naples area!