Give blood for moms this month!

Before I entered my childbearing years, I was happy to give blood on a semi-regular basis – I figure those who can, should! Let’s face it, giving blood isn’t really a walk in the park,  but it sure feels good to know that it can save someone’s life. (And the cookies you get afterwards are a sweet bonus!) When I am done having kids, I know that giving blood will be a priority for me again… for now my body has a hard time with having enough iron, so I’ve made a personal choice to put blood donation on hold during this season of life.

I was amazed to learn that every week in Manitoba, Canadian Blood Services must collect just over 1,000 units of blood to keep up with local patient demand. It is an unfortunate fact that some of those units will be used to help mothers who have complications during labor.

For the rest of May, Canadian Blood Services is encouraging you to take an hour out of your day and donate blood. Bring a friend or a family member and donate on behalf of all mothers who are now able to hold their baby because someone decided to GIVE LIFE.

Go to to book your appointment at 777 William Ave, today.

Upcoming Retreats: Healing From Your Difficult Birth

Sarah Picken and Janelle Hebb are holding two upcoming retreats on healing from difficult birth experiences. See the posters and more info on Sarah and Janelle below.



Sarah Picken and Janelle Hebb are both finishing their studies this year in the Marriage and Family Therapy (Master’s degree) program through the University of Winnipeg. They have each been seeing clients for several years as part of their requirements and will be graduating this year. Sarah has a private practice specializing in treating birth trauma (  Janelle is a  certified yoga instructor through Yoga Centre Winnipeg; they incorporate yoga and meditation into their retreats. 

Upcoming Couples’ Retreat: Healing After Pregnancy Loss

Couples who have endured loss at any point during pregnancy may be interested in this upcoming retreat. See more details on the event and the therapists below.


Sarah Picken and Janelle Hebb are both finishing their studies this year in the Marriage and Family Therapy (Master’s degree) program through the University of Winnipeg. They have each been seeing clients for several years as part of their requirements and will be graduating this year. Sarah has a private practice specializing in treating birth trauma (  Janelle is a  certified yoga instructor through Yoga Centre Winnipeg; they incorporate yoga and meditation into their retreats. 

UBC Seeking Participants for Childbirth Fear Study

UBC is looking for participants for a study on childbirth fears:

childbirth fear study

“We recently launched a study on childbirth concerns and are looking for pregnant women who are over 18 and living in Canada to participate.

With this research, we will assess the validity of a new screening tool for fear of childbirth, and explore the relationship between fear of childbirth, and mental health, history of trauma and symptoms of post-traumatic stress.  We hope to create educational materials using the study results.”

Registration Link:

CBC Draws Attention to Abuse of Winnipeg Moms #MistreatedinChildbirth

Did you catch this morning’s segment on abuse in the delivery room on CBC Information Radio?  In it, a local mom described some really awful treatment she received at a Winnipeg hospital after giving birth. She described how as she was basking in joy with her beautiful new baby, a nurse said “she didn’t want to see me back here in 12 months and lectured me about birth control.” (Sound odd? This mom was First Nations. Not a stretch to think the nurse was probably making discriminatory and racist assumptions). You can read more about these stories here:  New mothers upset over treatment in Winnipeg hospitals (CBC Manitoba). Be forewarned: not a pleasant read.

It turns out that CBC National is doing a whole investigation on this matter—see the following articles here (warning, they contain graphic details):

While it’s always sad and discouraging to hear these stories about mistreatment in maternity care, unfortunately, they are neither new nor rare. I was enraged but not at all surprised by any of the accounts shared in these articles or on the radio. But, I am really pleased to see the mainstream media start to cover what those who are passionate about good maternity care have known all along: women are often treated terribly – even abusively – during their maternity care.

Even comments from “leaders” in the obstetric field show an attitude of disregard and disrespect for women’s well-being. Unbelievably, Jennifer Blake, the CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, says she has never heard any complaints of disrespect or abusive behaviour.

It is true that many women don’t make complaints. Speaking from my own experience and in talking to other moms I know, I suggest there can be many reasons for this:

  1. she doesn’t want to be seen as a problem patient.
  2. it takes her a while to process and reflect on the treatment she received, and by the time she realizes that the way she was treated was not okay, it feels too late to report.
  3. birth and recovery are incredibly intimate, and some of the things she experienced may not be the sort of thing she can be candid about with a stranger.
  4. she may be carrying (knowingly or unknowingly) shame about the whole experience, and just trying to forget that any of it happened is how she is coping.

(I also relate to a mom in one of the stories, who said that “Being a new mom is very hard, I mean you’re trying to figure out how to live your life and somebody else’s life, so I mean to go forward with a complaint and to add that to your pile of things to do … it’s not really something that a new mom is going to want to do.” ).

I cannot accept that the SOGC has never had any complaints of abuse or disrespect, because it seems to me that at the root of virtually any complaint one could have about maternity care, you’d find a baseline of disrespect or abuse.  To make statements like Blake’s, or to say that “systems are rigorous at all levels such that Canadian women listening on CBC can be firmly reassured this is not a concern in Canada” (John Kingdom, chair of the University of Toronto’s department of obstetrics and gynecology) is preposterous

This “zero complaints” claim also begs the question, according to whom? Does SOGC have a checkbox for disrespect or abuse on their complaint form? I bet every one of the women who made complaints at any level would say that disrespect or abuse were part of the problem. The technical complaint might be something like “being forced to stop pushing because no doctor was available”, but isn’t the underlying cause of that the callous disregard for a woman’s health and well-being during an incredibly intense, vulnerable, and life-altering situation?

I, for one, am tired of the condescending, patronizing of “experts” who wish to assure us that this is not a problem. Often, they’ll talk about the health system now acknowledges that a mom’s birth “experience” and “empowerment” are important too (those words are usually uttered with just a hint of amusement). But you can usually tell they are just trying to humour us, women who are just asking to be treated with human decency and kindness.

No woman wants to put her baby at risk. But no woman should emerge from childbirth needing therapy for PTSD, or feel like she can’t bring another child into the world because of how traumatic the her first birth was. Even a few cruel, dismissive or offhand comments are enough to have a lasting effect on a mother’s mental health and self-perception. Emotional abuse doesn’t leave visible marks but it’s just as harmful as physical abuse.

On the plus side, I was pleased to hear a follow-up on the late afternoon news with a WRHA spokesperson, inviting women to come forward with complaints and concerns at any time, and acknowledging that these things can take time to process and articulate. I may make my complaint yet.

I hope this coverage starts to open a broader conversation about the way women are treated during their maternity care. Obstetric violence is real, it is pervasive, and it cannot be ignored.

Free Programs for Inkster Families

The Inkster Parent Child Coalition hosts a huge number of wonderful, free family programs, and they are starting up again for the fall soon! Programs include:

  • Bright Start groups at 2 locations: this is a play program for parents/caregivers and kids up to age 5. Meet other families in your neighbourhood, get information and support, talk to a nurse, and get healthy snacks (and free breakfast at the Westbrook group!) (drop-in; no registration required)
  • Wiggle Giggle & Munch: family play group (drop-in; no registration required)
  • Parent chat night: bring the kids for supper then have them supervised while you chat with other parents! (registration required)
  • Field trips: coming up this fall and winter are trips to Oak Hammock Marsh and a dinner & holiday lights event. (registration required)

Visit Inkster Parent Child Coalition’s facebook page for the full schedule and details.

New breastfeeding support group for Landmark moms

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Lynette Beard, a nurse and lactation consultant (IBCLC) who has recently launched a private lactation consultant business serving Winnipeg and surrounding areas. You can get more details on her business on her website or Facebook page, and I have also added it to this site’s breastfeeding support/resources page. I am just thrilled to see someone offering lactation consultant services that can be accessed from the client’s own home.

Kudos to Lynette – this is a much needed service here in Winnipeg. We have amazing, free resources through our WRHA breastfeeding clinics, but sometimes they aren’t the right fit or are hard to get to. Having someone who can come to your house and spend a larger chunk of time with you is invaluable.

In addition to her consultant services, Lynette also told me about a breastfeeding support group she runs in Landmark, and I wanted to share details about that here. Learn more about it by joining their Facebook group. Lynette notes that:

“Starting September 30, we will be meeting every other Tuesday evening 7pm-8:30pm. Please see facebook page for address or contact me. A small snack and water is provided. I also have a baby scale to weight babies. You can bring your breastfeeding baby, but it’s not required. Lots of moms leave their children at home since it is close to bedtime. Pregnant ladies are welcome as well!”

Late Summer/Fall 2016 Kids/Babies Clothing & Gear Sales in Winnipeg

Here are some upcoming sales to mark down in your calendar! Usually there are a couple of Y Neighbours sales in the fall as well, but I haven’t found details for any of them yet. Will update this list as needed. Happy shopping!

U of T Seeking Study Participants: Pregnant & New Mothers/Fathers< 2 Weeks Postpartum

A researcher asked me to help spread the news about a study underway at the University of Toronto. You could earn gift cards for completing questionnaires at different stages of your pregnancy or after your baby is born. Here are the details of the study — to apply to participate, visit the study homepage.


The University of Toronto is conducting a Canada-wide study to learn about the challenges new mothers AND fathers experience together in the first two years of their baby’s life. We are hoping to improve the health care we provide to the WHOLE family during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. We are currently recruiting 3000 couples to participate in this innovative and exciting study.


Both you and your partner will complete your own questionnaires online or by telephone. The first questionnaire is completed by telephone with a research assistant within the first 2 weeks after the birth of your  baby and then a link to online questionnaires will be emailed to both you and your partner when your baby turns 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months old. Each questionnaire will take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete depending on how the questions are answered.


To compensate you and your partner for your time we will send to each of you a $15 gift card for each questionnaire you or your partner completes. If you both complete all the questionnaires then you will receive a $50 bonus gift card at the end of the study. As a couple, you could receive up to $230 in gift cards for completing all the questionnaires.

You may be eligible to participate if you:

  • Are pregnant or just had a baby within the past 2 weeks
  • Reside with a partner of the opposite sex
  • Read and understand English fluently
  • Are willing to take up to 1 hour of your time to complete a questionnaire every 3 months

*If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please fill out the Study Application Form below*

This study has been approved by the University of Toronto Research Ethics Board.