Name: Rhondda Smiley
Workshop: Trimester 4 stream: Expectations, Frustrations & Success: staying sane and happy as a parent
What's your best advice when it comes to labour and birth?
Keep upright, keep moving, keep breathing, as much as you are able. Use gravity and gentle movement to support the work your body and baby are doing together. Even if you choose an epidural, there are ways to keep your hips and your options open! As a doula who's spent a lifetime training in movement practices such as yoga and dance, I bring a creative approach to supporting you in positions and movement that will keep your body, breath, mind and heart open.
What's the most important thing you learned from your own experience of becoming a parent?
I learned the hard way to let go of the illusion of control! When I was trying to conceive, I naively thought I'd be able to book my pregnancy around vacations and rush times at work. Ha! My ovaries had other ideas. I thought I'd spend nine months of pregnancy blissfully feeling like a fecund goddess, only to find my head in a toilet with "morning sickness" for the first five. My birth ended up being a total 180 degrees from what I planned. I wanted to birth at home, but my baby ended up needing an emergency cesarean before I'd even gone into labour. And you can be sure the surprises didn't stop once my daughter was born. Breastfeeding challenges, postpartum depression, needing surgery when I was supposed to return to work... In the moments when I could remember to let go of the notion that I could control the situation, and surrender to how they actually were, being a parent became so much easier -- and happier. Someone once said, "make plans and God laughs". To that I'd add, "make plans when you have kids and God is LMAOROTF".
What's something you wish more expectant parents knew?
I wish that new parents who want to breastfeed knew better what to expect once their baby is here. How to know if their baby is actually taking in milk during a nursing session. How often a newborn baby needs to feed (hint: every 3 hours is not enough for newborns). Where to find effective, expert help if things are not going smoothly. I wish expectant parents could spend time around other breastfeeding parents before their birth, because we've largely lost one of the most important ways we have to learn this skill -- through watching other parent-baby dyads doing it. I know now how much easier nursing my daughter could have been if I'd been better prepared. It was my desire to help save other parents this grief that motivated me, 13 years ago, to become a La Leche League Leader (mother-to-mother breastfeeding counselor, since retired). I'm committed to sharing my lactation knowledge and expertise with my doula clients who want to breastfeed, so that they have realistic expectations and feel prepared and confident in feeding their new baby.
What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference?
The other presenters at 4T are my birth heroes! I'm totally stoked to be in the company of these kind and expert professionals. These are the people I respect enough to refer my doula and yoga clients to. These are the people that I've entrusted to care for my family and myself.