Tag Archives: health

What is a Doul-a and What Do We Do?

When I first heard the term doula, I literally spoke the words: “a what-nah?” Fast forward two years and here I am: a practicing doula. The term ‘doula’ is ancient Greek and roughly translates as “a woman who serves.” For a professional movement that aims to empower, advocate and offer caring, non-judgemental support during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, this definition, while providing the gist, falls short. (Oh, and there’s no rule that men can’t be doulas.) If you don’t know about doulas, or if what you do know makes you scratch your head in confusion or suspicion, do me this favour and bear with me as I hopefully debunk some common myths and share what I know to be true about the doula role.

A common doula image has been the hippy-dippy, placenta eating type (while the healing benefits of this practice can be argued) the bottom line is that doulas do not force-feed their clients placentas, a myth that can create real barriers to doulas being taken seriously in broader systems of care – someone who wafts into a room ripe with patchouli oil and is dismissive of doctor’s orders.

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Art courtesy of the author, Rachel.

Here are some frank but concise things to know: 1) if a doula has been trained well, they will know the role is not a clinical one, and 2) that while a ‘hippy-dippy’ approach is often scoffed at, it seems clear that our culture is starved for what might better be termed ‘holistic care.’ I feel lucky to have attended births where medical staff and holistic practitioners worked symbiotically. The outcome was stunning. Our mutual respect and willingness to complement each other’s roles disproved the notion that ‘medical births’ and ‘natural births’ must be separate entities. This type of bridging is one of a doula’s most astonishing tasks and achievements. The doula’s role is that of an impartial diplomat, offering translations, support and conflict resolution if tensions may be running high. A doula also runs interference between expectant parents and well-meaning but occasionally overbearing family members. Continue reading

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Opportunity or Catastrophe? Weighing in on the Upcoming Legalization of Pot in Canada

Legalizing recreational marijuana was part of Justin Trudeau’s election campaign platform, but it wasn’t something many people took seriously. What with the common mistrust of politicians and the opposition of the very powerful Hell’s Angels gang, who stand to lose a lot of revenue if pot becomes legal, it was hard to take Trudeau’s proposition seriously.

That’s why I was surprised to hear that the Federal Health Minister had announced plans to legalize marijuana by 2017. CBC’s recent episode of Cross Country Checkup gave Canadians an opportunity to respond with a few of their thoughts on the new legislation. Many of the callers brought some great points to my attention, some of which I’ve touched on below. However, it was apparent that some callers were still buying into weed propaganda, from exaggerated health benefits to exaggerated threats. For this post I decided to pull together a few of the best arguments I’ve heard from both camps and try to find at least a little research to support their claims.

Pros of Legalization

1. Legalization could reduce an unnecessary drain on police resources

Cannabis related offences are the most common type of drug offence in Canada, especially here in British Columbia.

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Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey.

According to Stats Canada, “in 2012, 43% of Canadians reported that they had used marijuana at some time in their lives, and 12% reported using it in the past year”. That means half of all Canadians could have been charged with possession at one time or another. Although in some places police will turn a blind eye to mere pot possession, there are still a significant number of cases reported by police. CBC explains that 

there were 57,314 marijuana possession-related “incidents” reported by police nationwide, according to Statistics Canada. More than 24,540 people were charged as a result. The year before that, 25,819 Canadians faced charges.

What’s disconcerting about this grey area of crime is that police can often use their discretion when it comes to actually prosecuting an offence. According to a recent CBC News analysis, where you live can affect if you will be charged. They report that “you’re almost 23 times more likely to face a possession charge in Kelowna, B.C., than in St. John’s.”

Marijuana use is so widespread that it is taking a massive amount of police resources to even pursue pot users. According to a report last year, “police report a pot possession incident every 9 minutes in Canada”. Inevitably, chasing down the almost endless amount of pot users and dealers takes police away from pursuing other criminal activity. Continue reading

2015’s Cultural Battleground – Kat’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2014 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

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After the recent acts of Daesh terrorism in Paris I returned to this interview with PhD Candidate Rachel Brown to get some perspective. While Brown’s work was focused on food and religious identity in French and Quebecois Muslim immigrant communities, it also highlights how isolation and religious persecution can push young people towards accepting religious extremism. In the interview, Brown explains,

“I’m not really an expert in ISIS or Jihadist fighters or any of the topics that relate to this. I can say that when people, especially youth, feel alienated, when they don’t feel at home anywhere, this can lead to finding identity in extreme forms of religion. If the religious identity is the only identity that one feels they can claim, he/she is going to place a huge amount of importance on that identity.”

nestle

This year, a petition began circulating that condemned Nestlé’s operations here in British Columbia. While Nestlé has been operating here in B.C. for 15 years, residents became particularly concerned during the drought this past summer.  As Gordon has pointed out in his previous Shame Day post, Nestlé doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to respecting other countries and their water needs. In this post we take a closer look at the relationship between Canadian water and the American corporations that would like to bottle it up. Continue reading

Why We Don’t Need Fat Acceptance

I swear I am not trying to contradict Kat’s every post.

Yes, we’ve had have our differences.

We locked horns over femininity and warrior-princesses. Clashed over government regulation. Faced off on the subject of pride parades.

Again, I am not- not– trying to be combative.

That said, today’s post is all about why I think Kat is wrong on the subject of Body Positivism and the concept of “Fat Acceptance”

Now yours truly and our glorious editor have both weighed in on the subject of fitness and obesity more than once, and in her defense, I certainly don’t believe that Kat is offering her blessing to obesity or anything like that.

Still, things need to be said here.

First, I want to make it clear that I agree with Kat on pretty much each and every one of the issues that she brought up. Factors of mental health, poor self-image, unrealistic cultural demands- you won’t hear me dispute these for a second. And these are, absolutely, universal problems. While largely centering on women, there’s an undeniable presence of all this among men as well.

(Granted, that might have more impact if it wasn’t being said by Brad Pitt, but the point still stands.)

My problem isn’t with any of the things that Kat brought up, but rather with the conclusions she drew (or seemed to draw) from ’em. Allow me to kick the conversation off with the following statement:

Self-Esteem Without Quality Is Meaningless

Now granted, this isn’t so much a problem with what Kat said as it is with what much of the movement seems based on: just feeling good about yourself.

There is nothing- nothing– wrong with have good self-esteem, but only so long as that esteem is tethered to something of substance. Your efforts, your accomplishments, your principles- even your noble failures. These are all worth celebrating and taking pride in. However, if you’re telling yourself to like yourself simply to feel warm and fuzzy on the inside…

…then you’re going to run into some problems. Continue reading

Body Positivity and “Healthy” Double Standards, or Why I Need Fat Acceptance Even Though I’m (Relatively) Thin

The moment you mention “fat” and anything positive in the same sentence you get a response that’s meant to put you in your place. It will usually go something like, “I don’t believe in encouraging unhealthy behaviour” or “I’m all for self-acceptance, but…”.

I certainly do understand this sentiment. I think social stigma can be a powerful way to discourage bad behaviour. Just look at MADD’s entire campaign against drunk driving, for example.

However, I do think there is an unnecessarily strong reaction against Fat Positivity. Below I’ve outlined 3 reasons why I think that reaction is unfair.

1) We overlook healthy individuals with large bodies because they don’t fit our cultural beauty standards 

The number one criticism of fat acceptance is that it encourages unhealthy behaviour. However, there are more and more examples that prove body size doesn’t always dictate health. Olympic hammer-thrower Amanda Bingson encountered this type of assumption when she was kicked off her high school volleyball team for not losing weight. Years later and she has been able to prove that a large body is just as capable of amazing things as a small body. It’s been encouraging to see her featured in this year’s ESPN Body Issue, the magazine’s “annual celebration of athletes’ amazing bodies”.

Another large and healthy individual who has come to my attention is yogi Jessamyn Stanley. I try (emphasis on try) to practice yoga every week, and yoga is, for me, one of the few physical activities I’m actually kind of okay at. That’s why I was stunned to see Stanley doing moves I am still far away from accomplishing. It’s clear to me that Stanley has the kind of core strength that most of the slender yogis in my classes still haven’t managed to build.

I cannot do this pose without assistance. I can maybe do a headstand on a good day, but just on my arms like this? No way.

Examples like Bingson and Stanley aren’t meant to prove that all large people are healthy. Instead, they offer a great reminder that size doesn’t necessarily dictate health. While large individuals are sometimes much more healthy than they look, some slim individuals can be much less healthy than they appear. Continue reading

Can A Feminist Wear High Heels?

And that’s a weird question to ask- especially coming from me.

Yours truly, for any new readers, is a dude. I’ve never worn high heels, and with my long and elegant (if somewhat hairy) legs, I’ve never had cause to.

Like this, only more so.

In spite of my obvious lack of experience, compounded with a whole gamut of cultural-historial-societal variables, I’d still wholeheartedly call myself a feminist. As such, I still feel compelled to ask-

Can a feminist wear high heels?

And I know this isn’t a new issue. For years, folks have generally agreed that high heels are uncomfortable and impractical. There’s not shortage of studies demonstrating the range of health issues they can cause: calf cramps, chronic (and permanent) pain, pelvic issues, callouses and corns, inflammation, pinched nerves, tendinitis, and a host of others which I could spend this entire post just listing.

I’m not going to do that.

According to science and common ****ing sense, no one’s are…

High heels are bad for you. That’s a cold, hard medical fact, and one that most everyone’s familiar with by now. Still, women continue to wear ’em, which again begs the question of “Why in heaven’s name would they put themselves through this?” Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Circumcision

KAT: Greetings girls and boys, today Gordon and I are here to discuss something that I have no personal experience with…: circumcision.

Kitten gifs- because, I’m not going to search for any circumcision-related images.

GORDON: That makes two of us then…

KAT: Circumcision is one of those things that seems to be pretty common here in North America (Gordon aside), but do we really know why it is still common when in places like Europe (for example) few men are circumcised?

Since you’ve already shared your lack of experience with us Gordon, would you mind me asking why your parents chose to forgo the knife?

GORDON: I’m not entirely sure. I avoid discussion my genitals with my parents, but then again, I’m eccentric like that. Continue reading