Interview of Anu Lampinen

"Love is the most important thing"
Anu Lampinen
Anu Lampinen

On the occasion of the House of Midwives (aka Kätilötalo) relocating, I wanted to interview Anu Lampinen, a veteran midwife, one of the founding members of Haikaranpesä ward in Kätilöopisto Maternity Hospital. Anu Lampinen and her dear colleague Johanna Sarlio-Nieminen were rewarded in 2016 by the Finnish Midwifery Association and consecrated "Innovator Midwives of the Year".

The legendary Kätilötalo was luckily registered on Friday 13, December 2013 by four experienced midwives: Anu Lampinen, Johanna Sarlio-Nieminen, Katja Strandell and Hanna-Mari Aflatuni. The initial address was in Töölö. Many projects were born there, from Milky Mornings with Johanna, to Midwifery and Doula education, birth preparation for parents in different languages, etc.

Anu is now the one and only "lady of the house" and the house has moved in two different locations: in Kruununhaka (Hello Me) and Kamppi (Manipura).

Map of Helsinki with Manipura Oy and Hello Me Helsinki pinned
You can now find Anu in two places: Manipura (Wednesdays) and Hello Me (Tuesdays, Thurdays).

Anu, everyone knows you as a midwife and breastfeeding counsellor but you are also an acupuncture and moxibustion therapist.

You offer acupuncture treatments during pregnancy, labour (if you are at a birth) and in postpartum.

How does acupuncture support these different stages and what are the common issues that acupuncture can solve? Acupuncture is a safe and gentle way to support these stages with very little side effects. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) philosophy says that needles move the qi, the life energy. Acupuncture help the body to find its own balance. And balance means health.

Most of the pregnant people that come to me have morning sickness, headache, constipation, insomnia, stress, edema, back issues, breech baby, need of induction or breastfeeding problems, like lack of milk.

During labour it can help with the pain and discomfort – even fear and anxiety. Certain points induce and speed up the contractions.

It seems that moxibustion is still confidential to the general public. Can you tell us a bit more about this therapy and its objectives surrounding birth?

Moxibustion belongs to Traditional Chinese Medicine protocol. While needles can move the qi, moxibustion can warm the points and the patient. Lack of warmth somewhere in the body is a disease in TCM diagnosis.

When the baby is not in the optimal position (breech, etc) the idea is that uterus is too cold. So we try to warm up the uterus with moxa. We reach the uterus via the Bladder meridian. So we moxa little toes.

In many other TCM diseases and recipes there is moxa included. Acupuncture and moxibustion: two components of the Traditional Chinese Medicine. How did you fall in love with TCM? Do you have other tools in your TCM bag?

I was a midwife in Kätilöopisto and was really interested in the question "What is a good birth?"

Studies show two things: the more we interfere, the more we need to interfere and the more we interfere, the less the birthing person feels their birth was good.

So how to help with pain and discomfort with less interference? One of my ideas was acupuncture. Off I went to the TCM acupuncture school in 1995.

In my bag there is also a gua sha comb. A tool to open membranes, ligaments and muscles - it even helps with inflammation, coughing and wheezing. A very gentle, yet powerful tool. It is to learn and do by yourself. I teach it also in my birth classes.

Any innovative projects in preparation?

Always. My dream is to start doing acupressure to newborns and teach some tools to parents too.

What is your motto?

"Love is the most important thing"

-it includes safety, good midwifery care, compassion and support when needed.

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  • Chloe Bernard

Doulas cost money. That's a fact. Hairdressers cost money, dentists cost money, cars cost money too. Once you have decided that you want a doula, put all the chances on your side to get it.

Photograph of a piggy bank
Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

These are 7 steps to help you afford a doula:

  1. Noticing that this is a long term investment Your birth experience, just like your postpartum experience has an impact on your wellbeing, the way you see yourself as a parent but also as an individual or a partner. It can effect your health, your energy levels, your self-confidence, your relationships, your sexual life, your bond with your baby. Birth and postpartum matter. In case of perinatal death or miscarriage: because of the toll this takes on your mental health, resilience capacity and bonding in your couple, investing in emotional support, whether by hiring a doula, a therapist or a coach, can make all the difference. Events happen, but it is your experience, what you make of it, that counts. And sometimes it takes vulnerability, courage and external help or support.

  2. Putting price into perspective Think of the money you might have spent in a wedding ceremony: the venue, the flowers, the dress or suit, the rings, the catering, the cake, the photographer maybe... The average budget of weddings in Europe in 2018 was about 15 000€, according to an article by the Insider. This covers one day of celebration. Think also of the money invested into a honeymoon trip. On average, newly-weds spend about 3500€ on their honeymoon, mostly one or two weeks maximum abroad. This type of financial investment into a relationship doesn't usually include guidance nor couple counselling. Now think of the relatively small financial investment you put in a doula: the education, the continuous support, the reassurance. Think of the immediate satisfaction and the benefits you will keep enjoying your whole life.

  3. Saving money: spending less in material, more in education/support The childcare and juvenile products industry tries to sell you new articles each year making you believe all of these are an absolute "must have". They play on new parents insecurities and their natural desire to "do well" and be "good parents." Most parents want what is best for their children. But what is best is not necessarily a cupboard full of new fashionable clothes, the last baby toys on the markets, or a "go go gadget" potty that you can also use on planet Mars and that is convertible into a hockey helmet. Think of bare necessities and if you get tempted think of hand-me-down material from friends and family members, recycling centres, second-hand shops and Facebook marketplace (or other C2C platforms).

  4. Crowdfunding and birth registry Open your crowdfunding account for personal funding. There is GoFundMe and many others. In the Nordics, you can also simply share your MobilePay number to your potential funders. Share your dreams, be loud, receive financial help from people you love and who love you. If you have a birth registry, do not hesitate to add "doula support" to your list. Not only, it will help donors to know what you really really want, but it will definitely help you pay for your doula. It will also normalise the need of a doula and give valuable ideas to your future pregnant friends. Such a win-win plan!

  5. Asking your doula if they accept payment plans/instalment agreements Spoiler alert: most of doulas accept instalments. Money discussions might feel delicate or taboo to you but they don't have to be. See it as one practicality amongst others!

  6. Alternatives: Finding a volunteer doula or a doula apprentice Ask your nurse/midwife if they know volunteer doulas. Volunteer doulas can be assigned to expecting persons on specific grounds. The fee is minimum. Contact a doula training school and ask if a student is looking for a client to support. That could be a good compromise.

Hopefully, this step-by-step article will help you to make doula services affordable for you and your family. You deserve a beautiful and empowering experience. Create your ideal team: family, friends, doula and other professionals. Express your needs and wishes, not only to the universe but loudly. Ask for it!

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  • Chloe Bernard

Updated: Jan 1

I would rephrase with "what do you actually pay for when you hire a doula"? If you think doulas are crooks or they exploit the situation of vulnerable parents to be millionnaires, maybe I won’t convince you, but if you want to understand the costs behind a doula’s fees, please keep reading.

Behind the fees of doulas, whose basic birth packages cost on average between 1000-1500€ in Finland, are all the obvious fees that parents can witness and experience but also all the "behind the scenes" expenses.

The visible:

  • Time spent with parents during pregnancy Preparing for birth, acquiring all the necessary knowledge to make powerful informed decisions. Building a strong birth team: connecting physically and spiritually. Establishing trust. This is the main key to navigate confidently and empowered through the Birth waves.

  • Time spent during labour, birth and immediate postpartum. I’ve been to births that lasted between 5 and 31 hours. Doulas tend to stay after the birth, keep company if baby is taken to NICU, help establish breast/chestfeeding, wait for parents to get a room and settle.

  • Time spent in early postpartum (postpartum home visit, debrief, postpartum care, sealing ceremony…). A few days after birth, emotions and tears might rise to the surface: questions, pride, regrets, fears, sometimes anger, mixed feelings that are difficult to untangled alone. It is important to express all these emotions, for each parent. Articulating one's dark cloud-feelings can help dissipate them. Having the attention one deserves, feeling validated, brings strength and confidence that can go a long way. All the physical and symbolic postpartum work, can support the release of stuck memories and the healing of traumas, in addition of accelerating the body recovery. These postpartum visits facilitate the transition.

  • Communication with the family Keeping in touch, keeping that link alive brings comfort to parents. Knowing that they are not alone and that they can contact their doula in case of doubt or to share both their joys and fears, is a relief.

  • Different material and accessories (TENS unit, electrodes, birth and peanut ball, books, affirmation cards, ethically made rebozos (from Antama for example), essential oils, gua sha combs, massage tools, etc.) Some birth accessories are expensive, take room and only serve during pregnancy or birth. Renting/borrowing is a great concept: ecological, economical and space saving. To me, there's even an emotional aspect to it: imagine using the same rebozo that helped birthing many babies before yours. Can you feel the strength of all these beautiful people? Can you feel that they are all behind you supporting you? I do. I want to.

  • Plants and minerals Organic herbs (for steaming), calendula and other flowers, essential oils (aromatherapy, postpartum womb massage), optional gem stones, palo santo, ingredients for ceremonies (raw cacao and spices), etc. I, like other doulas, want to work with the best quality and fair-trade products.

  • Food and travel Doulas don't teleport yet. Doulas still need to eat. Labour can be long, very long and doulas need that fuel to shake your apple tree.

  • Certified education Anyone can call themselves "a doula". There is no license per se. However there are certifications. Certified birth doulas have attended a doula training, either an international training such as DONA or CAPPA, or a local training in Finland such as Doulakka, Doules or Doula Akatemia. That means that they have not only completed the program (in my case about 400 hours), studying the physiology of birth, the protocols in place, hands-on techniques, but they are also committed to follow a standard of practice, and respect a code of ethics.

The invisible:

  • On-call time During this time the doula stays in the region, ready to join you any time, often in the middle of the night. Doulas are commited. They can't overlap with other clients to optimise for your birth. They also team up with a back-up doula to ensure that if any unfortunate impediment might occur (disease, accident), you wouldn't be left on your own.

  • Time preparing, shopping and cooking Your doula tries to tailor to your needs as much as possible. Depending on your existing knowledges or your special needs, they will deliver the best solutions, references, studies and contacts for your specific situation. They also need time to shop according to your situation or diet, preferences or possible allergies. When doulas cook for you (especially for the postpartum) it requires time too.

  • Time researching and connecting People have different needs and wishes. They might want to see an osteopath, an acupuncturist, or look for prenatal yoga or ballet courses. Doulas will suggest you professionals in their network or will work to find the best fit for you.

  • Continuous education A doula is learning and acquiring new skills constantly through workshops, courses or conferences, whether online or in-person, to better serve clients.

  • Time spent reading books and evidence based literature It is necessary to know the basics of birth and postnatal care literature but also keep up-to-date with last publications on the matter and most importantly all the significant and unbiased studies made about different interventions, procedures and protocols as well as the on-going research.

  • Writing Blog posts, guides, hand-outs. This can take time to collect and organise ideas in a pretty way.

  • Time spent on networking Doulas meet other professionals: other doulas like them or complementary perinatal professionals (midwives, physiotherapists, lactation consultants...) so they can choose the best back-up doula for their client, suggest a doula who better fits their requirements (specialty, mother tongue), refer them to specialists they trust and finally build up a solid perinatal community.

  • Website designing/building and hosting costs Whether "homemade" or created by a professional designer, websites take time, money and often both.

  • Marketing (business cards, ads) That is useful for us to find you and you to find us. Our business cards look also really good on your fridge or inside your Ina May's guide to Birth as a book-mark.

  • Cost of doula/birth association membership(s), for example Suomen Doulat or Aktiivinen Synnytys

  • Taxes! VAT in Finland is 24% (kind of one quarter, yes, that's a lot)

When I think of the benefits of such an investment, I have in mind all the medical aspects: less chances of needing an intervention, more chances of breast/chestfeeding success (if such is the wish of the parent), less time spent in the hospital. Moreover, I think of the emotional aspects, the possibly enhanced bond with the baby, the self-confidence as parents, all the well-being that material can’t buy. To see the full evidence on birth doulas, check out Rebecca Dekker’s website and the article Evidence on: Doulas.

First-time parents often overspend in childcare articles, a UK study revealed. Companies compete to sell you "indispensable" or "must have" accessories. What does a baby really need? Loving and caring parents, milk (human or manufactured), warmth, a safe place to sleep, nappies (not so many if you practice Elimination Communication), something to carry them and stay close (arms, sling, baby carrier).

What do new parents need? Feeling supported, validated, encouraged, loved. They need to rest, eat, keep hydrated and smell the sweet scent of their baby. They don’t need to worry about the rest.

If you struggle financially, there are still ways to hire a doula. We’ll see this in my next blog article, 7 steps to afford a doula.

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