Posts by Category : Birth


Student Article- Eating Healthy for Baby

Eating Healthy for Baby

You are pregnant. Now what? Even before you go to the doctor for prenatal care, there are many important things that you can do to have a healthy happy pregnancy. Making sure you are getting adequate rest, reducing the stress in your life, and eating right are things that only you can do for yourself and your developing baby.  Eating right? What does that really mean?  Whether you are a drive thru junky or someone who eats pretty well, there are always areas that can be improved. After all, you aren’t eating just for you anymore. Another life is being built inside you and it’s your job to feed your body the right nutrients for the job.

Veggies and Fruit

Veggies and Fruit

Start by reevaluating what you are eating on a regular basis and eliminate as much of the harmful as possible.  Here is a list of the foods that the FDA says that pregnant women should not eat (click here to see full list):

  1. Soft Cheeses mad from unpasteurized milk, including Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco – may contain E coli or Listeria
  2. Raw cookie dough or cake batter – may contain Salmonella
  3. Large fish – shark, swordfish, king mackerel – may contain high levels of mercury
  4. Raw or undercooked fish- may contain parasites or bacteria
  5. Unpasteurized juice- may contain E. Coli
  6. Unpasteurized milk
  7. Salads made in a store such as chicken salad, seafood salad – may contain Listeria
  8. Raw Shellfish


We have all heard of the things on the list above but here are some things added to our food that also should be limited or avoided. While the FDA has approved these food additives for consumption in the USA many other countries have banned them due to health risks. READ the labels when you are shopping( if you don’t already)! Avoid or limit:

  1. MSGLinked to Brain damage in developing fetus
  2. Sugar Substitutes- Aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium,  and sucralose  have been linked to brain defects and bladder problems in unborn babies. While the FDA says they are safe may other countries have already banned the use of these products.
  3. Food dyes – Blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3, yellow 6 and yellow tartrazine-  limit these to reduce chromosomal damage to developing baby. Food dyes have also been linked to thyroid, adrenal, bladder, kidney, and brain cancers.
  4. Azodicarbonamide- a petroleum product used in Yoga mats. Subway and many other places use it to condition their dough. This can’t be good for anyone! Read More.
  5. Trans Fats-  partially hydrogenated oils
  6. White Processed Foods- these foods have no nutrients and are empty calories. Instead opt for whole grains or wild or brown rice.
  7. High Fructose Corn Syrup- this drives people to over eat and gain weight.
  8. Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Benzoate- a known carcinogen linked with thyroid damage.
  9. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)- It’s an endocrine disruptor and can mess with your hormones.
  10. Sodium Nitrates and Sodium Nitrites- found in lunch meat, hot dogs. Linked to colon cancer and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes.

While it may seem impossible to cut out all the bad out of your diet, making little changes here and there can make a difference. The sacrifices you make will be worth it for that tiny human whose body is growing from the nourishment you provide.

Eliminating the bad is a good first step. The next step is to make sure you are covering all the basics and adding in as many healthy options as possible. One of the most important things that you can do for your baby is drink lots of water. Skip the soda and the coffee and have water or an herbal tea. To help avoid preterm contractions, bleeding, and blood pressure issues you should be drinking:

  • 2 quarts of water in the first trimester of pregnancy
  • 3 quarts of water in the second trimester of pregnancy
  • 4 quarts (1 gallon) of water in the third trimester of pregnancy
  • Calories: Eat plentifully of healthy foods to ensure adequate calories daily – pregnancy is not a time to try to minimize calories.
  • Protein: 4 servings.  80-100 grams of protein per day – This can reduce risk of Pre-Eclamsia
  • Vitamin C foods: 2 servings
  • Calcium foods: 4 servings
  • Green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits and vegetables: 3 servings
  • Other veggies and fruits: 1 to 2 servings
  • Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates: 4 to 6 servings
  • Iron-rich foods: Some daily
  • High-fat foods: 2 servings
  • Salt: Daily in moderation to taste
  • Fluids: At least 6 to 8 glasses a day
  • Supplements: Nutritious herbs, highly concentrated food supplements such as
  • spirulina, and, when necessary, a vitamin/mineral supplement.

Now that you are building a new human there are plenty of things to think about and consider. What you eat is one of the easiest things you can do to give your baby a good healthy start to life!

For a more detailed No-NonSense Guide to Healthy Pregnancy and Baby go here.

Sources: Processed Food: 10 of the Worst Toxic Food Ingredients


Natalia Keenan

NK Doula Services


Student Article- Natural vs. Medicated 0

The Pregnancy Ramble

Natural vs. Medicated Birth: Do your Research- Dallas Robles

Just Born

Just Born

As many of you know, I had a natural childbirth. I did not use medicine of any kind, did not have the epidural, wasn’t induced with Pitocin or any labor inducing drugs, and birthed in a birthing center with a big bathtub for a water birth. It didn’t take me long to discover the pro’s of natural childbirth, but I needed to do research and speak with other women who had done it before I felt confident in my decision. I want to give my opinion and helpful pro’s and con’s about natural childbirth in the hopes that I can help in a woman’s decision much like other women did for me.

This is a very sensitive subject for a lot of women. Some people are very pro-epidural and others are very pro-natural childbirth. I realize that I may be biased because I am pro-natural, but I feel that too many people completely overlook this option. Most OBGYN’s are very similar, you show up for your appointment, meet with a nurse practitioner who weighs you and takes your vitals, the doctor comes in to hear the heartbeat and asks you for any questions, and then you both go along your merry way. He may talk to you about “options” aka, the epidural as soon as you get to the hospital or the epidural once he convinces you to get it when your contractions get intense. OBGYN’s are certified surgeons who are also trained in gynecology. They are trained to handle the worst case scenarios, emergency C-sections, and often push toward what they are specialized in to avoid maternal and infant complications. If you have an abnormal pregnancy with pre-existing problems, then I can understand the risk. But if you’re healthy, have a totally normal pregnancy, and aren’t at risk for complications, a C-section is rarely necessary. However, thanks to combinations of other modern medicines, it’s getting more and more popular.

America is now at 30% of all babies being born by C-section. At the Salem Hospital, it’s over 40%. This is from a number of very debilitating choices from both the mother and her doctors. Over 22% of all pregnancies are induced before 41 weeks gestation. The process of induction begins with a drug called Pitocin. Pitocin is pumped into your body from an IV drip, the amount of which is turned up every hour until you reach the contraction pattern that your doctors are looking for. It also will help dilate your cervix; once it reaches 10cm, it’s usually time to begin the pushing process of labor. Pitocin is a very hard drug on both the mother and the baby. It speeds contractions up, makes them significantly more intense and you’re unable to leave the hospital bed to get into a more comfortable position for contractions, such as squatting, bouncing on a medicine ball, lounging in a bath, or leaning over the hospital bed. Because it makes contractions so intense, many women decide to get the epidural. The epidural is an anesthetic that is supposed to numb your lower half to make contractions more bearable. It’s inserted via a needle into your spine. For some reason, epidurals and Pitocin don’t really get along. When you get the epidural, often times your cervix will retract and your contractions will lessen. Because doctors like to see quick progress, they’ll up the Pitocin even more. And so begins a downward spiral. Many babies do not react well to the extreme intensity of the Pitocin-induced contractions, causing heartrates to drop and fetal distress. And because the two drugs counteract each other, over 25% of all inductions will result in an emergency c-section.

Now, the con’s of epidurals don’t stop there. “Epidurals are associated with increased rates of operative vaginal delivery, prolonged labor, fetal malposition, and intrapartum fever–Evidence supports the claim that epidurals increase the duration of both the first and second stages of labor. (”   There is also talk that the aftereffects of the epidural for the mother can be anywhere from numbness at the injection site, to periodic back pain, to severe back pain or becoming paralyzed. While most OBGYN’s know the side effects, they very rarely tell mothers. Most OBGYN’s encourage the epidural for the immediate relief from contractions. The use of epidurals is over 50%, in some places it’s between 80-90%. Apart from the epidural side effects, I know from firsthand experience that it dramatically effects the ability to breastfeed.

Many women have a very hard time breastfeeding their babies: lack of production, bad latches, and tongue-ties to name a few. “As many women are induced with Pitocin, which must be given through an IV, the amount of fluids given to many mothers in labor increases. With a constantly running IV, fluid can accumulate in the mother and baby. This situation can set up several problems. If a mother is edematous (swollen with fluid) her nipples will be harder to latch onto. If a baby is edematous it can lose more than the standard 10% of it’s bodyweight, thus giving the doctor the indication that baby isn’t nursing enough, setting up for the supplementation cycle, when in reality the baby could be draining off excess fluid (” Your milk can take anywhere from a day to a week to come in, allowing babies to eat Colostrum, a milk produced with a very high fat content. All babies lose weight within the first 24 hours, but once they begin eating healthy amounts of Colostrum, they gain the weight back tenfold. When babies suck and pacify on mom’s nipples, it stimulates milk production, causing the milk to come in quicker. The amount of milk production differs from each woman, but with the right diet, calorie intake, and stimulation, breast feeding production should be easy to obtain. A month after my daughter was born, my midwife posted a video of something called the “breast crawl”. In short, the video was about the ability for newborn babies to crawl up the mother’s chest to latch on to her breast within the first 15 minutes after birth. The study showed less than 50% of the babies who were medicated and did not go to the mother’s chest within the first 15 minutes were unable to perform the crawl. It also showed that 50% of all women who had a medicated birth and had their baby on their chest within 15 minutes had babies who could not perform the breast crawl. Almost 100% of the babies who were not medicated and on the mother’s chest within the 15 minutes were able to breast crawl and latch on correctly. The effects from medicated births are very real and proven to make labor and newborns much more difficult for mother’s.

I know a lot of mom’s are easily convinced to use drugs because they’re afraid of labor and the pain of contractions. After reading books like Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirthand Orgasmic Birth, as well as watching documentaries such as Business of Being Bornand Pregnant in America, I’ve learned that, for myself and for my family, I will do whatever it takes to always have a natural childbirth. From personal experience, I went into labor with the mindset that it would be intense not painful. My Oma performed hypnosis and relaxation techniques of imagining a smooth, calm labor that was quick and successful. I achieved that 100%. My labor was 4 hours long, I was laughing and cracking jokes for the majority of my labor, and was very proud of myself for accomplishing a natural birth. To know that your body took control and you were able to birth with just your power alone is one of the most empowering things women can ever experience. To this day, I am so proud that I was able to do that at only 18 years old. And I honestly believe it was the best choice for both myself and my daughter. Not all women will agree with me, many women swear by the epidural and don’t understand why anyone would go through it without pain-relief. I wonder though, are they empowered by their birth? Did they feel the absolute rush of Oxytocin that I felt as soon as my baby was out of me and onto my chest? Were they able to get up only minutes after the birth and walk into the bathroom?

I want to inform, not judge. If you had the epidural, I don’t look down upon you. That was your choice, and your choice only. But if I can relay this information to just one woman and have her make up her own mind about the different options, then I am satisfied. Birth can be a very stressful, scary experience, but it can also be beautiful, empowering and life-changing. Research is everything, and sticking to what you want your birth to be. Having a strong support system with husbands, mothers, siblings, doulas or midwives will ensure that you are not easily pressured into making a decision you didn’t originally want. Stick to those guns, ladies, because the ride of raising a child will definitely test your decisions over and over again. Happy birthing!


Ps, a few other things that may be beneficial to research: vaccines (pro’s and con’s, delayed schedule), Vitamin K injections (pro’s and con’s), infant eye drops (pro’s and con’s—this one is especially unnecessary unless the mother has a sexually transmitted disease), cord clamping (the benefits of waiting for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it), saving the placenta (how dried capsules can help with postpartum depression and milk production), attachment parenting (thinking of the first weeks of life like the “4th trimester” of pregnancy), co-sleeping (the ease for breastfeeding mothers and the untruths told about dangers of bed-sharing), and wearing baby (baby bjorns, moby wraps, ergo’s, and the help they can be on new parents).


Doula, did you know?

Here are some new research outcomes on the benefits and effectiveness of doulas and continuous support from the Cochrane Database

Doula Support

Doula Support

Here are a few important findings from the study.

Numerous types of information to include illustrative materials are within the full Cochrane document, you  can compare all data that was available from all included studies for the specified outcomes. It was found that women who received continuous support were less likely than women who did not to:

  • use regional analgesia
  • utilize any analgesia/anesthesia 
  • vacuum extraction or forceps  used during the birth process
  • to have a cesarean birth
  • have a baby with a low 5-minute Apgar score
  • reported greater birth satisfaction.

Women receiving continuous support were more likely than those who did not to:

  • experience spontaneous birth, this means not forceps or vacuums were used in the birth process.
  • experience shorter labor times

It was found that continuous support did not seem to impact:

  • use of synthetic oxytocin during labor
  • newborn admission to special care nursery, NICU, etc..
  • prolonged newborn hospital stay
  • breastfeeding rates at 1 to 2 months
  • depression in the postpartum period
  • self-esteem in the postpartum period
  • severe perineal trauma
  • labor pain severity

This is a wonderful study to illustrate what supportive care in labor can do, and in addition by omission it shows what can be done with postpartum support to support healing and beastfeeding rates.


Introduction to Cradleboards- Student Article

Introduction to Cradleboards- Student Article
By: Susan Dlutkowski
cradleboardIn July of 2013 I attended a traditional arts gathering on Drummond Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There, I heard Earl Otchingwanigan speak about “The Language and Culture of the Cradleboard”. I knew that Earl was a respected Ojibwe elder and I was very interested to hear his presentation. I knew that cradleboards were used for holding infants, but I wondered:
Were they too confining?
Were they comfortable?
Are they still used?
Earl started by explaining the construction of a dikinaagan (cradleboard). He was also instructing another group at the gathering that was building cradleboards. He named several parts, such as the aagwiingwe’onaak -oon (the head protector) and the apizideyaakwa’igan -an (the foot brace). He held two beautiful black velvet bands, each beaded with traditional, colorful floral designs. Each of these miishiiginebizon -an were wrapped around the baby on the cradleboard, one covering the baby’s middle, the other around its legs and feet. With two bands, only the bottom one needed to be removed to change a diaper. These cloth bands were decorative since creating something beautiful for the baby was an important feature of the cradleboard. Infants and toddlers up to the age of three were put in cradleboards where they were kept safe, could sleep, or could observe the goings-on of their families.

Instead of spending time purposely stimulating their baby, families went about their activities; the baby was stimulated through quiet observation. Cradleboards could be hung by a strap so that babies were often at adult eye-level, receiving level eye-contact. This was considered important to a baby’s development and interaction with the group. At first, infants’ arms were swaddled by their sides. Later, arms were left outside of the wrapping. Mothers could sit with their legs outstretched, the cradleboard propped on their toes, so that the babies could see what their mothers were doing with their hands.

One man who attended the talk said that he and his wife used a cradleboard for their now seven-year-old daughter until she was three. She could be brought outside to safely watch wood-chopping and at the table she was at eye-level with her parents when the cradleboard was placed on a chair. The father said that his daughter would crawl to her cradleboard on the floor, for comfort. A woman at the presentation who was expecting her third child thought she would like to use a cradleboard for her new baby and was especially interested to hear of this father’s recent experiences.

I thoroughly enjoyed Earl’s presentation and was grateful for the opportunity to hear his first-hand knowledge of the cradleboard. I gained more of an understanding and a definite appreciation of the benefits of cradleboards. As an Ojibwe culture specialist, tradition bearer and scholar, Earl Otchingwanigan shares his knowledge, learned from family members in his childhood, and later from his own studies.


Birth Matters- Kara Figueroa 0


“Birth Matters”


baby Birth is one of the most amazing miracles of this world.  It breathes air into life.  Birth not only brings your baby into this world, it sets the tone for how you look at yourself as a person and a mother.  It greatly affects your life in ways you never imagined it would.  It can set you up for memories filled with love, hope, joy and empowerment or it can break you into pieces.  Birth Matters, you matter.

I began my journey of becoming a doula, a woman who serves, after a less than lovely birth experience with my second child.  I was uneducated, unmotivated to learn and completely trusting of the hospital, my doctor and the nurses I have never met.  I set out to have a baby with complete strangers and was treated as such.  It shook me to my core.  I birthed a beautiful baby boy vaginally after 10.5 hours of labor where threats and scare tactics were used on top of medical interventions that went terribly wrong.  I felt alone, unloved and just a statistic.  I didn’t feel like I mattered and my postpartum experience confirmed how I felt about myself, and my ability as a mother.

Experiencing a labor and birth that caused myself to doubt my abilities, lowered my self-esteem and caused unwanted postpartum depression, motivated me to change the way my clients would experience birth.   “Women’s perceptions about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care they receive around the time of birth.” Ina May Gaskin, Birth Matters.  I set out to love on women and their partners, educate them on the labor and birth experience, challenge them to dig deeper and counsel them on their fears.  I want my clients to know they matter and to know that I care about them and their hearts.  I didn’t want them to hear “the baby is here and healthy and that is all that matters”.  It’s not all that matters, it’s a huge part, but that is not all that matters.

Why does birth matter?  Ask your mom about her birth experiences, better yet, ask your grandmother.  Do not be surprised if their birth stories are as detailed as a woman that just had her baby yesterday.  Birth leaves and imprint on your mind and soul.  For every mother, birth is an event that shakes and shapes her in one way or another.  Birth leaves lasting effects such as empowerment, euphoria, depression and disempowerment.  These effects all differ depending on how the women is treated and supported around the time she gives birth regardless of whether the birth is vaginal or a cesarean.

Birth matters because you matter.  Do not for a moment leave your birth in the hands of a stranger.  Take my word for it. Build a birth team that will support you, your desires, educate you and empower you to want better for your birth and yourself.  Choose wisely and seek out a practitioner whom you feel comfortable. You wan them to be encouraging, understanding and will freely educate you on the questions you ask.  Interview with doulas and choose the best fit for your family; one that you feel will serve, love and support you and your partner the best.  It is very important that you are comfortable with your birth team.  Love, support and service are a powerful thing.  It can take even the less than ideal circumstances and turn them into more joy than your heart can contain.  Take control of your birth and let someone love on you and treat you the way you deserve, because YOU MATTER!

Source:  “Birth Matters” by Ina May Gaskin


Kara Figueroa is wife, momma of 4 and a doula.  She has been trained by DONA and BAI and is seeking her certification through BAI.  Her passion is to serve, love and support.  She has been a practicing doula since 2008.



ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates- Angela Rooney 0

ACOG Recommends Doulas to Lower Primary Cesarean Rates



A new publication just released on February, 19, 2014  by the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) announces what a doula already knows!

The articles findings state that from 1996 to 2011 cesarean rates in the U.S. have increased rapidly without a decrease in maternal or fetal injuries or deaths.  This indicates that OB/GYNs have been over using the surgery on first time mothers in non-emergency instances.

In order to invoke change in the rising increase in primary cesareans, one must ask the reasons these surgeons are performing so many major surgeries to first time moms in the first place.

The top five reasons for a primary cesarean in order of greatest to least:

1.  Labor Dystocia

2.  Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate

3.  Malpresentation of the Fetus

4.  Multiple Gestation

5.  Fetal Macrosomia


The article then discusses safe measures that need to be taken to decrease the chance of resulting in a cesarean section.  These are not new techniques or guidelines, but we need to see them better implemented.

  1. Labor Dystocia:
    1.  Labor may be a slower process than previously defined and needs to be redefined.
    2. Defining active labor is strongly recommended to change from 4 to 6 centimeters.  Before 6 centimeters, actions for the active phase of labor should not apply.
    3. Physicians should be well trained in operative vaginal deliveries, such as vacuum and forcep delivery,  to utilize them as a safe alternative to cesareans.
  2. Abnormal Fetal Heart Rate:
    1. “Amnioinfusion for repetitive variable fetal heart rate decelerations may safely reduce the rate of cesarean delivery.”
    2. Scalp stimulation is an effective tool when the cervix is dilated to determine the fetal acid-base status.
  3. Malpresentation of the Fetus:
    1. Fetal presentation should be checked by 36 weeks in order to apply an external cephalic version.
  4. Multiple Gestation:
    1. Women with cephalic presenting twins or cephalic/ noncephalic  presented twins should be recommended to deliver vaginally.

5.  Fetal Macrosomia:

a. Ultrasounds are fairly inaccurate at estimating weight in later pregnancy.  Only mothers with estimated fetal weight over 5,000 g. without gestational diabetes or 4,500g. with gestational diabetes should be subject to a cesarean.

b. Women should be counseled on maternal weight gain, diet, and exercise guidelines.


The best part of the article comes at the end when it discusses the importance of continuous labor support.  Ahem ;)

“Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery (111). Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.”

It’s not exactly a new concept that elective cesareans have been overused with 1/3 of U.S. mothers walking around with c-section scars.   Finally research findings are becoming mainstream, and hopefully, new guidelines can be put into effect.  Yes, sometimes a Cesarean is crucial to prevent maternal or fetal morbidity.   We must come together as birth professionals, doulas, midwives, nurses, and OB/GYNs alike, and respect the guidelines for our common end goal– a healthy and happy mother and baby.


You can read the full article here:


About the Author:

Angela Rooney has a BA in Psychology, is a professional birth doula, and is a Certified Pre/Postnatal Fitness Specialist.  She’s passionate about helping pregnant women have a memorable childbirth experience. Read more about Angela and her work at []. Follow her at [] and [].


Preparing for Childbirth-Terri Lee-Johnson

Doula Support

Doula Support

Preparing for Childbirth


When most women consider childbirth preparation, thoughts are often limited to the method they’ll use such as Lamaze, Bradley, HypnoBirth, etc. Anyone planning to have a baby should, first, do just that: plan to have a baby. I know, I know, how many of us actually do that or even get the chance since many pregnancies are a surprise? Considering that more women are postponing motherhood until their 30s and 40s, taking a moment in the 20s to plan is a great idea. Also, this is a great addendum to the motherhood topic for those mother-daughter talks. While what method and, thus, what type of childbirth class to take is important, there are a few other things to consider.
1. Consider where you want to birth While birth centers and hospitals are covered by insurance, home births involving the services of a midwife are typically an out of pocket expense. As soon as you know that you want a midwife’s services, you should start saving for the fee. If you’re willing to move temporarily to another state where midwives are licensed because they aren’t in your area, include those expenses as well. A great way to get help with those expenses is to add them to your gift registry or turn one of your hobbies like jewelry making or knitting into a small business for which you’ll use the earnings to secure a midwife.
2. Consider the type of birth you want Two words: BIRTH PREFERENCES. No matter where you plan to birth, you should have one. Even someone wanting a home birth but, just cannot seem to acquire the funds to pay a midwife may have to have a hospital birth and home births that may turn into a hospital transfer should have a contingency plan so your wishes are clear. There are tons of examples online to help you map out your “please dos” and “please don’ts” for hospital staff. Your preferences can include everything from whether or not you desire to exclusively breastfeed to requesting no vaccines be administered to no circumcision if your newborn is a boy. Flexibility is just as important when setting birth preferences as birth can be unpredictable and certain things may conflict with your wishes. The goal is to be educated enough on your options to make informed decisions regarding how you give birth.
3. Consider who you want to assist you in birth OB? Midwife? Doula? In Tennessee, you have two options: a home birth with a midwife or a hospital birth with an OB. Midwives do not have hospital privileges here so, your setting determines your attendant. If that is the case where you live and you prefer to work with a midwife, consider having your well woman care being handled by one to begin cultivating that relationship. It is often forgotten that midwives do more than “catch babies.” Start taking advantage of their services before conception. Just remember it will likely not be covered by insurance but, you get what you pay for. *wink wink*
Now, doulas do not provide any medical services but can attend your birth as emotional and physical support. She will also provide tons of helpful information throughout the pregnancy and into the postpartum period. We are found to be most useful in hospital births where the environment is not as easy to control as your home. Doulas are another out of pocket expense for most though, insurance providers are beginning to recognize our value and provide coverage for our services. This is another item that can be added to a gift registry (great for a group of co-workers to give) if you need help with doula fees.
There are many things to consider when planning to start a family but these are the three questions I would answer first regarding prenatal care and the actual birth. Where you birth and who attends that birth will influence how you birth. If you want an out of hospital experience that will require a small investment, start saving now or solicit anxious grandparents-to-be for a donation. Even with unexpected pregnancies and birth being unpredictable, still give yourself the space to plan and create the birth you want.


Terri Lee-Johnson is a homeschool mom, wife, doula, and apprentice midwife in Memphis, TN. In her spare time, she reads voraciously, watches historical documentaries, and is artsy craftsy.


“With Woman” by: Dana Luttrell

“With Woman” by: Dana Luttrell

“It has not been long that I have been a doula. My training is inching toward completion with attendance of a couple births left to be evaluated and as I continue to scrape together time to finish assignments and book reports. I take great pride in my training efforts, read far more than required, watch every film and documentary, listen earnestly to other birth workers and other mothers like myself who have experienced a birth trauma only to redeem their experience with a subsequent birth. I think I can confidently say “I know the basics” just as confidently as I can say “there is so much to be learned”.

As a training doula, I often focus my learning on techniques to be used: massage, Rebozo, essential oils, memorizing positions and their uses. Important stuff, as in most descriptions of a doula these are the highlights of our work. We know how to help you cope, physically. We know the process, and believe in the process, of natural childbirth. We also know about the interventions and how to work with them so they don’t fall into the “cascade” we birth workers fear will take away from the childbirth experience. Ask any lay person what a doula does and if they know anything about us at all, they will know that we can help you deal with the pain of labor.

But despite all the wonderful uses and intentions of those techniques, I fear I have left out focus of a key factor of my work. As a doula can tell you, the most beneficial part of having a doula at your birth is the CONSTANT SUPPORT. I knew this. I believed this true. And yet I still didn’t understand the extreme impact that statement has.

With woman. 

Not “doing it with woman”, not even “helping a girl out”. WITH. With? Such a simple implication of a word. Defined easily, categorized simply.

Not until the last birth I attended did I truly understand the full weight of importance of “with” in my role as labor support.

Although, I should have as I experienced it in my own birth of my second child. In my personal experience of a rather quick labor/birth (6 hrs total), I did not want coping techniques to be used on me. I was fighting off the panic of how quickly my birth approached. I holed myself up in the smallest room of my house and made a small nesting area reminiscent of the dogs my family bread in my childhood used to do. I was offered a simple, and known to be quite effective, hot water bottle, but the presence of the gentle, loving, midwife’s apprentice and the trying of that physical ease made me loose focus. I did not like either, and so I stayed alone in my safe place listening to the conversations of my husband and midwife, my mother crushing ice for me in the kitchen, my father retreating to another area of the house so not to disturb the process, alone and content working internally to handle my labor.

And then, eventually, I came out of my nest because I honestly felt a little out of the loop. I wanted to be near the people. I entered the hardest of my labor there, with them. I needed them there. I did not need them to assist me labor and frankly they couldn’t have anyway. No, I just needed them. After a unfavorable positional change I remember grabbing my midwife’s knee suddenly as a heavy contraction hit before I was ready. Her face was shocked by my sudden grasp as I had until this point labored within myself, not reaching out for help. And then her eyes told me what I needed to know:

“I know it’s hard. I know you’re working harder than you ever have. I know.”

After that moment I felt a new level of trust. Not because she helped ease my pain or even because she said some scholarly fact about transition being the hardest but shortest part, but because she empathized and validated my experience….. all in a look.

With woman.

Yes, a doula can offer you many helpful things to deal with your labor but not all who labor want a massage or a positional suggestion. Some just need you to be WITH them. To hear them when they cry out that they don’t want to do this or that they don’t think it can be done. To know they are suffering. To somehow with your presence tell them you understand. Perhaps a word of “but you are doing this” or “your work is paying off” or even “you are further than you realize and doing more wonderfully than you think” but mostly just WITH.

The last birth I attended was a mother’s 3rd and first attempt at a totally natural and un-augmented childbirth. Much like my own, quickly moving. She fought her labor until she couldn’t fight anymore. She voiced her retreat of intent for this birth so I could hear it, not because she really meant she wanted to give up but because someone had to know how difficult it was. And I did. I knew. It was hard and it was fast and it wasn’t exactly how she pictured herself laboring. Once she had told me and I agreed that it was hard, she stopped fighting it. She danced beautifully the dance of a laboring woman, drawing her baby further through the pelvis. And when her dance was sufficient she found herself a bed to rest in. And when her rest was sufficient, she pushed the baby out in 2 waves without voicing to anyone that it was happening (in fact, in that dark hospital room, we nearly missed that the baby was being born, let alone a doctor to be present for its entirety!). Her birth was beautiful and it was hers. She was strong, even when she tried to say she wasn’t. I did not help her with counter pressure or positions as I so often do. No, instead I was simply “with”.

With woman.

To sum up the whole, the best part, the most important part, is that I, and all the striving birth workers in our present, past and future, are with YOU, woman. Every mother that has ever been is with YOU, birthing goddess. And if you need to be validated while you work to bring your baby earth-side, just look to the woman at your birth-she is WITH YOU in this momentous right of passage and that, I hope, will sooth your soul. ”

 Dana is police officer’s wife, mother of 2 young sons, & Labor         Support Doula in training living in the heart of the Midwest. After the birth of her first son, a hospital experience, she chose to leave her career pursuits as a nurse & join the ranks of stay at home moms while researching & planning the birth of her next son, a midwife assisted home birth. After personally experiencing the difference a birth with professional, loving support can make, she chose to train to be a Doula through Birth Arts International & has joined in volunteering for TBS on their social media fronts. A believer in evidence-based obstetrical care, she most strives to help mothers & families by assisting them in obtaining the birth they desire through education, support, tradition, and mindful presence.”


De-Stress in the New Year

De-Stress in the New Year

If you know anything about me, it is that I really feel that stress effects so much more of our daily lives than stress.

Stress effects our weight, sleep, ability to communicate, relate to others, and so much more. If we are stressed we may find that we cannot relate as well to the needs of clients as we should. We may find that we share too much, are not able to function as well as practitioners and overall job satisfaction will lessen. We can use the following tools to make sure we are experiencing less stress day to day and have more relaxing and fulfilling lives.

Relax in the Bath

Relax in the Bath

1. Get your move on! Move, burn calories, increase your heart rate, and your sweat on. Dance, yoga, weight machines, whatever makes you feel good. Give yourself the gift of joyful movement, take 20-30 minutes a day for yourself. This movement time will really make you feel so much better.

2. Bathing Beauty- Take time to bathe. Relaxing and breathing and a nice long bath with relax you on so many levels.  When I need a relaxing bath to help me de-stress and feel at peace. Generally I add 2 cups of Epsom salts, 1/4 cup Celtic sea salt, 1/4 cup baking soda, with 10 drops of either Lavender, Sandalwood or Rose essential oil. Soak for at least 20 minutes, breath and close your eyes and try to let the world go.


3. Breathe- Deep restful breathes. Make sure you do not hold your breath. Often during the day we are taking shallow breaths, and erratically breathing, this is often when we are feeling anxious or stressed. So work at taking restful breathes. Eventually this will become a natural way, we are just rewiring circuits and reminding our body on how to have restful breathes. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound effect on resetting the stress response, because the vagus (relaxation) nerve goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath.

4. Sleep More! Many adults, and children for that matter are not getting enough sleep. 8 hours for grown-ups. Children and teens need more, sometimes teens need a lot more. Not getting enough sleep effects the metabolism, stress and anxiety levels and it should be a priority.

5. Change your thinking- Learn how to rethink life. Identify stressors, and learn how to lessen them, deep breaths, listening to a happy song, dance around the room, laugh. Laughing is often the best medicine for everything. Laughter can bring light into the mist stressful times. Always take time to laugh.



Pregnancy Nutrition Shake

Pregnancy Nutrition Shake



1/2 cup coconut juice or water, the fresher the better
2 medjool dates- soaked.
1 cup soaked cashews or hazelnuts
1/2 cup of infusion of nettles, red raspberry leaves and milky oats, or you can make a cup of your favorite pregnancy tea.
1 handful of fresh raspberries, which are wonderful for pregnancy and full of vitamins and minerals.
1 ripe banana

Soak the nuts and dates for an hour. You can soak them together. The sugars in the dates will assist in breaking down the nuts. Strain and add to the blender.
In a blender add the ingredients rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
If you want a cold treat you can use frozen bananas and raspberries.

This will make enough for more than one serving. This recipe will also be featured in my upcoming book on herbs and pregnancy.

Instead of nuts you can use yogurt, or plain silken tofu.

Disclaimer: For educational use only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.

You can get Demetria Clark’s book Herbal Healing for Children and 475 Herbal and Aromatherapy Recipes at Amazon.

Mountain Rose Herbs