Posts by Category : health


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- Cannabis during pregnancy

Cannabis during pregnancy A basic overview and personal opinion

by Abigail Iovine Doula and Student Midwife  

(BAI does not endorse either way the use of marijuana in pregnancy, or life for that matter. This is a student article, based on her thoughts and ideas.)



Cannabis has been used for centuries in many cultures for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Cannabis was often  a common ingredient in many medications in the  early 1900′s until it’s prohibition began slowly state by state, finally being  classed as a schedule 1 drug  by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. Recently it has come in to the spotlight for effectively treating coming into the spotlight for treating seizures, stutters, pain, nausea,  anxiety, depression, addiction, shrinking tumors, and healing cancer. Mothers in the United States are questioning whether cannabis is a reasonable treatment option during pregnancy. Cannabis has been successful in treating severe nausea, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum, as well as insomnia, pain, depression, and overall improves quality of life.

Unfortunately the topic is taboo, ingesting a ‘drug’ during pregnancy is not ideal. Many mom’s are afraid to ask about trying this, or are afraid to admit using it. And for good reason. Children are removed from homes, mothers and fathers sent to prison, and even with the legalization of medical cannabis throughout the country, the federal government has not changed its stance on marijuana being a drug, and illegal. It is a scary topic. The problem I found difficult, in researching for and writing this article, is the basics of understanding, on cannabis use and pregnancy. There is a surprising amount of research, but it is very hard to find. And specifically, studies on smoked cannabis is limited. So it is my goal here, is to present some basic evidence, which will hopefully allow mothers questioning the possible use of cannabis, to weigh their options thoroughly, with a better understanding of what we do know about cannabis.  


  • ·      it has the same affect on the mother, the pregnancy, the placenta, and the fetus as cigarettes
  • ·      it will cause pre-term birth
  • ·      it will cause low birth weight
  • ·      it will cause birth defects
  • ·      it will cause learning disabilities
  • ·      it is a dangerous drug
  • ·      cannabis use during pregnancy is directly related to socio-economic status, marital status, race, family class and income, and family/parenting lifestyle choices                 

(ie: “mothers who use are usually poor, single, using other drugs, or black”)

  These claims are based on so many things it would be impossible to cover them all. But few have studies or science to back. And if they do, they have often been disproven and discredited. Even when claims such as “cannabis during pregnancy increases cancer risk later in life” are completely debunked by science, these negative ideas stick. Basic knowledge of cannabis truth (the science, history, and politics) is very limited amongst both the general public, as well as most care providers, so it is very easy to believe most of what you hear. It is also very important to me as a birth professional, that mother’s searching for information are careful not to fall to deep into the word of mouth associated with pregnancy in general. Every mom has a story, every baby is different, and the most common thing I hear from mothers is “well my baby…”. These claims make it harder for moms to research and discover on their own.

Cannabis studies

Flaws, inconsistencies, and politics

The first problem I see, is the tests and studies that have been published on cannabis use, are often based on statistical information from birth/death certificates, often relying on the mother’s involved to give firsthand honest accounts about their cannabis use, and potentially, other illicit drug use. Many of these basic statistical observations, do not take into account the possibility of other factors that may have contributed to a the birth outcome. Factors such as socioeconomic status, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, abuse, etc. As a very thorough article in Mothering Magazine points out “When adverse outcomes are found, they are inconsistent from one study to another, always relatively minor, and appear to have no impact on infant health or mortality” See that article with citations here   According to a Journal review article published out of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, There are many discrepancies in testing for birth defects or negative outcomes. “Prospective studies that have examined women at regular and frequent intervals during pregnancy, in general, have not found a relationship between marijuana use and birth weight although some have reported a small effect of marijuana use on birth length.” “Other studies, some prospective and some retrospective, have reported correlations between marijuana use during pregnancy and smaller size at birth. Several of these studies, however, failed to control or screen adequately for other illicit drug use”. 1   There is also the political plight of cannabis and pregnancy studies. Researches are finding their work unpublished and unmentioned in articles and references, and being refused funding for more research, unless they comply with the bias preferences of the funding organization. Medical anthropologist Melanie Dreher, known for her Jamaican cannabis study, mentions this level of political influence on cannabis research in her conferences and presentations. Watch her speak here.   Doctors like Dr. William Courtney profess that- despite numerous “miracle patients” all over the world, who now have renewed lives and have been cured and treated like no pharmaceutical ever could-that because the industry chooses to suppress findings like his, and Melanie Dreher’s, these treatments and studies will never be taken seriously. With a money driven, political agenda from the government, the numerous ways cannabis treats illness is a serious threat to big money institutions. See his article here



               Dr. Melanie Dreher, the Dean of Nursing at Rush Medical Center in Chicago, famously studied the effects of cannabis use during pregnancy, in Jamaica. She studied moms and their babies through their pregnancies, and up to 5 years after birth, and found zero negative effects or outcomes for the children.  In fact, the children of heavy cannabis users, women who used between 21 and 70 joints (spliffs) daily, were superior to the children whose mothers did not.2 “The 30-day test showed that children of ganja-using mothers were superior to children of non-ganja mothers in two ways: the children had better organization and modulation of sleeping and waking, and they were less prone to stress-related anxiety.” The study compared women in each of 4 categories, based on the amount of cannabis used daily. (heavy, moderate, light, nonuser) The women matched in age, parity, and socioeconomic status. Researchers lived in the communities with these pregnant women during the study. The neonatal outcomes were studied on 24 exposed neonates, and 20 non-exposed, using the brazelton neonatal assessment scale, consisting of 28 behavioral test, and 18 reflex test, and showed NO difference between the two groups. The researches also found that the non users had a birth weight average of 6 lbs. 7.3 oz., and the heavy users had a birth weight average of 6 lbs. 15.5 oz. This completely contradicts any study claiming cannabis is linked to low birth weight. The children were revisited at age 4 and 5. Researches evaluated the children based on the McCarthy Scale which is similar to what we recognize as an IQ test. (called the GCI or general cognitive index) The children were also temperament tested using similar in-depth testing, observing things such as mood, adjustment, and social interaction. The final observations included home studies (standards of living and home experiences) and school attendance. IN BOTH THE 4 AND 5 YEAR OLDS THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NON EXPOSED CHILDREN, AND CHILDREN EXPOSED TO HEAVY CANNABIS USE IN UTERO.   For more information on Dr. Dreher’s study Beyond Melanie Dreher’s Jamaican study, the well executed and documented studies on pregnancy and cannabis are limited. However, there are more studies and insights into cannabis use in adults for treatment of disease, and the safety of cannabis overall. See the resources section for links.


               I would also like to include, briefly, some information on one particular thought on cannabis and pregnancy. The idea that smoking cannabis is similar to smoking cigarettes, is anecdotal, with limited evidence, and frankly, unfair. It is unfair, because parents who do not smoke cigarettes, but use cannabis, should not be grouped into the same category of “smokers”, and cannabis will not cause damage like inhaling nicotine, chemicals, and tobacco smoke. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 ingredients. Smoking the average cigarette is like smoking a chemical cocktail. Cigarettes also contain nicotine, which seems to promote cancer. On the other hand, while cannabis smoke contains some of the same toxins as does tobacco (this does not account for all those chemicals, just the tobacco) cannabis contains cannabinoids, that have proven anti cancer properties. There have not been any conclusive studies proving a connection between tobacco related cancers, and cannabis smoke. And there have been no cases of lung cancer in cannabis only smokers. NONE. 8 In fact, cannabis is a wonderful bronchio-dilator, which has been known and applied for many years. And recent studies have shown no correlation between cannabis only use, and COPD.9 It is possible, if you are concerned about smoke inhalation, to vaporize cannabis. You get the same instant effects, without burning the plant, so without the same toxins and tar as in the smoke.


“Were we meant to use cannabis?”

               The endocannabinoid system is a message system in the human body. The body makes endocannabinoids on demand, and the body contains 2 types of cannabinoid receptors, located in the brain, the muscles, fatty tissues, the liver and metabolic system, the stomach, and the immune system. The endocannabinoids and their receptors send messages to many areas of the body, regulating things like memory, energy, stress response, immune function, female reproduction, autonomic nervous system responses, thermoregulation, and sleep. Cannibinoids are considered neuromodulators, responsible for controlling large groups of neurons in the nervous system. The cannabis plant contains at least 85 identified cannabinoids. (phyto-cannabinoids)  Each of these have different functions and responses in the human body. For example, THC is the most commonly known cannibinoid, responsible for the ‘high’ associated with taking cannabis. Cannibidol is another, known for its treatment of convulsions, nausea, anxiety, and inflammation, and has neuroprotective properties.3 Each of the different cannabinoids are being isolated and used in medical research, and all have different responses in the human body. Babies are born with cannabinoid receptors, and human breastmilk contains cannabinoids. These help babies learn to eat and gain weight, and have the same response on the body as cancer patients using medical cannabis to treat appetite issues.4 The endocannabinoid system plays a very big role in female reproduction and pre and post natal development. Implantation, nervous system development, suckling response, and brain development and protection of the newborns neurological development, are some of the ways cannabinoids works to promote and maintain healthy reproduction.5 In fact, some studies are suggesting that these receptors, and the cannabinoids, have a direct correlation to preterm birth, with studies showing that a loss of the cannabinoid receptors (CB1) can induce preterm birth.6 It is thought than an imbalance of omegas can induce the death of cannabinoid receptors. Beyond the physiological contribution of cannabis, and cannabinoids, the nutritional value of cannabis deserves recognition. Raw Cannabis or hemp foods, contains all of the essential amino acids, protein, the ideal ratio of omega6 to omega3, flavanoids, and terpenes (organic compounds found in plants that have immunological, anti-microbial actions). In addition, hemp food contains the essential quantity of amino acids, responsible for supporting the manufacturing of serum albumin and serum globulin, which are essential to life. 7 Besides these, cannabis has fiber, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and b1, b2, b3, b6, and vitamins C, D, and A. “Our planet has over 3 million edible plants on it, yet there is no one plant that can equal the nutritional value of hemp.”  


               Cannabis is a personal choice. I have used cannabis during pregnancy to treat hyperemesis and insomnia, and when I’m not pregnant. Cannabis helps to manage my anxiety, and damage done by over prescribed psych-medications I was prescribed in my adolescence. I              believe wholeheartedly in the miracle that is cannabis and what it has to offer. I also use cannabis to treat my many ailments, from migraines, injuries, topically to treat burns, and as tea to treat upset stomach. I don’t condone the use for children, or for teenagers, their brains are rewiring and so fragile, or women trying to become pregnant -there is a small window right before implantation, where extra cannabinoids could affect the implantation, since they (cannabinoids) are already working so hard in the process, ingesting cannabis can cause a little overload in that tiny window of time. The benefits of cannabis during pregnancy are obvious. Quality of life for sick or struggling mothers, a simple ease into sleep, or management of pain without side effects (besides a good feeling), or being able to eat after weeks of severe hyperemesis, these are all legitimate reasons to consider using cannabis. In my opinion, cannabis is a plant that is so connected to humans, works so deeply in our physiology, has so many purposes in our lives, ( a perfect food, medicine, clothes, shelter) it must have been created specifically for us to use.

I hope the world will consider this plant for the miracle that it is, and the taboo and misinformation against the users and the plant will be abolished -along with the laws preventing us from harnessing the powers of such a miracle gift.

  *Personal note: “Just like anything, we can overindulge, and become addicted to things that make us feel good. Cannabis is no different.”       citations 1.;jsessionid=F5Hlnj7qmxLIsOdCr57J.10 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Hemp and the marijuana conspiracy- By Jack Herer 9.     LINKS for exploration


Sacred Birth- Johanna Schnell

Take a minute and relax. Visualize what the big day is going to be like. The twinge in your belly, signaling a time of great change is nigh. You’ve opened yourself up, completely, to the arrival of a special person. The veil is lifted, briefly, to reveal the great mystery of life.

Sacred Connections

Sacred Connections

Birth is a sacred, mystical experience. But it’s hard to feel like a Goddess when bright lights are shining upon an antiseptic room, and you are distracted by a stream of staff to plug your beautiful body into machines that go beep, poke you with needles, and prod your sacred opening, as a clock looks down upon you with judgmental precision. It just doesn’t feel right.

It is important to understand how hospital routine impacts your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual state.  A hospital can be compared to an assembly line. Medical procedures and tradition encourage efficiency in order to provide roughly the same quality of care to as many people as possible. This directly conflicts with the birth process, as unique to each woman as a snowflake.

This is not just some emotional mumbo jumbo- the level of satisfaction with your birth experience will impact how well you bond with your baby. The strength of your bond will impact how well your child will attach to you, which has long-lasting effects on how your child will approach relationships and independence. Sure, you have plenty of time for you and baby to get to know each other. Bonding doesn’t stop when you check out of the hospital. It sure does help when memories of the birth aren’t clouded by a stressful birthing environment. Mom’s security and comfort will determine how much she will enjoy the experience- the more she enjoys it, the less pain and medical intervention she will need. It is wise to educate yourself on what to expect and ensure you have plenty of support.

Researches on medical dehumanization and on sexual objectification have independently revealed similar characteristics of power imbalance, victimization, and control. Medical dehumanization and sexual objectification are a double whammy also known as intersectionality- when a person comprises two or more categories of disempowered groups. In this case, (non-minority, heterosexual, cis-gendered) woman and patient.  There can be an assumption floating about the antiseptic halls of medicine that women in childbirth are defective and weak objects in need of improvement via masculine intervention.  Seriously, would humanity be here if women weren’t fully capable of doing birthing babies? Pregnancy is not an illness in need of a cure! Your body is not a lemon!!

Read the table below and see the similarities for yourself.

Medical Dehumanization Tactics (according to psychologists Omar Sultan Haque and Adam Waytz) Sexual Objectification (According to the philosopher Martha Nussbaum)
deindivudating practices (taking away identifying characteristics, ex. the generic hospital gown)     as if interchangeable (fungibility)
impaired patient agency (a lessened ability to think or plan for oneself)     as if lacking in agency or self-determination (denial of autonomy, inertness);
dissimilarity (The dynamic of a healthy person in power and an ill one needing help sets up a dehumanizing relationship) as if owned by another (ownership);
empathy reduction (tactic to reduce burnout- not empathetic to pain experienced by patient) as if there is no need for concern for their feelings and experiences (denial of subjectivity)
moral disengagement (so that willfully inflicting pain during medical procedures becomes permissible rather than abhorrent) as if permissible to damage or destroy (violability)
Mechanization (patient is not a person but a set of interacting systems,  literally as a mechanical object, to make it easier to diagnose problems) As a tool for another’s purposes (instrumentality)


Given the studies documenting the damaging impact sexual objectification has on women, it is disturbing to see hospital staff treating women in childbirth in a nearly identical manner simply as a matter of course. The behavior is excused on the grounds it will provide better diagnoses and keep staff calm in case of an emergency. However, this belief is questionable, particularly as it relates to childbirth, since this is a natural physiological process. The woman in question is not sick, after all. We don’t keep a doctor on hand every time we climb into the car, just in case we have an accident. So it seems absurd to include professional healers to our bedside during birth.

The overall impact of objectification: your unique birth experience will be treated as though it is a mechanical process, identical to the women who birthed before, and any variation to the Ideal Birth as laid down in the holy medical textbooks is a problem needing to be fixed. This impacts the chances you will be treated with dignity and respect. It will interrupt the flow of your birth, slowing you down and causing unnecessary pain.

Once a birth has deviated too far from your hospital’s rigid norm, it is easy (and profitable) to scare women into accepting “help” they don’t always truly need and tends to disrupt the birth process by telling the mother they are not in control and need experts to tell them what to do, rather than tune into their own intuition and rely on their inherent resources to complete their journey. Staff will try to make all the decisions, meaning your sense of self-respect and empowerment in this transformative experience will be reduced to feelings of dependency and self-doubt. Not the best way to start motherhood!

Want to try a different approach that celebrates your power as a woman and mother? Have your baby at home! Usually, any problem requiring hospital attention will be detected with plenty of time to go to the hospital. You can start out at home and go from there. You will be the boss in a comfortable and safe space. This is how women gave birth for centuries. Only in the last 100 years have women moved into delivery rooms, and it took quite a lot of convincing from the medical establishment for them to do so. If you decide you must have your baby in a hospital, take time to enjoy the experience and make it your own. Wear a nightgown from home. Dim the lights. Dance! You need to feel secure and relaxed to accomplish the great work ahead of you.

The best thing you can do, at home or in the hospital, is to hire a doula. She is a non-medical addition to your support team. Your doula will provide physical and emotional support. She provides spaciousness for you as you create space for your child. It is her job to empower you, help you relax and enjoy the flow of birth, and act as a buffer between you, your fears, and the hospital staff so your wishes are respected.


“Objectification”. Nussbaum, Martha C. Philosophy and Public Affairs; Fall 1995; 24, 4

“Dehumanization in Medicine: Causes, Solutions, and Functions”. Omar Sultan Haque and Adam Waytz. Perspectives on Psychological Science March 2012 vol. 7 no. 2 176-186

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Ina May Gaskin. 2003. Bantam.

“The Origins of Attachment Theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth”. Bretherton I. Developmental Psychology 1992 vol. 28 no. 5 759.


Johanna Schnell is a doula based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She believes healthy parenting will save the world.


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


Birth and Postpartum Doula Business Tips

Birth and Postpartum Doula Business Tips

1. I am a business owner- These are words that you need to start saying in your head. When people ask me what I do, I do not say “I train doulas” I say “I am the Director of Birth Arts International, a doula certification organization”. See the difference. “I am a doula” versus “I own (insert your business name here), I am a professional doula.” See the distinct difference. This difference is apparent to potential clients. You are taking your place in the community by taking a place in your community’s league of professionals. Parents/clients/colleagues all benefit from your distinctions. Try introducing yourself to yourself a few times, make yourself believe in your professionalism and ownership of self. No one can own your company but you, but in order to be respected as such and valued as such you must learn to accept and believe this of yourself.

At Work

At Work

2. Make a business plan- Make a business plan, a list of goals, dream board. You can find business plan resources at- the SBA. Be realistic and be ready to do the work. Running a business is a full time job. Make sure you can work your schedule around your life if you have children. This can be a successful and fulfilling career if you have children and want to work around the needs of being a parent. Be realistic and reasonable with yourself.

Do not start your business from a place of competition or jealousy. Do not compare yourself to other providers, unless it is to improve yourself. Most clients will not choose you over another provider, just for price. Make sure your rates are reflective of your costs, not the other rates in the area. Be true to yourself. If your rates are too low, you will have an unsustainable practice, and you will potentially burn out. Be realistic with your goals, costs, finances, and make sure you are honest with yourself.

Competition is not to be afraid of. Make sure you view competition as a positive. So do not make fun of, diss, or second guess another practitioner. Be kind, and gentle. If you start your career from a negative, competitive and “nasty” place your business will not last. Having a business plan that you stick to will help you to keep focus, and give you something that you can work from and use to guide you as your practice develops.

Business investment- a lot of students feel they have spent sooo much on education, etc.. But the reality is that being a doula is a business that you can start with investment costs less than $1000.00. I can’t think of another long term career that you have that can see your seeing a profit in less than the first year. Remember this. Most businesses do not see a profit for the first three years. BAI offers the most intensive and beautiful doula training in the world, remember the value it is, and honor that.

It is essential that you pay for additional education, continue to improve yourself, skills, and keep up with the demands of your local market. You can find a variety of educational options at

When you invest in yourself you will be making your business and career path stronger. Make sure you do the work, skimping on your career plan, business plan, etc.. will only work against you. So do the work, after all it is for you.

3. Dress the part!- Do not show up in your sweat suit for a meeting with clients. Until you know your business style and you know what clients expect keep it simple. Does this mean you can’t have style and flair? No, but it does mean you need to be groomed and respectful. No cleavage, no miniskirts, no t-shirts with band names, beer/product/pithy cartoon logos, now is not the time to be “cool”. Parents do not want to see your underwear, bra straps, or lots of make up or jewelry. Parents can be offended from a variety of clothing issues.
Until you know the parent keep it simple. I know this sounds obvious, but once I had a client, about 15 years ago, who said she almost didn’t hire me because I had a tribal print tunic, she thought it was too pagan, or witchy. To me it was a cool shirt, so from then on I kept it simple.
Parents need to be able to visualize you at their birth. You do not know someone’s back story, marital history, or insecurities. Take this into consideration.
Look it is simple if you are respectful, polished and present a professional presence parents will feel safe in your hands.
If you have tattoos, dreadlocks, or lots of piercings be aware that not all people are accepting of alternatives in dress. This is not their issue, it is what makes them feel safe, do not take it personally. Other parents may feel the exact opposite, be aware and make sure you yourself do not judge parents, you are the business, and they are the client.

Some articles on professional dress

-How to Dress Professionally

-Tips from a BAI Doula

4. Promotion- Make sure you have business cards, a website, and advertise locally. Hang fliers, at health food stores, place cards at baby boutiques, ask to leave brochures at doctors and midwives offices. Make your website clean and easy to navigate. In your about you section detail your education, the training organization you worked with and additional beneficial education. Choose a simple business name the expresses to potential clients what you are offering, use an original logo. In the business would you will occasionally find that someone has stolen another’s logo. Make sure yours is original to your practice.
Choose an appropriate email address. If you own your URL make a local email address or if you use a free service yourdoulapractice@hotmail/yahoo/
Do not use silly names people will not identify with you. is not very business-like.
Check out your competition, assess the market.

Check out services like VistaPrint, or Staples Business Services.
Take a look at who other birth professionals are targeting, maybe they are overlooking an area of need. Are you all looking and promoting yourself to the same core group of people.
Here are some categories that you can assess.

Doula Support

Doula Support

• First baby
• Previous birth trauma
• Crisis/teen pregnancy
• High risk pregnancy/high risk/stillbirth/previous loss
• Homebirth
• Intrauterine insemination/in vitro fertilization
• Adoption
• Cultural diversity
Then decide if you can serve this population and if so how to effectively market to that area.

5. Create a clear contract- Have a client for clients to sign that details what you will and will not do, your fees, back up, cancellation of services, refunds, etc.. Make your policies clear. The small business associations in your community, or your organization can assist you. Stick to your contract. It is essential that you follow your end of the bargain 100%. Sometimes legal advice is needed when drawing up a contract, pay for it if you need it, or seek out small business resources in your community.

6. Look you are not perfect, life is not perfect but if you are respectful, stick to your core foundation, follow your end of the contract then you are going to have a more sustainable and profitable business. Remember this. Yes, you will have times when you say, “This sucks”, etc.. Shake it off, assess yourself and believe in your goal. Have friends outside of the birth world who will offer you friendship and distraction from work. Do not get involved with local birth world drama. Never bad mouth another doula, if you can’t address it directly to her, then you shouldn’t be saying it. Stop playing the gossip game, do not pass on the negative, doing this is your choice.



Postpartum Tea

After the journey of birth mother’s often need additional nutritional, emotional and physical support.

Moms will need extra nutrition, and this tea is a staple in my herbal and doula practice. Clients love it, as do the midwives and family members.

YOU ROCK! Mamma Tea and Infusion

  • 2 parts chamomile flower (Matricaria recutita)
  • 2 parts hibiscus flower (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • 1 part rose petal (Rosa spp.)
  • 1/8 part lavender flower (Lavendula officinalis)
  • 1/4 part rose hips (Rosa canina)
  • 3 parts lemon balm leaf (Melissa officinalis)

Make this by the gallon. It is rich in nervines, vitamins and minerals. Mom, family and care providers can drink this throughout the day, hot or cold.

Your health is your choice. We are not responsible for what you do with this information, it is for educational purposes only. Do research, learn and take control of your health.


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

You can get Demetria Clark’s Herbal Healing for Children at Amazon.

Mountain Rose Herbs


Natural Remedies for Postpartum Depression

Natural Remedies for Postpartum Depression

These suggestions can prove helpful for managing and alleviating postpartum depression naturally. They are also great overall tips for assisting in alleviating baby blues.
Placenta Therapy- a great description is here.

Young Woman Suffering from Post-partum Sitting on Chair by Window










Homeopathic medicine

Phosphorus: applies to these issues, indifference, apathy towards loved ones.
Cimicifuga: applies to these issues, depressed for both emotional and hormonal reasons, a dark cloud has descended.
Pulsatilla: applies to women who are emotional, tearful, and sensitive when hormonal changes occur as in the postpartum period.
If a women feels like she can be violent, or self harm immediately assistance from a medical practitioner is required.
Vitamin D

I am not a huge fan of vitamin D supplementation, but if needed please give this a try. I think everyone needs 20 minutes of exposure to the sun a day, with no sunblock. This can be a few minutes at a time, but we need real sunlight, no pill can replace the benefits of the sun.

Is nature’s remedy for depression. If we have limited access to the sun we can get seasonal disorders and become depressed. Try to get 20 minutes of sun a day. Use a hammock and rest in the warm sun, or a chaise lounge and allow yourself this one on one time with the sun. Try taking a 20 minutes walk, so you then get some movement and sun and fresh air.

Eating a diet rich in niacin has been shown to alleviate depression. A supplement can be used, but I believe food is the best source of all vitamins, but do what works best for you.

“The best food sources of vitamin B3 are found in beets, brewer’s yeast, beef liver, beef kidney, fish, salmon, swordfish, tuna, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Bread and cereals are usually fortified with niacin. In addition, foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid the body coverts into niacin, include poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy products”.1


Essential oils can play a great roll in altering and improving mood. We know lavender can calm and relax and individual, and this can be helpful for an anxious and stressed mother. If a gentle uplifting is required Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon and Sweet Orange. Lemon and Sweet Orange are stronger upflifters and work great in a room spray. If you want to feeler cleaner and unmuddled a room spray with Sweet Orange and Spearmint will do the job. It is also excellent to use mints and citrus oils together. They compliment each other  and work to uplift Sprig of rosemary, herbs and bottle of aromatic oil for aromatherapyand energize. Neroli is great for calming nervousness and anxiety. Chamomile can assist with depression that is a moody and irritable variety.

In a four ounce spray bottle add 3 oz. water and

30 drops Grapefruit essential oil
25 drops Sweet Orange Essential oil
20 drops Spearmint Essential oil

Mist the room for an uplifting scent.


Herbal Remedies

Research each remedy before using for safety and to make sure it will work for you.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea- full of vitamins and minerals, great for uterine toning.

YOU ROCK! Mamma Tea and Infusion

2 parts chamomile flower (Matricaria recutita)
2 parts hibiscus flower (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
1 part rose petal (Rosa spp.)
1/8 part lavender flower (Lavendula officinalis)
1/4 part rose hips (Rosa canina) 3 parts lemon balm leaf (Melissa officinalis)

Make this by the gallon. It is rich in nervines, vitamins and minerals. Mom, family and care providers can drink this throughout the day, hot or cold.

Milky Oats- great for nourishing the nervous system, you can even eat oatmeal.

Rose Hips-  They are a great source of vitamin C, nutritive and tastes wonderful especially blended with other herbs.

Motherwort- is excellent for anxiety, stress and relieving the weight on your chest, or a heavy heart.

Other good herbs are: Nettles, Skullcap, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Hibiscus, Rose, and Passionflower.

St. John’s Wort oil topically- This wonderful infused oil can assist in soothing sore muscles and nerve ending. I tell clients it is like wearing sunshine and most agree. The smell and action of the oil is uplifting.


Getting adequate rest is essential for mental and physical health. Make sure as the partner of a postpartum mother that your make sure she needs the assistance she requires. Every mother is different, and each birth experience leads to an individual postpartum experience. Take care of her, and Moms take care of yourself. Do not feel that you have to have the same recovery times as your friends or family members. Give mom a foot massage or a backrub to alleviate stress and stimulate lymph fluid. Make sure spouses and partners that you do not expect something from this massage. When I make this suggest mother’s often roll their eyes, in this instance it is for her and not foreplay unless she decides to. Excuse me for being so direct, but I am just wired that way.

Advice to Family

Family members be kind. New mothers are going through so much, make sure your actions do not make her feel less than or insecure. When visiting the new addition to the family, do a load of laundry, wash dishes, fold clothes, clean the bathroom, make a meal. Do not make the mother feel like she needs to serve you. This is not about you and your needs, it is about honoring and serving the mother. If you are great to a mom postpartum she will appreciate and remember that forever.

If you can’t do this for the mother, then talk about hiring her a postpartum doula. This is a skilled and trained professional who can assist mothers after birth. It will probably be one of the best investments you make for your family.

Give mom time to take a bath, read for an hour only stopping to feed baby, time to take a walk, nap and make sure you are supportive. This is just possibly a month or so in a woman’s life that the people around her can care for her and make sure it is not about them. Mother’s will give back for their rest of their lives, this is something you can do for her, that can shape her new parenting experiences. Do not ask the mother to travel, let her nest and recover. Be amazing and supportive!

To learn more about postpartum depression and the baby blues.

When to get help with Postpartum Depression

If you or a loved one thinks you need help, then please seek it out. Remember the people around you love you.

Postpartum depression, although as you can see by reading the links above has risk factors, it can still strike anyone.


If you think that becoming a postpartum doula sounds like the career for you, supporting and assist mothers with their now babies, please visit

If you are interested in learning more about herbalism and aromatherapy visit-

1 Source: Vitamin B3 (Niacin) | University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Maryland Medical Center


Disclaimer- Nothing written here is intended to prescribe or diagnose a health condition, it is for information purposes only.


SPIRITUAL CHILDBIRTH Bringing Sacredness Back to the Birth Process

SPIRITUAL CHILDBIRTH Bringing Sacredness Back to the Birth Process  by Mary Betsellie 

Childbirth is a deeply spiritual endeavor. It is an awesome task that a woman’s body is designed to carry out. It is at this time that a woman has the honor to stand at the doorway in which life and death passes.

During labor and delivery, her senses are at their sharpest including her intuition and connection to the non-physical world. A woman is in her greatest power during childbirth. She is completely open on all levels, working with the co-creative forces of nature to allow the miracle of life to pass through her.

However, it seems as if there is a great dichotomy in the birth process. It is that while a woman is in her greatest power she is also in her greatest vulnerability. For a woman who is supported, provided for and protected from outside interferences, that vulnerability is her greatest power. It is unfortunate that for millions of women across the country, birth has been or will be anything but spiritual and empowering. It is when we do not care for a birthing woman holistically (body, mind, and spirit) that she goes from being empowered to weak and desperate. Over-dependence on technology, greed, and fear have brought a dehumanizing effect into the delivery room. Birth has been reduced to a medical event, treated more like an illness than the blessed and sacred miracle that it is.

Here are some steps a woman can take to experience the divine nature of birth, whether she is birthing in a hospital, birthing center, or at home.


Take a non-hospital based childbirth education class:There are many philosophies from which to choose. Pick one with which you are comfortable. Some of the more popular ones are Calm Birth, Birthing From Within, HypnoBabies, HypnoBirthing, The Bradley Method, and Lamaze. Interview various educators to select one that shares your birthing philosophy. Gaining the knowledge of how the body works will only reinforce that you and your baby both have the inherent wisdom needed to birth.


Consider hiring a Midwife instead of an Obstetrician:Midwives are highly trained professionals working with a more holistic approach. They typically are better equipped to support the body, mind, and spirit collectively. With a Midwife, a birthing mother is more likely to be an active participant in the birth of her child, allowing her to embrace her divine power. (Some midwives follow the holistic model of care more than others.)


Hire a Birth Doula: A doula understands that the birth process is much more than a physical event; it is a journey that will engrave deep impressions on the soul of the laboring woman and her partner. She is the one constant human being that is there for the birthing mother and has the tools to support her mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Doctors and nurses usually have several patients they are attending at once and even a midwife is not always available for the entire labor. Many doulas are also trained in other healing modalities such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Aromatherapy, Massage, and Yoga.


Have a Mother Blessing: A Mother Blessing is a celebration that is done in place of or in addition to a baby shower. The main focus of the ceremony is on the Mother rather than on the baby. It is an intimate celebration where the Mom-to-be has a chance to connect with the important women in her life on a heart and soul level and to receive empowering support and encouragement in the form of positive messages regarding birth and her strength. There is a strong spiritual element to a Mother Blessing, stirring the souls of all who attend to remember that at one time or another all cultures held birth and the act of bringing forth life as sacred and holy.


Have a Homebirth: Homebirth is safe, legal and happening all of the time in this country. For many women, home is the most comfortable place to be, providing privacy and control that cannot be had in a hospital or birthing center. At home a woman is free to listen to her body, instinctual urges, and spiritual guidance. Many women can and do have spiritually empowering births in hospitals and birthing centers but home is the place she is most likely to birth in her feminine power.


Talk to the spirit of the baby: It just might talk back! This can be done even before conception. It is called pre-birth communication. Moms and Dads all over the world have reported connecting with their children long before they landed Earth side. The child spirit may come to you in mediation, in dreams or even in full consciousness. Sometimes the communication just comes in a knowing. Take time each day to sit quietly and allow the time to connect with your baby.


Women have been gifted with the bringing forth of life through their bodies. It is an awesome task indeed, not to be feared but respected and honored for the miracle that it is.



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Doula Support


BAI Student Profile- Angie-Pie Valentin

Angie-Pie Valentin

I chose BAI because the programs seemed to be far more extensive and in greater depth than programs with other certifying organizations. I also really liked that there were scholarship opportunities and that once certified, I would not have to continue to renew my certification or pay more. It wasn’t until I started the program that I found that there were many, many more benefits – like a community of other birth workers at all different levels of their journeys and that the Director would be so warm and genuinely caring of each of the students and their progress.

I have learned so much about myself since enrolling in the Birth Doula Certification Program. The program curriculum pushed me to dig deep within myself to access strengths I never knew I had. I have learned to better cope with everyday life challenges and obstacles, I have learned how to better care for myself by nourishing my soul and body

but most of all I have learned to listen to others in a way I never have before which in turn enables me to care for and support them efficiently. The BAI Birth Doula Certification Program has not only taught me new skills and tools but has taught me how to apply them in everyday life and everyday situations, including those within my family and personal relationships as well as advocacy for my own well-being, not just as they would pertain to birth work. This program is truly invaluable as the impact on my life has been so great. I highly recommend every doula take this program. Hands down.

I am a single “mumma” to two children, a former surrogate, and founder/ director of Doulaville Birth Services. I absolutely love my work as a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth & family educator and placenta processor. I one day hope to become a homebirth midwife but not until my children are a bit older.

While I am passionate about birth work in general, I am

  • especially passionate about community awareness and connecting free/low cost birth service providers with families who have no/low income through Doulaville CARES! a unique program designed to do just that – link families with birth workers so that every woman can in fact have a doula should she want one. You can learn more about Doulaville at where you can meet the Doulaville Doulas in the Seattle-Tacoma Puget Sound, in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the Doulaville CARES! Directory of free/low cost birth service providers across the entire U.S. and growing in Canada too! I hope to grow the Doulaville CARES! Directory into a comprehensive resource for expecting families and birth workers alike.

    Angelina “Angie” Valentin
    Founder, Director, Doula
    Doulaville Birth Services in Seattle and San Francisco

    Doulaville Doulas in San Francisco Bay Area & Seattle Tacoma Puget Sound

    Support through the childbearing year by preparing, supporting and nourishing women and their families. Doulas in Seattle Puget Sound & SF Bay Area.

Are there some things that happen to us from which we can never recover?

Are there some things that happen to us from which we can never recover?  

Is it even possible to heal from birth trauma? I’ve seen this question in various forms posted frequently by mothers who have survived birth trauma. Often, these mamas have been working so hard for their own healing – going through their birth notes with the midwives, seeking out counseling or therapy, networking and sharing support with others online, and telling their stories. – See more at: