Some Amazing Pictures

June 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm (Uncategorized)

I was browsing other doulas’ websites today, and found a beautiful blog with a series of cervix pictures throughout a woman’s cycle. We don’t often get to see our own cervices (unless we’re particularly curious and own a speculum:) – it’s amazing to see how much the doorway to our womb changes and dances throughout the monthly cycle! I’d recommend taking a look, and reveling in how amazing your body is.

Click here for the webiste.


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A Lovely Birth

June 8, 2010 at 10:35 pm (Uncategorized)

Last Friday, I was just sitting down at my son’s first-grade graduation (yes, there is such a thing:), when I got a call from a mama who was pretty close to her due date.  This mama and I are friends, and so I assumed she might have been calling just to chat.  I texted her, asking if her call was “urgent”- doula speak for “I’m wondering if you’re in labor but I don’t want to discourage you if you aren’t.”   As I sent the text, a voicemail from her came in.  Thinking, “mm-hmm”, I crouched down behind the row of proud parents to listen.

“Hi, Mayari, this is ____’s husband…. just calling to tell you that she’s been having some contractions, and they aren’t really going away, and so maybe if you could call us back, that would be great, ok, thanks.”

When a dad calls you, it’s usually a pretty good sign that mama’s in labor far enough that she’s no longer willing to talk on the phone.  I kissed my  husband and kids goodbye and trotted out to my car.  On the way, I called _____ back, and she picked up, sounding a little woozy and unsure.  I told her that I would be heading over to my house to get my bag, and then I’d come out to her place.  Hearing her voice, which had the high and trembling pitch of someone who’s trying to keep it together despite some pretty strong sensations, confirmed my guess that this labor was moving right along.

I made the round trip to my house and back onto the highway in record time, smiling a birth-elated smile.  This mama was having her second baby in a planned home birth, and I was simply delighted to be invited to witness and support her during her journey.  I’d known about her pregnancy from the morning that she found out about it, and I’d been there as she’d chosen a home birth despite the cultural idea that it’s a dangerous proposition. (More on this later, but just to set the record straight: a recent study found that home birth is as safe as or safer than hospital birth for low-risk moms.)   I heard her declare “I’m not going to make this decision out of fear.  I’m going to make the decision that feels right.”  And now, I was going to get to be with her as she experienced natural labor and birth in the comfort of her own home and bed.  I was excited!

My reverie was broken by another phone call from _____.  I said “Hi, I’m about halfway there.”  

“I feel like puuuuushing!  Why do I feel like that? Eeeeuuuuuuhhh!”

“Remember to breathe.  Blow through the contractions instead of pushing.” I blew into the phone, and she followed me as another contraction washed over her.  After another minute:

“Whyyyy do I feeeel like puuushing?” She sounded pretty shaky and overwhelmed.

“Either because your baby is that close, or because she’s not but your nerves are being stimulated anyway.  Call your midwife.  I’m coming as soon as I can.”

“The midwife is coooooooming!  Aaaaaaaa!”

I talked her through a few more contractions, then talked to her husband and gave him some pointers on helping her back, which was really hurting.  Then I hung up, and drove as fast as I possibly could, arriving at their house less than 10 minutes later.

I saw an unfamiliar car in the driveway, and was relieved that at least one midwife had made it.  I walked in and called hello to the mama, who yelled, “I’m fully dilated!”  “I thought you might be!” I said.

I entered her bedroom, dropped my bags and shoes, and sat with her on the bed.  She was pretty overwelmed, and seemed a bit scared, as many mamas are with a fast labor (she’d only been in labor for 3 hours at this point).  The midwife and I took turns talking to her and soothing her, and I found that pressure on her hip seemed to help her through the back pain.  The other midwife arrived, and her presence seemed to calm _____ down considerably.  This wise midwife talked ____ through a few more contractions, and then told her to look in her husband’s eyes.  _____ became quiet, working intensely through the contractions and resting between them.

Before too long, she began pushing, and not long after that, a head with long, dark hair slowly and smoothly emerged.  With one more push, the baby’s head rotated, her shoulders slid out and the rest of her body quickly followed.   ______ grabbed her baby, held her for a moment or two, then looked around and said (in a much stronger and happier voice) “I *did* it!  I can’t believe it!  I did it!  I had my home birth!”  We all cheered.  I was so happy for this strong and beautiful mama- she was full of empowerment and joy as she celebrated this beautful and satisfying birth.

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“Refer a Friend” Spring Doula Discount!

February 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm (Uncategorized)

Spring is coming, and it’s got me thinking about all sorts of babies coming into the world…baby plants in my garden, baby birds in the trees, a baby I know of who is working on being born right at this moment:)  I’m ecstatic about the explosion of growth and life that we’ll all be a part of in a few weeks.  Of course, that’s got me thinking about all the beautiful babies who are getting ready to be born here in WNC in these next few months. 

I want to give my support and love to as many mamas  this spring and summer as I can.  I know that this past year has been a trying one financially, and that some of you who might want a doula haven’t even looked at hiring one, because you can’t afford to.  I want all of you to have that calm, experienced support that a doula can provide at your births.  So I thought of a way that I could extend my services to more of you in my community.

Here’s my offer to you:  I will give you a $50 discount off of my services for each friend, acquaintance, or stranger off the street that you refer to me for an interview about doula services.  They don’t have to hire me, I just want to be able to chat with mamas who are looking for support.  I’ll give the discount for up to 4 referrals, so that would mean up to $200 in savings for your own doula care!

Please call or email me with any questions.  I’m always happy to talk with mamas about their pregnancies and birth plans.  And have a joyful spring!

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Holistic Childbirth Classes in Asheville!

November 21, 2009 at 2:32 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m pleased to announce that I am now teaching childbirth classes along with Sara Rathbone, CPM.  We’re in the middle of our first series right now, and we’re really enjoying talking about our favorite subjects: pregnancy and birth!  Our class focuses on physiologic birth, empowered choices, and emotional awareness.  Here’s what we cover in each class:

Class One: Exploring which topics each couple is interested in; fetal development (with lots of fun pictures!); Nutrition; Common Pregnancy Concerns and natural remedies; Bellycasting; Nonviolent Communication, and a birth art project.

Class Two: Clay Birth Art; Physiology of the First Stage of Labor; Comfort and Coping Techniques for the first stage; Birth Video; Intro to Homeopathy and Herbs; Labor Visualization

Class Three: Physiology of the Second and Third Stage; Coping Techniques and Positions; Birth Video; Two Homeopathic Remedies; Birth Art; Affirmations for Labor

Class Four:  Unusual Situations; Birth Attendants and Interventions (including epidurals, breaking waters, fetal monitoring, etc.); Role playing; Birth Art: power symbols; Birth Video; Pain awareness practice

Class Five:  Newborn appearance, behavior and care; Placentas and their uses; Breastfeeding; Baby Art; Closing Ritual

Please contact me if you’re interested in our classes- they’re a lot of fun and it’s great to spend time with your partner and/or other pregnant parents.  Each class forms a really sweet community.

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Do You Doula?

May 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Just watched a sweet little film called Do You Doula?

It was a great overview of doula care.  It interviewed moms, dads, doulas, and medical professionals and asked them what kind of care doulas provide, how mothers can benefit from that care, and how doula care differs from and meshes with medical care.  At the end were some lovely statistics about the effects of doula care-  similar facts about doula care can be found in Klaus’  The Doula Book.  My favorites were that doulas reduce the need for epidurals by 60%, and the occurrence of Cesareans by 50%. 

I liked the mom and dad who both said that they primarily hired a doula for the dad- so he wouldn’t worry about his wife and would have someone to ask about what was normal while she was coping with labor.

I do wish that the film hadn’t started with a doula who was crying about how her birth had been stolen from her.  I don’t want my clients to have the idea that without me, they would be disempowered in their birth- I believe that however they choose to birth is right for them.  But that same doula said later that a very important factor in a mother’s satisfaction with her birth is her perception of her own power, so her message overall was a positive one for birthing mamas.

Thanks for this informative film!

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What’s in Your Doula Bag?

May 14, 2009 at 5:40 pm (Uncategorized)

doula bag 004My clients are always interested in what I’m going to bring to their birth.  I thought I’d do a little inventory of what’s in my bag right now, what still needs to go in there, and what my favorite things are to use at births.  And if any other doulas or midwives are reading this- let me know what’s in your bag, too!  What’s the one thing you wouldn’t want to be without?  What’s the most helpful at your births? I hope to expand my bag just as I expand my knowledge- by sharing with other birth professionals so we can all serve women better. 

Mamas, too- let me know what helped you the most at your births.  What would you have wished your doula had that she didn’t?

Here’s what I carry:

For mama-

  • Organic sports drink- usually lemon flavored so as not to interfere with homeopathic remedies.
  • Some hard candies for energy and to sweeten mama’s mouth if she throws up.  Lately I’ve been using pomegranate candies, and everyone loves them.
  • A few granola bars.
  • Flower remedies: at present, I have Bach’s Rescue Remedy, Aspen (for unnamed fears), Impatiens (for impatience), Chicory (for letting go) and Perelandra’s ETS plus (another rescue remedy-like solution)
  • My 30c homeopathy kit and a few 200c remedies.

    doula bag 002

    homeopathy kit

  • Massage oil
  • Arnica oil
  • St John’s wort oil
  • Lavender and peppermint essential oils (careful to keep them separate from the homeopathy)
  • An unopened chapstick, unscented.
  • Hairbands
  • 2 large wooden combs (for gripping during contractions)
  • A wooden toy (see picture) that’s soothing to play with.
  • Playing cards.
  • Lansinoh.

    labor toy

    labor toy

  • Organic alcohol wipes.
  • Hot/Cold pack and cover
  • Books: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth (better at resolving disputes with caregivers than talking from the doula) by Henci Goer, Homeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth by Richard Moskowitz, and the Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta.

For me:

  • A few sandwiches
  • Water bottle
  • A clean shirt
  • A watch
  • Pen and notebook
  • A knitting project, just in case
  • Some cash
  • Cell phone and charger

If I had to choose one thing I couldn’t be without, it would be the massage oil.  After that, I would choose my homeopathy kit (if mama likes homeopathy- some clients don’t), and the wooden toy.  I used the toy at my last birth, and the mom just twirled it and twirled it through contractions.  It was very calming for her. I still want a nice rebozo and a TENS unit.

Even though I carry a lot with me, and sometimes use a lot of what I bring at births, I still feel that my hands and to a lesser extent my voice are the only things I really need.  With those, I can massage, do reiki, calm a mama and hold her up, and the rest of it is mama finding her own way as I watch her in wonder.

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Acupuncture and breastfeeding

April 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm (Uncategorized)

A client who’d had her baby 3 days ago called me, asking if it was normal for her breasts to be rock-hard, sore, and for no milk to be coming out.  I comisserated with her about engorgement, and suggested cabbage leaves to relieve the pain, and reverse pressure softening to help her baby latch on.  I made plans to visit her that afternoon, so I could watch her breastfeeding and see if I had any tips for her. 

When I arrived at her house a few hours later, her acupuncturist was there.  She was working specifically on the engorgement, trying to relieve the heat and get the energy moving.  I puttered around, doing dishes and bringing a slightly jaundiced Mr. Baby outside for a brief sunbath.  When the treatment was over, my client wanted to try nursing.  We woke her baby, and with the help of some RPS (an incredibly simple and helpful technique) she got him latched on.  As soon as he started nursing, her other breast started leaking milk (before that she’d only been able to express colostrum).  In a few seconds, we started to see her baby’s jaw move in the suck-swallow pattern, and we heard the unmistakeable sound of him gulping down his first meal of mama milk.  After he’d nursed on each breast, her engorgement was relieved, and she felt much better.

We were all amazed at how quickly the acupuncture helped this mama.  She’d been trying to express milk all day, and her baby had been antsy and hungry while they both waited for her milk to come down.  Within less than five minutes of her treatment, milk was flowing freely and easily, and she was celebrating the fact that “these things *do* work!”  From now on, I’m going to recommend acupuncture to all my first-time nursing moms.

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