Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's that time of year again...

Birth--Bellies--and--Babies Expo in Baltimore on September 29th.

Are you pregnant or a mama? Then this is an expo you will want to check out. Speakers, midwives, doulas, the latest pregnancy and mama gear is all here. Make sure you check it out.'s all FREE!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Breastmilk = Brain Food

Do you really want another reason to breastfeed? Of course you do! Check out this study that concludes that breastfed babies are smarter than babies who aren't breastfed.

Speak Up

Part of being a doula is advocating for a client's preferences during birth. Most of the time this means asking the medical staff the right questions or reminding a client, in the heat of labor, what they had asked for. Every once in a while, a doula must firmly speak up for a client to make sure her care provider know what she wants. In that same way, I believe that I must speak up for those people in the world whose have been so marginalized that their voices can't be heard. That is one reason that I support the Fistula Foundation. All the profits of my baby-mama craft projects go to the Fistula Foundation, where women on the other side of the world can receive hope and healing. Since last August, I have been able to give (from craft profits only) $245. I am hoping to double that next year so that I can pay for a whole fistula surgery (the cost is $450). 

Tanzania is one of the countries that the Fistula Foundation supports. So why Tanzania? During my junior year of college, I went to Tanzania on a medical mission. There I found myself surrounded by poverty and disease. I wish I could say, at the time, that I felt moved, but really I just wanted to come home. It wasn't until recently, when I read the book "Half the Sky" that I really felt a calling to do my part to help end the marginalization of women across the world. One area that really struck me, for obvious reasons (as a doula), was maternal health issues. 

(College medical missions trip to Tanzania)

The theme of being a doula and Tanzania kept popping up in my life. Recently I read an article in International Doula (put out by DONA International) about a woman who traveled to Tanzania to educate women about better birth practices and train Tanzanian doulas. I immediately emailed her to ask how I could help. She sent me her blog and asked me for support and to spread the word about Joule Birth. Here is her blog: They help other third would countries in Africa with better birth practices and improving  birth conditions which will ultimately lower maternal and infant mortality rates.

It is never too late to find a cause to get involved in that you feel passionate about. You never know who or what will be woven into the fabric of your life.

(framed kanga [tranditional garment] from Tanzania)

"mama ni mlezi kanileya kwa mapenzi"
("My mother brought me up with love")

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Son's Birthmom

So, if you have read the "About" tab here on my blog, then you know that I am a mom through adoption and not through biology. My journey through infertility has been a hard one, but I am so thankful that I have children and that I have been able to experience (for the most part) what it means to be a mother.

Both of our children have semi-open adoptions, which means that we have some contact with their birthparents. We pray for their birthparents often and the topic of adoption, in our family, is a very open one. Last Friday we had the honor of meeting my oldest son's birthmom for the first time. The actual meeting wasn't very emotional for me (or my son), but afterwards I felt like I had a lot to process. The old feeling about infertility reared its ugly head again...the feeling of being broken, not a women, barren, etc...

 It was hard to think about another person carrying him and giving birth to him. The nice thing is that I got to hear more about his birth story. I understand more about him because I know what he went through being carried and born.

Being able to be a doula has been really healing for me. I feel like I get to be a part of something that I missed out on. Yeah, it's not exactly the same, but it is an amazing job. Sometimes I feel like women won't want me as their doula since I have never personally experienced labor or birth, but I have come to realize that every women's journey is unique to her and if I added my own birth experience would only take away from hers.

So what did I learn about meeting my son's birthmom? I was reminded that it takes more than labor and delivery to be a mom, and that his birth story and his birthmom are apart of him, too.

Motherhood, no matter how it comes to you, is extremely hard and overwhelmingly rewarding!

A Royal Labor

So I have to admit that I kind of like keeping up the with new royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or as I like to call them (as if I were their friend), Will and Kate.  When my second son was just home for the hospital for 3 days, I can remember watching their wedding on TV. Now they are expecting their first child. If fact, at this moment Kate is in labor. Talk about pressure.

As many of you might know, being in labor is a very exciting and nerve racking experience. If you have family waiting in the waiting room for you to have your baby, then you have a glimpse of that pressure. Now imagine the whole world awaiting the birth of your child. Ahhh!

My hope for Kate and William is that they are able to take their time and enjoy the experience. I hope that they have a doula to help them get through the tough parts of labor, both mentally and physically. I hope that Kate has a satisfying and empowering birth story. I wish them all the best during this very special time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sing to Your Baby

Here is a very compelling video about singing to your baby while he/she is in utero. So exciting to see how babies react to the same song once they are born!

Penny Simkin presents Singing to the Baby

To Bathe or Not to Bathe?

When babies are born they are covered in vernix, which is creamy white layer of, well, goop. This goopy stuff does a lot to help your baby. Besides being a "protective barrier from liquids while in the uterus. It acts as an antioxidant, skin cleanser, moisturizer, temperature regulator, and a natural, safe antimicrobial for the new baby post delivery."

So the question is should you bathe your baby right away? Personally, I recommend that baby's hands aren't washed because the vernix actually helps baby breastfeed. The oils that a mother's breast secrete smell very similar to the vernix. Babies will smell their hands and then smell for the breast.

 Do your own research and decide if washing your baby right away is right for you. You can check out this article to start.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Manual Breastmilk Expression Study

Think the only way you can express your breastmilk is via a breast pump? Actually, you can do it with no pump at all. You just need clean hands and a clean container to collect milk in. One study actually shows that if you hand express your breastmilk instead of using a pump, then you are actually more likely to keep breastfeeding.

Check out the Manual Breastmilk Expression Study.

Don't know how to hand express your breastmilk? You can check out this helpful video:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Study on Delayed Cord Clamping

There are many studies out there showing the evidence that delayed cord clamping has many benefits to the newborn. There is a study out that may push ACOG to recommend that all babies (if healthy) receive delayed cord clamping. The WHO already recommends delaying cord clamping for 1-3 minutes after birth. 30-40% of the newborn's blood is still inside the placenta when he/she is born. Wow! That is a lot of blood. The main benefit is the increased amount of iron that the newborn will receive from that blood. It is totally worth looking into and deciding if this something important to you. Check out the article below in the New York Time:

Back to Back

Check out my post from a couple of weeks ago (Three in a Row)...I totally called it!

For the past few days I was restless. I had a client due and I wanted her to go into labor and I was even commiserating with my husband about how I was anxious for her to have her baby, but she wasn't really showing signs. She scheduled her induction on my anniversary and I was kind of feeling bummed. Not exactly how I was expected to celebrate 9 years of marriage, but I finally came to terms with it.

Two days before her scheduled induction, I was on-call, which just means I was available to help any of the other doulas who needed help in our group. I was just about to get in bed when I got a call that one of the other doulas was driving back from vacation and needed some back up help until she got there in 2 hours. So I got re-dressed and headed to the hospital. I was there for 2 hours until she got there and then I headed home. I fell into a deep sleep at 1am.

At 3am, I was abruptly woken up by my phone ringing. I literally didn't know what was going on. I answered the phone and it was my client who said she was in labor and they were heading to the hospital...the same hospital I had just come from 3 hours before that!

I got re-dressed...again... and headed there to help her have her baby about 12 hours later.

I have one more client due in a couple weeks, so I texted her to make sure she wasn't in labor, because I was sure all these babies were going happen all at once again.

As a doula, my life is filled with long periods of waiting for things to happen followed by short intense excitement. What an awesome job. I wonder what the next couple of weeks has in store for me??! Keeps me on my toes ;)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Breastmilk The Movie

Have you ever watched the documentary by Ricki Lake, called "The Business of Being Born"? Well, she's back--producing another "hot topic" documentary about breastfeeding called "Breastmilk".

Lately breastfeeding has been front and center in main-stream media. This topic evokes passion feelings on both sides. What do you think about breastfeeding? What are the things you struggle with? Why are you so passionate? Judging by the trailer, these and other issues will be covered in "Breastmilk".

P.S. Even the spelling of breastmilk (breast milk) is debated!