Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How We Have Westernized Natural Birth

I did not coin this phrase "westernization of natural birth." This is how my client described it to me when we were discussing how overwhelming it can feel when preparing for birth. It is a concept I have thought of many times but never had a term that I felt matched how I felt until today. 

What does it mean to westernize natural birth? I feel it is the act of making women & families feel that they need to do certain things and consume certain goods & products in order to achieve a vaginal birth with little to no medical intervention. 
  • You need specific exercise classes a few times per week.....
  • Expect to spend multiple days a week going to various appointments for massages, adjustments, therapy....
  • Commit to birth classes for several weeks....
  • Spend every night reading books, listening to podcasts, browsing websites & social media accounts...
  • But also destress by fitting in lunch dates with friends & family.....
  • Constantly repeat positive affirmations to yourself while you drive, brush your teeth, do your makeup....
  • Make sure you only eat certain foods all the time from an arsenal of books on prenatal nutrition....
  • Take these supplements throughout the day, some around food, others in between meals....
  • Research ALL baby items extensively as you do not want to expose your baby to harmful chemicals....
  • All while ridding your house of nasty chemicals you already own & research safe products for yourself.....
  • Meditate, pray, journal, and spend quiet time each day reflecting on your birth.....
  • Take master classes in birth plan writing, mental prep for birth, and reducing your risk of emotional trauma.....
  • Make postpartum freezer meals & padsicles in prep for after baby.....
  • Drink all the pregnancy tea & find fancy ways to eat 6 dates a day because eating them whole is not doable for you....
  • Scour the natural birth social media pages to make sure you are doing all the things everyone else is doing to prepare....
  • Do the Spinning Babies exercises to make sure your baby is in good position....
  • Set aside 30 minutes per day to do hip circles on your ball & somehow fit in 200 squats everyday....
The list could go on & on. None of these things are inherently bad. And most of them are actually very helpful in preparing for pregnancy and birth. But all of them together seems overwhelming. And in a way, makes an unmedicated birth feel like it is something you have to spend all your waking hours preparing for. And if you do not do ALL of the things, you are going to fail at birth. This could lead to feelings of being a bad parent. And also make parents feel overwhelmed & unprepared.

Just as Western medicine has made women feel they need to depend on them for healthy births I feel we can now apply the same idea in preparing for birth outside of Western medicine. 

I will be honest, I feel this is a shocking thing for a doula to admit. As someone families hire to help prepare for birth, its strange to admit that we may just be in the space of overselling what it takes to achieve a natural birth.

I know the westernization of natural birth did not start out with ill intent. The US is known for medicalized birth & all the harm that it has caused women & babies. We needed books, information, & practitioners to help change women's mindsets when it came to unmedicated, vaginal births.

But I feel we are now in a place of  being bombarded with information. Preparing for an unmedicated birth should make you feel confident. It should not make you feel that you need others to provide you the means to achieve the birth you want.

I am not shaming people who provide our community with necessary information & services. But I want families to know that preparing for birth can be simple. And you do not need to do all of the things that are out there to have a good birth. 

Here are some questions I feel are worth considering when trying to decide if you need a certain service and/or product:

  • Will this good or service help me feel confident going into birth?
  • Do I feel it will help my labor be more effective & manageable?
  • Will it make my pregnancy better (more comfortable, healthier, safer, less stressful)?
  • Do I know other women, planning for the same type of birth I am planning for, that find this helpful?
  • Is this financially feasible?
  • Do I have time & energy to utilize it?
  • Will utilizing this make life more stressful?
  • Does this seem like it could be painful or hard for me to do?
  • Is it worth the time, money, &/or energy I will have to sacrifice to do it?
  • Am I doing it simply because someone else thinks I should? Or does it feel like it is truly beneficial?
  • Am I able to commit to it for as long as it will take to be completed?

These are some basic things I feel have been helpful to families that I have worked with that could be helpful in preparing for birth if you have limited time, energy, and/or finances:

  • Physically preparing can be as simple as investing in a good quality exercise ball & replacing your desk chair, kitchen table chair, and/or place on the couch with it. When you do this you do not have to carve out any special time to use the ball & it helps engage your core & hopefully help baby get into a good position for birth. 
  • Spinning Babies has tons of free information on exercises you can do to prepare for birth as well as MamasteFit.
  • The library could possibly have birth books, many even offer titles through their audiobook apps, which can certainly save you time!
  • Walking is a great way to stay in shape. It provides not only exercise but is great for your mental health. 
  • Being a mom/housewife is great preparation for birth. When we take care of little ones we tend to squat more and get up & down off of the floor more. Also, doing chores can provide great exercise. 
  • There are lots of free podcasts out there that provide invaluable information. Listening to resources allows you to live life while retaining helpful info.
  • Eating whole foods is so helpful in helping you stay well. No need to get fancy, just prioritize fresh produce, good quality meat, dairy, & eggs over packaged food products. Snack foods actually tend to be more expensive than fresh. I love the 80/20 rule, 80% whole foods & 20% foods that make you happy. That way you have a good balance & do not feel you are depriving yourself. 
If you do feel like incorporating some services would help enhance your birth & make you more confident, these are some ones I see be the most effective for the majority of families I work with:
  • Webster chiropractic care: this service can help mom feel comfortable & help baby get into good position for birth, making a vaginal birth possibly more effective & manageable. 
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy: this service can help women understand which parts of their pelvic floor may need targeted work, either because they are too weak or too strong. Having a supple yet strong pelvic floor can help ensure baby is in a good position and make for a better birth. PT provides women with specific exercises to help prepare for birth and use during birth as well. 
  • Childbirth education classes: a good class will help you feel confident, it should not feel overwhelming. 
  • Doula: A doula will help you navigate the circumstances of your pregnancy & birth in real time. A good doula will know when to offer up tailored help &  make your birth space feel relaxing & conducive to the type of birth you have planned. They should also help you communicate with your care team & make sure you feel respected, heard, & well taken care of. 
But here is the one thing that I hope all women know: YOU KNOW HOW TO BIRTH YOUR BABY. We have done this since before experts on birth existed. Before the internet was filled with everyone's take on what makes a successful birth. Before birth books existed. Before we had hospitals and birth centers. And before we had master classes on everything birthy.

Does this mean birth has always been pleasant & safe for everyone? No. But it does mean that God created the female body to know what to do to birth their baby. Some female bodies do it quietly, with seemingly little complications. Some female bodies know they need extra intervention to make their birth safe. Some people do all the prep work and have outcomes they did not plan on. And some do absolutely nothing to prepare and have a straight forward vaginal birth with no intervention. But the one thing that is true in all births is that women tend to know what they need, even if they do not get the opportunity to voice it. 

What is true in the natural birth world as well as the western medicine birth world is that everything outside of what you instinctively do during pregnancy and the birth process is an intervention. Every person that involves themselves in your care is an intervention. Because anything outside of you has the potential to change outcomes. But no one outside of you has the responsibility you carry as a parent. This is why it is imperative to make sure that what you choose to do to prepare during pregnancy and birth is a decision you feel good about.

If you are still stumped, I suggest you pray. Pray for the guidance to know what to do, pray for the strength to do what needs to be done, and pray you surround yourself with people and information that truly help you during this journey. 

We do not need to complicate this process. And we certainly should not feel bad about not doing all of the things if they are not feasible or seem unnecessary. Remember, you are a good parent regardless. God gifted you with this baby, do not let humans make you feel you need to hit certain milestones to provide your baby with a healthy birth. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

What is in My Birth Bag


As a seasoned doula, I have figured out what tends to need to be in my bag & has been proven to be helpful to most clients. Below is a list of literally everything that is in my bag every single day, every single birth. 


Any woman having a baby needs to have access to a rebozo! It can be used for tons of things that can help make labor more comfy & to help it progress. While my beloved rainbow rebozo was not purchased from this supplier, this is the source that I highly recommend. Their rebozos are authentic & affordable. 

Knee Pads

Laboring takes some physical work. Did you know most women, when given no instruction, choose to labor leaning over things. This can mean a lot of strain on your knees. These are the knee pads I carry. I love that they are small and separate, as they are easy to pack up. And I had a client simply stand on them the other day, a use I never thought of! Those hard hospital floors tend to be hard on your feet too! These are the knee pads that I own & clients have loved. 

Heating Pad

This has literally been the best $20 I have ever spent! Use it on your aching back from back labor. Fold it up, put it under your belly to help with contractions. It is flat enough that I use it on clients' backs along with my rebozo, which can hold it in place as well as allow you to do shake the apples to help baby's position. It is also great for those postpartum cramps and a back that aches from being in bed for so long. Side note for the doulas, I used this for myself the other day when I was trying to rest in a very cold hospital room. This is the one that I have loved!

Essential Oil Diffuser

Essential oils can certainly help create a calming environment. Some women do not prefer oils to be diffused but I still love this diffuser for the fact that it puts off different color lights, which can also contribute to a calm space. 

Essential Oils

Below are the oils I absolutely recommend to have on hand. Not every woman in labor will appreciate oils, so I recommend smelling them in the bottle first. If you love them, you can just smell them out of the bottle. You can also put them on a tissue and wear it under your bra strap. Some can be used topically with a carrier oil. And if you love them, you can diffuse them. Just know if you diffuse, it will not leave the room if you decide it is too much. And also, not all are safe for baby when they are on the outside. So I suggest diffusing them in a space in which you will not be birthing, like the bathroom at the hospital (although know that is a perfectly acceptable place to give birth!). 

Earthley Calming Blend this blend is literally just AMAZING! Even if you are not having a baby, just buy it! Great for when you need to calm down & center yourself for the work that is coming.

 Earthley Morning Burst Blend this blend is perfect when you need me a pick me up. I use it when clients need to get moving & motivated. But honestly diffuse it on a daily basis in my home because it is so amazing!

Planet Therapy Lemon Essential Oil  lemon oil is great for a pick-me-up as well as help with nausea. 

Plant Therapy Clary Sage Essential Oil  clary sage can help with many female reproductive issues, including the intensity of contractions or period cramps. I like to have it on hand when we also need to have contractions pick up. 

Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil  lavender is synonymous with relaxation, I use it when clients need to rest. 

Plant Therapy Peppermint Essential Oil peppermint has many uses. It can be uplifting. It can help with nausea. Mint can also be associated with pain relief. I do caution on using this one in labor, especially when close to birth, as it can affect breastfeeding. My favorite uses for it are putting a drop in a basin, to help with nausea while clients are throwing up. Or putting a drop in the toilet when clients are struggling to pee.

Earthley Tension Relief I love this for me & for my clients! Labor is hard on everyone in the birth space. You need to have ways to help relieve tight muscles. I love this blend because it does not have mint, which can affect breastfeeding. It is warm & so soothing!

 LED Votive Candles

These little candles fit so well in my birth bag & are cheap enough that I do not have to be upset if I forget them. They can create a calming environment even in a cold, sterile hospital bathroom. They are small enough to fit into tight spaces, even on the precarious edge of a hospital tub. I bought these exact ones, the price point is amazing!


I will be honest, I do not use this a lot. Most of my clients who find relief from it are experiencing back labor. While we try to remedy the cause of the back labor (usually baby's position) a TENS unit can provide great relief. I also like it for transferring from home to hospital in active labor. This one I have is not super expensive. 

Small Organization Bags

If you have met me, you know I am a bit type A. I like all the small things to be organized in my big backpack & this assortment of cute little bags are so stylish & practical. 

This one pictured holds my LED candles, TENS unit, extra pads & charging cord, honey sticks, hair ties, travel pack of tissues, combs for acupressure, small affirmation cards, & extra batteries for my twinkle lights. While my exact one does not show available, this is a comparable one that is equally as cute. I love it because it is waterproof & thick! Though it is small, it is roomy!

This is one that holds my snacks. It was a gift from a dear friend. While this one is no longer available either, this one is equally cute!

And this cute Blue Q pencil bag holds my essential oils. I also have one that holds my herbal tinctures. 

Bendy Straws

Straws are seemingly unimportant but it is one of my most used items! This is a 300 pack, I obviously do not carry all 300 on me, just a handful. But I love these ones because they have the capability to be long & bendy. It works well for those huge water bottles or they do not have to be extended & so work well for regular sized bottles too.


Holding combs can be a great pain reliever for some laboring women. When held in the palm, with teeth pressed into the bottom crease of the fingers, it hits acupressure points that can make the intensity of labor less. I love these combs!


Fans can be a game changer for laboring moms. I love using a stroller fan as they can be so versatile. They can be looped around the side of a hospital bed. The legs can be used to stand it up on pretty much any surface. And even hung from an IV pole. This is the fan I have in my bag! I love that it can be charged instead of having to constantly replace batteries. 

Twinkle Lights

I LOVE these lights! They are so cute and so functional! The lights provide a calming ambiance and can also be used to hold the affirmations cards that I also carry. 

Affirmation Cards

Affirmations can help to emotionally & mentally support women in labor. Having cards hung for them to see or for others to read, can create a calming space for everyone. My affirmation cards were gifted to me from a loving client, they were made by Renegade Mama. I cannot find them. But if I had to buy some now, I would purchase the Mama Natural Affirmation Cards. Clients have used both sets of cards and loved them!

For Christian clients, I carry these cards, from Daily Grace. They contain scripture & biblically based affirmations. 


These are the few books in my bag that I reference quite often:

The Peanut Ball Book  this book has saved more than one birth! It has lots of great tips on using a peanut ball to help with baby's position. 

The Labor Progress Handbook  this book is also wonderful! It contains remedies not only for physical dystopias but also emotional & mental ones.

Spinning Babies Quick Reference  Spinning Babies is vital for birth workers. This book is just as important, as it keeps all the information at your fingertips. 

Herbal Tinctures

As a doula, it is not my place to prescribe herbs to be used during pregnancy and/or labor. The tinctures I carry on me are ones that are sold to the general public. I encourage all clients to talk with their providers and the owner of the herbal shop, to ensure the herbs would be safe for you to use. I also encourage clients to do their own research. The ones I carry are available for use by clients who have ensured that they are safe for them. Forest & Meadow in St. Louis carries specially formulated by an herbalist who has throughly studied women's health. If you are local, you can certainly go straight to the store. But if you are not, they ship!

Labor Ease this tincture does an amazing job at helping laboring women relax during the intensity of labor. I used it at a birth back in November, along with the other items listed in the image above. Despite this birth being a hospital induction, the space was so calm & mama achieved her unmedicated birth!

Get Some Zzzs sleep in labor can be hard to come by. But it is so vital, especially in early labor or during a longer labor. This tincture can be helpful in helping mamas get restful sleep in between contractions.

Postpartum Relief did you know that you still contract after birth? It is healthy, as these contractions will help your uterus return to normal size. And they keep you from hemorrhaging. Nursing will bring these contractions on. And the more babies you have, the worse they tend to be. This tincture can help with those cramps. I find that it works best when you use a heating pad on your belly as well. 


Nourishment during labor is SO important! For literally everyone in the room. These snacks are packed for me but I like to have options on hand that would be good for a laboring mama as well as her partner if need be. These are snacks that I regularly carry:

Kind Bars protein is vital. I love these bars because they are packed with nuts, which help keep you full. And they tend to have chocolate, for a little bit of caffeine and the sugar helps keep you energized. 

Macro Bars  these are also protein packed. They are my favorite snack in my bag. They are so filling!

Beef Sticks  this is my favorite beef stick! Again, a good source of protein. And also a great source if you need something savory. 

Chia Seed Pouches these little pouches provide a great source of omegas & a quick burst of energy. I love pouches because they can be resealed if you are not able to eat it all. 

Applesauce Pouches this is absolutely my favorite applesauce pouch. They come in different flavors and are organic. 

Pistachios Nuts are an amazing snack! They are filled with good fats & protein. I love these individually packed ones. 

I have learned that what is in my bag is no where near as important as the physical support that I bring. Knowledge, experience, and intuition are all more important than things. I will follow this up with a blog about the training & resources I have found to be the most helpful to me.  









Monday, March 20, 2023

How to Create a Calm Birth Space

 Labor will demand a lot from you. It is intense. It can push you to your very limits. One way to ensure you can endure what labor throws your way is to ensure you have a firm mental & spiritual foundation. Ensuring your space is calm is a huge way to ensure you are mentally coping well. As a seasoned doula, these are the tried & true methods I have seen work:

  1. Stay at home as long as possible: obviously this applies to those who plan on leaving their homes to give birth. Once you enter the hospital or birth center, no matter how homey it can feel, you will only be focusing on having your baby, which can lead to stress, especially if you are still earlier in labor when you arrive. Ideally, you are arriving when you feel you will have the baby soon after or if you planned on an epidural and seem ready to receive it. Staying home allows you the freedom to move and do what you want. Instinctively women know how to have their babies and being at home allows you to fully embrace that intuition. You will also not have to worry about navigating the staff and the stress that can come with that. When you are in active labor, the change of environment is less likely to affect your labor. But please know that it can take a bit of time to acclimate once you have arrived. Follow the steps below on how to establish the environment once you have arrived.
  2. Keep your space dim/dark: Even if you are in a hospital, the lights can still be kept dim. There are a few medical procedures that may require light, like having an IV started or an epidural placed. But otherwise, ensure that the staff and/or people present know to keep the lights dim or off. This will allow your body to know it is time to relax and sink into the work you must do. If the monitors or IV pump lights bother you, stack towels over them and turn them away from you. Pack a sleep mask  to make sleeping easier. 
  3. Ask everyone to keep noise & talking to a minimum: Privacy is key to relaxing during labor. And extra noise can make it hard to ensure you feel you have your privacy. Have it on your birth plan that you would like everyone to speak softly while they are in your room. And ask that they only speak to your partner and/or doula if questions need to be asked. Eliminating all extra noise, especially in a hospital, can be tough. If you feel the need, bring noise cancelling ear plugs.
  4. Play relaxing music and/or tracks: If music helps you relax or you have been listening to certain tracks during pregnancy, in prep for labor (like Hypnobirthing) you will want to ensure you have a way to listen to it. I suggest my clients either use a waterproof bluetooth speaker or waterproof bluetooth earbuds. You can build playlists on Spotify. Youtube also has a good selection of free relaxing birth tracks. I also have had Christian clients love the Christian Hypnobirthing App.
  5. Add in hints of yellow/amber lighting: Yellow or amber light is the light your body associates with going to sleep, as it what is natural in the evening, compared to the blue light of day time. If you are having a home birth, candles are perfect for this. But if you worry about the risk of fire or having your baby outside your home, these flameless LED candles are beautiful alternatives. Twinkle lights can also add to a relaxing ambiance, no matter where you are birthing. You will definitely want battery operated ones if you are in the hospital, as they may have policies about lights that can be plugged in. 
  6. Use essential oils: Certain oils can help you relax. Diffusing them is not a good option for everyone. I suggest keeping the oil in the bottle and smelling for a few minutes, to ensure it does not make you feel bad. If you would like to diffuse, I would suggest keeping it to small spaces, like your bath room or use a small diffuser right next to you, so the room is not filled with the oils. Not all oils are safe to be in the air once baby is born. You could also just put a few drops on a tissue or cotton ball to keep by you, that way you can throw it away if it does not work. I also had a client suggest putting it on a maxi pad and sticking it to a wall near you, that way it stays in place but can be thrown away if you do not like it. These are some oils I have found to be helpful:
    1. Earthley Calming Blend
    2. Plant Therapy Chill Out
    3. Plant Therapy Lavender
    4. Plant Therapy Tranquil Blend
  7. Affirmations: Reading or having affirmations, read or spoke to you can help crate a calm space. It can be as simple as you memorize a few that resonate with you & remind your partner and the other people in your space to say them to you. But if you want, you could write them on notecards to display. Or you could ask those that come to your baby shower to write their favorite affirmations down on a notecard and even decorate them. There are plenty of beautiful pre-made ones that you can purchase as well. And if you are Christian, you can get these scripture cards. And these lights help you display your affirmations. 
  8. Have a team that you trust: For you to fully relax & allow yourself to ease into labor, you will need be surrounded by people who respect you and that you feel you can truly trust. It is very important to ensure that you with the right people well before labor begins, so make sure you are asking the right questions during pregnancy. You will also want to ensure your birth place staff will be supportive. While you have a little less control on which nurses will attend know that you can get a new one. Simply ask for the charge nurse and request a new nurse. You do have control over who enters your space. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

How to Have a Christ Centered Birth


This picture is from a client's birth, in which her midwife prayed over her again & again. She asked groups to pray for her. The whole space was filled with God's word. There was so much love & protection in the room. If this is what you envision for your birth, please read on.

God is always with you whether you actively invite Him into your birth space. Although there are many ways to intentionally integrate your faith into your birth; it can help you feel at peace & cope better with what your birth demands of you. Below are ways that you can actively set up a Christ centered birth:

  • Hire a Christian birth team: Having like-minded people in your birth space can bring such peace of mind. Knowing that people share in your faith, that know how to help you with prayer, scripture, that can sing you worship songs, etc. can elevate your birth space to a whole other level. While it certainly is not necessary to have an entire Christian birth team, at least make sure they all know your wishes and feel comfortable in supporting you in these ways. 
  • Utilize the Christian Hypnobirthing app: This program is revolutionary when it comes to a Christ-centered birth. The app contains tracks for scripture, breathing exercises for labor, and Christian affirmations. The app does need to be purchased but it is so worth it! If you believe this would be a useful tool for you, I recommend starting it right away. Listen to it while trying to fall asleep at bedtime, it will train your body to recognize it, when you need to relax, which is such an important tool for labor. This app can create such an inspiring & relaxing birth space. 
  • If you are Catholic, the Made for This app, is amazing: This app also has an array of helpful tracks perfectly tailored for your faith. 
  • Write out verses on note cards & tape them up in your birth space: Affirmations & verses can be a powerful way to remind you that Christ is walking with you during your birth. You can use apps to make beautiful images that can be printed as photos. You can also purchase pre-made ones. Or simply write them out on note cards. I have even seen friends & family create beautiful, individualized ones together at a baby shower!
  • Organize prayer circles who can be contacted when you are in labor: While pregnant, you could reach out to family, friends, and church members to ask that they pray for you when you are in labor. You can organize them all into a FB messenger group or group text, that way everyone can be contacted at the same time. I have also known moms to send out packets at their showers, with prayer cards & candles, to be utilized by those praying for you. 
  • Play worship music during your birth: During pregnancy, organize a play list of your favorite songs. One client said she put together a mix of relaxing music for when she needed to rest & surrender to the process along with energizing music for times she needed the energy to go on. Make sure your birth team knows how to access your list.
  • Prepare by reading Christian birth books: This is a list of my absolute favorite books that I recommend to my clients.
  • Pray, Pray, PRAY!:As all Christians know, prayer is one of the most potent tools we have. Having people in your space who will continually pray for you can bring so much peace & power. 
  • Trust that God is with you, even if birth looks different than you thought: Birth requires strength & flexibility. It is a process that demands us to understand how little control we actually have. But birth is also an opportunity to feel God's presence & protection especially in times of uncertainty. Pray for the strength to deal with whatever birth throws your way; for the strength & knowledge to do what is necessary for the well-being of you & your baby. Pray for your team to have the expertise to support you in the unique way that you need. And pray that love & peace fill your birth space, no matter how your baby needs to enter this world. 
My hope is that you know how beautiful your birth can be and will be. That you trust that God is with you. That your team helps you create a space in which you relax & allow birth to happen, however it unfolds. And that you have a whole team of believers lifting you up in prayer. The birth of your baby will be one of the best days of your life & you will all be enveloped in perfect love & protection. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Finding Your Perfect Doula


Way to go on considering hiring a doula! This post is all about ways to not only find doulas to interview but how to ensure they are a good fit for your birth team.

My recommendation, before you even start your search, you need to consider what is important to you when it comes to a doula, that way you can gauge if the ones you are interviewing fit the bill. Below is a list of things you could possibly consider:

  • Experience: How experienced do you want your doula to be? Are you ok with a new doula? Do you feel you need an experienced one?
  • Connection: Is it most important that you connect with someone, that they feel like a friend you can tell anything to?
  • Cost: What is your budget? And what type of fee schedule would fit your needs?
  • Proximity: How important is it that your doula be from your area? Do you need your doula to live close to you or are you ok if they need to travel a bit to get either to you or your birth place?
  • Personality: Are you looking for a doula that feels like a motherly figure? One that feels like a sister or a friend? One that feels more like a coach? One who has a calming voice?
  • Faith: Do you want your doula to have the same beliefs as you?
  • Training: Would you like your doula to have a specific training, i.e. Spinning Babies, self hypnosis? Be certified? Have used a certain organization to train/certify?
  • Offer Other Services: Would you like a birth doula that also offers lactation services, postpartum doula work, placenta encapsulation, etc?
  • Insurance: Some companies will cover doulas, they usually do have to be certified with certain agencies. If this is something you know you will need, research what the criteria is ahead of time so you can present it to any doulas who you could possibly interview.
  • FSA/HSA: If you plan on paying using these methods, you will first need to know if your company covers doula services & then the criteria for submitting claims/paying/getting reimbursement. You will also need to ensure your doula can provide proper documentation to help you submit invoices/receipts. 
  • Solo Doula vs. Group: Would you prefer to work with a doula who is solo, to hopefully have that doula attend your birth? Or would you prefer to work with a group of doulas in an agency/co-op/collective? 
  • How do you view their role: Are you wanting a doula who provides strong partner support? One who will loudly advocate for you? 
Once you have decided what you hope to find in your doula, you could try finding doulas using the following methods (Please keep in mind, you need to ask why certain people are referring to certain doulas. Their reasoning on why someone is good may not match your needs.):
  • Ask you family & friends who they have used. The key to this is getting referrals from people who are planning a similar birth to what you want. 
  • Join local FB birth groups & get referrals. Posting in groups can seem overwhelming, as you may get a lot of comments. Be specific with your needs. List the area you live in, where you plan on delivering, what your due date is, and what you hope to find in a doula. This could help limit the amount of comments you get to doulas who are available for your area and due date.  But sift through the comments and see which ones were made by actual clients & see if they list reasons why they liked a particular doula. You could even ask to private message some responders to inquire about their experiences. 
  • Go to doulamatch.net. This is an amazing resource that will fine tune a search based on your location and due date. The doulas must pay to be displayed on this site so it may not be an accurate representation of all the doulas in your area. But it lists a lot of information on each doula, like their experience, their training, pricing, etc. which could help shorten your search time. 
  • Receive referrals from your provider (but I caution you to not limit yourself to only their list). Not all providers will have doula referrals especially if they do not typically have patients who work with them. But some providers who do can be a wealth of information on doulas simply because they get to see them in action and are exposed to them on a consistent basis. 
  • Find "Meet the Doula Events" in your area. These events tend to focus on families getting to meet multiple doulas in one evening. These short meetings do not replace a formal interview but can help you get a short list of who you would like to interview further. 
  • Ask your other providers, like your Webster chiropractor. If you are seeking other pregnancy related services, those practitioners may have great insight into your area's doulas. If they are exposed to many pregnant women, they would have heard a few doulas' names. And they probably have networked with some too. 
Once you have a short list of who you may want to interview, I suggest you look further into these doulas. You can find a lot of information using the following resources:
  • Their social media pages
  • Their business websites
  • Local birth & parenting FB groups (search their name in the search bar & read through their comments on posts & see what info they may share publicly, to gauge if they seem to match what you are looking for). 
And once you have the interviews set up, here is a list of commonly asked questions that you can ask. Although I find organic conversation is always a good indicator of how you mesh with a certain doula while allowing you to get all the information you need on their services. I tend to find I get hired by families more when we just talk vs. the ones that feel like a traditional job interview.
  • How long have you been a doula? 
  • How many births have you attended?
  • What organization did you train through?
  • Do you have any additional training?
  • How do you support partners?
  • How many times during pregnancy will we meet? What will we discuss?
  • How do you help me advocate for myself in the birth space?
  • How do you work with medical staff & providers?
  • Do you come to my house while in labor, before transferring to my birth place?
  • Do you have a cap on how many hours you will provide support? Do you charge extra if we go over that time?
  • Do you work with backups? What happens if you are sick or at another birth?
  • How do you handle payments?
  • What kind of support do you provide? How would you describe your style?
  • Where do your clients primarily birth? Hospitals? Home? With doctors? Midwives?
  • This is my birth plan (insert whatever type of birth you envision). Do you support this often? How would you help me?
After each interview, it can be helpful to take time to decide how you thought it went. Many times, people know there is a connection right away. The conversation was effortless & felt like that doula checked all of their boxes. And sometimes, you feel you want to keep exploring options. When you find the right match, it will feel right. 

Good luck on your search!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

My Favorite Products for a Naturally Healthy Pregnancy


There are so many ways to naturally deal with all that pregnancy throws at you. Growing another human takes a lot of work, which can lead to some pains, discomfort, and other not so fun things. These products can help you stay comfortable, nourished, and as pain-free as possible.

Please note that I am not a medical professional. This is not medical advice. You should consult your care provider and do personal research before using the products listed below.

Magnesium is a vital nutrient for anyone. It is best when absorbed through the skin, which makes magnesium lotion, oil, and Epsom salts are a great way to get the magnesium that you need. Magnesium can be super helpful is helping with leg pain, restlessness syndrome, and sleeping problems. These are my favorite magnesium products: 

Earthley Magnesium Lotion

Pinkstork Pregnancy Flakes

Pinkstork Magnesium Mist 

Pregnancy teas are formulated to help pregnant women stay healthy and prepare for birth. The base of pregnancy teas are red raspberry leaf tea, which contains vital nutrients for a healthy immune system while helping the uterus prepare for birth. These are my favorites:

Earthley Pregnancy Tea

Pink Stork Labor Prep Tea 

Earth Mama Third Trimester Tea

Forest & Meadow Glorious Pregnancy Tea

"Morning" sickness is a downright awful part of pregnancy. And the name is misleading, as some women have nausea all the time, not just in the morning. If yours does start in the morning, it can be helpful to keep snacks, like crackers, near your bedside & eat before getting up for the day. 

The nausea can be attributed to the hormones associated with pregnancy. There are many helpful things that can stave off the nausea including lemon, ginger, mint, and B6. 

But you should seek help from a functional medicine doctor if the nausea is extreme & seems to rule your life. Getting support for your liver & kidneys can fix the root cause of the nausea. 

These are my favorite products that a can help you find relief:

Earthley Ginger Root Capsules

Earthley Mama's Tummy Relief Tincture

Traditional Medicinals Organic Morning Ease Lozenges

Earth Mama Ginger Nausea Tea 

Pink Stork Nausea Sweets-Mint

Pink Stork Morning Sickness Tea

Pink Stork Total Nausea Capsules

Forest & Meadow Morning Sickness Tincture

Staying hydrated is one of the easiest & cheapest ways to stay healthy during pregnancy. By staying hydrated you keep yourself regular, you help ensure your amniotic fluid level stays good, & it can prevent headaches. Drinking half your weight in ounces should be your daily goal. As well as ensuring you’re eating a healthy amount of good quality salt. Drinking of a bottle with a straw makes it easier to drink the recommended amount. And coconut water & electrolyte mixes can be healthy ways to up your electrolyte intake. With coconut water, you’ll want a product that is raw, over pasteurized. And with both coconut water & electrolyte mixes, steer clear of products that contain added sugar (which can dehydrate you even more!) These are the products that can help you ensure your fluid intake is good:

Klean Kanteen Straw Bottle

Cure Electrolyte Mix

Harmless Harvest Coconut Water

Berkey Water Filter

Celtic Salt

Pink Himalayan Salt

Getting enough protein during pregnancy is one of the most important things you will want to do to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. Low protein intake is linked with high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. You will want to ensure you get 70-100 grams/day. Eating real food is the healthiest way to get protein. You will want to ensure you are eating protein rich foods like chicken, beef, eggs, beans/legumes, and broccoli. If you are struggling to get in enough protein, adding in ready made products can be helpful. These are some healthy options:

Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal Protein Powder

Orgain Plant Protein Shakes

Orgain Protein Powder

Rx Bars

Vital Proteins Collagen Powder

Vital Proteins Collagen Water

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

A Doula's Spin on the Hospital Packing List


There are certainly basics when it comes to packing a hospital bag like clothes to bring baby home in & chargers for your phones & devices. This list is not quite that. As an experienced doula, these are the tools that I recommend you bring to make your hospital room comfy & cozy and to help make your labor easier & help with pain relief. I have also included items that will be helpful for immediate postpartum.

If you have hired a doula, you may not need to bring many of these items as they may supply them. But it can never hurt to ask. And if you do not have a doula than you will definitely want to check out this list!

And doulas, I have included a special part of the list for you too! All of these items, besides the gown, socks & perineum spray & balm, are found in my own doula bag. But there are a few items, listed at the end that would be really helpful for just doulas to carry in their bag. 

AND this list is not just for hospital births. It is handy to have these items for a home birth or birth center birth as well!

All of these items are tried & true by either me, my clients, or both! In my seven years of doing this work, there have been many things that I have cut from my bag but these items have stood the test of time. 

I have included links for you to purchase these items. If you buy from the link provided for the items listed on Amazon,  you help financially support me, so it is always appreciated!

For Families & Doulas:

1. A heating pad. I cannot emphasize this item enough. It is probably the most used item from my doula bag. It can be used on your back or under your belly to help with the intensity of contractions. I have had clients use it in the car (if they have appropriate outlets) while in transit to the hospital, use it in triage while we waited to be admitted, and of course used it while laboring in the hospital rooms. And it is a great tool postpartum as well. It is helpful with that postpartum cramping as well as an achy back from the horrible beds. Just know that a hospital will not let you use an extension cord with one. And you cannot use it if you have an epidural. This is the one I use and love!: Sunbeam Heating Pad

2. A rebozo. This is a traditional Mexican garment. Around the world, a rebozo is used in the birth space for many things. It is a handy item to have on hand to help with belly sifting, "shake the apples", and supported squatting. I usually recommend a 78 inch rebozo if you will just use it for birth, as I find it less bulky and easier to work with. But if you order a bigger size, it can be made into a ring sling by ordering the rings from my recommended vendor & following this link for a no-sew ring sling tutorial.  I order my rebozos from this site, as they sell authentic rebozos: Lola My Love

3. Knee pads. Labor involves lots of movement and many times when women are given no instruction, they instinctively lean, which means there will probably be lots of hands and knees. This is not super comfortable for your knees after a while. I recommend these certain knee pads as they are separate, no one long unit. Meaning you have a lot more options when it comes to using them! You can find them here, yoga knee pads

4. A fan. Labor is hard work. And hormones can make you feel extra hot. Plus, if you plan on laboring in a tub or shower, you will absolutely get hot. A fan comes in handy. I recommend a stroller fan for the simple fact that it is bendy and can go anywhere! You can prop it up on the side of the tub. Wrap it around the bed rail. Hang it from an IV pole. And it is battery operated, so no need to worry about outlets. Bonus, it can be used on your stroller once baby arrives! You can purchase it by following this link: stroller fan

5. TENS unit. This may not be for everyone but for some it is a great pain relief option. When applied to your back, the TENS uses electrical stimulation to help you deal with the intensity of labor. In my experience, this is very helpful with back labor (but know that you should be trying position work to get baby into better position and rid yourself of the back labor, this just helps in the meantime). And it can be a great option for laboring in the car if you are not able to have anyone do hands on techniques during your drive to the hospital. This is a link to the TENS unit I have & love. 

6. A bluetooth speaker. To make the space calm, many women love to listen to music or relaxing tracks. A bluetooth speaker is an amazing tool in helping to ensure music can be heard throughout the room and over running water, if you are using the shower. This also keeps you from having to constantly drag your phone around. And there are many water proof options, making it safe to use in the steamy bathrooms if you labor in the shower. Bonus, get one with a strap and hang it from an IV pole! This is a link to purchase: wireless speaker

7. LED tea lights. Creating a calm space starts with great lighting. These little LED candles are perfect. They are safe to use in the hospital and easy to move around. I love to use them in the bathroom, to create a cave-like experience while laboring on the toilet or if the tub or shower are being used. This is the link where you can purchase the ones I use and love: LED tea lights

8. Essential oil diffuser. Another great idea for creating a calm space is to diffuse essential oils. This is not something for everyone as some people are very sensitive to smells. And you want to use safe oils, like lavender, that will be ok once baby arrives. I try to keep a diffuser contained to the bathroom or far away from where baby will be once they arrive. I also suggest smelling the oils in the bottle for a while before putting them into the diffuser, as you may not like them while in labor. Diffusing oils makes it very hard to remove them from the room, so you want to ensure you can tolerate them before diffusing them. Even if you do not like diffusing oils, the changing lights from my tried and true diffuser can be calming all on their own! To purchase, follow this link: essential oil diffuser

9. Delivery gown. Many women do not prefer to wear hospital gowns. They are large, unflattering, and they make some feel like a sick patient. If you want to bring your own gown, Frida Mom makes a super comfy one. I strongly recommend this over another popular plain gown sold on Amazon, as these snaps at the shoulder come all the way undone on the Frida Mom gown. The other gown does not, which makes it impossible to come off if you have an IV. The color is dark enough to cover up stains but cute enough to not feel like you are a hospital patient. Heck, maybe grab a few! They make great nursing gowns too. To purchase, follow this link: Frida Mom Delivery Gown 

10. Non-skid socks. The hospital will provide socks. They are quite large, not the most flattering. There is a huge array of ones available online now that are cute. The plus side, you can wear them postpartum at the hospital in place of slippers (which may actually be pretty slippery on hospital floors) and when you get home (so much easier than taking slippers or flip flops on and off before getting into bed or laying down to nurse). My clients have loved both of these brands: Merino Wool Grip Socks  & Kindred Bravely Non-Slip Socks

11. Water bottle with a straw. I know, the hospital also provides these as well. But some do not like plastic. And some prefer water bottles that will fit into a cup holder. If you want to bring your own, that will keep your drinks cold & can keep your straw tucked away when not using, this is one I absolutely love! Follow the link to purchase: Klean Kanteen 16 oz Tumbler 

12. Massage tools. Labor is hard work. I know I already stated this but it is important enough to repeat! Muscles get strained and tired. And many women love to have their backs massaged during contractions. This is one tool my clients have loved, follow this link to purchase: Roller Ball Massage Tool

13. Combs. Holding a comb in your hand, with the bristles pressing into the bottom of your fingers can help with pain relief in labor. You will want a sturdy comb & it is smart to buy two, one for each hand! My favorite combs are listed here, click the link to purchase: Wooden Combs

14. Tincture for after-birth pains. Cramping after baby is born is completely normal. It is actually healthy! It means your uterus is clamping back down to original size and in turn that helps control postpartum bleeding. The more babies you have, the more cramping you can expect. These herbal tinctures are helpful, especially when used with a heating pad on your belly. The one that I carry is from Forest & Meadow, you purchase it here: Postpartum Relief Tincture . My clients have also really liked this Wish Garden tincture, this is the link to purchase: AfterEase Tincture. (As a doula it is never my place to recommend herbal supplements. It is my place to let you know they exist as an option. Please do your own research to see what you are comfortable with & discuss with your care provider.)

15. Perineum care items. The hospital does provide Tucks pads. But if you would like to go one step further, I recommend bringing an herbal spray and balm. The herbs contained in these products will help promote healing & keep you as comfortable as possible. If you would like to support a small, local business, Forest & Meadow carries a wonderful product, found here: Perineal Salve  & Perineal Spray . If you would prefer to order through Amazon, Earth Mama has a great option and you can buy it in a set, follow this link to purchase: Earth Mama Postpartum Recovery Kit

Doula Bag Items:

These are certainly items that families may find helpful to add to their arsenal, so do not think they are limited to only doulas. It is just my thought that these items may be more cost effective if used by a doula at multiple births. 

1. Labor Progress Handbook. This book is brought out of my bag consistently. It is chock full of useful information. To purchase, follow this link: Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simkin

2. Spinning Babies Quick Reference Guide. This is the most important resource I carry on me. It gets pulled out at every birth in which I believe there to be a dystocia of some kind. My copy is so worn! Click this link to purchase: Quick Reference Guide 

3. Honey sticks. I feel like this is an essential for any doula bag. As someone who literally just saw juice save a birth, these can be invaluable. And a great price for 100 organic sticks! Plus, if you bring your own tea bags to births, these can be used to sweeten your tea. Follow this link to purchase: Organic Honey Sticks

4. Long, bendy straws. I LOVE these straws! I carry a few at a time in my bag. They are perfect for clients who have a cup without a straw or are drinking coconut water or juice in a container without a straw. They are long enough to reach to the bottom of big water bottles. But also work well to reach women who are situated in a way that is hard to reach or sitting all the way in the back of a corner tub. And they can be cut down if they are obnoxiously long. Follow this link to purchase: Extra Long Straws