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Filtering by Tag: doula

First Trimester Survival Kit

Rachel O'Reilly



By Aaryn Leineke

I’ve been lucky to have had a very easy pregnancy thus far, but I know this is not the case for every woman. Many suffer from typical and not-so-typical symptoms and my heart goes out to them. I know that when you are suffering from all the symptoms at once it’s hard to imagine how to  go on each day. How do you get up,  put makeup on or do your hair so it doesn’t look like you just rolled out of bed when you show up at work? How do you not suffer from the blues when you are now harder on your ‘type-A self’ than ever when you cannot make it to the gym and only want to eat donuts and ice cream for dinner?

You’re not alone. It is common for many women to feel the blues of pregnancy during the first trimester and what’s most important is to know your body is beginning the very challenging task of growing a baby. During these first essential months of  growth it’s no wonder it takes all the energy out of you. It’s important to listen to your body during this time by getting all the calories you need, and the vital rest your body is begging for. Feel good about heading straight to the couch with a blanket once you get home after a long day at work. You have a whole other full time job happening inside of you now.

To help you through your first trimester, here are a few must haves to keep you comfortable, happy and healthy:

Bellybelt - When I was 6 weeks pregnant I wasn’t showing but that was a week that I could not comfortably wear my normal pants. I think bloating and gas was a real thing for me, and I just needed that extra space in my pants to help me get through my day at the office in comfort. I used a rubber band, but will absolutely purchase this bellybelt for my next pregnancy to get through the first few months when the true maternity pants are not quite necessary yet.

Ginger chews - Not everyone loves these, but I’d say they’re worth a try. Only caveat is that you may never be able to eat them again if you eat them daily for the first trimester of your pregnancy.

Sea Bands - These are nausea wrist bands that I personally haven’t needed to use, but when you’re not able to cope with your day to day life due to debilitating nausea, try these out. Try anything.

Essential Oils - A couple suggested combinations I've recently heard of are ginger and geranium behind the ears or grapefruit and peppermint as well. Both combinations or use of one or the other could be tried to help with nausea.

Rest - Sleep. Just do it. Have your husband get takeout for dinner or be the meal planner during those first few months. Throw that dreaded movie or show on for your toddler so you can sneak in a nap until your partner comes home. You have to sleep. I’m a firm believer that lack of sleep will increase  all of the first trimester blues and symptoms.

Mamas tea - There are many teas that are recommended during the first trimester; mint, ginger, nettle to name the top few. But when a great friend and the women my husband and I chose as our doula made me her special mama’s tea, let's just say it was a life changer. Her sisters both made this tea for each of their pregnancies and she gave it to me as a gift as soon as I shared the news that we were expecting. The delicious and nutritious ingredients are below, (look for upcoming post all about this mama’s tea coming soon!):

  • Peppermint

  • Alfalfa

  • Red Raspberry leaf

  • Nettle

  • Oatstraw

  • German chamomile

  • Rosehip

B12 happy hour shots - Weekly B12 shots the first trimester saved me! I got mine with extra boost of folate, vitamin D (for nausea) and sometimes the extra immune boost mixer. These B12 shots help balance your moods, allow for a deeper sleep, boost energy and completely cured my nausea. I did not suffer from nausea for long, but as soon as I got my B12 shot my nausea subsided, my sleeping balanced out after jet lag from my honeymoon, and my energy increased for a few days after each shot which helped inspire me to go on that walk after work with my pup.

Dr. Shannon Wood Gallegos helped me choose the best prenatals and additional vitamins to take during my pregnancy all of which my body has received very well! See below:

Tylenol - Headaches were what I had to overcome often during my first trimester, and one day when I was ridden by a migraine my husband did some research and saw that tylenol was safe for me to take. I have taken only a few tylenol’s in the first 6 months and I’m so grateful I had them in my emergency kit.

What has brought you comfort in your first trimester? We’d love to know!

Pregnancy Myths: Not all waters break

Rachel O'Reilly

Kimberly Gordon

Kimberly Gordon

There are many signs you can be aware of to give some inclination that early labor/labor could be starting. One very obvious sign is the infamous “water break.” Does that mean it’s the only sign you should look out for when your due date comes, (and sometimes goes)? No.

Does that mean if you are experiencing very strong signs of labor and your water hasn’t broken then you’re having “false labor?” No.

There’s the possibility to birth a baby in their fully intact amniotic sac. Its called born en caul, an incredibly rare and beautiful occurrence.

Other signs of the onset of labor:

  • Contractions, (also known as surges) - You won’t question a contraction once you finally have one. Many women experience Braxton Hicks towards the end of their pregnancy. These are great toning surges that your uterus will do without being painful, but they aren’t necessarily signs of labor. Early labor contractions can feel like gastrointestinal upset, heavy menstrual cramps or lower abdominal pressure. Pain may be just in the lower abdomen or in the lower back and abdomen. It may also radiate down the legs, particularly in the upper thighs. It’s difficult to prepare a woman, or give them an exact explanation, as to what to expect for contractions. Rest assured that once a true contraction is experience, a mother will no longer ask if it was one or not.

  • Loss of mucus plug - At the very beginning of pregnancy, mucus generated during ovulation is accumulated in the uterine cervix. As the mucus thickens it seals the cervix tightly, blocking the way for any infection from the vagina to the cervix and thereby protecting the fetus. When your cervix begins to dilate and thin out, it is possible you will lose your mucus plug; a clear sign that your body is getting ready for labor.

  • Cramping - You may feel cramping in your uterus towards the end of pregnancy which is a good sign that your body is getting ready to birth your baby.

  • Lower Back Pain - Lower back aches and pains are often felt in early labor.

  • Loose stool - Your body may create more room for your baby to enter through the birth canal.

  • Bloody show (stretching of the cervix) - You will often see this when you are in more active labor, but it is a very good sign that your cervix is stretching and thinning, therefore showing light blood within the mucus discharge.

  • Pressure in lower abdomen.

  • Membrane rupture (also known as water breaks) - When your “water breaks” that is a sure sign labor will be coming. It may not activate contractions and labor immediately, but you should let your primary care giver know. Usually they would like to see labor start on its own within 12 - 48 hours (dependent on your healthcare provider).

All of these are really good signs that things are happening! Does it mean baby will be born tomorrow or even that evening? No. Therefore, if these signs are manageable, go on with your day or evening as best as you can. Draw yourself a bath or take a warm shower. Go on a walk around the neighborhood. Lay in bed with support from all your pillows and possibly a heating pad for the achy places in your body. Speak to your baby and let them know you’re ready for them, and for the journey that you both will soon undertake. Find pleasure, comfort and joy in each sign that your body sends you, because it is what you’ve been waiting so patiently for these past nine months.

What are the signs you remember the most when experiencing the onset of Labor?



Birth by Cesarean

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

As a doula, I believe when both mother and baby are healthy, the safest form of delivery is a natural vaginal birth without medical intervention. That said, I also believe that all types of birth are beautiful, and the ability to perform safe cesarean deliveries has without question been one of the most important advances in obstetrics during this century. The bottom line is, women are strong and powerful, and every way of giving birth is a miraculous process -- hiccups included.

Natural birth, vaginal birth with medical interventions, or a cesarean birth (C-Section) are three different ways to bring your baby(ies) earthside. A C-Section is the delivery of a baby via a surgical incision through the mother's abdomen and uterus. Cesareans can be scheduled in advance due to high-risk pregnancy (for mother and/or child), multiple babies (however, many twin pregnancies can be born vaginally), breech position or Transverse lie, Placenta previa or Placenta abruption, and other conditions or circumstances. A cesarean can also be required or suggested unexpectedly, due to unforeseen complications during labor.

Below is the general process you can expect from a C-Section birth.

I. Delivery: The mother is rolled into an operating room and placed on an operating table. If there is time to perform an epidural or spinal anesthesia for the surgery, this is usually done at this time (if it was not already applied during an earlier stage of her labor). If the surgery is a “true” emergency where there is no time to perform a spinal anesthesia, the mother will receive general anesthesia (being put to sleep) just before the surgeon is ready to begin. It’s important to know that these drugs can make the baby somewhat slow to adapt to life, and can increase the risk for respiratory distress requiring resuscitation.

The mother’s arms are placed with straps on boards extending directly out from her body. This allows easy access to the mother’s veins to administer medicine. It also prevents the mother from unconsciously reaching down to her baby during the surgery, which could contaminate the operation and increase risk of infection.

The mother’s abdomen is carefully washed and disinfected in order to prep for surgery. A cloth is hung from two poles at the mother’s shoulder to prevent her from seeing the surgery and allows the anesthesiologist to pay close attention to the mother’s nose and mouth to administer medications when needed.

The operation begins with an incision in the skin of the abdomen (the outer layers of the skin only), usually at the top of your pubic line. After cutting the skin, the doctor will cut through layers of fat tissues (which all women will have, but all vary in amounts) and then through thick fibrous layer called the fascia. The doctor then makes an incision through a thin, filmy layer called the peritoneum (the sac lining the abdominal cavity and containing the organs). The uterus and bladder, among other organs, are not visible. The bladder usually sits on top of the uterus and must be carefully moved before the doctor can make the incision on the uterus and deliver the baby. Once the uterus is opened, the delivery can proceed.

After the uterus has been opened, the amniotic sac would be considered ruptured. At this time, the doctor will act fast with great care to get the baby safely from the mother’s womb. Many hands work to suction the amniotic fluids, from the operations and baby’s mouth, while gently delivering the baby without twisting the neck, body or limbs in the process. The baby stays connected to the mother via his or her umbilical cord. As with vaginal birth, the doctor will clamp the umbilical cord until ready to cut the connection from the mother to baby. This will prevent bleeding from either side of the cut umbilical cord.

Once the umbilical cord has been cut, the nurses will take the baby to a warmer table to clean and swaddle him/her. If the mom is available, she can hold her newborn baby.

II. Post-Delivery: The doctor still has important work to do, with the act of repairing the incision in the mother’s uterus high on the list. First, however, the placenta must  be removed. In most cases, the doctor can reach into the uterus and peel the placenta off the uterine wall. On the other hand, if the bleeding is not too heavy, some doctors prefer to to gently pull the umbilical cord, which will cause the uterus to contract, and the placenta will fall away from the uterine wall on its own. After removing the placenta, the doctor will wipe the inside of the uterus with a cloth to remove any remaining pieces of placenta or membrane, and will then close the incision on the uterus using dissolvable sutures.

The bladder does not need to be reattached to the the uterus, as this will happen naturally within a few weeks. The peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity) also heals spontaneously. The human body is magic, isn’t it?!

Closing the fascia (the thick fibrous layer of tissue that envelops the body beneath the skin) is usually done with dissolvable sutures as well. The fascia heals more slowly than the uterus, so in some cases a doctor will decide to use permanent sutures (which would remain in place for the rest of the patient’s life).

Finally, the doctor will make sure there is no bleeding in any of the layers beneath the skin. Once each layer is carefully closed, most surgeons will use titanium staples to close the outer wound without much effort, generally yielding a thin scar. The staples need to be removed 3-5 days after the operation. After a light bandage is applied to the mother’s wound, she will be transferred from the operating table to a bed and taken to the recovery room where, she can hold her newborn baby, practicing skin to skin contact and letting the baby attempt breastfeeding.

III. Recovery: A cesarean is a major surgery. Most women will experience a lot of pain as the anesthesia wears off. Many hospital staff will be available to monitor the mother and make sure she is comfortable after the surgery. She should be able to walk, eat and drink normally after 24 hours.

There is no question that the cesarean section rate has skyrocketed in the past 30 years. In 1970’s the national cesarean section rate was 4%. By the end of the twentieth century, the rate was about 22%. While cesareans are an incredible medical intervention that have saved many women’s lives, there are many people who still feel that some unnecessary surgical births are being done. The number of cesarean sections performed by any single obstetrician is related not only to how well s/he practices medicine, but also to the doctor’s type of practice. I recommend asking your doctor their cesarean rate for their personal practice, and decide if they are the right doctor for you based on your birth plan.


Hypnobirthing and the Beauty of Natural Childbirth

Rachel O'Reilly


GUEST POST by Jessica Bary

I am not from Northern California. In fact, I’m not even from the U.S. I fell in love with a wonderful man from Occidental, Sonoma County, about 11 years ago. And as we were learning from each other I came across one small, intriguing fact; he was born at home, as were his 10 other cousins. That revelation BLEW. MY. MIND!!!! All I could say was: "Do you know there are hospitals for that kind of stuff?!"

And there I was, an ignorant 20 year-old girl who had never even asked the story of her own birth, while falling in love with a wonderful human who knew almost every detail of how he came into the world. When you think about it, it seems pretty crucial to know the history of our journey on this planet, which starts with our arrival earth-side, right?

So for the next eight years, I informed myself about home births, natural births, hospital procedures, and so on. I watched documentaries like. "The Business of Being Born", read blogs, talked to my husband's family.. Nothing drastic, but the more I learned, I was slowly changing my perspective on birthing a baby. I was finally seeing natural birth as my own power as a strong woman, and it moved away from those crazy movie scenes; A woman in a wheelchair screaming her way up the elevator and then cursing at whoever is in the room while pushing with a purple breathless face.... You know those scenes. Horrific. Why would ANY woman want to put themselves through that?! If those movie scenes are all you know of childbirth, it’s no wonder our natural reaction is, No, thanks, shoot me up with all the medicine you have, so I don't feel a thing. Please.

You might still be at that point yourself, and will never change your mind, and that's totally okay. Take the drugs if you want to. I just want to tell you what I experienced as a woman whose perspective shifted from one side of the spectrum to the other: that it’s also wonderful to feel it all.

Is natural childbirth painful? Yes, of course! Have you seen the size of a baby's head in comparison of the size of the entry to your wonderful vagina!? 10 centimeters indeed. But, it's not like it's all happening at once. Labor is the process of your body preparing itself to push your baby out. So with every contraction, surge, or wave, you are getting closer to bringing the newest member of your family into the world. Without painkillers, you are able to feel your baby working with your body to come meet you. That's why labor is magical and fundamental.

And this is where my hypnobirthing tool worked so well for me.

Hypnobirthing, a coin termed by Marie Mongan, is a childbirth education course that emphasizes special breathing, visualization, meditation and other hypnosis-like techniques to promote relaxation and combat fear and pain during natural childbirth. After meeting with my midwife a few times, I asked her what she thought about hypnobirthing classes. She responded that hypnobirthing is a wonderful tool, along with many other things you will use during labor, but she didn't want me to get stuck on the idea of a painless birth - because she didn’t want me to be surprised or disappointed if I ended up feeling pain. Well, thank you for the genius advice. Pain was there, but the language I learned through hypnobirthing helped me see that pain as a wonderful progress to meet my baby, instead of seeing it as something I had to endure or survive.

Here are some of the phrases that stuck with me throughout my births:

-  Slip into tranquil state.

- The body fills with its own natural relaxant during labor, a wonderful effect that permits easy birth.

- Go DEEPER within, to your baby and your birthing body.

- Leave ALL distractions behind.

- CONNECT with your baby and GIVE birth.

- To view birth as a POSITIVE, NATURAL and JOYOUS experience.

- It's a UNIQUE experience to welcome your baby Earth-side. It only happens ONCE for each child.

- Opening yourself to the JOY of experiencing BIRTH. Being PRESENT. Calmly and serenely.

- The art of LETTING GO.

- Birthing with JOY & LOVE.


- Your body knows what to do.

- You are not helpless, you are the main ACTOR, take charge, be CONFIDENT.

- Be HAPPY, celebrate life coming to you!

- You are not a victim. You are the DOER, the ACTIVE participant.

- I AM knowledgeable, powerful, fulfilled, directing, decisive, self-sufficient, confident, satisfied.


I had two beautiful all natural home births. The first one was 12 hours from start to finish. The second one was just under five hours. My small birthing team was formed by my husband, my doula, my midwife and the assistant midwife. For the first birth, I had my sister as well. It was extremely quiet around me. My eyes remained closed for the majority of the time. But yes, it was loud inside my head. Focusing inward, having a few go-to calming visuals (like a rose opening in my case), breathing, and cursing a little indeed. ;-) For my second child, the song, "you are my sunshine" was stuck in my head and I was so focused on that song, getting emotional to meet this amazing second son of mine. It was the first song my oldest son learned to sing. All intertwined and meaningful only to me, I was birthing a baby while singing in my head.

During those two births and even during the aftermaths of those births, I never even thought of asking for drugs or medicines. I don't know how that was possible. IT DID NOT cross my mind, not even once. I was blown away by my own mind. I think for me, it was partly because I was away from a hospital or a doctor and partly because my mindset, which I learned from the hypnobirthing classes and book, was that I WAS in control and my birthing body knew what to do.

After birth, STAY IN BED. Let people serve you. Ask for help. Try to sleep. The Wonder Woman part of yourself did her job, and after labor and childbirth, it’s time for her to rest.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, you have options. There are hypnobirthing classes, a book, and even hypnobirthing relaxations on iTunes (Relaxation, Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, by Marie Mongan, and Birth Rehearsal Imagery, Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, by Marie Mongan). I listened to these before bed, and it worked wonders. It even had my husband falling asleep more easily. :)

I was vaginally born in a hospital in the 80's. With a lot of interventions. I wasn’t breastfed because my mother's milk didn't come right away (which is normal), but then the nurses gave her medicine that stopped any milk from coming altogether, thus I was bottle-fed. I am thankful to have been more in charge and informed than my mother. For me, homebirth was a gift. What's better than my own bed, shower, people, and comforting smells? That said, if you know you would feel more comfortable in a hospital or birthing center (or if you have a high risk pregnancy), you should choose the surroundings you would feel most comfortable in.

Remember, I once thought natural birth and especially homebirth were archaic processes. Nowadays we have hospitals, doctors and drugs for that! But what that actually means is that we have more choices. Whether hypnobirthing and natural birth are for you or not, the most important pre-childbirth thing I can tell you is, learn to LET GO. A lot of events in life don't go the way we expect, and birthing will likely be at the top of this list. You may plan for a homebirth and end up having a C-section. You might end up somewhere between those two situations. But whatever happens, you will do your best. That's it. Your baby will come into the world the way they are meant to, and once they’ve arrived, and everyone is healthy, that's all that matters. You are MARVELOUS, ALWAYS.


Three Stages of Labor - for Birth Supporters

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

Labor can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a woman’s life. It can also be one of the scariest. Even if she’s read all the books and practiced all the breathing techniques, a new mother’s body will go through a change that no book or form of practice can prepare her for. As a birth supporter, your job is to offer comfort, reassurance and guidance throughout the process. Being a birth supporter can be very hard work, so it is important to take care of yourself in order to best take care of the laboring mother and her partner. You can find a few essential things to pack or have on hand if you know you'll be attending a birth here.

The below stages of labor refer to the ideal situations. At any moment of a pregnancy, need for medical intervention can arise. Before labor, be fully informed of the mother’s birth preference plan, and make sure you have all the information you need to contact the mother’s health care provider at any time during labor if things don’t feel right. I also find it helpful to find time to meet with the mother and others on her birth team to go over all questions, fears, excitements, must have's, do's and don'ts.

1. First Stages, 0 hrs - 2 weeks

       a. Early labor: 0 - 3 centimeters

            i. Anywhere from hours to a couple of weeks before birth, the mother’s cervix will dilate up to 3 centimeters. This stage of labor can happen over a lengthy period of time and can range from having relatively few bothersome or painful contractions, to being fairly uncomfortable. As a birth supporter, use this time to advise the mother to stay patient and find rest any time her body allows it.

            ii. During early labor, the mother should try to continue normal day/night activities as much as possible. It can take hours, and often the contractions are sporadic and anywhere between 5-10 minutes apart. Try to help her rest as much as possible at night, encourage her to take gentle walks during the day, and make sure you help with any last-minute preparations around the house.

            iii. As a birth supporter, the first stage of labor is when you should be a calm influence on the mother, offering comfort, reassurance and support. When you think labor has started, you can call the doula, who can help if the mother is feeling anxious.

            iv. If the mother and baby are healthy, it’s best to stay home during early labor or as long as possible. If your birth plan includes a hospital birth, keep in mind that nurses will most likely have mothers go back home who are not in active labor yet, if mother and baby are healthy. If you have a birth doula with you at home, she can help time contractions and provide insight on when the labor is becoming more active.

       b. Active labor: 3 - 6/7 centimeters

            i. Contractions will be stronger, longer, and closer together (lasting 45 - 60 seconds/3-5 minutes apart). At this time, you will usually take the mother to the hospital or call the midwife to support you at home.

            ii. Active labor is when all the labor prep gets put to work. Help the mother practice breathing techniques during each surge, and try to help her relax and let go of the tension between surges.

            iii. The best way to support a mother during active labor is to give her your undivided attention. Offer verbal encouragement and reassurance. Offer to massage areas of her body that you can see are uncomfortable, for example, her hips, lower back, shoulders, legs and feet. Keep track of the contractions and try to keep a log of their patterns or regularity. Go through the breathing techniques with her. Help her change positions and use props, like pillows, to support her when she’s found a position she likes. For example, use pillows between her legs to keep legs open, and under her belly for support of the baby when side laying. Suggest sitting on a yoga ball to inspire movement while working through surges as well as keep her hips open. Offer water, coconut water and other sources of hydration. Remind her to urinate frequently. Encourage use of music and remind her of any mantras she chose to use during challenging times. Tell her how proud of her you are.

       c. Transition: 7 - 10 centimeters

            i. Transition is generally considered the shortest stage of labor, but is typically the most intense. Contractions at this stage can be anywhere from 1-2 minutes apart, and lasting at least a minute, with little-to-no fluctuation on that pattern. As a doula, this stage is when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the mothers. But, that does not mean the mother always sees the same light. More than anything, this is when she needs the support of her birth team members.

            ii. During the transition stage, the baby can sometimes be low enough to activate the mother’s urge to push, yet in many cases, her cervix isn’t completely dilated, so she needs to resist. When the mother has urges to push, make sure the doctor or midwife are nearby and aware – and remind her not to push unless the doctor or midwife tell her to. Nausea, hot flashes, vomiting, gas and the need to defecate are all normal.

            iii. Remind the mother to take one surge at a time, and that each surge is what is bringing her baby closer to being in her arms. Don’t be alarmed if the mother is ready to “give up” or becomes very impatient. Avoid small talk, and use this time for encouraging words. If possible, try to use language that wasn’t a part of the many hours of early labor. After the 12th hour of hearing the same two encouraging words, the mother can get annoyed. :)

2. Second Stage, 0 - 4 hours (more or less)

       a. Pushing

            i. As a doula, this may be my favorite part of labor, as the mother will finally be able to find some relief with pushing. This doesn’t mean that pushing isn’t hard, or that labor is over. But, reaching this stage generally does bring some sense of accomplishment.

            ii. Many women need coaching while pushing. There are many techniques of pushing: spontaneous pushing, or bearing down for counts of 10 seconds, squatting or getting on all fours. Any pushing position that feels comfortable for the mother is a good one to let her try,. As a birth supporter it's good for you to then suggest for something new if she seems discouraged after some time.

            iii. Once the mother has found a preferred technique for pushing, she will need to push with everything she has. The feeling of frustration or embarrassment can arise during this stage, and as a birth supporter, you will need to continue to remind her that it is normal, it is HARD work, and the progress is there. Reiterate to the mother that she is doing all the right things to have her baby.

       b. Delivery

            i. Between surges, encourage the mother to rest and catch her breath.

            ii. If she wants it, use a mirror as guidance for the mother. When she can see the head of her baby emerge from her body, it will bring focus and encouragement back into her efforts.

            iii. An increase of bloody show is normal, and the crowning of the baby’s head can be very intense. The healthcare provider may ask the mother to slow down to avoid tearing of the perineum. Once the baby’s head is out, it often will take only one additional push to get the shoulders and remainder of his/her body out. As the floodgates open with tears, joy, laughter, relief and love for the new baby, again, tell the mother how proud of her you are.

3. Third Stage, 0 - 30 minutes

       a. Delivery of placenta

            i. By the final stage of labor, if all goes as planned, the baby will be in mother’s arms. She will be given time to connect with her baby through skin to skin contact. If and when the baby shows interest, the mother can allow her to begin nursing.

            ii. Mild contractions will eventually start up again. The placenta will release from the mother’s body and she will have the urge to push again, with guidance from her healthcare provider. Many moms can experience some discomfort during this final stage, due to tearing and stretching during the birthing process.

            iii. The mother’s body and hormones have gone through so much, so it is normal for her legs and body to shiver and shake during this time.

It is important to recognize that your role as a birth supporter continues after the three stages of labor. For the mother, although her new baby makes the process of labor all worth it, it won’t make the pain and exhaustion from the birthing process immediately go away. She will feel like she’s been hit by a truck. Parts of her body will not feel like her own. But with that new baby in her arms, the mother may be so overwhelmed with the new love she feels, that she forgets to address her own needs. In the hours and days following labor, continue to care for the mother’s basic needs like hydration and nourishment, and offer physical and mental support in whatever ways you can.

If you've ever experience supporting a Mother in labor, please share some of your best tips and props that you've found useful!

Top Picks for Natural, Nourishing Body-Care Products

Rachel O'Reilly

If you’ve recently found out that you are pregnant, or are thinking of conceiving, it’s a good idea to be conscientious of not only what products you are putting into your body, but on it as well.

In a recent post on natural lubricants for sex we talked about the negative effects of parabens in beauty products and even lubes. Also, our mother and life expert Courtney Ward introduced ways to upgrade your household products with non-toxic cleaning products. In this very precious time in your life, why not take the extra step and replace some of those potentially harmful moisturizers, body washes, shampoos and conditioners, and deodorant as well? Below you will see some wonderful products that are organic, paraben-free, and some of my favorite things to recommend for expectant mothers, or anyone who just wants to get rid of those toxins in their bathroom cabinet.

To be used always:

  • Dr. Bronners Fair Trade & Organic Castile Soap - Rose, Lavender, and Original are all wonderful and serve as multi-purpose soap and body wash (for men and women).

  • Mother’s Special Blend - This skin toning oil is a great every-day moisturizer and can help prevent stretch marks.

  • Shampoo and Conditioner - There are many options for paraben-free shampoo and conditioner out there! It’s best to give a some a try based off the reviews and your hair type and find what works best for you. Check the ingredients for words you recognize, and avoid products containing things like methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.

  • The Healthy DeodorantWeleda Wild Rose Deodorant Spray, Schmidt’s - Underarm odor is a valid fear, and a subject many don’t want to talk about or compromise on. But you should disregard the concerns around many ingredients in conventional deodorants and antiperspirants. I’ve tried every natural deodorant out there and these are my favorite three. Don’t be afraid to take risks and give some of these a try, and stick with one that you end up falling in love with!

  • Coconut Oil - As we mentioned, coconut oil makes a great natural lubricant, but it’s also a wonderful moisturizer and even makeup remover. What isn’t coconut oil good for?!

Postpartum musts:

  • After Birth Sitzbath - When your body is recovering from birth, a warm Sitzbath soak can be a lifesaver for nourishing your “wounds.” Sitzbath is a formulation of herbs and natural salts that help restore your body’s delicate tissues.

  • Madela Nipple Shields - A must-have product you should add to your baby registry, as it can take some time for your nipples to get used to your newborn’s suckle.

  • Organic Nipple Balm - Another important product to use when you have cracked or chapped nipples. Why organic? Because your baby will soon be needing to feed again, and you won’t want to wash your sore nipples off each time.

Having natural products is good for your own health, but once you bring a baby into the equation, it’s even more important. When you are breastfeeding and holding your baby as much as you will be in the first few years of his/her life, the products you put on your skin are what you will be putting on your baby’s skin as well.

Did we miss any must-have pre- or postpartum natural products? Let us know your faves in the comments!


Questions to Ask Your Doula

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

Your birth doula will be by your side along with your care provider and partner for continuous support while you are in labor. It is very important to find someone that you see as a good person to add to your team.

A doula’s education, training, experience and credentials are just as important as feeling a good connection with them after you meet. Knowing that your doula is supportive of your hopes and expectations surrounding labor, childbirth and parenting is paramount, and you need to feel comfortable and at ease in their presence.

Questions to Ask:

  • What training have you had?

  • Do you have one or more backup doula for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?

  • What is your fee? What does it include and what are your refund policies?

  • What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor?

  • Could you describe your role when supporting us, while I’m in labor?

  • May we call you with questions or concerns before and after birth?

  • At what point should we call you when we believe labor has started?

  • When will you come join us when in labor? Do you join us at home or meet at the place of birth?

  • Do you support women who desire a home birth?

  • How many births have you attended? At home, at hospital?

  • Do you provide any postpartum support? Do we see you after birth?

Curious about what questions to ask your OBGYN or Midwife?