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Call the South Bay Doula: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

… mostly, birth and joy! After a few years on sabbatical from doula-ing, I am proud to announce “I’M BACK!” I needed the time away as I reorganized and settled myself through a personal and painful transformation of my own. Believe me, it pained me each and every time I turned away a mama who asked me to join her and her hubby through their journey for labor and delivery.

Now, I am back and fully present and ready to Sherpa expecting couples through the birth process again. I think, like most Birth Workers, the images and memories of the births we attend are so clear and forever stamped in our minds and hearts. I can walk into my local café in Hermosa Beach and likely bump into one of my many Yoga Mamas and/or birth clients! The shriek of excitement never fails. Then the second burst of “Omigod!” when I see their babies now running in soccer jerseys and pony-tails. I say, “she’s in 3rd grade, already? Really?!” And I have no doubt their mamas remember me as much as I remember them.

Here are some of my vivid memories that still inspire me today and reignite my philosophy and passion to TRUST BIRTH:

The mama who said to me when she hired me, “Just so you know, I AM getting an epidural!” During her first birth, she spent most of the time dancing in labor! I was her doula again, as she birthed her second baby, also naturally.

Supporting a mama after nearly 3 days of prodromal labor followed by induction…then when she was finally 10 cm dilated and the urge to push temporarily absent, I encouraged her to just sing in between contractions. […]

By |June 30th, 2017|Birth Rights, Doulas, Homebirth/Midwives, Labor Tools, VBAC, Yoga|Comments Off on Call the South Bay Doula: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

A Yoga Mother’s Blessing Way!

Recently, I had the honor and joy of attending my fellow Yoga Works Instructor and friend’s Baby Shower. I have known Aimée for many years now. We have taught yoga workshops together; shared tea as we talked about love, life, and, well,…MEN. So when Aimée stopped me after my prenatal yoga class last Friday and asked if I could lead an “impromptu” Mother’s Blessingway Ceremony at her baby shower, I didn’t hesitate to respond, “Of course!”

I firmly believe every pregnant mama and baby should be celebrated. In old Navajo tradition, several ceremonial practices are performed in which a woman’s rite of passage into motherhood is honored. A westernized version of this is called a ‘Mother’s Blessingway.’

A Mother Blessing is a beautiful and unique way to honor a mother-to-be. It helps a mama feel empowered emotionally, spiritually and mentally, for the all-important role of becoming a new mother. She feels ‘held’ and supported by those she loves and respects. Blessingways help instill confidence and strength as she awaits the impending birth of her baby. And there is nothing like a circle of loving women to get that delicious hormone, oxytocin, (the hormone of love and bonding) flowing!

Aimée’s shower was hosted by her very talented friend, Lisa Vitta, who by the way is a yogi and luxury interior designer. Omigod. Lisa’s house was a Pinterest Lalapalooza! Honestly, I am inspired to start a ‘Baby Shower Board’ just so I can pin the heck out of it with the photos from this party.

Decorations aside, we spent the first half of the shower oo’ing and aw’ing over Aimée’s glorious bump and gliding between conversations with each other. Lisa had a generous spread of delicious vegetarian food (also Pin-worthy) from egg […]

By |January 20th, 2016|blessingway, Doulas, Labor Tools, Yoga|Comments Off on A Yoga Mother’s Blessing Way!

Top 5 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Doctor to Deliver Your Baby

There are many questions to encourage dialogue between you and your doctor, especially when you are still interviewing a medical care provider. Here are my TOP 5 suggested questions that will give you a good idea as to the doctor’s philosophy about caring for you and supporting your Birth Preferences.  Ask these questions in a respectful and non-confrontational manner to illicit a healthy dialogue with the doctor. It is a good idea to interview at least 2 or 3 providers. Listen to your Intuition and watch the doctor’s body language. And if during the course of your pregnancy you are getting the feeling your doctor may not be on the same page as you regarding your Birth Preferences, it may not be too late to change providers. It may not be too late to ‘break up with your doctor!’ Please check with your insurance company regarding switching doctors because some insurance companies may have time-deadline restrictions.

 What are your protocols regarding my Due date and post-dates,  i.e. if baby and I are healthy, how long can I go past my due date? 40 weeks? 42 weeks?
If I were interested in having a natural, un-medicated birth, how would you support me? I would prefer freedom of movement and choice of birth position, i.e. push and give birth in side-lying, all fours or squatting positions?
What would you recommend I do if my water breaks before contractions have begun? Assuming I am GBS negative and not running a fever, how long after my water breaks would you recommend before induction/augmentation of labor if it doesn’t start on its own?
How do you feel about a labor support professional such as a doula or massage therapist joining my birth team.
Do […]

By |March 17th, 2015|Birth Rights, Doulas, Labor Tools|Comments Off on Top 5 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Doctor to Deliver Your Baby

Successful VBAC Birth Story After Three Days of Labor!

This is the year for VBACs in my doula practice. I love supporting VBAC mamas; they have this special zing and purpose about them. I suppose hindsight is 20/20 and so these women approach birthing, the second time, being more informed and prepared.

In 2010, The American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologist (ACOG) issued Practice Bulletin No. 115, replacing Bulletin No. 45 which  included the infamous requirement of doctors to be “immediately available” which resulted in a fire of VBAC bans to rage around the country, but primarily in rural areas. ACOG’s current position  is supportive of VBACs stating that VBAC is a “safe and appropriate choice for most women” with one prior cesarean and for “some women” with two prior cesareans.  Being pregnant with twins, going over 40 weeks, having an unknown or low vertical scar, or suspecting a “big baby” should not prevent a woman from planning a VBAC (ACOG, 2010). That is great news across the country and I anticipate the Cesarean rate to low overall.

The risk of uterine rupture with one prior low-transverse uterine scar is low, 0.5% to 0.9% so for those considering a VBAC, read Katie’s inspiring birth story and the steps she took to ensure VBAC success!

Katie’s VBAC Story – Birth of Rowan
The Previous Cesarean
From my 20-week ultrasound on, I knew that I would be having a scheduled Cesarean Section with our first baby girl, Daphne. Due to a defect in her abdominal wall that would require surgery, the doctors recommended that a Cesarean was the safest way for her to be born. I was heartbroken, fearing that it would pave the way for my subsequent births.
Daphne’s birth was an emotional experience because there were so many unknowns […]

Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth – Natural Pain Relief

Hoping for a more natural birth?  Here is How: A sneak peek into my doula-bag-o-tricks and you’ll find my stash of Aromatherapy.  Yes, not only does the flowery, fruity, and earthy smell mask the creepy smell of hospitals but pure essential oils (EOs) can actually affect a birthing mama mentally, physically, and emotionally without the use of pharmaceuticals.  Woot woot!
Aromatherapy is a method of treatment in which pleasant smells are inhaled thus stimulating the limbic area of the brain, releasing neurochemicals into the bloodstream and promoting relaxation in the body.  The right combination of smells can stimulate the body’s production of endorphins (the body’s own analgesic) and decrease the feeling of pain.

Essential oils are not synthetic but rather are derived from plants and flowers.  Essential oils can help you relax. Take a whiff of Lavender oil and notice how your facial muscles melt like wax and your breathing slows into a calm and rhythmic breathing pattern.

Although a variety of essence oils can be used for labor and birth, my personal doula favorite is Lavender essential oil. Lavender can be put directly onto your skin. It can be used alone (neat) or in combination with other oils. Spearmint or Mint EO scent is good if you are feeling nauseous however it cannot be placed neat on the skin without a carrier oil because it can cause irritation.

Essential oils can be mixed with carrier oil such as vegetable or nut oil (try extra virgin olive oil, jojoba, apricot kernel, wheat germ, sunflower, almond, or avocado) and placed in your bathwater or a diffuser to create a relaxing atmosphere. You can burn your favorite scents using a vaporizer to scent the air or put a few drops […]

By |February 26th, 2013|Doulas, General Topics, Labor Tools|Comments Off on Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth – Natural Pain Relief

Posh Push: Modern Girls Reveal Secrets for a More Natural Birth

NEW BOOK – POSH PUSH: MODERN GIRLS REVEAL SECRETS
FOR A MORE NATURAL BIRTH – NOW AVAILABLE
Must-read Guide That Reveals How Labor Can Be Faster, Easier and Even Luxurious
LOS ANGELES, Calif., October 05, 2012 – Women everywhere have questions about childbirth.  “Am I prepared to have an enjoyable, comfortable childbirth?   Could I have a natural birth experience without drugs?” Now these women can find all the answers, secrets and more in the new book, Posh Push: Modern Women Reveal Secrets for a More Natural Birth, now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009LQS32G.

This fabulous new book offers support and helps build confidence in modern women who strive to have a more natural childbirth. The book is packed full of insider tips, gems of wisdom, and stories from modern mothers and birth experts to help women achieve a more natural labor, with ease and comfort.  Posh Push celebrates a more natural childbirth as beautiful, attainable and for every woman that wants it.  This essential guide will prepare women in mind and body to optimize their pregnancy and birth environment.

Natural childbirth is an increasingly popular trend.  We see many celebrities choosing to have natural childbirths and sharing their stories in the media.  Now, chic, modern moms everywhere like Alison, Johanna and Tiffany, featured in Posh Push, are sharing their revealing birth stories in rich detail and answering “Why would anyone want a natural childbirth?”

Written in a fun, informative format, the authors ask, “Where are all the worldly stiletto wearing women who want to birth their babies naturally?” Co-authors, Patricia Grube and Sara Smildzins found them and the stories these women share exclusively in Posh Push will have pregnant women everywhere saying, “I want that too!”  For women that are […]

By |October 7th, 2012|Birth Rights, Doulas, General Topics, Homebirth/Midwives, Labor Tools, Yoga|Comments Off on Posh Push: Modern Girls Reveal Secrets for a More Natural Birth

Rebozo Techniques for Labor & Birth

A few months ago, visiting midwife from Mexico, Naoli
Vinaver, came to Los Angeles to demonstrate use of the Rebozo. In case you have
not heard what a Rebozo is, essentially a Mexican shawl about about  4-5 feet, which serves many functions.

Mexican women can wrap and carry their babies around their back or in a sling
or pouch in front of the body. In labor, the Rebozo can help a woman with
relaxation techniques and help progress labor and relieve pain. Angela from
Rebozo Me Tenderly sells beautiful authentic Rebozos at a very reasonable
price. Find Angela on Facebook.

I keep a Rebozo in my doula bag and bring with me to every birth.  The Rebozo
keeps me warm in those very cold hospital rooms and can be used in a variety of
ways during labor and delivery. Midwives and doulas can help correct a
mal-positioned baby in order to help the baby rotate into proper anterior fetal
position (tummy to mummy) and progress labor.

What I learned at Naoli’s workshop,
though, was about the “movement of sexual energy.” Of course! Birth is the
manifestation of sexual energy. I just have never heard it described that way,
as Energy. It makes sense then that when a woman is inhibited and her sexual
energy blocked, labor would be longer and often more painful.

Author, Jennifer Vanderlaan of Birthing Naturally website has a great one-page
description of the Rebozo and simple how-to techniques.

Here is a short video clip I made where Naoli and several doulas practice one Rebozo technique I like to call Sifting because it reminds me of sifting flour through cheesecloth. I reckon this particular movement might also help women with fertility blockages? If nothing else, it feels great!

So pull out that Pashmina or Rebozo and move it, move it!

By |August 10th, 2011|Doulas, General Topics, Labor Tools|Comments Off on Rebozo Techniques for Labor & Birth

Can Dancing in Labor Help you Deliver Faster?

Can dancing in labor help you deliver faster? It is a great question!

I was inspired to write this topic because last month I had the honor and pleasure of supporting 5 births where each and every mother danced and moved in Active Labor.  Every birth was a Natural Birth.  It confirmed to me that dancing in labor is one of the best kept secrets!

The use of movement and dance has been used for Ages and by many cultures to help relieve pain in labor and progress labor and delivery. From my experience as a doula I have noticed that the mamas who move and shake their hips in Active Labor do dilate quicker and say they experienced less pain.  This does not mean to start dancing with your first contraction.  Mamas spend early labor sleeping and resting to conserve the energy needed for the time when Active Labor is established, thereby making every contraction count and be more efficient.

The other thing I noticed is that, contrary from popular belief; “bigger babies” are able to be delivered vaginally!  When a woman is upright she is using gravity to move the baby down and when she moves her hips and dances her pelvis is open and loose.  In this video a mother danced throughout late labor then pushed an over 10 pound baby! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYtRmaABHUk

Here is another one of my clients who recently delivered her over a 9 lbd baby.  Her video is so inspiring that it makes me want to get up and dance!  So load up your iPod with your favorite jams
and get up and shake that thang!

By |June 8th, 2011|Doulas, General Topics, Yoga|Comments Off on Can Dancing in Labor Help you Deliver Faster?