So, I kinda disappeared from my blog. We moved. We did all the moving things. And then all the other things. I’ve just been over here taking care of my family, working with my clients, and keeping on keeping on. Not blogging.
Lots has happened obviously. I don’t think any of us lived through the past 4 years without being changed in some way. Each year I take some time to reflect and I think that’s been even more important/valuable/necessary these past few years. I look back at where I’ve been, where I am now, and make some goals towards where I think I want to be. And I still love birth work and I still want to write. But to do either, I need to make time for it and be creative.
In that light, I am so excited to be adding virtual options to my doula packages! I know this won’t appeal to everyone. It’s not FOR everyone. But the past few years have shown that virtual doula care is valuable even if it’s different from what you might expect when you think about having a doula.
For a mom who has limited options because of where she lives, a virtual doula might be the only reasonable option. For a mom who is very private and knows herself well, having someone as a resource might be better support than another person in her space. For a family with a newborn who has lots of local family support, they might not need hands on help but the non judgmental emotional support of a virtual doula might be exactly what they need.
Like all doula work, how this works will be a little bit different for everyone. But the bones will be the same. This is still about you. You still get to choose! We still have a chat before you decide to hire me. We still have formal meetings where we work together to make sure you and your partner have the tools you need going forward. You still get that text/email/phone support whenever you need it. You still get the resources and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. (I just recertified for the 3rd time, can you believe it???). It’s just how it’s all conveyed that’s a bit different.
I still want for you as my client to be able to look back on this baby’s birth or this postpartum time with without regrets. I want you to feel heard and part of the process, knowing that your experience matters. I want you to own your voice and feel confident advocating for yourself. I want your partner to feel confident advocating for you when you can’t. I want you to have satisfaction knowing you made the best decisions you could for you and your little one during this magical, life changing time. That’s what’s important in doula work and that is still accomplished virtually.
Check out more information about my virtual options here and all my packages here. Pass this on to anyone you think might be interested. Happy to chat if you have questions! Remember, this isn’t for everyone, but it might be right for you!
The past year has been all kinds of crazy. I'd anticipated starting working with expecting families last spring and maybe considering taking my business full time again by now. Instead, I cautiously and slowly started working with clients again late last fall. Cautiously both for the sake of my family and the families I serve. The work I do makes a difference and I think every family should have that option without the ongoing consideration of extra risk.
So in late February I made the decision to be vaccinated for COVID-19. I know many people have strong opinions and mixed feels about both the illness and the vaccine. I'm not here to argue with you or convince you either way. For me, I am at peace with my decision. While I fully support the choice of others, I strongly believe that my risk of long term effects from the illness are much higher than the risks of the vaccine.
Part of my decision is also related to this work I do. I want the families I work with to be secure in the knowledge that this is one less risk factor to consider when they hire a doula. So last Thursday I went back the second time and I am now fully vaccinated!
2020 was supposed to be the year I started taking clients in our new home. I was (and am!) so excited about learning about the community and supporting families in their birth journeys in North Idaho. And I will. But like so much, the Coronavirus has derailed my timeline a bit.
I know many doulas are offering virtual services and we are all working to make sure you have the support you need in these unusual times (I HATE that phrase!). Over the years I’ve found some resources that I highly recommend to my clients as options when in-person experiences didn’t work for them. I wanted to bring those resources to the forefront for my readers again.
First is The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class by Milkology. This was a great class before and it’s a great class now. Nothing can beat in person support. It just can’t. But this class will give you a firm foundation as you prepare for your baby. When you are ready, The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class by Milkology will help you prepare as you make that transition.
For those looking for a comprehensive childbirth education class, Birth Boot Camp is a solid option. I’ve had the privilege of working with Birth Boot Camp moms and instructors in the past and their program provides excellent preparation. They also have the unique perspective of being one of the first programs designed to be remote with their main audience being military families preparing for birth separated.
For you moms on the other side of childbirth, finding you could use some assistance with recovery in your core and pelvic floor, you can’t go wrong with The Tummy Team. The Tummy Team ran an in person clinic in Camas, WA until this spring. With the shutdown, they have opted to move completely online. They offer courses for a variety of conditions not just Diastasis Recti so common after pregnancy. This may offer you another option to still get the assistance with recovery you may need.
Finally, my friend and AMAAAAAAZING newborn photographer that I worked with when we lived in Indiana, has put together this course Photographing Your Newborn Baby. That newborn shoot is really out of the question right now and may be for sometime for families with additional risk factors. Leah’s course can help you make the most of that newborn time and capture precious memories on your own.
This is what I have for you today. I’ll update this list as I find more great resources! If you are looking for doula support in the North Idaho area, keep me in mind!
For full disclosure these are affiliate links where I am make a percentage when you make purchases. I am careful to only promote resources that I feel are worth your time.
It is with abundant joy, and some regret, that I announce Fireweed Doula Services' relocation to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in June of 2019. I am serving birthing families here in the Indy area until early May and then I will be taking a 6-12 month hiatus as our family moves and settles into our new home.
Recently, I was asked to read Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols. This is an in-depth look at the nutritional needs of the pregnant woman while also giving sound, reasonable advice. How I wish this book was around during my first pregnancy!
Nichols, also the author of Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, offers read advice on food, supplements, and meal planning for an optimal healthy pregnancy. In addition, her book goes beyond that including toxins to avoid, common pregnancy testing related to nutrition, exercise, pregnancy expectations, and the the not often discussed postpartum period. She also includes a recipe appendix loaded with yummy recipes that I'm dying to try!
I highly recommend this book to women who are pregnant, who hope to become pregnant, and who have recently been pregnant.
Special guest post from friend, fellow childbirth educator, and fertility specialist, Liz Escoffery!
Secondary infertility is confusing! In the case of a couple that had no issue becoming pregnant, why should the passage of years and previous pregnancies (1+) render them unable to conceive? For some couples, trying to get pregnant again can be a season of perpetual waiting and disappointment. If this is you, you may feel like you cannot invest too much time and money into investigating what may be going on due to family demands and activities. For other couples, the desire to add to their family becomes paramount in importance, resulting in a flurry of testing, treatments, procedures, and frequent intercourse (to the brink of sheer exhaustion), hoping to time it right this time.
Is there a middle way between inaction and “all the things”? I would like to propose charting. Beginning to track your cycles is a logical, insightful, and inexpensive first or next step that can help you discover why you are not getting pregnant and help you move forward with hope.
Here are my top three reasons that you should begin charting your fertility if you are experiencing secondary infertility:
1. Fertility waxes and wanes throughout the cycle.
The woman’s body is not able to conceive at any given time of the cycle. In her book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, author and fertility awareness-based method educator Toni Weschler says, “Physicians are trained to identify disease and illness, often by diagnosing and treating with high-tech procedures. The result is that the most obvious solutions are often overlooked. A good example of this is the relationship between frequency of intercourse and pregnancy” (1). If you are ovulating early or late in some or all cycles, then general recommendations of when to time intercourse will be irrelevant. In an academic study, only 30% of women were fertile during between days 10 and 17 of their cycle (2). By learning the details of your cervical mucus (which is necessary for sperm survival), you will have a good idea in the present cycle of when you are nearing ovulation. Body temperature and LH kits can sometimes be helpful, but they are not nearly as insightful as cervical mucus.
2. Learning to chart incorporates crucial emotional support.
Other than your husband, most women do not share that they are trying to conceive again with many other people. By working one-on-one with an instructor, you have access to an objective third party who knows your desire to conceive. This can help you to work through thoughts, feelings, and emotions that arise during your charting and/or treatments. While this emotional support does not replace professional counseling in any way, I plan time into your appointment to discuss the feelings and added stress of trying to get pregnant. Infertility can devastate a marriage but teamwork in adversity has the potential to instead, strengthen a marriage. I have seen couples emerge from secondary infertility with a closer bond with one another. I partner with Organic Conceptions to provide all my clients who are trying to become pregnant with an evidence-based pre-conception audio counseling program. A recent study showed that concentrating on your emotional health in a concrete way increases conception rates by 42%. Being healthier emotionally allows you to be present and engaged with your child(ren), husband, and the world around you.
3. Charting can improve your health.
Even if nothing visible has changed with your health, the inability to get pregnant (especially if male fertility issues have been ruled out) can be a symptom of an underlying condition or disease. Diagnosing and treating whatever condition(s) you may have can help you conceive. Treating this root cause of infertility can help you achieve optimal health so you can feel your best. Charting will help your doctor know when to order cycle-timed tests and prescribe medications. There are no side effects or required courses of action by just beginning to track your fertility. It’s just information. It is then up to you about your next steps (if any).
Secondary infertility can feel like the suspension or loss of a dream of how you envisioned your family would look. If you are ready to get some answers, I would encourage you to begin charting your fertility. It is empowering, it is a little task of self-care, and I have never encountered a woman who wishes she had not learned more about her body through charting.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I earn a commission if you
click through and make a purchase. I only promote things I feel could be a benefit to my readers.
I’ve got stacks and stacks of books about birth and early parenting and I’ve read stacks and stacks more. I find this topic incredibly interesting even as my own children are getting bigger. I really believe that it’s so important for mothers to be informed. Information introduces options and gives you real choices. Here are a few of my clients and my own favorites.
1. Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. No list of birth books is complete without something by Penny Simpkin. She’s an incredible woman and one of the founders of the doula movement here in the US. She’s still very involved with DONA, my certifying agency, and I’ve been privileged to hear her speak. If your partner is asking what they can do to prepare, have them read this book. It’s hands down the best practical book I’ve read on supporting women during childbirth.
2. Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. This book is actually one that’s come up several times from my clients and piqued my curiosity. Sundin is out of Australia and provides a variety of unique coping techniques and speaks about birth in a way that’s easy to read and non-judgmental. If you are looking for a birth book with all the natural techniques but also supportive of your choice to get an epidural, this really maybe the book for you.
3. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley. Buckley is another Australian and an MD who had her own children at home. Very unique perspective and sometimes a bit medical but lots of wonderful information.
4. Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin. Again, a wonderful, straightforward resource from Penny Simkin. This book has been around for awhile and updated several times. This book provides a wonderful overview of what to expect during this unique time in life. It’s tone is warm and positive and emphasizes normalcy while also explaining potential complications.
5. Birthing from Within by Pam England. Some women, especially VBAC mothers and women who are survivors, have more heart work to do before their baby’s birth. If you think this might be you, please pick up this book. To be honest, making collages about my feelings does not really appeal to me but I’ve met too many women who found this book and the exercises within to be powerful during their birth preparations to not include it.
6. Ina May’s Guild to Childbirth. Ina May is another one that can’t be left off a list of birth books. This book is a series of amazing, powerful birth stories, with a few terrible ones from the 70s. I promise hospital birth is better now than it was then. Many stories in this book are dated. But the joy and strength and peace still ring true.
7. Complete book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger. This book is similar in content to #4 above but Kitzinger approaches birth from more of an anthropological bent and makes a point to honor families that aren’t quite so traditional looking. Regretfully, I should note that Ms. Kitzinger has passed away and the newest edition of this book is from 2003 and information may be becoming dated.
8. Homebirth in the Hospital by Stacey Marie Kerr is another of my favorites. No, a hospital birth will never be a home birth but it was one of the first books I read that made me believe that a positive hospital birth was possible after my own traumatic birth. Also, Dr. Kerr replied to my email personally!
There is so much good information out there sometimes it can be hard to sort through it all and find the resources best for you. Sometime in the future I’ll write a post with my favorite websites for those of you who prefer information in shorter amounts. Have a favorite birth book not on my list? I’d love to know what it is!
It is #DiastasisRectiAwarenessMonth and The Tummy Team is offering 15% off it's online rehab programs! This is an affiliate link because I think this is a valuable option for my clients and readers and worth your time. Happy rehabbing!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no cost to you, I earn a commission if you
click through and make a purchase. I only promote things I feel could be a benefit to my readers.
We’ve all heard the phrase "breast is best". We know that breastfeeding has benefits to both baby and mom. Breastmilk is living food that cannot be duplicated. It’s natural and normal and all of that. At this time in our culture, most women are planning on breastfeeding at least some. Sometimes it’s really easy. But sometimes its not. At least at first. Here are some ways to set yourself up for better success.
1). Gain family support. One of the biggest factors in successful breastfeeding is support for you, the mother. Those early days at home can be hard and emotional. You’re adjusting to so many things, recovering from a major physical event, and often not getting much sleep. Without support and middle of the night encouragement, this is the time many moms give up.
(By the way, not breastfeeding at all or choosing to stop is okay if that’s your choice and what you think will be best for you and your family situation. I don’t know your history or your medical needs and neither does anyone else on the street. My breastfeeding goal for you is just like my goal for your birth. I want you to make decisions based on information, knowing that you have choices and to not look back on it with regret.)
Anyway, many in our parents generation did not breastfeed their babies and if they did, may still have outdated ideas about what works. Talk to your husband or partner about breastfeeding. Talk to the other people who will be helping you after baby is born. Talk to them about the research showing why this is an important part of having a baby. Explain that their support in this could make the difference in your breastfeeding relationship.
2). Read a book. Breastfeeding Made Simple by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and Nancy Mohrbacher or La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger and Diana West are both excellent choices.
3). Join a support group. Fortunately here in the Indy area we really have a variety of excellent options. Area hospitals with maternity units also have breastfeeding support groups run by their IBCLCs. Breastfeeding USA and La Leche League both have groups that meet all over the city. On-line there is the Indy Breastfeeding Moms support group on Facebook that provides moms with informed advice 24 hours a day.
4). Take a class. Ask at your chosen birth location about breastfeeding classes. Many hospitals offer them and they can be an excellent source of information. There are also online breastfeeding courses like this one that you can take in your pajamas.
5). Know who to call. Knowing who to call ahead of time if you need help, extra support, or suspect a tongue tie is a good idea. You may never need it but in the midst of that newborn haze, not having to research is golden. Find the name of a local private IBCLC or the number for your hospital’s lactation department. Your birth doula or postpartum doula should be a good resource for this as well.
Breastfeeding is amazing! It’s incredible that your body can grow, birth, and then feed a human! But it’s not always easy at first and sometimes interventions are needed to make it more sustainable. You can breastfeed your baby and you can meet your breastfeeding goals no matter what those are. Information is power!
After your baby is born and before you start a fitness routine you need to know about Diastasis Recti and how to assess your own body for this very common disorder. In order to grow a baby, obviously, your body grows and expands and to a certain extent the connective tissue in your abdominal muscles widens. This is normal. What determines Diastasis Recti is how your body recovers from that pregnancy and if things function as they should.
This site has a great description of how to assess if your separation is normal or needs additional support. It’s important to know because many exercises can actually cause additional damage if you haven’t first worked to heal your core.
If you have concerns or an especially wide gap during your self assessment or you are having symptoms of a weak core, it might be helpful to meet with a physical therapist for a consultation. We have a variety of excellent women’s physical therapy options here in Indy including Camille Fenwick of Indy Women Physical Therapy. Dr. Fenwick also specializes in women’s pelvic floor dysfunction and can help you recover from childbirth in a variety of ways.
In person physical therapy with an actual therapist is always going to be the best option. However, we all know that sometimes getting to regular appointments would take an act of congress once you have small children running around. And if you are struggling with a postpartum mood disorder that just makes it that much harder. If you don’t have family nearby who can provide regular childcare or your work schedule make it’s impossible to make appointments, there is another option.
The Tummy Team is an online program designed to provide women with core healing from their home at a time that works for them. No need to worry about your kids and how you’re going to get out of the house or how you are going to work one more appointment into your day. I really believe that this program could be life changing for many women.
In my opinion, physical therapy should just be a normal part of postpartum care. But our medical system isn’t there yet. Its focus is not on basic function and accepts many fixable problems as normal unless your particular provider has searched for more options. Our culture still accept symptoms as normal and part of having a baby and or getting older. It doesn’t have to be this way. Spread the word!
This post contains affiliate links. I only promote things that I feel will be helpful to my clients and readers.
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin