bellies, babies, breastfeeding, and everything in between

1 Comment

Immune-boosting rice dish for sick little ones

This is a rice dish that I came up with when my little ones were sick and wouldn’t eat anything!  I wanted to give them something gentle on the stomach, so I used white rice, but also wanted to add plenty of immune-boosting ingredients.  It’s very simple to make and my kids ate it right up.


Homemade bone broth (or Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth if you have no homemade)

2 cups Organic California White Basmati Rice, rinsed

Fresh Organic Ginger Root

Fresh Organic Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Celtic Sea Salt Herb Grinder (I love this because it contains Astragalus and Nettles, great for immunity!)

You will want to add more broth than the rice instructions call for because you want the rice to cook nice and long, so it’s softer than usual, and more creamy (like risotto) than traditional rice dishes.  Use as much or as little rice as you like, depending on how many sick family members you have!  Boil the broth, then add the rice and turn the heat down a little.  While that is cooking, mince a LOT of fresh organic garlic.  I used like 6-8 cloves!  Mince it as fine as possible, then let sit for 15 minutes.  Allegedly this helps activate the allicin; not quite sure if that’s true, but there’s no harm in it, so why not??  While the garlic sits, peel and chop a significant piece of ginger (for example, the size of your thumb).  Mince as fine as possible (ginger can taste spicy if the kids get a big chunk of it), and add to rice and broth.  After 15 minutes, add the garlic as well.  Turn down to medium heat so that it’s simmering for a while.  Add a little salt and black pepper, and a generous amount of the Celtic sea salt herb grinder.  Cook for about 25 minutes (or more if necessary), stirring occasionally.

Season to taste, and serve to sick little ones!  If they are on the upswing from illness you can add butter to the rice for flavor and calories, but for little ones who are still vomiting or having diarrhea it might be best to skip the butter.

My husband and I also ate a lot of this, hoping that the ginger and garlic would prevent us from catching the sickness.  Thus far it has worked!

Leave a comment

Pain with a purpose

Among our birth clients, especially the first time moms, one of their biggest concerns is how they will cope with pain in labor.  We have a variety of resources such as physical comfort techniques, emotional comfort techniques, and environmental comfort techniques that we use but in this post we will explore the purpose of pain in labor.

It has been our experience that nature does not often make mistakes.  If labor and birth are painful to women, there is a reason for it.  Those reasons have been much studied and we have come across a great resource for this, a British publication titled “Normal Birth: Evidence and Debate” edited by Soo Downe.  We encourage our science-minded clients to read this book if they are interested!

First and foremost the pain is physiological.  For a first time mother, you have a baby living comfortably inside you, and this beautiful baby needs to emerge from an opening (the cervix) that has never opened before, and then the vagina, which has never stretched that far before.  Despite the fact that both of these organs were made to do just that – stretch and open and then return to their ‘normal’ state surprisingly quickly, the first time you and your body are doing this can be quite uncomfortable and even painful.

Numerous studies have also shown that pain is a trigger for the the neurochemical cascade that is so crucial to a healthy birth.  Examples of these include oxytocin as the bonding hormone for mom and baby, catecholamines to stimulate baby’s lungs, and prolactin to stimulate breastmilk production.  Dr. Sarah Buckley explains this extremely well in her article that can be found at

Perhaps equally importantly, the pain serves as a warning that it is time to look for a safe place to deliver your baby.  Your body has to signal you somehow, so that you are not delivering in the car (though this does happen!) or the mall or grocery store!  When the contractions begin it is time to head home so that you can prepare for baby’s impending arrival.  Midwives will often use your level of pain to describe when it’s time to head to the birth center or call the midwife to your home.  Pain also “summons support.”  Time for the partner, the friends, and the family to rally around and help with the household or other children, or to support mom while she births her baby.

The pain of labor  marks the transition to motherhood.  Labor is a gateway between your life as a pregnant woman and your life as a mother (or mother of many).  Women who labored and delivered without the use of epidurals reported a higher state of joy and triumph after their birth.  Bringing your baby from inside your body to your arms is a momentous occasion and should be marked by a triumphant experience.

We find it important to note that the current culture of maternity care in the United States does not make it easy for women to refuse pain medication during a hospital birth.  The non-evidence-based practice of restricting the movements of women experiencing normal labor makes coping without pain relief nearly impossible.  Excessive use of continuous fetal monitoring (which has not been shown to be any more effective than intermittent monitoring in numerous studies), Pitocin for ‘slow labors,’ lack of continuity of care, and other factors contribute to a level of fear and discomfort that inhibits a mother’s ability to work with the pain.

We believe that all mothers are strong and capable of working with the pain of normal childbirth.  We believe that there are many factors that contribute to levels of pain, and many non-chemical ways to relieve pain.  We also believe in circumstances in which chemical pain relief is warranted.  We believe in a mother’s right to choose pharmaceutical pain relief if that is what she wants and if she has been properly educated on the risks and benefits.  We do not support the belief that the pain is always unbearable, or that women are weak and unable to cope, or that they “need” medical intervention in order to birth a healthy baby.

For more information on any of these topics, feel free to contact us!

1 Comment

What is a belly cast? Should I get one?

Our answer is, simply, absolutely! A belly cast is simply a plaster mold of your pregnant belly, done in the third trimester.  The mold typically includes a woman’s breasts as well, though can certainly be done without.  Belly casts are a beautiful, artistic way to celebrate your pregnancy and growing family!  They can be painted, decorated with flowers, ribbons, or other decorations, or left plain white.  Many women put them on display in their homes, or keep them as keepsakes in the baby’s room.  We’ve even seen professional photo shoots of the newborn laying in the plaster cast!

Casts can even include hips, arms, and legs.  The options are endless!  One of our doulas, Rachel Vorhauer, uses her extensive artistic skill to create beautifully artistic belly casts.  Materials are relatively inexpensive and are covered in the belly cast package.  It’s a keepsake that you can treasure for years to come.  Your pregnant body is beautiful and should be celebrated!  The experience is also a great way to bond with your doula, and become accustomed to her caring touch.  Many moms comment that they feel even more comfortable with their doula after a belly-casting session.  

The casting takes place in the comfort of your own home, or in your doula’s home if you prefer.  A sheet or blanket is laid down to protect the floor.  Your doula will cover your belly, breasts, and any other area that is going to be casted with a layer of Vaseline, or Alba Unpetroleum Jelly.  You may wish to wear an old bra or old pair of underwear that can be ruined during the casting.  Some mamas like to have their nipples outlined in the cast, others do not.  Wearing a thin bra can disguise the nipples, and give heavy breasts a more lifted look if that is your wish.  Your doula can also wrap you with Glad Press’n’Seal or Saran Wrap to help protect your skin and bra.  The plaster sheets are then dipped in water and draped over your body in layers.  This can take anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour, depending on the size of the area, and how thick you want the casting to be.  You can stand or sit on a stool during this time.  Once the cast is completely dry (this will vary depending on the thickness), it is removed and dried further before decorating.  

Questions?  Interested?  Contact us! 


Leave a comment

Why do doulas cost so much?

Why do doulas cost so much?  This question has a variety of answers.  For one, the cost of a doula varies depending on where you live, as does the cost of anything.  In a small rural community, a doula might only be a few hundred dollars.  In cities such as New York and Washington, DC, they are usually in the thousands.  This has a lot to do with cost of living, operating expenses, etc.

In our area standard doula packages are often between $700 and $900.  Packages with more advanced services such as reiki, photography, private childbirth classes, extra postpartum support, or other extra support will cost even more.  Doulas with extra skills and certifications often charge more for their packages because the client is getting the benefits of their additional skills.

When you are hiring a doula, you are paying for a lot of different services.  You are paying for her education and experience.  Doulas are experts in labor support, the physiology of pregnancy and birth, and how to navigate the policies and protocols of their local birthing facilities.  Many have advanced training and education in other areas. You are also paying for her time.  A doula comes to you, and can spend up to three hours or more with you during your prenatal visits.  She also spends a lot of time behind the scenes preparing for these visits.  Your doula wants to make sure she can answer all of your questions related to your specific situation.  In addition, she will be with you for a few hours during your postpartum visit after the birth.  Speaking of the birth…

Most doulas are on call for births from 38 weeks to 42 weeks.  This is an entire month of her life that she puts on hold for you.  It means she can’t go on vacation, or anywhere that’s more than an hour or two away.  It means she might plan a birthday party for her child, but could miss it.  It means she can’t have more than one or two glasses of wine at any given time.  It means she has to get enough rest, eat well so she doesn’t get sick, have babysitters and backup lined up at a moments notice, have her phone on loud, and generally be “on point” while she waits for your call.  Our doula packages also involve 24-hour text and phone support, meaning we are always available to answer any questions you might have.

More importantly, the birth itself can be anywhere from a couple hours, to a couple days!  Many doulas have at least one birth where they end up being with a laboring mama for 48 hours or more.  If you break down their fee based solely on hourly work, they end up making less than minimum wage!  One of the benefits of a doula is that she provides you with continuous support.  Unlike nurses and doctors her shift doesn’t end until a couple hours after your baby is born.  During incredibly long births your doula might snatch a cat nap, but for the most part she is with you, supporting you, the entire time.

Birth work is incredibly rewarding, but it is also very emotionally and physically draining.  Your doula puts a lot of time and effort into the service that she provides for you!  When broken down, you get a lot for what you are paying.

Leave a comment

Why every pregnant woman deserves a doula

Many pregnant women have heard of doulas, but wonder why they would need one.  Aren’t they expensive? (Yes, but worth it.  More on that later)  Why do I need one when I have my husband?  The nurses?  The doctor or midwife?

First of all, a doula is a professional in something that none of the above people are, and that is called ‘labor support.’  While your husband may be fantastic at many things, he has probably not received this training.  In addition, a doula can help your husband or partner be a more full participant in the experience.  A laboring woman often needs many things at once.  Someone to hold her hand, and speak encouraging words.  Another to rub her sore neck or spray cool water in her hair.  Another person (or better yet two) providing counter pressure to her lower back, hips, and buttocks in order to help her manage the contractions better.  One or more people are often required to help a laboring woman change positions, especially if she is in a hospital bed and hooked up to an IV, External Fetal Monitor, and other devices.  Someone is needed to grab snacks and drinks for dad and other people who might be helping mom.  Everyone uses the bathroom at some point!  Someone is needed to prepare the warm or cool compresses, change the radio because mom hates the song, dim the lights, etc.  One’s partner simply cannot be all of these people at once.  And if he is, he is not participating fully in the experience.  If mom wants him up by her head, talking her through the contractions, who is providing counterpressure from behind?

Labor and Delivery nurses often receive very little (if any) training in labor support.  They have a lot of other work to do!  They often have more than one laboring patient at a time and are responsible for watching all of the machines, coordinating medications, informing the doctor of any changes, and a ton of other tasks.  In the United States, it is nearly unheard of for a doctor to provide labor support in the delivery room.  Doctors are often accessible only to the nurse, by phone, until birth is imminent.

Having a doula is like having a person pregnancy and birth concierge.  She is basically there to do everything she can to make you more comfortable during this incredibly important transition from pregnancy to growing family.  A doula provides education about the physiology of labor and birth, what to expect at your local hospital (she has experience there, so she knows!), what to expect when you go home, a list of referrals for problems that might arise, and more!  She provides the physical and emotional support that is so crucial to relieving the pain and stress of labor.  It’s hard work having a baby!  Every woman deserves the support to make it easier.

Many of our most staunch supporters are dads.  Fathers who experience birth with a doula report that they feel much more connected to their wife and baby, as they were relieved of a lot of the mundane duties that would have detracted from the experience.

Many studies also report on the benefits of having a doula, and they go far beyond just the emotional benefits for mom and dad!  An in depth study can be found here:

Read one of our favorite articles here, from Evidence Based Birth:

Salient points include these:  the presence of continuous labor support (i.e. a doula) decreased the use of epidural anesthesia, decreased the rates of instrumental delivery (forceps or vacuum), decreased the rates of cesarean section, increased breast feeding rates, and increased maternal satisfaction with both partner and baby.

There are countless other benefits to having a doula, and be sure that we will continue to make our community aware of them!