Who is Richmond Doulas: Mady Berryman

Doula Spotlight
Mady Berryman
”I believe that birth is one of the most significant and sacred times in a mother's and a child's life.”

Type of doula: Birth

Certifying/Training agency: DONA International

Business Name: Tender Heart Doula

If you have a partner, what does he/she think about your doula work/job?
He loves how happy it makes me and fully supports me!

Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?
Yes! This work would be more than difficult without the emotional support of my husband.

What drew you to doula work?
My entire life I have been interested in things pertaining to pregnancy, birth, and infants. I believe that birth is one of the most significant and sacred times in a mother's and a child's life.

What are your future goals with doula work?
I am working toward being certified as soon as possible and one day I hope to also look into becoming a postpartum doula.

Do you have any advice for women who are just starting out in birth work?
The doula community is strong and supportive. I think I can speak for all doulas when I say that as doulas we strive to lift each other up. So if you ever need anything there is always someone there to back you up.

Do you do anything besides doula work? (Like teach classes, etc.)
I nanny and I teach a class of toddlers at my church.

If you weren’t doing doula work, what would you be doing instead?
I would be nannying. I LOVE working with kids!

Favorite birth affirmation:
You are safe, this is what your body was made to do.

Birth hero:
My trainer, Amy Bookwalyer. She is an incredible and inspiring woman!

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
To breath under water. I am my happiest in water and always wish I could stay under longer.

When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
Most of all I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother. Career wise, as a child I wanted to be a veterinarian and then as a teenager and young adult I want to be a labor and delivery nurse.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
100% Chocolate!

Dogs or cats?
I love dogs almost as much, but I am a cat person.

Favorite seasons and why:
Summer is when I spend time with family and enjoy the beautiful ocean!

What is the best part of being a doula?
Knowing that you made a difference for that mom and that you were able to help make her experience that much more special.

What’s in your doula bag?
My two most important things are “The birth Partner” by Penny Simkin and my peanut ball.

Favorite pastimes:
Hanging out with my husband or going to the beach.

Labor doulas-do you join mom at home to labor with her? Or meet at the hospital? And why?
I would be willing to do either based on my clients needs.


Who is Richmond Doulas: Sarah Thorpe

Doula Spotlight
Sarah Thorpe
"I had my first child and her birth and the postpartum experience that followed changed me forever. I want to use my story and education to help other families through those times."

Facetune_04-11-2018-14-05-55 (1).jpg

Type of doula: Postpartum
Certifying/Training agency:
Childbirth International
Business Name:
Nurturing Birth and Beyond
DoulaMatch
Facebook
Years in business:
1
What is your fee? $25 per hour, packages and gift certificates available

If you have a partner, what does he/she think about your doula work/job?
He believes it is what I was born to do and jokes that he is almost a doula himself with how much I tell him from my education, ha!

Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?
It’s crucial. Doula work is largely emotional work so I can’t imagine pouring my heart out to families without someone refilling that love.

How many children do you have? Two!

Do you have any certifications or degrees? I am a bachelors prepared RN and CPR certified

What drew you to doula work?
Ten years ago I never thought I would do birth work… then I had my first child and her birth and the postpartum experience that followed changed me forever. I want to use my story and education to help other families through those times.

What are your future goals with doula work?
Certifying as a postpartum doula and childbirth educator.

Do you do anything besides doula work?
I am an RN and also hope to start teaching childbirth education classes soon!

If you weren’t doing doula work, what would you be doing instead?
Continuing my RN career or childbirth educator

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Teleporting… I hate long car rides.

When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
A Nurse

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate, for sure.

Dogs or cats?
Always dogs.

Favorite seasons and why:
Spring! Nothing is as exciting as feeling the weather start to warm up after a long dark winter.


Who is Richmond Doulas: Heydi Marshall

Doula Spotlight
Heydi Marshall
"Keep going. Try whatever works for you and baby."

Services Offered:
Postpartum Doula (CAPPA), Baby Care Specialist
DoulaMatch
Years in Business: 1
Clients served: 2 (and growing!)

Heydi is the fifteenth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

What do you love most about doula work?
I love coming along side of parents, especially moms, to encourage and educate them in their roles. And of course I love loving on the babies!

What is your least favorite aspect about doula work?:
Wanting to spread myself too thin and say yes to every job opportunity.

Favorite thing to do when you are not on call?:
When I’m not working I most enjoy taking care of my family and home! Other things I enjoy doing are reading, walking & checking in with my parents & friends.

What does your partner think about your doula work/job?:
My husband is very proud of me for doing something that I enjoy and that is so natural to me. I love hearing him explain to people what I do.

Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?:
It’s absolutely important! Because I know my husband is 100% supportive of me and my career I can go about my days and nights with higher levels of confidence in myself.

How many children do you have?:
Three children; a 13 year old daughter and 2 sons ages 4 & 2.

What is the most difficult part of parenting regarding being a doula?
I’ve discovered that being a doula means having my phone on me a lot more than normal and being on my phone or computer more often. I’m learning to balance that while giving my kids my full attention & eye contact during our times together. 

Do you have any certifications or degrees?:
Not yet but definitely working on certification. I look forward to the process and the wealth of information I’ll learn.

What drew you to doula work?:
My desire to help women be the best moms they can be. I love encouraging women. I love serving them and providing support to whatever needs they have. To me it’s very meaningful and rewarding work that doesn’t feel like work!

Do you feel that your own births colored your doula experience?
Most certainly! From the support that I lacked but also and most importantly, the support that I received during all my children’s births encourage and bring meaning to my role as a doula.

What are you future goals with doula work?:
I plan on getting certified and grow in experience. I would also love to work with young, single and/or minority moms.

Do you do anything besides doula work?:
I provide childcare to several of my friends’ children. Another way I enjoy helping moms.

Birth hero:
All moms are heroes! But I do have to highlight my own mom who had a prolapsed uterus and other complications almost taking her life with her first child. She then went on to have a total of 9 children (one C-Section). She is definitely my birth hero!

If you could have one super power, what would it be?:
To teleport! It would be the best way to travel!

When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?:
For many years I wanted to be an astronaut or scientist.

Chocolate or Vanilla?:
Vanilla

Dogs or Cats?:
Both but dogs if I had to choose.

Favorite season and why:
I love them all! Fall I enjoy because I love the beautiful colors of leaves especially in the mountains.

What’s in your doula bag?:
Calendar/planner, books, snacks and a lot of other little things that I think I need but don’t use…yet.

Number one book moms should read before giving birth:
Oh goodness, I don’t have a book to recommend yet! Is there one such book that can prepare a woman…?

Best breastfeeding advice you offer:
Keep going. Try whatever works for you and baby.

Best labor advice you offer:
It’s a mind game; tell your body what you need it to do and be amazed.


Who is Richmond Doulas: Amber Brook Pearson

Doula Spotlight
Amber Brook Pearson
"My body is strong and capable. My body and baby know exactly what to do."

Business Name: Amber Brook Doula Services, LLC
Facebook, DoulaMatch
Services Offered: Birth and Postpartum (DONA)
Number of births attended: 4

Amber is the thirteenth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

If you have a partner, what does he/she think about your doula work/job?
I’ve been happily married for 7 yrs, been together for 10 years. My husband has been very supportive and proud of the work I do.

Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?
Having my husband support me and seeing a smile on his face when I come home from work is priceless. It’s always important to support your partner in life; having a personal cheerleader is the best!

Do you have children?
2 step children, boys, 17 and 19

Do you have any certifications or degrees? Former Certified Nursing Assistant and former Certified Patient Care Technician (dialysis).  

What drew you to doula work?
I have always had a passion for babies and caring for others. When I heard about doula work, I just knew in my heart that this was my calling.

What are your future goals with doula work?
Besides being a birth & postpartum doula, I would love to add on being a Lamaze teacher and a lactation counselor. Trainings are lined up in my future!

Do you have any advice for women who are just starting out in birth work?
Take one step at a time and don’t get overwhelmed.

Do you have a favorite birth you attended? What made it special?
My favorite birth was the birth of my niece, Morgan Lucia. It is my brother’s first child. He is 45 years old, and watching his emotions was the best feeling a sister/doula could experience, a bond that was very special to me. It was a fairly easy labor too; one push and she was ready!

Have you had a very difficult birth? What made it difficult?
Supporting one of my best friend’s labor and birth. It was an unexpected stillborn baby.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
The power of healing.

When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
L&D Nurse

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla

Dogs or cats?
Cats. I have 3. But I love dogs. One day I’ll have one!

Favorite seasons and why:
Fall! I love the weather, crisp air. I love wearing jeans and a cozy sweatshirt. I love watching football with my husband and I love everything pumpkin! Also, my wedding anniversary is in October!

Ideally, you’d love to do doula work until:
Until I retire! I am finally able to fulfill my passion and I want to do nothing else!

What is the most difficult part of being a doula?
Holding my emotions in. If I see someone crying, I tend to feel deeply and tear up as well.

What is the best part of being a doula?
Having unlimited time spent with clients. Of course, adoring their precious baby! Being my own boss has been a dream as well!

What’s in your doula bag?
Rebozo, flameless candles, oils, hand stress ball, hard candy, heating bean pad, birth affirmations, notes, snacks for myself and my love…etc.

Hobbies:
Gardening, cooking, traveling, music (concerts), reading, working out, decorating and I love to organize   

Favorite pastimes:
Going to the movie theater once a week. When I was younger and single, this was my favorite Friday night event!

Labor doulas-do you join mom at home to labor with her? Or meet at the hospital? And why?
I want to support my clients in any way I’m able to. So if she wants to do most of her laboring at home, then I am right there beside her.

Postpartum doulas-do you do daytime or nighttime support? Or both?
I am able to work both shifts. My boys are grown, so I have more flexibility.

How do you avoid burn out?
I believe in self love. So I enjoy massages, pedicures, chiropractic adjustments. Treat myself to a new outfit, etc…I haven’t felt burn out yet. This is only my first year!


Top Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Pregnancy

By: Gloria Miles

14435323_10154120433172054_2733754522931380927_o.jpg

Whether you planned this pregnancy or it was a surprise...you're going to be surprised by something. Every pregnancy is different, so your experience will be different than mine. Heck, my experiences were different each and every single time! Still, there are certain truths that happen to a majority of women. For example: stretch marks! Yes, there are some lucky women who get away unscathed, but for the most part you should expect them.

During your pregnancy, you will be seen by your healthcare provider, an obstetrician or midwife. Their concern is a healthy mama, a healthy baby. And yet, there are definitely some normal, yet somewhat weird, things that can happen throughout your pregnancy.

Keep in mind that not all women experience the following examples. However, many do and if you are experiencing any of what is listed, remember that you are in good company!

  1. Beautiful, thick hair.

    Everywhere...and I mean everywhere. See those few extra strands on your chin? Or maybe you found that your belly has a little bit of a fuzzy layer on it now that you're pregnant. In a nutshell, changing hormonal levels lengthens the resting phase of the hair follicles (meaning they don't fall out) and increase how quickly hair grows.

    Sometimes hair changes texture or even color! Craziness, I know.

    What not to do: Don't use bleach or harsh waxes to get rid of unwanted hair. These can deposit some unwanted things into the bloodstream which can affect baby.

    The Good News: All the excess hair will eventually go away in the postpartum period.

  2. Constipation is an issue.

    This is something that you should report to your healthcare provider. However, rest assured that it's a fairly normal annoyance. It first occurs in the first trimester because of fluctuating hormones (yay).

    What to do: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It helps in any situation. Eat things high in fiber and stay away from foods that cause more constipation (sodas, pasta, etc). Don't strain if you can help it when having a bowel movement.

    What not to do: Don't take any OTC (over the counter) stool softeners without the approval of your healthcare provider.
     

  3. Hemorrhoids. *Cue horrified expressions*

    I know that hemorrhoids are more common in women who are in subsequent pregnancies, but first-time moms can definitely have these little nuisances flare up. Most of the time, even if you get hemorrhoids, they're not too bothersome. However, some women can get them so bad that they are painful and/or need surgery. (Don't freak out. That's an extreme case.)

    Hemorrhoids can also cause bleeding after bowel movements, so if you wipe and see pink or red tinged toilet paper, don't immediately freak out, either.

    ***Any blood should be reported to your healthcare provider with amount and where it is coming from (vaginal or anal).

    What to do: Basically, you should do what is recommended for constipation issues. Additionally, try not to strain when using the bathroom. Also, if they are external, you can apply pressure or push them back up. (I know that sounds horrifying, but it's not as bad as you think.) Don't be too shy during your prenatal visits, either. Your healthcare provider may suggest better remedies.
     

  4. Pregnancy Brain is real!!

    Okay, don't laugh too hard, but I have searched for my glasses while wearing them. I have looked for my keys while holding them in my hand. I have told someone I have to find my phone before leaving my house while talking to them on the phone.

    But don't worry. It goes away after pregnancy. Then comes mom brain...which is worse...
     

  5. You break out like a teenager.

    Some women have glowing faces, less break outs, and beautiful skin during pregnancy. I was like that my first two pregnancies. Then, my third came around and I felt like I was going through my awkward teenage phase again.

    Also, I think that hormones are permission to smack anyone who tells you this lovely tidbit of info: "You can tell you're having a girl, because girls rob you of your beauty."  What a lovely way of telling me I look like sh**. A-hole.
     

  6. Charlie horse cramps.

    There is nothing worse than those calf muscle charlie horse cramps that make you want to stab your peacefully snoozing hubby for daring to sleep so comfortably while you're in agony. Seriously, those things are brutal.

    What to do: I wish someone had told me this my first two pregnancies!!! Typically, cramps are from a magnesium deficiency. Pick up some cal-mag supplements from Vitamin-Shoppe or Amazon. Those things made the biggest differences between my first pregnancies and my third.

    ***Discuss any supplementation with your healthcare provider prior to taking them.
     

  7. Pregnancy insomnia.

    Sometimes your brain is on overload and you can't sleep. The worst is looking over at your partner and wanting to smother him or her for being so blissful. Why the anger? Probably hormones. Doesn't matter. It just matters that even the most serene woman can contemplate murder at 3 a.m. when their significant other is fast asleep.


    What to do: Cut caffeine in the afternoon. Exercise! Hydrate. Eat well. And try to form a bedtime routine that you do in order to "prep" for going to sleep. Cut out screen time (including your phone!) for a few hours prior to bedtime, if possible.
     

  8. Crotch Lightning.

    Sometimes you get stabbing or shooting pains that seem to shoot down your vagina or even anus. It's always abrupt and can make you jump. I don't even know how to explain it better than that. It's common, but also hard to explain to the people you just scared by being pregnant and startling.
     

  9. A Colorful Vulva.

    Yes, you read that right. Everything on your body is changing in color and looks. Increased blood volume and swelling of certain regions means that your vulva may end up with a redder, bluer, or purple tinge to it. It may also look and feel more swollen.
     

  10. Increased Discharge

    Every woman has to deal with discharge. The vagina is self-cleansing and you have things like cervical mucus, etc, that leads to discharge. This discharge can range from watery, to creamy, to sticky. Cervical mucus changes based on your hormones, too, so you don't have to be pregnant in order to see these changes. If you pay attention, you'll notice thicker or thinner (or barely any) discharge throughout your cycle month.

    During pregnancy, discharge usually only increases in amount and viscosity. (Woo.) Some women wear panty liners, because they dislike the feeling. However, be careful with wearing liners for too long. What I did was change my underwear throughout the day.

    Note: Make sure to report any changes in discharge to healthcare provider, especially if it is accompanied by a foul odor, itchiness, burning, has a different consistency (like cottage cheese), or is a different color. These can be signs of an infection.

    Have anything that you wish you knew before becoming pregnant that you'd like to add to the list? Please share!

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

 

The Last Days of Pregnancy

By: Gloria Miles

Photo by Halfpoint/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Halfpoint/iStock / Getty Images

The last days, maybe even weeks, of pregnancy could span a century.  Nine months of growing, changing, slams to a halt; time passes differently.  The discomforts of pregnancy are now highlighted with every step.  Every day crawls, every night is long. 

The Virginia air had been thick as syrup with heat and humidity.  The air stirred itself around, lazily passing by people who braved a walk.  The heat felt stifling for this pregnant woman.  

Eventually, dark clouds rolled into the area, the sky crackling with anticipation of relief.  The sky opened; the rain poured. The relief was felt in a dramatic drop in temperature.  The wind had picked up and the trees chattered in excitement.  

The past days for me have been filled with the sort of anxiousness and discomfort that one only feels when in the last few weeks of pregnancy.  It's amazing how quickly nine months can pass.  And yet, the hours slip by slow as molasses. 

"You look tired," my husband said.  He stood behind the kitchen island, prepping items for breakfast.

"I woke up to pee last night six times. And this morning, my hips feel like they're on fire from that hard bed," I replied.  

He laughed. "Maybe a week left for you. You're so close!" 

I knew he was right.  "That makes me want to strangle you."

"What?" he asked. "Why?" 

"You might as well have said another year." 

"Is it that bad?"

I gave him a look. 

"Maybe...I'll just keep making breakfast," he said. Then added, "I'll rub your back before bed."  

The evening is cool and windy.  I want to walk outside in the coolness.  I let my husband know so that he keeps an eye on our toddler.  

"Walking the baby out?" he asked. 

Most days I wake up wondering if this is the last day I'll be pregnant.  Each evening I hope that real contractions will begin.  Every new morning I'm disappointed at the lack of labor, of no newborn.  

This evening, however, I just want to reside in the moment.  I want to walk and feel the muscles in my legs work.  I want to listen to the trees rustle and speak among themselves.  I want the cool air to play with my hair.  

"Just walk," I answered. 

The family joined me and we walked around our property, through the trees, and down a short patch of our country road.  I breathed deeply and was purely in the moment.  I didn't worry about labor.  I felt the small braxton-hicks contractions intermittently but I paid them no mind.  Fetal kicks and punches marked the time between them.  I smiled and rubbed my belly.  

Most days I'm cranky and irritated.  I sleep too little, I feel too irritable, and I walk the way one does when there's a fetal head slowly entering the pelvis.  I know that labor is on the horizon.  I know that pregnancy doesn't last forever.  One day or evening or night the familiar rushes of labor will begin.  And yet, it feels so distant.  

I think, though, that sometimes it is necessary to get to this climax of pregnancy, similar to the climax before birth.  There is a time within labor that most suddenly feel overwhelmed.  Cries of not being able to cope or continue are normal.  Sometimes there is a moment of panic.  The contractions are no longer surges but just a state of being.  Labor seems to take over one's body.  There is doubt, maybe fear.  And then the peak is reached and all doubt is removed.  Birth is imminent and then there it is: pressure, pain, power.  The pelvis is filled and then it shifts.  Crowning, then a head, then a body.  Then: I did it!

Pregnancy is similar.  It is uncomfortable and not everything is exciting, but it's tolerable.  Suddenly, it's overwhelming, it's miserable, it's never-ending.  But one day, like in labor, like the storm that's on the horizon, relief will be felt.  The first surges will start and excitement will replace it.  

Labor will start.  Everyone is right.  It's so close.  It feels as distant and as close as mountains on a horizon.  But it will start, it will finish.  A new life will be born.  A lifetime will begin. 

 

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.

Navigating the First Trimester

By: Gloria Miles

Congratulations! You were either trying or surprised, but you've tested and came back with a BFP (big fat positive).

BFP!

Due 2019!!

You're pregnant! You have so much to look forward to in the next nine months! I'm assuming that you are in your very first trimester (and that's why you've clicked on the blog post).

Sometimes women don't realize they are pregnant until much later. Very rarely women show up in the emergency room with intestinal distress only to find out they're actually in labor. (We've all heard the stories!)

Either way, we'll assume the first trimester. 

Now what?

The very first step (aside from figuring out how to announce it your partner, friends and family) is setting up your first prenatal appointment. Most providers advise starting care between 8-12 weeks of pregnancy.

Whether you are birthing in a hospital and wanting an epidural as soon as the party starts or wanting a hospital birth completely sans medications, have your heart set on a birth center birth, or at home with a midwife, prenatal care is very important. It all looks fairly similar and the standard of care will include blood work and an early dating ultrasound unless your health care provider states otherwise. 

Appointments in the beginning are generally set for every four weeks. After your 28th week it'll increase to every two weeks, and after your 36th week, it'll increase to weekly visits until your delivery. Of course, if issues arise during the pregnancy, extra visits may be necessary.

And so you're pregnant and have your first appointment set...and....you look about the same. Everyone is asking about due dates and looking forward to the end, even now, but life goes on about the same. Or does it??

What is going on with you right now?

Nausea/Vomiting

Not everyone will become nauseous during their first trimester, but morning sickness is a fairly common complaint. Really, it should be called all day sickness, because it can strike at any time. 

What can you do about it? Well, eating smaller, more frequent meals can help. My general rule of thumb is: if it smells questionable to you, even if it smells great to everyone else, stay away from it. Drink plenty of water and fluids with electrolytes, especially if you're vomiting. Eating blander foods may help: toast, peanut butter, salted or unsalted eggs, crackers, oatmeal, etc. 

Prenatal vitamins may contribute to the nausea. Check out reviews for ones that don't mess with women's tummies and ask your health care provider for recommendations. 

Sometimes morning sickness is bothersome enough that medication might be advisable.  Your health care provider may suggest over-the-counter supplements or prescribe something like Zofran to help combat the nausea and vomiting. 

The good news is that this typically passes by the 13th week of pregnancy. 

Note: Sometimes, but not as commonly, women will suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum. If you are throwing up everything and not able to keep fluids down, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. 

Constipation

This one is super fun, especially in combination with feeling bloated. Changes in hormones can cause changes in regularity. As with morning sickness, your body will adjust and you will go back to your normal schedule. 

What can you do about it? Taking a probiotic can help. Remember to take a probiotic with a prebiotic in it. If you do not, then the probiotic will not help, regardless of how many billions of strains it has. Most of the time, the ones who have both are in the refrigerated section of your health food store. 

Foods with natural probiotics are: yogurt, greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, dark chocolate (heck yeah!), pickles , honey, bananas, artichokes, and more. 

Eating food high in fiber can also help with regularity: lentils, almonds, broccoli, cabbage, kidney beans, wheat bran, oat bran, just to name a few. 

And, of course, like most things: water helps. Hydrate!

Bloating

You're pregnant, but you feel more fat than anything. That's pretty normal. Constipation can contribute to bloating.

Making sure to drink plenty of water and have an adequate intake of salt will help. It'll pass.  As always, if you feel something is off, contact your health care provider.  

Fatigue

Any pregnant mother can attest, the early weeks are brutal when it comes to fatigue. It's hard work making a baby! You may not look pregnant, but this first trimester is when the most work happens! You're busy creating a complex organism from two little gametes (sex cells). You're creating a heart, a spinal cord, lungs, a nervous system, eyes, skin...a whole being! Of course you're going to be tired! 

What can you do? SLEEP! I hear all you moms with littles laughing. I know how hard it can be to sneak naps in, but whenever you are able to: sleep. Tap in your partner whenever you can. Let housework slide a little. Be kind and gentle with yourself. It's just a season that'll pass by about the 13th week.  However, it can also reappear in the last trimester.

Besides sleeping you can also check your iron. This will be in your first prenatal blood panel. If you are anemic, this will also contribute to your sleepiness. You may be told to take an iron supplement. Ask your doctor or midwife for recommendations. Foods may also help keep your iron at a good level, such as dark leafy greens and legumes. Again, speak with your health care provider regarding their recommendations for your diet and/or iron supplements they may want you to take. 

Exercising During First Trimester

Exercise will help with energy. You can continue with the exercise routine you've already been following for the most part. High intensity workouts or heavy lifting may have to be cut back. Most importantly, follow what your body is telling you. 

If you are new to exercising, don't worry, you can start. Plus, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy are plentiful! It cuts down on fatigue, limits excessive weight gain, leads to a healthy pregnancy, helps with labor, gives you strong abs and back which will cut down on back and pelvic pain, and boosts your mood.

Unless a medical reason is given, most women can exercise during pregnancy. 

Great exercises, especially for beginners, are walking, swimming, and yoga. Running is fine and can be continued for as long as it's comfortable. Weight lifting can be continued by most, but just remember that relaxin, a hormone that relaxes tendons, will begin flowing through your body.  Lowering the weight and paying attention to good form is important.  Additionally, center of gravity will be shifting as your uterus expands which may mean avoiding certain movements. Also, some movements (such as planks) may have to be modified or avoided, because of your growing abdomen. 

As always, consult your health care provider.

Cramps

Some women experience cramps in early pregnancy. These aren't necessarily a symptom, but they're common enough and not generally a worry. Some women fear this means they may miscarry, but cramps on their own can be normal. 

The uterus is a muscle and every time it is messed with, so to speak, it'll contract. Sometimes these contractions will cause cramping. Reasons you may be cramping: you just had sex, you have a full bladder, or your uterus is growing. 

Note: If you are experiencing cramping and bright red bleeding or spotting, call your health care provider or go into the ER. 

This blog post should not serve as a substitute for medical advice and is purely for informational purposes. Every pregnancy is different. Trust your instincts and always check in with your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have, even if they are listed as "normal."

So congratulations and hopefully the first trimester treats your kindly! 

Remember, this will pass and the second trimester will be here before you know it. Comment below with anything you felt helped you get through the first few months. 

Let's Talk Kick Counts

By: Gloria Miles

The author's daughter, in utero. 

The author's daughter, in utero. 

A fetus has sleeping and waking cycles.  One of the most exciting parts of pregnancy (for most), is feeling those little tiny movements and kicks.  They are very reassuring for the expectant mother and elicit a range of emotions for both those expecting and those allowed to feel the movements.  

I know that for my husband and children, it's a bit of bonding that occurs before the birth.  My sons love to hold their hand on my growing abdomen and feel the little rolls, elbows, and kicks. "I felt the baby!" they'll squeal. And, for myself, I'm always reassured to feel this little life growing and moving about. 

Okay, so what are kick counts? 

Kick counts are sort of what they sound like: counting baby's kicks.  Though, of course, it's not exclusive to kicks. Rolls, stretches, punches, and any type of movement counts as a "kick." 

I'm not feeling movement yet. When do I start? 

For most people, movement is felt starting between 18 to 26 weeks.  It really depends what number pregnancy it is, the lie of the baby, and where the placenta is located.  If the placenta is anterior (meaning against the uterine wall that is against the abdomen), movement may not be felt until later in pregnancy and with less frequency.  

Most providers advise to begin kick counts around 28 weeks.  However, ask yours for specific timelines and guidelines. 

How are the kicks counted? 

Choose a time a day that you know baby is most active.  Lie down on your left side and start counting movements.  You're hoping to feel ten movements within two hours.  Most likely, you'll feel that long before the two hour mark.  

Keep a journal or log.  You can write it down on a paper, use an app, or simply mark it on the calendar.  This also helps you see a pattern in fetal movement.

I didn't get ten kicks/I don't feel movement/I feel decreased movement.

First, don't panic.  Try eating a snack or drinking juice (though, ask for advice from your provider if your diet has restrictions in place) and try again. 

If you still do not get ten movements within two hours, if you think there's a significant decrease in movement, or if you have any concerns regarding fetal movement, call your provider for advice.  

 

Chime in! Did you or are you counting kick counts?  Did your provider recommend this practice?  How did you fit it into your routine? 

Note: This blog post is purely informational and not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or attention.  Please direct any questions or concerns to your own medical provider.  Whenever there is a question about fetal movement, a licensed health care professional should be consulted.  

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 3, soon-to-be 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs. 

Who is Richmond Doulas: Bri Grocholski

An Exercise: Being Strong in Labor

This exercise was created by Virginia Bobro, formerly of Birthing From Within and Pam England. Check out Pam England's new book: Ancient Map for Modern Birth, or a local Birthing From Within class for more juicy exercises. This exercise was adapted by Cat Ennis Sears, BFW mentor, for the RD Blog.

71b970ed062d0b7a883a2af5671cfeeb-large.JPG

When you're pregnant, a lot of things can alert your worry muscle. Maybe you've heard birth stories from others, things you'd like to avoid, and you are thinking of how you would want things to go differently. Maybe you're worried about your support options, logistics, or needing medical support that you were hoping to avoid. 

Sometimes, we get into a state of avoidance. We put our fingers in our ears (positive birth stories only, please!) with the hope that blocking out the thought of unwished for events will prevent these things from occurring. While it's true that fear is not helpful in labor and birth, and adrenaline can decrease natural birth hormones that make labor safer and more efficient, the act of total avoidance (trying to avoid fear at all costs) paradoxically arises from a place of fear. And completely avoiding the thought of unwished for events does not decrease the likelihood of those events occurring, but does increase the likelihood that you will be unprepared for those events, should they occur.

A positive visualization of how you would like your birth experience to go, without qualifiers and without "if's" and "but's" is the first step toward trusting birth. It's important to know what your ideal birth would look like, what you are hoping for, what your dreams and goals are. Visualization is a powerful tool that evidence suggests actually changes our brains, and can in fact change outcomes.

So go ahead and visualize your ideal birth, without qualifiers, without "if's" and "but's."

Next, I invite you to go one step further in your preparation for birth, and visualize not only your perfect birth, but visualize something unexpected happening. And (this is the important step) don't stop there: visualize how you and your support people will cope with that unexpected event. Visualize yourself being strong and present, giving birth in awareness, being there for the moment, no matter what happens. What, specifically, would help you cope with something you were hoping to avoid? Is it a prayer, is it holding your partner's hand, is it closing your eyes, playing a specific song, or just focusing on your breathing? Close your eyes and see yourself doing that thing.

Birth is unpredictable. Our bodies are fallible. And if something unwished for does occur, it does not mean you did something wrong, or weren't prepared enough, or should have done this or that differently. You can truly trust birth and postpartum when you know that you have coping resources you can pull on, should an unwished for event occur. This is a deeper kind of trust.

Being Strong in Labor

With your partner or support person...

Each of you fold your paper in half twice (once horizontally, once vertically) so the fold-lines make four quadrants. 

In the first quarter: Draw the first image that comes to mind when you think of being strong in labor.

The second drawing: Draw being strong in a long, prolonged labor.

The third drawing: Being strong in a cesarean birth.

The fourth: Being strong in... [choose a situation that is personally powerful to you, something that you are working to avoid]. 

Share your images with your partner.

Did anything surprise you? Was there anything you hesitated to draw? Did not want to draw? The takeaway is that we are often much stronger than we realize. And, in my mind, all of this is already within us. In some ways, this is an exercise in intention.

 

Poem: An Invitation to Birthing From Within Mothers

There are so many ways we try to "get it right" as parents. Let's just start with love.

Invitation to Birthing From Within Mothers
This work was compiled and edited by Juji Woodring with contributions from Alejandrina in AZ, Lia from South Africa, Alisa from Texas, Charlene, and Tamara D., with thanks to Oriah Mountain Dreamer for inspiration

image by RVA local doula and birth photographer,  Joyful Birth Services

It doesn't interest me how many
prenatal books you've read,
I want to know if you hear your
child whisper to you
when you lie awake at night.

It doesn't interest me who you are
or where you came from,
I want to know if your authentic
mother warrior will awaken
when you birth your baby with all
that you have.

It doesn't interest me if you have a
birth plan or where you plan to
give birth.
I want to know that you will meet
your birth with an open mind and
open heart.
I want to know if you can fully
embrace the path you must
journey to birth yourself as a
mother.

It doesn’t interest me if you birth
in silence or as a lioness roars.
I want to know if you are willing to
do whatever it takes to birth your
baby, regardless of how you look,
how you sound, or what others
may think. I want to know if you
are willing to journey to your
depths and through the unknown.

It doesn't interest me how many
stitches you get,
I want to know how you are
moving in your body.
I want to know if you can take
each movement of your achy
dripping body and know that it has
done a marvelous, miraculous
thing.

It doesn't matter to me how you
feed your baby.
I want to know if you are willing
to nurture your baby
from the depths of your soul and
with unconditional love.

I want to know if in the dark of
night,
you can raise your tired bones and
weary spirit and do what needs to
be done to care for your children

I want to know if you are willing to
give up your judges and ideals of a
perfect parent and surrender to
your heart and belly
to love your baby until you ache.
 

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Yesterday, Shea heard his brother's heartbeat. He said, "my brother," and put his hands on my stomach. He smiled shyly and wanted to hear the heartbeat "again." I'm so excited for them to meet each other.

Nathaniel Ashe Sears, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, born December 19, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

He holds his tiny hands up to the glass and says, “There, Mommy, I want to eat there!” Inside is a pool hall, completely inappropriate for a toddler. “No, Shea, just one more door down.” I drag him into Ipanema. I don’t know it yet, but active labor will start in less than 12 hours. I wanted to take Shea out for dinner, just me and him, knowing that the time of his being an only child is getting shorter. I am having near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions that don’t stop when I sit down, stand up, walk, lay down, take a bath, drink water, or anything. They are just constant, lasting for 2-3 minutes with a 30 second break in between and it’s been that way for 2 days. It’s exhausting but I try to ignore my too tight abdomen as I pick Shea up and carry him through the door of Ipanema. I am expecting to go past my due date on this one too, and I don’t take any contractions seriously. Only if they are deep low, and getting longer, stronger, closer together. I decide, only then will I pay attention. Thinking back, I realize how almost heroic it is that I went out for dinner alone with a two-year-old while I was in actual early labor.

Read More

Guest Post: Why Moms Make the Worst Clients, and Why I’ll Never Stop Training Them.

Guest Post: Why Moms Make the Worst Clients, and Why I’ll Never Stop Training Them.

I’ve been a Personal Trainer at a gym for over 8 years. After having my first child 4 years ago, I saw how different my body was and took a course in Pre and Post-Natal Fitness with the goal to help other moms through those changes. Little did I know Moms would become some of my favorite yet worst clients. See, Personal Trainers only get paid after they train a session with a client, and I soon saw my paycheck take a hit. Here’s why…

Read More

Who is Richmond Doulas: Cat Ennis Sears

Who is Richmond Doulas: Cat Ennis Sears

Doula Spotlight
Cat Ennis Sears     
"There are no standard paths. Points of comparison do not exist. Each of us is so totally unique that our processes are bound to be like no other. Linear progress can be planned when you have a goal, when you have a map, but not when you explore the unimaginable unknown. The dreamworld of creation can make your reasonable mind dizzy with its changing grounds.  Nothing can control your intuition; this is its beauty and power. Life flows throughout it, ungraspable, unmeasurable." --Michele Cassou

Business Name: Birthing From Within Richmond
Facebook, DoulaMatch
Services: Childbirth education, certified birth doula, certified postpartum doula, acupressure
Years in practice: 4
Number of families served: ~31 births, ~13 postpartum families, ~40 childbirth education students (that overlaps)
What is your fee? $700 (birth), $25/hour (postpartum), classes $150-200

Cat is the eleventh doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here

Read More

Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Brandy Buckel shares her inspirational birth story in this week's blog post. We thought it was beautiful to read! Thank you, Brandy, for allowing us to share your story with the world!

If you'd like to share your birth story on the RD blog, please email it to us at rdoulas@gmail.com, along with a few photos. We are looking for all kinds of birth stories to help normalize any kind of birthing experience in RVA!

Being a plus sized girl, when I was pregnant I was already overweight. I was 4'11 at 185lbs and wore a size 16. I didn't care about my weight when thinking about how I wanted to labor; it wasn't even an issue but I found out quick while at my first visit to the birthing center that weight DOES matter. I was told if my BMI hit 50 I wouldn't be able to labor at the center. I KNEW i wouldn't hit that but it still kind of hurt to hear.

Read More

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth
by: Megan Martin, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth Clinician
megan@healingsoundsrva.com
(804) 244-0193
Healing Sounds RVA

Imagine this: you're pregnant and you're nervous. Maybe you're nervous about labor and delivery. Maybe you're nervous about bonding with your baby. Maybe, you've heard stories about birth and newborn babies that have made you afraid. Pregnancy. Birth. Newborns. These are all words that bring enormous amounts of excitement and an enormous amount of fear to women. There are a lot of resources and strategies available for women these days to help you have a healthy pregnancy, a low-intervention birth, and support in those first months post-partum. One resource is not as well known- music therapy.

Read More

Who is Richmond Doulas: Sarah Newton

Who is Richmond Doulas: Sarah Newton

Doula Spotlight
Sarah Newton
"You are already doing what you are telling me you can’t do! You ARE strong enough."
Business Name: All Things Doula
Facebook, DoulaMatch
Services: Certified birth doula, twice-trained postpartum doulaBirth Doula, DONA
Years in practice: 6.5|
Number of births attended: 93 ( 95 by the end of the year)What is your fee? $875 / this fee varies by military discount, etc.

Sarah is kind, competent, friendly and so knowledgeable about all things birth! If you're pregnant, do yourself a favor and set up a time to sit down with this knowledgeable and compassionate woman.  New to Richmond this year, I think she is such an asset to our birth community! She never hesitates to reach out for support from the birth community, and also is so generous with sharing her own wisdom and is supportive of newer doulas in the area.

She is the ninth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

Read More

Who is Richmond Doulas: Hunter Moore

Who is Richmond Doulas: Hunter Moore

Who is Richmond Doulas: Hunter Moore
Business Name:
The Mindful Birth
Facebook, DoulaMatch
Services: Birth Doula, toLabor
Years in practice: 1

Hunter has a wonderful presence, bringing a compassionate and supportive energy to a room. I feel like she must bring such a calming, reassuring and yet joyful presence to the families she supports in labor. In this following interview, you'll get to learn more about this empathetic and competent birth doula.

She is the eighth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

Read More