Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Choosing a Care Provider Education Class

November 26, 2013

Choices in Childbirth hosted our free monthly workshop this past Thursday (11/21/13) at the 14th Street Y; this month’s topic was Choosing a Care Provider.  As the CiC intern with no plan of baby in my near future, I have thought little of what my potential care provider will look like. Yet as the room filled up with expectant women and their partners, it became clear that this is a topic on a lot people’s minds.  Tanya, a member of our education and program committee, and a student midwife and child educator herself,facilitated the discussion and introduced couples that struggled to find their right fit.  As the stories accumulated, this idea of choosing the right care provider felt a lot like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears: you have to test all the beds until you come to the one that makes you feel comfortable and safe. 

Each couple shared their stories of starting with an obstetrician, midwife, doctor, hospital, birthing center, etc. and feeling as though they weren’t part of “the team”: they weren’t being included in the decision making process, despite feeling like they knew and trusted their bodies.  They also described the shame and embarrassment that their former providers caused.  For instance, all three women were told they had gained too much weight in a short span of time, and how this would negatively impact their pregnancy, labor, and baby.

Another common theme throughout their stories was their feeling disconnected from their provider. Their provider took no time to get to know them and thus learn what they wanted from their birthing experience.

All the women ended their stories with this pearl of wisdom: keep looking until you find the provider whose values align with yours. If you go into your birth experience with someone who doesn’t have the same vision, then it will likely be bad. But if you’re able to find the person who you feel understands what you want, then it will be good. That, and get a doula.

 sky diving


If Your Post-Baby Body Could Talk…By Valerie Lynn

November 7, 2013


I had the exciting experience of witnessing the New York City marathon first-hand this year as the route passed right in front of our building. I was amazed how the runners journeyed from all over the world -France, UK, Germany, Australia, Norway, Japan, China and so on to our city.  My son gave out water to the runners as they passed by with his cub-scout troop and we both felt they were nothing short of inspiring.

I meet many expecting mamas in my line of work, and for me, they are my daily inspiration. As pregnant mamas we carry a little life inside of our growing bellies and choose to put our lives on hold during pregnancy. We have expectations of recovering in just 1-2 months after our baby is born and we’ll bounce back to our old selves, resume our previous life (and clothes size) as well as responsibilities such having shopping, cleaning and returning to work; assuming along the way a strong recovery will take place naturally. Then when we aren’t able to put on our jeans the next day or lose the fat quickly in the weeks afterwards and come to suffer from low energy levels and experience the upsetting postpartum emotions we’ve heard about the simplest tasks become daunting.

As women our body goes through the most significant experience that it can – giving birth. Therefore it is just as important, or even more important in my opinion, to do everything you can to help your body heal as it will have unique and special needs. It’s my intention to continue to shout this from the rooftops so moms across America in the very near future, literally, give themselves a break after they give birth. Women don’t realize they are damaging themselves by not having a recovery period and I attribute this to the general misunderstanding of the condition of their body after child birth.  Below is a conversation between a mama and her post-baby body if one could take place. After reading this every expecting mama should understand what your body will be recovering from simultaneously after delivery and why it not only needs a recuperation period but also has different nutritional needs in the following weeks.

If your post-baby could talk it would tell you this, “Mama you need to be gentle with me as my energy is spent. I’m here for you but I need to be cared for as I’ve been through a wonderful but exhausting experience. I am able to heal fast but only if I am allowed to rest and have healing meals that my body now needs. Our pregnancy experience is far from over as now, it is my time to recover.  This is what I’m recovering from:

  • I have lost the heat of the baby, placenta, amniotic fluids and a lot of blood and now in a ‘cold state’ so I may experience shivering. I will experience heat flashes as I release the retained fluid and fat.
  • My healing started within hours after the placenta was birthed, taking concentrated hormones with it so I must re-balance my hormone level and with it experience unstable emotions and hair loss.
  • If we have a natural birth the perineum area may be very painful if torn or have been cut. I will experience a burning sensation. If we’ve had a cesarean birth then I will have to heal the deep incision and recover from the anesthesia and other medications used.
  • If we’ve had an epidural that spot in my spinal cord will be weakened for up to a year and I have to strengthen the area again.
  • If we’ve been induced the medications will still be in our system and take time to leave.
  • My breasts will be painful as the milk comes-in, my nipples may crack from breastfeeding and may become engorged.
  • I will experience uterine after-pains that are severe as contractions as my cervix contracts.
  • I am still water logged, bloated, and swollen from still carrying the retained water, fat and air we no longer need.
  • I will be discharging lochia that contains blood clots and will be heavy at times.
  • I have relaxin hormone in my system for three months and will experience clumsiness.
  • I have new varicose veins, joint pains, sagging and sore breasts, darkened nipples, stretch marks and melasma and may not feel so attractive.
  • My abdomen will be flabby tummy where the baby was.
  • My back will hurt from breastfeeding.
  • I will have hemorrhoids and may experience urinary/fecal incontinence.
  • My circulatory, digestive and metabolism have stalled which is why we are experiencing constipation.

Mama, can you see why I need a little TLC? Please don’t expect too much from me over the next month. I’m very tired. Let’s spent most of our time at home resting and cuddling with our new baby; we’ll have a lot to learn. Our energy levels will come back strong, we will be rejuvenated and be at our best to take care of our baby. We have all the time in the world to do other things. This is a time for us and our new family.”


Valerie Lynn is American’s first Post-pregnancy Wellness Coach, founder of the Post-pregnancy Wellness Company and Designer of The Mommy Wrap; who is introducing an entirely new paradigm regarding “holistic after birth care and healing” in the United States based on Eastern influences. Her book, The Mommy Plan, is gaining global recognition in the child birth industry as she has explained core tenets of traditional after birth guidelines surrounding a mother’s diet, activities and personal care during the first 6-8 weeks after child birth backed by food science, anatomy, and medical science. Valerie is an approved Johnson & Johnson speaker; The Mommy Plan Workshop has been taught to J&J expecting mamas on staff.  She is also the Cultural Advisor to Sacred Pregnancy’s Art of Sacred Postpartum; the International Country Coordinator of Malaysia, for Postpartum Support International (PSI); and is on the Board of Advisors for both the After Birth Project, a documentary-in-the-making on the lack of after birth support in the United States and the social effects as well as the International Maternity Institute Valerie is the first foreigner, in Malaysia to be university trained and certified as a Traditional Postpartum Practitioner in after birth care. She offers training in traditional after birth care, herbal body treatments, massage and abdominal wrapping. PPW is the Sole US distributor of a unique, traditional, Eastern Oriental-inspired Postnatal Care Set that accelerates a mama’s healing from childbirth.

“Doulas as the Heart and Soul of Birth” by Catherine Stewart-Lindley

October 21, 2013

I have been a doula for much of my adult life and am proud to be nearing 2,100 births. Working side by side with mothers, partners and families to usher safe, happy and loved babies into the world is nothing short of a miracle. I am not sure when exactly I decided to be a doula, but birth is something that I have always been close to. Growing up on a farm, I have always marveled at how easily and naturally animals bring their young ones into their world. For me, birth has always seemed like a normal part of life. As women, birth is connected to our biological and spiritual essence. I work with mothers and partners to help them tap into their innate emotional, physical and psychic strength in order to have the kinds of birth that they envision. There is no right or wrong answer, but never has a woman come to me saying that she aspires for a long, complicated, highly- interventive birth experience. When describing the words for their ideal birth, women often use words like “healthy,” “calm,” “in the presence of my loved ones,” and “supported.” While very women has her own ideal birth, I find most women are seeking “simple” – short, uncomplicated, well supported births with minimized interventions.

ImageDoula is a Greek word referring to a woman who is a caregiver. It has come to refer to a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, intellectual and emotional support to the birthing family before, during, and just after childbirth. Having seen all kinds of births- from the most effortless, to those that have been more arduous and trying- I know firsthand the difference that having a doula can make in the lives of mothers and babies. I believe that all women deserve to have this kind of unconditional support before, during, and after their birth. However, the reality of the situation is that most insurance companies to do not cover doula support. As a result, it is often only middle-class and upper-class women who can afford this essential care.

In addition to directly working with women as a doula, my life’s work is about making sure that more women everywhere can access safe and healthy birth options. This is why I am proud to be a Board Member of Choices in Childbirth. I first became involved with Choices in Childbirth in 2007 when I started attending events. Choices in Childbirth not only helps individual women and families navigate the healthcare system to have the birth of their dreams, but they advocate to nurses, doctors, policy makers, legislators and others to make systems more “mother-friendly”.

photo 2Last Thursday, I co-hosted a CiC Chat on “Doulas as the Heart and Soul of Birth.” I invited some of my most beloved current and former clients so that we could share our personal experiences with doula care. Ekuah Ansah-Samuels, an invaluable community leader, long-time mother’s advocate, and Health Education Coordinator for Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, shared her experience running a doula program for low-income women in Harlem. It was moving to hear everybody’s stories, and people were brave to share both the beauty and challenges of their birth experiences. Overall, we left with a clear sense of how having a doula meant so much to the people in the room, and agreed that all women and families should have this option. I wish we had more spaces where we could openly talk about our birth experiences and what makes for strong mothers and strong families.

Choices in Childbirth is currently working with doula and public health organizations across the city to gain Medicaid funding for Doula care. This campaign is so very much needed. A first step to this kind of policy change is getting more mothers, fathers, and families to talk about how doula care impacted them, and how doulas build stronger families and communities. I believe that a social movement begins with each one of us.

The way that we are born matters. All women and families deserve to have support during the birth of their precious baby. Collectively, I’m hopeful that we can help make this a reality. Please join Choices In Childbirth in our pursuit of Doulas for All!

Be a part of this movement and talk to one person today about the difference that having a doula made in your life! If you’d like to be part of the New York Coalition for Doula Care, contact Rae at If you would like to donate to this campaign, go to CiC’s website!

photo 3

Catherine Stewart-Lindley has been a Choices in Childbirth Board Member since 2012 and has been active on our Program Committee since 2009. Catherine has been working with families and assisting births for over twenty years as a labor support doula, childbirth educator, birth photographer and founder of Labor of Love Childbirth Services. Catherine has worked with thousands of families, teaching, preparing and assisting them in during pregnancy, birth and initial breastfeeding. From her extensive knowledge in the field, she also counsels families during and also well beyond the perinatal period. She has been referred to as a “birth whisperer,” “holistic encyclopedia” and “good angel of birth” not just by clients but by other birth practitioners like Family Practitioners, Midwives and OBs. Catherine is a DONA Certified Doula and sits on the board of CEA/MNY (Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York).  She is the mother of a precious daughter and lives in New York City.