Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stay up-to-date on birth news…”Like” Three Rivers Birth on Facebook!

Even when I’m not posting a lot of news here on my blog (I go in spurts), I’m *always* adding stuff on my Facebook page.  If you have a Facebook page, “like” Three Rivers Birth.  I hope it helps keep you up-to-date on birth-related and business-related news and events.  And you might even hear a little about my life as a doula and a childbirth educator!  Whether or not we’ve met in person, you’re invited.!/pages/Richland-WA/Three-Rivers-Birth-Doula-and-Childbirth-Education/148805665140356?ref=ts

A thank-you in poetry

Yesterday I visited with a postpartum client of mine and got to hold her sweet baby.  She gave me the most lovely surprise and read me a poem she wrote as a thank-you for my presence at her birth. Her beautiful words certainly drew up tears in my eyes.   I can’t wait to share my written birth story with her in return, as she has given me so much, too! A client/doula relationship is such a special one – it really does run deep both ways and giving and receiving flows in both directions.  I think this poem really speaks to what a doula does and why it is important.  She has given me permission to share.

An early surprise…anxious moments…
Questions with no answers…
You came…
You sat…
You stayed…
Diving questions…
Truth digging…
Revealing rocks…
Blocking rocks…
Anxious rocks…
Put them down, you guide…
Stack them beautifully for later…
Not now…not now…
Now is a time for great work…
Body work…heart work…spirit work…
Allow the coming…the opening…

They came…
First waves…quiet beginnings…
Then storms…chaotic…powerful…
You steadied me…a great oak tree bracing me against the wind
The rain fell…you sheltered me…
The thunder clapped within me…you absorbed the sound…
White lightning shot through me…you pulled it down your great roots…
I howled, growled, grunted, groaned…you listened unwavering…
Steady…permanent…a foundation…
Standing on your quiet base I got there…
Push…push to the edge…push life…
He came from eme…
Toward you…toward this world…

A bird arose from my womb that night…
Beneath a sacred tree…you!

Announcing a professional Mentor/Apprentice relationship

I am excited to announce that I have entered into a professional mentor/apprentice relationship with new doula, Melissa Reid, of In Bloom Birth Support.  What we’ve worked out is that when she is hired, I will mentor her via email, phone and in-person support through the prenatal and postpartum times for her client.  Depending on my availability in the moment, I will also attend the birth (if this is a part of the family’s wishes).  She will be the lead doula and I’ll be hanging back to help or problem-solve as needed.  This way, her clients will benefit from TWO doulas at a birth putting their heads togther.  So if my calendar shows that I am not available for your birthing time, know that this is another way to (probably) have me attend your birth.  Here is Melissa’s bio:

Name: Melissa Reid
Services Offered: birth doula services
Business Name: In Bloom Birth Support
Phone Number: (509) 539-0058
Email: inbloombirth *at* gmail *dot* com
Paragraph Bio: Melissa is currently pursuing certification with DONA International and is excited to train at the Seattle Midwifery School in September. She is currently accepting clients with due dates beginning in October.  She is offering her services at a discount while she is in the certification process.
Personal Philosophy: Melissa believes that pregnancy is a time to dream, hope, and prepare.  And it is her experience that things don’t always go as hoped for in the delivery room.  Having a doula at your birth can help to facilitate the desired outcome and provide a continuity and support that families may not have otherwise.
Favorite Quote:  “We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful.  It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
Favorite Books:
The Birth Partner
by Penny Simkin
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
by Ina May Gaskin
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

Alternatively, there are loads of great newer and experienced doulas here in the Tri-Cities – you can rest assured that you can find someone to fit every personality, philosophy and budget.  Contact me for more information!  And if you are interested in hiring me in helping mentor YOUR career path in as a doula, get ahold of me – and let’s talk!

7 out of 10 pregnant women not getting enough Vitamin D

A recent study is showing that as much as 7 out of 10 pregnant women in the US are low on levels of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is important to bone health and development in both mother and fetus.  Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a weakening of bones, and early in life has been linked to increased risk of respiratory infections and childhood wheezing. Lower levels in adults have been linked to cardiovascular disease and specific types of cancer.

Natural Vitamin D development comes most easily from the sun, though it is also added to several foods and in vitamin supplements.

The easiest way to increase your Vitamin D intake is to spend more time in the sun, exposing some skin to the sun’s rays.  Depending on climate and skin color, we only need to be in the sun about 30 minutes, twice a week.  In the United States, with our indoors culture, this little amount is not being met by most pregnant women.  It is controversial how much sunscreen blocks Vitamin D production.

And while you are in the sun, it is a great opportunity to be active – perhaps go for a walk or bike ride on one of our many city paths or a hike up Badger Mountain, or even try a little prenatal outdoor yoga.

“Gas and Air” — a gentler approach to pharmacological pain management in labor

My first introduction to nitrous oxide and oxygen — or “gas and air” — as an option for pain management in labor was reading about an American woman giving birth in the UK a few years ago.  She was surprised and happy that with this birth, she felt more in control of her labor experience, was able to move around, yet still had some pharmacological help with the pain of birth.  She still had pain, but she was able to get through it without an epidural – something she had felt impossible with the birth of her first child.

Gas and air is used often in many countries.  In the United States, gas and air has not become a standard of care for pain management for birth.  In fact, only two hospitals in the country use it for birth- one being the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.  Yet recently, the American College of Nurse-Midwives is pushing for its more widespread use.

Consider the benefits of nitrous oxide pain management:

- It starts working very quickly, and can be started and stopped easily on a mother’s own will (by putting the gas mask to her face or taking it off).  She is in control of her own experience.

- It doesn’t slow labor as epidurals do.  It doesn’t increase risk of foreceps/vacuum extraction.

- It doesn’t require more monitoring and other interventions as epidurals do (blood pressure cuff, pulse, IV fluids, bladder catheter, more intensive monitoring, etc.)

- You can still move around to other positions for labor and pushing, and can still feel the urge to push.

You should know that it does make a mom a little light-headed, and like any drug, some of it does go to the baby, passing through it’s liver for processing, which can take a few days.  Read more about the nitrous oxide for birth here, then write your hospital/care provider and ask them to look into approving this method of pain management for birth.  Historically, it has been consumers who have changed the maternity care system in this country!

Exercise beneficial all the way to end of pregnancy

Sounds like our mothers and grandmothers were mistaken when they told us to take it easy during pregnancy: a new study shows that both mother and baby are not harmed when mom keeps exercising through to the end of pregnancy.  What’s more – there may be some benefit:

“Sedentary mothers of higher pre-gestational weight gave birth to heavier newborns. This relationship, however, was not observed in the group of women who exercised during pregnancy”, the researcher concludes. According to experts, babies with excessive weight (more than 4 kg) are more at risk of developing diabetes and certain types of cancer as adults, in addition to complications that may occur at birth.

Disclaimer: this may not be true for all mothers who may have different heath needs dependent on their unique condition.  Please check with your midwife or doctor before changing starting any exercise program.

Start avoiding gestational diabetes pre-pregnancy, research says

Researchers have found for the first time that drinking more than 5 servings of sugar-sweetened cola a week prior to pregnancy appears to significantly elevate the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

Link to study

What this tells me is good news for those of you not yet pregnant: you may have the opportunity, right now, to significantly lower your chances of gestational diabetes by watching what you eat, especially being careful to watch your intake of added sugars. Why care if you get gestational diabetes while you are pregnant? Women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of bigger babies, induction of labor, cesarean birth and premature birth. More than that, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you double your chances of developing regular diabetes later.  There is a statistical correlation that shows that your baby may also grow to develop diabetes or obesity later in life.

Of course, sugar intake isn’t the only thing to blame for GD, but it is one small way to try and lower our chances of disease in pregnancy.  And lowering our sugar intake is good for all kids of health reasons – for pregnancy and beyond!

Dads and Doulas

Check out this great article from, written by a dad who was not as excited as her wife was about their hiring a doula…and did a 180 degree turn from that opinion after the birth.

Although I won’t let a couple hire me unless BOTH of them agree and want me there, often even if the guy was a bit skeptical, he’s got even bigger “thank you’s” than the mother does after the birth of their child!

Breast pump induction

It happens to a lot of my clients; we’re nearing to the point where their provider wants to induce labor and the mom is desperate to get labor started more naturally.  When talking to the provider on putting it off doesn’t work (this is STILL an induction and has risks), this may be another way.  As with anything, please check with your provider before you attempt a method of induction.

Here are suggested guidelines on using a breast pump to induce labor.  Studies show it is as effective as Pitocin for starting labor in 3 days.

  • Turn on the pump, and see if the flange that rests against your nipple fits, or if it pinches.  If it pinches, get a larger flange.
  • Pump until you feel a contraction, then turn off the pump.  After 5 minutes, turn it on again until you feel a contraction, to mimic labor.  After a few minutes if your body is tolerating one side, you can try to bump it up to “level two” by pumping both sides simultaneously (if you have that kind of pump).
  • Repeat for an hour.
  • Do this three times a day for 3 days.
  • If contractions are longer than 90 seconds each, stop pumping all together.

For safety, it must be advised that the mother bring her pump to a midwife or physician’s office the first time she tries this, while the provider listens to the baby’s heartbeat.  This is because there is low risk that the baby won’t tolerate these contractions well, as any form of induction usually produces stronger, longer and more sudden contractions than labor that starts on its own, and this is still a form of induction.  The breast pump is generally milder and safer than Pitocin, but it is always best to check the heartbeat and the baby’s response to induction before going home.  For the same reason, if a contraction occurs spontaneously between the 5 minute intervals with the breast pump, wait a full five minutes from that spontaneous contraction before using the pump again.

Partial list of references:

New hospital room design takes focus off the labor bed and on movement and comfort

Most of us doulas help women understand that moving around during labor, as opposed to curling up in a bed, helps labor progress quicker (on the average, 1 hour shorter, according to research) and with better results for baby’s positioning during birth.  However, current hospital rooms have the bed as a focal point as a comfortable place, and while a woman is in pain, it can be awfully enticing just to climb in between the sheets and curl into the fetal position (pun intended!).

But what if hospital rooms for birth looked completely different?  A pilot study at a Canadian hospital ran with this idea and came up with a pilot study called PLACE (Pregnant and Laboring in an Ambient Clinical Environment).  The way the study worked was like this:

Half of the mothers in labor labored in an ambient room, where a portable, double-sized matress with several comfortable pillows was put in the corner of the room in place of the hospital bed.  Fluorescent lighting was dimmed, and DVDs of ocean beaches, waterfalls and other soothing vistas were projected onto a wall.  A wide variety of music was also made available.  The result:

The other half of study participants gave birth in a typical labor room.

“The removal of the standard hospital bed sent a message that this was not the only place a woman could labour,” says Ellen Hodnett, RN, PhD, Researcher at the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto Hodnett. “The intent was to allow the women the ability to move about freely during their labour, to permit close contact with their support people, and to promote feelings of calm and confidence,” says Hodnett.

Reaction to the ambient room was overwhelmingly positive.  Perhaps more importantly were the other findings of the study.  Women who birthed in the ambient room:

  • more than 65% of the women in the ambient room, compared to 13% in the standard room, reported they spent less than half their hospital labor in the bed
  • women in the ambient room benefited from a 28% drop in infusions of artificial oxytocin (Pitocin), a powerful (and painful) drug used to advance slow labors
  • women in the ambient room reported they received greater one-on-one attention and support from their nurses

I also wonder: did the women in the ambient room have less requests for pain medication?  Less cesarean births?  Were their labors shorter?  Did they have happier birth experiences?  Less postpartum depression?  Better breastfeeding success?

At any rate, the room’s design sure beats the alternative:

“This study raises questions about the assumptions underlying the design of the typical hospital labor room,” says Hodnett. “The birth environment seems to affect the behavior of everyone in it – the laboring women as well as those who provide care for her.

Hodnett hopes to further this study with a larger, randomized controlled trial.

View Dr. Hodnett’s study here:

Read her bio here: