Placenta Encapsulation: How to

So you are interested in placenta encapsulation. Maybe your own mother consumed her placenta, maybe you had a friend who recommended it, or maybe one of those Kardashian women inspired you. Whatever the reason: you likely know the benefits to encapsulation and are looking into encapsulating your own placenta. There are lots of options to chose from when having this done and lots of different information out there. This is the method I was taught to follow by an experienced and knowledgeable midwife and through trainings with two highly respectable encapsulation specialist training organizations. However, this simple blog is not a substitute for knowledgeable, professional care that you can get with a local, trained, encapsulation specialist. I highly recommend seeking professional care for your placenta. They will have knowledge far above this tutorial and will have access to tools that you may not. If you can't afford to hire someone or don't have access to this professional service, well, that might be why you are here. I'd like to help you along the way.

Here is what you'll need to start:

1) A sharp knife
2) sponges
3) anti-bacterial soap
4) steamer pot
5) silica gel packs
6) fully submersible grinder
7) stainless steel colander
8) one-time-use bowl
9) paper towels
10) parchment paper
11) bleach
12) saran wrap
13) gloves
14) trash bags
15) spray bottle for 1:10 bleach solution
16) jar for capsules
17) one-time-use cutting board
18) capsules
19) paper plates
20) capsule machine
Not pictured: dehydrator

The first step..
Prepare your work space and tools. You should have an empty space with NOTHING you don't need. Have all dishes and tools put away and be sure to have a trash bag propped open. This process should only be done in an area that can be properly sanitized- this means all areas. Counter tops, cabinets, back-splashes, floors, faucets, etc.. Make a 1:10 bleach solution in the spray bottle and then spray all work surfaces with it. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, watching to make sure it does not dry. Re-spray as necessary. If you are preparing in the TCM method have your pot and steamer basket ready with your lemon, ginger, and chilies already inside. Have your dehydrator ready and set aside with parchment paper cut to size for lining the trays. To begin the actual process put on gloves and rinse the placenta. You'll want to get rid of any blood clots or other messy stuff that might be on it. 

Next you will want to dry the placenta and make the print if you are going to (additional supplies needed for this). After this rinse again and place the placenta inside your steaming basket (TCM method only). Steam the placenta for your preferred amount of time. When the placenta is done steaming always remove it by bringing the pot to your next surface. Allow the placenta to cool. While it is cooling you can wash the strainer, steamer, pot, and lid with the anti-bacteria soap. When the placenta is cool cut it into the thinnest pieces possible. Align the cut pieces on dehydrator trays and begin dehydrating. If your dehydrator has temperature settings you should begin dehydrating at 160 degrees and lower it after 2 hours. You should NEVER attempt dehydrating in an oven; always use the proper equipment or you risk burning the placenta and killing the nutrients/hormones. Your placenta should be fully dehydrated after 12-24 hours. You want to be sure that ALL moisture has been removed from the placenta. Since you cannot over-dehydrate something, err on the side of caution here if you are unsure when it is "done".

Once the placenta is inside the dehydrator you'll start the most important part: CLEAN UP. This can be the most tedious and time consuming part of the process. First wash all tools with the anti-bacterial soap and lay out on a white towel. Spray everything (including the strainer and pot we already washed) with a 1:10 bleach solution. You need to make sure it stays wet for 10 minutes so you might need to re-spray. After 10 minutes re-wash all of the tools with regular dish soap. Repeat the sanitizing process for all work surfaces and take out any garbage.

After the placenta is fully dried (usually the next day) you can begin the final process. First, prepare your work space again. This means making a new bleach solution, clearing all tools and counters, and sanitizing the work space again. I also line all surfaces with saran wrap. Once everything is ready you can remove the jerky-like pieces and place them in your grinder. Grind until you have a semi-fine powder. Now you will be ready to begin encapsulating! You can fill your capsule machine with empty capsules and then fill them with powder. I like to do this process on paper plates to be sure that no powder is wasted. Continue filling capsules until all the powder is used. This part of the process goes quickly and you should finish with anywhere between 50-200 capsules. 

Last step: clean up again. You'll want to wash the capsule machine and grinder with anti-bacterial soap and again soak in the 1:10 bleach solution. The saran wrap that was laid down should be balled up and thrown away and all work surfaces should be sprayed with the bleach solution. Again, they need to stay wet for 10 minutes so you might need to re-spray a few times. At this point your capsules should be placed in the designated jar with a pouch of silica gel.

If you are a birth-pro INTERESTED in purchasing a copy of my Placenta info booklet, please click here.

Now we are finished! Store your capsules in a cool, dark place and always make sure you keep the lid on tight. If you are storing your jar in the fridge don't forget the silica pack. After six months move your capsules to a baggie in the freezer.

Disclaimer: This tutorial is not meant to replace professional encapsulation service. Theresa Rivers is not a pharmacist, pharmaceutical representative, holistic practitioner, herbalist, or medical doctor. Benefits of placenta encapsulation are supported by ongoing research but have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This tutorial written by Theresa Rivers is not clinical, pharmaceutical, or intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Individuals who choose to utilize this tutorial take full responsibility of their own health and for researching and using the remedies. Theresa Rivers makes no guarantee as to capsule efficacy. Always speak to your care provider regarding any questions about placenta encapsulation.


Why I Love Being A Doula On The Palouse

I grew up on the Palouse and can honestly say that I love Moscow and Pullman. Our home is awesome! When I became a doula I realized that the Palouse is even more amazing than I had previously though. Here's why...



Two Universities. I myself am a Vandal fan but both Universities are great for our community. As a doula I am able to work with lots of younger families who are either students or professors at one of the two universities. I also know that both UI and WSU bring a diverse culture to our region. As much as game day traffic sucks, I still love living in a college town.

Amazing hospitals. Both Moscow and Pullman have hospitals that are awesome to have a baby in! I have attended births at Gritman Medical Center and Pullman Regional that were peaceful, natural, respectful, and beautiful. Both hospitals have very nice birthing centers that are accommodating to Mom, Dad, and baby. But there's not just Gritman and PRH. We also have a free standing birth center and a handful of home birth midwives.

Access to resources. The Palouse is so jammed packed full of family resources it amazes me. Whither you are looking for a birth center, a lactation consultantchildbirth education classesprenatal yoga, or just a good mommy group, it's here! 

The food. How can such a remote place have such awesome dining choices? I spend more weekends than not at Mikey Gyros, The Bagel Shop, La Casa Lopez, Breakfast Club, or Birch and Barley. 

The community. I am beyond thankful for the love and support that I have received throughout my doula journey here on the Palouse. I am surrounded by some of the most professional, caring, and compassionate care providers and birth professionals in the world. I am spoiled. 


Interview With September Phillips

     Today is a special day for me. I am so excited and honored to be here today, interviewing an amazing young lady who has defied all odds on her journey to becoming a successful business owner and doula! I'm here with September Phillips, owner of Not Just Nine Birth Services. September is a 20-something year old doula and childbirth educator who began this journey just one year ago. She has zoomed past all expectations and is on her way to setting presidencies for the rest of our profession. I'm so excited to be interviewing her today and talking about what makes her, her!


Hi September. I'm so glad you are with me here today. How are you doing?

I’m doing great! It was a warm and beautiful weekend in Louisville, but the week has been chillier which means I have every reason to hunker down and get some behind the scenes doula work done!

Good time for crappy weather I suppose. Your new blog challenge, the World Doula Week Blog Challenge, has really stirred up a lot of great discussion in the doula world. How did you come up with this idea?

When I was thinking of what I wanted to do for World Doula Week, I thought of releasing a blog every week that gave a little more info about doulas in general or about me as a doula. Then I figured, why not get other people in on the action? Different doulas can have such varied ideas about what a doula is or any of the other prompts. I thought this was a good way to collect everything in one place for people around the world interested in doula support.

That's great; sort-of ingenious of you actually. You are a newer doula, yes? When did you begin your journey into the birth world? Was there something that you say drove you into this profession?

I started my doula journey in 2014, so I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I initially was interested in doula work as a way to earn experience and a living before starting nursing and nurse midwifery school. The more I learned and got involved in the profession, though, the more I saw it as a calling in itself rather than just a stepping stone.

I still want to go to nursing school and become a midwife someday, because I love learning and have an interest in the medical provider side of childbirth and women’s health, but I’m not in any rush. The emotional and physical support and the educational side that comes with being a doula is amazing on its own. I love providing clients with the tools and support that they need to have the birth and postpartum experience that they want.

How would your best friend describe you?

My best friend and I are more like sisters than friends. She’d describe me as the “nice” friend, because I always try to see the best in people. I’m the youngest by at least a few months of my friends (which mattered more when they were turning 18 and 21 before me but less now that we’re past those milestones), so she would likely call me the “baby” of our friend group.

I’m also ridiculously messy in some ways, but insanely organized in others. I am a planner and like to make lists. I did more of my best friend’s wedding planner as her maid of honor than she did (which she was very happy about since she just wanted to show up and marry her fiancé).

She would probably also call me a nerd, because I love learning and know a lot about childbirth and women’s health as well as a lot of random other subjects. I’m really good at trivia, if that’s any indication of that. I have a bad habit of correcting people.  I also have what some would call an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.

Finally, I think she would say that I’m passionate. When I care about something, I care about it fully. I truly care about everyone being treated fairly and having their voice heard. I care about women knowing what’s going on with their bodies and having all the information they need to make informed choices. I care about people and have a tendency to cry easily about things that don’t affect me at all. I’m opinionated and don’t like being wrong, but will grudgingly admit when I am.

(Shot her a text and she thinks all of this is accurate)

 What type of music do you listen to?

Everything. Seriously. Any time I think I don’t like a genre, I hear a song in that genre that I love. I particularly like country, rap, and the punk pop music that reminds me of high school. My current favorites are probably Kendrick Lamar’s new album, Sam Hunt’s song “Take Your Time”, anything bluegrass, and everything by Say Anything and Twenty One Pilots.

Is there any one person who has really influenced you or encouraged you on this journey?

I know a lot of doulas will say this, but Randy Patterson of Northeast Doulas and ProDoula, without a doubt. That woman is full of inspiration. Her passion reminded me that it’s okay to being strong and opinionated even in a caring profession and that part of empowering women is feeling empowered to value my own worth.

What do you think are the biggest struggles modern day doulas face?

I think the biggest issue is the prevalence of the idea that a doula has to be free or cheap or she’s in it “just for the money”. It really sickens me that this classist attitude that you have to be free of the need for income to be a good doula.

This is closely followed by the stereotypes commonly held by doulas, and that a lot of people still don’t even know what a doula is.

If you could give advice to aspiring doulas, what would it be?                                          

Value yourself and treat this like the job and business that this is. Make your business work around what you want in your life, not vice versa. If more experienced doulas encourage you to give your services away for free, that says nothing about your value, but everything about theirs.

If you could give one piece of advice to a newly pregnant woman what would it be?

Remember that you have choices! If you aren’t making them, someone will be making them for you. I know some women just want to get in and out and have their baby in their arms, so they need to make sure that they have a medical and support team that they trust.

A woman more inclined to want to make informed choices should seek out a doula (if she wants one) and unbiased childbirth education classes or material.

What is your favorite part of being a doula?

I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoy the business side of being a doula. I think feeling empowered as a young business owner when most of my peers are still in college, grad school, or just starting careers helps me to feel empowered and confident and to pass that feeling on to my clients.

Using less than 20 words, how would you describe what a doula does?

 Provides emotional, physical, and educational support to growing families in a professional and compassionate way, without bias or an agenda.

September, thank you so much for taking the time today to speak with me. It's obvious to me that you are a devoted doula who has a full career ahead. Thank you for all the work you do for women, families, and birth professionals!

If my readers would like to learn more about September and all that she is doing for families in Louisville, visit her website or check her our on Facebook.


Cashed Out: The Truth About Paying For A Doula

I'm back again, writing in honor of World Doula Week. Today I'm here to answer your questions about doulas and moola. If you're undecided on hiring a doula or if you don't want to pay the big bucks just yet, this post is for you. To read more on all things doula you can come back every day this week and if you're a birth pro wanting to join Not Just Nine's blogging challenge yourself, please do! But for now- let's talk about money baby.


Does Everyone Need A Doula?

Absolutely not! I don't in any way think that every mother should, or wants to, hire a doula. There are reasons that you might not want a doula- if you've chosen unassisted childbirth, if you have a friend acting as a doula, if your birth team already meets hospital policy for guests, or if you can't find a doula who you mesh with. I am not offended that not everyone wants a doula. It is okay; not everyone chooses to hire a realtor when buying a house either. Doulas are here to help guide you through the process of birth and to make it as easy for you as possible (by providing you with emotional, physical, and informational support). But you CAN do it on your own if you chose to. Just as you can buy a home on your own- if you want to fill out all the paperwork, hire inspectors, and whatever else you pay a realtor to do. ;)

Does everyone deserves a doula?

This is a controversial topic worth writing much more about than I will today. It is a hard question to answer. I am passionate about women's health and equality so part of me wants to say "YES! DOULAS FOR EVERYONE!" Except that being a doula is very hard work. If I were to give services away for free to any woman who asked I would be sacrificing a lot and giving away pieces of myself that I need for my family. Would you spend up to 24 hours (or more) away from your family without getting paid? It is hard work.

I do believe that every woman should have access to a doula. I don't think new or experienced doulas should have to work for free but I do think that every family who wants a doula should have access to one. Unfortunately life is unfair and just as I can't buy every child a crib- I can't provide them with a doula. This brings me to my next point..

Is A Doula Is Worth Saving For?

Doulas charge all different amounts depending on experience and location but you can expect to pay between $500-$1,000 for their service. I know, $1,000! It sounds like a lot- a month of rent or mortgage, several months worth of groceries, a designer handbag, I could go on and on... But my job isn't to tell you why you shouldn't buy those things. I'm here to explain why a doula is worth the cash. And I can tell you this: each child is only born once. We cannot "take back" our births or have a re-do. Penny Simkin, a world-renowned doula, conducted a study on the memories of our birth experiences. What she found was that women recalled their births almost exactly the same when their children were in their late teen years as they did when the children were newborns. We never forget our births- what happened, how we felt, and what we thought. You will forget the sacrifices you make to afford a doula, maybe no espressos for a month or no eating out. But you will never forget what that sacrifice got you: a doula who loved and cared for you during the most physically challenging day of your life.

Why Do Doulas Cost So Much?

Your doula plans all vacations 9 months in advance. She is obligated to stay close to home at all times. She misses birthday parties, graduations, and Christmas mornings. Your doula leaves her home not knowing when she'll return. She never lets her gas get on E and has her cell phone with her every second of every day. Your doula passes on glasses of wine at dinner and always goes to bed early in case you call. Your doula spends 12+ hours on her feet and never asks you for anything. She misses meals and sleeps in chairs. She spends hours getting to know you before your birth. She learns all your birth goals and never judges you if your plan changes mid-labor. Your doula misses her children and spouse. She has business expenses such as insurance and she has extensive training and education. Your doula LOVES HER JOB, but she should still works hard for her paycheck.


All About Your Doula

As some of you might know, this week is World Doula Week! (3/22-3/28). Once again I am here to celebrate by participating in Not Just Nine's blogging challenge. I'll be posting a blog each day to celebrate doulas and educate anyone who will listen! Want to join the challenge? It's not too late!

Todays topic is something I don't always love discussing... me! Part of my job as a doula is that I get to know my clients in a very intimate way. I spend hours in their homes, see them naked (Moms anyway), massage and rub them for hours on end, and even cry with them. But it's rare that I discuss my own life with my clients. Today I'm opening up in an attempt to let me clients get to know me better. Thanks for listening!


Who Am I?

I am Theresa. I'm a 20-something Mom and "old lady" who loves to bake, read, and support families. I grew up in and around the Palouse and loved it so much I decided to raise my own family here.  Sometime before the birth of my daughter I realized my desire to peruse birth work and found a DONA doula workshop with Kyndal May of Baby Bump Services, a placenta encapsulation training with Full Circle Placenta, and countless webinars and workshops for the continued education of doula work. In April of this year I will complete a midwifery assistant training with local midwife Vivianne Fisher and shortly after that, another doula training with ProDoula. If you saw a sneak peek at my calendar you might get overwhelmed with the amount of workshops and trainings I can squeeze into a week.

But enough about all that. Let's talk about what really matters. Let us talk about what makes me weird. I'll start off by saying that I love coffee. But not the regular ol' drip coffee. I'll spend $6 on a 20 Dutch Bro's Double T any day; and honestly, my espresso machine was the best money I ever spent. But coffee isn't all; I love food! Baking cooking and eating out are some of my favorite things. Chocolate chip cookies might be my favorite thing in the whole world. But I absolutely can't stand chocolate ice cream. Go figure. I have two cats who are named after a Disney movie; and I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. I love going to the park with my four year old and the pool is one of our favorite places in the summer. Sometimes I sleep until 10 but that's me; I love my sleep. I make my bed every morning, with all 10 pillows that my hubby hates. That's okay though; life is full of compromises. But it's is beautiful; there are days you can easily forget but then my daughter will snuggle up while we watch Master Chef Jr. and she'll say something like "you're my best friend". That's when I know my life is truly amazing.

Thanks for "listening". See you around!

What is a Doula

As some of you might know, this week is World Doula Week! (3/22-3/28). In celebration of the occasion I am participating in Not Just Nine's blogging challenge. I'll be posting a blog each day to celebrate doulas and educate anyone who will listen! Want to join the challenge? It's not too late!

Today's topic is something I answer several times every day. The question is: what is a doula?


A doula is someone who accompanies you at the birth of your child.

A doula is someone who doesn't question your decisions or opinions.

A doula is someone who will hold your hair back as you puke, and then has your waterbottle in hand before you have the chance to ask for it.

A doula is someone who you trust.

A doula is someone who makes you feel safe.

A doula is someone who will get out of bed at any hour of the day to come see you.

A doula is someone who never questions your morals or values.

A doula is someone who never judges a teen mom or 40-something mother.

A doula is someone who provides you with truly unbiased, evidenced-based information.

A doula is someone who cries with you.

A doula is someone who celebrates with you.

A doula is someone who sees inside your bedroom during the wee hours of the morning.

A doula is someone who misses birthday parties and Christmas mornings to be with you.

A doula is someone who never makes you feel guilty or selfish.

A doula is someone who pulls all-nighters and sometimes sleeps in chairs.

A doula is someone who reminds your partner how to do the double hip squeeze without you ever knowing.

A doula is someone who turns the TV off when you are getting close to pushing.

A doula is someone who understands when you yell at your birth team.

A doula is someone who loves her job.

A doula is someone who has family and friends who miss her.

A doula is someone who massages your legs and back for hours and hours straight.

A doula is someone who knows you can do it.

A doula is someone who isn't disappointed when you get pain medication.

A doula is someone who advocates for you.

A doula is someone who knows all about your birth values long before you go into labor.

A doula is someone who cares about you.

A doula is someone who reminds you to eat when you haven't.

A doula is someone who brings you pillows and blankets.

A doula is someone who supports your breastfeeding journey.

A doula is someone who reminds you that your body is made to birth your baby.

 A doula is someone who, above all, listens to you.


Did you have a doula at your birth? How would you describe her?

What It's Like To Be Induced.

Nearly 1/4 of all American babies are born after a medical induction. Reasons for induction span a whole spectrum and include elective and medically necessary circumstances. If you are facing a medical inducted delivery I strongly recommend discussing your options with you care provider. Though there are plenty of ways to augment labor, the most medically common way is through the drug called Pitocin. If you and your doctor decide that Pitocin is the right method for you, this is what your labor might be like...

First, you'll probably wait. Your doctor will call the hospital ahead of time so they can have a room ready for you but this doesn't guarantee a speedy induction and you may still wait to be admitted. Scheduled births are less urgent than spontaneous ones and if there is already a hospital full of laboring mamas you will wait. You could even be sent home, though this is rare. Once you are checked in you might need to wait for the drugs to be delivered/administered. It all depends on how busy the hospital is and how staffed they are.

Next, you'll get an IV. Pitocin is given through an IV line that is usually inserted into the back of your hand. Your nurse will give you a choice of which hand to use. Typically moms prefer their non-dominant hand but also take into consideration which side of the bathroom the tub or shower is on. If you want to spend time in there you'll have to keep that hand out of the water, which can be challenging.

The nurses will hook up fetal monitors. There are a few options for the type of monitoring you can have- including external and internal. Mothers typically prefer external because it can be less invasive. Your nurses and doctor will need to monitor baby continuously to make sure that he is doing well. Fortunately being monitored doesn't necessarily mean that you will be confined to the bed.

Your pain levels might fluctuate. When the Pitocin is first administered your doctor or midwife needs to decide on the correct dose for you. The goal is to mimic natural labor as much as possible: starting out with small, infrequent contractions and moving up to the big rushes that help you push your baby out. But sometimes, when your Pit. drip is first started, you might not feel anything for a long time. Or maybe you will be overwhelmed with contractions at the 7-8 pain scale rating. It can take some time to find a "sweet-spot" in the drip. This can be both uncomfortable and boring; be sure to stay in constant contact with your nurses at this time.

You'll be checked on, a lot. As with any drug Pitocin has possible side effects that your nurses will be watching for. They want to be sure that you and baby are doing well and tolerating the medicine appropriately. This means that they will be in and out often. They also are constantly watching your baby's heartbeat from the nurses station so any time that the monitor or baby moves they will need to come back and re-adjust it.

You might swell. Along with your Pitocin Iv is a bag of water that you'll be receiving. This water is essential for your body but might make you swell in certain places. It's normal but can be uncomfortable.

You probably wont be able to eat. You usually can't eat when you are induced so make sure, if you can, that you nourish your body a lot before you head in!

It might be hard to get comfortable. When you have IVs and heart rate monitors hooked up it can be hard to move around or get comfy. Many hospitals offer mobile units although not all. This doesn't mean you will need to lie in bed as there are many positions that facilitate labor while accommodating for clinical equipment.

It could be really quick! Or really slow. Although induction does allow for a scheduled labor, it doesn't allow for a scheduled delivery. Some women labor for days before the baby is born. Other moms take to Pitocin very well and deliver within just hours.

Eventually you'll have a baby! While it is true that the risk of caesarean section goes up with inductions, many women have successful vaginal births while being induced.


For more information and resources I strongly encourage you to contact a doula in your area.

How To Have A Natural Birth

A doula's guide on what to do before labor to prepare for a natural birth.

To have a natural birth, sometimes you need a little help. I have composed a list of 11 steps to achieving a natural birth.

Find a doctor or midwife who supports a natural birth. Local friends and family members are great resources when trying to find a great care provider. Click here for a list of interview questions.

Research, research, research. Your doctors office might hand you a free copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting but read beyond that. The more informed you are on labor the more prepared you will be. My top three recommended books are The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, Ina May's Guide To Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and Active Birth by Janet Balaskas.

Eat like a nutritionist. Or at least talk to one. Call your doctors office, local university, or hospital to find one.

Buy or borrow a birth ball. Birth balls are really just durable exercise balls. You can visit any sports outlet to find an exercise ball for as little as $10 (but don't forget a pump). For help with sizing visit the bottom of this page. Start using your birth ball as soon as you get your hands on it. Sitting on one during pregnancy allows for a constant adjustment in the mothers hips, back, and pelvis. Rocking side to side while sitting on the ball can help to open the mothers pelvis further (like you would in a very deep squat). During labor many women report relief from pain when using a birth ball in various positions as well.

Get ready to squat. World renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin said, in an interview with Amy Goodman, "squat 300 times a day, you’re going to give birth quickly". When you squat the bones in your pelvis actually move and open. In fact a deep squat can open the pelvis by up to 30%. Squatting works the muscles we use to push a baby out similar to what a kegel would do, only more so. Additionally, squatting during pregnancy will help you build the necessary muscles to squat for long periods of time (like during labor) which can make a difference in avoiding an episiotomy, forceps, vacuum, or caesarean delivery. 

Do a hospital tour. Meet the nurses (head nurse if possible) and ask them questions! Are there separate delivering and recovery rooms? Are there any private rooms? Rooms with perks? Will baby be assessed in the same room as me? Is there a tub? How many people are allowed in the birthing room with me? What are the visiting hours? Can I bring outside food in my room? Are there lactation consultants available after I deliver? Do you have birth balls? What about squat bars (see above)? Because these visits are known to take some time, call ahead to schedule this tour.

Get a supportive team. This means talking to your husband or partner about what your wishes are. It can be very difficult for dads to see their lovers in pain and sometimes they don't understand Mom's desire to forgo pain medication. Talk with him (and anyone else who will be in the room) ahead of time about what you need from him and why. Additionally, don't expect him to do it all:

Hire a doula! Doulas can be supportive in many ways! For more on why you should hire a doula for your birth, click here.

Create a birth plan. Create a plan that outlines your wishes but is flexible and "read-able" for a busy L&D nurse. Make a few copies of it; go over it with your doctor or midwife ahead of time and take it with you to the hospital to give to the nurses. In my experience, when wanting a natural birth, the most important thing to include in your birth plan is this: "please DO NOT recommend or suggest pain medication to Mom OR Dad at any time during labor".

Learn different pain coping techniques and practice them. A great way to do this is by taking a childbirth education class. If you can't find one that suits your needs talk to your doula about different techniques for pain management and how to practice them.

Believe in yourself. Yes, you CAN go into labor on your own. And you can progress naturally. You can rise above the pain and your body can do this!


Ball Sizing by height:

Under 5'2":  53cm
5'2" - 5'7":    65cm
Over 5'7":    75cm

Statistics from "Birth Balls: Use of Physical Therapy Balls In Maternity Care" by Oaulina G. Perez, R.N.

15 Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Midwife Before You Hire Them


I recently saw a blog post titled "5 million questions to ask your OB or midwife". Okay, not really 5 million but it was a huge number of questions. Some people might be thinking "sure, that sounds great". But it is not possible or even necessary for everyone to ask their doctor two hours worth of questions. So I decided to make a list of, in my opinion, the real honest to goodness important things to ask a midwife or OB before you "hire" them. Let's get started, shall we?

15) "What is your philosophy regarding pregnancy and birth and your role in it?"

14) "What is your hospital transfer rate?" (for midwifes or out-of-hospital OBs).

13) "How often do you perform amniotomies (breaking the bag of water)?  Why do you do them?"

12) "Do you routinely use an IV or hep-lock during labor?"

11) "Are you comfortable with your patients delivering past 40 weeks? What about past 42 weeks?"

10) "Are you comfortable with moms pushing in positions other than lying on her back or semi-sitting?"

9) "Do you work with doulas? Can you recommend any for me?"

8) "Are you comfortable with me declining infant bathing, vitamin K, heel poke, eye ointment, or vaccinations?"

7) "What is your induction rate? Do you support induction methods other than Pitocin (such as a nipple stimulation, blue cohosh, evening primose oil, foley catheter, sweeping the membranes, etc...)?"

6) "How long can your patients labor without induction? What about if their water has already broken?"

5) "Do you have any concerns about big babies being birthed naturally?"

4) "What type of monitoring do you do during labor? How often? For how long?"

3) "Is water birth available? Would I be able to push in the tub at all?"

2) "What percentage of your deliveries include episiotomies, forceps, vacuum assistance, or end in C-sections?"

1) "Do you support ______ births?" Okay, here's the catch: you fill in the blank with whatever type of birth you want. For example: "do you support un-medicated births?" Or "do you support water births" or "do you support delayed cord clamping?" You get the idea. This can, of course, be more than question but it is important to include whatever type of birth you desire.

The Right Answers

Here's the deal people: there are no right answers. Not for everyone anyway. The right answers are the ones that you are looking for. There is no one right way to birth, but there is a right way for you. Find a care provider that supports you and your wishes.



10 Terrible Reasons Not To Hire A Doula

Here they are in all their over-sharing glory. Real reasons parents might not  want to hire a doula.

1) "I already have a midwife, I don't need a doula."


While doulas and midwives may have similar approaches to labor and delivery, their roles are very different. Your midwife's goal and main focus is the health and safety of you and your baby. An excellent midwife may certainly have some of the same skills in her toolbox that a doula does, but often times she is too busy to use them. Her job is very important and requires all of her attention. Your midwife will be paying attention to many things at once, all centered around the health and safety of you and your baby. Most midwives cannot provide the care that a doula can- rubbing your back, holding ice packs for you, bringing you food, etc.. Additionally, a midwife may not arrive until you are well into your labor. A doula can arrive at any point in labor, even before you begin to dilate. Doulas provide a continuity of care for you throughout your pregnancy. She provides support in many ways even long before labor begins.

2) "I've done this before; I don't need one this time."

Sometimes moms may feel they understand birth after being through it once and assume that a birth team isn’t as necessary for subsequent pregnancies. Every birth has its own flow and personality though, as well as challenges or complications. It is my belief that you can never have too much support, and every woman deserves the care of a loving, educated doula.

3) "A doula will try to talk me out of drugs or judge me for getting any."

It is possible that your aunt's friend's mom's cousin had a doula who made her feel guilty for receiving pain meds. This is extremely unfortunate and frustrating for any doula to hear. As a doula, I support women with all types of labors. My personal goal is to provide care that is nonjudgmental and supportive of your needs and desires, whatever they may be. Sometimes this might mean reading your personal labor goals and mantras to you during labor and reminding you what your pre-determined values are. Other times this might mean holding your hand while you get an epidural the moment we step in the door to the hospital. I have absolutely no opinions about what your labor should look like, other than a happy mom and family. Which brings me to another common thought...

4) "I'm getting an epidural so there's nothing for a doula to do."

It is a common misconception that there is no support left to be done when a woman uses an epidural for pain relief. Doulas can be very helpful for women who receive pain relief! Doulas can help maintain a calm, quiet, atmosphere in the birth room allowing mom to relax and even sleep. She can recommend positions to speed up labor since epidurals often times slow down progress and she can provide tools to help this (such as a peanut ball). Women who have epidurals often times have little to no feeling, which can be hindering for the pushing stage of labor; a doula can offer encouragement to mom in pushing. The doula might offer ideas to help mom push more effectively such as holding a mirror so mom can see her progress.

5) "I'm having a planned C-section so I don't need a doula."

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It is a common misconception that you do not need a doula for a cesarean birth. A doula can be a great help for all types of births. If you are having a planned C-section your doula will help you be as informed as possible about the surgery and the post-partum recovery. She can help you prepare by helping you write a birth plan especially designed for a cesarean. She can also answer questions or suggest ones to ask your caregiver about. Inside the operating room a doula will assist you by giving details of whatever you may wish to know. Once the baby is born a doula can stay with you during the long repair portion of the surgery which allows your partner to go with baby if he/she is taken to the warmer or nursery. A doula's presence can be very comforting at this time.

6) "My mom/sister/best friend is my doula."

I fully believe that having a trusting partner (who isn't your spouse) at your birth can be very helpful! For some women, it is even completely necessary. But your loved one is not your doula. Your doula has specialized training in birth and labor beyond what you may receive at a labor or birthing class. Additionally, your loved ones cannot be your doula simply because they love you; they cannot provide the same objective care that a doula can. A doula will ideally establish a strong, loving relationship with you but she will not be in love with you. Your doula will be able to see your pain as the normal process of labor, whereas your loved ones may not. Furthermore, a doula is there to serve you and your birth team. Many labors last between 24-48 hours- a long time for one or two people to take care of you. A doula can join your birth team to create a unified support system.

7) "Doulas don't come to hospital births."

Doulas help women birthing in all types of settings! The majority of my clients birth in hospital; I am very comfortable and confident providing support there. Doulas do not interfere with the medical team and are still there to support you and your family.

8) "A doula will take over the role of my husband."

The most important thing a woman needs during labor is continuous support. This means that you have someone by your side from start to finish. For very long or hard labors it is not realistic to expect one person to provide this continuous support. This is where doulas come in; when your husband is tired a doula can take his place for a bit while he naps. If he is hungry a doula can bring him food so he wont need to step away from you. If either of you need water or pillows or blankets a doula is there to help. Doulas help mom and dad. The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partners in labor, but to compliment and enhance their experience. A doula can help remind Dad of pain coping techniques or other types of support. This takes a lot of pressure off of Dad. Dads and doulas work together! I encourage all expecting parents, including dads, to read about the doulas role and what it is like to have one at your birth.

9) "We’re taking a really good childbirth education class so we don't need a doula."

I usually recommend a childbirth education class to clients and think they can be a great help! But they don't take the place of a doula. Sometimes, in the midst of labor, it is easy to forget the things you learned in class. This is especially true for Dad who has a lot of responsibilities and worries at the time. A doula can help remind you of the things you learned in class and provide a small refresher if necessary.

10) "A doula will be overly peppy and annoying the whole time."

This a very serious concern with many families. The role of a doula is to provide support in whatever way you desire. Doulas have specialized training to know what to expect in childbirth. We have seen all types of labors. Some women enjoy active, vocal company while other moms prefer a quiet, serene room. Before your birth your doula will discuss what type of birth you think you will want and during the actual birth she will read social cues to know what kind of support you need. Doulas have been called "birthing cheerleaders" but I think the term is a bit vague seeing that cheerleaders don't physically help the players. I promise doulas are more helpful and less peppy than most cheerleaders, unless that is the support you need. ;)