As a mom of four children, I’ve breastfed for a combined total of 5 years and 9 months over the last 11+ years of motherhood. I’ve learned that there are as many breastfeeding experiences as there are shapes and sizes of breasts, and that, unfortunately, many women experience a lack of breastfeeding support. Many women don’t know anyone who breastfeeds, don’t know where to access good information about breastfeeding, and don’t know where to seek help when things become hard. This was my experience when my first child was born 11 ½ years ago. Though she grew and gained weight well, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding at all. It was excruciating those first 3 weeks and I wanted to give up every single day. My husband encouraged me to keep trying and after a couple months we got into a good rhythm and things were less painful. But throughout that time I didn’t have the support I needed. I felt alone in my breastfeeding journey, and I think that contributed to the intense postpartum depression I suffered from.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned that breastfeeding is never supposed to be painful and that there are a wide variety of resources and support out there for breastfeeding women. While studying to become a doula and eventually a childbirth educator (initially through a different organization) I read countless books about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and babies. I read books like “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” and “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” and while they were super helpful, leading to better breastfeeding experiences with my subsequent children, it wasn’t until this year that I found my favorite breastfeeding book ever, Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.
There are two main reasons why this book is my favorite breastfeeding book:
The book is thorough, but easy to understand.
Breastfeeding Made Simple covers everything you could want to know, and though that can often be overwhelming for some people, the information is broken up into small segments with titles and subtitles making it much easier to internalize and retain. That same information is then quickly summarized at the end of each chapter, and then consistently referred to throughout the text to help you make important connections while you read. There are lots of helpful pictures and diagrams so that even if you don’t have access to an in person lactation consultant, you have great information to refer back to. I really appreciated this format because it gave me time to pause between ideas and think about my own breastfeeding experiences and the experiences of other women I know. (It also made it easier to read with my kids around interrupting me every 3-5 minutes!)
The reference section is extensive, showing the great lengths the authors went to to provide the most recent, evidence-based information to their readers which is something I greatly value, and the index is incredibly detailed making this book easy to use as a reference guide. So often in books of this nature, it can feel like “word vomit” and you’re left searching page after page looking for that one piece of information you only half remember but felt was really important. You never have to do that with this book! The authors explain concepts simply, but with all the information you need to help you in your breastfeeding journey.
Though detailed, the book is incredibly relatable!
As I mentioned before I’ve read plenty of books about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and babies, and many of them are hard for me to read because they’re either too clinical or too casual. Breastfeeding Made Simple marries the clinical and the casual perfectly! It’s a book I could read over and over again as a refresher and still be as engaged as the first time I read it. At least once a chapter my family could hear me vocalize things like, “That makes SO much sense!” or, “I wish someone would have explained it like that to me when I was breastfeeding!” while I was reading.
Some of the things that seemed so difficult to understand or explain to others were broken down and explained simply, but powerfully, in such a way that it stuck in my mind. For example, they describe the way to latch a baby the same way that you bite a sandwich that is just a little too big for your mouth. You start by opening your mouth wide, setting the sandwich on your bottom teeth, and then rolling the top of the sandwich into your mouth to get a good bite. Getting as much of the breast in baby’s mouth as possible is done the same way. Such a simple analogy, and something most everybody can relate to!
As both a mother and a birth worker, I can emphatically say that Breastfeeding Made Simple is one of the best breastfeeding books out there! This is one of those books that I would buy a case of and gift to couples at every baby shower I’m invited to because it’s that good. Just about every question a breastfeeding mom could have is answered in this book from the history and culture of breastfeeding, to the clinical and emotional aspects of breastfeeding and everything in between. This book is a must-read for every expectant couple and every couple who plans to breastfeed their baby.
I would like to take a quick moment to say thank you. Thank you 2020, you have completely and totally turned our world upside down. Without you I would have never had the wonderful experience of hand sanitizer stinging my chapped and over washed hands. I would not know the joy and relief of grabbing the last 4 pack of toilet paper off the Walmart shelf. I have always wondered what it was like for the family in the Shining trapped together for months on end in the Overlook Hotel, slowly and steadily going insane. But now because of you 2020 I no longer have to wonder, I know.
Chances are if you're pregnant and reading this you might be thinking something along the lines of “you think you got problems lady? Try being pregnant during this. Try juggling the normal anxieties that come with growing life inside you and ever changing hospital policies. Try losing your deposit on a birth photographer because you can now only have one person at your birth. Try explaining that new policy to your mom or your sister. Your biggest problem is the lack of toilet paper? I wish that was the only thing I was worrying about.”
Yep, 2020 has made a lot of things harder for a lot of people, especially if you're pregnant. Most hospitals in the United States now only allow the laboring person 1 visitor during labor. Most of the time that person can’t leave and can’t show any signs of being ill including cough or fever. With stricter than ever hospital policies and anxiety at a new high, some of you might be wondering what support options are out there. Some of you might have even heard something about “virtual doulas”. But what is a virtual doula and how does something like that even work? Well never fear! Kayte is here to help break it down for you!
What is a virtual doula?
A virtual doula is a doula who is available to you over the phone or a video call but not physically in the room with you during your birth. And virtual doulas aren’t a new thing! They have always been an option for people who might not have a doula available in their geographic area or might not be able to afford a traditional doula service.
What is the point of a doula who is not in the room with me?
Most people think the bulk of a doulas job happens in the room during the birth. They have this picture in their head of a long haired hippy lady rubbing another womans back as she give birth in a kiddie pool in the back yard as someone else plays the recorder...and I’m not going to tell you that that hasn’t happened to someone...but it certainly hasn’t happened to me. The truth is most of my work as a doula is about being a resource of information for couples. I talk to people about hospital policies. I help sort through feelings and anxieties. I talk couples through emergency inductions. I explain what they might expect during a c-section. I remind people of their rights during birth, and I help make space for them to make a decision for themselves. Of course it helps being in the room! Of course I think a woman has a right to have the labor support that she wants during birth and a doula can be a valuable part of that team! But the part of my job that I just described is very important and can be done over the phone.
So what should I expect when I hire a virtual doula?
Every doula is different. Even here in our little collective our packages will vary from doula to doula. However, I feel like the package I offer for my virtual services is pretty standard so for the sake of simplicity we’ll use mine as an example. My virtual package starts with the doula interview. This is normally a phone or video call that only last about 30 minutes or so. After I’m hired I’m available for questions or quick conversations via phone or text throughout the whole pregnancy. I also do two birth plan visits normally over video chat. During the visits I try to answer some of your questions in a more in depth way. We also go over your birth plan and a variety of comfort measures that you and your support person can physically use at your birth can. We also have a variety of online childbirth classes that you can take to build your "tool box" for your birth. You will receive a copy of our amazing client workbook, Supporting Arms, that you and your partner can utilize as well. I go on call at 37 weeks. What this normally means is at 37 weeks you can call me at any time or day or night and tell me it's time to get to the birth location and I will get in my car and go. What “going on call” means when you are a virtual doula is that you can call me anytime day or night to help talk you through labor, talk about options during birth, help you decide if it's time to go to the hospital or not, etc. You can call me once and I will stay on the phone with you for the whole labor OR you can call me and talk to me for a few minutes, hang up, and call me again 15 minutes later. I am happy to come labor with you at your home if you'd like and then offer support by phone when you decide you are ready to head to you birth location. After pregnancy I do one postpartum visit over the phone to talk about the birth, how you’ve been feeling and any other questions you might have.
The world looks a little different right now. We’ve all had to make changes and adjust our expectations, but support and education are still available to you! Feel free to contact any of our doulas about offering virtual support for you at your birth and while you’re at it, talk to our instructors about our amazing virtual classes! Just because the world is different doesn’t mean that we are alone and just because we can’t physically be there to hold your hand that doesn’t mean we won’t be there to support you in any way we can.
Hi, I’m Caryn Allen, one of your Utah Birth Boot Camp Instructors. I was born and raised in the Saint Louis, Missouri area but have called Utah my home for the last seven years. I am the youngest of six children, having five older brothers, five beautiful sisters-in-law, and sixteen nieces and nephews. My husband and I met when he came to Missouri to do summer sales, and what started out as a summer romance turned into 12 years of marriage, 5 moves in 3 states, 4 children, 1 dog, and loads of fun. I have been teaching piano lessons off and on for eleven years, and consistently for the last six years. I enjoy sewing, crocheting, movie watching, board and card games, Dungeons and Dragons, and a good camping trip.
My journey to birth work started just after our first child was born over 11 years ago. We went into that birth without any experience or education, and my only wish was to avoid an epidural. My mother had my five brothers naturally either in the hospital or birth center, and decided to try an epidural when I was born. She recounted the experience as being cold, sterile, and disconnected, feeling like she wasn’t really a participant in the experience. I decided I didn’t want that, but that was the only choice I had made about my birth beforehand. I didn’t know I had options, and as such, I was pressured into things I likely wouldn’t have accepted with full informed consent. After our daughter was born, I was relieved it was over but also felt dissatisfied with the experience. I’m not sure where the idea came from that birth should be a satisfying experience, but I knew I wanted things to be different next time.
I started soaking up everything I could get my hands on--books, blogs, news articles, and movies--to try and figure out how to make my birth experience better. As I was learning so many things, I decided I wanted to become a doula to help other women have great birth experiences. I became pregnant with our second child and completed my doula certification through another organization before she was born. Her birth was notably different. We made sure to have a good birth team there with us, including my skilled mother-in-law and a good friend of mine (Hollie, now another BBCI) who had also just completed her doula training. That alone, having a good birth team, made a world of difference. They saw to my every need before I knew I even needed it so that I could just focus on being in the labor zone. I had zero interventions. Just me, my baby, and my birth team. After she was born I knew I could conquer anything! I felt on top of the world! I knew then, that I wanted to become a childbirth educator and help expecting parents know their options.
Not long after her birth I trained as an educator with another organization and taught one round of classes before I became pregnant again. Unfortunately that pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage, and I decided that the on-call life and the demand of teaching was too much for me during that phase of my life. I decided to take a hiatus from birth work until we were done having children. Within six months I was pregnant again with our third child and I knew from the beginning that this birth was going to be different. I just wasn’t prepared for how different it really was going to be.
We had planned to have this baby in the hospital again, mostly for financial reasons, though I was really hoping to have a home birth at some point. As the weeks wore on, I kept getting this feeling that birthing in the hospital was not the right choice for this baby. We took steps to interview a few local home birth midwives, and I loved all of them. We received a final recommendation from my husband’s aunt and uncle, and after meeting with her I knew she was the right choice for us. As soon as we officially switched to her care that feeling changed from one of anxiety to one of peace. We excitedly started preparing for our first home birth.
I practiced meditating in all sorts of ways almost every single night before bed, and it got to the point that all it took was to hear the first song on my labor playlist and I was immediately in the zone. I went to my 40 week appointment (on my due date) and we discovered that our little guy had turned not only breech, but footling breech. My midwife tired moxibustion which made him wiggle around a lot, but he stayed breech. She sent me home with her slant board and a list of exercises to do to encourage him to turn head down, and I was prepared to call the chiropractor first thing in the morning. I knew this was the reason we were supposed to birth at home and not in a hospital.
However, I went into labor that night. To make a long story short, our son was born at home in a pool in our bedroom, footling breech, and delivered by my husband because labor happened so quickly that by the time we decided to call the midwife, it was too late. She arrived merely 1-2 minutes after he was born. (While I don’t recommend having an unassisted breech baby at home, I will say that all the things we had learned and practiced leading up to this moment really helped us stay calm and be in control of the situation. My husband is incredibly intuitive and after describing to my midwife how he helped deliver the baby, she said he’d done everything right.) It was a whirlwind of events, but we knew everything was going to be okay. We look back on that experience both with utter shock and also true amazement.
We had one more son born 3 years later, also at home. This birth was unlike any of the others in that I only ever felt the contractions in my cervix. Not in the back or belly, just in the cervix. To add insult to injury, when my contractions started they were already a minute and a half to two minutes long. It was, by far, the hardest labor I’ve experienced because none of my usual comfort measures were working. The birth pool felt nice, but didn’t help me relax. Counter pressure didn’t do anything for me because those areas weren’t hurting. I found a little bit of relief sitting on the toilet, but that, too, was short-lived. I really questioned whether I was capable of finishing this labor out because it was so hard and fast from the very beginning. With the encouragement of two midwives, my husband, my doula (Hollie again!), and our then-8 year old daughter, I mustered every ounce of courage and energy I had to finally birth my largest baby at 9 pounds 4 ounces. I’m not sure why this labor was so hard, but it left me feeling like I never wanted to do that again! There is some disappointment there because I really wish my last birth experience had been memorable for more positive reasons, but I have come to terms with it and am enjoying this next phase of life (except potty training, I’m not enjoying that right now at all!).
Now that we’re through having our own children and the youngest is nearing his third birthday, I’m excited to take the leap back into birth work again. I passionately believe that knowledge is power, and with that power comes the potential for truly wonderful birthing experiences! Teaching has always been a passion of mine (my earliest memory of wanting to be a teacher was in fifth grade!), and I’m excited to be teaching such a beautifully professional and comprehensive curriculum!
We know, we know! World Doula week was last week. But we figured doulas are so awesome why not do just one more video? Listen to the lovely Sarah talk about the need and the benefits of having a doula.
so what is a doula?
Some people are confused about what a doula actually is and how they can help during pregnancy and birth. Listen to Kayleigh set the recored straight.
this is Why doulas are important
Ever wonder what a doula actually does during a birth? Listen to Caryn's excellent explanation and story of how her doula helped her during the birth of her fourth child.
why every person needs a doula
Here at Wasatch Mountain Birth Boot Camp we believe doulas are an essential part of any birth team. But don't just take my word for it! Listen to one of our wonderful doulas explain why.
Hot take: pregnancy can be overwhelming. I know, shocker. Let's put all the incredible hormonal and physiological changes that happen to a person’s body on the back burner for a minute and just talk about what you might be scrolling past on your social media feed ever since that algorithm spotted that first ultrasound picture on your timeline. You’re definitely seeing ads for cribs, bottles, toys, and who knows what else; followed by news articles telling you how all of those things are now being recalled because they are death traps. You might also be seeing posts about natural birth, hypnobirthing, midwives, doulas, postpartum depression, the dangers of bed-sharing AND the benefits of bed-sharing. That’s nothing compared to some of the unsolicited stories you might be hearing from well meaning but also complete strangers! “Let me tell you about my fourth degree tear,” might be followed by someone saying, “my doctor forced me into a c-section!” Right around this time you might be thinking, “maybe I should just take a birth class,” after all knowledge banishes fear right? but which class should you take??? There are hundreds of them. Your hospital might be offering one, your doula might be teaching one, your sister in-law might swear by one. All of them have a “method” but if all these methods are different which one is going to be the right one for you?
Well we here at Wasatch Mountain Birth Boot Camp are here to tell you, we don’t know. We have no idea what’s going to work for you or even what your birth is going to be like. Maybe you will love guided relaxation. Maybe sounding out labor will be your jam. Maybe you are wanting a water birth. Maybe you have your heart set on an epidural. Maybe you don’t even know what any of these things are but you want more information. The truth is ALL of these methods are wonderful and have their strengths but none of them are guaranteed to work 100% of the time for 100% of all people. That’s why we don’t believe in one method, we believe in filling your toolbox with every available tool and bit of information we have so you are ready for whatever labor throws at you. Here are just some of the things we talk about to help you prepare to have an amazing birth.
Comfort measures and labor positions
Birth plans, the thing everyone tells you you need and the one thing that most people feel overwhelmed by. Yes, they are important and they are so much more than just a list of requests to be handed to your care provider. This is a vital tool and in class we talk about what it is and how to best use it.
Your care provider and your birth location are the two things that will have the greatest impact on your birth. So how do you know that you have the right care provider for you? What are some things that you should be on the lookout for and what is something that should make you run the other way? Guess what? That's right, we talk about that in class too.
So many people feel like they failed labor if they get an epidural. Many more have no idea what actually goes into getting an epidural. Epidurals are just another tool in your tool box and in this class we talk about what they are, the risks, the benefits, and what actually happens when you get one.
Stages of labor
When should I call my doula? When should I go to my birth location? What is going to happen during labor? How should I support/talk to my partner during labor? We answer all these questions and more.
So you have the baby...now what? You ever wonder about babywearing? What about co-sleeping? Feel like you need more tips on breastfeeding? We’re not about to send you out into this brave new world of parenthood without going over how to survive this newborn stage!
All these things and so much more are covered in Birth Boot Camp’s ten week comprehensive class You may also enjoy our hospital class designed specifically for those planning an amazing hospital birth. Our instructors are starting new classes all the time so feel free to look at their class schedules or contact them directly to inquire about a private class! With a wide variety of classes and workshops you are sure to find the best way to prepare for your amazing birth.
There are some people in this world who will never experience the joy of morning sickness. I remember my mom telling me, when I was pregnant with my first, that she could only remember being nauseated one or two times when she was pregnant with me and my sister. Women like myself find ourselves quietly hating people like my mother right around week 8 of our pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, up to 85% of have some sort of morning sickness, be it actually vomiting or just the never ending nausea. If you are in this lucky majority and are finding yourself not being able to sit up straight or keep food down for the second week in a row you might be ready and willing to reach for any solution. Anything that promises an end to this madness and misery you might be willing to try. Of course, if you are dehydrated, losing weight, and/or having persistent vomiting you should talk to your care provider ASAP. However if you are wanting to wait till your next appointment to bring it up, here are five natural morning sickness remedies for you to try in the meantime.
Ginger has been shown to soothe an upset stomach and can be found in teas, chews, and yes ginger ale made with actual real ginger. Often, ginger is the main ingredient in organic “prego pops” that you can buy over the counter at many health food stores of pharmacies.
Scents, specifically peppermint and lemon
This can be a tricky one. For some people smelling lemon, mint, or orange can greatly alleviate nausea. For others, nothing will send them running to the bathroom faster than getting a big nose full of citrus. What I recommend is putting a few drops of either lemon or mint on a cotton ball and either holding it under your nose or pining it to your shirt with a safety pin. That way, if the smell ever starts to bother you all you have to do is throw the cotton ball in the trash (or out the window)
Vitamin B6 supplements
Not going to lie, these saved me with both of my pregnancies. Several studies have shown that B6 greatly helps with nausea during pregnancy. As a result more and more experts are recommending taking B6 supplements during pregnancy. Dosages of up to 200mg a day have been shown to be safe during pregnancy and have virtually no side effects.
Do be mad, I say to the exhausted and miserable pregnant woman laying on her couch after I tell her that one way to feel better is light exercise. I’m sorry, but it’s true. For some people getting up and on their feet, (taking an extra walk, going for a swim, taking that prenatal yoga class) actually does help with nausea. A topic that we cover in our 10 week birth class! Check it out!
Small snacks, not big meals
An empty stomach is your enemy! You might not want to eat but if your stomach is empty I can 100% guarantee you that you will feel sick, same goes for if you need to drink more water. However, you might not be able to handle a full meal either. Small protein rich snacks throughout the day is the way to go. Pretend your a hobbit and give yourself permission to eat breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, diner, and supper.
It’s February, and February in our little corner of the world is a bleak gray month. All the sparkle of the holidays has been put away, the rush of parties has been over for a full month, and the frozen landscape has started to seem less magical and more like a frozen wasteland. Lucky a mixture of commercialism and pop culture has given us a bright pop of color in this dreary month. A holiday about love, about showing gratitude for those most important to you in your life, a time to get dressed up and go out on the town. I am not talking about Valentine’s day. I am, of course, talking about the far superior Ganentine’s day!
GALENTINE'S DAY! Ladies celebrating ladies as the great Leslie Knope would say (the creator of this great holiday). Here at Wasatch Mountain Birth Boot Camp we are all about celebrating ladies. Female friendship is a massively important thing. For centuries cultural customs and history were passed down through gatherings of women. Women gather together during birth, during death, to give support and help push one another forward. According to a 2018 study the more close friendships you have the more likely a person is to survive breast cancer! All I’m saying is spending time with your lady friends and celebrating each other is something we should make time for.
Know what else is an important thing that we should make time for? Self care! I know you’ve heard that before. It’s 2020, we’ve all been hearing about how important self care is for five years now. But just because every 7th post on your Facebook feed is a picture of a sunrise reminding you to “make time to breath” doesn’t mean it’s not true. That sunrise is right! You do need to make time for yourself! It is good for your physical and mental health. It helps you sleep better. It helps you relate to those around you better. It lowers your blood pressure. It just flat out makes life better.
So why not do both of these things at once? Why not help celebrate the lovely ladies in your life AND yourself? Wasatch Birth Boot Camp thinks this is a great idea, so we’re having a little belated Galentine’s Day get together. Friday February 21st come join us at Family First Chiropractic and Wellness for snacks, henna, movies, music, and fun. This event is open to the community. I’m looking at you birth worker, I’m talking to you first time mom, I see you over there single lady! All of y’all! Come, get some henna done, have some food, ask us some questions. Let's support one another cause winter is long and hard and thankfully almost over.