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placenta encapsulation postpartum doula

 The way we feel postpartum can range from person to person, pregnancy to pregnancy, and even day to day. One person's postpartum experience is not yours, just like their pregnancies and labors were not yours. But I think it’s fair to say that we will all experience some level of bliss mixed with blues. With that being said, and not being able to foresee what exactly those levels will be, it’s often good to take precautions ahead of time to help prepare you for the unexpected postpartum. 


In honor of September being Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders Awareness month, we wanted to talk about the realities of the postpartum period. What it looks like, when to ask for help, and how to seek treatment. Some of you may know that our amazing founder Emily Smith recently gave birth to her fourth baby this summer. She is currently navigating an unexpectedly difficult postpartum and wanted to share a few thoughts, tips, and words of solidarity with you.


I think we often find in western culture the need to prove that we can do it all. We can handle the hard stuff because if we admit that we maybe can’t, or need help, then we are seen as weak or failures. I’m not sure why we got to this point but it really couldn’t be further from the truth. And without trying to be dramatic, it’s quite dangerous. It’s a false facade. You can’t do it all. Literally no on can. We all need help, we all need support. And when we don’t reach out then we are not only hurting ourselves but also those around us who are depending on us. So here is the first bit of advice. 


You weren't meant to do it alone. 


You’ve heard the saying, it takes a village? Well it really does. So surround yourself with people that you trust and that you know will be there for you in the way that they always have. Accept the help. If friends come to visit to meet the new baby, let them do the dishes, or fold the laundry. Let them bring food. Let them hold the baby so that you can nap or shower. You don’t owe anyone a clean home or good company. Which takes us to advice number two.


Shoot for the shower


Another popular expression I'm sure you've heard of, shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. Listen, don’t even aim that high. Shoot for taking a shower, and even if you miss you’ll land upon a pile of laundry, so take a nap. Baby steps. Don’t expect too much from yourself so you can’t feel let down. You just birthed a baby my friend. You’re doing great. 


Hire a postpartum doula


Ok, so maybe you're not the best at letting your friends and family do things for you. And maybe you’ve found the shower is just too far to aim for. Maybe you’re the kind of person who fears asking for help like you might be taking advantage of them (you’re not by the way) Hire some help! Postpartum doulas do all the things that make your life postpartum a little easier. Small household chores, help with the baby, lactation support, overnight support. Our services and packages range from just a few hours to months worth of support. Whatever you and your family need. Sometimes knowing that you’re paying for a service makes it easier to accept and ask for that help you need and that’s ok! 


Placenta Encapsulation 


While there is no solid scientific proof that taking placenta encapsulations will help with your energy and mood postpartum, there is a ton of anecdotal evidence that supports it. From our website “One of the main benefits of eating placenta is it helps to lessen the risk of  ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression. It replenishes iron, lends a consistent flow of oxytocin, and provides the HPL hormone to help establish an early and healthy milk supply. It also stabilizes ever changing hormones post birth, replenishes your B vitamins and energy lost during birthing, protects from infection and bleeding due to retained placenta tissue or membranes, and offers natural pain relief.” Here is the thing, if it doesn’t work, then you haven't lost out on much, but if it does end up helping you, the benefits greatly outway the risk. 


We can do hard things


You will get through this because you can do hard things. Babies are hard. Sleep deprivation is hard. But it will pass. And then you’ll have a toddler, and a big kid, a highschooler, and it all gets harder and easier in its own way for the rest of our lives. So right now, in this very moment, it may seem like you’ll never see the light but I promise you will. You’ll make it through.


Seek professional help


Sometimes the asking help from friends, or the restful nights you get with the postpartum doulas are still not enough. And that’s ok too. If you find that you've tried most of the things are you’re still struggling, talk to a professional. We all need help in some way or another. It doesn’t make you any less of a person or a parent. Find what you need to help you heal and thrive so that your baby and family can thrive too. 


Call 1-800-944-4773 #1 En Espanol or #2 English or visit https://www.postpartum.net to talk to someone or find local resources to you. 




 


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Let's Tell Your Story: BFAR and Low Milk Supply - Part II

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Let's Tell Your Story: BFAR and Low Milk Supply - Part II

Thanks for joining me back here for Part II of my BFAR journey.  Now that I’m a #momof4 my time is much shorter than it was when I wrote Part I.  So, let’s review where I’ve been in the first 30 days of breastfeeding.

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Day- 1-3 The time in which an amazing baby boy arrived and we all fell in love!

Supplement- Focusing on lots of skin-to-skin, feeding on demand at the breast, and nourishing foods like Majka’s Bites and Majka’s Chai, I found the Bites were the PERFECT power snack for multiple middle of the night waking. They were dense, not overly sweet, but felt like a healthy treat.  I’ll definitely buy them again!  

The Chai had a great flavor mixed with warm or cold almond milk and coconut milk, but I found it wasn’t great at dissolving.  I did try to mix a batch in the smoothie blender and kept in the fridge for a few servings, but even then it was a little clumpy, so I stopped the chai after day 6 and returned again at the end of the month by mixing it into my morning oatmeal. That was much better!  

Weight- I did a weighed feeding and baby had dropped .2 oz. so I decided that I would pause on weighed feedings, as that felt discouraging, and just focus on weighing once per day at the same time, as well as keeping diligent track of wets and BMs with Baby Connect app.

Pumping- Average 3 ml

Day 6-13 the time in which we got tongue tie released with laser at Children’s Choice Pediatric Dental, had a 5 day nursing strike, did Exclusive Pumping for several days when he wouldn’t latch, and also trying to retrain him to latch by doing tongue exercises.  Bring on the hormones, too! #babyblues

My 2 ounces of success at 2am!

My 2 ounces of success at 2am!

Supplement/ Other- Legendairy Liquid Gold.  I also saw Njemile, my acupuncturist at Fertile Living and that night I leaked from one breast!  

Pumping- increased from 20 ml to 35 ml!  One middle of the night pump yielded 2 ounces!  I took a picture because I’d never seen myself produce so much in one pump.  This was also the same night I leaked.


Day 14-18 The time in which he was back to the breast, but continuing to pump after each feeding. Exhaustion, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

Supplement/ Other- UpSpring Mulungy and Shatavarti.  I also used Booby Tubes by Earth Mama. They are so warm and soothing!

Pumping- pumping stayed around 30 ml (1 ounce) 


Day 19-20 The time in which I had several emotional breakdowns from triple feeding and decided to stop the middle of the night pumping because he was back to his birth weight.


Supplement- Motherlove Special Blend contains goats rue, fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle leaf, fennel seed.

Weight-  Back to birth weight at 19 days.  Took us a bit longer, I think because of the tongue tie release and needing to re-learn how to use it, during week 2.  

Pumping- stayed around 30 ml (1 ounce)



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Day 21-23 The time in which I started eating yummy lactation treats again!


Supplement/ Other- Upspring Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The mix made a huge batch of gigantic cookies. They had a chocolate bread-like texture.  Almost like a brownie but not as dense or chewy. The batch lasted me over a week. I’ll definitely order again! 

I also ate Gray’s Cowbell Banana Nut muffins which were just about perfection. I still have some in the fridge and have been rationing them because I loved them so much!  Hearty, just the right amount of moisture. No preservatives. Not too sweet. The perfect snack for any time of day!

Weight - I did a weighed feeding and he drank 1.1 ounces.

Pumping- up to 50 ml (1.5 ounces) for my morning pump.  I also had one night when he drank very actively for 25 mins from Left side, and was milk drunk, not needing the right side.  A small success and made me wish I’d done a weighed feeding but it was 3am.  

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Day 24- The time in which I started Domperidone.  My midwife urged me to give it a try. I had some already on hand, so I thought why not.  She said I had 3 weeks of establishing my prolactin levels from all my pumping and maybe this was the boost I would need.  I started 1 tablet 3x a day. I got a headache, a common side-effect, the first 3 days.  

Pumping- back to 30 ml average, but also stopped pumping 5 times during the day, as I acknowledge my mental health needed it.  After this a lot of my postpartum depression and anxiety seemed to lessen.  It would be the difference between giving him two bottles of my pumped milk each day and one bottle. See also: If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.


Day 26- The time in which I was still doing all of the above, plus…

Supplement Traditional Medicinal lemon chews.  I was hoping these would be a fun, middle of the day treat but I wasn’t a fan of the flavor.  Also some concerns the fenugreek from this and the Mother Love Special Blend are starting to give baby gas.  



Day 27- Still doing all of the above, plus…

Supplement- UpSpring chai tea latte.  This stuff was tasty. I added it to a vanilla smoothie along with some protein power.  

Day 28-31 Still doing all of the above.


Supplement- I’d been scheduled to start Traditional Medicinal Mother’s Milk Tea and Earth Mama tea, but since both contain Fenugreek, and I started to wonder if it was causing baby gas, I decided to skip it.  I know tea is a low-dose way of receiving a galactagogue. I may try it again when the weather is cooler just to see if it gives a boost or baby gas.


Conclusion: 

It seems like my storage capacity and re-fill rate allow me about 1 ounce per feeding, but occasionally more like 1.5-2.  Since I’m offering the breast 8-12 times per day, I’m guessing my baby receives about 8-14 ounces in a 24 hour period from me.  At one month he was also drinking about 13 ounces of donor milk per 24 hour period.  







What helped/ What hurt?  

My favorite products were the foods.  I think it’s nice to eat nourishing food that may also help my milk supply.  I didn’t mention above but I also loved the Uplifties nursing tank and nursing bra and will be buying a few more to add to my rotation.  Comfort is key!  

I do think the fenugreek products weren’t right for me, so I stopped them when I noticed side-effects.  I am also weaning off the Domperidone as I don’t think prolactin is my issue, and most people say IF it’s going to help they notice a difference in the first few days.  I did not. 

What’s next? 

Well, I have a few things I’ll try after this project is complete, such as sunflower lecithin and black seed oil, both of which can make the milk let-down faster.  Perhaps that will help my refill rate. I also have a shelf full of bulk herbs that I’ll make into homemade tincture and tea for the fall and winter months. Though, I don’t expect to see a big increase from them but hope they will be overall nourishing. 

I will also continue goats rue tincture, probably for the rest of my time breastfeeding, as I believe storage capacity is still my issue, and it’s supposed to help grow new tissue. It can’t hurt! Lastly, I’ll keep seeing my acupuncturist because that was when I leaked and pumped 2 ounces.  Plus it’s good for my own self-care! 








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Team Member Spotlight!  Meet Emily Woody

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Emily Woody

Emily Woody is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a Registered Dietitian. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017.

Emily Woody is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a Registered Dietitian. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017.

  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you? 

I found my passion of support breastfeeding mothers, 6 years ago, when I started working as a WIC Nutritionist in Ward 7 of DC. When I started there my main focus was educating mothers and their children on healthy eating lifestyles, but as I started to learn more about breastfeeding and eventually started in the role of breastfeeding coordinator, I knew I had found my calling. There is nothing more satisfying than helping a mother have the confidence to breastfeed her child and reach her breastfeeding goal.  

2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be? 

Do the best you can, everything else will fall into place. 

3. What makes you proud of yourself? 

Checking off my to do list and accomplishing goals! 

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4. What do you love about your life?

I love my family, especially my 6 month old daughter Lilly, my husband and my doggy daughter Sofie.  They are all I need in life. 

5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a vet! Except I had a rule that I wouldn’t treat snakes! 

6. What are your top three values?

Loyalty, Optimism, and Reliability 

7. Who is your role model and why?

My mom. She has always been the anchor of our family and has always been there for me no matter what. She is my best friend and I know I can go to her for anything. She raised 3 kids and was still able to have a career in her field of passion, athletic training, a profession dominated by men. My daughter’s middle name is named after my mother, Gwen. 

8. Describe yourself in 5 words

Respectful, Positive, Joyful, Dependable, Loyal

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Let's tell your story! My Breastfeeding and Donor Milk Journey

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Let's tell your story! My Breastfeeding and Donor Milk Journey

My name is Indira Mattia. I am a 27-year-old, Engineering Project Manager, with a beautiful almost 5 month old baby girl.

My name is Indira Mattia. I am a 27-year-old, Engineering Project Manager, with a beautiful almost 5 month old baby girl.

by Indira Mattia

Breastfeeding was something I knew I wanted to do from before I even got pregnant.

From a young age I can recall my aunts breastfeeding my little cousins and knowing that one day when I had children I would breastfeed them. I hoped that being able to breastfeed would strengthen my bond with my little one.

A lot of “motherly” things always came easy to me. I was always the “mom” of my group of friends, so I expected breastfeeding to be easy. When my daughter was born, within the first few minutes we attempted to feed her and she wouldn’t latch. She was a smaller baby, and my nipples were too big for her little mouth. Each session it would take 20+ minutes to get her latched and by the time she was on, she was exhausted from screaming.

I wanted so badly to be able to breastfeed that I cried every time I tried to latch her. I tried to meet with the lactation consultant before I left the hospital, but she wasn’t there at all during our 3 day stay.

In the first week as my milk was coming in, I ended up using a manual pump to relieve the engorgement and was tempted to just give my daughter a bottle. Even if I couldn’t get her to latch, at least I’d still be able to give her breast milk.

But I kept trying.

When we met her pediatrician at the one week checkup, we found out she was also a lactation consultant. She convinced me that we could do this. After struggling with nipple shields and different positions, the day my daughter turned two weeks it was like a switch flipped and she began latching with no issue.

After overcoming the issue of her latching, I then had the issue of an oversupply of milk.

My daughter would eat on one breast at a time and would never really “drain” my breast, so I began pumping the other breast after a feed at the advice of our pediatrician. On a normal day, while I was on maternity leave and breastfeeding on demand, I would pump 20 oz. a day, so I started freezing that milk.

I am a part of a breastfeeding group on Facebook that would be appalled that I created a stash, but I had a wonderful support system that encouraged me to continue. I had a friend whose supply dried up after 3 months and another who had to have emergency surgery and she needed to go into her own stash to be able to feed her baby.

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By the time I was going back to work, I had frozen about 1,300 oz. of milk. We had to go buy a deep freezer because it took up so much space.

Before this, I had never considered supplying or receiving donor milk. I remember watching a show about 7 years ago where a mom was sampling donor milk. That was an insane notion to me. But I was very young, and nowhere close to having a baby or understanding why someone would want donor milk. Now, years later, I understand.

I felt a sense of pride in myself for being able to feed my baby and being able to produce so much, but she didn’t need that frozen milk. I was continuing to breastfeed on demand at home and I was pumping 30oz a day at work and sending 15-20oz to daycare.

I wanted to see what I could do to help other moms.

I had people tell me how they couldn’t breastfeed when they had children and wished they had known about donor milk, instead of giving their babies formula. I reached out to my sister, who is a newborn care specialist, to see if she knew anyone that needed donor milk and she told me she knew an amazing woman that she thought might be interested.

In the meantime, I googled to see what my options were. While I did find several donor sites, I was hoping to be able to expedite things, as every freezer I knew of filled up, and give the milk to a mom I (or my sister knew). I was able to donate the 1,300 oz of milk to the woman my sister told me about and her gratitude and appreciation was overwhelming.

pregnant mom in Alexandria

Knowing that I could help someone feed their baby in the way they wanted, was a true blessing.

Now, I am hoping that throughout the rest of my breastfeeding journey and in any future journeys, I continue to have excess milk so that I can continue to donate to other mothers.



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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them_.png




Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

By Jenna Forster, IBCLC, RN

Galactagogues are foods and herbs that are known for their milk increasing properties.  Many of these come from traditional diets of many different cultures around the world. There are also several prescription medications that are known galactagogues, but neither are currently approved by the FDA for that purpose.   

Here is a list of a few common ones that you have likely heard of, and a few you may not!

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Who needs galactagogues?

Low milk supply, whether perceived or actual, is the most likely cause that will contribute to parents seeking out galactagogues.  Thanks to the internet, you can find tons and tons of info on various things that help increase milk supply. So how do you know what works and what doesn’t?

The first thing to consider if you feel as though you have low milk supply, would be an evaluation by a skilled International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC.  An experienced IBCLC has the ability to gather a full health history, and perform a full assessment on both you and your baby to determine if there is, in fact, low supply and what factors may be contributing or causing the low supply.

The second thing to consider is how milk is made.  Milk production works on supply and demand. Increasing the demand, is one of the biggest factors in increasing supply.  Often galactagogues can be used in conjunction with increased breast stimulation, such as more frequent feeding, or pumping.



There are many different causes for low milk supply, and different galactagogues have different actions and purposes.  For example, someone who has had a breast reduction would consider (under the guidance of their physician or midwife) to take goat’s rue to increase their milk making tissue.  It’s important to have a full assessment of the problem, before starting any herbal supplement. While many herbal galactagogues can be found over the counter, this certainly doesn’t mean they are without risk.   Fenugreek, for example, should not be taken by breastfeeding or chestfeeding parents with a history of thyroid disorder, yet fenugreek is in many lactation boosting products.



Bottom line:

Breastfeeding is so much more than milk; it’s a relationship, and many parents can have a beautiful breastfeeding relationship, regardless of how much milk their breasts make. If you are struggling with low milk supply, reach out for an evaluation by an IBCLC, and work together with your IBCLC and physician/midwife team to decide what route would be the most effective in helping you reach your breastfeeding/chestfeeding goals!  Happy nursing! 

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Jenna Forester has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for 5 years, and a Registered Nurse with a focus on Women’s Health for 10 years. She started my career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse, and then worked in an OB/GYN office for several years before moving her focus to lactation after having her older daughter and realizing how much support breastfeeding/chestfeeding families really need! She was fortunate to have a friend who was very supportive in my breastfeeding journey and that sparked her desire to go through the training to become an IBCLC.  She loves helping families reach their breastfeeding/chestfeeding goals and She loves talking and educating on breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Low milk supply is one of the many challenges that faces breastfeeding/chestfeeding families and one of the most common questions she gets is ‘What can I do to increase my milk supply?!?!?’



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Let's Tell your Story!  BFAR and Increasing Low Milk Supply Part I

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Let's Tell your Story! BFAR and Increasing Low Milk Supply Part I

During World Breastfeeding Awareness month Doulas of Capitol Hill owner and founder, Emily Smith, will share her story and journey of her fourth breastfeeding experience as a BFAR mom (breastfeeding after breast reduction).  She will be documenting her experience of trying to increase milk supply by utilizing herbs and supplements, known as galactogogues, as well as lactogenic (breast milk producing) food and drinks, to combat her history of low supply caused by a previous breast reduction surgery.  

Doulas of Capitol Hill believes that sharing one’s story, while unique unto itself, can help to encourage, to strength, and to inform the experiences of others.  That’s why our slogan is “Let’s Tell Your Story.” We have found that in the sharing of our stories, owning them, and allowing them to be lived in the context of community, we are all stronger for it.  

We acknowledge the causes of Low Supply in breastfeeding moms can be multidimensional.  

This blog and the information shared is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) with any questions regarding low supply, any medical condition, or treatment.

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Hi everyone,

I’m writing this two-part blog series to share my experience using galactagogues to help increase my breast milk supply with my fourth baby.  Today I’ll share a quick run-down of my history and what brought me to this point in the story. Then, I’ll lay out the game-plan for the next 4 weeks.  And finally, at the end of World Breastfeeding Awareness month I’ll come back with part II and report on my experience. Thanks for joining me on this journey!  

How did I get here?

  • When I was 17 years old, I had a breast reduction surgery.  It was medically necessary for my health. I remember asking the surgeon what my chances to breastfeed would be and he said 50/50.  Many years later I’ve hears doctors saying the same thing to other mothers.. Now I know that MOST people who have breast reduction surgery are able to lactate to some degree.  For many this may be just drops (milliliters, not ounces). However, the odds of having a full milk supply and being able to exclusively breastfeed, are more unknown, and depend on many factors such as the type of surgery, how much tissue was removed, and the amount of time between the surgery and having a baby.  

  • Ten years later I gave birth to my first child.  After birth, by day 3, she was dehydrated and had lost greater than 10% of her birth weight (7-10% is the range of normal newborn weight loss).  We began supplementing with formula from bottles and an attempt at the SNS (supplemental nursing system which attaches a thin tube to the nipple and the baby can get formula/pumped milk at the same time as being latched onto the breast). I saw IBCLCs. Went to support groups. We battled painful vasospasms. At 3 months she had a tongue tie clipped. That helped some with the painful latching and we went on to breastfeed until around 15 months. However, I supplemented around 90-100% of her nutritional needs. We mostly nursed for comfort and bonding.  I was a warm pacifier.

  • My next baby was born two years after my first child.  At this point I was a birth doula, had read the BFAR “bible” Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction by Diana West, and had a new plan for what “successful” breastfeeding could mean.  I saw the director of the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington during my pregnancy.  We collected donor milk found from local moms on Human Milk for Human Babies and stored it in a deep freezer during my pregnancy.  I began hand-expressing colostrum at 36 weeks to give my baby right after birth, so we wouldn’t go through the scary experience of a dehydrated baby.  And this time some of my milk ducts recanalized (reconnected) and I was able to make more milk. I estimate around 30-40% of his nutritional needs. I pumped some but focused on the bonding and good latching. The rest we supplemented with a bottle.  We nursed until 13 months.

  • Our third (and what we thought final) baby came along 4.5 years later.  This time my approach to breastfeeding was to throw “everything and the kitchen sink” at the problem of low milk supply.   I took every herb you have ever heard of and even one pharmacological medicine called Domperidone. I drank every tea. I encapsulated my placenta and took those capsules.  I made a jar of tincture with galactagogues made with the most enormous bottle of Gray Goose vodka that has ever been created. I pumped. I collected donor milk.  And this time I was able to make about 50-60% of my baby’s milk. He and I went on to nurse until he was 2.5. I made peace with what breastfeeding was for me; success wasn’t a full milk supply but that it could still be a happy ending.  

  • And now, our surprise baby #4, who came 5 years after a failed vasectomy.  Just like my breast tissue which recanalized more over time, so did my husband’s vas-deferens.  This time, armed with over a decade of research and experience, I’ve decided to meet this breastfeeding journey with a more systematic approach than in the past.  

The Plan-

I’m very excited to partner with some fantastic companies who make products for breastfeeding moms to have a different experience this time.  Some of these companies have offered sample products for me to try. Others have gone a step above and sent along samples for our doula clients to try also.  Many of them have given us a special discount code for our clients to use. And lastly a few companies have offered to do special giveaways for World Breastfeeding Week to celebrate together!  

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Who?

Earth Mama Organics

Gray’s Cowbell Lactation Treats

Legendairy

Majka

Motherlove

Traditional Medicinal

Upspring

Uplifties

How/What?

I will be adding in a new galactogogue twice a week over the first four weeks from birth and recording the impact of the added galactogogue by measuring my milk production 2 days after the introduction of the new product by doing a weighed feeding (which is when the baby is weighed with a precision scale, like those used by our IBCLCs, before a feeding, then fed at the breast, and finally weighed again after to see how much they consumed) AND pumping with a quality breast pump.  If the galactogogue seems to have a positive or neutral impact I’ll continue it throughout the duration of the 4 week time. However, if it seems to have a negative impact I’ll stop immediately. At the end of World Breastfeeding Awareness month I’ll report on my experience.

Baseline variables:

  • Under the guidance of my midwife I started taking goats rue glycerine tincture during pregnancy. This herb is one of the few which is considered safe for pregnancy.  It is known to help grow breast tissue and for this is often recommended to people who have a diagnosed low supply from prior breast surgery or IGT (insufficient glandular tissue.) Another which is safe for pregnancy is alfalfa and I also started during pregnancy.  Some of the products I’ll be sampling have goats rue and alfalfa as ingredients. I plan to continue the doses of goats rue (alcohol-based tincture) and alfalfa which I consumed during pregnancy throughout my postpartum period. I’ll also be drinking loads of water and eating lactogenic foods as often as possible. Most well-known is oatmeal, healthy fats like salmon, avocado, and coconut oil, and maybe an occasional beer, as hops, barley, and malt are all lactogenic. My favorite book in my personal library for lactogenic (and anti-lactogenic) foods is Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson.  

  • Every baby is different!  While I have a history of low supply on the maternal side of the relationship, the baby is the other half of the equation.  Unknown variables like mode of delivery (vaginal or cesarean), feeding impediments like tongue or lip tie or high pallet, gestational age at the time of birth, and illness or infection (like thrush or mastitis) can all impact how breastfeeding gets established.  While I certainly hope and plan for a smooth, uneventful birth experience and no ties or infections, it’s important to mention these as variables to my ability to see results from the product testing. Put another way, if things are off to a rocky start for any unknown variables, it may not be a reflection of the effectiveness of the products and more a consequence of the challenges faced.  

Emily Smith is owner of Doulas of Capitol Hill and co-owner of sister agency, Doulas of Prince George’s County, which provides professional, non-judgemental birth doula, postpartum doula, newborn care, breastfeeding (and bottle-feeding) support throughout the DC, Virginia, and Maryland region.

Emily Smith is owner of Doulas of Capitol Hill and co-owner of sister agency, Doulas of Prince George’s County, which provides professional, non-judgemental birth doula, postpartum doula, newborn care, breastfeeding (and bottle-feeding) support throughout the DC, Virginia, and Maryland region.

Stay plugged into Doulas of Capitol Hill on Facebook and Instagram throughout the month of August to get in on the giveaways and discounts we share.  You can also swing by our Community page and check out our Affiliates. Then, be sure to be back again on the blog at the end of the month to hear the part II of my BFAR story!

Warmly,

Emily



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Waiting For My Due Date

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Waiting For My Due Date

Colorado midwife, Jessica Nipp says, “Babies are not “stubborn” or “reluctant” or “giving their mommies a hard time.”  They have no idea that they are expected to *come out* because they don’t understand that they are *in*. They have always existed there and don’t realize that things will ever change. A recent study indicated that one of the factors that triggers labor is a chemical released by the baby's lungs into the amniotic fluid. Once That chemical is present in sufficient amounts, the mother’s body is triggered to begin labor, because it has received the indication that the baby’s lungs are strong enough to breathe and survive independently.”

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So, in honor of all the people who are waiting for baby to arrive, we share some things to do while you wait.  

  1. Watch the movie “Due Date” 

    We all know laughter is the best medicine.  And chances are, if you’re at the end of your pregnancy then your body is feeling “done.”  So kick up your feet up and watch a funny movie like Due Date. Laughter helps release pain numbing endorphins. A good belly laugh is one of the most effective forms of pain relief. 

  2. Prep freezer meals- or- have a doula do it for you

    You may hire a postpartum doula to come and do this for you! Yes, #PostpartumDoulasDoThat In fact, two of our doulas are also personal chefs.  While we’d love for you to tap into their services for sleep help or general expertise after your baby arrives, there’s something reassuring about being stocked with meals before baby (or babies) make the grand entrance.  Looking for vegetarian, vegan, or have some other dietary priority? We’ve got you covered and can even do the shopping for you! Want to DIY? Try Once a Month Mom for some great ideas.  

  3. Write out your vision for this birth and/or your preferences

    Maybe you’ve already created a “birth plan” with your doula.  If so, great! But every doctor, midwife, and nurse will tell you that birth is unpredictable. Your doula will likely tell you that the real power isn’t in the “plan” but in knowing your options and deciding what’s most important to you about your experience, however that unfolds.    So go ahead and write it out! Put three bullet points on a 3 x 5 index card. Visualize or imagine your best birth in your mind, whether that is unmedicated, planned cesarean, induction, or with an epidural. Bring out the colored pencils and draw a picture. Who cares if it looks like a kid drew it?! Set your intention.  

  4. Lactation cookies

    We shared a yummy recipe on Instagram.  Drop a comment on how they turn out for you!  

  5. Create a care package for yourself!

    Check out our affiliates under the Brands We Love!  We want to give a special shout out to Earth Mama Organics for the goodies they sent along.  The heartburn tea was so tasty and helpful in the last few weeks of pregnancy. The mini-4 pack of deodorant was perfect to slip in a purse (and a few for the diaper bag, too!) and increased the comfort-level during “Hell’s Front Porch” stage of summer.   And lastly, the belly oil helped ease the stretching of the belly, and um, all the other growing body parts in the home stretch of pregnancy.  

  6. Dance the baby out

    Recently, we shared a video of a doula client who was up for Zumba during labor! It helped her baby come out faster. Maybe this will work to bring baby to your arms sooner, too!

  7. Read POSITIVE birth stories

    Doulas of Capitol Hill’s motto is Let’s Tell Your Story. We recognize that this is a day you will remember for the rest of your life. Check out Summer’s Triplet Birth Story, Elisa’s VBAC Birth Story, or Sarah’s Fast First Time Mom Story.   

  8. Get a massage/ chiropractic / acupuncture

    Doulas of Capitol Hill offers in-home prenatal and induction massage!  Also check out our friends at Lavender Retreat, Chiro Group, or Fertile Living for chiropractic or acupuncture.  

  9. Hydrate/ Red raspberry leaf tea

    We know that drinking red raspberry leaf tea helps prep your uterus for labor. Check with your care provider and then drink up! One of our favorites is Traditional Medicinals, as it’s easily found in most stores.  

  10. Eat dates

    Did you know there is evidence showing that pregnant people who consume dates at the end of pregnancy are more dilated when they come to the hospital  AND are less likely to need pitocin to augment their labor. 

Bonus: Have Sex! If you are a healthy, full-term person, and your bag of water is intact, then sex at the end of pregnancy might result in going into labor sooner and less likely to need an induction.

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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Elisabeth Caron!

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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Elisabeth Caron!

Elisabeth Caron is a daytime and overnight newborn care specialist. She brings 10 years experience working with babies and families to her career and has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2019.

Elisabeth Caron is a daytime and overnight newborn care specialist. She brings 10 years experience working with babies and families to her career and has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2019.

  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

I’m the oldest of 10 kids in my family so I’ve been taking care of little ones my whole life. In college, I started student teaching at the campus daycare, then became a lead infant teacher after graduation. When I moved down to DC from New England, I switched over to nannying, and became an NCS in spring 2019. At the same time, in one of my early babysitting jobs, I worked for a mom who was a birth doula and homebirth advocate, and that family was my introduction into the more “granola” side of birth and babies - babywearing, cosleeping, homebirth, etc. I started reading and researching, was introduced to RIE and Montessori, and incorporated aspects of all those into my childcare philosophy.

2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

Nobody is ever going to care what your GPA was in school, it’s ok to relax!

3. What makes you proud of yourself?

That I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and healing work in the past few years and forged my own path to be able to live the life I wanted.

4. What do you love about your life?

Elisabeth Caron multiples .jpg

I love my quirky weird house and wild garden. I love living in DC and all the unique opportunities found here. I love cooking and feeding people. I love the community of loving and supportive birth workers and “baby people” around me. And most of all, I LOVE that I have the honor of caring for tiny humans just making their way into the world!

5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

An Egyptologist, from the time I was 3, and I went so far as getting my undergrad degree in ancient history. People think that’s totally different from working with babies, but it’s really not - I just think people and their stories are fascinating!

6. What are your top three values?

Kindness, justice, and curiosity.

7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

The Princess Bride was our “sick movie” growing up and I still watch it sometimes when I’m under the weather. I can probably recite the whole thing from memory. My secret life goal is to be the local wise woman living in a forest cottage mixing up mysterious remedies like Miracle Max.

8. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

My love language is acts of service (unsurprisingly)!

9. Who is your role model and why?

AOC, for showing up and speaking out, and Lizzo, for embodying radical self-love and acceptance.

10. If you had any superpower, what would it be?

Either teleportation or a self-cleaning house.

Elisabeth Caron 1.jpg

11. How would you describe your (doula) style?

My goal is to help new parents feel calm and confident. Many parents in our community may be living far away from family support, don’t have experience with newborns, and feel overwhelmed and anxious. I’m a resource for parents to lean on, whether that means supporting you in learning those skills like babywearing, swaddling, or feeding, or providing loving care while you rest and heal. 

12. Describe yourself in 5 words

Creative, compassionate, curious, committed and crunchy




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Painted Rocks 4th of July DIY

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Painted Rocks 4th of July DIY

Summertime is in full force and the littles are looking for something to keep them from boredom. This DIY craft is easy, inexpensive, and fun for all ages!

Supplies:

  • Smooth stones/rocks. We took the easy way and bought from the craft section but can also send the kiddos on a rock-hunt!

  • Paint brushes. Lots of sizes for tiny hands.

  • Acrylic paint. Pro tip: If it gets on your clothes wash it out immediately or it won’t come out.

  • Drop cloth or table cloth.

  • Paper plates for paint trays.

We took the easy way and bought from the craft section but can also send the kiddos on a rock-hunt

We took the easy way and bought from the craft section but can also send the kiddos on a rock-hunt

4th of July painted rocks .png

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Taylor Lichtman

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Taylor Lichtman

Taylor Lichtman is a birth doula, postpartum doula, placenta encapsulator, and childbirth educator with Doulas of Capitol Hill. She is a 2019 5 Star Mentor. In addition to her work as a doula she is a prenatal yoga instructor in DC.

Taylor Lichtman is a birth doula, postpartum doula, placenta encapsulator, and childbirth educator with Doulas of Capitol Hill. She is a 2019 5 Star Mentor. In addition to her work as a doula she is a prenatal yoga instructor in DC.



1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

I always knew I wanted my work to be something that helped people in some way. I found my passion for doula work when I met a doula in my yoga teacher training in 2015. I was at the time I was working as a nanny, and yoga was a huge personal passion.  Mindfulness and meeting people where they are, is necessary to both yoga and doula work, so they have always worked well together.


2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! A lot of times we are taught that the best thing is to be independent and to be able to do everything by ourselves, and that to ask for help is admitting defeat. That is quite simply not true. It takes a lot of adults way too long to learn that. Everyone’s life and knowledge is unique, everyone you know could teach you something, and you could teach everyone you know something too! So being anything other than yourself is pointless.


3. What makes you proud of yourself?  

Being out as a queer woman. It’s not always easy knowing that not everyone is accepting, but it is important to me that children growing up, and all people for that matter, see all variations of what different people’s lived experiences are. If we aren’t honest about what we experience how will they know that maybe they aren’t alone in what they are experiencing.


4. What do you love about your life?

My human love Sam, and my dog love Daisy, and our adorable condo in Cap Hill that has become a home since things finally settled down after our wedding in September. Also, I really love that birth work makes my schedule irregular, it keeps me energized and means that I do get full days off in the middle of the week. I love going grocery shopping in the middle of the day when no one else is there, such a joy!

 The Pop Wed Co. wedding of Sam Lichtman and Taylor Eldridge at the Josephine Butler Parks Center in Washington, DC.



5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Other than a Ballerina-Firefighter? haha.  A teacher.



6. What are your top three values?

Honesty, Intersectional Feminism, Compassion.



7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

My favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. I have a tattoo of a quote from it. From a literary perspective it is very important, and rare in American literature to have a story to from the perspective of women. But the story is a cautionary tale of missionary work, and the effect that it has on everyone involved.



8. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

If it is someone I am close with I like hugs. But if they are not a touchy person, just being told, “Thank you, what you did made such a big difference in my day/experience” is really heart warming.



9. Who is your role model and why?

As a specific person, I have always strived to be like my Mimi (my maternal grandmother). She is calm, funny, patient and strong. But generally, women who lift other women up. I just read that Brie Larson brought up her her Captain Marvel stunt doubles to accept an award with her. Like that. People that do that kind of stuff are my role model. We have been taught that success as women is a finite supply, and that is one the biggest lies that I want to dismantle. As a doula it is not lost on me that I am helping to welcome the next generation coming into the world, so I take my attitude about what I teach or project toward children very seriously.



10. If you had any superpower, what would it be?

If I had any super power it would definitely be flying or teleporting. That is always what I have said, but that is especially true now as a doula, there have definitely been some times I would have loved to have been able to bypass traffic.



11. How would you describe your (doula) style?  

I think of my style as mindfulness within hospital based births.



natural doula .jpg

12. Describe yourself in 5 words


Passion, Compassion, Quirky, Patient, Knowledgable




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Top 5 Baby Safe Sunscreens

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Top 5 Baby Safe Sunscreens

Top 5 Baby Safe Sunscreen

by Ashley Woolsey

Memorial day weekend has past us by and that means summer is officially in full swing. Beaches, pools, the Navy Yard fountains. Spending every nice moment we have outdoors also means making sure that we are protecting ourselves. It’s #nationalsunscreenday and we wanted to talk briefly about some of the best sunscreens for you and your little ones.

NOTE: We will be mentioning the EWG as we rate these sunscreens. The EWG is the Environmental Working Group which rates products on a scale from 1-10 based on the level on toxic chemicals used in them. A 10 is the least safe for you and the environment and a 1 is the cleanest.


Think Baby


Think Baby is the first sunscreen to pass Whole Food premium care requirements. It has a rating of ‘1’ by the EWG since 2010. It is free of biologically harmful chemicals. No Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, or UV Chemical absorbers. And is doesn’t contain any known reef harmful chemicals. With a price tag of $12.99 it’s affordable and even on the lower end of the organic sunscreen products scale.

Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby



Rated a ‘1’ on the EWG scale. Hypoallergenic and tear free. What we love about this is that it is accepted by the National Eczema Association. We know that babies skin can be very sensitive so you can feel safe knowing the product will not only protect them from the sun but it will also help to prevent and heal eczema.

Attitude Natural Care


EWG verified top rated product. Reef safe. Protects against UVA and UVB rays. Fragrance free and hypoallergenic. What we like about this product is that it’s a clear lotion so there is no 20 minute process to run it in while your child tries to squirm away!


Bum Baby



Rated a ‘1’ by the EWG. It’s cruelty free, vegan, and reef safe. It’s a non greasy formula so it’s easy to blend in. Protects from UVA and UVB rays. We love that it contains coconut oil and shea and coconut butters to help moisturize and hydrate baby’s skin while still protecting it.

Badger Active Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen Cream


Rated ‘1’ on EWG. It’s a gentle and effective broad-spectrum protection. Pediatrician tested and approved and hypoallergenic. Safely blocks sun’s harmful rays with non-nano mineral Zinc Oxide. Base of certified organic Sunflower oil makes for easy application. Water-resistant for 40 minutes. Reef friendly, biodegradable, and certified cruelty-free. We love that this sunblock only contains six ingredients!



Lucky for all of us, the ingredients that we are putting in our products and on ourselves are becoming more regulated and our organic and environmentally safe options are rapidly multiplying. This is just a small list of some of the products that we love but we know there are so many more available. Just remember to do a quick check on the EWG Skin Deep site to make sure what you are using is safe for you,  your family, and our world!

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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Amy Durham!

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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Amy Durham!

Amy is a birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist serving Northern Virginia and DC, as well as a trained postpartum doula. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our opening in 2016.

Amy is a birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist serving Northern Virginia and DC, as well as a trained postpartum doula. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our opening in 2016.

  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

I have always loved babies and children, from the time I was young.  I was the neighborhood babysitter for everyone, and nannied extensively during my college years. After graduating from college with a dual degree in child development and psychology, I struggled to find a career that I truly enjoyed going to day after day.   It wasn’t until years later that I had a doula at my own births, and I saw what an enormous difference she could make in the life of a woman on one of her most vulnerable and yet powerful days--that’s when the lightbulb went off for me. I felt respected, empowered, confident, cared for, loved, and safe.  My doula knew me, and what was important to me, and she was there to help me reach those goals. I knew from then on, that someday I wanted to provide that same kind of support for other women. I knew that women deserved better than the care they were being given. And I became passionate about providing that.  Getting the chance to hold a new baby doesn’t hurt either ;)

2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it almost always is small stuff).  If it isn’t going to matter a year from now, it’s not worth stressing yourself out about now.



3. What makes you proud of yourself?

When I come across a challenge or an obstacle in my life, and I work through it.  When I don’t hide from it, or throw up my hands and and say it’s too much. My mantra this year is “I can do hard things.”



4. What do you love about your life?

My family and my home.  Being in the company of my 4 children and my husband, in our cozy home, where people know each other and love one another anyway,  is a gift. Being able to have my guard down and just laugh, relax, and to be myself with them is so nice.

mom of 4




5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

The CEO of a big company.  Ha! I used to dream of wearing designer suits, living in a McMansion, with an assistant, a driver, and a personal cook.  And no children. Anyone who knows me know would laugh about that! This is the furthest from who I am now as a person. Give me jeans and a tee shirt, and a squishy baby anyday!

hospital doula




6. What are your top three values?

Kindness.  Trustworthiness.  Determination.




7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

I am a major book worm.  My husband eyes my book collection and says I have a problem.  I say the only problem is where to fit another bookcase ;) I’m not sure I can choose just one favorite.  But I can tell you that I really enjoy historical fiction. Reading about the lives of people who have come before me, the adversities and challenges they have overcome, the lessons that history shows us for our current times, and going on adventures vicariously through their eyes beyond my little suburban neighborhood, is exciting!




8. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

When people tell me that something I did  for them made a difference in their life, or when they notice a specific thing I  excelled at and let me know, it is very rewarding! My Love Language is definitely “words of affirmation”.




9. How would you describe your (doula) style?

I believe birth is a blend of  art and science. I work using using a balance of holistic, intuitive care and evidenced based knowledge.  I am very much a hands on doula, who enjoys providing massage, Rebozo work and positioning techniques with my birth clients.  I also try my best to connect with people heart to heart, as this is what keeps them feeling calm, safe, encouraged and positive during labor.


10. Describe yourself in 5 words

Compassionate

Respectful

Creative

Open minded

Easy going




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5 Tips with High Blood Pressure or Pre-eclampsia

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5 Tips with High Blood Pressure or Pre-eclampsia

  1. Are you the sort of person who thrives on research and information. Become educated! ACOG Hypertension in Pregnancy and/or this Science and Sensibility article on the Early Warning Signs of HELLP.

  2. On bedrest?  Consider antenatal doula support at home.  All the things a postpartum doula does but before the baby arrives.  Looking for something to keep you busy during your bed rest then, consider an in-home prenatal massage with one of our licensed massage therapists who specialize in prenatal, induction, and postnatal massage.

  3. You may have to deliver earlier than full term (which is considered 37-42 weeks).  Ask for a pump immediately upon arrival at the hospital. Pump frequently usually every 2-3 hours with one 4 hour gap in a 24 hour period (ideally in the middle of the night).  Also ask the lactation specialist about an SNS (supplemental nursing system) and help getting a good latch. Skin to skin as much as possible!

  4. Headache or migraine symptoms present with a pre-eclampsia diagnosis and the medicine isn’t helping? Try ice packs, showers with water directly on your face, diluted peppermint oil on the forehead and under the nose.  Ask your care provider about using over-the-counter magnesium spray.

  5. If you’re in the hospital, try laying on left side in the extreme side lying position with peanut ball to help labor progress.

Bonus: This study:  Correlation between oral sex and a low incidence of preeclampsia.  We imagine all the male partners said “further study is needed to test this hypothesis.”  

positions for labor with pre-eclampsia



All content found on Doulas of Capitol Hill website is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency contact your health care provider, go to the nearest emergency room, or call 911.



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International Museum Day

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International Museum Day

Looking for the best museums with kids in DC, VA, and MD? Well, look no further! The weather is warming up which means the tourists are all on their way, too!  We love our region and sometimes it’s fun to “play tourist” along with the rest. Today on the blog we share some hidden gems of things to do in and around DC for International Museum Day:

fun kids activities in DC
Doula Jacquelin Knighton with her family at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Doula Jacquelin Knighton with her family at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

  1. Hirshhorn Museum & National Portrait Gallery- If you’ve lived in the DMV for any amount of time we are sure you or your young ones have your favorite Smithsonian museum and in all likelihood it has lions, tigers, and panda bears or dinosaurs; or maybe it has Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers or space shuttles. But the National Zoo, the Natural History Museum, American History Museum, and two Air and Space Museums are just the tip of the iceberg for kid-friendly Smithsonians.  One of our favorite gems is the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a focus on contemporary and modern art.  They have two weekly story times among other activities.  (Jacquelin Family Pic) If you’re staying with the art exploration, we encourage you to go visit Pop-Up children’s museum at the National Portrait Gallery where they have a program designed for children every Tuesday and festivals in Fort Totten neighborhood in May, June, and August.  

  2. National Building Museum- They have story time for early learners ages 5 and under weekly, however, our favorite event of the year is their Discover Engineering Family Day held every February.  Kids can expect to meet scientists, engineers, and perhaps an astronaut or their favorite PBS character!  (Kids with Curious George pic)

  3. City of Manassas Museum Kid’s Fest Spring Festival- As this post is coming out on May, 18 we would be remiss to mention the festival being held TODAY in Manassas, Virginia.  This is a small museum but offers a scavenger hunt for children and an overview of Civil War era history for the whole family including a tribute to an enslaved African American who established a school.

  4. Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, VA.  Not only does this facility have well developed children’s area, there’s a large playground outside with shade where your little ones can run around after you tour the museum.  A note, some areas of the museum may be intense for the youngest museum-goers, or those with sensory challenges, as one room (not in the children’s area!) walks through a war-zone with sights and sounds to create the experience.  

  5. Fredericksburg Children’s Museum- If you’re going to go as far as Quatico, VA you may as well take the rest of the day and head down to Fredericksburg. Really geared toward the preschool and early elementary aged, this small museum has tons of hands on activities for young minds.  

  6. College Park Aviation Museum- Ok, so I haven’t actually visited this one but it’s on all the lists and seems to have a good range of activities for preschool through older kids.

  7. Chesapeake Children’s Museum- Located in Annapolis, MD, they have activities for scouts, weekly story time, and be sure to check out their free festival on June 1st!  

  8. Port Discovery Children’s Museum- Baltimore, MD, So maybe not so “hidden” but still a gem for our region!  Iif you’re up for a drive to Baltimore we highly recommend this museum. It has it all and will be a fun-filled day for the whole family!  

  9. The Children’s Museum of Rose Hill Manor Park- Frederick, MD located.

  10. Last but not least we are REALLY anticipating the National Children’s Museum opening in Fall of 2019!    If you’ve taken a sneak peak at some of the plans for the museum we know a favorite will be the Bubble Room!  


Bonus:  Artechouse- An immersive art and technology experience that will impress children and adults alike!  Be sure to grab tickets now for their cherry blossom exhibit “In Peak Bloom”, which ends May 27, 2019.  

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International Day of the Midwife- Melissa Torres CNM

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International Day of the Midwife- Melissa Torres CNM

Melissa Torres is a Certified Nurse Midwife currently practicing in Loudoun county, Virginia. She graduated with a Master’s in Nursing degree from Frontier Nursing University in 2017 and has over nine years of nursing experience caring for women. She currently lives in Prince William County with her husband of 18 years and two boys.

Melissa Torres is a Certified Nurse Midwife currently practicing in Loudoun county, Virginia. She graduated with a Master’s in Nursing degree from Frontier Nursing University in 2017 and has over nine years of nursing experience caring for women. She currently lives in Prince William County with her husband of 18 years and two boys.


  1. What led you to this career?

 My journey to midwifery began when I was pregnant with my first son while serving as an active duty Marine.  The lack of support that I experienced during my pregnancy, labor and birth left me feeling afraid, alone, unprepared and doubting my abilities as a new mother.  These feelings resonated with me and led me to question how things could have been different. I soon developed a passion for women’s health, advocacy and empowerment.  My desire to learn how to promote improved prenatal support, education and meaningful care ultimately brought me to the midwifery model..

2. What do you enjoy most about work?

What I love the most about midwifery is empowering women to take ownership of their health and  witnessing the moment a woman realizes that she is so much stronger than she knew she could ever be as she crosses the threshold into motherhood.  


3. If you are a parent, how was your birth and postpartum?

I have two wonderful boys, 11 and 14 years old.  My births could not have been more different. My first birth was long, hard and ultimately ended in a cesarean section.  I suffered significant birth trauma from that experience and due to the lack of family and social support I developed postpartum anxiety.  This made me feel incompetent as a wife, mother and woman.  Eventually, my husband and I developed our a network of friends that over the years  have become family. With my second son I had a successful vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) at 41 weeks with a midwife.  My care during my second pregnancy was much more personal and I actually felt like an active participant in my care.  To say that the postpartum period and recovery with my second son was easier is an understatement.  I felt much more confident in my abilities as a mother and had a wonderful support system in place that truly made a significant difference.

Melissa torres Midwife VBAC 3.jpg


4. What resources would you want parents to have?

As a mother and a midwife I want families to have access to evidence based education and care as well as a support system that can guide them through their journey.   After personally experiencing birth trauma and suffering from anxiety I know first hand how important these resources can be for a family.  We are also severely lacking in mental health resources, let alone resources that specialize in women’s mental health.  Unfortunately, many of these services that do exist  have long wait list and even worse are not often covered by insurance which limits accessibility to those that need it most.  


5. What is one unique thing about your business that your customers/clients love?

The most unique thing about our practice is that we offer a truly collaborative model of care with both physicians and midwives working together to achieve the best outcomes and birth experiences for our families.  We also offer a 24/7 midwifery service with the option to labor and birth in a traditional labor and delivery unit or at the hospital owned birth center.


6. What's one thing you think the world needs to do to improve the lives of new parents (or people living in our service area)?

As  I mentioned previously I believe that the one thing that families need that would truly improve the health and wellness of  our communities is improved access to quality health care that not only meets their medical needs but also promotes mental and emotional wellbeing.


7. What do you think is the hardest part of expecting baby or becoming a parent?

The hardest part about becoming a parent is remembering  to show yourself some grace and give yourself permission to make mistakes along the way.  I work with so many families that are just so afraid of not being enough for their babies- not feeding them right, dressing them right, etc.  I want parents to know that they are enough.  One of my biggest challenges as a new mom was self care.  I struggled with this...hard! I ultimately learned that in order to be the best version of myself for me and my family I needed to do things that were just for me.  As new parents it is incredibly challenging to carve out time each day for themselves and their partners, but it is oh so necessary.

8. What products or services do you personally love?

I personally love when the families I serve chose to work with a doula.  Doulas provide education and support that is associated with improved maternal and fetal outcomes as well as decreased risk of cesarean section.  I find that when a family is working with a doula and a midwife they are much more actively involved in their care which assist them in being more prepared for labor, birth and beyond.  

    

9. How do you start each day?

Some may find this either silly or think that I am neurotic but I actually begin each day by making my bed.  By doing this it allows me to start each day by achieving something, even if it is a small task. This sets me on the mental  path to accomplish everything else I need to that day. I also spend some quality time each morning with a very large mug of coffee.  

10. What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

My family and I love being tourist in DC, there are so many great parks and museums.  We also enjoy hiking in local parks  and fruit picking at many of the orchards and farms in the DC metropolitan area.

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