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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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Casey Nelson

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Casey Nelson

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

Casey is a DCH 5 Star Mentor, birth and postpartum doula who has worked with families for 11 years, and has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2016.

Casey is a DCH 5 Star Mentor, birth and postpartum doula who has worked with families for 11 years, and has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2016.

Working with women and families has been something I have loved ever since I can remember. My mom always tells the story of her knowing that this type of work was where I was going to end up because in fourth grade, I was the only child she knew excited to rush off the bus at 4pm to be home in time for A Baby Story on TLC. I continued to love being around babies and babysat and nannied through my undergraduate degree in chemistry and my MPH with a focus on women’s health. I learned was a doula was in college, interned at a natural birth center and was hooked from there!

What makes you proud of yourself?

I am always seeking to be better and know more and am proud that I am someone who works hard to get to where I want to be. I don’t let things get me down for too long. If something doesn’t go to plan, I roll with it, work to understand why and equip myself to change it for the next time.

An example of this, in the spirit of International Cesarean Awareness month, is my birth experience with my son. Unexpectedly, I found myself needing a c-section and although I know that it was the best decision for both of us at the time, I still had to mourn the birth that I had always planned. I am now preparing for a VBAC with my second baby next month but have made a plan with my provider that I feel great about, even if this baby also needs to be born by csection.

C-section doula.jpg


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?

That everything life is temporary. If you are feeling bad about yourself in a certain area? Change it! Don’t like how you look? Change it! Feeling doubt? Prove it wrong! You have the ability and the power to constantly invent and re-invent yourself – you are only done growing and changing when YOU decide that you are.

What do you love about your life?


I have always, always wanted to be a mom and a wife, I get to do both of these things every day and although it’s not always easy, it is rarely, if ever boring! I am incredibly lucky that I am able to do what I love and come home to my best boys at the end of the day.

Babywearing doula.jpg

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Somewhat related to the passion question – I grew up wanting to be an OBGYN!

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

I am a big written words person, I keep cards that people have written me for YEARS, much to my husband’s dismay, literally though I have a box of cards and notes from high school. Another fun fact, I never delete my text messages either.

I like to know that I’ve helped make the lives of those around me a little easier and knowing that something really small made me come to mind.  I also love hearing updates from families I’ve worked with, too! I actually can’t believe that my very first birth doula client is about to have a seven year old!

If you had any superpower, what would it be?

To freeze time, hands down! I would take so many naps, get so much stuff done and DEFINITELY play some pranks on my husband while he was frozen.

How would you describe your (doula) style?

My style as a doula is pretty true to my style as a person – laid back, go with the flow, some humor sprinkled in there to lighten the mood and full of fun facts! One of the things that I value most is relationships, so I will strive to connect with the families I am working alongside, I feel like it makes everything easier, more comfortable and much more fun!

Describe yourself in 5 words

Loyal, supportive, adventurous (but not so much with food), compassionate, encouraging.

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Earth Day Activity- DIY Birds Nest Balls

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Earth Day Activity- DIY Birds Nest Balls

EARTH DAY activity .png

We are pleased to celebrate Earth Day and created this fun activity to do with the little ones using natural and up-recycled materials while providing a valuable contribution to the environment around us. Whether you live in the city or beyond the beltway, the nature walk can be a fun, healthy activity to do together while the weather is lovely.

These DIY Birds Nest Balls are filled with small objects, both natural and recycled, which the neighborhood birds can come and collect for building their nests. Then, when you see already built nests in you yard or on your street, you may recognize some of the colorful fabric or string you gave the birds for their creations.

What you’ll need:

  • Decorative grape-vine balls for filling

  • String for hanging the balls

  • Paper scraps or fabric scraps. Think thin strips less than 1/4” wide and 2” long so they aren’t too heavy for the birds to carry.

  • Small twigs, straw, feathers, or even untreated human hair or pet hair. Nothing with chemicals like flea and tick medicine.

  • Scissors

  • Flowers, pinecones, grass clippings

Fabric scraps, string, ribbon, left over crinkle paper from Easter baskets are all good ideas for this project.

Fabric scraps, string, ribbon, left over crinkle paper from Easter baskets are all good ideas for this project.

These grapevine balls be found at many craft stores and often at the thrift store, if you’re looking to reduce your “footprint.”

These grapevine balls be found at many craft stores and often at the thrift store, if you’re looking to reduce your “footprint.”

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How to do Baby Massage from a Postpartum Doula

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How to do Baby Massage from a Postpartum Doula

Doulas of Capitol Hill is happy to have several postpartum doulas on our team who can teach parents infant massage. In this video below we learn tips from Casey Nelson, birth and postpartum doula.

Also on the DCH team is Kim Stinger, Licensed Massage Therapist and postpartum doula, who provides our in-home prenatal, induction, and postnatal massage, as well as infant massage education to her postpartum doula clients. As an expert on massage, Kim is able to share the benefits, as well as teach techniques to new parents, grandparents, and family members.

Kim says, “infant massage can be used as a tool to bond with baby, reduce crying, and to help your baby relax and sleep. It can be a great tool to use when establishing bedtime routines.” To schedule an in-home postpartum support session and learn these techniques from Kim please contact us today!

Doulas of Capitol Hill has experienced postpartum doulas and licensed massage therapists who can teach baby massage techniques to new parents in the comfort of their own home. Contact us today to schedule a session!

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Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV

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Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV

The creation of this resources guide was a collaborative project by some of the black women who work with Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister company Doulas of Prince George’s County. Spear-heading the project was Charissa Young, birth and postpartum doula, prenatal yoga instructor, and owner of Luxe Mamma, a company which creates luxury gift boxes for new moms as well as services for pregnant moms.

Additional resource collaboration came from Jade Hillery, birth doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill and reproductive health champion. Jade has her Masters in Public Health in Health Education and Promotion.

It was important to all of us at DCH and DPG that this guide be created for black women and by black women and have only auxiliary support by those who are not black women . We did try to include as many resources of businesses owned by women /people of color in the DMV or for those national organizations or resources whose purpose is explicitly to further the health, well-being, and support of black women.

Thank you to both Charissa and Jade and all the providers on this list!

The guide is by no means exhaustive, and we are sure to have missed some fantastic resources and providers. If you have a provider you think we should know about please send us an email or message us on Facebook or Instagram. Additionally, if there is a category you think we omitted, please let us know! This is YOUR story.

Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV.png

Acupuncturist-

Fertile Living- Njemile Carol Jones

Mahlia Joyce, L.Ac.

Safiyyah Camara

Advocacy-

Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Black Women Birthing Justice

Center for Reproductive Rights

Mamatoto Village



Birth Trainings-

Doula Training International- includes “cultural humility” in all their trainings and have scholarships for doulas of color

Shafia Monroe Consulting- doula training, cultural competency, motivational speaking



Birth Doulas and Postpartum Doulas, Placenta Encapsulation, Overnight Newborn Care-

Doulas of Prince George’s County, serving all of the DMV

Blog-

Mocha Manual

Books-

Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis- Julia Ophara, Helena Arega, Dantia Hudson, Linda Jones, and Talita Oseguera

Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth- J. Chinyere Oparah and A. Bonaparte

The Body Is Not an Apology- Sonya Renee Taylor

Breastfeeding-

Black Breastfeeding Week

Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association

Black Women Do Breastfeed (non-profit org)

Hospitals more likely to formula feed children of black mothers, study says.

Charnise Littles Doulas of Capitol Hill and Doulas of Prince George’s County

PG County Breastfeeding Coalition, coming soon!

DC Breastfeeding Coalition

Chiropractor-

Palmercare, Dr. Ted Davidson, Dr. Aldwin Martin, DC location

TruCentered Chiropractic -Bryant Harris, Annapolis, MD



Documentary-

The American Dream: Birth in America for Black Mothers

Groups-

Mocha Moms Northern PG County Chapter

Mocha Moms Inc Members in DC, MD, and VA
Mocha Moms Inc Waldorf

Herbal-

Ancestral Wisdom of Medicinal Plants

Luxe Mamma- Charissa Young

Mama Luvs Herbals- Jamila Talbot

Massage

Kim Stinger- Doulas of Capitol Hill,  Licensed Massage Therapist providing prenatal, postpartum, and induction massage.

Midwives

Anaya Sangode-Ayoka, GW Medical Faculty Associates

Claudia Booker Birthing Hands

Kandace Thomas GW Medical Faculty Associates

Dr. Kai Parker DC Midwife, Natropathic doctor

Ebony Marcelle- Community of Hope Family Health and Birth Center

Mental Heath-

Akoma Counseling Concepts- Silver Spring, MD

Diversified Lifestyle Counseling Services

Sunflower Wellness, Lindsay Vick, hypnotherapy, reiki, Alexandria, VA

Therapy for Black Girls Directory

Naturopathic Doctors-

All Things Natural Wellness Center Dr. Veda Johnson and Dr. Paula Stewart

Dr. Kai Parker DC Midwife, Natropathic doctor

Nutrition-

TaKisha August, nutritionist

Muriel Vanderpuye, personal chef and postpartum doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill

OBGYN-


Charlene Carter - George Washington Medical Faculty Associates

Moore OBGYN

Podcasts-

Therapy for Black Girls (by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford)

Pediatricians-

Healthy Home Pediatric Dr. Jalan Burton, Capitol Hill

Washington Pediatrics- Dr. Nicole Lang

Pediatric Dentists-

Children’s Choice Dental Dr Jonelle Anamelechi

Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry Dr Avionne Hill

Yoga-

Charissa Young- Luxe Mamma


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International Children's Book Day: book clubs, book stores, and baby books, oh my!

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International Children's Book Day: book clubs, book stores, and baby books, oh my!

At Doulas of Capitol Hill we love to celebrate all the things, especially those related to mothers and their children.

Today is International Children’s Book Day so we wanted to share some of our tips for this wonderful day of fun and reading!  

local bookstores for kids

Our founder, Emily Smith, started a Mother- Daughter book club when her daughter was in preschool with the hope to continue through the end of high school! The book club was inspired by reading an article in Mothering magazine when her daughter was an infant.  

Emily loved the idea to create and gather a group of girls and women together to tackle challenging topics such as peer-pressure, menstruation, and even death, in the context of classic and contemporary literature, and with the safe space of their friends and their friends’ moms, who they would grow to trust.

Here is a list of the Top 5 Books for Mother/ Daughter Book Club:

Preschool/ early elementary (age 4-7):

  1. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

  2. Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  3. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  5. Black Beauty by Ana Sewell

Middle to late elementary (age 8-10)

  1. Recipe for Adventure (series) by Giada De Laurentiis

  2. Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

  3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

  4. Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacquelin Kelly

  5. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba

Middle school (age 11-12)

  1. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

  2. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

  3. Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera

  4. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling

  5. Seraphina and the Black Cloak

Top local and on the web sites for books and book clubs:

2nd and Charles, Woodbridge, VA and Chantilly, VA

A Mighty Girl .com

Bonjour Books DC, Kensington, MD

Hooray for Books, Old Town Alexandria, VA

Literacy World Wide. org

Novel Books, Clarksburg, MD

Politics and Prose, Conn. Ave NW, The Wharf SW, Union St Market NE

Reading with Lauren VIP (local Usborne distributor and also a former doula client of Emily’s!)

Solid State Books, H St NE Washington, DC

Wonder Books, Gaithersburg, MD


Top 5 books to prepare big sister (or big brother) for the new baby on the way:

best books to prepare for baby
  1. Where do babies come from?  (a lift-the-flap Usborne book)

  2. Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers

  3. Baby Born by Anastasia Suen illustrated by Chih-Wei Chang

  4. Contemplating Your Belly Button by Jun Nanao, illustrated by Tomoko Hasegawa

  5. Baby on the Way by William Sears, MD, Martha Sears, RN,, and Christie Watts Kelly, illustrated by Renee Andriani

mother daughter book club

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Business Spotlight: Dr. Jalan Washington Burton of Healthy Home Pediatrics

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Business Spotlight: Dr. Jalan Washington Burton of Healthy Home Pediatrics

Dr. Jalan Washington Burton   Healthy Home Pediatrics   Pediatrician and Founder

Dr. Jalan Washington Burton

Healthy Home Pediatrics

Pediatrician and Founder

We are happy to celebrate National Doctor Day today by sharing about Healthy Home Pediatrics, based out of Capitol Hill. Dr. Jalan Washington Burton provides exceptional primary care for children and young adults in the comfort of home, serving the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. 

Dr. Jalan’s visits take place in the patients own home. Her health plans are personalized and tailored to each individuals needs. Her patients have the consistency of building a long-standing relationship with their pediatrician and work with her each time.

We hope you’ll reach out to her today to learn more about her unique practice model!

  1. What led you to this career?

    I have always wanted to be a doctor. Every single school report and every career day, without fail I researched becoming a doctor.  Growing up in Buffalo, my parents signed me up for countless enrichment programs and I was always drawn to biomedicine. I spent most summers shadowing doctors and other healthcare workers. Before medical school, I studied public health with a concentration in health promotion as a way to understand the complex realities of my patients. Looking back, I realize that I have always loved working with others, learning the facts, listening to people’s diverse stories, and then collaborating with those most affected to come up with a plan.

    Ultimately, Pediatrics was the specialty in medicine that most spoke to my heart. During medical school, I saw children heal from life-threatening injuries and thrive! As Marian Wright Edelman says “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life . . . ” The time I have spent working directly with families has always been the most rewarding and it is my life-long calling.

  2. What do you enjoy most about work?

    I love working with children and their families! From brand-new newborns, to spunky toddlers, to feisty teenagers, I love kids! No matter how challenging my days are, I get to work with amazing families every day, it energizes me and makes my life exciting.

    I launched Healthy Home Pediatrics after gaining over a decade of experience in kids’ health as a way to work directly with families free from the red-tape and bureaucracy imposed by health insurance companies and large hospital systems. I went into medicine to work directly with patients because it is what I was called to do and it’s what I love to do.

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

    Honestly, I am still reflecting on my two births, one 7 years ago and one 1 year ago. They were complex and ultimately triumphant, but unfortunately each time I didn’t completely feel “listened to.” Our first was in a hospital our second was at home, each time I had a care team involving my husband, family, midwife, and doula/birth assistant. My youngest just turned one and even though he has experienced some complications, the postpartum period has been a truly fulfilling one. I have a great support network, including my family and a dedicated group of girlfriends. I also worked with postpartum doula for traditional eastern medicine belly binding and compresses. In spite of the challenges, these were beautiful experiences.

  4. What resources would you want parents to have?

    Where do I begin?!? From a systematic perspective, I am a true advocate of paid maternal and paternal leave. I wish that all parents had intergenerational support, that they didn’t have to decide between being a parent and working while their baby is an infant, and that they had communities that truly supported them. From a care perspective, I wish every family had a trusted Pediatrician who they could reach out to when they needed and that they didn’t have to worry about being able to afford the services they need. This is why I started Healthy Home Pediatrics.  

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

    One thing that is unique about my practice is that I am able to be responsive in a way that busy parents need and want such as house calls, video, text, webinars, and email. I love the fact that I truly get to know my patients, by spending time with them in their homes and over time, I am able to develop a comprehensive understanding of what my patients need. Sometimes all a busy parent needs is a quick video chat to have a rash diagnosed and know that a child can return to school or a quick text exchange to ask a nagging question. I love it and my patients do to.

  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)?

    I think we need more high-quality and personalized health care options for everyone! And by access to care for children I mean, access to a trusted health care provider that coordinates primary care and specialty care, not just access to health insurance.  I know far too many people (including me) with access to health insurance who feel like their needs are not being met in the traditional system. Far too many of us feel too rushed and never really know who to ask basic questions. It is rare, but I love when I meet people and they say “oh I love my Doctor and have been with him/her for years!” It warms my heart when I meet people and they tell me that my patients have said this about me - the testimonials my patients provided on my home page truly warm my heart.

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

    I never would have imagined 8 years ago before becoming a parent that a brand new little human being could change my heart so much or that I could be so tired. In a blog post I wrote in March 2014,  I wrote about how I developed my “big ole fierce mama heart” after delivering my first son. Birthing, nursing, and loving my first little human changed me so totally as a wife and Pediatrician. The hardest part for me was how difficult it is to “balance” work and family life. Thankfully my “village” includes a dedicated husband, my father who watches our youngest and picks up our oldest from school daily, and a host of beloved family and friends. Even with that support, it is a daily juggling act that has been fun to experience! When I working with patients I am able to be fully present due to all of my support and when I am at home.

  8. What products or services do you personally love?

    I love getting my hair done, manicures, pedicures, and facials - but honestly I don’t do them nearly as much as I’d like. After being inspired by a close girlfriend with amazing hair, I faithfully get my hair professionally styled every 6 weeks and it has been a game-changer. I have been scaling back on products as a way to declutter our lives and try to use natural, organic products. I love good smelling whipped shea butter and handmade artisan soaps (love Ohene Handmade soaps made by my dear friend Pharmacist Dr. Kofi here in DC).

  9. How do you start each day?

    That depends! I used to be a morning person, but we are deep in the midst of sleep training our 1 year old.  Now, I find myself trying to catch up on sleep and many mornings I am tired and awake to the sound of my husband telling me it’s time to get up. Then begins the dash to get the oldest off to school on time or change the baby’s diaper before handing him off to my father (who is our Granddad-nanny)!

    My goal (someday soon) is to start each day with a few minutes of silent meditation, reflection, and prayer. My favorite inspirational books are Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Iyanla Vanzant’s Acts of Faith. Fingers crossed the Little One consistently sleeps through the night soon!

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

    Our family tries to spend as much time outdoors as possible. We love all of our national parks, recreation centers, and playgrounds!  We live on Fort Dupont/ the Fort Circle Parks and try to hike as much as we can in the spring. I love running or walking along the riverfront at Anacostia Park. Also this is my fourth year as an Urban Gardener and I am so excited to increase our growing of peppers and fruits this year!



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Braxton-Hicks, Breaking Water, Birth Tubs, and Breastfeeding: World Water Day

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Braxton-Hicks, Breaking Water, Birth Tubs, and Breastfeeding: World Water Day

Today is #WorldWaterDay which was created by the United Nations to bring awareness to the global crisis of access to safe drinking water, particularly those most vulnerable are  marginalized groups like women, children, indigenous peoples, disabled people, and refugees. In 2010, the UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” The 2019 theme is “Leaving no one behind.”  

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Today we’d like to share our top water-related tips for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.  For every share on Facebook or Instagram of our blog we’ll donate $1 to Water for People.

The World Health Organization estimates that for every $1 spent on water, sanitation and hygiene programs, there is about a $4 return in productivity.

Water is life and that is true even more true during pregnancy when access to clean water means a healthier pregnancy.  

Access during labor means an environment with less risk for easily avoidable infections (hello, hand washing!) and preventable deaths.  Availability of clean drinking water for new mothers and babies means healthier families who grow and thrive.

This article in the Huffington Post explains many of the direct and indirect consequences to lack of clean water to women and girls and how that relates to maternal health.

Thankfully, our clients in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland who are hiring a doula, overnight newborn care, or breastfeeding specialist aren’t likely to be personally impacted by lack of clean water access in their homes, birth center, or the hospital where they deliver.  So today we’re giving our 4 Doula Tips about water for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum!

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Braxton Hicks-  

You’re up at night Googling “What does a contraction feel like?”  and you’re not sure if it’s time to call your doula. You remember she insisted you CALL (not text or email) if ANYTHING was potentially happening, so you call. She listens intently to what you’re feeling, and agrees, it could be labor, or it could be Braxton-Hicks, aka “practice contractions.”  She suggests trying these three steps and to call her back, reassuring her that “real labor” contractions will get longer, stronger, and closer together. If this doesn’t happen after trying these three steps, it’s probably safe to say your body is just practicing.

Braxton Hicks or real labor contractions


Birth Tub-

You’ve seen tv and movies of childbirth.  From Katherine Heigl’s screams in Knocked Up to Melissa McCarthy banging on a drum during The Back Up Plan to basically everyone in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, all of them have one thing in common, the women are freaking out.  

But at Doulas of Capitol Hill we’ve seen LOTS of births (probably more than the filmmakers in Hollywood) and shake our heads.  It is possible to find real comfort beyond the epidural (which we also fully support!)


We know, and studies agree, that laboring and pushing in the water has a lot of advantages.  That’s why when you search “waterbirth in DC” or “waterbirth in Northern Virginia” you may see our name come up; we rent birth tubs for people to use at home.  

We also support clients who are delivering at hospitals and birth centers where laboring or delivery in the water is an option. We’re especially looking forward to the return of tubs at George Washington University Hospital!

where can I have a water birth in DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland

Breaking Water-

It’s that moment that everyone fears will happen at the worst time, like when you’re in your bosses office!  People make jokes about it, too, which makes it even more nerve wracking. One mom told us about her own experience with a person working at Wal-Mart who thought they’d be funny and followed the mom around the store with a mop “just in case” her water broke while she was shopping.  She was only 7 months pregnant! Some people just have no idea!

Did my water break?

Breastfeeding-

If staying hydrated during pregnancy is important then drinking enough water during breastfeeding is equally important.  While breast milk works on a supply and demand system, meaning the more you remove the more that it signals your body to make, dehydration can be a huge factor for some people in low milk supply.  If you’re wondering “how much water should I drink while I’m breastfeeding?” Here’s what Kelly Mom (a fantastic resource for breastfeeding) had to say:

“Pumping moms may find that they need to pay more attention to remembering to stay hydrated.” - Kelly Mom.com, Do Breastfeeding Mothers Need Extra Calories or Fluid? By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC.

“Pumping moms may find that they need to pay more attention to remembering to stay hydrated.” - Kelly Mom.com, Do Breastfeeding Mothers Need Extra Calories or Fluid? By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC.

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It's Pi Day!

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It's Pi Day!

By Ashley Woolsey, social media manager

It’s Pi day! And while we appreciate the math reference, we prefer to celebrate with dessert. Today we wanted to make a fun, easy, and delicious pie that you can make with your kids. They will love smashing up the pretzels for this crust and watching the magic of turning the milky filling into chocolate.

personal chef

“We must have pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”- David Mamet

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chocolate pie

“I’m just here for the pie!”

pie making with kids
Chocolate Pretzel Pie Postpartum meal plan
Chocolate Pie filling
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“I admit it. I had pie for breakfast. And it was delicious.”

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International Women's Day 2019

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International Women's Day 2019

By Ashley Woolsey, social media manager

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Today is International Women's Day. We know that the transition to becoming a mother can often shift our perspective of what that means about our identity.

It is often hard to remember who you once were before you became a parent and it's equally difficult to separate yourself from that role and discover who you are now. As a woman, as a person, as an individual. For a lot of new parents the return to work postpartum comes with so many emotions. Especially in the US where our family leave is scarce and often non existent. This means a faster return to work for those who are not emotionally, mentally or even physically ready. 

On the other hand there are those of us who thrive at work. Who crave for our brains to be simulated and to grow and nurture our careers. Some of us are ready almost immediately to get back into that environment and reclaim the ideality of the 'who we once were" woman. But whatever the case may be, the transition will still be a challenging one given that you have just given birth and your mental and physical self need to heal and replenish. 

If you are a breastfeeding or pumping parent, no matter your mind set on going back to work, you still have a new challenge of producing and maintaining a supply for your child while apart.

The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington  is a wonderful resource for new parents to learn and get advice on how to best do that. They offer classes on breast pump basics  and pumping strategies for retuning to work . You can learn about how to maintain your supply, how to properly store your milk, and how to continue a breast-feeding relationship with your child when you're back together. 

You absolutely don't have to be a breastfeeding or pumping parent to benefit from their class offerings. They also have a prenatal and postnatal rights at work class taught by lawyers in the field to help guide you in planning and executing your new work/family life role. And lastly they offer a return to work support group which is a great way to connect to other parents in your position and to express your feelings and concerns with going back to work by receiving support and advice.

Being a women in and of itself comes with it's own unique sets of challenges that only grow as you become a mother.

At Doulas of Capitol Hill we pride ourselves in helping women find their old identities and discover new ones as we help guide you though this change. Our postpartum doulas are always there to be a shoulder to lean and learn on. Our Lactation Consultants are available to come to your home and support you in your breastfeeding and pumping needs one on one, and our DCH Village is a 24/7 support group on Facebook that creates a safe and non judgmental space for you to ask questions and meet new people who are in the same stages of life and motherhood. We are in the business of women supporting and empowering women and today, like all days, we celebrate you. Happy International Women's day!

Ashley Woolsey is social media manager at Doulas of Capitol Hill and creator of the blog Motherhood Tabutiful. She speaks sarcasm fluently, drinks coffee through an IV, and I has a deep and possibly borderline obsessive love towards all things Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ashley is a self-described advocate for social justice and human rights and if there's a march she’ll probably be there with her sister.

Ashley Woolsey is social media manager at Doulas of Capitol Hill and creator of the blog Motherhood Tabutiful. She speaks sarcasm fluently, drinks coffee through an IV, and I has a deep and possibly borderline obsessive love towards all things Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ashley is a self-described advocate for social justice and human rights and if there's a march she’ll probably be there with her sister.

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Team Member Spotlight!  Meet Jenna Forester IBCLC

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jenna Forester IBCLC

Jenna has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017 serving families in Northern Virginia and DC with warmth, expertise, and compassion.

Jenna has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017 serving families in Northern Virginia and DC with warmth, expertise, and compassion.

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

    I started off my career as a Labor and Delivery Nurse 10 years ago.  I’ve always loved Women’s Health and after my first experience in a delivery room as a nursing student, I knew it’s what I wanted to do!  I worked Labor and Delivery for several years, during which time I had my first child. During this time, I saw how hard breastfeeding could be! I was really lucky to have a great friend who was a great support for me and I realized we needed more people like that!  During the next few years, while working at an OB/Gyn office, I obtained my IBCLC. Since then, I’ve been working helping breastfeeding families meet their breastfeeding goals! I truly love my work!

  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 little stuff!

  3. What makes you proud of yourself?

    My ability to continue learning and help families!

  4. What do you love about your life?

    I love my family and my job! My children, Isabelle and Caroline, bring me unsurmountable joy (and sometimes frustration!), and I feel very fortunate to be their Mom.

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

    When I was younger, I wanted to be a nurse, then went to college to become a veterinarian, eventually changing gears and getting my Bachelor’s in Nursing.

  6. What are your top three values?

    Respect, Authenticity, Compassion

  7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

    I just finished listening to Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!  It was inspirational hearing about her background growing up, and her family values and how she became to be who she is today.  It’s very inspiring to hear how someone with a background not terribly different from many people, went on to do such amazing and incredible things.

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

    My biggest compliment is when a family tells me I helped them reach a breastfeeding goal.  These can look different for everyone, but breastfeeding was an experience I truly enjoyed with both of my children, so to help other women meet their own goals is why I do what I do!

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

    To make laundry do itself, including folding and putting away – haha

  10. How would you describe your style?

    I try to meet families where they are in both their breastfeeding journey and their short and long term goals.  Breastfeeding goals look different for everyone, so I pride myself on coming up with an individualized plan for each family.   I recently completed a Master Class training on Oral Habilitation and learned so many new things and new ways to help families.  It was so exciting to be able to now have even more tools and strategies to use during consults!

  11. Describe yourself in 5 words

    Easy going, happy, friendly, passionate

Jenna and her family are life-long Hokie’s!

Jenna and her family are life-long Hokie’s!



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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jacquelin Knighton

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jacquelin Knighton

Jacquelin Knighton is a birth doula, postpartum doula, placenta Encapsulator, and childbirth educator. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017 and is the co-owner of our sister company,    Doulas of Prince George’s County   , which also serves the entire DMV.

Jacquelin Knighton is a birth doula, postpartum doula, placenta Encapsulator, and childbirth educator. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017 and is the co-owner of our sister company, Doulas of Prince George’s County, which also serves the entire DMV.

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

    I decided to become a doula based on my own birth experiences. My son was born via C-section which was a horrible experience for me and I ended up with postpartum depression. When my husband and I decided to get pregnant with my daughter, I knew I was going to do everything differently. I wanted to have a VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean,) so I hired a doula, started seeing my chiropractor….all the things. My daughter was born vaginally, and it was the most perfect birth experience for me. It was then I decided that I wanted to help other women have the same birth experience I did with my daughter. I wanted to educate them on their options and help them learn what they can say no to,  and become advocates for themselves. So I became a doula. Later, I opened up Doulas of PG County with Emily to serve black women like myself who are dealing with maternal health disparities and racism in birthing spaces.

  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?

    Life goes on. I have found solace in these three words many of times. When life feels like it’s going to swallow you whole, one thing remains true about it... It goes on. Think about that when you want to give up, you are heartbroken, or can’t find your way. Tomorrow is a new day.

  3. What do you love about your life?

    I love that when I stop and reflect, I realize that I am happy everyday of my life. Maybe not all day but every day and I have my husband, and children for that. I have created a life for myself that brings me so much joy and it’s not lost on me that God has made it all happen.

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

    A lawyer and a mom.

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

    My love language is gifts.

  6. Who is your role model and why?

    Michelle Obama because she embodies the very essence of elegance, persistence, grace and beauty.

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

    Teleportation.

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

    Educational and warm with a bit of sarcasm.

  9. Describe yourself in 5 words.

    Loyal, blunt, trustworthy, optimistic, Integrity.

Doulas of PG County
Doula in PG County

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