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Health and Wellness

Earth Day Activity- DIY Birds Nest Balls

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Earth Day Activity- DIY Birds Nest Balls

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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.

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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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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!

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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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January is National Blood Donor Month

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January is National Blood Donor Month

January is national blood donor month. According to the American Red Cross, winter is “one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs.”

The holidays and weather factor into this, but it’s also flu season and seasonal illnesses are at a high. This is why, if you find yourself healthy in these winter months, donating blood is of utmost importance. 

Blood transfusion in pregnant and postpartum women is a common occurrence. The two main reasons for blood transfusion are postpartum hemorrhages and severe anemia. 

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  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, postpartum hemorrhaging is responsible for 25% of material morality. 

  • The average amount of blood loss after the birth of a single baby in vaginal delivery is about 500 ml or 1,000 ml in a cesarean delivery. Any loss above this is considered a postpartum hemorrhage with varying levels of severity. 

  • Women who loose 1500-2000+ ml of blood have extreme hemorrhaging and need blood transfusions. This means the woman has lost 25-35% of her blood volume. 

  • About 5% of women suffer from postpartum hemorrhage and that number is more likely with a cesarean birth which account for over 30% of births in the US. 

  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, anemia during pregnancy is responsible for 15% of maternal mortality.

  • Anemia during pregnancy is quite common and can usually be treated with extra iron supplements or change in diet. However if anemia isn’t addressed during pregnancy it can become severe causing loss of blood or preventions of clotting during labor or postpartum and may require a blood transfusion. 

  • According to The American Red Cross, one person can donate around 470ml of blood at a time. This means, often, and in severe cases, one person may need blood donated from several people to save their lives. 

We’ve compiled a list of places local to the DMV to donate. If you know of others please drop us a comment or an email!

American Blood Centers- Washington, DC

American Red Cross- Locations in Alexandria, DC, Fairfax, Ft. Belvoir, La Plata, Quantico, and Rockville

INOVA Blood Donor Services- Locations in Alexandria, Annandale, Centerville, and Sterling.

National Institute of Health- Bethesda.

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Winter Root Vegetable Agrodolce Recipe

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Winter Root Vegetable Agrodolce Recipe

The holiday season is filled with so much joy and celebration. But we know that it can also bring on a lot of stress and heavy comfort foods. For the months of November and December Doulas of Capitol Hill is celebrating how to have a healthy holiday season. One of the ways we want to encourage you to participate in the holidays, while minding your health, is by providing some easy and delicious recipes.

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Chef and postpartum doula, Vanessa Fowler, is sharing a warm and colorful root vegetable based dish with us that is a perfect mix between comforting and healthy!



Winter is here and staying active & healthy is still very important. As a chef and doula I work with clients to maintain a balance of staying healthy for themselves, their newborns, and the new changes coming. Along with maintaining my own self health. I try to cook seasonally. Winter brings us citrus and root veggies and abutment use of the stove so roasting and braising gets us into the kitchen, warms up the home, and feeds us well.


This is taken seasonal winter veg and roasting it, then topping it with that great sweet and sour sauce known as Agrodolce (agro-(sour) dolce-(sweet)), this sauce is commonly found in either your Chinese/Asian food or Italian.

As a chef I get asked the question “what kind of food do you cook”? Well I am French trained so I always have French foundations but I cook comfort foods that fall into the Italian & Asian category.


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Real Food for Pregnancy: A book review

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Real Food for Pregnancy: A book review

Real Food for Pregnancy should be on every must-read list for all newly pregnant people, or those trying to conceive.  The author, Lily Nichols, covers all of the bases on what to eat during pregnancy and what to avoid, taking time to explain the nutritional evidence for and against specific foods. More than that, Real Food for Pregnancy goes beyond food and tackles exercise, common pregnancy complaints and conditions, how to avoid toxins in our modern world, and even after baby is born and into the “Fourth Trimester.”  The book makes a compelling case for optimizing prenatal health through nutrient-dense foods, through a Paleo-ish diet, providing a refreshing, research-backed approach that is both referenced and an easy read for the expecting person.

The book starts out by telling us what is “Real Food” saying “in a nutshell, real food is made with simple ingredients that are as close to nature as possible and not processed in a way that removes nutrients.”  

We all know the old adage of “eating for two” but the author encourages us to “think quality over quantity,”  by focusing on macronutrients like protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.

I had an Ah-ha moment when I learned that folate, derives from the word “foliage,” meaning that dark leafy greens are a major source of an essential nutrient packed into every prenatal vitamin.   However, in prenatal vitamins it’s the synthetic version, folic acid, which can be harder for the body to process, especially the 30% of the population with the MTHFR gene mutation.  Deficiencies in folic acid can lead to birth defects and can impair brain development, making it so important for the whole population of pregnant people to get enough folate if their bodies aren’t great at processing the folic acid in their prenatal vitamin.  

In this book you’ll also get sample meal plans and several recipes!  One of my favorites was Lily’s Electrolyte Replenishment Drink, a recipe that is great for the first trimester, when many people experience dreaded “morning sickness” that often lasts all day.  This drink is also good for labor, when the body may be taking a break on digestion, but the energy needed for birthing a baby increases.

As a birth doula and postpartum doula in the DC metro area, my clients often come to me for advice and resources to guide them to a healthy pregnancy.  They tell me their doctors don’t give them much in nutritional guidance other than to avoid alcohol, too much fish with mercury, and to take prenatal vitamins.  But pregnant people are some of the most motivated individuals and are willing to learn new tools to lead a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their babies. They want to know how to avoid unnecessary and sometimes scary interventions during labor, and one of the best ways to do that is to stay low risk throughout the pregnancy.  If the end goal of pregnancy is a healthy baby and a healthy (and happy) mom, then this book will help get you to that rewarding end!

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1. Nichols, Lily. (2018). Real Food for Pregnancy: The science and wisdom of optimal prenatal nutrition. https://realfoodforpregnancy.com/




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Prioritizing Self-Care During the Holidays

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Prioritizing Self-Care During the Holidays

Emily Souder, LCSW-C, MA, MSW

Start the slow cooker at 8 am. Schedule flu shots for the littles. Order a birthday gift for the neighbor’s little girl. Clean up goldfish crumbs. Work on that business project.

Sound familiar? This is a pretty typical train of thought for me when I’m running through my mental to-do list. Carrying this mental load around is exhausting. Yes, a paper list helps, but there are still a lot of things to juggle! This list is just on a normal day, but during the holidays, the tasks stack up in a way that just doesn’t happen during the rest of the year.

Get napkins for the preschool party. Order school photos. Return boxers to the store because you bought boys’ boxers for your husband (oops). RSVP to the work happy hour. Make brownies for the neighborhood party. Do we need to send out holiday cards? Do I have spinach in my teeth?

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The topic of imbalance of emotional labor between moms and dads has been making its way around the internet, and with good reason. We carry so many of the unspoken, behind-the-scenes tasks around with us, and it’s frustrating! Even when we have supportive, present partners, it can feel that we are thinking of things that aren’t even occurring to them, and that can feel lonely. We start to think that if we don’t show up in this way, our world will fall apart. It’s scary to let go.

Let’s try something on together. What if we were able to help counteract the effects of this labor imbalance by prioritizing self-care?

Self-care looks different for everyone, but it can include setting boundaries, delegating tasks, making it to that yoga class, and saying no to the holiday happy hour.

This season, I created a free holiday challenge for moms called Rock the Hustle & Bustle specifically for this reason. Moms can benefit from their own space to practice (and it does take practice) making their wellness a priority this holiday season so they can show up for their families in a healthier, more compassionate, more energized way. We don’t have to feel depleted after the holidays!

Here are some things to consider about the holidays and caring for yourself:

  1. Missing out won’t kill you. It might be uncomfortable, but think about this: by missing out on that thing, what are you getting to participate in? What are you saying yes to by saying no?

  2. We can make choices. If the neighborhood party feels like a source of stress, can you pick up a store-bought dessert instead of making one from scratch? Can you skip it and stay in for a cozy movie night with your kiddos?

  3. Others are practicing it too. There are other moms and parents finding their way alongside of you, and reaching out and making connections with others can be a way to feel energized by friendship and to even have a reality-check partner when you wonder if you’re taking on too much.


So what do you think? Is it time to try something a little different this year? It might feel funny at first, but the benefits will have you feeling so glad you gave it a try.

Emily Souder is a licensed clinical social worker, life coach, mama, and writer in Maryland. She helps mom entrepreneurs who are feeling lost in the demands of motherhood and out of touch with themselves achieve clarity, focus, and empowerment using intuition-informed guidance, mindset work, and skill building. She is married to her best friend (so cheesy, but so true!), has two littles (ages 1 and 4), and is on her own path of rocking her authenticity.



Website: www.nestingspacellc.com

IG: www.instagram.com/nesting_space/

FB: www.facebook.com/nestingspacellc/



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Eggnog and Eggnog Quick Bread Recipe

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Eggnog and Eggnog Quick Bread Recipe

The holiday season is filled with so much joy and celebration. But we know that it can also bring on a lot of stress and heavy comfort foods. For the months of November and December Doulas of Capitol Hill is celebrating how to have a healthy holiday season. One of the ways we want to encourage you to participate in the holidays, while minding your health, is by providing some easy and delicious recipes.

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Today Vanessa Fowler, chef and postpartum doula, is sharing a little bit of a treat to kick off our December.


What better way to kick off the season then with eggnog and we aren’t just going to drink it but we are going to eat it too! This eggnog recipe is a classic but with a nice warm winter twist (Brandy) plus a tasty bonus (Grand Mariner). My family loves bread and this season is all about baking so I figured why not eggnog bread but without yeast making it quick bread!


Both are tasty as is but are very versatile as well!


If you choose to skip the Grand Mariner I still want you to add a drop of orange flavor. You can do so by adding one teaspoon of orange zest to the glaze of the bread!


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Tips for Dealing with Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

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Tips for Dealing with Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

Staying Healthy for the Holidays includes taking care of your body physically. Today our wonderful affiliate and friend, Katie Bayer of Concierge Physical Therapists shares with us tips for dealing with carpal tunnel during pregnancy.

According to  this study from 2015, 4% of the normal population suffer from carpal tunnel but that number increases to an average of 35% of people during pregnancy.

From Healthline.com “carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve becomes compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The median nerve runs from the neck, down the arm, and to the wrist. This nerve controls feeling in the fingers.

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway made up of tiny “carpal” bones and ligaments. When the tunnel is narrowed by swelling, the nerve is compressed. This leads to pain in the hand and numbness or burning in the fingers.”

In this video, Katie will give tips on reducing pain during daily activities, simple stretches, and tips for sleeping.



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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pomegranate Salad

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pomegranate Salad

The holiday season is filled with so much joy and celebration. But we know that it can also bring on a lot of stress and heavy comfort foods. For the months of November and December Doulas of Capitol Hill is celebrating how to have a healthy holiday season. One of the ways we want to encourage you to participate in the holidays, while minding your health, is by providing some easy and delicious recipes.

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Today we have another one of Doulas of Capitol Hills amazing chefs, and postpartum doula, Muriel Vanderpuye, on the blog sharing a healthy recipe with you. A warm brussels sprout and pomegranate salad.

Muriel shared, “my children just decided they wanted to choose a healthy lifestyle and traditional African food was no longer welcome in my home.

As a mom I had to make some changes and I bumped into this recipe, I tweaked it a little and we just love it.

The Brussels sprouts vegetable comes from the cabbage family very popular In Belgium and I believe the reason for its name, Brussels. Brussels sprout is quite controversial either you love it or you hate it but this recipe made me fall in love with this unique vegetable.

The first time I tasted a sprout was in culinary school in England. It tasted quite bland with a little bit of a bitter aftertaste. Last year I found this recipe online and added some personal touches.

I love the taste of caramelized outer leaves with the toasted crunchy pecans with sour/ sharp pomegranate seeds and of course the sweetness of the honey all mixed together. This dish should be served warm

Healthy, delicious, inexpensive and easy to make. My kids just love it and I hope your family will too!”

Here is a link on tips to help peel a pomegranate

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Tips for Lower Back Discomfort in Pregnancy

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Tips for Lower Back Discomfort in Pregnancy

Staying Healthy for the Holidays includes taking care of your body physically. Today our wonderful affiliate and friend, Katie Bayer of Concierge Physical Therapists shares with us tips for lower back discomfort in pregnancy.

In this video she talks about how to reduce stress in your lower back, breathing and relaxation techniques, and offers simple and effective stretches that are safe for the pregnant person.



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Business Spotlight: Interview with Fran Darnell of Dynamic Core

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Business Spotlight: Interview with Fran Darnell of Dynamic Core

As a part of our Healthy for the Holiday series, we’re excited to share this interview with instructor Fran Darnell of Dynamic Mama and Dynamic Core classes at Rooted Pilates on the Hill.

Dynamic Mama is an intimate group program that combines Pilates, mindful movement, and coaching to help mamas and mamas-to-be reconnect with their bodies, reclaim their strength, and gracefully move through the miracles of motherhood from prenatal to postpartum.

To find out more about upcoming workshops starting in January and April 2019 please check out Dynamic Core for information.

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What led you to this career?

Ever since I was young I have loved movement, and I have found that it is an incredible resource to help me feel uplifted, present in the moment, more centered, connected with myself, and capable of doing things with strength and grace. My mom was an occupational therapist and through witnessing her work I first learned that movement is healing. In college I studied dance and kinesthetic anatomy which lead me to realize that embodiment is healing. Now more than ever we need to become more present in our body, especially in today’s world we are often more up in our heads than we are engaged in our body. Right after graduating college I began my Pilates certification.

I was inspired to teach Pilates because I have found it to be a movement practice that supports anyone and every body. From focusing on creating healing and rehabilitation to strengthening and functional fitness, and any combination in between, Pilates helps you develop more strength and resilience. I am passionate about working with mothers through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond as motherhood is a truly transformational experience of body, heart, mind and spirit. Pilates is a powerful practice to help mothers mindfully strengthen their core, pelvic floor, and feel centered and connected to your new sense of self. I offer a holistic approach to wellness that combines Pilates, coaching, and energy healing to help women reclaim and restore the harmony of their dynamic core.

What do you enjoy most about work?

I really enjoy getting to help women feel more connect to the core of who they are and helping them to feel tapped into the strength and power they hold within their body. At whatever stage of motherhood we work together whether it is pre-conception preparation, prenatal, postpartum, or many years beyond the power of just showing up for yourself and feeling a commitment to your wellbeing is transformational in itself. I love seeing women shift from the inside out becoming more stable & strong as they connect to their core in a whole new level. Especially when working on managing diastasis recti or healing pelvic floor imbalances, it is so exciting when a woman feels a more whole and integrated sense in her core, when she feels aligned, and can sense her muscles responding. I love helping women build upon the strengths they have inside and out and feel even more capable to do all they want to do, and choose how they want to feel as they move through their life.

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

I am not yet a parent, and very much look forward to making my own family. With over a decade of supporting women through pregnancy, birth and beyond I have seen women through so many different birth experiences. I trust my own journey will be a great teacher to me, and that this will deeply inform my work.

What resources would you want parents to have?

I would want parents to have a resource of breathing exercises to help release anxiety, feel more present and grounded. I also wish that all parents could receive a basic understanding of their anatomy & how the pelvic floor, abdominal muscles, back muscles and your diaphragm function together harmoniously- making up the core of your body. The knowledge of your body is a powerful tool to understand how some simple movements can help you feel stronger, let go of tension, and feel more supported from within. This can help you know how to carry your child accessing the strength within yourself rather than straining your back or overworking in yours shoulders and neck. Numerous times my clients have shared with me how they’ve taught their partner what we’ve been working on so they too can feel stronger and more ease in carrying and caring for their little ones.

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

My clients really appreciate my gift of active listening which allows me to tune in to the parts of a person where they need to foster and connect their mind with their body so that they can achieve what they are really wanting. They love how I am then able to guide them through a movement practice that helps them feel more strength, alignment, and a clear body memory of what it feels like to be tapped into their whole self.

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)?

One thing I think that needs to be improved upon in particular in the US is providing more integrated care for new moms. Too often women are feeling isolated and alone, tolerating pain, silently experiencing incontinence, sometimes not even realizing they have pelvic floor imbalances, instability in their core, or diastasis recti. Every new mother should be able to receive a women’s wellness visit with a pelvic floor physical therapist, receive therapy or some sort of emotional support, and feel the presence of community. There is so much connection and checking in preparation to bringing a child into your life. When a woman is expecting a baby there are frequent check-ins, and then after birth there is often only one checkup for the mom. Mothers need more support, and all too often have to advocate for themselves. We really need to expand upon access to maternal care for new moms.

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

One of the hardest parts I see women facing in expecting baby and becoming a parent is letting go of control, or rather accepting that even with the best plans things may happen in a way that you can’t control. This is really true in all of life, it just gets magnified in a big way in the transformation of becoming a parent. This can lead to anxiety, and I find that movement and simply breathing is a powerful tool, to help you get present in the moment, accept what you can’t change, and be guided by your body’s wisdom and intuition to focus on what you can do, and how you can choose to feel as you move through it.

What products or services do you personally love?

I personally really love using therabands and the foam roller. These are two props that don’t take up a lot of space and are incredible for either stretching and massaging your body, or giving you some extra resistance or challenge to help you strengthen even more. These are the first two props I would suggest any client purchase, and the ones I personally reach for and the Therband is so easy to use on the go!

How do you start each day?

I start each day simply thinking how fortunate I am for waking up and how grateful I am for this day. I then take a moment to think of gratitude for my health, the love I share with my husband, our home, nourishment of food, and love from family & friends, and my gratitude for the work I get to do and all the incredible people I get to work with and support, I give my husband a kiss good morning and depending on my day the rest of my morning routine unfolds. On simple mornings I’ll dry brush, shower, have breakfast, and then off to client sessions. On more spacious mornings I like to choose any combination of what my body is telling me it needs from dancing to a song, journaling & meditating, my Pilates practice & reiki practice, drawing oracle cards, going for a walk outside, or sometimes a morning swim.

What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

My favorite thing to do in DC is take advantage of all the incredible access to nature and being active outdoors by using the bike share bikes to get around the city, visiting the arboretum to check out all the different groves of trees in bloom throughout the year, paddle boarding on the river, or hiking in any of the parks in the area.

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Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes Recipe

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Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes Recipe

The holiday season is filled with so much joy and celebration. But we know that it can also bring on a lot of stress and heavy comfort foods. For the months of November and December Doulas of Capitol Hill is celebrating how to have a healthy holiday season. One of the ways we want to encourage you to participate in the holidays, while minding your health, is by providing some easy and delicious recipes. Our team chef and postpartum doula, Vanessa Fowler, is sharing one of those recipes with you today.

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Here is another recipe this time though... Thanksgiving! And because it is Thanksgiving, we’ll splurge just a little bit.

This recipe calls for half and half to make these potatoes extra creamy, but substituting milk works too and you still end up with a delicious batch of mashed potatoes without it being quite as heavy. (check the recipe notes on tips to make it vegan as well)

This is a classic mashed potatoes recipe but instead of adding flavor directly it’s being infused in other ways so you don’t get the herbs throughout your creamy golden potatoes.

Yukon golds are a little less starchy than russets and I just favor them.

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