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placenta encapsulation postpartum doula

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


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


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


You weren't meant to do it alone. 


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


Shoot for the shower


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


Hire a postpartum doula


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


Placenta Encapsulation 


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


We can do hard things


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


Seek professional help


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


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




 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumping- Average 3 ml

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

My 2 ounces of success at 2am!

My 2 ounces of success at 2am!

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

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


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

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

Pumping- pumping stayed around 30 ml (1 ounce) 


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


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

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

Pumping- stayed around 30 ml (1 ounce)



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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

Day 28-31 Still doing all of the above.


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


Conclusion: 

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







What helped/ What hurt?  

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

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

What’s next? 

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

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








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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

By Jenna Forster, IBCLC, RN

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

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

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Who needs galactagogues?

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

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

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



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



Bottom line:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hi everyone,

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

How did I get here?

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

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

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

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

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

The Plan-

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

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Who?

Earth Mama Organics

Gray’s Cowbell Lactation Treats

Legendairy

Majka

Motherlove

Traditional Medicinal

Upspring

Uplifties

How/What?

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

Baseline variables:

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

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

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

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

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

Warmly,

Emily



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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Elisabeth Caron!

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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Elisabeth Caron!

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. What makes you proud of yourself?

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

4. What do you love about your life?

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

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

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

6. What are your top three values?

Kindness, justice, and curiosity.

7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

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

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

My love language is acts of service (unsurprisingly)!

9. Who is your role model and why?

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

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

Either teleportation or a self-cleaning house.

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

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

12. Describe yourself in 5 words

Creative, compassionate, curious, committed and crunchy




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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kaely Harrod

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kaely Harrod

Kaely Harrod is a birth doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister company, Doulas of Prince George’s County since 2018. She is also an accredited La Leche League Leader since 2014.

Kaely Harrod is a birth doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister company, Doulas of Prince George’s County since 2018. She is also an accredited La Leche League Leader since 2014.

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

    I found my passion for helping women as a college student. I now support all birthing people in an non-judgemental way, but my passion was birthed from an inherent desire to help women specifically. I often dreamed of how to meet needs that were gaps in women’s lives, whether that was encouragement, health and nutrition, housing, abuse healing, and trauma care, etc. Out of that desire, I began assisting friends in various ways as there was the need. It didn’t birth anything organized until I decided to become an accredited La Leche League Leader in 2014. After entering the world of postpartum care I found that this specific season of pregnancy, birth and postpartum care was a specific passion that fit perfectly within my passion to help and encourage women. I find great fulfillment from offering support and encouragement to people in this phase of their lives. It is a beautiful thing to be allowed into this deeply personal and vulnerable time and given a space to participate, strengthen and advocate.

  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?

    Be kind to everyone! No matter who they are! Even if they are not kind to you. Kindness is always worthwhile and needed more than ever. Someone else’s meanness does not need to dictate your level of kindness.

  3. What makes you proud of yourself?

    I am proud of my faithfulness and loyalty to other people and myself. I am true to who I am and consistent in what I can give in my relationships. If I’m your friend, I’m your friend and I’ll be loyal and faithful in that relationship. It’s something that’s easier for me to give to others than it is to give to myself, so I’m a work in progress on that front. But I am getting a lot better at giving myself loyal love in my desires and passions and preferences without judgment or shame. That means a lot to me, so it’s something I’m very proud of in myself.

  4. What do you love about your life?

    I love that I have a loving husband who is my biggest fan ever and best friend. He supports me in all my dreams and passions and sees things in me that I can’t see in myself. He’s also just loads of fun and my favorite person to talk to! I also love that we have 3 fun kiddos that are a part of our mix.

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

    I wanted to be a ballerina or a firefighter! :) As a child, I remember my mom telling me that I could probably do both of those as neither requires typical 9-5 hours!

  6. What are your top three values?

    Honesty, Integrity, and Loyalty.

  7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

    “Favorites” are a thing that changes for me kind of often, so right now I’m loving The Great British Baking Show. I have also gotten my children and husband into it, which is super fun. I also really enjoy watching Master Chef Jr! Those kids are hilarious!

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

    I like to be told specifics about what was/is good. So let’s say I’m teaching my children (I’m a homeschooler as well as a doula!), and someone wants to tell me I’m doing it well. I would prefer to be told something like “I see your child(ren) acting empathetically toward others and I know that is a result of your teaching! Keep doing that! It’s slow going, but it’s taking hold!”  Rather than just saying “your kids are so smart!” Or something more generic like that.

  9. Who is your role model and why?

    My role model is my mother. She has faced many struggles and is persistent and strong in the midst of and in spite of them. I have seen her grow and develop as a mother over the years and that has been a learning opportunity for me, too.  She’s a consistent support to us all as adults now while still doing what she loves! She is also my biggest encourager in homeschooling outside of my husband. If I’m ever doubting my work with my children I can call her up for a quick pep talk that changes everything. Since we share that passion for encouraging others she is a role model for me in that as well!

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

    I’m the kind of person who can’t just answer this quickly. Many of my friends can say “Flying” or “xray vision” immediately when asked this. However, I find that there are so many pros to all kinds of superpowers, that it’s very hard to choose! I think the most practical for my life would be to teleport! Or time travel! Don’t hold me to that, though, as it may change depending on my season of life. :)

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

    I would describe my doula style as relaxed, supportive and taking my cues from my clients. I tend to want to learn a lot about who my clients are and how they operate in order to meet them in that space and not try to force them into my world of operation. I have the knowledge base to support and comfort in a variety of ways, but I want to match those comfort measures with who my client is and what they value in the birth!  

  12. Describe yourself in 5 words

    1. Fun, Honest, Loyal, Loving, and Encouraging.

Kaely, bottom right, with all of her siblings!

Kaely, bottom right, with all of her siblings!

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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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