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breastfeeding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumping- Average 3 ml

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

My 2 ounces of success at 2am!

My 2 ounces of success at 2am!

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

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


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

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

Pumping- pumping stayed around 30 ml (1 ounce) 


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


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

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

Pumping- stayed around 30 ml (1 ounce)



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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

Day 28-31 Still doing all of the above.


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


Conclusion: 

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







What helped/ What hurt?  

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

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

What’s next? 

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

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








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Team Member Spotlight!  Meet Emily Woody

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Emily Woody

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. What makes you proud of yourself? 

Checking off my to do list and accomplishing goals! 

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4. What do you love about your life?

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

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

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

6. What are your top three values?

Loyalty, Optimism, and Reliability 

7. Who is your role model and why?

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

8. Describe yourself in 5 words

Respectful, Positive, Joyful, Dependable, Loyal

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

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

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

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

by Indira Mattia

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

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

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

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

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

But I kept trying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

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Galactagogues- What are they and who needs them?

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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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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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International Women's Day 2019

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International Women's Day 2019

By Ashley Woolsey, social media manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Team Member Spotlight!  Meet Jenna Forester IBCLC

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jenna Forester IBCLC

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

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

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

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

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

    Don’t sweat the little stuff!

  3. What makes you proud of yourself?

    My ability to continue learning and help families!

  4. What do you love about your life?

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

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

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

  6. What are your top three values?

    Respect, Authenticity, Compassion

  7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

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

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

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

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

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

  10. How would you describe your style?

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

  11. Describe yourself in 5 words

    Easy going, happy, friendly, passionate

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

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



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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jacquelin Knighton

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jacquelin Knighton

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

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

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

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

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

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

  3. What do you love about your life?

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

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

    A lawyer and a mom.

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

    My love language is gifts.

  6. Who is your role model and why?

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

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

    Teleportation.

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

    Educational and warm with a bit of sarcasm.

  9. Describe yourself in 5 words.

    Loyal, blunt, trustworthy, optimistic, Integrity.

Doulas of PG County
Doula in PG County

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Business Spotlight: Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry

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Business Spotlight: Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry

We are SMILING today as we share a guest blog by Dr Avionne Hill for Children’s Dental Health Month.

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One of the specialties provided at Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry is tongue tie and lip tie laser revision, or frenectomy. This can be a simple, but often necessary procedure for some newborns if the tongue or lip tie is causing restrictions making it more difficult for the newborn to remove milk from the mothers’ breast. We encourage all our clients to be evaluated by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant if they are concerns their baby isn’t getting enough milk. Whether the mother is breastfeeding , formula feeding, or combo feeding, a tongue or lip tie which goes uncorrected can contribute to later concerns such as cavities, reflux, and speech problems later in life.


February is children’s Dental Health Month.

This month is dedicated to focusing the spotlight on the dental health of children and the important role it plays in their overall health.

One of my favorite highlights as a pediatric dentist is witnessing the joy, the relief, the gratefulness I see in parents who have had a first successful dental visit with their baby. 

For many parents the anticipation leading up to their child’s first visit can be stressful. Many times this may be heightened by their own past dental experiences. At Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry we consider the facts and documented statistics regarding childhood cavities. Even though it is a preventable condition, cavities in children remains one of the most common childhood diseases.

The current recommendations of both the Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics Dentistry, collectively advise parents to seek dental care for their baby by the time their first tooth arrives and no later than their first birthday. Understanding this, is the reason why we form a partnership with our families to focus on early intervention to aid in the prevention of cavities. We make every effort to make sure our parents and their little ones feel at ease before and during their visits with us.

Though a child’s full complement of baby teeth may not be present in their mouth by their first birthday, it is important to educate parents on how to properly care for these teeth. We also give parents tips on how to brush their baby’s teeth effectively and safely as more teeth erupt into their child’s mouth. We understand that brushing a young child’s teeth can be challenging and we give parents helpful tips and techniques to help them be successful.


During your visit with us at Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry your child’s diet will be discussed . We will examine your baby’s teeth, gums and oral cavity to check for cavities and discuss any concerns you may have. We will also make toothbrush and toothpaste recommendations suited for your baby.

February, is Children’s Dental Heath Month, which is a great time to visit us at Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry and start your baby on a lifetime of healthy smiles. We look forward to seeing you.

Best,

Dr Avionne Hill

Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry 

Washingtonian Top Pediatric Dentist

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More on Dr. Avionne Hill

Dr Hill is a Washingtonian top pediatric dentist and has been listed in every top dentist Issue of the Washingtonian Magazine since 2013 . She was born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago and migrated to Northwest Washington D.C. to further her education .

She received her Doctorate in Dental Surgery at the University of Maryland Dental School . She then completed her specialty training in Pediatric Dentistry at Howard University College of Dentistry .

At Rose Park Pediatric dentistry she surgically releases soft tissue oral restrictions (tongue ties) with compassionate care to infants, young children and teenagers to aid them in feeding , eating and speaking .

She is devoted to educating parents and other health providers about the effects that oral restrictions (tongue ties )can have on infants and children. These effects can last well into adulthood if not diagnosed and treated at an early age .

Rose Park Pediatric dentistry also provides preventative dental services and interceptive orthodontic treatment to children and teenagers. Dr Hill has the advantage of recognizing early dental and orthodontic problems in children and teenagers and addresses them as soon problems are identified.

She has furthered her training and continuing education to ensure Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry offers the latest technology and techniques in the field of pediatric dentistry.

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2019: Better Climbing

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2019: Better Climbing

Each year Doulas of Capitol Hill chooses a single word to be a guide for the year ahead. Our year for 2019 is “Better.”  

We identified three specific ways in which we can be “better” than we were a year ago: Communicators, Cooperators, and Climbers.  We chose these three target areas because they are also areas in which three year-olds are making strides in their development, and in February 2019 our company will turn three!

Today we focus on the last of our three areas of improvement: Climbing.  

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When we thought about three year-old’s we know some of them can be quite daring and can be scaling furniture, or at least the heights of the playground. We thought of our climbing skills in terms of setting goals for the year ahead.

 Here are some of our big goals:

  1. We are so happy to offer a diverse team of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) as well as Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) among our breastfeeding experts to serve Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland. In 2019 we have set the goal to be in-network providers under several health care plans, so that our clients have an easier time getting the support they deserve.  Currently, our clients receive a superbill which they can submit to their insurance for reimbursement. We’re also collecting data on who has successful reimbursement through HSA and FSA as well as for insurance, in a post-support questionnaire.

  2. Our next goal is about helping our clients have more information to make their selection in choosing a birth doula or postpartum doula.  We already have our 20 Point Profile, which is an awesome way for people wondering “how do I choose a doula?” This year we plan to feature a different team member each month on our Team Member Spotlight. We find these interviews are a great way for people to read more about the strengths, personality, and qualifications of the person they will choose for this momentous time in their lives.  In the past we’ve featured Emily Smith, Nicole Bruno, Ashley Woolsey, Kaely Harrod, and Kim Hawkins. We hope you’ll stay tuned for more Team Member Spotlights throughout 2019!

  3. Let me tell you, doulas love acronyms.  Every single doula training or childbirth class we know (including group classes with Nested) teaches the acronym B.R.A.I.N which stands for Benefits. Risks. Alternatives. Intuition. do Nothing. This is a fantastic tool for parents to use during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum around decision making. For 2019 we have set what we feel are S.M.A.R.T goals around the number of clients served in and around the Beltway, as well as those who follow us on Facebook and Instagram around the world.  S.M.A.R.T stand for Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. And Timely. Hopefully, by having the experience of 3 years under our belts, we’ll reach all of our 2019 goals!

Thank you to all of our clients, community, colleagues, and those cheering us along for your support throughout the years! Here’s to a BETTER year ahead!



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Team Member Spotlight!  Meet Kim Hawkins

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kim Hawkins

Kim Hawkins is a birth doula, postpartum doula, certified lactation counselor, placenta encapsulator, and childbirth educator. Kim is also a 5 Star Mentor with DCH. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our launch in 2016.

Kim Hawkins is a birth doula, postpartum doula, certified lactation counselor, placenta encapsulator, and childbirth educator. Kim is also a 5 Star Mentor with DCH. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our launch in 2016.

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

    I knew I liked health subjects way back in high school when I found Anatomy class absolutely fascinating! That continued throughout college as I got my degree in Kinesiology and began to work at government fitness centers in 2007 when we first moved to DC. Fast forward to the birth of my first child and a career switch into Public Health policy. As I began to hear more and more about how the biggest differences being made in health was when there was one-on-one support,  my love of health, birth and support all combined in a huge AHA moment of my life. I wanted to work in a field I knew would bring joy and fulfillment into my life. I love seeing parents change from being nervous about what to expect and then settle into their parenthood journey.

  2. What makes you proud of yourself?

    I am proud I am showing my kids that work can be exhausting but incredibly rewarding. My favorite birthday card was one from my daughter telling me she loves what I do. It was reaffirming that even though this job sometimes takes me away from them at odd hour, it’s worth it. I’m proud that I work on teaching them you shouldn’t depend on other for your own happiness and having resiliency in life is important. I’m proud that some day they will see you’re never too late to follow joy and passion in your life. I’m also proud that I am always wanting to learn and continue on a path of creating authenticity in my life.

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3. What do you love about your life?

What I love about my life is it’s always teaching me new things. Growing and stretching can be painful but getting on the other side can be rewarding. I of course love my husband and children, parenting is hard and humbling work but the moments of pure joy can sustain for a while. And I love wine. And coffee. I’m a cliché but there is a reason they exist!

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

I can’t even remember! I think they always involved some type of service (teacher, nurse, etc.). I also look back and realize there wasn’t a lot of discussion of what options were available when I was a little girl. I hope to keep changing that conversation with my kids.

5. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

I am a huge reader, always have been, and while my ability to find time to read has changed over the years there is still nothing I love more then going to a book store and buying books. My all time favorite book is “I Know This Much is True” By Wally Lamb. I have re-read many books over the years (shout out The Baby-Sitter’s Club books all through my childhood - the Disney Cruise is their best special book and I am Dawn FWIW) and this is one I try to read every year or two. Since becoming a parent I’ve noticed I read books and watch movies through different eyes and books and movies I either re-read or watch have changed them for me. For example, in Home Alone I now just think how annoying Kevin is and feel the panic of the mom in the movie!

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

  1. By being directly told I am doing a good job!

  2. Hearing from clients, whether it’s a week or years later on how they are doing is very humbling to know I was there when they became a family.


7. Who is your role model and why?

Women who keep fighting to find their path and stumble along the way but persevere. It’s hard work and never ending but seeing others keeping to fight help inspire me to not give up my goals and dreams.

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

To be able to finish my to do list every day! So freeze time? Work at super speed?


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

I use humor to help get through parts and honesty I feel goes a long way. Women in labor don’t want to be placated or lied to, they want honestly and authenticity as they go through the humbling experience that is giving birth to your child. Even when a mom is not able to fully communicate how she feeling or what is going on I’m always remembering she is herself and it may be deep inside but speaking to her directly and honestly the entire time is important!

10. Describe yourself in 5 words

  1. Honest

  2. Authentic

  3. Funny

  4. Nurturing

  5. Fiery (my mama bear can come out fiercely and quickly!)


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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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Sharing Stories Series: Reality of Breastfeeding

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Sharing Stories Series: Reality of Breastfeeding

Doulas of Capitol Hill’s tagline is ‘Let’s Tell Your Story’. Every new parent starts a new chapter in their lives. These stories are memories that are a part of a family’s legacy, and we believe they contribute to the community conversation. We want to give voice to our clients to share their story. In the first of this ongoing series, in honor of National Breastfeeding Week, here is the story from Elisa and baby Orion about their breastfeeding journey. 

We've all heard "breast is best," but what they do not say is that breastfeeding is HARD WORK. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and commitment! Something that has really stuck with me is this idea that ‘your baby has never had to work for his food before’. It takes time to become a skilled nursing pair!

doulas of capitol hill client

My son Orion was born early (36 weeks 3 days) via a cesarean birth because he was breech. This unexpected early arrival totally took us by surprise! Immediately upon being wheeled into recovery, Orion laid on my belly and was placed on my breast. He latched right away and our journey began. I was surprised at how natural it felt to feed my baby this way. I thought “this is going to be easy!”

Boy was I wrong.

Those first few days in the hospital were rough. Orion was too little and too sleepy to nurse effectively, my milk took a few days to come in, and he just could not keep his blood sugar up in the numbers the nurses and doctors wanted to see. Although it made me sad, we had to supplement with formula right away to kick start his growth in the right direction.

I got to know the breast pump very well. After every feeding, I would pump to get my supply up and Orion would have a little formula supplement. The one great advantage of this was that his Dad could give him a bottle and he really enjoyed this bonding time.

We continued this regiment at home until his second weight check at the doctor. We were encouraged to breastfeed on each side, burp him, change him, and put him back on the breast again instead of giving him the additional supplement. By the third weight check he was doing great! We could finally stop supplementing and nurse on demand!

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing after that, but the early days of parenthood are exhausting, overwhelming, and intense.

 Orion was doing well with his weight, but he nursed every two hours even through the night. I had to help Orion latch on, be in just the right position, take off layers to keep him awake, and sometimes it just plain hurt to nurse!

 I began to feel like I was just a pair of breasts and anytime I was near him, he began rooting. I was milk and that's all that mattered.

 Every now and then I would pump just to give myself a break (or a nap or a shower!) Finally, at about two months, we turned a corner. Maybe it was all the practice, or Orion getting older, or the fact that he started to go a little bit longer in between feedings - but I finally felt like nursing was working for us. Around this time, Orion began to smile at me and really give something back. It was wonderful to feel like your baby actually likes you and you're not just a pair of breasts!!!

I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave and was worried about the transition. It turned out great. My work gave me a key to a special single executive bathroom and that's where I pump twice a day. I am so lucky that Orion's daycare is really close to work, so I am able to go visit at lunch time and nurse him every workday. This helps keep my supply up and gives us a chance to reconnect.

Fast forward to now, Orion is eight months old. Nursing him is such a blessing! I would not trade it for the world. What I love most is the chance to stop everything and just be with him. The snuggle time, the closeness, and the love I feel between us makes it all worth it...even in the middle of the night. ;) 

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Best Nursing Bras Available For Well Dressed Mammas!

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Best Nursing Bras Available For Well Dressed Mammas!

We are very excited to bring you the first blog in an anticipated ongoing series that focuses on awesome women in and around DC! We look forward to highlighting some of the fantastic work they are doing, enjoying the stories about their children, and doing what doulas do best- supporting women!  Today’s blog features Concetta Aires, owner of Well Dressed Mamma, an in-home nursing boutique that allows you to be fitted for and purchase nursing bras in the comfort of your own home. If you are reading this from an area outside of the DMV, visit her website and order her products online!

   Tell us your story-how did you get into this line of work?

After I had my daughter, I had every intention of going back to my financial reporting job. I loved the company but wasn't in love with what I was doing or the amount of hours I was working. I had recently gotten my MBA and was interested in taking a leap of faith and trying to start my own business. After chatting with a Mom friend, she gave me the idea of doing nursing bra sales after she had such a bad experience finding the right bra for her. I immediately related to the horrors of finding a well fitting, good looking bra (among other necessary nursing items) after I ordered a few terrible nursing bras online and had grabbed others from Target and Buy Buy Baby that were uncomfortable. I knew that if I was going to nurse for the long haul, I needed to be comfortable and feel beautiful so I started doing the research to find quality, good looking products. After a few months I found companies that I not only believed in but loved their products and Well Dressed Mamma was born.

 Tell us about your daughter!

My daughter just turned one which is so hard to believe! When people say you will never feel love like the love you have for your child, I was cynical (maybe because I'm madly in love with my husband) but boy were they right. She's funny and beautiful and so much fun to be around. Her smile and giggle light up a room and she's always happy. She is laid back, like her father, and also extremely determined. I feel so lucky to be able spend every day with her and to learn from her! 

Well Dressed Mamma's Guide to Selectinga Nursing Bra

 You mentioned having a hard time finding a good nursing bra. Do you have a favorite?

I love all the bras I carry but the two I wear the most are the Cake Cotton Candy Bra and the Bella Materna Plunge Bra. I absolutely LOVE the Cake Cotton Candy Bra as a light exercise bra. It is insanely comfortable and cute; I have to hold myself back from buying one in every color! I wear it around the house, to spin classes and I'm almost always wearing it when I'm out in my active wear. I'm also always wearing the Bella Materna Plunge Bra. I love the fact that it turns into a racer-back which is perfect for my summer wardrobe and it also gives a great shape without a wire and is a perfect everyday bra. 


What is the most stressful thing about running your own business?

The most stressful part of owning a business is finding the time for the paperwork and to do all of the behind scenes work such as advertising. I have always been a finance professional with a love for sales so it's been a big switch. I try to capitalize on Kennedy's morning nap but sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day! Trying to have it all is stressful and at times it means some things have to give.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

I love the flexibility of running my own business. Although I still work a lot of hours, I can usually fit them in while Kennedy is napping or after she has gone to bed. My favorite part of my particular business is definitely the clients. I love meeting and helping new moms. I have met many of my best friends through selling them bras or organizing events for my clients. It is such a rewarding experience leaving a mom's home with them feeling confident, pretty and COMFORTABLE in their new (or expanded) role.

What do you think is unique about running a business as a woman?

I think running a business as a woman is challenging especially because we tend to not promote ourselves enough or feel that we are worth the service that we are providing. I also feel like we tend to take on too much. Trying to take care of a household and run a business ensures I never have down time- as I'm sure most parents can relate to.

What is your plan for the next year?

I would love to expand into clothing. Look for some clothing beyond tank tops as early as the spring! I would also love to grow and share my experience with other moms that could benefit from selling the bras. It would be a chance to make new connections and receive income from a part time job while still being flexible for a baby or toddler at home!

 Taking the plunge into motherhood is such a challenging time in every woman's life. Being able to provide them with a service that takes the stress out of shopping for nursing bras no matter where they live is taking one small thing off of their plate. It is such a special time and breastfeeding is such an extraordinary thing that I feel all woman should have the opportunity to feel and look beautiful doing it.

 How do we tell everyone to purchase bras from you? 

If you're in the market for nursing bras, I guarantee you that I carry at least one that you love. I come to you with a crate full of goodies and allow you to try on the items in the comfort of your own home. I'll give you honest feedback because the most important part of my business is having satisfied customers. All nursing bras fit differently so it is important to get measured and to try on a few different sizes to find the perfect bra for you!

 Thank you, Nicole, for giving me the opportunity to tell my story! 
 

Please visit Concetta’s website at  www.welldressedmamma.com to schedule an appointment/make online purchases or email her at welldressedmamma@gmail.com

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