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Birth

Waiting For My Due Date

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Waiting For My Due Date

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

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

  1. Watch the movie “Due Date” 

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Lactation cookies

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

  5. Create a care package for yourself!

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

  6. Dance the baby out

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

  7. Read POSITIVE birth stories

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

  8. Get a massage/ chiropractic / acupuncture

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

  9. Hydrate/ Red raspberry leaf tea

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

  10. Eat dates

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

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

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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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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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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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NICU Awareness Month part II- Let's Tell Your Story!

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NICU Awareness Month part II- Let's Tell Your Story!

By Summer Mobley

The hospital the triplets were born at didn’t have private rooms in the NICU when we were there. Instead, they had multiple bays or pods.

Pictured here is Isabella at 2 days old, weighing approximately 3.5 pounds. She’s inside an isolette. She was hooked up to a pulse oximeter, a heart rate monitor & an apnea monitor. She was also on CPAP & had an umbilical catheter. I promise I’ll explain all of these in another post

Pictured here is Isabella at 2 days old, weighing approximately 3.5 pounds. She’s inside an isolette. She was hooked up to a pulse oximeter, a heart rate monitor & an apnea monitor. She was also on CPAP & had an umbilical catheter. I promise I’ll explain all of these in another post

Imagine a rectangle & around the edges of the rectangle were isolettes (or bassinets or cribs depending on the baby in each station). There were approximately 10-15 babies in each pod. Down the center of the rectangle were sinks for handwashing & computer stations for the nurses. I’m sure there were other things down the center, but frankly, I wasn’t paying attention to those details.

When a baby is admitted to the NICU, it was protocol that only one baby could be admitted to a specific pod at a time. Which meant the triplets were each taken by their respective receiving teams to three different pods.

What this meant for us, was that each time we visited the kids, we’d have three stops to make. Or when we called from home to check on them, we’d have to make separate calls to each pod & each nurse.

It wasn’t like there was a mile in between them - they were essentially 50 feet from each other an&d through another set of double doors, but they were still separated. And thank God for my husband, because I was in such a fog the first few days, I couldn’t remember who was where or how to get there.

After I was discharged, & we would go to the NICU, we’d have to pick who to see first – Baby A (Xander), Baby B (Ellyse) or Baby C (Isabella). We’d arrive to the NICU, wash our hands & arms, put our cell phones in plastic bags & call their nurse to make sure it was ok for us to come back. Because they weren’t in private rooms & we shared a large space with many other babies & their families, if one baby in our pod was going through a sterile procedure at the time, we would be told “No, I’m sorry, you cannot see your baby at this time.” And so we’d wait. Or we’d move down the list to the next baby & pray that we could see one of them. Sometimes, it made me so mad knowing I had to ask for permission to visit my kids & mad that someone else was essentially in charge of the well-being of my children. Most of the time, this wasn’t an issue. And even in my anger, I was and still am SOOOOOO grateful that our kids were under such great, safe care.

The triplets were born at 1:27am and 1:30am. Xander was born 1st, Ellyse 2nd and Isabella 3rd. Izzy and Elly were born in the same minute, practically together, but Elly’s feet came out just before Isabella, so she is considered 2nd born of the trio.

It was so hard to follow anything that was happening in the Delivery Room that night.

Pictured is just a sliver of the people present in the Delivery Room the night of the triplet’s birth.

Pictured is just a sliver of the people present in the Delivery Room the night of the triplet’s birth.

Ray counted 22 people in the room with us. Each baby had a team of 4 or 5 people with them (their receiving team). The team consisted of a NICU doctor, a nurse, a respiratory specialist and a neonatal specialist. There were two anesthesiologists for me, my two doctors, a slew of other nurses and I’m sure I’m missing someone of importance.

After they were born, their respective teams did the norm – weighed them, took measurements, took that “first” picture, the nurses held the girls next to me, so I could see them and then whisked them away. Ray followed the girls down to the NICU because he had a bunch of paperwork to sign.

Xander stayed in the OR for a long time after the girls left and I realized the next day that I never got to see him before he went to the NICU. You see, Xander was born not breathing and it took his team an extended amount of time to stabilize him enough to go to the NICU. Ray and I recall knowing this, but we were told so much information those first few days, it was impossible to keep any of it straight.

Xander was in the NICU for 2.5 months. After discharge, I read his paperwork over and over and over again and it wasn’t until right after he turned two years old, that I noticed something. Xander had been intubated while in the Delivery Room. So, I dug further into his charts and discovered that he had been resuscitated three times while in the delivery room. To tell you how shocked I was when reading that is an understatement. I still get emotional thinking about how close we were to losing him and we didn’t even know it.

Xander had a much harder NICU Journey than my girls did. But if you saw him (or heard him) now, you’d never know it. He has an ear-piercing scream that is a constant reminder that his lungs work and work well. 😊


After the triplets were born, I wasn’t able to go see them right away.

I spent a few hours I recovery, then back to my L&D room, before I was transferred back to the High-Risk floor. It was at least 16 hours after delivery before Ray could wheel me to the NICU. he had already been a few times and was well versed at the routine and protocol.

We planned to see Xander first, so when we arrived at the NICU, we checked in at the desk, put our cell phones in plastic Ziploc bags, washed our hands and arms up to our elbows, called our nurse and headed back. When I got to Xander’s isolette, I was so taken back by his size, by the wires connected to him, by the CPAP mask on his face, by the noises the monitors made as his heart rate rose or dropped or his respiratory rate went crazy. It was so overwhelming.

Somehow, I was keeping it together. Until a woman walked by. Her name was Tara Irvine. We had never met before, but we knew each other’s names because we were part of a Mom’s of Multiples (MOM) group where we lived. MOM’s are band together in a way that I cannot explain.

Tara walked by and recognized my name. She introduced herself and gave me a hug. When I saw the badge she was wearing, I instantly knew who she was. It was at that moment that melted from the emotion of what was going on. Being known by someone who had walked thru what we were walking through meant so much to me that day. I don't recall seeing Tara again after that day and our triplets were transferred to a different hospital 10 days later.

Tara was a NICU Volunteer and it was my first time encountering someone who did this. But it wasn’t my last.

There were volunteers throughout our journey who held our babies when we couldn’t be there; who brought me water while I was doing skin to skin; who sat and talked to me like we were old friends; who sang to my son in the evenings when he was most uncomfortable. I am not sure the volunteers we encountered will ever know how much the giving of their time meant to our family.

Because of the impact the NICU (our nurses, admin staff, doctors, specialists, volunteers, lactation consultants) had on my family's life, I now volunteer at our local NICU.

If you are a volunteer, or have ever volunteered, anywhere for any reason...Thank You. Thank you for loving on others.

You are appreciated more than you know.


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NICU Awareness Month part I - Let's Tell Your Story!

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NICU Awareness Month part I - Let's Tell Your Story!

By Summer Mobley

September is NICU Awareness Month.

This picture is of Elly’s, our Baby B, as she was being admitted to the NICU following birth.

This picture is of Elly’s, our Baby B, as she was being admitted to the NICU following birth.

Our triplets were born at 30 weeks gestation and spent 37, 37, and 70 days in the NICU. In honor of this month, I will share bits and pieces about our NICU journey - including our ups and downs, how we balanced time at how with our, then, five-year-old and how that time has eternally impacted our family.


Two is the number of times I went into labor with the triplets.

The first time was the day after Thanksgiving in 2015. My husband’s brothers and sisters and their kids were all visiting because I was on bedrest. That morning, the boys had taken all he kids to go hunt for a Christmas tree (the story of the tree deserves its own post). When they came back, we decorated the tree. That’s when the contractions started. I sat, quietly, timing them. After an hour I texted Ray, who sat across the room from me and confessed I’d had seven contractions in the last hour. He immediately stood up and told me to get my bag, call my doctor and load up in the car to head to the hospital. Fast forward, we were lucky enough that my doctors were able to stop my labor. I was 29 weeks pregnant at the time.

I went into labor, for the second time, a week later. This time, there was no stopping it. The babies were coming. (To this day, I blame Xander. I think he was tired of getting kicked by his feisty sisters.) I was 30 weeks pregnant.

This picture is of me with three Doppler’s, monitoring the babies heart rates before being taken to the operating room.

This picture is of me with three Doppler’s, monitoring the babies heart rates before being taken to the operating room.

A few hours before the babies were born, one of the neonatologist who worked at the NICU came to speak with me and Ray. This had happened the week prior when I went into labor, so we knew what to expect from him, yet even so, his words were so hard to hear.

He spoke of what we could expect to find after the babies were born. Things like brain bleeds or holes in their hearts to respiratory distress and the need to be intubated. What it really boiled down to, is that the doctors really had no idea what shape our 30-week gestation triplets would be in upon birth. He promised that the team caring for our kids would do everything they could to make sure things were ok. It was so scary, yet so peaceful at the time. And not peaceful in the sense that I’m sure your brain jumped to, but peaceful in that we knew beyond a shadow of doubt, that no matter what, God was good, and God was in control.

Approximately 12 hours after my labor started the second time, the triplets were born at 30.4 weeks. They weighed 4lbs, 6oz; 2lbs, 15oz and 3lbs, 13oz.

Three is such a crazy number when I think back to our time in the NICU.

Of course, the obvious is that we had triplets. And yes, for the crazies that look at me like “Huh!? WTF?! Did you really just say tri…??” Yes, I said it and meant it. And yes, that means three babies. Thank.You.Very.Much.

But three had so many meanings, as a result for us.

Three times the amount of people in the operating room (Ray counted 22 people).

Three receiving teams (which I will get into on a future post).

Three Pods that the triplets were divided into.

Three phone calls we had to make to three different nurses every time we called the NICU for an update.

Three hands-on times, each spaced 30 minutes apart, and repeated every three hours.

Three also signifies the number of days post-birth that I got to go home. Except, I went home without the three children who occupied my body for 30 weeks. The three children who sent me into labor twice. The three children who I’m positive learned to fight each other in utero (and one who proved her karate skills by dislocating THREE of my ribs while I was pregnant). Three days after giving birth, I had to leave three HUGE chunks of my heart inside a hospital and we had no idea how long it would be until they’d be able to come home.

Three of us at home, waiting for the other ½ of family to grow big enough and well enough to join us.

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Three months before our whole family would be home, together, for the first time.

And in three months, from this moment, the three teeny tiny humans that I get to call my kiddos, will turn three years old. The time has gone so fast.


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What Is A Dula?

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What Is A Dula?

A doula (not dula!)  provides personal support services for women and families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. In labor, the doula provides help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. She (or sometimes he) comforts the woman with touch, hot or cold packs, beverages, warm baths and showers, and other supportive measures. The doula is attuned to the laboring woman and her support team so she is always a step ahead of everyone's needs, desires and questions. She also assists the woman and her partner to become informed of the various options, both before and during labor. Perhaps the most crucial role of the doula is providing continuous emotional reassurance and comfort. A good doula will not make decisions for their clients nor will they project their own values and goals onto the laboring woman.

A postpartum doula provides similar support and education, but is focused on promoting the bond between you and your baby and ensuring your needs are met. This assistance comes in various forms, such as feeding (breast, pump, formula, etc), providing newborn care, cooking, cleaning, household management, sibling support and helping new parents become confident in their new role. Similarly to how a birth doula doesn't replace the role or importance of your partner, a postpartum doula is not a replacement for grandma (or anyone else who is personally invested).  We take care of the busy work, provide up to date suggestions or advice if wanted, and focus on the family so everyone gets a chance to bond and spend time doing the real thing they want to do- hold the baby!

Many people can't picture exactly what a doula can really help with in birth and postpartum. Don't worry, you're not alone! Still on the fence about hiring a doula? 

 15 Questions to Determine if a Doula Would be Beneficial to You During Your Birth or Postpartum Period.

1.       Generally your doctor or midwife sees you for approximately 5 minutes every 2-3 hours (or longer!) once you arrive at the hospital. Are you and your support team prepared for this scenario or would you like more consistent and continuous support, often starting in the home?

2.       Do you have a support person that knows various coping techniques, helping you manage labor and pushing with an epidural?  Do they know how to support the entire labor if you are not seeking an epidural?

3.       Do you know how you manage stressful situations? What about your partner or mom/sister/friend?

4.       Do you know what to do if your contractions start and stop over the course of hours or days?

5.       If your labor is long will someone be able to provide a break for your birth partner/coach to rest/eat so that he/she is able to provide support once baby has arrived?

6.       Do you know the appropriate time to go to the hospital depending on your birth plan and labor patterns?

7.       Will you have enough energy/wherewithal to remember important details or ask appropriate questions about care?

8.       Is your partner/coach comfortable with vomiting, blood, and other bodily fluids and functions? What about in the case of a cesarean?

9.       Are you and your support team familiar with 'birth lingo' such as posterior, asynclitic, prodromal, meconium, caput, and more?

10.   Do you understand newborn behaviors/common obstacles such as cluster feeding, reversed sleep schedules, or what to do if your baby will only sleep being held?

11. Do you have a plan in place for your partner's return to work?

12. Will you have enough energy to make healthy meals and focus on your healing, especially in the case of a cesarean birth? What about tips to support your mental health?

13. Do you have friends or family that are familiar with breastfeeding, including when to reach out for more help? How about non-judgmental support if you choose to formula feed?

14. Are you familiar with how to make sure your baby is safe in various scenarios? This could cover things such as your car seat location, sleeping arrangements, vaccine schedules/options, baby carriers, etc. 

15. Will you feel confident in your changing role from business professional to new parent? 

If you have answered no to some or most of these questions, you might consider hiring a doula! This list isn't meant to be overwhelming or to induce fear; it is meant as a tool so you can start planning how to best manage your labor and postpartum so you feel empowered and successful out of the gate. If you know most of these answers and feel well prepared, wonderful! We think everyone could benefit from having expertly trained support, but are happy you are feeling calm, confident and supported during this unique time.

If you are interested in meeting one of our doulas to discuss your birth or have other questions, please feel free to email us at info@doulasofcapitolhill.com.

We would love to hear from you!

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