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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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Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV

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Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV

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

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

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

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

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

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Acupuncturist-

Fertile Living- Njemile Carol Jones

Mahlia Joyce, L.Ac.

Safiyyah Camara

Advocacy-

Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Black Women Birthing Justice

Center for Reproductive Rights

Mamatoto Village



Birth Trainings-

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

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



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

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

Blog-

Mocha Manual

Books-

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

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

The Body Is Not an Apology- Sonya Renee Taylor

Breastfeeding-

Black Breastfeeding Week

Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association

Black Women Do Breastfeed (non-profit org)

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

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

PG County Breastfeeding Coalition, coming soon!

DC Breastfeeding Coalition

Chiropractor-

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

TruCentered Chiropractic -Bryant Harris, Annapolis, MD



Documentary-

The American Dream: Birth in America for Black Mothers

Groups-

Mocha Moms Northern PG County Chapter

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

Herbal-

Ancestral Wisdom of Medicinal Plants

Luxe Mamma- Charissa Young

Mama Luvs Herbals- Jamila Talbot

Massage

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

Midwives

Anaya Sangode-Ayoka, GW Medical Faculty Associates

Claudia Booker Birthing Hands

Kandace Thomas GW Medical Faculty Associates

Dr. Kai Parker DC Midwife, Natropathic doctor

Ebony Marcelle- Community of Hope Family Health and Birth Center

Mental Heath-

Akoma Counseling Concepts- Silver Spring, MD

Diversified Lifestyle Counseling Services

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

Therapy for Black Girls Directory

Naturopathic Doctors-

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

Dr. Kai Parker DC Midwife, Natropathic doctor

Nutrition-

TaKisha August, nutritionist

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

OBGYN-


Charlene Carter - George Washington Medical Faculty Associates

Moore OBGYN

Podcasts-

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

Pediatricians-

Healthy Home Pediatric Dr. Jalan Burton, Capitol Hill

Washington Pediatrics- Dr. Nicole Lang

Pediatric Dentists-

Children’s Choice Dental Dr Jonelle Anamelechi

Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry Dr Avionne Hill

Yoga-

Charissa Young- Luxe Mamma


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Braxton Hicks-  

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

Braxton Hicks or real labor contractions


Birth Tub-

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

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


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

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

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

Breaking Water-

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

Did my water break?

Breastfeeding-

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

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

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

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kaely Harrod

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kaely Harrod

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

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

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

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

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

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

  3. What makes you proud of yourself?

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

  4. What do you love about your life?

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

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

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

  6. What are your top three values?

    Honesty, Integrity, and Loyalty.

  7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

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

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

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

  9. Who is your role model and why?

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

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

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

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

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

  12. Describe yourself in 5 words

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

Kaely, bottom right, with all of her siblings!

Kaely, bottom right, with all of her siblings!

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Winter Root Vegetable Agrodolce Recipe

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Winter Root Vegetable Agrodolce Recipe

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

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



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


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

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


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Real Food for Pregnancy: A book review

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Real Food for Pregnancy: A book review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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Tips for Dealing with Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

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Tips for Dealing with Carpal Tunnel During Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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



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Tips for Lower Back Discomfort in Pregnancy

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Tips for Lower Back Discomfort in Pregnancy

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

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



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Business Spotlight: Interview with Fran Darnell of Dynamic Core

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Business Spotlight: Interview with Fran Darnell of Dynamic Core

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

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

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

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What led you to this career?

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

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

What do you enjoy most about work?

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

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

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

What resources would you want parents to have?

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

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

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

What's one thing you think the world needs to do to improve the lives of new parents (or people living in our service area)?

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

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

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

What products or services do you personally love?

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

How do you start each day?

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

What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

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

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Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes Recipe

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Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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Resources For Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and PMAD's

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Resources For Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and PMAD's

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the most common pregnancy complication..jpg

According to the research, between 15 and 20% of new moms will experience some sort of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs) after giving birth.  PMADs are the most common pregnancy complication. Having a baby can be very isolating and suffering from a mental health problem on top of that can cause even more problems. PMADs might affect a woman’s ability to care for herself and her children.  These illnesses are common and treatable.

Signs and Symptoms

Healthy New Moms.org

Crisis/ Suicide Hotline

Suicide accounts for 5.3% of perinatal deaths, or approximately 1 out of every 19 deaths in pregnant or postpartum women during that time period.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Crisis Text Line

Screening Tools

Mental Health America.net Online screening for depression, anxiety, psychosis, and other mental health disorders

Maternal Mental Health Now- Self-screen toolkit

Edinburgh Scale for Postnatal Depression Easy to use screening tool for postpartum depression used by doctors, nurses, and health professionals


How to Set Up a Postpartum Depression / Anxiety Plan

How to talk to a Mom, by Pooja Lakshmin, MD at the American College of Nurse Midwives DC Affiliate Conference on Women's Health and Wellness in April 2018, Doulas of Capitol Hill blog (coming soon!)

Mother Mag blog post How to Prepare for Postpartum Depression

National Institute of Health Mom’s Mental Health Matters (website down)

Postpartum Support Virginia PDF The Postpartum Plan


Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders; Healing Outcomes, by Laura Macone, MSW, LCSW, Doulas of Capitol Hill Client Portal, resource accessible for Doulas of Capitol Hill families (requires password).

PMAD and the Role of the Doula, by Dr. Emma Basch PsyD,  Doulas of Capitol Hill blog (coming soon!)

Talking with Women about Postpartum Depression and Anxiety,  by Laura Macone, MSW, LCSW, Doulas of Capitol Hill Client Portal, resource accessible for Doulas of Capitol Hill families (requires password)


Local Resources

Healthy New Moms- Maryland’s Maternal Mental Health Campaign

Postpartum Support DC

Postpartum Support Maryland

Postpartum Support Virginia


Local Mental Health Professionals

Catalyst Counseling, Laura Macone LCSW, Alexandria, VA

Center for Maternal Wellness NW DC

DC/MD/ VA Guide find a specialist in perinatal mental health

Dr. Emma Basch, PsyD NW DC

George Washington University Five Trimester’s Clinic- low fee medication evaluation and management

Mary’s Center- lower fee therapy and medication

The Spring Project low fee psychotherapy

Washington Anxiety Center SE DC


Local Support Groups

Dr. Emma Basch PsyD NW DC

P.A.C.E Moms groups many small groups throughout the DMV

Postpartum Support Virginia Fairfax and Alexandria

Emily Griffin LCSW NW DC

Online Resources

Center for Disease Control

Climb Out of Darkness  The world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and OCD, postpartum post-traumatic stress, postpartum psychosis, perinatal bipolar mood disorders, and pregnancy depression and anxiety.

National Institute of Mental Health

Postpartum Depression.org Tips for partners, Take a quiz

Postpartum Progress The world’s most widely-read blog dedicated to maternal mental illness.

Postpartum Support International

TED Talk on one woman’s experience and her TED Talk to bring awareness and reduce the stigma of postpartum depression

Medication During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding/ Chestfeeding

LactMed online catalog of medicine and it’s safety rating for breastfeeding/ chestfeeding parents

Reducing stress and anxiety while breastfeeding, by Kim Hawkins Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Doulas of Capitol Hill blog
SSRI’s, Pregnancy, and Motherhood, by Katie B, Doulas of Capitol Hill blog


For Partners

The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression

Postpartum for Fathers from Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Men for fathers who have postpartum depression



Trainings for Doulas/ Birth Attendants

Mary’s Center DC based trainings

Maternal Mental Health Now “Community Provider Toolkit” pdf download

Maternal Mental Health Now “Online Training”

Postpartum Support International webinars for families and community

Postpartum Support International Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color created to fill a gap in support services for professionals and communities of color around perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Seleni Includes a free 30 minute training and course bundles


Supplementary Methods

Acupuncture Lavender Retreat SE DC

Fertile Living Alexandria, VA

EFT tapping/ Hypnosis

Flower essence (Bach Rescue Remedy ™) study on use of flower essence to assist in depression treatment

Yoga- published study on the use of yoga for treatment of depression


Research

Sleep and Perinatal Mood Disorders: A critical review

Recent Advances in Understanding Maternal Perinatal Mood Disorders

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Postpartum Depression treatment for Low-income Women of Color




Information on this web site is for educational purposes only. It may provide some self-help relief. However, it should not substitute for a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed mental health professional.




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October is Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss Awareness month

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October is Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss Awareness month

For the 1 in 4 women to experience such a loss, it can be a difficult time.  The people in our lives try to be there for us, but often times the results are less than helpful.

After reaching out to a number of women who have been open about their experiences with loss, many of them had similar unhelpful things said to them during a time they are grieving.  

For those of you who wish to avoid such awkward or potentially hurtful statements, have a listen to those who have lived through it.

On this loss in relation to other children-

"At least it wasn't your first child"  - after confiding about miscarriage, a baby we had tried 1.5 years to conceive.

"At least you know you can get pregnant." - said after same miscarriage. Currently been unable to conceive for over 6 years now. (secondary infertility)

“You have two healthy kids, be GRATEFUL for what you have.”  - I can be grateful AND sad, you can have both emotions BRENDA.

“You’ll have another one.”

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Platitudes.  Avoid them like the plague.-

“It will happen when it’s right”- what does that mean?

"It wasn't meant to be” and that “we could just try again." It's not like I fell off a bike or ruined supper. Please don't imply I'm wrong for grieving by saying just make another one.


Comparisons Syndrome-

“It happens to everyone.”

“It’s more common than you think.”  

“It’s not that bad.”

Never say any sentence that begins with, "at least". -

“At least you lost the baby early. At least you have other children. At least you'll have more. At least you got to see the baby once before saying goodbye. Etc.

On this loss and the timing of it-
“It wasn't a real baby yet.” -18 days there's a heartbeat. That's pretty real.

“See the silver lining that you didn’t go full term.”  

‘So you weren't that far along, you were only 8 wks.’- I cannot say whether this particular woman was trying to console me or marginalize my loss but in the moment where the pain is constantly in your throat and the idea of loss is besieging your heart; it felt like a dismissal....The thing is we don’t lose a pregnancy.. it’s not a matter of getting to 40weeks gestation, it’s a matter of having a family member, it’s a matter of an entire life, with ideas, hair color and temperament joining your world; the world. Loss can be difficult for people to sympathize with; even people who have experienced loss and all the more when the loss is only physically felt by one person (mom). Loss is loss, and losing your unborn child is complicated because their body is part of your body; and you essentially lose a part of yourself no matter how many or few weeks they were there.

Anything religious.  Especially if you don’t know their faith or religious beliefs-

“The baby is in heaven now” or variation “the baby is in a better place.”

“God needed her to be with him.”  

“She is an angel now.”

“You will have another one.”

“It was Gods will and he knows what’s best.”

“You will be with her again someday (in heaven).”  - So many of these are related to religious faith and unless you’re talking to a deeply religious person it’s terrible.  And we don’t usually know how religious a person really is.

“It’s a blessing in disguise.”

Unhelpful advice-

“Give it some time and you’ll feel better.”  

“Just relax.”  -are you f*@#ing kidding me?!

Avoiding-

I think mostly for me it was the silence that hurt the most… when people didn’t know what to say or do, so they pretended nothing happened or that I’m not really a mother.


What was helpful-

“I’m sorry for your loss” -The only thing to say.

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The most helpful, honestly came in the form of someone being there to listen, or just to be present with me in silence and support, the general act of gently moving forward in the present even if it's to visit them for three weeks and just being loved and needed. But what also helped was that someone just admitted, "I don't know what to say, but I am here to listen if you want to talk to me.

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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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