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Health and Wellness

Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder Recipe

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Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder Recipe

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National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day is observed each year on November 12.  According to the National Day Calendar, this day was created to celebrate who you are, where you have been, where you are going and who you will be thankful for when you get there.

Chicken soup has earned a reputation for being the perfect meal to enjoy when you’re sick, or feeling down, or wanting to warm up on a cold day. We wanted to combine celebrating that feeling and warmth with our Healthy for the Holidays series.

Today we are sharing with you our twist on the traditional chicken soup recipe with Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder.    

From our team chef and postpartum doula, Vanessa Fowler:

No backstory here. I wanted to create something for this series that is also healing for postpartum mothers. It’s family friendly and warm for the season while still, for the most part, being healthy and giving you the control to make it quick during the week or with slightly more time on the weekend.

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PMAD's and the Role of the Doula

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PMAD's and the Role of the Doula

Doulas of Capitol Hill was founded on three guiding principles: Support the Family, Build the Community. Grow the Profession. Today on the blog we are sharing this resource from Dr. Emma Basch PsyD, a psychologist in Washington, DC, who specializes in women’s mental health with a focus on perinatal and reproductive concerns.

Dr. Basch was a recent guest speaker to one of our team meetings and she shared her expertise with our birth and postpartum doulas, as well as our lactation consultants, to help our professionals continuing education and growth. She provides this useful guide for doulas to support clients and their families.

Recently the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) updated their recommendations that women see their health care provider sooner than 6 weeks to screen for physical and mental health complications. Having a doula during pregnancy and in the first year after birth is an additional layer of support to see you through this transitional time between leaving the hospital and seeing your health care provider.

Dr. Basch acknowledges that “reaching out to a therapist can feel like a daunting task.” She recognizes the valuable role that doulas can play in screening for PMAD’s, as we often spend many hours with a client over weeks or months, whereas a doctor or nurse may only spend a few minutes.

PMAD’s are common and also treatable. You are not alone.

PMAD’S and the Role of the Doula

by Dr. Emma Basch PsyD

  • PMAD is an umbrella term that refers to the spectrum of emotional challenges that may arise during the perinatal period (from pregnancy through one year postpartum).

  • There are seven different perinatal mood and anxiety disorders including Perinatal Anxiety, Perinatal Depression, Perinatal Panic Disorder, Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Perinatal Bipolar Disorder, and Postpartum Psychosis.

  • PMADs are the most common complication of pregnancy with 15-20% of people who have given birth reporting symptoms. While PMADS are most common in people who are pregnant or who have given birth, partners and adoptive parents can also develop symptoms of a PMAD.

  • Risk Factors: A personal or family history of depression or anxiety or other mental health concerns, Medical problems including diabetes, thyroid disorders, or PMDD, Difficult pregnancy, birth complications, Financial stress, Lack of social support, History of Pregnancy Loss, Infertility

  • Typical Symptoms of PPA/PPD: Irritability, Difficulty sleeping, Lack of interest in pregnancy or baby, Sadness, tearfulness, Shame and guilt, Feeling hopeless, Worry or feeling like something bad is going to happen, Racing thoughts, Restlessness, “Scary” or upsetting thoughts which may include thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

  • VERY Common: Ego dystonic scary, bizarre or violent thoughts, Thoughts are terrifying to sufferer, Person does everything possible to resist the thought or neutralize it, VERY low risk of hurting baby

  • Psychosis/Emergency: Ego Syntonic scary, bizarre or violent thoughts, Thoughts are ego syntonic and connected to delusions. There is a risk of hurting baby or self

  • PP Bipolar/Psychosis:

    A rare illness that occurs in about 1% of women

    Symptoms generally emerge in the first 2-3 weeks postpartum and are thought to have a hormonal link

    Symptoms include: Delusions and hallucinations, Can include violent commands, Hyperactivity and decreased need for sleep, Mood swings, Paranoia

    Risk Factors: Personal or family history of bipolar disorder or psychosis, 5% Suicide Rate and 4% Infanticide Rate so should always be treated as emergency

Role of a Doula

  • ASSESSMENT (PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM)

    • Pregnancy- what to ask

      • Ask about mental health history

      • History of pregnancy- infertility, losses?

      • Prior births- listen for trauma

      • Worries/mood (frequency, intensity, duration, distress)

      • Sleep

      • support system

    • Postpartum

      • Sleep (#1) question- if birthing person is not sleeping, not tired, racing thoughts, this is an emergency

      • May look “well” but not be coping well

      • Watching baby breath

      • Feeling disconnected from baby

      • Not caring for self

      • Tearful and overwhelmed

      • Feeding challenges

    • Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EDPS)- you can administer and score

    • Birth trauma

  • BRIEF INTERVENTION


Dr. Basch has advanced training in the treatment of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS), infertility, perinatal loss, and birth trauma

Dr. Basch has advanced training in the treatment of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS), infertility, perinatal loss, and birth trauma

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Winters Granola Recipe

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Winters Granola 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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By Vanessa Fowler

I decided to come up with different kinds of granola, mainly for my husband, and I love this one in particular. He is not a big breakfast person but I am. I think it makes for a better day because it makes for a better you. He does eat cereal so I wanted to make it a bit healthier. Plus, I always find him getting frustrated down the cereal aisle because it’s often all sugar or healthy but no flavor. Winters Granola came about with the thought of just wanting to bring warmth and flavor of the season to my husband during the winter while he is at work. It’s brought us so much joy!

Now I am able to share my Winters Granola with all of you. May it bring you warmth and flavor of the season and as much joy to your family as it has to mine.

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One of our wonderful Instagram followers suggested adding some dates if you're towards the end of your pregnancy, and we love that idea!

There have been numerous studies that show the positive effects of dates on the outcome of labor.

According to Mama Natural A study published in 2017: Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery.

Published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, this study supported all the initial findings. The authors concluded that:

“Dates fruit consumption during late pregnancy has been shown to positively affect the outcome of labour and delivery without adverse effect on the mother and child.”

So go ahead and get the go ahead from your provider and then pile on those dates!

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Health Care Quality Week: Interview with Dr. Nicole V. Lang MD

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Health Care Quality Week: Interview with Dr. Nicole V. Lang MD

October 21-27 is Health Care Quality Week and Doulas of Capitol Hill is honored to feature one of Washington, DC’s most loved pediatricians, Dr. Nicole V. Lang, MD, and her practice at Washington Pediatric for this month’s Local Business Spotlight.

Dr. Lang is a board certified pediatrician with over 22 years experience in caring for children in the Washington metropolitan area.  She is the Founder, President and CEO of both Washington Pediatric Associates and the specialized extension of her practice called, Premier Pediatric Concierge Care.  The Concierge Service provides an even more personalized convenient and comprehensive approach to health, education and wellness. 

She is recognized locally as one of Washington DC’s Top Pediatric Doctors according to Washingtonian, Washingtonian Mom, Washington Parent and the Washington Post

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What led you to this career?

My life’s calling, since the age of 7, was to be a pediatrician. I am the first doctor in my family and greatly value taking care of “my children.”  I am truly living my dream. 

What do you enjoy most about work?

I absolutely enjoy helping new parents navigate parenthood and watching the evolution of growth and development of my children over 21 years.  I also love being able to positively influence children during their formative years. My motto is to help children make “Smart, Healthy, Safe Choices in Life” and encourage them to reach their full potential. 

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

I am the proud mother of my daughter, Nia. I had a wonderful natural child birth experience in a hospital setting. I needed a lot of support with breastfeeding during the postpartum period and ultimately did find balance with supplementing with formula. I always say that my baby had the best of both worlds and is thriving today. 

What resources would you want parents to have?

I want all parents to have the book Touchpoints, written by my mentor and world renowned pediatrician, Dr T Berry Brazelton. This book focuses on a child’s social and emotional health, which is just as important as a child’s physical and cognitive well being.  He stresses the importance of having a holistic look at a child and supporting the family in any way possible. 

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)?

New parents need longer maternity and paternity leave to be with their newborns. We need to be a family centered society to help foster the love and support a new family needs in order to thrive. 

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

The hardest part of becoming a parent is the amount of pressure parents (especially mothers) put on themselves to be the perfect parent. There is not just one way of parenting. It is a process of trial and error. It is important to trust your gut intuition because it will always lead you in the right direction.  Trust the process and remember Self-Care along the way. (Remember the airplane rule: parent put your oxygen mask on first then help your child).

What products or services do you personally love?

I am a wellness advocate for the company, Doterra.  I utilize a wide variety of their products personally and in my practice- from essential oils, soaps/lotions to vitamin supplements.  There is a new baby/kid product line now available too, that I love. This company also has a wonderful humanitarian mission that helps support poor communities around the world. 

How do you start each day?

My mother always taught me to count my blessings. I start each day with a prayer of gratitude for the gift of life, family, friends and nature.  I ask God to guide me and give me strength for the day.  I also tell my husband and daughter that I love them dearly. 

What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

My favorite thing to do in DC is to spend time with my family and friends—i.e. hiking in Rock Creek Park, visiting the Smithsonian museums or trying different ethnic restaurants (Cher Cher Ethiopian restaurant is our favorite)—as long as I am with my loved ones, I am filled with JOY!



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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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