Adventures in a Treehouse

You might be wondering why I am blogging about a treehouse on my doula blog.  Well, I went to Portland, OR last month for a DONA Birth Doula training.  The training recommended getting an Airbnb for a place to stay while at the training.  My training was 3 days long.  Anyway, once I realized (in August) that I needed a place to stay, I looked on airbnb.  There were rooms, tiny houses, and bunks available.  Then I saw a listing for a treehouse!  I thought, “That sounds like fun!  I want to stay there.”  I immediately contacted the host.  She had done a GREAT job describing the treehouse.  She wasn’t sure from my VERY brief message that it would be the best fit for me.  She sent me a message stating such and I thanked her for her time and expressed interest in staying in the future.  I also pointed out that I am a birth worker supporting mommas in childbirth and labor.  She responded back that if I was still interested, that I could stay there!!!  Wooo hoo!!

My workshop was for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  So, I went to Portland on a Thursday.  I found the location of the house and met with my host.  She gave me a tour of the facilities (located in her backyard).  That is when I realized that I might not have thought this all the way through.  You see, even though there were pictures and descriptions, I somehow thought that there might be a ladder built into the tree to get up to the treehouse.  I knew the house was in an apple tree and that it was only for one or two people.  HOWEVER, it hadn’t dawned on me that I would have to CLIMB the apple tree like a 10 year old!!  LOL!  Yep!  Up the tree I went!  I asked how I was supposed to get my suitcase up the tree and my hosts reply was “You don’t”.  So my suitcase stayed on the patio at the base of the tree.

I knew that there was a composting toilet in the garage and that it was private for me to use while I was staying there.  But, I hadn’t really thought through the fact that if the toilet is in the garage, and I am sleeping in the tree…YUP!  I have to CLIMB down the tree to use the facilities in the middle of the night!  Wow! Maybe I should have thought this through better.

All in all I had a great time staying in the treehouse, as it was a lot like camping! I enjoyed the down time after such busy days in training.

I’m back…

Wow, what was originally a short break of putting my doula business on hold due to my mom having health issues turned into a 5 year hiatus from blogging! I am pleased to say that Mom is doing better now. Once I wasn’t driving all over the state of California to help my mom out, I decided to go back to school. I officially added the title Certified Lactation Educator Counselor to my name and services in 2013. During this time, and through my absence of blogging, I have continued to assist women and their families before, during, and after birth. I have been honored to attend 5 births since 2012. Each and every birth was as unique as the families I have served. In 2013, I had enough qualifying births to submit to DONA International to become a certified doula. However, I was too scattered to focus on finishing this important step. I plan on re-doing my souls training this fall and to complete the process of becoming a certified DONA birth doula. I am excited to take my doula business to the next level as a certified doula!


Mom and I


A Sample Birth Plan

I know that things can be unpredictable during labor and delivery and ultimately want the health of myself and baby to take precedence.  In all non-emergency situations, I would like to discuss proposed procedures including the risks and benefits to them in order to direct the decision making process with informed consent.

Your help with these preferences is greatly appreciated!


I would like the following people to be present during labor and the birth:  My husband (John Doe) and my doula (Jane Smith)

I would like to maintain mobility as much as possible during labor.  To facilitate this, I would like to have a hep lock and intermittent monitoring of the baby.

I would like to have an unmedicated birth and therefore do not want pain medications offered to me unless I specifically ask for them.


I would like the lights dimmed and hushed voices as the baby is born.

I want to avoid an episiotomy and prefer tearing to having one.

I would like to push instinctively without being told when or for how long.  I would like to push without time limits as long as baby and I are doing fine.

I would like to push and birth in whatever position feels right at the time.  I would like my baby placed on my chest/abdomen immediately after birth for 2 hours to facilitate bonding and breastfeeding

I would like for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating before it is clamped and cut.


If one becomes necessary I want my husband to be present with me at all times during the operation.  I want my glasses with me so that I can actually see my baby.  If the baby is to leave the OR I want my husband to go with the baby and for my doula to stay with me.  I want to breastfeed my baby in the recovery room.

After Birth:

I would like to use my own baby wash and give the baby it’s first bath.

Thank you again for taking such good care of us during this eventful time of our lives!

Birth Plans…

A birth plan is just that… a plan, a blueprint, of how you would ideally like your birth to go.  Are you planning on having an epidural as soon as contractions start?  Would you like to have a birth without an epidural?  Are pain meds something that you feel are necessary to having your ideal birth?  Are you anticipating not needing them?  Are you thinking I don’t want them, but would like the option if it becomes necessary?

The answer to the questions isn’t as important as the thought that goes into answering them.  The important thing about a birth plan is that it shows that you have thought about the birth of your baby and what you would or wouldn’t like to see happen.  A birth plan should be a simple 1 page document highlighting what is most important to you.  Longer than a page and people start to glaze over.  

Birth plans are not set in stone.  They are not a list of demands.  They describe how you would like the birth to ideally go.  The health and safety of both you and your baby is the primary concern for your providers.  When writing a birth plan, keep this in mind.  Being polite is usually a good thing.  Remember that you attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.  Most people don’t want to read a list of demands or unrealistic expectations.  Starting off your birth plan with a paragraph of a few sentences in length thanking the staff and letting them know that these things are important to you, but not at the risk of your or your baby’s health. This will go a long way at setting the staff at ease.

Put the things that are pertinent to you in your birth plan.  If your hospital has rooming-in with the baby as the standard, don’t write that you want rooming-in on your birth plan as that is a waste of everyone’s (especially your) time.  I know that at our local hospital it is pretty standard to have an IV placed when you first get there.  If you are not wanting one then writing that you don’t want one in your birth plan makes sense.  You might even choose to request a hep lock or a saline lock.  

A good thing about a birth plan is that it is something that you can take with you to your prenatal appointment and discuss it with your provider.  In fact, you should discuss it with your provider.  By discussing your birth plan with your provider, you can find out how your provider feels about the things that matter to you.  In my last pregnancy it was important to me that the umbilical cord not be clamped immediately, but be allowed to stop pulsating before it was cut.  In talking about this with my provider, I found out that she typically waits for it to stop pulsating.  I was able to see that she and I were on the same page about that.  It should also be discussed with your support team, your husband or partner, your mom, your doula, whoever you are planning on having at the birth.  This way they can help support you in achieving as close to your ideal birth as possible.

Creative Ways to Fund a Doula

Hmm, you want to have a doula but you are not sure where the fee will come from in your budget.  Here are some suggestions for helping you to come up with the needed funds:

  • You could list having a doula as one of your needed/wanted items for your baby shower.
  • Some doulas give gift certificates.
  • Some doulas will accept credit cards or paypal.
  • I give a $50 reduction on overall fee if the full fee is paid by 38weeks.
  • Friends or family members can contribute to having a doula.
  • Hold a raffle, an example would be a 50/50 raffle.  You sell tickets (for example for a dollar).  You keep half the raised amount and the winner of the raffle gets the other half.
  • Hold a yard sale.  Can even ask for donations of items to sell.
  • Host a Bunco event.  Everyone who participates donates a set amount.  (the one I attended was like $10)  The group plays a set number of games.  Have prizes for the person with most Buncos, least Buncos, etc.
  • Use a fundraising website, such as this one

Finding a Doula

So you have decided to hire a doula, but where to find one? There are a variety of places that you can use to find one. There are many places to get referrals for doulas. These include your medical provider, doctor’s offices, clinics, friends, phone book, and a google search just to name a few. A nice resource for finding doulas is here. They have a search engine that lets you search based on zip/postal code and estimated due date. The doulas listed with them update their calendars, so you have an idea when you are contacting the doula whether she is available for your due date. They also have tips on selecting a doula that will help you with identifying which doula may be the best match for you.

My experiences hiring a doula

I have hired two different doulas in the past. I found both to be very knowledgable and willing to help me to have as close to my ideal birth as possible. Their role was multi-faceted, yet can be summed up in a single word: Support. During my pregnancy, they were available to meet with me or connect on the phone. They met with me a time or two prior to my going into labor. During these meetings, we talked about my previous birth experiences and what I liked and what I didn’t like. They truly wanted to understand my desires. During at least one of these meetings, they met with my husband as well. Once I was 38 weeks along, the doulas were available by phone 24/7. If I had questions (Is this ever going to end?), concerns (How will I know when it is really labor?), or frustrations (Will I be the first person to be pregnant forever?) they were there. When I wasn’t sure if it was labor or just Braxton Hicks, I called my doula and she helped me assess it. And when I was ready for her to come and be with me while I labored, there she was.

With my first doula experience, I had the doula meet us at the hospital. She got there about the same time we did. She was fantastic with counter pressure on my lower back. I remember that I really wanted to push and the doctor wanted me to wait as I wasn’t at 10 yet, my doula came around to the head of the bed and helped me to focus on breathing rather than tensing and pushing. She helped to protect my birthing space. She reminded me that I could do this and that I was doing a good job. My husband got anxious a time or two, but having someone there that knew what normal birth look like helped him to know that everything was ok. Our 3 year old son was also in the birthing room taking a nap. My husband was able to attend to our son’s needs as he knew that I was supported. He didn’t feel the need to be everything to everyone. She stayed with me the whole labor. The nurses and doctor would come and go as I was not the only laboring woman, but my doula was a constant there for me. After the birth of my daughter, my doula helped me with the initial breastfeeding. When she was a couple of hours old and we were settled and ready for some just family time. My doula left. I enjoyed the constant support from her.

With my second doula experience, I had the doula come to the place where I was staying. Again, her focus was on support. She helped me to manage my level of pain. She also used counter pressure techniques and helped me to focus on breathing through the contractions when needed. She contacted my husband when I wanted him to come be with me, as I was having to focus on the contractions and talking on the phone was beyond my ability at that time. She monitored the contractions so that we had an idea how far apart they were. She noted that they never got into a regular pattern. She was great at helping me to be in the moment. She was such a constant support!!! After my daughter was born, she helped me with breastfeeding. She left when we were settled. She stopped by several days later to check in on me. We discussed the birth. I was able to get clarification on the parts of the labor that I was fuzzy on (labor will do that to you!) I treasure the constant support she was to me.

My doulas both did a great job of supporting me and my decisions. I am grateful for these women for supporting me through some of the biggest milestones of my life: the birth of my daughters!

Breast feeding Positions

I was surfing on the internet the other day, doing research for my newsletter, and I came across this fantastic article about breast feeding.  I wish that I had found this article years ago!!  The format of the article is very helpful. It includes 4 positions for breast feeding as well as tips for successful breast feeding.  The article lists a position and describes it with words and a picture.  It then goes on to suggest who the position is best for such as large breasted women or c-section moms.  It then continues on to the next position.  This is a handy article to have around.

Rocking Chair

Growing up, I had the picture in my mind of rocking my babies and nursing them in a rocking chair.  Imagine my delight when my husband and I purchased a wooden rocker.  Since I am on the short side, I was excited that we had finally found a chair that when I sat down in it my feet were amazingly flat on the floor!!  That was quite a feat!  I thought that we had found the PERFECT chair to rock our future babies in.  Fast forward several years…I had just given birth to our son.  I sat down in the rocker to nurse him and realized that I COULDN’T actually nurse him in it!! I was devestated.  When I was sitting in the chair the inside height of the arms was too high to nurse.   His head when resting on my arms was above my nipple line by quite a bit.  This was definitely not conducive to nursing as he wasn’t able to latch on in that chair.  The football hold, which may have helped in this situation, was also not an option as the chair was too narrow to make us of that position.  So remember, when shopping for a chair, if at all possible sit in it BEFORE buying.  After my daughter was born I purchased another chair and YES I can nurse in that one.  The lesson I learned?  In addition to the seat height from the floor, check the inside height of the arms of the chair.

Don’t underestimate the importance of water

I have heard from multiple sources that not drinking enough water in late pregnancy can cause the uterus to become irritable and contract.  I even experienced this myself when I had the flu while pregnant with my last child.  The hospital needed to give me IV fluids AND a shot to stop the contractions as I was about 36 weeks pregnant.

However, I hadn’t really heard much about the importance of water in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Maybe I was just naive or too busy with all that I was doing.  When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I would feel faint and get dizzy.  My friend recommended that I take my blood pressure.  My blood pressure monitor would say that my blood pressure was high.  I contacted my doctor’s office and this warranted a couple of extra pre-natal appointments.  This was scary stuff as I was less than 18 weeks pregnant.  My doctor had ordered a test where I wore a heart monitor for 24 hours to record my heart rate and blood pressure for the entire time.  I worried that I would develop pre-eclampsia or worse.  Well, my doctor looked at the results from the monitor…I was dehydrated and my blood pressure monitor needed to be re-calibrated!  Whew!!!  Something that I could fix.  The solution was simple:  DRINK MORE FLUIDS, ESPECIALLY WATER!  I was also encouraged to decrease the amount of iced tea I was drinking as caffeine is a diuretic.  As such, it helped my body to flush out water.   Your body needs the water as your blood volume is increasing, your body is making or assisting in making amniotic fluid, and you need it to flush out the wastes from your body.   Within days I felt immensely better.  What a scary 2 weeks for me though, not knowing what was making me ill.  Always check with your doctor when unusual stuff is going on.