What will my doula do?

I sit down for a lot of consults with potential families that go the same. “So… we’ve researched a doula, and we read what your description is. And we love your site and the vibe you give off. But… I guess I still don’t understand what you really do.” It’s true, there’s a bit of a mystique still around doula care, and a lot of misconceptions– many people still think that doulas are only good if you’re planning a twinkle lights style homebirth. And while I’m happy to support that– a doula can help ANY family, in any variety of scenerios.

For just a taste, I’ve started a quick list of some of the things I’ve done in the past year while spending time with my doula families.

 

Help you set up your birth space— hospital or home, I can get your comfort items ready, set the mood with candles or music, or make sure you’ve got the best pillow. For that matter- I can help you come up with a playlist that has just the right vibe for your labour. I’ve pumped up and switched out birth balls when they weren’t quite right, hunted down more pillows and blankets (for mom or dad), and adjusted lighting.

Help you decide if it’s really labour, or really time to go to the hospital. It can be super intimidating trying to decide if the signs you’re feeling are real labour. I often spend time on the phone or through text, talking about symptoms, feelings and instincts and helping mom decide what the next course of action might be. If it’s too early, I’ll help you come up with things to do in the meantime to keep your mind off of the contractions or to cope with the pain.

Help you transition from hospital to home. Moving from the comfort of home to the hospital can be a bit jarring to your system, especially if you’ve never been there before. I can help bridge the gap, navigate hallways, and even answer questions about parking.

Remind you about preferences that are about to become overlooked. Sometimes you get so caught up in the sensations of birth that you forget about things that were very important to you. I’m there to point out if your placenta is about to leave the room without you seeing it, turn on the music you wanted to listen to, offer up reminders about a position you wanted to try or to ask about delayed cord clamping. We talk beforehand so I know all the things that will matter to you.

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Answer questions when things get confusing. Medical staff can sometimes forget that their jargon isn’t second nature for you. Or you may have questions about recommended tests or options at different points during labour. I’ll help to clarify the confusing language, and figure out which questions you can ask your providers to get the answers you want.

Offer options- whether it’s pain relief, positions or next steps. When you’re dealing with intense contractions, sometimes it’s hard to remember all the comfort techniques you had planned. I’m there to offer reminders of things you can try- and we can even practice those during your prenatals. If natural measures aren’t working, I can help you BRAIN (Ask me about it!) your next steps in an informed and judgment free zone.

Help provide comfort to older siblings (or partners). It can be hard for your loved ones to watch you in pain, and harder still to be in the middle of labour and trying to provide comfort yourself to an overwhelmed family member. As a doula I’m able to give reassurance and explanations about the sights, sounds, smells and progress of labour to those with you, be it your partner or a little one. Sometimes all it takes is a quick reassurance  that all is normal, but I’ve also held hands, rubbed backs, had serious talks and even helped a loved one to a chair when they’re feeling faint. I support them so that you don’t have to.

Give your partner a chance to step out to grab a meal, or move a car. I remember back to my first birth and how relieved my husband said he was after our doula arrived. While I was buzzing on labour adrenalin, he hadn’t slept or eaten all night, and by that time he desperately needed a few minutes of fresh air and some nutrients. With my doula by my side, he was able to go take care of himself so he could continue taking care of me. I’m so glad to give this same relief to partners now as I know how much it meant to him!

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Help with early breastfeeding. Sometimes your labour goes perfectly according to plan but it’s breastfeeding that you struggle with. As an experienced breastfeeder and doula, I’m there to help prepare you ahead of time, and also postpartum to get your breastfeeding relationship off to the right start.

Remind you to do life during early labour. One of the easiest ways to get burnt out during your labour is to sound the alarm bells too early. I highly recommend that my clients stay aware of their bodies, but continue to “do life” during early labour for as long as they can. We’ll keep in contact during these hours so you can communicate how you’re feeling, but I’ll encourage you to ignore those contractions and rest until you can’t ignore them any longer. This puts you in a better headspace once true active labour begins.

And of course, provide physical support through touch relaxation, massage, position changes and more. While much of doula work is through the ‘heart’ side, I also use my hands to keep your body comfortable. Whether it’s strong counterpressure through hours of back labour, walking the halls with you through early labour, a foot massage after you’ve gotten your epidural or supporting you while you changing pushing positions, I’m your girl.

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Winnipeg Fresh 48 Photography | Newborn Photos

We've all seen the Winnipeg Fresh 48 newborn photos of our generation- a scowling newborn, fists up or swaddled tight, on a pink, white or blue background. And as generic and nondescript as they are- we still love them. Why? Because these first hours matter! These are photos of our babies, before they began to change. Before their fresh birth looks changed to newborn looks, then to infant, and all to quickly toddler looks.

As time goes on, we're getting better at documenting infants. We snap on our phones or head down to a studio at a couple weeks old to create gorgeous Anne Geddes-esque recreations. But how many truly good fresh squishy newborn photos from those early days do you see? Not enough! We always start with the best of intentions, but the reality is that after you've gone through birth, many parents are too tired to remember to pull out their camera or even their phones for more than a quick shot to post to Facebook. Months later you scroll their your phones going "but I swear we took more! How is there not a single photo of me holding her?" Raise your hand if you've been there!

In-hospital pictures in some form aren't new. Check out the "Fresh 48" style photos of my own birth (33 years ago today! Let's all dip our toes in the nostalgia pool for a second.) The 80's touch is great. We knew even back then that these memories matter. And now we have so many more options for capturing these shots in ways that we'll *want* to remember as the years go by.

New parents often say they don't want photos taken of themselves in those early hours and days postpartum. You're finding your groove, exhausted, and the last thing you want is someone posting your postpartum bedhead to Facebook without your knowledge. You want the photos of yourself to bring positive memories, not stress.

This is why I have absolutely fallen in love with Fresh 48 photography. Winnipeg Fresh 48 gives you the chance to document these moments without having to be the one behind the camera. It means a professional photographer who has specialized experience with the birth and postpartum period, who knows just which angles to use to flatter everyone and provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. Winnipeg Fresh 48s mean actually being in those newborn moments with your baby-- and not just in the form of a blurry selfie!

A Fresh 48 session takes place the day or or the day after birth typically-- it gives you a chance to get freshened up, brush your hair and put on makeup if you'd like to (or not!) and change into something new. Then your photographer comes to you in hospital or home and gets a chance to freeze those emotional, raw and love filled first moments.

An average session takes just 45 minutes, and they are one of my favourite things to document. Squishy newborn details; fingernails, tiny baby lips, curled up legs and brand new feet. Mom and baby's cuddles and feeding, dads loving looks and careful holds. New siblings reactions to "their" new baby. These pictures tell a story of a moment in time that you won't ever get back. You don't get much more special than that!

Unlike the bland, unflattering hospital photos from our past, your Winnipeg Fresh 48 photos are warm, expressive and detailed. Take a look!

Ready for those heart filled wonderful captures from your baby's early days? Shoot me a message today and let's talk!

First Moments | Winnipeg Birth Photographer

Some moments just stand out. Today I'm going to skip the long words and just share some of my favorite photos to capture-- the first time you lay eyes on that beautiful baby. These minutes are like nothing else-- seeing for the first time this soul you feel like you've known forever and yet never met.

Grab some tissues!

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Winnipeg Doula Winnipeg Birth Photographer
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Sophie21
Grace-18
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Do you have a picture from your first moments with your fresh babe? I have from all three of mine and they are seriously amoung my very favourite things ever. Being able to see both their tiny details and the looks on our faces at the time are so special to me!

Hello Henry | Winnipeg Cesarean Birth Story

I met Lea and Mark last year just as fall was settling in. Their easygoing natures and warm personalities were such a breath of fresh air. As we got to know each other, I fell in love with their trust in the process of birth and in the story their little one was cooking up for them. If I could come up with one phrase to describe their vibe to the upcoming birth it would be settled. It was just a lack of fear or stress. They knew what their preferences were for the birth, and they prepared for it thoughtfully with both prenatal classes and a doula. But they also had a fantastic relationship with their care providers and between being well informed and holding a trust in those providers, they were prepared and open to whatever path they needed to head down.

In January Lea and Mark found out that their little one was breech. They talked about their options with their doctor, and agreed that they would follow baby’s lead. If baby decided to stay bum down, the safest delivery for both Lea and the little one, would be a planned cesarean. A few weeks later when baby was still breech, they proceeded to plan their cesarean birth. Of course this wasn’t Lea's first choice, but I loved her understanding and security with the path they were heading down. It wasn’t the experience she would have picked for their birth, but she was confident they would make the best of it, and knew that it was the right decision. In so many births where the parents feel satisfied, I hear that common thread— regardless of the type of birth, or what happened during it— what makes the most difference is that the parents had a voice and were able to make their own informed decisions. Lea and Mark did, and I am so proud of them for being able to look so calmly through their options and choose the right one for them.

Right away, Lea began speaking with her doctor about her preferences for the birth and the possibility of having me attend, and thankfully her amazing provider was on board. We talked about what else to expect for their birth, and made plans for their special day, February 16th.

As is the case so much of the time, their little one had other plans! Despite being the one day Lea said she didn’t want to have a baby, she started having contractions on February 14th. We laughed a bit about the irony, and they made plans to go to the hospital and be checked out. After a couple hours it was confirmed that she was in labour (gee thanks, she could have told you that!) and they would be meeting their baby tonight!

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I headed over to meet them, and could feel the excitement in the room when I joined them in triage. Mark updated me while they started getting Lea set up with her IV, and we were able to confirm that both Mark and I would be welcomed into the OR for the birth. I was so happy to be able to continue supporting and documenting their journey! Often doulas and birth photographers are not allowed into the operating room for cesarean births due to a one support person limit at both Women’s Hospital and St Boniface Hospital. Thankfully this tide seems to be very slowly turning, as care providers and nurses are seeing the benefits and focusing on how they can improve the experience for these families as they welcome their babies. And we are SO thankful!

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Scrubs on and ready to go, we counted down the time until they came and got us for the birth, excitement building as each minute passed. Finally we went down the hall and waited in recovery. When they came to get Lea she made it to the door before running back in to give Mark a hug— their last as a family of two! I’m pretty sure I grinned like a fool.

Once in their birthing room, it’s like time speeds by. Mark comforts Lea, whispering in her ear and keeping a reassuring hand on her. As they await the birth, Backstreet Boys start playing on the radio. Lea laughs and they tell me that in a previous surgery she had, one of her requests to make the experience better was to have Backstreet Boys playing in the background. What serendipity that it randomly came on now, just as they were meeting their baby!

Before long, we’re able to peek over the curtain and Mark announces that they have the most beautiful baby boy! He looks big and strong, has the most annoyed look on his face (what a shock to the system birth must be!) and is absolutely perfect. He lets out his first cry, and I’m pretty sure all of us tear up.

The emotional moment as we hear baby cry for the first time <3

They take him over to the warmer to get his first checkup, and Mark gives Lea a continuous update on how he’s doing and what’s happening. It’s been months and I can still hear his voice in my ear as clear as day, proclaiming over and over how perfect their son is, voice dripping with emotion and love. Finally they have him wrapped up and bring him over to show Lea her son for the first time. It can be hard to see when you’re still lying down but Lea immediately starts to talk to him and is able to reach her hand out and touch him. I feel so blessed to be able to witness these amazing moments.

   

Mark sits down to cuddle with baby while they wait for Lea to be ready to go back to recovery. She can’t see their little guy, so he makes sure to continue giving her all the details. I love how much he makes sure at every moment to keep her involved. It can be so isolating to lay on the table covered by the drape while so much is going on around you, but Mark continues to reassure Lea and recount for her everything that she can’t turn to see.

Finally it’s time to go back to recovery, and like some kind of miracle mama, Lea is able to sit up right away and wastes no time getting to know each detail of her son. She talks to him and rocks him like a pro when he fusses, like she’s been doing this for years already. They latch him on for his first breastfeed and start to learn together. I watch quietly, lending a hand when needed, but mostly just being witness as the three of them transition so well into their new role as a family of three. It seems like such a natural move for Mark and Lea, and I think how lucky baby boy is to have their soothing personalities in his life.

Time flies by as they take in each detail and soak up the newness of this amazing new personality. He's content to just sit and hold mom or papas finger, knowing he's safe and loved here.

   

I am so honoured to have gotten to know Lea and Mark and to support them as they become parents. I can't think of two more deserving people, and I know Henry will be a very loved little boy. Welcome to the world little Henry!

Your Birth Is Not My Story

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You may have noticed that I don’t “check in” at the hospital or birth centre, nor do I make an announcement post after the families I work with welcome their little one. This isn’t because I’m not over the moon excited about what I do and the hard work these families have put in— I am! These new names and stories and faces are etched into my brain forever. Birth is an amazing love story of epic proportions.

But this story? It’s not mine to tell. That announcement? Not mine to make. Sharing the news about your brand new bundle of joy is usually one of the most exciting announcements a person ever gets to make, and I don’t ever want to be the one to take the wind out of anyone’s sails! I see posts from doulas often who are either on their way to a birth, or so excited about what they have witnessed and want to share that with their followers- I get it! There is a magic in birth that you just can't replicate, and as birth workers we sometimes want to shout it from the rooftops.

It may seem a little reaching that my checking in at a certain place of birth would ruin someone’s news, but unfortunately you hear about it happening all too often! All it takes is someone who knows the family and know that they’ve hired me, to see me check in at the hospital they’ve chosen to put two and two together and figure out the exciting news before the family is ready to share. I know of several families who have had their babies announced by a well-meaning friend or birth worker who thought they were being discrete enough. And that's the last thing that I want. I am extremely grateful to be a part of these birthing days, but I am not the story, and I don't ever want to make this amazing accomplishment about me. These families- they deserve the kudos and the chance to share their own news.

So I will continue to jump for joy on the inside, but I will leave all the big reveals to you— exactly the way it should be. I typically send a few sneak peak images to my birth photography clients within a day of their birth, and I love when they're able to use them for an announcement! I am always happy to be tagged in posts and love to see the photos you choose to share-- on your own time. Once the news has spread a bit, then I'll share my awe and excitement. But it is so improtant to me that you get your big moment first.