The Face Behind Embrace: Meet Your Doula

When choosing a Winnipeg doula or birth photographer, there's one criteria that I always feel is more important than training, or numbers of births, or history-- personal connection.winnipeg doula

Inviting another person into your birth space is inviting them to witness your most vulnerable moments. And it is so important to be comfortable with this person! How safe and respected you feel during your birth directly correlates with how you feel about your experience and even your perception of pain. As birth professionals we are used to holding space in a calming and respectful manner, but finding someone you really connect with is the best way to ensure a birth environment that allows you to relax and get that oxytocin flowing.

I try to be an open book for my clients. I believe knowing me and feeling connected is super important for our relationship and my ability to serve you best during your birth. So today I decided to throw down some fun facts about me. Still super curious about something? Ask! I'm always happy to share.

 

  • When we go out to dinner I almost always order a clubhouse sandwich and fries. I believe poutine should be a weekly staple, and I cannot eat stew without thinking of my mom's homemade recipe (Which I still haven't managed to replicate...). Comfort foods win out for me almost every time.
  • I'm an instant fan of any shows with female leads, great music and characters who show strength in their vulnerability. I've watched Grey's Anatomy since the very first episode, and I still go back and rewatch them with warm fuzzies. My Netflix list also includes Scandal, The Crown, This is Us, Gossip Girl, and One Tree Hill.
  • I decided to pack up and leave my small town high school at the end of grade 11 in favor of a tiny Christian boarding school 3 hours away. It was a huge lesson in independence but also knowing when to lean on those around me for support. It was the most soul healing, wonderful year of my life, surrounded by real, open and gentlehearted people. I will carry those memories with me for the rest of my life.
  • I have a psychology degree that I affectionately refer to as my most expensive piece of artwork. I'm thankful for everything I learned but so glad I followed my heart!
  • I am married to my high school sweetheart and totally get a kick out of the realization that we've now been together almost half my life.
  • I am totally ok drowning my feelings as long as it's in cheesecake. Peanut butter oreo gets my vote.
  • I was a doula for five years before having my own babies.
  • I can be sucked into any music with great lyrics. James Arthur is getting a ton of playtime around here right now, as is Nichole Nordeman, and Macklemore after a recent client had me looking them up again. Old steady favorites are Ed Sheeran (my third baby was born listening to him!), Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan. I'm the type that will be driving along in the car, hear a song, break down into tears and declare instant love. Want to hear what's playing right now? Come join me!
  • But I'm not above dancing like a fool around the kitchen to a good beat. I am *all over* dancing it out Grey's Anatomy style.
  • Playing Wii Lego games while cuddled on the couch with my family is my idea of a perfect Friday night.
  • I felt like a princess on my wedding day, but one of my favorite memories is eating my leftover wedding meal in sweats the next morning because I was too excited to eat during the reception.
  • I'm a long term kind of girl. Two of my best friends I've known since birth and since 9th grade. They know me inside and out.
  • My second baby was a precipitous birth and ended up being caught by his daddy on our kitchen floor. I'm pretty sure neither he nor I will ever live it down.
  • I am a lefty. For fun science-y facts- So is my husband, and we have two kids who are lefties, and one odd man out who prefers his right.
  • Star Wars rules all in this house. My three year old wants to be Luke Skywalker when he grows up, and I'm not entirely sure he won't find a way through sheer determination alone.
  • I love pinterest, and keep my boards carefully curated, deleting things as my tastes change or we complete a project. Welcome to my Type A world.
  • Don't confuse me with a pinterest mom though. No smiley face sandwich has ever graced my daughter's lunch box.

Burning questions left over? Leave them in the comments and I'll answer!

winnipeg doula
Photo Credit AliciaTPhoto


winnipeg doula

 

 

 

 

Embrace Turns ONE | Winnipeg Birth Photographer and Doula

Can you believe it has been ONE YEAR since www.embracebirth.ca was launched? I have had the most amazing year learning and growing with all of you. I can not thank you enough for following with me on this journey! I have worked as a doula for over ten years now, and last year decided things needed a little refresh. I am SO glad I did!

In the past year Embrace Birth Services has:

-And in between it all, I was invited to hold space with some truly amazing and breathtaking families as they welcomed some adorably sweet babes to their families.

 

I can only hope that this next year is as amazing as Embrace’s first official year of business has been. Some days I seriously feel like I need to pinch myself when I realize how lucky I am to get to do this work each day. And I want to send out a huge thank you to the families who have welcomed me this year. For teaching me, trusting me, growing with me. I have been in awe of the love, strength, wisdom that each of you has shown. Thank you for walking this journey with me!

winnipeg birth photographer

Winnipeg New Baby

Winnipeg Pregnancy Guide: Welcome Baby! A Visiting Guide | Winnipeg Doula

Adding a Winnipeg baby to your house? Overwhelmed about keeping up with visitors and expectations? It can seem like a daunting task to settle in with your precious newborn without having to add the worries about entertaining guests, or trying to navigate new feeding and sleep routines while someone else looks on.

Leading up to our first child’s birth, our own new Winnipeg baby, my husband and I were dead set that we didn’t want visitors– we were really craving that time to settle in as a new family of three, uninterrupted. We were worried that having a revolving door of visitors would make us more stressed out, and were also a bit concerned about dealing with all the (sometimes not so) helpful advice that new parents get. So we encouraged family and friends to wait a few weeks before stopping by.

As it turns out, we were pretty overwhelmed anyways, and probably could have used some helping hands! In hindsight, I wish we’d felt confident enough to encourage visitors– on our terms. I’ve learned a lot over the past six years, and we were incredibly grateful to have wonderful family and friend support after our next two births. Our visitors were amazing at coming at convenient times, never staying too long, and making sure to be helpful while they were here.

I’ve jotted down a quick list of ways to be helpful while visiting a new Winnipeg baby. Share it with your family and friends, Post it to Facebook, or use it for yourself if YOU are the new visitor. You want to be invited back after all!

Come at a convenient time

Dropping by unannounced is never a good idea in a house that has a newborn. Communicate with the family and ask what time is best for them. And be flexible– Sometimes what seems like it will be the perfect time ends up being 12 minutes after nap time has started and all those sleepy new parents want is to go to bed with baby. No one needs guilt on top of exhaustion.

Keep your visit short

Unless Requested otherwise! In those early days and even weeks, short visits are usually key. Give them a bit of adult interaction, swoon over the gorgeous new baby, and then get the heck out of dodge and let that family rest. However– some parents really find themselves craving this companionship, and may encourage you to stay. Read their cues! If they’re settled in and keeping the conversation flowing, it’s ok to keep chatting. But watch for signs of tiredness, hunger or anxiousness- sometimes it can feel awkward to deal with those new baby tasks when you’re worried about your guest. Which brings me to the next point…

Image courtesy of WordPress.

When In Rome… Let the baby eat

For a parent who is new to breastfeeding, it can be an overwhelming task. There is no covering up or being discrete when you’re still not sure exactly how to latch baby on properly. And the last thing they need to worry about is making someone else feel awkward. Take your cues from the parents- if they request privacy, this is a perfect opportunity to make yourself useful! Tidy the living room. Wipe down the table. Offer to make tea or a snack. If however, the parents don’t make a big deal out of it– don’t make it into one. Continue talking, make eye contact, and reaffirm that a baby eating is a totally normal and acceptable thing!

Make yourself useful

It’s important to acknowledge that everything with a new baby takes twice as long- if not more. Help out a little while you’re there. Help an older child put away their toys, offer to make the parents a cup of tea or grab a quick snack. Walk the dog or swipe a cloth over the counter quickly. If you’re close with the family or have permission, offer to empty their garbages or throw a load of laundry into the washer. It doesn’t have to be much, but these small gestures are so appreciated! Time spent visiting is often time when the parents aren’t able to get other tasks done- a visitor lending a hand quickly on their way out makes the visit less stressful.

Visit with the big siblings

One of the biggest sources of guilt for parents is often trying to spread the attention between a new baby and older siblings– be they human or of the furry variety! If you have time, try to acknowledge these forgotten members- take a pup for a walk or give them a good long back scratch. For human siblings, take a moment to talk to them about this new development, and make them feel special by reading them a book or playing a quick game. They will appreciate it, and so will the parents.

 

Any other tips you would add? What worked best in your household in those early newborn hazy days?

Embrace Birth Services has created this handy printable for those first weeks with your Winnipeg baby. Post it on Facebook, send it out with a birth announcement, tape it to your door.

 

Winnipeg Baby
Winnipeg Baby

Winnipeg Pregnancy Guide: A Look Inside My Doula Bag | Winnipeg Doula

I often feel like I need to explain myself when people ask me what I carry in my doula bag. People expect to see a lengthy list of magical and crucial items which I cannot attend a birth without. The truth is- I carry less and less as time goes on. At first glance this can look like a lack of preparation or experience, but it really comes down to perspective and trust.

See the thing is, you don’t need me to pack 83 tools and gadgets to rock the heck out of your birth. Your strength and perseverance, your knowledge and focus, are what are going to help you through the journey that is labor. I’m just there to support you along the way.

There’s sometimes a comfort in “things”. If I pack enough items, if I read enough books, if I’ve stressed over writing the perfect birth plan– *then* I will have the birth I wanted. The truth is that none of that is the key to a satisfying birth experience. 

When you hire a doula, you’re not hiring me for massage tools, bendy straws or lotion. You’re making the choice to hire this doula for my experience, my expertise, my deep seated belief that you have within you all the tools required for a wonderful birth story. I am holding space for your birth, but I am not the writer of your birth story.

What I bring in my doula bag are primarily items designed to help me serve you. To be the best doula I can be for you, every step of the way. So without further ado, I present an inside look into what I’ve found to be the necessities.

winnipeg doula bag

Spare Clothing.  Sometimes birth is messy. Being able to support you fully means that sometimes, a change of clothes comes in handy later on.

Toiletries. Because after 20 hours together, you’ll be happy I brought the toothbrush. All items in here are designed to keep me fresh in mind and body- self care means that I’m putting my best foot forward for you.

winnipeg doula bag

Snacks. This is a sampling of what I keep in the bag for if I need to run quickly. Usually I throw in some fresh foods right before I head out the door. Keeping up energy during your labor and birth is important for the entire team- I encourage my families to eat and drink, and make sure that I do too. Labor is a marathon, not a sprint, and the better we treat our bodies, the better they’ll treat us!

winnipeg doula bag

Massage Tools. Touch during labor can be a magical thing, soothing aching muscles and serving as a reminder of support all in one. To enhance your experience I bring grapeseed oil, a roller ball massager, and a sensory ball to hit all the right tense spots. You can also see a sleep mask for if you’re having trouble resting in between contractions, a small heat bag, a some crystals. I’ll be honest that I’m not 100% sure where I stand on crystals and their usage, but I do know I found it grounding in the last weeks of pregnancy and early hours of labor to hold and rub the smooth cool stones. There’s something about the firmness of a stone or crystal that is extra reassuring when everything around you feels a little shaky. 

I also keep on hand a kneeling pad, a copy of The Birth Partner books, and the gloves and chux pad (the bright blue one). These have come in handy while laboring at home or during a car transfer!

And that’s it! All the important things that assist me in helping you. Add in a willing heart, peaceful open mind and body that’s willing to work- and you’ve got a doula! And the stuff that really matters? That’s already inside you.

winnipeg doula bag

When you Come Unglued | Holding Space as a Winnipeg Doula

I talk a lot in my work about ‘holding space’. It’s a beautiful and breathtaking concept, and Glow Doula captures it perfectly in this article.  What does Holding the Space Mean? As they underwent some business changes, the article was unavailable for a while. Now that it’s back up, I wanted to share it with you again.

“In a strictly spiritual sense, to “hold space” for another is to make yourself a centering force.  To hold the space for a woman giving birth is make yourself the rock-solid ground beneath while labour throws everything it’s got at her.  It means passing no judgement or holding no sway over her decision making, nor her perception of her experience.  It means not trying to fix the unfixable, or reason with the unreasonable. It means accepting that there will be times in labour when she comes a bit unglued, and will be convinced she can’t do it – and knowing what she needs to hear (and doesn’t need to hear) when that time comes. It means making it emotionally safe for her and her partner to live through this most intense of experiences in their own way, and to feel whatever emotions come with it. It means making sure they know there’s a safe space if and when they need to talk afterwards.”

 

At Embrace Birth Services, your doula holds space for your birth- whatever that may mean. I will be your firm foundation, your soft space to land, no matter what choices you may make, or twists and turns your labor may take. Your doula’s support is not dependent on any criteria- I am there to sit with you through the quiet and the storms.

Continuous support during labor has been associated with numerous benefits, but perhaps the most important is the peace that comes with knowing that you have someone on your side who is an unshakable presence- who is there 100% to support your experience. “Not trying to fix the unfixable” is such a beautiful way to put it. As a doula I don’t claim to take away the sensations or pain of labor. A magic wand I am not. But I can sit with you as the waves crash, as you come unglued and assure you that your feelings are real, that your experience matters, and that I will be there every step of the way.

My amazing doula holding space for me during my third labor. No fixing, no magic, just an unwavering presence who exuded acceptance and support.
Other great articles on what it means to hold space:

Heather Plett

Birthing From Within

 

Are you ready to find out more about how a doula can support you during your birth experience? Fill out the form below to set up a complimentary consultation with your Winnipeg doula.