Hello Liam! A St Boniface Birth Story

Sharing this little guys birth story with you seemed like a perfect way to spend this chilly day today. I met his mama Samantha on a super hot and sunny summer day, and she floated in like a breath of fresh air. We sat and chatted about her birth and what she was hoping for, and just clicked! I was so excited to work with her at her birth, and thrilled when she told me she felt the same.

Through our prenatals, Sam was so open and willing to learn. She and her partner asked tons of questions and it was so heartwarming to see how invested in making this a positive experience they were. They had been lucky enough to secure a Winnipeg midwife, and had a great birth team surrounding them.

The day before her due date, Sam messaged me to let me know some things were slowly happening. The little man had decided to be extremely punctual! She laboured at home throughout the day with the help of friends and family, finding the perfect balance of rest and work. That evening after dinner contractions were picking up and they decided to have the midwife come and assess where things were at and what her next step might be. It was suggested that some rest might be the best thing, and around 10pm they tried to settle in for some sleep before the contractions picked up even more.

As babies tend to do, the little guy laughed at their plans and instead labour picked up significantly! After only a bit of rest, they made the decision that maybe it was time to move to the hospital. I grabbed my things and headed out the door to meet them. We were all so excited as we could tell the birth was getting closer!

At triage around 3am they were greeted by the best news- Sam had laboured so well at home that she was now 5cms already and was being admitted right away— no wait time! Those of you local to Winnipeg know how rare it is to get into a room right away, so this was a major feat! We were super excited for her to get settled into her room and let her amazing nurse know that she was ready for her epidural once the anesthesiologist was ready.

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Listening to his heartbeat never gets old

While waiting, Samantha did an amazing job of breathing and moving through the contractions. She was able to meet the beginning of each one with a refreshing breath and move her hips to keep the energy flowing without tensing up. While she was eager for her epidural, she was such a rockstar at waiting calmly and listening to her body in the meantime. By 530am the anesthesiologist arrived and was able to get her epidural in place and working. Yay!

Within an hour, she was feeling relief from the rushes and was able to lay down and get some sleep since she’d been up all night so far! Our wonderful nurse was able to grab us a peanut ball so that she could lay on her side and put her pelvis into a great position to open up space for baby to move down. Sam did great at moving from side to side to keep things moving for baby in between sleeping and even was strong enough to be able to walk to the bathroom on her own. Rockstar!

At 8am another exam showed up that she was still sitting at 5-6cms. Hmmm. Contractions had definitely picked up and we were a bit surprised not to see more progress! However, we know that dilation isn’t the only progress happening during labour, and the rushes were still coming frequently so everyone felt good about giving just a little nudge in the right direction. The resident at this point decided to break her waters, and we all had a laugh afterwards when the nurse made fun of his “typical doctor” nonchalance of not thinking to put anything extra underneath her afterwards and leaving the nurses to clean up the mess.

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Throughout the whole labour and birth there was such a vibe of happiness and fun through the room. Yes we were here supporting Samantha in her hard work, but she maintained such an amazing positive attitude and excitement that it was contagious, and we spent much of the time trading funny comments with each other and the nurses.

After having her waters broken, Sam decided to try to sleep for a bit more to see what would happen. Sometimes with waters intact, what happens is that there is not a lot of pressure on the cervix, which makes it a bit harder to dilate. The hope was that now, with continued movement from side to side, the baby’s head would encourage that cervix to keep doing its amazing work.

And it did! By shortly after 11:30am, just over two hours after having her water broken, Sam described her contractions as having changed and feeling different. She decided to have another check and it felt a little surreal to be told that she was not only fully dilated, but also baby was at a +2, which means baby is really low already and is an amazing place to be able to start pushing, saving you so much extra work! Like I said, rockstar birther here!

While we waited for Samantha to have a stronger sense of pressure and urge to push, we chatted about what was to come. There was such a contagious feeling of anticipation in the room, and I admit I got a little teary listening to her talk about how amazed she was that he was almost here. The energy in the room was filled with such love and excitement. Shortly after noon her midwife joined us back in the room. And then before we knew it, Sam felt ready to push and help bring this little guy closer to her. She continued being that amazing inspirational birther who smiled through contractions and in between would joke with the nurses about how long it would take her to push. They started with saying under two hours, but after the first couple pushes, her nurse jokingly challenged her that she was sure she could have him here in under an hour. Rather than add pressure, this seemed to keep the mood light and fun. During one contraction where Sam was told not to push she joked that she didn’t want this to count against her total time since she wasn’t pushing and that wasn’t fair.

She needn’t have worried though! At 1:07pm, just 42 minutes after she started pushing, she seemingly effortlessly birthed her baby boy into her midwives hands and the whole room teared up. He went directly into his mamas arms and snuggled up like he’d been there forever. Smack dab in the middle of his due date, and he was here in his mamas arms, being lovingly cared for and loved by her and daddy.

They spent the next couple hours getting to know their gorgeous baby boy, starting breastfeeding, and inspecting all of his tiny details. It was decided that he had daddy’s feet, which caused laughs, but otherwise he is the perfect combination of them both. The room was practically buzzing with excitement and overwhelming love that was so contagious. Welcome to the world Liam!

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winnipeg birth photographer winnipeg doula




winnipeg birth photographer


To find out about having doula support or having your birth documented, reach out today. Send me an email or click through for contact options here.


The Birth of Tenley Harper | My First Birth Story!

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Getting personal here today on the blog with the birth story of my oldest. When I sat down to write this story initially it was an incredibly healing experience. Her birth didn’t go exactly how I thought it would in my plans, but being able to write out the entire thing, every detail, every moment, helped me to process the good in it too. Looking through all the photos as I wrote allowed me to see the little blessings I’d missed— how amazing my care team was, the love of my husband and doula, and also be able to recognize how freaking strong I’d been!

Today I want to share that with you. As birth workers, we bring our stories and experiences into each birth we attend. And I try hard to keep an honest and open relationship with each of my families. I believe that being authentic with you, makes it easier for you to be vulnerable and trust in me.

I went in to Tenley’s birth already having been a doula for several families, and having studied pretty much everything I could get my hands on regarding pregnancy and birth. While I was disappointed not to get a midwife, we chose a doctor that I felt respected my autonomy, I had a friend offer to be my doula and birth photographer, and through it all, my husband was my rock- keeping me balanced, positive and comfortable in those overwhelmingly un-comfortable last days of pregnancy. I was ready.

She decided to buck tradition and be one of those rare babies with whom labour start with one Big Bang- or a gush rather! I got up after midnight to head for a regular bathroom break, and before I got there, my water broke all over the floor. I was so excited! We cleaned up, and before I could climb back into bed (I wanted to rest until things picked up), I realized that the contractions had actually started immediately. I was already sitting about 4-5 minutes apart. It was happening!

We started to putter around the house, getting dressed, finishing packing our hospital bags. I sat for a bit in the nursery, just centering myself. We decided to head to the hospital around 3:30am. I was really torn- my contractions were between 3-4 minutes already, and almost a minute long and had been for a couple hours... but they didn't seem super intense. Still, I have a family history of quick labours, so we decided better safe than sorry. In hindsight, I wish I'd waited until they were much harder to cope through. We arrived at the hospital and were checked into triage around 4:30am. I was happy and disappointed to hear that I was 4-5cms. Happy they would get me a room, but a little disappointed I wasn't further along. They had issues with staffing on the low risk side of LDRP, so I was given a room in the "High risk" L&D to start out. My heart sank. It was my first true understanding of how much your environment can affect your mental state and coping. Thankfully we had an amazing nurse who offered us the use of a walk in shower in one of the LDRP rooms, as long as we came back to L&D for our checks when needed. Done.

We were down the hall like a flash, and the shower was exactly what I needed. I laboured there from about 6am-800am. Once in the shower I was able to block out everything else and just focusing on releasing my body during each contraction. The time flew by as I closed my eyes and focused on the sounds and feelings of the water hitting my tired body. Around 8am, shifts had changed and a new nurse came to the room to let us know we had to go back and get assessed again. It took me so long to work up the drive to leave the shower. I was worried about leaving my happy place. We eventually made it down the hall, and crawled onto the bed to be checked. This new nurse was not as wonderful as my initial one had been, and I feel like my entire experience changed with her. I tried to lay still for the ten minute heart rate strip they needed, but I felt myself losing control. I was no longer able to easily cope through the rushes, and felt panicky. Eventually I was able to get out of bed to try different positions, and thankfully my doula/photographer arrived as well. Having her there helped me feel stronger-- like I had more people on my side, and our little team could stand up for my rights and wishes.

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I continued working through each contraction in the tiny L&D room, praying that they'd be able to move me soon. I tried position changes and labouring on the toilet, and finally found that counterpressure on my back was the only thing that touched the pain. Having the constant pressure seemed to allow me to relax the other muscles in my body even through the pains. I tried to grab hold of my labour again.

Eventually around 11:15am we got the amazing news that I was being moved to LDRP. The walk down the hallway took forever, but finally we were settled in. I realized quickly that my new nurses were amazing. They took the time to read and ask questions about my birth plan, and then they followed it to the letter. It was so empowering to be respected in my birth, and feel like they understood me. After being checked again quickly, I was told I was 8cm and breathed a huge sigh of relief. At least knowing that progress was being made helped all of it to feel worth it.

During the walk down the hallway, I felt like contractions changed in intensity. although it was a bit early, I was having a bearing down feeling, and since my water had broken, there was no cushion between her head and my pelvic bones. The intensity was like nothing I'd felt before, and I was really struggling to release during each contraction. In hindsight, I think her position was not ideal, and my body was working really hard to try to move her into position. I moved into the shower to try to regain that feeling of peace I'd had before.

A little while later, the nurse came in and tried her best to use the doppler to check baby's heart. I will forever be grateful to her for trying so hard to let me stay there, but after some time it became clear that the heartrate in the shower wasn't exactly what they were wanting to hear. The decision was made for me to come back into the main room and try again, and spend some time walking around the room and using different positions. My nurses encouraged me to start bearing down a tiny bit with contractions if it felt good- they thought that she needed some help to really drop more and engage. I tried different positions around the room, laying down a bit, leaning on the table, sitting on the toilet, and walking. I could feel likes intensifying, and while medication never crossed my mind, I just kept thinking "Holy crap, this is so bad. What's happening!?" Again in hindsight I really believe she wasn't positioned well, and what I was feeling was more the constant strain of her bones against mine, rather than the contractions themselves.

We made the best of it. Around 12:30 I laid down in bed to get another monitoring strip done, and then was checked and pronounced fully dilated, and could start pushing anytime. Yay! Joy! It was almost done! Not quite. In my doula practice now, I talk a lot about labouring down, and allowing your body to do as much of the work on its' own as it can, before adding your own forceful pushing efforts. This preserved your energy, and also helps your baby get into the best position without force. As a doula I knew this in my own birth, but I was so tired, and so defeated by that point, that all I could think of was the end goal- getting her out and stopping these dang contractions! I pushed with all my might. It felt awful if I'm being truthful. It made the contractions stop hurting, I barely noticed them actually. But it added a very real sense of defeat. I would push with all my might and feel like she wasn't moving a single millimeter. We continued trying different positions and angles, hoping that she would shift and make things easier, but in the end I was so tired that all I could do was lay in the bed. I had been in labour for 12 hours, which isn't terribly long for a first time mom, but I'd only gotten about two hours of sleep before it started, and I was pretty wiped.

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Once on my back in bed the nurses helped to break the bed down so that I was sitting up, but in a squat type position. It allowed me to be upright without having to use up so much energy. We also tried on the toilet, standing, squatting with the squat bar and tugging on a sheet tied on to the bar. The sheet seemed to help the most, but I still felt like nothing was happening! Finally at about 2:45 I had one push that finally felt different. I remember whispering to myself "THAT'S IT!" I suspect this is when her head finally shifted slightly better into position, because all of a sudden I could actually feel movement with the pushes. It was such a relief after feeling like I was going to be there forever! Almost instantly the tone in the room changed and the nurses started getting ready for delivery.

It was such a relief to finally feel like something was happening. I was still exhausted, but now I felt exhilerated too. I could DO this! About 3:05 we saw hair. <3 To a poor mama who has been pushed for two hours, it was the best sight ever! Things were getting more and more intense, but now I felt stronger again. The doctor came into the room and introduced herself. I remember being so happy that maybe she could hurry things along. (PSA: I don't recommend this mindset! Birth happens in it's own time, and it doesn't need to be hurried!). They removed the squat bar and started setting up for the typical medical birth. There were blue sterile drapes everywhere. It makes me roll my eyes in hindsight. My nurses had been so amazing at protecting my birth space and maintaining this as just another birth unfolding naturally, nothing to stress about. The OB who came in was most definitely used to birth being a medical procedure. Totally not the feeling I was going for!

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Finally we saw her beautiful head and at 3:22pm on November 29, 2011 Tenley Harper made me a mama <3 She had such a short cord that she could only be placed on my lower belly, and she was absolutely coated in vernix. We only waited about two minutes after birth to cut the cord, mostly because she couldn't be moved at all without tugging on the cord, and I couldn't even see her face. You can see in the second picture how low she is, and the cord was still pulled taught.

Finally being able to turn her around and into my arms was the best moment ever. I remember looking at her face and thinking "Oh, of course it's you! I know you!"

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And just like that, it was all over! I remember feeling shocked. It seemed like it took SO long while it was happening, and then all of a sudden in a whirlwind she was here, with us, forever. It was a bit surreal as one by one people left and the room settled down. It took a long time to process her birth story and to reconcile how I thought it would go and how I would handle contractions to how I actually did. I realized I had come into the birth with very strict expectations, and that just isn't reasonable with birth! They say the one predictable thing with birth is that it's unpredictable-- how true that is!

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She has lit up our life over the past 7 years and I can't imagine a life without her. She surprises us daily with her thirst for knowledge and incredibly insight. She's already wise beyond her years and I can't wait to see where the next seven years brings her!


Fresh 48 Giveaway Rules | Winnipeg Belly & Baby Fair

Tomorrow, tomorrow…. I’ll be at the fair, TOMORRRRRRROOOOWWWWW!


After what seems like such a long wait, we are finally just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Winnipeg Belly & Baby Fair, which is tomorrow Sunday October 21, 2018 from 10am-3pm. I hope you’re coming out to meet me!

Along with having a vendor table for the first time, I’m so excited to be offering up a prize draw for fair attendees! Everyone that signs up to join my mailing list (which basically includes blog and website updates, don’t worry, I hate spam!), is entered to win a FREE Fresh 48 newborn session. Pretty great, right?

I wanted to make sure the rules were easy to find and accessible to everyone, so here you go. Any questions, drop me a line!



Please review the following terms and conditions before entering a contest or giveaway hosted by Embrace Birth Services. We reserve the right to change these terms at any time, and by entering our giveaway you acknowledge that you agree to abide by the most recent version.


  1. How to Enter:
    • Entrants must be present at the Belly & Baby Fair on October 21, 2018.
    • Sign up for Embrace Birth Services email list and be part of said list at the time of drawing for winner.
    • Individuals may unsubscribe for the mailing list at any future date.
    • No purchase necessary to enter or win.
  2. Prizes: Winner will receive one Fresh 48 Photography Session.
    • Session is a lifestyle/documentary style session which includes 20 fully edited images in digital format and will last approximately 45 minutes.
    • This photo session takes place at home or hospital during the first few days post birth. Session to be scheduled during daylight hours at a time of mutual choosing.
    • A full session contract and model release must be signed by the winner. This session is free of charge only with a fully signed model release. If the model release is not signed or revoked, the session will revert to a $200 balance owing. Exceptions are made for images containing nudity.
    • The winner may choose to apply a $200 credit towards a Birth Doula or Birth Photography package in lieu of a Fresh 48 session.
    • Sessions typically take place within the Winnipeg city limits. Please contact prior to entry into contest for other locations. I cannot guarantee availability outside of Winnipeg.
    • Prize holds no cash value and expires October 31, 2019.
    • Prize may be transferred with permission from Embrace Birth Services but may not be sold.
  3. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
  4. Winner Selection and Notification: Winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator on or before October 26, 2018. Winner will be notified via telephone or email within two (2) days following selection, and winner will be posted on social media as well. Embrace Birth Services holds no liability for winner’s failure to receive notices due to spam, junk e-mail, or other security settings or for winner’s provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the winner cannot be contacted, or fails to claim the prize within five (5) days from the time award notification was sent, the prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.
  5. Privacy: Embrace Birth Services will not share your private information with any third party or publicly. The only information that will be shared is your name and/or social media handle at the time of winner announcement or in any subsequent sharing of the contest results.

Winnipeg Belly & Baby Fair 2018

It's October! That means it's almost time for the annual Fit 4 Two Winnipeg Belly & Baby Fair!

I have attended this event in the past as a mama and as a volunteer for the Winnipeg Babywearers, but I am super pumped this year to finally be attending as a vendor!  This is a great chance to get out in the community and meet some of you, and also say hi to some of my much loved past clients!

If you haven't attended before, the show takes place on Sunday from 10am-3pm at Earl Grey Community Centre. There's two huge rooms filled with friendly faces and crafters, vendors, informational booths and more. It is FREE to attend, but donations are suggested and go towards a wonderful cause-- The Postpartum Depression Association of Manitoba. It's the perfect opportunity to grab some friends and get your Christmas shopping done ahead of time. There's even a photo booth by Jenn of Songbird Photography, so don't forget to bring money for that!

Are you planning on joining us at the Winnipeg Belly & Baby Fair on October 1st? If not, wwwhhhyyyy? I'd love to see your smiling faces!

Winnipeg Belly & Baby Fair

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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