Giving Birth at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth

I delivered our daughter this past week and had an absolutely wonderful experience on the labor and delivery and postpartum (4L) units. The nurses were attentive and knowledgeable. I often saw different providers throughout my pregnancy but everyone was on the same page… People give Navy medicine a hard time, but I had both my children at naval hospitals and I couldn’t be more pleased.


When you are looking at your options for the birth of your child as a military parent, base hospitals can seem intimidating. Not only for the reason that they are teaching hospitals, but that your choices of care providers is usually limited and plans are ever changing. I’m happy to share with you the ins and out of giving birth at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth so you can prepare with confidence!


The newly remodeled Labor & Delivery Unit consists of 7 triage (pre-admission evaluation) beds, 10 labor & delivery rooms, 4 observation rooms, a fully functional 3-suite operating room and a 4 bed post surgical recovery room.

Many patients report a calm, patient centered atmosphere while they have a private room, a nice change from the usual military hospital experience. It’s great to know that you will be rooming in with your family throughout the birth process and postpartum recovery! Showers are included in each room, but no tubs are available at this time.

Birth Plans and Options

Many of their policies are very family friendly, such as Midwifery Care, Delayed Cord Clamping, practicing the Golden Hour, the Rooming-In mentioned above, and more. It’s important to talk about anything you want or don’t want to happen during your birth with your care provider during prenatal appointments.

*They have a birth stool, peanut balls, and birth balls on unit for your use.

If you are interested in pain relief other than comfort measures, they discuss your options when you are admitted to the hospital. It’s a great idea to discuss pain relief with your care team before labor begins. Some pain relief options they currently offer are sedatives, narcotics, tranquilizers and anesthesia.

Family centered care means that you and your family will have the support you need during your stay to get the best start possible. That includes lactation support, a dietitian, and more.

Accommodations for Dad / Visitors

Family and friends may visit at any time, however, we request that your visitors respect your family’s need for rest and bonding with your new infant. We do not allow visitors who are ill or have a disease or condition that can be spread to others. On rare occasions we may not have private rooms available when the patient census is high, thus overnight visitors cannot be accommodated.

Counter pressure for doula client

Your partner or a designated support person may stay with you throughout the birth process. There is a fold out chair available for them to rest if needed. It may be a good idea to bring a sweater or sweatshirt, bathing suit and/or a change of clothing for your support person. It is sometimes cool in the labor rooms and they may get wet if you use a shower to help relax between contractions.

*Children are welcome to visit throughout the birth and postpartum recovery, but cannot stay overnight.

Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding assistance is available when you need it during your stay. Make sure you call the lactation consultants for extra help when you need it! The family centered policies and help available make it easy to get off to a good start nursing your new baby. Prenatal classes are linked at the bottom of this post for those interested.

What to Expect the Day of Discharge

You will usually stay for two days after your babies delivery. Here’s the details from their website on preparing for leaving the hospital:

Before you can be discharged, there is a mandatory Shaken Baby Prevention Class all parents must attend (even if you have already been to the class prior to delivery). Discharge medications will be available in the pharmacy before you go home. You or your spouse will be able to pick up the medications with a valid military ID card. Active duty moms will need to go to the admissions office on the 1st floor to initiate convalescent leave. You must report to your command with your leave papers. You will walk off the unit if you feel comfortable, or a wheelchair can be provided to assist you.

Wondering what to bring to the hospital? Here’s what they recommend

  • Pajamas/night gown
  • Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • Underwear
  • Well fitting bras (nursing or regular)
  • Breast Pads
  • Baby clothes, especially socks and hand mittens
  • Tioletries
  • Mom’s going home clothes (loose fitting)
  • Baby’s going home outfit (to include cap) and blankets
  • Baby Book for foot prints after birth- They will foot print your baby and put prints on anything your want, but they only do this one time!
  • Diaper Bag
  • Infant car seat for day of discharge
    *The Mother-Baby Unit will provide diapers and wipes while in the hospital.

Prenatal Education

To book childbirth classes, learn more about support groups, and more, call NMCP directly at 757-953-4300 or 1-866-645-4584. Class offerings include Baby Basics, Childbirth Education, and Cesarean Preparation. Here’s some more information on Labor and Delivery.

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. For more information on local hospitals, Doula support, or other resources in Hampton Roads, get in touch with me directly. Thanks for reading!

P is for Postpartum Depression

You’ve planned, hoped, and dreamed for this baby. You bought all the teensy tiny newborn clothes, decorated the nursery, and hurdled the trial of labor through to motherhood! So, why can’t you stop crying?

600,000 women in the United States suffer from Postpartum Depression, every year.

While it’s normal to experience something called the “baby blues,” this is usually a brief bump in the road. Baby blues isn’t as serious, only lasts a few days, and is usually due to the fluctuations of hormones after childbirth and delivery. 70-80% of women experience the baby blues, making it fairly common. Postpartum Depression or Anxiety affect 20% of new moms, so it is less common but much more serious.

Baby Blues

  • You’re crying all the time
  • You may feel moody or dependent on others
  • You also might be irritable, anxious, forgetful
  • Lasts about two weeks after giving birth

Postpartum Depression

  • Your symptoms are severe, see list below
  • You would describe them as worse than being sad
  • These symptoms interfere with your day-to-day functioning
  • Usually emerges 2-3 months after giving birth.

What’s Not Normal

With Postpartum Depression, you may experience sadness (crying a lot), insomnia,  irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, loss of interest in usual activities, feeling worthless, incompetent or inadequate to cope with your baby, fatigue, weight gain or weight loss. Although it usually presents within a couple months, it can present at any time within a year after giving birth.

You may also be feeling angry or guilty because of feeling this way, and it’s important to understand that you are not alone and that there is help available. This doesn’t have to be the way things are. At it’s worst, it may even lead to thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or yourself. If you are suffering like this, skip to the bottom of the post to get help now.

What is Postpartum Anxiety?

Postpartum Anxiety is also very common but less talked about, the different symptoms you may experience are trouble concentrating, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, excessive worry about the baby’s health, sudden mood swings, or panic attack (heart palpitations, sweating, hot flashes, racing thoughts, hard to breathe)

My Experiences

I wanted to break this post up a little bit and share my experiences with you. When I planned the birth of my daughter, I simply went into the hospital for an induction thinking that was normal and the right thing to do. I never even questioned it! I didn’t see the value or waiting or weighing the risks, whether that be mental, physical, or emotional risks.

I arrived for my induction at 8 AM one morning showing zero signs of being ready for labor. I was 38 weeks along at the time, and the process took forever! I was completely exhausted by the 18th hour of labor, and I was just thankful it was over with. My daughter went to the nursery to be checked out and washed by the nurses, and my husband went with her. I was alone. This was really traumatic and I missed the initial bonding with my daughter completely.

Heading home from the hospital, I was on cloud nine! I had made it past the scary maternity experience, through the induction process and countless contractions, I was back in my sort-of normal pants (plus what felt like a mom sized diaper) and was headed home. I thought most of the ordeal was over!

My tiny Harper at 4 lbs 13 oz

The first week at home I was loved, surrounded by friends and family, and my husband was home. After the second week, my husband went back to work and all of a sudden, it was really quiet. My daughter and I were left to figure this whole bonding thing out, that maybe I had even been letting other people handle that for me for a little bit.

I suddenly found myself unable to handle anything. I don’t remember a gradual slide. It was more like an unexpected shock of cold water. I was heartbroken, confused, angry, distracted, and bitter. I was pissed! I did all that work (morning sickness included!) and I couldn’t find joy in my new role as a stay at home mom.

If this sounds confusing, it was. I couldn’t stand the sound of my daughter’s cries. It was panic inducing, like nails on a chalkboard. Nursing her became something I dreaded rather than enjoyed, curling my toes and trying to help her tiny self learn how to latch. I was resentful of my husband, going back to work and leaving me with this mess.

I was honestly beating myself up over it. Losing my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter before we even made it to 3 months nearly made me lose my mind. She was so tiny, and I was so angry with myself and my body. I remember her trying to latch on to me during a bath after my milk had dried up, and calling my husband into the bathroom sobbing so he could hold her while I cried.

Things did get better. 

It took a long time, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of support. My family was my support system. When I found it a year later, while pregnant with my son and again terrified, my Doula community truly saved me. They helped me get through until I could see the light on the other side. They helped me grow through seeking a natural birth, and supported me long after the birth so I had the experience I wanted.

There is no magic solution, my experience was long and had many twists and turns along the way. What I hope you take from my experiences is that we all are making the best choices we have with the information we have at the time, and that I truly understand what you are going through. I’ve been there.

“What did I do wrong?”

Traumatic births can lead to difficult postpartum emotions.

I hear all the time from moms that they should have had a natural birth, they should have worked out certain emotions before having kids, or that they must have done something wrong along the way to deserve this horrible experience.

We don’t know what causes these conditions exactly, but the cascade of hormones during labor (possibly interrupted by interventions), traumatic birth experiences, poor postpartum support, and family predisposition to depression or anxiety may all be possible factors.

It’s not something that you made happen or anything you did that made depression happen! But there are things that can comfort you, help you feel understood, and get you through this tough time.

Don’t Wait

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, I would warmly urge you to get help now. There are abundant free resources out there for self help, nutrition, exercise, meditation, group support, and books.

Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale Self Evaluation Only

Postpartum Depression Nutrition Plan

Postpartum Depression Support Groups– Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, and more locations

Sentara Postpartum Depression Support Group

Postpartum Support VA

How to Heal From a Bad Birth- book

Paid support includes medication, professional counseling, and other methods of therapy like Cognitive Behavior Therapy or EMDR Therapy. Contact your doctor for medication options and specific referrals to local specialists.

For emergency situations and severe symptoms, please don’t wait to contact a professional to get support you need. For more information on this subject, postpartum support, or any motherhood questions in Hampton Roads, feel free to comment or get in touch with me directly. 

O is for Orgasm

women are strong and beautiful
Orgasmic Birth for the Modern Woman

In this blog post, I want to touch on a subject that many modern women may be unfamiliar with. Sex and sensuality in birth are considered taboo by many, but what if this point of view eliminates one of the most fundamental human tools we have for coping with pain and stress?

Did you know? 26% of women report less pain than they expected during childbirth.

You may think this is an exaggeration, but I assure you it’s not. This is possible. The key recipe for an orgasmic or painless birth seems to deeply rooted in  mental, physical, and emotional security. Young, teenage mothers have even experienced birth without pain.

painless childbirth with sensuality and sex
Positive Vibes Only

In searching for research and sources of information on this article, I started talking to the lovely women in the Free Birth Society Facebook group, a group of rockstar women that collectively advocate for each other and support one another in pursuing uninhibited births.

Their fearless leader is Emilee Saldaya, who I had briefly interviewed for this article. She gave birth to her first child this past week at home before we could finalize our edits, and is of course taking her time to rest and recover with her family!

I am going to go ahead with my personal answers to these questions, and hope you enjoy it and find it insightful!

Isn’t she just amazing? Follow her on IG here!

Doula banner in gold

How are sex, sensuality, and birth connected? 

If we look at it as a big picture, they cannot be separate things. The baby is created from sex, which is created from sensuality. They are all intertwined and are intuitively connected.

When the mother is in labor, her jaw is loose, sweat glistening, moaning softly, swaying in a rhythm, that is undeniable sensual energy.

The energy that gets the baby in is the energy that gets the baby out.

-Ina May Gaskin

Why does this idea seem so foreign or intimidating to women today?

Because we are separated from our bodies and think about things in a logical, step by step, very masculine way. Breasts are bared for advertising, but we cover up to feed our babies. The real root problem lies in patriarchy and the modern medical model, but it goes farther than that.

If you want a painless, beautiful birth, you have to question what could ever make it not beautiful in the first place. What told you it couldn’t be?

Labor is not a clear path, there is no roadmap or even a set destination. Everyone’s birth will be different and it is what you create from the experience.

Why should the modern woman consider connecting with this side of herself? How have we become so distant to our own emotions and power? 

Because you deserve it! Not only for birth, but for life. You deserve to relish in your feminine power and enjoy what and who you truly are. To be fearless and full of energy and hope.

This is possible and I believe every woman deserves it. We have become distant to it by tuning out. By rushing too much. By thinking too little. By sacrificing what really matters.

How have you seen this be effective for eliminating pain, fear, or otherwise be helpful?

When a woman is in tune with herself, even without a partner present, it is magical. She is able to release fear, to overcome obstacles, and accomplish anything she wants to.

One of the most intimate births I attended was because of a beautiful connection between a husband and wife. She leaned on him for strength during contractions as he kissed her neck and breathed encouraging words in her ears.

The effect this had on her was miraculous. Her labor was fast and easy, and I believe it is because she was confident in herself and secure in her sensual energy with her partner.

Is is true that we can experience birth without any pain?

I entirely believe this is true. (See above statistics) I have been present at many births where a mother didn’t appear to be in any pain at all, and was focusing all of her energy positively.

In fact, during the first birth I ever attended, the mother looked at me and said, “I’m ready to push, and it feels so GOOD!” All I could do was laugh with her and wait for the next wave of contractions to come. A beautiful birth experience!

So, what prevents this from happening? 

Fear and tension, and they usually go hand in hand. Fear creates tension and stress in the body, which in turn creates and worsens existing pain.

Fear can be created by a negative birth team, environment or hospital interventions, poor relationships, past experiences, and more. It is essential for any woman preparing for labor to work through her current feelings about herself, her body, and her relationships.

woman contemplating birth pregnancy love and sex
Change Your Story

Do you believe there is a story we all tell ourselves? About our abilities, our appearance, our own power? If so, how do we change that perception? 

Everyone has a story they believe about themselves and their abilities, and it usually was written by a parental figure early on in your life. They told you what you could or couldn’t do, how to feel about yourself, or gave you some shoes to fill.

We change it by shaking it up! No story is over until you say it is. No one writes your story but you.

Birth is transformative and can seem scary. It will bring up all the stuff you don’t want to deal with and it will wreck any walls you have up. But here’s the secret.

You’re strong. 

Stronger than you think is even possible. I have seen women find that power, so I know it’s yours to own. You’ve just got to believe it yourself.

What can we do to access this sensual power? Emotionally, physically, mentally? 

Surround yourself with positivity

Watch beautiful birth videos

Write love letters to yourself

Make passionate, no holds barred love with your partner

Meditate on sex, birth, love

Practice sensitive self care, whatever that looks like to you

During birth:

Try nipple stimulation

Use self stimulation or be stimulated by a partner

Be massaged

Talk with your love language

Create a safe environment and privacy

What advice would you give someone who has experienced an immensely difficult birth, who is fearful? 

To do all of the above. To work through her past experience with love and patience, and to ask for help and support as she needs it.

Emilee mentioned to me that she offers online prenatal coaching, and women like me work as Doulas to empower you and help you find your own strength during pregnancy as well as support you in person at the birth.

Do you personally believe an empowering birth has lasting effects on a woman and her family? 

Absolutely! A woman who has birthed from a place of love and power will be forever changed. She will lead her daughters and sons to think about birth, sex, and love passionately. Her partner will be changed by watching her strength. Her family and friends may be changed by witnessing her story.

Care providers may be changed, health insurance policies changed, prison birth laws changed, and so much more. These ripples of change are vast reaching and unstoppable. I do believe that birth can change the world.

Doula banner in gold

What are your thoughts on this article? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Giving Birth at Sentara

Sentara Leigh's Family Maternity Center Entrance Hampton Roads

If you’re pregnant and looking at delivery options in Hampton Roads, Sentara Hospital System is going to come up in your search. Specifically, Leigh’s Family Maternity Center is exceptional and known for it’s LDRP suites where families remain comfortable in one room throughout their hospital stay. Mothers who have delivered there have even described the experience as similar to staying at a hotel!

Here’s some more information on their classes, birthing suites, and philosophy.


Sentara Leigh's Family Maternity Center Entrance Hampton Roads
Sentara Leigh’s Family Maternity Center Lobby

As quoted from their website, “At Sentara, we know a successful childbirth begins long before labor and delivery. That’s why we offer comprehensive maternity care and support, every step of the way.

We are proud to welcome more than 9,000 babies into the world every year, giving us the opportunity to help many women through the childbirth journey. Our board-certified physicians and highly-skilled nurses are dedicated to providing quality care for you and your newborn.”

Leigh’s Family Maternity Center was even recognized as the Recipient of Patient’s Choice Award for Customer Service 2012 and 2013!

Birthing Suite

hospital room for labor delivery and recovery at princess anne
Sentara Princess Anne LDRP Suite

Private birthing suites are provided and sleeper sofas are included for family members to rest. Most rooms have a private bathroom and shower, although tubs are not available (excepting the Williamsburg location).

In LDRP rooms, you stay in the same room from the time you arrive until you go home. This is a convenient and comfortable option, and Sentara is currently the only hospital in the area to provide these rooms to every family.

Here’s some more info about what you can expect during your stay!


Support from Certified Lactation Specialists is provided for assistance with the first nursing session. There are also breastfeeding support groups in some locations, such as Obici Breastfeeding Support Group.

Breastfeeding classes are also available for prenatal education. Here’s some information about what’s covered during classes!

This class is geared toward expectant mothers. It includes a discussion about human milk, practice of positioning infants for feeding, challenges facing new breastfeeding families, healthy lifestyle choices while breastfeeding, as well as nutrition, birth control and compatible medications during lactation. Partners are strongly encouraged to attend class with mothers-to-be!

Areas of Speciality

Sentara Obici LDRP Birthing Suite
Sentara Obici LDRP Birthing Suite
  • 24/7 anesthesia and neonatal in-house coverage, including a seamless transfer process for our patients who need a higher level of care.
  • 14-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), providing specialized care in partnership with Children’s National Health System neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners.
  • “Skin to Skin” contact, if desired, for at least the first hour of life to help calm the newborn, aid in regulating body temperature, facilitate breastfeeding and promote bonding.
  • State-of-the-art infant security system for the safety of your newborn.
  • Care coordination provided with discharge to help you transition to home with a post discharge follow-up phone call by a lactation consultant for our breastfeeding mothers.
  • Doulas are welcome and accommodated as a member of your birth team.
  • A Celebration meal for the new mother is included in your stay! Don’t forget to ask for it before you are planning to be discharged.

Arrange a Tour

Sentara Leigh LDRP Birthing Suite in Hampton Roads virginia
Sentara Leigh LDRP Birthing Suite

Call 1-800-SENTARA or register online here. Tours include information on procedures, registration, parking and birth rooms. Virtual tours available here!

You can also register for classes online, such as a 4 week childbirth series, express childbirth class, breastfeeding basics, rookie dads, and more.

Facility Galleries

Doula banner in gold

For more information on Doula Support, Placenta Encapsulation, or Resources in Hampton Roads, get in touch with me!


5 Tips to Make Your Doula Logo Awesome

Starbucks is a leading brand image

In mentoring other Doulas, a frequent topic comes up once they finish training and start crafting their personal brand image. I’m talking, of course, about business logos!

Logos are exceedingly important, I don’t believe it can be overstated how important this piece of the puzzle is! In fact, a consumer decides how they feel about a logo within 400 milliseconds of seeing it. The same is true for first impressions of people, but in that case you have some influence based on your mannerisms, your style, and your voice to connect with people.

Your logo doesn’t have any of that. It needs to be so awesome, so absolutely unforgettable, that your clients love it and feel it represents something they need. If it’s not, you end up with something a bit lackluster.

In other words, your clients need to see what you do and who you are through your design. 

I am going to teach you how to do just that, with 5 tips to help you in your quest for the ultimate Doula logo!

Be Unique

Your logo should be uniquely recognizable, and your brand and philosophy should shine through. This is where you should tap into your inner creativity and brainstorm your heart away! Make a list of all the words you want your ideal client to associate with you, words that describe what they need, feel, want, and most importantly what they feel after they use your services. Use this to create imagery that reflects your brand.

i. e.- A common theme in your words is calm, so think of imagery that reflects calm. Water (the sea, rivers), mountains, feathers, etc.

PRO TIP- I often ask new Doulas to write themselves the most incredible testimonial they can imagine from a client who was absolutely thrilled by her support. You can use this as inspiration and a drawing board for this word mapping exercise.

Avoid Clip Art Like the Plague

Clip art can never compare to a personal, designed logo for you
Bad Logo Design

If we are going to be unique, personal, and stand out to our customers, we cannot use clip art. Seriously. DO NOT USE CLIP ART. Google doesn’t like it, it’s not easily used everywhere or recognizable as your unique brand, and chances are someone is already using it or something very similar.

Keep this in mind when considering a cheap logo from a website like Fiverr. Yes, you get a cheap logo with great turnaround, but from personal experience I would advise you to save your money and invest in the perfect logo for you from the start.

Keep it Simple

Starbucks has a simple, clear design

So we want to be personal, and we want to be unique. We also need to keep details to a minimum. The general rule of thumb is that if you have to explain your logo, it isn’t easily understood and should be revised. My only exception to this note right now is logos that are unique to your area or demographic!

I recently saw a Facebook post about a Doula who wanted to use a pelican instead of a stork as her logo. Many didn’t like the idea or didn’t understand it, but then something happened that surprised me. Doulas and educators living in her state LOVED it. Seriously, some of them were gushing over this logo! If you know your area and your client, trust your gut. What you bring to the table is why your client hires you.

So, keep it simple, but be creative!


So you have a simple, unique logo that exemplifies your brand (with no clip art), so you’re home free, right? Not quite yet! In order to make a lasting impression and really drive your point home, you need to have 1-2 alternate logos to use at the top of bottom of official letters, business cards, secondary locations on your website, and more.

Cohesiveness is key! Your fonts, colors, and imagery need to match up perfectly. I don’t say that to intimidate you, any designer worth their weight will make sure that your image stays consistent throughout the editing process.  I suggest working up a quick branding board in Canva to help you keep your vision in mind while working, solo or with a graphic designer.

Color Psychology

importance of color psychology for logo design
Color is Powerful

Just like shape or simplicity, color is a big player on the field of design. Color can make you feel different emotions, make you hungry, invoke a memory, and more. Consider what colors would respond with your ideal client and lead them to feel like you understand their needs.

Red- Passion, Love, Warmth, Energy, Excitement, Physical Courage

Blue- Calm, Safe, Serene, Intelligence, Empathy, Relaxation

Yellow- Joy, Radiance, Inspiration, Vitality, High Energy, Cheer

To learn more about colors and how they affect psychology, read more here!

Have you struggled with logo design? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

For more information on business practices and creative marketing for Doulas, check out my Website Design packages and Group Business Coaching course! Personal help and mentorship is available by the hour. Happy Doulaing!

10 Key Points from a Doula

Counter pressure and hip squeezes

There are many things to consider working as a Doula, from the time you are hired well into postpartum support. It’s easy to get caught in your own headspace, or feel unsure of the right thing to say in any given situation. I have collected several key phrases or things to remember through my years working as a Doula, and I wanted to share these little bits of wisdom with you! I frequently read them before writing an article, interviewing with a client, or attending a birth.

If you are here searching for ideas to support your partner through the birth process, this will be equally as helpful for you!

husband doula client support

Management of pain is not everything!

To expand on this, avoidance of pain is not everything! Mothers who have experienced labors with a supportive birth team encouraging her report more satisfaction with their births, no matter what level of pain they report! This means that if she feels heard and supported, she will be happier with her experience no matter her physical pain level.

Are we listening to the birthing woman’s wishes? 

Another good way to phrase this question is, “How will she remember this?” Always consider your tone of voice, your body language, and your actions before handling any situation with a laboring woman.

Women never forget the words spoken to them during labor. Positive or negative! Her senses are heightened and she will remember any snide comment, sigh, or roll of the eyes. Support is non-verbal, whether you like it or not!

Top 3 Priorities

Aside from healthy mom and healthy baby, every couple has a few priorities that need to be respected to ensure a beautiful experience. If they desire quiet, time alone, and minimal interventions, those are the most important things for you as a Doula or a partner to protect. This will be different for every couple but is incredibly important.

brushing hair through transition

RAVE- Reassure, Acknowledge, Validate, Encourage

Most Doulas know a “Take Charge Routine,” or a way to calm a mother down who is experiencing panic during the birth experience. For a partner or a Doula who isn’t familiar, there are four steps to take if a woman is suffering, upset, or experiencing too much pain to think clearly and make decisions-

  • Reassure- “I’m here with you, this is part of the process”
  • Acknowledge- “I know it hurts. I hear what you’re saying”
  • Validate- “This is really hard work. I know you’re doing what you can”
  • Encourage- “Breathe with me, that’s it, just keep breathing through this”

Never Predict

This is a good place to mention that we never want to predict what is going to happen next, what mom feels, or what the care provider will say. Our job is to keep the birthing woman focused on the task at hand with minimal interruptions or distractions.

If we say something like “You’re almost done!” or “The baby is almost here!” and she is still hours away from delivery, you could put her into a spiral of timing herself, give her false hope, and waste energy that she needs for the ongoing contractions.

Here are your options, what seems best? 

There are going to be moments where she doesn’t know what she wants, or contractions become overwhelming. During those times, it’s best to give her two or three options and let her direct your next move. Good ideas for this might be “We need to keep you moving, would you like to take a walk, bounce on the birth ball, or use the restroom first?”

If nothing sounds like a great idea, keep breathing with her and use the Take Charge tips above until she can make a choice.

Counter pressure for doula client

Emotional stress doesn’t go away with pain relief

I touch on this subject in my article, E is for Epidurals, but this is an important point for partners and Doulas alike. When a woman gets pain relief, such as an epidural, some birth teams take it as time to rest, get food, and regroup.

While it is a great idea to refuel, keep in mind that labor is still ongoing. Many women are surprised to find they still cannot rest with an epidural, and need a lot more support emotionally and mentally than they expected.

High Stress/VBAC Advice

Many times when a woman has experienced a traumatic birth before, there was a point that “it all went wrong.” Whether that was at 40 weeks when induction was pushed, when she was told she needed a cesarean at 6 cm, or when she “gave in” and asked for the epidural.

This moment usually is difficult, it’s hard to revisit that space and push through. Some phrases that may help if things stall or she begins to panic are reminding here that this is not last time, every birth is different. Keep breathing, take charge if necessary, and this moment will pass.

The partner is the birth coach

The most common question I get from Dads, above all else, is “Won’t you take my place as her support?” The answer is absolutely not! 

Dad or the partner is the coach, the Doula is the playbook. We give you all the tips, suggestions, and ideas to keep things moving, but we could never take your leading role. I also like to remind partners that they know and love the mother more than anyone else in the room, so they will always be her most important team member.

Support the partner at his comfort level 

As much as we focus on the mother, Doulas support dads, too! We know how to keep partners involved, get them food or drinks, make suggestions for labor progress, and much, much more. What is important to remember is that every partner is different, just like every birthing mom.

As two examples, if a Dad were to be anxious about crowning and delivery, have him support her at the head of the bed holding her hands or offering comforting words. If he wants to be more involved, he could be coaching his partner through breathing during the pushing stage.

Every couple and their birth team will be different, so we have to be aware of different roles at play and what that means for a Doula. If you’re a partner, this advice is useful for a family member or friend who might be present.

There you have it, my top ten tips for Doulas! What tips do you have? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

What to Expect at Meet the Doulas Night

Pregnant and happy couple

You might have heard about our upcoming event and wondered, what exactly is a “Meet the Doulas” event? If you’re an expectant parent or planning a family, a Doula is an incredible asset to you! We wanted to get the best Doulas in the area together to introduce ourselves, tell you a little bit about what we do, and answer all of your questions!


What to expect?

Meet Local Professionals – This meeting is hosted by the Peninsula Doulas, a local Doula collective committed to serving the local community with compassion and cooperative efforts. You’ll meet experienced Doulas who have unique skill sets, education, and experiences so you can find the best fit for you!

Professional Doulas serving Tidewater region and Hampton Roads area

Learn about DoulasDoulas are a great asset to any birth team or birth situation, reducing intervention rates, increasing mother’s happiness, and supporting the family from pregnancy to postpartum recovery at home. We’re excited to tell you more!

Mini Interviews – You’ll get the chance to meet several local Doulas in a semi-private mini interview, get to know about them and what services they offer, and ask how they can help you achieve the birth you want. You might find yourself having to repeat the same questions, bring a notebook so you can easily recall details!

Here’s some questions to ask:

Why did you decide to become a Doula?

What experience do you have?

What comfort measures do you think are the most helpful?

What are your fees?

How do you help my partner support me?

cuddling with little baby
Make some Mom friends!

Meeting Local Moms – Take this chance to meet some moms and build your village! We’ve all been there. Being a new mom can be really lonely, so another added benefit is meeting other women who are starting this journey into motherhood, just like you!

Resources – Meet the Doulas events are usually held in a location that’s also a resource for new moms, such as a yoga studio or chiropractor’s office, so you get the bonus of learning about other resources that may be available! We’re lucky enough to be hosted on February 3rd by Le Bebe Chic, a lovely baby boutique in Chesapeake that specializes in organic products.

Hanbury Shopping Center baby boutique
Le Bebe Chic Baby Boutique

To attend this free event, reserve your spot now!

Giving Birth at Bon Secours

Bon Secours De Paul Medical Center for Birth
Bon Secours De Paul Medical Center for Birth
Bon Secours DePaul Medical Center

Bon Secours Hospital System is known for patient centered care and DePaul Medical Center is one of the most recommended by moms in the Hampton Roads area! Their reviews are impeccable and they truly desire to help you have the most natural hospital birth experience possible. Here’s some more information on their services, specialties, and policies.


As quoted from their website, Bon Secours believes in the ICEA definition of family centered care.

“The birth of a baby represents the birth of a family. The woman giving birth and the persons significant and close to her are forming a new relationship, with new responsibilities to each other, to the baby, and to society as a whole. Family-centered reproductive care may be defined as care which recognizes the importance of these new relationships and responsibilities, and which has as its goal the best possible health outcome for all members of the family, both as individuals and as a group.”


At Bon Secours, Certified Nurse Midwives are the primary care providers. They do have physicians on staff and a full NICU available.

At Bon Secours, CNMs practice with physicians so that the full range of care is available to women at all times. Our goal is to treat birth like a natural process, not an illness and to provide a high-touch experience in a homelike environment within the safety of a hospital.

Birthing Suite

Birthing suite at Mary Immaculate Hospital
Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital

You will have the option of rooming-in with your baby while you stay at the hospital, giving you time to rest and bond with your new baby. Every room has an adjustable hospital bed and private bathroom with shower.

Note: DePaul Medical Center provides private birthing suites complete with a queen size bed and a jacuzzi tub for hydrotherapy! Maryview has limited access to jacuzzi tubs.

While most rooms are LDR (Labor, Delivery, and Recovery) rooms, they do have the option to stay in one room for the duration of your hospital stay, known as an LDRP room. Inquire on your tour about this option!

Evidence shows that Rooming-In has many benefits including better breastfeeding, early response to hunger cues, higher milk production, increased confidence in going home, safe sleep practice, and more sleep for everyone.


Lactation consultants are provided to ensure your breastfeeding success. The Magic Hour is practiced at all of their facilities, ensuring you get uninterrupted time with your baby after you deliver. Here’s some more information on skin-to-skin care.

Benefits as shared on their website:

  • Babies have an amazing ability to interact with their parents. They can distinguish touch, smells, tastes, sounds and sights right away.
  • Breastfed babies will nurse better when placed skin-to-skin on the mother immediately following birth.
  • A mother’s body can maintain her baby’s temperature more effectively than warm blankets and warmers.
  • Babies who spend the first 90 minutes of their lives with their mothers skin-to-skin cry less than those who are dried, wrapped and placed in a bassinet.


Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center Birthing Suite
Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center

Birth Doulas are always welcomed at Bon Secours facilities, I’m happy to report they recognize the value of one one one support throughout the labor and delivery process. When you hire a Doula, know that they will work hand in hand with your care provider to help you achieve a beautiful birth experience!

Arrange a Tour

To schedule a tour with Bon Secours, call 757-889-BABY. Parents can also schedule a tour or childbirth classes online. For more information, visit their maternity services page here.


Doula banner in gold

For more information on Doula Support, Placenta Encapsulation, or Resources in Hampton Roads, get in touch with me!


N is for Nuchal Cord

Monet Nicole Birth Photographer

The mother breathes through wave after wave of contractions. She begins to push intuitively and soon feels her baby’s head, then their shoulders emerge. She exclaims with joy and holds her baby close as the midwife deftly removes the cord looped around his neck and shoulders. The mother and baby are secure and safe to recover slowly and bask in the glow that only exists on a birthday.

Monet Nicole Birth Photographer
Monet Nicole Birth Photographer

When you first hear about a cord wrapped around an infant’s neck, you may feel a sense of alarm. Especially if it’s your own baby!

What is a Nuchal Cord?

A Nuchal Cord is the result of the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck during delivery. The cord can also be wrapped around the torso or an extremity. One third of all babies born have a nuchal cord.

There are many concerns that you may have, and I’m going to address them below. It’s important to note that cord length and the position of your baby have almost no correlation with nuchal cord occurrence, and there is no way to prevent a nuchal cord.

Let’s take a look at the most common concerns:

Can the baby breathe?

Yes! The baby doesn’t take their first true breath until they are born. The umbilical cord is built to provide the blood supply, and thus the nutrition and oxygen your baby needs regardless of constriction or pressure during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. This is another reason intervention can be a negative, your baby’s only oxygen supply is removed if the cord is prematurely cut. True knots that cut off this blood supply are incredibly rare.

umbilical cord knot

Is it hurting the baby?

It’s highly unlikely. The cord is lubricated inside with a gelatinous substance called Wharton’s Jelly. This acts to prevent the blood vessels from constricting and the cord from looping too tightly or gripping  the skin. The amniotic fluid also acts as a cushion.

Is their blood supply cut off?

No, as noted above the cord is well protected and built for labor and delivery. Unless there is a medical condition or known cord defect, there is no reason to be concerned. It is even normal for the babies heart rate to slightly dip during contractions.

Will it hurt my placenta?

Your uterus, placenta, and cord are all contracting together. The cord will not pull on your placenta or otherwise harm delivery. Even multiple loops (up to 9!) have been reported with no ill effects.

Has this just turned into an emergency?*

In almost all cases, no. There is almost no evidence to suggest that a nuchal cord requires immediate medical attention.

*This information is based on evidence based research and not meant to replace advice from a medical care provider.

Here’s a video as an example of a normal birth with a nuchal cord!

So what can you do?

Inform yourself as much as possible.  Read positive books on birth, do your research, and plan your birth in a way you feel comfortable.

Find a great care provider you trust to encourage you during birth. Consider hiring a Doula for added support!

Birth in an upright position! Studies have shown that there is less pain reported and less intervention associated with birthing in almost any position other than lying on your back.

Remain calm. Trust your body and your baby to do what they were built for. Stress and panic can increase pain, affect your vitals, and lead to interventions you might not have planned. 

For more information on this topic and birth support in Hampton Roads, get in touch with me directly.

M is for Mantras

beautiful pregnancy glow

What is a mantra?

A mantra could be considered to be something religious, meditative, or spiritual, but a simple definition is that a mantra is a word or phrase repeated over and over. I believe that when a woman chooses a phrase with great meaning or significance to her as a birth mantra, it lends her power and strength throughout her experience.

I’m going to pose a few questions in the following blog post, share a few short anecdotes, and give you a few ideas on how to find the right mantra for you.


How do you choose your mantra?

I was in a prenatal meeting with a client of mine who was a young, single mother. We were discussing birth mantras, and I asked if she knew of a word or phrase that would comfort her during labor. What she said took me by surprise, her mantra was to be “it’s going to get worse.” She asked me to remind her of this during labor!

A little dumbfounded, I asked her why that would be helpful to her. She said that during labor, she didn’t want anyone to predict what was going to happen next, to tell her things were almost over, or that her baby was almost here. She wanted to have a reminder that labor is a mountain to be climbed to the summit, and that there wasn’t going to be an easy or quick way through.

She did have a difficult labor, but she still had a wonderful experience and viewed it as a positive birth. I have seen this happen numerous times, where a woman who has by all accounts a negative birth experience but views it as a positive. I believe this is due to feelings of control, of respect, and safety throughout any stressful situation.

What if a phrase doesn’t stick out to me?

In another account, a very quiet client of mine didn’t have a lot of things to say. She didn’t have any requests during labor, she simply wanted to rock back and forth and breathe through her contractions as long as possible. In this situation, I felt that I should hold space for her and her family, and help her birth plan be followed through. So I remained in the background until her labor progressed and noticed her contractions were becoming more intense.

I racked my brain for the words to say, but this particular client didn’t want to be engaged in conversation during labor. She didn’t want physical comfort measures, or to try different positions. A light bulb went on in my brain and I pulled up this song for her, a song that I remembered her mentioning as a comfort to her during times of stress.

I still vividly remember her immediate physical reaction to hearing the first notes of this song. Her body relaxed completely, the tension just melted away. Her son was born very shortly after this rough transition!

Ever since then I have held a firm belief that birth mantras aren’t something you say, they are something you feel. Find what speaks to you, whether it be a bible verse, a little saying, a singular word, or a song.

What about birth affirmation cards?

There are a lot of birth affirmation cards, coloring books, and useful birth focus tools available online. These are all wonderful! The benefits of making the cards yourself is that your individual feelings and thoughts will create the images and will add to your comfort more than something someone else wrote. It will simply be more meaningful and creating them can even be a meditation on the birth process itself.

During active labor, I find that cards aren’t as helpful as they are for meditation during pregnancy and in early labor. If you want to use them as a focus object during labor, craft them into a simple banner to be hung up in your birth room! It can be difficult during labor to hold onto them and focus on moving your body the way you need to.

positive thinking and meditation affirmations

Some more ideas for simple mantras:

I am strong

I am powerful

My baby is coming to me

My body knows what to do

Inhale love, exhale fear

Birth is safe for me

I can do this

I am supported and safe

As a Birth Doula, I help my clients figure out the best way to approach birth and motherhood through prenatal visits and childbirth education, helping them plan the birth experience they are dreaming of. Personalized mantras and meditation can be an incredibly useful part of your birth plan. Get in touch with me to learn more about your birth options in Hampton Roads!