By Yvette Stephens, Doula
The Maya's Nest
When I breastfed my twins at night, it was in good part because the idea of getting out of bed to prepare bottles sent a dread through my tired bones that maybe could only be matched by unlocking my door during the zombie apocalypse! Little did I know, I was in fact not only getting more rest than my bottle-feeding counterparts (a recent study shows breastfeeding parents get an average of 40-45 mins extra sleep per night, over their bottle-feeding counterparts in the first three months postpartum – Woah! That’s a lot of sleep for a new mama! *1), but building my supply and helping my babies to know night from day sooner!
As a doula, supply is a hot topic brought up often- how to get it, increase it, maintain it. My first question to women having supply issues is, “Are you nursing at night?” At night, our bodies produce more prolactin, the hormone that is responsible for breast-milk production. There is simply more milk there to be had at night. Also, if we’re going all night without feeding (or pumping), we are sending that signal to our bodies to produce less milk for later, affecting that supply-demand cycle long-term.
Melatonin, the great sleep hormone, and tryptophan (that thing that makes you sleepy after a turkey dinner) are both in abundance in evening / night breast milk, and help with establishing a pattern of sleeping longer at night and being up more during the day. Melatonin also relaxes the smooth muscle tissue of the intestine, helping those babes with fussy tummies to get a bit more rest. Basically, science shows us that human milk is packed with goodies for getting babies to sleep better and longer! *2
Common hurdles to night nursing are that latch isn’t yet good, we can’t find a comfy position or we are worried about baby’s safety, and often we’re leaving it too long to get the help we need! Trouble-shooting these issues with your doula, or, when needed a professional lactation consultant so you feel confident and can really relax while feeding will help you reap the most restful benefits of your night time feeding.
Let’s face it, none of us is exactly enthused about night-time feeding but armed with the facts about the benefits of more rest, better supply, and better sleep rhythms, (and sometimes some practical help to get things started) we can feel more positively about our nocturnal parenting adventures.
By Samantha Garcia Gagnon, Pitt Meadows Doula + Photographer
Confession time - I am pretty sure when I walked into the hospital for my first birth, I looked like I was moving in full time. But now - with our team having supported hundreds of families, we have certainly streamlined our recommendation list on what to bring when our clients ask us! Like with most things birth and baby related, keep things simple. There is zero need to stress out over what to bring. This simple check list take the stress out of your packing!
By Samantha Garcia Gagnon, Pitt Meadows Doula, Photographer and Bebo Mia Business Mentor
When I first started my doula business, I was overwhelmed with what my first steps should be. Vancouver is filled with so many awesome doulas. How was I going to stand out? How was I going to get clients? It was really early on in my doula career that I first met Bianca and Natasha from Bebo Mia. I had already knew of the company for their Maternal Support Practitioner (doula) training so when they launched the Doula Business School, I had a strong pull that told me I needed to sign up.
Over those 6 weeks, I received step by step support and guidance on setting up my business and building my brand. I have always had a very creative side, and being able to tap into that, coming up with unique ideas and interesting, stand out branding, was so much fun for me. After the end of the course, the Don't Doula It Yourself online community was born where the support never ends. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to watch this group grow, connect with doulas all over the world and share ideas on how we can all make our businesses better and stronger.
My favourite thing about Bebo Mia is that no matter how large their organization grows, the team is so committed to making sure you get the support you need. You are never just a number. Every single member is an essential part and will receive the support they require. They also make it really clear that you can both be client focused while still treating your business like a business! With their guidance, our team has experienced such wonderful growth so quickly.
When Bianca and Natasha (and Alana!) asked me to join the team as the Business Mentor for the DDIY community, I JUMPED at the opportunity. I love seeing people flourish - be it my clients through their births and parenthood, or other doulas as they discover what is possible in their business! To be able to be invited to join this team that helped me so much so that I can then help more people the way they have helped me is so wonderful! I am so looking forward to supporting the wonderful doulas in our community as they build their birth businesses!
Supporting the tone of the uterus before, during pregnancy and in postpartum is something that most moms are interested in, if they are lucky enough to know their options!
There are many things that can be done, like specific exercises, to improve the pelvic area while your body goes through its transformation. At The Mayas Nest, we are strong supporters of seeking a pelvic floor specialist or program, like Pelvienne Wellness for all our clients because it is so important to uterine health during and after pregnancy.
But what about herbs? If you're a new mom, you might have heard some talk about red raspberry leaf tea. It's so well known, that you can often find it in the natural tea section of your local grocery store.
Red raspberry (Rubus Idaeus) leaves have been used for centuries in women's health as a uterine tonic. A 'tonic' in herbal medicine is generally a group of herbs that will strengthen, restore and regenerate the body and/or a specific organ. In the case of red raspberry leaf tea, it is considered mostly a uterine tonic, as it tones, strengthens and restores the uterus. Red raspberry leaf traditionally is used to reduce postpartum hemorrhage and to restore the uterus to normal size, reduce the after pains of labour and for heavy menses. It has also been used for treatment of diarrhea, bacterial infection, and for inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, though red raspberry leaf tea is considered a women's herb and is most often used for its uterine benefits. There is even some research showing that it may shorten labour for some women .
Did you know that the leaves are high in calcium & magnesium? These are both essential in muscle contraction and tone and nerve conduction... those things are play an important role in birth! As with all herbals, keep in mind that just because its in nature doesn't mean it isn't powerful medicine! Please take caution in your first trimester as the relaxation effects of red raspberry leaf tea may be too effective and may be unsafe to consume in early pregnancy. It is my opinion, it is best during the first trimester to avoid most medicinal herbs. However, there aren't any reported toxicity dangers  to drinking red raspberry leaf tea, so most mums can benefit from this amazing herb without worry once they are outside of their first trimester.
So, what is this special red raspberry leaf?
Plain and simple, it's the same raspberry thats probably growing in your back yard or local trail. If you are lucky enough to have a raspberry bush (that is organic i.e, no pesticides and free from animal urine) you can make your own tea, very simply.
The basic recipe is 2 tsp of dried herb for 1 cup of water. If you've never tasted natural red raspberry leaf tea, fresh, its very similar to the taste of green tea, I find. Consume 1-2 cups up to three times daily.
It's best if you harvest the leaves in the spring or before the berry season ends. Its very easy to dry them-- just lay them on a tea towel over night and by morning you should be able to crush them in your hands. Then, steep like any loose tea. To get the maximum benefits, steep for at least 10 minutes before drinking.
Please note - this is not medical advice. Before ingesting any herbs, you may want to confirm with your medical care provider.
Holly, Coquitlam Doula
 Parsons, M., Simpson, M., & Ponton, T. (1999). Raspberry leaf and its effect on labour: Safety and efficacy. Australian College of Midwives Incorporated Journal, 12(3), 20–25. doi:10.1016/s1031-170x(99)80008-7
 Dr. Marciano, Marisa & Dr. Vizniak, Nikita. Botanical Medicine, Herbs, Nutrition, Hormones & Medications. Canada. Professional Health Systems Inc. 2016. Print. Pg. 302-303
By Samantha Garcia Gagnon, Pitt Meadows Doula and Birth Photographer
Sneak Peek First - Scroll Down for the FULL Shot.
As a doula and birth photographer. I am witness to the most amazing moments.
And then there are these moments. These rare, hardly ever happens moments. I was so excited to be witness to this unique moment, and to get to photograph it too - AMAZING!
Babies are typically born with the cephalic vertex anterior (the crown of the head and face down) presentation. Sometimes we also see babies being born "Face Up" also known as posterior - but only about 4-10% of babies are born this way at birth, though many more start this way in labour.
And then there are the more unique and rare presentations - including this FULL FACE PRESENTATION that I got to capture. Instead of baby coming out first from the top/crown of their head, the baby is born with the face coming out first. Face presentation occur in 1 of every 600-800 births.
I love this image so much that I entered it into the Birth Becomes Her 2017 Moment of Birth Contest. The contest is judged in 4 rounds, but there will be an extra People's Choice voting portion which I will be sure to share when voting starts!
I just want to end this saying I am so incredibly proud of my wonderful client. She did such AN AMAZING job and was so strong and focused through it all.
by Samantha Garcia Gagnon, Pitt Meadows doula + photographer
This last weekend, I had the complete pleasure to spend my time with the many wonderful doulas we have in our local birth community at Flock Yeah - the mini birth conference.
Flock Yeah is the brain child of Gena Kirby, a birth worker best known for her work with sharing the Rebozo as well as her work at Progressive Parenting Radio. She also spearheads the Cultured Doula Program. This is the third chance I've had some time with Gena. The first time we met was when she held a Rebozo training which opened my eyes and my mind to all that Gena had to offer.
Last year when I heard that Flock Yeah was coming to Vancouver, I knew I had to go, and I have to say, I most definitely was not disappointed. Last year, Gena was joined by Whapio Diane Bartlett of The Matrona and Lesley Everest of MotherWit.
That weekend last year changed my work immensely. It wasn't the first doula training I had ever done, but it brought something totally different from any other experience I have had. All three guests brought a new perspective to birth that I hadn't encountered. That weekend built my trust in birth. And more importantly, it brought into focus the transformation that birthers experience and my role in being witness to this. After that weekend, what I shared with my clients changed a lot. I moved my focus in prenatals from just looking at the medical side, to really exploring the physiologic. We went deeper into understanding where the brain goes and the heart goes too. We spoke more on the importance of the partner and in honouring him for his special role. And with that change, came better outcomes and happier clients who really knew their power and trust in birth.
When Flock Yeah announced they were coming back, I think I was one of the first to register. I needed more of that magic.
And again, another wonderful weekend. This time Lesley wasn't able to join us, but we were graced with the wonderful presence of Summer Jesse Forest, the "anti-super mom". While not a birth worker herself, the wisdom she shared which focused so much on self care. It cemented for me the need for me to fill my own cup, just like I encourage my clients to do the same! We cannot fill from empty cups - so fill your cup to that you can be better at helping others.
Whapio, who is a holistic midwife and wisdom keeper in the US, has such a unique insight into birth. Never before has anyone brought forth the truth that birth is a mystical experience. Whapio went deep into explaining the endocrine system - which secretes hormones which control our births! She then went on to bring us deep into the experience of birth and understanding where our brains go. It is so amazing to hear the scientific and spiritual connection of birth. She also spoke about the importance of the partner in birth - which is something we really focus on in our team!
Lastly but definitely not least, our dear Gena spoke about envy and jealousy. It is true when she says that it all comes from the false belief in scarcity. I also learned a new word - MUDITA - a pure joy unadulterated by self-interest. When we can be happy of the joys other beings feel, it is called mudita; It is my new favourite word and how I am making sure to live my life.
Check out my video above for a peak inside my amazing weekend! Also a few of my favourite photos below!
Old Orchard Park in Port Moody is one of my favourite spots to visit - either with my kids or with my photography clients!
This Maternity and Family photo session was so much fun as not only is this family my photography clients, but they are also doula clients! I get to spend a lot of time with my doula clients prenatally and really get to know them well. This makes photographing them so much more fun as I really get to know the vibe of this family.
And I think the photos really reflect the fun, loving and vibrant family that they are!
I cannot wait for their birth!
I recently had the pleasure of doing this sweet lifestyle maternity photo session at the M family's home in Maple Ridge. My favourite thing about lifestyle photo sessions is how relaxed it is. No awkward poses. No problems. No big lighting set ups. It is easy and casual in your home, or even in outdoors. This session was extra fun with the couple's adorable doggies! I am a huge dog lover, and my favourites are always the extra hyper ones.
By Samantha Garcia Gagnon, Pitt Meadows Photographer and Doula
We are at the last day of this amazing week of giveaways. We are so happy to have had the opportunity to shine the spot light on so many terrific local companies.
Ending the week, with the largest prize of the series, is from Optimum Family Chiropractic. We have collaborated many times with the team at Optimum Family - having hosted many of our events and information sessions at their beautiful clinic in Port Moody.
Dr. Marie, Dr. Gil and Dr. Emily have supported so many of our clients through their pregnancies and postpartum as well as their babies. Our clients love the care they receive from the Optimum family.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of chiropractic in pregnancy, check this out:
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