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a note from the editor

Whoever you are, wherever you are, welcome. I’m so grateful you are here.

My name is Cheyenne and I’m a birth and postpartum doula, but that’s not the whole reason I am here, writing you this little note of love in a magazine I hope will meet you like a sweet hand squeeze and a smile.

I want you to know that I see you.

I know what it’s like to feel... not seen. To feel not spoken to. To feel a little like a wanderer in a place you don’t completely belong (even if you know that you actually do).

I’ve felt this way in parts of my life from when I was very young, so when I became a birth doula, it wasn’t long before I started to see this in the birth world, too.

In the times in my life when I felt the least seen, the least like I belonged, and most insecure — I limited myself so much. I created stories about what I could and could not do, about who would or would not want to be around me, and how my life would turn out. I created a lot of untrue stories, many of them very unkind to myself.

Seeing is not believing, but seeing is on the path to that place. When I saw and spoke to people who looked like me and understood my struggles, I began to undo my old stories and reimagine new ones.

I hope that this magazine would help to bridge that gap for anyone who has felt limited during or after a pregnancy, because it has seemed like you’re walking pretty alone.

Feel like you don’t have options? You have so many options. It may not be easy to get to them, but you can. Because you are not alone at all. There are people surrounding you who want to offer you peace, comfort, and care. Let’s find them.

This is how we make things that seem like they can’t happen, happen: by speaking our desires, and supporting each other. If you’ve learned an unkind story for yourself – like I did long ago – I’m here to say, let’s write a new one.

Cheyenne Varner
Executive Editor
jade chiu


Click the title to go to that section
The Wisdom of Birth
The beauty birth makes us all witnesses to.
Tips to Create a Better Baby Registry
Consider this to make the right list for you.
The Visual Guide to Choosing Your Birth Space
Home, Birth Center, Hospital. What’s for you?
A Labor Playlist
Get ready to get in your labor groove.
Birth Bag Unpacked
Toss this in your bag before you jump in the car.
How to Choose Your Care Providers
Who you pick sets the tone for much of your pregnancy and birth.
Healthy Foods Dilation Chart
Healthy eating tips in the order your cervix dilates.
Birth Costs and Insurance 101
Tips to know how to get the most out of your coverage (or lack)
Small Space, Here Comes Baby
Making room doesn’t always mean getting more space.
Postpartum Bag Unpacked
Helpful things to have ready when you get home with baby.
Getting Ready for Home After Birth
What we’re not told about after baby arrives.
A Little Doula Q&A
Three doulas chime in on what support looks like.
Life-Giver: Supporting All Birthing Persons
What does gender inclusivity look like in birthing?

The Wisdom of Birth

jade chiu
It’s funny how little many of us know of our bodies. I wonder just how surprising that actually is when you consider that many of our bodies have been fetishised, demonised, experimented on, abused, and viewed as exotic exhibits, vessels for sex and birth.

It is hard to remember when first we viewed our bodies as our own. We draw so much of our opinion and internalise messages from the media about how they should look. Size, colour, shape, made up with cosmetics, hair or not, different chemicals altering us inside and out. To bleed or not to bleed.

I work as a birth keeper, and as such I have seen women’s bodies do the most incredible things as they change and stretch in pregnancy. As they writhe and turn in labour. As they open and give forth life with the birth of their babies. I’ve seen these same bodies sustain the new life they’ve birthed as their breasts leak milk and cause small babies to grow into toddlers and children. I’ve watched as afterwards those bodies change back to their pre-pregnancy state.

I remember sitting with a group of women of varying ages. It was a baby shower. The conversations turned to birth. Most of the women there had birthed at least one baby. As I talked about the gloriousness of birth, because as a doula and birth keeper, what else would I do, some of the older women began to shake their heads in disgust. Talking about the mechanics of birth, the fluids, and the placenta caused them to grimace and say, “There’s no need to talk about those things. These girls,” (many of whom had children), “don’t need to hear that stuff.”

Is it any wonder that birth is seen as an ordeal to get through, or barely seen at all? And small wonder that we do not love this which we were blessed with.

One of the keys to being a birth keeper, in my opinion, is the ability to sit still and be. This is difficult when we are primed to spring into action and often have become birth keepers because we want to help and do. But when we do sit still and hold the space for our clients we learn so much about them, birth and ourselves.
I’m a natural talker. My mother says that they will bury me talking, and she’s probably right. Once I enter a birthing room though, my words slow and cease. My volume decreases and moves to silence. When I do speak, it is normally words of encouragement that have a hypnotic quality about them. I have learned that I am able to move with the ebb and flow of the room. Sometimes leaning forward to stroke an arm, rub a back, comfort a mother and/or partner.
I watch as, when left alone, her body sways and moves and finds its own dance. No need to teach this woman how to move in labour. Her body teaches her.
I watch as, when left alone, her body sways and moves and finds its own dance. No need to teach this woman how to move in labour. Her body teaches her. As I watch, I find myself matching that dance. If I have done my work well before labour, her partner also recognises and matches this dance. As her breathing rises and falls, and slows and speeds up, we all begin to breathe as one. She is not alone in this dance. She leads, we follow. As healthcare professionals enter the room, those with eyes to see, see this dance and join with us. It is a group dance. All are included, the birthing woman and her child are the centre.

To trust your body, you need to know your body. To know your body, you need not fear her. She is there for your exploration. Every bump and curve, every inlet and outlet. Her fluids, her sounds, her personal dance. To support a birthing mother, and encourage her to trust her body, we need to not be afraid of our own bodies. We are encouraged to love ourselves as our neighbour. We cannot love our neighbour until we love ourselves.

When we witness birth, we witness the emergence of a Goddess. We learn the way she shifts and changes to bring forth life. If we are wise, we will learn about her in all her glory, long before she turns to the birthing room, so that the dance is one of trust, belief and joy.
by mars lord

Tips to create a better baby registry

Make your registry work for you

deaudrea rich
Don’t stress! There’s no such thing as a perfect list and you don’t need everything at once. Consider this as you build the registry that works for you:
think about your lifestyle and your home
What have your routines been like without baby and how will they shift when your baby’s born? How do the things babies need fit into your life and home? What will your days look like in the first year? Consider what your home is like and look for functional items that can serve multiple purposes and save space.  
think outside the box
Instead of just thinking about what baby may need, think about experiences for baby, yourself or even the both of you to share together – and how you can add those to your registry. There are baby gyms that offer music and spaces for little ones to explore. Looking to exercise? There are places designed so you can bring your baby. Even local zoos, aquariums, planetariums, etc. have spaces for you and your little one to explore. Once you have found a rhythm getting out and about with your baby, this can be just the thing you need.
borrow and buy secondhand
You may have a family member or friend who has things you were thinking about getting and is willing to let you borrow them or take them off their hands. This also allows you to test run some items for your baby. You can see how your baby responds to different brands or types of items, and save some time and money.
Take a look at what your local “buy and sell” stores, groups or apps may offer, before buying from a larger retailer. You might be able to get items for 50%-75% less than their actual retail value!

The one exception to all of this would be car seats. It’s best to buy your car seat new. When buying or borrowing second hand, you run the risk of not being able to verify if the car seat was involved in a car accident or not. Even minor accidents can change the configuration of a car seat, which makes it unsafe.  
Create that baby registry at your favorite baby store, but make sure it has a good return policy. When you start receiving items from friends and family, take inventory and think about the essentials. You’ll need the stroller, car seat, and something for baby to sleep in. Other items that you may be unsure about you can always return to the store and get store credit. Friends and family gift items with the intention of helping. If you get two diaper pails and don’t need both, you can use the store credit from returning one for things you do need, like diapers and wipes.

Creating a registry list can feel never-ending. What we know for sure that is as long as you surround your baby in love, you’ve tackled the most important part of your list!

by laurel gourrier

The Visual Guide to
Choosing your Birth Space

and birth stories from families

No matter where you choose to birth your baby, think and talk about what you expect with your partner, care provider, doula and whole support team. Imagine the birth experience you want; that would make you satisfied and proud. Describe it in detail with your support team, or write out your thoughts in a journal or by drawing in a sketchbook. Consider all your options. The benefits and limits listed below, and stories to follow can help you start.



does it fit me?
Those who choose home birth often trust their knowledge of their body and health needs, and may even feel uncomfortable with the traditional medical system and hospitals due to histories of racist and unjust practices.
what do i need?
A home birth kit. This usually includes basic supplies like chux pads, gloves, gauze, lubricating gel, bulb syringe, cord clamps, peri bottle, cleansing solution, and alcohol prep pads, among other items suggested by the Midwife.
can i afford it?
Home birth expenses are often paid out of pocket and provide for the Midwife, Midwife’s Assistant, and any necessary supplies as dictated by the Midwife. Costs range from $1,500-$3,000.*
*These are estimates based on national averages. Exact costs vary depending upon the care provider.
kenya fairley
My first home birth was intimate and beautiful. Me, my husband, my midwife and her student.

I remember feeling the top of my baby’s head. Labor was so hard but when I felt his head I felt like a lioness. I bore down and birthed my son into the world. There is no greater feeling than that moment of control.

My third birth was at home, too. We had our two oldest children with us (ages 2 and 4) and they witnessed me labor and birth our youngest son. I caught our son and I believe I was in control the whole time.

It was phenomenal. I remember my four-year-old looking me straight in the eyes and saying, “Mommy, you can do it,” and kissing and hugging my belly.

Cessilye, 37
Dallas, TX

photographer: desiree chapman


birth center

does it fit me?
Those who choose a birth center may be seeking a positive balance between birthing at home and birthing in a hospital. The birthing person likely wants a collaborative partnership and nurturing relationship with their Midwife, and is engaged in the decision-making process of their care.
what do i need?
An overnight bag with basic toiletries, and snacks or drinks, if desired.
can i afford it?
Costs are different based on where you live and what’s available. On average, the cost ranges from $3,000-$6,800; some insurance companies may cover a portion of the expenses.**
**These are estimates based on national averages. Exact costs vary depending upon the care provider and individual insurance coverage.
kenya fairley
I’ve always wanted a birth center birth. To me, it just looked more relaxing. With a birth center birth, you get a feel of everyone who will be involved in your special delivery.

My experience was amazing! Everyone was filled with love and care. I could not have been in better care. Seriously.

There were a lot of unforgettable moments, but what I remember most about my birth was feeling my baby’s facial features passing my skin and my son looking me straight in the eye fresh out of the womb.

Learn and trust your body can do it. Think positive the whole way through. Don’t be afraid.

I know every woman’s pain level is different but it’s just temporary. Give it a chance. If women back in the day could do it, so can you.

Tiffany, 23
Richmond, VA

photographer: cheyenne varner



does it fit me?
Many people give birth in the hospital because they trust the traditional medical system as the authority on pregnancy and childbirth, have what’s considered a high-risk pregnancy, or want to go where their Midwife or OB always attends births.
what do i need?
Hospital pre-registration paperwork, your insurance card, your ID, and baby’s car seat installed. A hospital bag packed with basic 2-3 days of overnight toiletries, and other items to make the space comfortable.
can i afford it?
The national median cost of a childbirth hospital stay was $13,524 in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but most expenses for the birthing person and newborn are covered by health insurance if in network.
kenya fairley
There is a moment that is so clear in my head. It had been about 30 hours, and the midwives came to check on me. I was leaning over my husband weighing all our options and crying, as contractions were coming back to back. An epidural was an option, but it wasn’t in our birth plan.

At that moment my husband grabbed my face, and I looked in his teary eyes, and he reminded me that it was my choice, my body.

The epidural did allow me and my team to get some rest. When we woke up, our midwives checked me. I was fully dilated and could push whenever I felt ready.

My husband held my left leg, and my mother-in-law kept my right leg, and Naomi was born Sept. 5th at 1:14 pm full of energy and snuggly goodness!

Laurel, 23
Gambier, OH

photographer: taylor lenci
deaudrea rich

A Labor Playlist

made for you

Music can be an important part of your labor, setting the tone for anyone who enters your space and complimenting your labor progress.

Music can set the tone and can definitely help improve our moods. Listening to music during birth can actually help reduce the attention to pain and lower anxiety, like it did for my birth. Music also helps release the ‘happy hormones,’ endorphins, and dopamine from the brain.

On June 17th, 2014 I started having strong contractions in the middle of the night I knew weren’t Braxton Hicks. I began to play some house music, sat on a birth ball and with each contraction I visualized myself dancing. As I progressed in labor I played many Erykah Badu songs. Her melodic, relaxing voice and words always placed me in the right mindset and mood. As things became more intense a friend of mine began singing some of my favorite gospel songs. That was all I wanted and needed. But if I had a chance to make a meaningful playlist for someone else, here’s what I’d make.

I hope this list speaks to every possible circumstance under the sun.  As you consider yours, think how you would want the soundtrack of your labor to be where each song matches the timing and rhythm of your labor.
by barbara verneus

How to Choose Your Care Providers

Find the one who fits you

deaudrea rich
Your doctor will set the tone for much of your pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
choose someone you
feel safe with

Feeling safe with your provider is very important; you shouldn’t settle for just anyone. You have to trust the care you receive throughout pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. By asking questions you find out what practice or individual you want.
choose someone who
makes time for you

Some offices have open houses or meet and greets so parents-to-be and their families can interact with the practitioners and ask questions. Get to know someone before you choose them, and find out how much of their time they’ll offer you once they’re your provider, too.
choose someone who sees birth like you do
Meditating on the type of birth you want is important when choosing a care provider, too. If you want your birth to feel private, for example, a doctor from a large teaching hospital may not be a good fit. Or if you want a water birth, you’d want a care provider who appreciates that.
by tracie brown, cnm

Questions to ask

  1. What are your views on pregnancy and birth?
  2. How many providers are in the practice? What kinds?
  3. Do you have students? Are they in the office and do they also attend births?
  4. How long are prenatal visits?
  5. Is there generally a long wait time in the office? Does the schedule get backed up often?
  6. What are the office hours? Is there a grace period for tardiness? If I miss an appointment due to unforeseen circumstances will it be difficult to reschedule?
  7. What is the likelihood that you will be able to attend my birth? How often are you on call?
  8. Is there a possibility that someone I don’t know will be the provider at my birth?
  9. Where do your patients deliver?
  10. Do you work with doulas? Do you have relationships with community resources that I can be connected to during and after the pregnancy?
  11. How do I reach you? Who can I contact if I have questions non-emergent and urgent?
  12. What is the cesarean rate for your practice?

Birth and Postpartum Stories

as told by care providers

Embrace Midwifery & Birth Center,
Corina Hossle, CPM
“My favorite memories are always of women who overcome challenges, like Annie.
With her first pregnancy, she had pre-eclampsia, induction, epidural and lots of interventions that she had wanted to avoid and left her feeling disempowered and guilty.
She was traumatized by her first birth and cried at prenatals for months. We spent hours talking about nutrition, stress management, and releasing the grief and fear she held.  She worked so hard to improve her health during this pregnancy.  When her time came, she labored so beautifully and peacefully at home she almost didn’t make it to the birth center! Arriving at 9 cm, breathing calmly and swaying gently, she had an amazing, transformative, empowering birth. She breathed her baby out, unmedicated, and with all the grace and strength I knew she carried!”
See Baby, Dr. Brad Bootstaylor
“At 42 weeks and five days a baby was born, weighing 7 pounds 12 ounces, after a 72-hour labor. It involved an admission and discharge home (for an unchanging 3-4 cm dilated cervix), readmission, labor in water, epidural at 7 cm after about 18 hours, spontaneous water breaking, pea soup meconium, good fetal heart rate, Pitocin after 10 more hours, then little progress at 8 cm, 0 station. A Cesarean birth was recommended and agreed on, but the parents were heartbroken...
Wait, let me do one more exam... I told the couple, I believe this baby can be born vaginally.
You will need to push through your epidural while the cervix is massaged to full dilation. This exhausted, well-supported mother brought her baby to +3 station after 2 hours of pushing. Forceps assistance helped her cross the finish line, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
MyRVABaby, Dr. Janet West
“As a pediatrician, I rarely attend births anymore.  I get to meet the new parents in the hours following delivery and I must say, they are all memorable.
I can recall one family in particular that really helped me see the value in parents recovering at home.
Baby Beazley was born at home after a difficult birth.  The poor thing’s face was all bruised which put him at increased risk for jaundice and surely enough, he eventually required phototherapy, which I was able to provide at home along with daily visits to draw labs to check his bilirubin levels.  It was a stressful time for the family even with my daily visits.  This family lived about 30 minutes outside of the city and I couldn’t imagine that Mom traveling to the pediatrician daily for weight and lab checks.”

Kinds of Providers

the basics

Whether Nurse-Midwives, Professional Midwives or Traditional Midwives, generally, midwifery care looks at birth as a natural process that doesn’t need any or much intervention, and spends a lot of time with parents on individualized care.
Obstetrician/Gynecologists, or OBGYNs, are specially trained to handle birth complications. Their care tends to involve more monitoring and interventions when labor doesn’t go as expected. Because of this, their care is best for high-risk pregnancy and birth.
family physicians
Family physicians are trained to care for whole families, and some include birth services. They often have deep, trusting relationships with patients, and are equipped for low-risk pregnancy and birth.
Pediatricians are trained to care for children from birth to foster and maintain health and give medical care in the event of any illness. They help prevent, detect, and manage physical, behavioral, developmental issues and more.

Healthy Foods Dilation Chart

What you eat makes a big difference in how you experience pregnancy. Here are some healthy eating tips... in a dilation wheel!
sweets: 1cm, 2cm + 5cm
Indulging in sweets you enjoy during your pregnancy is fine in moderation. Treat yourself with small amounts of healthier options like dark chocolate and frozen yogurt! Some hard candies like peppermints and butterscotch have been said to help with morning sickness, too.
snacks: 3cm + 4cm
Hummus is a super healthy snack with lots of protein, fiber, calcium and more. Since there have been concerns about contamination in store bought hummus in the past, it’s best when you make it (only 5 ingredients!). Eggs are another great healthy food for pregnancy.
whole grains: 6cm
Whole grains like whole wheat bread (in this case, a roll) and brown rice have more nutrients in them than the other kinds of bread and rice. So next time you’re grocery shopping, try going whole!
fruits: 7cm
Everyone knows fruits are healthy but how can you get more into your meal plan? You can make a fruit smoothie bowl like the one to the right (the bowl is a carved out orange!) or you can add fruit to meals (like adding bananas or strawberries to cereal or yogurt) or snack on some fruit between meals (tangerine, or cup of blueberries anyone?). Easy as pie (hmm... maybe a bit of apple pie?).
liquids: 8cm
Water, water, water! Of course, drink water, and spice it up with fruit or herbs like mint or rosemary. If you’re a tea drinker, check with your doctor about what teas are safe during pregnancy. In general, caffeine free store-bought herbal teas are considered safe, and pregnancy teas, of course, beneficial.
protein: 9cm
Protein is a building block for your baby’s growth and good for your immune system. Lean meat choices are considered the healthiest, and seafood high in omega-3s like salmon are also encouraged!
vegetables: 10cm
Veggies should be all over your meal plan! Throw greens into your eggs in the morning, greens and tomato onto your turkey burger at lunch, and have a bowl of salad with carrots, peppers and onions as a side with dinner. Salad feel boring? Put veggies in soup, on kebabs, or in smoothies. Slice them, chop them, grill them, steam them, bake them, there are tons of ways to make them happen!

food made and styled
by arley arrington

Birth Costs and Insurance 101

"What will my insurance cover?"

Insurance plans are often hard to understand. Here are some tips to make it a little less overwhelming.
find your insurance benefits and coverage
Somewhere on their website your insurance provider will have a summary of all of your benefits. It will tell you what screenings, exams, and visits are covered and to what degree. For example, an unplanned visit to your primary doctor might be covered at 90%, leaving you to pay 10%, but a visit to the OBGYN for a scheduled prenatal appointment may be 100% covered. Or for example, you might learn one ultrasound is 100% covered, but any additional are only 80% covered.

It’s also important to know what services and providers are in network or out of network. Your insurance will accept and cover in-network costs. Out of network costs are not usually covered (though there are exceptions, so call and ask).
know your deductible and out-of-pocket spending limit
Your deductible is the amount of money your insurance requires you to pay before they’ll kick in and cover costs. It may not apply to some screenings, exams, or visits — meaning your insurance will cover all or a portion of those costs even if you haven’t hit your deductible number yet. Your out-of-pocket spending limit is a higher number that — after you hit it — your insurance will cover 100% of qualifying costs.
change your
insurance to fit you

If you have this option available, take the opportunity to shop around for the plan that will best fit the birth and the budget that your family wants.
talk to someone
on the phone

Phone calls with insurance are not simple, fun, or short, but you can learn a lot more from another person on the line than you can on your own. For example, you might learn that your insurance provider covers some out-of-network providers when they have no in-network alternatives to offer you. Or that if you file a specific set of paperwork you can be reimbursed for an expense you planned to just take on yourself. Whatever you learn, talking it through with a person (or a few) may help you understand it better.

"What if I don't have insurance?"

apply for what fits
Research options online and talk to people you trust about what’s worked for them. Private insurance may fit you, or care through the Indian Health Service, or Medicaid. Medicaid qualifications are different from state to state, so check out whether you qualify in yours.
ask questions and know
your rights

Whatever option fits you, call and ask that agency lots of questions. You have a right to safe, quality care. Unfortunately, there
are gaps in all of these systems that can make it difficult to get that. But in them each we can also still find caring people who help us get the most. So call. Call your insurance, call your hospital, your birth center, your midwife, your OB — all of them.
ask about sliding scales, discounts and payment plans
Again, ask directly about all of these payment options. Many hospitals, home birth midwives and birth centers offer affordable options, sometimes even for folks with no insurance at all.

Small Space, 
Here Comes Baby

Nesting tips for tight quarters

With just a few additions to your setup, you can make the most of your small space.
wall space
Hanging shelves, cubes, or hooks on the wall are great ways to use vertical space. When things are off of the floor, a room will feel larger and will be much quicker to clean. Hanging a mirror will reflect light and makes a room feel bigger and brighter, too. Using different types of storage helps you know where specific things are. The key to organizing is to have a place for everything!
Cube shelving and baskets are great for hiding clutter. Store extra diapers, clothes for a growing baby (label the sizes!), pumping supplies, blankets, and so much more in there. Find the fabric cubes with labels or label the shelf directly. Varying colors and patterns could also help you tell what’s inside. It looks clean and makes it easy to get to everything! Huge plus — as your baby grows, you can use these same baskets for toys and books.
breast milk storage
Recycled soda cartons and narrow plastic tubs are great for storing breast milk bags! Lay the bags of breastmilk flat to freeze and then store them vertically in order by date. You won’t have to dig around for the right one and it will save you so much space in your freezer!
multi-use items
Finding items that can do more than one thing saves space, time, and money. For example, some baby loungers can be used for napping, play, tummy time, diaper changes, travel, and so much more. Items that grow with your child like convertible cribs, strollers, car seats and highchairs can also save you time and money in the end. The less time you are thinking about remembering to pack, clean, or buy things, the better!
closet and
dresser organizers

Install shelves, drawers and hanging organizers in baby’s closet to save space and stay organized. This also helps down the road as baby grows. You may even want it for yourself!

Skip the changing table and use a dresser and changing pad. The top drawers come in handy for diaper storage. Use drawer organizers (IKEA has great ones!) to separate diapers, extra wipes, creams, etc. and to keep tiny baby clothes in place.

by nicole rutledge

Getting Ready
for Home After Birth

Everyone talks about birth and pregnancy, but not so much postpartum

Here are some things you may not have been told yet and should know.
three simple words
The most important role that you have as a new parent is to rest, eat and feed your newborn. That can be very difficult in the United States, especially without prioritized maternity leave. But doing those three things as much as possible creates the foundation for your early days.
fewer cooing guests, more helping hands
When you get home don’t feel guilty about getting help. Let friends and family members come over to cook and clean and drop off meals (have a friend set up a meal app that can schedule it).

Let folks know ahead of time they can’t come over just to coo with the baby. That takes away from your rest and one-on-one time. Bond as much as possible as you can with your little while guiltlessly letting other people handle chores.

And if get home within 24 hours of birth, try not to be left alone with the baby for the next 24 hours. Have someone there to help escort you to the bathroom.
postpartum bleeding
It’s normal for the bleeding after birth to resemble a regular cycle at first, and then lessen over the span of weeks. If your pad is saturated within an hour call your OBGYN/midwife immediately. Also talk to your doctor about how to check if your uterus is staying below your belly button and to make sure your uterus is firm like a grapefruit.
have a sitz
Use herbs to make a sitz bath and put it in a peri bottle to use when you go to the bathroom to void, or in a container you can sit in for about 20 minutes. Common herbs for sitz baths are Comfrey leaf, Uva Ursi, German Chamomile, Shepherd’s Purse, Lavender, Sea salt, St. John’s Wort, Echinacea Purpurea, Yarrow, and Sage; but these can vary depending on your culture. You can also dip menstrual pads or panty linings into the sitz bath and place them one by one into ziploc bags to go in the freezer to be used later as ice packs. For hemorrhoids you can use witch hazel compresses.
It is normal to get a slight temperature when your breast milk comes in. It is also normal to get night sweats and chills due to your body adjusting and normalizing. Make sure to
constantly take in fluids, check your temperature to make sure it’s not too high, and check in with your care provider at any time.

Your little one’s temperature should stay between 97.6 - 99.6 degrees. Low? Try doing some skin to skin or putting on an extra layer of clothes. High? Take a layer off. Skin to skin helps regulate babies’ temperatures. And again, remember you can always call your pediatrician with questions and concerns.
how many diapers?
Your baby should poop and urinate at least once within 24 hours from the time of birth. On day two, expect two poops and pees, on day three expect three, and so on until day five when the amount should normalize. But know your baby will pass meconium until your breast milk comes in. A great changing trick is to put olive oil on your baby’s bottom because meconium is very sticky.

In female babies, look out for what looks like a slight period but is really uric acid crystal. It usually clears by the time your breast milk comes in and shouldn’t continue after five days.
At first your baby needs to feed every two hours. You might find they want to sleep longer, but it’s important to feed regularly. If you have trouble waking your baby call your OBGYN/Midwife immediately.

If breastfeeding, feed on one breast completely and then switch. And drink water and eat snacks while you feed, keep these things by your bed. Sore nipples are normal in the first few days, but anything truly painful, talk to your care provider about. Look ahead of time if you can for lactation resources in your area.
check your feelings
Back to you, new parent, learn about the difference between baby blues vs postpartum depression. Remember your body is majorly readjusting after giving birth, so it’s normal to feel some baby blues. Baby blues can come and go, and usually last for no more than two weeks. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, can occur in a few days, months or even a year after having your little one. Call your care provider right away if you feel you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Many people get this help.

written by
barbara verneus

illustrations by
virginia strobach

A Little Doula Q&A

3 doulas chime in


What kind of support can I expect from my birth or postpartum doula?
Your birth doula may explain what phases your body is in during labor, and different terms used by your medical team. Your doula will be there for you, providing encouraging words and assuring you that you are capable of achieving your desired birth, as well as giving an unbiased view on your decisions. They will provide relief to your body through massage, warm compresses, aromatherapy, and any method of relaxation you are comfortable with. Postpartum doulas will visit you to make sure breastfeeding is going well if chosen, as well as assist with light household chores, cooking, and caring for baby. They will answer any questions you may have and help make sure you are enjoying motherhood.  Alexis X
What’s a memorable moment from a birth you’ve attended?
My first doula client wondered whether she was ‘strong enough’ to birth without medication. A few days before her birth she started to second guess herself — wasn’t sure she could do it. She was having ‘visions’ of being ripped apart during birth.  I asked her if she wanted to change her birth plan (which said she did not want to be offered pain relief). She thought about it then said, ‘No,

I’ll try…. but if I ask for an epidural you better get me one.’ Her labor and delivery lasted about 7 hours and she was great. She didn’t get an epidural and pushed her 7 lb baby out without a tear. As soon as her son was born, she held him in her arms, looked at me and said, “I did it! I did it! I thought I was going to explode, but I didn’t… and I did it!” That was 10 years ago and it’s the most powerful doula memory I have.  Aisha Ralph
What’s an example of a postpartum doula making a difference for new parents?
I remember working with a mom who just had her third child. Her two older kids were fairly easy as newborns: both nursed well, had no issues with sleeping, and most of the time, she felt like she had everything under control. When her youngest child arrived though, it was different. He had a lot of issues with eating and digestion. He also required more attention and care than other newborns. As postpartum doula, I was the extra pair of hands she needed when she had to take care of her older kids or take a shower. I was there to provide her with resources when she needed to see a specialist. I was there to empower her as a mother when she struggled. This is the role of a postpartum doula - to help you gain confidence in your new role as a parent. Dorota Jastrzebska


Supporting All Birthing Persons

As a society, we are aware that not all women choose to become mothers. Still, women wrestle with the “decision” not to become pregnant or give birth. We are aware of this storyline in films, songs, poetry about women’s empowerment and agency. We’ve heard the moniker: “Women have the power to bring life into the world or not.” Women have become mothers through adoption, IVF, surrogacy and through the blending of families. Somehow, the external environment has learned to talk about this diversity as examples of the choices “women” make to become mothers and to create a family.

What’s interesting about the above is this simple fact: not all/only women give birth (can or want to). Birth is NOT a gender specific task. There is no one way to configure a family.

The term I use in my doula practice is “life-giver.” As a doula I support the life-giver, the unborn human being and their families. In most Indigenous traditions, the life-giver is sacred. Life-Givers have sacred responsibilities within their community. The community has responsibilities to support the birthing person before, during and after the birth of the newest member of its community.

Framing Gender Inclusivity

Unfortunately, we currently live in a society that has deified motherhood—to the detriment of the experience of the birthing person. The limiting and rigid expectations and definitions of what birth is and who gives birth places undue burden and stress on people who are choosing to become pregnant.

I believe we call our parents to us. One’s decision to become a parent, whether or not we’re the birthing person, is sacred. Families need all the support they can get based in the reality of who they are and what they need before, during and after the birth of their child.  
I believe we call our parents to us. One’s decision to become a parent is sacred.
As we begin to have more mainstream conversations about the ancient understanding that there are more than two genders, we must also begin to take a look at what this means for people giving birth. Some considerations:
  • If choosing to give birth in a hospital, does the OB and other medical staff have knowledge of current support for transgender and non-binary birthing persons? (including how you plan to feed your child)
  • What environment do you need to create with your birth team (OB, midwifery team, nurse practitioner, doula)? What do you need to share about who you are and what you value? For example, not using gender specific language during your pregnancy; deciding not to “reveal the gender.”
  • Do you know your birth story? The birth story of your partner? Parents/Grandparents? What happened? What are the patterns?
  • As a person who is of color, trans, non-binary, cisgender, working class, etc. how might your personal history impact your experience of pregnancy?
  • Do you have a history of trauma?
  • How might your understanding of gender limit or expand how you choose to explore and support the birthing journey?
  • Have you considered how structural racism, sexism and classism impacts birth outcomes? Has your birth team?
How we enter the world matters.  Deciding to become pregnant no matter what are espoused beliefs often triggers bias and conditioning that we are unaware of or we believe we have already “done our work.” It is critical to unpack and take a look at our beliefs in addition to preparing for the coming of one’s child (including cultural and spiritual practices they may have seemed mute but become important during a pregnancy).  

No matter what our gender identity or race, we must do the work to know what we understand of ourselves and how we may be limiting ourselves and our human experience; particularly given the various systems one must navigate during and after pregnancy and childbirth.  And finally, we must prepare for the unknown; creating a birth plan supports not only the kind of birth experience you want, but the support system you need to have in place for what can happen that is out of one’s control.
No matter what our
gender identity or race, we must do the work to know what we understand of ourselves and how we may be limiting ourselves and our human experiences.

Deciding to become a life-giver opens up as many questions as possibilities.

There are many new resources available that are gender inclusive, culturally specific and framed from a social justice perspective AND the majority of what is available may be perceived as limited by its language (and imagined audience) yet provides vital information for your consideration. As you prepare, take what you need and leave the rest—what’s important is your journey.

by m. carmen lane


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Cheyenne Varner
Founder & Executive Editor

Founding Team
Sarah Choi, Marketing consultant | Virginia Strobach, illustrator | DeAudrea Rich, photography consultant | Maria Oya X, inclusivity consultant


The Wisdom of Birth
Mars Lord

Tips to Create a Better baby registry
Laurel Gourrier

The Visual Guide to
Choosing Your Birth Space
Kenya Fairley

Home, Birth Center, and Hospital Birth Stories
cessilye; tiffany; laurel

A labor playlist
Barbara Verneus

Care Provider Q+A
Dr. Nicole Rankins; Thamarah Crevecoeur, CNM

How to Choose
Your Care Providers
Tracie Brown, CNM

Healthy Foods Dilation Chart
Food Cooked & Staged By
arley Arrington

Small Space, Here Comes Baby
Nicole Rutledge
Postpartum Bag Unpacked
Naima Bond, M.Ed.

Getting Ready for Home After Birth
Barbara Verneus

Doula Q&A
Alexis X, Aisha Ralph, Dorota Jastrzebska

Life-Giver: Supporting All Birthing Persons
M. Carmen Lane

DeAudrea Rich
pages 5, 11, 21, 25

Jade Chiu
pages 7, 9, 38

Desiree Chapman
pages 14, 15

Taylor Lenci Photography  
pages 18, 19

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