Thursday, August 29, 2013

Labyrinth: In Labor and In Life

A Labyrinth Journey Unfolding


About three years after the Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress recreated the famous Chartres Labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, Pam England’s book, Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation, was published.  

As a midwife, and mother, Pam saw a connection between the labyrinth and the journey of birth. 

The labyrinth is an ancient symbol representing our journey through life, ordeals and transitions. Its single, convoluted pathway begins at the opening, leads directly to the center, and out again. Walking or finger-tracing a labyrinth invokes a sensation of turning inward, then outward, perhaps reminding us of our first journey from our mother's body into the world.
-- Pam England, Birthing From Within

What is a labyrinth? 

Labyrinths are ancient patterns found all over the world. They are of many types sharing a single overall design. Their origin is as mysterious and their uses are as varied as their patterns.        

Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks, used by modern mystics to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind.  In addition, the labyrinth can serve as a metaphor for situations that are difficult to be extricated from. --Wikipedia

Pam’s experience in using the labyrinth as a tool to teach parents to prepare for the journey of labor led her to further expand the meaning of this ancient tool.

Labyrinth at La Casa De Maria, Santa Barbara, CA

A woman's psychic and physical journey from maidenhood-to-motherhood during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, is surely labyrinthine.  Parents experienced in birth, without exception, enthusiastically confirm that their internal experience of labor and postpartum was exactly like moving through a labyrinth. Encouraged by the lively dialogues that accompanied making labyrinths in class, I began to add two important symbols to the labyrinth drawing: the Threshold and Footprints (symbols that are described in the book). Years ago, we began referring to this unique labyrinth as a Laborinth (TM).         --Pam England, BFW

It was in the late 90’s when the labyrinth first came to my consciousness.  A good friend of mine, a mentor and soul-sister, was working toward her Master’s in counseling and told me about the work of Lauren Artress who was key in bringing this ancient tool to modern culture.  With a goal of “peppering the world” with labyrinths, Lauren offered this explanation to modern contemplatives:

 The labyrinth is a walking meditation, a path of prayer and an archetypal blueprint where psyche meets Spirit. It has only one path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center.  There are no tricks to it and no dead ends. Unlike a maze where you lose your way, the labyrinth is a spiritual tool that can help you find your way.  -Veriditas website, About the Labyrinth  

Outdoor labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

 My journey with the labyrinth began in San Francisco, CA, at Grace Cathedral (the very church where Lauren brought the first modern labyrinth to contemporary culture).  That same friend who had piqued my interest in this tool, invited me to accompany her on an overnight  women’s retreat that was to be held “in” Grace Cathedral.

Without a doubt, this profound “first walk” imprinted the labyrinth on my psyche.

The unusual opportunity to “sleep” in a cathedral is mind-blowing it itself.  Sleep in the cathedral?  Add to that, a retreat program that introduced into my consciousness the history, legends, and new meanings emerging from this spiritual tool; without a doubt, this profound “first walk” imprinted the labyrinth on my psyche.

Upon returning home, it became my goal to learn more about labyrinths and to seek out local opportunities to walk the labyrinth.  A private labyrinth on a woman’s property in Corona; a small labyrinth at a local Episcopal church; a canvas version brought to my own parish--each opportunity to walk the labyrinth increased my interest and drew me toward this ancient path.  

In 2001, through the collaborative genius of Sr. Joan Marie Sasse (and the generosity of a team of volunteers and donors), the mother-of-all-local-labyrinths was born at the Benedictine Monastery in Grand Terrace, CA -- a mere eight miles from my house.

Benedictine Labyrinth in Grand Terrace, CA

Fast forward to 2009 when I attended a Birthing From Within workshop.  A shift occurred (within) as I  "drew" a labyrinth for the first time.  As the workshop progressed, I was introduced to concepts that initiated a broad expansion of my experience of the labyrinth journey.  

The labyrinth, as it turns out, is a brilliant metaphor for the process of birth.

Drawing the labyrinth, and bringing my life to the drawing through my pastels, brought a new turn in my labyrinth journey.  In time, my understanding of this tool expanded as I gained insight on parallels of the labyrinth path to the journey through birth.  During birth, just when you think you are nearly there, labor can stall.  At times, you read the signs in labor as an indication that the labor will be quite long, only to find that birth is imminent. The labyrinth, as it turns out, is a brilliant metaphor for the process of birth.

Mothers experience labor as a labyrinth, a LabOrinth.  “Ready” or not, with the first contraction, or when the water breaks, they are catapulted across an invisible, but felt, threshold. Once in labor or in the labyrinth, steady progress is made by taking one step at a time until the Center is reached. The Center represents the birth of the child, the birth of the mother, the birth of the family. -Pam England, Birthing From Within

Dad and Olivia in Grand Terrace where she had her prenatal labyrinth walk.
Mom introduces Olivia to the Labyrinth angel

As a Birthing From Within mentor, I now lead parents in drawing their own labyrinths as a preparation for labor and birth.  As a part of the class, I will sometimes take them to a nearby labyrinth to experience their art process in their bodies as they physically walk the labyrinth.  For some parents, the labyrinth walk speaks strongly to their birth journey and they return to the labyrinth with their baby to reflect on their dream that is now manifest.  For some, the labyrinth is a part of class they do not want to leave behind.

As a result of Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress’s dedication, and many who bought into her dream, labyrinths are available in many locations across the U.S. and throughout the world.

Labyrinths are currently being used world-wide as a way to quiet the mind, recover a balance in life, and encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection,stress reduction, and to discover innovation and celebration. They are open to all people as a non-denominational, cross-cultural blueprint for well-being. The practice of labyrinth walking integrates the body with the mind and the mind with the spirit. They can be found in medical centers, parks, churches, schools, prisons, memorial parks, spas, cathedrals and retreat centers as well as in people's backyards.  -Veriditas website, About the Labyrinth 

. . . and they are found in Birthing From Within classes.   

As I continue my journey as a BFW Mentor, my path of learning goes toward the center . .  . and then away . . . towards the center again . . .and then away from the center.  Through this process I am learning patience on my mentor journey - and in my journey through life - with my old friend, the labyrinth.

Today's blog was brought to you by Kathie Neff, CD(DONA), Owner of Seasons Within Doula Group & Birth Services  

DoulaTales. Real people. Real challenges. Real joy. Join us.

To find a labyrinth near you, visit:

Links to the quotes utilized in this article are:

Veriditas, About the Labyrinth:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy Cesarean Awareness Month!

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month we are introducing our new Inland Empire ICAN Co-Leaders, Andie Geyer and Autumn McClees, by sharing their birth stories with you.

 If you are not familiar with ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) these stories will help to reveal the importance of having a place for women to receive support in recovering from a Cesarean, assisting those who are seeking a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and educating women about avoiding an unnecessary Cesarean Birth.  Today's post features Autumn's story.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve gone from knowing nothing about birth to working at knowing everything I can.  I long to help educate, inform, and be an advocate for pregnant mommies all around. 

Hi!  My name is Autumn, I am currently a stay at home mom of two little ones ages 5 and 20 months, and this is my story . . .

It all started back in April 2008 when my son was due to be born.  I was approaching my due date, and since I wanted a natural birth I knew I had to start labor before they threatened induction.  Around my due date I sought out a local acupuncturist (who was known to have success with her inductions) and sure enough within 48hrs of my treatment, labor began!  It was two days after my due date and contractions came out of nowhere at 4:00 am, 4 min apart, and consistent.  I had some water leakage and not knowing otherwise I followed instructions to go to the hospital immediately, all to find I was only 1cm dilated and barely 50% effaced.  I was now on the hospital time clock to get this baby out otherwise a c-section was imminent.  To make a long story short, after 12 hours of labor, and a bit of pitocin (to help me dilate) they STILL found me at 1cm and maybe 60% effaced.  By that time I was tired, hungry, and had been bed bound in a horrible semi sitting position. (They would not let me stand or walk due to a risk they call cord prolapse.) Because I didn’t know any better at the time I had no clue I had any other choice!  I just followed what they said and assumed they were doing what was best for me and my baby.

At the13th hour I accepted a c-section, and they noted in my records: “Reason for c-section: failure to progress.” 

At 8:31pm that night we welcomed our baby boy, Blake, into the world! It quickly became the happiest most memorable day of our lives and marriage!

Weeks and months passed, and after s-l-o-w-l-y recovering from my abdominal surgery, I started to feel a loss of the birth experience with my son.  I felt “broken” because my cervix didn’t dilate; I felt like a wimp because I had to have my baby cut out of me, and I missed what I believed to be the most precious moment of a mother's life... my baby’s first breath!

When Blake was born they didn’t hold him up over the curtain, so I didn’t see him till what felt like 20 minutes later.  Over the months and years my feelings only seemed to grow and fuel the desire to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with our next child. I had no clue how I would accomplish it, but I knew I would get all the info, knowledge, and expertise I could, and make it happen.
Many months before I was even pregnant with our second, I was gathering my hospital reports, I attended a VBAC seminar, and I was talking to doctors, labor and delivery nurses, midwives, and doulas. I got opinions, views, and advice that helped me try and figure out a game plan for the next baby.  Once we got the positive pregnancy test the count down was on and the time clock was ticking!  I originally thought my plan would be to wait till the very last minute then rush to the hospital just in time to deliver, so they couldn’t give me another c-section.  My only concern was that I’d have no clue how progressed or dilated I was, and I felt nervous not having someone monitor my baby during labor in case something went wrong.  The concept of a home birth had been in the back of my mind but it seemed too risky and scary. Yet I couldn’t help but think “at least someone would be monitoring me and my baby!”, so technically, it would be a lot safer then staying home alone.  Plus I figured midwives certainly couldn't still be in business if babies and moms were dying all over the place!?  It truly intrigued me how in the midwife world, birth could (more often then not) take place at home with little to no complications, but yet when you’d talk to a hospital doctor or nurse they’d practically say you were asking for a death sentence if it wasn’t in a hospital!

By roughly 15 weeks I hired my doula, Andrea Shutt, CD(DONA), and had decided to meet up and interview some midwives in person.  My OBGYN informed me that my birth would have to go “perfect” for them to not give me another c-section.  At this point a home birth was sounding better all the time.  One evening my husband and I went to meet with a midwife named Karen Baker to learn more about birthing.  She looked over my hospital reports and we talked for two hours.  All I can say is, when we left, both of us were more confident in her abilities, judgements, knowledge and expertise, then we were my own doctor!  We decided shortly after that this was our path we were going to take!  So I started my prenatal visits with Karen and I began a wonderful journey where I finally had peace, because I knew this would be my only chance and best bet for a VBAC.
My due date of August 1st came and went, early labor had started but nothing was progressing.  I went 9 days in early labor and had contractions that never let up but only spaced out.  As tired as I was, I was so relieved and grateful to know I had dodged a second Cesarean.  (I would have ABSOLUTELY wound up with one being so far past my due date.)  

On August 9th I woke up to find my contractions did not space out! They stayed close and consistent, and later that evening my midwife stated I was dilated to 2 and assumed I would be having this baby tonight or tomorrow morning.  I only dreamed she would be right! Though if not, I was completely satisfied to know I wasn’t “broken” and my cervix had made it to a 2!!  That same night labor progressed and I dilated beautifully, a new number every one to two hours.  I was amazed; I was DOING IT!  As long as everything continued, I would accomplish my VBAC and have a baby in our arms in no time.  From the start of active labor till when she was born was only 12 hours, (the same amount of time I sat in that hospital bed with my son stuck at 1cm.) 

So on August 10th, that next morning, my daughter was born into the hands of her daddy and our midwife in a beautiful water birth, and handed to me for the very first time!  I was the first face she saw out of the water, and I will NEVER forget that moment.

My dream had come true!  I was so thankful to our good Lord for this outcome.  Our daughter stared at me as though I was her first love.  How I longed for that moment!  We held her, listened to that precious cry, and took pictures until the cord stopped pulsating.  Then we moved to our bed where the midwives did the newborn exam, they got me started with nursing, then tucked us all in bed for a good afternoon nap.  What an amazing experience that I will treasure forever and NEVER forget! 

Our daughter Chloe ended up being Karen Baker’s 880th home birth

Giving birth to my babies has been life’s ultimate highlight for me. And as you can see i’ve had two extreme births, one from each side of the spectrum. Though my births are so different in nature, I am truly thankful for each experience, for I would not be the person I am today and not be able to relate and help moms in both birthing scenarios. I’m honored to be one of the new leaders of ICAN Inland Empire, and my hopes are that we can educate and advocate for as many moms out there as possible! 

ANNOUNCING! During the month of APRIL in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, you can join ICAN for a reduced rate. Don't miss out. Our parent group, Temecula Valley ICAN site, will make sure that you can take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to save some money until the "change-over" banking details are worked out. Be sure to note that you are in the Inland Empire and they will forward your payment to ICAN of the Inland Empire! JOIN NOW!

Today's blog was brought to you by Autumn McClees, mother of Blake and Chloe. With Andie Geyer, Autumn is co-leader for ICAN of the Inland Empire. Thank you for sharing your precious story with us, Autumn!

Find ICAN of the Inland Empire on Facebook to keep up on the latest events!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Happy Cesarean Awareness Month!
In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month we are introducing our new Inland Empire ICAN Co-Leaders, Andie Geyer and Autumn McClees, by sharing their birth stories with you.

 If you are not familiar with ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) these stories will help to reveal the importance of having a place for women to receive support in recovering from a Cesarean, assisting those who are seeking a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and educating women about avoiding an unnecessary Cesarean Birth.  Today's post features Andie's story.

Birth! As natural and common as it is, it always amazes me how complex and unique each experience can be.  In January 2008, I delivered my first little miracle via Cesarean section at Pomona Valley Hospital in Pomona, California.

Having been a “newbie” venturing into the world of pregnancy, I wobbled along eating what I wanted and watched my hands and feet getting chubbier. Hearing most people tell me how “cute” I was, I thought all was well not realizing that my body was slowly poisoning itself from the inside out. It wasn’t until after a night of terrible chest pain and several interludes with the porcelain throne, did I know something was not right. I rushed to the hospital and found that I was losing the battle against Eclampsia

Thus, at 9:38p.m, at 29 weeks of gestation, Emily Isabella was pulled from my womb with just the slightest sound. Her tiny, immature lungs tried out the concept of breathing before being filled with a plastic tube. 

"I rushed to the hospital on a Sunday night and found that I was losing the battle against Eclampsia."

Almost 4 years later I was ready to try this again! Surely this time it would be different and I would finally get to experience what I felt as my God given right as a woman. Even with a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, I ate right, I exercised, and I even took those birth classes that every “newbie” seemed to be so fond of. As a natural nerd and lover of books, I engulfed myself with knowledge. I wanted to know EVERYTHING I needed to know about VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I was arming myself with all the tools I would need to make this birth seamless, effortless, and most importantly possible! The best tool in my arsenal was my doula, and together we ran through game plans and ideas like two coaches planning a big game. As we waited together at EVERY one of my OB appointments we would discuss the “what if’s” and go over ways to make labor go smoothly. On a Monday in December 2011, my due date being that Friday, I was scheduled for what was probably going to be my last OB appointment (in my mind anyway).  
I was determined to make this baby come and pronto! As I drove with confidence, I called my doula and told her to sit this one out, I had this! Reflecting back, THAT decision will be my ultimate regret! As I sat in the chair I had sat in tons of time before, with monitors strapped to my belly, I was thinking “Boy, I am not going to miss these Stress testing, boring!!” I was redirected to the ultrasound room (as always) and I waited patiently as the Dr. (not my OB, he was on vacation!) browsed my womb like he was diligently looking things up on eBay. As I sat up and pulled down my shirt, the Dr. begins to tell me what I “thought” I was prepared to hear and combat, after all I had been prepping and gearing up like a soldier for this very situation hadn’t I? He proceeds to tell me that my daughter was looking really “big” via the ultrasound and that delivering her vaginally would not only be negligent on my part but could also prove fatal to one or both of us! What!? Yes, seeing as I had “delivered” at 29 weeks before, my uterus and the scar it wielded wasn’t as strong as it should be in other VBAC cases! Well this was certainly one play in the playbook I hadn’t gone over. I mean I knew they would pull the “your uterine wall may rupture” card but I hadn’t expected for him to give me such a colorful reason. 

"What the heck, Mom?!  I wasn't ready!!"
I consider myself a pretty intelligent woman. I have a college degree. Reading books for knowledge is my absolute favorite thing. I know lots of different things on lots of different topics. But the one thing I know for sure, the exact moment when anyone (yes, even educated medical doctors) scare you into thinking your baby may DIE . . . at that moment EVERYTHING you think you know, EVERYTHING you have prepared for seems to fade and the most important task at hand (in your mind anyway) is to get that baby out in whatever way the medical doctors see fit. I went from Confident Pregnant Warrior Goddess to Terrified Pregnant Zombie. On Thursday (one day before my due date) my amazing little Anastasia Lorraine was born via C-Section…and unlike her big sister, she made lots of noise! Almost as if saying “What the heck mom, I wasn’t ready! “ =)   

"I did what I felt I had to do…

After all, that is my TRUE right . . . the right of a mother!" 

As I remember my births, I do still mourn the “loss” of my “birth right” but I have no ill will towards the situation or the persons involved. The doctors, I suppose, did what they had to do.  I know that I did what I felt I had to do…after all, that is my TRUE right . . . the right of a mother! 

ANNOUNCING! During the month of APRIL in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, you can join ICAN for a reduced rate. Don't miss out. Our parent group, Temecula Valley ICAN site, will make sure that you can take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to save some money until the "change-over" banking details are worked out. Be sure to note that you are in the Inland Empire and they will forward your payment to ICAN of the Inland Empire! JOIN NOW!

Today's blog was brought to you by Andrea Geyer, mother of Emily Isabella and Anastacia Lorraine. With Autumn McClees, Andi is co-leader for ICAN of the Inland Empire. Thank you for sharing your precious story with us, Andi.

Find ICAN of the Inland Empire on Facebook to keep up on the latest events!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Our guest blogger speaks to us about The Village known as Sisterhood.

Motherhood Through the Eyes of a Sister

I am in the fortunate situation of having close, indispensable, lifelong, female relationships with women who can’t get rid of me—my sisters.

First born toddler awaking from her nap.
As a mother I am filled with love: raw, real, vulnerable, smiling, busy, excited, frustrated, sleep-deprived, laughing, endless love.   

Right now my sick 2 year old is sleeping well past her normal waking hour, throwing routine out the window and with it any semblance of predictability to my day.  In the course of writing the last two sentences I spoke with two of my three sisters about whether I should allow her to sleep peacefully until 10 am or try to wake her up.

I am in the fortunate situation of having close, indispensable, lifelong, female relationships with women who can’t get rid of me—my sisters.  My immediate family consists of three sisters, three brothers, two wonderful parents who have been married for over 40 years, 9 nephews, three nieces, three brothers through marriage, two sisters through marriage, and of course my husband, daughter, and son (on the way).  If we all lived in close proximity, we would be the very best kind of village, if only dreams could be reality.  Still, my sisters and I are like village women.  We chat almost daily, we share intricate details of our lives, and we welcome input and opinions.

While we span only 12 years in age, our children range from 21 years old to 9 months gestation.  As a result, I have one sister who is going through all the toddler struggles and joys a little over a year ahead of me, one who is currently grappling with the onset of puberty, and a third who will soon be an empty-nester.  The younger two sisters were babysitters extraordinaire for years, and now the older sisters get to be fun aunties who help out when the little ones are around and we new moms deserve a little break.

But all of this abstract talk does not do justice to these relationships that are so crucial, so amazing, so empowering in my life.

We surround our children with unconditional love, all of them, and we are not afraid to be real about the challenges that motherhood inevitably brings.

We cherish each mommy-to-be, not worrying about difficult circumstances, timing, fear, bliss, or hope.  Those emotions are included, understood, and enveloped.

We answer the “it’s time” call, and make an effort to be a part of each journey from the very start, sometimes driving for hours or jumping through hoops to make this new life a priority.

Then we remember to take some time to ourselves, to nourish our relationship, to be adult women together, in addition to being mothers.  

We laugh, cry, dance, sleep, drink, and generally have the time of our lives together.

My daughter benefits in so many ways from my sisterhood.  Not only does she have a better, more relaxed, more confident mommy, but she sees the value of loving women relying on one another for support and advice.  She witnesses the power of empathy and the ability to listen.  

For this I thank my mother, who relied on female friends for this network despite the fact that she has sisters.  She showed us that we make our own village by maintaining and nourishing our relationships.  Leading by example, she knew the importance of listening and really seeing those around you, in order to live a valuable life.  And she still plays that indispensable role for the women of her inner circle.   

Thanks, Mom, for helping us to become what sisters are meant to be…more than just friends -- lifelines.

Today's blog was brought to you by Guest Blogger, Danielle Katrine Wiener, daughter of Seasons Within Doula Group owner, Kathie Neff, and sister of Michele Dare, Denise Terrazas, and Debi Menard -- aka, The Neff Women.

Thanks for this wonderful post, Danielle!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Guest blogger today!  

Only my mom…

My mama has been on a 26 year mission to be a doula. While she has coached countless women through the trials and triumphs of countless hours of labor, labored herself four times (without medication, she will proudly tell you), and mastered every aspect of the woman’s mysterious body it is only in the last couple of years that she has taken the necessary steps to become a certified doula.
As a very young girl I only vaguely understood the inner workings of our reproductive organs when The Change hit. I was only a wee kindergartener when our pediatrician told my parents that I had what was termed precocious puberty. Basically my hormones were a few years ahead of my body and I would experience the joys of womanhood a few years before my peers. You can imagine my mom’s furrowed brow as she sat down at the kitchen table with her then third grader, pulled out a sheet of graph paper and a mechanical pencil (I’m assuming for the sake of detailed accuracy) and drew out all the internal lady parts. I sat in bewilderment as she went over every detail of how conception happened and why our bodies change so traumatically. I laugh now at how clinical and straightforward my sweet mom was as she attempted to guide a little girl through becoming a woman. I later went on to learn about sex through hip hop music and Cosmo magazines like everyone else but the basics came straight from my mom and a well meaning piece of graph paper.
If only uterus pillows had been popular at the time!
Tonight my mom drove to coach my friend through her labor. As we carried her kit through the door I was not sure what to expect, as I had never seen someone even have a contraction before. While the rest of us trilled with nervous energy, laughed anxiously, and flittered around with clumsy intentions, I saw my mom in her prime. She calmly directed us to our tasks and guided my friend through the beginnings of birth. It was the same calmness she possessed as she drew out a uterus for me in my youth, a matter of factness that let you know someone knew what the hell is going on around here!
I kissed my mom and friend as they head to the hospital with a new appreciation for my mom’s undying passion for her field.  My mother is the Sacajawea of the woman’s body; if you will listen, she can lead you through the seemingly abstract world of womanhood.

Today's blog was brought to you by Guest Blogger, Ashlie Sampson-Carter, daughter of Seasons Within Doula, Ivette Carter. Great doula and great mom!  

Thanks for this wonderful post, Ashlie!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

     Gathering Your Village

"The key to gathering a strong system is keeping your eyes open for folks who may just be there when you need them."
“No man is an island.”

“Friends are the family you choose.” 

“It takes a village to raise a child”

There are dozens of sayings that emphasize the importance of community. When making the transition to motherhood they ring truer than ever.

When my spouse and I had our first child we were surrounded by lots of family. We lived near both sets of parents and had an abundance of support through our church. Our second time around we’d relocated to the west coast and had the incredible opportunity to be more intentional about creating our own support system.

It wasn’t until the 36th week of my pregnancy that I began to think seriously about this. In my refresher Birthing From Within Class  our mentor talked about the importance of having allies to support you in the postpartum period. It was then I decided to call on our patchwork community that stemmed from different areas of our lives.

Up until that point our community had been lovely, but untested as far as really leaning into the support. I was a tad nervous. Besides my WONDERFUL doulas the only other folks I felt I could trust were my brother and sister-in-law. They were going to care for my older child while I labored and birthed.

When it was all said and done the folks who I anticipated would flake brought the greatest support to our family, such as cooking meals and other household chores, while the people who I thought I could lean on the most were nowhere to be found when I needed them the most. It was heartwarming to see and feel the love and support from this “chosen family” we had cultivated.

You are quite blessed if you have built in family support.  If not, the key to gathering a strong system is keeping your eyes open for folks who may just be there when you need them. How will you create a support team for after the birth of your babe? Here are three suggestions to begin your building process:

  1. Family/friend support. If you live near your family or have a close group of friends you have a natural resource to tap into. Perhaps setting up a schedule of when folks can stop by with meals and complete some chores for you would be a first step in organizing your village. is a great website so that there isn’t an overlap of folks bringing food.
  2. You may find support through your local church or mom’s group. Often times there will be a sign up and phone chain that provides meals and a bit of postpartum support for you and your family.   
  3. Postpartum doula. Calling on the professionals even with all the other support can be beneficial for you as you begin to bond with your new babe. They bring lots of knowledge and experience on breastfeeding, mother/baby bonding, emotional support. She also can be quite helpful with light housework, cooking, helping older children adjust to the new baby. Find more information here at

Growing families need a village.

In what ways will you create your support team? 

Are there any other ideas you have about gathering your village?

DoulaTales.  Real people.  Real challenges.  Real joy.  Join us. 

Today's blog was brought to you by Seasons Within Doula, Deidre Coutsoumpos, CD(DONA), Advanced Mentor with Birthing from Within.

Meet the DoulaTales Bloggers: Adriane Garbayo, Andrea Shutt, Deidre Coutsoumpos, Diana Figurski, Elizabeth Valencia, Heather Hanning, Ivette Carter, and Kathie Neff.  

See You Next Time!