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Always a good reminder for all involved with birth: Healthy babies do not need to cry at birth. Crying is a sign of disress and not a necessary part of birth. And, under normal circumstances, it should not be forced.

 I sometimes loose sight of that as I am with a family and a newborn at a hospital. I can always feel the room’s sigh of relief once the baby cries, usually after bulb-syringing babies’ nasal passages.

As a Doula and aspiring midwife it is my responsibility to educate, as much as mom is willing to be open, about what to expect after birth and try to shift her expectations from a technical birth to one where motherbaby are respected as a single, solid unit of love and respect for each other. 


Ultrasound - What Every Mom Needs to Know

~ Conclusive scientific evidence that routine (and by routine I mean scanning to see baby's position at every prenatal in the last weeks of pregnancy, or 3-D ultrasounds to "meet your baby" in the womb) use of ultrasounds are safe does not exist. Its use is very familiar to the use of X-rays. 50 years went by assuming that X-rays were safe for pregnant women before hard lessons were learned. A textbook on prenatal care published in 1937 has this to say about X-rays: "It has been frequently asked whether there is any danger to the life of the child by the passage of X-rays through it; it can be said at once there is none if the examination is carried out by a competent radiologist or radiographer".

In 1978 that same textbook, after seeing the dangers of X-raying babies, revised its stance: "It is now known that the unrestricted use of X-rays through the fetus caused childhood cancer".
This mimics the current textbook view on ultrasounds: "One of the great virtues of diagnostic ultrasound has been its apparent safety. At present energy levels, diagnostic ultrasound appears to be without injurious effect ... all the available evidence suggests that it is a very safe modality".

~ Lancet, A current British medical journal, has this to say about Ultrasounds: "There have been no randomized controlled trials of adequate size to assess whether there are adverse effects on growth and development of children exposed in utero to ultrasound. Indeed, the necessary studies to ascertain safety may never be done, because of lack of interest in such research".

~ The output of ultrasound plays a huge part in the affects on baby, however there are no controls in place as to what is a safe amount even though low outputs have been shown to be just as effective as high outputs.

~The skill of the technician performing the ultrasounds matters tremendously, yet there is no licensing or certification process for operators of the machines.

~Training midwives and doctors in the skills of palpation - using their own hands to feel baby's position is just as effective as a machine. Not only is this low-tech and inexpensive, it also helps care giver and mom physically connect.

As an aside: I had a friend tell me of someone she knows who has gone through 2 pregnancies and the first time a care giver ever even touched her belly was well into the 2 pregnancy! I haven't heard anything sadder since then in awhile.

Ask Ask Ask your caregiver why they are requesting an ultrasound. Ask what are the risks of an ultrasound. Ask what research their answer is based on. And then ask what are the risks of not getting an ultrasound. You may be surprised at the answers.


Induction - Not so Hot

I'm excited by this article! I’ve placed it in my Resource Notebook and plan to give to Doula clients whose doctors are talking induction. Gail Hart is one of my favorite midwife authors and I love reading anything by her. This article really gave me more foundation for what I have already been telling moms about induction. In addition, she provides ways women can help themselves prevent pre-term labor by cultivating a healthy vaginal floriculture. I think everyone should read this article:


Maya Massage

Ann Hirsch writes about her experiences with Maya Massage in Midwifery Today  and provides client and personal examples of how it has worked remarkably well for pregnant moms. If you've not heard of this ancient, powerful massage for women, read on.

I have had numerous treatments and performed self-care with Maya Massage for several months and did not see any change in the dysmenorrhea I was trying to eliminate. Though I certainly enjoyed the massage and did feel adhesion breaking up, it just didn’t help with my specific issue at that specific time. I intuitively know that this is powerful stuff, it just wasn't all I needed at the time.

When it is applied to pregnant moms, I think it can make a difference very fast because of the open and receiving state that moms are in emotionally, not to mention the hormones that cause ligaments to relax later on in pregnancy.

I fully agree with Ann when she says that this technique allows a midwife to practice an alternative form of gynecological care for women. No longer do you have to tell moms, “Keep up the Kegels” when you visit them on that last postpartum visit. Maya Massage allows a midwife and mom to have physical contact, and the best part is that teaching a mom how to practice self-care is easy. Now mom has her own tools to help her uterus.

I would love to know more about the technical aspects of Maya Massage, so I’ll be checking out: to find out more info. This article has also inspired me to look into being trained myself, so I can offer yet another healing modality to my clients.


Stages of Labor Mirror Pregnancy and Motherhood

Verena Schmid, an Italian Midwife,  believes that pregnancy patterns have the same rhythm as stages of labor. That doesn’t mean if a mother’s first trimester was difficult, then the first stage of labor will be the same way. Instead, Verena speaks about the instinctual rhythms of women, pregnancy and birth.

A woman’s first trimester and first stage of labor are very similar because at both times mom is learning to create inner space for her baby. Second trimester and second stage are both about learning to open up; opening in pregnancy as the baby is growing inside or opening during birth as baby moves to open the cervix. The third trimester and third stage of labor are about learning to let baby go and let her be born. 

Verena continues with this theory, stating that once a baby is born the stages begin again. The baby adapts to mom and to life outside the womb, while mom adapts to baby and motherhood.  Months 3 - 6 are often a time for mom and baby to live peacefully together with very little stresses. Finally, 6 - 9 months after baby is born, she starts to be more explorative and mom learns to let go.

I never looked at birth from this perspective and find it quite fascinating. Reading this short interview has definitely changed the way I look at birth and mothering.

The actual interview that Midwifery Today publisded in 2002 with forward-thinking Verena Schmid can be found here if you are interested in reading more than the summary above:

The Active Management of Labor

The above link takes you to an excellent article written by Marsden Wagner. He started out as a neonatologist and is now a consultant for WHO. He fully supports natural birth, midwives and midwifery and you may have seen him in birth movies - he's the over-educated elfin guy who is fun to listen to.

I've jotted some highlights from the article and added my own thoughts on it.

From my own personal experience, I agree that most health care providers no longer know what a non-medicalized birth is. Their training rarely covers natural hospital births and almost never brings the medical student into a free-standing birth center or home to observe birth.

As a result of lack of exposure to natural birth, hospital staff often believe that labor is something that happens to women rather than something women do that can be empowering and a rite of passage. Because labor is involuntary and unpredictable, many doctors and nurses interpret that as birth being out of control.

It’s sad to read the example of a hospital considering birth normal even if it includes an amniotomy, induction, augmentation, epidural or episiotomy. I feel that the list can go on to include continuous fetal monitoring, IV, withholding of food, drink and privacy, numerous cervical checks and disregard to birth preferences. What is even sadder is that most women today have accepted those same standards and also believe that birth with serious intervention is normal.

I found it interesting to read how the clock has quickened. Marsden states that the definition of the normal upper limit to labor has been reduced from 36 hours in the 1950s to 24 hours in the 60s and now holds steady at 12 hours since 1972, when active management was introduced. He also mentions that these random times were based on clinical concerns and not scientific evidence. With this scenario on hand, women adjust to the hospital and not the other way around.

My head was shaking when Marsden compared active management to inventing cars that can be driven too fast and then when the speed causes accidents, rather than change the cars, we invent speed bumps and as a result of the speed bumps people hit their heads on the car ceiling and we give them pain medication.

I think a better comparison would be the creation of entire task forces whose job is to monitor speeders and catch them in the act so they can then ticket them and make money from their speeding. That feels similar to hospitals making money from highly medicalized births.

Marsden concludes that hospital staff can never tell a woman that a certain procedure is safe because that person is not taking chances. A safety determination can only be made by the one accepting the procedure and that is the woman taking the chance.



I read this somewhere about midwives patience when attending birth:

Midwives have skilled hands and know how to sit on them.


Natural is Natural

Many Western doctors hold the belief that we can improve everything, even natural childbirth in a healthy woman. This philosophy is the philosophy of people who think it deplorable that they were not consulted at the creation of Eve, because they would have done a better job. (Kloosterman 1994).


Rediscovering Midwifery

 “Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call “obstetrics” and something completely different, the art of midwifery. If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back childbirth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.”

-Michael Odent, MD


Ram Dass Quote

Ram Dass has this to say about a garden and life and I'd like to tack Midwifery onto that quote: “Just as in a garden we do not ‘grow’ flowers, rather we create the conditions in which flowers can grow.”


Midwife Whales

Midwife whales are female whales that accompany a pregnant whale throughout her pregnancy, birth and three months postpartum. The midwife whale is present with the mom in a way that is nurturing, allowing mom to do exactly what she needs to do to have her baby in peace. The midwife whale looks on protectively and only intervenes when necessary.


they invite us in - Birth Poetry

they invite us in

who trust us
inviting us in
to share their secret passage
we count their moons with them
waiting for a pause
and in that suspension
we wait with them
fingers granted privileged entry
into innermost recesses
secrets shared
stories heard
lessons learned
they invite us in
to help their babies out
we dance with them
as they grow and wait
each day a little larger
new life jostling their ribs
until its stretching
threatens to burst
her fleshen bubble
at last
she is ready
taking your hand
she flows in and out of
the deepest shadow places
love and terror
the waves grip her
until she is ready
to release
you sing to her
breathe, my dear
hold her close
relax now, it's over
help her see
she will not die
not today
at last
for the first time ever
into tiny pink balloons
their love made
into a body
your hands felt it first
still one with her body
as it grew
and fell out
your waiting palms
you love this moment
this woman
this baby
then you entrust her back
into the arms of her mate
hoping he's learned
even more
how grand she is
this bearer of life

-Judy Edmunds (1997)


Early Pregnancy Class - June 27 - 28

Angi Gunther, LCCE and Courtney Jarecki (that's me), Doula and Health Advocate, are presenting an Early Pregnancy Class to help couples navigate the maze of options surrounding pregnancy, birth and postpartum so that parents may choose the care and products that make the most sense for their lifestyle and pocketbook!

When a couple finds out they are expecting, they are faced with a multitude of options regarding prenatal care, birth and the care of their baby. The first decisions that parents must make, and probably the most important, are that of a care provider and place of birth. Birth planning begins when parents choose where and with whom they will birth their baby. The care provider and birthplace should share or at least respect the parent’s philosophies regarding pregnancy, birth and newborn care. OBs, Midwives, Hospital birth, Home birth, and Birth Centers will all be discussed.

In addition, there are many types of prenatal classes and services available to women to help them through pregnancy or to prepare for birth. Couples will learn about prenatal exercise, childbirth education, Doulas and natural health care for pregnancy.

When it comes to baby care, parents are often overwhelmed at the number of products available. The Early Pregnancy Class will cover breastfeeding accessories, baby carriers, and diapering choices. Cloth diapers and glass bottles used to be the only choices, now they are making a comeback. But parents can also choose flushable diapers and BPA free plastic bottles. And what is Elimination Communication anyway?

The Early Pregnancy Class will feature guest speakers who specialize in pregnancy and newborn care, goody bags full of community resources, sling and cloth diapering demonstrations, a raffle, food and more!

When: June 27 - 28 | 5 - 7:30pm

Where: Nurture, a Family Wellness Collective

1614 NE Alberta Street

Cost: $75 per couple

Eats: Catered by din din

Contact: Angi Gunther, LCCE | | 503.890.1361

Courtney Jarecki | | 503.737.8834

Classes will be held at Nurture, located at 1614 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR 97211. Nurture is a cooperative of professionals specializing in growing healthy families. For more information on Nurture, or to learn more about Angi and Courtney, please visit


Early Pregnancy Class - June 27 - 28

Planning for pregnancy, birth or a new baby?  This class will help you sort through your options and provide you with a wealth of community resources, coupons & samples.  Oh, and we’ll feed you too! 

The Early Pregnancy Class is for any woman thinking about starting a family, any couple that thinks they might want to start a family and anyone who already has children and wants more education and information.

The Early Pregnancy Class is organic to what each person wants to learn. In addition to customizing the class to your needs, we will also cover the following topics:

  • The difference between OB/GYN, Certified Nurse Midwives, Naturopathic Midwives, Direct Entry Midwives
  • Hospital Birth Centers, Free-standing Birth Centers and Homebirth options
  • What type of prenatal class best addresses your needs and lifestyle
  • What are pregnancy, labor and postpartum doulas
  • Healthcare support while pregnant and postpartum (Acupuncture, Reiki, Chiropractic, Massage)
  • Nutrition and exercise
  • Baby and new mom essentials
  • Breastfeeding resources and accessories
  • Sleeping options for baby
  • Diapering options and cloth diaper demo
  • Baby sling demos
  • Guest presenters who specialize in pregnancy and newborn care

Grab bags full of community resources, handouts. coupons, tea and much more will also be provided.

Date: June 27 & 28 (Saturday & Sunday)

Time: 5:00 - 7:30pm

Where: Nurture - a Family Wellness Collective (

  1614 NE Alberta St.

  Portland, OR 97211

Cost: $75 per couple

Eats: Dinner will be catered by din din. When registering, please notify us of any dietary considerations

Raffle: At the end of the second day a raffle will be held and wonderful, community prizes will be given

Contact: Angi Gunther, LCCE



    Courtney Jarecki



Angi Gunther has been supporting new families in Portland since 2002.  She is the mother of three children born in 2001, 2004 and 2008.  Her children have inspired her work as a Doula, Breastfeeding Advocate & Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. She believes parents need complete information about their options so they can make truly informed decisions.  Angi currently teaches Confident Birthing Childbirth Education classes at Nurture.  

Courtney Jarecki is owner of Full Moon’s Daughter, a professional doula and pregnancy education service. She tends to new moms and babies at a birth center and is a midwifery student. Courtney believes that every woman can have the birth that is perfect for her if she is aware of all her options. Courtney’s path in life is to guide woman toward motherhood.


International Day of the Midwife - May 5

The below info is from the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), which was established in 1982 as a professional organization for all midwives. The group recognizes and honors the diversity of educational backgrounds and practice styles within the profession. MANA's goal is yo unify and strengthen the profession of midwifery, therby improving the quality of health care for women, babies and communities.

Today is International Midwifery Day! Hug your midwife today and enjoy the following read from MANA!!!

Midwife numbers must be expanded to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6 by 2015 350,000 more midwives are needed!

The UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2008 states: The high risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth continues unabated in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia … little progress has been made in saving mothers’ lives. Over 60% of women in these areas of the world still do not have skilled care during childbirth.

This report notes better progress for all of the MDG goals, apart from MDG5!2 Yet all the goals are linked: until
poverty and hunger are reduced, until diseases such as HIV and malaria are controlled, until there is more
equality between men and women, until every child completes primary education, until all women have access
to reproductive healthcare - then mothers and babies will continue to die.

Midwives are key healthcare providers in achieving MDG!5: Improving Maternal Health. That is the clear message coming from the WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank: the four UN agencies that have recently united to pledge increased support to countries with the highest maternal mortality rates.

They identified mortality in pregnancy and childbirth as the “highest health inequity in the world with over 99% of
deaths occurring in the developing world”. They committed to work with governments and civil society organizations to address the “urgent need for skilled health workers, particularly midwives”.

Midwives provide skilled newborn care to achieve MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality Every year in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia more than 1 million infants die within their first 24 hours of life due to lack of adequate health services, including midwifery care. The midwives of the world understand that every childbearing woman deserves to give birth within a safe and supported environment for herself and her baby. Skilled midwifery care includes emergency care for both mothers and their newborns.

Midwives are essential to achieve MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases Thousands of pregnant women and hundreds of thousands of newborns die each year due to preventable disease. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa governments have recognized the primary role of midwives inreducing these devastating deaths. As essential frontline workers, midwives provide vaccines to newborns and children; they identify, counsel and treat pregnant women with HIV and AIDS, thus preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV; they also provide anti-malarial drugs and bed nets to vulnerable pregnant women and their children, saving lives and promoting health.

The achievement of MDGs 4, 5 and 6 requires a global commitment to grow a strong, well educated midwifery workforce within functioning health service delivery systems.

The sense of urgency to achieve MDGs 4, 5 and 6 in the next six years is increasing daily. The ICM and the
midwives of the world are committed to working with global partners to achieve these goals. The Confederation
has grown to 91 member associations with 250,000 midwives in over 80 countries and has recently partnered
with the UNFPA to strengthen midwifery education, regulation and associations in 40 low income countries. The ICM has also joined the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and Sarah Brown’s Maternal Mortality Campaign to
increase public awareness and apply political pressure on the G8 and G20 to make maternal and newborn
health a global priority. The ICM recognizes that health delivery systems must be strengthened and the
midwifery workforce must be increased to stop the needless deaths of millions of women and their newborns
who will die in the next six years if immediate action is not taken now.

The world needs midwives now more than ever!

For more information contact ICM President Bridget Lynch or ICM Secretary General Agneta Bridges at +31 70
3060520 or e-mail
1. The World Health Report: Make every mother and child count. World Health Organization, 2005.
2. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2008. New York, USA: UN, 2008
3. MDG 5 Target: Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio. UN, 2000.
4. Accelerating efforts to save the lives of women and newborns. WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF/World Bank. Joint statement: Sept. 2008.
5. MDG 4 Target: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate. UN.


Flower Essences

I'm starting to realize that a lot of my day-to-day living is actually studying to become a Midwife. I also just realized that the college career I spent learning about plants and botanicals is finally starting to pay off.

I spent the day making a flower essences kit that I can use during birth and everyday healing. The Latin names are familiar to me and I can almost evoke a picture of each plant I am working with. Where my education is paying off is allowing me to be comfortable with plants and confident in my abilities to work with these spirits.


Where Am I

I've been distant from this blog. A lot of it has to do with me being busy as a Postpartum Doula - spending nights with a new family in their home. Missing sleep for me requires days of recovery. And by recovery I mean doing as little as possible.

I've also not been posting very often because I'm hoping to have an official Full Moon's Daughter website up. Though I am not even close to even finalizing a design, I feel like I don't want to blog too often until that is a reality.

Full Moon's Daughter, by the way, is that name of my Doula practice, which will transition into my Midwifery practice. The name is powerful to me for a lot of reasons, two of them being that I am, for the first time in my life, identifying myself as a daughter and claiming who my mother is.


Life Path

Education is a journey, not a destination.


Looking for Childbirth Education Classes?

Choosing Confident Birth means you are choosing to trust your body and your baby during your labor and birth. And this leads to confident parenting!

Nurture is offering a 5-week series of Confident Birthing classes beginning May 2 through June 6 (no class held on May 16) from 10 - 12 on Saturdays. Cost is $125 per couple and snacks are provided. 

What will you learn at Confident Birth classes?

  • Pregnancy education
  • Labor and Birth preparation
  • Partner's role in birth
  • Coping techniques
  • Medical interventions
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding education

Why should you take Confident Birth classes?

  • Those interested in learning how to use their intuition during pregnancy, labor and parenting
  • Women interested in relaying on their own body's signals during the childbearing year
  • Families wanting to understand the technology and science used in the labor and delivery rooms of hospitals
  • Women seeking confidence in their ability to birth and raise a healthy baby
If you have questions or are interested in attending, please contact or call Angela Gunther at 503.890.1361.


Why Birth Matters

How we birth matters!
What our babies experience shape who they are.
What a mother experiences at the very transition
from maiden to mother changes her.
Gentle, natural birth unlocks something primal at our very core
and makes mothering easier and families stronger.
If parents would only realize that every single decision they make
from conception onward influences the outcome of their birth,
they would reclaim what they didn't even know was lost.

-Kim Wildner, Mother's Intention


Rapid-Rise Gluten Free French Bread

Crusty on the outside and super soft on the inside, this Gluten Free bread is sure to please any pregnant mom's craving. And it's fast and easy - takes about an hour.

2 c white rice flour
1 c tapioca flour
3 t xantham gum
1 1/2 t salt
Squeeze of honey
1 1/2 c lukewarm water
2 T rapid-rise yeast
2 T butter, melted
3 egg whites, beaten slightly
1 t vinegar

In mixer, place flours through salt and blend on low.
Dissolve honey in water and add yeast, waiting until it foams a bit, then blend into dry ingredients.
Add butter, egg whites and vinegar into dry ingredients and beat on high for 3 minutes.

To form loaves, spoon dough onto greased and cornmeal-dusted cookie sheets in 2 long French-loaf shapes. Slash diagonally a few times.

Cover loaves and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 25 minutes.

Bake for 40 - 25 minutes at 400.


Pain During Childbirth

There are native cultures in the world that don't associate pain with childbirth and therefore these women don't feel pain during childbirth. What amount and degree of pain is our society responsible for?

Does birth have to hurt? Sometimes women need to experience that deep and unique connection to their bodies in order to give birth. Would women feel short changed somehow if they didn't experience the deepening of their bodies during labor?

I know that when I ran my first marathon I was expecting lots of pain. Through that pain I wanted to discover a new part of myself and grow from it. When the 26.2 miles was finished and it was easy for me, it took me weeks to recover from my disappointment of not having felt that edge. Are some women looking for that during birth?


Was There a Midwife in the Manager?

Over breakfast with my husband this morning he made a comment about the birth of Jesus and I wondered why Mary would want all those men, the Magi, coming to see her after her labor. It seems odd that back then men would come to greet her and she would be the only woman. Labor was a woman's place and men rarely gathered after a birth to spend time with mom.

Then I thought that Mary's birth was the most famous unassisted birth around, but was it really unassisted? Does it make sense that, even though they were poor, there wouldn't have been a midwife around to help her? It seems odd to me.

And what if the story did include a midwife? How would that have changed the fate of midwives if one helped deliver Jesus? Would the church have still hunted and burned these women if they were responsible for his birth? Would we have lost ancient healing knowledge about women and children if the bible had penciled in a midwife?

Did the original story have a midwife, but was it edited out by the church to erase any 'guilt' they might have felt during their killing spree?


Experience with Bipolar Moms?

I have a Labor Doula client who is bipolar and having a hospital birth for the first time. She and her husband are amazing people and I feel so honored to be working with them.

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience working with a bipolar mom during labor and postpartum that they would like to share with me. Anything you share that is confidential will not be published on this site. If you know of any good resources I can access about how hormones affect bipolarity, things I should be aware of, etc would be awesome.

Thanks so much.


Cortade - For Your Full Moon Belly Thirst

During childbirth women are often encouraged to drink a sports drink of some kind to replenish their electrolytes that are lost. This loss happens not only because of sweating, but also diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting.

The most well-known electrolyte replacer is Gatorade, which contains chemicals and is high in sugar. If you're looking for something a little more natural there is Recharge. This is a more natural blend of juices and salt that still has high amounts of sugar.

If you're like a lot of pregnant women you are probably watching the amount of sugar you ingest and so I present to you Cortade (named after me). This is a great recipe you can make pre-labor to have ready when you need it. This is also a great drink if you're sick or it's super hot out.

Amounts aren't important, just add ingredients to taste. In a glass mason jar, combine the following:

Fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
Organic honey
Sea salt
Fresh Water

Stir it all up with a spoon and drink up. This will replenish your electrolyte balance and leave you feeling refreshed.



The Differences Between Technocratic and Holistic Models of Care

Robbie Davis-Floyd is a medical and cultural anthropologist who has written extensively on the differences between the hospital (technocratic) model vs. the holistic (midwifery) model of care for childbearing women.

Below is a table Robbie put together, that Anne Frye published in Volume 1 of Holistic Midwifery, that I'd like to share with you. It simply lays out the differences, as she sees them, between the technocratic (T) and holistic (H) models for women seeking care during their childbearing year.

I'm taking the time to post this because I have yet to find such an extensive, starkly honest and accurate listing. When I first read this I was both shocked and relieved to see it all on paper in one place. Of course, this list doesn't fit every doctor or midwife, but it feels fairly accurate to me. I hope you enjoy.

T: Male-centered
H: Female-centered

T: Women = objects
H: Women = subjects

T: Male body = norm
H: Female body = norm

T: Female = defective male
H: Female is normal on her own terms

T: Classifying, separating approach
H: Holistic, integrating approach

T: Mind is above & separate form body
H: Mind & body are one

T: Body = machine
H: Body = organism

T: Female body = defective machine
H: Female body = healthy organism

T: Female reproductive process dysfunctional
H: Female reproductive process healthy

T: Pregnancy & birth inherently pathological
H: Pregnancy & birth inherently healthy

T: Doctor = technician
H: Midwife = nurturer

T: Hospital = factory
H: Home = nurturing environment

T: Baby = product
H: Mother/baby inseparable unit

T: Baby grows itself through mechanical process
H: Connection between growth of baby and state of mother

T: Fetus is separate from mother
H: Baby & mother are one

T: Safety of fetus pitted against emotional needs of mother
H: Safety of baby and emotional needs of mother are the same

T: Best interested of mother and fetus antagonistic
H: Good for mother = good for baby

T: Supremacy of technology
H: Sufficiency of nature

T: Importance of science, things
H: Importance of people

T: Institution = significant social unit
H: Family = essential social unit

T: Action based on facts, measurements
H: Action based on body knowledge, intuition

T: Only technical knowledge is valid
H: Experiential & emotional knowledge valued as highly as or more than technical knowledge

T: Best prenatal care is objective, scientific
H: Best prenatal care stress subjective empathy, caring

T: Health of baby during pregnancy ensured through drugs, tests, techniques
H: Health of baby ensured through physical & emotional health of mother & her attunement to the baby

T: Labor = a mechanical process
H: Labor = a flow of experience

T: Time is important, adherence to time charts during labor is essential for safety
H: Time is irrelevant, the flow of the woman's experience is important

T: Birth must occur within 24 hours
H: Labors can be short or take several days

T: Once labor begins it should progress steadily; if it doesn't pitocin necessary
H: Labor can stop and start, following it's own rhythms

T: Some intervention is necessary in all births
H: Facilitation (proper food, effective positioning, support) is appropriate, interventions are usually inappropriate

T: Pain is unacceptable
H: Pain is acceptable

T: Analgesia & anesthesia for pain during labor
H: Mind/body integration, labor support for pain

T: Environment is not relevant
H: Environment is the key to safe birth

T: Uterus = involuntary muscle
H: Uterus = responsive part of whole woman

T: Woman is hooked up to machine with frequent exams by staff
H: Woman does what she feels is appropriate

T: Once a surgical birth always a surgical birth for most woman
H: VBAC is normal

T: VBAC = high risk
H: VBAC = low risk

T: Cesarean for breech presentation or twins
H: Squatting or hands and knees for breech, twins often born via the birth canal

T: Birth = a service medicine owns and supplies to society
H: Birth = an activity a woman does that brings new life

T: Obstetrician = supervisor, manager, skilled technician
H: Midwife = skillful guide

T: Doctor is in control
H: The midwife supports, assists

T: Responsibility belongs to the doctor and the system
H: Responsibility is the mother's 


Birth Art Submissions

Birth art submitted by Mychelle Moritz of Nurture, a center for growing families in NE Portland, Oregon.


Midwifery Today Conference

Just got back from my only day at the Midwifery Conference in Eugene, Oregon today. There were very bright and precious gems of insight I gained from being there, but I am left wondering where are the critical thinkers? Where are the midwives who are looking at what we are all doing and questioning the directions we are headed and the right steps?

I understand that midwives need to support each other and that, as a community, midwifery needs to insulate itself from the medical model of childbirth. I understand that some of us can be arrested in their state if they have to transport a mother to a hospital. And I understand that we need to celebrate what we do and how we do it. Cheerleading is great - at times.

But I left the conference only hearing one person, Michel Odent (who I am totally in love with), ask such questions. He proposed that men all together, male doctors, husbands and fathers should be banned from the birth room. This stems from the fact that Midwifery is woman's work and men are under pressure in this situation and their stress hormones are contagious to the birthing mom (among other factors).

Interesting point he brings up. I would love to ask him if he could re frame that to try to educate men to understand the birth process and recreate a supportive environment for the mom? But I want to talk more about this later.

What I'm really feeling is this very uncomfortable notion that we, as a midwifery community, are living in a bit of a vacuum and only asking questions that are politically correct. Which is partially hilarious when you think about it considering Midwifery has been pushed to the fringes of all that is acceptable.

Michel Odent is holding a conference next year in the Canary Islands (I think) that is bringing people who normally wouldn't interact with each other (you know, the guy who invented this really great way of doing a C-section and Ina May) to really question each other and talk about the things that no one seems to be talking about. That's my kind of conference. 

At any rate, I'm sure I'll have more insights after I'm able to process it a bit more. What I do know is that being there today got me fired up to begin my studies and interview for apprenticeships. It also left me feeling very confident and comfortable about the path I'm choosing to pursue Midwifery...I know now, with out a doubt, that a traditional academic classroom is not for me. I need to be able to more freely challenge what I'm learning and have many different avenues of exploration.

Today also showed me that I have never been as passionate about anything in my life as I am about childbirth and for that I am so grateful.


Banana Beauties - Healthy Cookie Recipe

I found this recipe online and can't seem to re-find it so I can acknowledge the creator. This is vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free and sugar-free. I named these cookies Banana Beauties and made some minor adjustments to the original recipe. They are absolutely lovely and fast to make.

3 ripe bananas
1 tsp of almond extract
1/4 cup or less of liquid coconut oil
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup unsweet coconut flakes
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

  • Mash bananas and add almond extract and oil. Mix and set aside.
  • Whisk oats through baking powder together. Add to liquid.
  • Drop a tablespoon of dough onto greased cookie sheets and feel free to eat the yummy batter in the process.
  • Bake 15 minutes at 350, until golden and delicious


Portland Doula Services

Courtney Jarecki, Doula and Health Advocate


Support. Compassion. Energy. Birth. Dance. Movement. Ceremony. Freedom. Life. Joy. Love.

There is nothing on earth more amazing and humbling than witnessing a mama give birth. I  strongly believe in the beauty and power of a woman’s body to birth and am honored to be a part of this experience.

I am trained to provide Doula support during three different times of your childbearing year; antepartum, labor and postpartum. I currently work as a Postpartum Doula at Alma Birth Center and also offer my Pregnancy, Labor and Postpartum services through Nurture, a non-profit center for growing families. My ongoing academic experience includes training at Birthingway College of Midwifery and enrolling with Ancient Art Midwifery Institute where I will be a Midwifery student. Throughout my work and responsibilities, I maintain a flexible schedule to ensure you will never be without Doula support. 

Outside of the birthing world, I love spending time with my amazing husband Dave and puppies Satchel and Maji. Dancing, cooking, meeting friends for tea and hiking are favorite activities and, most recently, learning to crochet has occupied much of my time as well.

I look forward to speaking with you about your baby and birth. Please feel free to call or post a comment to ask questions (it won't be published unless you say it's okay).

Antepartum Doula

As an Antepartum Doula, I will support you later in your pregnancy. Antepartum services can be especially helpful if you are a single or teen mom, have multiple children, are on bed rest, have severe morning sickness or have emotional trauma. I will provide informational, emotional, physical and practical support during your pregnancy with pregnancy massage, meal planning, education labor preparation. 

Labor Doula

My work as a Labor Doula means I will provide you with continuous physical, emotional and informational support before, during and just after birth. I will be there for you, your partner and baby after delivery to help in whatever way best serves you.

I can assist with birth plans, birth art, pain coping techniques (massage and touch, positioning, breathing, meditation and visualization, vocalization, aromatherapy, hypnobirthing and healing energy techniques), pregnancy and postpartum diet and fitness designed to ease labor and recovery, Reiki healing, and creative expression and relationship / birth coaching. This time is all about you and what works best for your family.

If time allows, we will meet two-to-three times prenatally where we will get to know each other. We can incorporate any modalities that you and your family need.

Postpartum, we will meet once, during which we will share your birth story and discuss all the challenges and joys that lay ahead. You will also receive any needed breastfeeding support during this time.

Postpartum Doula

Postpartum is a special and sometimes trying time for a new family. I can help ease this transition by providing lactation consulting, infant care techniques, meal planning and cooking, gentle yoga and exercise options, natural healing, light housekeeping, dog walking, nanny care and companionship.


I believe that all families should be able to afford Doula services and all Doulas should be able to pay their mortgages. Therefore I offer my services on a sliding scale, based on what each family can pay. I am happy to discuss pricing options and payment plans with each family and am open to barter and trade.

Antepartum & Postpartum Doula Services: $25 - $35 per hour with a 4 hour minimum.

Labor Doula: During certification process I only ask for reimbursement of transportation and food expenses, usually between $50 - $75.

After certification: $400 - $700. Includes 3 prenatal visits (if time allows), full labor and delivery support, 1 postpartum visit. Additional prenatal visits are available, based on a sliding scale.


Time Bank

Interested in trading service for service? Wanting a massage or acupuncture treatment? Looking for a babysitter or someone to put together your new crib?

The international, community organization Time Bank believes that each person has a skill that someone else finds valuable. The basic premise is that members offer services (everything from accounting to grocery shopping) and other members pick and choose what they need help with. Money never changes hands at the Time Bank.

For example, let's say you need a garden bed dug. You can post securely online or through a Time Bank Coordinator that you are looking for help or search out other members who list that skill. Once you find someone to dig your garden bed, you pay them one time dollar for every hour worked.

If it took the person 3 hours to dig your garden bed, then you have gone into "time dollar debt" by 3 dollars. There is no time frame for when you have to pay your time dollar debt off, but the premise is that you will then offer your unique services to someone else.

Now let's say that you offer guitar lessons and someone requests 5 hours of lessons from you. After those 5 hours you have paid off your 3 dollar debt and earned yourself 2 time dollars. And so the process provided and received without the exchange of money.

Check out their site to see if you have one in your community.


Doula with Mom

I feel this picture captures everything that a Doula does to support a woman through her birth. I scanned this photo from "Birth Reborn" and am in love with the surrendering of both women to the power of childbirth.


My Midwifery Decision

As many of you know, I got wait-listed at Birthingway in January. I was put on the list because of my "short interest in Midwifery compared to other applicants." When I interviewed in October I knew they judged my path as less than ideal, but I brushed it aside and figured my energy and love would see me through. And it has, just not in the way I had expected.

I knew I wasn't accepted at the school when several other applicants already found out their status. I was sitting on the couch, ringing my hands as I talked to my husband about the situation. Then I got called into work at the birth center, where several woman who were on the interview committee worked. That meant I would have to face them before I ever knew the answer. They knew my fate before me.

So I called the school to ask my status. They lady I needed to speak to wasn't there, so I had to go to work and hope to avoid those girls. Before I left Dave asked me to be still and feel with my body what the answer was - I was wait-listed.

Birthingway called me back later in the evening to confirm the news. I was heartbroken. But mostly angry and bitter. I felt enraged. As weeks went on I would volley from not wanting their acceptance (sometimes that was ego and sometimes it was a feeling that the school was not for me) to really wanting to be a part of their community.

Throughout my discovery process of becoming a midwife I have always said 2 things: If the school does not accept me, then that means I am not meant to go there and I need to find another way. Number two is that midwifery is not an end point for me. I'm meant to do something beyond midwifery and this is the path I must follow to get there.

I started to realize that paying $40K plus for yet another degree didn't make sense. There were other ways of becoming a midwife and I started to explore them. I looked into self-study, something I was already doing, but felt I wanted a bit more structure handed to me. I could do it on my own, but I craved guidance.

Even though I was fairly confident at this point that if the school offered me their acceptance I wouldn't take it, there were some days when all I wanted was to be in with them. I would suffer around the school's decision - back and forth with feeling that perhaps that school truly wasn't able to hold my space.

I wish there was someway that every applicant to the school was wait-listed. This was a time of tremendous growth for me. If every woman was able to go through this process, they would then feel they really owned their decision, something that midwives try to offer to birthing moms.

After tea with a friend who did get accepted, I realized that it's okay to struggle. Just because I was having to work hard at this didn't mean it wasn't the right path for me. In the back of my mind I believed in the rhetoric that if you have to struggle than it's not meant to be. And that's just shit.

Our grandparents generation took it too far, thinking that if they didn't struggle then something was wrong and our generation has snapped in the opposite direction, thinking that if it's the right decision then everything will flow easily.

I found the middle space.

On February 9th I began looking into Ancient Art Midwifery Institute (AAMI), an online program. Figuring that if I considered self-study, than why not distance learning? I had long conversations with the director, spoke with Birthingway graduates who has Ancient Art apprentices, Birthingway midwives, talked to enrolled students, students who dropped out, students considering the path and AAMI graduates.

But what I didn't do is talk with myself. I busied with reading forums and looking for dirt on the school. I talked with friends and asked their opinion. I wanted to know what other people would think of me if I enrolled in an online school.

I realized that what is motivating me is intensely personal and spiritual. No one else is qualified to judge that. I let go of my biases of attending an online school. I released the judgement I was afraid of receiving from others. I started to blatantly tell people about my decision without following up with some stat about the school's success rate or all the research I did.

I just let it go. And then I made my decision to enroll. Along with that I also made my decision to actively seek a midwifery apprenticeship. And along with that I made my decision to wait to enroll into AAMI until my spirit says YES.

I am enjoying all the birth work I'm doing. Working at Alma Birth Center, Attending births, writing, art, Nurture.....I'm going to stay in this space awhile, not hurrying (very un-me) and feeling confident in my decision. Occasionally I'll wake up and want to enroll so I could get started learning - I'm so thirsty for this knowledge, but then I take a few breaths and look at my life today. I know I'm going to get busier soon, there is no need to rush it.

Everything feels right. 



Big Bird's Banana Bread

I subscribed to Sesame Street's magazine when I was 4 and fell in love with Big Bird's Banana Bread recipe. Mr. Hooper (remember Mr. Hooper??? Big Bird had trouble saying his name so he called him Mr. Looper) is the grownup in charge of turning on the oven and melting the butter (this was before microwaves).

This recipe was made for kid's who want to lick the bowl (no eggs) and can be made gluten-free with a basic GF flour mix.

Here is what you'll need:
3 peeled ripe bananas
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter or vegan substitute such as Earth Balance
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or GF flour

Mash nanners up
Add melted butter, baking soda, flour and honey
Stir everything and pour in oiled bread pan
Bake at 350 for 1 hour

Don't forget to ask a grown-up helper to take the bread out of the oven and share it with your neighbors.


Quiet Work

I am so fortunate to have found work that I love doing. It's quiet work that allows me to be present for hours, supporting a mom. I kneel on the ground for hours stroking her arm or sit behind her holding her lower back, all the while being filled with love and compassion and allowing the rest of the world to fade away.

When you are in labor with a mom, you have come together for one purpose, and that is to allow her to have the birth that is perfect for her. And that's my job! It is work that leaves me still and humbled the next day.

I left a fast-paced world of project management to follow my passion, and every day I am rewarded for that decision.


Birth as Instinct

My belief that birth is instinctual for mom as well as health care providers and support women was on display in all it's glory last night. When we are given space and time to surrender to the natural flow of birth and accept its rhythms and pulses, a baby can be born in a way that is best for her and mom.

The majority of moms-to-be that I know fill their time up with childbirth classes and as many books as they can possibly read before labor. But when a woman chooses not to follow that path, to allow birth to unfold without any preconceived notions of what should happen, she is able to look deep inside herself and create the birth experience that feels perfect for the state she is in at that moment.

It was a blessing to witness such a rite of passage. A mom that, without ever trying out positions or massage or reading birth stories, fell into her own rhythm. She found her own inner voice and allowed the Universal flow of energy to sweep her up and deliver a baby.


Sistah Midwifery International

Shafia M. Monroe, Certified Midwife since 1982 is holding a small gathering at The Horn of Africa to discuss how the Spirit calls women to Midwifery.

Thursday February 26, 2009, at 6:00pm - 8pm over a full course Ethiopian dinner.
The Horn of Africa’s Special Meeting Room, 2nd floor, 5237 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. Portland, OR 97211 (inside the Vanport Plaza)
$20.00 for dinner and a complementary gift of “Black Midwives and Prenatal Provider Directory-Essential Recipes and Words of Wisdom for Expecting and New Parents”. Payment due by February 21st. There is limiting seating; the first 10 people will be guaranteed a seat.
Please pay through Pay Pal at or by check to: Shafia M. Monroe, PO Box 11303, Portland, OR 97211. For more information please call (503) 281-1688.

Fat, Fiber and Protein - Essential to Starting Your Day

When breaking fast it's important that your breakfast contains fat (think coconut milk, seeds, avocado), fiber (veggies, fruit) and protein (tofu, beans, meat). This will ensure a solid foundation for your upcoming day and will give your body everything it needs to begin the digestion and metabolism process.

Check out this recipe below, which I call The Cuba Special, to begin your day. I suggest making enough for several mornings and cooking everything the night before to ensure a calm eating ritual. You can decide the appropriate amounts that fit your tastes because you just can't go wrong with this meal.

Black Beans
Coconut Milk

The night before
Cook black beans
Cook rice
Roast yams (chop and place in oven at 400 for 20 minutes, flip and cook another 20)

The morning of
Heat the beans, rice and yams together in a pot
Heat coconut milk separately
When warm, combine in bowl and add Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Mmmmmmmmmm - this is another breakfast that will last a long time. And it tastes SUPER.

Check out my other recipes throughout this blog........