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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 Anything you share that is confidential will not be published on this site.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.