Categories
Business Featured

Community Partner Spotlight

Dr. Michael Pound with Traverse Health

Dr. Michael Pound

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?

“Lots of schooling and years of practice! I do more continuing education outside my profession than in because I love learning!”

What inspires your work and what sets you apart from other chiropractors?

“I look to serve first…when I approach patient care, I listen not to just what patients tell me, but how they tell me. I specialize in getting to the root of the problem, and after working in a pain management clinic with a Stanford anesthesiologist, and interviewing hundreds of doctors and health professionals on my podcast (Heal Better Fast Podcast), I’ve learned a lot about how to interpret pain. I feel most inspired when I am able to serve others by helping them live pain free lives!”

Dr. Michael Pound with his son

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

“Helping patients change their lives by getting rid of pain.”

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

“I enjoy rock climbing, traveling and spending time with my boys.”

What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your products/service?

“I started going to see Dr. Pound while I was pregnant with my second daughter for Symphysis Pubis Pain. I had a doctor that wasn’t pro chiro for the first pregnancy and my second OB was. I was so desperate for pain relief that I would try anything! He helped me so incredibly much and helped me deal with that daily horrific pain that I had. I was able to enjoy so much more of my pregnancy than before. Also, after birth, my pubis healed so much faster than without the chiro care. We are still seeing him to this day 2 years later!”

Tell us something that people might be surprised to learn about you?

“I invented a pillow to help achieve perfect sleeping posture which I was able to pitch to Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington!”

Categories
Business Featured

Community Partner Spotlight

Annie Hurst with Annie Jean Photography

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business? 

“A little bit about myself and how I got here…I worked in Corporate America as an Executive Assistant for 12 years. After exiting that world to be a stay-at-home mommy, I found myself looking for a creative outlet. I decided to start a children’s clothing boutique. Crazy enough, that’s what lead me to photography! I needed images for my website for my boutique so I nervously picked up our “fancy” DSLR and fiddled around with the software I had purchased with my employee discount before leaving Adobe. Yep, I said Adobe, the creators of Photoshop. Ha! Funny how one thing leads you to another, isn’t it? I’m now five years into photography. I’ve learned from some of the industry’s finest via in-person workshops, online workshops, and tutorials. It’s been such a fun ride. ”

What inspires your work and what sets you apart from everyone else? 

“I’m willing to try new things. I don’t put myself into a box.”

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

“The variety, the creative outlet, capturing moments.”

What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your products/service? 

“I’m crying.”

What do you enjoy most about your partnership with the UDA? 

“I love that we can work hand-in-hand with mothers who entrust the doulas in helping bring newborns into the world and the photographers capturing those once-in-a-lifetime moments.”

What’s something we might be surprised to learn about you?

“I went paragliding in Switzerland!”

Categories
Business Featured

Community Partner Spotlight

Susan McLaughlin, PT with ALIGN

ALIGN is a private physical therapy practice. Susan McLaughlin specializes in the management of pelvic pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, and orthopedic dysfunctions.

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?

“I have been practicing physical therapy since 2001. Going into physical therapy school I knew that I wanted to have my own business one day. I have always had an interest in approaching the body holistically and I believe in the body/mind connection for health and wellbeing. In 2012 I made the decision to leave the traditional medical model of physical therapy to start my own private practice, ALIGN integration | movement. I am a self-proclaimed continuing education junkie and I love to learn, so I have woven and integrated that education into my practice.”

What inspires your work and what sets you apart from everyone else?

“Our capacity for healing and growth is limitless. I have a deep respect for our nervous system and an understanding that when our system is under stress (due to day to day living, mental/emotional/spiritual incongruences, developmental or shock traumas, etc.) healing is compromised. In working with clients my intention is to create an environment within the body where the innate healing capacity can be restored. I bring many different levels of learning outside of typical physical therapy practices for additional growth and healing.”

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

“Being able to tap into human potential, growth and change. I love it!”

What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your service?

“I had a client who came to me with pain and nerve tingling down both arms and legs. Her doctor wanted her to get checked for MS. As a hairdresser she couldn’t lift her arms to cut or blow dry hair. She couldn’t do her job or workout for exercise because of the pain. She sent me a letter of thank you saying that working with me was ‘life altering;’ she can now do her job, sleep and was even able to complete a Hot Fusion Fitness certification. Without my help, she felt that she would have lost hope and had been talked into surgery. So yeah, nicest thing: ‘Working with you was life altering!”

What do you enjoy most about your partnership with the UDA?

“Doulas are amazing! I love the community, support and compassion that I feel in the UDA. I am so grateful that women have support to birth their own way. Thank you!”

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Business Featured Uncategorized

Community Partner Spotlight

Sarah Roberts with Yellow Kite Lifestyle Photography

What inspired you to become a photographer?

“I’ve always enjoyed photography and my parents gave me cameras when I was young. I was a photographer for my high school yearbook staff but then went on to study journalism in college and didn’t take many pictures. I received my first DSLR when my second child was born and loved taking pictures of him and his older brother. So it’s been a gradual process but I just love capturing beautiful things!”

What motivates your work and what sets you apart from everyone else?

“I love witnessing the sacred event of birth and seeing the empowering women who give birth. What sets me apart is my journalism background and unique way to tell a story.”

Yellow Kite Lifestyle Photography

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

“I love documenting babies and women doing amazing things!”

What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your products/service? 

“Sarah was absolutely fantastic! She took my birth photos, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out! She came to the hospital very quickly and was great to work with. She was super friendly, but was also great at disappearing into the background making having her there for the birth experience totally natural. I will cherish the photos she took forever.”

If you could have one photographer super power what would it be?

“It would be to take pictures with my eyes!”

Categories
Birth Doulas

Maximizing the Power of your Breath in Labor

By Meredith Ashton Cohen

I approached my first birth excited and engaged in the process and largely “muscled” my way through labor. I said to myself, “I am doing this!” and while my body progressed naturally (without intervention), I forced it along with gumption and energy to “make it happen.” My breathing was a series of pants and forceful exhales, I marched my feet through my contractions or forcefully swished my hips in the bathtub relying on rhythm to ease the intensity. My movement during labor came from my doula training and experience thus far, I knew how to “do birth” in my mind, but I failed to simply tune in to my body and respond accordingly. 

Meredith in labor with her 1st child.

As my second pregnancy progressed I picked up Marie Mongan’s Hypnobirthing book for the first time. I came to the breathing techniques chapter and read this passage, “…when your uterus surges, it rises. Slow breathing helps you to work in concert with that upward movement of the uterus as you breathe your abdomen up to the highest possible height–like filling an inner balloon. This maximizes the wave of vertical muscles, causing them to work more efficiently in drawing up the lower circular muscles, and thinning and opening the cervix. The assist that this gives to both sets of muscles shortens the length of the surge, as well as the length of labor.” (124)

Meredith laboring with her 2nd child.

Could I really create a shorter, easier labor/delivery by simply breathing? The scientific piece of aligning with my uterine muscles for maximum efficiency combined with the possibility of a shorter, easier birth intrigued me and I decided to put it to the test. For my second  birth the only thing I was going to do was breathe. I wasn’t going to waste any energy “doing birth” or “making it happen,” I was going to match my breathing with my contractions the best I could and surrender all else. Surrender every muscle and simply support my uterus to do its thing. 

The proof is in the pudding. I did in fact create a shorter, easier birth the second time around with a baby who was two pounds heavier. My second labor was five hours total (11 hours shorter than my first) and pushing went from 2.5 hours to ten minutes! I came away from my second birth experience with questions and curiosity about why the process worked so well. It was these questions that propelled me a little further into the anatomy of the uterus and science of labor. 

Below are two illustrations of the uterine muscle fiber patterns. As you can see, the myometrium, the muscular layer of the uterus, has three variations of muscle fibers; longitudinal, figure-eight, and circular.

During contractions, the muscle fibers at the top of the uterus (fundus) get shorter and thicker, while the muscle fibers at the bottom of the uterus lengthen and move up. This all corresponds with the baby moving down towards the birth canal. YouTube: Mini Lesson 002: The Uterus in Action illustrates this well. 

Since “Oxygen is the most important fuel for the working muscles in the uterus.” Hypnobirthing 123, the best way to support the uterus is to inhale as it contracts and take in as much breath as possible, as slow as possible–oxygenating muscle fibers and baby, followed up with a slow exhale. The way to do this and maximize lung capacity is through abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing has many names: slow breathing, belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, Ujjayi/Yoga breathing, etc. The concept is the same, using the diaphragm to inhale and expand the belly and allowing the belly to shrink with the exhale, it is slow and controlled. This method of breathing fills the belly rather than causing the shoulders to move up and down. When breathing makes the shoulders move, it is shallow breathing that uses only the upper lobes of the lungs while abdominal breathing maximizes all five lobes of the lungs.

During labor, researchers suggest that breathing for pain relief works by interrupting the transmission of pain signals by providing something positive to focus on. It may also release endorphins, and help the laboring person reframe their thinking about labor to be positive, productive, and manageable.

Like most things from Mother Nature, one gift has multiple remedies. Breathing is no different. In addition to transforming how we engage in delivering our babies, Rebecca Dekker of Evidence Based Birth reports in her article Breathing for Pain Relief during Labor, “Electroencephalography (EEG) studies on this type of abdominal breathing have found that even just a few minutes of using this type of breathing alters your brainwaves in a positive way, increases your relaxation response, decreases your stress hormones, decreases your blood pressure, and increases your oxygen levels.”

Inside the birth community we talk about the importance of breath and breathing through labor, but I want to emphasize that when we use it to support the uterus, we transform it from a nice thought in to a powerful tool for faster, easier labors. And we are in the business of supporting faster, easier labors. 

Resources:

Evidence Based Birth, Breathing for Pain Relief during Labor

Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation

Clinical Anatomy and Physiology of Female Reproductive System. Assessment and health promotion. 

Layers of myometrium showing the three layers of smooth muscle fiber

YouTube: Woman Explains Contractions with a Balloon

YouTube: Mini Lesson 002: The Uterus in Action

Take a Deep Breath

Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan

About Meredith:

Meredith Ashton Cohen CD(DONA), is a birth doula who specializes in supporting unmedicated births using Hypnobirthing techniques to create efficient and positive outcomes. She is passionate about educating and “holding space” for each birthing person, baby, and birth partner to find connection during the pregnancy/birth process for a faster, easier, more comfortable birthing experience.

Categories
Events

Why I love the UDA Retreat

By Raquel Alfaro:

When I think about the meaning I hold for the word “retreat,” I think about a beautiful location surrounded by trees, in a peaceful place away from the rest of the world.  In battle, retreat means to withdraw and pull back. In many ways our UDA Retreat embodies both of these meanings by providing a beautiful location where we as birth workers can withdraw from the world.  The retreat provides an opportunity to pull back from the stress of life and relish in creating new friendships, reconnecting with old ones, and taking time for ourselves.

Heather Tolley and Lindsay Dougal

One of my favorite things about the retreat is listening to the stories of fellow doulas. I love hearing about their journeys over the last year and bonding over the many experiences we have in common. I enjoy reconnecting with fellow birth workers and witnessing the hard work of those that coordinate the event. There is always something new to experience and I can count on feeling charged and excited about our community when I leave!

Here’s what other fellow doulas have to say about the UDA Retreat:

Last year’s retreat was my first and it was also my first time mingling with local doulas as a brand new doula. It was the perfect way to start off my career by making connections in a relaxed, low key environment. I learned a lot and felt like a welcomed part of the Utah birth worker fam.” -Bethany Roholt

“I love the UDA Retreat! The world of birth workers is so loving and supportive, and I never felt it more than at the retreat. I love meeting new people and making new friends and connections there. It’s a much-needed break from the stresses of everyday life, in the company of like minded people, good food and a fun, relaxing environment.” -Dani Reed

“ It’s so nice to get away and fill my cup so that I can better help and support my clients and be a better mother to my children and wife to my wonderful husband. Self care is important for everyone.” -Karina Robinson

2017 UDA Retreat

It’s time.  Time to take care of yourself and connect fully with our amazing doula community! Come share a meal, some laughter, and playful moments. Take home the feeling of belonging, being understood, and being ready to tackle another year of birth work!  I look forward to seeing you there!

To learn more or to register for this year’s retreat click here

About Raquel Alfaro:

Raquel is a proponent of living true to yourself and finding deep connection. She delights in supporting families through the challenging questions and learning to release blocks and fears to find self empowerment and strength. She is on the Utah Doula Association Board and has been a Certified Advanced Doula for 4 years. You can find out more about her and what she brings to the birth space at: www.starlightdoulaservices.com

Categories
Business Featured

Community Partner Spotlight

Elizabeth Gray

“I am an Associate Clinical Mental Health Counselor- intern. As a mental health professional I strive to be a healing force when people need it the most. I believe that healing comes when there is a heart connection made between the counselor and patient. I have received training with Postpartum Support International and have completed level 1 training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. I work with individuals and couples. I am also one of the board members for The Birth Circle, and Empowering Fearless Birth. I have been a Certified Lactation Counselor for 7 years and still occasionally see breastfeeding clients.”

What inspires your work and what sets you apart from everyone ?

“Being able to be with someone when they feel alone is very powerful. I have learned one of the best things I can do for another person is to hold space for them.”

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

“Seeing growth in the people I work with.”

What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your products/service? 

“That I saved their life. That I was there when they were the most lost.”

What do you enjoy most about your partnership with the UDA?

“The UDA has made a community that touches hundreds of people. I most enjoy seeing all that they can offer people.”

Categories
Birth Doulas

Tips for Better Doula Etiquette

By: Meagan Heaton, Co-Owner of The VBAC Link, CD(DONA), AD(MCU)

Doula etiquette, what does it mean and how does it look?  Here are four ways you as a doula can help create a positive space within the birth team as well as build lasting relationships with hospital and birth center staff. As doulas it is important that we do not step outside of our scope of practice. We love the families we serve and we want to help them in a professional way, so let’s dive in on some doula etiquette.

Remember the doula scope and values. 

What is the scope of a doula?  As a doula we are here to provide physical, emotional, and educational support. We do not provide medical advice or perform medical tasks such as cervical exams or checking fetal heart tones, etc. Doulas are welcome to share supportive community resources and provide evidence based information to their clients to research further. 

Make friends not enemies. 

Partner supporting laboring mother.

Although doulas have been around for quite some time there will still be times where one of us walks into a birthing room with our laboring client and a staff member is standoffish. This could be because the staff member has had a bad experience in the past with another doula and may not be a fan of doulas in general. This is why doula etiquette is so important to practice. Say hello, introduce yourself to the staff , let the staff know who you are and that you appreciate them. Be friendly with the staff, get to know them respectfully, and assure them that you are there to assist your client to the best of your ability, just like they are. Your client has hired you to be part of their birth team, the last thing they need in labor is tension between members of the team. 

Possible questions to ask the staff: 

  • How long have you been in this field? 
  • What made you want to become a nurse or a doctor
  • What is your favorite thing about being an L&D nurse?
  • Ask about the equipment, how to read a monitor or what they are looking for etc. (even if you may know.)

I have personally experienced a positive energy shift with a nurse or provider who is not super friendly with doulas once I start asking questions about them. 

NOTE: Please be mindful of the laboring/birthing person, small chat could affect them. 

Remember whom you are there for. 

From the moment we are hired by a client our intention is to serve them the best possible way we can. Generally, we want to make sure we do everything to help the client leave their birth feeling satisfied and positive about their experience. One challenge we may face is working with hospital or birth center staff who tell our client to do something that is not in line with their birth wishes. It can be hard knowing our client’s desires and not feeling like we can defend them or speak up. Remember, as a doula it is not our role to speak for our clients, however we can offer love and support by giving our client relevant information to help them and their partner make the best educated decision. Sometimes this means letting the hospital or birth center staff say everything they are going to say before speaking to our client. REMEMBER, doulas DO NOT give medical advice but only provide evidence based information to help our clients understand how to use their “B.R.A.I.N.” (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, do Nothing.) Talking through this acronym is a great way to help our clients know what options they have. 

Megan Heaton supporting a client.

Realize the way we handle ourselves leaves a lasting impression on how the hospital or birth center staff views doulas as a whole.

No pressure right?! Remember that we are professionals and that we have been hired as a member of our client’s birth team. Be respectful, mindful, and do everything you can to make a positive impression with the staff. Say thank you, praise them for their support, as mentioned above, make friends with them. Ask before we get things in the room and never touch the medical staff equipment. After the birth, help in any way you can but also allow the staff to do their job. For example, I offer support in helping my client and baby with their first latch for breastfeeding if it is desired. I have worked with a few nurses who this is their favorite thing to do, so I kindly allow them to work with my client at this point. Be sensitive to the members of the team and make room for them to share their expertise in serving your client, praise them and build them up. If you work with a nurse who particularly enjoys assisting clients with the first latch, let them take the lead, ask them for tips to improve your practice (even if you didn’t like how they handled things.) If someone delivered particularly great service make it a point to write a review card, or get the nurse case manager’s information and write a follow up email to thank the staff member(s) for their excellent support and care for your client. These small but easy things go a long way and really help hospital and birth center facilities to be more doula friendly. 

In closing I want to remind you that you are an amazing doula. Your clients are lucky to have you, it’s doulas like you who are changing birth journeys for the better. Keep up the amazing work. Get to know your community and birthing locations. Look, dress, and act the part and remember that your doula etiquette reflects the way the hospital and birth center staff view the doula profession and paves the way for the next doula that walks through the door. 

Meagan Heaton, Co-Owner of The VBAC Link, CD(DONA), AD(MCU)

About the Author:

Meagan is co-owner of the VBAC Link. She has supported over 100 women during their pregnancy and birth. A VBA2C mom, her drive is to help women like herself feel educated, supported, and empowered during their birthing time.

Categories
Diversity Uncategorized

Intent vs. Impact

By: Meredith Ashton Cohen, CD(DONA)

Last month I attended our UDA Spring Conference with keynote speaker Dr. Courtney L. Everson, PhD. The topic for her Friday evening presentation was “Inequities in the US Birthing Landscape: Understanding Difference, Power & Discrimination” and one of the ideas she brought to our discussion was that of intent vs. impact. An example of this concept is: say I am walking down the hall carrying a load of books, I meet up with my friend and the books slip out of my arms and fall on her, hurting her foot. I didn’t mean for the books to slip out of my arms and I certainly didn’t mean to hurt my friend (intent), however my friend still ended up in pain (impact).

As we celebrate Pride Month in June, I bring our attention to the disparity between intent and impact specifically in regards to our interactions as cisgender individuals with our LGBTQ+ friends, clients, and colleagues. Sometimes our language and behavior around marginalized groups, i.e. refugees, people of color, and LGBTQ+, is very harmful (impact) even though we don’t mean it to be (intent).

The good news in all of this is that we can change it, we can narrow the gap between our intent and impact as we serve our LGBTQ+ colleagues and clients. As doulas we are a powerful player on the birth team, we can make the difference between a positive and disappointing birth experience for our clients. Discussed below are a few things we can do as doulas to bring our impact more into alignment with our intent to respectfully serve  LGBTQ+ communities.

1. Watch Your Language

The language we use when interacting with LGBTQ+ from our intake form through our postpartum visit creates a foundation of visibility and safety when inclusive language is used.  Here are a few things to think about:

Consider amending your intake form, do you include a gender question, does it have binary options, a range of options, or a fill in the blank? Do you include a place for clients to let you know their pronouns? Our intake forms are a place we can bring our impact in line with our intent to provide safety and space for LGBTQ+ folks to be respectfully seen and heard.

Also consider amending the language on your website, for instance:  you could replace or augment woman/women with birthing person/people, use  breastfeeding with chestfeeding or *bonus* talk about feeding options to include individuals who choose to bottle feed their babies, etc.

Pay attention to pronouns and if you have a question about which pronouns to use, ask! This is a simple detail that makes a big difference-for better or for worse. When interacting with queer or trans folks, let them take the lead. Pay attention to the language they use and if you aren’t sure, it’s okay to ask them. Also, be proactive in learning the terminology trans and non-binary people use around their bodies.

Language matters! Because people matter!

Resources:

2. Do Your Own Self-Work

  • Identify your assumptions and question them.
  • Be open to learning and humbly ask questions.
  • Develop cultural humility as a lifelong process, it is a critical skill for inclusive doula care.

It is a healthy practice to consistently push the boundaries on our comfort zone and expand our awareness of all communities, not just the dominant cultures and identities many of us occupy. Awareness with humility can narrow the gap between our intention to be respectful and individuals feeling safe, seen and heard.

With all this said, it is important to note that there’s a doula for everyone and we are not everyone’s doula. In our process of developing cultural humility, it is important to acknowledge and respect our inner boundaries and be clear on who we can/choose to support.

3. Expand Your Resources and Conversations

Know which providers, hospitals and birthing centers are open and supportive of LGBTQ+ birthing individuals. Consider researching and expanding your resource list to include specific contacts and resources that will meet the needs of LGBTQ+ clients and other marginalized communities.

Danie, a doula specializing in queer and trans families, shares in her article Working with LGBTQ+ Clients, “If there are not any resources indicating local care providers that are allies, call providers and ask. Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools in our kit. Of course we will not know everything and that is okay, but the more information we have, the more we can pass onto our clients.”

Another idea that Danie recommends is having conversations with hospital and other medical staff, she adds “…only if you’ve been given the go-ahead by your client–sometimes people may not feel safe or comfortable being ‘out’ in certain contexts. Explain that your client(s) are queer or fall somewhere on the trans spectrum and they wish to use a specific pronoun, or that they wish to have the way they feed their baby referred to as chestfeeding vs breastfeeding. These things, to cis (heterosexual/straight) people, may seem very small, but for people within the LGBTQ+ community they can mean a lot.” Again, language matters.

As doulas, we can make a significant difference in the perinatal care of LGBTQ+ and other marginalized clients, it begins with our willingness and ability to develop cultural humility and narrow the gap between impact and intent.

About Meredith:

Meredith Ashton Cohen CD(DONA), is a Birth Doula who specializes in supporting unmedicated births using Hypnobirthing techniques to create efficient and positive outcomes. She is passionate about educating and “holding space” for each birthing person, baby and birth partner to find connection during the pregnancy/birth process for a faster, easier, more comfortable birthing experience.

Categories
Business Business Featured

Community Partner Spotlight

Rowan Steiner with Salt City Birth and Newborn Photography

Rowan Steiner
Salt City Birth and Newborn Photography

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?

“I started photography 3 years ago in college to capture moments of my young children and the hobby quickly turned into a passion. I spent about 2 years building my skills before shooting my first birth. After that first birth, I instantly fell in love and ultimately decided to specialize in birth and newborn”.

Photo by Rowan Steiner

“I absolutely love birth and I’m fascinated with all it has to offer. I love capturing my clients authentic and raw story”. -Rowan Steiner

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

“I love being able to provide families with memories that they’ll be able to cherish forever”.

Photo by Rowan Steiner

What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your products/service?

“I had a customer say, ‘Not only were my birth center birth photos documented gorgeously … but Rowan contributed her gentle but supportive energy into the room. I connected with her and also forgot she was there – if that makes sense. I had a preview photo that I could use for social media announcing within a few hours of my sons birth. I will cherish her work for me as long as I live’.”

What do you enjoy most about your partnership with the UDA?

“I enjoy the genuine connections I get to make with other birth workers in the community”!