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What doulas want you to know about giving birth

3. Your body knows what to do.

What doulas want you to know about giving birth

Doulas are wise women.

Think of them like birth coaches who support women through the labor and delivery process. Though not medical experts, they have helped hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of women through their births. Doulas provide many benefits, including helping women avoid unnecessary C-sections. Through their work, doulas have learned more than almost anyone about what it takes to help you have a beautiful birth.


Here’s what your doula wants you to know about birth.

1. Pleasure is possible.

Of course labor is hard work. But it is possible to blend the pain of childbirth with the pleasure of the experience, explains doula Angela Gallo. By bonding with your partner, and enjoying what you can of the experience, birth can be a beautiful event. Angela explains:

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“Don’t underestimate the powers of pleasure in pregnancy and labor. In times of stress, anxiety or when you may be filled with uncertainty, self-doubt and fear of the unknown, remember this. Pleasure is your best friend and secret weapon. Happiness that may be inspired by a kiss, your favorite smell or a big belly chuckle from your favorite joke. Whatever it is, smile and smile BIG. Melt away in that pleasure. Let it consume you. Let it break down your walls. Let the ethereal, organic sensuality of birth wash over you. Bring your partner in close. Touch him. Touch yourself. Eat some chocolate. Get a hug. Give a hug. Let the oxytocin flow and let the endorphins catapult you to that moment you meet your baby.”

2. Your birth belongs to you.

Even when you work with a doula, you remain in charge of your birth, explains Nina Spears of The Baby Chick:

“Doulas can help tremendously by educating you about your options, but you are the decision maker. You need to make choices that will ultimately support the kind of experience you want. My clients who have had the best experiences during birth and in the postpartum period are the women who took good classes, prepared themselves physically and mentally, and set up a great support team. Your doula can help you with this, but it’s your responsibility to make choices about your care provider, birth place and support team that will surround you before and after baby.”

That’s a theme that Tara Brooke of Doula Trainings International echoes as well:

“Doulas are advocates for birthing rights, for informed consent and for families as the ultimate decision makers. Doulas do not need to save people from birth! Doulas help navigate evidence-based information, ask questions to help better understand all options and hold space for birthing families to make their own decisions without judgment. The doula’s role is one without an agenda but instead a vested interest in advocating for a family’s own choices.”

3. Remember: You were made for this.

A photo posted by Brezi (@capturedbybrezi) on

Even if you’ve never given birth before, it’s important for women to focus on the fact that your body knows what to do. Our culture is full of scary stories and images about birth (does your idea of what happens during the birth process come from an over-dramatized Hollywood movie?), but the truth is, your body knows how to birth.

This quote from birth advocate Ina May Gaskin inspires many mamas and doulas:

“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”

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4. It’s all about the breath.

Birth doula Tiff Delancy wants mamas to know that getting through labor is all about paying attention to the breath:

“I just always remind my mamas, during labor and birth, it’s important to focus on something other than the physical sensations. Always come back to your breath. Breathing is the most powerful tool you’ve got. Use this mantra: My mind quiets, my body opens, my baby descends. And remember, all of this is temporary. Stay present and only worry about getting through this moment, this minute, this breath. Relax and ride the wave, so that you may allow your body to do the work it was divinely made to do.”

5. All birth is beautiful.

Whether you have a C-section, a planned epidural or an unmedicated childbirth, birth photographer Monet Moutrie wants you to know that there is beauty in every birth.

“Birth can be one moment in your life where you’re able to fully sink into yourself and find that at the core of your being is an overwhelming beauty,” she says. “A beauty that is bigger than wrinkles or a dress size. A beauty that doesn’t rely on superficial standards that none of us can meet.”

6. Prep for postpartum, too.

A photo posted by Brezi (@capturedbybrezi) on

Mothers understandably get quite caught up in the birth process, so they sometimes don’t take the time to prepare for the much longer transition: the postpartum period.

Postpartum doula Maryann Kamitian says the most important thing you should do for the long haul is to prepare for postpartum.

“The most important piece of advice I can offer a soon-to-be-mom is to have a support system for after having a baby. I think some moms have a hard time asking for help, but during the postpartum period it's essential,” she says. “New moms will have lots of adjustments after bringing baby home, and it's a lot to get used to. Having help in many directions can make things much smoother and happy for mom.”

You’ve got this.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

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Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

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Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

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Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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