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Made in NY: Carriage House Birth

This band of Brooklyn doulas is bringing the village mentality back to our NYC village.

Made in NY: Carriage House Birth

We often like to think of our big little city as a village, filled with a cast of supportive characters no matter what stage of life you happen to be in. After all, we travel, work, play and live in such close proximity to each other, we’re practically all related anyway. But when it comes to giving birth, that village is often absent, despite our common journey and the clear benefits we could all gain from a little teamwork.

It doesn’t have to be that way. And at Carriage House Birth, it’s not. Samantha Huggins, Domino Kirke and Lindsey Bliss organize a collective of birth workers--from birth and postpartum doulas to herbalists to placenta encapsulationists--that provide support from the minute the pee stick turns blue to well after the baby is sleeping through the night.

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Below, Carriage House’s founders clue us in to life as a NYC doula, and give us 6 tips for a smooth and satisfying birth experience, no matter what our birth day looks like.

Why is doula care such an important part of the birthing process, and especially in a place like NYC?

Lindsey: Doulas are essential because we help to normalize the birthing process by offering informational, emotional and physical support. Doulas are so important in New York City, especially because most midwifery practices and/or OB practices are extremely busy and unable to give their clients the individual attention and time that they deserve. We are a constant source of non-judgmental support during their entire childbearing journey.

How does having a doula on the big day enhance the experience?

Samantha: When a doula attends your birth, the family is able to focus on each other and most importantly, giving birth. The doula will clean the house or the hospital room, and offer suggestions, water and breaks. We will take care of all of the small stuff and then fade to black once you have your footing. We weave a fabric of normalcy and calm around you so that you can make honest and informed decisions for yourself and your family.

Tell us a little about Carriage House and your concept of recreating a village.

Samantha: We started Carriage House Birth with “the village view” because we believe in our hearts that it takes a community to raise our children, and to support each other as families and our doulas as birth workers. With this level of support, everyone is safe and confidence grows organically. This can only benefit everyone! Carriage House Birth offers complete pregnancy support for all versions of family. We are with you from the moment you hire us, which could be once pee on the stick or two weeks before your Estimated Due Date, until you take wings and want to fly on your own. We offer guidance on birthing options (hospital or home, practices, birthing centers, etc), and we branded several versions of our own Childbirth Educations series, covering first-time families of singletons, families of multiples, and childbirth education review for second-timers and beyond.

How does your team fit into this vision?

Samantha: Our doulas work with the security of support from Carriage House Birth, which means they are heavily backed by other Carriage House doulas. So if you have a long labor, or something should happen to your doula so that she cannot attend, her back-up will be there, fresh and full of new energy to bring to your birth. It’s a total win for everyone. We also offer tons of postpartum support and classes as well: doulas, breastfeeding, DIY postpartum offerings and a very solid system of referrals for anything that falls out of our scope.

What are some of the trends you’re seeing in the doula world right now, and especially in some of your NYC births?

Lindsey: The doula community and the childbearing community seem to both be gravitating towards a more holistic and natural approach to pregnancy and childbirth. There is a surge in our expecting clients that are seeking energy work and alternative modes of healing, to help foster the mind-body connection during the childbearing process. I think this is our peaceful backlash to an over medicalized maternity care system.

Since you started carriage house birth, what kind of changes have you seen? Are more women (and doctors) more open to doula care?

Samantha: We have seen a lot of change in the hospital and birth center realm for doulas. At Carriage House, we certainly have been working with specific practices more regularly. The care providers that actually know what a Carriage House Birth doula can do to make their jobs easier and their patients happier are referring their patients to us more and more. They know that we are not fighting a war on medicalized birth but are simply serving our clients. We go where our families go and we birth their way. No judgement from us. And in the homebirth world, doulas are widely used, probably always have been!

Having a birth doula is certainly one way to help the big day go more smoothly. Give us your other top tips to help moms prepare for a great birth day.

  1. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself and know your options.
  2. Choosing a compassionate care provider is the #1 most important thing that you can do for the birth experience you are hoping for.
  3. Embrace the beautiful chaos.
  4. Have a great support team. If you feel that support, you can give birth anywhere.
  5. LET GO and take each moment for what it is. Do not try to see the end but focus on the task at hand. Each pressure wave or contraction is all you need to contend with at a time.
  6. And if you are headed to the hospital or birth center, bring your own pillow!

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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