Kate’s Choice – Royalty or not, Mothers Should Have our Support


Kate’s Choice – An Open Letter to my Fellow Birth Professionals on Cyberbullying

May 2, 2015

I’ve lived and birthed in a time when women were forced to leave their partner in the hospital lobby to labor separated from loved ones who might witness things. Things like mandatory early labor enema, drugs given without informed consent or denial and pubic hair shave. We were put into a metal hospital beds with sides drawn up. Flat on our backs until we were wheeled away to have a surgeon (again without informed consent or denial) cut into our collective perineum.


Birthing in this period of time, at first made me angry.  With the passage of time, the anger shifted to hunger for change. It made me who I am in the birth community. It gave me desire to serve. It is why I became a birth professional with empathy for women who choose to walk their own journey, even different from my own.

With the birth of Princess Kate’s baby daughter, I am distressed by some of my birth professional sister’s lack of tolerance.

“Well, so much for the homebirth rumors!”  “Can you believe those shoes? What is she thinking wearing heels less than 24 hours postpartum?” Look at her all dressed up. She should be an example so other mother’s won’t feel they have to follow suit!”

I am disturbed by those who feel the need to use social media to publicly shame Princess Kate for her choice of hospital birth and manner of dress as she left the hospital steps.

Kate, with her newborn daughter in arms and her proud husband at her side, beamed with joy. It was a time when this woman was fresh from the accomplishment of her choice and with the innocence of a wide open heart, allowed the world a privilege that could have very well been kept private. She allowed us all to meet her 12 hours old daughter on the front steps of the hospital.

We as birth professionals should know better. We are specialists; trained and respected. Our fundamental core value is –

Doula = Support of women’s choices (not our choices, the woman’s choices)

Midwife = With woman (not against)

The evidence has shown that postpartum depression is often more likely to occur when women feel they’ve failed. Lifting up our sisters to see the good in their pregnancies, labor and birth is a catalyst to empowerment.

To add to the rumors of tabloid toxic soup that is the life of a public figure or any other mother isn’t just wrong but is essentially against our purpose as birth professionals.

How many of us who work with women have witnessed the growth and positive changes that occur with praise? Even just a few words of kindness given can sometimes bring light back to a mother feeling dark.

I would like to urge everyone to keep in mind that all women, not just royalty, need our blessings whether they choose to surgically birth or birth at home. Whether they choose to stay in bed clothes for days after the birth or dress in heels and pearls 24 hours after the birth? Let us honor women and the choices they make regarding their own bodies, births and babymoon time.

In the end colleagues, it really never is all about us or how we would have done it. We serve, we validate.  It is my wish that never tear down.

My congratulations go to the Royal Family on the birth of the brand new Princess.

Author: Kendra Machen

Kendra Machen is a Childbirth Educator, LLL Leader and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist in Port Orchard WA. She has 4 sons, 1 daughter and 6 grandchildren. She feels privileged to serve all women and their varied choices in birth and postpartum.

You Might Be an Encapsulation Specialist if You Find Yourself Thinking…

  • You own more than 4 books on placenta, alone. You take placenta trainings for *fun*.
  • There are placenta photos on your FaceBook page because you see the beauty in them.
  • You can tell which hospital sent home which placenta by packaging alone!
  • Tincture? Oh you should! The placenta gift that keeps on giving!
  • You’ve pat your own self on the back for jarring 200+ capsules on a single placenta.
  • Heart shaped placenta make you happy but twin placentas make your heart flutter and rush!
  • You can spot the difference in a vaginally born placenta vs cesarean born placenta.
  • You get excited when you have a request for placenta prints too. Oh, the possibilities!
  • You’ve grossed out multiple friends and family members, too often at the dinner table, sharing your joy at the last placenta you encapsulated.
  • You own multiple Styrofoam containers and ice coolers and you don’t *ever* camp or picnic.
  • You cringe at the thought of a big beautiful placenta being wasted and thrown into the bio-hazard bin in the hospitals..
  • You’ve found yourself asking a mother, “Do you want a small piece of your placenta cut off for smoothie before I encapsulate?”
  • You measure umbilical cords for sport! Always trying to find that record breaker for longest or shortest.
  • You have to control your urges to ask anyone with a new baby, “What did you do with *your* placenta?”
  • You hear phrases like Shiny Schultz, Dirty Duncan, Velamentous and Lotus and you know exactly what they mean!
  • You make a game out of guessing the baby’s weight by examing the placenta and you’re spot on, a good bit of the time!
  • You’ve asked, “Honey, would you run up to the store for me? I’m out of ginger, lemon and peppers.”
  • You’ve warned your children or significant other, “Don’t eat the thing in the blue Tupperware! It’s a placenta.”
  • You’ve thought to yourself, “Wow. This one is engorged. I’m guessing no delayed cord clamping.
  • You feel like there’s nothing more spiritual than the “Tree of Life” on the fetal side of the placenta.


Click here to go to my facebook page for information on having your own placenta encapsulated

Fear Prolongs Labor – Childbirth Classes Lessen Those Fears

This article from CNN
“We have a society where sensationalism sells. They’re pounded with information [about] things that can go wrong with childbirth. Of course you develop fears.”

The fear of the unknown can be so powerful. Kitsap Mothers-to-be are no different. They hear horror stories from well-meaning girlfriends and even strangers in the grocery store!

The popularity of reality television adds flame to the fire with the addition of dramatic music and lighting on programs like, “BirthDay” and “One Born Every Minute”  Our community also has the factor of Navy dependents who are often very young, here for only a short time and separated from their families who might do quite a bit to ease the fears if they were nearby.

We know that the tools women gather in prenatal classes alleviate much of the fear of the unknown.Thirty years ago, most expectant mothers attended birthing classes. She learned how the changes in her body meant baby was healthy and growing, how baby receives nutrition by the foods mother consumes.  The signs and symptoms of labor, and what works to reduce discomfort and even the very real pain of contractions once active labor begins.

Upon completion of her birth class series, she had several coping skills for comfort and the confidence to know that labor and birth were a normal and natural function of her body.

We live in a different time. Today’s woman is both expecting a baby *and* busy! She’s much less likely to be a “stay at home partner”  and more likely to work outside the home to contribute to the family finances. Many times this means the couple work different schedules and precious little time off together.

In our area there are limited birthing class choices. Hospital based classes are rigidly scheduled in hopes that most couples can make them work. There are also independent birthing class series which last anywhere from 6-12 long weeks.  These options are just not in the stars for the average busy working family and so too often, birth classes are being sacrificed… and so begins the fear factor.

Independent childbirth educators realize this. We’ve seen the drop in attendance and have been concerned.

One of the newest and best ideas hoping to change the trend is the “Weekend Birth Class Retreat”  A full class series together with one last  romantic getaway for the couple. The couples arrive on a Friday evening and leave *finished*  and confident  on Sunday afternoon without having put a wrinkle in their work schedules. The mothers form bonds with one another and the fathers leave with skills from labor support to diaper changing! Couples replace the fear of the unknown with questions and answers, laughter and friendship.

Dalai Mama Pregnancy Support Services offers this retreat at Cedar Cove Inn twice yearly. November and May

Home Sweet Homebirth ~ It’s time!


So you’re going to have a homebirth.  The last weeks are so exciting; there’s so much left to do! One of the most important things is to have all the supplies needed for the birth, ready and in place. This list looks long but mostly these are items we have around the house.

You’ll want to check with your own midwife but this is a general list of what most midwives will ask that you have ready and stored away in a closet by week 36 of your pregnancy.  A laundry basket holds all the items conveniently together and then doubles back to hold the soiled laundry after baby arrives. So, get a new or clean laundry basket and begin gathering –

  • Two sets of sheets. Fitted, top and pillow cases– make one set your oldest least treasured just in case there happens to be some staining. Wash and dry both sets in very hot temperature. Fold each set and store separately into one of the pillow cases so that you have instant access to each clean set. Place both sets together,  into a taped shut paper bag marked, “SHEETS” and into the laundry basket. Now don’t use until the labor begins.
  • Tall draw-string plastic garbage bags equal to the number of pillows on your bed. These are for using under your pillowcase to protect your pillows during the birth *or* use plastic pillow covers if you happen to have those.
  • Six towels and six washcloths. Old towels are just fine, they’re usually softest.  Again, wash and dry in very hot temperatures. Fold and place into a taped shut paper bag marked “TOWELS and CLOTHS”. Place bag into the laundry basket.
  • Four receiving blankets. Baby booties/socks and newborn cap. Wash/Dry on hot temperatures and fold. Place into a paper bag taped shut and marked, “BABY” and store in the laundry basket.
  • One plastic mattress protector.  This can be an inexpensive brand but be sure it fits your mattress. Moving and box supply companies sell these as well as Walmart and K-Mart Stores. I’ve even seen them in Dollar discount stores.
  • Two rice socks. If you don’t already have these, you can easily and inexpensively make them  Use a clean tube sock, pour in a bag of uncooked rice, tie a knot in the end. (These are used for warm or cold during labor.)
  • One bright flashlight with new batteries. This is in the unlikely event of a power outage and can also be used to help with extra lighting if the midwife needs.
  • Two good sized mixing bowls. These can be inexpensive “Dollar Store” models. One is for your placenta to be examined and the other is for use in case of nausea during labor.
  • A brand new roll of paper towels equal to the number of sinks in your home. The birth team will want to use them to dry their hands after washing throughout the labor rather than use the family towels. Store these under or nearby each sink.
  • A new bar or pump bottle of unscented soap for each sink. Store these nearby or under each sink.
  • Two plastic trash bags and two boxes or waste baskets or hampers for tossing used pads and other items during the labor and birth. The bags go into the box or wastebasket Make sure the bags fit the boxes or whatever you use.
  • One large bottle hydrogen peroxide. Any brand. Put it into the laundry basket. This is for stain removal and postpartum laundry.
  • One new oral thermometer. Digital thermometers are fine. Be sure it is in working order.
  • One 4 ounce unopened bottle of olive oil. Put it into the laundry basket. This is for perineal massage and for baby’s bottom. If you put a bit of oil on baby’s bottom right away, the first bowel movements (meconium) easily wipe away. Otherwise, that meconium is so thick and sticky it’s hard to get off.
  • Two 1 gallon size ziplock storage bags.
  • One set of newborn size diapers. Cloth or disposable, your choice.
  • One new container of unscented baby wipes
  • Plenty of fluids such as drinking water, orange juice, white grape juice, herbal pregnancy tea or red raspberry leaf tea, and/or your favorite sports drink.
  • Power foods for the mother. Honey, yogurt, frozen juice cubes, soups, bananas. Whatever you desire.
  • A bag of chipped ice. This is used for hydration of mom but also for ice compress if needed.
  • Food prepared ahead for the birth team. Fruit, nuts, cheeses, sandwiches, hummus, veggies, caffeine and unflavored bottled water. Whatever whole food your family has on hand is typically fine. Ask your midwife about any diet restrictions.
  • Two Large boxes of “heavy flow” sanitary pads. Store these wherever you typically keep your pads.
  • Two of something comfortable.  This can be a night gown or other bed clothes choice to wear after the baby arrives. Button down for nursing ease is best. Also light in fabric because postpartum mothers tend to feel very warm and perspire a good amount the first 48 hours or so.
  • A car seat *in place* in the family car.
  • A “hospital transfer bag” packed with overnight items for mother. Keep this out of sight in the closet (just in case).

Optional items and ideas to help celebrate your Birthing Day: Camera, your favorite music choices, flowers, candles, aromatherapy, birth pool, birth ball, herbal sitz bath/tub tea, postpartum comfort foods or Birthday Cake.

In addition to the above items you will need a Birth Kit. Every midwife has her own style, your midwife will tell you where she prefers to buy.  This kit will be full of items for the actual birth that your midwife will use. Underpads, sterile gloves, lubricating gel, gauze, peri rinse bottle, bulb syringe, cord clamp and more.




Top Ten List to be a Successful Doula

If you’re a new Doula just out of training, here’s a list of tips to get you started.

10.  COMFORT ~ Quality shoes dedicated to attending births. Check out what other care professionals wear for comfort.  Comfortable stretchable stain resistant clothing dedicated to wearing while attending births. Not scrubs but something nice that’s cleaned, pressed and ready for action when the call comes in to support a family. Dress in layers. Depending on where you’re supporting a family, the environment can be very, very warm or even chilly.

9.  SUPPORT ~ A trusted support system of birth professionals. You’ll burn out quickly without the shoulders and ears of another birth professional. There will be times you will desperately need advice and many times when you’ll need a sounding board. Attending births, you’ll witness wonderful miracles but you’ll also sometimes see unkind acts toward yourself or the families you support. You want this person(s) to understand why you won’t share names and keep the families you serve, confidential. Be that support person for them, in trade.

8.  SUPPLIES ~ A “Birth Bag”.  Not the things you’ll use to comfort mother, but one containing the things you’ll want for your own comfort. Basic personal hygiene kit toothbrush/deodorant/hair brush and hair ties/bands. On the go food items, something for muscle/head aches, cell phone charger and an extra set of clothing in case you need them. You aren’t a *real* Doula until you’ve been soaked good an proper in a surprise breaking of the water. (It’s not a matter of if, but when!)  As a Doula, you may be away from home for 24+ hours and having comfort items of your own can make a big difference!

7. CHILDCARE ~ If you have children of your own, a childcare provider *on call*.  Babies don’t come on our schedule so we need a personal childcare provider we can trust and we need to keep that provider happy! Pay her/him well and add bonuses when you get them.

6. HOMEFRONT SUPPORT ~ If you are involved in a relationship, an understanding, flexible partner makes your life so much easier.  Someone at home with broad shoulders who has “got your back”.  Your partner needs to be alright with the fact that you may need to beg out of personal plans at the last minute.  A sense of humor and maturity is a must! You’ll miss family barbecues, your children’s recitals, sports and plays, Holidays, birthdays and you will even get calls in the middle of the night during those “intimate moments”.  A supportive partner can make or break you.

5. TRANSPORTATION ~ If you don’t live in a big city with great bus service, you’re going to want your own car. Not a shared family car. It doesn’t have to be new or even great looking. It does need to be reliable! Your clients should never hear that you’ll be able to come to them when you “can” but that you’ll be there as soon as they need you.

4. PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE ~ Even if you’re attending a home birth and you know the family is like-minded to your personal style, remember there’s always the outside chance you may have to transfer to hospital. Consider what others may see. Suggestive or political “sayings” across the t-shirt, low cut pants that show off your backside as you bend and stoop, multiple facial piercings, chipped polish,  excessive (even natural) scents; can be a bit much for the typical hospital staff to take. You want those first 8 seconds when snap judgements are made, to be positive ones. Put your best foot forward and the next time they see you at that particular hospital, they’ll already know you to be a professional.

3. INTEGRITY ~  If you interview and are hired by a family who based on *you*,  want *you* to be their Doula, keep your word. Don’t request on social media for a “back up” to take your place because you want to go camping or hiking or some other “out of area” activity. You agree to put this family on your schedule and only use a back up for true emergencies. Schedule fun and stick to it just like you do your Doula dates. There’s no reason you can’t have vacations or special days if you schedule them ahead of time and don’t schedule labor support clients in that same time period.

2. NON-BIASED ACCEPTANCE ~ Adopt a personal creed of non-judgmental support. Use and re-use the tried and true mantra of Doulas all over the world, “It’s not my birth”  Repeat this in your head as you support the family in whatever decisions they make during the labor and birth.  You may have interviewed and been hired by a woman who told you she wanted,  “A non-medicated birth using water and position changing as her comfort measure.”  Be prepared to understand when she drastically veers off her birth plan and requests a surgical birth because she wants to choose the birth day of her baby or the mother who decides upon an epidural for her vaginal birth because her best friend shared,  “It’s the safest way for baby.”  Repeat, repeat in your head…”It’s not my birth”. Smile, go over benefits and risks but in the end, support her in her decisions regarding her birth.

And the number 1 Top tool to be a successful DOULA…………..

“EXPERIENCE!”  A Doula training with an organization like, CAPPA or DONA can never be underestimated. You’ll learn and *practice* the different ways women choose to birth and the methods to support those women.
Get out and experience all types of birth. Attend them for free just to get your foot in the door. Offer to “shadow” a more experienced birth professional as she attends births and get feedback so you learn from the experience.
Attend homebirths, birth center births, unmedicated hospital births, epidural supported hospital births and even surgical births. All these families need support and in the beginning, you need them just as much.  Time and experience will shape you into a sought after Doula in your community.