It is common for mothers to hear the word "doula" and a birth story that goes along with it and believe the doula was the most important part of the positive birth experience.  While a doula does provide a level of trust and comfort to a mother, this would be typical of most anyone that is comfortable and confident in the physiology of birth providing continuous support to the mother.  The key to a positive birth experience, however, is knowledge and utilizing your human rights to make your own birth decisions.

Maybe you've heard, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," and that statement very much applies to birth decisions.  A doula can show you paths to take, and caution you of possible road bumps along the way, but they cannot create your healthy birth.  A doula should no make your birth decisions.  Making your own birth decisions is a significant part of feeling empowered from the birth and bringing confidence in your abilities into parenting, specifically early parenting.

Birth Choices and your Birth Journey

This birth, this pregnancy, is a part of your journey.  Your experience now and in the future will shape who you are as a human.  What you experience is meant for you, and the the way people experience the journey with you is meant for them.  There really isn't a right or wrong answer when it comes to birth choices.  However, we don't simply get the birth journey we're meant to have because we have influence over much of our experience.

You grow from your birth journey through the way you interact with your pregnancy, birth and postpartum.  The way you feel now will be similar to the way you feel during birth.  Build your confidence now, and your confidence will grow in birth.  Improve your physical health, and you will experience improved health during birth.  Allow everyone else to make your decisions, and you likely may feel out of control during birth.

5 Ways to Create a Healthy Birth

You've heard it so many times that your health, your birth location, and your care provider will be the biggest influences on your birth experience.  You've heard doulas improve birth experiences as well.  But simply knowing these three influences and then hiring a doula to make it all happen is a bit unrealistic.

Resolve to make decisions.

Right now.  Make this choice for yourself.  Choose to make your own birth decisions.  Choose a care provider and birth location that you know practices in a way that blends with your ideas for birth care.  If your care provider does not, know that it is up to you to make a change.  Your doula will not change the way your provider or location practices in the middle of birth.  Your birth plan and a signature doesn't change the default routines or they can kind of get a little murky in the process.

Think of it this way.  You don't tell a pastry chef how to bake his cakes.  If you're hiring a pastry chef, it is likely because you want a skill of his that you don't have.  You don't find a pastry chef and simply because he has this title expect that his cake tastes the same as anyone else's.  You don't have him sign a contract that says he will bake a cake the way you want it with ingredients he's not used to using and expect it to turn out exactly like you imagined.  You don't bring in a friend and have that friend encourage you through eating this cake that isn't turning out exactly like you imagined, either, and expecting them to tell the chef how to do their job at the same time.

Making your own decisions means you get to be comfortable with the outcomes.  Knowing the possibilities you have with your choices lets you to be informed and understanding of your birth experience.

Eat well.

Eat well for a healthy happy birth.  While you may not be able to afford everything organic or have the space to grow everything you eat, you can eat well.  You buy your food.  Your doula doesn't buy your food.  Your doula cannot change eating fast food every day during labor.  Your doula cannot force water in you and hide the soda.  Even if your spouse and other children don't want to eat the same way you do, you are still the one putting food in your mouth and eventually the family tends to follow along with what mom is eating, even if it takes a while (sometimes years).  If you are in a situation where someone is holding you down and force feeding you, or emotionally manipulating you to not eat healthy food choices, then I urge you to seek counseling or find a shelter that will help protect you from abuse.  Otherwise, search for recipes of snacks and meals that have little to no sugar and make bulk items ahead of time.  Eat a rainbow of colors of whole foods and little to no processed foods.  Eat only real ingredients.  Properly assimilated adequate nutrients means your hormones and your body systems function at their peak, and your birth risks are at a more even level.

Move regularly.

Make movement a routine part of your day.  Maybe going to a physical therapist or chiropractor or bodyworker isn't an option for you, but movement is always an option. You can stand at your desk.  You can stretch and move positions (off the sofa) while watching TV.  You can go barefoot.  You can squat to use the bathroom and for any movement that requires up and down.  You can belly dance.  You can sway.  You can do side-lying stretches.  You can walk.  You can move a little bit at a time regularly throughout the day and not have to block out time for "exercise" and in fact, this is the way you should be living.  Take opportunities for longer times of movement and walking, but not making that time doesn't mean you should live a mono-movement and low movement lifestyle.  Better movement now means the baby has a clearer path through the pelvis and you're less likely to feel crampy during birth.

Find time for self care.

In some way, soothe your mind without a screen for even 5 minutes a day.  Better if it can be 1 hour a day.  Pray.  Stretch.  Deep breathe.  Walk.  Use herbal teas or essential oils to soothe the thoughts of the day.  Take a bath and close your eyes to relaxing music.  Make a routine part of your day uninterrupted.  Find a person or a thing that can help you with kids - even if this is a blanket in your bathroom with a quiet toy they can play with or wear your earbuds with relaxing music to mellow out the sounds.  Every day work to explain to your children their need for respect during this time and set a routine with them that allows them to feel nurtured also when you're done so you both can enjoy some relaxation time.

Learn about birth.

Birth doesn't have to be scary.  Review your previous births and discover new choices for a different (or similar) experience.  Listen to positive birth stories, and learn about the choices that supported those births.  Discover the parts of birth that cause fear and BELIEVE that you have the ability to learn about those aspects of birth and how to prevent and deal with those complications.  Don't allow someone else in your birth space to project their fear upon you.  If they do not learn or cannot reduce their fear with the choices you've made, it may be necessary to request them to not be a part of your experience.  If you are unable to move past a fear, seek counseling - there is likely a deeper struggle causing this fear response.

The information is here.  For selecting a birth environment that supports you, to steps to take if you find yourself in less than ideal birth situation.

You don't plan your birth.  You don't "plan a home birth" or "plan a birth center birth" or "plan a hospital birth."  You prepare for birthIf you take a prenatal prep approach of learning about your body, birth choices, and even a basic knowledge of birthing and supporting a birth, then USE the information you've been given to support your body and your mind and then birth happens.  You simply birth your baby and make decisions during that process to support your body (physically and emotionally) and your baby.  Don't get stuck in the idea that you have to birth in a certain location once you've chosen where you want to begin labor and experience labor.  Prepare for the ways to prevent complications and feel holistically supported now and during postpartum.  If your birth location and care provider changes in the middle, you'll be more empowered and confident to speak up and utilize your birth rights.



just breathe Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 4

Reflect: What questions have you had answered and how are you using those answers to seek the birth you desire? Write some new questions or topics you feel you need to learn about. Research those this week and jot down some notes and feelings.

#TheOxytocinMethod is an approach to the role we play during our childbearing years of the responsible consumer. I can provide you with information, but only you can choose what you do (or don't do) with information. You birth how you live.  You birth how you feel.



Be empowered - take responsibility and experience the joy from making your own birth decisions and allowing those choices to build your confidence for parenting.  If you're looking for more in depth information on your options for birth and building your confidence for making decisions, schedule mentoring or join an Esali Birth class.

indie birth esali birth

Independent birth is a new term overtaking the unassisted birth world.  Many actually imagine the choice of indie birth to be one where a mother is alone during birth or without a care provider or at home or any specific set of "guidelines" that indicate you can use the trendy term.  However, independent birth is simply another way of describing a knowledgeable approach to the responsibility of birth decisions.

Take back your birth.

You already know how to birth.  You already know how to make decisions.

How do you have an independent birth?

  • Trust your knowledge and ability to make decisions
  • Trust your body
  • Birth where you want
  • Birth how you want
  • Birth with whomever you want

Yup... that's about it.  Whether that leads you to fully assisted, totally unassisted, or any level in between it is the PERSONAL CHOICE that leads you to making decisions for yourself from TTC to pregnancy routines to birth and postpartum practices that puts you in the indie birth category.  Post done....  Okay, okay, I know, you want some substance - some feel-good to give you the confidence you need to make all these decisions.

Independent Birth - Informed Birth, and Parenting Confidence

Ultimately, our birthing experience is a teetering transformation between now and life with a baby - even if you already have children, another baby brings you back to this level again of nurturing a soul for their life journey.  Birth is made to empower us with maturity and wisdom, but many cultures are taking this life phase and surrounding it with so much fear and "you have to be saved" mentalities that women and families are blindsided with even how to handle a runny nose during pregnancy or with a newborn.

Independent birth may be better described as Confident Birth, or better yet, Informed Birth.  When a family is informed, they can choose no provider, a team of providers, or anything in between.

Only you know how you feel. You are the expert on you - and you are the expert on your baby.  Truly.  The more you listen to your body, care for yourself, and make intentional decisions - the more in tune you become and the better you can communicate to your birth team (should you choose one at any point in your journey) on your needs and desires.  With knowledge comes great responsibility because then you are able to make informed decisions and be the leading role in the perinatal phase rather than someone just along for the ride doing whatever the care provider says.

Take back your birth.

You are here.  You get up, you eat, you drink, you pee, you rest, you move, you live.  You know how to be a human and birthing is just another part of being a human.

Want a test?  Go get it.  With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation.  It doesn't matter what I do, what your provider would do, what your friend did.  It doesn't matter if the studies for this year say a test will result in x, y, or z - what do YOU want?  What do YOU? feel?  What will YOUR family do with the information, the possible outcomes?  The information you receive from Esali Birth, or anywhere else, should provide you with thought provoking action.  Let the information swirl around in your mind.  Get mad at it for a moment if you want.  Then, research.  Get passionate.

Research with Dad, your birth team, anyone together.  Talk about it.  Ask questions and give thoughts.  Listen to every side.  Take that knowledge and be still while you listen to your soul speak.  Then make YOUR decision.

Don't want tests?  Don't do it.  With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation.  Not every mother has to have the routine option.  Not every (not many) mother benefits from cookie cutter care.  The cookie cutter western approach isn't exactly showing us better statistics anyway, and in fact we see more perinatal depression and higher maternal risks than many other countries - including developed - in the world.  Western medicine is great for some.  Eastern medicine is great for some.  A blend is great for some.  A different approach with each baby is great, too.  Your babies won't be the same and they will continue to require individualized nurturing their whole life - this is just a start.

Want to provide yourself with your own clinical care?  Have at it.  Journal your food, movement, emotions, schedule, and sleep patterns.  Take your blood pressure.  Check heart tones.  Pee on a stick.  Check your blood sugar.  Order your own labs (through online sources) or collaborate with a care provider willing to provide you with these services.  Pick one or all of these options.  Belly map, palpate, or just have a cup of tea with your birth team once a month and create a relationship to build oxytocin (remember that your birth team is providing a lot of their energy for this, too, though, even if it doesn't look like typical prenatal care).

Want all the prenatal care?  Go ahead.  Get all the titles and 30 years of experience.  Choose no titles and no clinical experience.  Choose yourself and your family and love.  Start with nothing, end with it all.  Start with high tech and then get back to basics.  Plan a cesarean.  Plan a home birth.  Transfer to the hospital in the middle of your birth.  Decide to stay at home.  It is YOUR choice.  Nothing is set in stone.  Love your pregnancy by knowing you can make a new decision at a moments notice.

Take back your birth.  Take back your pregnancy.  Take back parenting.  Take back your LIFE!

Learn.  Make decisions. Stop letting anyone make you feel like you don't know how to birth or take care of a baby.  This is biology! Your were MADE for this!

You were also made to seek support, guidance, love.  It's OK to want solitude.  It's OK to want a group of people laying their hands on you.  It's OK to want both at different times.  Just as a doula should provide individualized support for their clients, so should a care provider and it is encouraged for you to desire that individualized care.  Don't hesitate to ask for it if you don't feel like you're receiving it.  Others are only human, too, and their lives are happening all around them just like they are in your pregnancy.

Speak up.  Tell people what you expect, what you want, and don't apologize for it.  If people make you feel hesitant to speak up, find a new birth team or support group.

Supporting Indie Birth

It's one thing to choose independent birth, but to support others in their decisions is the real key.  As a mother, a father, an obstetrician, a midwife (home and hospital), and a community we need to support others in their ability to make their own decisions.  Most of the fear surrounding life choices comes from personal discomfort in someone making a decisions that goes against a decision we've made or the way we currently practice.  Are you a midwife that can't stand the thought of someone supporting birth without clinical experience?  How is this different than an obstetrician not supporting home birth?  Share your knowledge AND your love.  Are you a mother that had an independent birth at home with a midwife (or unassisted) and are frustrated because your friend is choosing an obstetrician or a cesarean?  Let's all take a breath and remember how we learn best.

LOVE.  We have to come to a place that not everyone wants our opinions or thoughts.  We have to come to a place where we ALLOW others to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own lives.  When you speak truth in a kind and empathetic way, others hear.  They may not react the same way as you - but they hear you.  It may be days or years before they change their lifestyle, or they may not change it at all.  It doesn't matter.  This is our journey.  That is their journey.  Let's not, as independent or natural or whatever birth advocates, make the same mistakes that have been made for decades.  Build up your community with knowledge sharing and encourage others to keep researching and keep discussing.  Surround your interactions with dialogue that doesn't put words in someone's mouth - but that encourages interest through your respectful words so others are encouraged in an intriguing way to learn more.

The more aware you are of the birth industry, the more information you have about biological birth, and the more you surround yourself with a community that knows how choices influence our experiences with a loving heart - the better your independent birth will be and ultimately you increase your experience of a happy healthy birth.  Happy increases oxytocin and oxytocin improves birth.

Information provides us with opportunity.  Opportunity allows us to make decisions and feel confident about the role we're playing and encourages us to learn all we can when we do take a leading role in the decision making process.

What are you doing to take back your birth?


At Esali Birth, we go far beyond "what to expect" in birth.  While "birth class" is often what people call it - that's simply because it is a term that has been around for so long.  Additionally, people think of the word "doula" as someone that only supports moms during labor - and that is not completely accurate, either.  Ideally, your care provider is the one that not only educates you and supports you and provides breastfeeding guideance, but reality these days doesn't really offer the opportunity for providers to have the time to do so.  This is where a birth educator comes in and then often a separate doula after that and then a separate lactation counselor after that.  However, reducing the amount of people not only in the birth itself, but overall during the perinatal journey has many values.  No matter what you want to call it - someone that provides a continuum of education and support from pregnancy through labor and into postpartum not only has the value of trust, but the value of knowing your personal journey.  Even more than a standard series, I LOVE focusing on individualized education - because just like your care provider for birth, the information you receive prenatally is specific to your needs.  Working with couples in private mentoring sessions allows me to focus on not only your questions, but techniques that are specific to your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

What might a prenatal mentoring session look like?  That really depends on your goals, and where you are in your childbearing journey.  We may:

  • Talk about birth history and the birth industry and how that will influence your health and happiness - do you know how the business of birth changes your options and safety?  We'll talk about the safety of birth in the US, too.
  • Process a previous birth (or even a birth story you've heard) to reduce fear and move on to enjoying your perinatal experience - Do you know how this can affect the comfort and health of your birth?  We'll talk about that, too.
  • Work on body techniques to eliminate pregnancy discomfort and help position baby for the best birth possible - Do you know techniques you can do at home to reduce these discomforts and why misalignment changes even things like vaginal birth and VBAC?  We'll talk about that, too.
  • Discover nutrition that will increase your health, your baby's health, and reduce chances of things like rupture of the membranes before labor due to nutrition - Do you know about whole foods and herbal therapies?  We'll talk about that, too.
  • Find a birth team to best support your needs - Do you know what is available to you from home to hospital?  We'll explore your options.
  • Develop a relationship that carries into trust in birth so I am not only your "labor doula" - but a connected part of your team that knows more about your history, who you are, and what you desire - Do you know what a doula can do for you AND Dad?  Let's discuss that, too.
  • Build confidence in you AND dad so you can work together through the perinatal stages and become empowered parents - because confidence is key and I want you to walk away from a mentoring session with a smile and an energy excited for birth.

Wow, and that's just the tip of the iceberg!  Overall, we're not only working towards your goals in birth - but in creating the happiest birth possible because a happy birth is a healthy birth.  One on one sessions - virtually or locally - help you have that special time to focus on you and a guide along the way to provide you with information and resources that support you holistically without having to spend hours and hours in parenting groups and blogs trying to filter through the information.

Interested in a session or series?  Get in touch!

We've had a wonderful #esali5k this year!  As we work on using the funds in ways that can make a difference in birth and impact the lives of families in a unique way, we are starting out with an amazing giveaway!

THREE - 3-Month Subscriptions to the Esali Baby Basket

Holistic childbirth prep at your door - a monthly box sent to you that nourishes your soul, your health, and access to the complete online perinatal education series, PLUS group mentoring sessions monthly (online).  Learn more at  This is an AMAZING opportunity for any family!  Yes, you can even gift your subscription if you win to someone you love that is expecting.  Boxes can only ship within the continental U.S. - please consider when entering into the raffle.

Raffle begins WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 2016 and ends MONDAY, May 16, 2016 at MIDNIGHT


So, how do I enter?  Easy peasy!  You have 3 options to earn points:

  • Comment on THIS blog post - tell us why you would love to have an Esali Baby Basket subscription.
  • Visit the Esali Birth Facebook page.
  • Every day during the raffle, tweet "Check out the #esalibirth #babybasket subscription for holistic #childbirth prep."

That's it, families.  GOOD LUCK!!!  Winners will be announced Monday, May 16th, 2016 on the Esali Blog, the Esali Facebook page, and the Esali Twitter page.





Tell me your story. I'd love to help you have a happy healthy birth!

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