Northwest Doula Conference

NW Doula Conference Panel

I had a great time at the NW Doula Conference last week. There was a terrific keynote on trends in the doula profession by Amy Gilliland, author of the blog Doula-ing the Doula; a talk on serving LGBTQ families; and one on marketing in the digital age.

Here are a couple of pictures from it. The one above is from a panel I was on moderated by Penny Simkin about different models of doula compensation. (If you can’t see that one here, click back to the main blog.) The one below is of the “doula speed dating” activity I helped to organize to help doulas meet others they didn’t know before the conference.

NW Doula Conference Speed Dating

Posted in Doulas, Ohana News

New Evidence That the Baby Signals the Start of Labor

Baby in Womb

This is amazing! The exact mechanism for the onset of labor has long evaded researchers. Does labor begin because the mom’s body signals it is ready? Or does the baby provide a signal it is ready to be born? Or is it a combination of the two? This study provides compelling evidence that the baby regulates timing of its own birth. So cool!

“Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified two proteins in a fetus’ lungs responsible for initiating the labor process, providing potential new targets for preventing preterm birth.

Previous studies have suggested that signals from the fetus initiate the birth process, but the precise molecular mechanisms that lead to labor remained unclear. UT Southwestern biochemists studying mouse models found that the two proteins − steroid receptor coactivators 1 and 2 (SRC-1 and SRC-2) — control genes for pulmonary surfactant components that promote the initiation of labor. Surfactant is a substance released from the fetus’ lungs just prior to birth that is essential for normal breathing outside the womb.

‘Our study provides compelling evidence that the fetus regulates the timing of its birth, and that this control occurs after these two gene regulatory proteins − SRC-1 and SRC-2 − increase the production of surfactant components, surfactant protein A and platelet activating factor,’ said senior author Dr. Carole Mendelson, Professor of Biochemistry, and Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern.” Read More

Posted in Research & Articles

What To Pack For Delivery Day

Clients often ask us for guidance on what to pack to bring to the hospital or birth center. We just posted a list on our website. Please feel free to use the comments section to tell us if there are other items you recommend as birth professionals or loved having with you in labor as a parent.

Posted in Uncategorized

Changes at Ohana Chicago

Ohana Nov 30 2014 Team Mtg

As the Seattle branch of Ohana grows, we will be making some changes at Ohana Chicago.

After much discussion among the team, I have made the decision to change the structure in Chicago so that I will no longer be running the business there as a centralized practice.

Instead, the Ohana Chicago team members will now be taking clients individually as sole proprietors. The Ohana website will still list the bios and contact information for the amazing doulas, childbirth educators, parent group facilitators, prenatal yoga instructors, and parent coaches that you have come to trust. So please continue to send friends and clients there for referrals.

In Evanston, doula Grace Lombardo will continue to teach Ohana childbirth classes, so these classes will remain a resource in the community. Information on the new way to sign up through her business will be on the Ohana website as well.

I will continue to stay in touch with the Ohana Chicago Team members, who have become dear friends over the years we have worked together. And as always, I love hearing from all of our past clients, so please continue to send me updates and photos of your babies as they grow up!


Posted in Ohana News

2014 Ohana Annual Report

As many of you know, Ohana is a registered Benefit Corporation, a hybrid between a for-profit and a non-profit. As part of our requirements as a Benefit Corporation, we must prepare and publish an annual report on our outcomes and impact in the community.

I’m excited to share with you here the results of the 2014 report, completed on April 30, 2015. It’s always neat to take a step back and look at the impact of our work.

Some highlights are below:

In 2014, the Ohana team served a total of 181 families.

Of the clients who gave birth supported by Ohana doulas, 86% gave birth
vaginally, including 3% VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), and 14% gave birth via Cesarean section.

Ohana Vaginal & Cesarean Births

The rate among Ohana clients was consistent with the World Health Organization recommended level of 10-15%, versus the much higher 31% rate in the U.S. nationally.

Cesarean Comparison

The rates of needed medical interventions in other areas were also significantly lower than national averages. We recognize that many factors affect birth outcomes, including practice patterns of physicians and midwives and underlying health risks of the mothers. Ohana’s lower rates are consistent with the findings in controlled scientific studies about the benefits of doulas in reducing unnecessary interventions.

Ohana Interventions

We are proud of the positive feedback from participants on their experiences in our Childbirth Classes and New Parent Groups:

Childbirth Classes

Ohana Childbirth Class Ratings

Ohana Childbirth Class Ratings 2

Dad & Baby Groups

Ohana Dad & Baby Group Ratings

Mom & Baby Groups

Ohana Mom & Baby Group Ratings

For more data and summaries of our activities over the year, please see the full report here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Etsy Goes Public – A Milestone for Benefit Corporations Such as Ohana

As many of you know, Ohana is incorporated as a Benefit Corporation, a hybrid between a for-profit and a non-profit. One of the biggest B Corps, Etsy, the online craft bazaar, went public last week. This is a big milestone for benefit corporations such as Ohana that strive to make a positive impact on society while also creating sustainable businesses.

As reported in the New York Times: “The online craft bazaar Etsy made its debut on the Nasdaq stock market Thursday, signaling the birth of an unusual public corporation . . . Etsy is one of a growing number of companies, called B Corps, that pledge to adhere to social and environmental accountability guidelines set by a nonprofit organization called B Lab. And Etsy on Thursday became only the second for-profit company to go public out of more than 1,000 companies that have that certification. Etsy shares closed on Thursday at $30, almost twice their initial public offering price, in one of the most closely watched market debuts this year.” Read the full article here

Posted in Ohana News

6 Tips for a Good Night’s Rest for You and Your Baby – A post by Ohana Sleep & Parenting Coach Brenda Shover

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 8.07.03 PM

Ah, finally after a few false starts, your little one is sleeping soundly and now you can get a few hours in before the next feeding. So, you leap into your bed and wait for that wonderful lull that comes right before you nod off. You turn to one side, then the other; you’re exhausted. Why won’t sleep come?

Does that sound familiar? It may be that you are actually overtired. It may also be that your baby is overtired and that state, for all ages, lends itself to taking a longer length of time to settle in and more difficulty in staying asleep. Here are a few tips, three for you and three for your little one, to help you all get the rest you need.

For you:

1. Create a bedroom environment that minimizes distractions and says, “This is where sleep happens.” If you can, remove clothesbaskets of laundry, piles of papers or anything that triggers an urge to work. Keep your bed tidy and inviting. If you enjoy aromatherapy, consider incorporating relaxing scents such as lavender in your bedroom.

2. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. This is frequently recommended for youth and teens with sleep troubles and it certainly applies to adults as well. Your brain needs to transition from awake to asleep. The light from your smartphone or tablet signals your brain that it is time to be awake and your brain is stimulated by what is on the screen. There is quite a bit of current research that supports the findings that electronic devices affect our circadian rhythms by telling us to be awake when we should be winding down and creating an unfortunate cycle of daytime sleepiness/nighttime restlessness. Do what needs to be done on your computer or phone and then give yourself time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

3. Once you climb into your cozy bed and get into your “I’m ready to fall asleep” position, focus on your breath. This is my version of counting sheep. No need to change how you are breathing. The depth, the pace, it is where you fall naturally. Allow yourself to relax into it, then simply observe the place where the inhale meets the exhale. Mentally note it, and continue to breathe, noting where the in-breath meets the out-breath. If your mind wanders, acknowledge the thoughts and simply go back to the breath. This keeps the endless “ to do list” from taking over and robbing you of the relaxation you deserve.

For baby:

1. Routine, routine, routine! Some children adapt easily to changes in their daily routine. But for most, it is unsettling and disruptive. Until you know how your baby will manage schedule changes, keep to a bedtime (and naptime) routine. You can develop this in your baby’s early months, keeping it simple and consistent. Do the same tasks, in the same order, at the same time.

2. As often as you can, put your baby to bed when drowsy but still awake. With newborns, this is easier said than done but as your baby gets closer to 3-4 months, you should see the beginnings of a schedule emerge. Whatever your sleep arrangements are, look for signs that s/he is getting sleepy, follow your bedtime routine and put him/her down while the little eyes are still closing.

3. Help your baby learn to distinguish between days and nights. During the day, have bright lights, lively conversations, barking dogs, music playing. Of course, be sure to tune into and be aware of the signals your baby is giving you. Too much of a good thing can make him/her over stimulated and fussy. Toward bedtime, quiet things down, dim the lights, play soothing music, sending the message that it is time for nighttime slumber.

Babies need sleep for overall growth and development. Their brains need it; their bodies need it. If you begin to view your role in teaching your little one healthy sleep habits as part of your parenting responsibilities, it may strengthen your determination to make sleep a priority for your entire family and help you stick with a long term sleep plan.

If simple steps are not working, reach out for support. The Ohana approach to sleep coaching avoids one-size-fits-all solutions. Rather, we listen to your priorities and values, and partner with you to develop — and follow through on — a sleep plan that meets your goals and your family’s needs. You may already have someone who can help support you compassionately without an agenda. For those others, always remember that you have Ohana.

Sweet dreams!

Posted in Parenting

A Warm Welcome to Our Newest Team Member

Team Page Photo - Amber

We are absolutely thrilled to introduce our new Outreach & Marketing Coordinator, Amber Kozawick! Amber became a part of Ohana through the process of welcoming her own son into the world and has been serving as one of the Chairs of the Ohana Alumni Club since August 2014.  We are so excited for her to be coming on board in this new role.  Here are a few Q&A’s to get to know a little more about Amber.

Q: How would you describe your family?

My family is the best! My husband and I have a young son, born in April of 2014, as well as two fur-children: our dogs Shamus and Sasha. I do not have much family nearby, and prior to joining Ohana’s Mom & Baby Group, I didn’t have any friends in the area with babies. Much of my family is the extended family that I have found for myself- both through Ohana and through various support groups online. I love the family that I was born into, as well as the Ohana that I have created for myself.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do with your son?

 My son Michael is at such a fun age right now. He is just learning to walk and is so curious about everything, so my favorite thing to do is spend time with him watching him toddle, explore, and laugh. He finds so much joy in the littlest things — making noise, splashing in a bucket of water, flipping the page of a book, or watching his dog siblings play!

Q: What is your vision for your role at Ohana?

In my role as the Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for Ohana, I aspire to reach new parents and parents-to-be in the Chicago area and open their eyes to all of the roles Ohana can play in their lives. In a city with so many “transplants”,  many people are left without their families nearby during such a critical time in their lives. They need to know that there are resources nearby for them to find and create their own “ohana” during their childbirth and parenthood experiences.

Q: What was the best part of having a doula at your own birth?

When I reflect on my birth story, I can’t imagine it without our doulas. I wanted so badly to have a natural hospital birth. With so many possibilities as to how it would go, it was easy to be overwhelmed by the idea of it. By having a doula team at the birth, I felt comfortable knowing that my husband and I would have the resources and support we needed to make any decisions that would need to be made. The insight that they provided to my partner and I before, during, and after the birth of my son allowed me to have the best possible birth experience that I could envision for myself.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

In my limited free time, I try to find activities that fulfill my need to create. I will sew, create a new healing blend with my essential oils, or write a new entry for my blog. During certain seasons of my life, I will sometimes also practice yoga, dance, tai chi, or the Feldenkrais method. I can also often be found fiddling on one of my many social media accounts.

Posted in Ohana News

New Research suggests we need to be talking about Postpartum Depression in Dads

About a year ago, Caroline and I were invited to meet with a number of researchers at Northwestern University focused on various aspects of mental health during pregnancy and early parenting. The researchers were interested in learning more about doulas and the other services Ohana provides, so we gave a presentation and then spoke with them about some of their research as well. One of the researchers, Dr. Sheehan Fisher, was conducting a study about postpartum depression in fathers, which has just been released.

The study sheds new light on postpartum depression in fathers, which is estimated to occur in about one in ten dads. “Typically, in our culture, fathers haven’t been considered as integral in a child’s care,” Fisher said in a article published in the Huffington Post. “Now that there’s been a transition for fathers being more involved, I think that we’re just starting to see that we need to focus on both of the parents.” – Jocelyn Ohana Founder & Doula

From the article:

Fisher said that the study is important because men are not as likely to seek treatment for mental health in general. Plus, the discussion around paternal postpartum depression is fairly new, so doctors often overlook new fathers. Fisher said he hopes that these findings can help break down the stigma for a condition that other postpartum depression researchers consider to be “underscreened, underdiagnosed and undertreated.”

Read the full article here

Posted in Especially for Dads, Research & Articles

Doulas in the NY Times

It’s always great to see discussion of doulas in mainstream media.  The NY Times published this article about the growing popularity of doulas and efforts to integrate us more fully into the health care system.

My only qualm with it is that I hope people don’t think doulas are only for couples in which the father doesn’t want to be involved in the birth process, like the father profiled.  A huge part of our role is helping fathers and partners be the best support possible for the mother.  With most couples, I work hand in hand with the father or partner.

One dad described us as the sideline coach for him; another as the skydiving instructor reminding him when to pull the parachute cord.

To the extent the couple wants the husband/partner to be the primary support person, often the biggest part of our job is to help them do just that.

– Jocelyn, Ohana Founder & Doula

Posted in Doulas
Client Reviews
"I have no doubt that Jocelyn Alt made my natural childbirth possible."
"I credit my successful VBAC [Vaginal Birth After Cesarean] at age 39 mostly to the support of Autumn and Jocelyn."
"Having Autumn there with me was an immeasurable gift. She was a deep well of quiet strength, experience, and knowledge."
"Having Jocelyn & Autumn on the team boosted our decision-making and confidence. Their knowledge & experience stands out."
"They were incredible at 'reading the room' and being able to tell how much or how little attention I was needing at the moment."
"Working with Jocelyn and Autumn was a pleasure. They were attentive, compassionate and engaged from the first time we reached out to them, to even now, weeks after the birth."
"Jocelyn has magic hands! My pain just seemed to melt away with her massages."
"It was so great to have been able to meet and work with two doulas."
"The thing I appreciated the most about having Jocelyn at my birth was her natural ability to put me at ease."
"I really can’t rave enough about how Jocelyn helped me help my wife."
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