Birth Stories, postpartum doula

Virtual support for expectant families

If you’re expecting a baby in the next few months, chances are you’re trying to navigate a birth experience like nothing you could have imagined. Maybe your in-person birth class was canceled, or your birth doula won’t be able to attend your birth in person. With the current global health crisis, policies and recommendations for expectant moms are changing day by day.

The good news is that local birth professionals are stepping up and finding new ways to support you during this challenging time so you are not alone! There are new online/virtual options for childbirth classes, lactation support, fitness, and labor/birth doula support.

I hope you will find this list of resources helpful as you prepare to give birth in the coming months. If you have any questions, or would like to talk more about what postpartum support could look like during this season, please get in touch.

Count the Kicks

If you’re not familiar with Count the Kicks, now is a great time to download their FREE kick counting app in the iTunes or Google Play app stores. Starting in the third trimester (28 weeks, or 26 weeks if you’re high-risk), this easy-to-use app helps you get to know your baby’s normal movement pattern so you can speak up and contact your healthcare provider if you notice a change.

This is especially important during a time when your provider may be making changes to your prenatal appointment schedule, and you may be wary of going to the office or hospital. Count the Kicks gives you the peace of mind to know what is normal for your baby, so you will know when to stay home and when to seek guidance from your care provider. A change in baby’s normal movement pattern can be an indication that you or your baby are in distress, and should be checked by a healthcare professional. Visit the Count the Kicks website to learn more.

Virtual Doula Support

Though hospital polices may prevent your labor/birth doula from attending your birth in person, there is still so much they can do to help support you before, during and immediately after birth. Central Iowa doulas are providing virtual prenatal visits, helping partners learn comfort measures and skills to serve as your in-person support, and are staying up-to-date on the latest research and information related to COVID-19 and its impact on birthing women, newborns, and hospital policies.

If everyone is healthy, your labor/birth doula can support you at home before you head to the hospital, and transition to virtual support for the remainder of your labor/delivery. Or, if you are open to it, a labor/birth doula can discuss your options for home birth and connect you to the resources available in your area.

It is more important than ever to go into your delivery knowing what to expect, how to ask questions and advocate for yourself, and to feel prepared and supported. Doulas play a key role in each of these areas.

If you’re considering a doula, please visit the Central Iowa Doula Association website for a list of member doulas or reach out if you would like a recommendation.

Childbirth Classes

Many childbirth educators have moved their classes online to help families prepare for their upcoming birth from the comfort and safety of their own home. Below you’ll find a couple of local childbirth options, as well as a couple of national ones.

Hypnobabies by Blessed Births of Iowa

Powerful Mamas Online Natural Childbirth Class

Evidence Based Birth: They are currently offering a free YouTube birth class, as well as moving their childbirth classes online. Additional resources, including their podcast, are also available.

Know Your Options Childbirth Course from The Birth Hour

Lactation Support

Basking Babies: Angela Swieter, a Central Iowa IBCLC, is currently offering virtual lactation support appointments, and also has several breastfeeding classes available online.

Prenatal/Postpartum Fitness

Empowered Pregnancy and Birth: This local birth doula and yoga instructor has an online prenatal yoga series starting April 19, as well as online Baby and Me yoga classes.

Heather Osby: Heather is a certified prenatal and postpartum fitness instructor in the Des Moines area. She has at-home fitness programs tailored to both pregnant and postpartum women, as well as several free workout resources available.

Birth Story Writing

Giving birth during this public health crisis will be a unique experience, and you are sure to have a memorable story to tell. I’d love to help preserve your story for the future. I am currently offering my personalized birth story writing service via Zoom calls. Once your story is written and approved, we’ll design your book and have it shipped directly to your house. You can view an example of the finished book design here.

Contact me to grab a spot on my writing calendar. I’m offering $50 off your personalized birth story if you book during the month of April.

postpartum doula

What’s the BEST time to plan postpartum support?

As a postpartum doula, expectant parents often ask me about the best time to decide on postpartum support. My answer is simple: Right now while you’re still pregnant!

I know there’s a LONG list of things to do when you’re getting ready to have a baby: prenatal appointments, childbirth classes, reading pregnancy and baby books, baby registries, baby showers, kick counting, nursery prep, maternity photos, installing car seats, interviewing pediatricians, and so much more! Anything that happens AFTER your baby arrives is quite literally the last thing on your to-do list. I’ve been there!

But here’s the thing: You never know how your birth experience is going to go or what the temperament of your baby will be. You could have a smooth and speedy delivery that’s pretty much textbook. Or you could have a long and tiring delivery that leaves you feeling exhausted from day one. You may have a baby with their days and nights mixed up who just isn’t that into sleeping!

Lots of partners don’t get much time off work and new parents don’t always have family nearby. If you do have family nearby, you may realized they aren’t as supportive as you’d like. Unfortunately, family support often falls more into the category of “visitor” than “helper,” and that can leave you feeling even more exhausted as you try to entertain a revolving door of well-meaning visitors while also trying to recover and take care of your new baby.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that an extra set of hands is only a call or text away once your baby arrives? Someone who is who is 100 percent focused on you and your needs and already has time set aside in their schedule to come over as soon as you’re ready? A reliable person who can worry about the everyday chores, errands, and tasks needed to keep your house running smoothly so you can rest, recover and get to know your new baby.

That’s exactly what a postpartum doula can do for you. Postpartum doulas prepare meals and snacks, do light housekeeping, take care of your baby while you rest and shower, help with laundry and dishes, entertain or care for older siblings or pets, and help you get comfortable with your skills as a new parent. We can also be the “bad guy” when well-meaning “visitors” overstay their welcome!

Postpartum doulas also provide emotional support. I’ll be there to listen if you’re having a rough day or you want to process your birth experience. I can help you figure out comfortable positions for breastfeeding or navigate your options for supplementing or bottle feeding.

We’re also an excellent resource to connect you with experts and evidence-based information related to breastfeeding, mental health, and any other topics that you might be navigating as new parents.

If you’d like to talk in more detail about how I may be able to support your family as you adjust to life with a new baby, the first step is to schedule a FREE consultation. We’ll meet in person to get to know each other, discuss your pregnancy and postpartum plans, and answer any questions you might have.

I love to help new parents get settled in, rest, recover, and get to know their new baby so everyone can have a sweeter beginning. Contact me today to reserve your spot on my calendar!

P.S. If you book a postpartum support package with me before the end of the year, I’ll throw in a FREE one-hour postpartum planning session. I’ll come to your home in the last month of your pregnancy to help you plan for your baby’s arrival.

arthur graham
Birth Stories

Welcome to the World: Arthur Graham

Kelly’s birth story, as told to Kimberly Isburg

Leading up to your due date I was feeling good. Pregnancy had been fairly good to me, even the second time around, and I loved being pregnant. I had more nausea early on with you, which made me think I was having a girl. But mostly I was just grateful that you were OK. We lost a baby in between you and your brother Easton, so throughout pregnancy, I was especially thankful that you were doing well. 

As my due date approached, the doctors had told me they would like me to be induced sometime the week of your due date, since I was over age 35 and because your brother had been so big (8.8 lbs!).  I didn’t want to be induced because I knew those labors could be long and extra painful. 

I went in for my regular appointment on Wednesday and everything looked good, but they wanted me to come in that night to start the induction process. I asked if I could come in the following morning instead and they agreed. 

Your Grandma Janet had come to help with Easton, and we all went out to eat Wednesday evening at The Hall. It was such a beautiful, warm summer day and I remember thinking that it was so strange to know I’d be having you the next day. 

Thursday morning we said goodbye to Easton and Grandma Janet and headed downtown to Methodist Hospital around 7:30 a.m.

My nurse’s name was Erin, which was also the name of my OBGYN (Erin Lehman) from Lake View OBGYN. Thankfully, she was the doctor on call that day, too. The nurse and I joked because my best friend’s name is also Erin, and my nurse had just found out she was pregnant.

We were on the fifth floor of Methodist facing south (in room 614, to match your birth date!), and as I labored I could see a big summer storm rolling in. The clouds were really dark and low, and I kept watching them as they approached. 

“The greater your storm, the brighter your rainbow.”

Contractions were just starting to get a bit uncomfortable when they came in to ask me about getting an epidural. I wasn’t sure about having one until the moment I decided. My doctor said something about having one with all of her kids and that they turned out fine, so I decided to go ahead. 

About the time the epidural started to kick in, your dad was on the phone with Uncle Gregory talking about work stuff.  He hadn’t had breakfast and was starting to get hungry. We talked with the nurse and she thought we had some time, so your dad headed off to Gateway Market to get some breakfast. Around 11:30 a.m. I decided to roll on my side and put a birth ball between my legs. 

Shortly before your dad got back, I was starting to feel more pressure. When your dad came back he was on the phone again. At that point, I was starting to feel like I needed to push, so I snapped at him to get off the phone and go get the nurse. Nurse Erin came back in and took a look and told me I was ready to start pushing. 

Once everyone was settled, I started pushing. I remember your dad was standing up by my head where he couldn’t see anything. He’s always white as a ghost in these situations and trying not to throw up because hospitals make him so nervous. 

I only had three rounds of contractions where I was pushing. I was accustomed to pushing so hard because of your brother, and Dr. Lehman actually told me to back off a bit. 

And just like that, you arrived into the world at 12:53 p.m., a sweet rainbow born in the middle of a summer storm. You were ready to come out, and I was thankful for a fairly smooth and quick delivery. 

I remember thinking that you looked a lot like your big brother, but that your features were just a bit smaller. I looked at you and instantly fell in love. Your dad, of course, was crying, as he always does in these moments. I remember him saying “He’s just so cute. Precious,” and telling me I did great. “You were perfect,” he said. 

I was able to hold you skin to skin right after you were born and felt more in control of the entire process, so I could hold you as long I wanted to. I knew I could make the decisions and there was no rush, which was a lovely feeling. 

Your big brother and Grandma Janet came later that day to visit. Easton was probably more excited about being in the hospital and sitting in the window seat than about meeting you. He was old enough to understand that you were coming, but not old enough to understand how his life was going to change. 

Your birth was a lot calmer and serene than that of your big brother. I was so happy you had arrived and that everything worked out the way it was supposed to. 

Welcome to the world, my sweet Arthur Graham. We’re so glad you’re here. 

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Birth Date: June 14, 2018
Weight: 7 pounds, 6 ounces
Length: 20.5 inches


I’d love to help you preserve and document your birth story for the future, whether your baby is now a Kindergartener or you’re still waiting for your baby to make his or her grand entrance. 

Read more about my Birth Story Writing Service.
Contact me to reserve a spot on my writing calendar. 
birth story
Birth Stories

Birth: Let’s celebrate our stories

If you’ve had a baby before, you probably know labor and delivery don’t always go according to plan. If you’re still waiting for your first baby to arrive, it might be hard to know what to expect when it comes to your birth experience.

The process of birth is as unique as the babies themselves. Every birth is a little different. Some are long, some are short. Some are a natural progression and others follow a squiggly line that eventually leads to a baby arriving in the world.

No matter how your baby is born or what kind of birth you are planning, every birth story deserves to be celebrated. You deserve a moment to shine, a moment to share your story, and to acknowledge the love, hard work, determination, and commitment you showed in bringing a new life into the world, whether you had a natural vaginal birth with no meds and interventions or long labor and an unplanned cesarean delivery (or something in between).

In the article “Honoring the New Mother- Telling Our Stories, Tending Our Souls” the author,  Marcy Axness, Ph.D., says that as recently as World War II, ancient warriors returned from battle sharing their stories of horror and heroics with their fellow warriors and eventually with their communities. 

Birthing women also did this in the past through storytelling, dancing, music, poetry, and chanting. According to Dr. Axness, by recounting her personal story a woman can integrate the intensity of her birth experience into everyday life and into her own consciousness. 

Unfortunately, we have largely abandoned these postpartum rituals in our culture and the window of time for sharing our stories with others is very short. Visitors come asking to snuggle and hold the new baby, preferring to ask how the baby is sleeping than to hear about how the little one arrived into the world. Today the most common messages about birth are exaggerated punch lines in movies and sitcoms. 

Hearing other women’s birth stories (and sharing my own) has become one of my favorite rituals since I first became a mom. I didn’t know what a crazy, amazing experience it was to birth a baby until I had been through it the first time. Every time I hear a birth story, I find myself amazed that any of us even think about doing it more than once. 

My own birth experiences were as different as my boys are. But the common thread with both were my feelings of pride and accomplishment. I wanted to shout my birth stories from the rooftops for all to hear. But outside of a few close friends and family, I found that most people didn’t really care to hear about my birth experiences. So after a couple of weeks, I put these stories on a shelf and filed them away to share again at the right place and the right time. 

I decided to offer a birth story writing service because I hope to give new moms the time and space to share their story, process their birth experience, celebrate their accomplishment, and preserve their memories for the future. To be able to put a beautiful book of memories on their shelf to pull out and share or celebrate whenever they choose.

And by sharing these beautiful birth stories on my blog, I hope to bring these experiences into the community, so the next generation of women can begin to understand how they’ll experience the complex process pregnancy, labor pain, birth, and motherhood.

I’d love to help you preserve and document your birth story for the future, whether your baby is now a Kindergartener or you’re still waiting for your baby to make his or her grand entrance. Contact me today to reserve a spot on my writing calendar. 

Uncategorized

The Journey Begins: Let’s Doula This

It’s World Doula Week (March 22-28), which seems like the perfect time to begin my journey on this blog and share why I decided to become a postpartum doula.

postpartum doula journeyWhen my first baby was born in 2014, I was so focused on pregnancy, labor, and delivery that I didn’t think much about what life would be like after my sweet baby boy arrived. I had read up on newborn care and breastfeeding, and my husband and I had taken a lengthy childbirth class, so I felt mostly well-informed and prepared.

At the time, postpartum doulas weren’t common in the Des Moines area, so it never occurred to me that there might be someone out there (besides family) to provide support for me in my journey as a brand new mom.

After laboring for two nights and staying for Two more less-than restful nights at the hospital, the three of us came home running on fumes. On our first night at home, I vividly remember wandering around our house, tiny baby in my arms, wondering how anyone had allowed us to bring this little guy home and care for him on our own.

Despite a strong support network and a labor/delivery/postpartum that fit the definition of “normal,” I still remember this phase of life being So. Stinkin. Hard. The reality of having a body that felt completely and totally foreign to me, and not feeling 100 percent confident, in love, or happy with my new identity as a mom was so much harder than I imagined.

I was lucky to have a strong milk supply and a baby with a decent latch, but I still worried constantly about breastfeeding. Oh, and my baby didn’t sleep that great, either.

After a couple of weeks at home together, my husband returned to work. I foolishly thought I could do it all, handling all of the overnight feedings and diaper changes for a couple of weeks before reaching burnout. Around 4-6 weeks postpartum I was so sleep deprived I could barely function or regulate my emotions. I counted down the minutes until my husband came home from work so I could have a break.

There was, literally and figuratively, no one to fill my cup. I didn’t know how to ask those around me for what I really needed. So instead, they held the baby while I filled my water jug, or made myself lunch, or washed bottles, laundry, or dishes. I chatted with and entertained visitors instead of asking for a moment to myself to shower or nap.

Somehow we survived, and the three of us gradually settled into a better routine. Eventually, we got more sleep and worried less. My body healed, and I began to know and love the little guy who made me a mom.

But my experience as a first-time mom cemented my desire to help and support other new moms. I made it a point to deliver meals and snacks. To make gift baskets with my favorite new mom products. To bring mom’s favorite coffee. To share resources and links. And, most importantly, to provide emotional support and understanding. To be there to just listen.

After thinking seriously about postpartum doula work for a year, I completed my training through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association in August of 2018. I have been working towards my certification since then.

I am a helper and an advocate by nature, and I truly feel this is the work I was meant to doula (pun intended)!

If you would like to learn more about how a postpartum doula can support you and your family as you bring home a new baby, please contact me to set up your FREE consultation.

postpartum doula journey

“You can’t drink from an empty cup. Fill yourself up, you’re worth it.” – Unknown