Make a Green Baby Shower Gift Basket for about $100

Okay okay okay, I have to admit it -- I’m the baby shower buzz kill. I’m just frankly no fun when it comes to baby gifts. I have my reasons though, so hear me out.

I’ve been working in childcare for almost 15 years, 10 of which as a birth and postpartum doula and parent educator. I am by nature a fairly minimalist person. Blame it on my Swedish grandmother. The amount of baby stuff has tripled in the past few years, and I have to tell you all, IT’S MOSTLY CRAP. Worthless, plastic, expensive, crap. Sometimes dangerous, worthless, expensive, plastic, crap.

Our planet is on a fast track toward demise. Sorry to be gloomy here, but we all know it. The fires raging here in California, the hurricanes hitting our families and friends back East, conflicts in resource-rich parts of the world. We are literally on fire. Luckily, we can do something about it.

environmental baby

One of the big ways we can make change is in choices in parenting. Starting a new family is an awesome opportunity to make healthful and environmentally conscious changes that will spread through the lifetime of this new person. If you have someone in your life who is starting or expanding their family and want to give your warmth and love for them through gifts, you can help by making smart and “green” choices in your gift giving. We can all chip in bit by bit without having to go crazy on bespoke items or GOOP approved nonsense.

Here is a quick list of environmentally considerate items you can gather for a very sweet baby shower basket for about $100 dollars (please please please try and buy these in store and even second hand versus online if you can for double the green points!) :

Basket #1

Glass baby bottles $12 each or $36 for 4

Silicone breast milk freezer storage $10 for one

Herbal Sitz Baths $14 for a pack of 2

Organic cotton baby swaddles $40 for a set of 3

Basket #2

Full glass bottle set $60

Milky Mama lactation cookies $16 with shipping

Mrs. Patel’s Lactation Chai $16 with shipping

Basket #3

Glass baby bottles $18 for one 8oz bottle

Organic Cotton Moby Wrap $60

Organic herbal perineum balm $13

Basket #4

Glass baby bottle set of 4 $36

Washable wipes ~ $10 for a set of 12 (I recommend buying at least 2 packs of 12)

Scarlet Sage Lactation tea $16

Organic cotton burp cloths $16

Yep, all of them have glass bottles on the list. Plastic bottles are horrible for the environment, horrible for our health, and deprive infants of some of the essential fats and nutrients in exchange for pumping chemicals directly into their bodies (also this). Switching away from plastic toward glass and silicone (without plastic filler) or even better — stainless steel, is one of the biggest steps we can take in lessening the footprint and improving the health of our little ones. Glass bottles are easy to clean, last a lifetime, and can be placed directly on pumping equipment, too!  

More tips on “Green Gifting” and “Green Shopping” for new parents :

First off, you could not purchase anything. Take the money that would be spent on some useless gadget or yet another onesie and stock your cabinet with healthy postpartum snacks or hire a doula or put it toward your home birth kit. Ask your friends and family to chip in to a fund for these items that are proven to be helpful in birth and postpartum instead of wasting their money on Amazon purchases you don’t need. ( kill, but TRUST ME, this is so helpful.)

Secondly, you can purchase things second hand. There are loads of great local shops that specialize in maternity and infant items that are gently used, or even not used at all and consigned to them. Babies grow fast, someone’s great Aunt Marg insisted on buying them double of something, and lots of times families find that certain things just don’t work for them. That’s where these shops thrive. You can go in and take a peak at various items to pick up for yourselves or for a loved one expecting another little being. The price tag will be greatly changed, you’re supporting local businesses (many of them women-owned), you’re making less of a dent in your baby’s footprint, and you get to actually test drive some things before purchase.

Lastly, as much as it seems like a Herculean feat to leave your house in the first few weeks postpartum, I want to caution you to resist the lure of same-day shipping shopping sprees. (Buzzkill again...I’m not sorry about it.) This is multi-fold, friends. You will be less likely to bunch things into your cart you don’t need, fall privy to advertising of plastic garbage you didn’t know you didn’t even need that was irresistible during an infant tantrum at 3am, short shipping times are an absolute nightmare for the environment, and it’s more money and time spent away from getting hands-on supportive help and more money to the corporations making the biggest disasters in our environment. Your bestie really wants to help you in the first few weeks, so send them out to Natural Resources for those silicone breastmilk storage containers! Your dad doesn’t want to see your boobs, but wants to be helpful, you say? Great, send him over to Scarlet Sage for your herbal sitz bath then to Berkeley Bowl for some broth and mac & cheese.

Again, after more than a decade of observing families in the postpartum period, I can tell you that NO gadget or pile of clothing can replace putting your money and the time and effort of your loved ones like investments in lactations support, grocery store gift certificates, acupuncture appointments, postpartum massages, herbal support from a midwife, and postpartum doula care. Plus, all these things are much much more gentle on the environment.

Want to put together an environmentally friendly baby shower registry but don’t know where to begin, let Friday aka the Sustainability Concierge, do it for you! Or give me a call on all things postpartum and we can chat about it. I do phone consults starting at $45 an hour, or full packages for $380-450. These investments can save you a ton of time, money, increase confidence, and lower your carbon footprint all in one go! Let’s get to it.

WE ARE ON FIRE -- What to do about it

These fires raging through CA have my mind drifting harder than ever into how to reduce waste.

As someone who meets with 10+ new people a week in interviews, consultations, doula prep sessions, postpartum visits, meetings with colleagues, networking events, etc., I realize I’m in a special position to make suggestions that might make a difference. Even if every person I meet with doesn’t make some sustainable switches, or if they don’t go full in on making a change, I am not an all-or-nothing person. When you look at the real numbers, having even just a few folks at a time convert aspects of their life to more environmentally friendly options can make a difference over a lifetime. Those people, too, now can help others make meaningful changes by showing how it can be done. That kind of organic ripple effect really excites me and encourages me to keep going.

Here is my list of a few simple, but impactful ways we can make greener choices in our lives.

1. Reusable menstrual products

One of the biggest ways we can start to effect change is by moving away from disposable period products. The average person who bleeds will go through nearly 300 pounds of period products in their lifetime. That’s not even including the amount of resources and energy used to make these products and properly dispose of them.

There are loads of good options here :

  • Soft menstrual cups

  • Flannel pads

  • Period Undies

  • Sea Sponge

Many of the companies that make these items are also woman owned, progressive, local, environmentally conscious, world conscious organizations, too, which can’t be said about most of the larger companies that make most menstrual products.

If nothing else, switching to organic cotton menstrual items is better for the environment and your health.

2. Ditch the wet wipes

The wipe industry has expanded beyond baby wipes into everyday / every flush items for adults. It’s boomed in the past five years into a $2.1 billion dollar industry. Many of them are made by companies with horrific environmental records, making up some of the worst pollutant offenders around.

Though many wet wipes are now made out of wood pulp instead of plastic, that’s not a universal practice. And that’s mostly for wipes labeled “flushable” and marketed to adults, not babies. In addition to the wipes going down the poop pipe, baby wipes and disposable diapers generate 7.6 billion pounds of trash annually, making them the 3rd largest consumer product in landfills and 30% of all non-biodegradable waste.

You can make your own wet wipes super

easily following this guide from the Wild Minimalist.

If you really need to get a cleaner booty, you might want to look into some of the more accessible bidets available now. These little gadgets often pop right on to your toilet and don’t need elaborate pipes and setups like traditional bidets. You could even consider using these to move away from toilet tissue and wipes altogether!

3. Adios, paper cups

This might seem like a no-brainer at this point, but we still have a massive problem with to-go waste. According to Carry Your Cup, American’s are the leading consumers of coffee globally and toss out 25 billion non-recyclable styrofoam coffee cups per year and 5000 paper cups PER DAY! According to one study of Portland alone, roughly 50 million paper cups are used in just that one metro area alone per year.

I had a pal who would bring her own glass or steel containers to restaurants if she wanted to take things to go. This might not be where we all are quite yet (wouldn’t it be cool if we all thought this far in advance and were this environmentally thoughtful?), but we seem to mostly be jumping on the reusable cup wagon, so let’s keep going!

If you stop into a local coffee shop and aren’t taking your cuppa out in the world, make sure you ask for a mug. It’s amazing to me how many places still put everything in a paper cup, even if you are staying in. If you are heading out with you java, make sure you pack your reusable cup with you when you head out the door. Ideally, you’re not using plastic containers, especially not for hot drinks (Who wants to put all that plastic directly into their mouths?). Stainless steel coffee cups are ubiquitous at this point and it’s worth having a few of them for your hot and cold drinks to go. Best to make sure you’re ditching the plastic caps in favor of full stainless steel, too — they last longer, are better for the environment, can withstand high heat cleaning, and won’t seep horrible chemicals into your body when the hot liquid passes through them. Ew.

4. Stop Amazoning everything

Sorry friends, but stop. Or, at least cool it so we can cool the planet down a bit.

This is a multi-layered issue worth looking into :

  • Transportation took over from power plants in leading the way in pollutants

  • Much of the items on Amazon are made and shipped from China, where production pollution is the highest

  • Much of what you are buying online is made of thin, poor quality plastic, which leeches toxins easily and has a short life overall

  • Diverting money away from major corporations that cause much more damage than any individual is the most crucial step in slowing global climate change. When you shop on Amazon, you are moving money away from local shops, even local box stores, which provide more hours and benefits to its employees (minus WalMart, which is a major offender on both fronts)

  • Amazon is a major contributor to rising package waste with one-item-at-a-time shipping

  • The design of online marketplaces is geared towards buying more in general, generating more shipping and more waste

I find this issue to be especially important to communicate to the new parents I work with. It’s incredible how much they purchase when they’re sitting on their phones with new babies in their arms. Especially for exhausted and stressed families, they are so vulnerable to purchases that promise to help ease them through a rough patch, but many of the gadgets and gizmos of infancy targeting new parents range from senseless to unsafe, so it’s best for your wallet and the environment to not get sucked in.

I know I’m being a total buzz-kill on this issue and that few, if anyone will listen, but as Amazon becomes the place where more and more we are buying everything from birthday gifts to our weekly groceries, it’s worth looking into how big of an impact all this shipping and packaging and one-click plastic consumption is having as we are LITERALLY ON FIRE all across California

5. Eat less meat AND less soy and almonds

milk almonds soy environment

I’m likely not going to say much that’s new here about the environmental impact of meat production and consumption so I’m not going to even bother. It’s a huge issue and we need to all be more aware.

I do want to note that the meat alternatives also have a huge impact on the environment that we need to also pay attention to. Almond production is huge here in CA and is a massive consumer of water and other resources. Switching from meat to very processed alternatives like almonds and soy (much of which is grown commercially without good environmental considerations) is not necessarily the best option.

I also feel the need to note the hormonal issues around eating a lot of commercially produced meats and soy products. It’s an issue in water sources, as well, with agricultural waste runoff dumping loads of xenoestrogens and other harmful chemicals causing infertility and early periods directly into our waterways. An overload of soy can also alter hormone levels.

One option is to remove meat from a few meals a week to whole plant meals. That means not replacing the meat dish with a processed alternative, but simply a meal with all proteins made from the whole plant.  This will cut down on processing resource usage AND packaging, hitting the environmental issue from many angles.

If you are continuing to eat meat, more local, organic, and grass-fed is the best way to go here, for sure.

I know what a stick in the mud this post can be, but it is important for us to start making some serious changes in our daily lives. The impacts of our waste are not long in the future, they are right here at our front doors.

I am happy to bring an environmental focus to any consultations I am apart of, and would like to recommend my friend and collaborator, Friday Apaliski aka The Sustainability Concierge, who will come and do an environmental walk-through of your home and help make some big time changes that could save you money and help reduce your carbon footprint.

You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and go live in a tiny home in the woods to make a difference! Small steps, done in community, will help make lasting change.  

Here are some shops to check out instead of Amazon:

Package Free Shop

Preserved here in Oakland

@moonundies for handmade period underwear made in San Francisco

tonlé a low-waste, handmade shop in San Francisco

Luna Pads

Wild Minimalist

Why do doulas cost so much?

Money is always a tricky subject, especially when working within a profession in the "healing arts." For many birth workers, this profession is seen as a "calling" as much as it is a job. Add to that the fact of these caretaker roles being traditionally held by women, being seen as "fringe" or outdated, and still sometimes viewed as a luxury item despite mounting evidence otherwise, and with no set national standardization for the profession a leaving a host of intricate and competing economic influences driving the fees for these services in every direction.

When I first started out as a doula, I was living in a community where bartering was the norm. In many ways, I really enjoyed that concept. There was always communal food, carpooling, couchsurfing, skill sharing, etc., and I learned a lot in my nine months there. On the other hand, I was making about $500 a month for a job I was way over qualified for and could barely pay my bills.

I was twenty-two, fairly fresh out of college and trying, desperately, to grow my doula business. I spent hours upon hours learning how the internet worked (funny, as I almost failed my web building class in college), calling every doula and “alternative” practitioner in town, forming study groups, forming community groups, volunteering at childbirth ed classes, and scrounging for clients, all with zero pay.

I was burnt out and exhausted before I even went to my first birth.

That first birth was wonderful. A home water birth with two midwives and my doula mentor. I did it on a trade and was happy to do so. I’m grateful for that experience and didn’t sweat not being paid.

After that first birth, I attended my next four births on a volunteer basis, too. What’s more, I had to travel 40 minutes to the hospital to attend them. Because it was through a volunteer program, I also had to drive up to the hospital numerous times for orientations and shots and the like, and often went in on night shifts only to leave after 12 hours without having attended a single birth.

Now, I’m not trying to complain or sound ungrateful, I got a lot out of each and every birth. Instead, what I’m trying to highlight is that this is not uncommon for a new doula. Not only do we have to invest several hundred, sometimes thousands of dollars to even start training to be a doula, but we are expected to attend several births for free. In my case, It was almost a year after my training till I got paid for my first birth. I was given only $350 for hours of travel, three prenatal visits, one month on-call, supporting the labor first at home then at the hospital, and two postpartum visits.

I moved out of that community after less than a year because I could not hack it on that rate. I traveled (by bike) south to San Francisco with the woman who was becoming my doula business partner, Jasmiene. We figured that if we could split the cost of owning a small business (and doulas are small business owners), and the time trying to acquire new clients, that we’d have a better chance of turning a profit and not getting burnt out.

The price tag for doulas in Olympia, WA was $300-450. In San Francisco and the surrounding area at the time I moved here and wrote this (around 2010) it was $800-1,500. Even with the increase in the cost of living, the rate at which doulas were being hired, how organized they were as a group, and how many opportunities there were to continue our education for a smaller fee made this move seem like a wise decision. We tenuously increased our rates to $800, but after just two births, we realized we were grossly underselling ourselves…plus we could barely pay rent on one birth a month. Eventually, we were up to $1,000 per birth and $25/hr postpartum ($30/hr for all night care). 

Now, $1,000 for a doula might seem totally ludicrous to some (and currently, it’s on the low end of the fee spectrum for doulas in the Bay Area), but I want to break it down into what the doula is putting into her services and what you are getting out of it:

Doulas are business owners:

  • In most cases, doulas are interviewing for new clients constantly. That means they are driving to you, either to your home or to a cafe, and spending money (on drinks and food and gas) and time to get about 1 out of 3-4 interviews ending in a hire. At one point in my career, Jasmiene and I were going to 2 or more interviews every week and shared no more than 6 clients in our practice at any time. More commonly, we had half that.

  • Advertising alone is an incredible financial burden and it’s often hit or miss. Printing business cards, pamphlets, flyers, advertising online, in newspapers, and keeping up a personal website really adds up. In the Bay Area, we were spending about 15% of each fee for these costs alone. If we took a hit one month or couldn’t take on more clients for some reason, those costs still existed. IT IS A BUSINESS.

  • Printing other materials is just as expensive. We always came to our prenatal visits with a wealth of information as well as necessary documents to fill out so we could be the best support persons possible. Contracts, hand outs, birth plans, favorite articles, readings specific to each pregnancy, etc. We weren’t employees of an office with a big, efficient printer, either. Every other month, we would go to the office supply store and buy several hundred dollars worth of printing materials ourselves. We also regularly had to go to a print shop to get things done more professionally and that cost really added up, despite having to do that maybe once every three months.

  • Despite having the same needs as many other small business owners and freelancers, since doulas are still considered to be working in a "fringe" field, it is rare that we would qualify for small business loans, adjustment programs, grants or scholarships for continuing education, tax credits, and other perks offered to small businesses in this country.

Doulas require continuing education:

  • Most parents are concerned about our credentials. Not only is it expensive to get and keep up with our certifications, most families are looking for women who are constantly continuing their birth education. These classes aren’t cheap. There are workshops starting at around $35 for a one-day session and they go up to $5,000 for courses offering a specific credential. This can often cause a catch-22 situation where it’s not always the “best” doulas (or the “best” doula FOR YOU) who is able to advance herself and her business, but rather the ones that can afford it and will thus generate more business and be able to get more clients.

  • Doulas often gather in collectives to help learn from one another and support one another. This takes up an extraordinary amount of time. Like it or not, time is money. We’re not paid hourly for the work we do outside of our interactions with clients and we’re not on a salary. Same for the amount of time we spend reading research articles, books, blogs, and discussing / debating this information with one another. If our collectives don't put money aside for subscriptions to various journals (and most can't afford to do it), those become out of pocket expenses, too.

What are you getting out off all those behind-the-scenes expenses anyway:

  • Doulas make themselves available for you. They cater their business to your birth. They are often the only ones there specifically for you and not for some outside agenda of profit, public health number, political pressures, hubris, etc.

  • Unless you are planning to work with a home birth midwife (and even then it’s not 100%), you will not get to choose the people who surround you in birth. How often have you heard of a friend telling you that she, of course, had the one doctor in the practice she’s never met before for her birth? You won’t meet the nurses before you deliver. You may be in labor during shift changes and wind up with eight different nurses and doctors before it’s time for baby to make her debut. The one constant you can have is a doula. Unless the birth goes on exceedingly long or the doula has to send in a backup for another dire reason, you will have that doula for the entirety of your labor. It makes an enormous difference in women’s views of their births to have a steady champion devoted to them and them alone during labor. We might be the only constant for you once baby is home, too.

  • Too few women understand how alone they will be in labor. Especially if you are in the hospital, you will only see your care providers for brief spurts of time to do this or that check in, routine intervention, etc., and then for the last few minutes of pushing. This can be daunting for women, and sometimes even more stressful for their partners, who will be made to be their only support persons in labor. I have come to labors when I felt it was too early because the woman and/or her partner really felt they needed me there. Sometimes, that’s meant having me sleep on the couch and occasionally popping up to tell them to relax and go back to sleep, that we’ve got a long way to go, and so on...but it often means giving up more than 24 hours of my life to make sure my clients are feeling safe and supported. Goodbye plans for grocery shopping. Goodbye friend’s birthday party. For doulas with children it can mean missing ballet recitals and art shows and more, but so it goes. We're hunkering down for the night because that’s our job as your doula, to be there for you and your partner when no one else can.

  • All that education and community building is what makes us your birth gurus in pregnancy and labor. Attendance at childbirth education classes is steadily declining, unfortunately. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had prenatal visits run over 5 hours because parents felt totally unprepared. I don’t charge more for when these visits bleed out from 2.5 hours to 5 hours, either, just like we’re not paid more if a birth goes for 52 hours instead of 18. In so many cases, the sad truth is that your doula is the only person telling you some of this critical information. We will be the only people who will explain informed refusal, newborn procedures, and if that particular doctor is all too quick with a scapel. You are paying for the wisdom we are constantly trying to expand upon.

  • We are on call for you 24/7 for an entire month around your guess date. Being on call sucks. Ask any doula, midwife, or doctor and they’ll tell you the same thing: It’s the hardest part of the job. 99% of the time, it isn’t possible to be a doula and have a second job. With our $1,000+ price tag, after removing business costs and the rate for just the birth ($400 we figured), we were making a little less than $10 each on call day for each client. Now, you can’t take on too many clients with an on call schedule, either, so it was rare we’d have much overlap in pay during those on call weeks. How often do you live on $10 a day? Currently, that’s less than three gallons of gas, which is about how much I use for each prenatal and postpartum visit or interview. I bike as often as possible to avoid that, but it’s not always possible and relying on a bike for transportation has made clients of mine uncomfortable in the past. Doulas in most communities typically need to have cars to be on call, which is another huge cost.

  • We are there for you when baby comes home, too. We offer the same sort of tailored to you, one on one, in home care for birth person, baby, and family after the birth. That idea of seamless support we give in labor works the same magic during the postpartum period. You know us. You trust us. We were with you for one of the most monumental experiences in your life. That helps when it comes down to figuring out the myriad of details of being a new parent. We may be the only ones that notice marked changes in your mood and can stave off worsening postpartum mood disorders. We may be the only ones supporting your choices for feeding, sleeping, pacifiering, diapering, etc. Our community resources extend into the postpartum support community as well. We are often experts on breastfeeding and infant massage. We do your laundry. We hold your baby so you can shower or go for a walk. We talk you out of late night deep dives down the black holes of mommy blogs and their false alarms.

  • Studies show that this support reduces the need for all sorts of interventions, which in the end not only makes the experience more enjoyable and empowering for most laboring folks, but actually saves you money. Insurance doesn’t fully cover each and every intervention, so it can add up. Not to mention the rates of re-hospitalizations decrease with doula support. The average cost of a week in the NICU is $40,000. Makes $2,000 for the whole package seem like a bargain, no?

The sad truth is that our obstetrical care system does not fully support pregnant people and their families. We have recently dipped from 50th place in the world for maternal mortalities to 60th. Making the investment of hiring a doula does not form a magical protective shield around you in birth, but the studies point to numerous benefits to having this continuous support in pregnancy and early parenting. It is worth the investment in time and money to consider hiring a doula that suits your needs.

Here are some ways you can afford to hire a doula:

  1. Ask for part of the fee covered through baby shower gifts. Truthfully, you DO NOT NEED THAT MUCH BABY STUFF! If someone was going to spend $50 on baby clothes, that could easily go toward your doula fund instead.

  2. Ask your doula if they accept payment plans or work on a sliding scale but please keep in mind everything that she is putting in in order to be a great advocate for you and your baby.

  3. See if there are programs at your hospital, birth center, midwife practice, or community center that can help either connect you to a doula who works on a reduced budget, or one who’s fees are covered by a program or foundation. There are programs for young parents, homeless folks, recent immigrants, veterans, those without insurance, those with lower insurance coverage, high risk parents, and more in many communities, but it takes a bit of effort to find sometimes. Some church programs might have connections to these centering and doula groups, too.

  4. Consider hiring a newer doula. The studies show that working with any person who is there just for you, providing continuous support and encouragement in labor increases safety and satisfaction in the birth process. There are many benefits to working with a doula who has been practicing for a long time, but if they are out of your price range, you could potentially still get a lot out of hiring a recently trained doula for a fraction of the fee.

  5. Call your insurance agency and see if they will cover your doula costs. This may take calling and asking for several people at different times. It’s all about finding the person with the magic code, asking for specific details for what information you need to have laid out on your claim, and following through. Some doulas are well versed in how to write up their invoices to maximize coverage. If you have Medicaid in some states/cities, there is now growing insurance coverage, so it’s worth asking.

  6. Some midwives and birth centers offer discounts for working with doulas. Every so often, a doula will match that discount (I do!). That can save you upwards of $1000.

  7. Start putting aside money early in pregnancy for support like doulas, lactation consultants, acupuncturists, postpartum care, etc. Resist the urge to spend that money on needless things from Amazon Prime and think about the investment you are making into a smoother transition into new parenting.

I hope you found this rundown helpful in explaining the costs and benefits of working with a doula. If you want more advice around this decision, check out my site :

"Big BABY"

This is me as a 9lb 12oz newborn, just two days old and just home from the hospital where my tiny mama pushed me out unmedicated in 12 hours.


Recent conversations with some past and current clients about “big babies” got me worked up a little. The fever pitch of the obsession over fetal and infant weight is alive and well, friends. One of my current clients, despite not having any hospital-based care and seeing midwives who are so chill and supportive and not sounding any alarms about her baby’s size is still stressing HARD about having a big baby. It’s making her think about how each day she’s still pregnant = more oz. In talking this over with her, and talking her out of feeling kinda embarrassed about it, I mentioned how even though she hasn’t gotten any negative messaging about the fear around having a “big baby” from her care providers, it’s so prevalent in our culture it’s nearly impossible to avoid. Likely she’s had more than one friend and family member have a cesarean birth because of having a “big baby.”

People gasp and guffaw at trading newborn weights, but unless there is a pregnancy pathology that might make baby grow disproportionately, there’s an incredibly low change of growing a baby that your body can’t push out vaginally. In cases where that happens, there is often fetal overlap of the baby’s head over the pregnant person’s pubic bone, which can be felt easily in palpations during regular prenatal exams in the third trimester. But that only happens when care providers offer palpation, which most hospital-based providers do not. Pregnant folks who have had major injuries to the pelvic bones because of an accident or the like can sometimes have obstructed pelvic brims that could potentially make it hard to vaginally birth any size baby, which might only be discovered in labor. Same goes for those who were severely malnourished before puberty and have had bouts of rickets, which can alter the shape of the pelvis. Those things are admittedly rare.

Otherwise, when care providers tell a laboring person that there pelvis is “too small” or their baby “too big,” it’s often a matter of faulty ultrasound readings (they can be 1-2lbs off on average), a lack of patience, a mal-positioned baby in labor (for any number of reasons) and perhaps to a degree a lack of willingness of staff to support a laboring person to attempt to position baby into a better spot in the pelvis naturally, or just used as an afterthought to justify an unnecessary surgery. There are certain hospitals and certain providers who tell nearly all of their clients this after they have performed cesareans. I hear this kind of talk in the hallways of every hospital I’ve ever worked in.

When I volunteered at a hospital in Tacoma that touted itself as the “most natural in the Seattle-Tacoma area,” there were nights where I sat around not doing anything because one particular doctor told every patient their baby was too big, induced them, and scheduled all of their cesareans before 10pm and would sleep in the on call room most of the night. I like to remind my client that those stories of practicing such unsafe and non-evidence based medicine with such blatant abandon are rare. Instead, most likely the ways they pressure you into a medical birth for suspected big baby are much more subtle and span the entirety of the prenatal care. There are some care providers who just do not feel entirely comfortable having labor start and progress on it’s own and are very likely to use unsubstantiated information on fetal size, maternal age, and so forth to coerce parents into letting them manage pregnancy and birth more medically. It may be that if you went into labor spontaneously, even after 40 weeks, your baby would have been in a better position in the pelvis and “fit” just fine. Or that if you were at the hospital down the street with a different provider and different policies, your baby would not be seen as having been “big".” Or if you were being attended by a midwife and giving birth in a birth center or having a homebirth, no mention of “big baby” would have graced your ears and you’d push out a baby weighing over 8lbs in any given amount of time.

If left to your own wiles, you will grow the baby to the size you need in order to give birth the way that makes most physiological sense. Some babies weight more because they are quite long and born to tall parents. Some babes are short and chunky, but have totally typical sized heads that can move through a pelvis with ease. Some babes have larger heads, but are born to a parent with a roomy pelvis. Some tall people have small and skinny babies. Some small people have small and skinny babies. There is some thought around small people making fatter babies to withstand colder climates and food scarcity, as can be common with folks with ancestral ties to more northern or mountainous regions.

Most babies born outside of the hospital system here in the U.S. are born at around 8lbs. The reason the average nationally is lower is because of the number of preterm babies born here, both spontaneously and through our 44% induction rate. When I look for protocol papers on suspected “big baby” from other countries, I don’t find “suspected large fetal weight” or any such thing to be a determining factor in the decision to induce or for elective cesarean in any. Considering the fact that we are the only nation with a rising maternal morbidity and mortality rate in the world, it seems reasonable to question these practices around fetal size and other opinion-based reasons for induction and surgery.

Birth should not be treated as a set of medical procedures, but as a physiological act, an important family and cultural event, and a unique time between mother and child.

— “Strategic measures to reduce the caesarean section rate in Brazil",”

The Lancet, October 2018

Currently, there are two studies going around stating that there is “no evidence supporting letting pregnancy go beyond 39 weeks” for fetal safety and again stresses the fear care providers have around suspected large babies. However, the papers also state that there may be a number of reasons why expectant parents would choose to keep babies in till spontaneous labor, which is also very safe and in some ways safer, and can help babes increase fat stores, which help with early thermoregulation and other indicators of “thriving,” which is more important than the number on the scale. The papers note that there was a slight decrease in cesarean births amongst those induced at 39 weeks versus those who went into spontaneous labor at term. However, these studies have a somewhat small sample size of pregnant women who don’t fit the demographic of much of my clientele, or even the national average. For more information and a major breakdown of this study, check out Henci Goer’s article on Science and Sensibility. It’s also worth noting that the much larger and more comprehensive series of Lancet articles about the harmful rate of global cesarean births just published mention that amongst healthy women in developed countries, not inducing until 42 weeks might actually help lower cesarean rates and decrease infant and maternal mortality and morbidity in these countries.

Besides, really the bulk of the work of labor is to make room for the fetal head, which molds and shapes to fit the pelvis it’s in and has nothing to do with a fat or skinny babe, or a big or tiny laboring person.

Shoulder dystocia is a major risk in birth, but fetal weight is not the only factor, and the one dystocia I ever saw was with a 7lb 2 oz baby born two days after it’s supposed guess date (to a woman who’s instincts were to keep turning onto her hands and knees, but was repeatedly instructed to flip over, but whom I believe implicitly knew what that baby needed to get out safely, if she was just given the chance.)

If we’re ditching scale culture for adults, can we please start with ditching obsessing over weight before the person is even born!?

How a Postpartum Preparation Consultation Can Save You Tons

postpartum preparation

I’ve been a birth and postpartum doula for almost a decade. In that time (I’m going to sound like a grandma here), I’ve seen an enormous spike in the amount of unnecessary junk parents are told that they “can’t live without” once baby arrives. Oh, and of course you need a 5x week night nurse, right?


I can’t believe the amount of money and time new parents spend on things that frankly aren’t that helpful, while not having many of their primary needs met and stress only amplified. Like, come on, a $1,500 bassinet that plugs your baby’s wiggles into the iCloud and sets off an alarm when your baby coughs?! Ummmm no thank you, Black Mirror.

Believe it or not, as a human race, we’re good at making babies. That’s why there are 7+billion of us wandering around. American parents are necessarily “bad” at making babies or keeping our babies alive, either. We don’t need fancy machines, ten types of bottles, babies taking a bunch of supplements, or apps full of useless data to help us take care of our little ones.

Now, I am a particularly low-stuff person in general. I don’t like clutter and I don’t like being surrounded by plastic. I realize that many of my clients are not that way in their lives, generally. And some of these gadgets might have made their friend’s lives a bit better when their kids arrived, so I’m not discounting that. However, I do take a lot of issue with the wastefulness of new parent life as well as the very legitimate health and mental well being concerns that I see arise from the contemporary parenting culture. And IT’S SO EXPENSIVE!

san francisco baby

Trying to market my postpartum counseling services is tricky. I am aware of what a luxury it is to have a private class from a doula on the nit-picky parts of postpartum. However, I feel passionately (and know from experience) that families are really seeking something like this. They are bombarded with so much information and no clue what to take in and what to trash. And new parenting culture is so so so full of judgement and risk talk and fear. Paying $35-75 an hour for an expert to help you in your home is seen as exorbitant, though it’s seen as a necessary and lacking component of a healthy childbirth experience in evidence-based studies and in countries where this sort of care is recognized as valuable and included in standard care. I can say honestly that most of my clients are spending as much on me as they spend on stuff that sits in a pile unused or is used just once or twice in the first several months of their child’s life. I want to help families not go down that expensive and wasteful rabbit hole, while helping to connect them with the type of care they really need by a care provider who is in line with their visions of parenting.

My recommended package, which includes meeting you in person in pregnancy, costs $450. Let’s see how easy it is to spend that same amount on unnecessary items:

  • The Lotus Bassinet is $300. I have never seen a baby sleep comfortably in this (newborn babies DON’T sleep in giant, flat contraptions) and it’s huge and in the way for most families. I’ve never worked with a family who hasn’t switched away from this sleeper after a week or two.

  • The Frida Baby Bundle of Joy set is $50. All I can say about the Frida company is they have mastered marketing. I have strong opinions against nose suction after growing up surrounded by speech pathologists and strongly urge my clients to use gentler methods of booger extraction. No baby has ever died of a booger, after all. And the nail trimmer…an emory board from a drug store is $0.30. The Windi is great…if your baby is on heavy supplementation and hasn’t pooed in two weeks ONLY. This kit mostly stays in a pile of half open boxes in the homes I am in daily. It’s an expensive waste.

  • The least expensive bottle sterilizers I could find were $20 and most families I’ve seen have the $40-80 versions around. Oh Lordy, do I have thoughts on these. You’re putting large amounts of melted plastic directly into your baby’s body with absolutely no known benefits in risk reduction from harmful bacteria. Trust me here, I have sought out evidence to prove me wrong about infections and sterilization of bottles. Often. Over the course of a decade. I have searched and come up empty handed. However, the links to how harmful it is to have leeched plastics in our food is compelling and long standing, and there is a good amount of evidence on why we should limited plastic exposure specifically in infants. Yet, every family I work with has a sterilizing system of some sort, even though not a one has been able to tell me where they heard they should be doing this or why. Most people have at least two systems in their homes or one giant one, so we’ll put the cost of this at $50 conservatively.

  • Wipe Warmers are about $25. What nonsense these are. Little mold factories. Your baby doesn’t give a crap (pun intended) about the wipes being warm. These are hot, moist, expensive, plastic, toxic wastes of time. One more thing to worry about filling and cleaning for nothing.

  • We’re already easily at $425, so I’ll just have the extra $25 be unnecessary clothes and toys your infant will never wear or use, but you will inevitably purchase or be given.

That was easy, huh? I intentionally picked things that are on the lower range of what families spend on infant items well before baby arrives. It’s not that uncommon that the $450 is spent on just one item most parents will never even get around to using. This is why amazing stores like Chloe’s Closet even exist. I can help you find free or low-cost options through insurance coverage, as well as helping direct you toward more conscious options (and even connect you with the amazing Friday Apaliski and her environmental concierge work).

You need very very little in terms of stuff to have a comfortable and safe postpartum. What you WILL need and what is often lacking in postpartum support comes from care providers. That $150 bottle sterilizer could get you 3-5 hours of postpartum doula support that could be the critical thing for getting over a breastfeeding hump, connecting you to a pelvic floor specialist, help prevent you from spending 4 hours one day rushing to the pediatrician for a very normal infant situation, prevent you from getting mastitis from engorgement, or teach you fundamental sleep tricks that get your baby napping more regularly so you can nap too. Guess what, she’ll probably wash your bottles, too, maybe even sterilize them in a pot of boiling water on your stove, if you really want that.

Another way my consultations can help you save major bucks is through counseling you through finding a postpartum doula who fits your style and needs and then giving you realistic expectations for how dense of a contract you’ll need. Even if you have all the money in the world to throw at a doula, and even if it seems amazing to have someone around the clock with you, there are a number of reasons why you don’t need to spend a college tuition on postpartum doula coverage in the first six months. For too many, this is the vision in mind when people talk about postpartum doula support — that’s it’s dense and expensive and too much of a luxury — so parents either go overboard seeking the same coverage they heard worked for someone else and being disappointed or just forgo care all together.

There truly exists a system of doula care that works for each family. Working with me and utilizing my decade of experience as well as my connections within the wider doula community, we can break down your needs and what to expect from care to find the perfect fit for you. Quite honestly, I talk most people out of this crazy dense coverage, saving families an enormous amount of money, and linking doulas to families who are less likely to terminate contracts sooner Adding hours on later is always an option — even if not entirely with the same doula — and contract disputes are just too much of a nightmare for all involved. I teach contract writing workshops to doulas and have heard a myriad of good and bad experiences and feel really equipped to help out on the parenting side of this equation. I’d say I save families $1,500 in doula coverage on average and there hasn’t been a single doula who’s taken my class who hasn’t reported back that they used their contract adjustments in a fee resolution within 6 months of working with me. I want to help trouble shoot these concerns sooner than later for everyone’s sake.

Asking for this service within your baby registry or getting a few friends together to have a class with me can save you a bundle, too. My speaking rates are $100 an hour for up to 10 people and can be split however works best within your group. If your little one is already here and you’re feeling overwhelmed and lost, I have a discounted package for you, too. I even offer package that focus specifically on sleep support — aka every parents #1 question and concern in postpartum.

Hope you’ll meet with me and that I can help you have a joyful, empowered, and less anxiety-riddled entry way into new parenting.