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Placentas : To Eat or Be Eaten by The Internet

I don’t mean to be contrarian. It’s not really my nature to try and push back on things or choose the opposite argument for the sake of arguing. Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra, maybe it’s because I’m an INTJ personality type, but I am a strong questioner. Question everything, feel everything, remain open…that’s me. 

So it was interesting to have a common situation amongst my prenatal client meetings this past winter — apparent giddy anticipation for what I was going to say about placental ingestion. 

Three different sets of clients informed me that they had discussed amongst themselves whether or not to keep and consume their placentas and had mused between them that I likely had a whirlwind opinion on the matter with an outcome they couldn’t guess. I found this amusing. I kinda like that my personality is strong enough and my relationship with my clients deep enough that they’re talking about me like this. Being a bit of a nutty professor type doula is something I’m comfortable with as a brand I guess. 

And they were correct. I do have a somewhat tumultuous view of the question of what to do with a placenta that’s best delivered in an uninterrupted tirade, usually delivered at the outset of the third prenatal appointment. They ask the question and off I go! At the end of the maybe five minute schpeel, there are no answers, only more questions. That’s just the nature of many things to do with the human body, especially in postpartum, so I’m comfortable with giving a ramble instead of a supposed answer to what to do with this incredible organ at the end of birth. 

What is the placental jaunt, you didn’t ask? Join me…

There is no compelling evidence to suggest that ingesting a human placenta — however processed — is to the benefit to the person who has birthed it or the fetus who created it. 

However, there isn’t compelling evidence for many things that are of benefit to us, in part because of the political nature of funding high-level research. Placentophagy, as it’s formally called, is still seen as “gross” and pushed off into the realm of hippie-dippie, homebirthy, crunchy and thus unrigorous and unfounded territory Western (and primarily American) research bodies typically feel isn’t worth researching thoroughly. 

Coupled with the fact that organ meat of any kind is no longer cusine de rigueur, the gross out factor alone has largely kept this occurrence — something common within the mammal class and still practiced within many contemporary cultures — in a mental filing cabinet for the likes of Andrew Zimmerman and snow foxes, not sane, rational, middle-class, non-hippie parents. The loudness of the “NO!”s heard in labor rooms all over when asked “Will you be keeping your placenta?” can be deafening for this reason alone. 

Whale Placenta , via Thailan When. Artist unknown.

Whale Placenta, via Thailan When. Artist unknown.

So let’s talk about the mammal part a little. Truth : All mammals apart from humans routinely eat their placentas after birth. For many, that is compelling enough evidence that we should consume our’s. It was for me for a while, too, till I did more digging. Yes, all mammals eat their placentas after birth, however, the further up the food chain you go, the less likely it is that a mammal will consume their entire placenta. A friend of mine posted one of the most stunning photographs I’ve ever seen of a whale placenta floating along, still partly in an enormous amniotic sac, pierced by morning rays of sunshine and undulating exquisitely in the waves. Someone responded to this post asking why the full placenta wasn’t consumed. I chimed in (I can’t help myself) that because whales are high on the food chain and don’t need to hide the evidence of their recent births, it’s likely that this mama whale ate what she needed to in order to replenish herself after birth and just went about swimming along with her calf to tend to it in other ways. If this whale were not a whale but a guinea pig trying not to be eaten by a coyote or a coyote trying not to be eaten by a cougar, she would have likely have eaten her full placenta and set about removing herself and her new young one from the scene as disguise. 

Humans, like whales, are apex predators. We don’t need to hide our afterbirths for fear that the scent will attract anything other than predatory formula salesmen consuming our thoughts of a broken maternal body. So, naturally (if we want to co-opt the argument that placentophagy is “natural”) we don’t need to consume our entire placentas for safety.

We also have adapted to a system of grocery stores, which starts to break down the need for placental ingestion at all. One argument for the benefits of consuming a placenta (and these are argumentative points based off the very reasonable and likely assumption that the placenta has high levels of macronutrients like iron and magnesium similar to other organ meats) is that like other mammals we need to have an immediate resupply of blood-enriching nutrients we lost during birth. We do. That’s real life true facts. Do we need it necessarily from a placenta, OUR placenta? Likely not. Floradix will do the trick. Black strap molasses in some apple juice works wonders, too. Dates with ghee, almond butter, cacao, and goji berries — also a sexy, nourishing thing to shove in the face of a recently transformed birthing person. The next time you see a New Jersey black bear walk into an Acme for a date smoothie to replenish their postpartum bod, you let me know, otherwise, I think they’ll stick to a placenta snack in their hibernation spots (don’t think Uber Eats is up on cave delivery yet, anyhow. It’s barely in the suburbs.). Humans, however, have a choice in what they stick in their gullets, though, and choosing NOT to suck down their 8lb, bloody baby buddy meat, if that’s how they see it, is a-okay. 

How about the claims that it replenishes much needed hormones after birth? We legitimately have no idea if that’s true. Sorry. We don’t. This is where the super ultra high level primary tier research would be nice and Buddha willing, it will exist someday, but it’s not here now. We quite frankly, don’t know shit about hormones. Some research is pumping along on that front and there’s certainly the beautiful and rich history of midwives and healers sensitive as a tuning fork to the primal changes in hormones within pregnant, birthing, and postpartum folks, and where anecdote and oral history is a critical element in this profession, it’s not a mere semantical distinction to say that we don’t have quality research on the hormonal profile of placentas. We especially have no idea if processing human placentas into milkshakes or lasagnas or dried up bits to shove into pills preserves any of that supposed hormone profile. I’m not giving a valued statement here, this is just a fact of our unknowing that needs to be talked about frankly with parents curious about this topic. 

In regards to what birth workers world over and since time immemorial have noticed, there is also controversy. This, like so much of what’s broken within our health care system and the often knee-jerk counter “wellness” community is due to a lack of nuance more than a lack of correctness. 

Take for example the question of whether or not placental ingestion hinders or increases breastmilk supply. There is a schism in the birth community on whether the uptick in placenta eating has done more to benefit or harm breastfeeding success, with lactation counselors and midwives and doulas on both sides of the debate. Well, yeah, duh. Considering that this practice doesn’t have a standard of dosage, processing, monitoring, or individual screening for some bajillion different inherent factors, it is reasonable to assume there would be a variety of reported experiences and biases. It doesn’t help that the aforementioned political dynamics of research on this topic are seemingly much more compelled to shut down the potential of placentophagy doing any good has brought about more articles against it than for it from outside the realm of birth work. For some, that triggers an even less nuanced lens of this debate out of protectionism, as I see in my own birth community fairly often on this issue. For some, the idea that eating a placenta would ever do any harm is off limits to even bring up! It doesn’t matter that like any supplement and any biological system, what may work for someone may have completely opposite results in another. Without seeing the potential for adjustment or unsuitability of a practice, it is likely that an issue will be pushed aside as unworthy of exploration one way or another by a wider set of interlocutors. Beware, the circular firing squad. 

Another important part of this puzzle is the reported incidents of mothers/birth parents feeling “high” after consuming their placentas. This is also an area where the degree and mechanism of consumption need to be considered, but usually aren’t. The reported feelings of euphoria in some women/persons is a welcome counter to the “baby blues” experienced universally in the early postpartum period as hormones oscillate through to a once again non-pregnant state. This has been enough to create a frenzy of birth workers and parents taught that the placenta is a miracle worker, and for those it helps, it most certainly is. Dope. In other women/new parents, the feeling that comes from consuming their placentas leaves them feeling a lack of control — something really not beneficial to having to heal, process, and take care of an entirely dependent new little person. We don’t want parents drinking to the point of buzzed or drunk and then handling their infants, why would we advocate for them to consume something that would make them feel similarly, even if it is “natural?” 

In these two examples, again, I’m not saying that anyone is “right” or “wrong.” I’m not attempting to dismantle the notion that there are benefits to eating one’s placenta, but rather to express my disappointment in that this topic sometimes leads to yet another area to box the postpartum period into a time when outside influence reigns supreme, leading to feelings of guilt around not being good enough/natural enough/connected enough/intuitive enough/and so on. In some sort of perfect obstetrical dynamic where there is strong continuity of care, community support, 24/7 monitoring, history and nuance and stillness, yeah, maybe placental consumption would benefit everyone. But that’s still a maybe, and it’s also not the reality of the postpartum experience through most of contemporary society. Certainly not here in our’s. For this reason, I want to urge birth care providers to check themselves around how this topic is presented and managed amongst their clients and colleagues. Support the clients who are seeing positive results from ingestion, but allow space for those who aren’t to question if it’s right for them, that’s all. 

At the end of the day, I feel that this topic offers an organic and gorgeous place to talk about informed care and personal decision making with our clients. I have a schpeel, yes, but it offers intentional gaps that I want them to fill in for themselves. It’s exciting to watch my clients start to connect their gut instincts with what anecdotal and research-driven information is floating around. It’s something they’re going to be forced to do each and every day as parents. Opening this space for humor, analysis, discovery — THAT’S OUR DIVINE CALLING AND PRIVILEGE. This is the essence of being a guide for parents in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. This is the core of our work. This is the “it.” It literally doesn’t make a difference at all if they eat their placentas on your watch or not since it’s not your job to save them from what would happen if they didn’t. You don’t get a gold star for helping someone be more animalistic. You haven’t won anything by saying there’s no evidence and galloping onward on your high horse. I would cordially invite you to get off your high horse starting with this discussion if you’re tempted to prance all over it. This topic sometimes encourages off the rails in fighting that’s super unhelpful to our profession. 

Instead, let’s let this heated debate offer a Miriana Trench to explore together — one more of process and intuition than what “side” you’re on. This dark, wet, unknown is scarier than public health data or National Geographic interest pieces, sure, but that’s the work. To fully know more about what this magical organ can and cannot do for their creators and keepers, we need to sit with all the questions individually and repeatedly and allow for our biases to be proven wrong or right uniquely with each person tasked with making their own decisions. I urge you to keep an open heart and level head when responding to the questions around the topic on social media and in learning spaces, too. 

And, you know…Bon appetite. 

Why Do Postpartum 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.  

postpartum doula bed sharing santa cruz infant sleep

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 staring at a five-figure student loan debt 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 had my first client. I moved out of that community after less than a year because I could not hack it on little to nothing. 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.

Postpartum work in Olympia at that time was almost non-existent. When it did happen, it was often birth doulas and midwives who recognized that their clients needed more support and came over more often out of their own pockets. In the few instances where they were paid, the going rate was somewhere around $15 an hour. 

In San Francisco and the surrounding area at the time I moved here and wrote an original post on the costs of being a doula (around 2010) postpartum rates were around $25/hr. Even with the increase in the cost of living (my rent was $850 a month back then), 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. My birth partner and I tenuously increased our birth 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 overnight care). 

Currently, $35-45/hr is a pretty standard national rate for daytime postpartum care. In major cities, the rate varies from $35/hr for a doula-in-training to $75/hr for a more experienced doula, overnight doula, and / or a doula with advanced lactation support training. 

Now, $45 an hour 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), especially when folks still often don’t understand that we’re more than just glorified babysitters, 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. And parents should want to work with doulas with a low-client base and with the ability to rest and take days off to ensure reliability and presence of mind during appointments. That means that they have to pay for that accommodation so we can subsist on this work.

  • 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, sleep plans, feeding advice, favorite articles, readings specific to each family situation, 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, and other perks offered to small businesses in this country. However, we’re still taxed at 40%. It’s rare that we qualify for tax write-offs other businesses might have— like an “approved” home office — since we are in-home support. In-home provider tax credits max out at just under $5,000, by the way.

  • Parents increasingly want us to be able to process payments electronically, which is more convenient for them, but we are still charged the 1% transfer fees or the up to 10% credit card processing fees, which we are unable to make up down the road in volume, the way other high transaction small businesses often can. Other electronic business tools range from costing $15-65 a month, which adds up quickly in a solo practice, but are becoming necessities in some markets to stay competitive and keep doulas from burning out on non-billable hour work.

  • Office insurance plans, paid time off, sick leave, paid vacation, family leave…none of those things exist for doulas. If we miss a client visit, we miss upwards of $500. This is why I stress to the doulas I work with on contract writing having some system of rescheduling and illness clauses that don’t leave them super vulnerable. The reality is, though, a few times a year there will be a situation that arises that takes money out of the pocket of the doula that can’t be made up. Keeping doula rates to a livable amount ensures this work can remain as an available and accessible option at all. And it can be seen as a two-way street where the high rates can keep a doula accountable to their clients out of respect for the transactional nature of this beautiful and important work.

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 doulas who are constantly continuing their business 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 parents getting out off all those behind-the-scenes expenses anyway:

  • Doulas make themselves available for parents in a way most other traditional care providers can or will not do. They cater their business to their birth / postpartum experience. They are often the only ones there specifically for these families and not for some outside agenda of profit, public health number, political pressures, hubris, generational opinions, etc.

  • Too few parents understand how alone they will be in the postpartum period. There is an increased awareness about postpartum depression (luckily), but there is very little education and support around the non-pathological changes in the early parenting period. Ditto to the manifestations of postpartum depression that don’t look like sadness — like the prevalence of postpartum OCD and anxiety that is often culturally dismissed as being “thoughtful” parents. Postpartum doulas are trained to recognize and support these mood fluctuations from the normal to the severe and to help families get the support they need. Doulas can then adapt and adjust care according to these changes unlike the many apps and gadgets meant to replace human guidance and interaction in health and parenting.

  • All that education and community building is what makes doulas the gurus in pregnancy and beyond. Attendance at childbirth education and parenting classes is steadily declining, unfortunately. It’s been shown that most parents are getting the bulk of their information on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum from books and increasingly from websites and social media. Where that might not seem terrible at the outset, but isolating that information doesn’t leave much room for personalization or nuance. Or conversely, there is often too much chatter in the comment sections without any particular vetting or emphasis on sourcing. Parenting books and websites are known hellscapes of opinion and bias, and often have less to do with research driven support than cultural trends and efforts to create a broad network of further brandable items. That’s in no way impossible to avoid in working with a postpartum doula, but there are ways of thoughtfully combatting the shallow and judgmental nature of those sources in working one-on-one with a doula who doesn’t have any incentive to push a particular system upon a family. That level of connection and trust takes time and effort to build, which can happen with a doula contract, but not with a book or blog.

  • Postpartum doulas come directly to parents, which has well researched and long lasting health benefits and offers a great deal more than a 15-min office appointment with a pediatric care provider. It’s also very draining on our end. There is a great deal of physical and emotional trauma present in birthing in the United States. Sometimes that comes from situations beyond anyone’s control, often, though, it is a symptom of our failing healthcare system. Many new parents fall through the cracks of our assembly-line style of care and it is not uncommon for parents to feel hurt and alone after birth, on top of the normal amount of healing, joy, and exhaustion. Postpartum doulas are there to listen, validate, and counsel parents in this position. It is a calling, and most doulas are happy to do it, but that does not mean that it doesn’t take away from our emotional and physical reserves. So $45 is a bargain compared to the cost of the psychologist couch we’re often keeping families from having to jump into or the expensive and overused treatments like surgical tongue snipping, pushing medications on infants for normal gastrointestinal changes, or unresearched supplements or dietary suggestions. There is a great deal of value in preventative and patient emotional care in this vulnerable time period.

  • Doulas are there for families soon after baby comes home / the midwife team leaves. They know us. They trust us. That helps when it comes down to figuring out the myriad of details of being a new parent. Doulas may be the only ones that notice marked changes in mood and can stave off worsening postpartum mood disorders. Doulas may be the only ones supporting the choices for feeding, sleeping, pacifiering, diapering, etc. in these families. The community resources doulas work exhaustingly to gather extend into the postpartum support community as well. Doulas are often experts on breastfeeding and infant massage in addition to doing laundry, holding baby so they can shower or go for a walk. They talk families out of late night deep dives down the black holes of mommy blogs and their false alarms. They can be crucial lynchpins against the rising anxieties often falsely pushed upon new parents.

  • Studies show that this support reduces the need for all sorts of interventions, items, and gadgets, which in the end not only makes the experience more enjoyable and empowering for most folks, but actually saves time and money. Plus, added perk — better for the environment!


postpartum doula cost infant doula sleep santa cruz

The sad truth is that our obstetrical care system does not fully support pregnant people and their families. The US has rising rates of maternal and infant mortalities it is slow to properly acknowledge let alone address. Making the investment of hiring a doula does not form a magical protective shield around you in birth or postpartum, 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 postpartum 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.

Doula to Doula : Talking Sleep with Parents

For the past several months, I’ve had the really wonderful opportunity of teaching Infant Sleep Basics for Doulas with Cornerstone Doula Training. Though I wasn’t trained by Cornerstone apart from their Nutrition for Midwives course, I’ve worked with many doulas trained by them and have been so impressed. I knew I had big shoes to fill in being taken on as one of their instructors — especially on a topic as loaded as sleep training.

Well, so far it’s been awesome and I’ve been so thrilled to be apart of so many doulas’ expanding knowledge. One doula-in-training reached out to me recently about a particular struggle and the back and forth exchange was deeply resonate with what I hear from many other doulas and parents in my sleep training practice that I asked her if I could share it. Luckily, she said “yes” and so here it is! I hope this sheds come insight into the common struggles of new parents and their in-home care takers in navigating the tricky territory of sleep support.

J : I run into a situation frequently where a baby 1-6 months will SCREAM and fuss as soon as you take them into a sleeping area, or they know it’s going to be time for a nap. Which has resulted in parents holding them for naps etc. Is there any way around this? These babies also only sleep one 20-45 minute cycle at MOST. And maybe even just 1/2 naps for a 12 hour day. 

I would appreciate any insight you have! Thank you!! 

Me : Easiest solution - have them sleep wherever. Stick a basket in the living room. Who cares? They are responding to some other stress than the room itself since they have no object permanence anyhow. But anyway, infants can just sleep wherever.  Or they can start staying in the room with baby longer with a hand on baby’s chest. Check out Kim West’s Sleep Mommy Shuffle. 

If they insist on baby being in another room :

Is the baby swaddled? - They will transfer better if so and will sleep more soundly if they are not put down till at least a few minutes into the deep sleep phase. 

What sort of space are they sleeping in-basket, crib, etc? - Trying to transfer baby into many sleep spaces can be challenging since they are often quite deep (triggering a baby’s reflexes to stir), too large (messing up baby’s vertigo and causing them to feel alone and thus “unsafe,” which will impact deep sleep), they may need to be closer to a human body for the sake of developing their biorhythms and there is really no need for an infant to sleep in a separate space since they can’t sleep well on their own and don’t have object permanence to cause a “bad habit.”

Are the parents generally anxious or stressed around sleep rituals in a way that might cause overstimulation in the baby? - often this becomes a vicious cycle where parents and care takers feel pressure about sleep and then start routines with anxiety which these primal little blobs soak up like sponges, causing more stress and crying, and ever onward till someone caves. They can either accept the need to hold/carry baby for some naps (which is certainly an ok thing to do  if it works for their life) or accept that it will take some adjustment if they are not thriving. Adjustment can be gentle or difficult so it’s a balancing game that will be different for each family. I’ve worked with many families who thought it was near impossible to get babe into their own sleep space without using harsher methods, but time (TIME TIME TIME) and observation and gentle care for everyone involved (and for me at least, Glenn Harrold in my earbuds) did the trick 99% of the time. 

Do the parents do a lot of “development” activities in between naps? - you can help them see that those aren’t really necessary and can overstimulate baby and make it harder to get them settled for sleep. Two articles to look into on this: Leave Those Kids Alone from the Atlantic and this one.

My advice to you and family is to keep tuning into baby over reaching for quick fixes or giving up. Both lead to more confusion and suffering most of the time. 

Hang in there, this is normal. You’ll develop your rhythm and approach to all this as you hang with more babes and families and see the possible pitfalls and solutions. 

J : I think the root of the question is really just WHAT is normal? 

I know some babies who have slept through the night at 6 weeks without crying and others just never want to be put down. 

I feel like in our culture people feel it is abnormal for babies to want to be held and co-sleep. Do you have any resources that are nice and REALISTIC about what you can actually expect from a baby?  And what do healthy sleep "habits" actually look like? I totally understand if you cannot answer these questions! I am happy to read articles or books or listen to podcasts, it just seems everyone is either so far on the left or far on the right when it comes to what a baby sleep should actually look like and who qualifies as a "baby". 

Me : So pretty much everything is normal. That’s what crushes parents. There are going to be LOADS of circumstances where you try everything under the sun and nothing seems to help. We are a culture obsessed with diagnosing and “solving” things, but that doesn’t totally jive with the primal blob nature of infancy. 

Over time you will feel desperate in some way and it will lead to a cool trick or some deeper understanding that helps you better communicate these things to parents. If you fight the urge to make promises, rely on crappy information, or feel that your role is to give definitive answers to things that aren’t actually “problems,” you and the folks you serve will be better off. It’s hard when word of mouth and testimonials are such a big part of our business, but you have to keep in mind that you’re teaching parents to be parents, not acting as a contractor mending a collapsed wall. Our help is more subtle and nuanced and can take time to be appreciated or understood — even within ourselves. 

Instead of furthering the bullshit idea that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to sleep/hold/feed/rest/care/bond/teach/parent, keep pushing the notion of filtering and thriving : Filter through information + Pick things that help your family thrive (regardless of the other book sitting next to the one you picked that says the opposite thing than what you’re doing). HARD and EASY are relative. 

This isn’t the same as doing nothing. Making shifts and observing then adjusting when folks aren’t thriving is a great thing. You being there to normalize that, give options, validate choices, and take some of the physical load off implementation is priceless. 

This all sounds floofy, trust me, I’m a legal researcher who pushes evidence constantly, but the truth is no matter how deep you dig into trying to find a solid answer with newborns, they exist on some other plane not quite here on earth, talking to faeries as my Irish grandmothers would say, and so logic doesn’t always prove solid. And almost always, the answer is be gentle with them, be gentle with yourself, be firm in your ideas of what is necessary to thrive, and give it time. 


I hope that helped give some insight into my process of postpartum and sleep consultation work and gives some validation to the struggles you might be facing as a doula or new parent. You’re not alone in not being able to feel confident in navigating what is “normal” right from the go.

Books are currently open for all consultation services, including sleep training. I have two sleep classes scheduled at Mini Mint Studios in Santa Cruz next month — May 9th from 1-3 for parents and May 13th 4-7 for doulas and midwives. You can register for both on my Contact page.

More about my sleep training philosophy

I am really not on board with formal sleep training before 4 months at MINIMUM, but more likely 6 months. And even then, I only advocate for “cry it out” methods when there is some clear lack of thriving in one or more of the family members and only when other options have been exhausted.

ahhh the sleepy baby and his lovie

ahhh the sleepy baby and his lovie

What I'm offering is sleep education that actually has a strong focus on helping families put off sleep "training," understanding that it's not biologically appropriate and then explaining why, while still leaving them with some resources to hopefully get more rest. My sessions / classes focus on going over the basics of infant sleep patterns + cues and how feeding / digestion / overstimulation can affect these things. It's trying to cut out the stress around sleep by giving healthy and realistic expectations and some tricks for gentle sleep routines (that are often more for parents in the first months than a baby that can't be trained to notice anyhow). 

My hope is by helping families access high quality resources (versus opinion based books and blogs), have someone they can touch base with easily, and someone in home working with them one-on-one to help them understand their baby's unique patterns and needs, they can have a less stressful approach to sleep issues and can maybe avoid sleep training entirely. 

Honestly, I've talked every person who's contacted me about sleep training before 6 months out of it, so that feels good. Most families are starting some sort of drive toward scheduled sleep starting too early and it's a huge reason why I've started to do this education more since I was getting so many parents emailing me in pregnancy or with 2-3 week olds asking to be sleep trained.

Too many parents are getting bad intel about how you either need to get on the ball with scheduled and formal sleep training at such and such an age or else your baby will be developmentally stunted, not independent, a crappy sleeper, and stuck in your bed full of bad habits till their in middle school. There is not such a binary in the process of choosing what adjustments you want to make in getting babe sleeping longer and more independently. I want to be able to help guide parents through their options (not make decisions for them or tell them they’ve failed) so they feel intuitively connected to the needs and development of their children and confident that they’re making the most appropriate decisions for their own families.


If you are interested in getting some more education and support around infant sleep issues, there are a number of ways to access my care : Hourly consults, daytime observation and support packages, overnight observation and support packages, bringing me to a new parent group, or taking one of my longer courses. Check out my Infant Sleep Support page to learn more about each option.

…AND! I teach doulas about infant sleep basics, too! If you are part of a doula group or training organization and want to chat about these exciting and informative classes aimed at giving postpartum doulas more resources for supporting families through this minefield of misinformation, judgement, and anxiety please contact me.

cute picture. terrible swaddle. i have thoughts here.

cute picture. terrible swaddle. i have thoughts here.

Call Your Girlfriend -- I'm Doing Virtual Consults!

Here to tell you about my phone and video consultation services!

Okay okay okay, truth be told, I HATE talking on the phone. I don’t even like FaceTime chats except to see my baby nephew so this has been a stretch for me. BUT I loving it.

image via  Mere Street

image via Mere Street

I was asked to start doing phone consultations by a former client who is building a network of experts to reach Chinese families around the globe who are trying to find more holistic parenting resources. It started as short video workshops (that was challenging enough for me as a rambler) and merged into phone consultations for small groups of parents interested in holistic sleep education. That lead to phone consultations for doula contract writing, prenatal education with families outside my services areas, and more. It’s inspired me to keep going.


I’m going to start offering almost all of my services virtually from now on -- Well Woman Consultations, Pregnancy Consultations, Postpartum Prep Consultations, Sleep Support Consultations, and Doula Contract Writing Consultations and Classes.


Here’s what each might look like :

Well woman consultations :

After you reach out about wanting to work with me to find a more tailor-fit approach to your hormonal and reproductive health care, I’ll send you one of my whopping 10 page intake forms to fill out and send back to me. You can sign up for 1+ hour of support over the phone or video, we’ll pick a day and time, and that’ll be when we can go over your needs and wishes for care.


After we chat, I’ll do a bit of research and reach out to my network for good recommendations in your area and send you a detailed email with everything you need. If you want to keep working with me, we can do so in the same manner on and hour-to-hour basis or you can jump into one of my annual or 6-month packages for further support.

We’ll cover everything from nutrition to seeking a primary care provider to navigating tricky hormonal issues to birth control options, and more.

I’m very dedicated to working with young persons and their parents/guardians to help them navigate the transition from pediatric into reproductive/gynecological health care that’s supportive, inclusive, expansive, respectful of the enormity of these age transformations, and doesn’t scare them out of routine care. We can work as a team and have private sessions so everyone feels comfortable and connected in this process. Privacy, compassion, and empowerment are the keys here and I’d love to be a guide for you and/or your child in this process.


Pregnancy consultations :

These can work the same as my in-person package options where you can sign up for a 2 hour consult at any point in pregnancy or the full 10 month support package. After you let me know what might work best for you (and if you start with the 2 hours and want to jump into a larger package, that fee will just be transferred over), I’ll send you a detailed intake form so you can let me know about your pregnancy journey so far and fill me in on what I might be able to help you with going forward.

For some families, you’re just looking for extra information on a specific topic like choosing a care provider, GBS testing, nutrition, finding a doula, home or birth center birth vs hospital birth options, how to find and interpret high quality research and information, information on comfort measures in birth, or other singular topics.

Other families want to get the support they would traditionally get from an independent midwife (minus the clinical testing) that they aren’t able to access for any reason and want to have me fill in a lot of the huge gaps left in our maternal care system.

With ten years of experience supporting pregnant persons in all sorts of ways (childbirth educator, doula, midwifery student, infant care specialist, researcher, doula trainer) and in many different states, countries, and settings, I’m here for all of it! If you feel like my style is the best fit for you, or you feel like you’re not finding what you need in your area at this time, let me help you virtually!


Postpartum Consultations :

Feeling like you’re not getting the resources on what to expect once baby is home? Feeling like you’re getting a lot of conflicting information or information too focused on risk and fear and opinion? Wanting an infant and mama/birthing person healing crash course done on your own time and with your specific family’s needs in mind? Let’s set up a call or video to go over what you need to know. This also can be done as a one-time 2 hour session or as part of the broader packages.

Unlike traditional newborn basics or breastfeeding classes now widely offered, these consultations don’t follow a standard system. Instead, they are focused on the concerns you have individually and specific to what you feel you’re not getting. We can set these up before baby arrives (ideally) or up to 4 months after baby is here. This can be a truly awesome baby shower gift!

I offer discounts for group consultations, so if you have a few friends or a parent’s group of expectant/new folks due around your same time (minimum 4 participants), the price is dropped to $20 per participant per hour.


Sleep Consultations :

Wanting some basics in infant sleep expectations? Not sure you want to sleep train or what sleep training even entails? Wanting a holistic and personalized approach to discussing sleep difficulties without fear or judgement? Need a point person on standby for those crazy weeks of transitioning sleep schedules? That’s me!

Lack of sleep is one of the number one challenges parents face in the first few months with a new babe. There is no way to make this obstacle disappear -- it’s part of the process, sorry to tell you. However, so much of the sleep training information floating around is not routed in good science or good practice and often leaves families feeling more stressed and tired. This often leads to them either ditching their goals for compassionate sleep adjustment sooner than they’d like, or makes them feel like giving up even trying to get babe to sleep on their own. There is a middle path, friends!

For better or worse, this middle ground takes a lot of extra support, guidance, and respect for nuance. Rosewood consultations aim for realistic, quality information-driven, and non judgemental discussions around safe, healthy, and lengthier sleep options. This isn’t a promise of X hours or a leave your baby to scream bullet point plan, no-sir no-thanks.

There is an option to have a 2 hour basic rundown of common sleep issues and information you can access while still pregnant, or you can reach out to me once baby is here and you feel you need more advice, either as a 2 hour consult or as part of a larger package based on your needs. This can also be a group virtual class at the $20 per person per hour rate (for at least 4 registered participants).


Doula Contract Consultations :

Let’s face it, most doula trainings leave you totally in the dark about how to write a contract that really protects you or supports your individual practice.

With a one-on-one contract consultation and edit, we can work together to go over the basics of contract writing (I send you my full how-to booklet once you register), using your contract to set up healthy and cooperative expectations for yourself and your clients, how long to keep a contract, what goes in your contract vs on your website or handouts, myth-busting scary legal language and legal fears, and how this practice can evolve and grow and be a benefit to your wider doula community.

Individual virtual edits are 2 hours of prep on my end going over your material as-is, 2 hours of virtual meeting time, and 2 email follow ups built in with the option of adding more at a low hourly rate.

Virtual group classes can be done at an hourly rate of $100 per hour for any size group. I’ve loved talking to doula groups and collectives around the country about how to use this exercise together to create better contracts and support one another in this often difficult work.  


Want to bring me to your group or training organization in person? I’d love that! We can chatrates and options, so please reach out.

Rates for virtual consults are the same as in person consultations at this time and can be found on my Services and Doula pages. As always, sliding scale and some trades are options to keep this type of support accessible in many areas.

If you are part of a parent’s network or group and think I’d be a good fit for one of your gatherings, please reach out! I love discussing specific topics families want more information on like holistic sleep advice, environmental parenting, choosing a care provider, finding a doula, and more.

If you are a doula group and want me to speak (virtually or if possible in person) about one of my specific focus areas, LET’S CHAT! I do it all the time and love meeting and teaching doulas from all over.