So you're expecting a baby! Congratulations!
Have you started planning your babymoon getaway?A quick, or not so quick, getaway before you add another little person to your family.
Sometimes it can be frustrating when trying to come up with fun things to do while pregnant. Especially those last weeks when the aches and pains of pregnancy can really throw you off. How about planning a trip to distract you?! Take some time to soak in these last weeks of your family as you now know it!
I’d venture to guess you won’t regret it!
Traveling with a baby in tow changes things quite a bit! Take advantage of this time you have before your baby arrives.
If you’re pregnant in Skagit or Whatcom County and need a (mostly) local breath of fresh air, consider some of these options!
1. TreeHouse Point; Issaquah, WA
Schedule an appointment to tour the tree houses or stay in one of them! They are open year-round! TreeHouse Point is only a 2 hour drive south of Bellingham in Issaquah, WA.
Indulge your senses during the Boehm’s Candies & Chocolates factory tour located nearby. If you want to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest further, bring your hiking boots and venture out on one of the several hikes nearby.
2. Post Hotel; Leavenworth, WA:
Whether you venture out for a Snowshoe or bicycle adventure, or take the time to experience the german culture Leavenworth embodies, you can be certain that you will be able to let the stress of life melt away at their tranquil spa.
If you’d rather spend your babymoon out of the country, but have been advised against traveling that far, consider Leavenworth! Although it’s only located 175 miles out of Lynden, many would say that it feels like you’re a world away.
3. Semiahmoo; Blaine, WA
This treasure is conveniently located within Whatcom County. You can hop on a Whale watching cruise, running from September through April, go out for a walk, cozy up in your beautiful room or indulge in their heavenly spa.
4. Seaside, OR
If you’re looking for something a bit further away, check out one of the many options available in Seaside, Oregon from hotels to a nice AirBnB.
You can check out Haystack Rock on Cannon beach, hike up Saddle Mountain Trail, laugh while posing for Instagram worthy photos at the Seaside Inverted Experience, or shop the many boutiques in the Broadway Core.
5. Harrison Hot Springs Resort; Harrison, BC, Canada
Hop the border and relax at Harrison Hot Springs! You have an abundance of lodging options, catering to a variety of budgets. With the hot springs nearby, you’re bound to have a relaxing and peaceful babymoon.
Did you take advantage of a babymoon? Where did you go? If you visited one of these babymoon destinations, let me know! I’d love to hear how your experience was!
It's 10pm and you just crawled into bed for the night. After a full day of work, the back and forth of what to eat for dinner, and a Netflix binge of This is Us, you've had a good cry and are ready for bed.
Bed. It's such a lovely thing. But by the time the end of the third trimester comes, sleep feels like somewhat of a novelty. You climb into bed and after an hour long battle of finding that comfortable position, you FINALLY fall asleep.
20 minutes later you wake up to a strong, rhythmic cramping sensation. This is what they all talk about! This may be labor!
When does labor start? How do I know when I am in labor? What is the difference between labor contractions and Braxton Hicks contractions?
These are the million dollar questions.
When I was pregnant with my first, I was SO READY to be done around week… cough* cough* 6 when I was uncontrollably throwing up all day every day. This lasted until around week 22 of my pregnancy. My hypermesis graviderum, also known as HG, finally let up (this is a diagnosed medical condition during pregnancy that is essentially morning sickness on steroids).
If you’ve known someone who has dealt with HG, they basically resemble a superhero. Going through that (and I didn’t have it nearly as bad as others) is quite possibly the worst thing ever.
Once I hit 22 weeks, the summer heat started to creep in. I spent the bulk of my third trimester pregnancy in the peak of summer’s heat. Yuck.
There is PLENTY of sweat that already happens while pregnant, but add a whopping dose of 90-100 degree weather, a touch of humidity and no air conditioning and it sends just about anyone over the edge!
Then we rounded the corner toward the home stretch and once I hit my due date I had real contractions!
If you’ve ever heard this term, I’m assuming you’re either a birth professional or you’ve personally experienced it. And if you’ve personally experienced it, you know how exhausting it is and what an emotional rollercoaster it creates.
Prodromal labor sucks. Here’s the big question that (nearly) every woman dealing with false labor asks…
How will I know when labor actually starts?
These prelabor or false labor contractions are believed to tone your uterus and prime it for labor. How cool and yet annoying is that! Am I right?!
During that time, I thought my water broke twice on top of thinking I may be in labor several times. So I went into the hospital twice only to get sent home feeling quite defeated and as if I’d be in labor forever!
I dealt with that false labor for 7 LONG days until the real thing started. I still recall my first real contraction. Oh boy it was intense!
Labor contractions take your breath away.
There was a distinct shift in intensity I experienced once my labor took shape. I was able to time my false labor contractions but they did not take my breath away.
With a majority of the women who I’ve worked with as their birth doula, this is also the case. They are able to delineate between labor contractions and braxton hicks/false labor contractions once they have experienced their labor contractions.
Over time, labor contractions will become longer in duration, stronger in intensity and closer together.
This means that over a couple hours, you should notice that the contraction pattern is changing. To time a contraction, start a timer once you feel it begin. Then stop your timer once the tightening has diminished.
The duration of the contraction is exactly as it sounds. It is characterized as the time elapsed from the start of the contraction to the time that it ends.
Intensity is characterized by how you experience the contraction relative to other contractions you have felt. Be careful not to over think this as we dont want you obsessing over what the contractions feel like. Some women feel overwhelmed in the earlier stages of labor and begin to doubt their ability to make it through labor. Keep in mind that your body will continue to progress in various ways, including providing you with endorphins (our bodies natural pain killer) as you experience more discomfort.
The time in between contractions is calculated as the amount of time that passes from the start of one contraction to the start of the next contraction.
We highly recommend doula support as we are trained to recognize the onset of labor and can assist you in knowing when to contact your care provider or when to go to your chosen birth location. North Cascade Doulas is excited to support any birth center birth or hospital birth. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today!
We go more in depth into this information around what the onset of labor looks and feels like in our childbirth education series. If you would like to join us, check out our current schedule of classes offered in Whatcom County and Skagit County.
How did you experience the onset of labor? Was it gradual? Was it obvious from the first contraction?
Birth doulas are expensive. Well, other than the doulas who are volunteering their time. So the question follows… How do I score a free doula in my area?!
Who doesn’t like free after all? I certainly do! Anywhere I can save a few dollars puts my family one step ahead.
→ Let me tell you why you don’t want a free doula ←
I am a birth doula. A professionally trained, certified doula who does this work as my chosen career and there is quite a bit of sacrifice involved.
Two words. ON CALL.
This limits me from working another job. When I commit to my clients I say “no” to other work. And that glass of wine. Dang. I hate that part.
Birth doulas almost always start off excited and passionate! Roaring to go! Then something in those first couple years shifts. They have to calculate the true cost of that ballet recital they missed.
That’s a tough pill to swallow.
I don’t know about you, but I want to know that my doula has a solid paycheck coming her to lessen the blow of missing special moments.
Quality doulas are committed to continuing education. If you didn’t know, a doula training is typically only a couple days long. A couple days of drinking from a fire hydrant that is! We prioritize continued education so that our doulas stay up to date on the current trends in birth culture and new strategies in supporting labor progression. We are only able to do these courses with financial support.
So how do doulas sustain this work? The short answer… They charge a living wage.
At North Cascade Doulas our slogan is “Always there. Always professional.” We mean this! And we understand that in order for us to grow our team with the highest quality doulas in the area we need to pay them.
Each hand selected doula on our team is passionate about supporting women through birth.
→ Our doulas are 100% committed to you ←
They have placed a high value on their services and are going to deliver a highly valued service to you in return.
If you are looking for a high quality doula, contact us today to meet your carefully selected doula team. We are excited and ready to support you with the commitment that you deserve!
Overwhelmed with all the books to read, appointments to go to, research to be done and so forth?
Pregnancy is an intense time as there is so much to do and learn. We have designed our childbirth education to get you the exact knowledge you need without having to commit several days to doing it!
Let us help you! Here are a few questions we get asked and some answers.
What do contractions feel like?
You would assume that one of the main things covered in a birthing class should be contractions and you are right! This is the golden question that everyone wants to know.
To sum it up, most contractions feel like rhythmic menstrual cramps or like rhythmic lower back pain. The stage of labor, your pain tolerance and physical factors, such as your baby’s position will greatly impact how you experience your contractions.
We walk you through an overview of the different stages of labor and what that means for you! We go over this throughout our classes.
What am I going to learn in a birth class?
In our hands on childbirth ed classes you will learn:
How do I fit childbirth ed into my busy schedule?
Find a childbirth ed that is taught in a flexible manner. Our birth classes are taught on Saturdays with a flexible structure. They are broken up into 3, 3 hour sessions and our clients are able to pick when they would like to do each session. Some clients choose to do all 3 in one day and other people chose to split them up and take their time. Check out our current schedule here.
I am doing a scheduled c-section. Do I need a birth class?
Yes! There is so much to know regarding cesarean birth. Make sure that your birth class covers c-sections too. It will be important to learn about your local hospital’s c-section protocol and your birth class should cover these options.
We believe that everyone should be familiar with an overview of c-section procedures as there is always a chance of delivering via c-section. Our doulas and childbirth educators are very familiar with local c-section protocol and have experience with clients in the operating room.
Contact us today if you are looking for a doula in Bellingham or Skagit County for your c-section. We offer free consultations!
What kind of childbirth education should I take?
There are so many options out there and so many different ways in which birthing classes are taught. Some are geared toward natural birth (we like to call it unmedicated as we believe that all birth is “natural”) while others are hospital birth classes and everything in-between.
North Cascade Doulas covers it all. Our clients walk away from our birthing class with a good handle for what to do during contractions and how to cope through a natural birth as well as a familiarity with common interventions that may come into play, as birth rarely goes as we have planned. We work hard to make sure our clients are prepared for their ideal birth as well as for the unexpected.
You'll walk out of our birth class with several handouts to help you remember all that we taught, a guide to comfort measures for your support team to reference when you're in the thick of contractions, and a head start on building a birth plan that your care provider will actually read!
I want an epidural. Do I still need a birth class?
YES times a million! Epidurals can be finicky. There is so much to know around labor and delivery even if you’re planning on an epidural. As I mentioned above, labor is unpredictable! We’ve seen fantastic epidurals and we’ve seen epidurals fail completely. People also tend to forget that they aren’t usually admitted to the hospital until they’ve done a fair amount of their labor at home. This means they can’t get the epidural until (typically) several hours into labor.
Your birth class with North Cascade Doulas will specifically cover what to expect if you should decide to get an epidural as well as how to cope with contractions during early labor or if your epidural isn’t working.
Centering pregnancy vs birth class
They are different. Centering pregnancy with PeaceHealth OB/Gyn is an awesome prenatal program out of their clinic in Bellingham, WA in which your prenatal appointments are done in a group setting (with privacy when doing medical exams) with other women expecting their baby around the same time. The focus of these meetings includes medical care, pregnancy, feeding, birth, family development and much more.
Our local birth classes are more focused specifically on the third trimester of pregnancy, labor and pain management, and the things no one tells you regarding giving birth and recovering from birth. If you can swing it and would like to use PeaceHealth OB/Gyn as your care provider, we highly recommend their Centering program alongside a birth class.
What method do you teach?
There are so many options out there when deciding on a birth class. From Hypnobirthing to Bradley to Lamaze, which one is the best and where do you even begin?! We listened to the community and we have delivered the most up to date, hands-on CBE class around and we don't settle. This is constantly changing as current research is revealed or local protocol changes.
We've taken our 10+ years of combined doula experience and put it into a high quality mesh of several different theories of teaching birth classes. You'll get the best from each method when you join us for childbirth education.
What birth class are there in Bellingham, WA?
We offer 3 condensed birth classes, each covering different material. We are pretty convinced that it is the best labor class you will find between Whatcom and Skagit County. You can register online for our childbirth education here. Our next class will be offered in Lynden, WA at The Nest on Saturday June 22nd, 2019. If this date or Lynden location don't work for you, keep checking back as we will be offering classes in Skagit County on a regular basis soon!
If you’re looking for a doula in Bellingham, Wa contact us today! All of our current childbirth teachers also take birth doula clients. Our areas we serve range from Lynden, WA all the way to Mt. Vernon, WA. We offer labor doula services for local Whatcom and Skagit County birth center births and hospital births at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Bellingham, Skagit Family Birth Center in Mount Vernon, and Island Hospital in Anacortes.
It 100% sucks.
Except for the times when you really don’t want to share your cookie and the bathroom hideout was just occupied by your other child who has a stomach-ache. Now that house with the extra bathroom is on the must have list… anyways…
If you’re nodding your head right now, know you’re not alone. Between my two kids, we have 2 anaphylactic allergies and 5 intolerances and counting.
Our list of things to avoid (assuming I even remember them all) currently includes peanuts, tree nuts (aka all the other nuts out there), corn, dairy, soy, coconut (no, it’s not always lumped in with tree nuts), something in hummus although we aren’t sure what that is quite yet, eggs and clearly I’m forgetting some.
So basically we’re rabbits, but I can’t fail to mention the Costco size box of Cheerios we go through every week.
My point is, it’s a lot to keep track of and it changes the way we live life. Many people don’t understand the stress families in these situations are under on a constant basis.
"Many people don’t understand the stress families in these situations are under on a constant basis."
→ Bringing a new baby home or going through a crisis where people offer to bring over food? Gulp. It’s not so easy to accept their meals.
→ Heading to a potluck? Better bring your EpiPen, your own meal and energy for CONSTANT supervision.
→ Samples at Costco? Hard pass. Try explaining to your toddler that they can’t eat the candy every other kiddo is chomping on. No thanks.
→ Toddler birthday parties? Nope. Make sure to come prepared with an allergy friendly treat for your child and watch them closely!
→ Family dinner eating out? Better be careful! Most times it’s just easier to eat at home. Going through the menu with the manager feels exhausting and defeats the purpose of a quick and easy dinner.
Sound stressful? It is. BUT, it’s a great scapegoat for introverts (like me) and picky eaters (my husband cough* cough*) to get out of those awkward invitations and the soggy casserole your well-meaning neighbor offers to deliver.
So, how do we help these families?
Side note... If you have someone in your life with an egg allergy, try out these chocolate chip cookies. They are AMAZING! Even if you just want to eat the dough, I dare you to make these. You may never go back to any other recipe! If you need some allergen-free snack options check out the Enjoy Life brand. They have everything!
How do YOU navigate food allergies? How does it change the way you live on a daily basis? Comment below! I’d love to get your insight!
Are you currently pregnant in Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, or Birch Bay? We provide labor doula care all throughout Whatcom and Skagit Counties!
But the search can be overwhelming. Where do I even start? What is a doula? Do I need a doula? What does a doula cost? Will these doulas even call me back? And the list goes on….
Let's break this down.
A professional labor doula has trained with a reputable organization and has the expertise they need to care for families and their support team through pregnancy, labor and birth. They maintain current liability insurance, CPR certifications, and have a current business license.
Do I need a doula?
A labor doula provides support to the entire birth team. Your partner has someone there if they need to go to the bathroom, to remind them to eat and drink. We fill in the gaps. Whenever you need support, We’re there!
What many people fail to recognize is that your care provider is there for your medical care and that is their first priority. They also care about you and your team’s well-being, but when it comes down to it, they have charting to do and most likely, other patients. Your doula is your knowledgeable, unbiased, constant person.
"Your doula is your knowledgeable, unbiased, constant person"
Agenda driven, opinionated doula? Not here! There’s enough judgement already in the mommy-shaming culture we live in. We are not about to add more opinions or judgement to your plate.
Your labor doula has a vast knowledge regarding labor. She knows what all the beeps from the hospital machinery are. She has unique insight on helpful positions to get into regardless of your desires around pain medication.
She stays with you through nursing shift changes or transfers if you are having an out of hospital birth. Your doula knows what your mucus plug looks like and can spot the difference between early labor and active labor. She can offer insight on when it may be time to go to the hospital or your chosen birthplace.
So… If you find yourself pregnant, it’s time to hire your labor doula.
You won’t regret it.
But this doula is expensive?!! Well, you get what you pay for. Some doulas are hobby doulas while others devote their career to this work. If you desire to have multiple children with the same doula present, your best chances at finding this doula is through hiring a doula who charges a respectable fee.
High quality doulas:
This means you will:
North Cascade Doulas provides unparalleled labor doula support in Bellingham, Ferndale, Birch Bay, Lynden and Skagit County and guarantees that all of those boxes are checked. You can be sure that you are in good hands with your doula team from North Cascade Doulas.
Call or email us today to schedule a free consultation!
Did you know… May is Mental Health Awareness month. So naturally we, as doulas and childbirth educators in the Pacific Northwest are thinking about PMADs.
What are PMADs?
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
That breaks down to any mental health challenges that someone experiences in the time surrounding pregnancy, birth and/or the postpartum time.
These can include:
→ Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
→ Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The baby blues are similar to PMADs in that the symptoms can mimic depression but the baby blues usually are quick to pass and not as intense of feelings. The baby blues occur within the first few weeks postpartum and typically resolve as the maternal hormones balance back out.
Some say as many as 1 in 5 women experiences PMADs although this number is unreliable as many cases are unreported.
"...symptoms can mimic depression but the baby blues usually are quick to pass and not as intense of feelings."
Let’s debunk some myths around PMADs…
Myth #1. "I’m fine. I just need more coffee."
We all know that sleep is kind of a joke from the time you get your positive pregnancy test to, well, when your kids leave the house at 18?! We get it though, those first months of parenthood are especially taxing. Unless you have a postpartum doula or other amazing human helping you through the night, you are most likely struggling to get any sleep these days. The impact of sleep deprivation compiles within our brain to amplify our emotions and contribute to PMADs. If you find yourself saying this, be aware!
Myth #2. "I’m the only one dealing with this."
Many people are hesitant to reach out for help because they feel as if others will think they’re crazy and no one will understand. These disorders are much more common than many think and are best treated with the help of a professional. Chances are that you know at least one other person who has struggled with a PMAD you just may not be aware of it.
Myth #3. "I (the birthing person) am the only one who can suffer from PMADs."
Counter to what many people believe, PMADs are diagnosed in partners as well. Anticipating the arrival of a baby and then having a baby that, dare I say doesn’t come with a manual nor is it self-sufficient is a major life change. PMADs are not dependent on the massive hormonal fluctuations that come with birth. So, partners are also at risk for PMADs.
Myth #4 "There’s no use in getting treatment. I can’t take medication while I’m pregnant or breastfeeding anyway."
This is just not true. You and your medical care provider can hash the details of this one out. I’m a doula and am not going to tell you what is or is not medically recommended for you. I can tell you that there are several alternative ways to treat PMADs that don’t include medication AND there are some medications available that are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Myth #5 "I’ll lose my baby if I tell them what I’m really going through."
This is scary to think about! The good news is that this is rarely the case. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders improve with treatment. If you are suffering from postpartum psychosis and you or those around you are in danger the professionals are going to do everything they can to ensure safety for everyone.
Some women experience fleeting yet terrifying thoughts of harming themselves or their baby when suffering from PMADs. When this happens, it typically scares the person experiencing it as it is not something they would ever do. The line is when those terrifying thoughts don't sound scary and instead, become obsessions or transform into plans or action. If you or a loved one are experiencing the latter, it is a medical emergency and requires immediate professional help. Call 9-1-1.
Myth #6 This will go away eventually.
Without treatment it is highly unlikely that much will improve. What may happen though is that you will look back to this season and only remember the impact your PMAD had on it rather than being able to enjoy it. Treatment will make it better. Just reach out.
PMADs are real. Real people experience them and if you find yourself experiencing symptoms of a PMAD, please reach out to a professional.
If you don’t know where to start, contact your OB/Gyn or midwife. They will have resources for you to find the help you need. If you are in Washington State, Perinatal Support Washington is a fantastic resource. They provide phone access to a volunteer who is either a trained mental health professional or someone who has personally experienced a PMAD and has fully recovered from it.
If you are looking for a doula in Bellingham, WA with experience working with clients experiencing PMADs, contact North Cascade Doulas today! We would love to talk with you and find out what you are looking for!
It's that time again... Mother's Day.
I hardly think you need to be reminded though. The media doesn't let us forget about it. We are bombarded with the happy, glowing reports of fantastic mothers all over the TV, radio and social media. It is in our face.
Flowers, breakfast in bed, hand prints, brunch... what else though?
"But what about those who wish they were mothers? Those who long with every bone in their body, to carry a child? Those who don't have a mother figure? Those who have lost a mother? What about them?"
"And by keeping our advice to ourselves and focusing on listening, we may actually make this day a little bit easier."
How are you impacted on Mother’s Day? Do you find yourself with mixed emotions? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Maybe it’s a combination of celebration and grieving. Often birth can bring on similar emotions. There is a lot to process when life changes so drastically. Our labor doulas are trained to know how to attune to you through your labor and support you exactly where you find yourself.
Contact us today for a free consult!
Hello! Welcome to the North Cascade Doulas Blog!
Doula care in Bellingham and the surrounding areas will never be the same. You now have a new option while searching for your doula in Whatcom or Skagit County!
Here we are, the owners of North Cascade Doulas…
I developed an interest for doula work as my career in 2012 while living in California. After working in the Fresno area for 2 years, our family moved back up to Whatcom County.
I quickly jumped back into doula work, serving many birth doula clients in Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and Skagit County.
With continued education and building on my experience, I have recognized the importance of creating sustainable practices, raising community awareness and changing the culture around doula care to more positively impact the families I serve.
I began my work as a professional doula while pregnant with my daughter in 2015 after a friend told me about the profession.
I jumped right in and haven’t looked back.
I have a strong drive to expand my knowledge in everything surrounding pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period.
I have used that to work with several families in Whatcom County as their birth doula, postpartum doula, postpartum placenta specialist and childbirth educator.
Author, Kristina McMurtrey, is a passionate doula who aims to see families supported regardless of their unique way of navigating pregnancy, birth and parenting.
North Cascade Doulas provides care for families looking for Labor Doulas, Placenta Encapsulation and Childbirth Education Classes. We support all parenting philosophies and birth plans.
We specialize in :
(natural) unmedicated birth / (surgical) cesarean birth / epidural birth / induction / planned induction / planned cesarean / VBAC / TOLAC / waterbirth / multiples / breastfeeding / bottle feeding / formula feeding / NICU / PPD / PPMD / bed rest / high risk / low risk / advanced maternal age / miscarriage / IVF / and more.
Areas we Serve:
We serve Whatcom and Skagit Counties and the neighborhoods of Alger / Anacortes / Bellingham / Big Lake / Birch Bay / Blaine / Bow / Burlington / Clear Lake / Custer / Everson / Ferndale / Glen Haven / La Conner / Laurel / Lynden / Mount Vernon / Sedro Woolley / Sudden Valley