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Introducing Love Strong After Baby Workshops!

I am excited to announce that I’ve become certified as a Gottman Bringing Baby Home Educator and will be offering Bringing Baby Home Workshops to Austin beginning this summer! I’ve partnered with Katherine Sweet-Swinney, MA, who is also a certified BBH Educator and Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in family/parenting/couples therapy. The two of us have put our heads together, bringing our different areas of expertise, training and experience, and have created LOVE STRONG AFTER BABY. This Hybrid workshop is designed for committed couples of children 0-5 years who want to improve their communication, strengthen their friendship, reduce their conflicts and re-kindle their passion for each other! Our workshops will be intimate ( 4-6 couples) so that we have adequate time to answer all your questions, address individual concerns, and allow for practice sessions with each other. Our goal is to give you the tools to help improve your relationship, for now… and for the long haul.

Upcoming Workshop Dates:
Sunday June 25, 2023 1-5pm (In person) followed by two virtual sessions on Sundays July 2 and July 9 from 4-5:30pm.
Sunday Sept 10, 2023 1-5pm (In person) followed by two virtual sessions on Sundays Sept 17 and Sept 24 from 4-5:30pm.
Sunday Dec 3, 2023 1-5pm (In person) followed by two virtual sessions on Sundays Dec 10 and Dec 17 from 4-5:30pm.

COST: Early Bird pricing (up to 3 weeks before workshop start date) $250 per couple, after that $300 per couple. Space is very limited. Scholarships are available for those on a limited income.

Workshop will include 7 hours of instruction time PLUS our class supplements which will include additional resources, websites, videos, practice exercises, referrals and recommendations to community resources. In person sessions will be located off Mopac/Steck at Austin Doula Care.

Want more info? Ready to register? Email us!



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Happy Childbirth Educator Week!

As Childbirth Educator week comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to me to be an ICEA certified educator. My journey started in 1994, after the birth of my daughter- which was unexpectedly empowering.  During that timeline, many of my friends and family were also having babies and their stories were not all positive. I realized I wanted to help families have better births. So I took a Childbirth Educator training and the rest is history!

I’ve been a certified educator for over 25 years now. . Here in Austin, I hang my hat at St Davids Healthcare, Any Baby Can, and Real Deal Birth and Parenting. I run into families who have taken my classes regularly– many of those “babies” now adults! Crazy to think how many families I’ve impacted — by encouraging them to trust their bodies, communicate with their providers, and to ask for what they want. We know our birth experience impacts our postpartum experience, which in turn affects our parenting. I don’t just teach people about contractions and breathing. I teach life skills!

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Why does breast/chest/bodyfeeding fail?

As a postpartum doula, I always ask parents prenatally what their plans are for feeding their baby. I hear this over and over. “I’m going to try to breastfeed”.
Why are so many families hesitant to commit? Why don’t I hear “I’m planning to breastfeed” with confidence?
It’s likely they’ve talked to their friends/family (or read) about bodyfeeding “failures”.
I recognize there are medical situations where a birthing parent may not make adequate milk. Or the stress of chestfeeding has a negative impact on the birthing parent’s mental health. I get that. I have no issues with those who need to supplement or CHOOSE to supplement with formula or other people’s milk. This is not about judging those who make conscious choices or have medical situations.
Sadly I work a LOT with new parents who fully intend to breastfeed, yet they face challenges they sometimes cannot overcome. What’s happening?
So many things can sabotage the ability to breast/chestfeed. I do know adequate education on the parent’s end can make a huge difference! It’s so important for them to learn a LOT about how to body feed their infants, the “warning signs” to look out for, and when to seek professional help. (I’d guess 80% or more new parents need professional lactation help AFTER discharge from the hospital or birth center)
Some families get bad advice or inadequate support where they birth. Or they get pressured to supplement/bottle feed early on without guidance how to continue breastfeeding/eliminate supplementation.
Pediatricians may be quick to intervene with bottles/supplementation before making sure the parents have adequate lactation support.
Well meaning family/friends say all kinds of things (or even provide misinformation) that may have a negative impact on the parent’s confidence to body feed (regardless if there is an actual issue or not)
Lack of lactation support through the first week (or two or three) when establishing a milk supply/baby’s weight gain is so important.
What’s an expectant family to do?
#1 Take a breastfeeding course AND do a ton of reading. Get educated! Every person on your team, not just the bodyfeeding parent! (partner, family, etc) Interested in the ones I teach?
#2 Find support for after your discharge from a local lactation consultant, community educator/counselor, postpartum doula (or all 3!)
#3 Be clear about your goals/intentions with your friends/family so they learn how to support you.
#4 Make sure you have adequate support at home the first few weeks (food/water/rest/help with chores and emotional support) so you can focus on learning how to feed your baby and nothing else!
I believe we would see a huge increase in breast/chestfeeding success if everyone had better information going into parenting and had better support during the whole process. Chestfeeding is natural, but not necessarily “easy”. Give yourself time/space and grace to learn this new skill! Both you and your baby will benefit!
La Leche League International
WIC/Breastfeeding support
Local Austin resources:
Find a postpartum doula
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World Doula Week 2022

Each year, the world sets aside 1 week to recognize doulas. I love how it makes me feel proud to be a doula and to feel recognized as a professional, as well as recognizing the work doulas everywhere are doing to support families!!

I supported families through birth for 25 years before deciding to “retire” from that part of doula life, and now exclusively focus on postpartum support. It’s so rewarding to see a struggling family get the “hang” of parenting– when only a few weeks ago they were on the brink of meltdown! It’s incredibly fulfilling to know you made a difference in how those early weeks of parenting began.

But it’s also hard to listen to the sadness of unexpected outcomes in birth, breastfeeding and newborn life. It’s difficult to know I can’t “fix” many things that are or will be hard.

Doulas offer an ear, a hand and a heart. We can help you tune into yourself, your baby, your intuition when everything else feels overwhelming. We can help you learn to trust yourself, your body, and your baby. We can help you learn to love all that is you, the blossoming new parent.

Did you have a doula who made a difference? Or want to find one? Here’s a local resource! Central Texas Doula Association

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Do I really need to take a Childbirth Class?

It’s 2022 and you have access to Youtube, social media, and Google and Amazon.

Do you really need to take a childbirth class?

Yes! Why?

Your childbirth instructor will help you and your partner understand what the normal stages of labor look like, when you should call your doctor or midwife, and what to expect at each phase. For most expectant parents, just understanding what’s ahead greatly reduces anxiety.

Why is that important?

Anxiety and stress during labor can have many negative effects during labor. When we are tense, anxious, or stressed out, we release stress hormones (like adrenaline and cortisol) which can SLOW labor, make it longer, and will increase the need for medical interventions. Being stressed/anxious can even affect our breathing, which can decrease how much oxygen our baby gets!

So on top of learning what to expect, a good childbirth class should teach you basic relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, as well as a wide variety of other comfort measures to help you and your partner manage labor pain. You might practice things like massage, positions for labor, visualizations, or other techniques which significantly reduce your perception of pain!

Does less pain in labor sound ok?

I hope so! But regardless of where you are planning to birth your baby, and what your plans are for pain management, all expectant parents should also know what medical situations might come up unexpectedly, and how to make informed decisions about their care… for instance, induction and cesareans often catch people off guard. How do we make those decisions? What are the right questions to ask? Your childbirth instructor can help you learn to navigate those unexpected situations and help you feel more confident should a medical situation arise.

Less anxiety, less pain, more confident? All sounding good so far?

labor birth comfort measures doula childbirth class
A birthing person needs a lot of support and encouragement in labor!

What if you could learn options that might make your birth experience more positive? You can.

What if you could learn ways to reduce the risk of having a cesarean birth? You can.

What if you could learn about what happens after the baby is born, and how to cope with the first few weeks postpartum? You can.

Take a childbirth class.

Luckily, you have LOTS of options! Live virtual, online, in person, small or large groups, or even private! Pick one that fits your schedule, lifestyle and needs. I promise it will help you begin this amazing journey with more joy, awareness, and peace, and we all could use more of that.

Interested in my classes? I currently offer live virtual classes through Real Deal Birth and Parenting.

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Doulas and Covid-19

We are all dealing with adapting and figuring out how to live our lives during a pandemic… but the babies don’t stop! Here is an update for my local region (Austin TX) regarding BIRTH DOULAS and COVID-19 in our area hospitals.

Birth doulas are recognized as part of the healthcare team, therefore they are WELCOME in most of our area hospitals including all St Davids Healthcare and Seton/Ascension facilities. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor/midwife in advance if you have hired a birth doula. They may be required to bring proof of their certification (or if they are in training, the organization they are training with) and a copy of the client/doula agreement or contract. It is recommended that doulas show up at the same time as the laboring client when possible to avoid any issues. Remember, ALL support people (including your partner and doula) will have to pass a Covid-19 screening before being allowed to enter a hospital.

Birth Centers and home birth midwives are having to decide what their policies are regarding Covid and their patients. Please have a conversation with your midwife about what would happen if you tested positive for Covid, or if you partner or doula has possible exposure or symptoms.

Most doulas are happy to mask while at work to protect your family!

What about Postpartum doulas? Currently doulas are NOT allowed to support families in the hospital, although we hope those restrictions may be lifted if case numbers decline. Only your chosen support person is allowed to be with you during your hospital stay. However Postpartum doulas of course are still in VERY high demand- more so than I’ve seen in my 25+ years in this field! My recommendation is to book your postpartum doula well in advance to make sure you have the care and support you need. When interviewing a potential postpartum doula during a pandemic, there are a few extra questions you may want to bring up, including:

  • Are you vaccinated against Covid? Have you had a recent infection (which would provide natural antibodies for 6 months or longer)
  • What precautions do you take to prevent the spread of illness to my family? (This could include flu and other viruses!)
  • What are your policies about illness (for both parties, doula and family members)
  • How do you handle your absence if ill? (Backup, reschedule etc)

These may feel like awkward questions, but we all needing to be learning how to have these open and honest conversations about our health, and lifestyle choices to make sure we are a good fit for each other!


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Is it safe to bed-share?

Most expectant parents have heard about SIDS and the “safe sleep” guidelines which include your newborn sleeping on a flat surface in their own bed.  CDC Safe Sleep Guidelines  This is the safest place for your newborn. Many babies will happily sleep close to you but in their own bed….and many do not!!

What if they don’t sleep well there? What is every time you put them in their bassinet they cry? What if night after night you are up every hour, battling your newborn trying to get them to sleep in their own space? What is this goes on for weeks? Months?

An exhausted parent isn’t safe either. So what’s a new parent to do? Let’s talk about a taboo topic: Bed Sharing.

In many other cultures across the world, bed sharing is the norm. But there are many differences also in those cultures that may make bed sharing safer. For instance, people tend to sleep on the floor on mats (not squishy memory foam beds) and they do not consume alcohol or drugs. They do not smoke and are exclusively breastfeeding. So is it the bed sharing that increases SIDS risk, or perhaps are there other factors involved? Research has shown that the location alone is not necessarily what increases SIDS risk, and that bed sharing within certain parameters may be a safe alternative to the recommended safe sleep guidelines. La Leche League has an excellent article about the “Safe Sleep 7”.

Bottom line– every family will be making a decision about where their baby sleeps, based on their lifestyle, preferences, and their own babies. It’s important for families to have information about alternatives, so that they can make informed decisions about what is right for their own family!



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World Doula Week!

In honor of World Doula Week I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to express– with over 25 experience as a birth and postpartum doula, what needed to be said that hasn’t already? What do families “need” to know? What do doulas “need” to hear? Then I listened to the Evidence Based Birth Podcast interview with Dr. Amber Warmsley (OBGYN) and had my “aha” moment… The interview doesn’t talk about doulas AT ALL. Not even 1 reference. But the interview is all about what doulas are all about, which is #1 supporting PEOPLE through pregnancy, birth and postpartum in all aspects of who they are- their body, mind and soul. And #2 that doulas encourage their clients to seek evidence based information, and make decisions that fit best with their family… which includes options that perhaps are not mainstream, like birth centers or home-births, or bed-sharing. Doulas recognize that there is no ONE answer that is right for everyone, and that “safety” is really a subjective word. If you haven’t already listened to this podcast, I highly encourage you to do so, even if you are far away from being pregnant or having babies. It will make you think! (And I’ll totally admit, I have a serious doula crush on this OB!) Happy World Doula Week to all my colleagues out there, and thank you to all the other professionals who support the work we do!
EBB 168 - Evidence-based OB-GYN care with Dr. Amber Warmsley - Evidence Based Birth®
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Real Deal Birth has a website!

After a long labor, we finally gave birth to a website! With the help/support of a good friend/doula colleague and web designer, we are proud to announce is live! Now families can find out more about our classes, look at a calendar and inquire about classes directly. Amanda and I offer LIVE virtual childbirth education in small groups that are personal, informative and fun!

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Classes for 2021

4 Week Virtual Prepared Childbirth series – $175 per couple

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1FULL    TUES 6:30-8:30pm -Jan 5, 12, 19, 26 FULL

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Feb 2, 9, 16, 23

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Mar 8, 15, 22, 29        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Mar 2, 9, 16, 23

MON 6:30-8:30pm – Apr 5, 12, 19, 26        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Mar 30, Apr 6, 13, 20

MON 6:30-8:30pm – May 3, 10, 17, 24        TUES 6:30-8:30pm – Apr 27, May 4, 11, 18


Breastfeeding Basics & Newborn Care- 2.5 hour virtual class- $75/couple

Thursday 6:30-9pm – Jan 14              Thursday 6:30-9pm – Feb 11

Thursday 6:30-9pm – Mar 11                Thursday 6:30-9pm – Apr 8

Thursday 6:30-9pm – May 13


Preparing to VBAC – 2 hour virtual class – $60/couple

Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Jan 21                Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Mar 18

Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – May 20


Labor Skills Refresher Class – 2 hour virtual class -$60/couple

Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Feb 18            Thursday 7:00-9:00pm – Apr 15


to inquire about availability please email Real Deal Birth directly at