It’s time for #BiteSizedBirthClass, where each week I give you a little taste of the topics I cover in my childbirth education series.

We are going to start off with the concept of PAIN in labor and birth. It’s the first thing everyone asks me - “What does labor actually feel like? Does it hurt as much as everyone says?” The answer is that it’s all relative, because of a concepts called PAIN THRESHOLD and PAIN TOLERANCE.

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How I Chose the Name Paper Crane Birth Services

I don’t think I’ve ever talked in-depth about why I chose the name “Paper Crane Birth Services” for my business. I mention it a little on the welcome page of this site, but since I am unveiling my new logo and tagline on social media this week I thought I’d give the whole story! Warning: this post will give you insight into just how big of a nerd I am! However, I am there for my clients in some pretty vulnerable moments, too, so I figured fair is fair!

It all started when I was about eleven years old and unabashedly obsessed with an Australian band called Savage Garden (“Truly, Madly, Deeply,” anyone?). Do you remember those videos of all the teenagers screaming their heads off during Beatles concerts back when they first came to America? Yeah, that was totally me at the 1998 Illinois State Fair when I saw them live for the first time. (Internally, though, because I was way too self-conscious at the time to make noise and risk drawing attention to myself.) Over the years I have caught a LOT of mostly well-meaning flak from friends and family for loving their music as much as I did. I come from a long line of people who poke fun at each other as a way of showing affection! But for me, it was a guilt-less guilty pleasure. Their songs really meant a lot to me during those tumultuous teen years, when you’re desperately looking for something to connect with. People from high school who find me on Facebook after not speaking to me in years still know me as “that girl who loved Savage Garden,” and that is alright by me!

Anyway, fast forward a few years and much to my emotional teenager devastation, Savage Garden broke up. But! A little while after that the lead singer, Darren Hayes (who, as a teenager, I was convinced I would one day marry) (yes he’s gay, no I didn’t realize it at the time) started a solo career and in 2007 released an album called This Delicate Thing We’ve Made. It had imagery of an origami crane on the album cover. In some of the press for the album, he explained the meaning behind it by relating the process of producing origami artwork to how we grow as individuals:

The paper crane is a metaphor for being alive. When you unfold it, you can see all of the creases representing the scars and choices that we have made, whether they are good or bad. That’s our life, that’s what makes us who we are.  - Darren Hayes (article linked above)

Since then, the paper crane has been a really important personal symbol for me, too. I even got it as a tattoo! When it came time for me to pick a business name, no matter how hard I tried, I could not think of anything that represented me or my philosophy of birth better.

Every fold you make in a piece of origami paper contributes to its final form. The perfect ones, the hasty ones, the crooked ones you had to redo. The ones you took your time with, the ones you followed your gut with, and the ones you made by following the instructions from a book. They all turn it into something beautiful, and the same is true of life. All of our milestones, choices, relationships, these are all just folds in the paper that make us who we are. I look at birth as not just another of these folds - I view it as one of the most important ones. I, like many other birth workers I know, have issues with some of the things Ina May Gaskin has said in the past - and I’ll save those issues for another day - but one thing she did get right is this:

"Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life." - Ina May Gaskin

Paper Crane Birth Services | unfolding your path to parenthood

Paper Crane Birth Services | unfolding your path to parenthood

With all this in mind, my new business tagline is “unfolding your path to parenthood.” My main mission as a childbirth educator and doula is to help my clients have the kind of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences that they can look back on and feel happy. Or accomplished. Or strong. Or at peace. Or empowered or supported or triumphant. Every fold in the crane is unique. Not all of them are perfect, but they’re all important. Every path to parenthood is different, and they all come with different highs and lows. And I feel so lucky and honored that I get to help families navigate through it.

World Breastfeeding Week 2018: Reflections on My Experience

In light of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I'd try something new and get a little personal and share what my breastfeeding experience was like. I know it's possible that I might catch some heat for this - whatever. My main hope is that someone who feels completely inundated with positive breast/chestfeeding stories, who might not have had a positive experience, will read this and realize they're not alone. 

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Preparing for a Homebirth - With Alison Zingaro of A. Zingaro Photography

Homebirth can be a hot topic depending on who you talk to! But the reality is, people all over the world have given birth at home or in other non-hospital settings since the beginning, and continue to do so today. For my very first interview, I've chosen my good friend Alison Zingaro, birth and newborn photographer at A. Zingaro Photography. One of her many talents is capturing the raw emotion and intimacy of homebirths - perhaps because she's done it herself! Because of her background I thought she'd be the perfect person to inform us about how to prepare for a homebirth. 

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Dear New Mama: Please Be Gentle With Yourself

I had this vision of myself post-baby: exercising and pursuing other hobbies regularly, cooking balanced meals, helping my husband keep the house clean and tidy, being stress-free at work, socializing with friends, and spending quality time on my marriage - all with my baby smiling contentedly up at me from her bouncy chair. 

Uh, yeah. You don't have to be a psychic to figure out that it absolutely did not work out that way.

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How to Write a Birth Plan Your Provider Wants to Read

Birth plan, birth preferences, wish list for birth...they go by many names, but no matter what you call it, chances are if you have a birth plan, it means a lot to you. Why else would you have taken the time to write it all out? Birth plans don't give you a guarantee that everything will work out the way you want it to, but they do make it easy for your caregivers to understand what your wishes are in the event that you are unable to tell them. (Even under the best circumstances, laboring people don't always feel up to a chat!) Today we're discussing birth plan facts, components of an effective birth plan, and how to write your birth plan so your provider actually wants to read it. 

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National Cesarean Birth Awareness Month - Resources for Unplanned Cesarean Birth

Some people plan their operative births ahead of time (no judgment here - I believe everyone should be able to experience birth the way they want!) and some people end up with Cesarean births they didn't want. In honor of #NationalCesareanAwarenessMonth, I wanted to share some resources around Cesarean birth for parents who might not have it in their birth plan.

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Your Dream Team: Assembling a Support System for Pregnancy and Birth

Teamwork makes the dream work! Just look at the Justice League, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, or the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department! Being a part of a team that knows how to use each members’ strengths most effectively will make a huge difference in the way you experience pregnancy, labor, and birth. Today, we’re going to talk about the different roles on a birth support team, and how they can help you achieve your goals for the childbearing year.

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The Partner's Guide to Labor Support

There's a lot of wonderful information out there for pregnant people and how they can prepare for giving birth - but what about you? You want to be helpful. You want your birthing person to feel safe and secure with you to lean on. You want to help your partner feel like the amazing, powerful person you know they are! But...what if you've never supported a birth before? I see you and I hear you, birth partner, and I'm going to doula you through this! 

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