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Top 10 things I love about our birth community: A community resource list

**EDIT** Original post January 2014

One of the things I love about being a doula in Fort Myers is that I get to be a part of a bridge between our birth communities, from Naples up to Cape Coral. If you are expecting, you are LUCKY to be in our community! As Doc John from Mama’s Chiropractic summed up, we are lucky to even *have* a birth community, when so many states have outlawed midwifery care and free standing birth centers are unheard of. As an example of our lil’ passionate community, when I asked Samantha McCormick, one of our local CNM’s, what’s the one thing she loves most about our birth community she said, “One thing? That so many moms are educating themselves and seeking the kind of birth care they want. I have to say that I think that having a birth center in the community raises the standards for all births. Ask me an easier question!” Yep, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one thing. So in that spirit, I have brainstormed 10 of the things I love about our birth community, which has evolved into a community resource list of sorts, complete with clickable links. Share with your friends, your sisters, your pregnant co-workers. Every pregnant mother should be so lucky to connect with this list!

What I love:

1. My doula sisters-

When I asked a couple of my trusted doula sisters what they love about our birth community, here were the answers I received:

“We are all in this together!"

"We are small but mighty. We have only a few people making changes, but we do the work of many because it's important to us."

And, "It's great to have more people offering more services, from a greater variety of places, more choices."

For me, I love that we can pool our resources to better serve the moms in our community, that we can refer to each other, back each other up, get together to laugh over wine (or IZZE!), share birth stories and dream up a stronger, more cohesive birth community. Not sure how a doula can help YOU in your birth journey? Check out more info here. I love this quote:

2. Midwives and OBs whom I know and trust-

We have options in SW Florida, thank goodness for that. Do you want a traditional hospital birth? A natural hospital birth experience? Out of hospital altogether? Check out your options!

If you’re looking for an out-of-hospital birth, check these two birth centers:

*Baby Love Birth Center

*Family Birth Center of Naples

Homebirth hopeful moms have a few options in our area today, including:

Lifesong Midwifery

Cathy Matthews

There are other homebirth providers as well…Ask your doula about them!

There are some very dedicated OB’s in our community as well, who have become champions of natural birth. Kudos to Cape Coral Hospital in particular and Nancy Travis, director of Women's Care and Birth Suites for blazing the trail with your Mother-Friendly Nurse Recognition and family-centered births! Dr. George Kovacevik is one of my favorite OB’s and you can ask your doula for even more Mother-Friendly OB recommendations.

You’ll also find 2 teams of hospital-based midwives at the Lee Memorial Health System.

3. Childbirth Ed classes-lots of ‘em.

If there is one thing I love equally as much as doulaing (disclaimer: my husband and kids come even higher on my list), it’s teaching childbirth class. It puts me in the state of flow and I love connecting with couples this way. But beyond what I offer, we have LOTS of other childbirth ed options in our community, and our options are growing every day.

-Birthing From Within® classes through me at Mindful Birth Services and Doula Care. I teach at Baby Love Birth Center and Mama’s Chiropractic on alternating months.

-Positioning Babies-that’s me again! I teach the amazing work brought together by Gail Tully and showcased at Why? Because there’s more to a good position than "head-down"! Many difficult labors result from 'mal-position', where the baby's position makes it difficult for its head to move through the pelvis. I’ll show you the techniques to get your baby in a better position for your birth.

-Hypnobirthing-Classes at Baby Love and more are coming at other locations with new instructors, soon!

-Bradley Method-in Ave Maria (Collier County) by Monica Dix

-Hospital based classes (though, really, when you have these other juicy classes to choose from, hospital based classes may leave you a little dry…)

*I carry a lending library for my mamas, as does the SW Florida Birth Network and Baby Love Birth Center, and likely more locations as well. Use your area’s resources!

4. We have our local SW Florida Birth Network

If you are expecting and are in SW Florida, this is your resource! Updated events calendar, Facebook links, and easy steps to become a member. If you are a birth professional in SW Florida, it’s time. Join the Birth Network. Do this. Join forces for the good of the mothers out there and let’s come together as a cohesive group.

5. We have things like Henna bellies for pregnant moms

How fun is it to henna your belly during pregnancy! I offer this through Mindful Birth Services and Doula Care as well. I have to give a shout out to Eco Baby & Home, where I do henna bellies on Fridays. Not only does Kim sell cloth diapers, she stocks her store with local “green” products for pregnant and new moms and will bend over backwards to satisfy her customers. Her store always has free workshops, storytimes, meet the doulas events, and is an all around great resource for our birth community. Essential oils and amber necklaces, baby carriers and wraps, all kinds of goodies (and is where I turn to for post-partum gifts for my doula clients). Go there!!

6. Birth Circles for prenatal support.

This is another benefit of being a doula client of mine, and a perk of our little birth community. The birth circle gatherings at my home quite frankly ROCK. It’s one of my favorite parts about being a doula. We share birth stories, laugh, cry, show off our babies…It’s better than good. If you’re pregnant it’s a great way to meet some other great mamas, and if your baby is already here then it’s a great way to meet some like-minded mamas who are on the edge of their seat to hear your birth story.

The SW Florida Birth Network holds community Birth Circles as well (Thank you for that!).

7. ICAN groups of Lee and Collier Counties

Have you had a cesarean? Planning a cesarean? Had a VBAC? Planning a VBAC? ICAN’s mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) and

I also teach a Cesarean In Awareness class through my Birthing From Within childbirth ed series.

8. Prenatal Chiropractic Care

We have some really dedicated chiropractic professionals who specialize in pregnancy. Not just say they specialize in pregnancy, but REALLY do. And why is chiropractic care important? Well, you want a smoother, shorter labor, right? See #3 and Positioning Babies up there ^^.

Check out:

Mama’s Chiropractic

and ask your doula for more recommendations, as well.

9. Placenta Encapsulation

This helps new moms ward off post-partum baby blues, increases milk supply, and a host of other benefits. Moms in other communities have to do this service themselves. Not us!

We’ve got more than one Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, and check out Healing Afterbirth; Angela has been trained as a doula and is working on her lactation certification as well.

10. Prenatal yoga, baby yoga, Prenatal Massage

Yoga and massage in pregnancy offer not only physical benefits to you and your baby, but mental and emotional benefits as well.

For prenatal massage in Cape Coral, definitely go see Braidy Jones at Baby Love Birth Center. She's amazing.

Cheryl Bernardi is one of my favorite people, and in addition to teaching yoga in Naples she also offers “Birth Rehearsal” classes and Prenatal massage. She’s a great addition to your birth team.

There must be something about yoga instructors because Angie Ahmed is another of my favorite people! Visit her Little Namaste studio in Cape Coral.

So there you have it, a nutshell of our small but mighty birth community. I’ve personally worked with everyone mentioned above and feel so hopeful as I write. There’s more (so much more!) For breastfeeding support we’ve got La Leche League support meetings and CLC's in our community; for maternity photography you call Megan DiPiero Photography; prenatal nutrition? There’s a class for that at Baby Love…the list goes on and on! So take your excitement, channel it, nurture it, and get your birth plan and birth team rockin’ in our birth community. We’ve got plenty of resources for you, and I'm proud to be a part of our growing birth community!

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