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10 Reasons to Hire a Doula for Your Hospital Birth :: Denver Birth Photography


10 Reasons to Hire a Doula for Your Hospital Birth :: Denver Birth Photography

Doula. DOO-LAH. Doodly doo-la. It's a goofy word, Greek for "Women's Servant". But I'm here to tell you, doulas are nothing to joke about (BUUUUT I will forever see it in my head as doodly doo-la now!) Here are 10 reasons why you should hire a doula for your hospital birth:

1) Doula = Educator. Your doula is a phenomenal resource as you prepare for your birth. Maybe you have an essay of questions floating around in your head, just adding to your insomnia. Or maybe you don't even know what your questions should be. You might feel bombarded by all the choices and debates: to hat or not to hat? Natural or epidural? Hep B vaccine immediately after birth, or wait a bit? Put baby skin to skin, or leave under the warmer? It all can be a little overwhelming, yes? Your doula won't dish out medical advice, but she can provide evidence-based information and refer you to some interesting studies. The goal is to empower you to make the choices that are right for you... not the choices that were right for your chatty neighbor who's had two totally amazing births and one that was just so horrific, but somehow she loves describing it to you in explicit detail and warning you that probably the exact same scenario will happen to you, too.

2) Doula = Labor Support.So here's the thing. I've witnessed gobs and gobs of births. I've attended home births, hospital births, birth center births, surgical births, water births, land births, hypnobabies births, bradley births, natural births, epidural births... you name it!  And in every case, the determining factor in achieving a successful birth is a supportive team. And when I say "successful", I don't mean that baby eventually came out, and with a clean bill of health. I'm referring to mom's emotional health and wellbeing. Because though medical providers are aiming for "healthy mother, healthy baby", mom's recollection of the labor process and birthing experience matters. And every woman needs to be supported, encouraged, and comforted in her own way. Doulas are also so amazing with guiding breathing techniques and helping mommas to address discomfort, and even malpositioning of baby. Sometimes all that's required is a change of position. Sometimes gentle Rebozo sifting is helpful.

3) Doula = Communicator.  "When did your labor begin?" "How far apart were your contractions?" "What is your pain level?" "Did your waters break?" "Have you eaten today?" "What is your pain level?" "Do you have a birth plan?" "Are you okay with the hospital's standard newborn procedures?" "What is your pain level?" Depending on how progressed your labor is, you might not feel much like conversing. You may not want to check in with your "pain" regularly. You may be asked the same questions multiple times, particularly if there is a shift change with the staff. If you feel overwhelmed, your doula can often help field questions in both directions, so you can focus completely on your labor. Doulas also help to prepare parents in advance to self-advocate for their choices.

4) Doula = Bouncer. Let's say, hypothetically, you don't want a gaggle of people in your delivery room. In fact, this is your number one reason for not hiring a doula. Consider this. If you're looking for a more private hospital experience, and aren't keen on having every staff member clomping through your room on the reg with students in tow, you might consider asking a doula to serve as a bit of a traffic filter. She can also tell folks to pipe down and please speak in whispers. This makes a tremendous difference in the birth experience!

5) Doula = Birth Partner Support. Birth Partners and Dads need doulas, too! Check out this adorable clip of Dax Shepard if you don't believe me (and please excuse his references to "car crash" and a disassembled wife. Men, I tell ya!) And on another birth partner-related note, it's important to relay that having a doula does NOT make them obsolete! If you'd prefer for your birth partner to rub your back, your doula will happily step back and instead support him/her in better supporting you. My husband, God bless him, feels utterly confident in supporting me when the time comes. But the fact of the matter is, he doesn't know what laboring women need. My doula will help to guide him and re-up his confidence once he realizes I'm a monster in labor. (This is all hypothetical, of course).

6) Doula = Massage Therapist. Your amazing doula knows just how to apply counter-pressure, relieve some of your back labor, and help you to relax as much as possible through your contractions-slash-pressure-waves.

7) Doula = Mind Reader. Even when you can only utter an "Ehhhhh-ggghh-aaarrr-kehhh", your doula probably knows what you need. A cool towel on your neck? Check. A bit of fragrance on your oxygen mask? She's got it. A foot rub? Done. Help with a contraction on the way to the bathroom? Word. Hating your position and need help finding a new one? It's in the bag. Sometimes she knows just what you need, even when you don't.

8) Doula = Cheerleader. At some point, you might have a tinge of doubt in yourself. You may feel scared. You may wonder if what you're feeling is normal. Your doula is there to remind you that you are strong and powerful, and your body knows exactly what it's doing!

9) Doula = Statistical Success. A doula can reduce your odds of having a cesarean birth.

"Compared with women who had no continuous support, women with companions (such as a doula) who were neither on the hospital staff nor in the woman's social network were:

  • 28% less likely to have a cesarean section
  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor
  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication
  • 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively."


10) Doula = Boob Guru. Many doulas are also Certified Lactation Consultants. They're able to give you one-on-one consistent and dedicated support and help you to get just the right latch! Breastfeeding does come with a bit of a learning curve for both mom and baby, and having a partner to help troubleshoot issues as you're presented with them will boost your confidence and success in breastfeeding.

Man, I feel like I could use a doula sitting here with me right now, as I write this article. Not for my boobs, silly. I don't have a baby. I'm talking about foot rubs and fragrance and encouragement! They're pretty amazing, yes?!  So, if I've convinced you that a doula is worth having, here are some doulas I've worked with personally at births and would recommend highly. I'd love for you to sit down and chat with them to learn more:

Doulas Serving Denver:

(C) 2016 Michelle Garey : Denver Birth Photographer

Katrina & Krystal

(C) 2016 Michelle Garey : Denver Birth Photographer

Erika Jones 

Nurture The Mother


(C) 2014 Michelle Garey Photography

Karina & Autumn

Dynamic Doulas



Doulas Serving Northern Colorado:

(C) 2014 Michelle Garey Photography

Jennifer Ivans

Beautiful Beginnings Birth Services



Doulas serving Colorado Springs:


Candace McCollett

Westside Birth Connection



10 Reasons to Hire a Doula for Your Hospital Birth :: Denver Birth Photography


Toby's Shower for Babies


Toby's Shower for Babies

. .:: If you follow me on Facebook, you're probably familiar with Toby Tolin's story of survival and hope. Doctors in Austria realized at Toby's 20-week appointment that something wasn't quite right. Toby was small, and not very active. Doctors advised that Toby be terminated. Joshua and Liz decided, instead, to give their son a fighting chance. They moved back to the United States, seeking out the best possible medical care for Toby in Denver, Colorado. Toby was determined to be an IUGR baby, with a dying placenta.

On April 5th, Toby's activity declined noticeably. He was born via emergency c-section at 32 weeks gestation and 2 pounds, 13 ounces (growth-restricted and small for his age).

Today, Toby is home with his family, and they want to spread hope to other NICU families by blessing them with care packages intended to make the NICU feel a little more like home. If you'd like to get involved, visit

Michelle Garey Photography will be sponsoring baskets with the help of friends and fans on Facebook. If you'd like to help complete a sponsorship, just "Like" Michelle Garey Photography on Facebook, and keep an eye out for sponsorship posts. All that's required is a post "Share"... seriously, it's easy as a quick click!! Thanks for spreading the love!

Also, keep an eye out for Toby's birth story, coming to the blog soon! ::. .

Toby's Shower for Babies :: Life in the NICU


Oh, How I Love Birth Stories! :: Denver Birth Photographer


Oh, How I Love Birth Stories! :: Denver Birth Photographer

Oh, How I Love Birth Stories! Carol Roedocker of 13th Moon Midwifery invited me to return to the group prenatal. The moms who were pregnant when I met them at the last prenatal proudly introduced their sweet babes and shared their birth stories with a new group of pregnant mommas. I can't tell you how exciting it is to see such a powerful transition into motherhood. Not long ago, these moms were listening to other women's birth stories with intrigue, a hint of timidity, lots of excitement, and maybe just a bit of impatience for those in their last weeks of pregnancy ;-) Here are the new babes!


Dr. Colleen Holland :: Womb for Growth in Fort Collins


Dr. Colleen Holland :: Womb for Growth in Fort Collins

I love my partners. I'm blessed to be surrounded by an abundance of kind and genuine souls, filled with empathy for others and an unwavering conviction to contribute to their wellbeing. These are the people I seek to surround myself with personally and professionally, and every time one of them enters my life, I am overcome with gratitude. Dr. Colleen Holland, the owner and chiropractic genius behind Womb for Growth, just happens to be one of those beautiful people. The first time we sat down together, her presence calmed me. Her face conveyed nothing but pure, genuine kindness. This is a gal I can BOAST about, because I see her effect on other people as well. I'm honored to feature her in my May Partner Spotlight!

Dr. Colleen Holland with Womb for Growth in Fort Collins, Colorado
Dr. Colleen Holland with Womb for Growth in Fort Collins, Colorado

Getting to know Colleen:

Q: Why are you a birth junkie?

A: Birth is a monumental gift of the divine feminine! Few experiences can show a woman what she is made of like pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. I see such strength and beauty emerge from women when they are compassionately supported during this time. Our culture has it wrong with birth. We focus on the baby and see the mother as some carrier vessel. For me, if you make pregnancy and birth about the mother and truly support her without agenda, both she and her baby will thrive. So too, will our world!

Q: Tell me a bit about your practice.

A: Womb For Growth is a chiropractic office specializing in prenatal, pediatric, and fertility care, in Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been operating my own practice for just over a decade.  I grew up in New Jersey and attended Ursinus College in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Q: Had you ever received chiropractic care yourself, before deciding on a career as a chiropractor?

A: During my junior year, I seriously injured my back which left me with two herniated discs and tremendous pain. On the recommendation of a friend, I sought the care of a chiropractic doctor. This was life changing for me not only because I healed without surgery or drugs (my only allopathic options), but because I learned that chiropractic was about improving the nervous system of the body so that every cell could function at an optimal level. (My first big “ah ha”!)

Q: Is that when you received your calling to chiropractic?

A: Actually, I was pre-med and fully intended to become a pediatrician. In Grad School I studied medical humanities, still thinking I would continue on to Medical school. I thought that I could combine a Medical Degree with the vitalistic approach I had learned from my chiropractic experience. I quickly realized that allopathic medicine and a holistic/vitalistic approach to health are mutually exclusive. It seems silly now, but that was such a surprise to me then. So, I headed to South Carolina and four years later, I completed my Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Sherman College of Chiropractic. I began practice one month later in Colorado and have never looked back!

Q: How did your passion for mommas and babies come to be?

A: My practice quickly took shape as a prenatal/pediatric chiropractic office. The need for care during those years in our lives is so evident. During student clinic, I discovered that working with moms and babies was my joy! My own pregnancy and birth of our daughter in 2003 confirmed for me just how vitally important nervous system support is during such times of dramatic growth and family milestones. I can personally relate to many women with a wide variety of uniquely female experiences. These experiences have guided my passion toward helping women with hormone imbalance, fertility challenges, pregnancy, difficult labors, cesarean births, and breastfeeding challenges. Helping to bring balance and healing to infants and children is a privilege for which I am incredibly grateful. I have so much fun in my office with all the little ones around!

Q: Alright, it’s time to dish! What’s your secret to success?

A: I focus on what is right within people and work from there. I see where there is balance and do everything I can to spread that around. Pain perception is only 1/9th of our nervous system’s capability. The rest is function. So, if I were to only focus on the pain and what is wrong, I would be missing so much! For me, it’s about keeping the channel open; helping the body to adapt and integrate our experiences, to allow each person’s own evolution.

Q: What a common issue that brings pregnant mommas through your door?

A: Typically, mal-position of the baby. This may include breech, transverse, or posterior position. In these situations usually the mom’s pelvis is out of balance and the baby is not free to move into the best position for birth. Often, mom will experience discomfort ranging from sciatica, rib pain, hip pain, numbness, shortness of breath, heart burn, low back ache, etc. Most medical birth practitioners think that these things are “par for the course” when it comes to pregnancy. As a result, Moms do not get the support they need when they are experiencing these symptoms. There is a lot that can be done to make pregnancy more comfortable and most importantly, help baby find a better position to make delivery easier for both of them.

Q: And the little ones?

A: I’ll usually see young patients when they are not nursing well, are colicky, spit up excessively, have a misshapen head, are sleeping poorly, are chronically ill, etc. All of these things can be directly related to the child’s nervous system.

Q: What benefits do momma and baby receive from postpartum chiropractic care?

A: No matter how ideal our births, the combination of relaxin hormone, perpetual holding/feeding, and lack of sleep can do a number on our bodies and tax our nervous systems. If labor was particularly long, birth was difficult, required surgery, baby is not latching well, or family support is not ideal, then chiropractic nervous system care can be especially helpful.

Postpartum chiropractic care helps to smooth out that transition. Mom’s back, neck, and shoulders are typically in need of balancing for her comfort. Her pelvis often needs support as hips and sacrum return to a non-pregnant state. Babies can be gently balanced with specialized adjustments to support their nervous system as they transition from womb to world. For the little ones, we check that the cranial bones have realigned (during the birth process they overlap to fit through the birth canal), that the cranial nerves responsible for vital functions (breathing, suck/swallow, etc.) are without stress. We not only check for normal nervous system reflexes but look at how the smaller, peripheral nerves are doing. Does the baby’s skin blanch (turn white) on her face when she cries? That can alert us to nervous system imbalance because it is responsible for blood flow to the skin. We check for subclinical tension in the baby’s body with gentle movements and observations. Babies should be cute little balls of relaxation that nurse well, sleep well, poop daily, pee often, and generally be content when held. Chiropractic can help your baby attain that kind of bliss!

Q: Tell me a little about fertility awareness. I know many women who aren't ready just yet to start a family, but don't feel comfortable introducing hormones to their bodies.

A:  I'm working on a class for couples who wish to practice fertility awareness. It is a highly effective, natural method of birth control that does not rely on risky hormones or drugs. For couples who are trying to become pregnant or for couples avoiding pregnancy, an understanding of the woman’s cycle is imperative. In this class, students learn to identify fertility signs and chart the woman’s cycle. Charting makes it easy to see when the woman is fertile and requires only 2 minutes per day. Couples are then empowered with the ability to achieve or avoid conception. I’m super excited about this class because charting also gives us tremendous amounts of information about a woman’s health. We can tell whether her thyroid is healthy. We can also determine whether she has sufficient progesterone to sustain a pregnancy. And we can know whether she is or is not ovulating. If a woman is having difficulty conceiving, charting can help to narrow down the potential cause and avoid invasive fertility treatments and tests. It is my hope that every woman will have this knowledge and I plan to start teaching this class in August.

Q: What little bit of wisdom would you like to lend to other women in business?

A: Always do what feels right. Don’t stress about what works for someone else and struggle with trying to implement that if it doesn’t feel right. It’s a waste of your precious time and energy. You are unique, listen to you!

Q: Who do you find to be insurmountably inspiring in your life and in your work, and why?

A: I have had many great teachers throughout my life. My closest friend (who incidentally introduced me to chiropractic) is the person whom I most rely on for bouncing ideas off of and asking for advice. She is a gifted DC and one of the most authentic people I know. But truly, I am blessed to be surrounding by wonderful people that inspire me all the time.

Q: What’s the one thing that you just can’t wait to do as you drive home from work?

A: I’m a big time gardener. Permaculture really floats my boat. I love to be outside biking or hiking with my family. We have a beehive in our backyard and love taking care of “our girls”, as we call them. I’m working on creating a small water feature in my yard, just for them, with recycled materials. I also spend a ton of time reading (non-fiction mostly). There is just so much to learn!

Q: What’s one of your pet peeves?

A: Stepping in something wet, with socks on. I just can’t stand wet socks!

Q: What would you say to families teetering on the brink of relocation to Northern Colorado?

A: I “temporarily” moved to Northern Colorado over 10 years ago. I fell in love with the beauty of the mountains, the glorious weather, and genuine people. It is a fabulous place to raise children with a great sense of community!

What you don't want to miss!

Calling all preggo couples! Colleen has two classes in the works. One is the fertility class she mentioned above, which she'll be presenting in August 2012. The other is for the partners of pregnant mommas, teaching them to be better helpers during the pregnancy. Woo hoo! Often times, a partner feels helpless when mom is sore, tired, and uncomfortable. But, there is so much that a loving partner can do to really make a difference in Mom’s pregnancy. In this class, Colleen teaches some massage and structural techniques to help ease Mom’s tensions and common discomforts during pregnancy and labor.  Pregnancy does not have to be painful! She has taught couples these simple techniques for years on a private basis. Partners are always so happy to learn the tools to help (and moms are thrilled, too!). This class will be presented in a fun, interactive group setting starting in June 2012. To contact Colleen, visit her website at

That's not all!

Dr. Holland was generous to extend to my readers $50 off the initial visit for new patients through the end of May. Current clients at Womb for Growth will receive $5 off a visit through May 31st!

Colleen Holland
Colleen Holland
Dr. Colleen Holland with Womb for Growth in Fort Collins, Colorado
Dr. Colleen Holland with Womb for Growth in Fort Collins, Colorado
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Dr. Colleen Holland :: Womb for Growth in Fort Collins