Hello moms and dads!

At this time I am restructuring my practice to focus only in private lactation counseling.  I have loved my birth work and enjoyed my post partum work.  There is a lot of driving involved now with my location and I’m finding being out all night harder than I used to.  But I still love working with new families.  Breastfeeding support was my first love and I still enjoy it very much.  There is a lot of help out there on the internet,  videos, and moms groups,  things are going better starting in the hospital too.  But we all need help sometimes.  So this is where I will focus for now.  I serve a wide area from Rochester to Waterloo and south into Yates, Ontario, and Steuben counties.  I have so much experience and love what I do…  you can be successful and there is not reason to worry or be in pain when yo udon’t have to!   Just give me a call or an email and I’ll be happy to help.

Birth Tub Rental

tub 1

I have available to rent an inflatable birth pool. 

Benefits of hydrotherapy are: 

deep relaxation

reduction in contraction discomfort

takes the effects of gravity away from your working uterus


natural way to be undressed

Information about the Tub:

  • The tub is a 5′ outside, 4′ inside inflatable pool.
  • Six inch walls support your weight, even leaning over the side. It has a soft air-filled bottom.
  • Comes with everything you need: hose, pump, thermometer, cleaning solution, directions, faucet adapter, etc.
  • Big enough for two, stays warm for a long time, easy to add hot water to it, easy to drain.
  • Lightweight and very portable… fits in your backseat.
  • Rental is for 2-3 weeks before you are due until the birth. You have 1-2 weeks to return it.
  • Pick up is arranged for Canandaigua or in a Rochester area location. You, your husband, friend or family member would be responsible for pick up and return.
  • Reservation required.
  • Tub is inspected and cleaned and disinfected between users.
  • $100 includes all.

tub 2

tub 3

tub 4

Attending a Birth/ How it feels to be a doula

Hello there!   Are you expecting a baby?  How exciting!  It’s exciting for me too!  I really love being with you as you go through labor and as you bring your baby into the world.  It’s truly an honor to be with you,  the closeness I feel when we work together is a special feeling, and that’s what makes the big difference in having a committed doula at your birth.  You are special to me.

I have always limited my practice to no more than 2 families in a month… keeping births a certain distance apart… and not taking births at times when I can’t be fully committed to you.  Currently you’ll be my one and only!  Your birth matters!  It matters to you and and matters to me.  I want to be fully present for you, rested, and remember what you need in your birth.

That’s why I meet with you 2-3 times before birth,  it’s why we email and stay in touch as your birth approaches or if you hire me months in advance.  The bond and trust we develop in each other allows me to be a very good birth attendant for YOU.  I tailor my approach to your needs, your wants, your personality, your family.  This is important to me and it’s why I’ve always offered more prenatals than other doulas,  it’s why I will come to your home in labor instead of just meeting you at the hospital.  I am committed to YOU,  I prepare myself for YOUR birth.

So when your big day comes,  I AM excited!  I’ve planned and prepared,  not just for birth,  but for you.  I have reserved this time in my life, in my family, my month for you.  I’ve put off or said no to certain things,  I’ve made sure certain things are done and ready at home so my family is all set when I leave.  I’ve been saving my sleep so I am rested for you.  I’ve been on-call for you-  that means waiting for your big day- being ready to drop everything and head out the door for up to 15+ hours with YOU.   It matters to me to be with you.  I’m looking forward to it!!

The feeling is a what one might call a partnership.  We undertake to work together.  You open up to me about yourself and your desires for birth,  your feelings and needs.  I open my life and my time and my heart to you,  I commit to being with you.  This is not a commitment I take lightly.  Some may feel that the money you give me constitutes your commitment to me and that if you pay me you have lived up to your commitment.  But let me explain…

When it comes to birth work the money is a secondary factor.  Business is business but birth is personal work.  There is a lot of emotion going around… not just for moms and dads either… doulas feel a lot too!  It’s not as simple a situation as say, hiring a guy to pave your driveway!  No inter-personal interaction there.  He does the work: you pay him,  he doesn’t: you don’t.  If he doesn’t show up you’ll be disappointed but you won’t be hurt or alone.  If you change your mind,  he might be annoyed but chances are he’ll fill your time with another customer.  That’s not true with a doula.  It’s not just business for me.

You can’t pay for caring,                                                                                                                            You can’t pay for connection,                                                                                                                     You can’t pay for affection,                                                                                                                               I feel all those things and they are part of why I am so committed to you and why I am so excited when your birthing day arrives.  The bond, partnership, and trust between us helps not just you as you birth but me as I work with you.  It’s why I am so thrilled if your birth goes perfectly,  when you achieve your goals, and if your are happy with your birth.  It’s why I love seeing you and your husband bonding with your baby.

It’s also why I feel very sad if you don’t call me to be with you on your big day.

It matters to me, to be with you,  the work I do to prepare for your birth, how your birth unfolds, and you.  I really want to be there.  It’s not just a job for me.

Why Are Doula Fees So High?

A Doula’s Fees

Many people ask about the breakdown of professional labor support fees. I offer this information so that you’ll have a better idea of what your money is paying for.



Most first labors last longer than 18 hours; some can last as long as 40 hours or more. The average time I spend with a woman for her labor and birth is about 14 hours.   I spend at least another 6 hours in prenatal meetings and the postpartum meeting.  Phone calls, individual research and responding to e-mails often add another hour or two per client.  Second and third births are very often shorter but require quick action on my part.   I charge a lower fee for second/third time births.



When I make a commitment to be available to attend you in labor, I limit the number of clients I put on my calendar to avoid birth conflicts and to ensure that I am reasonably rested when you go into labor. I try to schedule only one or two clients per month which gives you the highest chances I’ll be free to be with you. When I put your due date on my calendar, I commit to being available two weeks beforehand and two weeks after that date. This means that when I schedule a vacation, I have to add another four weeks during which I cannot accept clients.



The rule of thumb is that a self-employed professional’s income is only half of what they earn, after deductions for vacation and sick time, self-employment taxes, health insurance, and business expenses. Communication expenses are high for a doula – I have a cell phone so I’m always reachable, a web site, and a computer with a high-speed internet connection. I also have routine professional and office expenses and unusual transportation and supplies expenses.  There are supplies I bring with me to your birth and give you at appointments and interviews.  In addition, I also have to be able to compensate a back-up if the need arises.



It’s important to me to keep up with all of the most current information. In order to attend conferences and training opportunities, I often have to limit the number of clients I can accept around the time I will be unavailable, thereby reducing the number of clients I can work with each year.  In addition there is no “company benefit” that pays for these seminars and conferences.



Being on-call all the time requires a very high level of personal sacrifice, including a willingness to be awakened any hour to go attend a labor for the next 9-18 (or more) hours.  Personal family events can be missed or interrupted for births. When I go to a movie with a friend, we have to take two cars, in case I have to leave suddenly for a birth. I can attend a party, but I’ll have to forgo that glass of wine and I have to bring a change of clothes with me wherever I go. In order to care for my children I have to arrange for another responsible adult to take over at a moment’s notice. I cannot take spontaneous weekend trips away from home, and even local appointments have to be planned around due dates so that I’m never far away or indisposed when a client calls in labor.


What you aren’t paying for is how much I care, which is priceless.

10 Reasons to Hire a Doula

Ten Reasons to Hire a Doula

There are many reasons why women hire doulas to support them at birth. The following list represents the top reasons a mother would choose to have a doula support her and her family at birth. You should consider including a doula as part of your birth team if any one of the following apply to you:


This is your first baby

A doula will act as your personal guide through this unfamiliar and exciting process. Doulas are trained and experienced at empowering mothers to have a positive birth experience. She will encourage, reassure and nurture the mother as well as provide vital information.


You expect to have a normal birth and/or are planning a natural (drug-free) birth

Studies show that a doula’s attendance at birth dramatically decreases a mother’s chance of having medical interventions, such as c-sections, labor enhancing drugs, strong painkillers, and confinement to bed.  Her confidence in you, the coping strategies, and the comfort measures she suggests improve labor progress and eliminate pain/fear based decisions.


Your previous birth was difficult, traumatic, or an unexpected c-section

A doula can build your confidence, help you gain understanding about your last birth, learn ways to improve this birth, and prepare & support you for a vaginal birth.  Her presence makes birth more peaceful.


You are having your baby in the hospital (OB/GYN or Midwife)

A doctor joins a mother when she has started pushing.  A hospital midwife has other patients to tend to.  The doula usually joins a mother at home when active labor starts or when the mother requests additional support. The doula provides a familiar continual presence for the duration of labor offering comfort measures, reassurance and encouragement.


You anticipate being alone at birth (no partner or family member to attend)

A doula can be a welcome and familiar face amongst many unfamiliar hospital staff. The doula is familiar with your expectations, hopes and concerns for birth. She can act as your advocate and primary support.


You feel anxious or fearful about your upcoming birth

A doula provides emotional support, listening to your concerns and providing reassurance and education about the birth process.  Her companionship greatly reduces the level of anxiety both parents may feel.


You believe you may have difficulties coping with pain

A doula has many strategies to share with a mother to help cope with the pain associated with childbirth. Massage, breathing techniques, and visualization are just a few examples of pain management strategies.


You feel that you and your partner will benefit from experienced support 

A doula can enhance a dad’s experience by helping him be involved at his comfort level. A doula can help the father share in the experience of birth with confidence and provide time for him to take care of his needs, such as sleep, food, and fresh air without leaving the mom unsupported.


You would like experienced help with breastfeeding

A doula is often especially experienced or trained in breastfeeding and will protect and promote the time and closeness required and will assist in getting the first nursing off to a great start.  She can help later as well.


You desire a positive birth memory

A doula can preserve your birth memory, fill in any blanks from your experience, and keep your birth moment sacred.  She will help you maintain a sense of control & active participation in your birth that results in an empowering experience.


Adapted from material by Michelle Dennill, CD(DONA) © 2008 Bloom Birth Support Services.  Copyright released for Doulas and their Clients.

Tips For Bonding With Your Baby

Tips For Bonding With Your Baby

by Ellen Derby CLD (CAPPA) (BAI), CLC, birth and postpartum doula

Many activities help you bond with your baby and your baby to bond with you. It is well known that the act of consistently meeting baby’s needs helps baby form a secure bond of trust and love with you: keeping him warm, feeding her, meeting his need for human connection (being held), changing wet and soiled diapers, helping her fall asleep, keeping baby safe. When you do these things baby’s love for you grows beyond the womb.

For mothers there are times when feeling well bonded is harder, especially if the birth was very disappointing, very very painful, frightening, or traumatic, if she is experiencing loneliness or depression, or if the baby wasn’t planned or a family loss or difficulty has arisen. It can happen after a cesarean birth. It can happen with adoption.

It is ok if you do not feel “in love” with your baby right away like all the pictures show and everyone talks about. You are not alone, this happens more than you think it does. Be patient with yourself. You probably know you love the baby but don’t feel the lovey-dovey feeling you thought you would. Give yourself time; you will.

*If you feel indifferent towards the baby and find it difficult to meet baby’s needs or don’t want to care for the baby or have the frightening feeling of wishing to harm the baby please speak to your doctor, there is help for your situation. *

In the meantime here are some things to do to help yourself feel closer to the baby:

  • Breastfeed: the hormones alone, plus the skin contact & cuddling will help you bond.
  • When bottle feeding cuddle baby turned toward your front during every feed.
  • Hold baby skin to skin against your chest: undress baby down to her diaper and open your blouse & bra, lay baby’s chest against your chest, stroke baby’s back and sing a lullaby or hum a little tune, or just rest quietly. Cover both of you with a light blanket if it’s cool.
  • Gaze at baby’s face, even undress baby down to his diaper and lay her in your lap facing you with her head on your knees, take in all of baby with your eyes. Get to know his expressions. Mimic them or pretend that is how s/he is speaking to you and respond verbally in return.
  • Watch for small smiles, speak quietly to baby or sing a small song and watch her expression change in response.
  • Pay attention to baby’s behavior when you talk to him or to others while holding him: s/he will turn to your voice and listen.
  • Spend a little time reading to the baby, sing a song to baby, or lay the baby down while she is quiet and alert and watch him kick his legs and listen to her coos.
  • Snuggle and cuddle the baby a lot. Babies love to be held, love being rocked, and love being carried in your arms or over your shoulder. This does not spoil the baby!
  • Take a warm bath with the baby, not too deep and not too hot, support baby’s head but let his body float in the water, hold her close to your belly and chest, gently wash baby, but carefully, as baby’s smooth skin gets slippery! Wrap baby in a towel before getting out. Or bathe the baby in a baby tub and enjoy the sensuality of warm water and sweet smelling soap together.
  • Rub a good lotion into baby’s whole skin, everywhere. This alone is a massage and babies usually like it.
  • Kiss baby’s head and cheeks!
  • Smell baby’s head and neck a lot! (the baby smells great and helps you know your baby in another way)
  • Examine baby’s hands & fingers or feet & toes, feel how tiny & beautifully formed they are, watch how s/he uses them, allow her to grip your finger & feel the strength.
  • Stroke baby’s head and hair, feel how baby’s skull is shaped in your hand.
  • Enjoy baby’s diaper changing time: talk to the baby, sing a song, say the abc’s, you can say anything.
  • Dress baby in fresh clothes each day, choose the cutest outfits you have, notice how baby is growing into (or out of) them and how cute the baby looks. Take a picture.
  • Take baby outside and describe the world to her, you can take a walk, use the stroller, or just sit on the stoop/porch
  • Dance with the baby to your favorite music, or do mommy-baby yoga
  • Take the baby to visit co-workers or family: their praise will help you feel proud of the baby and will also strengthen your bonds with family and friends in your new role.
  • Join a new mothers’ group, it helps to know others going through the same things.
  • Rest when baby sleeps: I cannot stress how valuable this is for you. Everything in life is better when we are rested. Caring for a newborn is exhausting and often not very rewarding: good sleep gives us a renewed perspective on difficult tasks.

After 23 years of mothering and 13 years as a doula I spent some time to stop and think about what I did and do to bond with a newborn. Some things I could do as a mom but cannot do as a doula but can encourage mothers to do themselves. These are all things I have done with my own children. I too didn’t feel “in love” right away with my oldest child. When your baby begins to smile at your smiles, and respond to your voice you will begin to feel much closer to your baby. Even when your situation is ideal some days are just tough and this list may give you an idea of how to pass the day with your new baby.

I hope this helps and gives you some ideas of what others do to make it look so easy but for you feels so  hard.  Give some of them a try and add more when you get comfortable doing them!



Babies CAN talk, and they do! (understand your baby’s cries)

Several years ago a woman appeared on Oprah telling us all about how babies do talk to us.  Priscilla Dunstan from Australia had a baby son and she has excellent hearing, through listening closely to him she realized he made certain noises at the beginning of his cries.  Those sounds correlated to what his needs were.  She studies these sounds by listening to babies around the world and found these sounds to be universal signals to mothers about what the baby needs.  You  can see a short video about these sounds right here, and watch an extended version that comes up afterward.

These sounds appear just at the beginning of the cry, much like the “th” sound precedes the remainder of the word “thing” “thought” “thunder”.

Neh- at the beginning says “I’m hungry”

“Aah” “Owh” or “Wah” means “I’m tired, help me fall asleep”

“H-eh” with a prominent “H” sound is telling you baby is uncomfortable- cold, wet, scrunched, hot, needs a change, etc

A growly “Eairh” is a sign baby has gas in the lower belly-  this is a good time for a belly massage or leg exercises to move the air

A grunty “EH” is saying “I need to burp”

When this woman appeared on Oprah I had 3 children already and many many baby cousins and lots of babysitting experience.  I knew immediately that these sounds were correct.  I’d heard them a hundred times before and knew some of them already.  You have too,  you just didn’t know what you  were listening to.   Have you ever been out of the house and heard a crying baby and thought to yourself-  “Why, he’s tired, poor thing- take him home to bed.”  or ” Can’t you hear she’s hungry?  Just feed her already!”     Sure you have…  If you have lived with an infant.  That’s why your grandma can tell you what’s wrong when you feel like you have no clue.

If you have a little one and you just can’t understand why the baby is crying,  take a listen here and maybe you will be enlightened.   Babies do talk to us,  they listen too, and even will join in the conversation with sounds, looks, and gestures.  Watch and listen to your baby, and be amazed!


There is a link to Dunstan’s site in the parent’s links section.

Blossom Gets Crafty

Hi there!

Very soon I will be adding a new page to this website.  In my writings about becoming a doula I explain a lot about my experience growing up in a very large extended family… I was around babies and young children all the time.   My aunties all breastfed, had natural births, and treated childbirth as a normal do-able female function (not a horror story).  Well,  my very large extended family is also talented in the domestic arts.  You know: cooking, baking, cleaning, putting up fruit and vegetables, gardening, sewing, needlework, quilting, creating a pleasant home interior.  We’re good with color (except the boys who got the color blind gene).  Some are talented in visual arts, woodworking, etc.  Both sides are good with their hands.  Me too!

I’ve been very creative all my life.  Art was my favorite subject in school!  I’ve had a lot of practice. Now some of those skills have been perfected and knowing that all doulas come to a point of not carrying on the all-nighters so well anymore, I’ve decided to expand my income to include the sale of lovely handmade items for children and women.  I especially love making toys.  I also get a real kick out of repurposing and recycling.  (My grandparents were frugal people and I learned some of this from them.)  And I truly enjoy making special things for babies.

Lots of my doula families have received a handmade gift from me:  booties, bonnets, or blankets mostly.  You know who you are and how nicely made the item was.  Now I get to make a lot of lovely things for other people precious children.  You can find my special toys at my Etsy Shop called BlossomsBeauties .

I sew:  dolls, stuffed animals, sock monkeys, cloth diapers, baby bonnets, lovies/security blankets, receiving blankets, and baby clothes

I hand knit or crochet:  booties and baby caps, stuffed animals, dolls,  hats for mom

I bead: for mom, earrings and matching bracelet-earring sets, a few necklaces,  for kiddos: nursing necklaces, play pretend/dress up jewelry

I hope you’ll keep me in mind when you are looking for just the right gift for that special someone, including your own new baby.

Some examples:


“Molly” doll    18″ tall           Upcycled Wool Sweater Elephant


Crochet Fish Basket Learning Toy        Farm Set, 10 animals + Barn Tote


Purple Stone, Bracelet Set                 Lampwork Glass Bead Earrings


Upcycled Wool Sweater Owl              Hand Knit Bonnet and Booties Set


Extra Large Receiving Blanket          Crochet Monkey 7″ tall


eat 6 dates a day the last 4 weeks of prenancy for a better birth


I’ve posted this link here for the easiest way to find this information.  Last fall I found this posting via Facebook and since it IS evidence based I’ve begun recommending it.  Maybe for some the taste of dried dates is new but I was introduced to them as a child by my grandmother who used them in her baking.  I like them!  For moms the benefits are great:  spontaneous start of labor,  faster labors and less need for pitocin augmentation, reduction in post partum bleeding, intact membranes, for baby, means less risk of infection.  Plus since dates are a dried fruit they will help with end of pregnancy constipation.   The article is better at telling you more and the study is sited with a link for complete reading.

In the moms who were my clients AND who did eat 6 dates a day the last month of pregnancy, there definitely was a difference in their labors!  Faster moving, started on it’s own in the normal time frame,  no drugs to enhance to the labor and although it’s not too common to have heavy bleeding post birth with my moms (although it does sometimes happen),  these moms did not have it.     So,  I continue to recommend it.

Fresh or dried… eat some dates… put them in your oatmeal, on your cereal, snack on them, put some in trail mix, in your yoghurt.  Buy whole, chopped, pitted or not.  Fresh are in the produce department in winter for sure-  Not sure the rest of the year.  Get creative, look for recipes.  You can do it!  It’s worth it!

One year later

Well,  it’s been a big year!  We got moved and settled into our new house in the beautiful Hammondsport Area.  Every day, anywhere I go, I drive by beautiful Keuka Lake and the lovely hills surrounding her.  The sparkling blue waters and lakeside eateries in summer, the scent of grapes in the fall and the colorful autumn leaves, the peace and quiet of winter, and the return of birds, flowers and green leaves in spring have brought me around again to the time I first built this site.


         Lake view overlooking H’port       The dot is Pulteney, H’port at the Southern end        Boardwalk & beach in town


It took a long time for me to get back to developing this site and continue restoring what was lost in the crash last year.  And I also had my personal computer die and while I lost everything stored in email (a Big Deal) everything else was backed up.  I’ve restored my postpartum service section as I am offering those services again.  I really enjoy short term work with families.  And I’ve completed a new services page- including childbirth class and a new way to help prepare families for their birth.

My good doula friend and I traveled to sunny Destin, Florida last October to attend the CAPPA ( Childbirth And Postpartum Professionals Association) conference.  It was a wonderful trip and a wonderful experience of doula sisterhood!  It was so great that I will be transferring my certification to CAPPA this year.   Some work lies ahead there as I just made the decision to go ahead with it today.



         Look for the green star                Destin Beach- Oct is the best in FL                                      Hotel view!


So I now serve the greater Rochester region at a greater distance as well as the Finger Lakes area and parts of the Southern Tier.   I have a lot of travel time involved and have had to raise my rates to accommodate those costs and adjust my services a bit but the beauty of home is worth it.  I hope my clients will feel that way too.   So far since the move I’ve had 9 families hire me… half have had their babies and half are still waiting.  Haven’t missed a one.  I’ve had some of my families write some very kind and generous things about my work with them and that always feels so great!

I’m going try building up my breastfeeding support services for this area since I think there is a greater need here for them than for birth support.   And I’m in the process of trying to get a Finger Lakes Doula  Group together to serve doulas and birth workers in the areas between Canandaigua and Corning.

So that’s the news from Birth and Mother’s Milk as of April 2014.  I hope I’ll have another post in a few months.