Monthly Archives April 2017

Looking For a NYC Doula

Do I need a NYC doula? What do NYC doulas do? The scoop on a New York City doula via Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D.

It’s fun to have a baby, be the baby, and be the doula! I love the look on their faces. Photo courtesy of Doula Lauren.


Are you looking for a NYC doula? The word doula is weird. It’s Greek for slave. But it’s used in English to mean a birth attendant who is neither a doctor nor a midwife. If you’re a crunchy granola mama, you know all about doulas, all your friends are doulas, and you’ve hired one to attend your birth. If you aren’t, you haven’t the faintest.


Why Hire a Doula?


Continuous support during labor helps women feel more satisfied with their overall labor experiences and increases the likelihood of vaginal birth, according to the Cochrane Collaboration.


These researchers conclude, “All women should have support throughout labour and birth.”


Et Voilà. That’s why you hire a NYC doula.


What Do Doulas Do?

  • Attend hospital births
  • Attend home births
  • Help you at home and then go with you to the hospital
  • Provide moral support, birth smarts, and soothing words of reassurance for the birthing mama and her partner
  • Advocate for moms in labor and their partners to help them stick to their birth plans
  • Other stuff, like posting cool updates on Facebook and writing interesting blogs.


I actually don’t know that many doulas. The East Coast vibe might be different but the ones I do know here on the West Coast tend to be very healthy, very earthy, very kind, and very patient.


Patience is key.


It can take a l-o-n-g time to have a baby, especially the first time.


I have a friend, Lauren Kunis, who’s a NYC doula.


We hang on Facebook. I like her public posts, and appreciate the private messages she sends just to me.


We both love birth. And supporting birthing women (which I do through my journalism and the books I write and she does by being there, beside mamas and their partners as they birth in New York hospitals.)


I’m a homebirth and unassisted birth mom. NYC doula, Doula Lauren, specializes in hospital birth.


We have agreed to appreciate each other’s differences.


She’s been a doula for ten years. And she’s been there, done that many, many times.


So What’s It REALLY Like to be a NYC Doula?


At one of Doula Lauren’s births early on in her career, she was standing near the mother’s legs so she could inform her of where the baby’s head was and encourage her that she was almost done. The mama and everyone else in the room were very excited that the water was still intact and that the baby might be born in the caul. Doula Lauren was right there when … the baby’s head was birthed the water broke, ALL OVER HER.


About three years ago it happened again, only this time she did not get the spoils of the amniotic fluid.


I’ll let her tell this one:


“Mom was laboring and the doctor had just left the room. Mom and I were there alone. The doctor had just informed her he wanted to break her water [editor’s note: that means manually rupture the sac of amniotic fluid that surrounds and cushions the baby] and if when he came back he did not see any changes he was going to do so. Mom and I were talking. I was working on distraction and relaxation techniques with her. And then we heard an ear-splitting popping noise and the amniotic bag of waters exploded. It made it all the way to the wall! We laughed so hard. To this day that mom and I joke about that moment.”


NYC doula's cat Sadie is reading the Amazon bestseller, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan by Dr. Paul Thomas and Dr. Jennifer Margulis

Sadie the Cat took a break from reading The Vaccine-Friendly Plan to do some work at the computer. Photo courtesy of Doula Lauren.


Doula Lauren’s Cat Sadie


Doula Lauren recently posted a photo of her cat Sadie, helping her with some recent research on vaccine safety, efficacy, and necessity.


Sadie, I’m told, is the boss of the house. Everything in Doula Lauren’s house is actually Sadie’s: the computer, the food, the water, the couch.


Doula Lauren is her human.


Sadie loves to sit on and at the computer. She’s also an avid reader. Her favorite topics to read about on the computer? Birth, of course, and—what else—the book I mailed to Lauren a couple weeks ago, co-authored by Paul Thomas, M.D.: The Vaccine- Friendly Plan. Lauren’s already read it and Sadie’s helping her compile research from it for when she teaches childbirth education classes to her clients to help inform them of the most updated information about vaccines.


Her website:


Check it out.


Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is the author of Your Baby, Your Way (Scribner), and co-author, with Paul Thomas, M.D., of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan (Ballantine). Follow her on Facebook (here and here), Twitter, and Pinterest. Watch her in the documentary mini-series, “The Truth About Vaccines.”


In other news, my writer friend Kim Griswell has a brand new book coming out this fall. She made this advertisement to support the Rogue Valley Peace Choir. My littlest and I LOVE her two other Rufus books, illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev, and we can’t wait to read Rufus Blasts Off.

Expand your mind, open your heart. Books that make a difference by Kim Griswell and Jennifer Margulis

Why This Healthy, Beautiful Mom Chose to Birth Her Baby in the Bathtub Unassisted

Why this healthy, beautiful mom chose to birth her baby in the bathtub unassisted


Unassisted childbirth.


Free birth.


Undisturbed birth.


Why would a pregnant woman and her partner choose unassisted birth?


Why not have an experienced midwife there “just in case”?


For that matter, why not give birth in the hospital, surrounded by state-of-the-art technology and highly trained medical personnel?


Every woman has a different reason.


Some mamas don’t mind birth being a spectator sport. But others—like most other mammals—feel safer and more secure when there are not others watching, talking, commenting, monitoring, and interrupting them.


Imagine doing a vaginal exam (a completely unnecessary albeit routine intervention done in the hospital that has no scientific evidence to support doing it) on a mama bear in labor.


Women who have unassisted births report being better able to allow their bodies to open up to give safe passage for the tiny human who has been growing there for nine months when they are in a familiar space, surrounded by love.


Harmed by Hospital Birth


Things were not easy for Brogan Metcalf, 28, and her husband Chad, 26, after their first daughter, Dalila, was born at the hospital. In the midst of adjusting to being a mom, Brogan had a miscarriage in September 2015 when Dalila was 18 months old. Then she an ectopic pregnancy in January 2016 and the doctors had to tie one of her fallopian tubes.


Throughout this health ordeal, while striving to raise her daughter as naturally as possible, Brogan started to realize more and more that her hospital birth had been far from ideal. So when Brogan got pregnant again in April 2016, she knew she wanted to do things differently. She thought she would have a home birth and, mostly because of social expectations and other people’s fears, she played with the idea of having a midwife there to assist. But then a friend added her to a Facebook group for women who have had or are considering unassisted births and Brogan changed her mind. The more she researched unassisted birth, the more it appealed to her.


She realized wanted to have her baby unassisted, with just her daughter and her husband present. Having midwives present did not fit into the vision she had for the birth.


When we talk on the phone, Brogan tells me the decision to have an unassisted birth was mostly based on intuition. She saw herself birthing at her home in Wallops Island, Virginia with just her husband and her daughter present this time.


She wanted her new baby to come into the world gently and peacefully.


She did not want the sterile, bullying, interventionist experience she was subjected to during her labor at the hospital with their first baby.


“Although my daughter’s birth was only ten hours and I didn’t have an epidural, there was so much that I disliked about that experience,” Brogan explains. “I hated the hospital setting and being told how to birth—as if they somehow knew more about my body than I did. My water was broken for me. The nurses and the doctor told me if and when to push. I was planning a natural childbirth in the hospital but once I was there I no longer had control of my body.”


Brogan and Dalila watched home birth videos together and Dalila, who was only two, was totally intrigued. Dalila loved the moment when the mama pushed the baby out.


It took a little longer to convince her husband Chad that an unassisted birth was a good idea. “At first he thought I was crazy,” Brogan laughs, “but then he came around.”


Chad did his own research, reading stories of unassisted births and talking to Brogan about it a lot. A few times he asked Brogan, “Are you sure this is what you want? Why just us?” In the end, though it was her decision, her husband was totally supportive.


The midwife who provided prenatal care was also supportive. “She was cool with it,” Brogan says. “She was amazing.”


Birth Without Fear


Here’s how Brogan describes the unassisted birth of her son Lincoln:


I woke up around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, and went to the bathroom. I felt as though my mucus plug fell out, but I wasn’t certain. I had known as soon as I was in labor with my daughter. This time I wasn’t as sure.


I couldn’t fall back asleep.


About an hour later the contractions started.


I still wasn’t sure if I was really in labor and I didn’t want Chad to miss work if he didn’t have to so I waited.


The contractions were very mild at first. I got myself a snack and some water and sat on the couch for a bit.


I remember texting some of my close family to let them know I thought I was in labor.

As the contractions got stronger, I would stand with my hands on my knees, rocking back and forth letting the rushes roll through my body.


I remember being very calm and aware of my breath.


I was having steady contractions now so Chad called his work to let them know he wouldn’t be coming in.


Around 7:00 a.m. we started preparing the house. Chad cleaned and disinfected the bathroom and we put a shower curtain on the bed to protect the mattress and blankets over it in case I decided to give birth there.


Our two-year-old daughter had been up since my contractions started and was watching TV.


I remember going up to her and hugging her with tears in my eyes (I am crying now as I write this), telling her how much I loved her. I felt waves of emotion and I was suddenly saddened by the idea that with the birth of this baby I would be letting go of the relationship we had, when it was just her with me. We were so close, cuddling together, taking naps together, making meals together, doing everything just the two of us. All those memories of just her and me … somehow I felt bad that I was bringing another life into our precious space.


Around 7:30 a.m. the contractions were getting more intense. I got into the bathtub. In the water the contractions came about every ten minutes. Before they had been coming more often—about every 2-3 minutes. I thought that perhaps the water was slowing down labor so I got out of the tub. Ouch. I immediately got back in to the tub because the water was just more comfortable.


Dalila was in and out of the bathtub with me. I will never forget it. She played and we laughed and hugged and kissed. It was a beautiful moment for us. While I was in the tub I had meditation music playing on my phone. Eventually the contractions got so intense I needed my husband in there with me. He had been so wonderful, kind of hanging back, supporting me but giving me space so as not to interfere. He had been bringing me water or almonds and he let me know he was on standby for anything I needed. If he was nervous, he didn’t show it.


Things really picked up around 9:00 a.m. Chad was sitting on the toilet as I rested my head on his lap and wrapped my arms around his leg, squeezing tighter through each contraction. In between contractions Chad would pour boiled water into the tub so it would stay warm.


I was starting to feel as though our little man would be coming soon.


Chad asked if I thought I was dilated enough, and I told him to trust me because I knew this feeling.


At one point, he was about to leave the bathroom and I yelled “No! Stay here!”


I knew my labor wouldn’t last much longer.


I tried to breathe through every contraction. I was so exhausted that in between contractions I almost fell asleep. For most of my labor I had been humming through even the most intense contractions but in the final stretch I could barely keep calm.


About 9:30 a.m. I felt that urge to push. I tried to breathe through it.


Dalila was in the bathroom with us.


In between yelling during contractions I remember telling her that I was okay and that I loved her.


She was so calm, just taking it all in. She wasn’t worried at all. I remember screaming while pushing and the baby’s head came out.


Chad tried to get me to change positions to make it easier but I was too exhausted to move. I didn’t have it in me. So I stayed in the tub holding onto the side in a semi squatting position, leaning back. I yelled at Chad to “PULL THE BABY OUT!” because I didn’t think I could do it! Two pushes later Lincoln Grey glided into the water, meeting us earthside, no pulling required.


Dalila watched him come out into the water and crooned, “Oh, baby!”


A big sister admires her brand new baby brother, who was born unassisted at home. Via

Dalila admires her brand new baby brother Lincoln, who was born unassisted at home


The cord was wrapped around Lincoln’s neck. Chad calmly swooped it off, over the baby’s head, and handed my baby to me.


Chad and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. I said, “We did it.”


Lincoln was absolutely perfect; he barely made any noise.


He was so calm and quiet that I was worried at first. But he latched on to my breast immediately and was alert as could be.


We stayed in the tub, skin-to-skin, for about an hour. Then I felt I was ready to get out and get in bed. About ten minutes after I got into bed, I delivered the placenta. We kept the baby attached to the placenta for well over an hour.


My body felt so good after Lincoln’s birth, almost like I didn’t just give birth.


A new father holds his baby skin-to-skin on his chest. Read their birth story at

Chad, the proud husband, enjoying some skin-to-skin time with his brand new baby Lincoln

I couldn’t believe it.


I was walking and moving and much more at ease then after Dalila was born.


Even though I manifested my dream birth, I was surprised how calmly and perfectly it all happened.


It was almost effortless.


I was also amazed about how emotional it was for us.


Birth is beautiful and perfect. Especially when you give birth without unnecessary interference.


It is the most powerful thing I’ve ever done—birthing on my own.


Have you had a free birth? Would you have a free birth? Share your birth story with us in the comment section below! And please contact Jennifer Margulis if you would like to share your home birth, outdoor birth, or unassisted birth story on this blog.

Related posts:
How this mom rocked her unassisted outdoor birth
45 reasons NOT to have a home birth
Doctors and hospital midwives need to stop bullying pregnant women


Brogan Metcalf is a stay-at-home mom of two. Her passion is to educate people using self-love to better their health and their minds in order to create a better future for their children and themselves. She has a degree in liberal arts from Sussex County Community College in New Jersey. She is a certified personal trainer as well as a reiki teacher/master.



Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., has had one hospital birth, one midwife-assisted birth, one lay midwife-assisted birth, and one unassisted birth. The story of her unassisted birth is featured in Laura Kaplan Shanley’s book, Unassisted Childbirth, which includes a foreward by Michel Odent, M.D. An award-winning journalist, Jennifer Margulis is the author of Your Baby, Your Way (Scribner) and the editor of Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Urgent, Irrational, Tiny People We Love (Seal Press). Follow her on Facebook (here and here), Twitter, and Pinterest. Watch her in the upcoming documentary mini-series, “The Truth About Vaccines.”


The Truth About Vaccines is a 7 part mini-series directed by Ty Bollinger to help parents make the healthiest vaccine decisions

The Truth About Vaccines is a 7 part mini-series directed by Ty Bollinger to help parents make the best vaccine decisions for their children

Are Vaccines Safe? To Vaccinate or Not? These 60 Experts Weigh In

Are Vaccines Safe? To Vaccinate Or Not? 60 Experts Way in...

Photo via Pixabay

Over 60 Medical Doctors, Research Scientists, and Consumer Activists Explore Why Some Vaccinations Are Dangerous

If you know me or you’ve stopped by before, you probably already know that I recently wrote a book about vaccines, vaccine safety, and the immune system with a medical doctor named Paul Thomas, M.D. The book is called The Vaccine-Friendly Plan. But if you haven’t read the book (since I can’t even get my friends to LIKE my Facebook page, I suspect you haven’t) or if you’re here for the first time, you probably don’t know that my co-author, Paul Thomas, was born in the United States but grew up in Rhodesia. By the time he was in his early teens, Paul had seen more deaths in Africa than most Americans will see in their lifetimes. Newborns and infants succumbed to infectious diseases. Adults and children alike died of fulminating infections, dysentery, and malaria.


But no death was more devastating to him than the death of his playmate Taurai.


Taurai died of the measles, a vaccine-preventable disease.


So when the World Health Organization’s truck arrived at the village of Arnoldine, where Paul and his three younger siblings lived, the children happily lined up for their shots. In the heart of rural Africa, support was universal for this potentially life-saving technology.


Most medical doctors and health care providers agree that there is little question that vaccines have been one incredibly effective tool in modern medicine’s toolbox to help children around the world more successfully fight off infectious disease. It never would have occurred to Dr. Paul when he was first practicing medicine to ask the question, “Are vaccines harmful?”


Vaccines work like homeopathy. By exposing children to a weakened form of the disease agent, vaccines allow the body to build an immunological memory of the disease. If and when a child is exposed to that disease in the future, her immune system has already been primed to recognize and fight against it. So, when the vaccines work, children who have been vaccinated either do not get the infectious disease or get a much milder case.


According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, in the past twenty years routine vaccination has prevented 322 million diseases, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths among children in America.


The same CDC report found that the positive financial benefit to society from routine vaccination in the past twenty years has been tremendous, saving us $295 billion in direct costs for medical expenses, and a total of more than $1.38 trillion in indirect costs to society.


Yet many American parents today are choosing to delay or forgo some, or even all, vaccines for their children.


Why is that?


These parents fear both the immediate and the long-term side effects from vaccines, they are concerned that vaccines may be one trigger for autism, they do not understand why we have so many more vaccines on the schedule than ever before (in the late 1950s American children were only vaccinated against five diseases; today’s children get more than three times as many vaccines), and they feel unsure about what to do.


The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is the government's passive vaccine injury tracking system. Screenshot from the

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is the government’s passive vaccine injury tracking system. Screenshot via

The Supreme Court of the United States has found that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe,” but also that they are products that are so valuable that the risks associated with their use is justified.


The fact that vaccines seem to be essential for public health and children’s well-being but that the current CDC childhood vaccine schedule seems to carry more risk and be resulting in more vaccine injury than ever before has created one of the most difficult parenting dilemmas of our time. Parents also wonder why there is legislation that protects vaccine manufacturers from liability and why there is a consumer tax on each vaccine used to fund pay-outs for vaccine injuries.


To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

What do you do?

What vaccines to choose?

When is the best time to start?

What if the doctor gets angry at me if I don’t want to vaccinate?

What if I’m told my kid can’t go to school?

What in the heck is a thoughtful parent to do?


Enter Ty Bollinger’s new 7-part mini-series, The Truth About Vaccines. After his parents and five family members passed away from cancer, Ty Bollinger set out to investigate why. The result was a tremendously popular series that over three million people have watched called The Truth About Cancer. When he was researching it, he says, the number one question people were asking on the ground—a question that he and his wife have also been facing as they raise their four children—was about vaccines. This series is a deep dive into the topic in order to give worried parents all the facts they need to make truly informed decisions about vaccines. Ty personally interviewed over 60 experts and medical professionals for the film, including Dr. Paul Thomas and me.


(If this is your first time on my site, I’m Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. You can read a brief biography here and more about my Amazon bestselling book here. If you’re in the mood to surf or up in the night nursing a baby with nothing else to do and you feel like having some fun, you can also read the reviews of my previous book, Your Baby, Your Way, here. Like marmite, people seem to either love it or hate it.)


Dr. Paul has over 280,000 subscribers on YouTube and 13,000 patients in his practice in Portland, Oregon. He gives vaccines in his office, Integrative Pediatrics, every day. But he does not follow the current CDC childhood vaccine schedule. Instead, he has made some scientifically grounded, evidence-based changes to the current vaccine schedule in order to keep children protected against succumbing to infectious diseases and keep their brains and bodies healthy.


Does that make Dr. Paul “anti-vaccine”?


Does making sure your car has the safest airbags make you “anti-car”?


I do not believe there is any “pro” or “anti” vaccine movement, even though you read those words, “pro-vaccine,” and “anti-vaccine,” on social media and in the mainstream media every single day, sadly.


Dr. Paul went to Dartmouth Medical School and has been practicing medicine for over 30 yearsI graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University, got a Master’s from the University of California at Berkeley, and earned a Ph.D. from Emory. I’ve been researching and writing about children’s health for over 15 years and written/co-written/edited seven books, three of which have won national awards. We both believe it’s time to change the conversation about vaccines.


Questioning the necessity of an antibiotic for a viral infection does not make you “anti-antibiotic.”


Questioning the need for so many vaccines given to such tiny infants, including for a sexually transmitted disease in the first 24 hours of life to newborns who have no chance of catching it, does not make you “anti-vaccine.”


As you can hear me say in this preview for the series, I believe we all want the same thing: healthy children.


This 7-part mini-series about vaccines could not be more timely.


You need to watch it.


I need to watch it. (I haven’t seen it yet.)


Whether you are pregnant, a teenager, or a 65-year-old adult, chances are you are facing decisions about vaccines.


The health of all our children is at stake.


“The Truth About Vaccines” airs for free on-line beginning on April 12, six days from now! You can sign up to watch it here. Don’t let this free viewing pass you by. With 60 experts weighing in, there is bound to be something worth watching that may just give you the information you need and deserve to have to make truly informed choices for your family.


Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is the author of Your Baby, Your Way (Scribner), co-author of The Vaccine-Friendly Plan (Ballantine), and editor of Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Urgent, Irrational, Tiny People We Love (Seal Press). Follow her on Facebook (here and here), Twitter, and Pinterest. Watch her in the upcoming documentary mini-series, “The Truth About Vaccines.”


The Truth About Vaccines Cast

The Truth About Vaccines is a 7 part mini-series directed by Ty Bollinger to help parents make the best vaccine decisions for their children


Broadcasting schedule for the Truth About Vaccines, which you can watch for FREE on April 12

Broadcasting schedule for the Truth About Vaccines, which you can watch for FREE on April 12