The word “doula” is a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver.” In modern times the word has taken on a more detailed meaning. A doula plays a very special role with a woman before, during and after childbirth. I was able to interview the beautiful and talented Lori Bregman, founder of Rooted For Life (www.rootedforlife.com) to answer all of your questions, including the ones regarding a vegan pregnancy.
Nourishment: What is a doula?
Lori: A doula is someone who assists, coaches, supports, educates and nurtures a woman and her partner throughout the birthing process and afterwards. Doulas help you birth your baby at home, at birthing centers, in hospitals, with or without pain medication — even if you have a C-section, a doula can help wherever or however you choose to have your baby.
Doulas help prepare and educate both you and your partner for birth. Doulas help you create a unique birth plan that supports your intentions. They stay with you nonstop, supporting you through the entire birth process. They lovingly and non-judgmentally will talk you through any emotional blocks or fears that might come up for you in birth. They create a sacred, safe, protected and peaceful sacred birth space. They support you in your birth choices without judgment. They are your own personal cheerleader and provide encouragement and reassurance every step of your labor. They help put you in birthing positions that are good for optimal fetal positioning. They give massages, visualizations, meditations, breath work, energy work, sounding and movement to help with pain management and comfort. They advocate for the mother and her partner and can help facilitate better communication between the mother and her caregiver. Doulas are not medical professionals and don’t preform medical exams or deliver babies. They never project their views or ways onto you and NEVER judge you or make you feel bad for the decisions or choices you make.
Nourishment: What made you decide to become a doula?
Lori: Every since I can remember I was always drawn to working with pregnant women and children. In all my years of schooling, I always thought about how I could gear my career towards pregnancy or to help children come into this world. When I took a prenatal massage course my teacher told me about doulas and a place to get certified so I signed up. When I was there my teacher, Anna Verwaal said there is a reason why you are drawn to this kind of work. I had one of those “a-ha” moments but wasn’t sure why. A few months later I did a hypnotherapy session with my teacher Michele Meiche. We went into the session and BOOM I was in the womb totally stressed out and had a full blown panic attack. She pulled me out of the session and suggested I speak with my mom. My mom explained what was going on with her during her pregnancy with me, and it all made sense. I felt everything she was going through. So now I have built a pregnancy coaching business called “Rooted for Life” that helps create a solid foundation for your child to grow. The better and more supported the mother feels so will her baby within.
Nourishment: What’s the most important piece of advice you have for expectant moms?
Lori: Every women, child, pregnancy and birth is unique. In all my years I have never seen the same birth, no 2 women, relationship or child are same. What might have worked for your mother or best friend might not be the right thing for you. Take the time to know yourself, your family, your child and what your truth is. You will have tons of people (with the best intentions) projecting their views and ways onto you. If you don’t know who you are and what feels right for you, you might get carried away in the fear of being a new mother. I never treat 2 women, children or births the same, instead I tune into who they are, help them find their truth and support them in their authentic way.
Nourishment: Do you have nutritional advice for vegan pregnant moms?
Lori: There is a common misconception while pregnant, that eating for two means you need to consume more food. While pregnant you only need 250 -300 more calories then you do before you were pregnant. Chances are if you are eating a typical American diet you are getting way over the daily calories needed even without a baby growing inside. Instead of worrying about eating enough food, focus more on the food’s nutritional value. Everything you put in your mouth goes right into your baby’s development, forming the structure from which they will grow. The healthier you eat the better you will feel and the stronger your body will be to support your pregnancy. You can shift your awareness simply asking yourself these two questions: How is this food feeding me? How is this fueling my baby’s development?
Nourishment: What are foods to avoid during pregnancy?
Lori: Do not eat food that is processed or refined. Stay away from canned foods or plastic bottles that contain BPA, which is a major hormone disrupter. Try to eat organic certified whole foods.
Nourishment: What vegan foods do you recommend to get optimum nutrients for mama and baby?
Lori: I’m obsessed with spirulina. It’s super high in protein, B vitamins, iron and essentials fatty acids. Eat seeds, nuts, beans and legumes for protein. Choose leafy greens, spinach, goji berries, dried apricots and prunes for iron. Try chia seeds, dark leafy greens, kale, almonds, sunflower seeds and beans for calcium and avocado, coconut oil, walnuts, almond butter and flax seeds for omega fatty acids.
Lori: I have found some of my vegan pregnancy clients get anemia so I have them take liquid Floradix and Spirulina right from the start.
Nourishment: What is the role of the doula and the new mom?
Lori: A postpartum doula works with the mother a few days or weeks after birth. They provide breastfeeding and bonding support, help with house chores, light cleaning, cooking and errands, support sleep by helping with the baby so you can rest, share information about baby care, nurture and care for the mother and sometimes do infant massage.
Nourishment: Any favorite vegan products you would recommend for pregnant women?
Lori: Coconut oil makes for a great after bath lotion for baby. Also my belly butter is awesome 2 jars or coconut oil, 1 cup of raw coco butter, 1/2 cup of raw Shea butter and 1/4 cup of jojoba oil. Melt it in a pot. Store it in cool place.
Lori Bregman, founder of the Rooted for Life Pregnancy Coaching Program, a complete body, mind and spirit support system that helps women through fertility, pregnancy, birth, and into new mommyhood. As a doula, healer, and life/pregnancy coach, Lori has over 20 years of experience helping clients transform their lives.Throughout her career, Lori has studied with and learned from some of the most renowned healers and spiritual teachers across the world. These teachers have shared with her their wisdom, from spirituality, intuition, body/mind awareness, herbs/vitamins, aromatherapy oils and the healing power of foods to doula work, bodywork, yoga, and numerous other forms of holistic healing. She has always been especially drawn to working with pregnant woman and new mothers, and geared much of her learning toward pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Today she has built a thriving career based on her passion for fostering healthy moms and healthy babies . www.rootedforlife.com