Sustainable LunchBox: Built Bag and BentGO Box (Review)

I learned quite quickly the importance of self-care as a doula. If you are not well-rested and properly nourished, it becomes difficult to support families for an extended period of time. With that knowledge came the need for a convenient, and sustainable, way of carrying nutritious snacks to births. Enter the Built Bag and BentoGo.  

My wife and I recently threw away all of our old tupperware in the hopes that it would force us to use only metal or glass food storage containers. Unfortunately, I have yet to find the perfect metal/glass container to hold my meals (I may be on to something, will let you know).  In the meantime, my BentGo All-in-One Stackable Lunch/Bento Box in purple has been incredibly useful, not to mention, adorable. My BentGo contains two levels and three compartments for food. I'm still learning how to make quick healthy meals in small quantities (to fit into the box), but it's been fun to prepare food for it thus far. The main downside is the smell of plastic but after baking in the sun for 24 hours, it seems to have dissipated. 

My Built Bag, officially named "Gourmet Getaway Mini Snack Tote" holds my matching BentGo box. It's made of neoprene which means it can expand to hold a substantial amount of food and folds into a smaller size when not in use. It's also machine washable which is great for sanitizing after each birth. I purchased this Built Bag at a cute gift store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but they can easily be found on Amazon or on the built store for around $15.   

To complete the lunch bag, I throw in the amazing Klean Kanteen I've been using for 4 years now.  

I hope this helps you find a more sustainable solution for bringing food to your next birth!  Stay tuned for another post on what to pack inside your BentGO box. 

5 Things About Your Doula

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There are always meme's going around on social media sites and, while I almost never fill them out, this one caught my interest: It asked you to share 5 things about yourself in various categories. I thought I would switch it up a bit and make it doula focused. Here it goes. 

Five things I need on a daily basis to be a great doula: 1. My phone to receive my clients calls/emails and connect with my doula mentor; 2. My Klean Kanteen water bottle to stay hydrated no matter where I am; 3. A warm nice shower or bubble bath to keep me relaxed and ready for anything; 4. Kisses from my dog, Joplin in the morning; 5. And loving words from my partner to inspire me throughout the day. 

Five birth books I recommend to others: 1. The Birth Partner; 2. Spiritual Midwivery; 3. Breastfeeding Made Simple; 4. Birth Stories; 5. The Midwife of Hope River. 

Five adjectives that describe me as a doula:  Patient. Compassionate. Grounded. Nonjudgemental. Intelligent. 

My five favorite foods to eat before a birth: 1. Miso Soup (with loads of fresh veggies) and Gluten Free Crackers; 2. Roasted Cauliflower with Organic Cheese; 3. Rice, Bean and Veggie Burrito; 4. Egg and Soliders; 5. A Fruit Smoothie. 

Five life instructions I want to share with you: 1. Trust in yourself. You are stronger than you know; 2. Have patience in the process; 3. Tell your family and friends that you love them every single day; 4. Don't be afraid to take risks; 5. Laugh a lot. 

I Do It For You

She is the one
without hesitation
comes to my aid &
my defense.

She is the one
who believes
my side of the story

She is the one
whose heart
is open.

She is the one who loves.

- Excerpt from She, by Alice Walker (written for Gloria Steinem's birthday) 


If I am not meeting you at a prenatal, at the birth of your baby or helping you get settled into your home, I am sitting at my computer - phone by my side - making sure that you have all the answers that you need. I love being there for you, hearing the stories of your life, and listening to your hopes and dreams for the future. But most importantly, I am forever honored that you have invited me into your life, into your home and for this special moment in your journey as parents. I am grateful to be your doula. 

Outside Post: What the FU*K is A Doula?

There is a hilarious post by Penny Lane circulating the doula world. It's a bit vulgar (I admit, I flinched a few times at the curse words), but a very accurate description of the work that we do as doulas. My favorite part is, "Like unicorns, we [Doulas] are fucking rare and magical creatures." So, if you are looking for a good laugh, read this


What the fuck is a doula?

Some dictionary defines "doula" as "a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and  physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth". Yeah, that pretty much nails it. Yay, the end!

But really, hold the fuck up a second. Doulas are the shit. And I'm not just saying that because I am one.

Doulas are so passionate about what they do, that they'll work their asses off without complaint for what very well could only be a couple bucks an hour. They are there for you 100% even when they have their own shit going on. Most complete extensive training and continuing education to be awesome at what they do. They make it their very serious personal goal to help you have the very best birth outcome possible; one that you'll look back on happily and proudly. Doulas fucking know their shit, and they do their best to make sure you make healthy decisions that you won't regret like that time you smoked that...never mind.

 From the moment they are hired until after your baby has been born, they are officially your birth bitch. When you call them during dinner with a frantic question ("I just pissed myself at Rite Aid, is that normal?!?"), they pick that goddamn phone and answer you. Because they care that fucking much. Because they LIVE for this kind of shit.

No, really. We do.

This woman you have hired willingly puts herself "on call" for you for what could be an entire month (or more), during which she never strays far from home, has to be able to run out the door fully dressed and smelling decent within 10 minutes flat, and practically begs for7:30 am Sunday morning telemarketer wake-up calls because she never, ever turns her ringer off.

Not to mention that she has to remain sober at all times. Even though she may have two or three rabid offspring under the age of five and a borderline unhealthy relationship with $6 Target wine. 

Your doula will help you write your birth plan and make sure you actually know what the fuck a "saline lock" and "telemetry unit" are before you go in there and make a fool out of yourself (and her). She will help you outline your preferences and wishes for your labor and birth, even if they aren't choices she would make for herself, without judgement. She'll also guide you through making the Big Ass Decisions so you don't fuck up and do something stupid.

Your amazing rockstar superhero doula angel will stay with you through your entire labor, even if it's days long. She will stay by your side while your baby daddy lies there oblivious and snoring and you work hard at bringing his mini-me into the world through your vagina. She will reassure you and build you up and tell you you're a goddamned birthing goddess when you're feeling done and nobody else has anything encouraging to say. She will say "yo, hold the fuck on a second" and give you a heads up when Doogie Howser M.D. tries to sneak something into your IV, or grabs his scissors and attempts to go at your vagina all Wolverine-style because it was NOT ON YOUR MOTHERFUCKING BIRTH PLAN.

In the midst of all of this, she will likely end up with at least two (and probably more) of your bodily fluids on her. And that's okay, because she fucking cares about your birth that much. She cares so much that even though she's probably super emotionally invested in you, she will hold it the fuck together if things go awry because she knows you need her to.

After your bundle of joy has vacated your womb, your doula will help you breastfeed. Isn't that so completely badass of her? Even if it's the first time and you have no clue what the fuck you are doing, she will not leave until she feels like your baby has the whole "sucking on a titty" thing down.

And if that's not enough...she will continue to be your bitch via phone for at least a few weeks, and come visit you once or twice to listen to you go on and on about how blissfully awesome not sleeping is AND  hold your brand new Shark-O-Matic 5000 while you go shower the infant feces off of you. You'll reflect on your birth experience and never once hear the words "you had a healthy baby and that's all that matters" pass your doula's lips. We doulas HATE that fucking shit. She will be understanding, empathetic, and she will L-I-S-T-E-N with love and compassion, and without negativity or criticism. She'll basically be the opposite of that vapid bitch you call your mother-in-law.

And if you're still not convinced about how fucking cool doulas, have some statistics:

o   50% reduction in the cesarean rate
o   25% shorter labor
o   60% reduction in epidural requests
o   40% reduction in oxytocin use
o   30% reduction in analgesia use
o   40% reduction in forceps delivery

All by just having a badass doula by your side. Like unicorns, we are  fucking rare and magical creatures.

Knocked up? Get yourself a doula.


Why Invite A Doula? Partners and Doula's

Some partners are certainly hesitant to hire a doula, often due to the belief that they can handle everything or, out of fear that a doula would take over their role. From my experience, partners who initially fear having a doula are grateful that one was present afterwards. A doula can be there to take care of the 'housekeeping' tasks, thus allowing the parent to remain by the mothers side. A doula can show a partner how to use different comfort techniques or, she can physically help with the massage leaving the partner to encourage the mother in the way he/she knows how. Furthermore, the doula offers constant presence and a knowledge a childbirth that can be very reassuring to both mother and partner during labor. 

Here is a great list of reasons why partners (the article uses the term, 'dad)' should consider working with a doula.


Dads and Doulas
5 Reasons Dads Should Demand a Doula * by HK Weiss

When my wife told me that she wanted a doula, I was hurt. I truly thought with our first baby that I’d be able to be the end all be all for my wife. She showed me the research. She let me meet some of the doulas. I still wasn’t convinced that it would be the right choice for us. I subscribed to the “If you weren’t at the conception, you shouldn’t be at the birth rule.” My wife wound up vetoing me. Here are the reasons I’m glad that she did:

1. A doula can spell you.
I really thought I’d be able to stay awake for a big event like childbirth. Who didn’t pull an all nighter in college? Bathroom breaks? Ha! I mean, if I could ride my bike for hours, drinking lots of water and not needing a bathroom break, surely I could wait a few hours while my wife was in labor, right? Wrong.

Thirty hours into my wife’s first labor and I was toast. I’d been up walking with her for what seemed like days as labor began. We’d come to the hospital and there wasn’t any sleeping for me. I was physically tired and mentally shot. The doula really helped me out. With my wife’s blessing, that 30 minute nap I caught helped me to refocus and be back on my game for the big event. And we won’t even talk about how much fun my wife made of me for my small bladder. Needless to say, having the knowledge that my wife had someone else with her while I scarfed down food, went to the bathroom and grabbed a few winks kept me sane.

2. A doula remembers what she learned in childbirth class.
I paid attention in childbirth class. I’d hear enough horror stories to realize that there was a huge, comprehensive final exam for this course – childbirth. But when push came to shove, no pun intended, the knowledge went out of my brain. Those early hours of labor I couldn’t remember if we were supposed to eat or sleep, which positions were good or not so good. Thankfully, when the doula arrived, she saved my skin and made me look like the good guy. My wife never really realized that it wasn’t my idea that she try certain positions, but that I’d been privately coached by our doula.

3. A doula knows the questions to ask.
When we arrived at the hospital, everyone was bombarding us. Questions were flying from all directions. I was busy trying to help soothe my wife, who was not happy with the bumpy car ride to the hospital. Our doula stepped in and gave them all the information that they needed. Magically doors opened and we were offered a prime birthing room.

Our doula also was very helpful in getting information. A nurse or a tech would come in and ask us if we wanted something, like a procedure or a medication. I had no clue. (See above where I forgot my childbirth class information!) Our doula would very calmly ask questions of them and of us until we had enough information to make the decision that matched what we wanted. It was never pushy or mean, just questions. She even reminded us that we could take some time alone to make a decision. That turned out to be a real blessing.

4. A doula speaks the language of labor.
Our doula was an amazing translator. I’d ask a simple question like, “How’s the baby?” And the nurse would respond with something like, “The EFM indicates that there are no decels during periods of stimulation.” I’d give her my biggest smile and nod, like I knew what she was saying. Once she left the room, I’d ask our doula, who would carefully explain each part of what had been said. She also helped us decipher what AROM was as well as second stage.

5. A doula keeps you calm.
Hard. Labor was so hard. And that’s just how it felt to me. Thankfully, when the going got tough and my wife was in hard labor, it was difficult for me to keep anything in my brain. I forgot everything from childbirth class and all I could think of was “Surely this isn’t normal!” Our doula would smile at me from across my wife on the birth ball and as if she had read my mind, would mouth the words “This is normal.” Her calm smile helped me focus again on loving on my wife and keeping her calm. She showed me how and where to touch, she modeled how to behave quietly and efficiently and she made me the star in my wife’s eyes.

When I first heard about doulas, I thought of them as birth interlopers. Now I don’t know how anyone could manage to give birth without one. Our doula really helped bring me together with my wife as she gave birth. My wife remembers my constant support and never failing love or knowledge. She remembers the doula as a nice person who did some stuff in the background. We won’t give birth without a doula.

Doulaing The Doula: On Self-Care

Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
— Lucille Ball

A birth doula's main role is making sure expectant parents have the information, resources and physical support they need to have a wonderful birth experience. For a doula, that usually means traveling to prenatal meetings, being on call for 4-6 clients a month, staying with a family throughout the labor and birth of their child and meeting them in the postpartum period. 

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It is truly an honor to do this work, and it takes a lot of emotional, mental and physical strength. In order to be fully present, it is important that doula's also take care of ourselves. I've come up with my own self-care routines that I thought I would share for others. 


Scheduling and Routines
I try to keep up a routine as much as possible when I am not at a birth. That means waking up and having breakfast with my partner, walking the dog, following up on email and then meetings, etc. 

I really try to make sure that I am at least in bed by 11pm. If I get an early morning call from a mom in labor, I can easily put on some fresh clothes, grab my doula bag and hop into a taxi feeling ready to go. 

Clean Home and Healthy Food 
When coming back from a long birth, it's nice to have a space that truly feels like home. For me, this means having a clean apartment, fresh flowers and a refrigerator stocked with healthy but easy to prepare food. I've personally given up going grocery shopping and started ordering local/organic food from Fresh Direct. It makes me happy and saves a lot of time. 

Working Out 
I try to work out at least 3 times a week. Plus, it's an added bonus that I go to the same gym as de Blasio - makes for fun 'celebrity' sighting. 

Friends and Family Days
I always schedule one day a week to do something new and interesting with my partner and our dog, Joplin. I'm also lucky to live a few train stops away from my mother and a few blocks away from all of my oldest friends. Whenever I need motherly love or want to hang out, I give them a call.  


I don't have the best self-care practices when I'm at a birth. I usually only eat luna bars and have a hard time taking naps, both of which I don't recommend. I do, however, drink a lot of water, wear comfortable clothes and dansko clogs, and try to get at least a few minutes of fresh air. 


Keeping A Routine 
It's so important to have a routine that keeps you happy and healthy when you come home from a birth. No matter the time of day, I always put away my doula bag, hop into a nice warm bath or shower and put on comfortable clothes. If I am coming home in the late morning or afternoon, I will continue with all the meetings I had scheduled and then go to bed early. If I come home in the middle of the evening/morning, I will sleep until my usual wake-up time and then continue with the day. I don't like to take too long of a nap or else I find that my schedule gets wacky.

I am fortunate enough to have a partner who is a. Always attentive to how I am feeling emotionally and physically and b. Becoming an Acupuncturist/Herbalist. If I ever feel any aches or pains after a long birth, my partner is there to give me an acupuncture/massage session for free! 

Take a Vacation
As a professional whose main job is to be available and present for others, we want to schedule in a lot of births but, it's important to also take a break. Doula's can't just take a weekend off or go a few hours outside the city when we are on call, so give yourself at least month off every year to simply relax. 

What do you do to take care of yourselves before, during and after a birth? Please share your suggestions so that more doula's can take care of themselves in the way that they deserve! 

The Truth About Motherhood



Whether as a young adult, or during pregnancy, most women hear the stories of how their friends "instantly became mothers" the moment their child was born. We are taught to believe that there is an immediate connection and understanding between mother and baby. No one, or at least very few, discuss the feeling of a 'lose of self' that new parents might face, during pregnancy or after birth, out of fear they will be viewed as 'bad parents.'

While giving birth is natural, motherhood or 'becoming a mother' doesn't always appear magically. It is a learning process - discovering who your new baby is, her personality, figuring out how to navigate shifting relationships with your partner, and learning how to find the balance between your independent, autonomous self, and being the constant for your child.  

So, what do you do? How to you manage the transformations and, what resources are available?  You may think about hiring a postpartum doula who can provide physical, emotional and informational support for both you and your partner through the transitions into parenthood. Journaling is another great way for putting together your thoughts in a safe place.  Perhaps most importantly, I encourage new moms to share their birth and postpartum experiences with friends, family, and doula's, for I promise you are not alone. 

Here are some resources additional resources that I recommend:


Misconceptions: Truth, Lies and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf 
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Kaper 
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott
The Year After Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger

The Longest Shortest Time: The Truth About Early Motherhood
Motherhood Uncensored

NYC Doula Collective (Birth and Postpartum Doulas)
Brooklyn New Mom Support Group

If you would like information on a topic or reach out to me and I will share the knowledge. Or, if you have any resources that you liked, please share them with us!