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Natural Labour Induction + Augmentation | $175

Using natural medicines and treatments to induce, or augment a slowly progressing labour, is an effective means to potentially avoid cesarean birth (c-section), and experience less pain than in a Pitocin® (synthetic oxytocin)-induced labour. Continue reading Natural Labour Induction + Augmentation | $175

The Birth of Adam*

This was a lovely birth in which the parents-to-be had hoped for a natural birth, and achieved it through calmness and discipline on the part of the mother-to-be, and loving support from the father-to-be.

I was (am) so proud of them.

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula

It was almost 1 AM when I got a call from Mateo*. I had been waiting for this call for over 3 weeks, since his wife, Samantha*, had done such an incredible job at convincing me that she was going to “go early”. She was just 5 days past her due date and sitting at 2 cm for about a week.

In the week previous, we had done two acupuncture treatments to help prepare for labour, and in attempts to gently induce labour. With the treatments, her cervix had begun to “ripen” (soften and thin out). After each treatment, she noticed more uterine activity and menstrual-like cramping, but was ultimately left to wait for the baby to initiate labour.

Mateo said, with confidence: “We think it’s time.” When a doula hears this, she becomes suspicious. I began my usual questioning: Mateo passed the phone to Samantha – her story checked out:

Contractions 2 to 3 minutes apart. Check.

Contractions beginning over an hour ago. Check.

Contractions lasting about 1 minute each. Check.

No signs of water-breaking. Check.

I listened to her as she breathed through a few surges and this confirmed it for me: it was time.

We met shortly afterwards at the new birthing unit at Mount Sinai Hospital. When I arrived, Samantha and Mateo were in triage and Samantha was being examined. It was 1:30 AM now, and she was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. It was confirmed: she was in active labour. She was transferred to her spacious, beautiful birthing room.

Now Samantha’s contractions were coming very regularly, every 2 to 3 minutes, and were intense enough that they required her full attention. Samantha began to feel nausea. Mateo offered her popsicles from their birth bag to ease her nausea, and hydrate and maintain her blood sugar.

We experimented with various comfort and birthing positions: on a birth ball, leaning forward on a raised bed, and found the best was a supported, seated position in the adjustable hospital bed. Samantha sat with the back of the bed raised all the way, her feet lowered, and her legs comfortably open – a supported squat. In this position, her pelvis was open, and she was able to rest between surges.

Samantha was very focused, and it was obvious to me she was in a good place and any interaction would be disruptive to her. We turned the lights down low. We spoke in quiet voices and refrained from unnecessary chat. During her frequent and regular contractions, she needed only the smallest pressure on her hips while being reminded to let your pelvis open, let your cervix open. There is lots of space for the baby. This mantra supported her and kept her focused on opening and allowing change.

Around 2:45 AM, I asked if she felt the need to pee. She was well hydrated but I just wanted to have her change positions and empty her likely full bladder to allow more space for the baby to come down. I also wanted to see if there was more “show”. We confirmed that there was a lot of fluid and “bloody show”, and she did need to urinate.

She returned to the same position, and to “the zone”. I checked in to see if lavender essential oil was agreeable. I began a gentle foot massage with coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil, in a rhythmic motion, moving with her surges. I applied acupressure in several points on the sole of the foot, near her ankle and between her first two toes, to help with pain coping and support labour progression.

By 3:30 AM, Samantha started to feel more back pressure and wanted an assessment of the progress. The obstetrician confirmed that she was 6 cm dilated, fully effaced and that her water had likely ruptured on its own (probably when she risen to pee). She still had some time until full dilation, but was coping wonderfully.

Samantha re-entered the zone; and Mateo and I continued to apply gentle pressure on her hips, placing a supportive hand on her shoulder, continuing with the reciting of mantras and offering of fluids.

By 4:30 AM, Samantha began to feel an incredible urge to push. Her eyes widened and she appeared somewhat panicked. I reminded her to pant and breath through the urge until her next assessment. It was confirmed that she was at 8 cm and baby was low (+1). The urge to push intensified and the resident assisted by holding the cervix to full dilation.

With a cool cloth on her face, a few ice chips to wet her mouth and a hint of rosemary essential oil for focus, Samantha began pushing.

Her pushes were assisted by Kiwi® vacuum. Within five contractions, the baby was crowning, with a little hand was up near his face.

At 5:02 AM he was born.

Immediate skin-to-skin, Samantha was elated, Mateo was beaming.

Dad called his weight to be 9 pounds and was spot on. A 9 pound baby boy, birthed naturally into the world by an incredible Mom and supportive Dad.

By sunrise, Adam was nursing beautifully and all was well.


*Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.

The Birth of Sebastian*

Every birth is special in it’s way. This birth is a nice example of a meeting of more natural approaches (a midwife-attended birth) and more conventional approaches (a hospital setting).

Read it, and you’ll see that it couldn’t have been more lovely. It brings me pleasure every time I remember it.

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula

After a full day-and-a-half of early labour and back contractions, your mom found her groove. Her contractions had started on the Friday, and had come and gone, and “the groove” was found on Saturday evening, when your water broke, and your midwife (Jen) came to check on you and your mom. She was 4 cm dilated, and it was time to go to the hospital.

In room 709 of the Michael Garron Hospital, active labour began. Your mom’s contractions became very regular and intense. She coped well, breathing through each surge, finding just the right position and focusing on the moment. There were brief moments of doubt, but with visualization and encouragement, hip-pressure and back-pressure, she was calm and positive.

Your dad was right by her side, ready with water or ice, and indeed ready to help in any way needed; positive, encouraging and loving.

Contractions became more intense and soon your mom had the urge to push. The urge started slowly, and became stronger and stronger. She wasn’t fully dilated yet, and your position wasn’t quite ideal, so it was time to try something different.

Your dad prepared a warm bath for her and helped her climb in. The warm water provided relief. The sensation of your dad pouring water on her back and sides provided your mom with distraction and comfort. She remained focused and determined, and brought all her attention to you, sending loving messages, letting you know that she was safe and ready to meet you and hold you.

After a very intense urge to push occurred, we decided it was time to get out of the tub and back to the bed. With Jen’s guidance, your mom pushed strongly, and you rotated into the perfect position for birth.

With you perfectly positioned, it was time to bring you into the world.

Your mom visualized “lots of space”, an open path for you into the world, and pushed hard. She rocked you down until you were crowning. With each push, she closed her eyes to help her focus. Your dad, kept his eyes on your mom and you, beaming at her throughout the entire labour.

At 1:17 AM, Sunday, February 27 you were born.

You had a little hand under your chin as you descended. Your chubby little body was placed gently on your mom’s chest, skin-to-skin. This is where you spent the first hour of your life. With vigorous back rubs from Jen and Katie (your back-up midwife), you let out your first cry. Soon the purple of your newborn body turned pink, and you began to explore your new surroundings, your eyes opened, and you saw your loving parents for the first time.

* Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.

The Birth of Esmé

This the story of the birth of our oldest daughter, written by Jonah, the day of her birth. We’re posting it today, in celebration of her 8th birthday.

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula

May 8, 2009

Little Friend,

You’re Esmé now. You were born this morning at 8:08 am – very good fortune (all these eights). You had a full head of hair – a sign of vitality. Although unexpectedly early, your birth went very well.

Fortunately, earlier this week, your Vepa (grandfather) was here and helped me finish clearing your room and building ramps for your stroller into the yard and house. Our friend, Rocky, bought you a car seat and planned to drop it off next Sunday but happened to be in the area Wednesday (yesterday) and brought it by then. Just yesterday, I picked up bed pads and gauze. Then at around 9:30 pm last night, your mom’s water broke.

We called Sarah and she came by around 10:30 pm and confirmed your water had broken. Your mom emailed the people at Choices Childbirth and they (very kindly) offered to bring the tub over immediately. In the hour it took them to arrive, I was able to put the house in order and prepare almost everything. By around 6:00 am your mom’s contractions were strong enough that we started to time them but within 30 minutes it was obvious se should call Sarah.   Her contractions were over one minute and less than four minutes apart. Sarah arrived by around 7:00 am and your birth progressed so quickly we didn’t even have time to adequately heat the birth tub. You were born at 8:08 am in your bedroom on a mattress. It was beautiful sunny morning with sunlight streaming in the window. Sarah, Li (her back up midwife) and Megan (midwifery student) did an excellent job delivering you. Minutes after your birth you were lying on your mom’s chest, swaddled in blankets.

Your Aunt Mandy arrived shortly after your birth – she was expecting to help out, but you were born so quickly she just visited. Your APGAR scores were good (9 and 10). You were 6 lbs 5 oz and around 19” long. Your mom had an amazing experience. After you were born, she was as though it was any normal day (physically). She could have gone grocery shopping I think…

See you later,

Jonah Lusis (Dad)


Posted: 2017 May 8

The Birth of Roland

The start of the holiday season always brings to mind the following birth story. As a naturopathic birth doula, I am always honoured and grateful my patients allow me to to be a part off this very special moment in their lives, a feeling that I am reminded of each time I recount the story of this birth.

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula

Erika had called me for the third time since her contractions had begun, two days previous. She had felt a noticeable change in her contractions and asked me to come to her home, the setting in which she had decided to birth. It is pretty amazing how a little experience (this was her second birth) made such a difference. She knew things were really happening now. She knew she needed her support people in place. Her husband was with her, her midwife, Nicole, was on the way, and I completed the birth team. Erika’s mother had come and picked up Erika’s daughter so she could focus solely on her needs and those of her new baby.

I arrived at her home soon after the call. It was a beautiful snowy, Christmas Eve morning. When I entered her home, I was aware of how comfortable Erika was and how relaxed everyone was together. We had all been present for her first birth and excited to be part of her second.  Erika was labouring well.

Erika had decided to have a water-birth. The birth tub was in place, and her husband, Adam, busied himself with the final steps of inflating and filling it with warm water. Birth tubs are great for the labouring mother’s comfort, but also as a means involving dads or partners (and keeping them busy if they’re anxious).

That morning, after two days of mild cramping, Erika’s cramps required more effort to ignore and were not subsiding, a sure sign of the “official” beginning of labour. With increased intensity of cramping, we began to employ comfort measures: Focus on breathing with each contraction, “hip squeezes” during contractions, and pressure applied to the low-back and over the sacrum. After two hours, Nicole checked her dilation. At “3–4 cm dilated” she was entering “active labour”, a relief to a labouring mom because it means the longest portion of labour is behind her.

Although longest portion is over, active labour is most physically intense portion of the birthing experience. During active labour contractions are strong, and are often characterized by a “peak”. The onset of more intense pain will sometimes undermine a labouring mothers’ confidence. With her contractions increasing in intensity, we guided Erika to the birth tub. The warm water offered immediate pain-relief, helping her entire body to relax. Once relaxed, Erika was able to center again and we were back on track.

After a couple of hours in the tub, Erika experienced a sudden change in emotion, and began suddenly to cry. Pulsatilla nigrans is a homeopathic medicine that can be given to persons who have the tendency to be overwhelmed by emotions by responding, specifically, by crying (rather than, for example, with anger). Erika fit that description at that moment, and after a few pellets of Pulsatilla nigrans and a few moments, she felt calmer.

The final stage of active labour, just before birthing, is called “transition”. Fear is another commonly experienced emotion during labour, and in my experience, it often occurs at transition. It is essential to offer mothers at transition a lot of support and reassurance. We reminded Erika of her strength, we coached her in her breathing to help her feel relaxed, but the fear was becoming difficult to control. Gelsemium sempervirens is a homeopathic medicine that can be used to calm a person in an acute state of fear, specifically fear with an anxious quality (e.g., “I don’t know what to expect/how this will turn out”).

With the fear receding, Erika began to feel a natural urge to “push”. The intensity of her body’s natural urge surprised her, and her baby was out with three strong, well-controlled pushes. He was born into the water of the tub (baby’s are still supplied oxygen through the umbilical cord) and placed immediately, skin-to-skin, on Erika’s chest. Immediate skin-to-skin contact with their mother is essential to a newborn in so many ways: They are happier, their temperature, heart and breathing rates are more normal, and they are able to be colonized by their mothers’ bacteria (an important preventative measure against developing allergies later in life). They are also able to exchange sensory information with their mothers, stimulating the development of “baby behaviours” such as rooting for the breast when hungry and natural breathing, as well as developing emotional attachments that cannot be quantified. Immediate skin-to-skin contact is not a given in many hospital environments.

Adam joined Erika and baby Roland in the tub, where they spent their first time together as a family.

As a doula, I recognize this as an essential time for family bonding. Her midwife and I receded into the background to let it happen. I stayed with Erika until her placenta was birthed, and until Roland had had his first and second “feeds”, to ensure he was latching to her breast well. As I left for my own family Christmas Eve celebration, Erika, Adam were beaming, and Roland was sleeping.

Thank you Erika, Adam and Roland for allowing me the honour of participating in your beautiful birth.

The Birth of Jayden

Olka was the picture of health when it came to a pregnant woman. She ate extremely well, did prenatal yoga, took her supplements and meditated on a daily basis. Olka’s birth plan was clear: she did not want any form of augmentation (and even refused the membrane “sweep” the week of her due date). She trusted that her son would come when he was good and ready on his own time. “It’s not a rush”, she would repeatedly say. Her outlook on her upcoming birth was simple … trust her body, relax, and let things Be. And so we did …

I received a message from Olka that she had some spotting on Wednesday afternoon. Within 24 hours she was having 30-second contractions every hour, which had kept her up the night before. It was clear that Olka was now showing early signs of labour.

A few weeks before, we had discussed the length of time that a first baby could take. She was prepared for a long labour and didn’t rush anything. I instructed her to walk around to get labour moving along and she was happy to do so. She felt great and was comfortable and excited for what was to come. By 6:30 pm that evening, her contractions had progressed to five to eight minutes apart. Her husband Jon was an absolute dream when it came to supporting her before she needed me. He walked with her, gave her massage, and made sure she ate and remained hydrated. They wanted to remain at home for as long as possible before proceeding to the hospital. So there they stayed. “There’s no rush”.

By Friday morning, Olka’s contractions were six minutes apart, but she remained calm, focused, and Zen. Within a few hours, contractions were four minutes apart, but wanted to remain at home, which I felt was appropriate for someone trying to avoid unnecessary interventions at the hospital. I was so proud of Olka, who had already been in labour over 24 hours, for still trusting in the process, taking her time, and listening to her body.

By 12:30 pm, we arrived at the hospital to see how far she had progressed. When I saw Olka for the first time, she was smiling, laughing, breathing and coping well. Contractions were still four minutes apart. I thought for sure that she was still in early labour, approximately 2-3 cm dilated, and likely would be sent home (or at the very least told to walk around for a couple of hours and return for another examination). Surprise! She was already 5 cm! I am telling you, you wouldn’t have believed it if you saw it. We continued to walk the halls, stopping every once in a while to breathe through contractions, and provide hip and lower back support (which she actually laughed through, and described as “euphoric”).

At 7 cm dilation, Olka’s obstetrician had decided to artificially rupture her membranes, but nature took this birth into it’s own hands and her water naturally “broke” before the obstetrician arrived. Olka got into the shower at that point, which provided her tremendous relief. The warm water on her back was her savior. As her doula, I just remained present to her needs and supported her (and laughed along with Jon, who was such a joy to have in the labour: calm, funny and optimistic).

Olka, trusting her body and knowing her body so well, knew when it was time for her baby to come. The pushing phase of her labour was short, which I believe was due to her breathing into her pelvis and relaxing her pelvic floor (which is hard to do if you are fearful or anxious).

Then, Jayden came into our world: a bouncing baby boy, at 6:14 pm on May 13, 2016, and 6 lbs 14 oz.

Olka’s first words were “Wow, I thought that was going to be a lot harder than it was”.

I couldn’t feel more blessed to have witnessed such a beautiful birth. I truly believe that Olka’s birth is an inspiration for women who are looking to move forward with their first birth in a natural way. Her obstetrician actually said that he wished her birth was on video to show all expecting women who are afraid of birth that with the proper support team and preparation, a birth can be exciting, joyful and anxiety-free. It is a true testament to how beautiful a labour can progress if you are prepared and just wait, trust, and listen.

– Jessica Sangiuliano, ND, Birth Doula


Posted: 2016 August 11


The Birth of Anja

Soon after we purchased 475 Broadview for our new home and clinic space, Anja was conceived. There was much to do in preparation so we worked around the clock. Despite our contractor’s efforts, we didn’t meet our deadline of 2 weeks before the due date. So after much denial and many tears on my part, we decided to birth in my parent’s home.

And this is Anja’s birth story…

7 AM – Woke with mild menstrual-like cramps.

I asked my parents to take Esmé to my sister’s since there was a rainstorm brewing and I wasn’t sure how long the labour was going to be. I hemmed and hawed over whether she should be present for the birth but knew it would be a game-day decision. So away she went.

9 AM – Just going about our day.

Jonah and I decided to go about our morning and reconvene in the afternoon to wait for the baby’s arrival. He went to work to our previous clinic (180 Dundas West). I drove to our new home (475 Broadview Avenue) to attend a meeting with our contractor. While waiting in my car for him, I started to experience contractions.

9:30 AM – Active labour started!

With contractions every 3–4 minutes and pacing around our new yard, the contractor arrived. Between contractions, I quickly chose the stain for the hardwood floors for the clinic. While in active labour, I drove to my parents’ condo. (In hindsight, I don’t recommend this to anyone. I should have called a taxi!). While driving, I was still worried about a long labour so contemplated picking up some DVD’s from Bay Street Video but decided against it since parking is difficult in that area.

10:00 AM – Safe and sound.

I arrived at my parent’s place and called Jonah to come home since labour had begun. I then called our midwife Julie to let her know I was in labour, but made it very clear that I didn’t need her to come yet. A friend had warned me against calling my midwife too early with our second. This was the mistake she had made, and when her midwives arrived, she was only 4 cm dilated. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

10:15 AM – I am reminded that labour is intense.

The most comfortable position I could find was to sit on the toilet. So, when Jonah arrived, I was sitting and trying not to tense up while having contractions. I was caught off guard with how intense everything feels; we really DO forget. I went in the shower for some more relief.

10:30 AM – Midwives have a sixth sense when it comes to babies.

Julie, our midwife, called to check in. She knew I had a fast labour with our first and just wanted to see how things were progressing. Jonah asked her to come as soon as possible since labour was in full swing.

11:00 AM – 8 cm – YAY!

Julie arrived and assessed me, and I was 8 cm dilated. I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I would be pushing soon. While Julie set up, I stood in a bathtub full of warm water, breathing and counting through contractions while Jonah squeezed my hips. I focused on staying as relaxed as possible, but was starting to push, involuntarily.

11:30 AM – The final push.

While pushing, I let out a deep grunt and bit on Jonah’s shoulder. I birthed a healthy little girl in the caul while on a birth stool in the bathroom. Moments later, we broke the amniotic sac which is completely intact. Anja took her first breath.

Our family grows to four and Esmé came back soon after to meet her sister. She helped us name her Anja, and we all had skin-to-skin as a family.

Happy birthday Anja!

Du La, ND, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist, Birth Doula


Posted: 2016 June 1






The Birth Of Sarah*

In honour of doula week, I thought I’d share a birth story (with the permission of those involved, of course) with all of you.


– Emily Bennett, ND

Laura* was five days past her due date when things started to get going. This was very good news, as concerns that had come up during her pregnancy had lead her OB to say they would have to induce her before she got through the traditional waiting period of two weeks past her due date. In order to avoid a medical induction, I had been going to Laura’s home mid-day to do induction acupuncture in the days prior to her due date, and just following, to see if we couldn’t get her baby to birth without the aid of synthetic hormones.

On a chilly February morning at 3:45 AM, her husband David* called me to say that Laura’s water had broke in bed with a big gush of clear fluid. I tried to go back to sleep, but as usual I was too excited about what the next 24 hours would hold – I can only imagine how Laura and David were feeling – and drifted in and out of a light doze until I heard from them next.

At 6:30 AM, Laura’s contractions had begun.

By 11 AM, they were exactly the same with respect to intensity and timing. At this time we decided it was time for Laura to check in with her physician – only about 1/10 births begin with a big gush of waters breaking (surprising, isn’t it? Movies & TV lead us to believe otherwise …), and it’s important to make sure everything is going OK if it takes a while for labour itself to begin.

It was a couple of hours before Laura was able to get in to see her physician. After confirming that everything was going well for both her and her baby, the nurse in charge sent Laura and David on a three-hour walk and food excursion, hoping it would help to get her labour going. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work.

I arrived at the hospital to support Laura and David around 4 PM, just in time for her OB to send us home with instructions to come back around 7 AM the following day if labour hadn’t progressed before then (and she didn’t expect that it would).

Needless to say, at this point Laura was exhausted. Without much sleep since 4 AM, she had spent the day waiting around at the hospital, enduring moderate non-progressing contractions, and wondering when her baby would show up. When we got back to their house, she got into bed, we turned down the lights, and turned on some peaceful music. I did one more round of induction acupuncture and then tip-toed downstairs to tell David to call me as soon as things began to progress or whenever they felt they needed more support. I left and went to a restaurant to treat myself to some dinner. Hey, I thought, it’s very likely I won’t be sleeping through the night again tonight! Might as well get a good meal in!

The last bite of my food was in my mouth when David called. Within an hour of lying down, Laura’s labour had begun in earnest. I zipped back up to their house to find active labour in full swing. Her contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and lasting at least a minute. Because her water had already broken, we left for the hospital after just 40 minutes of these contractions. When we arrived she was 5 cm dilated and progressing well. It was 9:30 PM.

Laura laboured like a champ. David and I supported her as she tried a variety of positions, spent time on the birth ball, and used the shower to sooth her sore back. While David was helping her, I sat in a chair near them and did a bit of a crocheting. It was on a tip from a really talented and experienced doula that I began doing activities like this near the labouring parent when they are really in the thick of it. It’s a helpful visual reminder that everything is progressing normally, and that I (the person in the room who has attended several other births) am comfortable enough to do this relaxing activity while they are being assisted by their partner. It seems to send the message to the labouring parent that they too can relax (as best as they can!) and know that everything is happening as it should.

Around 11:45 PM Laura started to get really fatigued (and who could blame her!). Her reaction to the contractions indicated a specific homeopathic medicine that I thought would be useful, so she took it in a bit of water and made it through the next few contractions. After this she told us that each contraction was harder to bear because she was feeling a lot of pressure and it was hard not to push. With those words we asked the nurse to find the OB on-call, did a quick exam that found her fully effaced and dilated, and it was time for Laura to push.

Two hours of incredible stamina and determined pushing later, little Sarah was born.

On our first postpartum visit, I had a little crocheted hat for her that I had begun during Laura’s labour.

Each birth is its own little adventure and it is such an incredible privilege to be along for the ride as doula.


*Names have been changed at the request of the family


Posted: 2015 March 26