Ambiance for birth

Hello Mama’s!

Candlelight, delicious smells, soft music playing in the background. Sounds a lot like the perfect ambiance to get pregnant—wink wink! Actually it is the perfect ambiance to help you birth your precious baby!

When you are in your labor time you may not know that you become very sensitive to environmental changes—lighting, sounds, smells, etc. Any shift for these in a negative way can make you feel nervous or fearful and ultimately slow labor progress. Here are some doula insights on how to set the perfect ambiance for your labor room:

  • Candles! Get the flameless kind(don’t want to set anything on fire) and place them throughout the room. The gentle twinkling can be so calming for the mama but also changes the look and feel of the room. When there are candles lit you will notice that anyone who enters the room will shift to a calmer energy.
  • Hospital rooms don’t necessarily smell all that fabulous—change that! Decide on some of your favorite smells and get some essential oils in those smells. The top three in labor seem to be lavender, orange and peppermint. Diffuse them or put them on cloths throughout the room and it will smell amazing in no time.
  • The gowns they give you to wear in the hospital are anything but attractive. They definitely serve their practical purpose but are normally not super soft and comfy. Different maternity boutiques(my fav is Xpecting Maternity in Costa Mesa—and they ship if you are not in SoCal!) carry birthing gowns that are cute, comfortable and functional.
  • Don’t forget your pillow! Nothing makes you feel more at home than your pillow. Trust me, you will rest better with it.

If you are not having a home birth, making your hospital or birth center room, feel more like home can make a HUGE difference!

Lots of love and happy birthing!



Sometimes it’s not all about the boob

Hello Mama’s!

What I am going to say may surprise you as you are embarking on your own breastfeeding journey…sometimes its not all about the boob. I have the incredible fortune of being able to support women in the earliest days of their motherhood journey. I am normally called in to help with breastfeeding support to make sure the mama and baby are on the right track—but quickly I realize that the support I provide needs to go far beyond positioning and latch.

Early motherhood can be so overwhelming and fear can creep in. The fear normally sounds something like this, “am I doing it right,” “is the baby ok,” “how badly am I messing this up.” I want you to know that it is NORMAL to feel all of these feelings—and it is normal to let it out.

One of my beautiful clients handmade me a gorgeous keepsake where she hand stitched the words, “you’re doing it.”  During her birth and early mommyhood, right when she felt like she couldn’t do it anymore I encouraged her by reminding her that she is, in fact, doing it.

We have a tendency to look primarily at the technical side of the post-partum journey, and often forget that this is the biggest emotional transition of our lives. Sometimes it’s not all about the boob. My encouragement to you today is to take some beautiful big deep breaths and know that “You’re doing it!” Your baby is so incredibly blessed to have you as their mama. You are enough.

So much love and hugs your way today!


What the heckity hula is a doula?

Hello Mama’s!

The world of birth is nothing if not a mish-mosh of interesting words that you have likely never heard, or never given much time to, before; placenta, oxytocin, round ligaments, amniotic, APGAR…and on and on! When I am introduced to someone and they ask me about what I do, I answer that I support women and families in their journey of pregnancy, labor & birth and breastfeeding as a doula and lactation education counselor. And I find that I am greeted with a peculiar expression followed by the question, “what is a doula???”

I thought it appropriate to offer a bit of insight and guidance taken directly from the DONA (Doula’s of North America) website to define this funny sounding word:

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”
and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides
continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before,
during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support
during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with
fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

A Birth Doula

*Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
*Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
*Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
*Stays with the woman throughout the labor
*Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision
*Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
*Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of the birth experience
*Allows the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level

And there you have it!  Hope this clears it up and look forward to future episodes where we dive deeper into how a doula can benefit you!


The Birth Plan

Hello Mama’s!

Plans, plans and more plans! Lately I have noticed an uptick in conversation about all of the plans mamas and papas-to-be have for their impending arrival. They meticulously research the perfect organic nursery, the first outfit, the babies unique(but not too unique) moniker, maybe even get on a preschool waiting list! All of this is wonderful, and definitely a parenting right of passage, but there is one plan that seems to be missing—the plan that will actually bring this baby into this world and make all of the other plans possible—The Birth Plan!

In a class or during a one on one meeting with clients I always ask them about their birth plan—and by in large when I do, I am greeted with a confused expression followed by the question, “what is that?” Parents-to-be have likely chosen the perfect birth location and a doctor or midwife they trust and that is when the birth planning stage stops. They don’t realize that the birth is not on auto pilot and there are actually still quite a lot of decisions to make and put yourself in the drivers seat around how the birth will happen—and how you can make it your ideal birth.

For example:

  • Do you want an epidural or are you going for an au-natural birth?
  • Would you like to have music playing during your delivery?
  • In the event of a cesarean birth is it important to you to have your baby with you as soon as possible so that you can have the all-important skin-to-skin time?
  • What are your thoughts on the Hep-B vaccine?

I highly recommend setting aside an evening, with a cup of tea, your partner or support person, and your computer and make a date with your birth plan. At the very least it will be a great date together, and at the most it will break open dialogue around the impending birth!

As my gift to you, I have linked to The Birth Plan template that I give to all of my clients. It is written as if you want a completely natural, non-intervention birth—and that’s on purpose! It makes you see what things you will encounter at the hospital or midwifery and what options you have.

Try your best to keep it to one page(the staff will thank you) and then print 5 copies on colored paper and stick it in your birth bag—you will be so happy you have it!

Lots of love and happy birthing!


Welcome to the Nourish Video Blog!

Hello Mama’s!

Welcome, welcome, welcome! I could not be more excited that you have found your way to our Nourish blog and vlog!

My name is Becky Leonard, Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Education Counselor, and trained Childbirth Educator based in Southern California. I truly discovered my passion for all things pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding through the journey of becoming a mama to my two littles, Charlee Marie(2008) and Samuel Cash(2010) and walking alongside my precious friends and family members as they embarked on the journey themselves.

I will share more of my story as this blog/vlog goes along, but in the meantime, I want to say HELLO! I am thrilled you are here! Weekly posts will be packed with stories, tricks, and tips, and my goal is that you will find them helpful for your own journey and then pay them forward to someone in your world who just might need them too.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned from coaching and counseling mamas and their families through this wild and wonderful journey is that every mama, partner, and family member benefits from education, empowerment, and encouragement. So that brings me to my questions for you:

  • What do you want to know?
  • What keeps you up at night (in addition to the baby!)?
  • What are your concerns?
  • What are your successes?

Please comment below with any topics you would like to see covered, and check back soon to see your questions answered as this blog continues its launch.

I feel so blessed you are here and look forward to being with you on your own journey!


You are protected!

Can you “have your cake and eat it too”?  Well, when it comes to breastfeeding, pumping and time to pump at work the answer is YES!  The tide is shifting in this country toward protecting a mama’s rights to breastfeed her child. Amazingly there is only ONE place in the state of California where you are not permitted to breastfeed–where is this crazy place you ask?  In someone’s private residence if they ask you not too.  That’s it!  It’s that simple!  What does that mean for you?  Well you can breastfeed at Target, The Cheesecake Factory (or any equally scrumptious restaurant), Disneyland, a public park, a courthouse, your favorite coffee joint, the grocery store or even the beach (but beware of sand)!

Recently there have been many headlines in the news about mama’s asked to put their jugs away in public and shroud themselves away in private to nurse their baby.  Well all, those days are over!  Last month at a Target store in Texas a women was asked by the employees to hide away after she began nursing at the store– this started a revolution and got milkn’ mama’s everywhere to unite.  They staged what is affectionately known as the Target “Nurse-In“(read more about it by clicking on “Nurse-In”) where in over 250 stores nationwide mama’s flocked to their local Target, not for the usual toilet paper, candle or diapers, but to stand together and proudly nurse their babies.  The headlines were incredible and helped to raise awareness in a much needed area.

Gini Baker, IBCLC and our incredible Lactation teacher at UCSD likes to say that our generation was “raised in captivity”– meaning that most of us have not seen a mother breastfeed her child.  How is this possible?  We NEED so desperately to have this knowledge so that every new mama has a sisterhood around her supporting her during what can be a very challenging journey.

In the US nursing mama’s are protected in the workplace through The Affordable Care Act (March 2010) which provides a federal mandate to provide a mama with breaks and an adequate place to pump.  Most of these laws are signed but never really enforced– not this one!  Check out this amazing article from The Huffington Post to learn more about it.

The bottom line is that however, whatever, wherever and whenever you choose to nourish your baby you are protected.  Such an amazing thing.

A New Trend?

This week on KPCC(SoCal’s local NPR Station) they showcased a fascinating look into “The Birth of a New Career” by exploring the world of what it is to be a doula and what it means to the community we serve.  It is amazing and inspiring to hear something so near and dear to us could potentially be a trend…if so, bring it on!  Check out the link and audio: “The Birth of a New Career”

Thanks Dolores Salman for tipping us off to tune into the broadcast!  Love ya!




The Birth School

We wanted to share with you the amazing Birth School by Childbirth Educator, Nicole Green!  Nicole is a Bradley Method certified instructor and has been the Childbirth Educator for many of our Nourish Mama’s.  From our experience, these mama’s and their coaches walk into labor supremely prepared, confident and ready for the journey to meet their new little one.  Here is some more detailed information about The Birth School – we hope you have a chance to meet Nicole and experience her wonderful classes.

Course Content

Week 1:  Exercise and Relaxation - The relationship between mind/body & fear/pain – Birth is arguably 95% mental and 5% everything else.  We start with understanding the mind/body connection in birth and the role that fear can play in this bond.  This conversation is accompanied with discussion about meditation and comfort measures.

Week 2:  Nutrition for Mother & Baby - Preventing pregnancy related disease – Did you know that a well balanced diet with adequate protein can actually prevent pregnancy related diseases?  Eating right can make your pregnancy more comfortable, your labor easier, your recovery from birth faster and your baby stronger and healthier.

Week 3:  Your Pregnancy - As it relates to a better birth - How the placenta works and what its role can be after the birth, homeopathic remedies for common pregnancy discomforts and our first labor rehearsal.

Week 4:  THE COACHInterventions in birth & why the Coach is so important – We will examine the domino effect of interventions in birth and look at the risks and benefits of those interferences.

Week 5:  First Stage Labor - The physical and emotional sign posts of the stages and phases and stages of labor – We will have another labor rehearsal and try out various positions and massage techniques.  You will begin to understand what contractions might feel like, physically and mentally and how to work with your body through those sensations.

Week 6:  Second and Third Stage Labor - Bringing your baby into the world - Learn about the mechanics of pushing your baby into the world (2nd Stage): how to breathe, how to be and what the coach can do.  Also learn little known facts about delivering the afterbirth (3rd Stage) you need to know.  Finally, what happens to the baby once they are here: bonding facts and standard care procedures.

Week 7:  Planning Your Birth - Working with your birth team - Writing your birth plan so it accurately represents your birth day wishes is an important process as you further define your goals with your care provider.  We will discuss how to work with care providers who may appear to be impeding your birth day goals.  We will also consider the roles water, music, scents, mirrors, lighting, etc. play in your birth.

Week 8:  Variations and Unexpected Situations - What to do with some of life’s little surprises – Through out the class sessions, we focus on normal birth.  In this particular class we take a look at some minor variations in birth and how they may change your birth plan.  It is important to have an understanding of these things so they do not get in the way of having a beautiful birth.

Week 9:  Breastfeeding Basics – For some of us breastfeeding is easy as pie.  For others of us, it is a learned art that takes time, patience and support.  You will learn essential do’s and don’ts and how to get your breastfeeding relationship off to a great start.

Week 10:  Newborn & Postpartum Care - The 4th trimester - Navigating the first three months after the birth of your baby can be so much fun and yet challenging at the same time.  Tips, tricks and thoughts for an easier recovery for mama and a smoother transition to life here on earth for your baby (sleeping, soothing and more).


“When can I use a pacifier?” Almost every new mom asks us this question. So what is the answer?  At Nourish we see newborn babies suck on just about anything…their thumb, fingers, their mama’s arm, really anything they can attach too!  The high suck need of a newborn is best served on the mama’s breast to stimulate milk production and increase bonding between mama and baby. Thankfully the The American Academy of Pediatrics gives us some guideliness to pass onto you.  The AAP recommends that  you should delay pacifier introduction in the breastfed infant until 1 month of age to ensure that breastfeeding is firmly established. Please see the below link if you want to read more about pacifier use. Please keep in mind that this is a recommendation for the healthy, term baby that is with mom.

Here is the link so you can check it out if you like:;116/5/1245.pdf

Here ‘ye, Here ‘ye!

Hello friends!  The leaves are turning colors, a crisp snap of air greets you in the morning(ok only some mornings– after all this is Southern California!) and our next Breastfeeding 101 class is just around the corner.  Join us for a spooktacular time Saturday, October 29th in Orange County from 9:00am-12:30pm.  It promises to be a haunting good time!  hehe…we heart Halloween…really this is just a fantabulous breastfeeding class.


photo by: the letter b. photography