More “Never Punch a Hole in a Wall When You Can Go Out a Door”

By Julie Brill | February 23, 2015 | Comments Off on More “Never Punch a Hole in a Wall When You Can Go Out a Door”

There’s so much to say about how to increase your chances of having a vaginal birth that I’m blogging about again. Here’s my new post at babyMed.

Oh and if you’re wondering about the title of this post, that’s a quote from a firefighter who took my childbirth class a few years back. He told me that he’s a fan of vaginal birth, whenever possible, because the baby already has a door to come out. You “never punch a hole in a wall when you can go out a door.”

Never Punch a Hole in a Wall When You Can Go Out a Door

By Julie Brill | February 16, 2015 |

I’ll always remember a dad I had in childbirth class who was a firefighter. He told me he was in favor of vaginal birth whenever possible because “you never punch a hole in a wall when you can go out a door.” While I hope I say it a bit more eloquently in my blog post this week at babyMed, I don’t believe that anyone can say it better.



Postpartum Doulas–The Other White Meat

By Julie Brill | February 10, 2015 | Comments Off on Postpartum Doulas–The Other White Meat

With all the prenatal focus pregnant women put on labor and birth, postpartum planning is often eclipsed. I think many times pregnant women can’t imagine what life on “the other side” will be like, so in some ways they can’t begin to plan for it. Hiring a postpartum doula is a great way to prepare for the marathon living with a newborn can be.

Check out what I have to say about how a postpartum doula can help at babyMed.


Because you aren’t breastfeeding on a deserted island

By Julie Brill | February 5, 2015 | Comments Off on Because you aren’t breastfeeding on a deserted island

I’m so excited to be blogging now at babyMed! Check out my post on La Leche League meetings and mother to mother breastfeeding support.

The Year in Postpartum Depression: New Findings in 2014, special edition with Helen Donald

By Julie Brill | December 3, 2014 | Comments Off on The Year in Postpartum Depression: New Findings in 2014, special edition with Helen Donald

Postpartum depression affects up to 20 per cent of new mothers, causing many new mothers to suffer in silence, and affecting babies in the areas of stress reactivity, social engagement, fear regulation, etc. Researchers have found that babies of depressed moms can find it more difficult to regulate their emotions in the face of novel situations, and tend to cry and show an elevated physiological stress response. Mothers undergoing this difficult situation should know that they are not alone. There are many strategies they can use to curb postpartum depression in the bud, through strategies aimed at battling stress and depression, and, when necessary, with the help of medication. In this post, we review developments in postpartum depression research, discussing interesting findings made in 2014.

* Yoga is useful at helping moms deal with postpartum depression: Yoga is a millenary practice which has been found (in numerous studies over the past decade) to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol, and to enhance vitality and improve sleep. It is currently an important component of many therapies for everyone from patients overcoming substance addiction or eating disorders, to those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. A new study, published in the journal, Archives of Women’s Mental Health, has found that yoga can also have an important role to play in battling post-natal depression. The study found that expectant moms who have suffered from depression are around 40 per cent less likely to relapse during pregnancy if they practice yoga (with meditation and controlled breathing exercises) in addition to receiving cognitive therapy. Yoga is thought to be so successful at curbing depression because of its emphasis on keeping the mind in the present moment and because of the intense concentration required to coordinate the various yoga poses with one’s breathing. Yoga is recommended at both the prenatal and postpartum state, to keep anxiety and depression at bay.

* Fearing childbirth increases the risk of postpartum depression: A recent study published by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland found that expectant mothers with a fear of childbirth diagnosed at the prenatal stage, are at an increased risk of postpartum depression. The study is of major significance because of its scale; some 500,000 women were involved.

* Controlling childbirth-related pain lowers the risk of depression: Perinatal psychiatrist, Katherine Wisner, M.D., notes that controlling pain during childbirth and after delivery is linked to a lower risk of suffering from postpartum depression. Dr. Wisner noted that it was vital that women suffering from chronic pain one or two months after delivery should also be tested to rule out depression.

* The suppression of positive emotions increases the risk of postpartum depression: Moms who ‘dampen’ their joy through negative self-assertions (such as ‘I don’t deserve to be this happy’) experience higher levels of depression at the postpartum stage. On the contrary, dwelling on negative feelings is not related to a greater risk of postpartum depression. The researchers noted that their findings pointed to the need to address ‘dampening’ through preventive treatment techniques. Once again, mindfulness (encouraging presence ‘in the here and now’) is an important step allowing positive feelings to flourish.

* Postpartum depression can remain a problem for up to 50 per cent of women: Levels of postpartum depression decrease as the months go by, yet research published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry has shown that up to 50 per cent of women can remain depressed after the first year of their child’s birth. Those at a higher risk of long-lasting postpartum depression include women with a lower income, women from minority groups and a difficult relationship with their partner. Because of the serious consequences postpartum depression can have for babies, note researchers, it is vital that mothers be aware of the many preventive strategies they can take and the importance of receiving treatment if they are suffering from depression.

Finally, we should mention one last study, although it was carried out in December, 2013. The study found that taking a longer period of maternity leave can significantly reduce the risk of postpartum depression. The current 12-week period prescribed by the Family and Medical Leave Act may simply not be enough for those who are most at risk from succumbing to this debilitating condition.

Pregnant? 5 Steps To Do Now To Make Postpartum Easier

By Julie Brill | October 15, 2014 | Comments Off on Pregnant? 5 Steps To Do Now To Make Postpartum Easier
  1. Fill your freezer with meals. You will be so happy about this later. Double meals you cook and freeze half. (Hint: lasagna can be frozen prior to or after baking.) Ask the guests coming to your baby shower to bring along a freezer-ready meal. Get a copy of Frozen Assets and spend a day cooking using the recipes in the book, and have a month of meals in your freezer.
  2. Think about how to harness help. So many people say, “Let me know if there’s something I can when the baby comes.” Register at Meal Train so when people offer help you can ask them to sign up to bring you a meal. Make a list of chores that need to get done in your home on a daily and weekly basis. Place this list on the fridge so when visitors ask if they can do you can direct them to the list. This way you won’t have to ask them directly, remember what needs to be done, or even get up from the couch.
  3. Register for prenatal classes that will make your life easier later. Look for an independent (not affiliated with a hospital or practice) childbirth class to learn about options and tools for labor. Your labor experience will impact your life postpartum. A cesarean birth involves a longer recovery than a vaginal birth. Labor medications can also delay your recovery, and make learning to breastfeed more challenging in the beginning. Take an infant care class so there will be a little less you need to learn on the job. Take a breastfeeding class to learn about latch and position before your baby is born; this will help you to avoid a cycle of soreness in the early weeks postpartum.
  4. Line up your breastfeeding support now. Ask around and find an IBCLC who can make a home visit if you need it later. Go to La Leche League’s website and find the phone numbers of your local Leaders. They can provide you with free phone support if you have breastfeeding questions. Pregnant women are welcome at all La Leche League meetings. Consider attending prenatally to ask questions, hear other questions be answered, see breastfeeding moms and babies, and tap into your local support network. Purchase a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (used is fine as long as it’s the 2010 edition) to read prenatally and use as a reference as needed postpartum.
  5. Consider hiring a postpartum doula. She can be an invaluable source of support in the early days by providing breastfeeding support, cooking, errands and light housekeeping, being a source of reassurance and information, and then working her way out of a job as you get the hang of parenting a newborn.

Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD, CAPPA Faculty is a homeschooling mom who runs her birth business, WellPregnancy, from her home in Bedford, MA. She loves teaching private childbirth classes, providing Prepare for Cesarean Birth, Heal Faster workshops, and mentoring new labor doulas and childbirth educators. She is also a La Leche League Leader. Her first book, Round the Circle: Experienced Doulas Share What They’ve Learned, will be published by Hale Publishing in early 2015. Follow her at and

Deepen Your Knowledge about Perinatal Herbs, Healing Birth Trauma and Understanding the Needs of Premie Families, A WellPregnancy Continuing Education Workshop

By Julie Brill | June 13, 2014 | Comments Off on Deepen Your Knowledge about Perinatal Herbs, Healing Birth Trauma and Understanding the Needs of Premie Families, A WellPregnancy Continuing Education Workshop

Join us Nov. 2 for a full day of continuing education for birth professionals as we delve deeper into the topics of herbal support for pregnancy, birth and beyond, healing birth trauma, and working with premie families. Treat yourself to a day of learning spent in the company of peers and earn 7 CAPPA CEUs.

Herbal Support for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

Deepen your understanding of the many ways in which herbal preparations can support a women throughout pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. This afternoon workshop will focus primarily on the use of nourishing tonic herbs and preparations intended to provide supportive or comfort care. We’ll discuss ways in which herbs are, with discretion, used during labor and birth. WellPregnancy’s guest instructor, Kristen Avonti, is an educator, healer, herbalist, midwifery assistant and mother of three. Her deep passion for healing and sharing her healing wisdom drives both her clinical practice and the educational center she runs. Through a blending of the art and science of herbal medicine, students will acquire a basic understanding of the support herbalism may offer through presentation, discussion and hands on medicine making demonstrations.Scope of practice for the birth professional and herbalist will be emphasized.* 3 CAPPA CEUs available.

Healing Birth Trauma 

We’ll support each other as we explore the ways in which birth trauma manifests for the women we serve, and seek to understand the ways in which we can shift the culture of healing around trauma experienced through childbirth. We’ll discuss our exposure to and experience with trauma in the birth setting, and explore the healing power of some of the tools that can be used in supporting women who have experienced a traumatic birth.  In addition, self care and self healing will be discussed. WellPregnancy’s guest instructor, Kristen Avonti, is an educator, healer, herbalist, midwifery assistant and mother of three. Her deep passion for healing and sharing her healing wisdom drives both her clinical practice and the educational center she runs. 2 CAPPA CEUs awarded.

Understanding the Needs of Preemie Families with Jenny Everett King, CCCE, doula, birth photographer, and mother of four, one of whom was born at 31 weeks gestation 

Develop a deeper knowledge of the most effective ways to support families who find themselves in special needs situations, and learn how to address the complicated emotions that may accompany a NICU stay. This workshop will address the needs of parents and babies who experience preterm birth, and is designed to help birth workers understand the details of prematurity, including lactation support when baby is unable to breastfeed and the benefits of skin-to-skin care for preemies. We will also discuss options for preventing preterm birth and the unique needs of mothers who find themselves putting extra effort into carrying to term. WellPregnancy’s guest instructor, Jenny Everett King, blogs at

Join us November 2 from 9:30to 5:30 in Westford, MA for a full day of workshops. Cost for all three workshops, including  7 CAPPA CEUs, is $100 when you register by Sept. 30, or $110 afterwards. Herbal Support for Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond from 9:30 to 12:30 and 3 CAPPA CEUs is $45 by Sept. 30, or $55 afterwards. Healing Birth Trauma and from 1 to 3 and 2 CAPPA CEUs is $30 by Sept. 30 or $40 afterwards and Understanding the Needs of Premie Families from 3:30 to 5:30 and 2 CAPPA CEUs is $30 by Sept. 30, or $40 afterwards. To register please send your name and cell phone number to Julie at Please send your tuition through Paypal to Julie at If you prefer to send a check, please note that in your email and check writing info will be emailed to you. No refunds will be given except in the event of workshop cancellation, but you may transfer your registration to another student. If you miss the workshop to attend a birth, you may transfer your tuition to another WellPregnancy workshop or training. In the event of instructor emergency, every attempt will be made to provide a substitute workshop on a relevant perinatal topic, or refunds will be provided.

*This section will cover a discussion of herbs that birthing women have sometimes heard of using to induce labor or encourage a “speedy” labor. The focus of this discussion will be on providing the birth professionals present with a strong understanding of the realistic and appropriate uses of these herbs as well as the concerns over their use. With many birthing women encountering a wide array of information and misinformation regarding the use of herbs in birth, this discussion will aim to support birth professionals and clients in accessing a fully informed understanding of the use of herbs in birth. It is not, however intended to be a clinical “how-to” of using herbs in birth.

Contact WellPregnancy

Julie Brill, CCCE, CLD, IBCLC
Julie (at)


The choice is not between anesthesia and unremitting agony. One is not asked to lie in a hospital bed and . . . bite a bullet and suffer. . . Natural childbirth advocates would also say that the perception of the laboring woman as a patient with a medical problem on par with an impacted molar is exactly what has always ... been wrong with medicine’s view of childbirth. - Sandra Steingraber