Supporting and empowering positive birth and postpartum experiences in the greater Phoenix area.

WELCOME, We are Cherry blossom doula services

Birth is beautiful.

Birth transforms lives.

Birth creates mothers.

Birth brings forth magic.

Birth is birth.

We hope you’ll be just as blessed by this magical birth as we were in providing support! Doula Megan does such a wonderful job in normalizing birth as birth – and we adore seeing her work (even if we can’t see her in these shots).

Follow @cherryblossomdoulamegan for more of her birth stories! And scroll down for this one.

Earth side magic.

Psst – Do you have a favorite shot? Let us know what you think!

Your body knows how to give birth.

Your body also knows what kind of touch you need during birth!

Have you considered how you want to be touched yet? Do you know what options are available to you and your partner or support team?

Today let’s look at one neurophysiologic pathway to reduce pain in labor: mechanoreceptors.

Merkel Discs being put to use with some good ol’ hand squeezes during a contraction. Captured by Alyssa Leon.

(Neurophysiologic is just a fancy word for brain-body pathway, by the way.)

While there are several receptor systems for your labor journey – and we promise to tackle the others soon – in this post, the receptors on/in your body that respond to (compassionate) touch are where we’re going…

And how you can use these receptors to your advantage while birthing babe!


Mechanoreceptors in labor.

Merkel’s Disks are the first mechanoreceptor we’ll touch on today (pun intended!) M.D.’s are found on the palms, soles of the feet, and lips. They respond to steady, maintained pressure, and the best part… these techniques work for a long time! Some things you can do during labor that use these pain relief properties include:

  • Holding hands
  • Stand
  • Squeeze a “stress ball”
  • Kiss! (this is also why some moms find themselves clenching or biting their lips during labor)

Next up are the Meissner’s Corpuscles. M.C.’s are found on fingertips and hairless skin; they respond to textures and light touch.

  • Effleurage (light fingertip massage often done on the belly)
  • Move fingertips lightly on sheets
  • People who put themselves to sleep by moving their feet on the sheets will intuitively do that. Labor might be that one time when it won’t drive your partner nuts!

Pacinian Corpuscles are found in the deep layers of the skin. They respond to deep pressure and vibration. These techniques are often used for back labor and include:

  • Deep massage
  • Acupressure

And last but not least, Joint Receptors are found in joint capsules, ligaments and synovial membranes throughout the body. They are also a long-lasting option. Your body won’t “habituate” to these either. They respond to movement – and hugging! If you find yourself swaying you are engaging your joint receptors – some tools in labor include:

  • Rock in a rocking chair
  • Slow dancing and belly dancing
  • Pelvic rocking on all fours

A deeper look.

Feeling excited about your options? How about overwhelmed?

Take a moment an breathe, Momma.

If you’re not sure what compassionate touch looks like in labor – take a moment to scroll through these gorgeous shots captured by Doula Alyssa. One of the greatest blessings of walking alongside you is getting to empower you and those who will be in your birth space! This means sometimes we personally provide support – and sometimes we coach your partner to provide that perfect touch. It is such an incredible honor to be here with you.

Do you have questions? How about tips of how you tapped into your best possible birth? We’d love to hear them below!

– Your Cherry Blossom Doulas

“Sometimes when I hear a birth story told from the perspective of a mom I’ve held – it brings me to a dead stop. As for this one, it was like Momma M was allowing us to peek into her soul and I’m so grateful of her bravery.”

– Doula Alyssa Leon

I woke up on a Friday morning and saw blood everywhere, I knew you would soon be on your way.

I didn’t panic, I had prepared for this. I knew we needed to get to the hospital as fast as we could, to a hospital that seemed so far but it was the best place for you because you were only 28 weeks. We were so lucky Grandma and Grandpa were visiting because they took care of your big brother, CK, as we ran out the door.

We arrived at the hospital, your dad drove over a curb to park in a restricted parking lot because we didn’t know where to go. We made it up and I explained to the nurses all of our complications. We were rushed in and they started monitoring you. I heard your little heart and I felt at ease. But there was so much blood. At some point, between the medications and care, we were stable again. I remember the doctor saying we may have to watch the Super Bowl at the hospital. I laughed because we don’t care about sports at all. 

Your dad wasn’t able to stay overnight that first night but you and I were ok. The night was long and I’m sure you missed your big brother kissing my belly as much as I did. 

That next day Grandma and Grandpa came to visit and Dad was able to stay behind for the night. The day was hard, there was more blood. In the evening the contractions started. At first, I didn’t notice them, the monitors did. They intensified fast and we were given so much medication to try to stop them but it was unsuccessful. 

The nurses called the doctor again and I was told we were about to have a birthday party for you on Super Bowl Sunday! They prepped me and your Dad called our doula, Alyssa, and explained the situation. They were sending me back in just a few minutes and as they were prepping me, she walked in with Dad. It was comforting to see a familiar face and have someone photographing what was happening. I was so out of it between all of the meds and epidural, I was so scared to not remember your birth.

I didn’t feel much of anything, I just remember there were so many people and I told them to make sure I didn’t feel anything before starting. They seemed to panic at some point and I remember just feeling so weak. I felt punching and pulling and rushing. Then your dad and Alyssa told me you were out.

You didn’t cry, they rushed to resuscitate you. You were 2lbs 10oz.

A few minutes later, your dad was able to see you for the first time. I’m so grateful we had Alyssa there. She was the exact support I needed when your dad was busy seeing you. She held my hand and comforted me as they worked on finishing everything up.

Your dad came back and told me you were small but reassured me that you were ok…

He showed me a picture and I couldn’t believe that my first time seeing my son would be through a picture. I had always imagined I would be able to hold you right after you were born, but I wouldn’t be able to hold you for another week. 

I recovered for a while and I was finally able to see you. They wheeled up my bed and that was the first time I saw the NICU, the place I would spend a good part of my days for the next two months. The nurses were sweet but I was scared. You looked tiny and had a million wires all around you. I didn’t know if you were going to be ok and I felt numb. I felt mad and angry too. It wasn’t fair. 

I was scared to go up and see you alone when dad wasn’t there. I was so scared they would tell me something I couldn’t handle. I also didn’t feel like you were mine, I wasn’t the one caring for you and I didn’t get to even hold you. I felt disconnected. 

The next two months in the NICU were a whirlwind.

Your dad and I would come in and try to be around for 2 rounds of care. It was hard leaving your big brother home but grandma and grandpa were able to keep him busy while we were gone. 

At first, I didn’t want to touch you, I was so afraid to break you but like the nurses said, you were much stronger than you looked.

I remember the first day I held you, there were wires everywhere and I couldn’t relax. I kept my eyes on the monitors and they kept going off. It wasn’t what I imagined my first time holding you would be like. I was stressed and scared to hurt you. I was relieved when they told me I could put you back, I never wanted to hold you again. I was so scared to hurt you. 

I remember I made dad hold you a ton, he seemed more relaxed about it. I sat close and watched the monitors even closer. I became obsessed with your O2 and heart rate. I asked the nurses so many questions and they were so sweet and kind. The NICU nurses really have amazing patience and they loved you and cared for you when I couldn’t.  

One day on our drive in, they called us to let us know they had moved you. You were stable so they moved you to a private room. I felt like we were so close to going home! They tried to take off your oxygen but you didn’t do well. The nurse was telling us that you had pretty severe dips and had to be aggressively stimulated to come back.

I felt hopeless, I didn’t think you would ever come home. 

birth photo credits: Alyssa Leon

We worked on feeding and breathing for a while. The doctors eventually decided that if your feeding was going well, they would send you home on oxygen. We were somewhat lucky because I think they were trying to make room for COVID patients. COVID was getting really bad and they restricted us to 1 visitor at a time. I had relied on your dad to do so much of the care because I was always anxious about hurting you or not doing it right. When he wasn’t around, I felt incompetent. I felt far from what a mother should be.

I wasn’t able to care for you the way a mother should. 

We went through training for your oxygen in order to prepare to go home and that was intense. They showed us how to use the machine that would eventually wake me up every few minutes in the middle of the night with it’s loud beeping and they taught us CPR. On theme, I was anxious to bring you home.

The day they sent you home was the first day they required everyone to wear masks. Can you believe we used to not wear masks?!?! Your dad took one last picture of me and you together in the NICU and we made our way home. 

When we got home, you finally met your brother! He was so confused but excited I think. He wanted to rock you and touch you but I don’t think he realized you were going to be staying for good. 

At home, the fear continued. I was afraid you would stop breathing in your sleep and the monitors wouldn’t realize it. I was anxious about the loud beeping sounds the monitors made.

I didn’t sleep for a month.

I would stay awake with the monitor in my face making sure your stats wouldn’t drop. I didn’t let you out of my sight but I did feel like we were finally connecting now that I could take care of you. 

The next few months were spent getting to know each other and finally getting into a routine with you and your brother. Eventually you were stable enough to come off of oxygen, that was a huge relief. 

I remember as I would sit next to you in the NICU just praying you would one day be playing with your brother and causing havoc in our home together. I’m so grateful you are here now laughing and playing with your big brother. That day seemed so far away and not even possible at one point. You are the sweetest, happiest, chunkiest baby boy.

You had a rough start, sweet boy, but that never slowed you down and I doubt it ever will.

family photo credit:

Questions about birth after premature birth or birth loss? It is an honor to be here with you. Reach out today for a complimentary consultation.

New gallery is UP!⁠

Scroll for some gorgeous shots from @cherryblossom_doula.

Nothing worthwhile is without a bit of effort; yet meeting babe for the first time is one experience we can say is most worthy of everything you’ve got.⁠

A strength you’ve never known is WITHIN you, Mom. And it’s ready for you to tap on in!

Supported birth is your right and our honor.

Most worthy of everything you’ve got.

Let us know what you think! To be alongside you to capture and support your birth is an honor, Mom.

Our latest belly birth gallery is up, Momma!

Sometimes plans change.

It is an honor to be by your side, come what may. And we can’t wait to get back into the OR with you when needed again!

Until then, we hope you enjoy these positively beautiful cesarean birth photos from last fall by the one and only @cherryblossomdoulakristy. May they bring peace to your journey – expected or not.

From first glance to first touch.

Did you see it? Did you catch it? That first glance through the clear sheet separating mom and babe? That first touch when mom and babe could finally reunite? Please excuse us while we wipe away a tear or two.

Birth is beautiful. Period.

Psst – Do you have a favorite shot? Let us know what you think!

Like many things that are directly or indirectly related to vaginas, the placenta was disregarded for a looong time.⠀

Not today.⠀

According to UNLV researchers, when they analyzed the concentrations of different substances in placenta capsules they not only found small amounts of minerals like iron and zinc. They also analyzed 17 different hormones in the placenta capsules!⠀

That seems like 17 reasons to consider a postnatal tincture or capsules to us. What do you think? Have you been researching plancenta encapsulation? What questions do you have? We are here with you, momma. Bringing you not just the support you want, but the support you need. Always.⠀

Pick a provider who will absolutely care for you like the queen you are. As a whole, we adore the midwifery model of care.⁠ There are amazing OB/GYN’s too! When choosing your maternity provider, will you do yourself the biggest favor and ask how they will support you in the postpartum space? Your provider can often pick up complications and issues with lactation, incontinence, and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. For in-home guidance on this and so much more, a postpartum doula is an excellent resource. You will bond better with babe when you are tended to well, dear one.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below!⁠

Did you know art supplies aren’t just for mommas (though these were for fabulous women lifting up a lovely birthing momma friend)? Art supplies (the washable type) are extra fun for new siblings. When we meet with new-again mommas our postpartum team ALWAYS recommend feeding boxes. And sometimes we even make them!

Feeding boxes are perfect for moments when both babe & siblings need your attention. Keep them in a parent-friendly spot to grab when you’re about to sit and feed your new miracle. Kiddos can draw a picture for baby, journal about their day, or write affirmations for self (such as I’m a great sister!) Have you ever tried something like this? We’d love to hear!

Did you know that your midwife will make a mindful effort to be at your same or lower level during your birth?⁠⠀
Your midwife will watch. She will wait. She will make you feel empowered and confident beyond your wildest dreams. She will speak to you. Because your birth – it is about you.⁠⠀
We are honored every single time we see this come to life firsthand.⁠

Was this your experience?

We would love to hear.

“Why does laughter have such a powerfully positive effect during labor?⁠⠀
The mental and physical benefits of laughter have been a topic of study for many researchers, and here are some of their conclusions:⁠⠀
Laughter helps your body release tension.⁠⠀
Laughter increases your air intake and therefore increases your oxygen intake. Every inch of your body is working overtime during labor and birth, so it’s important to breathe deeply.⁠⠀
Laughter helps you get the full benefit of your endorphins, nature’s painkiller. Your body will naturally produce endorphins during labor, and the more you’re able to relax, the more you’ll be able to appreciate the benefit of these powerful hormones. Laughing can even add an extra oomph to the endorphins released, which is always a welcome addition to your labor.⁠⠀
So, how can you go about adding some fun to what can be a intimidating task?⁠⠀
Surround yourself with people who make your heart happy. ⁠⠀
Keep moving and (when you can) grooving. Muscles that are moving are going to stay looser than muscles that are still. ⁠⠀
Stay true to yourself and your sense of humor. It’s hard to have a sense of humor when you’re in pain. After all, many movie scenes have been made about the laboring mom who snaps at her well meaning but wisecracking husband during birth. Being open to laughter during labor doesn’t mean arming your partner or doula with a book of knock-knock jokes. It means being true to who you are and what brings you joy.” – Jennifer Stutzman⁠⠀
Will every contraction bring belly laughs? Of course not – labor is hard work! But staying relaxed and welcoming as many contractions as you can with a smile on your face will absolutely help you to have your best birth experience 

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