How IVF Works - What Happens Backstage in a Fertility Lab

Have you ever wondered how the magic happens in the lab when using IVF to get pregnant? Chicagoland Doulas hosts embryologist and lab manager in the first of a three-part series: How IVF Works: A break down of embryology, what it entails, and the science behind making babies.

Day-to-Day of a Postpartum Doula

Not quite sure what a Postpartum Doula does on a daily basis? Or how the occupation is different from a nanny? Insight below from Chicagoland Doulas owner Anne Iverson.

Really, Postpartum Doula duties are dependent on the family and how old their children are. With a brand new infant, the biggest necessity is knowing what they, as parents, should be doing. Oh, and also sleep. Sleep is SO important!

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Really, “what parents need to be doing” is more about priority and routine than anything else. Parents have great instincts - they know exactly what to do! A Postpartum Doula is there to help them understand that they are already experts in their baby. A doula helps parents ease into the routine and schedule that works best.

Your Partner in Childcare

Questions do arise, like why does my baby have acne weeks after birth? This is common, due to hormonal changes from womb to birth. These issues can cause much anxiety, warranting non-stop googling and unnecessary treks to the doctor’s office. A Postpartum Doula is a wealth of knowledge, there to answer and assess these worries.

“A lot of parents have anxiety because there's so much info out in the world. Not to mention all of the people wanting to give you advice,” Anne says. “Parents have a sense of ‘I need to be doing this a certain way.’” A Postpartum Doula weens clients away from that thought process, asserting that everything doesn't have to be a certain way, but you can definitely make a plan that works for your family. The biggest lesson tolearn is that you are not in charge, the baby is!


General duties of a Postpartum Doula may include:

  • Watching the baby while parents get their adult life together

  • Helping to organize and clean the home while baby has quiet time

  • Make homebase more liveable

  • Talk with clients“Not having an adult to talk to during the day can drive you mad,” Anne says. “All of a sudden your life is about babies and that’s all you have to talk about.”

  • Look for any signs of postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression

  • Refer help on these issues and others that may be beyond their qualification

  • Help the non-birthing parent develop a strong relationship with the kid

  • Help parents achieve goals they have set for themselves

  • Sleep train the infant, which happens at 6-or-7 months. More on this in a later blog post!

To sum it up, Chicagoland Doulas owner Anne says “a typical daily goal as a Postpartum Doula is to take care of the child if the parents need a break, but also have dinner on the table on the table for the parents to enjoy.”

Instagram: @chicagolanddoulas | Facebook: Chicagoland Doulas | Pinterest: ChiDoulas | 712-540-5917

Placenta 101: FAQ About Placenta Encapsulation

A natural boost for energy, breast milk production, and healing

Thousands of mothers have their placenta encapsulated after giving birth. Consuming the placenta encourages re-balancing of hormones, stimulates milk production for breastfeeding, and assists in regulating moods in the first months after their baby is born. 

We're sure you have many questions! Below is a list of frequent inquiries to help you make an informed decision about placenta encapsulation. All answers prepared by Chicagoland Doulas owner Anne Iverson!

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FAQs about Placenta Encapsulation

Why should I encapsulate my placenta?

No human-made or organic supplement is on par with your placenta when it comes to helping your body transition after having a baby. When professionally encapsulated, your placenta is conveniently handy in the form of capsules (just like the herbal vitamins at the store), and it has a formula specifically beneficial to you. It is full of nutrients that can be absorbed gently during the first months of your postpartum period. Some of these nutrients are:

  • Vitamin B6 – aids in making antibodies
  • Vitamin E – for healing damaged cells
  • Oxytocin hormone – essential for facilitating birth and breastfeeding
  • Stem cells and growth factors
  • Corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) – responsible for decreasing stress levels
  • Cytokines – fibroblasts that trigger cell metabolism, healing, and replacement of
  • damaged cells and tissue

What kind of capsule do you use?

  • We use capsules that are 100% vegan-certified, wheat and gluten-free, kosher, and halal. We also use gluten-free grain spirit to make tinctures.

How long do I take the capsules?

  • You can take the capsules as long as you feel you need them. Placing them in the refrigerator (or freezer for longer periods) will keep them fresh (and away from curious pets and children). Your specialist can also make a tincture for you that you can use for much longer than your capsules might last.

How long does encapsulation take?

  • Encapsulation is a two-day process, and takes approximately 2 hours the first day and two hours the second day. The first day it is prepared and begins the process of dehydration. The second day it is placed into capsules and you and your postpartum placenta specialist will discuss consumption recommendations.

How many capsules should I expect from my placenta?

  • Placentas come in all sizes, so the amount of capsules is different for every person. Your placenta will provide you with the amount your body needs. Typically the amount of capsules a placenta produces is about 100-250.

Is placenta encapsulation sanitary?

  • Yes. All supplies and surfaces are cleaned with an EPA-approved disinfectant and our specialist is specifically trained to work with blood-borne pathogens involved with placenta contact. We perform the entire process in your home, so that you may be sure that the process is safe, transparent, and free from outside contamination.

Does research show increased breast milk supply though placenta ingestions??

  • Studies have shown from 1954 to the present that there are benefits to placenta consumption. They suggest that consuming your placenta can increase milk production, decrease stress levels, strengthen maternal bonding, and increase overall energy. The increasing popularity of encapsulation is expanding this field of research. Recent CDC recommendations and warnings have been based on a separate and very different process than what we use at Chicagoland Doulas, and we take special safety precautions that avoid those risks. 

Will my hospital release my placenta when I am discharged?

  • Each hospital policy is different, and in most cases there are some papers to fill out. Chicago hospitals are getting on board, and you should contact your birth place before your labor to make arrangements for release. It is a good idea to designate someone in your family (other than the birthing parent) to be in charge of transporting the placenta to your home. If the placenta is sent to the lab for study in the case of a birth complication, it will not be released.

How do I store my placenta after birth? 

  • Placentas are typically placed by hospital staff in a plastic bag inside a plastic container, and an additional plastic bag may be placed around the container itself. (If the placenta needs to leave the room at any point, make sure it is labeled well and that the staff knows not to add any chemicals to it and to refrigerate it). As soon as possible--absolutely within 3-4 hours-- put this container in a cooler with ice so that it can remain cool until you are able to refrigerate it at home (within 10 hours). Encapsulation should ideally occur within 1-3 days, but if that is not possible, place the placenta in the freezer. The placenta should not remain in the fridge for more than 3-4 days.

How long can my placenta stay frozen? 

  • Your placenta can stay frozen for up to a year and still have benefits for you. However, we believe encapsulating the placenta “sooner the better” aids in postpartum transition most effectively.

Have a question we didn't cover? Feel free to reach out personally via email or social media!

Instagram: @chicagolanddoulas | Facebook: Chicagoland Doulas | Pinterest: ChiDoulas | 712-540-5917

Precious Cargo: Keeping Baby Safe in Summer Heat

Summer is the most magical time of year, and can also be the most dangerous. Sun burns, sun rashes, sun fever - for bringing us so much joy, the sun can sure be a jerk. Here are some ways to ensure your tiny treasures don’t get burnt, literally or figuratively, by mr. sunshine.

Keep the Babes Safe From Sun

Slather that little toosh in high factor sunscreen! Chicagoland Doulas supports some great, clean brands of ray defenders made specifically for babies:

Acure Organics Baby Sunscreen  (Photo: Thrive Market)

Acure Organics Baby Sunscreen (Photo: Thrive Market)

Apply lotion more liberally if your baby is in and out of the water! When not in the water, make sure your baby is completely covered. Talking about body, arms, and legs with clothing, sun hat on head. We like these adorable sun hats:

Keep 'Em Comfy & Cool

Playing in a kiddie pool is a good way of keeping babies cool during a summer day. Keep the pool in the shade during hot weather and, of course, watched the little ones carefully at all times.

A cool bath before bed is great for keeping babies cool through the night. Keep blinds or curtains closed in the nursery during the day. Use a fan to circulate the air in the room. Be careful not to point the fan directly at the baby!

Swimways Float Activity Center  (Photo:  Swimways )

Swimways Float Activity Center (Photo: Swimways)

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Like adults, babies need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. For babies, hydration means to eight pale wet diapers a day. Plan for extra dipeys on super hot days (waterproof for pool days)!

If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need to double up with water, they just may want to breastfeed more often. If you’re bottle feeding, as well as their usual milk feeds, you should give your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day.

Babyganics Swim pants  (Photo: Target)

Babyganics Swim pants (Photo: Target)

Say "No!" to Heatstroke

Babies are tiny and the sun is h-o-t HOT. Keep the little ones in cool, shady spot on hot days. If they have to be outside, cover their strollers with a damp towel and cover them with cool clothing. As you know, babies are not able to tell you that they are thirsty. Give them lots to drink in this summer weather! If babies begin to become more agitated, this could be a warning sign that they are becoming uncomfortably warm.

Instagram: @chicagolanddoulas | Facebook: Chicagoland Doulas | Pinterest: ChiDoulas | 712-540-5917