Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Growing that “baby belly” can be a wonderful, joyous experience, but it is often mixed with challenges for the body and mind. Developing a consistent yoga practice during pregnancy is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body & your baby in preparation for childbirth. By linking yoga postures with breath as well as the use of guided meditation; yoga during pregnancy can help bring awareness to the mind, body, & spirit, as well as help connect you to the spirit of your baby.

Prenatal Yoga is specifically designed to help alleviate the most common pregnancy ailments. The postures chosen by an experienced, educated teacher will assist in adapting to the many emotional & physical changes that occur during pregnancy. Specific postures help strengthen & tone the uterus and pelvic floor, improve circulation in the legs & pelvic area, aid in digestion, exercise the spine, and increase overall comfort during pregnancy. Yoga can also help alleviate other discomforts such as low back pain, sciatica, swelling, varicose veins, and nausea.

As a society, we tend to focus a lot on the physical benefits of certain things. And while having a fit pregnancy has been shown to be beneficial for both mom and baby, there is more to yoga than poses, strength and stamina. So many of the yogic benefits come from the mental and spiritual practices as well. 

Creating space to slow down and focus on your baby is vital for a healthy pregnancy. Finding stillness after a busy day can regulate your nervous system and lower your cortisol levels. Establishing a regular meditation or affirmation practice can build your confidence for your birth and help you in remaining relaxed and calm in labor. The "go, go, go" mentality of our society can be detrimental to some of us and yoga offers expecting parents a consistent time each week to drown out the rest of the world and bring full awareness to body, mind, spirit, and their babies. 

An oft forgotten aspect of yoga is the social one, specifically in regards to prenatal yoga. It's not uncommon to build a strong community within these classes as you bond over heart burn, swollen feet, and waiting for the day your babies arrive. Prenatal Yoga can be a safe haven for many parents-to-be as they connect with others who truly understand the challenges they face in pregnancy. Many moms and moms-to-be find their tribe in yoga classes and create lasting friendships for years to come!

As you begin a regular prenatal yoga practice, please consider the following things:

  • Let your instructor know what trimester you're in as some poses are acceptable & safe for the 1st trimester, that shouldn't be attempted in the 2nd or 3rd. Share any previous injuries or pre-existing conditions that may impact your practice or are helpful for your instructor to know. 
  • Second, remove all expectations. No matter your physical fitness level, prenatal yoga is unlike any other type of yoga. There are opportunities to build heat and opportunities for slow, restorative stretches. The goal of class is not to "get in shape" but to find balance in mind, body, & spirit. One week you may find the class extremely challenging mentally, another you may find it very easy physically. Whatever your experience, receive it for what it is and don't overthink it. 
  • Third, don't be afraid to ask for or use props to assist in your practice (blankets, straps, blocks, etc). As your body blossoms to accommodate your growing baby, you may find that some poses can be more challenging or awkward. By using props to assist in moving you deeper into the postures you will find it easier to relax and therefore get the most benefit.
  • Finally, if you've had a consistent yoga practice prior to pregnancy, recognize & accept the fact that your practice may change. Be accepting of the beautiful changes your body is withstanding and keep an open mind.

Yoga is truly an ideal form of exercise for pregnancy. If practiced mindfully, it can increase flexibility, strength, circulation, & balance and has the potential to positively impact the birthing experience.

Prenatal Yoga classes begin September 11th and will be held Mondays at 6pm and Thursdays at 11:45am at the Doulas of OC office in Irvine. These times are super convenient if you work at or around John Wayne Airport as you can join us immediately after work or during your lunch break! We also offer Baby+Me classes every Thursday at 10:15am beginning September 14th. Bring your baby and continue your practice after birth! Moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers welcome! Class packages are available on our website and pre-registration is strongly encouraged.  

The Magic of Infant Massage

In honor of our upcoming Infant Massage series at Doulas of Orange County, our wonderful instructor Kathleen Thomas-Sarles is sharing more about the magic this healing and bonding activity provides. Kathie provided a lovely hands-on demo at our New Mama Cafe this week and we weren't surprised to hear that everyone LOVED it! Learn more about Kathie and her expertise in Infant Massage on her website

According to Infant Massage USA, there are many benefits to regular infant massage:

1. Stimulation: Skin sensitivity (touch) is the earliest developed function which is most crucial for all the sensory systems, for muscle development, and overall health.

2. Relaxation: Massage helps balance our autonomic nervous system. Massage helps to relieve tension built up from all the stimulation in our baby’s environment. It can help your baby sleep better: (longer and deeper sleep) and helps with self-regulation and self-soothing.

3. Relief of Physical Discomfort: such as gas and colic, constipation, muscular tension or stiffness and sensitivity to touch or disorganization of the nervous system.

 4. Interaction: Touch is one of the most critical elements to the bonding process.  Learn your baby’s cues and build trust.

Babies are touchable, squeezable, kissable and overall intoxicating! Our babies have the power to make us touch, hold, and care for them!  That touch-communication begins at birth or even before, (pregnant moms are always rubbing their bellies), and continues as the baby grows and develops. The question is often asked, “Why should parents learn infant massage when they touch their babies often throughout the day anyway?”  

Infant massage USA uses a systematic method of touch that incorporates two types of strokes: Indian and Swedish, and combines that with a heightened awareness of the cues our babies give us. Observation and “being present” with our baby is the cornerstone of this process.   Massage begins with a question directed to our baby,” Would you like a massage?”, and continues with non-verbal communication that builds trust between the two participants. We never massage a crying baby, we do however, respond to that cry with another method of touch and love.  

There are many benefits to infant massage, but the one that stands out as crucial is the deep bonding that occurs through this one-on-one time. Finding the time in your day when you and your baby are ready for this interaction and setting aside all other concerns, allows you and your baby to get to know each other more completely. When touch is offered lovingly and respectfully it is most often accepted. As parents we gradually learn when our baby is not ready for this touch and note the cues. This skill of reading cues is beneficial throughout our child’s life, as children do not always use their words to tell us what they want.

“Infants communicate through their bodies. When you engage an infant in a massage, you begin to listen to the infant: you listen to sounds, you watch movements, you listen with your eyes, your ears and your heart. “Infant massage, or touch communication nurtures the most important relationship the child will ever have: the relationship between the parent and infant”. Elaine Fogel Schnieder, Ph.D

Vimala McClure founder of Infant Massage USA tells us,”Touch is the first sense to form in-utero and the last to leave us in death.  It is the only sense we can’t live without.” Infant massage when incorporated into your daily schedule, has the added benefits of better sleep, better digestion, muscle and brain development and increased self -soothing ability of your baby.  Massage gives parents more confidence due to their successful response to their baby’s needs, and the baby learns to trust that their needs will be met.  Both parent and child benefit from the massage not only in the moment, but for a lifetime of communication. Infant massage creates a space where baby and parent come together to communicate through touch and learn the wonders of each other.

Kathie's 4-week series launches Sunday, September 3rd at at 10:30am in Irvine. These hour and a half sessions are held at our baby-friendly office. Each class will include guided understanding and modeling of strokes, education regarding temperament, relationship, development, behavioral states and touch as a first communication. You will learn how to create a sense of trust, respect and confidence for you and your baby and maximize your bonding time. This class is great for moms, dads, and grandparents! 

Check out Kathie's Intro to Infant Massage session on Sunday, August 27th at 10:30 or join us for  New Mama Cafe on Tuesday, September 5th at 11:30am to learn more. This info session will provide you with everything you need to know to sign up for the 4-week series and includes a hands-on demo! Registration is required. 

Read more about this new series and instructions on how to register on our events page. For questions, please email Kathie directly at

Train as a Postpartum Placenta Specialist!

Placenta Encapsulation is one of our most popular services and Doulas of Orange County is always looking to add trained and certified Placenta Specialists to our team! The need is so great that we're hosting our own training to be able to expand our service area throughout Long Beach as well as all of the OC.

We are pairing up with the incredible team at ProDoula to offer this training to anyone interested in supplementing their income as a birth worker, beginning a new business venture or simply learning more about the amazing power of the placenta. 

This two-day training on September 16th and 17th will prepare you to begin offering this popular service as soon as training is complete. You will learn about the history of placenta use, placenta anatomy & function, the various preparation & encapsulation methods, as well as information on research & studies regarding the benefits of placenta encapsulation. Kristyn Blocher, our Placenta Prep trainer will give you a step-by-step demonstration and provide you with strict guidelines for safe preparation and consumption as set forth by OSHA, the EPA and your local health department. 

As an added bonus, you will also learn about the ancient art of belly binding and receive hands-on training to begin offering this service as well! Take it from us, these two services offered together are a powerhouse of postpartum support that any growing family will be sure to love!

This local training is a perfect opportunity for Doulas, Midwives, Childbirth Educators, Lactation Consultants and Yoga Instructors in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire and the surrounding areas.

Register online at and be sure to let us know you're coming! Once certified, we'd be happy to consider you to join our team here at Doulas of Orange County to serve even more growing families in Southern California!

DOC August 2017 Schedule

You may have heard by now that Doulas of Orange County has moved to Irvine! Our bigger, more accessible class space provides the perfect setting for Parenting & Childbirth Education, Yoga, Play Groups and more!

We are proud to offer a full schedule for the month of August with additional classes being added to the calendar in September!


Weekly yoga classes are the newest addition to our calendar! Taught by local instructor, Lauren Horn, our Prenatal & Baby+Me classes give you regular opportunities to relax, stretch, and bond with your baby as your nurture your pregnant or postpartum body. Classes begin late August! Registration is coming soon! 


Michelle Swaney of The Potty School is now teaching regular classes at our office in Irvine as well! Featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, and MSN, Michelle's expertise and techniques are a must have for all parents looking to gently and effectively teach their children how to potty train.  Classes are appropriate for ages from 0-18+ months and include Elimination Communication, Potty Training 101 and Parent+Me Potty Training. Classes begin August 28th!


We've had the joy and delight to meet many of you at our weekly New Mama Cafe gathering on Tuesdays! We always love seeing your smiling faces and watching your sweet babies grow week by week. As the weeks & months have gone by, we know that some of you have returned to work or varying nap times make it a challenge to come to the Tuesday mom & baby group, so we are excited to announce a monthly gathering for new moms in OC. We call it the Weekend Edition of New Mama Cafe

Held on the 2nd Saturday of the month at 9:30am at Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa, this group offers an opportunity to meet other new moms and share the ups and downs of mom life! Check out the Dad version held on the 3rd Saturday of the month at Mariners Park in Newport Beach!


Doulas of Orange County offers the largest variety of prenatal & parenting programming in all of Orange County. Our monthly classes include Babywearing 101, Breastfeeding 101, and Baby Care Basics. Other classes, such as our Confident Birth 4-week series and Comfort Measures workshop are offered every other month. 

With curriculums developed by DOC owners, Lauren and Chelsea, these informative and enjoyable classes provide you with all the knowledge and skill you need to walk into your birth & parenting journey with confidence! Group classes are great for those that are interested in creating community and meeting new parent friends, while Private classes are fully customizable for those that want to focus on the topics that matter most to you!

Check out our Classes & Workshops page for more information and to register!


This is just a glimpse of what August holds here at Doulas of Orange County! Stay tuned for more offerings in September like Infant Massage, Infant & Family CPR, movie screenings and more! 

Welcome Home!

It's official, Doulas of Orange County is now located in the city of Irvine! We made the move on Monday, saying farewell to our first office in Costa Mesa and saying a hearty hello to the Airport Business Center! 

Saying goodbye to our Costa Mesa office was truly bittersweet. That space holds so many wonderful memories for was where we launched our parenting + community center, where we first taught classes, and where we met so many new parents and parents-to-be. We are honored to have spent two and a half wonderful years as a small business in Costa Mesa!

The growth we've had as a business is encouraging and exciting to say the very least and we are looking forward to the wonderful new memories we'll create at our new office at Sky Park Circle. In the coming days we'll be sharing more sneak peeks of the space via social media - if you don't already follow us on Instagram & Facebook - follow along for updates and fun new happenings! 

On a similar note, we have space for one more part-time renter at our new location near John Wayne Airport. This 9x12 office space will be shared with Lauren Slak, Licensed Midwife and includes 3.5 days of use per week. Rent includes use of our warm and inviting lobby, access to our coffee & tea bar, baby changing table, in-suite bathroom and priority access to use of our class and event space. 

Additionally, our class & event space is available for weekly or monthly classes as well as pop-up shops, movie nights, baby showers, blessing ways and more! 

We are looking for engaging, like-minded practitioners that are eager to serve the pregnant and parenting community in Irvine and surrounding areas. If this is you, we'd love to meet you and provide an in-person tour of the space. Please inquire at

Our doors officially open on August 7th with all classes & groups resuming as scheduled. Please note our new address is 17985 Sky Park Circle Suite A, Irvine CA 92614. 

We are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to invite each of you to our open house... more details coming soon!

Thank you to everyone for your support, now and always.