Orange County moms

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

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 co-owner and yoga instructor, Lauren Jacobs, our weekly prenatal yoga class gives 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 now available! 


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! 

Breastfeeding Ain't Easy

We hear a lot about how wonderful and magical and beautiful breastfeeding is. We hear about the benefits to mom and baby, the cost effectiveness, and the incredible bond it can form. 

What we don't often hear about or talk about is how challenging it can really be. We don't hear about the sleepless nights, the cracked nipples, being attached to your kid 24/7 through a growth spurt. 

We believe and amplify the glamour, but shy away from the messy.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if breastfeeding was or is a challenge for you, you are not alone!

Doulas of Orange County recently posted the following picture on our Instagram feed and the response was surprising to say the least. 

Lessons on Compassion from "Call the Midwife"

There's nothing like a good Netflix binge to help calm the mind and reset the body for the week ahead. I've had a particularly rough week emotionally, so when Sunday rolled around with it's rainy OC weather and nothing on my to-do list, I figured what better time to catch up on "Call the Midwife!"

For those that are unfamiliar, "Call the Midwife" is a PBS show all about midwifery care in the 1950s and 60s. It is a beautiful show that portrays the dramatic ups and downs of midwifery, birth, life, and death in the impoverished East End of London. Each episode is guaranteed to tug at the heart strings. 

In episode two of the fifth season, there is an interesting commentary on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding with a beautiful lesson on listening to an individual mothers needs and desires.

Without going into too much detail (because really, if you aren't watching this show yet, you should!!) one of the midwives is extremely vocal of her disapproval of formula feeding. Keep in mind that formula was a new phenomenon in the 1960s and that some people could barely afford to put food on the table. Sister Evangelina, the notoriously vocal midwife touts the benefits of breast milk as being the perfect food for baby and bonus, it's free! 

As a Birth & Postpartum Doula, I of course, know her views to be valid and correct from a logical standpoint, but I cringed at the words she used and the attitude she portrayed, essentially poo-pooing anyone who dared challenge her expertise and views. 

Fast forward to a mom struggling to breastfeed and this same midwife (while encouraging her to keep trying), dismisses her fears and the pain breastfeeding was causing her. It took bleeding nipples and a full emotional breakdown for the midwife to finally admit that she was wrong and that formula was NOT, in fact, evil. 

The Top 10 Mother's Day Gifts for a New Mom

Mother’s Day is coming up on May 14th 2017. We love that there is a day set aside to celebrate and honor Motherhood! You may have a spouse, family member or friend that is celebrating their First Mother’s Day this year and you’re scrambling to find the perfect gift to show you care.  

We did a roundup of our Top 10 ideas to gift the new mom in your life. 

Image Source::  The Bee and The Fox

Image Source:: The Bee and The Fox

1) Matching Shirts for Mom and Baby

We can’t even handle the adorable matching shirts offered over at The Bee and the Fox. Don’t worry these aren’t cheesy in the least. Or maybe they are; but we love them anyhow! Their Mama Bird shirt and Baby Bird onesie is enough to make any new mom’s heart sing with joy. This local OC company is based out of San Clemente, CA. Pro tip: snap a pic to document the dynamic duo together in their new tees.

2) Breakfast in Bed

This is the perfect gift from mom’s partner. Prepare some homemade pancakes, fresh fruit, organic eggs, coffee and a few hand picked flowers to present to her in bed. Offer to hold your little one so she can eat with two hands and truly relax. Snuggle up to enjoy some quality time together and soak in the beautiful fact that you're a family.

3) The Gift of Rest

Oh sleep, the most desired and loved pastime of any new mom. The gift of rest can be provided in a myriad of ways. Pop some lavender essential oil in the diffuser, go on a walk with the baby while mom takes a long nap in silence. If you want mom to wake up feeling refreshed and renewed this Mother’s Day, gift her in home, overnight care with a Postpartum Doula.

Image Source::  Nia Tudor

Image Source:: Nia Tudor

4) Watercolor Family Illustration

This custom family portrait by artist Nia Tudor is a unique and thoughtful gift that any mom would love. It's as easy as sending in a family photograph and Nia will paint a creative representation to hang on your wall for years to come. 

5) Day out with Friends

Let’s be real. Motherhood sometimes can be very isolating as a new mom finds their rhythm and transitions into life with a baby. There is nothing more refreshing than a day out with friends. Set up a lunch at her favorite spot with all the friends that make her smile. Local to Orange County? Cafe Gratitude in newport beach is delightful restaurant that we can’t get enough of!

6) In Home Spa

While a new mom needs pampering, she also wants to be with the one that made her a mom; her child. Bring the spa to her! Think aromatherapy, music, massage, face mask and a long soak featuring an herbal bath blend for mom and baby such as this blend from Mountain Rose Herbs.

7) Mom in the Frame

Snap a candid photo of mom and baby and gift it to her in a lovely frame. Moms are often are busy documenting their baby and those around them, that they forget to step in the shot. This will show that you value their bond and it will be treasured for years to come. Bonus points; schedule a lifestyle photoshoot documenting the small, yet meaningful moments in motherhood.

8) Rose Gold Bar Necklace

We adore this sweet and minimalist hand stamped necklace from The Silver Wren. You can customize this rose gold necklace to feature get the baby’s initials, the word mama or another endearing sentiment.

9) Date Night    

A date night for mom and her partner often doesn’t get on the calendar often during the first year. This is a perfect gift for anyone in mom’s life to set up. As the friend or family member you can offer to babysit and send the lovebirds off for a dinner together. We all know she’ll be missing the baby after 30 minutes, but hey… a 30 minute date is still appreciated! If baby is quite young, set up an in home date to experience and enjoy with baby in tow. Rent a movie and order takeout of her choice while enjoying a quiet evening as a family.

10) A Craft from Baby  

A heartfelt craft “created and signed” by baby is always a sure winner. Some ideas are a mold of tiny handprints, a handmade card, finger painting or a custom coffee mug with baby's photo! I have the cheesy mug and drink from it daily, true story. 


We hope you enjoyed our Mother's Day 2017 Gift Guide for first time moms!