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Entries in salon (39)


March Salon Series: Dancing for Birth Workshop

Join us for an interactive workshop led by Dancing for Birth instructor Jyesha Wren. This event is open to all and will be especially relevant for expectant parents; those who are considering conceiving as well as those who work with people through labor.
“By encouraging a woman to dance during her birth we empower her to actively participate and rejoice in her labor, to embrace her labor’s unique rhythm and unfolding, to love her voluptuous pregnant body, and to trust in her baby’s and her own inner knowledge of how to birth. The ebullience she experiences will spill over to infuse her parenting and her life with joy." - Stephanie Larsen, Founder of Dancing For BirthTM

When: March 10th 7-9pm
Where: In the Dance Studio at 9 Langton St., San Francisco, CA
Cost: FREE! (We will pass a hat and ask for donations to BADP)
Accessibility: The space is not wheelchair accessible (very sorry!). Babes in arms are welcome. Please email salon_fund@bayareadoulaproject [dot] org or send us a note on facebook if you have any questions about accessibility

Dancing For Birth™ prenatal/postpartum classes teach a “language of movement” specially designed for women in any stage of pregnancy or who are planning to conceive and for postpartum women wearing their babies in soft slings or wraps. The movements are inspired by ancient dance forms like Belly dance (created by/for birthing women) and African dance, and combine dance and fitness with rare essential childbirth preparation skills such as optimal maternal and fetal positioning. 

Stephanie Larson DFB, CD(DONA), CBE, BFA, founded Dancing For Birth™ in 2000, when she realized that her lifelong dance experience which had helped her give birth naturally was a benefit to her birth doula and childbirth education clients as well. “The first step to a satisfying birth,” says Larson, “is to listen to your baby via your body—and move accordingly. For many women this means laboring and birthing actively, in a forward-leaning vertical position, out of bed.” By moving instinctively, using gravity and positioning to their advantage, women can temporarily enlarge the dimensions of their pelvis for the baby's passage, help their babies rotate and descend, help reduce unnecessary interventions and enjoy natural pain relief. 

Dancing For Birth™ workshops came to the attention of the widely respected organizations DONA International and Lamaze International, which invited Larson to give presentations to childbirth professionals from around the world at their international conferences. In 2007, Larson began holding Dancing For Birth ™ Instructor Training workshops. DFB instructors come from varied backgrounds, such as birth and postpartum doulas, midwives, nurses, and childbirth educators; dance, yoga and fitness teachers; massage therapists; moms and birth enthusiasts. 

Presenter Bio:
Jyesha Wren is currently a Nurse Midwifery student at the University of California, San Francisco, and a long time dancer with a passion for empowering women to have positive birthing experiences. Her dance background includes a variety of Afro-Latin styles, primarily the energetic and joyful Brazilian Samba. In 2011 she completed Stephanie Larsen's Dancing for Birth instructor training program.



Notes from the Salon: The Power of Nutrition During Pregnancy

By: Vanessa Norton, BADP Volunteer


"The most significant prenatal care a woman can get is the care she gives herself."

-Ashley Spivak

On February 18, about 25 people settled into couches, chairs and floor-spaces in the brightly painted living room of BADP volunteer Christine Litas. It was the night of our Salon, and Ash Spivak, a certified food educator and nutrient-dense recipe developer visiting from New York, shared her wisdom, science-based knowledge, and passion for nutrition. I know I am not the only person who left this 2-hour Salon equipped with new tools to support my Mama-clients and apply to my own eating habits.

Ash began the evening with a stress-reducing exercise, where each participate was asked to close their eyes and feel where our bodies touched a surface, to take deep breaths, then to bring awareness to our senses: touch, taste, sound, and smell. Not only was this a relaxing erxercise, but it led into the fact that we experience a lot of stress, and stress effects digestion, among other areas of our health. When we experience stress, our liver creates glucose (sugar) so we have the energy to escape dangerous situations. Because we experience so much stress in our culture, Americans typically have bodies overloaded with sugar that we don't burn off, because the nature of the stress is no longer running from wild animals, but experiencing traffic or job stress. So, de-stressing every day is key for healthy Mamas and for everyone. Even for a few minutes.

But rather than feel overwhelmed by any of this, I felt empowered because Ash shared very accessible tools to help combate negative influences in our health. 

Rather than measuring foods or following a plan, Ash introduced an interesting and more creative approach: think about what you eat in terms of color. For example, processed foods like potato chips (even organic ones) are gray, kale would be green; raw, it's bright green. We each drew a picture (with crayons) of what we'd eaten that day, not actually physical representations of the foods, but color representations. Some people drew landscapes, other looked like Rothko-esque blocks. Pictures with a variety of bright colors are the ones we're most attracted to, the ones that represent the healthiest foods.

Another point I loved was Ash's focus on creating nutrient-dense meals. “It's not about eliminating pizza, but throw some arugula on it,” Ash said. “If you're having a burger, add an avocado. Avocado supplies Omega 3 fatty acids, arugula is loaded with antioxidants.”

In the same vein, if you have use sugar, choose one that also benefits you. For example, honey contains minerals that white sugar does not. Better yet, blackstrap molasses contains iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B6.

In terms of pregnancy or fertility-specific eating, Ash posited that if a person is considering getting pregnant, they want to create a nutrient reservoir, since many people don't know they're pregnant for quite a while. 

As doulas know, in pregnancy a person's protein requirements double. So, it's optimal to eat protein with every meal. But there are complete and incomplete proteins. Incomplete proteins need to be combined with other incomplete proteins, such as brown rice and beans and/or nuts. News to me: Spirulina, buckwheat, and quinoa are complete proteins, equal to animal meat.

For morning sickness, try keep something in the stomach at all times. “Keep an orange next to the bed,” Ash suggested. “Don't eat meals, but graze all day.”

Ash closed the evening by distributing two different varieties of chocolate as well as roasted almonds. We were instructed to slowly chew each piece and think about the flavor, the way one would taste wine. What an amazing evening!

Check out Ashley Spivak's work at and


February Salon Series: The Power of Nutrition During Pregnancy: How Diet Can Ease Pregnancy Woes & Lead to Fewer Birth Complications

Join Ashley Spivak of Re-Color The Palate for an evening of tasty snacks, interactive nutrition education, massage and meditation! Whether you work with women during pregnancy, are thinking of conceiving sometime down the road, or are already pregnant, it is never too early or too late to learn how the diet can be a tool to ease common pregnancy ailments (including infertility!). We will also discuss the role of diet in preventing birth complications and how stress influences digestion. Please visit to learn more.

When: Tuesday, February 18th from 7PM to 9PM

Location: 5648 Oak Grove Ave. Oakland, CA 94618
*** (A short walk from the Rockridge BART station!)

Cost: Free
$5-$15 suggested donation for BADP, no one will be turned away for lack of funds

Accessibility: The space is wheelchair accessible (but the restroom does not have grab bars). Babes in arms are welcome. Please email salon_fund [at] bayareadoulaproject [dot] org or send us a note on facebook if you have any questions about accessibility.


Speaker Bio:
Ashley Spivak is a certified nutritional consultant and nutrient-dense recipe developer with a specialty in prepping for pregnancy and prenatal nutrition. She curates the nutritional landscape by highlighting the importance of educated product picks at the grocery store, stress management, and by incorporating ideas from a variety of dietary theories and current research to help people kick bad habits and make more informed and sustainable choices. She is a graduate with Honors from Washington University in St. Louis, and has studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, the Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York, the Herbal Bear School and the Natural Gourmet Institute.


Hope Moving Us Forward: 41 Years of Roe

In the struggle for reproductive rights, health, and justice, we have been making our way through the desert. We have united, divided, converged. And now we emerge with the wisdom of 41 years since Roe v. Wade. What are our real, full, and true stories in our struggles for justice? What are the ways forward?

From the work of the abortion provider to the child-care worker, from reproductive rights lawyers to reproductive justice activists, we will celebrate our hope, our creativity, and our passion for making justice, compassion, and dignity a fully-lived experience for all.

Molded from the clay of progressive and justice-seeking faith traditions, particularly Unitarian-Universalism, this service is a space for those who
identify as spiritual and progressive-religious, as well as folks who identify as agnostic, atheist, and non-religious. 

Children welcome!

6:00-6:30 Light dinner 
6:30-8:00 Service to honor Reproductive Justice and the legacy of Roe v. Wade 
8:00-9:00 Dessert reception and celebration for the ACCESS/BADP partnership 

Featuring the Testimonies of: 

Debbie Bamberger, Nurse Practitioner and the first clinician to be trained to provide aspiration abortions through the UCSF study on which AB154 was grounded 

Shanelle Matthews, Co-founder of Black Women Birthing Justice 

Laura M. Perez, CPM, LM with Espiritu Midwifery and Sacred Birth Place

Zakiya Luna, PhD, Reproductive Justice Scholar

J. Parker Dockray, Executive Director of Backline

Steph Herold, Deputy Director of the Sea Change Program

RSVP here on Facebook! or here:

We hope to see you there!


Notes From the Salon: Midwifery Paths and Practices

By Becky Michelson, BADP volunteer

On October 23rd, the living room of Langton Labs overflowed with people eager to learn more about midwifery paths, lifestyles, and perspectives. To understand the distinctions, nurse-midwifery student Holly Carpenter moderated a conversation with Kim Dau, a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and Maria Iorillo, a certified professional midwife (CPM). Kim is the Assistant Director of the nurse-midwifery education program at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) while Maria has attended over 1100 births, primarily in homes.

Some general points of departure between CNMs and CPMs are their education, places of practice, and privileges. CNMs are initially trained as nurses, may practice in hospitals and clinics, and can provide first trimester non-surgical abortions in some states (and recently in California, thanks to the passing of AB154). CPMs can choose from a combination of midwifery certificate programs and apprenticeships and practice in homes and birth centers. There are many nuances regarding the legality of both roles on a state basis. Many research studies cite the benefits of having a midwife as your primary health provider, such as lower rates of preterm births and interventions.1 The American College of Nurse-Midwives has more information on essential facts about midwives.

The Salon Series was intended to shed light on the different ways of practicing midwifery and their respective certifications, work dynamics, and parameters. Instead of having this instructional focus, the gathering felt more like a community bonding through story sharing. Despite their differing paths, both midwives shared stories that reaffirmed their life’s purpose of being in service at births where they felt in awe of the immense courage and vulnerability displayed by mothers.

Kim’s path began working in a laboratory after finishing her undergraduate studies in Biology. She missed connecting with people in her work and her desire to pursue midwifery was sparked from reading Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. She embarked on a journey west to gain experience by working at birth centers in Oregon, New Mexico, and Texas. After attending the UCSF nurse-midwifery program she worked in North Carolina at Duke University for several years, before returning to San Francisco in clinical capacities at both Kaiser Permanente and San Francisco General Hospital. In the past few years, she has maintained a clinical role at SFGH while fulfilling her dream of working in CNM education as the Asst. Director fo the nurse midwifery program at the University of California, San Francisco. Meanwhile, Maria Iorillo attended midwifery school at age 23 and received her licensure in New Mexico. When she moved to California, midwifery was illegal. She has maintained attending 4-8 births a month and has been practicing her incredible craft for over 28 years.

Upon painting a picture of their paths, the conversation shifted toward what midwifery is about and the elements of inspiration. Maria explained that to her, midwifery is about creating a safe space for women who are being vulnerable and courageous enough to seek their own authentic power. Women often seek her care with a deep belief that they are capable of birthing, and she facilitates their connection with that inner power. Maria told two stories about unexpected c-sections and home deliveries where despite the unexpected changing circumstances of the women’s intended births, they emerged supported and empowered. Kim also shared poignant birth stories that included a family confronting melanoma and a laboring woman who was recently grieving her partner. Kim stayed present in these intense experiences, holding space for the brave families. She also spoke of how offering support during trying situations has led to her own potent self-growth.

The Salon Series also included a handout called, “A Baker’s Dozen Ways for Doctors and Midwives to Preserve Simple Birth.” Kim and Maria’s stories included elements of the handout’s holistic advice that supports birth as not just a clinical but also a social process. A few of these recommendations include:

  • Ask permission to touch the laboring person in your own language

  • Dissolve fear by providing options

  • Keep the baby and mother together

Both midwives also highly recommended Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich.

In thinking of a vision for cultural change, both midwives promote women being treated with respect, kindness and as if they are smart enough, which they are, to make their own decisions without the manipulation of hospital staff. Beyond the birthing process itself, Kim is excited that more midwives are sitting at tables they previously have not before, meaning that the midwifery perspective is being taken into account more frequently on issues such as neonatal and infant care on state and management levels. Midwives are still a minority health care provider, but at least in the Bay Area, interest and support for them is rapidly growing.

After an evening of stories filled with with births, unexpected events, midwifery muses, and raw inspiration, Holly exclaimed that the UCSF midwifery program should be expecting many more applicants this year. With the full house of doulas, advocates, allies, and aspiring midwives bubbling with questions, anecdotes, and curiosity- she must be right. Thank you Holly, midwives, Salon Series team, and engaged audience!