Toronto birth doula

Meet Megan Tasker, childbirth educator, birth doula, and yoga instructor




What's your favourite thing to snack on or drink at a birth?When I'm supporting a client at a birth I pack a pretty big snack bag, in case the birth is long. I try to have a homemade meal that I froze, a protein bar, juice box, apple and almonds are my go to. But depending on the hospital I get excited about different local food places that I can nip out to during the day to grab some of my favourite snacks - it's different at every hospital!

What's something that you think there's too much attention on the birth world?
Dilation! We live in a very cervix/dilation centred birth culture. And although the cervix opening is very important, part of what helps that cervix open is the choices we make to cope, positions we choose, and where baby is at. If baby isn't in a good position, the cervix will have more challenges to open than if baby is optimally positioned.

What's the thing you wish all new parents knew more about?
That nothing is permanent and everything changes. That as soon as you think you just found baby's routine, it'll change on you. And that this is totally normal. Especially when it comes to infant sleep. We live in a relatively well-scheduled culture, we always say that birth is the last frontier of unpredictability, but it's not just birth, it's child-rearing as well. The more you expect things to change, or to be unpredictable, the easier it is to adapt to these changes.

What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference?
The same thing that excites me about being birth workers. There is such an incredible community of birth workers in Toronto and so much incredible knowledge, and for us all to be in one place for the community to tap into is pretty exciting. To work alongside, and to connect with so many incredible people, is humbling and an absolute privilege. 



Meet Ruth Ruttan, birth doula, infant sleep educator and pilates instructor


Name: Ruth Ruttan

Workshop: Trimester 3 stream: The Art & Science of Infant Sleep

What's the thing about pregnancy and/or birth that amazes you the most?
There are SO many amazing things about pregnancy & birth! I'm amazed that so many people can experience pregnancy in so many unique ways- no two pregnancies are the same. As for birth, whether it's at home, birth centre, hospital, if it's unmedicated, or with an epidural or a Caesarean birth, it is amazing to watch the strength, power and the courage that new parents find to birth their babies. We need to be kind to ourselves. There needs to be grace. Even when birth is 'easy', it's not easy! 

What's your best advice when it comes to pregnancy or being a new parent? 
Everyone has an opinion about your pregnancy, birth and parenting... Respect your intuition and educate yourself. There is a wide range or 'normal' and 'safe'. Figure out where you fit on that spectrum and make it work for you, your baby and your family! 

What's your go-to gift for a friend having a baby?
A doula! (often as a group gift!)
Good Food! I like to help set up meal trains for friends or give gift certificates to prepared meal delivery services. 
I also think a stretchy wrap or SleepBelt is a lifesaver for most new parents. 

What was the first thing you ate after giving birth?
I don't remember what I ate after my first birth, but I know the first thing I asked for was my lip balm! After my second, we all sat down to a big pasta dinner that my dad whipped up. 
And with number three, all five of us sat in our bed and ate salt and vinegar chips at 3am (well, not the baby!).

What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference?
I'm really looking forward to being in community with other amazing educators, but even more so with our attendees! It's a huge opportunity, not only share what I do, but learn from each unique pregnancy to parenthood journey.



Meet Rhondda Smiley, doula, breastfeeding educator and yoga instructor


Name: Rhondda Smiley

Workshop: Trimester 4 stream: 
Expectations, Frustrations & Success: staying sane and happy as a parent

What's your best advice when it comes to labour and birth?
Keep upright, keep moving, keep breathing, as much as you are able. Use gravity and gentle movement to support the work your body and baby are doing together. Even if you choose an epidural, there are ways to keep your hips and your options open! As a doula who's spent a lifetime training in movement practices such as yoga and dance, I bring a creative approach to supporting you in positions and movement that will keep your body, breath, mind and heart open. 

What's the most important thing you learned from your own experience of becoming a parent?
I learned the hard way to let go of the illusion of control! When I was trying to conceive, I naively thought I'd be able to book my pregnancy around vacations and rush times at work. Ha! My ovaries had other ideas. I thought I'd spend nine months of pregnancy blissfully feeling like a fecund goddess, only to find my head in a toilet with "morning sickness" for the first five. My birth ended up being a total 180 degrees from what I planned. I wanted to birth at home, but my baby ended up needing an emergency cesarean before I'd even gone into labour. And you can be sure the surprises didn't stop once my daughter was born. Breastfeeding challenges, postpartum depression, needing surgery when I was supposed to return to work... In the moments when I could remember to let go of the notion that I could control the situation, and surrender to how they actually were, being a parent became so much easier -- and happier. Someone once said, "make plans and God laughs". To that I'd add, "make plans when you have kids and God is LMAOROTF". 

What's something you wish more expectant parents knew?
I wish that new parents who want to breastfeed knew better what to expect once their baby is here. How to know if their baby is actually taking in milk during a nursing session. How often a newborn baby needs to feed (hint: every 3 hours is not enough for newborns). Where to find effective, expert help if things are not going smoothly. I wish expectant parents could spend time around other breastfeeding parents before their birth, because we've largely lost one of the most important ways we have to learn this skill -- through watching other parent-baby dyads doing it. I know now how much easier nursing my daughter could have been if I'd been better prepared. It was my desire to help save other parents this grief that motivated me, 13 years ago, to become a La Leche League Leader (mother-to-mother breastfeeding counselor, since retired). I'm committed to sharing my lactation knowledge and expertise with my doula clients who want to breastfeed, so that they have realistic expectations and feel prepared and confident in feeding their new baby. 

What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference?
The other presenters at 4T are my birth heroes! I'm totally stoked to be in the company of these kind and expert professionals. These are the people I respect enough to refer my doula and yoga clients to. These are the people that I've entrusted to care for my family and myself. 


Meet Kira Liss, birth doula and yoga instructor

Kira setting up for a Parent and Baby class at  Yoga Village , with my kid, Juniper (9 months).

Kira setting up for a Parent and Baby class at Yoga Village, with my kid, Juniper (9 months).

Name: Kira Liss
workshop: Trimester 2 stream: Movement in Pregnancy 


What's the thing about pregnancy and/or birth that amazes you the most?
It's hard to narrow down because I generally think that pregnancy and birth are pure magic. But it's the placenta amazes me the most. It's incredible that the body is able to grow a completely new organ to feed and nourish a growing baby. Like, how cool is that?! 


What's your favourite thing to snack on at a birth?
I bring dark chocolate covered almonds with me to every birth. A source of protein and good fats, and a sugar boost. Not to mention that chocolate makes everything better, right?


What's your go-to gift for a friend having a baby?
A Moby wrap! It's my personal favourite option for babywearing because it's soft for newborns, and it's one-size-fits-all.


What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference? 
The amazing group of presenters! I've worked with a lot of these practitioners in a variety of settings and feel that there is so much amazing knowledge and experience in this group of people. As the first of what will hopefully be an annual conference, I'm thrilled by the presenters that Jae has chosen.


To Attend Kira's 4T workshop, sign up for the conference here.