Yoga in West Portal

I am happy to be teaching at Thriveability Yoga & Wellness in West Portal on Thursdays.

Come meet other yoga students at all stages of pregnancy in this safe and supportive environment at the 10:30 a.m. Prenatal Yoga Class. Prepare your body for birth, increase circulation, and reduce pregnancy discomforts through specific prenatal postures, breath work and guided relaxation. The studio also has a Sunday 5 p.m. weekly prenatal yoga class taught by Tonia.

We also offer a 4-week Parent/Baby Postnatal Series from noon to 1:15 p.m. on Thursdays.

I will be teaching the next series starting on March 1. (No class on March 22nd). Safely get back to a yoga practice post-baby, while being in a supportive and caring environment with other parents and their pre-crawling babies. Release tension in the neck, shoulders, back and hips from caring for baby and enjoy safe core work.  Please wait 6-8 weeks postpartum before attending to honor the body’s healing process.

Pre-register by February 26th: $65.
After Feb. 26 registration cost is: $75
Drop-In (Pay in Studio): $20
Class passes or memberships cannot be applied towards the postnatal series.


Come Spread Your Wings! Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga at The Mindful Body

Summertime and not only is the livin’ easy but it’s time for me to substitute for vacationing yoga instructors!

So, if you’re pregnant or have a baby, please join me on Thursday mornings in August and on the first of September at The Mindful Body for prenatal and parent/baby yoga classes.

Plus, on Wednesday, August 10, I’ll be at the Integral Yoga Institute to sub the 6 p.m. prenatal yoga class. 770 Dolores near 21st Street.

Let’s rise up singing, spread our wings and take to the sky!

The “O” in Doula

OinDoulaWordCloudI was at a birth where the nurse omitted the “o” in the word “doula” on the whiteboard listing the names of the care team. I was listed as the “dula.” It reminded me of my work in public relations where I am careful not to omit the “l” in public! The “o” in doula is vital and powerful. “O” is for:

  • O x y g e n
  • O p e n
  • O p p o r t u n i t y
  • O x y t o c i n
  • O r g a s m
  • O v a l
  • good o u t c o m e s !

Fellow doulas came up with:

"Dula" Sue
“Dula” Sue
  • O o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o (as in moaning)
  • O m (as in meditating)
  • O v a r i e s
  • O p t i m u m
  • “o” r i n g s
  • O p t i m i s t i c
  • O m n i p o t e n t
  • O h B a b y!
  • O u t r a g e o u s l y F A B U L O U S
  • O d d b a l l s ?

What does the “o” in doula mean to you?

UCSF Women’s Hospital to Open on Feast Day of St. Brigid — Patron of Midwives & Mariners

DoulaSue Shadow Photographer

Mother Nature plays a key role in San Francisco’s new UCSF Mission Bay 36-bed Women’s Hospital, opening February 1.

Maternity room

Natural light pours through the large windows inviting the outdoors inside, adding garden greenery and spacious skies. From a hallway window you can look out to the Pier 70 ship repair yard, San Francisco Bay and the Oakland Hills. Patients can walk outside to the terrace roof gardens designed to reduce storm water runoff and keep pollutants out of the bay.

Pregnant women and partners looking for prenatal yoga will be pleased to know that Giggling Lotus Yoga, where I teach on Saturdays at 1 p.m.  is only 5 blocks away in the Dogpatch. I believe UCSF is the only SF hospital that does not offer prenatal yoga. So come join us!

View of ship yard, bay and Oakland Hills
View of gardens, shipyard and the Oakland Hills

February 1 should be an auspicious opening because it falls on the same day as the Gaelic festival Imbolc which celebrates the coming of spring. Derived from the Old Irish word, “I m bolg,” it means “in the belly” and refers to the pregnancy of ewes. Originally associated with the pagan fire and fertility goddess Brigid, the Imbolc festival later came to honor the Christian St. Brigid, who in Ireland represents the aspect of divine femininity in her role as patron of:

babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle farmers; children whose parents are not married; children whose mothers are mistreated by the children’s fathers; Clan Douglas; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; Leinster, mariners; midwives; milkmaids; nuns; poets; the poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travelers and watermen.

Isn’t that perfect considering the history of Potrero Hill and Mission Bay?

IMG_2690Laboring women will enjoy the deep bath tubs and probably be indifferent to the huge “media wall” which, our community tour guide said, offers patients access to education videos, medical records, entertainment, food service and environmental controls. To me it seems like more opportunity for partners and family members to ignore a laboring woman’s emotional and physical needs. Don’t forget that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 2 not watch any TV or be exposed to screens (smart phones, tablets, etc.)

IMG_2679 copy copy The media wall could work great for playing music, sound recordings of nature, guided relaxations and birth affirmations to help moms relax during labor. The rooms also have a sleeper sofa for family, refrigerator, rocking chair, and wireless Internet. A volunteer doula program will support low-income women in labor. Just like at the Parnassus campus birthing center, nitrous oxide, “a lower-tech alternative to epidural for pain control” is available. Let’s hope they leave behind the photos of Indira Gandhi and Margy Thatcher!


PDF Map of the entire UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay

UCSF Betty Irene Moore Women’s Hospital, 1855 4th Street between 16th and Mariposa.

I could not figure how they count 36 beds for the birthing center. According to the floor plan (see below) there are 12 antepartum rooms, 9 labor & delivery rooms, 9 triage rooms plus 24 postpartum beds. Let me know if you can figure it out.

IMG_2701 copyThe adjacent Children’s Hospital houses the Emergency Room and serves all patients young and old, pregnant or not:

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, 1975 4th Street at the corner of Mariposa. IMG_2772


Please share any information you have about the new hospital in the comments box below. May UCSF and the mothers who will be birthing during Imbolc have an easy and smooth transition as they birth themselves into being. Wishing you all of the best. Many blessings from St. Brigid!

What a laboring woman sees when entering the hospital!
What a laboring woman in transition probably sees upon arriving 🙂

Doula Care and World AIDS Day

To mark World AIDS Day I want to spotlight the innovative role that doulas can play in patient care and prevention. Doulas function as community health workers who can join with families, doctors, nurses, advocacy groups, researchers and policymakers to help achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Today, HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence because of improved medical treatments.

Presenting my research at the 2013 Lamaze International Conference in New Orleans
Presenting my research at the 2013 Lamaze International Conference in New Orleans

People living with the virus can have children without transmitting it to their infants. According to the CDC, the number of women with HIV giving birth in the United States has increased by 30%. Women who take antiretroviral medication during pregnancy can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their babies to less than 1%.

For my public health graduate school culminating experience, I researched evidence-based HIV education methods used by allied health professionals to inform the development of an HIV training curriculum for doulas.

Doulas who receive training in HIV care would be well placed to enhance service delivery to expectant women living with HIV. The continual skilled social, emotional and informational support provided by doulas could greatly optimize the health and well being of expectant women with HIV and their newborns over their life course and help contribute to the elimination of health disparities across generations. Most doula training organizations, however, do not incorporate HIV education into their standard or continuing education curricula.

As professional caregivers, doulas can help increase the mother’s knowledge and understanding of the illness, provide social support, foster trust, and improve retention in care and adherence to treatment.

To learn more, see my project abstract, poster and Power Point presentation.

Morsels from National Breastfeeding Month

We Can Do ItAs National Breastfeeding Month (#NBM14) comes to a close, I’ve decided to serve up a taste of great information that appeared on social media during August.

Here’s a short clip from a forthcoming documentary, “Mother’s Milk, Mother’s Wisdom,” about the difficulty U.S. moms have asking for help in a country that values independence and self-sufficiency. More than 40 years ago, Sesame Street helped normalize breastfeeding in this segment in which Buffy nurses her child and talks with Big Bird about breastfeeding. I wonder if Sesame Street does current episodes that show babies breastfeeding? What about adult TV shows? Have you ever seen any? Let me know, and send the video links, if you can  find them. I would love to post them.

Journalist Kimberly Seals Allers penned a powerful, must-read piece on why Black Breastfeeding Week has everything to do with Ferguson.

MomsRising sponsored a Twitter chat about breastfeeding in the workplace, and I’m quite proud of the blog post on breastfeeding and microfinance I wrote five years ago when I was a KIVA Fellow in Nicaragua.

Finally, back home in San Francisco, mamas should know about these local, in-person resources:

  • La Leche League’s free 24-hour, 7-day a week helpline: 415.320.8116 and its monthly free meetings at Sport’s Basement and the Richmond District Library.
  • Nursing Mothers Counsel offers free classes and a help line.
  • DayOne Baby offers classes and support groups in the north side.
  • Natural Resources has classes and support groups in the Mission.

Yes, you can do it! Especially with lots of help and support! So be sure to ask for it!


Twist & Sprout at Parent & Baby Yoga

Bridge pose wih baby
Bridge pose with baby

I encourage prenatal yoga students to “graduate” to parent & baby yoga classes once their babies are 6 weeks old (8 weeks for women recuperating from cesarean birth). Singing and moving with your babies is fun and energizing. Moms, dads, partners, caregivers, grandmas, friends and, of course, babies love to experience and enjoy the rewards of postnatal yoga, including opportunities

  • for self-care
  • to grow your bond with your baby
  • to learn new songs and grow your baby’s vocabulary
  • to foster community with other families and caregivers

Babies’ eyes sparkle, and everyone laughs when they feel the rhythm of their movements and hear themselves sing fun and silly lyrics. Having your baby in your arms, on your tummy, resting against your thighs or sleeping peacefully at your side is a delightful way to bond with children and witness their growth from week-to-week and day-to-day.

We do the bridge position (setu bandha) with baby resting on our hips while singing “Bumping Up and Down,” a song made popular by Raffi. This is amazing ab and gluteal muscle work! You are most welcome to come to class to experience it. I’m subbing postnatal yoga tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Integral Yoga Institute and teach postnatal yoga at St. Luke’s Hospital on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month.

Visit Too Small to Fail for more information on the benefits of talking, reading and singing to your children. Here are lyrics to more great children’s songs.


Is Your Car Seat Correctly Installed?

Car seats are vital safety devices that reduce the risk of fatal injury by more than 70% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. Yet, 3 out of 4 child car seats are installed incorrectly.

Car Seat
Car Seat Installation

The good news is that California parents and caretakers can receive a FREE car seat inspection from AAA and can book an appointment (allow 6-8 weeks) at the local AAA office.

Here are some additional car seat tips, and recall info that you may want to know about. If you’re shopping for a new car seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know.

NonToxicMunchkin has info on manufacturers who make car seats free of added flame retardants that are linked to cancer and other serious health problems. is testing for chemical hazards in car seats, and has started with the Graco My Size 65 Convertible Car Seat.  For more background on why flame retardants are used in the manufacturing of car seats and other products, and an overview of California policy changes to remove them, visit SproutSanFrancisco’s thorough piece.

Finally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanded that Graco and Evenflo recall infant and toddler cars seats because of faulty buckles. The seats were manufactured between July 2010 and May 2013. You can check to see if your seats are included by going to or by calling 877.766.7470.

If you’re not driving, experts suggest you keep your infants and babies out of car seats to lessen their chemical exposure, prevent flat heads and enhance motor development. And, don’t forget to come to my Parent/Baby yoga class where we make sure that your babies get tummy time and opportunities to roll over, do the cobra and even fly high!


Supermoon for Super Moms

Today is the first of three full-moon “supermoons” in 2014. The supermoon designation means that the center of the full moon and the center of Earth are closer together compared to other months, creating higher-than-usual tides in the days ahead.

The July full moon is known as the Thunder Moon, Buck Moon or Hay Moon, but I shall call it the SuperMom Moon in honor of all the expectant and new mothers who attend my childbirth education and yoga classes. Swivel your hips ladies, and lift your tides high to the lunar sky!

Here are 3 variations of Moon Salutations for you courtesy of YouTube. Enjoy:

1. a lovely Prenatal Moon Salutation:


2. a rapid version of the Classic Moon Salutation:


3. and a slower version of the Classic Moon Salutation practiced by a yogini in front of a gorgeous circular window:

A New Look

I hope you enjoy the new look of my website which I’ve moved from GoDaddy to WordPress. Check back for an updated resource list and new information to help you on your journey to parenthood in San Francisco.