The Dynamics of Domestic Violence During Pregnancy Workshop

Open Arms Perinatal Services and PALS Doulas are excited to bring this interactive workshop to perinatal professionals including doulas, nurses, social workers and midwives. Violence by an intimate partner is a leading cause of maternal death in the United States. In this workshop you will learn about the dynamics of domestic violence, its impacts on pregnancy, mothers and children, and tools and resources to effectively support mothers who may be experiencing violence.

Click here to view more information and register for “The Dynamics of Domestic Violence During Pregnancy”.

The workshop will be held July 15 from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

Workshop leaders include:
Leigh Hoffheimer from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Tara Cardinal, CD, BSN, CNMc from University of Washington
Sheila Capestany, CD, MSW, MPH from Open Arms Perinatal Services

Funding for this activity was made possible in part by the HHS, Office on Women’s Health. The views expressed in written materials or publications and by speakers and moderators at HHS-sponsored conferences, do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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2010 Report to Community Released

Our 2010 Report to the Community is now available. Click here to view it! If you’d prefer a hard copy, please email us with your request and your address and we’ll get one sent to you.

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Why Focus on Infants?

This blog post is an excerpt from our June 2011 Newsletter.

There is increasing attention at the federal level for programs that provide services to infants and new parents. Why the new emphasis on babies?

First, emerging consensus by the scientific community is that the brain is forever shaped by a baby’s in utero and early life experiences. Excessive stress in the mother raises levels of hormones in babies that literally change the architecture and function of their brains. Brain scientists believe that these early effects have lifelong consequences, affecting how people interpret and react to stress and form relationships in their later lives.  

Secondly, we know that infants enter foster care at a high rate (4.1 infants per 1000 reported this year by Chapin Hall). Infants also have lower rates of reunification and longer lengths of stay in foster care. This is problematic because infants’ brains are so vulnerable, wired to connect with one stable caregiver. Without such an attachment relationship, children are greatly challenged to learn the intricacies of modulating their own emotions, reading faces accurately and acquiring language.

All of these underlie other cognitive gains a child is expected to make as part of normal development. Intervening early, as soon as a woman knows she is pregnant, allows Open Arms doulas to support women in working through stress and practicing self-care. Connecting new mothers with community resources and social support may decrease levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress that is toxic to her fetus. Promoting breastfeeding also protects developing brains. In addition to supplying baby with nutrients and energy ideal for brain growth, breastfeeding increases oxytocin release by mother. Oxytocin is a protective hormone which stimulates attachment between mother and infant, decreases anxiety and protects against postpartum depression. Open Arms’ doulas and peer breastfeeding counselors influence brain development from the earliest moments of life, yet their efforts will last a lifetime.

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milkmakers Announces Partnership With Open Arms Perinatal Services to Support Breastfeeding Moms

In honor of Mother’s Day, milkmakers is launching a program in which 5 percent of all sales in May will be donated to Open Arms Perinatal Services, an innovative Seattle-based nonprofit that serves women and families through the transformational time from pregnancy though birth and into early parenting.

May 2011 (Seattle, WA) – milkmakers, a Seattle-based baking company that makes lactation cookies to support nursing moms in their efforts to provide an abundant supply of breastmilk to their babies, is donating 5 percent of all sales of its cookies in May to Open Arms Perinatal Services in honor of Mother’s Day on May 8th.

Open Arms embraces a world that cherishes birthing women, their babies, their families, and their communities. The mission of Open Arms is to provide services that support, educate, respect, honor, and empower women and their families from pregnancy through birth and into early parenting. Most of the women served by Open Arms have little to no support available from other sources. milkmakers founder Emily Kane is passionate about their cause – she has volunteered with Open Arms since 2009, and currently serves on the Board of Directors.

“Open Arms fills a big void in communities by giving mothers the support they need to become empowered, confident parents,” Emily says. “Becoming a parent – whether it’s for the first time or if there are other children – is a life-changing moment. It’s hard enough for families with strong resources and support to navigate that transition. But for a woman facing financial pressures, domestic violence, cultural or language barriers, or who simply finds herself socially isolated, this transition can be incredibly difficult and even traumatic.”

Open Arms Perinatal Services provides community-based services, which recognizes culture and language as important and provides a partner for members of the community to identify needs and goals for resolving those needs. This model has proven to be very effective, for both new mothers and for women who find work serving other women from their community in this way. Open Arms has the capacity to serve women in fifteen different languages including English. Open Arms has seen the positive impacts of their programs, including lower health care costs and higher breastfeeding rates. But sometimes the result of good support is simply that a mother can welcome her baby with joy.

To view a video of one mother helped directly by Open Arms, visit For more information about Open Arms Perinatal Services, please visit

Through Mother’s Day, milkmakers is offering 30% off all subscription orders of the original chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, the dairy-free oatmeal raisin cookie, or a variety pack. To receive information about further promotions, sign up to receive the milkmakers newsletter at

About milkmakers
milkmakers is a Seattle-based baking company whose unique cookies help nursing moms provide a plentiful supply of breastmilk to their babies. Emily Kane, a working mother of three who was looking for a way to increase her own breastmilk supply after the birth of her first daughter, experimented with traditional remedies and recipes to create milkmakers lactation cookies. Her chocolate chip cookies and dairy-free oatmeal raisin cookies contain oats, brewer’s yeast and flax seed, which have been shown to provide nutrients that benefit the health of both nursing mothers and their babies. The essential fatty acids available in milkmakers cookies give moms the B-complex vitamins that aid with mood stability; fiber to help with regular digestion; protein to aid with muscle re-strengthening; and iron to replenish possible iron depletion from pregnancy. Babies that drink the breastmilk of moms with these nutrients benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids for their own brain development, as well as the protein and fat necessary for growth. To find out more information about milkmakers, or to place an order, visit Also available on the company’s website are links to additional resources for breastfeeding moms, as well as suggestions for finding a lactation consultant and dietician.

Christine Dunn
Savoir Media
(617) 484-1660

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Love a Mom? Seattle Central Community College Mother’s Day Project

Seattle Central Community College students are running a campus-wide opportunity for student giving in honor of mothers for Mother’s Day. Open Arms is honored to be among the recipients listed for donations.

The faculty have responded by challenging each other to get 5 people to donate and to get each of those 5 people to get 5 people to donate. They have 67 faculty who have donated so far. The students also have inspired 11 other campuses to participate!

This is such a great idea. If you want to run your own Mother’s Day Project and challenge those you know to do the same, here is information about their project.

For those who love their moms, are moms, have wives, sisters and daughters who are moms:

Please consider the children of the poor world who have a 21 times greater chance of losing their mothers in childbirth. All children need a mother and motherhood should be as safe in poor communities as it is in wealthier communities.

Life without a mother is very difficult indeed.

Help make motherhood safe for all of us. A donation to reduce maternal deaths may be only $10  to you, but a living mother to a child in the poor world. Partners in Health campaign for safe motherhood will send an ecard to the mother you are honoring. Visit their website and donate your $10. (working in Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Peru and other poor communities)

Other organizations: (through Christy Burlington’s organization – following her film “No Mother, No Cry” to be shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network on May 7) (making the experience of childbirth for low resourced women well supported here in Seattle!) (letting mothers choose when to become mothers)

Thank you for helping to keep mothers alive for ALL children!

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Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Positions Now Open!

Do you like working with new moms and babies?

Did you breastfeed your own baby for at least six months?

Have you received WIC services within the last three years?

Open Arms is looking for women to train as breastfeeding peer counselors. Peer counselors provide information, support, education and help for mothers who want to give their babies the best start.

Part-time positions with benefits.

Download job application here.

(If you don’t have Word, download PDF here.)

Application deadline: April 15, 2011.

Please send completed job application to

Or mail to:

Open Arms – Attn: Annie
2524 16th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144

For more information about these positions or if you have questions, call 206-723-6868.

Pass it on!

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Open Arms Spring Luncheon

Preliminary results for our luncheon are in. We are extremely pleased to report that Open Arms attendees, sponsors and supporters donated over $50,000 to benefit Open Arms. Thank you one and all for making our primary fundraiser such a success!

If you weren’t able to make it to the luncheon and would like to contribute, it’s not too late! All donations over $150 will be matched, up to $20,750. You can make an online donation here.

We’ve received many requests for transcripts of Dr. Ben Danielson’s keynote address. While we do not have an exact transcript of his speech, Dr. Danielson has agreed to permit us to share his notes. View Dr. Ben Danielson’s keynote speech.

If you are interested, our luncheon video is also now available for streaming! Watch it here, or on YouTube. Share with your friends!

This year’s luncheon included an opportunity to register with Celebrated Chefs, a fun dining program that supports your favorite nonprofit. To sign up, register your information and designate Open Arms Perinatal Services as your nonprofit. From then on, every time you dine at one of the many delicious Celebrated Chefs restaurants, 5% of the cost of your meal goes to Open Arms at no cost to you! Participation in this program is free and easy. Read all about the program here. If you missed the luncheon and would like to sign up, visit the Celebrated Chefs website directly to enroll. The cookbook that was handed out at the luncheon can be mailed directly to you for a $10 handling fee. Or, sign up at any Open Arms event in the future and receive the cookbook for free. They also have a new free iPhone application!

And now, we leave you with some great photos from the luncheon.

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Open Arms Spring Luncheon was a Success!

Thank you all who attended the 3rd Annual Open Arms Spring Luncheon today. What a day! I left feeling inspired and moved by Dr. Ben Danielson’s speech, by the video featuring Open Arms client Shantell, her son Jasiah and Open Arms doula Yvette, and by the moving words by Open Arms Executive Director Sheila Capestany.

I’ll post more on the keynote and will hopefully have some pictures to share with you soon. In the meantime, thank you to all who attended. In the comments section, I’d love to hear what you thought of the event!

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Seattle Channel Features Michelle Sarju, Open Arms Clinical Director

The Seattle Channel will feature Open Arms Clinical Director Michelle Sarju in a piece airing Monday, March 14 “Community Stories: Catching Our Babies.”

Michelle Sarju is one of the few African-American midwives in Washington state. While following her career path, we`ll explore the efforts being made to help women of all cultural communities find more positive pregnancy and birthing experiences.

The video is available for streaming now.


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Join us for our Third Annual Spring Luncheon!

Registration for the Open Arms Third Annual Luncheon is well underway. Won’t you join us?

Our biggest fundraising event of the year, our annual Spring Luncheon is an exciting opportunity to be a part of the Open Arms community. We hope to inspire you with the possibilities as we work toward our goal of ensuring that all mothers are nurtured and cared for and all babies are welcomed in a healthy, loving way.

Register now.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Benjamin Danielson, MD, Medical Director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle, WA.

Emcee is Dennis Bounds, KING-5.

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Program begins promptly at noon
W Seattle
1112 4th Avenue, Seattle
Suggested donation: $100

We are pleased to announce that all donations over $150 will be matched, up to $20,000.

If you can’t attend but would like to make a contribution to support birthing women and their families, you can donate online.

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