Nicole Peluso, IBCLC, RLC, CD, AHPE
Founder, Lactation Consultant, Doula, Parenting Educator
I was the sort of strange teenager who walked around my bedroom with a pillow under my nightgown pretending I was pregnant and dreaming up names for my future children. Thrilled to find out I was starting my family a few months after graduating Boston College, I soon met two of the most influential women in my life – my childbirth educator and my first midwife. These women would be the first in a long line of inspiring role models and teachers. After a pretty typical birth for a first time mom (24 hour labor a few days after my due date in a hospital), I became hooked on all things birthy.
While trying to get pregnant with my second child, I struggled with unexpected fertility issues. A very insightful naturopathic doctor helped me turn things around. Excited to be a mom again, I planned a home birth with an amazing Connecticut midwife. My baby came a couple weeks late and grew extra large (11 lbs); I loved everything about my home birth experience.
Soon after my son's birth, I became accredited as a La Leche League Leader, which is a community volunteer breastfeeding counselor. Still actively involved as a volunteer today, I eventually felt called to help professionally in the lactation field and became an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
My third birth was an early miscarriage at home, a profound and difficult experience that inspired me to support moms as a doula. I remember attending a birth healing workshop offered by a forward thinking group of birth advocates; this was the catalyst that helped me move out of the pain of my loss and into a space where I could begin to serve others. The idea of women supporting women through these important rights of passage was never more palpable than at this re-birthing workshop.
During my next delivery, I chose to birth at a birth center. After a surprisingly long but joy-filled two day labor, I was supported by a nurse at the center who sat by my tub and knew just what to say and when to say it in the most gentle and compassionate way to help get me through those last few tiring hours. With three young children at home, I hired a postpartum doula to help in the early weeks after birth. Although I was so grateful for the snacks that were prepared and laundry that was done, the best part about having a postpartum doula for me was the conversation. Although the house was buzzing with energy and visitors, early postpartum can be a lonely time, and even after the third baby, there were questions to be answered and advice to be sought.
As I raised my children, I was drawn to attachment parenting. Eventually, it made sense to start homeschooling. At the time, there was a very active homeschooling group of Westchester, NY, that I participated with for several years. Eventually, a cross country move brought me to southern California where I was charmed by Waldorf education and the parents in that community. After several years of being involved in a private Waldorf school, a few parents and I got together and decided to start a public charter Waldorf school, which is now a very successful K-8 school called Ocean Charter in Culver City. While in CA, I also became certified as a parenting educator with Attachment Parenting International and as a doula through the National Institute of Midwifery. I also worked in the management of two birth centers. At the second one, I taught parenting and breastfeeding classes, ran a mother’s support group, and worked as a staff lactation consultant and doula. I also founded the L.A. Smart Birth Program, a non-profit that provides free doula and breastfeeding support and education to teenage mothers in conjunction with L.A. Unified School District. My appearances include Good Morning America and Kids in the House.
In 2014, I felt strongly that the parents in my old neighborhood in CT could use some of the same options that were commonplace in the birth world in Southern CA such as lots of access to classes to help prepare for baby, doula support before, during and after birth, solid ongoing breastfeeding and nutritional support for the mother/baby dyad, and parenting and peer community groups. With that in mind, I opened Birth Bungalow. My ultimate goal is to expand our educational and support offerings and additionally provide midwifery and birth center services.
When I think back to all the inspiring women who helped me as a mom from my childbirth educator, to the naturopath who helped with infertility, to the angel nurse who sat by my side in my last birth, I know I have been a more compassionate mother and healthcare provider because of them, and I have so much gratitude for their place in my life. Birth Bungalow was created as a way to give that back to my communities.