Author Archives: Ashley Couse

About Ashley Couse

Ashley Couse is a doula, holistic health counselor, and founder of Bloom & Nourish, a unique wellness resource for women during the childbearing years. Through easy-to-follow wellness tips and simple, real food recipes, it is Ashley’s desire to support and encourage women into the journey of motherhood and beyond.

Amina Jane’s Birth Story

film by: Kalimana Film Stories
music by: Foreign Fields

May 31st, our baby girl’s due date, came and went and I knew I wanted to spend the last few days before she joined us relaxing and preparing for her arrival. I took lots of warm baths, visited my chiropractor, got acupuncture daily, and even managed to enjoy a few foot massages. Sunday, June 4th was my birthday and many made the comment that she would be the birthday present I’d never forget. Of course, it would be such a beautiful gift, but quietly I wanted us to have our own special days of the year. I also knew deep down that we would meet her on June 6th. Many months before she was born, a voice woke me up and in a dream state I heard the day “June 6th”. I clung loosely to this as her birth date, but didn’t want to be too attached in case she decided on a different day. On the night of my birthday, I began having regular Braxton Hicks while out celebrating with friends. I stayed out late and enjoyed spending time with friends before baby girl arrived. I told one of my close friends I was having Braxton Hicks and had her feel the firmness of my belly during a tightening. The Braxton Hicks continued the following day and I lost part of my mucous plug that morning. I went to lunch with my sister-in-law and commented on the regularity of the tightenings. We met up with Mike and went for a long walk after lunch. Of course, we had to stop for ice cream on the way back, mint chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream to be exact, which was one of my biggest cravings in the last trimester. After that, I decided to head home and began making dinner. I noticed the Braxton Hicks were getting stronger and felt more like period cramps. I started getting excited, but also knew I could still have a long journey ahead. Mike got home from work and I told him I thought I might be in early labor. He looked at me with wide eyes and said “Well, what do we do now?”. I told him we’d just continue our night as usual until the contractions grabbed my full attention. We ate dinner and I made some laboraid have on hand to keep me hydrated for what was to come. I gave my doula, midwife, and birth videographer a heads up that I thought I was in early labor. We watched Bridesmaids in bed and then tried to get some rest. With a hot water bottle on my belly, I was able to sleep through most of the cramps, waking occasionally until around 2:00am. At this point, a bath sounded nice so I drew one and got in. A little later Mike began timing my contractions. They were coming every 2-3 minutes, lasting for about a minute. We did this until 3:30am and decided to call the midwife. She encouraged us to come in to the birth center.  We gathered our things and started heading towards the birth center. Mike turned on the birth playlist and we made the foggy trek.

We arrived around 4:15am and our midwife, Margaret, was waiting for us. I laid back on the bed for her to check my dilation. In an encouraging tone she said, “Your body has done the hard work of thinning out your cervix”. I looked her in the eyes noticing she didn’t tell me my dilation so I asked and she let me know I was only 2 centimeters dilated. This meant I wasn’t in active labor, which was disappointing since my contractions were so close together and feeling fairly intense. I had two options: to go labor back home until things picked up or labor at the birth center for a few hours and reassess my progress before officially admitting me. Because of the intensity of the contractions, I felt things could move quickly, so we decided to stay at the birth center. Margaret dimmed the lights and suggested a shower. I got in and closed my eyes, swaying and visualizing my cervix opening and bringing our baby girl down. Mike sprayed water on my lower abdomen, which is where I was feeling the most pressure, almost a pinching sensation. After a while, I toweled off and we walked the quiet halls of the birth center. We moved out to the patio, where we paced back and forth and watched the most beautiful foggy sunrise.

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As the intensity of the contractions became stronger, I requested to get in the tub. Around 6:00am, Margaret checked my dilation to see if I could officially be admitted and I was 6 centimeters with a bulging bag of waters. I started laughing with excitement. Margaret drew a bath and I labored in the tub for about 90 minutes, leaning back on my doula, Amy, and Mike for support. They took turns caressing my head, bringing me food and water, and placing cool rags on my forehead. I hadn’t decided if I wanted a water birth or not and was open to the idea, but I got too hot and wanted to try something different. As I stood up to get out of the tub, my friend and nurse, Heather, arrived and I hugged her, crying tears of relief to see her sweet face. I moved over to the Swedish bars to do side lunges and then tried leaning over the peanut ball on the bed. Just as I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions, a beautiful song by the band that inspired our daughter’s name began playing. I started crying thinking about meeting our baby girl, which felt like such a great release. Shortly after that, just a little before 9:00am, I started grunting during contractions and spontaneously bearing down. There was just a lip of cervix left and my bag of waters still bulging. Margaret said she could break my water if I wanted or we could wait for it to spontaneously rupture. In the moment, I felt like breaking the water bag would really relieve some of the pressure I was feeling so I had her do it. With a massive gush, her head descended quickly and I began actively pushing with the pressure I was feeling. Our baby girl wasn’t tolerating the pushing very well and her heart rate began dipping. Margaret gave me some oxygen and had me lie on my left side to help bring her heart rate up. During the next contraction, I tried squatting at the Swedish bars to see if that would give her some more room, but her heart rate continued to dip. I moved back to the bed and because her heart rate wasn’t recovering in between contractions, the decision was made to transfer to the hospital via ambulance. Margaret looked me in the eye and reassured me that she would stay with us every step of the way. At this point, I knew the best thing for me to do was to try and stay calm for our sweet girl so I closed my eyes and began taking deep breaths through the oxygen mask. Mike was holding my hand and my doula was whispering prayers of encouragement in my ear. During all of this, my body was still spontaneously bearing down and baby girl began crowning with the next contraction. EMS arrived with the stretcher ready for transport. Margaret looked at the paramedic and said, “Give her one more push!” We locked eyes and she encouraged me to push my baby out with all my might. I pushed harder than I had ever pushed before (breaking all the tiny blood vessels in my face and neck!) and focused on bringing her out and safe into my arms. By the grace of God, at 9:34am, Amina Jane was born and placed onto my chest. She began crying immediately and we were all so relieved she was ok! Mike and I were both crying, feeling so grateful for how strong Amina was through it all. After some skin-to-skin time, Amina latched and nursed for about an hour. Our doula brought us breakfast and then we dimmed the lights and settled in to rest as a new family of 3.

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Spring Nourish Bowl



Nourish bowls are one of my favorite ways to create a quick, easy meal with seasonal produce. All you need is a carbohydrate, veggies, protein, and a good sauce or dressing and you have yourself a deliciously satisfying meal!


This week I created a nourish bowl with produce from Green BEAN delivery, an online grocery service that delivers fresh, local, and organic produce and grocery items straight to your door. It’s like a customizable CSA! You choose your produce bin based upon your family size and then you can choose from over 1,000 grocery items, including high quality meats, eggs, dairy, and freshly baked breads to add to your delivery.  Your delivery comes in an insulated bin to keep all of your food fresh, which is reused, minimizing waste (win!).  Green BEAN delivery’s mission is to help mend the broken components of our nation’s food systems. They are a family owned company that partners with local farmers and artisans to bring quality food straight to you. Green BEAN is focused on sustainability and has donated over 380+ tons of of food to local food rescues!

I have partnered with Green BEAN delivery to give away TWO $25 gift cards so you can try it for yourself! Visit my instagram page to enter! You can also use the code “BLOOMNOURISH” to get 15% off your first 3 deliveries!


Spring Nourish Bowl
serves 4


1 cup rice
2 cups bone broth or water

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 thai chilies, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 limes, juiced
2 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil

1 bunch kale, ribs removed and sliced into thin strips
8 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings removed
2 bunches radishes, save 2 radishes for topping and quarter the rest

Top With:
Poached Egg
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Spring Onions
Radishes, thinly sliced
Kimchi (optional)

Heat oven to 400°F.

Cook rice according to instructions. Set aside.

While rice is cooking, combine all dressing ingredients into a small, lidded jar and shake until emulsified. Place vegetables on a roasting pan and coat with dressing. Bake for about 20 minutes or until kale is crispy and the peas and radishes are tender.

Assemble the bowl: Add rice into a large bowl. Layer in the roasted vegetables, followed by the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!


GIVEAWAY: Modern Arks Kids

Modern Co-Sleeper | Modern Arks + Bloom & Nourish #giveawayModern Rocking Boat | Modern Arks + Bloom & Nourish #giveaway

Jamie Bennett of Modern Arks is a man of many talents. His beautiful handiwork has a mid-century modern feel with a southern twist.  Each piece is carefully thought out and handcrafted just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Jamie and his family have a special place in my heart, as I have had the privilege of supporting them as their doula through the birth of both of their children.  During their last pregnancy, we were all discussing the need for an aesthetically pleasing co-sleeper, and in Jamie-like fashion, he took on the project and built one.  Out of that came Modern Arks Kids: minimal and modern designs just for kids. To celebrate the launch of his new shop, we are giving away one of the beautiful, new designs. If you are a new or expecting momma you could win this Minimalist Co-Sleeper Bassinet (which also turns into a toddler desk!) or if your kiddos are a bit older, you could snag the Modern Rocking Boat. One lucky winner will get their choice of one of the two new Modern Arks Kids pieces (valued up to $299)!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY.  The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, June 2nd.

UPDATE: Congratulations Jenn–you have been randomly selected as our winner! Check your inbox for details. Thank you to all who entered! Continue reading

Roasted Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and a Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Roasted Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and a Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette | Bloom & NourishThis is one of my favorite salads to make when the air grows cooler and my body is craving something healthy and warm. The roasted sweet potatoes add heartiness to the greens and the warm vinaigrette, inspired by Ina Garten, is the perfect complement. The first time I made this, my husband said it was one of the best salads I have ever made (and trust me, I’ve made a lot)!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and a Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette | Bloom & NourishRoasted Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and a Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette | Bloom & NourishRoasted Sweet Potato and Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese, Toasted Walnuts, and a Warm Apple Cider Vinaigrette | Bloom & Nourish{photos courtesy of Justin Chesney}

Continue reading

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally | Bloom & NourishDuring cold and flu season, or really anytime of the year, there are certain foods, supplements, and natural remedies that can help give your immune system the boost it needs to build a strong foundation for the future.  This means you will get sick less frequently, and if you do get sick, your body should be able to better fight whatever virus invaded your system and recover more quickly. Continue reading

Banoffee Pie

banoffee pie (gluten free, dairy free)| bloom & nourish

banoffee pie (gluten free, dairy free)| bloom & nourish

Ok, so I’ll be honest, I’ve never had banoffee pie before, but I’ve been craving it!  Is it even possible to crave something you’ve never had? I would say it is!  I had heard of this ‘banoffee pie’ before, but it wasn’t until I watched Chef April Bloomfield whip one up on The Mind of a Chef (which is a must see show on PBS for all you food lovers out there!) that I started dreaming up making one of my own.  While watching the show, I began brainstorming a way to make this traditional English pastry a bit healthier and I think I succeeded. Tell me what you think! Continue reading