Gold Coast Doulas Registered Trademark

Month: May 2023

Nutrition for Breastfeeding: Podcast Episode #187

Kristin chats with Katie Timbrook of Athena’s Bump about the importance of nutrition for breastfeeding and pumping moms.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello!  This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Katie Timbrook today.  Katie is the chief nutrition officer at Athena’s Bump.  She’s a registered dietician, and as I mentioned, the chief nutrition officer.  Athena’s Bump allows Katie to share her passion and knowledge working to make a difference in the health of pregnant people and their families.  Welcome, Katie!

Katie:  Thank you so much.  It’s so exciting to be here.

Kristin:  So our topic today is focused on nutrition for breastfeeding and/or pumping individuals.  So I would love to start there and see where our conversation takes us.  So as our clients are either during pregnancy and wanting to prepare for breastfeeding and/or plan to exclusively pump or rely on pumping while at work – what are your tips, first of all, during pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding and pumping goals?  And then we can talk about the postnatal phase and how nutrition would vary between pregnancy and the postnatal phase.

Katie:  Yeah, great.  That’s a great place to start.  So this is kind of why I really like what you guys do.  So we often – we’re in this pregnancy phase, and then once postpartum comes, there’s a baby, and you have to take care of it, and sleepless nights and things like that.  And there’s not really that preparation or kind of planning that goes into that postpartum phase.  So I kind of take it from the approach of, just as much as you were preparing for the baby when you are pregnant, kind of continue on that postpartum, making sure you’re having the nutritious foods and trying not to skip meals and staying hydrated and getting as much movement as you can.  Obviously, too, while you’re pregnant, preparing for that breastfeeding.  It’s not necessarily innate.  And I’m sure you guys teach this.  There is that learning curve, so trying to prepare yourself realistically really helps, obviously.  So then like I said, moving postpartum, setting yourself up for success.  And sometimes, too, you plan on breastfeeding, and sometimes that doesn’t work out.  Or you get into it, and you’re like, well, maybe this isn’t for me.  But learning as much as you can and preparing and setting yourself up for success, I think, is really kind of that third trimester mindset.  And whether that’s asking someone to help you prepare meals for afterwards or preparing those nutrient-dense meals and freezing them, or having those snacks on hand, or making a plan.  Hey, I’m going to have this water bottle with my electrolytes or make sure I have those fruits and vegetables there with me in my breastfeeding station or in my wherever you are with baby.  I think making sure you set yourself up for success, I think, is the biggest thing.

Kristin:  Exactly.  We talk about that quite a bit as postpartum doulas.  Even our birth doulas, about having that station to snack, because we often forget to eat when we’re feeding baby and we’re running on low sleep.  So it’s so important for success in breastfeeding to not only be hydrated, as you mentioned, but also well-nourished.  I think your program sounds like it would be a fantastic baby shower gift.  Are you working in that market quite a bit?  What are you seeing as far as preparation and asking for support from family and friends besides your typical meal train, which may not be nutritionally dense?  It might just be comfort food that isn’t really going to help you succeed with breastfeeding.

Katie:  Yeah, so I guess I’ll start with the helping – you know, having family members help.  I think take the approach of realistic nutrition counseling.  So yes, as a dietician, I kind of preach that – so kind of starting from the point of, if you did ask your family members to help give you food and it wasn’t quite nutrient dense, sometimes some food is better than no food.  As a dietician, I’m very realistic with my coaching.  Obviously, I want everyone to eat as many fruits and vegetables and protein at every meal, and mostly plant based, but a little bit of mix of animal in there.  But really, I kind of have to bring myself down to reality.  You know, when I’m preaching about, you know, eat these foods with these B vitamins or vitamin D or whatever – people don’t eat nutrients.  They eat food.  And from day to day, you want to enjoy your meals.  You want to enjoy the taste of it.  And sometimes, just asking someone to eat one vegetable each meal, not necessarily – the ultimate, I say, you know, half your plate, non-starchy fruits and vegetables; a good source of protein at each meal.  Stay hydrated throughout.  But sometimes that’s not reality.  So it’s getting those nutrient dense foods where you can, where it makes sense.  So if you have someone that brings over maybe just like macaroni and cheese casserole, maybe it’s adding a little bit of broccoli and mixing that in.  Something like that to where you’re still not – I hate food waste.

Kristin:  Same here, yes.

Katie:  So maybe trying to make those foods that someone brings over a little bit more nutrient-dense, kind of taking it from that standpoint.

Kristin:  Great tip.

Katie:  We could talk all day about nutrients that help breastfeeding.  Definitely want to have vitamin D.  Sometimes that’s supplementation.  You know, vitamin D is not very common in our foods.  Fatty fish, salmon, mushrooms if they’re exposed to UV light.  But it’s not much.  There’s vitamin D added milk, but sometimes there’s that need for supplementation just to make sure that you’re getting enough vitamin D so the baby gets enough vitamin D.  There’s B vitamins that you want to have enough of.  That will actually – some of them have been proven to help with mood.  So preventing risks of postpartum depression, things like that.  And really, when it comes to that, your body is so depleted in pregnancy.  So, so, so depleted.  So remembering that you have to not only replenish from that pregnancy, building an entire human, but your body is still taking nutrients from you to make that breastmilk.  So it’s having that same mindset that the baby is still – you know, you’re still providing nutrients for that baby.  So continuing on your prenatal or continuing that same kind of mindset of, like I said, nutrient-dense foods.  That’s how I counsel there.

Kristin:  So as far as – you know, you had mentioned pumping as well as breastfeeding.  Are there any tips for our listeners and clients who are returning to work and how to make sure that they’re getting nutrition throughout the day, something that’s easy to snack on?  They do have, obviously, dedicated pumping rooms by law, but what are your tips when time is short in the office to ensure that you’re able to, again, have less depletion?

Katie:  Yeah, that’s a really good question because regardless of pumping and breastfeeding in the workplace, it gets tough, right?  Sometimes you just get so busy throughout the day and you forget to drink water or whatever fluids you’re drinking.  You forget to eat.  You forget to take lunch.  I feel like in America we’re very work-centric.

Kristin:  We are.  There’s no doubt.

Katie:  So yeah, so I would say – it’s funny.  I was just talking to a dietician friend of mine, and she was telling me what she did when she was breastfeeding and working and things like that.  And she was like, I was so thirsty, and I was drinking all of this water and then I felt like I was drinking too much water, like flushing out electrolytes.  So it’s remembering, hydration is important, but electrolytes are super important, and there’s, like, a million products for electrolyte packets.  Or you could get it from food.  I think whatever makes sense to you.  Sometimes those electrolyte packets – you know, they’re a tool to use.  They have the calcium, sodium, magnesium.  Also, those foods.  So it’s coconut milk; very high in potassium.  Berry food, if you can tolerate berry, is full of tons of electrolytes.  There’s potassium-rich foods.  Juices, I’m a little hesitant about.  Juices can be okay, but I feel like they’re just extreme concentrated version of sugar.  So instead of orange juice, thing an orange; things like that.  Even avocados, snacks like that.  So if it’s a quick snack, red peppers and avocado, or even an avocado toast or those little energy balls that are made with nut butters and oats.  Add some chocolate chips in there; who cares.  If it tastes good.  But just remembering, you want the protein.  That will help keep you full.  That will help keep you alert.  If you do have just a snack of a 100-calorie granola bar, it’s probably not going to last you very long.  Just remembering that your body does need those calories, and it needs a lot of them.  And some nutrients are needed in an even higher amount than even in the third trimester of pregnancy.  So like I said, it’s keeping that mindset of, I am still providing for my child.  I need to also make sure I have enough for myself to make it through that workday, to make it through the whole night, right?

Hey, Alyssa here.  I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming.  Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between.  You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood.  You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more.  You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most.  And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls.  If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at, or check it out at  We’d love to see you there.

Kristin:  I know, again, your plans are very customized.  We happen to work with a lot of twin and triplet families, so I’m sure their needs are much different when you’re coming up with meal plans.

Katie:  Yes.  So to talk a little bit about what we have going on in Athena’s Bump, just because we haven’t done that yet – so it is a startup.  It is basically the founder, Claudia, she knew that she wanted to provide education around nutrition, around pregnancy.  She had two children a little bit earlier in life, and then recently – I think her little girl is three or four.  I don’t know.  She’s going to say I should know this.  But basically, there was a huge gap in between, and when she went to the doctor, what they were telling her nutritionally was about the same.  So she’s like, wait a minute.  You know, nutrition research has advanced.  Why are we still saying just take a prenatal and make sure it has folic acid?  So she knew that there was a gap, and when she started going into it, she’s like, wait a minute.  I need an expert.  So she reached out to me, and we’re kind of – you know, we’re still in the startup phase of where do we fit; where can we truly make a difference.  So we created our website.  Right now, you go onto our website, Athena’s Bump.  You can take a quiz.  Right now, it’s all free just because we’re in the beta version, but we basically take a quiz.  I tried to gear the questions on what I ask my clients and how I kind of customize meals for them.  So we kind of created this intelligent system of, based on your answers, we provide you specific recipes that your body needs.  So hopefully that can develop and improve.  We did talk about having it be, like you said, a gift, like a postpartum gift or pregnancy gift, so we are in the workings of that.  But we’re also in the process of creating a training program for birth professionals for nutrition specifically.

Kristin:  I heard that.  That’s so needed in this space.

Katie:  Yeah.  So we heard from doulas.  We heard from midwives.  And they were like, you know, actually, there’s not a lot of scientific based nutrition education around this time for us.  So we’re trying to give you guys practical information that you can then pass on to your clients.  And then on the back end, you’ll be able to use our recipe database and all that.

Kristin:  And you do have a community as part of the service, and it sounds like people can hire you directly versus through Athena’s Bump if they want customized consultation then, correct?

Katie:  Yeah, I do limited.  Yeah, so I do have a full time job, a day job, and this is my side job.  So I have limited availability, but I think one day, we will expand on that, once we kind of grow our network, maybe get some counseling.  Because that’s kind of truly my heart is it’s counseling.  It’s working with someone specifically.  It’s finding out their needs and how to kind of help them on their journey, meet them where they are.  And that’s kind of what we’re trying to do with Athena’s Bump.  But person to person is the best.

Kristin:  Absolutely.  So I know we talked quite a bit about, again, nutrition postnatally, but as far as some of these customized recipes and so on for anyone who has some medical concerns, like signs of preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, what are your tips for them, or how does working with your resources look different for individuals who have different medical conditions?

Katie:  Good question.  So we do have some questions in our quiz about that.  Are you at risk for gestational diabetes?  Have you been told you have that?  Same with preeclampsia.  So we try – my biggest thing is don’t restrict further than you have to, so that’s kind of like my goal.  So as far as gestational diabetes, we make sure that the recipes, the meals, are nutrient dense, but a little bit less carbohydrates.  A person with gestational diabetes shouldn’t be afraid of carbohydrates, but it’s really just about that food pairing.  You know, you can have carbohydrates.  You can have pasta.  You can have white bread.  All of that is fine.  You can have a dessert.  But you just don’t want to have too much at one time, and you want to make sure there’s enough fat and protein with those carbohydrates to kind of slow down that rise in blood sugar.  The biggest thing about gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia, too, it’s learning your body.  It’s being that detective of what can my body handle.  So whether it’s checking your blood sugar after different types of meals or really recognizing how you feel, checking your blood sugar, making sure you’re following that medication protocol if you are on that, talking with your doctor.  But every single person is different, and everybody’s body handles food differently.  So it’s really just making sure you are that detective for yourself.  Don’t rely on the doctor to know your body.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Yeah, I had preeclampsia late in pregnancy with my first, and my kids are 21 months apart, so I worked with a naturopathic doctor to really help me get the nutrients I needed and focus on minerals and so on.

Katie:  Definitely minerals, yep.

Kristin:   Yes, and I avoided preeclampsia the second time.

Katie:  That’s awesome.

Kristin:  I did have signs though, but I did not develop preeclampsia.

Katie:  Yeah, I mean, it can be a scary thing, and if you’ve never been through it before, and if you read anything about it, it’s very scary.  It can be pretty serious.  So yeah, I mean, I’ve heard – so I always – like, there’s the science, right, but then there’s anecdotal, like what works for everyone.  So, you know, it is making – it’s those electrolytes, making sure that you do have enough sodium, hydration, things like that.  It’s weird; it’s counterintuitive, but I’ve read some studies that say, you know, because of the increased blood volume, because of the more fluid in your body, your body does need those electrolytes.  It does need sodium.  We’ve always been told to cut back, cut back on sodium.  But during pregnancy, it’s really about that balance.  You know, I don’t say go eat a ton of processed food, a ton of chips, because that doesn’t make any sense.  But if you’re staying hydrated, if you’re eating those nutrient-rich foods, with a little bit of sea salt, I think that’s fine, if you’re having the potassium to balance out the sodium.  It’s really about that balance.

Kristin:  Yeah, and there’s been so much that has come out since I had kids, and you mentioned vitamin B3 and that is certainly a great preventative for preeclampsia.

Katie:  Yes, there’s tons of research about that, for sure.

Kristin:  So any final tips for our listeners, Katie?

Katie:  Really, just be kind.  Be patient with yourself.  You plan to eat all these meals, and I’m going to be great and I’m going to do this; I’m going to drink this much water.  And if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay.  Your next change is only one meal away, so it’s trying to meet yourself where you are, like I try to meet my clients.   Just be patient.  We’re all learning.  We’re all trying to do our best.  It’s tough.

Kristin:  Beautiful advice.  Thank you.  So how do our listeners find you?  I know you’ve got a website, and you’re on social media.

Katie:  Yeah, really, you can start at Athena’s Bump.  We have all of our links there.  We have TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.  So, yeah.  We’re putting out tons of information.  Interact with us.  We love talking with our followers.

Kristin:  And they can sign up for your newsletter if they check out your website.  I know you’re also on LinkedIn for those listeners who don’t use social media.

Katie:  Yes, yes.  We try to hit all avenues.

Kristin:  That’s perfect.  Well, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, and it was lovely to chat with you today, Katie.

Katie:  Thank you so much.

Thanks for listening to Gold Coast Doulas.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  If you like this podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review.  Thank you!  Remember, these moments are golden.

Meet our new Sleep Consultant, Jackie

Meet our newest Sleep Consultant, Jackie. We love to share interesting facts about our team. Jackie and her family reside in Florida. She works with virtual sleep clients through Gold Coast.

What did you do before you became Sleep Consultant?

I was a creative marketing and script writer and content creator.

What inspired you to become a doula?

My personal experience with postpartum depression and anxiety coupled with a deep interest in maternal mental health. I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to helping other parents through this crazy time.

Tell us about your family.

I have an amazing and supportive husband, Nick, a fun-loving 3 year-old, Gianna, an adorable 1 year-old, Aria, and a hilarious dog named Donny who looks like a terrier and Steve Buschmi had a baby together.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

Hawaii. Cause. How can you not? Beach, breeze, laid-back, mountains.. when can I go back?!!

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.

Not to be “basic” but who doesn’t love The Beatles? I mean they’re just the best. I love Motown and Oldies, Beyonce, Justin, and Usher, if that tells you my age at all. I think Harry Styles is fantastic. And I also love Odeza, Glass Animals, Jungle & Anderson Paak.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?

Consistency is key!

What is your favorite food?

Gluten-Free pizza. I have celiac disease.

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?

I am remote. I would love to visit someday.

What are you reading now?

“The Free Diet” by Dr. Rofrano, a wellness book about “freeing” yourself from pain, fatigue, and fogginess.

Who are your role models?

Gloria Steinem, RGB, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

Grandparents as Caregivers: Podcast Episode #186

Kristin chats with Kristin Morter of Gold Coast Doulas about the important role grandparents play as caregivers and how they should prepare themselves for taking care of a new little one.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello, this is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am here today to chat with one of our own doulas, Kristin Morter.  Welcome, Kristin!

Kristin Morter:  Thank you!  Thanks so much for having me.

Kristin:  Happy to have you on.  So our topic today is all about supporting grandparents in today’s modern world with so many changes from when they were parents themselves.  Everything from safe sleep standards to feeding to car seat safety – all of it is much different.  So let’s get into it!

Kristin Morter:  That sounds great.  I’d love to.

Kristin:  Let’s start with a bit about your background, Kristin.  I know obviously you teach our Modern Grandparents class, but tell us a bit about your work as a doula and what led you to want to teach grandparents.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, so I actually have a background also in early childhood education and development, and I’ve loved kids my whole life.  In become a doula, I just really found a passion in helping people just really get educated on what the best practices are and just making sure that they feel capable and knowledgeable about moving forward as parents.  And then the wonderful world of becoming a grandparent is just such an exciting time, and people want to be involved.  I think it’s amazing that our grandparents have the capabilities to be even more involved now than ever before and just making sure that there’s no conflicts between children and grandparents and making sure it’s a smooth transition into grandparenthood and just giving them all the tools they need.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So obviously, your course is available virtually to any grandparents who are out of state.  We are located in West Michigan.  And you also offer in person options, correct?

Kristin Morter:  Yes, that’s correct.

Kristin:  So it’s been great to introduce grandparents and especially during the pandemic times, we’ve had so much gifting of day and overnight postpartum support, even if they are able to come in to help in the first couple of weeks or are able to help out in the daytime.  They’re also realizing that they want sleep overnight to be able to help care for grandkids during the day, so that’s where gifting postpartum doula support comes in.

Kristin Morter:  Absolutely.  I don’t think that staying up overnight gets easier as we get older, so I definitely think that there is a huge benefit of hiring a postpartum doula so everybody can be energized and ready for the daytime because you never know what’s going to happen in those hours.  So I definitely agree that gifting postpartum doula hours overnight is an extra special way to bless your kids.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And certainly with your skill sets, since Gold Coast is launching our baby registry program, you’re one of our registry experts, and so you’re also able to walk them along any presents they want to gift, again outside of services, but baby gear products, really walking through baby carriers, understanding safe baby wearing, safe sleep, and so on.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah.  It’s incredible how fast things change, too, with all the baby stuff.  Even since I’ve had my kids, there’s so many cool new gadgets out there, and it’s impossible to try to keep up to date on all of it if you’re not living in it every day.  So I think it’s definitely a great way for me to be able to support grandparents and parents in keeping up to date on what’s been recalled, what is the best product for each individual lifestyle.  Yeah, it’s really been an awesome thing.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And certainly for grandparents who are caregiving in their own homes versus their children’s homes, understanding baby proofing and really how to set their house up for caregiving is also an important individualized concept that you cover in the class.

Kristin Morter:  Absolutely, yeah.  We don’t want people to be pulling out their pack and plays from the 1990s and bringing them back out for baby, so just making sure that everything is up to date and ready for baby to use and super safe.

Kristin:  Yes.   Let’s talk car seats, since so much has changed with car seat safety.  Give me your top tips as far as choosing the correct car seat and making sure it’s installed properly in every vehicle that is using a car seat and what you’ve learned not only as a postpartum doula but also as an educator.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, so there’s really two different types of car seats that you can get for newborn infants and then growing up into early childhood stage.  There’s the baby carrier, like the bucket car seat that has the base that can be snapped in and out of the car.  So the base gets put in the back seat, and then you can clip the car seat in and out.  Also, you can just use the seat belt to put those bucket seats into the back seat.  Those are really convenient because you can remove baby.  You don’t have to worry if baby is sleeping.  You can just take the whole car seat out without waking them.  A lot of times now, there are strollers that can adapt to the individual’s car seats, so you can easily take the kiddos into the store with you or to a playground or a park.  The other kind is one of the transitional type of car seats that grows with the baby from infant all the way up to toddlerhood stage.  These are great because you don’t have to get multiple car seats, but the one downside of it is you’re not going to be able to remove it from your car for easy transport.  But I think depending on your lifestyle and where you’re going and what you’re wanting to do, you really have to take that into consideration when you’re picking out a car seat.

Kristin:  Absolutely.  And as you mentioned, there are many of the multiuse where you can clip it into a stroller, and my suggestion for clients is always to, if you’re going to be utilizing the same car seat that has a base, to make sure that each car that is going to be transporting baby will have a properly installed base versus trying to reinstall every time you’re transporting the baby.  Again, safety is so important.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, and it’s really great to get it checked out, too, by a certified person who does car seat checks, whether it’s somebody from the police department or somebody in your local community.  There’s tons of resources out there and ways for you to be able to find who can check your car seat for you.

Kristin:  Yeah, usually no matter where you live, there are certain fire stations that have certified car seat safety technicians, but not every fire station does.  You need to look online.  And then locally, we have Secure Quest that can be found on a national registry for certified car seat safety technicians.  So you can certainly Google those options, but it is a good recommendation to have it properly installed.  Even the most modern ones that have the buttons that show, you can find that you didn’t exactly install it correctly once you have a tech look at it.

Kristin Morter:  Yes.  I remember when we were first putting in one of our car seats, we had a friend who was a car seat safety technician, and he came in, and we did not have it installed properly.  I’m so glad that he was able to catch that.  So it’s very important to get it checked out.

Kristin:  Yes.  And certainly feeding has changed so much, and there are obviously very modern pumping options.  Milk storage and formula feeding is much different now than it was.  What are your top feeding tips for grandparents who want to be involved in caregiving?

Kristin Morter:  My top feeding tips are just to make sure that you’re as supportive as possible with whatever feeding style your kids choose for their baby.  Absolutely, I love the whole method of pace feeding with babies.  It reduces gas, reduces colic.  It helps really mimic breastfeeding for breastfed babies but also reduces all of the air intake, too, for bottlefed babies.  I love the Haaka.  That’s one of the best feeding friends that you can have.  It’s like a breast pump that you can attach while you’re nursing and it catches the milk from the other side, too.  So it’s a great way to keep your breast milk from leaking out just into a breast pad or something else.  So it’s definitely a gift that a grandparent could buy for their daughter or daughter-in-law or for anybody breastfeeding.  Another thing is just to make sure that your kids aren’t having to transport bottle things back and forth.  Try to have a bottle brush and soap at your house available for bottle cleanings so you can send home clean bottles with your grandbabies, just so that parents aren’t having to pack up their entire kitchen to bring to your house.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And then certainly formula feeding for grandparents who are involved in formula feeding, following directions on the package because it is, again, much different.  As doulas, we follow the directions to a T.

Kristin Morter:  Absolutely.  And I’ve been noticing that there have been a lot more European brands of formula out there.  A lot of American brands are one scoop for every two ounces of water, and the European brands are one scoop to one ounce of water, so it’s very important to make sure that we’re following all those rules, making sure that the bottles are clean and sterilized before we use them.  And sterilize – normal dish soap can usually get the job done.  You don’t need to have a sterilizer in your house.  You can use a steam or UV light sterilizer, but it’s not needed.  But yeah, just making sure that you’re also using purified water to make those bottles and make sure everything is just really clean and neat.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So let’s move along to safe sleep.  Again, things have changed so much from when our parents raised us, so what are your top tips for grandparents to make sure that any sleep surface that baby is in is safe?

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, so oh my goodness, it definitely has changed.  I remember my mom talking about sleeping on our bellies and kind of being shocked.  Like, what, I was a tummy sleeper?  Then you had the side sleeping for a while, and then you had all these baby positioners in the cribs.

Kristin:  And bumpers and blankets and toys.  Everything was in the crib back then.  Not so much anymore.

Kristin Morter:  Right, we’re not even suggesting mobiles really just because it can be a distraction during sleep and you never know if it’s going to fall in.  So just making sure that you have a nice, firm mattress so that babies aren’t rolling over and getting their face plowed into the mattress that’s too soft.  Really tight fitting crib sheets are excellent.  You don’t want to have a lot of give in the material.  And then no bumper pads.  We don’t do that anymore.  We know that it’s not safe inside of the crib.  And back to sleep is best, so do everything that we can to put baby back to sleep.  Obviously, when they start rolling over that’s a different story, but just wanting to make sure that we’re trying to provide the safest area for them to sleep in.  Another great thing that’s been coming out has been the nests and the baby sleeper thing that you can put on the couch or the floor.  They’re not really safe for sleeping in.

Kristin:  You’re talking like a Dock A Tot?

Kristin Morter:  Yes, the Dock A Tot.  I couldn’t remember it for a second.  They’re not great for sleeping in for long periods of time.  It’s okay for short periods of time when the baby is being very supervised, but not for them to sleep in.  I know they get really cozy and sleep better in those sometimes, but it’s just not as safe as a nice firm mattress in a crib.

Kristin:  Yes.  They’re a station that you can set baby down in to be hands free for a moment with supervision, but just as you mentioned, they’re not safe sleep at all.

Kristin Morter:  Right.

Kristin:  So let’s move along to other topics that you cover in the modern grandparents class.

Hey, Alyssa here.  I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming.  Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between.  You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood.  You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more.  You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most.  And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls.  If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at, or check it out at  We’d love to see you there.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, so one of the things that we’ve been going over, too, is the generational differences of how we got our information.  So ways that they received their information when they were raising their kids was usually their doctor or a book that they had read, and nowadays, we really are a Google people.  If we need to know anything, we are researching it, and we are trying to figure out what the best practice is right away.  That can get overwhelming for people, too, so I think one of the nice things especially that we offer is those classes.  I think in-person classes have become a big thing probably since I’ve become a parent, at least.  I know classes were a big deal in the early 2000s, as well.  I think it’s been a huge asset to parenting just because you get to see other people’s opinions and their expertise and just really figure out for yourself how your family should move forward as far as parenting styles, breastfeeding, anything that you want to learn about.

Kristin:  Yes.  And any tips – you mentioned parenting styles – again, to be supportive when you’re talking with grandparents about how to support their children’s unique parenting style?  And again, we’re making sure that the advice you’re giving and the advice that our postpartum doula teams is obviously safe, but we support all parenting styles and utilize judgment-free support, so how does that apply to your class and really getting some acceptance with different parenting styles?

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, so I think a lot of times, there is a generational difference between how our parents raised us and how we’re raising our kids.  So that can cause a lot of tension in relationships and cause unnecessary conflict.  So I just really encourage all the grandparents coming through my class to be judgment free, to really take their kids’ perspective into consideration.  The grandkids aren’t their kids, and things have changed a lot since when they parented.  So I do think that while their advice is very needed and necessary at times and probably wanted, sometimes we just have to really pull back and think, okay, is this good advice?  Is this true today?  Is this something that’s going to help or hinder our relationship?  So just taking all those things into consideration is very important.

Kristin:  Yes, so true.  And I know like with my own personal family, I have a big family, many siblings, and many of them are parents.  And they all parent much different than, say, I do.  So my parents have learned to, as far as their role as grandparents, really support the individual styles.

Kristin Morter:  Yes.  I always say that these children were born to you, and so it’s your job to be able to do with them the best that you possible can, and whatever that looks like is so different varying from family to family.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So what else can we take away from the modern grandparents class?

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, one other thing that we’ve been talking about is introducing pets to babies.  That’s been actually a bigger topic of conversation than I thought, and people are getting really excited about it.  A lot of grandparents have gotten puppies since their kids have moved out of the house, and just making sure that those puppies and animals are ready for a baby to come into their home is really great.  So a lot of times I suggest bringing something that the baby has worn into the home before you bring baby into the house, just for the animal to smell.  I suggest putting it into a calm space, so like the dog’s bed or somewhere that they like to relax and be peaceful.  Once they get to know that scent, they’re less likely to be as excitable when the baby comes into the house for the first time.  And then there’s also a lot of great dog training tips that you can get from your local dog hospitals or even training centers.  You can ask your local vet, as well, just for different tips and pointers on what you should do to get your dog ready.  Dogs are kind of like kid people.  They each have a different personality, so that’s why it kind of varies a little bit from animal to animal.  But just having a great new introduction is a great way to start.

Kristin:  Yes, and many dog training centers have that adjusting to baby class, not only for puppies, but also full grown dogs.

Kristin Morter:  Yes.  It’s a great way to get our fur babies involved.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So any other items that are important to cover?  There’s even such a difference in toys and green items and looking into just, again, keeping up with recalls and knowing where to look for those.  Certainly even registering items that are purchased in case there is a recall so you can get a full refund.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, there are a lot of sites that you can actually get a recall notice from.  I believe that is one of them.  It will give you recall notices.  But also making sure that the toys that you’re providing at your house kind of go along with the parenting style of the parents of the kids.  So if your kids are going more natural and wanting to stay away from chemical things, trying to get those hardwood, natural, Montessori type toys more in your home.  Another thing that’s important that I don’t think we ever thought about in the past is offgassing.  All the toxins that are in our toys, our bouncy seats, different clothes that we have.  Making sure that you put it in a well-ventilated area before baby uses it.  And then just making sure that we’re washing everything properly.  I know I’ve seen a handful of grandparents that just open it from the package and give it to the kid right away.  Let’s clean it first.  Let’s give it a little wash.  Making sure that we’re aware of the chemicals being used in products.  We are a generation, too, that is very – a lot more knowledgeable about what’s coming into our bodies and aware of what we’re exposing our children to, so I think being aware of what we’re doing and helping our kids out with that is great.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Thank you for sharing so many wonderful tips and insights into the modern grandparents class.  The class can be found at the Gold Coast Doulas website.  We also have information on social media.  Kristin is our instructor and can teach virtually as well as in person.  The virtual class is $85.  The in-person class is $125, and the class is private, so you’re able to, again, ask questions and work around your own busy schedule.  I know this is a relaunch of the class for us, but when we held the class pre-COVID years back, it didn’t work to have group classes because everyone has different availability.  Some grandparents are still working, so the daytime classes didn’t work, and weekends tend to be busy, so it was difficult to get everyone to match up on times, so we decided to make it a private class.

Kristin Morter:  Yeah, and it’s been great having the private class, just getting to know the grandparents, getting to see how excited they are and just share in that joy with them.  It’s just been a huge blessing to me, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

Kristin:  And it has been interesting as grandparents, of course, have been gifting postpartum doula support and some of our other classes for their children, but we’ve also had our clients gift their parents a grandparents course, so it’s been sort of a full circle moment.

Kristin Morter:  Yep.  It’s so great.

Kristin:  Yes.  Well, thank you so much, Kristin.  Any last words of advice for grandparents who are listening to the podcast?

Kristin Morter:  Just enjoy every moment of that grandbaby.  They grow up so fast, and you get to spoil them as much as you can and just really enjoy it.

Kristin:  Love it.  Thank you.

Kristin Morter:  Thank you so much.

Thanks for listening to Gold Coast Doulas.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  If you like this podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review.  Thank you!  Remember, these moments are golden.

Finding the Perfect Childcare Option: Podcast Episode #185

Kristin and Jaynie Fawley of Michigan Nanny Solutions chat about childcare options and finding the perfect nanny.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello, hello!  This Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Jaynie Fawley today.  Jaynie is the owner and founder of Michigan Nanny Solutions, which started in 2013.  Jaynie is a professional nanny herself, and she saw a need in the Kalamazoo area for someone who could establish realistic expectations and standards for what the nanny job and the nanny-parent relationship should look like.  Jaynie wanted to be able to provide education, advocacy, and empowerment to the local nanny industry.  Michigan Nanny Solutions exists today to be that resource for nannies and families.  Jaynie is a professional career nanny and certified newborn care specialist with 16 years of experience supporting families in Kalamazoo.  She has spent the last eleven years working as a nanny with the same amazing family, now doing before and after school support for them.  So she knows the relationship that nannies have with their families and families have, so she craftfully pairs families with the perfect nanny for them.  Welcome, Jaynie.  So happy to have you here!

Jaynie:  Me, too!

Kristin:  So we are going to talk about everything from childcare options for a family with a new baby or expanding their family to hiring the perfect nanny.  So let’s get into it.

Jaynie:  Awesome, yeah.  So we as an agency specialist in placing long-term, professional nannies who are really well educated, highly qualified, and they’re looking for long-term placements where they can stay with a family for a long time.  Yes, ten years is a lot, but the average, you know, a family is hoping to have a nanny until they no longer need them, and nannies are hoping to have multi-year placement.  But part of our intake process with new families is helping them determine if that’s even the right choice for the family.  With so many options out there for childcare, for everything from having a family member watching the child so using an in-home daycare, daycare centers, all the way up to having a nanny, there’s a lot to consider.  I would say the first thing is the affordability of each option.  So if we’re looking at a relative caring for a childcare, that might be free or very reduced cost because it’s a grandma or an aunt or something like that, where there isn’t any legal requirement for the family to be paying a certain amount.  And then if we don’t have a family member that’s available, then maybe a family starts looking at daycares.  And an in-home daycare is an awesome option for a lot of families.  There’s a lot of pros and cons for that, but it tends to be the most affordable.  It tends to be $30, $40, $50 tops per day per child.  And then if they’re using a daycare center where there’s more children, more caregivers, more overhead, and also more qualified individuals working there, it’s going to be a little bit more expensive, averaging $75 per day per child.  And then a nanny with the current average hourly rate being $25 an hour, that could be $200 a day.  That’s going from $30 a day to $200 a day.  It’s a pretty big range.  So families will then decide, can I pay $500 a week or can I pay $55,000 per year.  That is a huge difference.

Kristin:  Right, exactly.  And certainly, I mean, there are au pair options and other choices within that range, but I’ve found from an agency owner perspective that many of my clients in the last couple of years during COVID have really wanted a nanny versus a center to avoid getting any kind of illness for their child or their entire family.

Jaynie:  Absolutely.  That’s kind of the second consideration is what is the availability of this childcare option, and through the pandemic, we saw a lot of daycare centers having to fully shut down.  And it could be days.  It could be weeks.  But that is potentially hundreds of children who are not getting care that week, and families are scrambling for backup care while also being considered about, does that mean my child was exposed last week?

Kristin:  Exactly.  And then you need to stay home because your child, you know, may not have COVID but was exposed.  Yes, and then teacher ratios.  It just – it does create a lot of difficulty for professional families.

Jaynie:  Right.  And of course, that exposure to kids – you know, honestly, back in pre-COVID, we used to say that one of the pros of using a daycare was that your child was going to be exposed to more germs, which is hard in those first years where it seems like your baby always has a runny nose and a wheezy little cough, but they just showed that they had increased immunity over time and would get less sick less often as they got older, where children coming out of nanny care, once they start kindergarten and first grade, that’s when they start getting all of those sicknesses, those runny noses, and those wheezy coughs.  So it used to be something that we would say is a selling point.  Like, oh, your kid’s going to have increased immunity.  Yes, that means that they’re sick more often, and then of course, the downside of that is a daycare will not provide sick care for your children, so you have to have a backup option.  And nannies do provide care for sick children, so that is one of the big checks in a pros column, which we saw a lot during the pandemic.  Families are like, my child has a sniffle.  They can’t go to daycare.  But as long as they don’t have COVID, the nanny will come, right?  Like, yes.  As long as there’s no COVID, your nanny is going to be there if your kids are sick.  If you’re sick and you’re not going to work, your nanny is still going to come, and most nannies are going to work when they have minor illnesses and injuries, so they’re less than that childcare.  You don’t need to be taking time off or scrambling to find backup care as often for those sick situations.

Kristin:  Yes.  And then as far as nannies, especially because you are picking, you know, the best of the best nannies for your families, but what would a typical nanny background and training be compared to an in-home daycare?

Jaynie:  It’s a great topic.  So when daycares that are in-home daycares – it’s generally somebody who obviously owns a home and is opening their home to provide daily, full-time childcare.  So they have to get licensed through the state.  They have to get their home licensed.  Everybody who lives in the home is background checked.  But there’s no requirements for any early childhood education or really any formal education for the person providing daycare.  And in daycare centers, the lead teacher in every single room has to have a degree in early childhood education.  The assistant teachers don’t have to have a degree, but they often have what’s called a CDA or a child development associate’s, which is a certification program.  But every staff person in a daycare center has to do continuing education.  So that’s one of the big wins of an early childcare center or a daycare center versus having just a licensed daycare.  But then nannies, most of the nannies that we represent do have degrees.  Some come from completely unrelated fields, but we see a lot of early childhood education individuals, lot of elementary educators who are leaving the classroom setting to start working in early childhood.  But at minimum, we work with candidates who have at least three years of professional childcare experience and are prioritizing the individuals who have stayed in positions kind of long term.  That’s who we tend to find the most success with.  But whether or not a nanny is educated, their job description, at the most basic level, is to fully invest in the personalized care for each child that they’re watching.  So for any nanny that’s working with a child, they are going to be intentionally contributing to that child’s physical development.  So for an infant, it’s making sure tummy time is happening.  Working on sitting up, working on crawling, working on walking.  They’re also working on that verbal and language development, which sometimes starts with, like, baby sign and goes on from there.  They’re also intentionally working on educational development.  So for infants, it’s a lot of sensory activities.  Toddlers and bigger, there’s more challenging fine motor skills, gross motor skills.  Letter, number, shape recognition; that kind of thing.  They’re also going to be intentionally working on social development.  So where socialization is a big mark in the pros column for both daycare centers and in-home daycares, nannies have to kind of go out of their way to provide socialization, but they’re really good at it.  So that’s doing music classes, story times at the library, meeting other nannies at the children’s museums, seeking out opportunities to get those children socialized.  And one of the benefits of a nanny is that the child that they’re watching is not just socializing with their age group like they do in the toddler room at a daycare.  They might be hanging out with infants, preschoolers, and elementary aged kids, depending on what time of year it is.  So they kind of get a broader range of socialization with more children in different environments.  And then, of course, emotional development is a big part of what nannies do.  Nannies tend to use, like, a connection-centered or gentle, positive discipline approach, which is working on a lot of emotional resilience from when they start with those children.  So whether they’re doing, like, a planned curriculum every day or just making sure that all of their interactions with that child are meeting some kind of a developmental goal, that’s their job.  That’s what they’re there for, and they can personalize that attention per child, where in a daycare center, every child is kind of learning the same thing, and they’re not able to adjust activities to make them more challenging for one child or less challenging for another.

Hey, Alyssa here.  I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming.  Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between.  You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood.  You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more.  You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most.  And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls.  If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at, or check it out at  We’d love to see you there.

Kristin:  So what is the difference – I guess my main question is, between, like, finding an agency, like Michigan Nanny Solutions for your nanny, versus going to or Facebook groups?  What do you offer that would be different than a parent doing a search on their own?

Jaynie:  That is a great question.  One of the things I say all the time is that I’m not doing anything through the agency that a family cannot do themselves.  But the agency provides a more streamlined process where we’re able to attract and identify and screen and train and orient the best of the best of the nannies who are currently available.  So that means that when a family hires us, they’re not spending those hours and hours on screening, going through those messages, trying to get resumes.  It can be a lot of time investment just wading through people they don’t want to meet.  Where as the agency, that’s kind of my time wasted, not theirs.  So they’re going to pay the agency, tell us what they want, what their budget is, what they’re looking for, what kind of goals they want to have met, what their own family culture is like.  And then our job is to identify two or three individuals we think are going to be a really good fit.  So the parents have just these three – we’ll say three individuals presented to them with letters of recommendations, with references checked, with letters of interest written, professional resumes, and they just get to pick the one they like the most, which is pretty incredible.  That’s very empowering to be able to say, here’s three people who are excited about the opportunity, who are qualified to do it, and I just get to pick the one that I viscerally think is the best fit for myself, my children, my home, and our future together.  So that’s the biggest benefit of using the agency is less time wasted and better quality candidates that are fully vetted.

Kristin:  That makes sense.  So Jaynie, if someone wanted to, as far as their goals, if they wanted to include household tasks or school pickups, if a family has older children, or specific newborn care goals or even a nanny share, you would go through all of the options with them and then help them work out part-time nanny versus full time and what they’re looking for exactly and then screen that again versus going on any of the online sites, including

Jaynie:  Exactly, yes.  We take in applications and they fill out their applications with us.  We ask all of those questions up front from the candidates, too.  So if a family comes to us and says, “We’re really looking for somebody who has experiencing teaching in a Montessori classroom, and we would prefer for them to be this, that, and the other thing,” it’s very easy for us to go into our database and kind of narrow down who we already have available who meets those metrics.  And then we also offer the parents that option of, like, would you hire somebody amazing and then pay for them to get a Montessori training because as an agency, we have those resources to share.  And lo and behold, there’s actually a Montessori for nannies training course.  So we help facilitate so that needs are met no matter what.  And we have to be careful about certain demographic or things that can be discriminated against.  We try to make really good matches based on culture and preferences that way, but of course, we can’t discriminate.  So there’s certain things that we are able to be like, you want a Mandarin speaking nanny?  I will do everything I can to find you a Mandarin speaking nanny.  But if there’s certain other categories that I don’t even have the option to discuss with nannies, then families have to be more willing to say, okay, let’s focus on the Mandarin speaking nanny and not worry as much about those other things.  But that’s one of the benefits, too, of using a nanny agency.  We can prepare the person that you hire to meet your needs, even if they’re not ready to do so within their current training.  So families that have newborns, we often recommend, since nannies don’t always have newborn care experience, since they’re usually starting after maternity leave, we’ll say, why don’t you pay for this newborn care training, and that will better prepare them to take care of your children or when your baby comes home.”  This is usually like the nanny’s been there with the 2-year-old since maternity leave, and now they’re having a new baby, and they’re like, oh, we actually need our nanny.  So what can we do to get her ready for this newborn to come home and be really effective?  So we’re kind of here for that journey for families even after they hire their nanny to make sure that the nanny stays current with their professional development to continue to meet those needs.  The needs of a family with a newborn and the needs of a family with a preschooler as far as that kind of day to day stuff changes.  But things that are commonly a part of every nanny’s job – we’re prepared to do transportation, driving kids to and from school, driving kids to and from summer camps, driving kids to and from music classes and swim class, it’s just a part of our job.  So generally the nannies are going to use their own vehicle.  The family will provide car seats for each of their children.  And then the nanny’s responsibility is to keep track of their mileage and get mileage reimbursement from the family.  That is part of the cost of having an employee.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And then of course there are live-in nannies.  Do you do a lot of placements for live-in?

Jaynie:  We do not have a huge demand for live-in in West Michigan.  Live-in nannies tend to be most popular in the major metro areas where the nanny can’t afford to live within a reasonable commute from where her employers live.

Kristin:  Makes sense.  So Detroit would see that more often than West Michigan.

Jaynie:  Exactly.  But if the nanny can get there reasonably within not having to use public transportation, then they will – most nannies prefer not to live in, but in certain major metro areas, there’s no choice.  If you want to be a nanny, you’re going to end up living with the family.

Kristin:  Sure.  So as far as hours, say a family did have a live-in nanny.  Then they would have time off and ability to leave the home.  I’ve worked with our overnight postpartum doulas and newborn care specialists.  We’ve had families have nannies during the day or live-ins who were not working overnight because they needed to be rested for the family during the day.  So I would love for you to get into families with other professional services working within the home, whether it’s a household manager, a doula, newborn care specialist, and how the nannies can work seamlessly with other caregivers in the household.  A cleaning service or a housekeeping service.

Jaynie:  We see that a lot.  Families that can afford to hire nannies can tend to afford to hire these other services, as well.  And we’ve done placements for families where they have a nanny there for childcare.  They have a private educator there to do virtual schooling, and then they might have a household manager there packing lunches and making dinner.  So it can be a working household.  I think the best thing is that mom and dad have to know how to maintain that communication and how to hold those scopes of practice for each person.  If each person knows very clearly what their job responsibilities are and what expectations they’re needing to meet, there shouldn’t be a lot of confusion or overlap or somebody getting upset, that kind of thing.  When you have somebody who’s highly specialized coming in, like a newborn specialist or postpartum doula, who’s there to do stuff like overnight sleep conditioning, I would say that kind of trumps what the nanny does during the day.  For that consistency’s sake, then the family needs to help the nanny understand this postpartum doula, this newborn care specialist is going to come in and help us teach our newborn to sleep, so this is the plan that they would like you to follow during the day.  It needs to come from the parents.  So as long as the parents are able and willing to maintain their employer status, which each of those employees are contractors, the rest of that situation is going to go really well.  And the consistency is really important, so it’s nice when the family, the parents themselves, are able to say, all right, look, here’s what I need you to do, and here’s when you get to kind of take back over.  That helps everybody kind of not have any feelings hurt or make any big mistakes or missteps that would cause any kind of tension.

Kristin:  Yes.  And Jaynie, you also do placements for newborn care specialists.  Can you let our audience know a bit about what that specialty includes and why it is so different than the role of a nanny or even a postpartum doula?

Jaynie:  So newborn care specialists are highly trained.  Many are certified.  And their job is to come into the family’s home when they have a newborn, and most either are working a strictly overnight shift of 10 to 12 hours, or they’re doing a 24/7 shift with a couple of days off per week.  But they’re specifically there to kind of take over the sleep and routine for that infant.  They’re going to come in and help create routines, a daytime routine, a nighttime routine, a response plan for when that baby wakes and what they eat and all of that.  But their overarching goal is to focus on creating a very safe and sleep-conducive environment for the baby to sleep in, creating those daytime and nighttime routines, and then their goal is that by the time the babies are three to four months old, they should be sleeping through the night.  I’m doing quotes on “through the night” because it’s only, like, a six to eight hour stretch sometimes.  If your baby is sleeping six to eight hours in that first stretch of sleep, that is what we would consider sleeping through the night.  Ideally, eventually, they’ll get to, like, a 12-hour stretch of sleep.  But by three or four months old, if you can get your baby to that point, mom and dad are going to get so much better sleep after that newborn care specialist time there is done.  I also like to – because people understand very well what sleep training is, but what newborn care specialists do is not sleep training.  They are sleep conditioning.  So where sleep training, the goal is to alter your response to a child’s needs so that they need you less.  A newborn care specialist is being so intentional in responding to a baby’s needs every time they need them that they just naturally end up needing them less.  So you are never letting the baby cry.  You are always responding to needs, but with that foundation that you’re doing intentionally with each wake up, they will eventually start waking up less, and it’s depending on their size and nutrition and all of that, too.  We are not expecting a three-week old to be sleeping six to eight hour stretches.  But just kind of setting those really good foundations.  I find that many people will hire for the first time they have a baby.  They don’t really know – they want the support.  They would rather kind of give an expert, professional, the responsibility to help them learn how to teach their baby to sleep.  And then on the second side of that, we have a lot of calls from families who say, I have a two-year-old at home, and when I had that two-year-old, I was sleeping when that baby slept.  That’s what everyone told me.  Sleep when the baby sleeps.  She goes, when do I sleep now, if I have a two-year-old and a newborn?

Kristin:  That is the challenge, for sure.

Jaynie:  It is.  So then they’ll hire the newborn care specialist to come for that fourth trimester, that three or four month period, just so that mom and dad are getting that full night of sleep.  They’re better able to be parents to both children during the day, and then by the time that newborn care specialist contract is up after that three- or four-month period, they’re only waking up once or twice a night, which is sustainable.  It feels sustainable for a parent rather than only getting an hour of sleep here or there.  And then I would say the other people that call us are the multiple parents, the parents with twins and triplets.  They just need help.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Jaynie:  They need help, and a newborn care specialist can be so effective, especially with multiple and especially with preemie multiple where a first-time parent of newborns is going to get super overwhelmed and not know what to do.  Having that newborn care specialist as your professional support is going to just make everything so much easier.

Kristin:  Yes.  And sometimes with multiple, one baby is in the NICU, and another is home, so there’s that stress and strain and back and forth.  A newborn care specialist or postpartum care doula can be a huge asset.  And, you know, again, they can be different developmentally and different needs with sleep and feeding and so on.  I agree, it is a big demand to have that expert help.

Jaynie:  And in our culture, we don’t always have family members.  Back in previous generations, it was moms were mostly stay at home moms.  And their mom and mother-in-law would be retired or stay-at-home grandmas and so you kind of had that built-in support network of people who are not working during the day and who can come and help you.  And with the current generation, even our grandmas are often still working.  So these moms just really don’t have as much even familial support that’s available.  Somebody might be able to come for two or three hours, but that’s not enough to make a big difference, to give that parent enough reprieve.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And then of course, you know, if grandparents are involved in caregiving, they may not be up to date on the latest safe sleep standards or understanding car seat rules and regulations and so on.  There’s a big difference in feeding and so many things compared to when they were parents themselves.

Jaynie:  And they are tired.  They’ve raised their babies, so they don’t want to stay up all night with a baby.  They may not know how to sooth effectively.  So it’s helpful – it’s awesome when you can have that help, but if you don’t have that help, you can hire it.  There’s just about a service for everything nowadays, and helping people take care of their babies and children is no different.

Kristin:  So true.  So any final tips for our listeners, Jaynie?

Jaynie:  I think of the childcare industry, and I am personally and professionally invested.  I have been working with the same family for almost 11 years.  The children that I nanny are 11 and 9.  The 9-year-old, I held the day she was born, hours after her birth.  So I am so invested in the beauty of the industry.  But I also know that there are not great options out there, so I would just encourage parents to find the best of the best option and to find something that makes you feel in your heart of hearts and your soul of souls that my child is safe here, my child is loved here, these people or this person are going to be communicative, they are going to support me, and I can feel supportive of them.  And whether that’s an in-home daycare or a daycare center or a nanny – the only way a parent is going to go to work and stop worrying is if they have full trust and respect in their caregiver.  So going on that foundation is going to be the best place to start, and finding a place that you can count on long term is going to be a benefit, as well.

Kristin:  Love it.  Excellent advice.  So Jaynie, let’s get into how our listeners can find you.  You have a website; you’re active on Facebook, which is Michigan Nanny Solutions on Facebook.  They can find you on LinkedIn also as Michigan Nanny Solutions.  So we look forward to continuing our conversations, and thanks so much for all of your time and work you do with families and nannies alike.

Jaynie:  Thank you so much.  It was such a pleasure.

Thanks for listening to Gold Coast Doulas.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  If you like this podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review.  Thank you!  Remember, these moments are golden.

Adrenal Fatigue and Gut Issues Postpartum: Podcast Episode #182

We talk about addressing adrenal fatigue and gut issues postpartum with Maja Miller of Maja Miller Wellness.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello, hello.  This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Maja Miller today of Maja Miller Wellness.  She is a metabolic health coach and clinical functional nutritionist.  Welcome, Maja!

Maja:  Hi!  I’m so excited to be here.

Kristin:  So I know our main focus is all about adrenal fatigue and gut issues in the postnatal phase.  So there’s so many buzzwords around adrenal fatigue and gut issues, and our listeners may not even really understand what that’s all about.  So fill us in!

Maja:  Well, adrenal issues and gut issues are often present also prenatally.  And I often see those kind of things get worse after the delivery of the baby.  So a lot of my clients are actually moms that are either stay at home moms or they are working moms, and they’ve had one, two, three plus pregnancies.  And I think what a lot of people don’t understand is that there is that – a pregnancy is one of three kinds of stressors you can put on your body.  Let’s kind of separate adrenal and gut issues.  I’ll first kind of talk a little bit about adrenal issues, but some people, some of your listeners may have heard of this as adrenal fatigue.  Clinicians essentially call it HPA axis dysfunction.  So the HPA stands for the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and the adrenals.  And the hypothalamus and the pituitary live in your brain, and your adrenals are these two kind of sugar cube sized organs.  You have two of them.  One sits kind of right above each kidney.  And the adrenals get turned on when your fight or flight portion of your nervous system, your sympathetic nervous system, gets turned on.  So back in the day, we would be out hunting or gathering food.  We would see a tiger.  That would be perceived as a stressor, and our adrenals would kick on.  The autonomic nervous system, specifically the sympathetic nervous system, would kick on, and there would be a cortisol surge in your body.  And cortisol is really great in small amounts, and it is a catabolic steroid.  Anabolic steroids build you up, and catabolic steroids build you down.  And the difference and kind of the problem between back in the hunter gatherer days where we would have an occasional saber tooth tiger sighting, right now our stress is off the charts, and stress is the number sixth leading cause of death.  Most people don’t understand that stress isn’t just a stressful day at work.  There are three different categories of stress.  One is a physical stressor, and labor, delivery, and growing the baby prenatal and postnatal, that is a massive physical stressor on a woman.  And then the baby comes, and then there’s a lot of biochemical stressors, so things like not getting enough sleep.  Maybe you’re not eating appropriately.  Antibiotic use, alcohol use, over the counter medicines, inflammatory foods, exposure to pesticides and insecticides, these are all biochemical stressors.  And then you’ve got that third stress category that I think a lot of people are familiar with, which are perceived or emotional stressors, which postpartum – it definitely fits into that.  Am I being a good mom?  Should I breastfeed or bottle feed?  There’s so many decisions that we make in that postnatal period that can be incredibly stressful.  So once you take a step back and take a broader definition or a broader view of what is a stressor, now all of a sudden you realize that the occasional saber tooth tiger sighting has turned into constant, chronic, acute stress all day, every day, which results in flooding your system with cortisol, which means that you’re being – literally, it breaks you down at a cellular level.  So that’s kind of one of the things that I think a lot of moms are kind of dealing with in the postpartum phase, and a lot of what you deal with in the postpartum phase is linked with what you do leading up to your pregnancy, as well.   So that’s the adrenal fatigue, the HPA axis side of things.  And gut issues is a physical – can be a physical stressor or a biochemical stressor.  There may be parasites.  There may be pathogens.  You can have a bacterial overgrowth.  You can have structural damage in the gut, which leads to a very low grade sepsis.  Essentially, that’s what leaky gut is.  And that is one of those stressors that can lead to cortisol being pumped through the body.  So all of these things are very closely related, even though they’re two separate topics.

Kristin:   That makes complete sense.  So someone may have adrenal fatigue, but no gut issues?  Or do they usually go hand in hand?  Or what if someone only has gut issues and no fatigue?

Maja:  I like to take a look at symptoms.  So what are you feeling like?  And I’ll describe a very typical client of mine.  Little to no energy, problems either falling asleep or staying asleep; bloating, gas, sort of GI upsets.  That could be constipation or diarrhea or a combination of the two.  Often, no or low libido, so not interested in sex.  That’s typical in the postpartum phase for other reasons, but we’re just assuming this person is not in the phase.  A lot of skin issues, and then a lot of neurological symptoms.  So brain fog, anxiety, depression, those kinds of things, like having a hard time remembering.  Like, you’re looking at your daughter, and you can’t remember her name.  You obviously know your daughter, but you’re having a hard time figuring out what is – remembering their name.  Oftentimes, when you see those types of symptoms, it’s rarely just one things that’s happening.  And I rarely see folks that gut is completely clear and hormones are on point.  Usually, it’s a combination of things, and gut and adrenals are very closely tied together because every time that cortisol stimulates mast cells in the gut – essentially, there’s a histamine response that happens.  So stress and gut are very closely related.  It’s rare for me – these days, when you have all of those symptoms, it’s almost always gut.  What most people don’t realize is that your gut is where 80% of your immune system lives.  You have more neurons in your gut than you do in your spinal column.  You’ve got five to ten pounds of bacteria in there.  The gut is where a lot of our metabolism is at.  So gut has a very incredible role in how you respond to stress.  It’s why a lot of doctors refer to the gut as your second brain.  A lot of the times if you have gut permeability, structural issues in the gut, there can be something called leaky brain, as well.  A lot of these GI symptoms are highly correlated and tied to neurological symptoms like anxiety, depression, brain fog, those kinds of things.

Kristin:  Interesting.  So I can definitely see why a lot of your clients are seeing you early in pregnancy versus waiting until they have their baby and they’re in the postpartum recovery phase.

Maja:  Yeah, I wish that more people kind of understood just how the body is connected and how stress especially impacts babies in utero.  It’s in utero where your child’s nervous system kind of maps to your nervous system, and you can kind of impact whether or not that child is going to be kind of prone to fight or flight, which is that sympathetic nervous system, or the rest and digest, which is the parasympathetic nervous system, and you want to have a good balance of the two.  I am seven weeks away from giving birth to my first son, so this is – I was so excited to talk to you, and I miscarried about a year and a half ago or so.  I realized that my body wasn’t ready to get and stay pregnant.  And so I really over the last year and a half, two years – I’d already been doing a lot of work with kind of taking a holistic approach to my body, and where are my minerals at?  Where are my hormones?  Where are my inflammatory markers?  Am I sleeping well?  How are my energy levels?  And I had an extreme period of stress.  I would say probably extreme – probably a two year extreme period of stress, but before that, I was burning the candle at both ends.  I was an entrepreneur.  I’d moved to a new state, started my own company.  And I just knew that I needed to kind of fix some things.  It took some time, but here I am at the end of my third trimester.  I had no morning system.  I had no energy issues.  I had no crazy cravings.  I craved healthy food, but didn’t have crazy cravings for sweet things or fast food.  I’ve had little to no swelling.  It’s been amazing, and my husband likes to remind me, because I’m like, this has been such an easy pregnancy.  He likes to remind me that it was a lot of work to get me to this particular point.  So I wish that I saw more clients a year in advance.

Kristin:  Pre-conception, like when they’re talking about having kids.  It makes a lot of sense.

Maja:  Yes, but oftentimes what ends up happening is I see them after they’ve given birth or after they’re kind of done having babies, and the having given birth triggered a lot of things in them.  Sometimes that physical stressor will have triggered an autoimmune disease in them.  I wish it was the other way around.  I’d say probably 90, 95% of the time, I’m seeing folks – I’m seeing mamas after they’ve given birth, and I wish it was the other way around.

Kristin:   Yeah, of course.  It’s all about education and awareness, so now our listeners know about options, for those who are not currently pregnant.  And even if they’re in late stages of pregnancy, I’m sure that you could help them make some progress.

Maja:  Totally.  It’s never too late to start, and there’s so many things that you can do just from a lifestyle perspective that will move the needle substantially.  What I do with my clients – I’m really allergic to kind of cookie cutter programs and cookie cutter coaches that say there’s one way to do things.

Kristin:  We’re all unique.  Yeah, cookie cutter doesn’t work.

Maja:  No, and bio individuality is a very real concept, and that simply means that your metabolism is as unique as your fingerprint.  There isn’t another metabolism or fingerprint out there just like yours.  And so I think it’s really important to get a baseline for what is happening in all of your systems.  What I do with my clients is I run – once I do a medical intake with them and kind of understand, what are their symptoms, what are their main complaints, what are their past diagnoses – just spend a couple of hours really getting to know them.  Then I say, okay, I feel like we need to run some baseline labs.  So I might do blood chemistry.  I might do a lab called the GI map, which is essentially a stool sample that maps your microbiome.  If you have a history of autoimmune disease, I might run the Cyrex Array 5 to see if there’s any other kind of autoimmune predictive antibodies that are popping up.  And with every single one of my clients, I run a mineral analysis.  It’s a hair tissue mineral analysis, because minerals are just as important as hormones.  So there’s a handful of labs that I’ll run, and then that paints a picture for me.  And oftentimes, I mean, on average, my clients have seen 12 doctors before they come to me, and all of those doctors tell them that everything is fine and that all of their labs are in range and normal.  And yet all of those symptoms that I described at the beginning of our conversation – their hair is falling out.  Like, all this crazy stuff is happening.  You’re like, that’s not normal.  So oftentimes I’m able to take a look.  Look at the labs through a functional lens versus a clinical lens, and I’m able to kind of connect the dots.  And I’m not just looking at one system.  I’m looking at what’s going on with hormones, what’s going on with gut, what’s going on with mineral levels.  There’s all sorts of labs that I can run that paint a picture that tell me, oh, okay, this is why you’re having the skin issues.  This is why you’re having some brain fog issues.  And then I’m able to use those labs to kind of create tailored protocols to reverse those symptoms.  And I think that’s really – that’s really the goal.  One of my clients that I’m kind of in the process of wrapping up with in the next month or so – she is one of the few where I’m working with her because having a baby is a goal, and when I first started working with her – this was probably in June – her main complaints were lack of energy and fatigue, often at a scale of 8.  So from a scale of 1 to 10, it was like an 8.  So pretty high, right?  Bloating and cramping on a scale of 1 to 10, a 7.  Periodic weight gain – she kind of ranked that as a 5.  Anxiety often at a 3.  Periodic stress was a 2.  And so one of the first things that I do – you take this test.  It’s a medical intake where I figure out what is your metabolic chaos scorecard.  And metabolic chaos is not good.  You want to have as low a score as possible.  When I first started working with her, her metabolic chaos score was 178, which is very high.  I just had her take it again, and she had a 60% improvement.  Her metabolic chaos score is now a 70.

Kristin:  That’s amazing!

Maja:  And there’s another kind of intake that I do.  It’s called an adrenal stress causes that tells me where is the majority of your stress.  Is it mental emotional?  Is it environmental?  Is it lifestyle?  Is there metabolism stress?  So she went from a 69 to a 41, so that’s about a 40% decrease in stress.  And the metabolic chaos score improved by about 60%.  So what I’m doing is decreasing stress and increasing vital reserve, which means that you’re more likely to be able to get pregnant and stay pregnant, which is kind of the goal that all moms have.

Kristin:   Absolutely.  That is impressive.  What a case study!

Maja:  Yeah, I’m super proud of her.  I just had a call with her today, so she’s very top of mind for me.  I’m super proud of her, and yeah, she wants to be a mom, and she wants – we as moms want to give our kids the best chance at having healthy productive lives, and if we take a look at the incidence of autoimmune disease in kids, allergies in kids, asthma in kids –

Kristin:  It’s so high right now, yes.

Maja:  It is, and a lot of this stuff is environment, right?  Like, genes take millions of years to change, and this is all changed very much within a generation or two.  Like, I am 44 years old, and I don’t remember any kids that have peanut allergies.  Maybe one kid in my class, grade school, may have had an inhaler and had asthma.  But now it’s rare if you don’t have some sort of gnarly food allergy.  A lot of that is environmental.  Nothing in our genes has changed to trigger that big of a difference within a generation or two, so a lot of this is, what can you do prenatally, but as you said, it’s never too late to start.  There are always things that you can do.

Kristin:  Yes, exactly.  And so what is a typical amount of time that you are seeing your clients?  I mean, I’m sure it varies because everyone’s unique.

Maja:  Yeah, I would say probably 70% of my clients, I work with for about eight months.  And there’s maybe 20, 30% of my clients, something like that, that I will work with for about a full year.  Very rarely, if ever, am I doing – I can’t even think of a client that I’ve worked with for really more than 14 months, I would say.  And so the way that I typically work with my clients is that we do a two-month engagement, and that engagement is all of the intake, getting to know you, figuring out what labs to run, running all of the labs, and then I kind of deliver an R&R, a results and recommendations.  It’s a couple hour call where I walk you through, here’s all of your results.  Here’s how these results impact to your symptoms.  And then this is how I would want to work with you, and that’s kind of, I say, okay, I think it will take another six months, or I think it will take another eight months.  And I kind of walk them through what the high level plan would be.  And so that’s typical, so I start with that two-month engagement, and then I work with folks in six-month chunks of time.  So yeah, that’s kind of how I work with people, and I always say, like, I always ask people, well, how long have you been kind of stressed out or burning the candle at both ends or maybe not working out or maybe not eating the best?  And people are like, three years; five years; ten years.  So I think it’s really important to set the expectation at the very beginning that this isn’t going to be like an overnight, 21-day challenge kind of thing because typically when you’re seeing those kinds of symptoms that I talked about today, they’re really impacting people’s lives.  I mean, one of my clients essentially said she didn’t remember the first year of her daughter’s life, which was devastating.  She was so stressed out, had so much brain fog.  She was just so unhealthy that she doesn’t even remember.  So she was getting ready to have another baby, and she was like, I just want to do it differently this time.  So there’s some very real consequences for some of this stuff, and it’s always nice to be able to do a lot of this work ahead of time.

Kristin:  Yes.

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Kristin:  So are most of your clients local?  I know you offer virtual services, so do you work with people all over?

Maja:  I have two clients – three clients that are local, and the rest of my clients are international.  Japan, the UK, and then in other – they’re also in other states.  I think COVID kind of changed the way that people like to work, and they like to be able to – you know, one of my clients lives in Austin, but she happens to be in Michigan with family for the holidays.  So it’s nice that I’m, for the most part, able to send lab kits out to wherever you are.  Sometimes if you’re in a weird international location, it may not be possible, but yeah, I have clients kind of all over the world.  I just wrapped up a few months ago with a client that’s in the armed forces in Japan.  So people are all over.  It’s pretty easy to connect.

Kristin:  Yes.  So Maja, as far as our clients who are newly postpartum, what would be the difference in your depletion and just that tired state versus having full on adrenal fatigue?  When should they reach out, at what point, if they’re seen their doctor and the doctor’s like, you’re fine; you’re healthy.  This is just normal postpartum recover.

Maja:  Yeah, I don’t think that a lot of the things that we are told is normal is actually normal.  And I think that a lot of the things that we experience as women – we are told that, oh, this is just part of being a woman.  This is just part of getting older.  This is just a part of being a mom.  I know lots of moms that have children that work that didn’t experience postpartum depression where their hair didn’t fall out, where they had fairly good energy.  But they had very different lead-up to pregnancy and very different recovery in pregnancy.  And so I would say that there is no such thing as, like, normal anxiety, normal diarrhea, normal depression.  None of it is normal.  That is not how our bodies are naturally wired to operate.  But I feel like a lot of this has been normalized.  I feel that if men gave birth, grew and gave birth to children, and they felt like so many of the moms I know feel postpartum, a lot of things would change.

Kristin:  Agreed.

Maja:  Family leave would change.  What we expect our moms to do would change.  How we feed ourselves and what we take on as women would change.  And so I always like to start there.  We are hard wired to have energy, to have mental clarity, to have solid, consistent bowel movements.  That is actually baseline.  And if you are feeling any of these other things, oftentimes I can point back to micronutrient deficiencies.  Those are your vitamins, your minerals, your amino acids, your essential fatty acids.  I can point to interruptions in sleep, which is just a part of the early phase of parenthood, I know, but I can point to lack of light exposure in the iris, so your circadian rhythm is off.  I can point to a lot of lifestyle things that we can tweak to make those symptoms either completely go away or never happen to begin with.  And so there are four stages of HPA axis dysfunction, so adrenal dysfunction.  And I’d like to say it – like, it’s important.  A lot of people call it adrenal fatigue, but because there’s that axis, there could be an issue with your hypothalamus signaling to your pituitary, or there could be an issue with your pituitary signaling to your adrenals.  And so that’s why I think a lot of clinicians will kind of talk about HPA axis dysfunction, but we can just call it adrenal dysfunction or adrenal fatigue.  But there are four stages of adrenal dysfunction in that HPA axis.  The first stage is you are thriving.  You’ve got lots of energy.  You’re able to go to sleep at night.  I’m not going to talk a lot about that because most of the clients that I work with aren’t there.  They’re not there.  But the first kind of stage of HPA axis dysfunction, it’s called the stress phase.  And you may feel edgy.  Other people may be, like, too slow, so that’s how others seem to you.  Like, man, they’re just not driving fast enough, or they’re not bagging my groceries fast enough.  It may be very difficult to fall asleep at night.  Your mental function can be kind of fast and scattered.  So that’s kind of the first phase.  We’ve got some acute stress that’s happening.  When that acute stress becomes prolonged, we move into the second and kind of third dysfunctional phase.  The next phase is called tired and wired, and it’s very much what it sounds like.  You’re exhausted, but you’re kind of wired, and you have a hard time staying asleep or falling asleep.  You may feel very overwhelmed.  Other people may seem kind of incompetent to you, and your mental function is just a little erratic.  You’re bouncing around from ideas.  You’re multitasking; where was I; what was I just doing.  You’re just kind of all over the place.  When the stressors still continue, you will end up in a crash phase, and in that, you feel complete, absolute exhaustion.  You can barely make it to the end of the day.  You’re crashing in the middle of the day.  You’re trying to make it to Friday so that you can sleep all day Saturday and Sunday.  You may be sleeping a lot, but you wake up and you’re like, did I – it’s very unrefreshing, and you’re completely unable to generate ideas.  There’s a lot of brain fog here.  Oftentimes can be associated with anxiety and depression, and you’re just in a completely exhausted state.  I think that it’s good to understand all three of these phases, and you have to know yourself.  Do you have a good balance?  There’s going to be times when we’re stressed out, as long as we know how to manage that.  But if you feel like you have had prolonged stress in your life, you’ve worked with a couple of doctors, everybody’s telling you you’re fine, or they refuse to run labs is a huge red flag for me, when doctors refuse to run labs that their patients ask of them.  It’s time to get a new doctor.  And then it’s time to reach out and it’s time to get some help, and the reality is, when we’re alone at night and the music has stopped, we know if we need help, when something becomes a little bit too much.  And I would say listen to that whisper because it doesn’t get better on your own.  It gets worse.  Stress just compounds and gets worse and worse.  So I would say – gosh, I mean, reach out if you’re having any of those symptoms that we talked about today.  Like, none of it is normal.  It’s preventing you from living a big, powerful life.  And that’s kind of the marker that I use.  Are you unable to do the things that you want to do in your life, whether that’s go back to work, whether that’s participate in nonprofit work, whether that’s fully participate in your child’s life, right, because you’re so dang tired.  It’s time to throw your hand up in the air and say, I need some help, and do something different about it.  Once you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s very difficult to make change.

Kristin:  It makes sense.  And if people are telling you that’s just normal – yeah, you hear all these other stories.  Yeah, I was tired; I was in a fog.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Maja:  One of the things that I love – I’ve been doing a lot of podcasts, and one of the things that I am constantly hearing, usually from the podcast host, which are usually entrepreneurs or business people – they’ve felt like crap.  They went to the doctor, and the doctor would, like, run some labs, right, and then they would often respond with, “Your labs came back normal.”  I hear this with thyroid labs all the time.  So what I like to talk about is the difference between functional ranges and clinical ranges.  And if you take a look at – there’s two main companies in the US that run labs.  I think it’s LabQuest and CPL are the two main ones.  And let’s just take thyroid labs, like a thyroid panel, to begin with, so that we can talk about something very specific.  So what they do is they will – well, first of all, when’s the last time you’ve asked your doctor to run a lab when you’ve been feeling great?  Probably never.  It’s usually when you feel like garbage that you’re like, oh my God, there must be something wrong.  Doctor, please take some blood.  Tell me if you see anything.

Kristin:  Exactly.  That’s the only time I have.

Maja:  It’s the only time, right?  And so what CPL and Quest Diagnostics, what these companies do is they take a statistical average of all the people that, let’s say, had their TSH, thyroid stimulating thyroid, run.  And then they give you a clinical range of what is considered normal.  But what I like to highlight is that it’s just telling you what the average is of an increasingly unhealthy population, right?

Kristin:  Yes.

Maja:  So it’s telling you what’s common.  It’s not telling you what’s normal.  So if you take a look at the TSH clinical range, it can go anywhere between 0.5 and 6 or 7 or something crazy for some of these.  The lab ranges vary with the different lab companies.  Now, when I look at TSH, my functional range, which tells you what is optimal versus what is common, is 0.52.  So if your TSH came in at a 4 or a 5, that is well within a clinical range.  That being said, you probably have some symptoms of hypothyroid, right?  And so I always like to educate folks on, okay, if your doctor is saying that everything is normal, everything is in range, they are probably using clinical ranges that tell you what’s common, and I do not want to be compared to the average American in the United States.  We have, what, 80% obese and overweight rates.  I mean, type one diabetes, type two diabetes.  I do not want to be compared to what’s common in the US.  I want to be compared to what is optimal.  So when it comes to – that’s the first issue, right, with TSH.  Or I’m sorry, with running labs and the doctors being like, oh, it’s normal.  Well, the other things that they often do is just run TSH.  But I want to know what’s going on with your total T4.  What’s going on with your free T4.  What’s going on with total T3, free T3, T3 uptake, reverse T3, antibodies, TPG antibodies.  I want to know the ratio between total T3 and reverse T3.  I want to know the ratio between free T3 and reverse T3.  All of those, in addition to TSH, which is typically the only thing that a doctor will run.  They will not run a full thyroid panel.  And so that’s kind of the second issue that I find a lot, which is my clients say, okay, there’s no issue with thyroid, and I’m like, okay, well, what labs did they run?  Oh, just a TSH.  Okay, well, how about we run a full thyroid panel, and yeah, TSH was in range, but all of these other markers were not in range.  So if you don’t dig past the very surface, sometimes you don’t uncover some of the things that are an issue.

Kristin:  It’s all about being your own advocate and going deeper, yes.

Maja:  Yes, you have to be your own advocate.  I’m finding that right now.  Especially being pregnant, making some birthing decisions around what I’m doing, where I feel safe, and you do have to advocate for yourself.  And it’s a red flag if the doctor refuses to run the lab, and then red flag if you have symptoms and they tell you that everything is normal.  Because what they’re essentially saying is that you’re lying.

Kristin:  Yeah, and that’s hard.  So what’s your final tip?  You’ve given so many wonderful tips to our listeners, but if you were to give one final tip to our listeners who are either newly pregnant or in the postnatal recovery phase, what would that be?

Maja:  So I would say newly pregnant or postnatal recovery phase, I think that understanding what your mineral balance is like is mission critical.  I think that people do not talk about minerals as much as – ever.  I’ve never had a doctor be like, oh, I wonder what’s going on with your minerals.  And doing a hair tissue mineral analysis, I think, is one of the most powerful things that you can do.  This lab looks at mineral deposits in your hair.  And what I love about it is unlike blood work, which is a moment in time, this lab gives you a three-month snapshot into kind of what’s happening.  And so when it comes to minerals, there are primary, secondary, and tertiary minerals.  You want to kind of think about them like a triangle.  And at base are these primary minerals, so magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium.  If those four primary minerals are off, typically, there are a combination of other minerals that are off, because remember, they’re kind of at the base of the mineral triangle.  And minerals make up the earth, and they also make up our bodies.  And what a lot of people don’t understand is they help hundreds, if not thousands, of metabolic processes in the body.  So, for example, we talked about thyroid a little bit in our session today.  There are nine minerals that help in the conversion of T4, which is the inactive form of thyroid hormone, into the active form of thyroid hormone, which is T3.  So we can test T3 and T4 levels, but why am I not converting T4 to T3?  What most doctors and a lot of practitioners don’t understand is that there are minerals – there are cofactors that actually help in that conversion process.  And so I think minerals, understanding minerals, is the most important thing that you can do, and both prenatal and postpartum, it’s safe.  It’s calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium.  Those are all things that are in a typical prenatal, so it’s easy to kind of see what’s going on.  Magnesium is responsible for, like, RNA and DNA development.  I mean, muscle repair, some really, really important things.  And what I find in a lot of moms is that they have been – especially if you’ve been under stress for a really long time, you’re completely bottomed out.  You don’t have enough calcium, magnesium, sodium, or potassium.  And we don’t have enough time to get into why all of those are important, but they are very, very important.

Kristin:  Fascinating.  I could talk to you all day.  So much knowledge that you’re dropping.

Maja:  So I would say that is such a safe thing that you can do.  I’m not going to mess with hormones in pregnancy or really in the – most people shouldn’t mess with hormones ever, because hormones are rarely a problem.  They’re typically a symptom of the problem.  But there’s some things that we aren’t going to do when you’re in this delicate phase of growing a human or having just delivered a human.  But minerals is something that is so easy to do and easy – not easy to fix, but kind of easy to address.  That’s the one thing.  I’ve been on a big minerals kick where I just want to scream from the top of the mountains, like, check your minerals.

Kristin:  So how can our listeners find you?  I know you’re all over social media.  You’ve got a website.

Maja:  Yeah, I’m not a huge social media person, but you can find me on Facebook.  You can message me on Facebook.  I have a lot of content on my Facebook page around the labs and the work that I do.  But honestly, if you’re like, I want to talk to you, you can go to, and you can just fill out a quick little questionnaire and then just schedule a call with me.  I like to be really accessible.  I’m not going to pretend I’m inaccessible and you can’t talk to me.  Like, email me.  Go to and fill out that quick little questionnaire and set up a call, or you can message me on Facebook.  Messenger pigeon, smoke signals, whatever.  I’m really easy to get a hold of if you want to reach out.  And I know how hopeless and overwhelming a lot of this can feel because I’ve been there myself, and I’ve felt the disappointment of losing a pregnancy and really not knowing where to start.  People teach what they need to learn, so I was my first client.

Kristin:  I love it.

Maja:  So yeah, those are all the ways that people can get a hold of me.

Kristin:  Well, I loved chatting with you today, Maja.  Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our listeners.  I hope you have a great day.

Maja:  Thank you so much.  Same to you.

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