May 2024

Craniosacral Therapy for Infants with Meaghan Beames: Podcast Episode #240

Kristin Revere talks with Meaghan Beames of MyBaby Craniosacral Podcast and Beames CST Training Centre.  They discuss how craniosacral therapy can help babies cope with colic, latching issues, and growing pains that can make life with a newborn harder than it needs to be.       

Hello, hello!  This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am thrilled to chat with Meaghan Beames today.  Meaghan founded the Beames CST Training Centre, offering tailored global learning for health professionals.  Her mission is to ensure every family in North America has access to qualified craniosacral therapists to help their babies cope with colic, latching issues, and all the growing pains that can make life with a newborn harder than it needs to be.  In five years, she’s treated 700-plus babies, taught more than 100 health professionals CST, and built a thriving private practice in Toronto with multiple practitioners working under her.  Her knowledge goes beyond just the practical applications of body work and spreads out into being a leader and growing a business.  Meaghan is also the host of the MyBaby Craniosacral Podcast with over 40 episodes and 5000 downloads.  Welcome!

Thank you so much!

So happy to have you here!  Our topic today is all about craniosacral therapy and how it can support the bonding and attachment between parents and infants after birth.

Yeah, thank you so much for having me.  This is, obviously, my favorite topic to talk about, craniosacral.  So I’m really looking forward to our chat today.

Would you please explain what craniosacral therapy is for our listeners who haven’t yet accessed this care or just aren’t familiar?

For sure!  So I realize, first off, that the name is long and hard to pronounce.  Some people say cranial sacral, so that it’s easier for them to wrap their mind around.  And a lot of times, people think, oh, cranial sacral, that must have something to do with the head and the sacrum.  But in fact, it actually has to do with the entire body.  So it is an extremely gentle, hands-on healing modality, kind of like massage, but it’s a lot more, let’s say, accurate and pinpointed to very specific areas.  And we treat fascia as opposed to muscles as one would in massage.  So craniosacral just helps to release tension in the body that could be causing this baby to have symptoms that are really troublesome, and the first thing that – well, not every parent, but the first thing that a lot of adults think when I say that there’s tension in a baby’s body is that, well, that’s not possible because this baby was born.  The assumption is that over time and over a period of years, we produce tightness and restrictions in our body that create pain, but that’s not true.  If you think of yourself getting injured really quickly – let’s say you were in a car accident, and it was not even a high speed, just kind of like a fender bender, and at that high speed, you get this neck jolt, right?  And you might feel that neck jolt for a while.  Right?  You  might feel it for months after, and that was a really quick thing.  And babies, when they’re in utero or when they’re being born, they can experience things that cause areas of their body to become tight, and they might feel pain within a couple of months or even a couple of hours after birth.  So this is what we’re doing is trying to release some of that tension that causes pain.

Yes, and as you mentioned, it’s very light touch.  So I know whether it’s chiropractic care or CST, some of our clients have questions about, again, doing any hands-on work with an infant.

For sure.  And that’s the thing.  The first question that parents think is, well, is this going to hurt my baby?  And, no.  If I have a parent who comes into my office who is apprehensive – they’ve been told, like, you really need to bring your baby in to see this person because she’s going to really help – they’re apprehensive because they’re worried it’s going to hurt them, but what I do is I demonstrate just how gentle the touch is on the parents’ hand, usually, and they’re like, oh, that’s it?  Are you even doing anything?  Because it’s so gentle that it does not hurt.  In fact, it often does the opposite.  It takes this baby who is experiencing pain, and they’re all scrunched up and their face is – their brow is furrowed, and then their arms relax, the shoulders come away from the ears, their face softens, and they’re in this peaceful sleep.  So it has the opposite effect.

Beautiful.  One of the common conditions that I will send doula clients to a craniosacral therapist is just feeding concerns where there might be a preference for one breast over the other, for example, and difficulty with latch.  So can we start with feeding as a reason to see a craniosacral therapist?

Yeah, that is probably our number one reason why folks bring their babies in to have this done for them.  When it comes to side preference – again, adults really have a hard time understanding that a baby can experience tightness or pain, right?  So they have this side preference because when they go into, let’s say, they prefer the left breast, let’s say.  That means that they like to turn their body to their right, if they prefer the left breast, right?  And if they don’t like going to the right breast, a lot of times it feels like a stretch in their body when they’re trying to bring themselves to the opposite side.  So it feels like their muscles are stretching and they’re going to bring themselves back into that side preference, or what I like to call it is a position of comfort, rather than a side preference, because a side preference has a negative connotation whereas a position of comfort is like, oh, they feel uncomfortable on the other side.  This is their comfortable side.  And so I want them to feel comfortable in all positions, and that’s what CST does is it helps to eliminate these restrictions in their body that’s keeping them from feeling comfortable no matter what position they’re in.

Excellent.  And it makes a big difference.  I’ve seen a change almost instantly with clients.  And then colic is another reason to see a CST.  Our postpartum doulas who are in the home day and night navigating reflux and colic would then also give referrals for that reason.  Can you explain the benefits for colicky babies?

Yeah, and again, colic is an overarching umbrella term for a baby who cries a lot.  So when somebody who comes into my office says, I think my baby has colic, my immediate thought is, what is causing this baby to experience pain?  Colic is not a diagnosis.  It’s just an umbrella term.  So when these babies are coming in, I want to feel through their body and a lot of times, they’ve got some tension between their should blades or in their low back that is causing them some pain.  So this tension can cause them to be gassy and grunt all the time.  It can cause them to have slow bowel movements, or they’re just straining to poop, so they’ve got really distended bellies or they’re just grunting all the time.

Yes, very grunty, right.

Right?  And then the parents can’t sleep at night because the baby’s grunting all night and they can’t pass gas.  Our job as a CST is to find the areas of the body that are tight that are causing these signs and symptoms, right?  We get a whole list of all of the other things that are going on.  When are they crying?  What does it sound like when they’re crying?  Are they pooping?  What’s it like when they’re pooping?  Are they feeding?  Are they swallowing a lot of air?  What’s happening in their mouth?  Do they have a distended belly?  Do they have an outie belly button?  Do they have a side preference?  So we almost go in and do diagnostic work.  I like to say it’s like a mechanic.  We tinker around and make sure the engine is working properly, just because – the other thing I like to say is that the body is supposed to work, and when it’s not working, there’s something going on that’s keeping it from its optimal working status.  So that’s what we like to do is find what’s keeping it from working optimally and make it feel better so that what is naturally supposed to happen, happens.

Yes, makes sense!  And then if our clients have experienced an elongated pushing time where it was hard for baby’s head to emerge or there were any traumas related to the birth itself, then certainly, we do refer.  Do you want to address whether it’s, like, say, vacuum or forceps or just a longer pushing phase, why it would be helpful to see a craniosacral therapist?

Yeah, and I’ll add to that, that actually very fast births – so let’s say the birth was an hour and a half, first contraction to born, or a really long birth – let’s say 24 hours-plus.  I find that I will see very similar signs and symptoms in these babies, and they both need CST just as much as the other.  Then, also, babies who have this beautiful – what I also like to say is rose petals in the bathtub birth where it’s like mama is saying ohm the whole time – they also need CST.  Being born, no matter what way, is difficult for this baby because they’re trying to get through a hole that is smaller than themselves and did not and had to get out a different way, or they did fit through a hole that is smaller than themselves.  So no matter what, it’s going to be traumatic, but this brings us back to that fascia that I was talking about at the very beginning.  The fascia is a protective tissue, and when we are either being pulled too much or pushed too much or too quickly – let’s say whiplash in a car crash – this fascia tightens and contracts to protect what’s underneath it, and that’s its job, and it’s doing a great job.  But then it doesn’t relax after like a muscle does.  So no matter what way this baby is being born, this fascia becomes tight, and it can cause things like a jaw that is moved off to one side, so an asymmetrical latch.  It can cause their cranial bones to shift out of normal range, so maybe they’re getting a flat head or maybe they’re getting a flat head on one side, or they’ve got a really long head.  And that has a lot to do with the fascia.  So we just help to loosen and let that fascia go so that things can settle into, let’s say, normal range, “normal range,” or optimal range.

It’s really, really cool.  And this also helps with restorative emotion.  They call it implicit emotions or memories, right, and with those implicit memories come emotions, and so being born is difficult, and we as humans, even you and I, both have stored memories and emotions from our own births that we can let go of using this CST because it’s stored in the fascia, those memories.  And so once we release that –

Yeah, our body does store so much!

Absolutely, and we have no idea how much that affects us day to day until we let go of it.  So that’s what CST is really useful for is to really help us as humans process the events that have happened in our lives, process them in a way that we don’t have to just hold on to them and keep them, especially if they’re not serving us.

Right.  And certainly with surgical births, there is still a need for CST.  It’s not just those quick or elongated pushing phases with a vaginal birth, but also babies born via Cesarean.

Correct, whether scheduled or emergency or even crash, those babies still spent time in this person’s pelvis, and they could have gotten – maybe they were breach, and I find actually that breach babies, they’ve got this one spot in their lower spine that causes them to have so much gas.  So much grunting.


I call it the breach spot, where we just release it and give the parents some massage and home care so that it doesn’t keep getting tight again to help the baby to poop and pass gas.  No matter what, this baby still spent time in a space that was too small for them, and that can cause the body – I like to give other visuals.  Let’s say you were sleeping on the couch, and your head was kind of twisted off to one side just a little bit for a little too long, and you wake up, and you’re like, oh, my neck hurts.  Let’s now put a baby in that position and then scrunch it up a little bit more with tissue and keep it there for a couple of weeks, and just imagine how much their neck might hurt if you move it off to one side.  A lot of the times, that’s why they want to keep their head turned to one side because it doesn’t feel good turning to the other way.   And I find that the babies who were born via C-section have this, and so I see them a lot in my practice.

Excellent.  I love the visuals.  I can totally picture what they’re going through.

Yeah, and if you see those videos of babies in an MRI, just how cramped they are.  It just makes sense.

It does.  And so when should parents be seeking care, and is there a point where it’s too late to really make a difference?

No, there’s never a too late, and there isn’t a too early.  So as you mentioned at the beginning, I do teach this, but I also practice it, and I can actually do CST on a baby in utero.  I can feel just by holding on the to mom’s belly – yeah, I can kind of move the baby around and just feel what’s happening in their body, and I can do a CST session with them.  I’m going to do one, actually, in about an hour.

I love it so much!

I believe she’s 38 weeks today, so I’m going to do a CST session on her today.  So there’s never too early.  I would like to say – and I know in your book, we are listed as people you need to plan for or health professionals you should plan for, honestly.  Even if your baby doesn’t have major symptoms, having someone do an assessment of your baby within days of birth can eliminate or prevent things like failure to thrive, losing weight, painful nipples or sore and cracked nipples, an extra trip to the hospital because your baby is just, like, scream-crying because they’re so hungry but they aren’t feeding well.  So just planning to have this baby have a nice, relaxing CST session within days of their birth will really help eliminate some of those really stressful periods that some parents go through.

And how do parents find craniosacral therapists, whether they’re trained by you – I know you mentioned that you’ve taught over 100 health professional CSTs – or trained by other reputable groups?

Yeah, so word of mouth is best.  Go with someone who – if you know someone who has seen someone, go with them.  Or you can look up CST through either Upledger or Beames, or there are some who will do CFT.  It’s very similar.  They have a different approach, CFT to CST.  So doing your research on what you feel as a parent you would prefer – again, they’re very similar, just a different type of mentality and approach to the care.  But I would just say, go with someone who – if you look up their website and you’re like, oh, I’d jive with them, or I can sense their vibe, and I think that I would feel the same way that they do – go with that, because this is – this is your baby, and you want someone who’s going to respect you and your baby and how you are parenting and how you would parent, because they’re also going to give you advice, maybe unsolicited, but hopefully not.  But they’re going to give you homecare and things that you can do to help things be better for your baby.  Again, you want to make sure that this person has similar values to you.

That makes sense.  So as far as payment, how many visits would be typical?  Of course, each infant is unique, but just on average, how many times would you see a family?  And then how would they pay for treatment?

So first, I’m going to say, for the babies who the parents at the very beginning are worried about their baby’s head shape, go see a CST practitioner as soon as possible.  Your baby’s head shape is probably out of alignment due to fascial restrictions that’s keeping them stuck in that position, and seeing a CST practitioner is going to help them to have more range of motion and get those bones to line up in a little bit better or more optimal position.  So for the babies who have head shape concerns, those ones we typically see 3 to 6 or 4 to 8 times over the course of, let’s say, six months.  For the first few sessions, it would be weekly for about a month, and then after that, it would be a little bit more maintenance.  So it could be anywhere from, again, 3 to 8 sessions for the ones who have head shape concerns.

The ones who have latching concerns, we usually see them about three sessions, but some babies where the parents are like, I just want to see how things are going – we usually just see them once.

And then prices range anywhere from $120 for an hour up to $215 for an hour.  Again, the person who is charging over $200, make sure they’ve been doing this a while.  If they’ve been doing it for, let’s say, five months, and they’re charging over $200, they haven’t learned enough.  To be very blatant and clear about this, they have not learned enough.  You might not see the best results just because you’re paying higher prices.  Higher price doesn’t always mean better service or better results.  So just make sure that if you are paying higher prices, perhaps they have a team approach.  Maybe they’ve been doing it for a long time.  Maybe they’ve had training from multiple different schools.  And check Google reviews.  Make sure you check the Google reviews because parents tell the truth there.  They really do.

They do, agreed.  And then you can obviously use like a health savings or flex spending, as well?

Well, I’m Canadian, so I don’t know what it’s like in the States.  But if your listeners are generally American, most CST practitioners have a license to touch or are IBCLCs, and so sometimes you can put it under or through insurance or a super bill.  I’ve heard of something like that.

Sure, that makes sense for the feeding-related concerns, if they’re seeing an IBCLC who’s also a CST.  Okay.  And then as far as other tips for our listeners that are interested in CST or think their baby may benefit from it, what do you have to offer, Meaghan?

I would say the sooner the better, but it’s never too late.  A lot of parents are like, well, what benefits am I going to really see?  I have no idea.  Why would I go?  I don’t know what I would – I don’t know what good this will do.  No, you’re absolutely right.  You won’t know until you go and see what can get better because the worst thing that can happen is nothing gets better.  But that almost never happens.  So know that there is something that we can help with, even if it’s just – we can get your baby to go into tummy time for longer.  Know that that is a benefit, a lifelong benefit, because that’s brain development.  That’s meeting milestones better and faster, and that is lifelong benefit.  So if you’re on the fence about it, the answer I would recommend, go just even once and see.  But bring food.  So make sure your baby is fed.  Always bring something to eat because they get so hungry in the session.  Bring milk.  Don’t worry about, oh, it’s their naptime or something like that.  Sometimes we can even get them to fall asleep in the session, so they can have their nap in the session.

You mentioned in your bio that you also work with growing pains?  Can you elaborate on that?

Yeah, for sure.  These babies who had a side preference for nursing generally then have a side preference for crawling.  And so they’re going to be those ones where it’s like, oh, let’s take a video.  This baby crawls so funny.  But it’s like, okay, but what does that mean about their body?  That means they have a position of comfort and a position of discomfort.  So what’s keeping this baby from feeling comfortable on all fours, and again, what I mentioned earlier is meeting milestones and brain development.  If they’re only crawling with one leg, that means they are dominant on one side of their brain and less dominant on the other.  And we need both sides of the brain to develop simultaneously in order for milestones such as reading.  Maybe sometimes dyslexia can happen if this baby doesn’t crawl properly.  Maybe sometimes even speech is difficult.  So making sure that this baby crawls with both legs.  Again, we can help them to feel comfortable on both legs.  And when it comes to speech, let’s say this baby turns into a toddler who doesn’t like solids.  That can later produce a child who has a speech impediment.  So it’s just something where if you see early signs, do something about it because they don’t just “grow out of it.”  They grow into it.  They compensate for what’s not working properly.

So the earlier you help, usually, the less struggles you have later.

It affects so many different areas beyond feeding and issues with colic or just unhappy babies.  Thank you for explaining all of the different benefits and conditions that CST can support.

Oh, the one that I really want to say is sinus congestion and ear infections.  Go see a CST.  A lot of times, it’s just that there’s poor drainage because of fascial tension, and the amount of times I’ve seen a toddler come in who’s had recurrent ear infections – I do a couple of releases in their ears and in their neck, and they never get an ear infection again after that.  That one is a big one.

Amazing!  That can be so stressful on families dealing with the constant ear infections.  And it could potentially even avoid tubes then later, correct?

Absolutely.  It avoids antibiotic use.  It avoids serious pain and screaming all night long, but also the antibiotic use affects gut, right?  And that can lead to poor gut, which can lead to allergies or sensitivities or leaky gut or all of these things.  It’s so much more than just making sure that this kid doesn’t have to have ear infections anymore.

So how can our listeners connect with you, whether they are a parent looking for help or a health care professional who is interested in training with you?  What are the different websites and social media channels that you would like to send our listeners to?

For sure!  For parents, I have MyBaby CST.  That is on Instagram.  That has a lot more educational information for parents.  That’s also the website,  And I’ve got my podcast on that one, as well.  Then also for health professionals who are wondering, maybe this is for me.  I would like to be able to do CST.  I have the school, which is Beames CST.  That’s also our Instagram handle.

Excellent!  Thank you so much, and we’ll have to have you on again, Meaghan!

Amazing!  Thank you, Kristin!


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Kristen Revere guest on Plus Mommy Podcast with pink background

How to Build Your Birth and Postpartum Support Team

Kristin Revere was a guest on the Plus Mommy podcast to talk about setting yourself up for success by creating a strong support team for birth and postpartum.  Listen to the podcast here

A strong support team can significantly impact your overall experience and well-being, from physical and emotional support to guidance through the complexities of childbirth and early parenthood.

Let’s delve into the importance of creating a solid team for birth and postpartum with insights from Kristen Revere, an elite birth and postpartum doula.

Kristen shares her expertise on assembling a dream team of professionals, the benefits of having a doula, and practical tips for finding and affording the support you need.

Join us as we explore the various types of birth support team members, the value of postpartum care, and the strategies to make these essential services accessible.

Whether you’re an expectant parent or a birth professional, you’ll gain valuable information to help you navigate this transformative journey.

Benefits of Hiring a Doula

When it comes to birth support, the first thing that often comes to mind is a doula, so let’s begin there.

A doula provides continuous physical, emotional, and educational support, reducing the need for interventions and increasing overall satisfaction, even if the birth plan changes.

Doulas are familiar with hospital policies and can help navigate decisions by providing information on the risks, benefits, and alternatives to non-emergent interventions.

The evidence is clear: doula support leads to better outcomes and higher satisfaction rates.

Finding the Right Doula

When interviewing doulas, consider their experience, personality, and budget.

Look for doulas with specific training or certification in areas that are important to you, such as a size-friendly doula who has completed size-inclusivity training.

A good fit between you and your doula is crucial!

Postpartum Doula Support

Postpartum doulas offer invaluable support to the entire family, not just the newborn.

They assist with household tasks, accompany clients to appointments, provide sibling care, and offer emotional support for the family.

This holistic approach helps ensure the family feels supported and cared for during the critical postpartum period.

Creating Your Support Team

Building a birth and postpartum support team goes well beyond hiring a doula.

Kristen emphasizes identifying your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum goals if you’re wondering where to start.

Whether it’s trying to avoid induction or seeking Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), having a clear understanding of your goals helps in assembling the right team.

It’s essential to have open conversations with your care provider early on to ensure they are on board with your preferences.

Types of Birth Support Team Members

In addition to doulas, there are several key professionals and support team members you might consider for your birth and postpartum journey:

  • MidwivesCertified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) and home birth midwives can provide personalized care throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
  • Lactation Consultants: International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) offer specialized lactation support.
  • Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists: These specialists help with recovery and strengthening post-birth, addressing issues such as incontinence and pelvic pain.
  • ChiropractorsChiropractors can help with prenatal adjustments to align your body for an optimal birth.
  • Acupuncturists: Prenatal acupuncture can support overall wellness, reduce stress, and prepare your body for labor.
  • Mental Health Therapists: Therapists specializing in perinatal mood disorders can provide crucial support for mental health during and after pregnancy.
  • Sleep Consultants: Postpartum sleep consultants assist in establishing healthy sleep patterns for your baby, which can significantly impact the entire family’s well-being.
  • Childbirth Educators: Classes on childbirth, breastfeeding, and newborn care can prepare you for the journey ahead, providing valuable knowledge and confidence.

Supporting the Cost of Your Birth and Postpartum Team

Here are several strategies for making these essential services more accessible:

  • Insurance Coverage: Check if your insurance covers services like physical therapy, lactation consulting, and chiropractic care. Some states now include doulas in their Medicaid programs.
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs): Use these pre-tax accounts to pay for eligible services, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Employer Benefits: Some companies offer maternity benefits that include coverage for doulas and other support services.
  • Community Resources: Look for nonprofit organizations and hospital programs that offer doula services and other support on a sliding scale or for free.
  • Registries and Gift Funds: Instead of traditional baby gifts, set up a registry for support services through platforms where friends and family can contribute.
  • Personal Budgeting: Prioritize your spending based on your birth and postpartum goals. Consider reallocating funds from non-essential items to invest in support services that will benefit your family’s well-being.

Whether through a doula, community resources, or personal support networks, having the right team in place can make a significant difference in your experience.


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Tips for Supporting New Parents with Lizzie Williams: Podcast Episode #239

Tips for supporting your friends who just had a baby with former Gold Coast Doulas client, Lizzie Williams.  Kristin and Lizzie chat about everything from creating an intentional baby registry to her top tips for supporting new parents in the latest episode of Ask the Doulas.  Lizzie contributed to our new book, Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby. 

Hello, hello!  This is Kristin with Ask the Doulas, and I am thrilled to chat with my friend Lizzie Williams.  Lizzie has a background in marketing and communications and lives in Grand Rapids with her husband, two teenage stepsons, and their two-year-old daughter.  Lizzie was a student in the Becoming A Mother course and also utilized our postpartum doula services.

Hey, Lizzie!

Hey, Kristin!

I am so excited to chat with you.  You have been such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to spreading the word about support options, and you were recently featured in a local magazine with tips on supporting parents and friends and had so much helpful advice that I asked you to hop on Ask the Doulas.

Yeah, I’m excited to be on.  I’ve been what they call a long time listener, first time caller.

I love it!  Thanks for listening.  So what are some of your tips?  I know in both the Becoming A Mother course and just sharing in our group and also in your article and in the contribution to our upcoming book, Supported, you had talked a lot about how before you had kids, you didn’t really know how to support friends who were expecting or new parents.

Yeah, totally.  I felt like when I had my daughter, Betty, it was like people came out of the woodwork with support and love and were pouring into me and my husband and our kids in ways that I was blown away by.  And I’m like, how do you guys know how to do this?  How did you know that I would need that thing, or that this little moment would mean so much to me?  So I was talking, actually, with a coworker about it at the time who didn’t have kids herself, and she was just like, can you just give me some info on – now that you know how people can show up for you, can you share that with others so that the rest of us can be better friends and better family members?  And I was like yeah, I’m going to take some notes!  So I’ve actually been thinking about this for almost two years because of that, because of my friend Andrea kind of asking those questions.

So I did take some notes and tried to really pay attention to the things that people did for us that were really helpful and just made that transition into being a parent of a newborn a little bit easier.  Of course, my Becoming course crew was also, I would say, a critical little group of people.  I was thinking about it last night because my daughter is having some leap regression as a toddler, and I was in her bedroom at 1:00 in the morning, and I was having flashbacks to late night feedings where you’re just scrolling your phone.  And I would post sometimes on a private social media channel for the students that were in your Becoming course, and I would post on there, does anybody know anything about this?  Whatever it was.  Almost inevitably, somebody by 8:00 a.m., by the morning, would have responded to me, like, “Reaching out!  Here’s a couple things I’ve thought about!”  So I guess I would say my first note is finding a community and being a community.  Whether you’ve had kids already or not, new parents need community and need the classic village to support them and love them, and as a new parent, you also need to accept that.

Absolutely.  Whether it’s a new parent support group or a breastfeeding group or something virtual like the Becoming A Mother course, people who are going through the same thing at the same time.  It’s so important because, again, whether it’s teething or sleep regressions or baby proofing your house, things come up.  I know with my kids, being preteens, so much has changed since I was in the early parenting phase that my advice, if I wasn’t a doula and working with newborns and pregnant individuals, I wouldn’t have that ability to give good advice.

Oh, my gosh, yes.  My husband has two older kids, so I have teenagers that I live with, as you mentioned, so 18 and 14.  And I would say to him, Steve, what’s going on here?  What is this thing that this baby is doing?  What do we need to know?  And he’s like, I can’t even remember, both because it had been a while, and it’s such a blur when you’re in it.  And things change.  Recommendations change.  He was like, I have to relearn all this stuff right along with you.

Absolutely.  Things from safe sleep to just feeding options.  Bottles are so different.  Pumps are so different.  It all changes constantly, and technology being involved in parenting, whether it’s the monitors and things that are just beyond what I had as a new parent.

Yes.  I guess within that vein is helping people, if they don’t have that network of others, whether it’s moms or dads or support people – helping them find that can be really critical.  Recently, I started a little new moms group for people specifically who are new to West Michigan, which is where I live.  And it was mostly because if you’re new to the area and you also don’t have anyone in your life that’s got a baby, it can be super isolating.  That was a space that I knew I could help a few people find connection in.  And I love seeing the texts like, okay, can somebody help me with this one thing?  It is walking along the path with people who are at the same stage as you.  It can be hugely impactful.

Exactly.  That is so beautiful, and especially if they don’t have friends or family nearby.  We have so many people moving to West Michigan for work, and no matter where you are in the country, people are moving more than ever.  But I also find that many clients have lived in other cities and states and then end up moving back before their baby is born to get that support from family.  So it goes kind of both ways, either moving here for work, or moving back and not having friends or that support network, other than the grandparents. 

Totally.  And even in that regard, my mom was so sweet.  My mom lives in the area, and I was again thinking about it in prep for this podcast, but it’s like, I think my mom called me every single day for the first four months that my daughter was here, and it was such a gift to have that, knowing that she was going to call and knowing that I was going to have somebody to be able to talk to.  But even that, again, she didn’t – she wasn’t the person I was going to for specifics.  She was just showing me love.  And you need both.  I needed to just know that I was loved and cared for and could tell somebody a stupid story, but then I also needed other mom friends who I could ask those more specific questions for the people who are in the weeds with you.  Like, I’m six and a half weeks.  What am I looking for?  What is my baby going to do tomorrow?  And these other parents kind of show up and say, okay, I’m at seven and a half weeks, and here’s what I’m seeing.  You kind of need both, people in the trenches with you and then people just loving on you, checking in on you, asking how you’re doing.  It’s definitely a combo, I would say.

Absolutely.  And yeah, we have a grandparents class just for that reason, to try to get grandparents who want to help up to speed on everything from car seats to childproofing their home.  Many grandparents are now caregivers when maternity and paternity leave ends just because we’re in a childcare crisis right now.  It’s almost forced on grandparents, and they don’t know all of the changes in feeding and sleep.  So that’s been utilized more recently than even when we started Gold Coast and introduced it.

That’s a great idea.  I didn’t know that you did that, but I can totally imagine how it helps sort of neutralize some of those conversations as well, instead of as a mom or dad, that you’re like asking your parents to do something differently than how they did it, having a neutral party like Gold Coast coming in and just providing up to date information.  It would be super helpful.

Right.  Those conversations can be awkward.


So what are your tips for friends who maybe haven’t had kids to support their friends and family members who are going through a major life change, whether it’s baby number one or baby number three?  There are still a lot of care that’s needed in this isolating time.

Totally.  I think for me, and maybe this is because I’m not someone that loves to cook, and cooking always feel kind of like a chore at our house between my husband and I, but the meal train was an absolute gift.  I think my sister was the one who set it up, but we had people dropping off meals probably three times a week for the first couple months.  And it was amazing.  And some days, I was feeling like I wanted to hide and I was not prepared to see anyone, and I remember one of my friends dropped off something on the porch, and I literally – she almost saw me, and I crawled into my office so she wouldn’t see me because I was just like, I do not have the energy to talk.  I can’t do this right now.  And then other days when somebody would be dropping something off, I would have a jolt of energy, or I’d just want to talk.  And so the meal train was nourishing for our bodies, and it took something huge off our plate, which was meal prep, but it also allowed an opportunity to either see people if you wanted to.  Even just a couple minute conversation when you’re in the trenches can be a real life saver at times, and it can give you kind of a perspective shift if you’re feeling a little off, which you do feel off.

You do, absolutely.  And to have adult company even for a few minutes can make a big difference.  The days can be really long when partners are going back to work and you’re in an empty house with this baby and exhausted and feeling like you’re constantly feeding.  No matter how you feed, there’s still that feeling like it never ends. 

Yes.  So I would say that was my number one biggest thing, help with some meals.  There’s an online website called Meal Train where people can actually put in if you’ve got dietary restrictions or how many kids are in the home.  You can kind of customize to what your own family’s needs are, which can be really helpful because then it doesn’t leave people wondering, oh, I don’t know if she eats dairy.  You know, it just allows you to put all that information out there, and then your friends are able to support you in a way that feels good to you.  That was great.  And it’s funny; I had met a friend recently who moved from Chicago, and she had her third baby.  We set up a meal train for her, and she was like, what is this?  This is amazing.  I’ve never felt so cared for.  And I’m like, yeah.  You need it not just for the first kid.  You need it for any kid, or even major surgery.  It’s just such a good way to support people with whatever challenge they’re going through in life.  It just takes such a big burden off their plate.

Absolutely.  And I feel like there’s so much more attention spent on the first baby, but you often need that support more when you have other kids at home.  You even mentioned the teenagers that need to eat all of the time.  It’s so important.

Yes.  So that’s my number one is help nourish people because your body – especially if somebody’s breastfeeding, their body is just going through a lot.  Another thing that a couple of my girlfriends did that I was not aware of was they made little lactation cookies or even these little lactation muffin bites that were just packed with veggies and healthy grains and low on sugar, and they were for those late nights when you need a nibble.  For me, having never done this before, I was not prepared for how often I was finding myself hungry, as somebody who was breastfeeding.  I need a lot of snacks!

Absolutely.  And to keep up supply requires a lot of hydration.  Sometimes the extra like you mentioned, the teas and cookies, can make a big difference.

Yes.  Even a delicious drink was so thoughtful and so nice.  One of my girlfriends works around my house, and she would drop off a little coffee for me.  It’s such a little thing, but it was so thoughtful.  Or a little kombucha, just something to serve as a little delight in your day.  It can feel so profound in these moments when you’re just really beat, really tired, and really overwhelmed.  Those little moments of love that people have the opportunity to show you are both easy for them and very meaningful for you.

Yes.  And food is such an act of service and love, whether you make it yourself for someone or you utilize a catering or delivery service.


I know for friends of mine out of town, I will utilize a service.  A friend had twins, and I had food delivered for her and her husband after that first night.

Totally.  The same for me.  One of my girlfriends, after I had my daughter – she had a little boy – and she lives in a different state.  And so I’m like, oh, man, I wish I could help her in this way that others have been helping me.  But I just ended up sending her a Door Dash gift card, and I could just text it to her, and maybe it’s not as amazing, but if it made her life just a little bit easier, then it’s worth it.

Yes, absolutely.  So, Lizzie, outside of gift cards and meals, what are your other tips for supporting new parents?

I think inviting them on a walk can be a really nice way to both help them kind of get outside, get some fresh air, and also just sort of meet them where they are.  That was something helpful for me, at least, because it meant that they were coming to me, so I didn’t have to load the baby up in the car seat and sort of go somewhere.  It could be as simple as just walking down your street, or you could go for a longer cruise.  For me, when I would go with some of my friends who were already parents, it was an opportunity for me to pepper them with questions, basically, and say what about this?  What about this?  What about this?  And that was very helpful.  It was just like dedicated time together, but I felt like I wasn’t having to step away from my baby to get it, if that makes sense.

It does!  It’s hard to find a sitter.  You often don’t want to leave your baby as an early parent, and so it’s nice to have that community and also be able to get some vitamin D and do some light exercise.  It’s so important.

So that was a really helpful one for me.  Sometimes one of my friends would offer to run an errand with me, which was, again, so helpful.  If you’re just popping in to a couple little places – for me, there’s a bakery nearby that I love to go to – and it’s like, cool, if she can just hop in the car with me – again, so I don’t have to be unloading the car seat and putting it back in, because that is heavy.  Much heavier than I anticipated.

And you’re not supposed to be lifting after delivery, so it’s like you want to avoid some of that, and to have a friend in the car to help is huge, or a doula!

Exactly.  Those little things – that’s for your super close kind of besties that you’re like, get in the car.  We’re running errands, you know?  But that can be anyone.  And I also actually found that specifically for my friends who didn’t have kids yet, one thing that was really nice is that they could come over after my daughter was asleep, and that was such a gift because my sister, for example, who had an 18-month-old when my daughter was born – we really couldn’t see each other in the evenings because we were both kind of doing nighttime routines, whereas my brother and his girlfriend, now his wife, they could pop over and come over at 8:00.  They could bring some snacks or we could play a game and kind of feel back to normal a little bit because they had the flexibility around time.  It was so nice having a blend of friends who didn’t have kids and friends who do have kids so that you can kind of balance out your world a little bit.

Yeah, it is helpful to have family at a similar stage.  I have a lot of siblings, and I was pregnant at the same time as two of my sisters-in-law, so going through all of those life stages at the same time was very helpful, and dealing with holidays and family meals and so on – it made it so much easier to have family with babies a similar age.

Definitely.  A couple other things that came to my mind: one is so simple, but I really noticed it when I went back to work.  When people asked about my daughter by her name, it just – I don’t know, it kind of shifted something in my heart, I guess, where I’d be like, oh, this person really cares about me.  They’re really listening and they’re really paying attention and they’re not just asking about like, oh, how’s the baby?  They’re saying, how’s Betty?  It was like, I’m listening.  I care about you.  And just hearing that when you’re on a work call or in a board room or whatever, it can just soften your whole approach in a way that I felt was really meaningful to me.  That’s just a simple one that I think that anybody could kind of take note of, I guess.

So what are your other tips?  I know you have many!

I know, I’ve got so many different ways of thinking about things.  I think a couple things that I just didn’t think about how nice they would be – I did not expect how much clothes you would go through at the early stages.  Every time my aunt would come over, she would kind of casually leave behind a little PJ set or whatever, and I’m like, why does she keep leaving these pjs?  All of a sudden I’m like, oh, it’s because we’re going through a bazillion onesies.  Oh, because these are very helpful to have more of.  I would say even just leaving something little if you are stopping by was so sweet.  The board books – again, I kind of thought, okay, these are going to be just for the little babies, but my daughter is two, and she still loves looking through board books.  They last a while, and so anytime you can kind of think about something that’s related to maybe you and your friend or your family member that would make that board book a little special for the baby and for the parent.  For example, I worked in technology, so we would send out to all of our employees that had babies a little book about little baby technologists and first words in tech.  It’s something related to that, where even now that I don’t work there even now, but when I read that book to my daughter, I still have fond memories of my colleagues who sent that to me.  So put in a tiny little extra mental energy and try to think about something that relates to you or your relationship to your friend, family member, or coworker, whoever it is that added that little baby to their lives.

That’s so thoughtful.  And it is great when employers are able to put together care packages that sort of tie into the work that you do but also value you as a parent and want to support you in that journey.

Absolutely.  Yeah, it is so nice.  One of my other coworkers, she actually went online and found my baby registry.  I didn’t send it to her.  She just searched and found it, and then when my daughter was born, she shipped some items that hadn’t been purchased, and they showed up at my house.  It was so sweet, so thoughtful.  It didn’t take that much effort from her; it just took a little bit of intentionality.  And it really was just such a sweet surprise from her.  So that was another good one.  And then care packages that also focus on the parents or the other kids in the home, if there are other kids in the home, can be so sweet, just reminding them that they are human.  Any little treats for them can be really nice.  Like some cozy new slippers or a blanket.  My sister-in-law got me a little basket, and it had some lotions and lip gloss and things like that, not things I had ever bought myself recently, so it was just a little treat, you know?

That is so thoughtful, and I agree because sometimes after delivery, it becomes all about the baby, or if there are multiple, babies.  And the mother and the other parent often feel neglected.  It’s like, well, I went through this, and what about me?  So the fact that friends or employers are also focusing on the parent as well as gifts for baby.

Exactly.  And in that vein, another thing that can be so nice for the parents is taking a few pictures.  If you are over and visiting and you’re holding the baby, to just snap a few pictures of them.  I mentioned this in my article, but it’s like in the moment they might text you those photos and you might be like, what?  Why did you take that picture?  Because you’re exhausted and you have bags under your eyes and you’re wearing pajamas that you’ve been wearing for three days.  I get it.  But long term, that was you in the moment, and that is the special time that I think you can look back on later and be really grateful for those little kind of candid moments that some of your friends snap.  Again, that’s such a simple little thing, but it can be so sweet.

It’s all about the thought, just showing that you care.  That seems to be your major theme.

I think that is it, and trying to anticipate things that the parents might not be able to anticipate themselves right now.  Another big thing, which again, the doula support also helped me out with this, is helping around the house with little things.  Like when my postpartum doula would come over and I would be breastfeeding, that was a thing that I kind of had to do on my own.  So while I was doing that, she would say, hey, what can I do around here?  And of course, for so many of us, the answer is, oh, nothing.  Nothing.  It’s fine.  I’m fine.

It can be hard to ask for help, but that’s what we’re there for.

One of the suggestions that she gave me was, why don’t you write down a couple things before I come, and that way, you’ve already thought about it, and it’s written down, and then I can just come over and start doing those things.  So I had gotten a hand-me-down stroller, and it had lived in somebody’s garage for a while, so it had some cobwebs and things like that.  So that was on my little list of things that I was going to try to tackle over the next week or so.  And she was like, I’ve got this.  I can do it.  And so she just helped me out and started dusting it off, and by the time I was done breastfeeding – even that little amount of effort that she put made the stroller a thousand times better looking and ready to go.  She could help me tackle these little tasks that there’s just so many of.  There’s so many little tasks when you’re operating minute by minute.  So being able to ask your friends or family or people that you are letting into your home – let them do a couple things for you.  Let them load the dishwasher.  Let them throw something in the washing machine or fold something that’s in the dryer.  Let them do it.  I guess that would be a note for the parents themselves, but as the caregivers and the people that are showing love and support, just be ready to kind of jump up and start doing and let them kind of guide you on what they’re comfortable with.

Yeah, and depending on the parents’ personality, a list might be easier.  There are some of those printable checklists that you can put on your fridge if family or friends come in after a new baby.  You can list things like unloading the dishwasher, some simple things that can make a big difference.  Straightening up the living room, picking up toys if there are other small kids at home.

Yeah.  Something that I had never known about was sterilizing a lot of stuff.  You have to sterilize your bottles and all this stuff.  And it’s like, okay, the last thing you really want to do when you have a teeny tiny baby is boil water and sterilize stuff in boiling water.  So that was another thing.  If my mom was over or if my doula was there, I’d be like, do you mind?  And they never minded because it was a pretty simple task for them to do, but when you’re holding a little baby, it’s not as simple.  It’s just trickier.

It is tricky, yes.  And those dropped pacifiers.  All the pump parts.  Constant sterilizing.

I’m having PTSD flashbacks about pumping right now.

I know you mentioned the baby registry earlier and your colleague finding it, but you put a lot of intention into your registry and also when you were in the Becoming course, you had asked a lot of questions and really focused on sustainable and reused items for your personal registry and not wanting to be wasteful.  So we had you add a section about creating the registry to our Supported book because it was so thoughtful and helpful.  If you would like to elaborate just a bit on that, I would love for our listeners to hear some of your tips.

Yeah, I mean, my friends and family were putting together a shower, and they’re like, what’s on your registry?  And I’m like, wait, shouldn’t you guys be telling me what’s on my registry?  You all have done this, and I don’t know what I’m doing yet!  I did find myself doing a lot of research, and of course, reaching out to some of my good friends who have had babies.  I reached out to you and Alyssa, who were so thoughtful to give me some additional tips.  I remember Alyssa being like, I don’t think you need nine swaddles, Lizzie.  And I’m like, okay.  Okay.  I don’t know.  I’m just basing this off the internet.  I had a lot of good feedback.  But really for me, as you mentioned, I wanted to keep sustainability in mind and the amount of stuff that we were bringing into our house.  I think my big thing with creating a registry was to give yourself time at the front end to think about your values, which I think is an important thing to do when you’re making a lot of different decisions, but your registry is an opportunity to say, okay, how much stuff do I need, and if I’m going to be getting this, then what value lens am I looking at this through?  Do I want to be getting everything on Amazon?  Some people, that’s easy.  It’s convenient.  They have great return policies.  That may be in line with what their priorities are.  For me, I wanted to be trying to get more from local businesses where I could because that’s something that’s important to me, or finding used second-hand or even actual sustainably built products.  There’s different layers to that, of course, of where you get it, how you get it, and then what is it made of.

Right.  So a blend of supporting local and having eco-friendly items, whether it’s a toy or any products.  I know you were trying to avoid plastics and the waste that even comes with packaging sometimes.

Exactly.  I think giving yourself time to think through those things is helpful.  The other one that I didn’t really know a whole lot about at the time was the actual mechanics of some of the toys and things like that.  Some of my friends had said, oh, you’re going to love this baby jumper that kind of hooks up to your doorframe, and then as I learned a bit more about the Montessori approach, I was then less interested in kind of container-based toys.  Even learning about actual child development, it’s like, okay, well, I don’t think we do need that.  It’s fine that other people use that, but it’s just probably not going to be something that we need, you know?  But it was funny.  Even for my baby shower, for example, I had said, hey, I’m going to put these things on the registry so that you know what I’m thinking, but if you have this and you want to regift it or pass it along, that’s great.  We don’t need new items.  These are just some of the things that we’re looking for in general.  And we also said no packaging.  And some people – you know, you’ve got that great aunt who can’t comprehend that you wouldn’t want something wrapped with an amazing, beautiful bow, but amazingly, my friends and family all followed the directions.  Even simple things like that, like okay, I don’t need a thousand different gift bags, and I don’t need to waste even just trash in the packaging elements of the festivities around having a baby.

Right.  And then you just have to deal with all that waste when the shower is over and so much more cleanup.  It makes perfect sense. 

So what other tips do you have for new parents to really plan to get the support that they need and build their registry and communicate their needs to friends and family?

I think, again, start with sort of giving yourself space to think about, what does this look like for me.  One of my good friends said how you begin is how you go.  And that might be a real quote by somebody famous, but I don’t know.  That’s just what she said to me, and I thought it was an interesting thing to think about.  As I was setting up spaces for Betty and thinking about what we needed, it was like, okay, what kind of parent do I want to be, and what kind of kid do I want her to be?  I wanted her to be a kid that could make a rocket ship out of blocks.  And I wanted her to be a kid that helped whip up some muffins in the kitchen with me.  I don’t know, I just wanted her to be hands-on, creative, problem solving, comfortable outdoors.  So I think just giving yourself space to think about, like, who do you see this kid becoming, and then how do you set up your systems and support to allow for that?

This may sound like a random example, but I wanted Betty to know that I had friends.  Right?  I wanted her to know that she was a critical part of my life, but so are my friends and so are these other pieces of me.  So even when it was really hard at times for me to leave her, I would try to say the things out loud that were showing that value.  Even in those early months when I would go to meet up with a couple of girlfriends or something like that, I would say, like, hey, it’s hard.  It’s really hard for me to leave you right now, too, because I love spending time with you, and I love you so much.  But it’s also really important for Mom to go see her friends because they’re really important to me, too.  And so just really being thoughtful of the behavior that you’re modeling for them is, to me, kind of the crux of it all, and allowing your child to be your community and to see people show up for you.  They’re not going to remember that from being three days old or nine days old or thirteen days old, but it’s part of you then, and you then show up for others in the way that people showed up for you.  It’s just all about living with intention, I suppose.

It is, 100%.  So you have shared your wisdom in blogs and social posts.  Of course, in the Supported book.  And I didn’t know until today, but you also created this lovely community for new moms.  So how can our listeners connect with you, other than reading about your registry tips and your own personal experience with pumping in the book? 

You know, it’s funny.  I never anticipated that I would be maybe so communicative about parenting when it seems like in some ways to be such a common thing, but when you’re in it, it just overtakes your life.  For me, it’s been in a very positive way.  So I have really enjoyed kind of thinking about it and writing about it and reflecting on it.  So I do that sometimes online, but I don’t have a specific place for people to follow me.  I’m on social media, of course, on Instagram or LinkedIn, so people are welcome to connect with me on there.  But yeah, it just opened my heart up in a way that kind of surprised me, and so I wanted to acknowledge it and share it in ways that could be helpful for others, I suppose.

Well, thank you so much, Lizzie!  I appreciate your time and all of the intention and support you offer new parents, but especially new mothers.

Yeah, and thank you, Kristin.  Obviously, I had never even heard of doula support before knowing you and Alyssa, so it was such a gift for me to go through that Becoming course, which was hugely important for me, and then also all the support that you’ve shown following that.  So I do really want to say thank you to you and to the whole Gold Coast team for the way that you honor mothers and fathers and really allow us to flourish.  It’s been very helpful for me.  I appreciate you inviting me onto this podcast to chat about my experiences.

It was fun!  Thank you so much, and I appreciate all the kind words!


Lizzie’s article about supporting new parents

Birth and postpartum support from Gold Coast Doulas

Becoming A Mother course

Buy our book, Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby

Tips for Supporting New Parents with Lizzie Williams: Podcast Episode #239 Read More »

How to Prepare for Birth and Postpartum with Kristin Revere

Kristin Revere spoke about the new book Supported as a guest on the kozekoze podcast with Garrett Kusmierz.  Here’s their conversation.

Listen to the podcast! 

Welcome back to the kozekoze podcast, and happy Mother’s Day!  Wow, what a day.  This is my fourth Mother’s Day, which sounds really crazy.  I cannot believe I have a three-year-old, and now that he’s three, he’s in his fourth year of life, and it’s surreal, really.  Motherhood changed everything for me.  It not only helped me conceptualize the idea for my company, kozekoze, but it’s changed how I work.  It’s changed my day to day life.  It’s changed my perspective.  It’s changed the way I work with my nervous system.  It’s made me work on healing my own wounds.  It is everything, and so with all that motherhood can hold and the grief that is also present if we’ve lost a mom or are not in a good relationship with a parent – wow.  Motherhood and the mother – I mean, there’s just so much there.  It’s a sacred relationship.

I’m honored today to have Kristin Revere as our guest.  She is the owner and founder of Gold Coast Doulas.  They are based in Grand Rapids, and they are a force.  They were voted best doula service.  They’re a very big agency.  Kristin is a change maker.  That’s the best way to put it.  She understands the journey that you go through when you are growing a baby, birthing a baby, and then finding yourself thereafter.  So she created Gold Coast Doulas to fully support the new mom, whether that is through newborn care, birth doulas, sleep consultations, lactation and breastfeeding support, bedrest support, baby registry consultations, so on and so forth.  One of her most popular classes is her Becoming A Mother course online, but they also teach HypnoBirthing classes and they also – this is cool; she talks about this in her interview – they have a grandparents class, which I think is also super cool because so much changes over the years.  So I’m excited to get into that today with you guys, but it’s also really important that you guys know that she has a book that is out.  This book is out today.  It’s called Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby, and she co-authored it with Alyssa Veneklase, and they are both certified doulas and also newborn care specialists.  I just absolutely love how all encompassing this book is.  She’s going to share a little bit more about this today. 

I am hot and cold with reading, and I think it really just speaks to my enneagram 7.  I’m one of those people that’s either reading five books at once or doesn’t read for five months or, you know, two years.  But I know that so many of my friends are never not with a book, if that makes sense.  So if you are one of those people who likes reading over online courses or online virtual workshops or in-person things, this book is for you.  And it’s everything you would learn during the Becoming A Mother course.  So very, very excited for you guys to hear from Kristin today.

Before we get into it, I’m going to share a little update with you guys on my fertility journey because that is obviously one of the narratives we have on this podcast and one that we have had in the background of all of these amazing interviews over the past two years and a couple months.

So I’m actually recording this a little bit less than a week before it goes live.  I’m actually meeting with my IVF doctor today.  I have a few bones to pick with her.  The issue or interesting fact, I would say, with secondary infertility is that I have this beautiful, strong belief set in my subconscious, like in my core, this knowing that I can conceive.  I can get pregnant.  I have been pregnant, and I’ve had healthy pregnancies.  And I’m so grateful for that core belief because I cannot imagine if this was my first fertility journey.  I probably would have already gone through IVF given that I am so – what’s the word?  So excited and so ready to have this baby.  But the reason I’ve held out on IVF is because I do have that core belief that I can do it naturally because I have done it naturally before and I conceived my son, our son Declan, the first try.

And so I’m meeting with her today because I’m pretty shocked that over the last year of going to IVF consultations, she never really inquired or asked about my autoimmune conditions of celiac and Hashimoto’s and also my asthma.  Not that that’s autoimmune, but I do have that as an issue.  And it was actually my pulmonologist a week ago who was like, hey, why are they not asking you about your asthma?  I would get a second opinion, with how expensive IVF is.  So I’m going to meet with my original doctor once more before we look into getting a second opinion because quite honestly I am exhausted on this journey.  It’s been such a beautiful ride of learning and recalibrating, and at one point, I’m sure I said it on this podcast.  I was like, wow, we must be birthing a princess into this next life and she wants everything to be perfect because we had our house inspected for mold three times because mold can onset Hashimoto’s.  We have had our water checked a few times.  We have both had our health inspected, up and down, left and right, all across the board.  We’ve changed our eating habits.  We’ve just done so much, and we’re so ready to be pregnant.  But we’ll see what she says about any other fertility drugs before just going through a full IVF cycle.  So I’ll keep you posted on that. 

And then one other interesting aside that I mentioned in another episode is that I had an orthopedic doctor share that they found a cyst on my ovary when they were doing a hip MRI, which was so random, and I was so worried, and I took to TikTok and I’m like, I can’t believe this.  And someone was like, you know, it could have just been your follicle about to ovulate.  And I thought to myself, you know, you’re probably right.  And sure enough, that’s what it was.  I had an ultrasound a couple days ago, and they were like, you have no cyst.  You’re fine.  It was probably just a follicle.  So that’s good news.  I’m very, very grateful to feel like I truly am in good health after this wild last year of doing all the hormone tests, the stool tests, the hair and mineral tests.  There’s so many things we can do with our holistic health, which is great, and I’m grateful to have had the privilege to go on this journey of looking at my health and my fertility.  But I’m ready for it to come to an end, and I do feel that I’m very close to pregnancy.  So that is my Mother’s Day wish.  I am sharing it, as that is what we do with manifestation and speaking our wishes into reality.  But on the kozekoze front, I am actually in New York this weekend as you guys are listening to this.  We were a part of the gift bag for the Mysha event, the Mother Yourself event, in New York.  I will have a full update about the event after I go to it, so the following week.  I’m very excited.  Mysha is an incredible group.  They are all about community, and you basically pay to be in a pod with people that have the same due date as you.  And while Mysha does not have a pod in New Hampshire, they will probably have one soon in Boston, but they’re in New York, LA, and Miami.  Maybe one more city, but that’s all I can think of right now, or at least all that I’ve heard.  I actually met two or three – basically, three moms that are now my closest friends in New Hampshire that all have babies with almost the exact same due date as me, which is pretty cool.  So I totally get how and why that community is so powerful because I just happened upon it accidentally and serendipitously in my life, and I’m so grateful for that.  So we’re excited that Nip Gloss got to go inside the Mysha gift bags for the Mother Yourself event, and I am really excited to attend the event.  So I’ll come back with details soon.

In the meantime, you guys get to hear from the amazing Kristin Revere.  She has quite the interesting career journey, and I’m so excited for her new book, Support: Your Guide to Birth and Baby coming out.  I want to gift any listeners – new listeners, old listeners – a coupon code, THANKYOU20, to buy your breastfeeding tool, Nip Gloss, which is our nipple and lip balm that’s organic, nontoxic, sustainably packaged, and really, really thoughtfully curated to heal your nipples and lips with a mess-free application.  The code is there for you to get 20% off.  You can also pre-order a pee cup.  If you are like me, you are on a fertility journey, and you are testing your ovulation strips.  You are testing your pee strips and potentially Dutch hormone tests like I have been.  I swear I’m collecting pee almost every day of the month.  So that pee cup has been really, really handy.  Before we finally now get into this episode, I want to just read to you a little bit about Kristin Revere.

Fun fact that Kristin and I both share in common is that she studied journalism in central Michigan.  She has a master’s of management and marketing.  She also was selected as one of the 50 most influential women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal in 2016 and 2022.  She is an author, a speaker, an entrepreneur, and she started Gold Coast Doulas back in 2015 after having had a solo doula business.  She has been featured in Rapid Growth Media and First Time Parent magazine.  Gold Coast Doulas is also a certified B corporation.

I’m so excited for you guys to hear from Kristin today.  So without further ado, I introduce Kristin Revere.

Kristin, welcome to the show.

Hi, Garrett!  Thanks for having me on.  I’m so excited to chat with you today.

I am, too.  I had just shared with you that I was talking about cervical checks last night on TikTok, so this is very, very on the mind, to talk about all things birth today.  But before we get into it, I’ll ask you the question that I ask all of our guests, which is who are you before labels, titles, or what someone could Google about you?

Such a deep question!  I am a supporter of women.  It’s my jam.  That’s what I exist to do.  Before I became a doula and educator, I worked in politics, and I fundraised.  My passion was to get women to feel confident raising money and running for office because women often have to be asked to run and feel like they need this long bio of accomplishments, and of course, motherhood sets many women back from a career in politics.  I was actually working on a governor’s race when I was pregnant with my first child, my daughter, and was trying to navigate hiring my expert team while busy working in politics and commuting.  And I waited; I had my kids later in life.  I was pregnant at 36 and 38.

Wow, there’s so much to unpack just in that answer.  Before I go with where I want to go, I think it’s really cool to highlight that 36 and 38 birth because I’m 33 right now, and the conversations that some of my friends and I are having are – you know, I have some friends where the conversation is around, I had such a hard time with my first.  I don’t know if I could do two kids, but I’m running out of time, and I have to make a decision by 35.  Then there’s also friends who are single and 33, 34, 35, and they’re like, oh, it’s never going to happen for me.  So I guess I’m just curious off the top of my head, did you have easy, healthy pregnancies?

I did have a textbook pregnancy with my first up until I got preeclampsia at 37 weeks.  I worked with a nurse midwife group and delivered in the hospital, but through pregnancy, I had no issues up until I hit 37 weeks.  Then I was on modified bedrest.  I was going in and getting nonstress tests consistently.  Then I was induced at 39 weeks.  So my blood pressure had risen, and there were other concerns about preeclampsia.  So I had an induction, and I had done all of this planning to have an unmedicated birth, intervention-free.  I took Lamaze classes.  I didn’t know about doulas with my first.

Okay.  That was going to be my other question.

So I hired doulas with my second.  But yes, so I went through a lot of the anxiety of being on bedrest and knowing that things were going to potentially need to happen.  But I was very fortunate in that I’ve had very few interventions.  My body responded to the membrane sweep, and I only had a cervical ripener and didn’t need Pitocin, didn’t need an epidural.  It was, for a first baby, quick enough of an induction.  But my daughter was not responding well, so there was always that talk and concern of a surgical birth.  So that stress of trying different positions; if she doesn’t respond, then a Cesarean would have been needed.  But I was fortunate in that we tried different positions.  I had a nurse that helped me get a birthing ball up onto the bed.  My daughter was posterior, so she flipped and all of a sudden I was ready to push, and my nurse midwife told me, oh, yeah, I had already called in for a Cesarean.  I sort of defied the odds there.  But I found out that the cord was wrapped around my daughter’s arm, and that was some of the reason for her not responding well on the monitors.

Wow.  First of all, after I had a traumatic birth, I would walk around – and I still do, but for the first six months postpartum, every time I’d see a woman with kids, I’d look at her like, you did this too?  Like, it’s so magical and crazy, and it’s a miracle how many times that everything ends up being okay, with all the different things that can happen.  But one of the things that you said in your bio, you shared a story about being in politics.  I think to the average joe, and this would have been me pre-kids, when I think political fundraising, I think business; I think masculine.  And when I think doula – although I don’t even think I knew what a doula was until I was, like, 27 – I think, like, feminine, soft, flowy.  But now that I know doulas, I’m like, they embody both, right?  Because you have to be the backbone and communicate, be the structure behind the birthing person in so many ways, but they also know the sacred practice of birth.  So I see the embodiment in you of both, the masculine and the feminine, and probably how that’s really served you.  But what was the opening for you?  What was the introduction where you decided to change career paths and become a doula?

It was a slow transition, Garrett.  I had full time jobs the first three years of my agency.  And as I started out as a doula, I joined a collective.  I was teaching classes through them.  I went on my own, and then started an agency in 2015.  I always had a business partner up until recently.  My partner and I divided up tasks.  I was taking birth clients and teaching, as well as running the business.  I worked in a political communications firm that gave me a lot of flexibility for the first portion of owning the business and then transitioned to a nonprofit and did some fundraising for them at a women’s business center.  And then my business was making enough where I felt, instead of putting money into the business, I could pay myself.

Wow.  I think so many women – not just women, but people – get inspired, you have something that’s life-changing or insightful or inspirational, but there are those initial hurdles of, well, how is this going to change my life?  And it sounds like you had these steps along the way to support you financially and support your family and not have to go all or nothing right from the get-go.  But I can imagine that it’s also an identity change.  And there’s also the self-belief that – I mean, I will always have a doula with my future births.  I can’t wait to birth again.  And I don’t think I personally have it in me to be a doula myself.  So what was it that made you realize, like, I can do this, and I really want to do this?

Yes.  So after having doulas myself, I didn’t necessarily want to be a doula.  I really loved teaching these pregnancy and childbirth classes.  And I thought that would be a hobby for me, and I could help people have more understanding of their options in birth and the postnatal phase by being an educator.  And my students asked me to become their doula, so I decided to go and take a training in Florida, a four-day training, and I started teaching.  I should go back a step.  After my son was born, I signed up for a training in pregnancy, took my whole family for a four-day training, and then started teaching immediately after I was trained.  So I had this long relationship.  My classes were eight weeks, and so my students trusted me a couple hours a day for eight weeks, and so they really – you know, having worked with a doula, birth is so intimate.  They wanted someone they trusted.  So I took the training and thought I might take one of my students occasionally on.  And I wasn’t certain.  I don’t love hospitals.  I wasn’t certain that I would enjoy the work.  And I attended my first birth, and anything that I had fears of, whether it’s like blood or fluids or just being in the hospital, anything that could have happened, did, and I had no issues.  It was all about being in the moment and supporting women where they’re at and working within the system to make change rather than being – I want to say activist is the best word to say, that some doulas take that role on.  I wanted to work within the system and get to know administrators and make subtle changes that way and work as partners with the health care team.  And so in starting the agency, we started small.  We had six doulas and then my business partner at the time, who later moved out of state, was the first HypnoBirthing educator in Michigan.  She’s a former labor and delivery nurse.  So we had some of the understanding of the hospital system.  And we both brought our own clients into the business because they wanted to hire us again and we had a lot of repeats.  So it was a slow transition.  Now my agency has 26 contractors between educators, lactation, sleep consultants, birth doulas, day and overnight postpartum doulas.  So it’s much bigger now!  But yeah, I wasn’t certain that I would enjoy the work because as you said, politics is masculine.  Before I worked in politics, I sold advertising.  I worked in yellow pages, magazine, radio.  So I was used to working with men, being in male-dominated industries.  And I am a driver, a D personality, so it is not the typical doula, but it suits me well for running the business, and I did find that I needed the appreciation that I got for working in a unique field.  I loved the excitement of campaigns.  I worked on many campaigns, so that adrenaline rush.  But you also get that with birth, whether it’s your own or supporting a birth.  There are so many unknowns.  I found that I needed to get respect in the business community because I went from working with a lot of men and in the professional sectors to being a woman doing women’s work, and doulas weren’t really known.  They were thought of as being hippies who weren’t wearing suits.  So I started joining chambers and getting back into the business world and getting my agency in particular, but doulas on a broader scale, being known as part of the business community.  I am vice chair of my business association in the neighborhood that my office is located in.  It’s called East Town in Grand Rapids.  I’m co-chair of that.  And very involved in the chamber and Local First.  I’ve tried to get a different level of credibility in the doula space.

I think it’s really important because like you said, so many people either don’t know what a doula is or they think it’s some hippie thing.  And I had the same kind of association with it when my friend said, I’m going to go to a birthing center and I’m going to hire a doula.  I was like, oh, good for you.  And it wasn’t until I was pregnant, and this was in 2020 and 2021.  I was getting a lot of inbound messages for my podcast with – just because I was pregnant and posting about it on Instagram with birth educators and doulas and groups, and I’m listening to them, interviewing them, learning about their resources, and I’m like, wait a second.  I think I need one of these.  I think I need to educate myself.  We can get into this in a minute, but even though I had those resources and I had a doula with me, my birth still was a series of a lot of unfortunate events until luckily my son was healthy.  And I think there’s just so much work to be done in this space, and it sounds like you are doing it, to help people understand that this is just part, I think, how for thousands of years, women had support people at their births.  We kind of took some turns away from that.  And that kind of leads me to the question of – you know, I was lucky, I believe and I feel, that I was podcasting and having these people reach out to me because most of the focus of a first time mom is the nursery, the registry, the baby outfits, the maternity photos.  And it’s all so exciting for sure.  But it’s not necessarily, what are my rights at the hospital?  What can I say no to?  What do I want my birth plan to look like, and who can support me in that?  So when you were talking about how in your eight-week courses, these people were obviously connecting with you and wanting you to be their doula – were they first-time moms?  Or were they second-time moms who had maybe a less than amazing first experience, and how are you reaching those first time moms now in your practice?

Great question.  My classes were an equal mix of first and second time moms.  And I even had some third and fourths.  So either the birth didn’t go as planned, or they wanted connection.  The class wasn’t just a childbirth class.  There was a lot of discussions about relationships, how those will change, bringing partners into that class.  It was called Sacred Pregnancy, which I no longer teach, but I now teach a Comfort Measures for Labor class, so it’s very couple-involved.  It still involves communication of what their needs are, what their thoughts for their birth would be, how they plan to make choices for medical and nonmedical pain relief.  And then we have our comprehensive HypnoBirthing class.  So it’s a bit – I’ve definitely gone a bit more mainstream than the Sacred Pregnancy conversations because it was so intimate, talking about everything from body image to nutrition, bringing in different expert speakers during the time and fitness.  We brought in a prenatal belly dance instructor and talked about movement and getting your baby in a good position.  So it was quite lovely.  It was a unique connection, and I’m still friends with many of the students to this day.  And some of them contributed to my book that is coming out on Mother’s Day.

So talk to us about the book, because obviously, you have this remarkable journey and experience teaching these classes and being present at so many births and having so many doulas in your agency that are also a part of people’s births, which I really feel like is, again, such a sacred thing to be a part of ushering humans into the planet.  So what inspired you, on top of everything you’re doing, to write it?  What was the moment that was conceived?

So it all began with my former business partner, Alyssa, who is my co-author of Supported.  And she and I created an online birth and baby prep course called Becoming A Mother in the early stages of the pandemic.  That was when everything turned virtual, and all of our classes went from in person to virtual.  Our clients were feeling isolated because women couldn’t gather in person at that time.  So we decided it was time to create the course, and the course is broken up into two parts.  Alyssa happens to be a sleep consultant.  Both of us are newborn care specialists as well as postpartum doulas, and I’m a childbirth educator and birth doula.  So I taught the first half of the course, which still exists, on pregnancy and birth prep.  Alyssa facilitates the newborn care end of things, postnatal planning, and gets into feeding and sleep, and we have live monthly calls.

So we had all of this content, but not everyone can afford our course, or maybe they are very late in their pregnancy and they don’t have time to go through all six modules with the expert videos.  We have experts in the course: car seat safety technicians, mental health therapists, physical therapists, pelvic floor therapists, understanding all of the birth and baby options.  The book is the same way.  But again, more accessible and affordable.  And we will have an audiobook version.  There’s an eversion.  Then there’s the hardcover and paperback, so people can consume it however they like to read their books or listen to them, if they’re an audio book listener.

And it launches Mother’s Day?

Yes, it launches on Mother’s Day.  It’s so fitting; we’re birthing our book after a couple years of the process.  We recorded the book ourselves instead of hiring an expert.  It was a labor of love, for sure.  We just want people to know their options, because if you don’t understand everyone that you can bring onto your birth and baby team, then you don’t get a repeat of that birth or that maternity leave and postnatal recovery time.

And that impacts everything.  The mental health experience even with a one-year-old, right, because that first year is so hard.  I still joke that my son is the worst sleeper in America, and he is three.  He hasn’t slept through the night more than seven nights in a row since he was born.  And so we’re just always like, all right, it’s the eighth night.  Here we go.  But I digress.

With writing a book, it is such, like you said, a labor of love, and it’s a creative process, for sure, which is shifting into that state of consciousness – I don’t know, maybe you can, but I couldn’t just pencil into my calendar, now it’s time to write.  Sometimes it’s in the morning.  Sometimes it’s late at night when I actually feel that creative energy.  But it’s also this dance where you’re writing with someone else.  So was it Alyssa or was it you?  Were you both on the same page, or was one person more kind of leading the charge of writing and deciding to go for it?

I encouraged Alyssa, certainly, and I do have a journalism background.  She’s also an excellent writer, and my husband happens to be a publisher and editor, so he did the first edit of the book before we sent it to the publisher to edit.  For the process, we worked independently, gathered stories together from clients, so every chapter has a birth/baby/feeding/sleep story in it from clients that we’ve worked with.

And it’s called Supported?

It’s called Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby.  And then since doulas are not medical, we brought in medical experts to speak on topics that we weren’t qualified to.  I have a pediatrician that contributed to the newborn procedure chapter, and then a mental health therapist who specializes in perinatal mood disorders and contributed to that section.  Then I have a yoga instructor who is trained in so many fitness modalities.  She gets into fitness options and restrictions to use based on the different choices for exercise in pregnancy and the postnatal phase.

Wow.  You’ve just named so many things that it’s like, after having been through it, I see it.  I get it.  I can kind of see how all of the dots are connected when, again, most people aren’t looking at that.  Or maybe someone’s a little more focused on nutrition because of their own unique challenges.  But is there something that you think is most overlooked on the perinatal journey over the years that you’re seeing most people forgetting about?  Or if only they focused a little more on this, it would make the experience better?

I know that you mentioned earlier in our conversation about the fact that so much planning is done in setting up the perfect registry, setting the nursery up, having beautiful photos, planning for showers.  But it’s really planning for your birth, and in my opinion, the postnatal planning, maternity leave planning, figuring out childcare options, how do you want to parent together is even more important than planning for your birth.  And so we get into budgeting and even the concept for our course came out of a presentation we gave at a bridal expo because we wanted to reach families earlier when they’re just talking about starting a family and showing them what doulas are all about and understanding your options.  So we compare the process in the book and in the course to planning for other life events, like all of the experts you bring in when you build a home or when you plan your wedding.  What are your priorities?  If it’s a wedding, is it food?  Are you foodies?  Is that your number one focus and the core of your budget?  Or is it flowers or photography?  And then for birthing baby, is sleep your biggest focus, and do you want to hire an overnight postpartum doula or a newborn care specialist or as your infant gets older, hire a sleep consultant?  Or is your focus having that support in pregnancy?  I work with a lot of athletes as a birth doula, and they want to be able to run a marathon again.  So they’re going to see a pelvic floor physical therapist.  They’re going to do things to make sure that they can get back to performance once, of course, their provider approves them to exercise again.  So it definitely can vary from individual to individual.  Is this baby number five?  How will this new pregnancy impact the other kids?  There are just so many issues.  Grandparents are involved in childcare because we’re in a childcare crisis right now.  So we have a grandparents class at Gold Coast Doulas to prepare grandparents for – even if it’s only the occasional caregiving, because so much has changed.  With sleep, feeding, baby gear, car seats.  It can be uncomfortable for our clients and for parents to relay all of the changes and it puts you in this sticky conversation, so they will often gift their family members this grandparents class, and then we come in as experts and show them all the changes, tell them about babyproofing their home, all of the things.

I love that.  I was just thinking, my parents had me in their 20s, and I’m having kids in my 30s.  My husband is in his 40s, and his parents had him in their 20s.  So there’s a big gap, and even just putting my feet in their shoes, if 40 years from now or 30 years from now, my son is like, hey, I need you to watch this baby, I’d be like, what do I do?  Because I already forget the nap windows for a newborn or whatever.  I have a three-year-old.  I can’t imagine that pressure.  And unfortunately, my parents don’t live very close, and so they’re not as hands on, but I love that you’re having those conversations with people and reaching them earlier because it almost feels I don’t want to say that it feels like you’re trying to pull one over on young women, but it’s like you get the bridal shower and you get the wedding and you get the bachelorette and the baby shower and the maternity photos and it’s all this focus on you and you’re so beautiful.  Then all of a sudden, no one cares about you and you are bleeding out, leaking everywhere.  You feel like you got hit by numerous waves and you’re drowning, but you have to keep a baby alive, and not even knowing what those options are – again, I only felt like I had – so my support, just for listeners who are maybe thinking of options, and you’ve mentioned so many, but to give an example, because of the podcast – the company is no longer around, but I interviewed a founder of a company.  They sold, or something happened.  But they were kind of like a hub to schedule those things and try to get it to run through insurance.  So I had a lactation consultant teed up to come to my house the day after I got home from the hospital, and just knowing that someone was coming to my house was so nice.  And they had mentioned in the podcast that there’s such thing as a postpartum doula, and I had never heard of the term.  They were like, kind of like a babysitter on steroids.  They’re newborn experts.  They’re going to help you with things.  And so I actually was like, oh, I’m not going to need that.  And I didn’t hire one until I hit kind of a rock bottom, and I had an amazing postpartum doula come actually all the way at 11 weeks postpartum.  But she kind of helped pick up some pieces for me.

Those were my two things that we decided to invest in, and in hindsight, I wish I had had help with sleep because I had a four-day birth and I didn’t sleep for four days, and then I got sent home with a baby who had equally experienced trauma and wasn’t sleeping, so it was just a lot of sleep deprivation.  It sounds like your book is a big reminder to people that it doesn’t have to be miserable.  It doesn’t have to be this thing, and if we are so structured and scheduled and booked and busy in our culture, why aren’t we applying that structure and strategy to our births?

Exactly.  And the postnatal phase.  I mean, people are all about meal trains, but as you mentioned, during pregnancy, it’s all about the mother, and then all of a sudden it’s all about the baby.  So if you get visitors, they want to hold your baby.  They’re bringing gifts for the baby.  And then the mother feels left behind.  You had experienced some PTSD from your birth, had some trauma.  I’m sure your friends and family didn’t want to talk through that with you.  And so if you don’t have a postpartum doula like you did or your birth doula who comes for that follow up visit to process, then you’re left waiting for that six-week appointment with your provider when you only have ten minutes to talk because everything else is the exam.

Yeah.  It’s such a whirlwind, and that’s why I hesitated for a long time.  I mean, I shared my birth story pretty soon while it was still pretty raw with my husband on the podcast, and I don’t regret it.  It’s our most downloaded episode, and I think it was cool to record it close to.  There wasn’t a lot of processing.  It was more just like we captured what we could remember.  But I was scared to share a lot only because I’m not an expert, and I don’t want to fearmonger and I don’t want to share things that are so specific because everyone’s birth is different, and at the same time, the more I’m kind of opening up, the more I think it’s at least just getting people to talk about what they can access, whether it’s a book or it’s a full blown course.  It’s so important to share that message and I guess one of the things that I think a lot of my friends are kind of – it goes back to the idea that doulas are hippies and you have to have a home birth.  What percentage of your clients are hospital versus home birth, and how do you kind of talk through that decision with your clients or through your course?

So at Gold Coast, we mainly work in the hospital, and that’s honestly where I feel we’re needed most.  We do certainly support our clients wherever they choose to give birth, as long as they  have a midwife with them.  We don’t attend unassisted births, of course.  But we do have some clients who choose to birth at home, but it’s not in the budget for everyone to hire a doula and to pay out of pocket and hire a midwife.  So part of the reason that we work so few home births – I would say it’s maybe 15% of the work that we do is in the home.  And the rest is in the hospital.  We do have a birth center in my community that will be opening soon, but we haven’t had one in quite some time, so that isn’t an option.  Our hospital has some birthing rooms, one of our larger hospitals in my area, so that is an option for people who want an unmedicated birth, and certified nurse midwives do attend those.

I have a couple questions around the financial piece of this and the future.  Before I ask those questions, I have this desire to someday home birth, but more than that, I want to almost reclaim the hospital space after everything that went wrong in mine, and I joke that – you know, I did birth during COVID.  But when I went in, the first thing they did, besides COVID test me, was start to put a port for an IV in my arm, just the second I walked in.  And some people don’t like needles.  I’m pretty brave around that and it doesn’t bother me, but what was kind of ironic in telling about the way the journey went was the phlebotomist or nurse that came in couldn’t get a vein, and she was pushing around so bad that I had blood running down my arm.  So she’s like, let me try the other one.  She did the same thing, and then she left me with the blood without bandaging me, and said, hold on, I’ll be right back and I’ll get someone.  And my doula walked in while I was unbandaged with that, and she was like, what?  What is happening?  And so, I mean, obviously, we could start by maybe saying, oh, I don’t really necessarily want that.  Can we wait until we at least do the cervical ripeners to put anything in, you know?  But what are some of the more powerful births in hospitals stories that you’ve had?  Or what are some of your big – if people want fewer interventions, I guess is the best way to phrase this, what are your tips for that?  Aside from having a doula there or things that maybe your doula can say for you?

Or aside from having a home birth, which I love attending home births.  They’re beautiful, and water births are an option.  So for me when I teach Comfort Measures or I’m talking to my birth doula clients, I talk about just understanding your options.  Again, even if it’s your second baby, taking a comprehensive childbirth class like HypnoBirthing or Lamaze, something that’s out of hospital.  Because the hospital classes, unless they have a longer element, those weekend ones tend to focus more on understanding interventions, how to be a patient, doing the hospital tour included.  There’s not enough time to really understand everything your body is going through and to have that partner involvement the way you could with HypnoBirthing or gentle birth or a Lamaze class.  So doing that preparation.  If my clients want to breastfeed, taking a breastfeeding class before.  Or if they struggled with breastfeeding the first time, taking a class as a refresher.  And then understanding hiring an expert like a doula is a fantastic way because doulas understand all of your options in a hospital.  If it’s not medically necessary, you could delay or decline.  What tools you have in your hospital room, like peanut balls, birthing stools, birthing balls, getting in the tub as a way to relax or to distract from any discomfort in labor.  Walking the halls.  You know, all of those options.  Where the heat packs are and how to slow down potential interventions and ask questions.  So we do go over birth plans or birth preference sheets and the importance of making sure your provider is on the same page as you during pregnancy and then communicating what your needs are to your nurse if you don’t have a doula.  And doulas – you know, at least at Gold Coast, we support whatever our clients choose to do.  So if our client originally wanted an unmedicated birth and then all of a sudden wants to look at different pain management options, we will support that, but we can give them the risks and benefits and alternatives to any potential intervention that is not medically urgent at that moment.  If labor stalls, breaking the bag of water.  What might be done – you know, could we try some positions and wait an hour if baby is doing really well, or are they wanting to have baby sooner and fine with the fact that if they don’t have an epidural yet, that it might feel more intense with having the water broken?

Yeah, there’s so many choice points that, like you said, you can have the birth preference sheet and in the moment – you said that earlier.  It’s about being in the moment with them.  There’s go left or go right.  I’m sure it’s different everywhere, but the practice I ended up at – I started in Boston, moved to New Hampshire during my pregnancy.  You see every doctor, and I had nine weeks to try to meet 17 doctors.  There was one that I said I just don’t want him to deliver my baby, and of course, that’s who showed up.  But the last appointment I had, a woman saw that I had a doula on my team, and I had to, like, fight with the hospital and talk to, basically, the second highest up to get a doula allowed because they were saying nobody allowed.

During the pandemic, right.

They ended up letting me, but when she saw that on my sheet, she walked in, and without asking me my preferences or what I wanted – because you said, you know, what is your relationship with the provider – this woman walked in and she lectured me about how she was type A as well and that I should let go of my standards and that you never know what’s going to happen, that I don’t get to have a crunchy experience.  And I said, well, do you want to know what my choices are?  She just lectured me.

She just assumed because you had a doula.

She just assumed, exactly.  And the Cliff notes version is I ended up getting an epidural, and then it ended up being one of the 30% that don’t work.  So I felt everything.  Which is – you know, technically, I got what I wanted in that sense. 

But you can’t move without assistance with an epidural, so if you’re feeling everything, you can’t walk around or get on a birthing ball.

Right.  You’re stuck.  And what happened was eventually the fetal ejection reflex, which was really cool to experience at the last hour.  But going back to kind of the choice points, having someone there that’s not your partner, your husband, your wife, that can be that neutral but supportive and experienced person to help you with those decisions – it felt so nice, even though, again, I had a lot of things that were challenging.  I believe everything happens for a reason.  My husband didn’t get it at first, why we were hiring one, and he’ll say to this day, your birth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  And the doula was there for him, too.  And it is a privilege, kind of bringing it back to the expenses, and my doula was the self-proclaimed cheapest doula in New Hampshire because she really believes in access and all of that.  But one of the questions I have is how do you see the future of birthing in America going?  Because I joke that the epidural I got that didn’t work was an $11,000 thing on the line item.  The price even after insurance was still very expensive.  But as you mentioned, paying out of pocket for a midwife and a doula and whatever else assistance you might need at your home is also a consideration.  So do you think that our country is waking up to creating better maternal healthcare realities?  What do you think about the future of birth?

Yes.  I mean, there’s so many directions I could go with that.  I do feel like there is more understanding of the benefits of doula support, even under the insurer aspect of things, because continuous support from a doula is shown to not only reduce interventions, which interventions up end costing more, but also increase satisfaction.  Nurses and hospitals are busy.  They’re in and out.  They’re responsible for the life of the mother and the baby.  Where doulas are responsible for the emotional support, the physical support, and giving evidence-based information.  So there’s just a different role.  But when I started as a doula, it was basically self-pay only.  And in recent years – let’s say the last four at least – health savings and flex spending have easily covered birth doulas, as well as postpartum doulas in some instances.  And now a lot of employer-based self-funded plans have doula coverage.  So Carrot Fertility is the biggest one I’ve seen that covers both birth and postpartum.  There’s also Progeny.  There’s some healthcare sharing programs – many of them are Christian-based – that cover a certain amount of a birth doula.  And then some companies are creating their own plans.  We worked with a construction firm in our area and helped them add doulas to their benefits.  So that’s been a passion project of not only my own but also Alyssa since we got into this work, making it more accessible.  And then, of course, Medicaid coverage for birth doulas has expanded.  It used to be a handful of states, and now Michigan has had Medicaid for about a year and a half now.  So that is an option for individuals.  And I see general insurance down the road covering birth doulas.

Wow.  I mean, I believe it.  I think, to your point, reducing interventions, which would lower the cost, and then hospital satisfaction – you know, satisfaction with nurses, better overall experiences – I think those are enough for me to think it’s a no-brainer.

Right.  And there are hospital-based doula programs, as well.  There are definitely more options than when I got into the field.

That’s good to know.  I like hearing that, as well.  One question I meant to ask you earlier, and then I want to circle back to your book before we close.  Our connection to each other is through this Hey Mama group online, and you mentioned that when you started in that group, you were, you said, a fertility and something –

Pregnancy connector.  So there are all these different connectors in Hey Mama.  There’s a podcast connector, PR, health and fitness, business.  So I was the expert in pregnancy and fertility.  I would initiate conversations.  I posted weekly.  I did spotlights on different individuals who are active in the community and then attended meetings with all of the different connectors monthly for the year that I took that role on.

Got it.  So the reason I ask is because you said the word fertility, and we haven’t spoken about that.  I just was curious if your work with your families or your patients circles you back to fertility, only because I’m on a secondary infertility journey.  I’ve been trying now for 26 months.  I didn’t start trying until I was done breastfeeding.  And I’m kind of falling into that unexplained.  And I’m curious if you’ve seen that with any of your clients and if it is connected to how their first birth went or anything like that.

Absolutely.  There are fertility doulas.  I’m not one, but during the pandemic, I helped facilitate a fertility support group for women across the US with a mental health therapist under a nonprofit group called Mothership.  And so I got to hear women’s stories.  And then I had clients that I either personally worked with or that were in our agency that had struggles with secondary infertility, wanting to plan their family and have kids close together, and then it wasn’t as easy.  Maybe it was breastfeeding related or getting back on birth control for a while and then wanting to expand the family.  So I often give referrals both locally and across the US for different practitioners, whether it’s a functional medicine doctor or a doctor of naturopathy, in addition to seeing your physician or suggesting going to a fertility clinic.  Looking at gut health, sleep; stress can be a big factor.  All of the different options you have, whether it’s going through a fertility clinic and that process or looking at surrogacy or adoption or however our clients want to expand their families.  So the book does touch on support for fertility and surrogacy and different groups both in person and certainly especially virtual support groups that can be accessed.  Many of them are free or different fertility specialists.

Amazing.  I mean, it makes sense, of course.  You’re so in the space, and it’s all always connected, and it just sounds like you’re very entrenched, in the best way, in all things birth and the cycle of life.  And I think it’s amazing to meet you and really learn more about your work because it’s so needed in our world.  I mean, not only are we in a fertility crisis in our country, but we don’t have the best maternal health care right now.  Your work is just so imperative for our nation.  Really, really, really excited for you to launch this book.  I know you’ve already said the title once, but if you could say the title, where it’s launching.  I know some authors have separate websites for it, or they’re launching straight to Amazon.  Talk to us about where people can find it on Mother’s Day and anywhere else that you personally want to be found.

So my book is Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby.   This is an advance copy, and it’s basically going to be on Amazon.  There will be an ebook option and then a hardcover and a paperback.  The launch is Mother’s Day for those three options.  By mid-June, we’ll be on Audible and other audio versions.  And because I decided to not do pre-sales, it’s been challenging to get my book into book and baby stores, but I have a big goal of getting into maternity and baby stores across the country.  So we’re working on some of that in Michigan right now.  I do have a website for the book.  It’s  And then my website for the doula agency is  The book can also be found on that page, as well as the Becoming A Mother course.  The website for the course is

Okay.  Amazing.  I am so excited for this launch and your book, and congratulations on birthing again. 

Yes!  Thank you, Garrett.  I really appreciate the support, and I’m excited to get it out into the world, and I hope that it’s the shower gift that everyone brings their friends or family members to help them to better birth.  And also the postnatal preparation, especially.  Understanding all of those options and who they might want to bring on their team is, to me, so important.

Absolutely.  Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all of this with us.  Hopefully, everyone can just scroll down in their show notes and go find your book.

Thank you!



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How to Prepare for Birth and Postpartum with Kristin Revere Read More »

The benefits of doula support with Anne Wallen: Podcast Episode #238

 Kristin Revere and Anne Wallen discuss how doulas can impact the birth and postnatal experience.  Anne also describes her doula training and education programs at MaternityWise International.   

Hello, hello!  This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Anne Wallen today.  Anne is the director of MaternityWise International, and our conversation today is going to be all about doulas, since she trains so many doulas and also works as a doula herself.  Welcome, Anne!

Hi!  Thank you so much for having me!  I love it that we can talk birth and that I can be on your podcast.  What an honor!  Thank you so much.

And I am honored to have you on the show!  I’d like to get into a bit about your bio.  You’re a respected figure in women’s health with over 30 years of experience and a leading voice on global change in maternity care, particularly for those at greatest risk.  You’ve continued to educate and empower birth professionals in more than 20 countries, contribute to a variety of curriculums, and shape the future of maternal health through your impactful role as a speaker and mentor. 

So, yes, thank you for all of the years!  It’s amazing that you’re still working as a doula to really be able to meet the changing needs of doulas that you train.

Yeah, it’s so crazy.  Sometimes you get into this work and you realize, oh, I’ve definitely been called into this.  It’s what I’m meant to be doing.  It’s what I’m supposed to be doing, what I’m here for.  And I definitely feel that way.  Even though I’ve had a few other jobs along the way, they really even just added to my skill set as a doula and as a teacher.  But I feel really passionate about the fact that we, just as women, oftentimes we really crave that community, that support from one another.  And especially in American culture, you know, we’re really oftentimes far away from each other.  We’re far away from our family.  And when I say really far away, I don’t just mean maybe somebody in a different state, but we’re not living in this communal format anymore.  We don’t have the village where you can walk to your friend’s house, your mother-in-law’s house, your sister’s house, whatever.  Most of the time, we’re pretty far apart.  So just supporting one another looks different, and thank goodness for Facetime and phones and texts and everything, but it’s still not quite the same as being there in person and being able to give someone a hug and put your arm around them or cook them a meal or whatever it is that they need in that moment.  But supporting families – it’s so multifaceted.  It can be so complicated.  But it’s also really, really natural.  Like, we crave to do it for one another, and we definitely recognize when we’re in a vulnerable position like early motherhood, like pregnancy, and those early parenting days.  We definitely feel it.  We definitely feel the need for support and for help and all those beautiful things that a doula brings.  Not the judgment, not the unsolicited advice, but the actual support and that loving, nurturing – I even like to say we’re modeling.  We’re a role model to other family members of how to treat the family that’s growing or the mother or the baby, even.  How to interact with them, because we don’t always see healthy examples.

Exactly.  We don’t have the emotional ties that a partner or a parent does to our client.  We have a professional relationship, and yes, we get to know them and care for them, but we don’t have a vested interest, where I know with my family, they had their own personal experiences with, say, breastfeeding, and I don’t want to say agenda, but just how they felt things should go for me.  And when I wanted to make different decisions in parenting or the type of birth that I wanted, it was met with a bit of resistance.  Not all doulas are the same, but you mentioned judgment free, so just not going in with an agenda of, oh, my client needs to have an unmedicated birth or needs to do attachment parenting.  Whatever it might be; or feeding a particular way.

Yeah, and some of these can end up being such hot topics.  And also, science changes, and things that we used to do sometimes are not helpful or even might end up being detrimental now.  So even though grannies might have really great intentions, they can still give advice that can be harmful, not knowing that we now know better, so we should do better.  You’ll probably hear occasionally someone say, well, I was formula-fed and I turned out okay, or I’m a Cesarean baby, and I turned out okay.  And that’s not really helpful.  It’s very invalidating when you have a mom who’s wanting to do something different; when they’re wanting to breastfeed or they’re wanting to give birth naturally or even at home.  There’s a lot of not just judgment but so many opinions kind of flying around and almost hurt feelings when you don’t choose what they think you should choose.  So it can be really tricky to navigate.

Yes, and as you mentioned, things change.  With technology and all of the gadgets for feeding and sleep and really keeping up to date on recalls – it’s like a full time job for our postpartum doula team to know the safest options for our clients.  So grandparents are often caregivers now because we’re in a childcare crisis, and feeding is so different.  Safe sleep and again, products they might have used are not in use anymore.  And certainly car seat safety is a whole different thing.  I know when my parents had issues with navigating the modern car seats and understanding all of the changes in modern parenting compared to how they parented me.

Right.  And speaking of safety, a lot of times, we’re really motivated – our culture is very motivated by fear, and so we have this – just like a high priority on or a high value on safety, so if a person thinks, oh, well, this is the safest option, they’re going to go with that, versus when it comes to birth, there’s a lot of unknown.  There’s so much mystery still around it, even though we can kind of physiologically explain what happens, right, but each individual birth goes its own way and the hormone and chemical makeup of a person’s birth experience can be super unique to them.  So there’s a lot of unknowns.  There’s not a lot of ways to kind of predict or create a safety plan around how birth is going to go.  You just have to – I always say it’s 10% plan, 90% crap shoot, right?  So you’re just going to have to flow with it and trust that your body knows what it’s doing and trust that your body and your baby can accomplish a safe birth.  And a lot of times, fear and that mystery piece kind of get in the way of people being able to – and it might be grandmas; it could be partners; it could be friends, sisters, whoever’s kind of in the ear of the birthing person – installing this or instilling this idea that there’s danger around every corner and you’ve got to be overly conservative about really everything.  This is how we’re now in kind of this induction crisis in the United States.  We try to – we think, anyway – that managing – they call it active management – that managing the process is the only way to safely navigate the process.  Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite.  Managing the process creates an unnatural scenario that ends up requiring more interventions because you’re creating complications that didn’t have to exist and then you’re managing those complications with more interventions, and you get into that snowball, which maybe if you just left it all alone in the beginning and let it happen, you wouldn’t have encountered all of these – I call them detours you have to take.  It’s like we know where we’re trying to get to, but sometimes medical intervention turns into a detour where now we’re going to have to deal with this little side road.  We’re going to get there eventually, but it might take us longer and it might be a little more of a bumpy ride.  And that’s the beauty of having a doula by your side is that if your doula is well trained, she’s going to know how to navigate those detours, and she’s going to know also how to help you avoid them altogether.  And that comes with preparation ahead of what I call “the big day,” the day that you’re in labor where it’s going to end with a baby in your arms.  We call that the big day, but there might be a lot of starts in the beginning.  Little bits of labor here and there before you actually get to the big day, but a doula who can help you prepare, get educated, know your options ahead of time – you’re going to feel less under pressure to make decisions on the big day.  You can feel a little bit more confident in your ability, also, when you have more preparation and you understand what’s going to happen to you and you understand what to expect at your chosen birth location.  Basically, there’s less surprises, even though birth is full of surprises.  There’s just less of them, or there’s a little more predictability to what’s about to happen and you can anticipate how to navigate, how things are changing and developing within the birth process and with less fear.  The more you know, the less you have to fear it, and I feel like fear is just such a big motivator to go ahead and do certain things that aren’t necessarily the right timing or even necessary at all.  But in our society, anyway, we’re so afraid.  We’re just really afraid of our own bodies, and that makes me sad.

And as you mentioned with preparation, a doula can certainly give resources, so evidence-based articles and information, to have conversations with your provider during pregnancy, create some of your preferences together at that prenatal visit, and certainly know options for comprehensive childbirth classes, whether they’re in or outside of the hospital, ranging from HypnoBirthing to Bradley gentle birth and Lamaze.  There are so many options to really understand, as you said, your body, what options, which choices you have for pain relief and interventions that may come up so it’s not all unknown the day you go into labor, so you understand different things that, in a nonemergent situation, you’re able to ask for.

Right, and we use the acronym BRAINS.  You’ve probably heard of that.  B stands for benefits.  What benefit does a particular intervention have for me?  What risks might be involved?  A stands for alternatives.  So are there any alternatives?  Is there any other way that we can kind of get to where we want to go without having to use that as a different option?  I is for intuition.  What is your gut telling you?  Do you have some red flags?  Do you not feel at peace?  Because if you don’t feel at peace, don’t go for it.  Wait until you’ve got enough information, you’ve got that peace before you go for it.  This is given that you would have enough time to make these kind of decisions and have these kinds of discussions.  In a situation that’s emergent, obviously, you’re not going to necessarily sift through all of the BRAINS scenario.  But then there’s also N.  What if you do nothing, or if you say not now?  I always tell my clients, don’t create a yes/no, black and white, all or nothing kind of scenario for yourself.  Just say not now because maybe in an hour or two, you’re going to change your mind and you’ll want to do this or that.  Or maybe in five hours, it’s going to be necessary to do this thing, whatever it is.  So just be open to it, and just say “not now.”  I’m not feeling like I should do that right now.

And then we always add S to the end, S being, give us some space.  Space to think about it; space to talk about it; space and time so that, again, there’s not a decision being made under pressure, right?  Because that feels like bullying, and we don’t want – there’s no place in this experience for bullying.  There shouldn’t be pressure or anyone feeling like they’re kind of coerced into making a decision.  Yeah, if there’s time to have this discussion and there’s not an emergency going on, then yeah, there’s no reason why we can’t have a little space to kind of think through this, in between contractions, because that’s another thing.  It’s like, okay, you kind of feel like I’m under the gun because there’s a contraction coming.  I’ve got to give a yes or no right now.  Well, actually, no, you don’t.  You can think it through after this contraction, and maybe after the next five contractions.  You can continue this conversation before you make a decision.  Asking for space.  These are things I teach my client families so that they understand in the moment, they don’t have to feel like – well, for example, if I haven’t prepared my client well enough ahead of time and I haven’t really gone over BRAINS with them for each specific scenario – let’s say it’s breaking their water or whatever.  If my client turns to me in labor and says, “What do I do, Anne?”  Then I feel like, wow, I did not prepare them enough.  Because they shouldn’t have to ask me what to do.

Unless they’re in the thick of it and they can’t recall anything you talked about and it’s all, like, out the window.

Sure, and when that happens, I do just turn it back onto them and say, how do you feel?  What do you feel like you need to do right now?  And reminding them that the first answer that your mind gives you when you ask yourself a question, that’s your intuition.  So if I say to myself, should I break my water right now?  I already know the answer before I finish even asking the question.  I already know what my mind, my body, my spirit is telling me, yes or no.  So giving them also that confidence and just the internal power – because we’ve kind of taken the power away from moms when we started giving birth in hospitals.  We kind of created this authority hierarchy, and mom’s at the bottom when she really should be at the top.  So just reminding her that this is her body, this is her journey, this is her decision, and giving her back her power to make a choice versus feeling like she’s just at the mercy of whoever’s in the room making these decisions for her, about her.  That’s inappropriate, right?  And in any other situation, we would never treat someone this way.  We wouldn’t walk down the street and say, oh, look, I think you should go into labor today.  I’m going to break your water.  We couldn’t do that.  It would never be appropriate.  It would never be appropriate in any other circumstances, so why, walking into a hospital, does it suddenly become appropriate for us to give up all of our rights and not have any say in the game plan?  Again, this is where preparation comes in because if you don’t have any kind of preparation, you’re going to feel like I have to lean on the expertise of these people because I don’t know anything.  That’s a big piece of it.

And there’s so much evidence that regardless of birth outcomes, having that continuous support from a doula, not only during labor itself, but throughout pregnancy, does increase satisfaction.  So as you had mentioned, Anne, it’s feeling like you are making informed decisions every step of the way.  Again, unless it’s an emergency, and instead of birth just happening to you and feeling like things are not in your control at all, then there’s a lot of remorse.  There can be so many feelings after the birth that are just challenging to navigate.

Well, and the definition of trauma is when something is happening to you and you’re so scared, you’re so terrified, and you feel helpless.  You feel out of control, whether it’s of your circumstances, of your own body, how you’re being treated.  And you’re put in this position where it’s a moment of almost terror, right?  And so we look at a lot of post-pregnancy, postnatal maternal mood disorders, and it’s like, you’ve got anxiety.  You’ve got depression.  You’ve got OCD.  And I can’t help but look at it and say, how much of this is related to how she was treated during birth, right?  So it there a sprinkling of PTSD in there that’s kind of root cause of all these other symptoms that we’re seeing?  I mean, if I’m anxious or if I’m OCD and I’m trying to control my environment and I’m getting some paranoia mixed in there or overly cautious and overly concerned and overly doing all the things to make sure my baby is safe and that I’m safe – that actually looks like a trauma response because if you’ve been traumatized, what do you do?  You try to control your environment.  You’re in protection survival mode.  And most people do – if you love your baby with all your being, they’re going to be kind of the object of your obsession at that point and protecting them and making sure everything’s okay with them, and you’re going to question every little thing that seems maybe out of the ordinary when it could, under another circumstance, if you haven’t had your confidence taken away from you, you’re going to look at your baby and just say, oh, we’re in the realm of normal, right?  But if you’re an anxious mom, you’re going to look at your baby and say, something’s wrong.  This might be in the realm of normal, but looks like we’re outside of the realm of normal and not really seeing things for what they are because the anxiety is the lens you’re seeing everything through.  And so, again, too, this is another way that doulas can help because processing trauma takes time.  It takes interaction.

I spoke at the Congress on Children in San Antonio several years back.  I don’t know, seven, eight years back.  And my whole project, basically, was about how touch is a solution for trauma.  So doing skin to skin with baby, breastfeeding, all these things because when mom has been traumatized, probably baby has also been traumatized to some degree.  And so getting them together can make such a huge difference and sends them leaps and bounds forward in their healing process.  You’ve probably heard the say, the body keeps the score.  There’s a great book by that same name.  And treating the body, doing somatic therapies with the mom, and this is, again, outside of – this is advanced training for doulas, but there’s things that we can do as postpartum doulas just to get moms some relief, some healing, kind of connect the loop for her so that she can stop spiraling downward and really utilize her network, her baby, her own self, work through her memories, process out the story.  Just by telling the story to her postpartum doula over and over again; it might seem redundant.  The doula might – if the doula didn’t have any kind of trauma training, the doula might think, oh, this is not normal.  But for someone who’s experienced trauma, telling that story over and over again and having someone listen.  I teach my doulas to use the five senses.  Listen; ask questions about the five senses.  What did you see?  What did you hear?  How did it feel?  Were there funny smells?  Did you throw up?  What were you drinking?  All these things, because the body is where the trauma was felt.  It’s where the trauma was processed.  And so using the five senses to kind of uncover what happened helps moms to put the pieces together in ways that her conscious mind might not be able to do, but her subconscious can start tapping into that.  With the five senses, you’re starting to tap into that subconscious mind.  You can start putting the pieces together a little bit better.  It feels less confusing.  She can continue to repeatedly tell the story, but it becomes a healing activity rather than being on that wheel where you’re spinning and spinning in the trauma.

And again, to have someone with some training to be able to listen with empathy and without judgment.  Not having to wait until that follow up postpartum visit to really feel like you’re being heard by a professional.  I find that pediatricians can be valuable because those visits are so frequent.  Asking questions and processing versus needing to wait for that six-week visit.

Right.  And sometimes even when you’re at the six-week visit, you’ve got five or ten minutes with that person.  And you don’t always – I mean, I’ve had six kids.  I’ve been doing this for 30 years.  As a fresh new mom, even with my sixth baby, I still was like, okay, what’s normal again?  You can’t really – it’s good to know yourself, but sometimes you can’t really recognize what’s going on without that outside perspective.  So somebody who really understands, looking at your behavior, looking at what you say, looking at how did your birth go, looking at how are you sleeping – are you sleeping?  Looking at all those pieces and kind of putting them together and saying, this is what I see.  Let me help you formulate some questions to ask your doctor.  Let me help you formulate a list of symptoms maybe to take to your doctor because otherwise, moms are in a cloud of sleep deprivation, and they’re just there to show up for their appointment.  They don’t always know what questions to ask or what things to bring up or what’s important, especially if it’s their first baby.  But having a doula to come in the home and get to know your family and really be working with them.  Sleep deprivation is a huge one, right, so just that alone can affect the mind and the ability to form sentences, let alone ask intelligent questions at the doctor’s office.  I mean, every aspect of pregnancy and early parenting.  My oldest is going to turn 31 and my youngest is 8.  I have women around me.  God bless having loads of women around me because I’m working in the birth world, so I’ve got all these caring, nurturing doula women around me all the time.  Without our tribe – gosh, I just don’t know how women do it when they’re all alone.

We need support, absolutely, and so obviously.  That’s why you were drawn to this work.  We are unfortunately running out of time, but I would love to hear any final tips you have for our listeners, and then of course, please share how they can connect with you.

Sure!  So MaternityWise, which is the company that I am the director for – we do maternity education.  So we do labor doula, postpartum doula, lactation.  We also have a program called EpiDoula, which is all about how to support someone who’s chosen to have an epidural and how to reduce their complications.  We also have a childbirth educator program.  We have a bunch of other programs.  HIPAA certification; we have classes on how to process insurance as doulas, just tons and tons of things.  Love it, right?  Anything to do with birth.  We even have an infant sleep class.  So our philosophy is really very much looking at the whole experience, so I love that we were able to kind of go through the whole experience today during this talk because that is so key to know the end from the beginning.  Whether you’re doing postpartum, it’s good to have birth education so that you can really understand what mom’s talking about and give her feedback about how her birth went because you will hear the story, right?

Right.  Even if you don’t want to be on call as a birth doula, still having the education, as you mentioned, is so important.

100%.  It’s just tools in your tool belt, right?  And then vice versa: as a labor doula, a lot of times people want to just get trained as a labor doula because they think that’s the most exciting part, but it doesn’t end there, and you will get asked questions postpartum.  You will have people trying to get your help with breastfeeding and stuff.  And if you’re not trained, if you don’t have that additional information, you could potentially give bad advice and it could be harmful, with completely good intentions, but it could end up sabotaging a mom’s breastfeeding relationship or whatever, right?  So having that full scope, the full spectrum of understanding and knowledge around birth and breastfeeding and postpartum – we just feel like that’s how you create better outcomes, bottom line.  You can’t take one piece of the pie and just say, this is good enough.  You’ve got to look at the entire experience and have knowledge and have wisdom to share throughout the whole experience.  So the way to get trained with MaternityWise and get certified – and our programs are approved by any state that has a state registry or a Medicaid program.  We are either already approved, or if they’re in process, we’re in process with them to get approved.  So we’re across the nation.  We’re around the world, too, but probably your listeners are mostly American, right?

Yes.  For the most part.

Yeah.  So our training, if you want to look more into it, is at MaternityWise.  We would love to hear from your audience.  But also, you have a book coming out, right?  Tell me about that.  I want to be able to make sure that we can help promote that, as well.

So it is called Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby.  It comes out on Mother’s Day, May 12th, so very soon.  And it’s basically what I wish I would have had for my own kids, and it’s based on our online Becoming A Mother course.  It’s about understanding all of the members of your birth and baby team, what options you have for providers, where to have your baby, and all of the different planning phases, not only prenatally, but putting as much importance in postnatal planning.  We get into everything from insurance to how to pay for your doula and baby registries and registering for services in addition to things, and how to communicate your needs with family and friends.  We try to cover all of it.  We have a chapter on sleep.  Alyssa, my co-author, is a sleep consultant.  We’re both newborn care specialists and postpartum doulas, and then I’m the birth doula and childbirth educator.  So I wrote the first half of the book, and she wrote the postpartum planning and feeding.  We have some experts in the book, as well, from a board-certified lactation consultant to a pediatrician to a perinatal mood disorder mental health therapist.  Since doulas are not medical, we wanted to bring in some medical experts, as well.

That’s smart.  I love that.

Well, thank you so much, Anne!  We’ll have to have you back on again!  I could talk to you forever.  You are such a wealth of information.

It was super fun.  I really love that we could do this.  I’m so excited about your book because everybody needs to get their hands on that.  Any mom that’s expecting, I’m sure, is going to really appreciate that knowledge to have in their own toolkit.  It’s awesome.

Exactly.  And I feel like my secondary audience for the book is also anyone who works with pregnant individuals and new parents.  They would also benefit in understanding all of the options to refer from understanding car seat safety technicians are a thing, to Webster certified chiropractors to pelvic floor physical therapists to, again, the different types of mental health therapists.

Amazing.  It really takes a team.  A client of mine that I was just speaking to the other day – she was just saying, she didn’t have all these pieces.  She’s got a Pilates person, a yoga person, a massage therapist, a chiropractor.  She’s got – in addition to her medical team, her OB, and then she’s also got a midwife because she’s delivering at a hospital that has midwives and OBs, so the team she’s with has both.  And of course, she’s got a doula, and she’s working on hiring a postpartum doula.  It’s so good to be able to see this.  And I know this is about accessibility, too.  Not everyone can afford to have all these supportive, coach-like people on their journey.  But if you can – and thank goodness, sometimes insurance will be covering it.  It’s just so important because, again, like we started out saying, families are very separated now, and even friends.  We don’t have that instant person, a lot of times, right there able to help us, and it’s good to have resources that we can reach out to whose eyes are looking at our situation with their own specialty in mind.  So they might have a different thing to encourage us to look into or research more or go get help with.  It’s really important.

Absolutely.  Well, thank you, Anne, and I hope to talk to you soon!  Take good care.

Yes, thank you!  You too!


MaternityWise International

Birth and postpartum support from Gold Coast Doulas

Becoming A Mother course

The benefits of doula support with Anne Wallen: Podcast Episode #238 Read More »

Simple Healthy Habits for Busy Moms: Podcast Episode #237

Kristin Revere and Brianna Wilkerson of Mommy Me Time Community discuss the focus on prioritizing health and self-care during each season of motherhood.  Brianna has quick tips for both new and seasoned moms to get more intentional time and nourishment. 

Hello, hello!  This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am thrilled to have my new friend, Brianna Wilkerson, on Ask the Doulas today.  Brianna is a holistic health and life coach.  She’s a brand partner with Savvy, podcast host, wife, mama, tea lover, Crossfitter.  You name it, she’s about it.  Welcome, Brianna!

Thank you so much for having me!

So your focus is all about helping moms.  You help ambitious women and moms prioritize their health and self-care so they can feel healthy, strong, and confident, no matter if they’re a first time mom or they’re a very seasoned mom, if their kids are older or if they’re in the new mom phase.  You support motherhood through all of the different changes, and your bio also tells me that you have a passion for women creating a sustainable income and growing into leaders that they were meant to be.  I love it!

Yeah, multipassionate always!  I think that the core of it in the last year or so is really seeing that moms is where I’m supposed to land, and if I can help a mom, I help a family and more.  So I’m excited to do that more.

That is so true.  That’s how I feel.  I feel like doulas can save marriages, and these support groups and communities that you create, your podcast, they give women the confidence to navigate the challenges and to have peers that are in the thick of it with you is so important, whether they’re in person or in a virtual community like those that you create.

Yeah, exactly.

So our topic today is simple healthy habits for the busy mom.  I’m excited to hear your thoughts and tips for our listeners.

Yeah, we can start wherever you would like.  I don’t think there is a mom that isn’t busy, or a woman that’s not busy, but I just think that with the busyness of life, there often comes a lot of roadblocks.  There are a lot of obstacles that make it challenging.  Not impossible, but challenging to prioritize our health and self-care, whatever that may mean for you.  That may mean nutrition.  That may mean exercise.  That may mean alone time.  It can mean multiple different things.  And those road blocks could be things such as time; not feeling like you have enough time.  It could be fatigue; you’re just tired.  It could be finances.  It could be lack of support.  It could be guilt; like, is it okay that I take away some time from my kid?  And onward and onward.  There’s just so many things that would make it hard for us to make time in the busyness of life.  But what I have found is that even when you spend five or ten minutes on those daily nonnegotiables that really fill your tank, that really take care of you, your cup is so much fuller, and you’re just able to show up more patiently, more powerfully, and be able to serve in whatever way you can, and you’re doing a lot better.  Before I had kids, I could do a lot of things.  I just felt like I had more time.

Oh, there’s so much more time!

Right?  And the reality is we have the same amount of time.  It’s just that our kids now are taking – maybe we didn’t realize this when we became parents, but we decided, like, when I become a mother, I am choosing, especially when they’re still in my household, to give my time to the growing, to the development, to the nurturing, to the love, to the memories with my kids.  And you quickly recognize, like, okay, well, that may mean that there’s less time to do other things.  So how do I then fit in those things that maybe I did at first that really filled me, nourished me?  And for me it’s really bite sized.  You’ve got to do it in bite size pieces, but yeah.

That’s beautiful, Brianna.  And I feel like there are different phases of motherhood.  Right now, my kids are in school all day, but I feel like I am their shuttle driver to sports events and activities and friend events, so it’s a different kind of busy than the toddler phase or if they are in preschool or daycare when you feel like you can’t get much done in those three hours, especially for entrepreneurs like ourselves when there’s so much on the to-do list.

Exactly.  And I think we’re just told – we just start to believe it’s a mindset thing, too.  It’s either all or nothing.  Either I go to the gym for an hour or I don’t go at all, or either I eat “perfectly” or I don’t eat healthy at all, when in reality, all successful people in any area of life would tell you that it’s all about those small, simple steps you take daily that compound over time that help you get healthier, that help you get fitter, that help you win an Olympic medal, for example.  But it’s not sexy to do those things all the time and feel like it matters or feel like it’s getting you places, but it really does make a difference, and studies have shown that you can do ten minutes of a workout and honestly it increases your heartrate and boosts your metabolism a lot more than an hour, depending on the type of workout you’re doing.  So a lot can be done in five or ten minutes.

Absolutely.  And even stretching can be so beneficial.  If you have a dog, take your dog for a walk.  You can walk or run with your children.  There are so many things that you can do to bond with your family.  I mean, even if you have a partner, just walking with your partner can make a nice way to get moving and active, burn some calories, but also clear your mind.  So a good walk does wonders.

It really does.

Again, talk about the different types of self-care.  For me, I like to get up a bit early, and really, how I start the day sets the tone for the day.  And sometimes, you just need to sleep in and you don’t need to get ahead of when your kids wake and all of the work activities that need to be done, so it can look different every day, but I try to get up before my family and set some time, take my dog out, and move my body a little bit, get some water, and then start the wake up process and looking at my emails, but I try to avoid technology for at least a short span of time to meditate, or for those of you that use prayer, like praying, and starting some rituals for your life.  But for me, how you start and end a day can really set the tone.

Yeah, I think it’s figuring out – because there are so many different things that you could do and focus on, but the reality is – it’s not that you can’t do all of those eventually, but you shouldn’t start out trying to do all of those.  What are your three to five daily nonnegotiables that you need to do each day to feel your best?  Is it movement?  Is it nutrition?  Is it drinking enough water?  Is it that five to ten minutes before your kids wake up to have that centering time?  Is it cutting off technology before you go to bed at a certain time?  And there’s no right or wrong here, and you may not even know what you need.  That’s the importance of definitely talking with someone, but also just start trying to do something so that you can see if it’s really impacting you and really nourishing in the way you need.  I highly recommend always considering four to five main areas.  You do want to consider your nutrition.  What are you putting in your body?  Ultimately, the word nutrition is Latin for nourish.  It’s just nourishing; we’re nourishing our body, giving it the care that it needs.  And our body needs certain things.  It needs certain micronutrients.  It needs certain macronutrients to thrive.  Just start somewhere.  When it comes to nutrition, I really suggest people crowd out by adding in.  If you want to eat less of some other type of food – not that you say you can’t eat it, but you just want to eat less of it because it may not be nourishing you the way you want – add in something else.  Maybe you want to eat less rice at a dinner, for example.  So you’re like, okay, one way is to add in broccoli, because I want to add that in more.  And then maybe you try that at one meal a day or one meal a couple times a week, and then you add it in every dinner.  Or maybe you add in broccoli or a vegetable at two meals a day, then three, and just over time, that slow process will become like second nature for you to have a vegetable at a meal.  And vegetables will feel you way quicker than rice, for example.  I love a good rice.  We’re not shaming rice over here.  But yes, it’s nutrition, and we can dive deeper into that, but I really think for most of us, we know at least the basics, that certain foods are more nourishing than others.  So if you want to incorporate more of that, it’s really just picking one and adding in slowly.

Now, with movement, again, there are so many types of exercise programs and fitness programs, and no one fits all.  It really depends on what you love, what you enjoy.  There’s still a way to get cardio, flexibility, stamina, endurance, strength training, all of those, the general physical skills, in the types of exercises that you’re doing.  But you might have to be more intentional if you’re doing it on your own, or maybe you join a certain type of program that does it for you.  Then it’s like, well, I don’t have to think about it.  But what I think is key with that is just commit to moving every day regularly.  And I say like, okay, maybe you start with just moving more like tracking your steps or just choosing to park a little further, or maybe you’re like, no, I want actually to do a workout because it challenges me in a certain way and releases endorphins and all that.  So maybe you start with ten minutes a day, which, again, does not seem like a lot, but let me tell you, I’ve gotten very fit doing ten minutes a day just consistently.  You know, there’s so many different things you can do for that, but I just think ten minutes of walking a day does wonders for your body.  So don’t negate walking.  Maybe you used to run.  For me, I went from walking to running, and now I’m like, I just love a good walk.  I love a good walk.  I don’t want to do long distance running right now.  Now I do a lot of walks with the kids in tow.  A lot of my workouts are with the kids in the stroller.

It’s that life stage.

Exactly.  And again, whatever stage you’re in – you know, before having kids, I served a lot of women who were grandmas.  At that stage, they’re like, okay, I can finally take care of me.  My kids are out of the house.  They’re a little bit older.  And I say, well, the challenges are still the same.  You’re still busy.  It’s not like your busyness decreases.  Maybe in a certain way, but you can still be on your toes, being involved in certain things, and so you still need to practice some of these things.

So yeah, nutrition, movement, and I would say stress and sleep are too ignored.  Very ignored areas, because we often think we can just survive without consistent sleep, quality sleep.  And we don’t actually realize how much stress we’re under in this day and age.  Talking about the phone: you can be connected.  You can Google anything.  Before, you had to go to a library to find out something.  Now you can find it out right then and there.  You can order everything online.  You can find out the news.  Most of us don’t even watch the actual news anymore.  We just check Instagram.

Just look at the little summary clips on your feed, and you’re good.

Right?  And all that to say none of it is bad, but we’re so stimulated, and it’s just so easy for us to be more mentally stressed, and that really impacts your body.  It impacts your hormones, and it impacts your health in various ways.  On the other side of that, though, is that again, we’re so connected.  Even back in my parents’ or grandparents’ generation, they didn’t really have electricity in the same way.  When it was dark, it was dark.  You stopped doing things at a certain time.  But us, we have light.  We have unlimited internet access.  We can just be doing things all day, every day.  But we need to rest.  We need that good quality sleep to restore.  So really creating a good sleep time routine there and really figuring out tools to manage your stress.

It’s so important, and many of our listeners are either pregnant or pre-conception or in that early parenting phase, so sleep is vital.  With a newborn, you get so many wakeups, so trying to prioritize sleep or get support from a postpartum doula who focuses on overnights, for example.  And in pregnancy with discomforts, sleep can be challenging, as well. 

Yes.  Even with that, my eldest is now only four and just sleeping better through the night.  She still goes to bed a little later than I want, than what I would like.  So I understand.  I’m not trying to be one of those people who are like, oh, my gosh, just sleep.  I understand different kids and different lives.  Maybe you work at night or all these different things.  But I do think there are things within our control that we don’t think are in our control.  So, like, I know that sometimes my daughter goes to bed late, but I feel like I haven’t had my time, so I will stay up later than probably I actually want to in order to get whatever me time that is.  And really, that’s actually  hindering me because she’s probably still going to wake up early, or my son will.  So I just think it’s like, what can we do?  What can we actually do?  And then the fifth area is like your mindset.  That goes with the what can we do.  Just really seeing that you do have control over some things when it comes to your health.  It may feel like there’s a lot of barriers.  There’s a lot of road blocks.  But when you start to believe that things can change, whether they’re slow – I actually think slow is always better because it’s more sustainable – you start to see that, like, okay, it doesn’t have to just be this way.  Or maybe it won’t always be this way forever.  And so you just have more a positive attitude which makes you more hopeful and therefore more likely to take action around taking care of yourself.

Yes.  I love it.  Mindset is so important.  We focus on mindset in pregnancy, and as an athlete, you understand this, that runners visualize a race in advance, and a lot of athletes, swimmers, do so much mental as well as physical preparation.  In our classes, whether it’s HypnoBirthing or the Comfort Measures for Labor classes that I teach, we talk about visualization and mental preparation as well as how to feed your body, move your body, and how to best prepare for birth in a way that could be compared to preparing for a marathon.  You want to rest and nourish yourself in the very early stages of labor, so we talk about the importance of sleep and rest and not knowing how long the labor will be but needing that strength for the pushing phase.  For a race, you’ve got to make it to that finish line, so don’t beat everyone in the first mile.  You want to be able to pace yourself and know your limits and know that your mind can take you far when your body is tired.

It’s so interesting.  I had a really good friend who’s on her sixth pregnancy now, but I just remembered she would tell me, like – yeah, just the importance of the mindset, of visualization, even in pregnancy.  And I remember with my second I tried to practice that more.  The pain was just so bad.  I wanted to not think; not relax.  I wanted to clench up, and just having to visualize and tell myself and talk myself through it – it made a difference.

It does make a difference!  But your body does want to clench when you are in discomfort with contractions of labor or even just pregnancy aches and pains, and you just need to open up and relax and not resist because the more you’re clenching and stressed, the more uncomfortable you’re going to be.  I love that your friend gave that advice and that it worked for you.

It really did help.

So you likely focus on ways to reduce the stress levels and cortisol levels.  How do you talk to your community, whether it’s using breath work or mindset?  I’m interested in how you address that.

I think it does depend.  I mean, the power of breathing is just like when we’re going through birth.  They’re like, just breathe, and I’m like, I don’t want to breathe.  I just want to scream.  But it does really calm that fight or flight response that your body is feeling, and it really brings you to a more calm state to do whatever you need to do.  So don’t underestimate the power of just breathing in and breathing out, or breathing in and holding for a bit and breathing out.  You can do the box four or the count to four method.  And another thing I like to do is a process – I learned this one time through a program I did where you write out your stressors and really figure out which ones you can eliminate, which ones you can reduce, and which ones you just have to cope with.  Because the reality is, many of us think we have to just cope with all of our stressors, but sometimes you can actually eliminate it or reduce it.  For example, kids are stressful, especially when they’re young.  I mean, maybe all the years, right, but – so I have to cope with that, but are there ways I could also reduce certain things or eliminate the need where I feel like I need to do everything in the house?  You know what I mean?  Is there something that I could do?  Yeah, I could ask for help, or I could hire – or maybe I find little tips and tricks to keep things less likely to get dirty.  I don’t know.  Again, it goes back to the mindset of what can I actually control?  And when you start to see that – I mean, you write out your stressors, and then you just go and label them.  Eliminate, reduce.  Then you’re like, okay, well, this is what I can control.  This is what I can’t.  So how I can get help with some of that?  And I think as you’re pregnant, you’re stressed about so many things.  Like, is my baby going to take this pacifier or am I going to have to buy all the brands?  How is the birth going to go?  And there’s so much within the birthing and the whole process that we actually can’t control.  I’m not saying you can’t be concerned about it, but really asking yourself, what is my role here and when do I just need to let go and realize that I don’t have control over some of those things.

Exactly, yes.  And it’s a great way to approach parenting.  I feel like the unpredictability of labor and birth leads well into the unknowns in early parenting, and even parenting teenagers.  It’s not predictable.  There’s not a manual or formula.  So we’ve got to use our instincts and our resources to make informed decisions.

Right.  Exactly.

I would love to have you fill our listeners in more about your community.  Mommy Me Team Coach?

Yeah, so I’ve gone through so many names of my coaching work throughout the years, but I realized that ultimately, there is so much power in mom having her time.  Like, whatever that is.  It may mean time alone.  It may mean time to just invest in herself.  It may mean time to do a hobby or a side hustle that she loves.  I am about advocating for moms to take care of themselves.  I just think we’re such caregivers, and we give so much.  And sometimes we can even be a little, like – I don’t know the right words.  Resentful, that people aren’t doing that for us.  But it comes to a point where when we raise our kids, we want them to be advocates for themselves.  We want them to stand up for what they want, and we teach them to be independent young adults.  And it’s the same thing with us.  We don’t stop doing that.  We still need to advocated for the things we need and want and speak up about it.  That’s what Mommy Me Time Coach is all about.  It’s helping women really prioritize their health and self-care in small, simple ways.  And so I do a weekly – right now, my official podcast is on hold, but I do a live Instagram show weekly.  I have multiple summits that I do a year just helping moms in different seasons.  I have a Facebook community, and then I have a membership to help busy moms take care of their health and their self-care, too.  So that’s kind of the focus right now.

So many different options!  Depending on the budget and the time, checking out your Instagram and some of your summits, and then when budget allows, investing in your very valuable membership community.  And are there different levels of membership?  Explain that for our listeners.

Yeah, so I’ve done one on one coaching throughout most of my eight year of coaching, and I love it.  But just in this season, I was just thinking about myself and busy moms, and I’m like, you know what, I still think that’s valuable, but I do think there’s power in a community and power in working over time, and I think that’s what a membership allows.  You don’t feel the pressure to do everything because you’re going to be here however long you need to be here.  So no, right now, it’s only one level you join.  It’s $30 a month for that, and you’ll get a monthly theme, masterclass training, resources, check-ins, coaching call, a community.  And then of course – like, some women do it and they’re like, okay, but I actually do want more one on one support, and that’s an option, too.  Right now, it’s mainly like, if you want to join the membership, it’s group formatted, but I do a limited amount of one on one spots, as well.

Excellent.  And how can our listeners connect with you, whether it’s social or your website?

I’m really on Instagram, almost all the time.  Not all the time; it’s just my main place.  So Instagram, @mommymetimecoach.  You can also go to Mommy Me Time Community on Facebook.  Those are my two social hangouts.  And if you want to join my mailing list, I send one or two emails a week, just if I’m doing events.  You can grab my free Healthy Habits Challenge for Moms, and then you’ll be on the mailing list, and that way you’ll also get some tips on some of the things we talked about, as well.

And for the LinkedIn lovers, you’re also there?

Oh, I’m on LinkedIn, too.  I don’t do as much on LinkedIn.  I need to.  But I am on LinkedIn, and I will get a message if you send it to me there.

Excellent.  People will be able to connect with you and get your download as well.  Do you have a final tip for our listeners before we say farewell?

Yeah, I would just say the biggest thing is to give yourself grace during this time period.  I think pregnancy in itself, your body goes through so many changes, but you still have to live life and do different things, and maybe you have other kids, so give yourself grace, even with the things I talked about.  And then postpartum, I mean, with my son, he was the second, and it really took me a while to get into a flow of some of the very things I’m talking about.  He’s nearly two, and I just feel like I can do some of this stuff, you know?  But I made sure to still move when he was young, whether it was two times a week walking versus like, now I do more than that.  Give grace to really trust your intuition of what you need, but also don’t wait.  Try to take a small step at a time.

Perfect tip.  Thank you so much, Brianna, and I can’t wait to connect again.

Thank you so much!


Mommy Me Time

Brianna’s Facebook and Instagram

FREE Healthy Habits for Moms

Birth and postpartum support from Gold Coast Doulas

Becoming A Mother course

Simple Healthy Habits for Busy Moms: Podcast Episode #237 Read More »

The Importance of Support in the Pre and Postpartum Period with Kristin Revere The MyBaby Craniosacral Podcast

The Importance of Support in the Pre and Postpartum Period with Kristin Revere

Kristin Revere and Meaghan Beames chat about support in the pre and postpartum period  Meaghan is the host of The MyBaby Craniosacral Podcast.

“It’s all about knowing options and building your own dream team of professionals based on however you choose to birth your baby and parent your baby.”

Kristin Revere, owner of Gold Coast Doulas, discusses the importance of having a comprehensive support system during the pre and postpartum period. She highlights the various services offered by Gold Coast Doulas, including birth and postpartum doula support, lactation consulting, and sleep consulting. She also discusses the need for accessible resources and expert referrals to help parents navigate the challenges of pregnancy, birth, and early parenthood. Kristin’s new book, Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby, provides a wealth of information and options for parents, as well as valuable insights for birth and baby professionals.

Episode Timestamps:
•The locations and services provided by Gold Coast Doulas {01:00}
•Kristin’s motivation for writing the book “Supported” {04:35}
•Becoming A Mother course {08:00}
•The challenges of finding support and overcoming resistance to alternative therapies {10:35}
•Postnatal recovery and the importance of a support team {12:30}
•Importance of knowing your referrals very well {16:40}
•The need for affordable or pro bono services {20:40}
•Understanding that you can’t do everything on your own; taking a team approach {24:00}

Welcome to the MyBaby Craniosacral Podcast, where I share stories of the babies I’ve treated, tips for professionals and parents, and demystify this amazing healing modality.  I’m Meaghan Beames, your baby body work mentor.  I’m obsessed with all things babies, birth, healing, and plain old being a human.  Join me while I sink deep into craniosacral therapy.  Now let’s get into the episode.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the My Baby Craniosacral Podcast.  I am your host, Meghan Beames, and on today’s episode, we have Kristin Revere, and she is the owner of an all-things medical and pre- and postpartum period mom and baby services, really, in West Michigan.  I would love, Kristin, for you to share with our audience a bit about yourself and your business.

We are a full service doula agency.  My agency is Gold Coast Doulas.  So we support families with judgment-free support from conception through the first year, but if you look at our sleep consulting services, we really work with toddlers, so up to age five.  And we do offer everything from classes to lactation with our IBCLCs to birth doulas as well as day and overnight postpartum support.  Our core focus is helping families get sleep, so most of our postpartum doulas are working overnight with families.  We work with NICU babies, twins, triplets, and cover a large area, not only West Michigan for postpartum but also northern and southwest Michigan Lakeshore communities.

Do you have a home base, or is this all mobile services?

Our office is in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We, of course, support our clients wherever they have their babies, so we work in hospitals, support home births, birth centers.  And then for the postpartum support, we are going to the clients’ homes and helping them in person.  Sleep consulting is a virtual service most of the time unless families bring us in to do some in-person work on getting their nursery to be more appropriate for sleep.

It sounds like you have a lot of people working for you.

Yes, we have 26 subcontractors.  They all own their own businesses and work through Gold Coast.  Some of them are registered nurses and work in the hospital.  I have a speech pathologist on the team.  Others work as nannies part time, and then some doulas take work primarily through Gold Coast.  Outside of the IBCLCs on our team, the nurses do not take a medical role.  They are acting as postpartum doulas and within that scope, so overall, our agency is nonmedical support for families.

I love that.  It’s almost like you have medical support without it being medicalized.  That’s beautiful.  For some people, it provides a sense of safety because sometimes being in the medical system feels unsafe for some people.

Right.  Certainly, there’s a lot of fear surrounding childbirth, especially after the pandemic, so families do like that continuous care, and there is so much evidence that doulas reduce interventions and increase satisfaction regardless of the outcome.  Certainly, our postpartum doulas can help process the birth, show feeding support.  All of us are trained to support basic lactation and refer out if our clients are having trouble to other therapists to be able to help make more of a successful transition, regardless of how they choose to feed their baby or choose to parent.

The point for this episode today is actually about the book that you wrote called Supported.  I would love for you to share with us why you made this book in the first place and just describe what it is.

Our book launches on Mother’s Day.  Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby.  I felt like there was nothing like it that really shows families and also birth and baby professionals all of the resources.  We’re very, again, judgment-free support focuses, so it’s not leaning one way.  I feel like a lot of books on the market are either focused on home births or parenting a specific way, and we have no approach.  So these are your options, and build your own dream team of professionals based on however you choose to birth your baby, parent your baby, and be able to have a support system, whether it’s communicating with family members, setting boundaries, or hiring professionals like yourselves.

Yeah, and I love having all of those options all together in one space so that people aren’t just getting lost in the Google rabbit hole and not knowing where to go.  I think one of the biggest things that parents say is that there are so many people giving me advice, and I don’t know which one to choose.  So I think of Amazon where you can have those comparatives at the bottom of the screen where it’s like oh, all of these things.  And your book is kind of like that, where you’ve got all those options.  You can choose – I like to call it choose your own adventure.  I love it.  So Supported comes out on Mother’s Day.  I’m very curious, because I would love to be able to write a book, as well.  But I also think that some of our listeners might have the question, how did you come about writing this?  What was your process like for that?

Yes.  Well, I should say I have a journalism degree.

Oh, that’s helpful.

So I can write.  But I’ve always imagined that I would have a book.  I just never thought it  would be about birth and baby.  I have a career in politics.  I’ve done advertising sales, nonprofit fundraising before having kids and falling in love with this work as a doula and agency owner.

That’s a bit of a 180.

Yeah, for sure.  But I feel like women’s health is the most pressing need, and supporting mothers in whatever they decide to do, whether it’s become a stay at home mom, go back to work, start their own business – there’s just not enough support in that process, whether it’s baby number one or baby number four.  And certainly childcare is a huge issue, and maternal mortality.  I don’t think, even though my kids are now 11 and 13 and 22, that I would be – you know, it’s not just a fad or just something I’m going through while my kids are young.

No, and now that we know too much, it’s hard to go back, right?  Now that we know so much.  Yeah.  So before we got on here, you were talking about how you created this course, and you knew that there was just a book in there.  And also, with your business, you have those courses, those online courses for parents, am I right?

We have some self-paced classes, like our Tired As A Mother sleep class.  There’s a breastfeeding class and newborn survival that are all recorded with live calls.  And then the Becoming A Mother course came out of the pandemic when we had to cancel all of our in-person classes, like Comfort Measures and HypnoBirthing, and pivot to virtual.  So we had this time and decided to be able to impact not only our current clients with a sense of community when they were pregnant and feeling very isolated but wanted to serve more women and mothers.  So the course has a workbook, and it’s all about prepping for birth and baby, and I cover all of the pregnancy and birth planning, and then Alyssa, who co-created the course and co-wrote the book, is a sleep consultant, so she covers all of the newborn aspects and postnatal prep that should be done and focusing on that important time after baby and planning and budgeting and figuring out your childcare options and so on.  We divided the course equally, and the book is also divided equally.

It’s amazing.  So you just took bits and pieces from the online course and created a book with it?

Yes.  And the course is called Becoming A Mother, and in the course, I have 30 expert videos, and one is a CST therapist.


Talking about what craniosacral is.  We wanted to have experts, so a car seat safety technician, a mental health therapist talking about signs of PMAD.  So we already had all of these experts assembled in the course, and then our students have lifetime access.  Some of them are on baby number two since the course launched, and they’re back in the course and they’re going through videos of things that are relevant to them in the moment.  Or they might want to hop on some live calls with us with questions.

That’s amazing.  The word that I was thinking was like, wow, they must feel so supported.

Yes!  And we couldn’t use Becoming because Michelle Obama has an amazing book called Becoming.

But that’s what your book is about; about feeling supported and making sure that you are supported in all of the ranges of this parenthood realm.  We are not taught how to make sure that we have that village.  We’re just told you should have a village.  But we have to make it.

Exactly . And I don’t feel like our friends prepare us enough.  Things are so different than when our parents had us.  Everything from safe sleep to feeding; it’s all changed, which is why I have a Grandparents class to help educate them.

I would love to have a grandparents class for craniosacral to be like, you might be extremely judgmental of your kids right now, taking their baby to a craniosacral appointment, but let me tell you something: you need to hold your judgment because this is going to help everyone involved.

Your industry is similar to, say, seeing a pediatric chiropractor and resistance there, or anything that might not be considered mainstream.  Even pelvic floor physical therapy has some resistance from family members or friends.

I’m a massage therapist as well, and our parents or even our grandparents, they were just told to ignore things that were happening in their body.  It will just go away.  Don’t worry about it.  But our generation is like, no, I can’t just ignore it.  I realize that this is keeping me from doing things, and I would like to actually enjoy life, rather than repress and suppress everything.  So I’m happy with the shift!

And not be in pain feeding your baby.  All of the things!  Dealing with colic.

Yeah, I’m going to listen to my baby.  If they’re scream crying, I’m going to listen to them, and I’m going to try to help them.  I’m not going to just tell them that they’re being manipulative.

Right.  Exactly.

Well, I love that you have this book coming out.  I think it will be really helpful.  And you were mentioning that it’s for people who are planning that pre- and postpartum period, but you also said before we got in here that it’s also great for health professionals.  So there’s one section of the book that talks about having a list of health professionals for that postpartum – actually, probably for the prenatal, as well.  But having a list of professionals and what their importance is – can you talk a bit more about that section of the book?

Yes.  That postnatal planning is often not as focused as taking childbirth classes, prepping for a baby shower, and even prepping for the birth.  So we get into all of the experts, not only in preparing for birth and supporting during pregnancy, but also in that postnatal recovery time and caring for newborn to toddler and all of the experts that can be brought in outside of your regular pediatrician, OB-GYN, or midwife, depending on who you’re working with.  And so we get into lactation, craniosacral therapists, pelvic floor physical therapy, and just the importance of budgeting for these experts and figuring out what your benefits are and what might work with health savings, flex spending, and then really getting the potential, no matter if it’s an easy birth and baby sleeps well, to have this team supporting you.  Oftentimes, to many of these appointments, you’re able to bring baby with you, so you don’t have to navigate childcare.  And obviously, with CST, the baby is getting treatment, but I know there are some massage therapists in my area that you can bring your baby to your massage appointment after giving birth.

That’s amazing.  Yeah, we do that too.  We do a parent and baby package.  So you bring your baby.  We’ll give them a CST treatment, and usually, they just fall asleep right after their treatment, so they sleep for an hour beside you or on a sleep mat on the floor, something like that.  And then you get your massage or your CST treatment.  It’s beautiful.  I love doing those ones.

It definitely is all about knowing options.  I do feel like certainly doulas – this would be a helpful resource for doulas, but other professionals with the resource section and different helpful apps would find that it would be beneficial.  Some people don’t even know much – they may know what a birth doula is, but they may not know how a referral to a day or overnight postpartum doula can make a difference in the mental health and even in a couple’s relationship and their stability.  If they’re not getting sleep, they’re going to fight more.

Absolutely.  So it breaks down the importance of each of these health professionals?

Yeah.  Exactly.

That’s wonderful.

And when and how they should be used, when to reach out, how to pay for them, all of it.

Amazing.  I wish that there was more of an emphasis on planning on the postpartum period.  I hear a lot of parents being like, nobody told me.  I didn’t know that my baby was going to possibly have reflux.  I didn’t even know.  And they’re scrambling after the baby comes, but they felt so prepared for the birth.

Yes.  Again, there’s a lot that happens before that six week appointment after giving birth, and oftentimes, you’re isolated.  Your partner is going back to work.  You might have a little bit of family support, but then you’re left to figure it out on your own if you don’t have a postpartum doula.  So really having that knowledge and access to trusted resources in your community are key.  And then other health professionals knowing how we can all work together and refer our clients and patients, depending on the provider, to be able to better holistically care for mothers in this vulnerable time.  And for babies.

For me, when I’m training people in this, in CST, something that I emphasize is getting to know these people you’re going to be referring out to.  So not just understanding what they do and what their name is, but actually getting to know them on a personal level so that you know who you are referring out to, as well.

It’s huge.  Absolutely.

There have been times where there was a team that I was referring to, and then the feedback I got from parents was like, I didn’t really like my experience there.  And I was like, well, thank you very much.  I will not be referring to them anymore.

Sometimes it’s personality.  It’s not even that they weren’t an expert in their field.  They may have done everything right, but if they don’t connect emotionally during such an emotional time, it may be a good resource for a different patient or student.  But not necessarily for that individual.  And we try to go on personality as well as the experience that our clients are looking for.  Again, knowing your resources.  I know that everyone’s got different approaches, different specialties within their field.  So there are so many different reasons for knowing your referrals well.

Yes.  I mean, you wouldn’t send someone who you know has really high anxiety to somebody who doesn’t have a great bedside manner.


But you wouldn’t know that unless you got to know that health professional.  But if you had someone who was a straight shooter who needed all the information and was fine with it, you would absolutely send them there.

Yeah.  It’s like if you look at the DISC, for example, the personality assessment.  Not everyone is going to get along with a D or they may not want an I who will talk their ear off.  They may want someone who’s very sensitive and more of the S and the caretaker.  So we find that when I match doulas with families and really trying to find the ideal personality based not only on the mother but also the partner.

Yeah.  Because it’s not just a dyad, right, especially if there are two parents.  It is a triad or maybe even more because of other kids involved.  So keeping in mind that there are multiple personalities and dynamics. 

So you said you’ve got CST in there, physiotherapy.  What other health professions do you have that you like to have a list of?

So certainly different specialties within chiropractic care.  If you’re looking for a Webster certified chiro or a pediatric.  Dieticians, pediatric dentists are big parts of it.  All of the different mental health experts, whether it’s a relationship struggle or PMADs or posttraumatic stress after a traumatic birth.  Whatever our clients are going through.  And then for me, car seat safety is a big issue, and then just looking at even navigating where you can deliver your baby, who can deliver your baby.  Explaining all of the options, like what is maternal fetal if you are high risk, and OB, certified nurse midwife, who works in the hospital, or a certified professional midwife who attends births at home.  Really, all of the options that you would have for support.  And then looking at fitness classes and prenatal yoga and some of the classes you can take with baby after healing.  Things like, of course, pelvic floor physical therapy and getting physical therapy during pregnancy and those types of options.

All of these things are so incredibly important.  I understand that not everyone is going to be able to afford or have resources or money to pay for these things, but my desire with CST and training as many CST practitioners as possible is that when there are a multitude of them, there are also more who can give out either free services every once in a while or work on a pro bono or work on a sliding scale.  And I think that more and more people are joining this postpartum career in the postpartum field, and it’s wonderful.  It’s wonderful that we do have this list of health professionals.

Yes.  And then hopefully maternity benefits and paternity benefits keep expanding.  Some self-funded insurance plans cover doulas, and then there’s Carrot Fertility and Progyny.  Yes.  So things are starting to shift, and I know that there’s support for adoption in some benefits and fertility.  Hopefully, things can expand even more to include CST.

I hope so.  I really do, because the body work aspect is, I think, undervalued.  You know, people think that babies come out a clean slate, and that is – that couldn’t be further from the truth.  That’s partly why we do need this list of health professionals is because this baby has stored trauma in their body and it’s coming out as symptoms and distress, right?  And I wonder – not that I want to put other professions out, but I wonder how many parents would not have such a difficult time if they knew all of the resources that they had available to them.

Exactly.  That’s why I’m hoping the book is a starting point, and then people will have more access.  Not everyone can afford to join my Becoming course, but most everyone can buy a book or borrow.  This will be on Kindle.  There’s a hardcover, a paperback, and then in mid-June, it will be out on audiobook.  So if you have an Audible account, you can listen.

Amazing.  Well, I do, so I’ll probably listen.


That’s the thing, that it needs to be accessible.  This information should be accessible.

Exactly.  And just knowing national support groups and parenting groups and all of the options and resources and what I consider would be evidence-based information.  This is only my personal experience as a doula, as a business owner, and a mother.  So I’m not speaking in a clinical perspective.  But I feel like, again, after lots of work trying to refer books for my clients, there’s nothing like it.  The closest thing would be What To Expect When You’re Expecting, which was written by a mom, and isn’t really covering all of the things that we cover in this book.  Not so much about assembling the experts.

Right.  That is so incredibly important.  We were speaking earlier before we came on here, and I did my doula training when I was – oh, how old was I?  I was 30.  And they focused strongly on having that referral source, your list of referral sources, before you start taking clients, because these parents are going to be struggling and they are going to need the help, and you need to know who you’re sending your people to.  You need to have that ready for parents because you can’t do everything yourself.  And we’re not supposed to do everything ourselves.  It’s better to have this team approach.

Yes.  And birth doulas, we follow up and have a postnatal appointment with our clients within two weeks of when they deliver.  So again, a great time to give resources and support in that way.  And then postpartum doulas are supporting right when they get home, as long as they need.  For us, since we work through the first year, sometimes we don’t even begin work until parents are going back to work from their leave and want to get rest and support.  They may have had a lot of family support initially, or their partner may have some leave time.  So we’re not always there early, but there’s still a lot we can do as far as giving resources and referrals.

Yeah, that’s amazing.  Well, thank you so much for speaking with me today.  I know that your book is needed, is necessary, and whoever is listening, Mother’s Day, Supported comes out, so keep your eyes open.  I believe this episode will go live right around that time, so hopefully we can get more sales driven to you, some more clicks on your link.  We will share all of the information for you, Kristin, in the show notes so that people can find you.  Other than that, where do you think people would be able to look for your information?

So the book will be on Amazon, so you’ll be able to find it.  There’s a preorder for the ebook right now, but the actual print book will not be up and live until Mother’s Day.  The Gold Coast Doulas website, which is, does have a page for the Supported book, and also the Becoming A Mother course if anyone is interested in that.  And I’m on social media, so Instagram, Facebook, @goldcoastdoulas.  And then of course, I have the Ask the Doulas podcast, where I’ll be having you on soon.

I know!  I’m so excited!  I can’t wait to share more about CST!

The podcast is all about interviewing experts like yourself in the birth and baby space.

Amazing.  Well, I feel grateful that I’m able to be seen as that expert.

Definitely!  Thank you so much, Meghan.  It was great to talk with you!


Listen to the podcast

Birth and postpartum support from Gold Coast Doulas

Supported: Your Guide to Birth and Baby

The Importance of Support in the Pre and Postpartum Period with Kristin Revere Read More »

Green Nursery by Bebcare showing nursery with plants

Green Beginnings: Six Essential Tips for a Safe, Low EMF Nursery

Guest blog post by Rebecca Pickett of Bebcare Low EMF Emissions Baby Monitors

Creating an eco-friendly, green nursery is more than just a trend; it’s a commitment to the health and well-being of the newest addition to your family. By choosing non-toxic, sustainable materials, you’re reducing your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals or wireless emissions that can be found in conventional nursery items. These chemicals, often hidden in paints, plastics, and fabrics, can off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants, potentially affecting your baby’s developing respiratory system and overall health. A green nursery, filled with natural light, organic bedding, and low-emissions products, provides a pure and clean environment that supports your baby’s growth and development in the most formative years.

bebcare monitor in a blue roomMoreover, building a green nursery is a step towards preserving the environment for future generations. Every eco-friendly choice you make, from bamboo flooring to LED lighting, contributes to a smaller carbon footprint. It’s about embracing products that are made with renewable resources, have a low impact on the earth, and can be recycled or biodegraded at the end of their life cycle. By creating a space that is both safe for your baby and kind to the planet, you’re setting an example of environmental stewardship and instilling values of sustainability from the very beginning. It’s a meaningful way to ensure that as your child grows, they’ll inherit a world that is as healthy and vibrant as their nursery.

Creating a nursery that is safe, eco-friendly, and low in EMF radiation is an excellent way to ensure a healthy environment for your baby. Here are six tips to help you achieve this:

  1. Use Low EMF Baby Monitors: Bebcare baby monitors are designed with low EMF emissions, making them a great choice for a green nursery. They have an ultra-low radiation mode that minimizes wireless signal output, ensuring your baby’s environment is as safe as possible. (Use goldcoastdoulas discount code to save 15% on Bebcare website)
  2. Choose Natural Materials: Opt for furniture and decorations made from natural materials like wood, organic cotton, and bamboo. These materials are not only sustainable but also less likely to emit harmful chemicals.
  3. Embrace Non-Toxic Paints: When painting your nursery, use non-toxic, water-based paints. These paints are free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are better for both the environment and your baby’s health.
  4. Incorporate Plants: Adding indoor plants can improve air quality by absorbing pollutants and emitting oxygen. Just be sure to choose plants that are non-toxic and safe for children.
  5. Maximize Natural Light: Utilize natural light as much as possible. It reduces the need for artificial lighting, which saves energy and minimizes EMF radiation from electrical fixtures.
  6. Limit Wireless Devices: Reduce the number of wireless devices in the nursery. Wired connections for items like computers and speakers can help lower EMF levels.

In conclusion, building an eco-friendly, green nursery is a vital step towards safeguarding your baby’s health and ensuring their well-being. It’s a proactive approach that not only nurtures your child in a wholesome environment but also contributes positively to the world at large. Every choice we make, no matter how small, has the power to create a healthier planet. By opting for sustainable practices in our nurseries, we’re not just making a statement about the importance of our children’s immediate surroundings; we’re also casting a vote for the kind of Earth we want them to inherit. Collectively, our efforts can lead to significant change, ensuring that the legacy we leave behind is one of care, responsibility, and respect for nature.

By following these tips, you can create a nursery that is not only eco-friendly and low in EMF radiation but also a tranquil space for your baby to grow and thrive.

About Bebcare: For peace of mind and eco-conscious monitoring, the Bebcare baby monitor stands out with its ultra-low EMF emissions and high-quality audio and video, ensuring your baby’s safety while supporting a greener future. It’s the smart choice for modern parents.

Green Beginnings: Six Essential Tips for a Safe, Low EMF Nursery Read More »

Tender Seasons Fearless Nightgown shown in light green

Meet the Visionaries: Unveiling the Minds Behind Tender Seasons, Michigan’s Maternity Wear Icon

Guest blog post by Kayli Joann, Founder & CEO of Tender Seasons.

I stared in the mirror in disgust at the baggy, “cute” nightgown I had purchased for a little getaway with my husband. I was very pregnant and excited to get out of the house for a weekend! I had been on the search for something cute to make me feel pretty and more myself for my husband. This boxy, baggy, “pregnancy/nursing-friendly” nightgown that I had just gotten in the mail was such a disappointment. There had to be better options, I had scoured the internet for hours it seemed to try and find something that I felt confident in, to no avail. 

300x300 holding bb to feed in lace bra by Tender SeasonsAnd that’s how it started. A few months later, newly postpartum and feeling very much a stranger in my body – I sat down with my sketchpad next to our son, sleeping peacefully in his bouncy seat, and started to sketch the very first design that would become a total game changer in my life. Here was born the Fearless Collection nightgown that started Tender Seasons. There had to be better options out there for moms. Something to make us feel confident and pretty in this season of life that is so fragile. We so often feel like we are living in someone else’s body as we navigate pregnancy and postpartum in so many different ways. I just felt like I could do better, to design options for women that would put a total 180 spin on the normal designs for nursing-friendly, and postpartum wear.

It wasn’t long before I asked my sister-in-law to join me on this new adventure, I needed a partner to help me bring my dream to life. And what better option than a fellow mom that was no stranger to postpartum life, who also happened to be family and a dear friend. It became such a work of love for both of us, a passion to do better and make better options for moms that fueled body positivity in multiple ways! We poured our heart and soul into getting Tender Seasons off the ground. Everything from designing our website, to cultivating new product ideas, to photo shoots and product testing. It became so much of what we lived and breathed. 

Since that day, we have strived to keep the vision that started it all alive and thriving. To design maternity and nursing wear that combines comfort, functionality, and allure. Our goal is for you 
to feel beautiful and confident throughout every stage of motherhood”.

We have since designed more nightgowns, nursing bras, baby swaddles, and even commissioned a friend to make our famous all-over-baby balm that continues to be a mom favorite. 

This has not just been about starting a business to help our families financially, or provide a sense of purpose to “mom life”. Tender Seasons has been a game changer in the lives of so many women. We want to create a sense of belonging and community here. For moms to feel confident using our products. To know they’re beautiful and strong in every single season of motherhood. It’s not easy, each phase brings new challenges, hills, and valleys. We want moms to know they aren’t alone!

We’ve now been honored to be mentioned and loved in so many households across the United States. Our business has grown enough now that we are able to give back as well! Now, when moms shop with us, a portion of their purchase goes to a non-profit called Carry Them Ministries. A body of incredible people who have come together to provide nutritional and breastfeeding support to moms and infants in Nigeria. This has always been a dream of mine, to give back. And seeing it come to fruition is absolutely an emotional experience. We are working towards the day when Tender Seasons will be a casual household name in the world of mom brands. We’re getting there! 

We hope and pray always that our designs can make a difference, and that when moms put on our nightgowns or nursing bras they feel absolutely beautiful; because they truly are.

Meet the Visionaries: Unveiling the Minds Behind Tender Seasons, Michigan’s Maternity Wear Icon Read More »

Prenatal and Postnatal Nutrition Tips with Stephanie Middleburg: Podcast Episode #236

Kristin Revere and Stephanie Middleburg chat about the importance of nourishing yourself and your baby during pregnancy and the postnatal phase.  Stephanie is the author of “The Big Book of Pregnancy Nutrition” and founder of Middleburg Nutrition.

Hello, hello!  This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Stephanie Middleburg today.  Stephanie is a registered dietician, author, and founder of Middleburg Nutrition.  Welcome, Stephanie!

Hi!  Thanks for having me!

So happy to have you here!  Our primary topic today is all about prenatal nutrition. 

Yes, I have – I love this topic.  I’ve always loved this.  First and foremost, I’m also a mom of two.  I have an eight-year-old little boy and an almost two-year-old little girl.  I’ve focused on this a ton in my practice.  It’s become a specialty, and I have a book coming out April 30th, called The Big Book of Pregnancy Nutrition.

Amazing!  And you also have two other books, so you seem like you’re very busy between being an author of multiple books and your own practice as a dietician.  Being a mom itself is a busy job.  Very impressive!

I mean, the kids have been the inspiration for my books, that’s for sure.  So my first book was The Big Book of Organic Baby Food, followed by The Big Book of Organic Toddler Food, and now this pregnancy book is essentially a prequel to the others.  And I think being in private practice keeps me so grounded and connected to what people are actually going through and their questions.  Literally while I was writing The Big Book of Pregnancy Nutrition, I was taking notes as to what my clients were saying.  I think the power of these books is that you can have all the information, but unless it’s communicated in a way that people can be receptive to and understand, those words might not be as effective.  I really try to take a realistic approach in my books and my work with my clients, which is a lot of fun.

That makes so much sense, and obviously, the foundation of everything is that prenatal phase and focusing on nourishing yourself.  I know there can be a lot of misinformation about following cravings and it’s an excuse to eat whatever you want, but it is so important to focus on proper nutrition, not only for baby, but for yourself.

It’s such an interesting time with my work with my clients because I think women come in this stage with such different mindsets.  I work with so many women who are really fearful and anxious about the food that they consume from a food safety perspective and making sure they’re getting all the nutrients, and then there’s other women who are like, this is my time to eat what I want.  I’m going to lean into these cravings.  But there is still so much confusion out there and so many questions, and it is such an important stage that can really set the tone for both how mom is feeling in her pregnancy and postpartum, as well, which is why I really like to emphasize in this book that it’s food for mama and for baby.  It really does start the family thinking about eating quite differently, and I just know from in my pregnancies, even as a practitioner, there were a lot of things that I acted reactively to, being like, why didn’t I know this?  Why didn’t anybody tell me this, or why didn’t I research this more?  And I see that in my clients, too.  A lot of the book was to really provide some information along the way at various stages, whether or not you make changes, but at least to be aware of things to talk to your doctors or your care team about.  I think that’s so important.  I essentially go through the book as I would with someone that would come into my office.  Essentially, the first thing I’m so passionate about is getting bloodwork done for pregnant women.  Not everyone has a baseline of where they are at the start of pregnancy, and I feel like that’s such a missed opportunity, especially as it relates to whatever your background is.  If you’ve been on the birth control pill for a long time, that can deplete a lot of nutrients like B6 and B12 and vitamin D and C and magnesium and selenium if you’re vegan or vegetarian.  You want to know where your vitamin D levels are because you might need more than what’s in your prenatal.  Iron, anemia.  50% of women essentially are anemic in their pregnancy, and this usually happens in the second or third trimester, but it’s important to know what your base is to be able to – if this is something, like, should you take an iron supplement in your prenatal; should you take one separately.  B12; 38% of women are deficient in it, and they really don’t realize it.  Those are really things, when you feel the fatigue – I mean, you’re going to be tired in pregnancy regardless, but it could have to do with some nutritional deficiencies.  And one other thing I’m passionate about is blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C.  So that essentially measures your blood sugar over a two to three month span, and in pregnancy, most women, unless you’re considered an older mom, your blood sugar doesn’t get tested.  You don’t go through the blood glucose screening test until 24 to 28 weeks.  Again, if you’re older, you might do it at week 16.  That’s far along in your pregnancy to find out that you might have gestational diabetes.  We really are looking that studies really show that at the start of pregnancy, if your levels are 5.7 or above, chances are you probably will have gestational diabetes, so why not work on some blood sugar control earlier rather than wait until the middle of your pregnancy?  So there’s just some preventative things that I’m just very passionate about women talking to their doctors about just to get more personal information for their bodies to see what’s going on.

Very helpful.  And the book is such a great way for you to impact more women.  I mean, living in Brooklyn, you can only see so many people in your private practice, so having this guide for people all over the world to better care for themselves and their baby or babies is so important.

Yeah, I really hope so, and that’s really the goal.  It was amazing to me how the Big Book of Organic Baby Food really became a Bible to so many women.  I am in Brooklyn, but to see how far reaching it was and how helpful it was for so many women definitely helped inspire this book for pregnancy because it is such a confusing time.  These are areas where you need a lot of handholding, right, in certain parts, and you need a lot of guidance.  Somethings are black and white, but some things, there’s gray area.  I think as it relates to even food safety, a lot of women get hung up on it and over-Google.  That’s where they get their information from.  They might not be getting it from their care team, either.  Prenatal stuff is definitely one of those where no one really knows what to do there.  You’re told to get a prenatal, and I think unless you have a relative or a friend, there’s no guidance on what specific prenatal you should get or what you should be looking for for yourself.  So I have a big chart there, and a section on supplementing your supplements.  Again, some women need additional nutrients in addition to just what their prenatal is providing them.

That makes perfect sense.  I remember having a friend tell me about the whole food prenatals versus the standard generic ones, and it made such a difference in my nausea and just overall energy.

100%.  And sometimes it takes a little bit to find the right combination for you, and that’s okay.  You can switch your prenatal in the combination until you find the best fit for you.  The first trimester is really hard because 75% of women are going to be nauseous, and there are different forms of prenatals you can take.  There are now some powders you can do.  There are some liquids.  Gummies, which aren’t my favorite; you’re just not going to get enough of what you need as a supplement, but better than nothing, right?  Take a gummy in the first trimester until you start feeling better.  But really, yeah, unless you know, it’s a really hard area and knowing what to look for.  Not everyone will need iron in their prenatal but might need to take it separately because it can lead to some digestive issues.  Not all prenatals have choline in it.  A lot of prenatals just have, like, 600 to 800 IUs of vitamin D where you might need 4000 IUs of vitamin D.  It might not have the right form.  You might need more magnesium citrate, for example, if you’re finding you’re constipated.  Not to make it complicated, but these are all things to look out for that can be immensely helpful.  I’m a big proponent of probiotics, especially later on in pregnancy, because there’s really great research that shows that it can help prevent chronic conditions in kids, like eczema, food allergies, things of that nature, especially if you’re going to have a C-section or for any reason you were put on antibiotics, even during your pregnancy or post, that your baby was put on any sort of antibiotics.  I think it’s helpful to take a probiotic in your third trimester and then probably postpartum.

That makes complete sense.  So you mentioned earlier, Stephanie, that there were some nutrition tips that you wish you would have known that you shared in the book. 


I would love to hear more about that.

The supplements was a big one for me.  I remember going to the doctor’s office so excited we’re going to have this conversation, and he was like, yeah, take a prenatal.  And I was like, do I need vitamin D?  He’s like, yeah, could do.  Maybe, maybe not, but take it.  I remember the conversation was so meh.  And that’s one of the reasons why it inspired me to go into detail about these prenatals and again to have the conversation and bring it to your doctor or ask them to test your levels so you can see if you do need more of certain things.  Another part was during the blood glucose screening test, my nurses had told me – this is, again, 24 to 28 weeks, your first time to test if you might have gestational diabetes, and you take, like, 50 grams of sugar.  I don’t know if you remember this.  And then they test your glucose, your reaction to it.  If you pass, great.  If you fail, then you have to go on to a three-hour glucose screening test, which is way less fun.  You want to try to avoid it if you can, but it doesn’t mean that you have gestational diabetes.  But anyway, it is not a fasting test, and time and time again with me, I was told it was, and so many of my clients were told it was, which I think sets you up for a disadvantage.  If you think about it, if you’re having so much sugar on an empty stomach, you’re going to spike more than if you are consuming this sugar on a breakfast, or after a meal that is really rich in protein and fat, which slows down the absorption of sugar.  That was one area that I was like, what?  Why?  Why did I get this misinformation?  Why did I not know this?  And now even with the glucose screening test, it depends on how you feel about certain things.  First of all, the test is gross.

It is gross.

It tastes like an off-brand Gatorade with a maple syrup texture.  It’s not fun.  And thank goodness, we’re at a time where there’s so much research and people are paying attention to this prenatal experience.  There is a company now that has a dye-free option called the Fresh Test, which I wish I knew about it when I had my pregnancies.  It also tastes better.  It’s one of those things that you can purchase and talk to your doctor.  Just share with them if you have a preference for taking this.  And it’s more of a lemon, sour-tasting versus some of those other ones that are orangey or raspberry and just don’t taste very good.  Lemon is a better taste than others.  But have a strong breakfast before you go; again, rich in protein and fat.  So, say, like, eggs and avocado or full fat Greek yogurt with nuts in it, something along those lines.  I feel like that gives you a fighting chance so you have more success at that point.

Another prime example that I was not aware about was when I was induced, which I have feelings about now, of course.  This was in my first pregnancy.  I didn’t know that doctors don’t allow you to eat once you start the process, and I would have been more prepared.  You’re essentially going through labor – your body is being put through a major physical test.  You’re running a marathon.  To subside on Jello…

It does not work.

It does not work, and I think it’s something you can have a conversation with your doctor.  I mean, they’re concerned about aspiration, but it’s really – I think just to have the conversation.  I do believe most people can have more foods.  I mean, this is where I’m a fan of bringing some bone broth, whether you made it or get it from a trustworthy source, that you can sip.  It’s going to give you so much more energy.  You can even bring in honey sticks.  Something like energy bites.  I mean, things that are going to get digested very quickly.  But you need energy to take you through your labor and to help you recover postpartum.  I have a labor aid recipe, which is essentially your own DIY electrolyte mix that you can bring that has sugar and salt and really hydrating.  That was in a time of, like, what do you mean I can’t eat?  I was starving, and I was so depleted.  And I know so many women go through that, as well.  I definitely list out a lot of things to eat if you were home, or if you’re going to a hospital, things that you could bring.  So those were three examples, I think, where I was not as prepared as I wish I was from a food perspective.

Fortunately, there are fewer restrictions on eating in the hospital now, at least in my area in Michigan.  As a doula, my clients are able to snack on a lot of the items you mentioned.

Which is amazing!

Yes, big change.

It’s a big change, absolutely.  And I think one of the other areas that I wanted the book to go into is that fourth trimester recovery.  I don’t think women are prepared for how tired and how starving they’re going to be once the baby arrives, especially if they do plan on nursing.  Every client of mine is so surprised how hungry they are.

Absolutely.  Especially, like you said, with breastfeeding.  I felt like I could eat all the time, and yet I also felt like I was caring for my baby and toddler at the same time.

100%.  Suddenly, your nutrition isn’t about you anymore, right?  But yet your needs are the highest they’ve ever been.  You just went through a marathon.  You carried a baby for ten months, and you’re nursing, which essentially is like you’re running at least six miles a day.  This is such an important time to think about fortifying yourself, and women are just so depleted and exhausted.  I really have – not necessarily a meal plan, but the guidance in terms of, like, your snacks really have to be mini meals and things that you can do to make sure that you’re fortifying yourself.  You just need more of everything, essentially, at this stage.  You need even more protein.  You need even more of the healthy fats.  You need even more of the hydration for you and the carbohydrates.  That was a stage that I just was like – it’s a feeling that you’ve never felt before, and you want to keep up your milk supply, too, which is really important.  I have 40 recipes in the back of the book.  My other two books were more of cookbooks.  This is more of a nutrition book with 40 recipes.  But I definitely have some recipes.  They’re divided into sections.  One section is some lactogenic recipes that can help boost milk supply.  I have sections of breakfast.  I have healthified comfort foods.  I have things you can freeze in advance during that nesting period.  I really have – I want people to rely on their freezers a lot to have a lot food in advance that you can just defrost.  I think it’s really, really important.  I have a whole sweets section.  I have a vegetable section, which are really hard for a lot of pregnant women to consume, especially in that first trimester, and they want sour tastes.   A slaw is great; or so many of my clients could, in the beginning, get down a cucumber salad with rice wine vinegar and olive oil and sesame seeds, something along those lines.  Any chance to get some nutrition in when you’re not feeling good.  But also through that postpartum, nutrition deficiency is like – you know, some people develop thyroid issues and they don’t realize that maybe that might be contributing some feelings of depression and anxiety.  Those are nutrients to pay attention to, as well.  Your needs for iodine in pregnancy increase 50%, which is huge.  And again, iron; your needs increase one and a half times.  Your blood volume doubles in pregnancy.  I don’t think a lot of pregnant women prior to pregnancy necessarily thought about their iron intake unless they were anemic, but especially iron, iodine, protein in the postpartum stage is really important.  And as you said, you probably see so much depletion in these women.

Definitely.  So one thing that is a constant struggle – you mentioned freezing food, and it’s great that you have all of these recipes, but oftentimes with well-meaning family and friends and meal trains, the food that is prepared is not often the healthiest for a postpartum mother. 

Yes.  Well, this is where – it’s true.  I mean, hopefully, you can be an advocate for yourself and ask your well-meaning friends and family if you have certain requests of what you would like to eat.  I think it is also maybe in advance going – if you don’t think you might be cooking, it might be going through restaurant menus that you know you’ve loved before and highlighting certain things that a partner or someone can order that you know is healthy that you like.  I know in New York and various cities, there’s some postpartum or just meal delivery services.  Instead of gifts, a lot of friends accumulate funds for things like this and do a week of meal delivery for a mother or for the family, something along those lines.  I think a little bit of that is thinking in advance what would be the most helpful.  And your friends want to help.  Your family wants to help.  If it’s money for a meal delivery service, do it.

Or even for friends and family members who love to cook, send them some of the recipes in your book.

Exactly.  Exactly.  I mean, that’s one thing that’s amazing about the Big Book of Organic Baby Food and Toddler Food.  All these women or families who are telling me that they might not be cooking it, but they’re giving it to their caretakers, the recipes, so they’re giving it to the grandparents and are like, here, make anything from this book.  So it just makes their lives so much easier.

Definitely.  Yes, as postpartum doulas, we do light meal preparation, so we make snacks and food for toddlers.  It is always helpful to have a guide or recipe that would be helpful for the entire family.

Exactly.  I always try to strike a balance with all my books.  These are going to be foods that the whole family can enjoy that’s nutritious and yummy, but easy.  Easy, too.  I want my recipes to be under 30 minutes.  Some are going to take more time, like if you’re making – I do have a lasagna.  Obviously, that’s going to take more cooking time.  But it can last in the freezer for a long, long time.  I don’t want someone to spend tons of time in the kitchen if they don’t want to.  That’s why I want the recipes to be accessible and easy for everyone.

Love it.  Any final tips for our listeners, Stephanie?

I would just – I mean, again, one of my things is just that you have to be your own advocate during this.  Listen to your body.  It is such a fun and exciting time.  Be an advocate.  Ask questions to your doctor.  Ask your friends questions.  I think probably you see this, too, for nursing.  If you plan to nurse – I just think for women to go into it knowing that nursing is hard.  I see this time and time again, and I know it for myself.  I think the nursing situation can make or break your first few weeks for you of your postnatal experience.  I think a lot of women have their hearts set on nursing and if they can’t do it, it becomes emotionally and physically really tough.  I think just having a perspective that it’s hard.  Not to say don’t do it, but everybody responds to it differently.  I just want people to set their expectations and maybe have a plan B in mind if it doesn’t work out and that it’s really okay.  And also to try to set up some support for it.  If you know of a lactation specialist or if your doula is a lactation specialist, really reach out for that.  But again, I just feel like I was so lucky and thankful that my friends were super open and honest about their experience about that being tough.  I went in knowing that it might not work, and that’s okay.  I think just in this space, again, there’s so many resources to help you nurse and there’s so many great formulas, too, on the market now that I feel like we just didn’t have access to even a few years ago.  There’s always options.  I just think that’s one thing that’s really important.  And I would also say don’t worry if in that first trimester, you feel like all you can eat is bread and butter and cheese.  It’s okay.  Get through it.  Your baby will be fine.  They will take from your stores.  But do try to slowly incorporate, even if it’s a few bites, some protein for you.  The less that you eat, it’s sort of like this vicious cycle.  And if you’re nauseous, the less that you eat, you can become more nauseous, and you can get reflux.  So you really do sort of need to get that.  You need to eat to support your body and probably eat every two to three hours.  But I will say, just to take that pressure off, don’t worry about it.  A lot of women don’t feel well.  Do the best that you can.  That’s why second, thirst trimester and postpartum, we want to focus on the mom, too, to make sure that she can be healthy to support herself, to have your body heal as it should.  And then also to be able to go into a second or third or fourth pregnancy with their tanks full, right, instead of depleted.

That’s what it’s all about.

Yep, that’s what it’s all about.

Well, thank you for those tips.  Very helpful advice.  So, Stephanie, fill us in on how to get your books, to start, and then how our listeners can connect with you.

Great.  My books – you really can get them anywhere.  Amazon, for a lot of people, is just the easiest.  But you can get them at Barnes & Noble and Target, online and in the stores.  The pregnancy book won’t be out until April 30th, but the other two at any point.  And you can find me @smiddleburg-rd.  That’s my Instagram.  And then is my website.  And even though I’m based in Brooklyn, New York, I actually do a lot virtually.  I do a combination there.  I love working with women or families one on one, in any capacity.

Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom, Stephanie.  It was lovely, and I’ll have to have you back on to expand our conversation in the future.

I would love that.  Thank you so much!


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Prenatal and Postnatal Nutrition Tips with Stephanie Middleburg: Podcast Episode #236 Read More »