Author name: Samantha Venelase

Mya from Gold Coast Doulas sits inside a floating circle in front of a Kitchen + Kocktale wall wearing a headband, scarf, and crossbody fanny pack.

Meet Mya, Our Newest Postpartum Doula!

Meet Mya, Our Newest Postpartum Doula!
As you know, when we bring a new person onto the Gold Coast team, we love to find out more about them and
share that with you!

Let’s find out more about Mya.

1) What did you do before you became a postpartum doula?
Before becoming a doula, I worked as a swim instructor, and as a head swim coach for young children in
Naperville, Illinois. After that, I went to Central Michigan University to earn a bachelor’s degree in science.

2) What inspired you to become a postpartum doula?
I’ve always been fascinated with pregnancy as a whole, after watching my family members, experience,
pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. I knew I would be the perfect helping hand for those who look like me,
which is what inspired me the most. I want other minorities to feel comfortable while giving birth, which is why I
pride myself on creating such a warm and open environment.

3) Tell us about your family.
My family has a very tight bond, we are quite a small family, because of this we spend lots of our free time
together whether it’s hanging out and enjoying each other’s company or traveling and going on new
adventures. Overall, my family is very loving and supportive, and most of all we love to have a good laugh.

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
My favorite vacation spot is probably Barcelona Spain, the reason for this is because I’m a total foodie, and the
food there was beyond fresh and different from anything I’ve ever had before. Also, the architecture of all the
buildings were incredibly breathtaking.

5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
This is a hard question, considering I enjoy listening to almost all genres of music.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new families?
The best advice I have for families is to stick with their goals and values, just because they don’t align with
others in your community does not mean they are wrong, and also to give yourself grace and patience. Some
things take time to heal, and we must be mindful of that.

7) What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?
I believe my doula superpower is making people feel comfortable and empowered, no matter what the situation
is. Growing up looking different from most of my peers I know how it feels to be in uncomfortable situations.
This is why I pride myself on being able to make others feel both comfortable and confident in all environments.

8) What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is tacos, I could probably eat tacos every day for the rest of my life.

9) What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Since I’m not a Michigan native, I absolutely love going to the dunes, we don’t have anything similar to that in
Chicago so it’s always a fun treat.

10) What are you reading now?
Self-care for new moms

11) Who are your role models?
I would say, my mom is one of my biggest role models, she’s taught me how to be kind, empathetic,
independent, and resilient.
Mya serves day and overnight postpartum and infant care clients in West Michigan, SW Michigan and Northern
Michigan.

 

2 women in professional clothes with a colorful geometric background

2022 Reflections

2022 Reflections:
Whew! Our word of the year for 2022 was changed. Gold Coast announced an expansion for day and overnight postpartum support to Northern and Southwest Michigan in April.
Alyssa Veneklase transitioned from co-owner to subcontractor at Gold Coast in August. She still leads the Becoming A Mother course with Kristin and teaches at Gold Coast.
Kristin and Alyssa have signed with a publisher for a book deal!
Our small business has been operating on EOS with our implementor Laurel Romanella for a full year now and we have seen tremendous growth as a result.

Here are the Gold Coast stats for 2022:  

  • Number of group and private classes taught: 28
  • Number of students: 82
  • Number of birth clients that delivered in 2022: 95
  • Number of birth clients supported in 2022 with 2023 due dates: 26
  • Average Continuing Education training per doula: 5
  • Lactation: 22 clients
  • Alyssa created a new sleep class for infants and toddlers at different stages
  • Sleep Consultations: 18 clients served
  • Day and Overnight Postpartum Doula support hours: 7,776 (our best year yet for postpartum)
  • Multiples: 6 families served.
  • DEI our entire team had a 2-hour virtual DEI training with Sabia Wade, The Black Doula in February
  • Our entire team participated in a 2-hour pregnancy and newborn loss training through PAILAdvocates.
  • New Subcontractors Added to our Team: 8 doulas, 1 sleep consultant
  • Advanced Certifications Achieved: 12
  • Julie Skripka and Gina Kraft celebrated five years with Gold Coast.
  • We had our seven-year anniversary in October.
  • Ask the Doulas Podcast- We ended the year with 167 episodes total. Feedspot ranked Ask the
  • Doulas as 6 of the Best 15 Doula Podcasts on the Planet in 2022.   Listen Notes ranked Ask the Doulas as one of the top 5% most popular shows out of 3,005,585 globally. We launched our podcast in 2017 and are still growing strong thanks to our fantastic guests and listener support.
  • Becoming A Mother Course- We added new expert videos and enhanced our email communication to further grow our self-paced online course.
  • We offered two pro-bono spots in the course to low-income women.
  • 2022 Awards: West Michigan BBB Torch Award for Ethics Finalist, Best of Michbusiness small business award winner and Kristin Revere was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
  • Media: First Time Parent Magazine: Kristin Revere wrote an article on making your hospital room feel like home.
  • Gold Coast continued as a Climate Leader with Aclymate. We purchased 13,855 lbs of carbon offsets.
  • Gold Coast applied for B Corp recertification in July.

Volunteer Hours: 129 

  • Charitable Donations:  $2,703 to charities supporting low-income women and children.
  • Organizations donated to include: Nestlings Diaper Bank. Spectrum Foundation for a breastfeeding training for the Butterworth Women’s Center nursing staff, St. Mary’s Foundation with funds dedicated to clinics, Pine Rest Mother-Baby Program, MomsBloom, Preeclampsia Foundation and the Hello Seven Foundation.
  • We also donated a birth stool to St. Mary’s Foundation.
  • Diapers Collected for our 7th Annual Diaper Drive for Nestlings Diaper Bank: 11,133 disposable diapers, 97 packs of wipes and 100 cloth supplies. Many thanks to our partners: Rise Wellness Chiropractic, Fit4Mom Grand Rapids, Mind Body Baby, Mindful Counseling, Advent Physical Therapy, Hopscotch Children’s Store, EcoBuns Baby + Co, Brann’s, The Insurance Group, R. Lucas Scott. Co, and Howard Miller Library.

We are so thankful for our clients, partners, podcast listeners and students. Thank you for
trusting us to support your families!

 

New Gold Coast Doula

Meet our new Postpartum Doula, Jene’e!

1) What did you do before you became a doula/consultant?

For many years, I primarily have been a “domestic engineer”, a stay-at-home mom. Although in some of those years, my family has owned a few restaurants, and I helped there when I was needed.

2) What inspired you to become a doula/consultant?

Becoming a mama at a very young age, to two boys, and the birthing experience I had with them started my journey to want to make others mamas experiences more empowering and filled with better memories and support. Because of my birthing experience with them, for a long time I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse, or an OB nurse practitioner, but that was not my life path.

I now have 7 beautiful children, and each one of those birthing experiences was different. It was not until my 6th child that I became more aware that I have a choice to a have different birthing experience. Now I want to empower mamas to know that they can too.

3) Tell us about your family.

We moved here to the Traverse City area at the end of 2020, from Henderson, Nevada. We would visit family here every summer, and loved the area.

We are a very outdoor family. Love the beach, paddle boarding, fishing, soccer, snowboarding, sledding, all fun activities

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

I absolutely love Hawaii. The beaches, the warm water, the smell, the culture. It is my Happy place.

Traverse City use to be one of our favorite vacation spots every summer also, until we moved from Las Vegas.

Now Las Vegas is one of my favorite vacation spots, so I can see my son, my amazing friends, and my previous village.

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

This is really hard to answer. I really think it depends on intention, mood, and the time of day.

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

There is so much “best” advice to give! Give yourself Grace, time to heal and rest, do what is best for you and your family even if that means setting boundaries, and do not feel the need to follow the western culture to “bounce back”.

7) What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?

From what I have been told, is that I bring great, empowering, safe energy when I walk into the room

8) What is your favorite food?

I love raw sushi and Mexican food

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

I love Empire, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor, & Traverse City

10) What are you reading now?

The First 40 Days

11) Who are your role models?

I love to listen and surround myself with empowering woman and friends.

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Baby Sleep

Top 5 Tips for Encouraging Baby to Sleep Through the Night

 

Kay Vorce, CED-PIC
Gold Coast Sleep Consultant

Certified Sleep Consultant

If there is one question I get all the time, it’s this one: How can I encourage my baby to sleep through
the night while still responding to their needs?
First, let’s define what that means. If your baby is sleeping 6-8 hour stretches, that’s considered sleeping
through the night. Although babies need 10-12 hours of sleep overnight (along with naps), your baby
may technically “sleep through the night” by sleeping 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. I don’t know about you, but
that’s hard to celebrate unless you also want to go to bed for the night at 8:00 p.m.!
The good news is that there are things parents can do to encourage a healthy chunk of sleep at the right
time, but there are some factors to consider: Age, weight, and habits.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting your baby to sleep through the night, with parents getting the most
sleep out of it too!

1. Keep your expectations realistic.
A newborn (8 weeks or less) needs to eat frequently. Expect your baby to wake every 2-3 hours
for feeds. If they don’t wake that often on their own, check with your pediatrician about setting
an alarm overnight for feeds. It’s very important that your growing baby gets the calories they
need in these vital early weeks.
These are the exhausting days. The trifecta of physical recovery, sleep deprivation, and hormone
adjustments in the post-birth period can bring on a myriad of complex emotions. Consider hiring
a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula can provide overnight newborn care while a mother
gets the vital rest she needs to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Don’t try to just survive
this period, reach out for help and support, you won’t regret it.
Once your baby has regained their birth weight and is closer to 2 or 3 months old, 4-6 hour
stretches become more realistic.

2. Don’t neglect the daytime calories.
Sometimes a baby will sleep A LOT during the day. Your baby is a perfect calorie regulating
machine. While this may be great for getting things done, keep in mind that the calories a baby
does not consume during the day, they will wake for overnight. Don’t be afraid to wake your
baby for a feed if they’re still napping and they’re due a feed.

3. Place a feed before parent’s bedtime.
If your baby is 12 weeks or under, consider a “wake and feed.” This technique combines a feed
with a short awake window to build sleep pressure, with the goal of a long sleep placed at a better time for parents. Wake your baby an hour before you’d like to go to bed and combine the
feed with some kick and play time in lower light, then put baby to bed for the night.
If your baby is 16 weeks or older, do a standard “dream feed” with no awake window. Just rouse
baby enough to take feed, then back to bed again.
The goal here is to help maximize sleep for the parents. If that doesn’t happen, ditch the
technique, and just aim for a filling feed at bedtime.

4. Start working on laying your baby down awake.
When your baby is under 12 weeks, and especially in the first 8 weeks, they’ll need total
assistance to sleep. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help them off to sleep while they’re laying
down in their own safe sleep space! Get your baby nice and drowsy in your arms, then try to pat
their bottom and “shush” (white noise is great here) them off to sleep once they’re laying down.
You can gradually pull back on how drowsy you’re getting your baby as they get older. A baby is
far more likely to sleep through the night when they recognize the environment is the same one
where they first went off to sleep.

5. Don’t rush straight to a feed overnight.
Your baby will make all sorts of sounds overnight, so try not to rush straight to a feed at every
sound or wake. If your baby is under 12 weeks, wait a minute or two before responding—your
baby may fall back asleep. If your baby is 12 weeks or more, a healthy weight and tracking well
along a growth curve, it’s worth a try to see if you can resettle your baby without a feed. The
amount of time is whatever you’re comfortable with, but I’d suggest trying to resettle with
motion, white noise and/or a pacifier for no more than 30 minutes before going to the feed. If
you’re exhausted, aim for just trying this one time a night.

Diaper Drive for families in need

2022 Diaper Drive Numbers Are In!

The final numbers are in for the Gold Coast Doulas LLC diaper drive for Nestlings | Diaper Bank of West Michigan. We collected 11,133 disposable diapers and 97 packs of wipes. These diapers are packed in groups of ten to impact families in need. We are thankful to all of our clients and community members who donated from September 1st to October 2rd during our 7th annual month-long diaper drive and 7th anniversary of Gold Coast. Thank you to all of the individuals who donated to the drive.  
Gold Coast takes sustainability seriously as a Certified B Corporation. We appreciate the generous cloth donations. We received the following used and new cloth diapers:
24 covers
27 pads
33 prefolds
14 washcloths
2 wet bags
 
Gold Coast also donated $300 to Nestlings Diaper Bank. Many props to our fantastic dropoff locations including:

In Zeeland:
In Holland:
In Grand Rapids:
Mindful Counseling GR: Three locations 
Advent Physical Therapy  Locations in Byron Center and Cherry Street

Special shoutouts go to the following partners:

Ecobuns collected the most cloth diapers and had to have their bin emptied multiple times.
Rise Wellness Chiropractic collected well over 3,000 diapers and wipes from their patients and supporters. They collected the most diapers of any individual dropoff location.
Mindful Counseling came through once again with three offices participating with an impressive collection of diapers at each location.
Hopscotch had an overflowing bin.
Mind Body Baby had a great turnout for the first year participating! 
Other honorable mentions with impressive collection efforts: Fit4Mom Grand Rapids, Advent PT, and all of the permanent drop-off locations in Holland/Zeeland and Hudsonville.
 
Thank you to Shelley Irwin with the WGVU Morning Show and Fox 17 for supporting our drive over the years. This awareness and exposure helped us to exceed our goal of collecting 10,000 diapers. Diapers are needed now more than ever with the increased costs of groceries, housing and gas. 

 

Pregnancy loss

Pregnancy Loss

Remember the story of Pandora’s Box? In Greek mythology, the story goes something like this: Pandora, told she could not open the lid of a box given to her or her husband from Zeus, finally lets curiosity get the best of her and opens the box. Immediately, out comes all the troubles that humanity would ever experience—pain, conflict, war, etc. and when Pandora finally is able to shut the lid, only one thing remains in the box: Hope.

​This story is still used today as a way to explain that even in the midst of complete horror and tragedy, hope still remains. In my motherhood journey, hope has been a positive, calming source that also at times hangs around, making things way more complicated.

​So, let me try to explain my story in brief. My husband and I get married in August 2016 and when we say “I do,” I have already been off of birth control for about three months. Knowing that we were not young kids (I was 34 and my husband was 39), we did not feel like we had any time to lose. I remember saying “I do” and hoping we would have a little one in our arms on our 1st anniversary or at least, one on the way. Months of infertility followed until we went to seek out fertility testing, which led to a diagnosis of infertility with an unknown cause. Infertility treatments followed with me finally getting pregnant on our first round of IVF, only to miscarry shortly thereafter.

After switching doctors, on the 3rd IVF cycle, I got pregnant with our daughter Colette. When I was 21 weeks pregnant, I was hospitalized with a diagnosis of severe preeclampsia, where I stayed until Colette was born via emergency c-section at 24 weeks, 5 days. She spent her very short nine-day life in the NICU before she died. There were no answers, no reason to explain why I had developed preeclampsia and even worse, no real plan as to how to avoid it and to intervene if necessary.

We went back to trying, first naturally and then with another round of IVF which was not successful. After we found out the transfer had failed, my husband was crying in my arms and I strangely felt relief. I was terrified of being pregnant again, still not sure I could trust my body, but desperately wanting a child we could bring home and raise. Eventually, we used a gestational carrier to bring home our rainbow baby, Elliott, who is two years old and absolutely the love of my life.

More recently, after Elliott had turned one, we decided we wanted to have another child and it seemed like everything was again in our favor. Our same surrogate was available and we started the process again, planning to bring Elliott’s baby brother or sister home. But, the stars were not in our favor this time and after failed and canceled cycles and way too many obstacles, we decided it was best for our family to stop and to be happy with our two children, one in heaven and one here with us.

These days, I struggle with what this decision means long term. I worry about Elliott not having a living sibling and if that will affect him personality-wise or if he will feel deprived of the experience. I think about how I will never have a daughter with me here to raise. And the biggest thing that I spend time thinking about is that I will never be pregnant again, I will never know what it is like to experience pregnancy at all past 24 weeks or to experience pregnancy that was not life-threatening after 21 weeks.

The hope that sustained me through our journey, that told me even when I went to the darkest places of thinking I would never be a mom or we would never have a child that was made up of the two of us, is gone. In its place is a hope that I struggle to understand and accept. As much as getting pregnant and going through a pregnancy scare the hell out of me, and believe me it does, there still remains this tiny hope that it will just happen, that when I least expect it, all of a sudden I will be pregnant and that because this surprise, perhaps divine occurrence will make sure that the pregnancy is smooth sailing.

Yet, I know the reality of such occurrence will not magically or divinely ensure that my pregnancy will be fantastic or even healthy or safe or last more than a mere blip of time. I even know that my vision and fantasy of being pregnant is not at all in line with my experience in real life. I hated being pregnant, I hated that everything made me sick, I hated how exhausted I was, I hated that my sense of smell was so strong, I hated that clothes did not fit sometimes one day to the next, I hated that my back hurt and my feet ached. But, most importantly, the same fear that caused me to point our family in another direction and use a gestational carrier is still very much a fear and one that medical science cannot solve at this moment in time. So, I know that accepting the decision to stop trying is best for my health, both mental and physical, for my husband, for our son, and for our daughter, but that little morsel of hope still eats away at me some days and for that, I really wish Pandora had left peace in the box instead of hope.

_________________________

Michelle Valiukenas is the proud mom of her angel Sweet Pea, who she lost due to miscarriage, her angel daughter Colette Louise who she lost at nine days old, and her only living child, her rainbow baby, Elliott Miguel. Inspired by her journey with Colette, Michelle and her husband founded The Colette Louise Tisdahl Foundation, whose mission is to improve outcomes of pregnancy, childbirth, prematurity, and infancy, as well as aid in the grieving process through financial assistance, education, and advocacy. Their flagship program financially assists families dealing with high-risk and complicated pregnancies, NICU stays, and loss. The organization’s ability to help families relies on donations and grants and they are grateful if you are able to donate. Michelle also participates and advocates on issues of maternal health, maternal mortality, infant health and safety, and pregnancy complications. Michelle lives in Glenview, Illinois with her son Elliott, husband Mark, and dog Nemo.​

 

 

Autumn To-Do: 5 Ways to Optimize Finances

Summertime is drawing to a quick close! As we ease back into the school year, gear up for holiday seasons, and bid adieu to 2022, the following are some tips that our wealth management clients have found valuable to incorporate.
It may feel like spare moments are dwindling in the final weeks of summer, but there’s still plenty of time to check a few more items off your summer wish list. During breaks from having fun in the sun, try to find a little time for a quick review of your finances. Here are five ways to improve your finances in autumn.


Review your discretionary spending

With so many options for summer fun, it can be easy to say yes to this and that only to find that you’re spending way more than you had planned. Taking a look at your discretionary spending can help you understand where your money is going. Reviewing your spending can also help you stay on track with your monthly budget.
Don’t worry — you don’t necessarily need to start saying no to everything. Strike a careful balance by staying in touch with your budget and financial plan. The goal is to balance what makes you happy today with the need to save for future goals.
Get on the same page with your significant other
You and your significant other may feel like you’re always on the go during this busy, social time. Make sure you’re getting some down time together to recharge — and also to connect on important issues like your finances. Overcoming money differences and getting on the same page about money can actually strengthen your relationship.
Summer is also the peak of wedding season, so if you’re newly married, make sure to have important money conversations for newlyweds and develop a financial plan as a couple. If you’re thinking about combining finances, you’ll want to develop a plan together, especially if there’s an income disparity.

Consider taking advantage of the market downturn
With the stock market well off its highs, now might feel like a terrible time to invest. While there is no good or bad time to get into the market, this market decline could actually be an opportunity to add to your investments because many stocks are cheaper than they were this time last year.
Getting an understanding for how to invest in stocks and the difference between stocks and bonds can be a great place to start. If you’re approaching retirement, the market decline could serve as a good reminder that when investing during retirement you need a plan that’s designed to work in good times as well as during market declines.

Get school — and college — on your radar
If you have kids at home, you’re probably starting to think about them heading back to school in a few weeks. But you’ll also want to make sure you’re looking beyond just the next school year.
If you’re planning to send kids to college in the future, it can be important to build an understanding of the average cost of college tuition and develop a college savings plan. Depending on how many kids you have, you may also want to think about how to manage multiple college savings accounts.
Don’t worry if you’re feeling behind on college savings. It’s never too late to start saving, and even if you’re short on time, there are other ways to help cover college costs.

Give your credit some TLC
If you’re not planning to apply for credit to make big purchase anytime soon, you may want to consider freezing your credit to help protect against identify theft. Research shows that children can be easy targets for scammers because they have no credit history, so you may even want to consider freezing your child’s credit as well.
Keeping your credit in the back of your mind can also put you in a better position to borrow and give you flexibility down the road. Educate yourself on factors that affect your credit score, and develop habits that can improve your score.


This material does not constitute investment advice. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss. All investments carry some level of risk including the potential loss of all money invested.

 

Helena Rosenthal, MBA MPH runs a private wealth management firm in Beverly Hills, CA. Her team works with families on strategies to implement and optimize intergenerational wealth management.

Helena.Rosenthal@NM.com

310.237.6058

 

Yoga pose for pregnancy

Top 3 Yoga Poses for 3rd Trimester

Cervical checks aren’t quite the crystal ball some providers make them out to be.  The truth is, we don’t know how your birth will unfold. But by preparing your body you are creating balance in your pelvis and enhancing your baby’s chances of a smoother, more efficient birth! As a labor doula and prenatal yoga teacher I have witnessed how effective body balance work is for my pregnant clients. 

Here are my 3 favorite yoga moves to do to get your body balanced for birth:

Thoracic movement with 360 breathing:

Yoga poses for third trimester

Super simple and often overlooked. Opening the ribs makes space for baby and organs to move up which releases tension in the pelvic floor, the back, and ultimately helps the sacrum have mobility to move out of the way during delivery. Breathing down feel baby lift, ribs expand, heart space lift, and back body widens. 

Rocking Cat / Cow with a kickstand:

Yoga pose for pregnancy

These poses can release tension in the lower back and help maintain mobility of the spine and pelvis. The extended leg is gaining length through the adductors which connect to the pelvic floor – lengthening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. From a table top pose extend one leg to the side, rock forward into cow, inhale, and back into cat (almost childspose) exhale. 

Leg Dangling:

You can do this with a book, yoga block, and even a curb. This pose helps release tension in the psoas muscle. The psoas plays a big role in how labor can progress. Since the psoas runs behind and cradles the uterus, tightness can cause an imbalance of the uterus and encourage pelvic misalignments. This would interfere with the baby’s position and descent, and could possibly lead to a longer and more challenging labor. Standing with one foot on an elevated surface, allow your free leg to swing back and forth gently and dangle. Allow the hip to drop. 

You will never regret doing the work that may give you and your baby the best chance at a more functional birth with less interventions. Where do you want to spend your time and energy- in the delivery room or in the yoga studio? 

Heidi McDowell

FOUNDER | MAMA |FERTILITY, PRENATAL, POSTPARTUM YOGA CERTIFIED | DOULA

She/her

Heidi is a yoga teacher, a doula, a wife, and most importantly, a mama.

Her goal is to create a community space for you that feels safe, supportive, and empowering. She holds certifications in Fertility Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Yoga, and Children’s Yoga. She is also a certified Postpartum and Infant Care Doula and a Labor Doula. She is one of two Yoga Alliance Certified Registered Prenatal Yoga Teachers in all of West Michigan. This is the highest credential in the field of Prenatal Yoga.

IG & FB: @mindbodybabyyoga

 

Lisa Newhouse

Meet our new birth doula, Lisa.

What did you do before you became a doula/consultant?

I had a 20+ year career as an Occupational Therapist. Much of my career as a therapist, was at Mary Free Bed Hospital working in the wheelchair and custom seating department. Approximately 7 years ago, I completed my master’s degree and became an academic advisor. I worked at Aquinas College and Grand Valley State University until the initial months of Covid. At which time, I resigned due to family needs.

What inspired you to become a doula/consultant?

I have always enjoyed professions that allow me to help others. I knew I wanted to do something that would feed my soul a little more, and I also knew that I had a desire to be involved with helping women and children. The doula profession has been on my radar for a while now and the time seemed right to go with my heart and pursue this career.

Tell us about your family.

I have a blended family that consists of four children from my husband’s previous relationship, two children from my previous relationship and one child together. All our children, with the exception of the youngest (15 y/o), are adults and most have families of their own.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

My husband and I love to travel and have many favorite spots! I would say that we enjoy traveling internationally and South Africa was one of our favorite trips.

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

I really enjoy music, particularly live music, and I find it hard to name who would be my top 5. I can say that I have three artists that I have seen live a few times and every time it has been so fun! The first artist is U2, that I have seen two times. What I love the most about U2 is how they always fill me with hope. A couple other artists that I have seen a couple times is OAR and Michael Franti. I have seen both of them at Meijer Gardens and both artists put on a fabulous show!

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

To always lead with love. At the end of the day, we all make mistakes or can think of something we wished we would have done differently, but I firmly believe that it is always going to be ok if you lead with love.

What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?

I am not completely sure, but I think it would be my ability to anticipate what someone needs in the moment. I have always been good at reading or sensing when someone needs something and responding appropriately.

What is your favorite food?

I am a real foodie! I like just about anything that is local and fresh. However, I do have a real love for ethnic flavors and in particular Mediterranean.

What is your favorite place on West Michigan Gold Coast?

I have two favorite places on the west coast. Saugatuck holds a very special place in my heart because my husband and I were married there! We also love Petoskey, not only is it beautiful, but we have an annual camping trip with friends there every Labor Day. So, we have wonderful memories in both spots!

What are you reading now?

I am a voracious reader! I typically have a stack of 3-4 books at any given time that I am reading. I am in two book clubs, one that primarily focuses on non-fiction and the other fiction. The last couple of books I just read was Brene Browns Atlas of the Heart, love her so much and everything she writes! I also, just read The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.

Who are your role models?

I have always admired and tried to emulate women who have weathered the storms and did what needed to be done. I believe there is nothing more formidable than a woman who is doing what is right and necessary for those she loves.

 

Harnessing the Power of Stem Cells Through Cord Blood Banking

Stem cells are special human cells that have the potential to become many different types of cells, such as brain cells, muscles cells, and more. These cells have the potential to treat, or even sometimes reverse diseases that have left patients of the past without effective options. Umbilical cord blood banking provides potential treatments for many of the medical conditions we hope our children and family members never have to suffer through.

What is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking refers to the freezing and storage of umbilical cord blood and tissues. In the time leading up to delivery, there is a transfer of powerful stem cells and other immune-boosting cells between the mother and fetus. These cells remain in the blood and are often discarded with the umbilical cord and placenta.
Cord blood and tissue banking involve collecting the blood and tissues that contain these cells and freezing them for a later date, when they may be used to treat a variety of illnesses that were previously thought to be difficult to treat or incurable.

Did you know? Umbilical cord blood banking is OB, Midwife, and Doula recommended!
Types of Stem Cells Obtained from Cord and Tissue Banking
There are two main types of stem cells acquired during cord blood and tissue banking: hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells.
Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Hematopoietic stem cells are obtained through umbilical cord blood banking and are approved by the FDA to treat a variety of illnesses, including blood disorders (e.g. sickle cell anemia), immune disorders (e.g. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis), and cancer (e.g. lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma). There are also over 1000 ongoing clinical trials examining other use cases.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Mesenchymal stem cells are found in the umbilical cord tissue, placenta, and bone marrow. They are powerful stem cells used to treat a variety of chronic and progressive medical conditions, including lung disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and hair loss.

Public vs. Private Cord Blood Banking
While you have the option of receiving cord blood or tissue from a donor via a public cord blood bank, serious side effects may occur. There is a high risk of incompatibility, which may result in a range of significant acute or chronic symptoms.
Since the body is meant to attack foreign bodies it sees as dangerous, a condition called graft- versus-host disease may develop as a result of a stem cell transplant from a donor. This occurs when donor stem cells see the transplant as an immune system invasion. The body rejects the healthy new stem cells, leading to harmful symptoms and sometimes death.
By using stem cells you’ve privately banked that are at least a partial match, you greatly reduce the risk of developing such complications. When banking your cord blood and tissue for future personal use, the cells are always a match for who they came from. They may safely be used as a treatment for family members as well.
Siblings have a 75% chance of being a match, while parents are always a 50% match for their children. Extended family, such as aunts and uncles, also have a probable chance of being a partial match, which could have a significant impact, should they need treatment.

How Can Recipients Benefit From Private Cord Blood Banking?
Significant improvements have been observed in medical conditions with the help of stem cells. These improvements include but are not limited to:
● Reversing Type 1 Diabetes
● Significantly improving symptoms of Crohn’s disease
● Improving motor function in children with cerebral palsy
● Promoting CAR T-cell therapy, an immunotherapeutic cancer treatment
● Aiding in heart failure treatment
● Showing protective effects on hair loss

How To Store Your Cord Blood and Tissue Stem Cells
To bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, or placenta, order a collection kit before your due date. Store the kit at room temperature and bring it with you to the hospital. When you arrive at Labor & Delivery, tell the admitting nurse that you plan to collect your stem cells. Before birth, tell your healthcare provider that you have the kit ready for collection.
Your collection kit from Anja Health has everything you need and their stem cell banking experts will help guide you through the process.
Use the discount code GOLD to receive 90% off the price of your collection kit!

After the birth of your child, the team at Anja Health will collect your kit from the hospital and take care of everything, including viability testing, optimization, and cryogenic storage in their AABB-accredited, FDA-approved lab in New Jersey.
If the time comes, you’ll be glad to know you have the stem cells to help your child or other members of your family when they’re in need!