Classes

Woman wearing a black sports bra and black leggings dose a yoga pose on a black yoga mat in a living room

The Power of Distraction

We often think of distractions as negative. We may get distracted by all the to-dos on our list, and it’s hard to stay focused on work or give our full attention to someone. Our kids may get distracted while getting dressed, or for older kids maybe it’s while doing homework.

But let’s reframe distractions. They can be extremely helpful when used in a healthy manner. For instance, if you are a person who worries a lot, or gets fixated on one idea, sometimes a distraction can help. Let’s say you’re worried about an upcoming work presentation or you child’s teacher conference; give yourself a mental break. Think of something you like to do that you can become completely absorbed in. For me, it’s working out or watching a good show. I can shut off my brain and completely focus on something else. This helps your mind relax and hopefully will tell your body to stop producing stress hormones for a while. For you, maybe it’s going for a run, or mindlessly looking at beautiful vacation homes online. Give yourself that break. Get distracted. But….don’t allow yourself to be distracted for too long. If you find yourself binge watching a show for 3 hours while you get behind on other things, this is not helpful. Set a timer if needed, and once it goes off, you get back to your work. Think of this distraction as hitting a reset button. It doesn’t fix whatever problem you were worried about initially, but you gave yourself a mental break. And sometimes, when you come back from that break, the problem doesn’t seem so bad.

This works for kids too. If they are struggling to figure out a problem in their homework, let them take 15 minutes to watch a show or play a game. Let them reset. Let them give their little brains a break and hopefully they are able to focus when they come back to the table. You know your child, so maybe watching a show isn’t the answer for them. Maybe they need to go play some football, listen to music, or dance – whatever your child can becoming fully engrossed in to give their mind a quick break.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by all the things we have to do; the never-ending lists that just seem to get longer. Parents and kids both can have several tabs open at once in our brains. Kids are thinking about school, a test, play practice, sports, friends, etc. As parents, we know all too well how many balls we are constantly juggling. Our kids classroom party, a big work meeting, piles of laundry, picking up groceries, planning dinner, the house is a mess, the guests coming tonight, the dog needs grooming, the dentist appointment tomorrow, that email you still need to respond to, etc. The best way to shut down some of those tabs could be to distract yourself. It seems counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t you stay focused and get working on all this stuff?

If you can step away from all of it for a little while and let your brain be silent, sometimes you might find you come up with answers. Have you heard the saying, ” We come up with our best ideas in the shower.”? That’s because typically we are doing a mundane task that we don’t have to think about, and we don’t have distractions. So leaving technology behind is key here. Go for a walk, drive your car, or take a shower without distraction. Let your mind go. You’ll probably notice you come up with great ideas, solve problems, and figure out how you want to respond to that email while you let your mind work in silence.

For parents who have trouble falling asleep, distraction can be helpful too. If your mind is racing at night when you’re trying to fall asleep, use a distraction that will shut your mind down. For me, I have to write down ideas or problems that are keeping me awake so I can revisit them tomorrow, otherwise I cannot fall asleep. Once they are written down, only then can I turn off my brain and relax. If I wake in the night thinking about the problem again or I have an idea, I have that notebook by my bed to write it down, get it out of my brain, and fall back asleep.

It’s important for parents and kids to try and stay off technology right before bed. Parents, alcohol and caffeine intake can negatively affect sleep too. Sugar is a culprit as well, so watch how much sugar you and your kids eat after dinner. I have other blogs detailing out the ideal sleep environment, but a dark, cool room is important no matter your age.

If you find you’re prone to anxiety or depression, and you also aren’t sleeping well, make sleep your #1 priority. Sleep deprivation has all the same symptoms as anxiety and depression, as well as lowering your immune system, so get your sleep on track, talk to a therapist, and work on ways to find healthy distractions.

Alyssa Veneklase is a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant, Newborn Care Specialist, and Certified Elite Postpartum & Infant Care Doula. She is currently a real estate agent working with her husband, but continues to teach three classes at Gold Coast Doulas – Newborn Survival, Becoming a Mother, and Tired as a Mother.

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Kristin and Alyssa of Gold Coast Doulas hugging in front of a colorful wall

Ownership Change at Gold Coast Doulas

In 2015, when my daughter was 2 years old, I decided to leave my office job and become a postpartum doula. Kristin was one of the first doulas I met, and we actually took our postpartum trainings together. Little did we know that a year later she would call me to ask if I wanted to join Gold Coast Doulas as an owner. With an enthusiastic yes, I became co-owner in 2017.

From 2017 – 2022 we grew from 7 doulas to over 22 with lactation consultants, sleep consultants, and educators. We were nominated for all sorts of awards, became a Certified B Corporation, and were even given the honor of Top Woman Owned Business in 2021 by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Together, we accomplished so much to elevate the level of support and professionalism of doulas in West Michigan, create amazing partnerships with health care providers, assemble a team of the best of the best, and offer the highest level of care to parents in our community.

Today I announce that I am stepping away from my role as co-owner and leaving Gold Coast Doulas in Kristin’s capable hands. I will remain on the team as a subcontractor teaching my classes: Newborn Survival, Becoming a Mother, and Tired as a Mother.

I am now a licensed real estate agent at Urban Soil Realty with my husband, Brad. Before becoming a doula, my professional experience consisted of photography, interior design, construction, and real estate so this isn’t unfamiliar territory. I’ve done hundreds of showings for condos downtown and walked dozens of construction job sites. Together, my husband and I own several properties, including a 5 room boutique hotel called The Finnley, named after our daughter, that will keep me busy. I am excited for what the future holds for me in this new venture, and thrilled to be working in a larger capacity with my husband in our family business.

To Kristin and the entire Gold Coast team, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of women. You’ll always be considered friends, and Gold Coast Doulas will always hold a special place in my heart.

 

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Father holding his baby while baby holds onto his finger

Newborn Sleep – What New Parents Should Expect

New parents often have unrealistic expectations about sleep when they bring a baby home. Some parents think they will get to sleep a lot because a newborn sleeps a lot. I’ve heard other parents say they don’t think they will get any sleep for weeks or months. I’m here to tell you that neither of those are true.

Yes, a newborn does sleep a lot. Yay! But they also need to feed often. Like every hour or two in the beginning. All day and all night! So while your newborn may sleep 19 hours in a day, that sleep is happening in several short chunks of time throughout a 24 hour period.

For a breastfeeding mother this is especially hard. She will be feeding her newborn every couple hours and that feeding could take 45 minutes. Let’s put that into perspective. Your newborn wakes to eat at 2:00am. You are done feeding at 2:45am, burp and change baby’s diaper, get baby back to sleep, and now it’s 3:00am. Your newborn feeds every 2 hours so that means you have one more hour to sleep until you start this whole process over again. Yikes!

Once a newborn becomes more efficient at feeding (or is bottle fed), they can often go three hours between feedings. This allows you more time to sleep between feeds.

Fathers/partners often wonder what they can do to help an exclusively breastfeeding mother. If/when a mother decides to start pumping, someone else can take over some of the feedings with a bottle. This can be a huge relief to mothers in the night and allows for one longer stretch of sleep. Partners can also help with diaper changes after a feed so Mom can get back to sleep sooner. They can also make sure mom is well fed and hydrated.

For bottle fed babies, fathers/partners/doulas/caregivers can help with feeds in the night while mom sleeps. For instance, mom feeds baby at 9:00pm then goes to sleep. Someone else does the 11:00pm feed, and mom wakes at 1:00 for the next feed. That allowed mom to sleep for four hours. It doesn’t seem like much now, but when you’re sleep deprived, a four hour stretch of sleep is the best gift anyone could give you!

For the first several weeks, there really is no predictability to a newborn. They will sleep a lot and eat a lot, period. If your newborn sleeps for hours at a time without waking to eat though, this is not a bragging right. This is something to call your pediatrician about. Babies need to eat frequently! On the other hand, if your baby doesn’t want to sleep and cries a lot, you should also call your pediatrician.

You get through the first 4-6 weeks or so, you’re sleep deprived and feel a bit hazy, but you start to notice that there are some predictable patterns happening with your baby. For instance, they are feeding approximately every three hours and can stay awake a little bit longer after feeds. What does this mean? They are slowly adjusting to a natural circadian rhythm. Every living thing has a rhythm. Our bodies naturally wake when the temperature warms and the sun rises (we produce serotonin to make us feel awake). When it’s dark and cool, our bodies are ready for sleep (we produce melatonin to make us feel sleepy). 

Follow your baby’s cues during this time. When you notice signs of tiredness, get them into the basinet for a nap. Try to keep them awake for a bit after feeds. Think of this pattern – eat, awake, sleep, eat, awake, sleep. This will do two things for parents:

1- Separate feeds from sleep. This is the number one reason parents call me for help. Their baby is used to only falling asleep while feeding or being held and they can’t sustain that long-term.

2- Awake time after feeds allows for lots of stimulation which makes baby tired for a nap. As a baby gets older, they are more alert and interested in their surroundings. All this mental and physical stimulation helps tire them out for naps.

So what does this mean for parents? Now you know in the initial weeks home with a newborn, don’t expect much sleep. Sleep when you can, limit visitors, and accept help! But after a couple months, you should see some predictability. This is when a baby becomes more efficient at feeding. More calories in during the day means longer stretches of sleep at night. Read that sentence again… I’ll wait. Focus on good feeds during the day and fewer at night as your baby gets older. A hungry baby doesn’t sleep, so good feeds are extremely important.

Your baby will slowly be able to stay awake for longer stretches during the day, creating a predictable nap routine. This allows parents to plan their days knowing when their baby needs to sleep.

Every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to sleep. If one parent stays home and does not need a predictable schedule, they may feed on demand and take naps during the day when the baby takes naps. If this works for that family, great! If both parents work, they usually need more structure, so having a predictable feeding and nap schedule, along with a set bedtime and wake time for the baby, is usually necessary. And some families will fall somewhere in between, where they want some structure, but the ability to be flexible. No matter what your parenting style is, don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. If you need someone to come during the day to watch your baby so you can nap or shower, who do you have that you can ask? A friend or family member? Do you have postpartum doulas in your area? How about overnight sleep? Do you have someone that could stay overnight and help you with feeds so you can get extra rest?

Bottom line, it will be okay! You have resources that can help along the way, use them if you can. There are tons of free feeding support groups. Find other mothers or parents who you can talk to. Hire a sleep consultant if needed (a good one isn’t scary, I promise!). Check with your insurance plan to see what’s covered. You may be able to hire a doula or a lactation consultant. You may be able to take some newborn, breastfeeding, or sleep classes. Knowledge is power, so take the time to find resources that fit your budget and personal needs. 

You’ve got this!

For additional information about pregnancy, birth, parenting, and sleep, check out Ask The Doulas Podcast on whatever podcast platform you listen to.

Alyssa is co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, co-founder of the BECOMING a Mother course, a Certified Elite Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, a Newborn Care Specialist, and a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant. She offers custom sleep solutions to families across the country to help new parents find balance and rest.

 

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Pregnant woman sits with husband reading books on pregnancy

When to Take a Childbirth Education Class

When is a good time to take a childbirth class and why does it matter?  

We often get asked about the appropriate time to take a childbirth class from students and Gold Coast clients. The answer varies depending on the goals of the individual. I often ask clients if they are first-time parents or new parents. It is also helpful to understand what learning style is best for each individual. Some people prefer hands-on learning and others prefer instructional classes.      

There are many types of childbirth education classes to consider. Some classes are offered on weekends or are shorter in length like our Saturday Series which includes: Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding: Getting A Strong Start, and Newborn Survival. Our clients are able to select one, two or all three classes in the series based on their unique needs. We would recommend taking these shorter classes closer to your due date, so the content is still fresh in your mind. The Saturday Series of classes are offered every other month, for more flexibility. We also offer private classes if the scheduled class dates don’t work for our clients. A popular private class that we offer is Preparing for Multiples.  It is perfect for parents of twins and triplets.  Private classes are an option with many out-of-hospital childbirth instructors.  

Comprehensive childbirth classes vary in length from five-weeks to twelve depending on the series. They are often two to three hours per class in the series. Some examples of these comprehensive childbirth classes include: HypnoBirthing, The Bradley Method, Lamaze, Mama Natural, Evidenced Based Birth and Gentle Birth.  You will want to factor in your due date when selecting a class in case you deliver early or are uncomfortable closer to your due date. Many classes often have books and workbooks that accompany the learning. The materials may or may not be included in the class fees.    

Gold Coast Doulas offers the five-week HypnoBirthing- The Mongan Method class. The method teaches you to reduce tension and  fear. It is recommended to take the HypnoBirthing series in the second trimester as it offers relaxation exercises to practice throughout pregnancy. We do accept students at any time in pregnancy, however.  

Childbirth classes can be offered in a variety of ways depending on your goals and timeframe.  There are online live classes that take place on a platform such as Zoom. They are still very interactive. Another option is a self-paced online course like Mama Natural. The Mama Natural Birth Course will equip your mind, body, and spirit to help you achieve the birth of your dreams-whether that’s a water birth in your living room, or a gentler and more natural hospital delivery.  

In-person childbirth education classes are offered within hospitals and other professional settings.  These professional settings could vary from an office space to a conference room.  Most classes include both the birthing person and a support person or partner. Many of these in-person childbirth classes offer hands on instruction and guidance with breathing techniques.    

Payment is also a factor when deciding on a childbirth class. Many health savings and flex spending accounts cover out of hospital classes. Insurance can often cover most hospital childbirth education classes. Some classes are self-pay only and some instructors allow for payment plans. Books and materials are often included in the price of the course.   

In conclusion, you can take a childbirth education class at any time in pregnancy. Some classes require additional readings or a longer time investment than others. Look at your schedule and birthing goals to decide the perfect timing for your unique needs. We highly recommend taking a comprehensive childbirth education class as part of your birth preparation.   

For more information about our current childbirth education class offerings visit us at: www.goldcoastdoulas.com 

Check out our BECOMING A Mother course! It’s a self-paced, online series to help reduce fear and gain confidence in pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. With recorded video lessons, monthly live chats, and a supportive FaceBook community – it’s everything we wish we would have known before we had our babies! We’d love to see you there!

Kristin & Alyssa

 

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Kristin Revere of Gold Coast Doulas does hip compressions for a laboring mom in a hospital room

Comfort Measures for Labor – 8 Tips for a More Comfortable Birth

No matter how you choose to birth, it is important to think about how you can reduce discomfort and fear during labor. There are many ways to prepare for birth, including taking a childbirth education class.

Here are some of my top tips as both an Certified Elite Labor Doula and a childbirth instructor:

1) Rest

Rest and relax in the early stages of labor. Birth can sometimes be a marathon and you want to relax and conserve energy in early labor. Make sure you nourish yourself, so you have energy for the pushing stage. Focus on breathing through each contraction and relaxing areas in your body that are tensed up. Your partner or support person can remind you to release tension in areas that are tight.

2) Environment

Your environment can affect your mood. Consider dim lighting and bringing items from home that are comforting. I am a fan of lining tubs and window sills with LED candles. Some of my clients bring their own pillows or sentimental items from home. You could consider wearing your own clothing rather than a hospital gown. There are also cute labor gowns that you can purchase online. Music and guided meditations can be wonderful tools to utilize in labor. They can help keep you relaxed and calm.

3) Movement

Walking and changing positions are great ways to keep labor progressing. It is sometimes called “labor Olympics” by birth workers. Some positions to consider are swaying your hips in figure 8’s on the birthing ball, getting on your hands and knees and leaning into a birthing ball, and slow dancing. We talk about these positions and more in our Comfort Measures for Labor class, which is part of our Saturday Series of classes.

4) Hydration

Hydration is key. Drink water between contractions. I am also a fan of electrolyte drinks to give you a bit more energy. My favorite option is coconut water if you like the taste. Hydration helps prevent exhaustion and reduces the need for IV fluids. You will also want to empty your bladder every hour.

5) Touch

Physical touch can be wonderful during labor. Birth doulas and partners can apply hip squeezes, counter pressure and labor massage to reduce discomfort. Some birthing persons prefer light touch massage. Touch can be very soothing and grounding to many laboring individuals. It can also be used with position changes.

6) Baths and Showers

Water is calming and can reduce the sensation of pain. Showers and baths before the pushing stage are a wonderful way to provide relief in a hospital setting. Some home birthing clients choose to deliver in water.

7) Hire a doula

Your doula can make sure you are comfortable and supported. The doula can also show your partner some of these hands-on support tools. Doulas can be a wonderful addition to your birthing team. They provide coaching, physical support and informational support.

8) Communication

Communicate your needs to your partner and support team. Listen to your body and know that comfort measures may feel good one minute and be uncomfortable the next. That is normal. Talk to your partner and doula if you have one about how you would like to be supported during labor and birth.

***

Now that you have reviewed these tips, what comfort measures would you like to apply to your birth? Are there any suggestions that are not appealing to you?

For more information about The Gold Coast Doulas Comfort Measures for Labor class, see our full schedule here: https://www.goldcoastdoulas.com/events/.

Written by Kristin Revere, Co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas.

 

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Birth during a pandemic

Birthing in a Pandemic

We have seen so much strength and resilience from our clients and our subcontracted doulas within the last year. Being pregnant and birthing in a pandemic is no joke. Gold Coast has supported over 200 families during this time. We are so thankful for the trust they placed in us.

Our birth doulas have worked in hospitals through most of COVID and our postpartum doulas have safely worked in homes supporting families with day and overnight infant care. Families need support now more than ever before.

Gold Coast Doulas moved all of our classes to the virtual format in March of 2020, and they will remain virtual until COVID numbers decline and it is safe to teach in-person. We have been creative with the virtual format and it allowed us to dream bigger than our own footprint of West Michigan. Download our FREE guide to birthing confidently during a pandemic!

If you are interested in more birth and baby planning resources, be sure to register for one of our FREE live virtual workshops on February 23 or 26th. More updates to come in the near future. Stay tuned!

 

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Audra Geyer Doula horizontal headshot for Gold Coast Doulas with hand on hip

Audra’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #105

 

Audra Geyer, Gold Coast’s newest birth doula, tells us her birth story and how birth support from her doula was a game changer.  She also took HypnoBirthing classes and went from being afraid of labor to looking forward to it!  Her experience with Gold Coast let her to become a doula herself! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Audra to talk about her birth and HypnoBirthing experience.  Welcome, Audra!

Audra:  Hi.  Thank you!

Kristin:  So tell us a bit about yourself.  I know we met at the Baby Expo in your early pregnancy stages.

Audra:  Yeah.  I live in Alger Heights with my husband and our two dogs, and we have a seven-month old daughter, Charlie.

Kristin:  This was your first pregnancy.  So tell us about how you planned for your birth.

Audra:  So initially, I had no plans for my birth.  I just envisioned that it would not be an enjoyable experience, and I just had to get through it, and it was just part of what the process was for having a baby.

Kristin:  And how did you get that information?  Was it from movies or friends, or what made you sort of fear birth?

Audra:  I think just society’s view on birth.  You know, everyone I had talked to, I had just heard horror stories about their own personal experience.  And, yeah, watching movies, TV shows, everything just shows that this is a terrifying, awful experience, and so that’s just — I was just preparing myself for that.

Kristin:  And I think people tend to share negative stories more than they do their positive birth stories with friends and family.  That just feeds into it.  So you took some classes with us in early pregnancy, and also used both birth doula support as well as postpartum. So tell us a bit about that preparation and maybe how it changed your mindset.

Audra:  Yeah.  So I went with a friend to the Baby Expo, and I had heard about doulas before but just assumed they were for natural home births.  So we just started talking, and I heard about HypnoBirthing.  I remember the first question I asked you guys at the Baby Expo was, can I still get an epidural?  And they were like, oh, of course.  Whatever birth you want, we’re just there to support you.  So I went home and just did a ton of research, and I was like, holy cow.  There’s this whole world of doulas and support for women that I never knew about.

Kristin:  Yeah.  There is a misconception that doulas are only for home birthing, unmedicated birthers, and, you know, especially at Gold Coast, we pride ourselves on judgement-free support, and we have clients who want an epidural the second they get to the hospital, clients who are planning a surgical birth and they want support emotionally and with resources for that birth.  So, yeah, doulas are definitely for all birthing persons, not just unmedicated birthers.

Audra:  And my whole life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, and my husband and I knew that would be something we’d have to keep a close eye on while I was pregnant but also postpartum, and to be like, oh, I could have this support right away, and just knowing that I will have someone in my corner and someone to support my husband, too.  It just provided us both with a lot of comfort.

Kristin:  Yes!  So tell us about HypnoBirthing and what you learned in that class.

Audra: HypnoBirthing was amazing!  First off, we just learned so much about the birthing process and what happens to our bodies in labor.  Stuff we’ve learned, but I’ve never really taken a deep dive into it and thought about it.  And just a big focus on labor and delivery and pregnancy — our bodies were meant to do this.  We learned a lot of medication, breathing techniques, but it was also a big focus on bonding with your baby, bonding with your partner.  Every class we left, I just felt so connected to my baby, to my husband.  A lot of positive affirmations and just really starting to envision my pregnancy, my labor, delivery, as such a beautiful experience no matter what happens.  And what a gift I’d been given to be able to go through this.

Kristin:  Right.  Exactly.  And what I love about HypnoBirthing is it’s, as you said, it’s more like that mind-body connection versus just positions and some physical techniques you can do to reduce the perception of pain.  So it’s just — there’s such an emotional connection to birth and your partner and your support team, and of course breath and using positive language in birth and taking the fear out of it.  It’s a huge aspect of HypnoBirthing.

Audra:  I remember my husband was like, sure, I’ll do this with you.  And when we left our first class, he was like, that was nothing like I imagined.  He thought we were going to be in a gymnasium with pool noodles on the floor in different positions, and I think he just felt really empowered, too, that look at what I can do to help support my partner and be just as involved in the birth.

Kristin:  Right.  Beyond HypnoBirthing, I know you took some other courses through Gold Coast.  What else did you do preparation-wise?

Audra:  I took the Saturday Series course.  So Comfort Measures, Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.

Kristin:  And what were your takeaways from that one day series?

Audra:  It was just so nice to have information, and I just felt so much more calm and educated and kind of knowing what to expect and knowing that there’s no right or wrong way.

Kristin:  Right.  It’s what right for you.  I think all of us, you know, emphasize that in our classes, whether it’s Alyssa’s Newborn Survival or the Comfort Measures that I teach, and certainly Kelly’s breastfeeding class is eye-opening in so many ways and shows how a partner can be involved in feeding, as well.

Audra:  Yeah, and I think with the breastfeeding, it really just prepared me, that if that’s the route I choose to go, it’s going to be hard, and it’s okay that it’s going to be hard.  I think I had an idea that, oh, no, breastfeeding is going to be so easy.  She’ll latch right away.  We’ll have no issues.  But to know that, yep, you’re not alone.  This can be a struggle, and again, you have to figure out what’s best for you and your family.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Now we’re getting to your birth phase and working with birth doulas and so on.  I know Katie was your doula.  Tell us about that experience.

Audra:  Oh, it was amazing.  I went from initially, “Of course I’ll have an epidural,” to, nope, I’m going to do this all naturally, thanks to HypnoBirthing, to at 37 weeks finding out I needed to be medically induced.

Kristin:  Lots of changes with that.  Tell us how Katie supported you in pregnancy and then leading up to the induction.  A lot of people don’t really understand the role of a birth doula through pregnancy and labor.

Audra:  Yeah.  I had — the minute I signed the contract with Gold Coast, I had Katie’s support.  Through the phone; I could text her with any questions, anything I was worried about, anxious about.  She would respond, provide me with resources.  A lot of what I needed was just reassurance that things were going how they were supposed to go, that I was okay, baby was okay.  And especially as a first-time mom and first time being pregnant, your body does a lot of things that you don’t know would happen.

Kristin:  Right.  There’s a lot of, “Is this normal, or do I need to call my provider?”

Audra:  Exactly.  And so just knowing I had someone there, nonjudgmental, you know, just supporting me — because, you know, calling your provider, you don’t always get to talk to them, or they’ll just yep, yes or no, give you a short little information, and then they have to move on with their day.  So having someone who can sit down and really just talk through your options, talk about how you’re feeling, checking in with you emotionally.

Kristin:  So when you found out you needed to be induced, how did your doula support you through that process before she supported you in the hospital?

Audra:  So I left my appointment with the doctor sobbing in the car, just absolutely terrified about getting induced.   So the first thing I did when I got home was text Katie.  I just expressed all my fears to her and what I was feeling, and first and foremost, she reassured me that the medical team I had chosen were going to take the best care of me.  My baby was going to be safe and healthy.  I had blood pressure issues, and so I was just terrified of what could happen if my blood pressure gets really high.  She encouraged me to write out a list of questions to ask my doctor.  Like, if this happens, then what do we do, or what would this step be?  What would this look like?  So I could have more of an understanding of what potentially could happen at the hospital.  And then also she really encouraged me to write out some affirmations, because I love writing affirmations and I use them all the time, and so I was able to write a list of affirmations that I would use while I would meditate to just help calm me down and center me, focus me, and let me still enjoy these last few moments of being pregnant.

Kristin:  That’s fantastic.  So you were able to have conversations before the induction started, and you got the answers you needed to feel empowered.  So tell us about some of the induction process and when your body started to kick in and when you felt like you needed in-person support and how that went.

Audra:  We knew it was going to be a long induction process, just because I was 37 weeks and my body was not near ready for labor.  So between Katie, myself, and my husband, we were basically in constant communication through text message, just how I was doing, how I was feeling, what the next step was.  And Katie actually came the first night we were at the hospital just to check in, see how we were doing, letting us know whatever we needed, she was there and ready for us.  And things were going pretty stable at that point; nothing that we needed a lot of support.  We were just resting.  So she went home, and said, I have my phone with me.  Anything you need, call, text, reach out.  And things were slowly progressing.  It got to the point where I did end up getting an epidural, but I was just pretty relaxed.  And then the next day around noon, my water broke, and things started to pick up pretty quick.

Kristin:  Yes.  It intensifies everything, for sure.

Audra:  We reached out and said, hey, you know, I think we’re ready for you to come.  Labor has officially started after 24 hours of being at the hospital.  And so by the time Katie got there, my epidural had kind of worn off a little bit.  So I was in a lot of discomfort.  I was not feeling well, and I just remember her coming in and with her and my husband, they were both just supporting me as I would breathe through my surges.  And I actually — Katie has two sons, and I remember at one point looking up at her, and saying, I just need you to tell me what you love about being a mom, in between, so that I was able to focus on the things I had to look forward to as I was in some of these deep pains and discomfort.  And it was just so amazing to hear.  You know, I had my husband on one side telling me the birth affirmations we’ve written, and then I had Katie on the other just sharing these amazing things that I knew I would soon be experience.

Kristin:  Yes.  I love it!

Audra:  With that, I was able to just relax, surrender, and just — I felt so calm despite being in one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.

Kristin:  That’s great.  So things intensified.  Did Katie help you move into different positions?

Audra:  Since I had the epidural — because I finally got some relief — she would help with the nurses, with moving me, and I think the biggest thing for me was just the reassurance she was giving me, that I was doing great, my body was moving along, this was where I was supposed to be, helping me feel excited.  And I think for Rob, too, she just was an extra support for him because he was supporting me so much, and it helped me to know he was taken care of as well.

Kristin:  Yes.  That is a huge part, because we do support a couple as a whole and make sure that the partner has gotten rest if needed with inductions or had a chance to get food or to step out and take a break because it can be intense when they’re pouring everything into you and are trying to be that supportive partner.  We don’t want them to be depleted at the time of pushing and meeting their baby.  So I’m glad that he felt taken care of, as well.

Audra:  Yeah.  And once I finally felt relaxed and got a lot of relief, Katie encouraged us both to take a little rest.  And there’s actually a picture of us, with me in the bed sleeping, Rob on the couch sleeping, about an hour before I gave birth, and it’s just one of my favorites.  The last few moments of us resting, just the two of us, and that moment was able to be captured.

Kristin:  And then did Katie offer support after the birth?  Like, how did she help after your daughter was born?

Audra:  When Charlie was born, she came very quickly and ended up needing to be on CPAP pretty quick after she was born.  So as a new mom and just already very anxious, I was terrified.  Like, what is this looking like?  Is she okay?  Is this normal?  What are they doing?  And I had just given birth and my body — you know, I was just in this tremendous amount of emotions in general, and she was able to support both my husband and I.  She encouraged Rob to go stand by Charlie and then was able to be there with me while the doctor was finishing up with me and just kind of keeping us informed, educating us about what was going on and that things were okay because the nurses and doctors, they’re all talking to each other and saying terms we didn’t understand, and just encouraging me to ask questions if I had any and validating that, you’re doing a good job advocating for yourself, Audra, and just — yeah, it was nice knowing my husband could be with Charlie for that brief time, and I had someone right there with me, as well.  And so then after Charlie was able to be off of CPAP, we were able to do our skin to skin.  She helped us with latching and, again, I was just very anxious.  Is this supposed to be happening?  Does she look okay?  Is she breathing okay?  And just, like, bringing me back to focus of, look, you just gave birth, and you have this newborn baby in your arms.

Kristin:  I love it.  Did she follow up after she left to see how you were doing when you were still in the hospital?

Audra:  Yes.  She would follow up to see how feeding was going, and then we did — I would say about a week after Charlie was born, she came to our house to just follow up and see how things were going, and she got to see Charlie and hold her.  And it was just so nice to have her support and to have — like, that she was such a part of this experience to us, where I was so vulnerable, but yet it was such a beautiful, emotional experience that I feel just so connected to her now.

Kristin:  Yes.  I feel that way with my doulas.  It is vulnerable, and a time of reverence.  So, yeah, you end up feeling like your doula is part of your family for that journey, whether it’s a birth doula or a postpartum doula.  And, of course, you delivered pre-COVID, but your postpartum phase was during COVID.  So that’s changed your initial plans as far as postpartum doula support went.

Audra:  Yeah.  So we had — I’m trying to think.  Maybe a couple weeks before COVID hit, being at home and being able to use our postpartum doula.  And I remember initially being like, okay, what do I do?  How can I entertain the doula?  Like, I need to clean the house.  I need…

Kristin:  You’re a helper, obviously!

Audra:  I need to look presentable!  And Jen was our doula, and she came over and was just like, oh, my gosh, Audra, like, you can relax.  I have Charlie.  Don’t you worry.  And I would go take a nap.  I would rest.  I would come downstairs, and the house would be tidied.  She’d have a snack waiting for me.  My pump parts would be clean.  The diapers bag was packed and ready to go.

Kristin:  Perfect!

Audra:  Yeah.  Less things I had to worry about or to focus on later that day.  And I like to talk and talk through experiences, so a lot of times, too, we would just sit and talk, which is what I needed at that time.

Kristin:  And we are there to process the birth with our clients as far as postpartum doula support and then help you heal and talk to you emotionally.  I feel like friends and family ask more about the baby and don’t check in enough with the birthing person and how they’re doing and how they’re feeling.  Everyone wants to hold the baby and give gifts for the baby, and there’s not enough attention to the birthing person.

Audra:  Yeah.  The amount of times I got asked, how’s the baby sleeping?  You know, it was never, how are you sleeping?  How are you doing?  It was, oh, how is she sleeping?  And I also got a lot of, oh, I’m glad that’s going great now, and you just wait until you see what happens.  And I’m like, my body is still healing from this crazy experience.  I’m keeping another human alive.  What about me?  I need help, too.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And in traditional cultures, women are supported for 30 to 40 days from friends and family, and they aren’t expected to do anything.  And in our culture, it’s like, okay, get back to work.  Get back in shape.  You should be feeling great and don’t complain.

Audra:  Keep the house clean!

Kristin:  Right.  Be perfect!  And that’s not how it should be.  So we’re trying to bring back some more of that focus on the birthing person.  So you are now a doula with us!  So tell us how you became interested in becoming a doula after your experience and a bit about why you are drawn to this work, because you obviously have another career.

Audra:  Yes.  So like I said earlier, I went from not knowing a lot about birth, just expecting, you know, this to kind of be a terrible experience, and through my education and through the help of having doulas, I was able to make my birth one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve gone through, and I found myself, after giving birth, wanting to talk about birth a lot, and I was doing a lot of research, reading a lot of books, reading about postpartum, and right now, I’m a speech language pathologist.  I work with people who’ve either had a stroke or a brain injury.  So I’ve always worked with people, helping people.  That’s been a passion of mine.  And just realizing the lack of knowledge, especially in the United States, of the postpartum experience, the birth experience, and what a doula is.  And I just thought, wow, if I could help give other women the support I had and help them through this journey, help them have the experience and support that I had, that would just be so fulfilling and just — it makes me sad when I think about all the people I know who look back on their birth and their postpartum and it was — they felt like they had no support and they felt so alone.  And that shouldn’t be the norm.

Kristin:  Right.  Yeah, they feel isolated, especially now during COVID, and we’ve been working all through COVID.  Some of our postpartum work had halted, and some hospitals weren’t allowing doulas in, so we offered virtual support only, but I feel like now more than ever, because of the isolation with COVID, doula support and that connection is so essential and providing information, as you said, so couples can make informed decisions about their birth and their postpartum phase and planning out what they want to do after baby or babies are born and how they can accept help from others or hire help, like postpartum doulas or a housekeeper or a meal delivery service, whatever it may be.

Audra:  Yeah.  And even the comfort of knowing you guys have a sleep consultant, and if I ran into issues, you know, I had 12 weeks off for maternity leave, and a big area of anxiety was, what is it going to look like when I go back, with sleep?  And so I always knew I had Alyssa if I needed her.  Thankfully, Charlie got on a good sleep routine on her own, but just knowing the amount and the diverse support that Gold Coast had, I knew I was going to be taken care of, and I knew I was in good hands.

Kristin:  So what did you learn — obviously, you worked with doulas, but then you recently took your birth doula training.  What opened your eyes that you didn’t know before about the doula role?  Tell us a bit about your training.

Audra:  It was so amazing.  Just learning about nonjudgmental support.  No matter what someone is thinking, feeling, we are just really there to support them.  And, obviously, as we go through our own births and raising our own kids, we can develop our own feelings, but putting those aside and saying, we are there to support you, and no matter what you choose.  So it was nice to just learn about all those different strategies and how I could go in and help a woman in any situation, no matter what.  I would feel confident doing that.

Kristin:  Right.  And your particular training through ProDoula — and I’m also trained through ProDoula — you realize you don’t need all the things as a doula, and you have that instinctual knowledge, and you’re able to just serve; again, without judgment, and an open heart, and a brand new doula can be just as effective as someone who’s seasoned like myself.

Audra:  Yeah.  And, again, before I knew much about doulas, I always thought, oh, they have the birthing balls and they’re in the tub and, you know, all these other knick-knacks that you have to have.  And it’s really just yourself being there.  That’s all you need.

Kristin:  I mean, I have a birth backpack that is filled with things, but outside of, you know, my bosu and a couple other things — like, I like the LED candles to put in the bathroom if a client’s in the tub or shower, but I don’t use everything I bring.  Other than snacks for myself, and that’s key.  Got to keep going!  But, yeah.  So we’re excited to have you on the team!

Audra:  Yes.  I’m so excited!

Kristin:  And I know you have plans eventually to become a postpartum doula, but you are available for hire for labor doula support.

Audra:  Yes!

Kristin:  So we’re excited to begin that process with you.  Thanks for sharing your story, Audra!

Audra:  Yes.  Thank you for having me!  I love sharing it and talking about my experience.

Kristin:  You’ll impact so many families, not only from listening to the podcast, but when they begin working with you.  And we will include a link to your bio in our podcast notes and the blog.  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  These moments are golden!

 

Audra’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #105 Read More »

Gold Coast Doulas Saturday Series: Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Survival Classes. goldcoastdoulas.com/events

Saturday Series of Classes: Podcast Episode #102

Kristin Revere, Kelly Emery, and Alyssa Veneklase talk about their Saturday Series of classes offered through Gold Coast Doulas.  Each goes in to detail about what their classes cover including Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Survival.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Kristin, and I’m here today with Alyssa and Kelly, and the three of us teach our Saturday Series of classes.  So we’re going to talk about what each of our classes are and a bit about what we’re doing during COVID.  So welcome, Kelly, and welcome, Alyssa.

Kelly: Thank you.

Alyssa:  Hey.  So, yeah, we could kind of talk first about why we — so we used to teach all of our classes separately and have different days and different times, but then we had clients who were taking a breastfeeding class and my newborn class, and they would be on separate days, separate times, and we know how hard it is for people to coordinate their schedules.  So doing them all at once in a series on Saturday, and then Kristin adding on her comfort measures — you know, having three classes — it’s hard to find three nights in a week that either a pregnant person or a couple can both get off to take these classes.

Kristin:  Right, and some of our clients work nights, and if they have other children at home, childcare has been easier to find on a Saturday than a weeknight.  So that’s part of why we adapted to this format, and it’s also helpful that the Saturday Series is ala cart, so a client or student could sign up for just Kelly’s breastfeeding class or, you know, just the newborn class or all three.  Or they can take them at different times, since we offer the classes every couple months.  A client could take a class in September and then down the road later in the year take breastfeeding, for example, as it gets closer to their due date.

Alyssa:  And for the students who do choose all three and do them on the same date, it can definitely be a long day.  When we were doing the classes in person, we had a lunch break and then another break in between.  But the feedback we’ve gotten so far is that people really like knocking these out one after another.  And then because of COVID, they’ve been virtual, so that’s actually been kind of nice.  They don’t have to leave their sofa.  They can feel a little bit more relaxed, grab snacks.  So that’s worked out well, too.  But our next series is in September, and we plan on doing it in person for the first time since COVID, but that could change at any minute, depending on…

Kristin:  Right.  And our office is in Eastown, and we’ve talked about having a smaller class size and how we’re going to pivot due to COVID and all of, you know, the sanitation that will need to be done.  But our Zoom classes have been going well.  I wasn’t so sure about the fact that Comfort Measures is so hands-on, how that would work virtually, but the students seem to enjoy it, and they were hands-on as I instructed virtually.  So it went over pretty well the first time.

Alyssa:  Same with breastfeeding.  How does that — you know, you had said, Kelly, that it was going well virtually, but were you a little bit nervous at first about, you know, like, how do you show a position and, you know, what a proper latch might look like, through a computer?

Kelly:  Yeah.  Yeah, that was something — speaking of pivoting, we had to do pretty quickly because people were still having babies and they’re still learning to breastfeed.  That is not something in life that can just stop.  So, yeah, getting up and going on the Zoom and all the technology was rapid, and it was — it’s pretty slick.  You know, what I do is just like in the in-person classes, I show videos, and so I can share my screen.  I show videos, clips of things that — it will make more sense when they actually have their baby, but I think instead of me just talking about it, showing a visual and the videos and all of the pictures that I have.  I have just a slew of pictures over my 20-some years of doing this, so it’s able — the people are able to really see what I’m talking about better when I share my screen.  So it’s all actually working out, and the parents love it.  And, you know, they love being together in a class together, but also I’ve gotten great feedback about the Zoom classes, that they love that they can just sit on their own couch in their pajamas and eat dinner, you know, or eat a meal and have Dad be right there with them, as well.  So it’s all working out.

Alyssa:  Well, Kristin, do you want to talk about — so the series kind of starts with the Comfort Measures.  Then it’s Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.  So you want to maybe in that order talk about each of our classes and what they’re about?

Kristin:  Yes.  So Comfort Measures is a hands-on class that the couple is encouraged to attend, but certainly I’ve had the birthing person attend without a partner, as well.  And so we go over breathing, relaxation, and it definitely doesn’t replace a traditional comprehensive childbirth class.  I’m not going to cover the stages of labor in two hours.  But it’s more about different positions that will relieve discomfort, both while they’re at home, if they’re birthing in the hospital, in the early stages of labor, or positions to utilize further along in labor in the active stage as well as the pushing stage.  And we do cover breathing, as well.

Alyssa:  So is it more to have the partner understand what’s going on and allow the partner to offer these comfort measures?

Kristin:  The partner does learn how to do some of the different measures.  Hands-on massage, light touch massage is covered.  We go over hip squeezes and a lot of the doula tools, just a variety of positions, like hands and knees and leaning up against a wall and dancing, sort of rocking in labor, as well as, you know, using the birthing ball.  And then we talk about different positions that they could consider pushing in, like squatting and sidelying.  And I answer questions, and there are some handouts that they use to just get a comfort level for where the partner and the birthing person are at as far as what their expectations of birth are and how comfortable they are supporting a partner.  So there’s a lot of communication in the short class, as well.

Alyssa:  And Kelly, what about your class?

Kelly:  It’s called Breastfeeding: Getting a Strong Start, and it’s a lot about — my goal, anyway, is to get the mom and her partner comfortable and feeling confident about at least starting out.  You know, I think it’s sometimes overwhelming.  It is a three-hour class, so it is a long time, and a lot of content is covered, but my goal is not to, like, overwhelm the parents with, like, what to do over the next, like, two years of breastfeeding or whatever, like that.  Because I think people in this moment when you’re pregnant, especially, you can take little chunks of information that are going to be relevant to you in the moment.  And so just getting off to a strong start, at least to get you through those first early days and weeks, you know, of breastfeeding, and then let you exhale a little bit and kind of find your answers as they are relevant to you is something that I’ve found over the years of doing this, honing, about what moms really want to know and what they need to know in the beginning.  So I might go over — I’m a really strong proponent of going over anatomy in the beginning, just because I think if moms know how their breasts work and how their babies work, they can figure out — they can put a lot of these dots together and make it make sense for them in their situation.  So, for instance, one of the first things I talk about in anatomy is, like, in our middle school health ed class, we skipped right over the breasts, I’m quite sure.  You know, they talk about your periods and, you know, maybe some birth control.  I don’t know.  I don’t even remember what they all talked about.  But I don’t remember talking about lactation or anything about the breasts other than that they get bigger, and then you wear a bra.  That’s about it.  And so I’m like, wait, wait, wait.  This is an incredible two glands we have here that sustain life.  They have so much to do and so much to contribute, and they’re kind of a natural next stage of being pregnant is lactating.  So it’s kind of all jumbled up together there, and I feel like in our society we kind of — as women, we’ve kind of not learned a lot about our breasts.  So I talk about what’s happening while we’re pregnant, what happens in the first couple days after delivery, and then how lactation and how their breasts change and make milk and all these other wonderful things that they do in the days and weeks, you know, after delivery.  Yeah.  So I’m big on helping women know about their bodies and then seeing how it works, and then I think it’s less of a mystery when things unfold because we just — you’re like, oh, yeah, we talked about.  That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, or that’s what my breasts are supposed to be doing.  Those little bumps on my areola, they mean something and they do play a role.

Alyssa:  What do those mean?

Kelly:  Those are your Montgomery glands, and they enlarge, you know, when you’re pregnant.  They secrete a couple things.  One is — it’s almost like a self-cleaning oven.  One is that they secrete the substance that kind of — it’s an antimicrobial, so kills bacteria.  It kind of keeps your nipples clean and your areola clean so you don’t have to scrub them.  A long time ago, like back in the ’50s, we used to think you had to scrub your nipples, and believe it or not, we would put alcohol on them before the baby would — like, we would sterilize your nipples, like we did with bottle nipples, before we would put the baby on you.  Just ridiculous.  And come to find out, you know, Mother Nature’s already taken care of that with those Montgomery glands.  Another thing that they do is they secrete — it’s an exocrine gland, which means it excretes something, you know, kind of like a sweat gland.  So they also secrete something that kind of keeps your nipple from drying out.  Keeps it kind of supple and moist.

Alyssa:  Kind of lubricated a little bit?

Kelly:  Yeah.  So all of those things — and one of the reasons I mention that is when moms think, oh, I have to buy some lanolin or some nipple ointment, those things are fine if you want to use them, but just use them just on your nipple.  You don’t have to smear it all over your areola because they can — if you smear up too much, they can block off those Montgomery glands, and then they can’t do their job.  So that’s one of the first things I talk about because it’s one of the most visible things you see when you get pregnant is your areola gets the little bumps on them, and then they darken and, you know, all of these things happening.  And then the next thing, the other part, huge part of the class, is getting the partner involved.  The baby’s other parent is going to be a huge part of breastfeeding, and I go over the research of how statistically, whether breastfeeding works or not has a lot to do with the mother’s partner and the worth that they feel and that togetherness.  And I joke that, you know, they’re going to be with you at 2:00 a.m., not me, and they’re the ones who know what motivationally you need to hear in the moment.  You know, what gets you — what makes you feel better.  What kind of cookies do you like?  What do you need in that moment?  And the partner is more tuned into that than I am, of course, you know.  So I can give some technical advice if I’m working with you postpartum to help with breastfeeding, but the partner is going to be there to be the other really important team member, and so that’s why I super, super encourage them to come to the class.  The in-person class or the Zoom class, any kind of class, so there’s four ears listening to all of this and not just two.  For the mom to have to listen to it and then go back and regurgitate it all, you know, it’s another burned on her, and she may forget things.  And I spend a lot of the time giving advice about what dads and partners can do to be helpful because I think they feel like they’re on the sidelines and they can’t be a part of breastfeeding.  And so I totally dispel that, and I give them lots of things, you know, concrete things that they can do that can be very helpful to breastfeeding.

Alyssa:  I know that everyone who’s taken your class has told me they love it.  They think you’re just so knowledgeable, and they had no idea about all these things, and they definitely go into it feeling more confident.

Kelly:  Awesome.  That’s my goal.

Alyssa:  Was there anything else you wanted to say about your class?

Kelly:  Well, I just want to say that I love being part of this entire series because knowing that I’m part of blending it together, like the big picture — like, the labor feeds into the breastfeeding.  The breastfeeding really ties closely with the newborn survival.  They’re all so well-interwoven that I think it’s great for the parents to have all of this information at once or, you know, dole it out as they need to, but just to have all of the information because then they get a sense of the bigger picture, I think.  It just makes total sense when all of these are taken together.  So I’m happy to be a part of this series, for sure.

Alyssa:  We’re happy you are a part!

Kristin:  So at what stage in pregnancy would you suggest someone take your breastfeeding class?  And I’ll also ask the same question of Alyssa and then answer that myself.

Kelly:  I would say the seventh month.  I wouldn’t wait to the last month because there’s a lot going on, you might go early, blah-blah-blah.  But, you know, you can take it in your ninth month, for sure.  But, yeah, I would say the third trimester would be good, start of the third trimester.

Kristin: Alyssa?  What would you say for Newborn Survival?

Alyssa:  You know, I would say third trimester, too, just so that this all is fresh in their heads.  The only problem is waiting that long, we do go over some items that are — you know, like baby registry items.  And by that point, usually they’ve already registered or had baby showers and gotten everything.  So that makes that a little bit irrelevant.  We still go over it, and I tell them, you know, keep things in packages with tags on.  If you don’t use them, you can always return them.  So we still go over it, but I think to do it any earlier, you’d kind of forget all of the stuff we’ve gone over.

Kristin:  I would say ideally the third trimester, though I’ve had students take it in the second trimester and still retain the information and practice the hands-on techniques that they learn.  A lot of my students also have doulas within Gold Coast or are working with me directly, so, of course, the doula is a great reminder of the different positions and comfort measures for labor and also some of the relaxation techniques that we learn.  And, certainly, you know, as far as who should take the class, we are also quite different from other childbirth education classes in that many are suited — just like Bradley method, for example, just for one type of birth.  Like, for those seeking an unmedicated birth.  For Comfort Measures, I have clients who want an epidural as soon as they get to the hospital or, you know, are having a home birth or are seeking an unmedicated hospital birth, so a variety of situations.  And, Kelly, I know that you have students who want to pump, and you do, of course, have the pumping class, the back to work pumping.  But it’s not for one type of parent or birthing person.  I know, Alyssa, you have everyone from attachment parents taking your newborn class to those who are more mainstream in parenting style.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  You kind of have to be open to all of the options and all of the parenting styles.  I would say, you know, for yours, it’s important.  Kelly, you know they’re going to breastfeed if they’re taking your class, or at least going to attempt it.  And I don’t know in my class, so I go over if they’re not breastfeeding.  We’ll go over bottle feeding.  Maybe they want to just pump exclusively and bottle feed.  I go over it very briefly.  Sometimes I can completely skip it because they’ve also taken your class, Kelly, and I don’t need to go over anything.

Kelly:  I think with my breastfeeding class, you’re right, there are some moms who just want to pump and bottle feed, and we do go over working and bottle feeding and how to combine all of that, for sure.  But even the part about the anatomy that I was telling you about, it’s good for the moms to know the anatomy of how, also, to maximize that with a pump, because there are ways — the ways that some of our hormones work with a baby, trying to also trigger those with a pump takes a little bit of knowledge, you know, and a little bit of practice.  So even if you’re not going to breastfeed, knowing about your breasts and how they work would benefit you even if you’re going to be pumping, because then you can work with a pump to work with your anatomy and how all of the pumping and maintaining your milk supply goes together.

Alyssa:  I feel like I should sit through your class.  I haven’t sat through yours, and I always love having a refresher on breastfeeding because when I’m working with sleep clients, we talk about feeding a lot.  So I feel like I should put the next September Series class on my calendar to sit in yours.

Kelly:  I know, and I should — I want to learn more about your sleeping, too, because that’s a big question when it comes around to breastfeeding.  They are so intricately tied together.

Alyssa:  So my Newborn Survival class, I started or I created because, you know, working as a postpartum doula — I don’t anymore, but when I did, you start hearing the same questions and same concerns from the parents over and over.  If only someone had told me this!  Why didn’t I know that?  How come nobody told me that this would happen?  When you start hearing the same things over, then I’m like, yeah, I had these same concerns and questions and fears when I was a new mom, too.  So I just kind of started compiling all these things and talking to experts and put this Newborn Survival class together, and it has real-life scenarios.  Like, things that happened to me, things that happened, you know, in my work, and how do we deal with these?  And then it’s very — you know, we do talk about, hey, has anyone changed a diaper?  If they haven’t, we’ll show them.  But that’s probably the most surface level type stuff.  I want to get into, hey, babies cry.  There’s no way around it.  How do we minimize that?  What do we check for?  And how do you communicate?  Like, you and your baby are a team, and from a very, very young age, they are communicating with you, and you need to figure that out.  So just giving them really pragmatic steps to — you know, the first few weeks, your baby’s just going to eat, sleep, poop, pee.  That’s about it.  But once, you know, six weeks rolls around, there’s kind of this schedule forming.  You probably have a pretty good idea of when they want to eat.  Maybe you start to see some sleep patterns forming by six to nine weeks.  And then if they’re crying, what does that mean?  What causes that crying?  How do we stop that crying?  What happened when the crying started?  And then talking a lot about feeding.  People usually want to ask me a lot of sleep questions, even though this isn’t a sleep class.  We go over sleep.  But a lot of it’s, well, you know, if my baby’s not sleeping well, do I just let them cry?  Never, never, never is my answer; never.  No.  We don’t just let them cry.  But if they’re not eating enough, no amount of letting your baby sit in that crib will do any good because they’re hungry.  So we talk a lot about feeding, whether it’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding.  And then we go over things like, you know, common skin issues.  Like, everyone always gets weirded out by cradle cap and baby acne and maybe some rashes, diaper rash.  And then like I mentioned, we go over some things that are not worth spending your money on.  Here’s some things you really need.  And then talking, too, about the partners keeping communication open and setting goals and expectations for each other ahead of time, because once that baby comes, you don’t have the time or mental wherewithal to be dealing with that in the moment at 3:00 in the morning.  So if you have these expectations set ahead of time, it’s really important.  And then obviously talking about, you know, letting them know that there are resources available.  They don’t have to go through this alone.  There are — you know, Kelly’s a lactation consultant.  She can do an in-person or a Zoom visit.  We have postpartum doulas who work day and night.  All these resources are available to them.  And then we go over a lot of soothing methods.  I show them my swaddling methods.  And we talk about bathing, too.  Bathing is a big one for parents that they’re usually kind of freaked out about.  But yeah, it’s just kind of how to survive those first few weeks or months home with a new baby because it’s a little bit scary when you walk through that door for the first time holding a human that you have to keep alive.

Kristin:  Great summary!  So let’s talk a little bit about — again, we mentioned breaks within the format and a little bit of the timing structure of each class.  So the Saturday Series usually starts off with my Comfort Measures class.  We have switched our schedule a few times, but my class is two hours from 9:00 to 11:00, and then there is a lunch break.  And then we get into Kelly’s class.  And, Kelly, you mentioned your class is three hours.  And then there’s a short break, and then Alyssa has an hour and a half for Newborn Survival.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I think there’s a half an hour break to grab a snack, go to the bathroom.

Kristin:  Right.  And then as far as the fee for the class — again, the classes are a la carte so you could purchase one class or all three, and each class is $75.  And traditional insurance does not cover the Saturday Series, but if a student has a health savings or flex spending, most plans do cover childbirth classes.

Kelly:  And I would add, Kristin, on the same for breastfeeding classes.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, breastfeeding support and supplies and education should be covered, and I provide a superbill for my class as well with all of my codes and my tax ID number and everything that they would need to self-submit.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  And, Kelly, did you want to touch on your pumping class that’s separate from the Saturday Series?

Kelly:  Yeah.  I have a class for moms who want to go deeper into just the pumping.  During my Saturday Series, I will go over some pumping and working and everything, but to dive deeper into that of what that looks like on a professional level and an emotional level, like leaving your baby, what that’s like, and if I have to travel, and how do I maintain a milk supply and what if my milk supply goes low?  Lots of little details swirling around.  If you’re still having, you know, after this class, if you’re still having questions about that, or if you want to skip over the whole breastfeeding class and just do the pumping and working one, I have a class, and you can just go to my website and you’ll see.  It’s called Work Pump Balance, and it’s an almost-three hour class in and of itself.  It’s self-paced modules that you can go through, and it’s myself and then a — my friend Mita, and she pumped for a year for both of her kids and worked full time.  She had a very demanding career in a very male-dominated industry, and she made it work.  She gives a lot of insight about how — you know, a lot of the laws have changed since she’s done it, so that only benefits moms even more.  But how to logistically travel and calling clients and work around this when you’re really the only female in the whole — it’s a big company, but you’re the only female around.  So, yeah, we dive deeper into that.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  And Gold Coast also offers a private multiples class for any of our clients or students who are expecting twins or triplets.  So we do offer each of the individual Saturday Series of class privately, since our Series is offered every couple of months.  There is the option of taking just breastfeeding privately through Zoom and/or, depending on COVID, in person.  So did each of you want to — I know, Alyssa, you just recently taught a newborn class on Zoom.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We just did a private one because they were being induced this week.  So we just did it last week.  Yeah.  It’s great.  It kind of allows the couple an opportunity to ask the questions that they might be afraid to ask in front of other people, although I feel like with my class specifically, I make it very clear that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and I think most of the students do feel very comfortable asking anything.  But it’s just a little different when it’s just me with one couple.  They can ask whatever they want freely.  And I do get told that it’s nice for them to learn the same techniques together so that it’s not, you know, one person saying, well, I think we should do that, and I think we should do that.  You know, they can kind of take all the information I’ve given and make their own decisions from there based on what they’re comfortable with.  So I’ve been told several times that they like that they’re hearing the same information together and not different information from different people at different times.

Kristin:  That makes sense, and yeah, it is nice that if someone wants to take a class last minute or wants the individual attention.  My students have enjoyed just being able to customize the comfort measures based on what their birthing goals are.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So if anyone wants to register, they can go to our website and register for, like we said, one, two, or all three.  We also have the Multiple class and a HypnoBirthing Series.  And you can always reach out to any of us with questions.

Kelly:  I appreciate you doing this, and I’m looking forward to the next class in September.

Kristin:  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  You can find us on SoundCloud, iTunes, and on our website.  These moments are golden.

 

Saturday Series of Classes: Podcast Episode #102 Read More »

Woman wearing neutral colors lays on a white bed cradling her baby bump

HypnoBirthing Baby – Wesley

We love getting birth stories from clients! This is a beautiful story from one of Ashley’s HypnoBirthing students. Through all of the unknowns of labor and delivery for a first time parent, this mom describes her birth experience and how relaxing and keeping calm throughout eliminated any room for fear.

Wesley Thomas Sarazin was born 9-2-18 (13 days prior to EDD) at 5:02 pm. At 4:30 am on 9-1 was laying on the bed at my cabin and felt a pop/jolt feeling and thought my membranes released, but I stood up and no fluid was coming out. I went to the bathroom and had instead lost my mucus plug. I laid back down with my husband and had 2 contractions 20 minutes apart, but decent intensity. Since the cabin is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from home, I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable laboring there and wanted to go home. Chris started to drive, and about 15 minutes before getting home I started to vomit. I got out of the car and fluid gushed. Surges were 6 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute, with lots of back labor.

We got home and I took a shower, grabbed our hospital bags, and contractions were now about 5 minutes apart. I had wanted to labor at home for a while, but felt that I needed to head into triage because I was doing more vomiting and I felt like I needed to poop so I was afraid to try not knowing what my cervix was doing. I was 1cm and “soft” with baby’s head pretty low at the appointment just over a week prior. We got to triage around 9:00 am. I was still only 1-2cm but surges seemed quite intense and still no more than 5 minutes apart. They confirmed I had released my membranes and I was taken up to L&D by 10:00. I had some high BPs initially but they came down and stayed around 135/85 so they weren’t really concerned about pre-e. I was GBS neg.

Krista, my first nurse, was awesome. She has been in the field for 25 years. I’m a nurse so I wanted an IV in up front, because I don’t have great veins. I got in the tub right away and labored there for about 2 hours. I did not have to do continuous monitoring. They took an initial 20 minute reading (wireless in the tub) and then just traced me for 2 minutes each hour with the portable one. I purchased a bath pillow on Amazon and that made it more comfy. I listened to Rainbow Relaxation and some other YouTube/Amazon playlists that I had ready. I got out and dried off, and did some squatting. I hated the ball. I hated leaning forward; the sensation in my abdomen when leaning forward was less tolerable than the back labor. I had lots of rectal pressure the whole time, probably my least favorite part.

I had them check me at around 1:30 pm, and I had made it up to about 5.5cm and 90% effaced. I continued to labor, now mostly side lying with a peanut ball and some standing/squatting and rocking hips. Krista, the RN, told me to try to get through 4 surges in 1 position and then switch to another position; that it would help time go by, and for me it did. I would do about 3-4 surges and then switch. It gave short term goals to get through. Kind of like when you’ve got 10 more minutes to run but you think of it in five, 2 minute sections, just get through the next 2 minutes.

My husband, Mom, and sister took turns applying heat or ice to my back and some counter pressure. I also held heat or ice over my pelvis as it just felt like menstrual cramps. Between surges, I would tell myself to be “loose, limp, relaxed”. I continued with either Rainbow Relaxation or a really great birthing affirmations track that I had found on Youtube. My favorite affirmation was “My surges are not stronger than me because they ARE me”. Baby did have some late decels but was overall ok.

The first 5 hours I was barely monitored but had to be watched more closely at the end. About 2 hours later I was having natural expulsion reflex and I was about 7.5cm and 100%.

Doc finally came in and I was relieved when she didn’t leave, which encouraged me to know that things were likely happening soon. She was fantastic. Even the nurse commented that she has a very midwife-like approach and I felt totally comfortable with her. She put a warm wet towel on my perineum and did counter pressure during my surges. She told me to keep doing the natural expulsive pushing if it was happening even though I was not 10cm because baby was coming down well, at +1 station and tolerating it. She said, “You’re not going to rip through your cervix, your body knows what it is doing.”

After 20 minutes of active pushing, I was struggling to breathe because my urge to push was so strong it was hard to breathe in as much as I’d like. They threw a mask on me and had me push with 1 leg up through 2 surges and then switch and lean the other way to get baby to keep rotating. They got a little aggressive with how they had me push but at the time I was ok with it because I wanted him out ASAP! His head came in and out through several surges and once I popped that head through his body came all at once, such a relief.

During transition I almost asked for some nitrous oxide, but with knowing that the end was in sight, I just kept completely relaxing between surges. I didn’t have any drugs aside from IV fluids. The Doctor did do a pudendal block right before I pushed which I had never even heard of but am super thankful for. I didn’t have the “ring of fire” feeling that some people talk about.

I didn’t get post delivery pit, and had no issue with bleeding. Baby did about 2 minutes of delayed cord clamping, and then I donated the rest. He wasn’t pinking up well and neonatal needed to come. He had lots of fluid/mucus in his lungs and got deep suctioned. H also had to go on CPAP. Once he was looking better, they put him on my chest again, but unfortunately after a few minutes his color was not looking good and we had to call neonatal back for more CPAP and suction. He was threatened with the NICU and I told him to get his act together so he could stay and snuggle with me. I just kept talking to him from across the way. My husband and mom were right by his side as well. The 3rd try to my chest worked. He had mild signs of respiratory distress but his color was looking better.

The next hurdle was hoping his blood sugar was ok since he couldn’t try to latch until his breathing was stable. Luckily that was good!  The only thing I would change about the whole process would be to slow down on the pushing because I think that would have minimized my tearing and maybe the baby wouldn’t have had as much fluid in his lungs.

We are in mother baby now, doing fine. He has been latching pretty well. He still is borderline tachypnic so Dad and I are taking turns holding him because he does better that way. No bassinet for him tonight.

I had my Husband, Mom and sister in the delivery room and am so glad they got to witness our awesome birth. The labor and delivery was hard but honestly not as hard as I thought it would be. It was different I would say, in regard to the back labor and rectal pressure. My husband called me a “gangster”. He said, “I don’t know how to say this the right way, because I know it wasn’t easy, but you made it look easy. It didn’t look like you were uncomfortable.”

Before labor and birth, Chris was a lot better than me about trying to use the HypnoBirthing lingo and shut down any negative birth stories that people would tell. We had several people (who are honestly GREAT people, so it surprised me) say to us, “Oh you’ll see once you get into labor, you’ll want an epidural,” or “You don’t get a trophy afterwards.” After a few of those statements, I just stopped telling people that I was going to try for a natural birth. Fortunately, my mother delivered 4 children without medication, so I had her encouraging me and my husband fully believed I could do it, more than I did.

I should say that the reason I took HypnoBirthing was because I believe that our bodies are made to do this. One of my friends, who’s biggest fear about labor was that she would go too fast and not be able to get an epidural, had read the book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and she gave it to me when she was done. That book further ingrained the message that our bodies are made to do this and a birth without fear will hopefully progress as it should. I think that is the most important part of preparing yourself for natural childbirth. I can honestly say I was never fearful at any point and had a beautiful, exciting, experience.

Most, if not all, of my preferences were met and I am so happy with my experience. I was up to the bathroom and walking around the room less than 2 hours after he was born, and I’m really not having any pain. Bleeding is appropriate without the dose of pit. Just trying to get some rest but being extra attentive though this first night because of my little guys breathing.

 

HypnoBirthing Baby – Wesley Read More »

HypnoBirthing Story

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story

Today we talk with a previous HypnoBirthing student, Annette Beitzel, about her personal experience with HypnoBirthing at Gold Coast Doulas.  Although she didn’t use it how she intended, it had an incredible impact on her pregnancy and birth experience.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with my business partner, Alyssa.

Alyssa:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we’ve got Annette Beitzel here.

Annette:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we are talking about Annette’s experience with taking HypnoBirthing class back in 2016.  So thanks for coming on!  First of all, as far as all of your options of out-of-hospital childbirth classes, what made you choose HypnoBirthing?

Annette:  Honestly, I heard about it on a podcast, and it just sounded cool.  At first, just the name HypnoBirthing sounds really kooky, like, oh, yeah, those people!  But just hearing the person’s experience with it, it was like, oh, my goodness.  This sounds like exactly what I want.  I already had planned on natural birth at a birthing center.  That was my goal, and so it just felt like it fit really well with what my goals were.  Breathing is better than medication, right?

Kristin:  Of course, yes!

Annette:  So yeah, it just sounded like it fit well.

Kristin:  Perfect.  And did you have any reservations about HypnoBirthing, when you think of hypnosis?  When people call our office and ask questions about HypnoBirthing, they get a little freaked out by the “hypno” aspect of it.

Annette:  I think that because I heard about it on a podcast with a person who really explained it right away as just relaxing yourself; that’s what you’re doing; you’re doing it to yourself.  Nobody is coming in with a watch on a chain!

Kristin:  That’s what people imagine, for sure!

Annette:  It was harder to explain to my husband.  I was like, okay, just listen to this podcast.  This will help you understand what I heard.   Because it is; it’s one of those weird things.  It just sounds that way, right?

Kristin:  Right!  And you mentioned your husband, so again, one question we get a lot about the class is that people feel like with hypnosis, it’s internal, even with self-relaxation and visualizations.  How is your husband involved in both the class as well as your birth using that technique?

Annette:  So in the class, you do all the same exercises.  A lot of it is dealing with your fears and just understanding the process, and so men come in with those things, too, right?  Maybe not the same ones or different ways, but they still have their expectations of what birth will be.  And so I think he found it really helpful to really get an expert explaining what’s really happening, that women’s bodies are made for this.  And then also they do all of the “hypnosis” along with the women, so everyone is doing it together.  I mean, it would feel really weird if the men or the partners were just sitting there watching, but they’re involved.  It was all group things, so he understood what I was doing.  There were some exercises that he would sort of help me.  I don’t remember the different things, like tapping or different things like that, and so he sometimes played a more active role.  But also, I think, if I had gone by myself, he wouldn’t have really understood what I was doing in birth because the way it all ended up, he didn’t do really anything.  And so I think he would have been, like, oh, my goodness; I’ve done nothing; nothing’s happened here; I’m useless.  But he knew what I was doing.  He knew I was inside myself.  He knew that I was relaxed.  He knew all of those things, and so I think it really helped him just understand what was going on and not be like, “Oh, do I need to do anything?!”

Alyssa:  I have not gone through the class.  I’ve tried to set myself outside of this as a person listening who doesn’t know what HypnoBirthing is, and I’m thinking it still sounds hokey.  So when you say “hypnosis,” what kinds of things are you doing in the class, and why isn’t it hokey?

Annette:  Right!  Because it works would be the main reason I’d say it’s not hokey.  So basically all she does is go through a reading of something, and she uses a very soothing, calm voice, so it’s easy to sort of stop thinking that you’re in this room, in this place.  You just close your eyes, and you think about what she’s saying.  I think the first one you do, she has you raise your hand as if a balloon is raising you up or something.  And so you just kind of realize, like, oh, I can go outside of my brain.  I can come back into my self-conscious, or I can sort of disconnect a little bit.  And that’s all me.  I’m listening to her, right, but it’s all me just choosing what I want to focus on, how I want to move my thoughts or my energy.  So I don’t know; it does sound a bit ridiculous, and even in the first class, she’s totally talking about that.  She’s like, I know this is weird.  I know it sounds weird, but you’re relaxing yourself.  Don’t think hypnosis; think relaxation.  That’s what you’re doing here.  And is there anything better for birth?

Kristin:  Exactly, opening up and relaxing — that’s key to it!

Annette:  So, yeah, to me, listening to a big explanation of what it really was from an expert was really helpful.  These are the steps you can take, and this is how it can benefit you.  But for me actually being in the class, it was like, yeah, okay; this is me; this just me relaxing; this is me choosing what I’m thinking about, what I’m focusing on.  If I want to think about my fears, that’s going to make me tense up or stress out.  Or I can think about a flower opening up, and I’m sure that sounds silly, but that’s sure a lot more relaxing than, “Am I going to go to a C-section?!”  It’s what do I want to choose to think about, and how will that help me give birth the way that I want to.

Kristin:  And certainly it goes over the basic physiology of what your body is going through, understanding the stages of labor and what’s normal, and for those birthing in the hospital, a little bit about what the hospital experience is like, as well as breastfeeding.  So anything an out-of-hospital class would cover, in addition to changing the language of birth.  That’s one of the things as a doula that I love the most is just changing some the fear-based words.  I mean, contraction already sounds like you’re tensed up, and just looking at “surge” as a more opening, positive word, and not looking at pain.  You know, you go to the hospital, and it’s like, what’s your pain threshold.  They ask you that, like, ten times during labor.  So just sort of changing that language and using affirmations, which I love.  Being positive and just being relaxed.  And the fear releases you do in task — can you talk a little bit about that experience, of doing a fear release?

Annette:  Yeah, that was really interesting.  So I think that my husband actually experienced that one more deeply than I did because I remember the whole thing.  I remember going in the book and pulling out pages and saying, I’m not going to be afraid of this.  This is okay.  I already know the facts because we’ve gone over what do I expect.  Can my body handle this?  Very likely, yes!  And so for him, he doesn’t remember it at all.  He was so relaxed and so into it that he — which is an interesting aspect.  Talking about the different affirmations and stuff, you listen to something that’s about 30 minutes long every night, and to me, that was one of the main things that I really did that was super consistent.  I listened to it every single night, and it’s Rainbow Relaxation.  So it goes through all these colors of the rainbow, and I think by the second color of the rainbow, I’d be asleep every night.  And she was like, that’s totally fine.  You can sleep, and it’s relaxing, and you’re still hearing it, and it’s fine.  And I remember a couple of times, I would wake up at the end, which means I wasn’t actually asleep, I was just in that super entranced state where I was really relaxed, really in my subconscious and feeling it.  And it was just such a weird feeling, because you’re like, oh, my goodness; I was awake this whole time.  I was hearing these things, but I didn’t really feel that awake.  So it’s amazing what your brain can do and just how relaxed you can really get.  So with the fear, I don’t think that I came in with the same fears that a lot of people do.  I already had two sisters-in-law go through natural births at birthing centers, so I was kind of like, yeah, this it totally doable.  I’m not experiencing terrifying birth stories all the time.  I came in with relatively positive expectations.  And then going through the actual information part of it, it’s amazing.  I mean, she really explains to you what is this; how does it work.  Your body is made to do this!  Now, I have to caveat that my sister-in-law — another one — her pelvis cannot.  It doesn’t work.  So it doesn’t work for everyone, but for the vast majority, our bodies can do this.  And that was my experience, too.  I didn’t do anything for labor.  It was just there, and he came out, and there we were.  I don’t think that the fear thing for me was the biggest part of it.  The biggest thing for me was the relaxation, and even through my whole pregnancy, I had a miserable pregnancy.  I had SPD starting at 14 weeks, which is symphysis pubis dysfunction.  I could not walk without excruciating pain.  I couldn’t put my pants on.  I couldn’t do anything; it was just horrible.  And I was pretty down about it.  It was really frustrating because I was going to be the active, pregnant woman that was going out walking all the time and keeping active, and I just couldn’t.  Talking to Ashley about that, she just helped me reframe everything, and the last couple of months of my pregnancy were just completely different.  I was so much more positive; I was so much more relaxed and comfortable, and even though there was still pain, I wasn’t just grumpy all the time.  And I had been up to that point.  I would say my husband was probably really glad we took the HypnoBirthing, even just for my pregnancy.  I was just so much more at peace, and it was so, so helpful with that aspect of it.  So even before we got to the birth, I already felt like HypnoBirthing is amazing because look at my outlook on this pregnancy.  It’s okay.

Alyssa:  So you had the ideal birth where you said you didn’t have to do anything; it just happened.  So what kind of tips or advise would you give for parents for whom that doesn’t happen or if they know they’re getting a C-section.  Would HypnoBirthing still benefit them, and how?

Annette:  Oh, absolutely!  So first of all, I would not say I had the ideal birth.  He came out without my working for it, but I actually had some really intense bleeding the night before.  I was planning on a birth center and ended up in a hospital because my midwife just didn’t want to touch this; this is scary; could be placental abruption.  You know, we didn’t know.  So I checked into a hospital at 6:30 in the morning.  We thought I was probably at a 6 or a 7.  I wasn’t really having intense surges; I wasn’t feeling that much pain.  It was there, but it felt more like Braxton Hicks at that point still; maybe a little stronger.  We knew I was in labor.  They had found that out before because I had actually been in the hospital earlier that night and went home.  So at midnight, my water had broken, and 6:30, I’m in the hospital.  We were like, yeah, nothing is really happening yet.  But it was still a little scary.  I was in the hospital and I didn’t really want to be in the hospital, but they went with my birthing plan, which was like an emergency birthing plan, which unfortunately I had to use.  So I’m sitting in this hospital.  She turned down the lights for me.  She’s doing intake paperwork because I’m not supposed to be there, and I’m answering questions between the surges, and all of a sudden, I felt him move into the birth path, and I was like, oh, I feel him moving down right now.  And she’s like, oh, good good!  I’m like, no, no, he’s coming!  And they were like, okay…  And I rolled over away from her; I’m not going to answer any more questions right now.  And they checked me, and I was at a 10.  And this is six hours or seven hours after my water had broken.  So it was so, so fast.  He was born 20 minutes later.  It was actually too fast.  He didn’t get properly squeezed out, so he was vomiting up stuff the next night, which is scary in its own right.  So yeah, they were, like, oh, don’t push!  I’m like, honestly, anything that happened was involuntary.  And then the doctor got there.  He came out ten minutes after the doctor was there, and he was there telling me, you might want to hold your breath!  And I was like, no, I don’t!  I remember that conversation.  I remember when he was crowning.  They told me, oh, he’s crowning.  And I was, like, wait, I thought this was supposed to be a ring of fire.  Where’s the fire?  And that was my thought while he was crowning.  I was just relaxed.  That’s all I can say.  We did not have time for listening to any of the meditations.  We didn’t do anything during the actual birth because even during the night, I was sleeping most of the time.  So I feel like I barely did a HypnoBirthing, other than the fact that I was relaxed and I was breathing.  And that’s what I really took from all of the classes and all of the work, which is part of the reason I wanted to do this, because it was like, hey, I didn’t even really do it, but it still worked, right?  I didn’t spend 12 hours listening to relaxation things and breathing him down.  I did breathe him down, but very quickly!  So yeah, I had a second degree tear and there was all sorts of other things, but my placenta was getting old.  They said that was part of the reason for the bleeding, and so there was reason for concern, which I would also say, the whole time, it was like I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but all right, here we are.   I think just the knowledge of everything — I never freaked out.  I wasn’t worried.  It was just like, okay, well, this is what’s happening now.  And just very — I think I was very go with the flow.  And my husband and everyone else was kind of freaking out.  I was texting my family because they’re in another state.  I told them I was going to the hospital because there’s lot of bleeding and they think it might be this and whatever, and they were all freaking out.  And then 20 minutes later, we’re sending a picture of a baby.  Okay, well, I guess it was okay!  So, yeah, it was an ideal birth, and also completely not what I was expecting or planning.  I was going to be in a birthing tub all night long, right?  That was my plan!  But even without going along with the plan, it still was just completely changed how I was approaching everything, how I felt about it, what I was even thinking about.  I was thinking about my breath and feeling him in my body.  Everything else was so peripheral.  Oh, there’s doctors out there.  I even remember looking up, like, oh, look at all these faces I have never seen before.  I think there were five or six people at the end of the bed!  And I was like, all right, well, here we go then!  And all of it was so — I just got the inevitability of a birth.  It was going to happen.  It didn’t matter what I was doing.  It didn’t matter what they did.  Here we are in this place that I wasn’t planning, and here comes my baby, just exiting my body.  And I think after that birth, I really did believe and understand the women giving birth in a coma because it was like honestly — I feel like my body did some pushing.  It didn’t feel like it.  It didn’t feel like what people explain is a birth.  It was just like my body helped him exit.

Kristin:  You were breathing your baby down, as we talk about, the birth breath in HypnoBirthing.  But of course, we see the movies where everything is traumatic and the woman is screaming.  That’s not what the reality of birth is, even with a precipitous birth, which can be a little bit stressful and overwhelming if you haven’t prepared the way you did and having that relaxation.  And even with your change of plans, in HypnoBirthing, of course, instead of a birth plan, you talk about birth preferences, so what you would like in an ideal situation, knowing that you may need to be flexible, which you obviously were, and you handled it very well.

Annette:  Yeah, sorry, I forget some of the terminology.  It’s been a couple of years.  But yeah, it was amazing.  It was, okay, we’re working with my midwife, so we don’t need to tell her what all we were going to do.  We were on the same page already, but I was really glad we actually did walk through all of that and come up with a list of what we really wanted from a birth.  And he was on my chest for two hours before they even touched him to do anything.  They still followed all of the things that I wanted, and I think that was a really helpful part of the class.  I was going into it thinking, “That’s not going to happen to me!  I’m not going to be in the hospital!”  But I was, and I’m really glad that somebody walked me through just saying what I want, if I’m in the hospital.  Just lay it all down.

Alyssa:  Having the knowledge and being educated ahead of time, I think, is a big part of releasing fear because you know what to expect “if,” instead of walking into this unknown.  And then you would have been panicking because you’re in a hospital; there’s six people that I don’t know at the end of the bed; what’s happening to me?  You were kind of like, oh, yeah, we talked about this.

Annette:  Yeah, it was very much that way.  I know what my body is going to do, so you all can hang out if you want.

Kristin:  And we have students that have planned Cesareans that want to eliminate some of that fear or students who then have medical issues and then need a Cesarean.  That can certainly be helpful.  I mean, the situation you just described is just knowing how to plan, how to relax, to use your breath, regardless of how you birth.

Annette:  Yeah, for sure.  That would have been such a huge — I mean, I can’t imagine if they had said, hey, you’re in a Cesarean.  I know it was all about — got to keep breathing.  That’s what I need to think about!  I’m just going to keep breathing, and this baby is coming.  I’m going to be holding this baby soon.  And if somebody, especially with a planned Cesarean — I know these women have so much fear around that.  It’s a surgery; that’s a huge thing.  And yeah, that class would be so helpful to process all of those fears and to know your body will be okay.  You will be okay.  Your baby will be okay.  You’re going to come through this.  I can’t imagine the difference in being in that situation, but with the confidence and the relaxation and all of that, rather than being scared and stressed out.  I imagine that would be much more helpful.

Kristin:  So, Annette, at what point in your pregnancy did you take HypnoBirthing?  It sounds like you had some time to practice.  You were saying you were listening to the relaxation tracks at night.

Annette:  I think that we were taking it in November, and then he was born in March.  We had a couple of months afterwards, which, like I said, was super helpful.  Honestly, I would have taken it at the very beginning, after knowing how much it helped me with pregnancy.

Kristin:  Yeah, HypnoBirthing is different than a lot of childbirth classes in that it helps to take it earlier in pregnancy so you have time to practice.  Of course, we have students who take it right up until their due date and sometimes even go early and miss a few classes.

Annette:  Yeah, we had that happen!  We lost a student.  It happens!

Kristin:  But certainly, like you said, to have a few months or even taking it very early in pregnancy, where other classes, you want it fresh on your mind, especially if it’s focused more on movement and positions rather than the whole mind-body-spirit connection.  That is one thing that I think is different about HypnoBirthing is it’s not just the physical movement and breath.  It’s a focus on your inner being and peace and serenity.

Alyssa:  Yeah, it sounds like it’s not just for birth, and I would venture to say that it probably helps — that you probably even think about it now in day to day.  Like, it almost helps you when a situation arises just in life?

Annette:  Oh, for sure, yeah.

Alyssa:  Just breathing and releasing fear in whatever way you’ve come to do that.

Annette:  Yeah.  And I do meditation now, and I didn’t think that was a cool thing before, but now I’m like, sure, yeah, that sounds great!  I want to get back into that space with my mind where I’m in control of things and thinking about what I want to be thinking about.  I’m not usually going through the ones the instructor did, but it’s opened me up to that whole world of what can my subconscious do?  And a completely unrelated thing; I’m now doing EMDR therapy, which is also very similar in using the relaxation and controlling what you’re thinking about and all of that.  And I think I would have thought that was ridiculous, if I hadn’t gone through HypnoBirthing.  So yeah, it’s amazing all the different ways in your life that it can continue touching you.

Alyssa:  Our brains are powerful.  They do a lot of good and bad for us on a day to day basis!

Annette:  Definitely, yeah!

Kristin:  So it sounds like your class had a mix of birth center, home birthers, and hospital birthers?

Annette:  Yes.  I don’t think anyone had a planned C-section, but there was a mix of all three of those, yes.

Kristin:  And then another question that we get pretty commonly is for people who are very religious, faith-based, would this class be something that they need to steer away from?  That’s a common – because of the hypnosis, maybe, but having experienced it yourself, can you address that for us?

Annette:  Yeah.  I mean, I grew up super religious.  I’m not as much anymore, but for sure, I remember that being something.  Oh, yeah, hypnosis; that’s something that you would want to stay away from.  And this class isn’t that at all.  It’s 100% you controlling what you’re thinking about and thinking about what you’re deciding to.  It’s just all you.  That’s all I can say, right?  You’re listening to someone talking, but you’re choosing everything that you’re doing, and all of the images that you’re seeing and everything is what you want to do.  So nobody is controlling your mind.  Nobody is coming in and saying, drop this pen, and then suddenly you’re dropping pens or whatever.  It’s all you, relaxing, choosing what you’re listening to, choosing what you’re going to respond to.

Alyssa:  It really sounds no different for a religious person than prayer to me, right?  Like, they could almost — it could feel like prayer to them, and they can call it whatever they want to call it: medication, prayer, hypnosis.

Annette:  Yeah, it’s relaxation, right?  That was the thing that I came away with, especially.  It’s relaxing yourself.  So if you want to go and learn how to relax yourself, then this is for you.

Kristin:  Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  Do you have any last words or tips for our listeners?

Annette:  If you’re thinking about HypnoBirthing, do it.  It’s amazing, truly; 100%, I tell every single pregnant person I meet: have you heard about this thing called HypnoBirthing?  And then I tell them my story.  It’s a weird one.  I didn’t use it the way you’re supposed to, but it still made a huge difference.  Even now, I’m like, I don’t know; did I earn the woman badge of giving birth?  I feel like I kind of didn’t, but here’s my kid…

Kristin:  You totally did!

Annette:  So apparently, I did!

Alyssa:  There’s the proof!

Annette:  but yeah, it’s amazing.  It really is, and I think it’s perfect for any birth situation, for anyone who’s going to give birth.  Do HypnoBirthing.  It really is amazing.

Kristin:  Thank you again, Annette!

 

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story Read More »

Mothership Certified Doulas

Mothership Certified Health Service Providers

Many of our doulas are Mothership Certified Health Service Providers. Sounds cool, but what does that mean? Here’s a simplified breakdown of what we learned in our training and why it’s so important.

The training involved learning the difference between empathy and sympathy. We understand that empathy never starts with, “At least…”. Here’s a great video that demonstrates the difference between the two.

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It’s important to allow a client to feel their emotions, and sometimes the best thing to do is to let them talk and not say anything at all. It’s okay to just be with someone. We don’t need to try to fix the person or the situation.

Storytelling is a great vehicle for release. Maybe it’s the release of a fear or anxiety. Maybe it’s the release of a traumatic birth experience a client hasn’t talked about yet. It can also be very uplifting. Sharing a personal story of redemption with a client can help calm fears. It can also make you more relatable if you open up and show some vulnerability.

We understand that everyone holds a certain level of bias, but knowing where those bias’ come from and how to eliminate them is critical. Being aware is the first step, the identifying them, and acting according to our values. But the best thing you can do to eliminate bias is constant exposure to diverse situations. To feel comfortable outside our bubble, you need to get outside your bubble!

Our training also talked about stress and shifting the way we think about stress. Maybe those fight or fight responses are there for a reason! Our bodies are preparing us to handle the situation at hand.

After our training we pledged to the following:

  • To better understand ourselves by reflecting on our strengths and challenges by practicing self-care, so that we an give the best care to our clients (because having compassion for others starts with self-compassion). We will actively work on understanding and challenging our personal biases which can affect how we deliver services.
  • To better understand our clients by thinking about our clients in the context of their lives, considering how we can best serve them given their circumstances, feelings, challenges, and strengths. We will look for nonverbal emotional and cultural cues so we know how to best approach our clients when delivering services.
  • To build better connections and promote empowerment by being intentional in how we project our nonverbal communication cues, and by our choice of words.

Mothership was inspired based on their own experiences and the experiences of friends and family. They started with values and a vision, and then spent about a year researching how they could best serve families in their important role as parents. Using a human-centered design approach, they listened to moms, dads, other caregivers, and various health care providers like nurses, lactation consultants, doulas, and peer counselors to better understand family needs, health system constraints, existing initiatives, and opportunities for making an impact. From there, they developed their mission, guiding principles, and programs.

At Gold Coast Doulas, we believe the client and health partner relationship should be emotional and relational. It’s a parent-centered relationship where we guide you and help you feel confident in our role. You will be seen, heard, and valued without judgment. We will listen to your unique needs and understand your unique situation.

To see which of our doulas are Mothership Certified Health Service Providers, look for the seal on their website bios.

 

Mothership Certified Health Service Providers Read More »

Better Body Image Conference

Podcast Episode #13: Better Body Image Conference

In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa talks with Bri Luginbill and Connie Flachs about the Better Body Image Conference taking place in Grand Rapids, MI on March 11th.  This podcast is available to listen to on iTunes and Soundcloud. 

Alyssa:            Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, co-owner and post-partum doula, and today we have Bri Luginbill and Connie Flachs from the Better Body Image Conference with us.

Bri:                 Hi, everybody.

Connie:           Hello.

Alyssa:            We’ll let you introduce yourselves in a minute, but Gold Coast is doing something with you guys that’s really cool.  It’s your first Better Body Image Conference that you’re holding March 11th at the Wealthy Street Theatre, and we are doing it with you because we are putting a panel together in regards to body image and mothers after pregnancy because your body goes through so many changes.  So we’re super excited to do that with you.  Can you kind of give us an overview of BBI?  When I say BBI, that’s Better Body Image Conference.  So can you tell me a little bit about how it got started?  Start from the beginning and then let’s explain some details.

Bri:                 I’m going to let Connie start because this is kind of yours.

Connie:           So this is a topic I’ve been really passionate about.  In my day job, I’m a dancer for Grand Rapids Ballet, and so I’m consistently looking at my body in the mirror and have gone through ups and downs in my relationship with that and have found a lot of support and resources online or maybe with professionals but have always had a hard time connecting within the community to find some solidarity there, so I wanted to create a space that allowed people to come together and talk about these issues just within a community.  So I was thinking about it and was like, it would be so cool.  There are documentaries out about this; we could show a documentary and have a panel discussion.  Just thinking about this idea, I stumbled across a Facebook page of an event that had happened in Grand Rapids called Go Boldly, Love Your Body.  I was like, this is really aligned.  I’m going to send a message to this woman who started this and see if she has any tips – and that woman was Bri.  So we met for coffee at Lantern and talked a bit, and I told Bri kind of what my idea was, and she was like, yes, that was so awesome.  I would love to be involved.  Let’s make it bigger.

Bri:                 Let’s make it an almost all-day thing.  And so we met back in November of 2017, so fast forward now, it’s February, and our conference is in March.  So we’ve been kind of going really, really –

Alyssa:            You’ve been working.

Bri:                 Yeah, really, really fast to do all the connections and get everything going, but when I had met with Connie, I just really felt that together we could make this something more than just a movie panel and showing.  We could have workshops so people are attending something and getting the tools there and actually having an experience during that, as well, and then also having a keynote come in and talk so people are getting inspired.  Connie really inspired me because my Go Boldly campaign was in 2014, and then I did little bits here and there, but when she messaged me, it kind of ignited the fire back in me about the issue that I was really passionate about as well, but just in a different way, to be able to bring it in a bigger way to the community than it has ever been before.  This will be the first inaugural Better Body Image Conference in Grand Rapids, and we’re so excited about it.  We actually have Spectrum as our major partner.  We have a bunch of other local businesses that are sponsoring us as well.  And obviously Gold Coast Doulas; we had reached out to you to do one of our very own workshops that does focus on the body post-partum for mothers.  But there are so many other ones, as well.

Alyssa:            So tell me.  I know it’s from 12:00 to 6:00 and Gold Coast has a workshop at 2:00.  What happens when somebody signs up – what does the day look like from 12:00 to 6:00?

Bri:                 So someone signs up and they decide, okay, I want to attend the whole day, which like Alyssa said, will be 12:00 to 6:00.  They can come in as early as 11:30.   We’ll have coffee; they can talk; they can just kind of relax into the day.  We register them, and we see their tickets and make sure that everything’s all there.  And so tickets for the keynote as well as the movie are completely free, so we try to make that really accessible to all, and so they come in, they go to the keynote from 12:00 to 1:00.  There’s a space from 1:00 to 2:00 before the workshops to just kind of, after the keynote, connect with people or if you want to go grab something to eat that’s a little bit more than the snacks that we will provide, there’s a lot of local places around that you can do that in.  Then people will come back for the workshops from 2:00 to 2:45.   There’s three workshops each time slot, so Gold Coast has one of those, and they’ll be in the micro-cinema, so it can house up to 60 people.  Then we’ll have one that’s a little more intimate in a conference room.  Rachel Steil, actually, from Running in Silence, who went through an eating disorder and published a book about it, will be talking during that one in the conference room, and then we’ll actually have a physical workshop.  The one from 2:00 to 2:45 is the one that’s physical.  I think that one’s Dana, and that will be in the annex.  You do have to walk outside for it, but it’s actually like a little dance studio, so you’ll get to do yoga, but also, it’s about mind and body as well as the physical movements.

Connie:           So as an attendee, you pick one of those three in that first time slot, and then you can pick one of the three in the second time slot as well, if you want.

Bri:                 Yep, and then in the 3:00 to 3:45 range, we have another physical workshop by Jennifer Feldman.  And she’ll be doing that in the annex as well, and then we also have another panel discussion by Partners for a Racism-Free Society led by May, and that is about the transgression of mainstream beauty.  So it is addressing issues and stigmas found in beauty in other cultures.  And then the third one – I’m actually surprised that I’m remembering every single one off the top of my head, but the third one will be in the conference room, and that one’s going to be real food wellness.

Connie:           Laura Burkett.

Bri:                 With Laura Burkett.

Connie:           A holistic nutritionist.

Alyssa:            That sounds really awesome.  Tell us a little bit more about the keynote.  Who is she?  What is she going to speak about?

Connie:           So Elena Rossini – I watched a couple of different body image documentaries, and I came across The Illusionists documentary, which really felt like it connected with what I was dreaming of for this conference, so I contacted the filmmaker, Elena Rossini.  And so we talked on the phone, and she said – she makes other movies for her day job, and she was interested in exploring body image, so she traveled to eight different countries and made this documentary about the singular idea of beauty that has kind of spread throughout the entire world and this very narrow, westernized ideal that a lot of people feel pressure to fit.  So she’s traveled.  She splits her time living between Italy and Paris, and then she’s traveled all over the world talking about this movie she’s made, so she’s spoken at a lot of different universities.  She’s given a presentation at Silicon Valley.  So we’re really honored that she was willing and interested in coming to Grand Rapids.

Alyssa:            Yeah, it’s amazing.

Connie:           And she is really passionate and excited, so to hear her story about investigating, making the movie, the process of that, and then also the process of speaking to so many different people about it.

Alyssa:            So she speaks from 12:00 to 1:00, and then there’s a time from 1:00 to 2:00.  Is she going to talk to people?  Will she be available?

Connie:           She should be around to network and connect, and I believe she’ll stay for the whole conference, but that hour after her keynote, she’ll be around to answer questions or give more information.

Alyssa:            So it’s going to be the keynote; you have an hour to network; you have workshops.  And then at 4:00, you screen the movie, correct?

Connie:           Yes.

Alyssa:            So that is free as well, so people can come see the keynote, and then if they want to come back at 4:00 to watch the documentary, they can.

Connie:           Yeah, so basically there are three parts to the day.  There’s the keynote, there’s the two workshop sessions, and then there’s the movie.  And the only paid thing are the two workshop sessions that are ticketed.

Alyssa:            Okay.

Bri:                 And if you buy just one workshop, it’s $15.00, but if you buy a bundle for two, it’s only $20.00.

Alyssa:            So for $20.00, you can come for the whole day and get everything.

Connie:           Yeah, and we encourage you to reserve your tickets in advance, even the tickets for the keynote and the movie.  They’re free, but that will help us with planning and make sure you have a spot.

Alyssa:            And space is still limited.  The Wealthy Street Theatre, the main theater, has a lot of room, but especially for the workshops, they’re going to be pretty limited in space.

Bri:                 Yeah, I think Wealthy Theatre can seat up to 400, so for the keynote and the movie, we can have up to 400, but the other ones, yeah, I think the max is 60 in one of the rooms.

Alyssa:            So for interested people, how do they find you and how do they register?

Connie:           So you can go to our website.  It’s www.betterbodyimageconference.com.  And then you actually can click Reserve Your Ticket.  It’s one of the pages, and there’s just three big buttons, and you can click either button to reserve whether you want to go to the keynote, the movie, or a workshop.  It will direct you to our Brown Paper Tickets link, and then you’ll reserve your space.  And for us, we’ll get to know that you’re coming.  It will show us your name, so we have you on the list.  So when you do come in, we’ll be like, yep, you have reserved a ticket.  Go ahead.

Alyssa:            So betterbodyimageconference.com?

Bri:                 Yep.  And we do have Instagram, too.

Connie:           You can go on our Facebook, as well, and that will get you to where you need to be, too, if that’s easier to navigate.

Alyssa:            And I know we had a link on our Facebook page, as well.  I think we had something we posted.

Bri:                 Yes, yes.

Alyssa:            So we’ll try to do that again, too, so people can find it.

Bri:                 But even just saying “Better Body Image Conference,” even without Grand Rapids, I have seen it pull up pretty well because our website is Better Body Image Conference, so it will be easy to find.

Alyssa:            Okay.  Anything else anyone needs to know about this conference?

Bri:                 Know that it’s a safe environment; we’re here to have fun, but also connect and provide people with resources for anyone dealing with body image issues or anyone that just is curious as to what’s going on and is passionate about this.  I know that I have had my own in the past, and I mean, my body’s going to always change because we’re always growing older and in different ways, so it’s a consistent thing that I’ll be going through throughout my life, and I feel like being able to be here and see what resources are in the community is just going to be so helpful to me and I feel like to everyone.

Connie:           Yeah, I think for me, too.  Bri and I are not experts, and I think it’s important to know that we’re not planning this conference because we are experts on this topic.  We are planning it because we want all the experts in one place to learn from, so yeah, we’re just the organizers and really excited to bring all these people together that are doing such great work in the community and try to strengthen the Grand Rapids community as a whole.

Alyssa:            It sounds like you’ve done an amazing job of gathering a really, really good pool of experts and resources.  I think it will be an amazing event.  We are really excited and thrilled to be joining you.

Bri:                 We’re excited to have you.

Connie:           Yeah, it’s going to be great.

Alyssa:            So yeah, find them online.  Check out our Facebook pages, and if you come up with any questions, do you have any email on your website?

Bri:                 Yes, we do, and if you want to email us directly, besides our Contact Us form, it’s betterbodyimageconference@gmail.com.  Things that we are looking for – volunteers.  We definitely need volunteers just to help throughout the day just with registration or set up and tear down or just being available if people want to know where a workshop is and they got here a little late or a little early, directing them.

Alyssa:            Volunteers are always good at events, right?

Connie:           Yeah, and we are also looking for people to share info about the conference, so if this is interesting to you, please pass it on.  Share on your social media.  And sponsorships are still available if you feel really passionately about this.

Bri:                 We still have sponsorships.  They are platinum through bronze.  It ranges anywhere from $150.00 to $1000.00, and we do have, I think, maybe one more platinum sponsorship available just because tables are limited in the Wealthy Theatre, so if you want a table, we only have five spots.

Connie:           And all donations are tax-deductible.  We’re not a non-profit yet, but we have a fiscal sponsor, Grand Rapids Ballet.

Alyssa:            Okay.  Well, that’s amazing.  We’re excited.  Check out their website.  Mark your calendars for March 11, and we hope to see you guys there.

Podcast Episode #13: Better Body Image Conference Read More »

Grandparent

The Modern Grandparent

Understanding the Modern Parent

First of all congratulations on becoming a Grandparent! Whether this is your 1st or 5th, it is a very excited time for the whole family.

Gold Coast Doulas offers in-home private classes for The Modern Grandparent. We are not currently offering group classes.

This 2 ½ hour class will break down the generation gap, giving soon-to-be grandparents the most up-to-date information while dispelling myths in a non-threatening, engaging way. Health and safety recommendations are always evolving and many things have changed since most grandparents had their own children.

Topics include:

  • Caring for the family after baby arrives
  • Handwashing, bathing baby, diapering, etc.
  • Car seat safety
  • Baby technology and gadgets
  • SIDS
  • Formula feeding and breastmilk
  • Babyproofing
  • AND MORE!

A particularly interesting topic that we cover in the class is, Understanding the Modern Parent. Here’s a brief snippet of what we talk about for this portion of the class.

Understanding your adult children and their choices can be a challenge at times, even during the best of times. One of the keys to understanding the choices your adult children make is understanding the differences between the generations and how they view the world. In 2002 Landcaster and Stillman published “When Generations Collide”. This paper took a look at inter-generational differences in the workplace.

Many of the grandparents who take this class will be the parents of those who are considered late Generation X or Millennials. These generations tend to have differing views than previous generations when it comes to Communication, Money and Authority. Being aware of the attitudes and approaches of the differing generations will help you to understand the choices your adult children may make and where they are coming from.

Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding these differences that avoid many family conflicts as families grow. Grandparents have to realize that their children deserve the respect and have the right to raise a family (their grandchildren) however they choose.

Today’s parents face different challenges than their parents faced, and even more different ones than their grandparents faced. The balance of work and family life can be very stressful. Thankfully there are grandparents like you willing to help relieve some of these stresses by simply not judging them. Your compassionate support allows your children to raise your grandchildren properly and also maintain a healthy relationship with their spouse.

Many parents today appreciate the help from their parents and welcome the non-judgemental support. While you are visiting ask, “What can I do to help you today?” There might not be anything needed other than holding the baby while mom showers or playing with a sibling while mom is breastfeeding; but by just asking, you are showing you are supportive and that will go a long way with your children. Asking what they need instead of offering what you think they need is critical.

Interested in becoming a Modern Grandparent? Contact Gold Coast Doulas about a private in-home class today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prenatal Fitness

Embraced and Not Feared: Exercise During Pregnancy

Our guess blogger today is Marissa Anderson of Fit4Mom Grand Rapids. Read on to gain valuable insight about prenatal fitness.

No matter what it looked like for you – plus sign, blue line, double line – the moment you knew you had a new life growing inside you, there were so many questions that needed answering. What should I eat? What shouldn’t I eat?  What do I actually FEEL like eating? What should we register for? What classes should I take? Do I want a doula? 

And for many new moms, there are questions about exercising.  Should I be exercising? What type of exercise can I do? Can I run? Can I exercise my abs?  Here are a few common questions that many pregnant mamas are asking:

Should I exercise during pregnancy?

Most likely – YES!!  The majority of women are able to exercise safely and effectively throughout their pregnancy. However, in the case of a high risk pregnancy or complications, your doctor may advise you to stop exercising – either for a period of time or for the duration of your pregnancy. But for women experiencing a normal pregnancy, exercising can be one of the best things you do during these 9 months!

Exercise is so important during pregnancy because right after delivery, when you are at your weakest physical state, you are asked to care for another human being – and you want to be ready for that! Staying fit helps you to go STRONG into the second act of motherhood. Exercise can also help decrease or prevent:

  • Excessive weight gain and postpartum weight retention
  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Maternal discomforts (nausea, leg cramps, back pain, constipation, swelling, depression, etc)
  • Surgical or medical preventions in pregnancy

And not only is exercise great for mom, it is also helpful in delivering a happy and healthy baby!

How Should I Exercise During Pregnancy?

The best rule of thumb for exercising during pregnancy is LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  If your body is telling you to slow down, then do it. But if your body is feeling great, then continue to work as hard as you feel comfortable. Instead of focusing on what your heart rate is (which is what doctors used to recommend), it is better to rate how you feel on an exertion scale. If 0 is not moving at all and 10 is going “all out”, you should try to keep your exercise between 5-8. Many women find that they can continue to do the same types of exercising they were doing before they were pregnant throughout most of their pregnancy.  There are even pregnant women out there running marathons! But if that puts you over an 8 on the scale, then it’s best to choose something else.

One group of muscles that is really important to focus on during pregnancy is the upper back and shoulders. With the changes in a pregnant woman’s body structure, the shoulders tend to get rounded and the back hunched over. This only gets worse as the baby is born and you are spending time nursing, rocking, reaching into the crib, etc. These muscles can be strengthened with exercises like rows and pulldowns. Always remember to squeeze your shoulder blades together while doing these exercises in order to really activate those muscles!

Another group of muscles that is often overlooked during pregnancy is the core. The muscles of the abdomen and back are SO important to a new mom that they really should not be inactive throughout pregnancy. There are a lot of different opinions about what women should and should not be doing for core exercises during pregnancy. Many doctors will actually discourage all exercises targeting the core. However, this makes recovery so much harder after baby and can cause permanent lower back damage. Twisting exercises should be limited but everything else is safe during pregnancy as long as it is tolerated. Again – if something does not feel comfortable then make sure you are listening to your body. But most women can successfully exercise their core muscles throughout their pregnancy.

What should I be aware of during exercise while I’m pregnant?

As you all know, our bodies are constantly changing during pregnancy. A woman’s body will go through more changes during the 9 months of her pregnancy than a man’s will in his entire life! It’s important to know how these changes can affect your exercise routine. And it’s also important to know what signs your body will give you to tell you to slow down or stop.

One of the ways your body prepares to give birth is through the hormone relaxin. This hormone kicks in to loosen your joints, particularly those of the pelvic bones in order to more easily deliver a baby. However, relaxin can affect other joints of your body as well, and you may notice that you feel a little wobbly at times. It is important to be careful during exercise while doing side to side movements or balance activities because your joints are more likely to give out in these situations. Another time to be careful of this is during stretching. Stretching is very important during pregnancy but overstretching can be a problem while the joints are so loose.

Keep cool and hydrated during your workouts! Pregnant women tend to get overheated more easily and lose water rapidly. It is also important to know that you need to bring in extra calories for the calories you are burning during exercise. Now is not a time to be worried about losing weight! Having a pre-workout snack helps to regulate your blood sugar and gives you the energy you need to exercise.

Most importantly – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you are experiencing any strange symptoms (bleeding, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, etc), make sure to STOP! It is always better to be safe than sorry. You have plenty of time to push yourself harder once you have your baby.

If you are interested in learning more about how to safely and effectively exercise during your pregnancy, make sure to check out our Fit4Baby classes that are led by certified prenatal fitness instructors!

 

You can contact Marissa with any questions at marissaandersen@fit4mom.com

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infant massage

Infant Massage Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Infant Massage 

Gold Coast Doulas is thrilled to present a Part 2 of the Infant Massage guest blog from Cristina Stauffer.  Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM has been passionate about serving women and young children throughout her career.  Pregnancy and early motherhood can be one of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. Cristina has been dedicated to supporting women through this delicate time by providing therapy and support, education and screening about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and through teaching parents and caregivers the joy of infant massage. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and from Boston University with a Masters in Social Work.  Cristina became a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) in 2005 and has incorporated this practice into many aspects of her career. She has been practicing in the field of social work with a focus on women and young children for over 20 years. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Infant Massage

Infant Massage has been practiced for centuries in India and other countries, but is still a relatively new practice here in the United States. Vimala McClure, author of Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, brought the concept of infant to the US in the early 1970’s. Infant massage classes, books and videos have continued to pop up and are still growing in popularity.  For most parents, however, the idea of massaging their baby is a new and different concept. It is normal to feel nervous or awkward about learning a new skill and parents or caregivers often have a lot of questions. Rest assured, infant massage is a very gentle, easy practice to learn and incorporate – anyone can learn to massage their baby. I have listed some of the most common questions I hear from parents and caregivers along with their answers below:

Why should I massage my child?

Infant massage has many benefits including relaxation, bonding and attachment, improved sleep habits and reduction in gas, constipation and fussiness.  However, the most beneficial part of massage is the opportunity to just be with your child. Listen with your hands and with your heart as you massage, dropping your expectations or need for accomplishment or perfection. The quality of this interaction is very powerful and allows you to enjoy a special experience with your child, emotionally and physically.

How old should my child be?

We are never too old or too young for massage. Your child will benefit from your nurturing touch from birth through the teen years. The principles of respect and asking permission apply throughout all these years. This is a great way to keep in touch with your child and it is never too late to start! For older siblings, massage is a good way to neutralize jealousy and provide the focused attention they also require. Massage is a relaxing form of communication that can help you maintain positive communication with your child at any age.

How long should I massage my child?

Massage should last as long as it is pleasurable for both you and your child. This may be as little as a few minutes (which can be very effective) and as long as a half an hour or more.

How hard should I press?

Infant massage uses a firm, yet gentle touch.  Don’t press too hard—this isn’t “deep tissue massage”, but also don’t tickle or use touch that is too light. Watch for the baby’s reaction to determine the appropriate pressure.

How do I understand what my child needs during massage?

Observe you baby’s breathing to notice how your touch is being received.  Your baby’s breathing will probably become deeper and slower. Sighs may indicate that your baby is receiving the massage as nurturing and pleasurable. Facial expressions, body posture, movement and sharing what they like with words and pleasurable sounds also indicate if babies like the experience.

Can Dads do infant massage too?

Yes! Massage is a wonderful way for fathers to demonstrate their love. We must respect that a father’s way of relating to the child may be different from that of mothers. Sometimes Dads give the best massage because they aren’t afraid to go a little deeper.  Massage is also a great way for fathers to learn more about their baby’s body, needs, communication and cues.

Gold Coast Doulas is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

 

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infant massage

Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies?

Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies?

Gold Coast Doulas is thrilled to present a guest blog from Cristina Stauffer.  Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM has been passionate about serving women and young children throughout her career.  Pregnancy and early motherhood can be one of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. Cristina has been dedicated to supporting women through this delicate time by providing therapy and support, education and screening about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and through teaching parents and caregivers the joy of infant massage. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and from Boston University with a Masters in Social Work.  Cristina became a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) in 2005 and has incorporated this practice into many aspects of her career. She has been practicing in the field of social work with a focus on women and young children for over 20 years.

Why is infant massage good for babies?

Most of us recognize that we are never too young or too old to enjoy nurturing touch or the practice of massage; however, many people still wonder why they should learn to massage their baby.  Research over the years has shown that infant massage has many benefits for both parents and child, but the most important aspect of infant massage is simply the opportunity to just be with your child. The quality of the infant massage interaction is very powerful and allows you to enjoy a special experience with your baby, both physically and emotionally.  Other benefits of infant massage include relaxation for both caregiver and child, improved sleep habits for babies, promotion of healthy digestive function in babies, better body awareness, and encourages positive parenting skills.  Let’s explore the benefits of infant massage in each of these areas further:

Relaxation

  • Massage reduces fussiness.
  • Massage helps a baby learn to relax and reduce stress.
  • Massage helps a baby handle sensory input and respond to it with relaxation.
  • Daily massage time offers parents a time to relax and unwind from the busy pace of life and to connect with their child.
  • Massage increases a parent’s ability to help their child relax in times of stress.

 Improved Sleep

  • Research has shown that massage helps improve the quality of baby’s sleep and encourages the baby to fall asleep faster after massage.
  • Massage increases oxygen and nutrient flow to cells and helps to deepen respiration.
  • Many parents report noticing improved sleep habits such as longer naps or more restful sleep after incorporating infant massage.
  • It is not unusual for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep during infant massage classes or private instruction.

Healthy Digestion

  • Research has shown that massage strengthens and regulates the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Massage stimulates baby’s ability to gain weight, especially for premature babies.
  • Massage helps to relieve the discomfort of gas and colic, teething, and congestion.
  • Infant massage instruction helps parents to better understand how the digestive system works and how to help relieve gas and constipation.
  • Infant massage class materials include a massage routine specifically targeted to relieve tummy problems such as pain, gas, constipation and colic.
  • Parents become more aware of how the baby’s belly looks and feels and are better able to identify possible tummy trouble.

Better Body Awareness

  • Massage enhances children’s body awareness and encourages positive feelings about their bodies.
  • Massage encourages children to feel “in charge” of their health as they grow and provides a healthy alternative to deal with stress.
  • Massage helps babies learn to accept and tolerate positive touch which is especially beneficial for babies who have been hospitalized.
  • Massage builds parent’s respect and understanding for their baby’s unique body, cues, and nonverbal communication.

Benefits for Parents and Caregivers

  • Massage provides intimacy and special time for caregivers and child, including fathers.
  • Massage helps parents to feel more competent and confident in their parenting role.
  • Parents learn how to touch and respond to their baby in nurturing ways.
  • Massaging their baby increases prolactin production (the “nurturing” hormone) in the parent allowing them to feel more relaxed and loving toward their child.
  • Group massage classes provide an opportunity for mutual support from other parents.
  • Massage provides an opportunity to connect, interact and share quality time with babies and children at any age.

 

Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies? Read More »

breastfeeding class

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class?

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class?

We are pleased to present a guest blog by Shira Johnson, IBCLC . 

Breastfeeding is natural, right? Well, yes… But it doesn’t always come naturally!

Just like parents educate themselves about pregnancy and birth, it’s valuable to have basic knowledge about breastfeeding before baby arrives (we don’t read up on childbirth while in labor, after all). Breastfeeding is a relationship, a complex dance between mom and baby, and many factors influence how each pair works together. Even if mom knows just what to do, it might not come as easily for baby (or vice versa!). Getting off to a good start begins at birth, and in the hours and days following. Having resources and realistic expectations can help.

Facts about Breastfeeding Education

  • Parents who receive prenatal breastfeeding education have more successful breastfeeding outcomes
  • Fears about breastfeeding? Have you heard horror stories from well-meaning friends or family members? Are you worried you’ll have to restrict your diet, worried about making enough milk, or about breastfeeding in public? You’re not alone! These unknowns and concerns are common, and they undoubtedly influence our expectations! It’s no fun to head into something feeling nervous or skeptical. Having a basic understanding and being prepared with tools and resources can set the stage for success.
  • Many parents who start off breastfeeding don’t meet their own breastfeeding goals. Many stop breastfeeding before 6 months, despite health guidelines (by the American Association of Pediatrics, as well as the World Health Institute) to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, and provide breastmilk for a minimum of 1 to 2 years. Yet in 2016, only 22% of babies were exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and only 50% were still received any breastmilk at 6 months. Most parents start off breastfeeding, but many stop before these suggested guidelines.
  • The most commonly-reported reasons for early weaning (such as concerns about milk supply/production, pain associated with breastfeeding, and going back to work) are typically addressed in a breastfeeding class, preparing parents with information and resources to successfully troubleshoot these most common challenges and obstacles.
  • What’s so great about breastmilk, anyway? Most of us have heard “breast is best” and similar hype about the magical health benefits of breastmilk. Well, there’s a reason for this. New research continues to come out every year about amazing discoveries around the functions and content of breastmilk. While formula might be nutritionally complete (and is an invaluable tool, when needed), the nutrients in it are not as bioavailable (not as easy for the body to access or utilize). Also, formula does not have the amazing protective and immune functions that breastmilk has. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese or have diabetes later in life, and breastfeeding reduces risk of cancer not just for baby but also for mom! Breastfed babies tend to get sick less often, and recover from illness more quickly than their formula-fed peers. The majority of parents who sign up for a breastfeeding class are often already planning to breastfeed, but if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, or are concerned about whether it is worth the effort, these cool facts might inspire you. A breastfeeding class can help you weigh your baby-feeding options. There is certainly no shame in feeding your baby in any way you choose to. But having more information can help this choice be an easier one to make.

 

If you are a parent who plans to breastfeed or just wants more information, if you’re curious about how it all works, how to do it, whether or not it’s “for you”, how to return to work as a breastfeeding mom, or if you have any concerns, fears or simple curiosity and a desire to learn more, then a breastfeeding class is for you!

 

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class? Read More »

babywearing

Meet Your Babywearing Educator–Ashley Forton

Gold Coast Doulas is thrilled to feature Ashley Forton in our latest Q&A about her experiences with babywearing. Reach out if you are interested in booking a babywearing consult with Ashley.

1) What did you do before you became a babywearing educator, HypnoBirthing Instructor and Doula?
I have a bachelor’s degree in health sciences from GVSU. I have been a nanny, worked at an adult foster care home, and most recently was an insurance claims adjuster.  Now I am a full time a babywearing educator, HypnoBirthing Instructor and Doula.

  
2) What inspired you to become a babywearing educator?
I began using baby carriers when my daughter was a few days old and I immediately fell in love with it.  As my experience and knowledge grew I knew I wanted to help other parents and caregivers experience the joy and confidence that babywearing gave me.

3) Tell us about your own babywearing experiences.
When my daughter was born, I had been gifted a Moby (stretchy wrap) and an Ergo (soft structured carrier).  I started using the Moby wrap and a pouch sling when Elliot was a few days old.  One of my favorite memories is taking her to see the Stanley Cup when she was a few weeks old.  She slept in my sling the entire time we waited in line and I didn’t need to lug around the car seat! As she got older I started using the ergo and also learned to love woven wraps and ring slings. Babywearing has allowed my husband and I to bring our children on some amazing adventures.  We hiked Red Rocks and St. Mary’s Glacier in Colorado with my daughter on my back! After my son was born I began using my carriers even more frequently. Having two free hands while snuggling a newborn is especially beneficial when you have a toddler J We have had many camping trips with both kids (setting up a tent and chasing a toddler with newborn would have been impossible without babywearing!).  The benefits of babywearing haven’t been enjoyed by just me.  My husband loved being able to unload the dishwasher while snuggling a baby when I was working late.  Even grandpa has gotten in on the action and has soaked up the snuggles while taking my kids on walks.

4) What is your favorite carrier and why?
Tough question! I have a lot of love for a lot of different types of carriers, for different reasons. Lately I tend to wear whatever my opinionated toddler picks 😉 He has been bringing me woven wraps and ring slings the most often. I love that I have been able to wear my babies in them when they were newborns and I can still wear both of my big kids in them!

5) Do you wear babies during postpartum doula visits?
I am always happy to use a family’s carrier when caring for their child.  Wearing their child during a postpartum shift helps me get some housework done so they can just rest.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new moms?
Trust your instinct.  If it feels right to snuggle and hold your baby more than putting them down, then do it! In your arms is one of the best places for your baby to be and babywearing can help you hold your baby and still get things done.

7) What do you consider your babywearing superpower to be?
Sharing my love for babywearing.  I have been told my love and enthusiasm for babywearing is contagious 😉 I am a big fan of things that bring new families, joy, excitement, confidence, and the freedom to do what they need when they need to without sacrificing bonding time with their child. I can’t help but be super enthusiastic about it and I hope you will be too!

8) What is your favorite food?
I love spicy foods, the hotter the better! I crave Mexican most often. I also love Thai, Ethiopian, and Lebanese foods. And sushi!  I am not a picky eater and really love trying new things.

9) What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Grand Rapids will always hold a special place in my heart. I love all the festivals, the sports teams, the museums, endless breweries and phenomenal restaurants. It has a small town feel with some big city perks and it is a short drive from the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.

10) What are you reading now?
Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read.

11) Who are your babywearing role models?
I have really admired Babywearing Faith, Wrapping Rachel, and Hedwych of Wrap You In Love.  All three of those women inspired me to try new carriers, new carries, and to become an educator myself.

Gold Coast Doulas is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

 

Meet Your Babywearing Educator–Ashley Forton Read More »

Gold Coast Doulas

We are Your Doulas!

We are your doulas!

At Gold Coast we pride ourselves on our superior service and professionalism. We aim to be your one stop shop for all things pertaining to pregnancy, birth and the postpartum time.

Looking for childbirth classes? We’ve got you covered with HypnoBirthing classes and will soon be releasing another option for Childbirth Classes.

Looking for a doula to support you during bedrest or other medical situations? Our Bedrest Doulas have got you covered in the home or hospital.

Interested in a birth doula? We have Certified and Pre-Certified partnered doulas who would love to work with you. Gold Coast Doulas support births in the home, birth center or hospitals. Our fully insured doulas attend births in the following hospitals: Gerber, Zeeland Hospital, Hackley Hospital, Metro Health Hospital, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus, Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, Holland Hospital and North Ottawa Community Hospital.

Do you need daytime postpartum care for you new baby and yourself? Our trained and certified postpartum doulas will care for your baby while you take a shower, run errands for you, do light housekeeping, light meal preparation, will listen to your birth story and to you to support you emotionally, they will play with your toddler and support you with breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

Are you sleep deprived? Our overnight postpartum doulas will give you the rest you need. Gold Coast Doulas love to bring breastfed babies to you when it is time to nurse and then take care of burping, changing and getting your baby back to sleep. If you bottle feed or pump our doulas will take care of everything so you can sleep through the night. Even one good night of sleep can make a difference.

Do you need support with twins or multiples? Our postpartum doulas are eager to help!

How can we best support you? Call us today!
We serve all of Greater Grand Rapids and West Michigan’s Gold Coast including: Saugatuck/Douglas, Holland/Zeeland, Grand Haven/Spring Lake, Muskegon, Fremont, Cedar Springs and surrounding areas

 

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