Doulas

Aubri Duvall, Bed Rest Doula and Postpartum Doula, of Gold Coast Doula poses in a black and white polka dotted blouse with a purple background

Meet our new Postpartum and Infant Care Doula, Aubri

Meet our newest postpartum doula, Aubri. She resides in Grand Rapids. We love to share interesting facts about our team.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I ended up researching the profession after talking with Kristin Morter from the Gold Coast team. Kristin encouraged me to look into it, talked with me about her experience with what she does. I ended up talking with a few people I go to church with who all just encouraged me to try it. I have always loved being around babies. I like supporting people and being helpful, and I believe being a doula will help me do just that for others.

Tell us about your family.
I live with my older brother, and my parents, a dog and a cat. I am the youngest of three kids. My eldest brother has two daughters which makes me a very proud aunt. I am also a very proud cousin! Two of my cousins that I grew up with had babies in the last two years.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
I can’t say I have a favorite, but with the few vacations I have taken in the last few years it is always spending time with the people I go with that makes it enjoyable and is often the reason I want to go back.

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

  • Crowder- his music is really powerful and upbeat. He gives so much depth in his music.
  • Restless Road- This is a country band that has such amazing songs, and they can also pull off an incredible concert.
  • Phil Wickham- I enjoy his voice and tone and the way he sings. His songs are of worship and praise and they always hit home for me.
  • Ben Fuller- Honestly his songs ‘Who I am, He found Me, But the Cross” I have been playing on repeat. I find his songs can be raw, relatable, and honestly such good storytelling.
  • Anne Wilson- I love how her songs tell a story. Her tone, and her singing, is just soothing to me.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Let me help in whatever way I can. It’s okay to need help. I am here.

What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?
How much I care and want to be of use.

What is your favorite food?
It’s a tie between spaghetti and pepperoni pizza

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I love going to Grand Haven’s pier.

What are you reading now?
I have finished reading Postpartum and infant care textbook from Pro-Doula. I am looking forward to finding more books dealing with post-partum: depression, OCD, anxiety, and more on birth aspects and care.

Who are your role models?
I have always looked up to a lot to the women in my life; my mom, people I go to church with, and some of my old high school teachers.  And that is still true,  but I will also add in one high school psychology teacher (he always emphasized taking care of yourself), and Job and Jesus from the Bible. Job never let his circumstances define him. And Jesus showed me constantly how to love those around me.

See Aubri’s Bio

Krista Batdorf, Bed Rest & Postpartum Doula, for Gold Coast Doulas

Meet our new Postpartum and Infant Care Doula, Krista

Meet our Newest Postpartum Doula, Krista. She resides in Grand Rapids.  We love to share interesting facts about our team.

What did you do before you became a doula/consultant?
I was an educator as well as a nanny

What inspired you to become a doula/consultant?
I struggled with postpartum depression with both of my children.  It was a scary time, and I could have used more support.  Once my husband died, in July 2022, I did some soul-searching as to what I wanted to do moving forward.  Becoming a postpartum doula allows me to work with the tiniest of people, but also families.  I want to give support to families during this exciting and sometimes challenging time.

Tell us about your family.
I was married to my college sweetheart for almost 29 years. I have a son who is 28 years old and a daughter who is 26.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
I love anywhere in nature. I enjoy hiking, being on the water, and gardening. If a vacation can incorporate any of these things, I’m on board!

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

  • Bob Dylan- The first concert I ever attended, and I went with my dad.
  • Stevie Nicks- My all-time favorite singer. I love her raspy voice.
  • Fleetwood Mac- Incorporates my favorite singer.
  • Dixie Chicks- Strong women band
  • Indigo Girls- Another strong older woman group

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Take it one day at a time. On some days, a moment at a time.

What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?
Full of empathy and a pretty good baby rocker.

What is your favorite food?
Fresh veggies

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

What are you reading now?
Fiction-The House of Eve and The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama

Who are your role models?
My mom and Mother Teresa

See Krista’s Bio

Jade Sanchez from Gold Coast Doulas wearing a yellow summer dress poses with a woman wearing a striped maxi dress at sunset by a body of water

Meet our new Postpartum and Infant Care Doula, Jade

Meet our newest Postpartum Doula, Jade. We love to share interesting facts about our team. Jade is in the process of moving to Ludington from Florida. We are so happy to have her on the team.

What did you do before you became a doula?

I worked in customer service as well as in the medical field as a medical assistant. I have experience helping people during highly stressful times develop healthy habits and achievable goals that work for their day-to-day life.

What inspired you to become a doula?

From a very young age taking care of my loved ones brought me joy and babies expanded that feeling. I had dreams of becoming a NICU nurse or working in Labor and Delivery. One day that changed when I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born”. From that day I decided I wanted to see women take back their births and postpartum experience. To be a part of families making the choice to accept the help, time for bonding and rest they deserve.

Tell us about your family.

I am originally from Jacksonville, FL and I moved to Tampa, FL to begin college. That is where I met my wife, Chandra. I have been with Chandra since the summer of 2014 and we married in the fall of 2016. We have a fur baby we are obsessed with named Kira. We will be starting a family soon and we are very excited!

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

My favorite vacation spot is Vermont during the fall. The New England area in the fall truly looks like God kissed the land. It is magical.

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

  • Sade – She is calming, relaxing, and listening to her always creates a cozy mood.
  • Brandy – She is a triple threat and her vocal runs give me chills.
  • Lauryn Hill – Originally caught my eye in “Sister Act 2” and even with only one album her tone and lyrics carry me through year after year. She is the songbird of a generation.
  • Jhene Aiko – Her music is soulful and very connected to herself. Her use of chimes, sound bowls and other calming effects in her music keeps me coming back for more.
  • Janelle Monae – She embodies every bit of freedom I think we all would like to become. Her and her music deliver and leave me feeling great about being myself.

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

Take the time to fill your cup when you can, we have more to offer when we make taking care of ourselves a priority. To remember that you are not alone. Life is short but the period during postpartum can feel long so breathe through the moments. Keep in mind that each moment will give way to the next and as long as you live that sweet baby will need you.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?

Education. Overall, I want to help and I believe that if you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others. I want to leave families better than I found them. I understand that if you leave someone with more confidence and knowledge, they will use that for the better.

What is your favorite food?
I love seafood. I could eat crabs daily!

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

This is my first time in Michigan. My family and I cannot wait to explore the coast and welcome all suggestions!

What are you reading now?

“The Highly Sensitive Parent”

Who are your role models?

Mothers are my role models. The level of admiration, respect and reverence I have for women who sacrifice their bodies before, during and after pregnancy, continue to take care of life and themselves has skyrocketed. Mothers are superheroes!

Jackie Viscusi from Gold Coast Doulas holding a baby outside with two women on either side of her and a home in the background

Meet our new Sleep Consultant, Jackie

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

What did you do before you became Sleep Consultant?

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

What inspired you to become a doula?

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

Tell us about your family.

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

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

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

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

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

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

Consistency is key!

What is your favorite food?

Gluten-Free pizza. I have celiac disease.

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

I am remote. I would love to visit someday.

What are you reading now?

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

Who are your role models?

Gloria Steinem, RGB, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

Ryleigh from Gold Coast Doulas poses with her family wearing a forward facing infant and her husband beside her holding a toddler in front of their home

Meet our new birth doula, Ryleigh!

Meet our newest birth doula Ryleigh. We love to share interesting facts about our team. Ryleigh and her family reside in Muskegon.

What did you do before you became a doula?

Before this I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career. I have dabbled into a few different degrees in college, did some nanny jobs in between, and have been consistently working at an assisted living home for 7 years now.

What inspired you to become a doula?

I’ve always been a “helper” at heart, and have always wanted to stand beside people in hardship. Once I had my first daughter and realized just how much of a village it takes to go all the way from pregnancy to postpartum, I realized I wanted to be that help that women could count on during this vulnerable time in their life. Knowledge is power in my eyes, and if I can help someone by giving them information and being their support through such a difficult season, then why not go full speed ahead!

Tell us about your family.

I am married to my husband Brody. We met in 2015 at the YMCA daycare where we both worked and started dating shortly after. Brody is a silly, sport enthusiast, Jesus loving man. He’s very supportive in all I do and was very excited for me to take this next step into something I have been talking to him about a lot! We have 2 children earth side! Penelope is our 3-year-old. She is as goofy and smart as they come. She loves everything from princesses to tools, and keep us on our toes for sure! Gemma is our 5 month old. She was our literal gem, our diamond in the rough, our rainbow baby. We had a pretty traumatic ectopic loss between our two girls and Gemma could not have come at better timing. She has filled the gap in our family and has truly been such a light in a dark season for us. She’s smiley and chubby and that’s just the way we like her!

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

My favorite vacation spot would have to be Disney World. I love the combo of shopping, riding rides, watching performances, and the magic there. Even at 25, there’s still magic being there!

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

Truthfully I’m not a huge music obsessed person, I’d rather listen to a podcast or sermon. But I’ve been listening to Walker Hayes, Brandon Lake, Ron Pope, Garret Jacobs, and Vince Joy. I tend to listen to music for their lyrics, I love creative lyrics. Or because it has a funky beat I can dance to in the car!

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

Water or fresh air can fix almost anything, all the way from the baby to the mama.

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

I’ve always been told I’m a good listener. I would rather sit with someone for hours on end and listen to them and whatever they have to say than talk about myself. I think sometimes when we try to help someone we tend to overshare and give unwanted advice or try to fill the space too much, and I’m hoping I can use my love of sitting and listening to people as a safe space for them to get their feelings and emotions out!

What is your favorite food?

If you asked me from the time I could eat till right before my last pregnancy, I would’ve said spaghetti. But now I don’t love that. I would probably say tacos now, a good chicken taco with a little bit of kick to it and a lot of cheese!

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

Grand Haven. That’s where I’m from and where I grew up. I love that it feels like home to me, walking the pier, swimming on the beach, all their festivals and fairs, yummy places to eat. I love pretty much everything about it!

What are you reading now?

“Oops! The 9 Ways We Screw Up Our Toddlers” – By Michelle Smith

Who are your role models?

A lot of the women in my life are my role models. They have all had their peaks and valleys in their own journey yet they are all relentless and have kept moving forward! I hope to be half as resilient as they are.

Woman standing by a tree in a wooded area with jeans and beige jacket

Meet our new Postpartum Doula and Newborn Care Specialist (NCS), Sarah!

We hope you enjoy getting to know Sarah in our Q&A blog! Sarah serves families in West Michigan as a certified Newborn Care Specialist. She offers day and overnight newborn support.
 
1) What did you do before you became a newborn care specialist?
I have worked in the field of Early Childhood for 20 years as a preschool teacher, early childhood specialist, infant toddler teacher, center director, and nanny.
2) What inspired you to become a newborn care specialist and a postpartum doula?
Seeing how many families are struggling and feeling alone after bringing a baby home. I want to offer them support during this time.
3) Tell us about your family.
I am a mother of five. I have three girls and two boys. They are all unique and amazing. My husband is my best friend and biggest supporter.
4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
I loved Maui. It had great scenery, wonderful people, and amazing food.
5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Rihanna is my favorite musician. I love that she is free to be herself.
6) What is the best advice you have given to new families?
To trust yourself and your intuition and also to give yourself grace.
7) What do you consider your doula/newborn care specialist superpower to be?
Anticipating needs.
8) What is your favorite food?
I love curry and also pho.
9) What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I enjoy all West Michigan beaches.
10) What are you reading now?
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.  
11) Who are your role models?
Dr. Shefali. She is an author and clinical psychologist. Her work and message are amazing.
Mya from Gold Coast Doulas sits inside a floating circle in front of a Kitchen + Kocktale wall wearing a headband, scarf, and crossbody fanny pack.

Meet Mya, Our Newest Postpartum Doula!

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

Let’s find out more about Mya.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2 women in professional clothes with a colorful geometric background

2022 Reflections

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

Here are the Gold Coast stats for 2022:  

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

Volunteer Hours: 129 

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

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

 

New Gold Coast Doula

Meet our new Postpartum Doula, Jene’e!

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

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

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

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

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

3) Tell us about your family.

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

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

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8) What is your favorite food?

I love raw sushi and Mexican food

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

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

10) What are you reading now?

The First 40 Days

11) Who are your role models?

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

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Annette-Q&A

Meet our New Birth Doula, Annette!

What did you do before you became a doula?

I am an RN and have previous experience in many different clinical areas but of course my favorite was……Obstetrics!

What inspired you to become a doula?

I have always wanted to go back to my original love of Mother/Baby nursing but wasn’t sure hospital nursing would be a good fit at this time of my life. My daughter in law invited me to be in for the delivery of her first baby and that got me thinking again. Originally, I thought I would wait until retirement and use that to fill my bucket. Then my husband said, “What are you waiting for?” I realized he was right. I needed this to be in my life again. I had doulas for my last two births and having been involved in the birth of my grandson I knew this is what I am supposed to be doing and now is the perfect time.

Tell us about your family.

We have a blended family. I have four children and my husband has three. They are all grown and thankfully we all enjoy hanging out together as often as possible. Five out of the seven live in the area so that makes for some wonderful family times. We also have 5 grandchildren (soon to be 6, and yes, I will be her doula!)

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled quite extensively and love it when more of the family can join us. Favorite is tricky! We are avid hikers and were able to hike in Sedona, Zion, and Bryce National Parks last year which was breathtakingly beautiful. Asheville is also a big family favorite, and we loved the Alaskan Cruise we recently enjoyed. We truly feel that we live in a very beautiful area of Michigan with some great opportunities to experience the outdoors, so we do that as often as possible. Just heading to the lakeshore for a hike fills my soul.

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

Maroon 5 – I enjoy their “older” songs more than the new. I don’t tire of them. Vince Gill – smoothest voice around. Amy Grant – sweet music. Beach Boys – when it’s a summer day and I’m relaxing with a happy heart.

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

Sleep when the baby sleeps! We all hear it and I know people said that to me when I was a first time Mom. It truly helps your body refresh and heal so you can give to your baby all that is needed.

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

Hmmm, I would say being calm. I’ve always been told that I have a calming demeanor and soothing voice, so I think that lends itself to helping women in labor.

What is your favorite food?

I’m Italian and I love cooking so that’s another tricky question! I love the summertime fresh fruits and vegetables from farm stands. That is the best time of year to create some wonderful meals!

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

Oh my, so many! I would probably say Grand Haven. Such a cute town, great boardwalk, fun shops, and yummy restaurants. The water views there can’t be beat.

What are you reading now?

The Birth Partner – by Penny Simkin

Who are your role models?

I’d have to say my closest circle of friends and of course my family. We are all striving to be better humans and I love celebrating every little triumph.

Jordyn's Q&A blog photo

Meet Our New Birth Doula, Jordyn!

What did you do before you became a doula?

I have worked in the mental health/crisis industry for the last 8 years. I started with 2-1-1, helping people find local resources, and then the suicide prevention hotline. Over the previous 6 years, I have worked in the EAP world, assisting with coordinating crisis response teams around the country.

What inspired you to become a doula?

I have been fascinated with birth since I was a young child; my babysitter would set me up in her room so I could watch TLC’s Baby Story every day while the rest of the crew watched cartoons. I took every family science class in high school and went to Western Michigan University for my degree in Family Studies. After having my own son, my passion was reignited.

Tell us about your family.

I come from a large family, who are very important to me. My partner and I welcomed our son on our 4th anniversary; not sure anything will ever top that gift! He is now a toddler who enjoys chasing around our 2 cats, Shade & Storm.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

The Upper Peninsula! I love road trips, getting into nature, and star gazing, so the UP provides the ultimate experience. A stop at Clyde’s for a burger, taking scenic M-2, and chasing waterfalls are some of my favorite things to experience each trip!

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

This is a tricky question, as music is my love language. If I had to choose: Kings of Leon, Led Zeppelin, Miranda Lambert, Young the Giant, and Fleetwood Mac.

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

I don’t like to give unsolicited advice; parents definitely get enough of that! However, I’d tell parents to trust their gut and don’t compare!

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

I am empathetic and a great listener. I know how to de-escalate stressful situations and have been called the calm in the middle of chaos.

What is your favorite food?

Another hard question, as I love to cook and try new things, but a big plate of pasta is the ultimate comfort.

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

Holland State Park reminds me of the family reunions we had every summer at the beach.

What are you reading now?

I am an avid reader and always have a few books in rotation. Currently, I am reading: The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood  by Kathleen Kendall-Tacket and Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols.

Who are your role models?

My grandmother, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Brene Brown.

 

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.

 

Lisa Newhouse

Meet our new birth doula, Lisa.

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

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

What inspired you to become a doula/consultant?

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

Tell us about your family.

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

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite food?

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

What is your favorite place on West Michigan Gold Coast?

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

What are you reading now?

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

Who are your role models?

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

 

Harnessing the Power of Stem Cells Through Cord Blood Banking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Southwest & Northern Michigan Postpartum Doulas | Gold Coast Doulas

Gold Coast Doulas is Expanding Our Reach!

We have been listening to our clients and trusted health practitioners, and we are expanding our day and overnight postpartum and sleep consulting services to Northern Michigan and Southwest Michigan starting in April of 2022. Michigan postpartum doula services and support will expand along the Gold Coast of Michigan, covering 300 miles of the western shoreline.

Gold Coast Doulas is proud to announce that we will serve beach towns from Niles in the Southwest to Harbor Springs in Northern Michigan. Our doula agency is focused on exceptional service and support for families. We are currently looking for exceptional postpartum doulas who reside in Southwest and Northern Michigan.

In a recent article from Petoskey News, the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce President comment “Adding to any health services in the area is beneficial for our residents, and helps our region be somewhere you can truly live, work and play year-round.”

Northern Michigan postpartum doula lakeshore cities covered in the expansion include: Bay Harbor, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Cadillac, Suttons Bay, Petoskey, Traverse City, Frankfort, Manistee, Ludington, Silver Lake, and Pentwater.

Southwest Michigan postpartum doula lakeshore cities include: South Haven, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Stevensville, Lakeside, Coloma, Union Pier, Sawyer, Three Rivers, New Buffalo, and Niles.

Gold Coast Doulas has always had the intention of expanding and have been deliberate in our expansion plan. In Northern and Southwest Michigan, Gold Coast Doulas will focus on providing postpartum services like feeding, sibling care, household tasks like light housekeeping, meal preparation, and running errors. The primary focus in these lakeshore cities is on day and overnight postpartum doula services and sleep support. Gold Coast Doulas will continue to offer birth services, lactation, and classes to our West Michigan clients.

If you are interested in partnering with us or becoming a day and overnight postpartum doula, contact us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.

 

Kristn M Family photo

Meet our new postpartum doula, Kristin M.

What did you do before you became a doula?
Before I became a doula I worked in child care. I was a babysitter/ day care provider/ nanny for 20 years. I also am currently a preschool teacher. I have loved kids my whole life, and absolutely love working with them.

What inspired you to become a doula?
After I became a mom of 4 beautiful children, I was looking for a job that I would love, but would also allow me to spend quality time with my family. A friend told me about being a doula and not only was I excited but I quickly became passionate about postpartum and infant care. I love being able to encourage and empower growing families.

Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have been very happily married for 15 years. We have 4 wonderful kids currently aged 14, 12, 10 and 7. We have lived in Denver, Grand Rapids, and London UK. We love to travel, camp, play games and just be together.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
My favorite vacation spot is our cabin in the Upper Peninsula. It is one of the few places I feel like I can truly relax. I love how life slows down, and peace and rest become the main focus.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Frank Sinatra, Lauren Daigle, Florence and the Machine, Hillsong United, and Patsy Cline.

I really love and appreciate all music, but I have a few go-to’s. Frank Sinatra was just the best of his kind. He knew how to perform, and he loved it. Lauren Daigle has a beautiful and soulful voice, and I appreciate how she doesn’t always sing about the perfect. She is honest about her brokenness. Florence and the Machine has such articulate lyrics, and wonderful songs. Hillsong is an amazing group of Praise and Worship singers, I am very encouraged by their music. And Patsy Cline was another great!

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
We need to have grace for ourselves often. We aren’t going to get everything right the first time. It’s the mistakes and trials that help us become stronger and better parents.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
My super power is getting babies to sleep.

What is your favorite food?
Chocolate.

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Tunnel Park in Holland Michigan.

What are you reading now?
I am reading Becoming Us: 8 steps to grow a family that thrives.

Who are your role models?
My sister in law – a mother of 4 including a set of twins, my Grandma who raised not only her own 4 children but also her grandchildren, and my friend Amber who has such a gentle servant’s heart and caring spirit.

 

Endira Davis Doula

Meet Endira, our newest postpartum doula!

As you know, when we bring a new person onto the Gold Coast Doulas team we love to find out more about them and share that with you! Endira comes to us with tons of passion for working with families, and also tons of great experience. Let’s find out more about her!

What did you do before you became a doula?
Before becoming a doula, I worked as a full-time nanny. Before that I was a teacher’s assistant at a child development center. Through nannying, I have been able to establish a deeper, more intimate relationship with the children I care for as well as with their extended families.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I have felt called to birthwork for as long as I can remember. To encourage and support birthing people and their partners and to follow them in the journey into parenthood is an absolute honor and something I do not take lightly. I pride myself in offering a safe space and being a source of comfort for families as they take on the adventure of caring for themselves and their new additions.

Tell us about your family.
I am one of three daughters raised in an interracial family in upstate New York. My partner Annamarie and I met in high school and have taken life on with a team approach. We’ve been together through many seasons and have loved every step. We made the move to Grand Rapids about two years ago to be closer to loved ones and find new opportunities.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
My favorite vacation spot is Cancun, Mexico. There is nothing better than eighty degree weather and being able to jump from the pool to the sea.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Top five musicians/bands? This is hard because there is always new music being dropped but my all time favorites are…

1. GIVEON – His music feels like a warm embrace; it fills my soul with confidence that new beginnings are coming.
2. Sasha Sloan – If I am ever doing a project and need something to encourage me to press on, she just seems to get me back on track.
3. Lindsey Stirling – I come from a family of string players (my mom, my sisters, and I all played the violin). My arms always got too tired to play, so I enjoy violin music vicariously through Lindsey. When you are tired and need a hype up, Lyndsey is your girl. And as a bonus, her concerts are amazing.
4. Florence + the Machine – Whether it is 2008 or 2022, her music is still so good!
5. Ella Mai – Her voice is just so beautiful. Even when she is singing the saddest love song, her music still feels like warmth to your ears.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Be patient with yourself. This is new and not easy for anyone.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
I am consistent and dedicated. My goal is to provide the best services and be a resource. I am easy to work with and want you to feel supported and comfortable asking if you need more or less.

What is your favorite food?
Any kind of dip.. Literally ANY kind!

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Barrier Dunes State Park… the secret cove that we always have to ourselves. Well, I guess I will see you all there next summer now.

What are you reading now?
The Big Letdown by Kimbery Seals Allers.

Who are your role models?
My mom is my biggest role model and confidant. She set a legacy and led by example by always educating, encouraging, and following through with her words. She advocated for not only herself but many others through pregnancy and childbirth and taught me the importance of being informed and supported through all decisions. I now have both a wealth of knowledge as well as the utmost respect for mothers, fathers, and anyone else who is raising a child.

 

Gold Coast’s 2021 Year-End Review

Whew. We made it through 2021. Our word of the year is resilient. We have mad respect and love for healthcare professionals that have gone through two years of a pandemic. Our clients are so strong and determined. Our team was able to adapt to changes quickly with the focus on serving and attuning to each client’s unique needs.

Here are the Gold Coast stats for 2021:

Number of classes taught: 22

Number of 2021 students: 108

Number of birth clients that delivered in 2021: 100

Average Continuing Education trainings per doula: 4

Clients served: 236

New Subcontractors Added to our Team: 7 doulas, 1 sleep consultant

Elite Certifications Achieved: 14

Ask the Doulas Podcast- We ended the year with 135 episodes total. Feedspot ranked Ask the Doulas as 7 of the Best 15 Doula Podcasts on the Planet in 2021.   Listen Notes ranked Ask the Doulas as one of the top 5% most popular shows out of 2,747,894 podcasts globally. We launched our podcast in 2017 and are still growing strong thanks to our fantastic guests and listener support.

Becoming A Mother Course: Launched in March of 2021 with 54 students and three live launches.

Lactation: 28 clients

Sleep Consultations: 34 clients served

Day and Overnight Postpartum hours: 4,500

Multiples: 10 families served.

Awards: West Michigan BBB Torch Award for Ethics Finalist

GR Chamber’s Epic Awards Top Woman-Owned Business of the Year

Revue Mag– Best of the West 3rd place in Wellness Category,

International Trade Council-Top Placer for Professional Services in the 2021 Go Global Awards.

GR Kids Annual Top Doulas listing—Several team members were recognized under birth and postpartum.

Publicity: the Lily https://www.thelily.com/some-big-companies-are-starting-to-cover-the-cost-of-doulas-will-others-follow/.

First Time Parent Magazine: Articles on sleep and hiring your dream birth and baby team.

Gold Coast became a Climate Leader with Aclymate. We backed the Kansas City Reclaimed Transformer Oil Project.

Volunteer Hours:131.1

DEI Training hours: 15

Charitable Donations: $2,593

Diapers Collected: 8,601 disposable diapers and 74 wipes with Rise Wellness Chiropractic and other partnered businesses. We also collected 397 cloth donations.

We are so thankful for our clients, partners, podcast listeners and students. We are honored to do this important work.

 

Meet our new birth and postpartum doula, Angel!

What did you do before you became a doula?
I have been working in health care since I graduated high school. I started off as a CNA working with geriatric populations in a facility. I then because a nursing assistant in adult acute care in the hospital while I went to nursing school. I have been working as a registered nurse for the last 2.5 years, the most recent setting being in the hospital with high risk postpartum and women’s health populations.

What inspired you to become a doula?
My patients are what inspired me to look into how I could better support families during their labor, delivery, and postpartum journey. I have heard too many stories about traumatic birth experiences and families longing for more support. I am always looking to expand my skillset to better serve and partner in my patient’s care. In researching this I discovered doula work and I was intrigued, I wanted to jump right in, but I was not sure where to even begin.

Tell us about your family.
I live in Grand Rapids with my partner. We were doing long distance since we lived on opposite sides of the state for our careers, until this month! Together we have two fur babies – a big baby of a spaniel mix named Willow, and a dramatic, mischievous cat named Tofu. We both have complicated extended families, but they live nearby.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
I really enjoy the Ybor city neighborhood of Tampa, Florida. It has the hustle and bustle of Tampa with lots of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. It is also a historic Cuban town that is full of culture. My father lives about 30 minutes from there which gets me away from the business that the city offers.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
This is difficult because I love music and listen to varying genres depending on my mood.

· Dermot Kennedy: His voice is extremely powerful and soothing. He sounds even better live than in his recordings.

· Eminem: I listen to him when I need to hype up and get some things done quickly. His music never gets old.

· Stevie Wonder: I grew up listening to his music while my dad was working on building my childhood home, I remember being shocked when my dad told me he was visually impaired, it made me enjoy his music even more.

· Machine Gun Kelly: His unique blend of hip hop and rock has me turning to him when I need a little pick me up.

· Fletcher: She sings about real life experiences that I relate to. She is newer to the music scene with her first single being released two years ago, but she is not short on talent.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Follow your gut! You know your body and your baby best, advocate for yourself to get questions answered, concerns addressed, etc.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
I can quickly form a good rapport with clients. This makes things go smoothly so those around me can feel comfortable being their authentic self and it makes asking those tough questions a little easier.

What is your favorite food?
Chicken alfredo is my favorite, you cant go wrong there.

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
There is a beautiful area of lake Michigan in Whitehall that always brings me peace. When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it is a great spot to just watch the water and sit on the big rocks or the sand and listen to music or read.

What are you reading now?
I am currently reading the latest issue of the Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, specifically an article titled “Perinatal Quality and Equity – Indicators That Address Disparities”. Health disparities have always been of interest to me, especially when it comes to maternal and infant health care.

Who are your role models?
I have a few but my father would be the one who has made the biggest impact on me. He was always extremely tough on me while growing up, and I now realize why. He started from nothing and has really made something of himself. He never wanted me to struggle in the ways that he did so he made me learn some tough lessons, but it made me a better person. He is the person I can count on to give me an honest opinion on something or to tell me when I need to get back on track. He has shown me that hard work pays off and to play hard, you must work harder: that is something I now live by.

 

Alyssa Zapata

Meet Alyssa Zapata, Certified Birth Doula!

Alyssa used to work with us as a placenta encapsulator and is now back with Gold Coast, this time as a birth doula!

What did you do before you became a doula?
I worked in the hospitality industry at restaurants, B&B’s, and assisting wedding planners. I also became a momma to my oldest who will be 7 in October!

What inspired you to become a doula?
Having an empowering unmedicated birth at Butterworth with a wonderful doula, Chasity, who is now a midwife student in Georgia.

Tell us about your family.
My husband of 6 years, Adam, works in IT at Herman Miller in Zeeland. We met through one of his friends at Hope College when I was going to Grand Valley State University. We have made it through a surprise pregnancy of our wonderful son at the beginning of our relationship, through multiple pregnancies/losses, a wedding, a dog, and 3 moves. He works very hard, keeps me grounded, and reminds me to slow down when I need to.

Our son, Joaquin, will be 7 in October; heading to 1st grade Spanish Immersion at Innocademy in Zeeland in the fall. He loves building things, making crafts, and playing soccer.

Our daughter, Valerie, will be 2 in October. She is very strong willed and always on the go!
Currently she loves gymnastics class with me and Minnie Mouse.

Our pit bull, Daisy, who we adopted when she was a little over a year old, and is now 5 years old. She loves people and running around our backyard.

We also have 2 angel babies in heaven.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
In Michigan, Harbor Springs where my family cottage is because I have so many wonderful memories there.

In the US probably the Smokey Mountains in Tennesse. It is so peaceful and a beautiful place to hike.

In the world, Florence, Italy. Italians know how to enjoy life and live slowly with beautiful art surrounding them.

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

Anything by Lin Manuel Miranda. It’s unique and I’m a musical theatre nerd.

Eagles, my parents often listened to them when I was growing up. They remind me of times at the cottage.

John Legend because he is one of the only artists my husband and I agree upon. Beautiful heartfelt lyrics.

Lady Gaga because she is a great live performer and stands for inclusiveness.

Queen, you just can’t beat the sound!

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
That you are the parents meant for this baby, don’t let other parents or advice cloud your own instincts.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
I have a passion for evidence-based procedures and educating clients of their choices.

What is your favorite food?
Fresh made guacamole.

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

What are you reading now? 
The Whole-Brain Child

Who is your role model?
My mother. She was the breadwinner in my family growing up and worked in the
male-dominated field of finance within a major corporation. I may not align with that type
of work or be analytical like her, but she taught me how to work hard and not to let
anything stop you because you are a woman.

 

Olivia Gibson

Meet our new postpartum doula, Olivia!

Let’s learn a bit more about Olivia, our newest postpartum doula!

What did you do before you became a doula?
Before becoming a doula I worked as a nanny with a few different families over the span of 6 years. I loved learning the ebbs and flows of each family.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I was inspired to become a doula through my passion to care for people, which blossomed into caring for babies and their families. Becoming a doula only seemed like a natural thing for me to do.

Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Austin, since October of 2020.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
My favorite vacation spot is Florida. My parents took me and my siblings there a few times as kids, and that’s also where my husband and I honeymooned.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Tyler Childers, Justin Bieber, Queen, Eric church, and Drake.
They are my favorite because after a long day I can play their music in the car and feel better.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Each family is different, and each baby is different, so there is no one solution for everyone. It’s important to give yourself grace while getting to know your baby and finding what’s right for you and baby.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
Knowing when to step in to help and teach, and when to step back to observe and listen.

What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is macaroni and cheese from a box. Simple and easy, yet delicious!!

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Lake Michigan in the summertime, and ice-skating downtown at Rosa Parks circle in the winter.

What are you reading now?
Currently I am reading Breastfeeding Made Simple. Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers.

Who are your role models?
My husband, Austin, because of how patient and forgiving he is. He teaches me how to love daily. My other roll model is my oldest sister, Anna, because of the way she mothers her two sons. Someday I hope to be a mother like her.

 

Heidi McDowell

Meet Heidi – our newest birth & postpartum doula!

What did you do before you became a doula?
I have a background in healthcare management. However, for the past 6.5 years I have managed a law firm dealing in personal injuries. I am also a yoga teacher specializing in prenatal, postpartum, and fertility yoga.
  
What inspired you to become a doula?
It took me many years  to conceive my baby girl. Feeling the lack of control in my own journey, I began educating myself on our maternal healthcare system, choices, and norms. I began to feel empowered with all of the new information I had uncovered. While I waited for my turn to become a mama I decided that I would help other families on their journeys.

Tell us about your family.
I am one of 15 children, six sisters and six brothers, originally from the east side of the State. I have a wonderful husband and a blended family of three strong and amazing daughters. We also have a ball-obsessed Labradoodle.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
Anywhere warm and humid with a touch of adventure! I love a cruise with options to see a lot of places in a short time.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Truly my musical selections bend to my mood.

John Mayer – amazing songwriter

Amos Lee – sings to my soul

Deva Premal & Mitten – because you can’t not love someone named Mitten

Dolly Parton – speaks for herself

Beach Boys – I’m a sucker for nostalgia

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Support yourself by lining up the support you’re going to need!

Delegating tasks to others doesn’t make you a lesser parent, partner, or spouse. It makes you smart.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
My ability to anticipate a need, then seamlessly sneak in and fill the cracks where help and support are needed.

What is your favorite food?
Inn Seasons Salad from this vegan restaurant in Royal Oak…yum!

What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I am a sucker for rock and stone collecting. Hiking over Sleeping Bear and spending hours head down searching for hidden gems is my favorite!

What are you reading now?
The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Sielgel and Tina Payne Bryson.

Who are your role models?
My older sister Nici has always, ever since we were young children, been miles ahead of me. And my mother showed me what unconditional love and empathy for everyone truly looks like. Together they lit the torch and blazed the trails so I could find my way.

 

Kristin Vorce

Meet Kristin Vorce, Certified Sleep Consultant!

We are a little late in the game announcing Kristin to you! She’s actually been working with us for a few months now (oops, sorry Kristin!). Let’s learn a little more about Kristin, her family, and her background.

What did you do before you became a sleep consultant?
Prior to becoming a sleep consultant, I worked in the field of brain injury rehabilitation as a recreational therapist for over 10 years. I have a vast amount of experience helping people develop achievable goals and take the first step toward change.

What inspired you to become a sleep consultant?
When I had my 3rd baby, who was a challenging sleeper, I was overwhelmed with all the resources for new parents in regard to baby sleep. I thought to myself, “I just wish I had someone who could look at everything going on and help me with what to do.” I was inspired to use my therapist skills to become that person to help other parents navigate their way through the vast arena of baby sleep.

Tell us about your family.
I am a busy mom of 3 and stepmom to 1. My kids range from 12 to 2 years old, so I live simultaneously in both the toddler and tween world! My husband, Mike and I have been married for 4 years and we live in East Grand Rapids.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
Northern Michigan, hands down! We love to go camping in the summer and spend many weekends exploring our awesome state parks. Last year we took our bikes to the top of Mackinac Island—what a view!

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

Hillsong United – One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to!
Adele – Seriously, that voice?!
Coldplay – Just the right blend of chill and rock
Cory Asbury – The lyrics speak straight to my heart
Justin Beiber – I’m not ashamed to admit I always turn it up!

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
New parents tend to be hard on themselves. The best advice I’ve given is to be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself like a good friend. You love your baby more than life and you are doing such a great job!

What do you consider your superpower to be?
My superpower is communication. My strength is taking something complex and making it easy to understand.

What is your favorite food?
I absolutely LOVE Indian food! Saag Gosht anyone?

What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Sleeping Bear Dunes/Glen Arbor. From skiing in the winter to the wineries and sand dunes in the summer- it’s such a treasure and I love building memories with my family here.

What are you reading now?
I am currently reading, “Transforming the Difficult Child” by Howard Glasser. It’s all about pointing out the positives to our kids, which can work wonders in children (and adults!). 

Who are your role models?
I strive to model my mother-in-law’s, Jill, servant heart. She always puts others first, even when it’s hard.

I strive to achieve the organizational level of my husband! He is also extremely calm in a crisis, and I learn a lot from him.