Pregnancy

postpartum physical therapy

Postpartum Recovery

Have you ever heard of an athlete getting back on the field after a major injury WITHOUT a period of rest followed by intense rehab? Of course not! But somehow the expectation for women after their pregnancy is to mysteriously “bounce back” to normal activity, appearance, and function without any guidance. Most mamas even attempt to do this while caring for one or more very adorable, yet extremely needy human beings.

Wow!!  Just writing that paragraph made me feel anxious!  Thankfully our society is beginning to recognize the fact that child-rearing is hard work and calling in reinforcements is acceptable and often necessary.  Thank you doulas, lactation consultants, counselors, chiropractors and more for all that you do!  I would like to propose that a Women’s Health Physical Therapist should ALSO be part of your postpartum team.

Women’s Health Physical Therapists specialize in the changes that occur within your musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones) during and after pregnancy.  They often have additional training in pelvic health which means they have specialized skills in how to assess the pelvic floor’s function from an external as well as an internal perspective.

Let me tell you a story about how one woman’s body changed after having her first baby; let’s call this woman Susie. In the delivery room, Susie’s baby made its way through the birth canal so quickly that Susie’s perineum had very little time to stretch to make a clear path for her baby to exit.  Susie ended up with significant perineal trauma that required stitches to repair.  After the delivery, it was painful for Susie to walk around her hospital room and sitting proved to be very uncomfortable as well.  She faithfully rested and used her ice packs for pain relief in hopes that with time she would feel better.  As time went on and she saw other new moms grocery shopping, going for walks, and starting to exercise again, Susie started to become worried that she was falling behind in her postpartum recovery!  Not only was she still having pelvic pain that got worse with activity, she was now having rectal pain that filled her with dread each time she felt the urge to have a bowel movement.  Susie was given the go ahead to return to sexual intercourse and begin exercising again at her 6 week follow-up appointment with her OBGYN, but she knew there was no way she could tolerate these activities without experiencing a lot of pain.  Susie had proactively participated in Physical Therapy before delivering her baby, so she bravely asked for another referral.

Although a woman’s body is going to be forever changed after participating in the miracle of creating life, mamas shouldn’t feel like they’re left with a body that is broken.  Physical Therapists want to give you tools and strategies that keep you strong so you can participate in activities that make you healthy and happy inside and out!  We want you to lift and chase after your little ones, return to intimacy in an enjoyable way with your partner, and be able to participate in activities like barre classes, 5ks, and nature hikes. Sometimes it is a common misconception that women “pee when they sneeze” BECAUSE they had a baby, it’s “normal for sex to hurt” BECAUSE they had a baby, or “vaginal heaviness” occurs BECAUSE they had a baby.  While it’s true that these things commonly HAPPEN after we’ve had babies, they aren’t normal or inevitable after having children, and it will likely require more than just lots and lots of kegels to solve these problems.

Let’s check in with Susie again to see how things turned out after going to several Physical Therapy appointments. Susie learned that her pelvic floor and surrounding muscles were very tight (kegels were NOT recommended) and that she needed to learn how to combine breathing, stretching, and relaxing positions to maintain a relaxed and healthy pelvic floor.  Her Physical Therapist performed manual techniques to break up scar tissue from her episiotomy which improved the elasticity of her perineum. They even taught her how to work on these things at home on her own between sessions.  With hard work and guidance from her Physical Therapist, she was able to enjoy sex with her husband again, have bowel movements with less pain, and exercise with confidence because she had learned safe ways to move her body.

Physical Therapy for mamas can be done during your hospitalization, at an outpatient clinic, or even in your own home! And while there are lots of therapists just waiting for mamas to walk through their doors, it isn’t standard for Physical Therapists to be included in postpartum care in the United States.  Good news though, they are accessible and sometimes even covered by insurance when you seek them out. You’ll know you’ve found an exceptional Physical Therapist when they ask about your specific goals, give you tasks to complete at home between sessions, and you notice progress after each session.

Knowledge is power, and I hope that this information empowers you to feel comfortable talking to your providers about Physical Therapy or seeking it out on your own.  Mamas do incredible things and they deserve to have the resources they need to live their best life.

Newly postpartum and ready to get started? Download this FREE handout to start your postpartum recovery journey today (even useful for mamas still in the hospital!)

If you’re ever looking for free information from the perspective of a mama and Physical Therapist, I put out videos weekly on my YouTube channel. I also offer 1 on 1 Physical Therapy Evaluation and Treatment sessions for moms living in West Michigan and offer an Online Postpartum Recovery Course for moms that don’t have the time or resources to get out to appointments.

Investing in your health is one of the best investments you can make. Become a STRONG mama so you can grow a STRONG family!

Dr. Nicole Bringer, DPT
Owner of Mamas & Misses, LLC
Email: nicole@mamasandmisses.com
Phone: (616) 466-4889

 

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Birth Photography: Podcast Episode #92

Photographers Kris and Autumn of The People Picture Company answer questions about birth photography, what a photographer actually does in the delivery room and how the process works for hiring a photographer and talking about birth plans.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to the Ask the Doulas podcast.  I am Alyssa Veneklase.

Kristin:  And I’m Kristin Revere.

Alyssa:  We are co-owners of Gold Coast, and we are here today with Autumn and Kris from The People Picture Company.  We wanted to bring you in because you do a lot of birth photography and a lot of our clients use you, but I know a lot of people are cautious or maybe don’t understand quite what the role of a photographer is in the delivery room, and I think it might be weird for people to say, you know, there’s going to be this stranger with a camera photographing my private parts.  Like, I don’t know this person!  Can you ease people’s fears and maybe tell us what the whole process looks like?

Kris:  Of course!  It all starts with a prenatal consult.  So this is where we get together and discuss your birth plan and what you want your birthing experience to look like.  This helps give us an idea; like, okay, are you doing a hospital birth or a home birth or a birthing center?  All of these things kind of factor into it.  We exchange phone numbers and all the information there, too, and then pick packages.  But it’s really a time for us to get together and to get to know each other because it is a very personal, private, intimate experience, and we’re going to be there with you, so we want to be able to know you and have you be comfortable with us.

Kristin:  It’s almost like when you do weddings and you have a shot list.  In your prenatal, I’m sure you go over, okay, this is what’s acceptable, and this is what I don’t want.

Kris:  Exactly.  We also go through and we show off some of the other births that we’ve done that the mothers have completely agreed that it is okay for us to show.  We have a couple of photos on our website, if you go into Maternity and Birth.  But when we go into a consult, you get to see a little bit more in depth.  These are ones that are, like, you know, actually during the birth experience.  So sometimes there’s nudity because you might get really hot when you’re giving birth to your child.  Sometimes people want that crowning photo.  I’m not going to put that online, but if you want to see what that looks like or a photo of your placenta where your baby lived for a while, then I can show you those during the consult so you get more of an idea and a feel of what you can expect from your birth photos.

Alyssa:  So it’s kind of like, if I were to say I want birth photos, but I don’t want any shots of boobs; I don’t want any shots of vaginas; I don’t want a butt.  Then you would know that going in, saying, okay, we need to crop this out or I’m not going to…

Kris:  Not going to photograph it.  If you want the photos of your child coming into this world but you don’t want that crowning photo, I don’t have to be right where the doctors are.  We can be right up by your shoulder.  In fact, that’s how it was with my photos.  I don’t have any crowning photos of my son coming out, but I have some great photos from over my shoulder, and you can see him just emerging into the world.  It’s so magical because you can ever see everyone that’s in the room and my husband and my doctors and everyone, and it’s just so magical.  Especially because most of that, I had my eyes shut, and one of my friends was, like, no, open your eyes.  Open your eyes!  You have to see this moment!

Autumn:  I think a part of it, too, is during the consult, you are getting comfortable with each other, and there’s a moment where you kind of think past the nudity, you know?  We’re basically capturing the emotional experience between you, your baby, your family.  That is something that is bigger than the nudity sometimes.

Alyssa:  Right!

Kristin:  And I love that you’ve also supported surgical births and shown the beauty of that as they’re getting prepped to go into the operating room and so on.  Some of those pictures are amazing.

Kris:  Yeah!  With the Cesarean births, we’re not allowed in the operating room for those, but we are allowed in the prepping areas and as you’re walking down the hallway or being wheeled into the operating room, we can do all of that and we can do the couple of hours after the birth, as well.  It’s just that for those we’re not actively allowed in those rooms for the surgical process.

Kristin:  I’ve loved attending births with The People Picture Company because you really do capture the emotions of the couple and the intimate experience that they have, as well as, obviously, meeting their new baby or babies for the first time and really, you have a way.  That’s why we have you photograph our team and a lot of the events we do.  You really capture that moment so perfectly and the beauty of birth, the raw and realness of all of it.

Autumn:  And no birth is the same, no two births.

Kris:  No.  But they’re all emotional.  I cry at every one.

Kristin:  For sure.  They are.  It’s an honor to be in someone’s birth space.  I don’t take that lightly as a doula.

Alyssa:  So you’re essentially on call; that’s why you exchange numbers.  So how does that work from your client’s end?  You exchange phone numbers, and then when the due date approaches, you just kind of — they know that your phone’s going to be on next to the bed all night?

Kris:  Yep.  My phone is on next to my bed all night.  It is turned up as loud as it possibly can be, and in case I’m asleep, my husband is a very light sleeper, so if he hears it, he’s definitely going to be waking me up.

Autumn:  You’re pretty amazing.  You wake up, and you’re there, and it’s magical.

Kris:  It’s so funny because almost all the births that I’ve been on have been in the middle of the night where we’re getting a call.  Hey, we’re starting to have some contractions.  Okay, great.  Keep us informed.  Let us know when your water breaks, and we’ll be there, wherever you’re going to be having your birth.  We’re very flexible, so if you were originally going to be doing a home birth and then something is weird and you need to go to the hospital, then just have someone let us know.  It doesn’t matter who it is.  Just put our number in your birth plan, and we’ll be there.

Alyssa:  That’s what a doula’s good for.  We can call you and let you know.  By the way, we’re headed to the hospital.

Autumn:  And the greatest part is we have a whole team, so during that time when Kris is on call and she needs to be ready whenever, anything that she has going on, we’re there to kind of help take care of that so we free up her time to be available to be at the birth no matter what.

Kris:  Yeah.  I block off your due date for sure.  That entire day is completely reserved.  I won’t schedule anything.  And then for a week or so before and a week or so after, because babies come when they want to come, I have those listed as on-call, which means that if someone else needs to take one of my other sessions that I have prebooked because you’re going into labor at that point, then they have that.  I have a bag packed and with me wherever I am, so I am ready to go and meet you as soon as I get the call.

Kristin:  Sounds just like what I do as a birth doula!  And most of my calls are in the middle of the night unless it’s a planned birth.  Or early morning; I sometimes will get a call.  They’ve been laboring at home in early labor, and then they want my support early in the morning.

Kris:  Babies just love coming at night.

Autumn:  They do!

Kris:  My son came right after midnight, and our birth photographer, Bree — she’s one of our team.  She actually doesn’t shoot anymore, but she picked up a camera for me.  I think I was her last session that she did.  And she came — she was so sweet.  She came at — oh, gosh.  I don’t even know what time.  She came pretty early.  Probably about 7:00, I think, is when my water broke and everything, and she was there until about 1:00 in the morning when I finally kicked her out.  You need to go home; you need to go to sleep.  We got our photos; we’re great.  We got our few things that we wanted afterwards.  Go home and sleep.  But that also leads me to the photos of after the birth, like how long we get to stay for that.  That’s actually a really good segue there that I hadn’t planned.

Kristin:  And I know some clients can hire you just for that first hour or that time of bonding and not the actual labor if their preference is to not be photographed during the birth itself.

Kris:  Definitely.  It’s still all the same thing.  We’re still on call and everything, and the way our packages work, we have two different ones.  They both include up to two hours of post-birthing, and that covers the first moments of your child’s life.  So if you want us in there for the birth, then that can include the cord cutting and such.  If you want us there for the first little bit afterwards, it can include the first time you’re nursing your child if that’s what you end up doing.  If you’re doing skin to skin contact; the weight, height, and head measurements, the footprints, and the first family photo of you all together in that blissful moment.  And then also if you have any family members that are coming to meet the newest addition, so if you have an older child that’s coming to meet the younger sibling for the first time, or you have some grandparents that are being grandparents for the very first time, we can be there for that, too.

Alyssa:  How does it work — let’s say a client gets induced and says, hey, I’m going to the hospital, but then it ends up taking two days.  How do you — or have you had a client like that where you’re there for a really, really long time?

Kris:  We’ve had one where we’ve been there for —

Autumn:  We’ve had to do switch shifts.

Kris:  Yeah.  I’ve done some switch shifts before where we kind of tag out.  Okay, I’ve been here for, like, 12, 13 hours.  I need a momentary break.  I need a little cat nap, but we don’t want you to have to worry about us missing it.  So then we just kind of tag out with one of our other team members, and then we swap for a little bit.

Alyssa:  So there’s no price difference?

Kris:  No.

Alyssa:  It’s just whatever birth you have, whether it’s two hours or two days?

Kris:  Yep.  Your kid comes in the time when your kid wants to come, and we’ve got to be flexible with that.

Kristin:  Right.  And even with inductions, there can be some sweet moments where they’re on the birthing ball or moving around the room, and you can capture – again, if it is a couple, you can couple the intimacy with the couple, or if there’s a doula supporting…

Autumn:  Well, the greatest part is it’s not just one single moment with the birth.  It’s the entire process, and being able to capture that for basically the entire family is so special because we literally see the moments before, where they’re on the ball and they’re trying to get them out, and then they —

Kris:  It’s the whole story.

Autumn:  It literally is the story.

Kris:  And going back to personal experience, I was induced for my son because he was a week late and didn’t want to come.  And there are times, because it was a long, emotional, hard birth, that don’t necessarily remember.  But because I had my photographer there and I made a book later on, I’m able to remember and to kind of — not necessarily relive, because I don’t remember the pain, thank God, but I do remember the joy, and I remember thinking – like, for me the birthing ball was bad, and all I can remember was saying, “Ball bad!  Ball bad!”  But I remember that because I have the photo of me with that ball and then the ball completely on the other side of the room because I didn’t even want to see it.

Kristin:  Listening to your body is key!  That’s what I say.  That’s part of it!

Alyssa:  So once you get into the labor and delivery room, what does that look like?  Are you kind of like a fly on the wall trying to stay out of — like, you don’t want them to even know you’re there, or are you talking to them and —

Kris:  It kind of depends on the couple or on the mom and what they want, and this is why we do the prenatal consult.  We usually try to help out if we can, like either be a gopher — like, so if mom is really sweating but doesn’t want her partner to leave and needs a wet washcloth or something, then we will do that.  If you need some ice chips or something, we can go and do that for you so that your people don’t have to leave, although of course if you have doulas, then they usually end up helping out that way, too.  So we help out where we can, but otherwise, it’s usually very intimate, and the couple is pretty much in their own world.  We just kind of capture that and stay out of the doctors’ way.  After you have your baby, we know that you’re really excited to show the photos of your new little baby to friends and family and all your loved ones, and so instead of sending cell phone photos that can look a little weird, we do sneak peeks so we’ll provide you with a handful of photos that are completely ready to send out to friends and family.

Alyssa:  Like the next day?

Kris:  Within 24 hours.  Usually less than; it’s usually one of the first things that we do when we leave the birthing room.

Autumn:  She gets really excited.  She gets back to the studio, and she’s, like, “I’m doing this!  I’m really excited!”

Alyssa:  You always do.  Every team photo, you’re, like, okay, give me a couple weeks.  And then two days later, you’re like, “They’re ready!  I was just too excited.  I had to go through them.”

Autumn:  Well, I mean, it’s our work, and we get so excited about it, and we can’t wait to show it off because what is the point of just sitting on it when we can share it with everyone?

Alyssa:  In my past life, I was a photographer, and it was the same thing.  While it’s fresh in my head, I wanted to go through them.  It’s exciting to see what you just created.  So I get it.

Kris:  You’ll get a handful of photos the same day, usually within a few hours, so you can send them out.  And then the final photos, we say two weeks, but it’s usually sooner.

Kristin:  And certainly, I feel like birth is a major rite of passage, and as wedding photographers, you understand how much time, money, and preparation is involved in planning for that rite of passage, but really, when you look at minor investments in the birth and postpartum time for a family, hiring a birth photographer or doing newborn shots doesn’t even compare to the investment in a wedding photographer, for example.

Kris:  Oh, yeah, no.  It’s a fraction.

Kristin:  Can you explain a bit about what your fees are so people who aren’t familiar with birth photographers — as you talk about being on call and longer lengths and so on?

We have a couple different packages when it comes to the birth, and they each include high-resolution images for you to share, to do whatever you want with.  And then you also get an album to create for our highest package, which is a 20-page lay-flat album.

Kristin:  You’re saying a digital album?

Autumn:  No, a photo album.  So you get digital files, high-resolution, and then our highest package, you get a 20-page album to share and have it on your table so you can show it off.  And plus like Kris said, you get to relive the moments because sometimes you just don’t remember, and having that printed album is so important because you can’t have all of your images live on digital because you don’t know how long they’re going to last.  We always want everybody to print things.

Kris:  Which is why we provide you with the high-resolution images, too, because those are good quality for printing.  So you’re welcome to print them yourself or you can print with us.  We have a la carte print packages, too.  So the first package, like Autumn was saying, it’s $850.  It includes everything: the prenatal consult, the on-call availability, the two hours after birth, and then 100 or more, however many, high-resolution images, and a 20-page 5×5 print photo album.  And then our second package, which is our base package, is $500, and that includes 30 to 50 high-resolution images, so that’s if you need just a little bit; just a little reminder, not the whole big coverage of everything.  And then because we want to see you guys again and provide you with a really good first family photo that’s not right after birth, we include 10% off your newborn session if you get either of these two packages because, yeah, your first family photo — yeah, it’s great to have one in the hospital, but let’s get one where your hair and makeup are actually done, too.

Kristin:  And I know you do documentary-style or more of the posed family shots, depending on preference and price and so on?

Autumn:  Absolutely.  We actually prefer doing newborn sessions in the home because it’s where you’re going to be the most comfortable, and then you also don’t have to worry about packing up the family and moving them to our studio, which can be a hassle sometimes.  Our goal is to make everything hassle-free, so we come to you, and we can document your entire family as you are, and we can also get some posed shots that would be printed and put on the wall.  The documentary style also work well if you do an album.  Plus, it’s more realistic.  It’s you in your zone.  It’s where your family is.  And if you have other kids, it’s also really fun to see how they interact with the baby, also.

Kris:  Some of the documentary ones that we’ve done are within your nursery, so if you’re changing your baby on the table or nursing them in a rocking chair or something like that and then you get a photo of the entire nursery in this environmental setting, too.

Kristin:  It’s nice.  You did that with a twin client of ours.

Kris:  Yeah.   They were so sweet.  They were adorable, and we had grandma in there, too.

Alyssa:  So if anyone is interested in birth photos or family photos or baby photos —

Kristin:  Or maternity photos.

Alyssa:  Yeah, maternity photos — what’s the best way for them to reach out?

Kris:  Probably our website would be the best.  We have all our packages listed on there.

Kristin:  And you also have a page on the Gold Coast Doulas website.

Kris:  We do, so you can just go to the Gold Coast Doulas website and go into Birth Photography and find us that way, too.  And then we have all of our packages listed and a handful of images to show you, just kind of a portfolio of examples to see if we’re your flavor of photographer or not.

Autumn:  And the best way to find out is just reaching out and setting up a consult to get to know us, really.

Kris:  Yeah.  You can do that straight from the website.  We have contact boxes.  You can email us.

Alyssa:  And probably depending on the time of year, as long as it’s not wedding season, you could do it last minute.  Like, hey, I’m 38 weeks and I just decided I want a photographer.

Autumn:  Oh, absolutely.

Alyssa:  As long as you’re not in the throes of wedding season, you might be able to say yes?

Kris:  You know, as long as you’re not a Friday or Saturday, chances are really high.

Alyssa:  Cool.  Well, thanks for joining us.  Is there anything else that we didn’t cover?

Autumn:   I did want to point out that another thing after birth – one of our favorite things to do is follow you through the first year.  What we have is a package that basically is dedicated to capturing your baby at several stages in the first year.  So then you can do the three, six, nine months and then the one year, so you can also print that out and get it on the wall to see how much they’ve grown.,

Kris:  They change so much in that first year.

Autumn:  They really, really do.  It’s amazing.  They go from literally —

Kris:  Tiny squishes to little humans.

Autumn:   Yeah.  It’s amazing.  And it’s really fun for us, especially somebody like Kris who’s there during the birth, probably the maternity session, and after with the newborn, and then we get to follow you through and literally watch your family grow.  It is so much fun.

Kris:  It’s awesome watching them grow.

Autumn:  Yeah.  Because our goal is to become lifelong friends, not just the photographer one day.

Kris:  Yeah.  We want to get to know you and become friends and tell your story.

Kristin:  I love that.

Alyssa:  That’s cool.  Thanks!

 

Birth Photography: Podcast Episode #92 Read More »

Birth story

When Your Baby Doesn’t Follow Your Birth Plan

Have you ever set out to accomplish something life-changing? How did you prepare for it? Did you research it online? Did you read a how-to book? Did you seek advice from those you trust? Would you ever show up for the big day without preparing ahead of time?

Back in November of 2017, I finally saw those two blue lines on a pregnancy test.  I was unbelievably excited, but yet filled with fear and anxiety. After over a year of trying to conceive and a devastating miscarriage, my husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to try it again.  For anyone that has experienced a miscarriage you know that each cramp, test, and Dr. appointment is filled with intense emotion and fear.

The fear and anxiety wasn’t completely gone after our 12 week ultrasound, but it definitely became a background noise that I could drown out with our baby registry, nursery decorations, and my efforts to create the perfect environment for my baby for the remainder of the pregnancy.

During my first trimester, I was gifted The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland (highly recommended by the way, even if you’re not a super crunchy mama) by my sister who unknowingly would become the trail blazer that would go before me by about 12 weeks and share all her child rearing wisdom with me.  This was new for me as an OLDER sister, but her recommendations and personal experience were pivotal in creating an empowering childbirth experience for me.

Fast forward to the third trimester where it really started to sink in that I was going to birth this tiny human inside me.  This is the part of the story where I realized I was going to experience something life-changing that I knew very little about.  After reading the best books, talking with seasoned mamas and investing in a bomb childbirth course (Mama Natural’s once again!), I decided that my ideal birth plan was to have a vaginal delivery with as few medical interventions as possible.  I did the research to get the facts and my husband was very supportive (but also a rookie) so I wanted some reinforcement to help me achieve my dream birth story. This is the part where my very wise sister recommended talking with Gold Coast Doulas about how they could help me reach my goals.  She had just accomplished a successful, low intervention vaginal delivery so it didn’t take much convincing for me to call and get matched up with doulas that were a good fit for my birth goals.

At 41 weeks and 3 days, it became apparent that my son had not read my birth plan and despite my best efforts was coming out on his own terms.  In the midst of my research, I learned that induction could be intense, unpleasant, and ruin my plans for an unmedicated birth; unfortunately, my OBGYN had decided this was the best option for me. My husband and I walked into the hospital like a couple headed to Baby-Mart to pick-up our baby.  I had not experienced one real contraction to this point, was dilated to 1cm (I still think this was a pity centimeter) and I had shed many tears as I realized how little control I actually had over this birth experience.  I prayed God would help me surrender to His will for this birth.

As if this was the moment my son had been waiting for all along, I felt my first real contraction minutes after being hooked up to the fetal heart monitor before beginning the induction process.  I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself about my “ruined” birth plan and regained my confidence knowing this was MY birth plan and no matter how it ended, it was the perfect plan for me!

Contractions continued to come, and they recommended that I receive a dose of Cytotec to soften my cervix. Thankfully labor continued to progress on its own without any further doses of cytotec or pitocin.  Several hours after contractions started, I peed the bed… or so I thought. After 2 trips to the bathroom and continued “leaking” I realized my water had broken. My cervix continued to dilate and my husband was now recruited to help me through my increasingly more intense contractions.  My nurse was amazing and encouraged me to change positions by kneeling and leaning forward on the bed and rolling from side to side with a peanut ball between my legs to encourage continued progression of my labor. It’s funny because I knew this movement was important, but in that moment, all I could think about was how it made my contractions hurt worse and that I didn’t want to move at all. Turns out that’s the point! You want to intensify contractions, progress labor, and get that baby in your arms!

As the hours progressed my husband continued to ask if we should ask Mary, our doula, to join us (she’d been checking in with him periodically) and I continued to say no. I guess I had heard too many stories about long labors because I was convinced we still had a long way to go.  When my attentive husband noticed the signs of transition he quietly vetoed my decision and let Mary, along with family, know that we were getting close and it was time to come to the hospital. When Mary arrived they were wheeling in delivery equipment and it was go-time. She reminded me of the breathing techniques I had practiced and was available to help with whatever comfort measures we needed even when it was silence.

There was no mistaking when it was time to push as my fetal ejection reflex kicked in.  I was thankful that my provider let me stay in a side-lying position to push while my husband and Mary held legs and hands (focusing on my needs) allowing the doctors to focus on our son. My husband excitedly updated me that they could see his head, but he just didn’t seem to want to move past that point. Despite my best pushing efforts for about 40 minutes, our baby’s heart rate was dropping, and I was now needing oxygen. At this point, my OBGYN highly recommended an episiotomy to deliver my son quickly. This was not part of my birth plan, but I agreed knowing everyone’s goal was to deliver a healthy baby. As his head emerged and the OBGYN quickly freed him from the umbilical cord around his neck, he launched himself earth-side and to this day has not stopped moving and wiggling.

It’s crazy to think that at 8 pm on Sunday night we walked into the hospital with a space in our hearts we had no idea even existed and by 8:30 am on Monday morning our hearts were overflowing with love and connection with someone we had only just met.  Childbirth was unknown, exciting, and challenging.  The experience was so very empowering and the outcome was undeniably life-changing. My piece of advice for expecting moms is to go into labor and delivery prepared, supported and believing in yourself knowing that your body was made to do this!

Written by Dr. Nicole Bringer, DPT
Owner of Mamas & Misses Physical Therapy
www.mamasandmisses.com 

 

When Your Baby Doesn’t Follow Your Birth Plan Read More »

pregnancy physical therapy

Physical Therapy During Pregnancy

Maternity clothes✓ Registry✓ Hospital tour✓ Doula✓ Photographer✓

What could you possibly be forgetting? What about getting YOURSELF prepared?

Likely from the moment you found out you were pregnant you have been focused on the tiny human growing inside of you. While prenatal vitamins, nursery preparations, and choosing the perfect name are all very important parts of preparing for the birth of your baby, so is preparing YOUR body to birth this baby!

Hopefully in the midst of your nesting you have decided to create a birth plan.  As you consider what positions you want to labor and deliver in and what interventions you feel comfortable with during your birth experience, I would challenge you to consider what you are doing to achieve those goals.  Hiring a doula and recruiting a rockstar support person is a great place to start, BUT there is more!

Research has shown that the percentage of first time moms that experience perineal tearing during delivery is somewhere between 80-90%. Research also shows that 66% of women that deliver their babies in sidelying have NO perineal trauma and 61% of women that deliver on hands and knees have the same TRAUMA-FREE experience.  (Simarro 2017, Walker 2012, Soong 2005, Shorten 2002) Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best when it comes to your perineum, what would it look like to practice different delivery positions with your partner BEFORE you go into labor? What about the evidence that says perineal massage 1-2x per week starting at week 35 can DECREASE your risk for tearing and episiotomies? Have you been taught how to perform this technique and are you taking the time to do it? (Seehusen & Raleigh, 2014) With my first son, I totally missed the boat on perineal massage. I ended up with a nasty episiotomy. You better believe I’ll be making perineal massage a priority this time around!

Our bodies become a temporary home for our babies during pregnancy. Our mama bear instincts have already kicked in, and we want to make sure we are creating a healthy and happy environment for our babies to grow within. Exercise and intentional movement is a great way to foster this type of environment for our little ones. Did you know that exercise helps prevent or manage gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia? Exercise also helps us sleep better,  reduce our stress levels, and minimize back pain.  If your pregnancy is non-complicated and you do not have activity restrictions, you should be exercising! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend exercising at a moderate intensity 3-5x per week. Sometimes we become paralyzed when we’re not sure where to start and what’s safe.  Trainers, instructors, and Physical Therapists with certifications and experience working with women during pregnancy are great resources for mamas hoping to create safe exercise habits.

Let’s not forget about investing in our pregnant bodies to make life easier for ourselves in the postpartum.  During your pregnancy your belly is doubling or even tripling in size.  As we gain 25+ pounds, we expect our pelvic floor to step up to the challenge and make sure we don’t pee our pants when we sneeze at the grocery store. There are two studies that give us good reason to keep our pelvic floors strong during pregnancy.  The research found that women experienced less urinary incontinence at 35 weeks gestation, 6 weeks postpartum and 6 months postpartum when they did pelvic floor exercises DURING their pregnancy compared to women that DID NOT do pelvic floor exercises. (Boyle et al., 2012, Price et al., 2010) Sidenote: sometimes the phrase “pelvic floor exercises” is confusing. Does that mean kegels? Yes and no. Clear as mud I know! Kegels are pelvic floor exercise where we lift and squeeze our pelvic floor muscles, but it’s also important for our pelvic floors to have the ability to relax and lengthen. Sometimes women experience pelvic pain and incontinence because of overactive pelvic floors (need help relaxing) and sometimes it’s because they have underactive pelvic floors (need more strengthening). Even if you have excellent pelvic floor strength and no concerns about incontinence, it’s still helpful to create a mind-body connection with your pelvic floor.  During labor and delivery the goal is to relax and open your pelvic floor while pushing so that your pelvic floor remains healthy even after childbirth. Bonus points if you practice your breathing and pelvic floor relaxation while pregnant in the positions you hope to deliver your baby in.

I’ve been a mom in your shoes, running around with my To-Do list trying to check off all the boxes before my baby arrived.  As you prioritize your list and consider your baby budget, remember that your body IS this baby’s home.  The way that you prepare your body WILL make a difference on the day that your baby decides to make its grand entrance.  Exercise, pelvic floor awareness, perineal massage, and labor positions are all important pieces of the pregnancy puzzle.  It’s tempting to become intimidated or overwhelmed at this point because you’re just not sure where to start.  Start by consulting a Women’s Health Physical Therapist.  Now that you know what your goals are, you have some great questions to ask them!  Physical Therapists should be another member of your prenatal team, and we want to help you make your planned Birth Story a reality.

My practice is Mamas & Misses, LLC and we offer In-Home Physical Therapy sessions for women local to West Michigan as well as phone or video consults for those who live further away.  One of our missions is to provide knowledge to mamas that will empower you during your pregnancy and postpartum experience; therefore, we have lots of FREE info on our YouTube channel as well as our Instagram account @mamasandmisses_pt.  

Dr. Nicole Bringer, DPT
Owner of Mamas & Misses LLC
Email: nicole@mamasandmisses.com
Phone: (616) 466-4889

 

References

Boyle, R., Hay‐Smith, E. J., Cody, J. D., & Mørkved, S. (2012). Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 10, CD007471. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007471.pub2

Price, N., Dawood, R., & Jackson, S. R. (2010). Pelvic floor exercise for urinary incontinence: A systematic literature review. Maturitas, 67(4), 309-315. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.08.004

Seehusen, D. A., & Raleigh, M. (2014). Antenatal perineal massage to prevent birth trauma. American Family Physician, 89(5), 335-336.

Shorten A, Donsante J, Shorten B. Birth Position, Accoucher, and Perineal Outcomes: Informing Women about Choices for Vaginal Birth. Birth. 2002;29(1):18-27.

Simarro M, Espinosa JA, Salinas C, Ricardo O, Salavadores P, Walker C, Schneider J. A prospective randomized trial of postural changes vs passive supine lying during the second stage of labor under epidural anesthesia. Med. Sci. 2017, 5, 5. doi:10.3390/medsci5010005

Soong B, Barnes M. Maternal position at midwife-attended birth and perineal trauma: is there an association? Birth. 2005;32(3):164-169.

Walker, C., Rodríguez, T., Herranz, A. et al. Int Urogynecol J (2012) 23: 1249. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-012-1675-5

 

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Rise Wellness Chiropractic

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction with Rise Wellness Chiropractic: Podcast Episode #90

Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel talk to Alyssa about Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), how to prevent it, how to treat it, and things every pregnant and postpartum woman should be doing!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Hello.  Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, and I’m talking with Dr. Rachel and Dr. Annie again of Rise Wellness Chiropractic.  How are you?

Great!

So I got asked by a client about symphysis pubis dysfunction, and I’m not even exactly sure what that is, but you knew.  Right when I told you, you knew.  So can you tell me?

So SPD — sometimes people think of sensory processing disorder, which is with older kids, but in relation to pregnancy, it’s symphysis pubis dysfunction.

And what the heck does that mean?

It’s a mouthful!  So basically, where your two pelvic bones meet in the front is called your symphysis pubis, so that’s where the two bones meet together.  There’s cartilage in between there, and that area widens for birth.  So usually late second to third trimester, we’ll see some women will start having pain.  That can be related to the relaxin that’s in their system that’s helping the ligaments loosen and helping that area separate, but what we usually find is it’s more due to pelvic imbalances.  Usually one side of the pelvis is higher than the other or something like that or it’s rubbing in a weird way.  That’s usually what causes that symphysis pubis dysfunction.

So it’s strictly for pregnancy?

Yes.

And are there any ways to not get it?  Avoid it?  Treat it?

Get adjusted!

Yeah, just because if it’s caused from a misalignment —

Exactly.  Yeah, if it’s caused from pelvis imbalances, then that is directly a chiropractic issue.  It’s biomechanical.  That’s something that we can address through adjustments.  And then we also have stretches that you can do, and there’s also a Serola belt which is like an SI  belt.  It goes around your sacroiliac joints, and it’s just a low belt.  It doesn’t really do anything in terms of — it’s not like a belly band or something that you would wear to support the baby, but it does help to support the SI joints and keep everything together.  Really, it’s hypermobility in that joint that’s causing that pain.

It’s too mobile?

It’s too mobile.  Yeah, so we usually see it with not first-time pregnant moms but usually second or third, especially if they’ve had some kind of fall or something like that while pregnant.  They can injure their pelvis, and that’s usually what brings those things up.  I actually had a patient a couple weeks who came to us for SPD, and under care, she was doing great.  All her pain went away.  But she had fallen during her first pregnancy, and then during her second pregnancy, she started having all this pain and stuff come on. 

So falling during pregnancy; it’s not just like a random fall at any time in your life that could affect this?

It could be.  Pregnancy is really good at exacerbating existing issues or past issues.  Like if you’ve had any pelvic imbalances in your past and then you’re pregnant, just that relaxin is going to kind of flare things up.  Typically, what we see is pain with putting weight on one leg.  Climbing stairs is when your pelvis is moving the most, so that’s usually when a lot of the pain is flared up.

Walking; something that you don’t have to do very often.

Yeah!

Sounds horrible!

But sitting is not good for it either.  It’s one of those things that nothing is good for it.

Laying hurts; turning while you’re laying.  Like that’s not already hard when you’re in the third trimester!

Does it actually cause any more pain or discomfort during labor and delivery?

It can.  It depends on really, like, what the pelvis — because if you think of the pelvic bowl, if there’s imbalances in the pelvis, it’s not just affecting the bones.  It’s also affecting your pelvic floor muscles.  It’s affecting all of your stabilizer muscles.  So it can potentially affect how things go during labor.  I don’t know if it creates more pain, necessarily, or if it would be, but any pelvic imbalance is going to effect, probably, the efficiency of your labor.

Plus, it doesn’t necessarily clear up after.

That was my next question.

Yeah, it’s not like you deliver the baby and then it’s gone.

Because you still have that imbalance?

Exactly.

Exactly, yeah.

So then what do you do for that?  Just keep getting adjusted?

Well, it should clear.  If you’re getting adjusted, it should help clear it up while pregnant.  So I guess what we’re saying is, you should get checked if it’s happening.

I mean, it’s definitely like you have to retrain that pelvic imbalance somehow, and you do that through chiropractic adjustments or through exercises, through physical therapy, sutff like that.

Yeah.  PT floor rehab, yeah.

Probably a combination of both, right?

Right.  If you do it all, then you probably have best outcomes. 

Yeah, I don’t think we understand how important the pelvic floor is, and all we’ve learned is Kegels.  That’s not necessarily even a good thing to think.  When I saw a physical therapist for pelvic floor issues specifically, I was, like, that makes so much sense!  Even just the way we breathe; I didn’t know that my diaphragm was part of — what would that be?  The top?  The diaphragm is the top of your pelvic floor?

Yeah.  It’s the top of your —

Like the space?  I guess I can’t say top of the floor.  Your pelvic floor is the floor.

Your intrabdominal space.  So it’s like the lid, and then your pelvic floor is the bottom.  But it’s a big airtight balloon, pretty much, so when you breathe, it affects everything.  But pelvic floor is an issue that we don’t talk about, really, with women in birth, but it’s a huge thing.  Every woman who pushes out a baby has pelvic floor issues.  Every woman who has a C-section has pelvic floor issues because those are attached to your abdominals, too.  So, really, every woman should be getting some kind of rehab on pelvic floor after birth.  That’s my soapbox!

I’m in these group exercise classes, and every woman is, like, oh, jumping jacks.  I’m going to pee my pants!  I had one friend who was, like, I was working out and I didn’t know if it was sweat or I had peed my pants!  Yeah.  I get it!

Well, pelvic floor and core strength, too, are both things that get overlooked with women after pregnancy, and then we see women with back pain later, and it’s because their core is so weak.  So, really, we’re just promoting physical therapy pelvic floor rehab.  It’s what needs to be done.

And chiropractic care.  Retraining all that neurology is important.

I think even just learning about it!  I’ve done yoga classes forever, and they will say, like, during this pose, tighten your pelvic floor.  I’m, like, what the hell are they talking about?  What?  How do I do that?  But now after learning that even breathing is different and the feeling of — I hate saying Kegel because it’s not even what it is, but I guess that is the feeling of what you would do to stop your pee, but doing that during certain exercises is a whole different feeling, but I think now that I’m conscious of it, I’m, like, oh, that makes sense.  Oh, I can do that here.  Okay.  It’s gotten a lot better, but I still can’t do jumping jacks.

See?  The jumping jacks!  I don’t do them either.  They’re like, do jumping jacks to warm up, and I’m like… No.

I do the ones where I just put my hands up.  I just kick my leg out.  I’m fine with it!

It’s what everyone’s doing!  They call those jumping jills.

Is there anything else pregnant or postpartum women need to know about symphysis pubis dysfunction?

It’s not something that you need to suffer through.  There’s a lot of chiropractic studies where it helps in a lot of case studies, but also, biomechanically, it makes sense.  You don’t have to feel like you can’t walk up the stairs or sit or that you have to be in a lot of pain when you’re trying to sleep.  Find out you’re pregnant and get under care.  That’s really what we tell people. 

Tell people where to find you!

We are in East Town in the Kingsley Building right next to Gold Coast Doulas, or you can find us at our website or on Facebook and Instagram.  You can message us on those platforms.

Well, as always, thanks!  We’ll have you on again soon!

 

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction with Rise Wellness Chiropractic: Podcast Episode #90 Read More »

Spectrum Health Midwives

Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative: Podcast Episode #89

Today we speak with Katie and Becky from Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids about what it means to be a designated Baby-Friendly hospital. 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, co-owner, and I’ve got Alyssa here. And we’ve got special guests joining us today from Spectrum talking about the Baby-Friendly initiative. So welcome, ladies! Introduce yourselves and tell us about your background!

Becky: My name is Becky Crawford, and I’m a nurse manager at Spectrum. My background is in postpartum and labor and delivery nursing.

Katie: And I’m Katie. I’m the project specialist for women and infants at Spectrum Health. My background: I am an RN, and my background is high risk OB and postpartum nursing.

Alyssa: Awesome!

Kristin: Fantastic! Thanks for joining us! Tell us about what baby friendly means and why it’s such an intense process to go through certification. Fill us in!

Katie: The Baby-Friendly hospital initiative was actually created back in the early 90s, and it’s an international organization to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding practices. Spectrum Health Butterworth was designated Baby-Friendly initially in October of 2014, and we just went through the redesignation process and were redesignated at the end of May of this year. There are ten steps for Baby-Friendly that each support breastfeeding practices, and we can talk through some of those steps, as well. You have to be proficient in all of those ten steps to receive the designation, so you really have to show breastfeeding excellence, and it’s a really strict and rigorous process to go through.

Becky: I think overall, the way I describe it to patients is that we’ve created a culture that’s supportive of breastfeeding and of moms that want to breastfeed. So it’s not that we force anyone to breastfeed. Our goal is just to educate moms, support them, and help them be successful if that’s the option they choose.

Katie: Absolutely. As nursing professionals, part of our responsibility it to make sure that best practice and current research reaches our patients and that they’re educated on all of those best practices. Breastfeeding is best practice, but it’s also about informed choice and supporting our patients with whatever choice they make. While Baby-Friendly is primarily about breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding, there is a formula feeding option there, and we support patients in that option, as well. It should never be about pressure. It should just be about education and informed choice.

Kristin: That is a question that I get from doula clients. If they choose, whether for medical necessity or personal choice, to formula-feed, how they can navigate the system with Baby-Friendly hospitals.

Alyssa: That’s what I was going to ask, too. Do you think that designation scares a mom who knows she doesn’t want to breastfeed? Does she think shes going to come into this hospital and you’re going to try to force it? What does that look like for a mom who doesn’t want to?

Becky: We do hear that feedback from moms that haven’t delivered with us, that they’re just nervous. Having to talk about breastfeeding, even, can be an uncomfortable conversation if they know that’s not the choice they want to make. So our approach with our staff is to educate the patient on all the options, let them choose, and then support. So it should be a one-time conversation. We’re going to talk through all your feeding options. These are the great benefits of breastfeeding. If you choose not to do it, okay. Then let’s talk about formula feeding, and we’ll focus our education there. So making sure they know their options, they understand the benefits, and then support.

Katie: And, you know, nurses educate on a lot of topics, right? It’s not just about breastfeeding. But the other topics we educate on, it’s the same sort of informed choice, right? Breastfeeding is such a personal decision. It’s such an emotionally charged topic. I think that while we need to educate our patients on breastfeeding and why it’s great, we also need to acknowledge the fact that it is a really personal choice, and it’s okay if you choose not to, as long as we’ve given you all of the information.

Kristin: And so your labor and delivery nurses, your postpartum nurses — everyone is specially trained to support the initial latch and continued breastfeeding through their stay?

Katie: Yes.

Kristin: And that’s something that we always stress as doulas is that you have support from your nurses as well as the board-certified lactation consultants who do rounds in the postpartum time.

Katie: Actually, one of the ten steps is staff education. All of our nurses receive 20 hours of dedicated breastfeeding education. Of that, 15 hours are classroom education and then 5 of those is clinical, practical breastfeeding education hours. Every one of our nurses; it’s built into orientation for any women’s nurse, so everyone from labor and delivery to postpartum gets this education. There’s also a requirement for providers, so nurse midwives as well as physicians, to receive additional breastfeeding education, as well. Per Baby-Friendly, they’re required to receive three hours of breastfeeding education.

Becky: We also have a team of lactation consultants that offer further help for any mom that’s struggling, but I’m also bringing in more peer counselors, too, just to round on every patient and offer every mom some support, ever with those first few times they’re latching, just so they can hear that they’re doing a great job. It’s really just to address the breastfeeding concerns of all moms, not just the moms that are struggling, just to really walk them through it.

Katie: And we do have quite a few nurses that are certified breastfeeding counselors, so they have received additional education as well as the education that they received for Baby-Friendly.

Kristin: How are you able to support moms with babies that go to the NICU initially with their breastfeeding goals?

Becky: Well, actually, we get them pumping right away. If your goal is to breastfeed, we like to have them pump within two hours of delivery to start establishing that supply. Our nurses will come in and do education, and the lactation consultants will see them, also, and just talk about the importance of pumping to build up that supply. They’re also going to skin to skin. There are some lactation consultants that are dedicated just to the NICU and these moms, so there’s a lot of support there, too.

Katie: The providers in the NICU are very, very supportive of breastfeeding, and they encourage and educate moms on the importance of breastfeeding, as well, so there’s good collaboration between our OB teams and our NICU teams regarding supporting those moms in breastfeeding and being successful.

Kristin: That’s what my clients tell me, that they get a lot of support, even over at Helen DeVoss, as well as in their rooms with lactation. As far as other elements of the Baby-Friendly designation, what else encompasses those ten standards?

Becky: There’s a lot. We start right at delivery, with the golden hour after delivery. We place baby skin to skin immediately after delivery, and we avoid all unnecessary care for that first hour. Any exams or assessments would all be done while the baby is skin to skin on mom. We try to give them that time to bond and establish that first feeding.

Kristin: And if the mom can’t do skin to skin, I have dads ask me all the time about the benefits of them doing skin to skin with baby. So that’s something that’s encouraged, as well?

Becky: Absolutely. We’ve had lots of dads do skin to skin. We like to bring them in on the process whenever possible.

Kristin: That’s fantastic. And then delayed cord clamping is now a standard policy?

Becky: Yes. And we also room-in, so babies stay with their moms 24 hours a day unless mom requests otherwise. But that’s what we try to encourage and do all procedures at the bedside to keep the family together 24 hours a day.

Katie: I think that rooming in is another hot topic when you’re talking about Baby-Friendly and breastfeeding, and the literature does tell us that rooming in does help moms to be more successful breastfeeding. I think that it’s important that patients understand that we’re going to allow you to keep your baby with you. We’re going to be able to take care of mom and baby together. You’re going to learn your baby’s feeding cues. You’re going to learn all those little nuances. We’re going to help you learn that in the couple of days that you have with us. There is space where if you wanted your baby to go to a nursery, we could do that. We’re supportive of that, as well, but again, we are going to educate, and then we’re going to honor choice.

Becky: Exactly.

Kristin: And then there’s delayed bathing and other procedures beyond that?

Katie: Yes.

Alyssa: What’s the thought behind all the delayed cord clamping, delayed bathing? Why? What are the benefits?

Katie: The delayed bath is sort of about the transition from being inside mom and then outside and regulating temperature. So we wait at least twelve hours. We like to wait closer to 24 hours to do that first bath. We’re, of course, not going to hand you an ooey gooey baby. We do a little wiping off, but it really does help that baby transition to life outside of mom and regulate. It also allows you to go immediately into skin to skin so the baby can help regulate not just the temperature, but the heart rate and the breathing. And, again, that’s evidence based. In fact, there’s a pediatrician out in Massachusetts who really pioneered the Baby-Friendly initiative in the hospitals out in Massachusetts, and she did a study on delaying the baby bath, as well. That’s the literature we have for it; it’s all about maintaining stability for the baby.

Kristin: That’s awesome, Katie.

Becky: For the delayed cord clamping, that just gives the newborn a little more blood volume, and, actually, it’s better for baby. There’s no reason to cut the cord any sooner, unless the baby is having a respiratory issue and would need resuscitation, so that would be out of the norm. But otherwise, we do wait and delay so the baby can have more blood volume from the placenta.

Alyssa: How long?

Becky: Our standard is a minimum of one minute. I know a lot of moms request —

Alyssa: So this isn’t like it’s for an hour —

Becky: We’re not saying 10 minutes or 20 minutes. Generally, the cord stops pumping within five minutes. So some moms request to please wait until it stops pulsating, and we can do that, too. Generally, we wait about a minute, and that’s probably close to when it stops pulsating. But we’re not talking about an hour or anything like that.

Kristin: Yeah, some of my clients want to see it actually turn gray and stop pulsating before it’s cut.

Alyssa: And I didn’t want to see mine at all.

Becky: I didn’t either, personally!

Alyssa: My husband did accidentally and was like, oh, my God, an organ just fell out of you!

Katie: I love all of that stuff. It’s so fascinating!

Kristin: As far as additional steps that you take to get recertified, tell us about that process and why it’s important.

Katie: You will see in our women’s and infant services department that OB triage is on A level, and then all the way up to the 8th floor in that tower, you’ll see the 10 Steps for Baby-Friendly posted. It’s just showing our support of those ten steps. We have to show that patients receive prenatal education in our clinics regarding breastfeeding. We have to show that all of our staff receive the education. The people that come out to do our survey — the interview staff.

Becky: And patients.

Katie: And patients and providers, so they will go in patient rooms to see that they receive the education about breastfeeding and that they’re being appropriately supported for breastfeeding. So they look at our exclusive breastfeeding rate.

Kristin: And then you have support groups, as well, when mothers go home and need additional support. They can go to free support groups and seek help through their OB or midwives or pediatricians?

Katie: Absolutely. I think a lot of our pediatricians have at least one pediatrician who is an IBCLC, so a lactation consultant, as well. I know that our DeVoss clinic has two pediatricians that are lactation consultants.

Becky: And our pediatrician who is an IBCLC actually oversees the residents, and so she’s the one working with them and training them. It’s kind of keeping that mindset forefront for all of them, too, and helping them learn the Baby-Friendly system.

Katie: So while nursing took this on and rolled it out, there is a lot of support from providers, as well. Of course, our nurse midwives receive, as part of their education, breastfeeding, but our pediatric providers are all very supportive of breastfeeding, as well.

Alyssa: Is there anything that you think is a misconception for this Baby-Friendly Initiative? Is there anything that it isn’t? You told it what it is, but what isn’t it?

Becky: Yes. I think the thing we hear most is that, I’m going to be pressured to breastfeed if I deliver there. And there is nothing further from the truth. Our goal is a culture supportive of breastfeeding, not a culture of pressure. So our goal is to educate, let moms make decisions, and support them. So there’s no pressure. I think the other big misconception is about rooming in. Sometimes you have a mom who, let’s say, has had a C-section and she’s exhausted, and she just needs support for a couple of hours. We will accommodate that. We’re all about supporting moms. So although we do encourage rooming in, and there are a lot of benefits to it, in certain circumstances when it’s not best for the family, we support what is.

Katie: I think that it’s the 80/20 rule. There’s going to be exceptions to every rule, and it’s just important that we support our patients through that. I think that Becky and I have probably both taken care of those moms that have had long labors or C-sections, and they come up to the floor, and they just need rest. You have to take care of yourself.

Becky: They’re crying. The baby’s crying. Everyone’s hit a wall. And it’s like, why don’t I just cuddle your baby for an hour. You take a nap, and then let’s try again. Sometimes just 45 minutes of sleep can change the entire situation.

Katie: I remember after my second one, I got two hours of sleep. Like, two consecutive hours. And it was the best two hours ever!

Alyssa: I’m thinking about my situation. It was fairly quick. Yeah, sure, I was tired, but I did choose one time in the middle of the night to have them take my daughter to the nursery so I could get — it was about two hours. But I felt so amazing. But I wasn’t in this dire circumstance. So today with — this was before the Baby-Friendly. So today, would I have to prove to you that I need the sleep?

Becky: No.

Katie: No!

Alyssa: It’s just, would you take her for a couple of hours? You’re not going to say, well, you don’t check these boxes, so she won’t go.

Becky: No. I think the goal is when moms come up to the postpartum unit to talk to them about, well, babies room in 24-7, and we keep you together and care for you together. However, if you have a need to send your baby to the nursery, we’ll accommodate that. So our goal is to not educate the mom at 2:00 a.m. who’s exhausted and crying about how she should room in with her baby. That’s not really the time to have that conversation, and it probably wouldn’t be well-received. So we want to educate them when they first come up so that at that point, at 2:00 a.m., if you decide to make that decision, it will be more like, okay. I’ll bring her back for her next feeling.

Alyssa: I didn’t think I wanted to, but now I do.

Becky: And that is common. Okay, I just need a little bit of a nap, and then I can keep going.

Kristin: Yeah, we’ve had clients hire us to help out in their postpartum room when their partner had to go home to tend to another child or had a job to get back to. We’ve loved that role of being in the hospital, as well as later on in the home, to support them and help them get sleep and also learn baby cues and feedings and help support breastfeeding.

Alyssa: Basically, be their postpartum doula in the hospital as well as at home.

Becky: We would welcome that support, definitely! I’m sure our nurses would love to partner with you on that!

Alyssa: For those moms who don’t want to send — maybe they desperately want the sleep, but they don’t feel comfortable sending their baby to the nursery. Your doula sits in the rocking chair and holds your baby.

Becky: What a great option!

Alyssa: Yeah, it’s been really kind of life-altering for a few of our clients who are a little bit more on the — you know, a lot of moms just have anxiety, especially first-time moms.

Katie: I think that so much of the focus goes to the baby, but we’re taking care of mom, too, and that needs to be in the forefront, as well. There’s two patients there.

Becky: And be aware of her self-care and her needs in the moment, too, because what I always try to tell my patients is, you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of this baby. And if that means a short nap, then I think we need to do that because it’s going to make you a better mom in the morning when you’ve had a little bit of sleep.

Kristin: Exactly. What other hospitals in the area within the Spectrum brand are Baby-Friendly? We have clients in a 50-mile radius of Grand Rapids, so we work with a lot of your smaller hospitals, as well.

Katie: So Spectrum Health Butterworth just received redesignation, like we talked about. Spectrum Health Zeeland.

Becky: They’re newly designation last September.

Katie: And then Spectrum Health United Memorial up in Greenville. They were designated five years ago, and they’re going through the redesignation process right now.

Alyssa: So is it every five years?

Katie: Yes. And then Spectrum Health Big Rapids is going after designation, as well. We have, as a system, Baby-Friendly requires us to have an infant feeding policy, and we have standardized that infant feeding policy across the system for all of our regional hospitals, as well. So you’re going to see a piece of Baby-Friendly in all Spectrum hospitals. And the reason for that is that it’s evidence based and it’s best practice, so even if they’re not designated Baby-Friendly, these are practices that we should all be doing.

Becky: Right. They’re probably practicing very similar to Baby-Friendly, even if they don’t officially have that designation.

Alyssa: That’s great. Anything else you want to share before we sign off?

Kristin: What resources, if any of our listeners want to learn more about Baby-Friendly or some of the work Spectrum has done — where can they go online to get more information?

Becky: I think just going to the Baby-Friendly website will give you a lot of information about the 10 Steps and about what we’re focused on as a Baby-Friendly hospital. So you can really start just researching Baby-Friendly, and we are following that to a T, so that will tell you how we’re practicing.

Katie: Our provider offices also have education and information about Baby-Friendly, and then —

Becky: Our childbirth education classes.

Katie: Yes, at Spectrum Health Healthier Communities. They have information, as well.

Kristin: So the educators can fill their students in with any questions they have?

Katie: Correct, yes.

Kristin: And then is there anything special with the hospital tours that our clients go on before delivery? Do you incorporate Baby-Friendly or answer questions based on that? I haven’t been on a tour in a while.

Katie: I don’t think that they specifically talk about Baby-Friendly, except that —

Becky: The practices, probably.

Katie: Yeah. They likely don’t highlight the nursery like they used to. Our nursery — we don’t have babies lined up in the nursery like we used to. They’re with their moms, so you can’t go to the maternity floor and look through the window of the nursery. There’s no babies there.

Becky: I do think they talk about some of our practices, about how you room in and we keep babies together. And I think the other thing is maybe some of the practices, like the skin to skin after delivery. Things that might be different than other hospitals, just so they know what to expect; that we would never supplement a baby unless it was medically necessary, and we’re not handing out pacifiers unless somebody requests it. So it might be slightly different than other hospitals that are doing deliveries in the area.

Katie: Our childbirth educators are pretty passionate about breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding practices, as well as supporting natural birth. They give the whole gamut of the birth experience.

Kristin: Well, thank you for joining us and sharing so much!

 

For tips on how to make your hospital room feel cozy for birth read Creating A Cozy Hospital Birth Space in First Time Parent Magazine by Kirstin Revere.

 

Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative: Podcast Episode #89 Read More »

The Millennial Guru

Saving for Baby: Podcast Episode #88

Kristin talks to Paige, The Millennial Guru, again today about how to financially prepare for growing your family!  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, co-owner of Gold Coast, and I’ve got Paige Cornetet, the Millennial Guru, here with me for our second episode on financial tips.  This one is focused on, once you’ve had your baby, how to really stock savings and plan ahead and make important financial decisions.  So welcome, Paige!

Paige:  Thank you!  Thanks for having me on!

Kristin:  Yes, it’s our pleasure!  Fill us in, for those who missed the previous episode, a bit about what you do, and then we’ll get into your ideas for how our clients and audience can save.

Paige:  Perfect, thank you.  I started the business Millennial Guru, and basically, I do workshops and trainings focused on women as well as millennials.  I’ve written a couple of children books focused on financial education.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  Yeah, I love your books, and you’ve got another one coming out?

Paige:  Yes.  This one’s called The Hen in the Pen, and it’s all about investments and understanding the difference when you eat your chickens, when you eat your eggs, and if you eat all your chickens, you don’t have anymore eggs left, so focusing on eating your chickens because they provide for your lifestyle and growing your flock of chickens.

Kristin:  I love it!  I can’t wait for it to come out.  So tips — okay, so baby is here, and children are expensive?

Paige:  What?!  Yes, very!

Kristin:  So let us know what you would recommend for our audience.

Paige:  Oh, my gosh.  I mean, that’s a good question; that’s a big question.  I would say tips for moms: I think it’s really important to definitely have, like we talked about before on the previous episode — margin.  So understanding that cushion of what it is, how much that you need for a rainy day fund, whether it’s an emergency or something that the baby needs that you didn’t know that you were going to need and they didn’t get it at your baby shower, whatever it is.  Understanding what are the necessities, and then taking it even further, around the wants and needs.  So understanding what is it that you need; what is it that your baby needs; what is it that your family needs, and then what is it that you want?  What is it that your baby wants?  And what is it that your family wants?  Kind of differentiating those two, I think, makes a big difference.

Kristin:  Sure.  And they’re all the decisions of, do you leave your job and stay home with the baby, or do you look at in-home or a childcare center for daycare, and how do you maximize your income if you do return to work when all this money is going out for childcare, and what is the best situation for your family?

Paige:  Totally.

Kristin:  Short-term and then long-term.

Paige:  Well, and I think you have to be honest with yourself, as well.  I have a lot of friends who are having babies, and they’re either going back to work or leaving work and figuring out what that is, what that means to them.  And I think that, as well as, yeah, your personal desires on top of, you know, what is it that you can afford, whether it’s daycare, whether it’s staying home, and how does that look for you?  But I think being honest is the first step with yourself.  And then on top of that is, what is it that you want, and what is it that you need?  How do you need to provide for that desire?

Kristin:  Yes.  And then planning for college and other expenses and even — I mean, my kids are in sports and other activities, like theater, and all of the activities get pricey.  My daughter started dance at age two, for example, and so you think of those expenses, and are you going to limit activities for children?  What are you willing to budget for activities, sports, and so on?

Paige:  Absolutely.  Well, it’s interesting you say that about activities.  My family had a saying.  It was called GUTS, and it stood for Golf, U Pick, Tennis, and Swimming.  So those were the four activities that we were allowed to do, so golf, tennis, and swimming are things you can do until you’re 80, so they’re life-long sports.  Even if you don’t play it, you still have to learn it and do it.  And then the u-pick was just, whatever it is that you wanted.  So I loved dance.  I loved ballet; I loved jazz.  And I had to do it.  So even though it was u-pick, since there was four of us, my dad was, like, well, your sister has to do it with you, too, in terms of coordination and carpool and schedules.  It’s time and money.

Kristin:  That’s what it’s all about, yes.

Paige:  My sister, Brooke, she didn’t love dance as much as I did, but she did love the vending machine that gave candy at the bottom of it, so I was able to convince her to do one more year because there was skittles and candy that we could get right after.  Her want was candy; mine was dance.

Kristin:  It’s all about compromise.

Paige:  Exactly.

Kristin:  And then looking at other things outside of kids’ activities and just — you had talked in the previous podcast about maximizing your time, talents, energy, and so on.  So outsourcing your household things, whether it’s getting your groceries delivered by Shipt or having a housecleaner come in, or a postpartum doula, which I highly recommend!  Get some sleep!  What are your priorities?  So tell us about some of your theories in maximizing and how to figure out what might be more beneficial to outsource.

Paige:  Yeah.  I think just the things that you mentioned are really great, but understanding what is it that takes you a lot of time and what are the things that you don’t like to do that you can outsource?  So I would say, yeah, I love the grocery delivery.  If you want to work out, too, who is going to take the baby so that you can be physically active, or is there a place like the gym that you can bring your baby to so that you can work out while the baby’s there?  So I think figuring out what are your lists of goals; what are the things you need?  Definitely sleep!  Number one is sleep, and then we can talk about food and physical activity.  It’s understanding that, what that is that you need, and then going, okay, so if I need sleep, let’s hire a doula so that mom can get some rest.  Okay, now that I have the sleep — food.  I need healthy food.  Using outsourcing; people bringing food, meals.  Communities, whatnot; Shipt.

Kristin:  Yeah, special food delivery services that are local, as well as national, that you can get food delivered to your door, which is also a time saver, and if you can get specialty diet needs because a lot of people may need to cut out dairy or have certain allergies if they’re breastfeeding their baby and need to make some adjustments to their regular diet.

Paige:  Exactly.

Kristin:  So other than that, what are your other tips when you’re looking at — you’ve got this baby.  I mean, there’s college, obviously.  That’s a big one.

Paige:  Yes.  Well, I would say education, just in general, is an important one to be thinking about because, okay, they’re going to preschool.  Now they’re in middle school.  All those different levels of schooling, and what does that look like?  Where do you live?  For example, Michigan has a really great public school system.  Where I grew up, Florida, does not.  So what does that look like where you live, the state?  What works for you?  Would you want to send your kid to, like, a Montessori — I grew up there, so I’m a big fan of Montessori — and if you do, what does that look like?  So I think education is definitely a priority and planning for that, as well as just, not only education for paying for that, but education for your child from you because you are a teacher, as well, to your children.  And so are there things that you want to teach your child?  For example, I just have coffee this morning with a good friend.  She has a two-year-old, and she’s, like, what is education?  I want my daughter to go to a great college and — but she’s like, but I want her to have access to a lot of experiences like they’re going to spend a month and a half in Hawaii with her brother to really understand — and she’s like, I’m bringing my daughter with me.  I’m so excited because it’s important for her to see the world is bigger than just West Michigan where she lives.  So education, I think, in the whole sense of the word, is definitely very important on many levels for your children.

Kristin:  It’s not just planning for college.  You’re looking at, will it be a private or parochial school that you need to reserve funds for, or is music education?  You would lump that into the education category?  Same as sporting activities, for example?

Paige:  Yes, as well as experiences, too, right?  So let’s say travel is very important to you and you want that to be important to your children.  Are you going to be providing for those experiences that are very educational but maybe aren’t necessarily around schooling?

Kristin:  So when you’re planning your family budget, how does all of that fit in?

Paige:  Well, I think it depends on each family, of course.  So each family has, you know, from different jobs, different means, different lifestyles, different priorities.  But the one thing that we all have in common is time.  So we all have that equally, and I think that understanding where is the time going and what is it that your children are going to be doing?  For example, like you said, different sports; activities.  What’s important to you?  What’s important to the child?  What’s important to give them exposure to?  And then I think if you can do that and set that overarching as a bigger picture, it kind of will fall into place and you can start planning for that more strategically.

Kristin:  So how can people connect with you individually if they want to set up a planning session or hear you speak?  You have many appearances with your book releases coming out and so on.

Paige:  They can email me at paige@millennialguru.com.  Or you can call me and contact me at 616-443-1000.  Or they can go to my website or any social media, Millennial Guru.

Kristin:  Thank you so much for being on!

Paige:  Thank you!  Thanks for having me!

 

Saving for Baby: Podcast Episode #88 Read More »

Dr. Nave Health for Life Grand Rapids

Understanding Your Cycle: Podcast Episode #82

Dr. Nave now works with queens through her virtual practice Hormonal Balance. She talks with us today about a woman’s monthly cycle. What’s “normal”?  What if you don’t get a period at all? Is PMS a real thing?  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, and I’m here with Kristin.  Our guest today is Dr. Nave, who is a naturopathic doctor at Health for Life Grand Rapids.

Dr. Nave:  Hi!

Alyssa:  We were excited to meet you – what was it, a few weeks ago?  We presented to your team, and you – I was really intrigued.  Tell everyone what you specialize in as an ND, and then they’ll know why I wanted to talk to you so bad.

Dr. Nave:  I am especially excited about assisting women to reconnect to their identities, and the way in which I do that is by really looking at their hormones, their mental health, their physical health, and other aspects of their life.

Alyssa:  Do you only work with women?

Dr. Nave:  No, I do not, but my passion is women.

Alyssa:  So today you’re going to talk about cycles, and I know you have a couple specific thing about a woman’s cycle that you want to talk about, so explain what those are, and then let’s just dive in.

Dr. Nave:  Okay.  I want to talk about what a typical cycle should look like, so this is how your cycle should look if nothing is going wrong.  And then we’ll transition to talking about PCOS and what is going on with that.

Alyssa:  And what does PCOS stand for?

Dr. Nave:  PCOS is polycystic ovarian syndrome.  In medical terminology, a syndrome just means a cluster of symptoms that fit this particular diagnosis, and so with PCOS, what’s happening is that the woman isn’t bleeding or she has skipped periods, and that is due to low progesterone, which is an important hormone that allows the endometrial lining, basically, in the uterus so that implantation of the fertilized egg can happen.

Alyssa:  Okay.  So let’s talk first about what it should look like.

Dr. Nave:  Sure.  With our cycle, there are five main hormones that influence a woman’s hormonal cycle.  We have LH and FSH, which are the hormones that are produced by the brain to tell an egg to mature and to allow the endometrial lining, which is basically the build-up of tissue in the uterus that allows the implanted fertilized egg to become a baby.  So we have those two hormones that are produced by the brain, and then we have estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone that are produced in the ovary.

Alyssa:  All the time, or only if an egg is implanted?

Dr. Nave:  At specific times.  A typical cycle, in terms of what we would call the normal cycle or the optimal cycle, would be a 28-day cycle.  We have some leeway in terms of, in the medical community, how we diagnose whether it’s too long or too short, whether it be above 35 days or less than 21.  For me, I think it’s best if it’s 28 days because it’s kind of like cycle with the moon, so the lunar cycle, because it also helps with the math.  So we’ll just use 28 for the typical just for explaining what happens.  In the first 14 days, that’s what we call the ovulatory – like, the building up of estrogen.  The brain tells the ovary, by way of follicular stimulated hormone, FHS, to make one of the eggs mature.  So it’s like, hey, ovary, let one of these eggs become the mother, so to speak.  The brain does that, and then the ovary responds by allowing one of the eggs to become mature. We have multiple eggs that are responding during this time in different life stages, but the one that is the oldest usually gets picked, in terms of its life phase.  It becomes mature; the estrogen is being made by the egg itself, which allows for that ovulation to occur.  FHS tells the egg to become mature, and then the egg itself makes estrogen so the egg can further mature.  It’s a fascinating, interesting thing that’s happening.

Alyssa:  That’s during ovulation?

Dr. Nave:  Yes, so during the first 14 days of your cycle, the estrogen is building up so that the egg can fully mature.  Then what happens is that there are two types of cells that are a part of the egg.  One produces estrogen, and the other aspect makes testosterone, so those are the other two hormones that we’re talking about.  Once the egg matures and it’s released, the thing that’s left behind is called the corpus luteum, also known as the yellow body.  That then makes progesterone.  All of this is sort of happening at the same time, so we say 14 days for the ovulatory phase, but really, it’s like the brain is telling the body to make progesterone at the same time it’s telling the body to make estrogen.  It’s just that it’s at a lower level.  Until the egg is released.  You don’t really have that progesterone being made.

Alyssa:  It’s ebbing and flowing based on the day of your cycle?

Dr. Nave:  Yes, yes.  Around day 14 is when the egg is released.  It’s the highest level of estrogen at that point in time, and then the yellow body that’s left behind – the brain told the egg, by way of the luteinizing hormone, LH, to start making progesterone.  Are you following?

Alyssa:  Kind of, yeah.  In my head, that little egg is moving along, following a timeline.

Dr. Nave:  Right!  At day 14, we have the highest estrogen, and progesterone starts to climb up.

Alyssa:  And estrogen is decreasing and progesterone is increasing?

Dr. Nave:  Yeah, estrogen is at its peak; progesterone starts to spike up a lot more.  I’m grossly simplifying it, sorry!  As the progesterone is being built up – so the corpus luteum is making the progesterone because the brain told it, hey, make progesterone by way of the LH, the luteinizing hormone.  That causes, then, the endometrial lining in the uterus to build up so that implantation of the egg can happen.  Towards day 28, which is when you expect bleeding to occur – basically, the reason why bleeding occurs is that the progesterone starts declining at that point because progesterone is necessary for the build-up of the uterine wall so that implantation can happen, but if there’s no fertilization off the egg, then it basically is a withdrawal of the progesterone, and then it just sloughs off.

Alyssa:  So day number one is not the – is that the day your period starts?

Dr. Nave:  Yes.

Alyssa:  So day 28, then, is the day before you period starts?  Okay, I’m seeing the timeline in my head.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  Day one, when a doctor asks a woman, okay, what’s day one of your period, he or she is technically asking, when’s the first day of your bleeding.  Technically, we’re always cycling, but we consider day one the last time you bled.  That’s what the cycle should look like.  Now, when we experience our periods, even though people consider it the status quo that we experience PMS, we don’t have to experience it.  Does that make sense?

Alyssa:  The hormonal changes don’t necessarily mean that we’re going to have the mental and – becoming angry or disorganized or frustrated?

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  Seeing those symptoms for a woman, that would indicate to me that maybe the ratio is a little bit off.  Some examples are acne or being really bloated.  Being bloated, puffy, having water retention and having really heavy bleeding – that could be a sign that the woman is experiencing what we call estrogen dominance.  Now, estrogen dominance doesn’t necessarily mean that she has high estrogen.  It could just mean that her progesterone is low and therefore throwing off the ratio so that when she’s experiencing premenstrual syndrome, PMS, she’s experiencing these symptoms, even though if it were normal, she wouldn’t have to.

Alyssa:  So you’re not saying that PMS is made up.  It’s a real thing; it just means there’s an imbalance somewhere?  It can be fixed, that you don’t have to deal with this stuff?

Dr. Nave:  Absolutely.  And the weepiness: estrogen.  Estrogen is important for our bone health, our cardiovascular health.  It’s the reason why we as women don’t get heart attacks until much later in life because it protects our hearts; it’s important for our bone health, which is why when you experience menopause or perimenopause, it’s very important to get your bone density checked.  That’s the importance of estrogen.  And then testosterone, which is produced by the egg, is important for sex drive and being able to be aroused.

Alyssa:  What happens in a woman’s body when they’re aroused that helps with implantation?

Dr. Nave:  When the woman is aroused, that allows the cervix to sort of pulsate so that when climax is achieved, the sperm can travel up into the uterus and, hey, let’s get to the egg wherever it is.  It also allows for the vaginal canal, which typically is around three inches, which sounds crazy, but it actually lengthens and stretches.  It’s a muscle that moves to accommodate the penis, if you’re having that kind of intercourse, or allow for artificial insemination in that way.  So it increases the likelihood of implantation successfully occurring.  It’s so cool!

Alyssa:  We’ll pause so everyone can visualize!

Dr. Nave:  Our bodies are amazing!  In order for conception to occur, not only do the hormones have to cycle how they should, but you have to address your mental health; are you in the space that you can have intercourse or whatever it is?  The ovary itself isn’t even attached to the uterus.  There’s a gap between the two of them, and we have chemotaxis – basically a chemical, like how your body produces the hormones, that attracts the egg to go down the fallopian tube as opposed to staying in your abdominal area.

Alyssa:  So every time you see a picture, it looks like…

Dr. Nave:  They’re attached?  Yes.  But they’re not.

Alyssa:  So they have to let go and then actually be drawn up by the fallopian tube and then into the uterus?  They’re not attached?

Dr. Nave:  No.  We have connective tissue or fascia that’s in that area –

Alyssa:  Which helps kind of push it in the right direction, probably?

Dr. Nave: Not exactly.  It’s more like it creates this compartment so that your uterus isn’t just floating around in your abdominal cavity.  We have this connective tissue that anchors it in that area so there’s less likelihood that a fertilized egg will end up outside of the uterus, which is why ectopic pregnancies are so low in terms of their incidence.  But we also have these finger-like projections in the fallopian tube that brushes the egg along.  So it’s not just the hormone that’s attracting the egg to where it needs to go and we have all these other signaling processing that are working.

Alyssa:  I’m picturing a crowd surfer pushing it along.

Dr. Nave:  We’re all supporting you!  So that’s what a normal cycle should look like.

Alyssa:  Ideally, that’s what it should look like?

Dr. Nave:  Yes, ideally, that’s what it should look like.

Alyssa:  And when a woman doesn’t have her cycle?

Dr. Nave:  When she doesn’t have her cycle, then we have to consider two different things.  Is it that she’s not bleeding at all, which we call amenorrhea, or are there greater than 35 days between each cycle, in which case we call that oligomenorrhea, or many menses, technically.

Alyssa:  It seems like it would be the opposite because there’s a big space between.  But either way, it’s a problem, and that will help determine how you treat it?

Dr. Nave:  Yes.  And so if it is that a woman isn’t bleeding, as in amenorrhea, then we have to consider why is that the case.  Is it that she’s pregnant?  That would be the first thing to assess.  Is she pregnant?  Okay, she’s not.  What exactly is going on?  One particular condition that I’ve been hearing or rather seeing more women experience is called PCOS.  We mentioned it earlier, that PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome or Stein-Leventhal syndrome.  Basically, what’s happening is that instead of the progesterone going up around day 14 to day 28, instead of it increasing, the body is changing it into another type of hormone.  Just to give you some context, our bodies use cholesterol to make all our steroid hormones, which are all our sex hormones as well as cortisol.  Our bodies use the cholesterol and then turn it into pregnenolone which is like the mother of all of those hormones. Pregnenolone can then become progesterone. It can become testosterone.  It can become estrogen, which we have three different types of estrogens, or it can become cortisol.  In PCOS, what’s happening is that instead of the pregnenolone going down to becoming progesterone, it’s getting turned into either testosterone, estrogen, or cortisol.  A woman who potentially has PCOS or has been confirmed with that diagnosis – in addition to having amenorrhea, for her to be diagnosed with it, she also has to have two out of three symptom criteria.  We have what’s called hyperandrogenism, which is high testosterone, and some of the symptoms she could experience would be cystic acne or hirsutism, which is just a fancy term for hair in unwanted places, like coarse, thick hair along your hairline or along your breast or in places that aren’t typical areas that you have hair distribution.  That’s one, and then the amenorrhea that we talked about, and the last one is seeing cysts.  The only way that we can really assess if there are cysts in the ovary is if we do a transvaginal ultrasound.  I say we, but not me, but the actual tech would do that for you, and basically, they place a probe inside the vaginal canal, and they use an ultrasound on top of the abdomen to visualize if there are any cysts in the ovary.  The reason why we get the cysts – to back up again to looking at the cycle, instead of the egg being released, the egg just stays there, because you need the progesterone to tell the egg, hey, release.

Alyssa:  It stays where?

Dr. Nave:  It stays in the ovary.  And then in the ovary itself, you have all these eggs that look like they’re just about to release, but they end up forming what’s called a cyst.  It can be fluid filled.  Cyst is just a fancy term for a ball, kind of.

Alyssa:  I didn’t know a cyst could be an egg that didn’t move.

Dr. Nave:  That didn’t move, yeah.

Alyssa:  So when people say they’ve had ovarian cysts burst, it could be an egg that didn’t move?  Could be, doesn’t have to be?

Dr. Nave:  Could be, doesn’t have to be.  It could just be fluid.  But in the case of PCOS, it’s like the ovary doesn’t release the egg, so it becomes mature, kind of, but not to the point where it actually releases because we don’t have any progesterone, or there’s minimal levels of progesterone so that if and when a woman experiences bleeding, if she has PCOS – so long cycle or no bleeding at all – in the long cycle aspect of things, there’s no egg.  It’s just blood or tissue that got to build up a little bit.

Alyssa:  So the egg still is stuck in the ovary?

Dr. Nave:  Yes.  I mean, you could have some release at some point if her progesterone can get high enough that that can occur, but it’s kind of scattered.  You can’t really track it per se because it’s insufficient.

Alyssa:  So she’s having them, just not – I guess 35 days instead of 28 – wouldn’t most women just go, oh, that’s no big deal; I just have a long cycle?  What are the other symptoms?  What else would they see?

Dr. Nave:  She could have the symptoms of PMS but never actually bleed.  So she’s still cycling, because remember you’re still cycling, always, whether you bleed or don’t bleed; the hormones are still doing their thing.  She can experience the PMS symptoms but not bleed, which means that she’s not able to get pregnant.  And even if you don’t ever want to get pregnant, our uterus is what I like to call an emunctory.  An emunctory is basically an organ that our bodies use to detox or remove toxins.  If we are not bleeding, that means those hormones are getting reabsorbed into our bodies, which for a woman, if she’s estrogen-dominant, it basically reinforces the estrogen dominance because she’s reabsorbing it in her intestines, which makes the symptoms to get worse.  Because to get rid of our hormones, once they’ve done their thing and we’ve shed our lining and we bleed, the other way in which we get rid of our steroid hormones is by poop.  So if you’re not pooping, then…

Alyssa:  Is that another symptom or side effect?  Is that a cycle issue, or not?

Dr. Nave:  It could be a cycle issue.  One of the symptoms that women sometimes experience is when they’re on their periods, either they’re constipated or they have really loose stool, and that’s because of hormones.

Alyssa:  They call it period poop, and I never knew why.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah, it’s because of the hormones.

Alyssa:  So it’s normal?  If you’re having a regular cycle and you have a day of poop that’s not normal, it’s just your hormones?  That’s normal?

Dr. Nave: Normal in the sense of it’s to be expected with what you’re experiencing, yes.  Other things that can happen with PCOS, and this is not with every woman, is that some women gain weight.  Some don’t.  For a woman that does gain weight if she has PCOS, what’s happening is that the body is converting the progesterone into cortisol.  And cortisol is the hormone that affects our sleep-wake cycle.  So when you first wake up in the morning, the reason why you’re fully awake is cortisol.  It spikes at that point.  What happens when we’re under a lot of stress, or if you have PCOS, our bodies are making a lot more cortisol, and that cortisol allows for the breakdown of stored glucose and the conversion of other proteins and fats into glucose.  This issue with that happening for prolonged periods is that the woman can experience what’s called insulin insensitivity, so her body is no longer able to respond to insulin, which means that when she eats, then she can’t stabilize her blood sugar, which means that the sugar stays longer in the bloodstream, which causes damage to small blood vessels and nerves, which is what happens in diabetes.  That’s why for a woman with PCOS, having metformin might work, which is why some doctors place a woman with PCOS on metformin to increase her chances of conceiving.  It’s not just the hormones that affect your cycle; hormones influence every aspect of our lives, from the moment we wake up and take our first breath to the moment that we pass on into the next life.  It’s this orchestra that each hormone has a part to play and influence each other in term of how effectively each part is able to do their part.

Alyssa:  So let’s say I came in and I had questions about my cycle.  What’s the first thing that a woman could expect?  Bloodwork?

Dr. Nave:  The first thing I would want to know is what labs she’s already gotten done.  Has she gotten her thyroid checked?  And when I say thyroid, I don’t just mean THS because THS is just your brain telling your thyroid, hey, make the thing.  It’s also looking at the levels of the thyroid hormones because you have two types of those.  You have free T3 and free T4.  Their ratio is also important.  So thyroid function; CBC, which just stands for a complete blood count.  It’s checking for anemia, because that could be another reason for amenorrhea.  You may not be bleeding because you’re iron deficient.  And then I would also want CMP.  That’s a complete metabolic panel, and that looks at the kidney and liver function, which are affected if blood sugar isn’t being regulated effectively.  On the CMP, there’s also a fasting blood glucose on there, so that would be something to look at.  I would also want to review her symptoms.  What symptoms are you experiencing?  Are you experiencing acne?  Are you experiencing bloating and irritability on your menses?  Do you experience depression on your period?  There’s also the consideration that we have PMS, and then we have PMDD, which is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is basically PMS on steroids.  It’s like the cycle overall is so horrendous that the woman can’t go to work.  It’s affecting her daily life, affecting her mental health.  She’s more depressed on her period, more irritable, or really angry, or in so much pain that she can’t leave her home.  Looking at her as a whole person is what I’m about.  And she’s the expert in her experience, right?  She knows what it’s like to walk in her body, to experience these symptoms, how they affect her life, and then both of us taking our expertise to work together to get to the root of why this is happening and give the body the tool that it needs so it can rectify it.

Alyssa:  You just reminded me that I need to make an appointment with you.  I remember when I met you the first time, I was like, yeah, I need to see her, because not only have I turned 40, but I know my hormones are changing.  My periods are changing.  Just weird things happening.  So how do people find you?  What’s the best way to get ahold of you?

Dr. Nave:  I am at Health For Life Grand Rapids, and you can check the website and look for my page.  There’s a 15-minute free meet and greet and consult, so we can see if we’re a good fit.  I can hear about your concerns, and you can get the cure that you need.

Alyssa:  I love it.  Thank you so much for joining us.  We’re going to have you on again, and we’ll talk about some other intriguing topics.  Again, thanks for tuning in. This is Ask the Doulas Podcast; you can always find us on our website and on Facebook and Instagram.  Remember, these moments are golden.

 

Understanding Your Cycle: Podcast Episode #82 Read More »

Pregnancy Yoga

Pregnancy Shouldn’t Be Painful

Gold Coast is thrilled to present a guest post by Sally Talbot, PT, Senior PT and co-owner of Health Motion Physical Therapy.

Pregnancy is a wonderful and amazing time.  However, creating a new life does create some major changes in the body. Pain in different areas during pregnancy is a common complaint. Physiopedia.com states that back pain occurs in 60-70% of pregnancies. While pain can be common, it is NOT normal and does not need to be tolerated. Pain can be stressful, and we know that increased stress for a mother can cause increased stress for baby.

Pain with pregnancy is not normal, and something can and should be done about it. Physical therapists are very helpful at safely decreasing pain and increasing function in pregnant women, helping them have a more enjoyable experience.   

Here are some common pain complaints often associated with pregnancy and how PT can help: 

Low back or sacroiliac pain:  With increased weight gain (all out front), the center of gravity shifts and pulls the back into more of an arched position. Try standing this way – it is not comfortable. Also the abdominals are weakened due to being stretched with the increasing size of baby. This causes more work for the lower back. It is also common for the pelvis to become mal-aligned during pregnancy due to increased ligament laxity. All these factors put more stress on low back muscles and joints and can cause pain. Physical therapy can restore alignment of the back and pelvis and loosen tight muscles and strengthen others to make sure you can feel your best. 

Mid back pain: Increasing weight of the breasts requires more work from the mid back to sit up straight and to lift and carry things. This overwork can result in pain and, if left untreated, it can continue well into the postpartum period, especially if mom is breastfeeding. Holding that newborn is harder than it seems. Physical therapy can assure that the joints of the upper back are moving well, loosen tight muscles, and stretch others to help improve posture and decrease pain. 

Groin and pubic symphysis pain: Later in pregnancy, as the baby drops lower in the pelvis, there is more pressure on the pelvic joints (SI joint and pubic symphysis) and nerves that serve the groin and legs. This can cause pain, making it hard to walk or turn in bed. Weakness or muscle imbalance can contribute to this and make it worse. This is the one diagnosis that most people think that they have to live with – not necessarily true…..  Maintaining good pelvic alignment is key with this – PT can do that as well as recommend positions and strategies when that new bundle of joy gets on your nerves literally.   

Headaches: Headaches can be more common with pregnancy due to changes in posture, increased weight of breasts, hormonal changes, or general fatigue. Tight muscles and weak muscles will make these headaches worse. Even if headaches are hormonal, treatment to the muscles and joints of the neck and upper back can lessen the severity and intensity of the headaches and the need for medication.  

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Numbness in the palm of the hand focusing on the thumb and first 2-3 fingers can be a common complaint later in pregnancy, especially at night. Increased fluid retention can cause compression of the nerve that passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. This can be greatly improved with physical therapy 

How PT can help. A physical therapist will be able to thoroughly evaluate the issue you are having and locate the source of the problem and all the contributing factorsThey will then create a specialized program to correct the cause of the issue and help you adjust to the changes that your body is going through. This program will includemanual therapy to loosen tight muscles or align the spine and pelvis better, modalities (such as electrical stimulation – yes it is safe!) to speed healing and recovery and provide pain relief, positioning or bracing solutions if needed, and exercises that will help the body keep up with the increasing demands of the pregnancyPhysical therapy decreases the need for medication and missed days from work/life. Help is available. 

If you are having pain and wonder how/if physical therapy could help you, call and a come in for a free consultation. Just mention that you saw this blog post. You can also schedule through the website at healthmotionpt.com.   

Health Motion Physical Therapy
South East: 3826 44th St, SE Kentwood, MI 49512  616-554-0918
North East: 3001 Fuller St NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505  616-451-4284

Remember PT is safe for mom and baby.  You don’t have to hurt.  

 

Pregnancy Shouldn’t Be Painful Read More »

Postpartum Depression

Supporting a Postpartum Mother: Podcast Episode #79

Elsa Lockman, LMSW of Mindful Counseling talks to us today about how partners, family members, and other caregivers can support a mother during those critical postpartum weeks to ensure she seeks help if needed.  How do you approach a new mother and what are her best options for care?  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 Elsa Lockman.  She’s with Mindful Counseling, and we are talking about how partners and other caregivers and family members can support a woman who has potential signs of postpartum depression or mood disorders.

Elsa:  Yes.  So postpartum is going to be an emotional time, so tears, some anger, sadness, are all part of the experience.  After about two to three weeks out, if spouse or a friend or a mother is noticing maybe a mom is crying more than usual, isn’t really looking forward to things, has these unusual fears that they can’t seem to let go of.  Another sign would be not seeming to eat very much or either sleeping a lot or not being able to sleep when the baby is sleeping.  If they’re noticing those signs, it would maybe be a sign that they could go talk to somebody as far as a therapist or go see their doctor.  Approaching Mom would be in a way to not criticize mom as if she’s doing anything wrong.  She’s not doing anything wrong, so start off with validating, actually.  She’s doing a great job with how hard it is; validate how hard she’s working, and try to tell her that it doesn’t have to be this way.  She doesn’t have to do it alone.

Kristin:  How does the caregiver know if it is baby blues or if it’s something that she needs help for?  Because, of course, there can be that hormonal fluctuation.  They may be teary.

Elsa:  Baby blues usually stops after three weeks postpartum.  So after that would be maybe a sign that there’s more going on.  But I would say, is it getting it the way of functioning?  Is it getting in the way of relationships?  Is it getting in the way of their working in the home or outside of the home, getting those things done?  To a degree, that is expected postpartum; not everything running smoothly, but are relationships being affected?  Those would be signs that it’s more than just baby blues.

Kristin:  How can a spouse, partner, or caregiver be supportive in order to empower her to get help?  Is it best for them to directly reach out for help for her if they’re seeing signs, or what do you recommend?

Elsa:  I recommend the mom reaching out, so that would be encouraging Mom to reach out herself.  And maybe she needs to talk to a friend and have more time with friends or more time to herself; maybe that would help.  See how that works.  If that seems to help and is enough to alleviate whatever stress is going on, then that works, but maybe if it’s not working, then take it to another level, which would be contacting a therapist or your doctor.

Kristin:  And since, obviously, women have multiple doctors — they’re seeing their OB or midwife and family doctor and their pediatrician — does it matter who they’re speaking with about getting help?

Elsa:  No, it wouldn’t matter who you see.  Usually the OB would be the person that they’ve seen most recently, but they can even bring it up to the pediatrician, since moms see the pediatrician very often.

Kristin:  And as far as getting help for our local listeners and clients, they can reach out to you directly?  How do they access you at Mindful Counseling, Elsa?

Elsa:  They can go to the website, and they can contact me through there.  Another resource would be Pine Rest, and through your OB’s office, there also is a list of therapists who specialize in perinatal mood disorders, which includes postpartum depression and anxiety.

Kristin:  That’s so helpful.  And in past conversations, you had mentioned that women can bring their babies to therapy; that you allow that with clients you’re working with, and I know Pine Rest encourages that with their mother-baby program?

Elsa:  Yes, for sure.  Bring your baby to the session; you can feed the baby, breastfeed, anything.  Coming with your baby is welcomed and encouraged, for sure.

Kristin:  Do you have any final thoughts or tips to share?

Elsa:  Just that it doesn’t have to be going through this alone.  It’s very normalized for women to feel that anxiety is just part of the postpartum experience or feeling depressed and stressed is part of it, and while it might be a new phase and there’s a lot going on, it doesn’t have to be that women are just suffering through it.

Kristin:  Great point.  Thanks so much, Elsa, for being on!

 

Supporting a Postpartum Mother: Podcast Episode #79 Read More »

Connies Bridal Boutique

The Minority Bride: Podcast Episode #78

 


Alyssa:
Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas. It’s Alyssa and I’m talking with Gaby again if you remember her. Last time she told us her lovely birth stories. Hi Gaby.

Gaby: Hi Alyssa, good to be back.

Alyssa: I want to learn about your business. So Connie’s Bridal Boutique.

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Who’s Connie? Beause you’re not Connie.

Gaby: No. We’re not Connie. Connie’s actually the name that the original owner gave the store, it was her nickname. Her original name was Veit Vu, she’s a cute little Vietnamese lady. Maybe 5 feet.

Alyssa: Okay.

Gaby: She was a powerhouse of a woman. These dresses get heavy, so you’d just see her hauling dresses back and forth. My grandmother used to work with her and when she decided to retire we purchased the brand and the store.

Alyssa: Okay.

Gaby: And we kind of molded it a little bit more towards our personalities, and growth, and developed it a little bit further.

Alyssa: Okay. So I’ve been in your store. It’s huge! It’s not little, it’s huge. I walked in and I’m like, “Oh my God! Look at all this space.”

Gaby: Yes!

Alyssa: So tell me what did you change? What’s your target market? Do you have a certain type of dress? Do you kind of focus on one area or is it a pretty broad range?

Gaby: Yeah, when we originally bought the store, if we’re getting down to nitty gritty business, we used to be on 44th and Kalamazoo. I think that was her second or third location. The target audience when we originally bought it, was for brides looking for dresses and formal gowns from $100 to, I think it was, $800. Around there. We began molding it to a little bit of a higher price range, just because that good chunk of $100 – $800 dresses, a lot of that is online. So it’s not really long term, sustainable, at least for how we run it. Which is a lot of sample and special orders, we don’t have stock of the same dress in 30 sizes.

Alyssa: Okay.

Gaby: We might have a couple in a small and a large, but most of what we do is a custom dress, custom measurements, custom length. We specialize in that and customizations, custom additions, and our clientele is the minority bride. That falls in so many categories. It could be “last minute,” so less than 6 months. We often do weddings like 2 weeks, 1 week, we can have a quick turn around time. My grandmother is magic as far as alterations! Our formal bridal gowns are anywhere from $600 to $3,000 – $5,000. We’re kind of snug in the middle between David’s and then you have the beautiful Renee Austin and Becker’s, who is on the higher end.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: We’re kind of snug in the middle for our minority brides and whether that be size, whether that’s brides that purchase and then they go and get married and they have beautiful African ceremonies in Africa, so that’s kind of the whole other package. Beause they’re buying for people where bridesmaids aren’t all here. We serve a lot of our “minority brides” that have that spunky and creative need.

Alyssa: Okay. Yeah, when I went in it was your grandmother and your mother.

Gaby: Yes!

Alyssa: You said sometimes your sister’s even there?

Gaby: Sometimes my sister’s there. On Saturdays, it’s me and my sister comes to help on and off. I kind of finagled my way to be like, “Grandma you can take Saturdays off and I’ll be here on Saturdays.” So now she’s there Monday through Friday, which is when our alterations and more complicated orders if she needs to kind of see as far as detailed illusion neckline, or anything like that. Then we’ll see them Monday through Friday and on Saturday we’re just seeing brides in their beginning phases and if they need basic fittings, then I can, of course, do that. I can fit you and pin you, but if anyone’s cutting your dress, it’s her.

Alyssa: It’s gonna be grandma.

Gaby: Yeah, it’s gonna be grandma!

Alyssa: So we learned last time that you have two children. How do you balance a three-year-old, a six-year-old, and helping to run a bridal shop?

Gaby: Yeah, I’m extremely lucky in the flexibility that not only working with my grandmother but having … working with my grandmother in our own business, close to home. So it’s kind of like a great little triangle of support. So she definitely wanted to see the grandkids, so when I had my first daughter and even with my son, I think I worked up until a couple of days before I gave birth. If not, the day before. I was very active, I don’t like to just down. When I gave birth, it was strap them up, literally carried them on and off up until they got too big to be carried. That was great! I could bring them in whenever and if I really couldn’t bring them in, I didn’t have to come into work. It wasn’t like I had to bring in a doctor’s note, and then I could work from home or work on off days. So I can move my schedule around pretty freely. So that’s definitely been a great opportunity for me to work, but also raise my kids and be as involved as I need to be or they want me to be. If they want to go chaperone, it’s great during the week because we’re not too busy. So I can say, “Hey, I’m not gonna be here until… today or until next time. I’m gonna go in the morning, I’m gonna be with my daughter or my son all day and then they can come back and work.” Sometimes work means I have to work until 9 or after they go to sleep, I’m gonna have to finish that, or I’m answering emails in the middle of the night.

Alyssa: Typical business owner stuff. I feel like I’m doing that all the time. You take out a chunk of time during the day to spend with friends, or family, or your children, and you always have to make up for it later.

Gaby: Right, you make up for it later.

Alyssa: That’s like the pros and cons, right? Of having your own business.

Gaby: Exactly. It’s definitely been a balance for them, as well. Because we open on Saturdays, so it’s not like we can just do all kinds of fun activities on Saturdays. My friends are like, “Oh, we’re having birthday parties.” And I’m like, “That’s great, but I’m at work.” So we can’t really just take that off. It’s Sundays. Everybody on Sunday kind of has a different schedule. In our industry, our busy time’s during the summer. So our vacations are in the winter.

Alyssa: Which is perfect! You want to get out of Michigan in the winter.

Gaby: We do! Everybody’s like, “You want to go to the beach?” I’m like, “Yes!”

Alyssa: On Sunday, I will!

Gaby: On Sunday, I will. Or Sunday usually ends up being trying to manage your household in half a day. Like a crazy person! That you have not been able to do the whole week. We kind of balance that out and my friends are like, “You never come out!” Like, it’s not really vacation ever for us, unless it’s winter. And during wintertime, regular jobs they’re still working, but we can be like, “Oh, we’ll take December off.” Because we’ve been working nonstop until December and we’ll just take a couple of weeks off. So it’s kind of a balance of where do you … it’s good to find other entrepreneurs because they have similar rhythms. Where it’s like, “I’m kind of just checking to see if you’re breathing for six months.” And then you can really hang out with them.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: During the slow time I’m like, “Just send a quick text like, ‘Hey, are you alive?” Yeah, we’re just working away. It’s been good to connect with other entrepreneurs and other busy moms that are kind of doing more.

Alyssa: Yeah and I think it’s important because we are definitely a specific breed of business owners and mothers. Because I might have, like this morning, I randomly had time to go for a walk around the lake and what did I do? I texted a bunch of people, but the only one that responded was the other mom who owns her own business. She was like, “Oh yeah, I can get out for an hour.” So it is good to have that network because otherwise you do kind of feel isolated. Thinking all of these other moms that work during the day and then at night maybe they want to get together, but that’s when I actually need to spend time with my kid.

Gaby: Right, right! That’s kid time. My free time could be, “Oh yeah, I can meet with you in the morning when the kids are at school.” I can kind of plan that out. But when I pick the kids up from school, I need to make sure that I’m with the kids because Saturday/Sunday. One day I was working on putting crystals on a dress and that was consecutive days of working past midnight. I think the kids came one day to the shop and they like slept in the stuff for a couple of hours. I’m just like, “We gotta get this done! We gotta get this done!” So we don’t have time blocks, it’s definitely an adventure to find people that match your schedules. Also interests, but also match the schedule of when you can free time and then understand that maybe I will be free three Sundays in a row, maybe you won’t see me for 5 months.

Alyssa: Yeah, I used to be able to plan ahead. Now I’m like, “I don’t know.” Can I go for a walk tomorrow? I don’t know, text me tomorrow and I’ll see.

Gaby: I will know an hour before!

Alyssa: Right!

Gaby: I think we’re maybe doing a month ahead of time. In my house with family events, I’m usually like let’s bring out the book of calendars. Everybody just dish out appointment cards. Like, “Here’s your Mother’s Day event, here’s this, and here’s that.” And now we’re just like, “We don’t know what we’re going to do.” Sometimes you’re just overwhelmed that you just don’t do anything.

Alyssa: Yeah, to have a weekend of nothing is totally fine.

Gaby: I don’t want to plan anything. You know what sounds good? Just being home, and cooking, and eating.

Alyssa: I think it’s the other side of owning a business that people don’t realize. You know, “Oh, you have so much free time.” Or, “Oh, you run your own schedule.” But there’s this opposite side of it where you do feel, like I said, isolated or that nobody quite understands. So I love these mom groups, like how I met you at the Mom Brain group. There’s always something to talk about because we’re always going through these same struggles. They might be a little bit different, but deep down we’re moms and we own our own businesses and we know what it’s like to be like, “Oh, yeah. I’m working until midnight tonight and I still have to get my kid up. I haven’t made lunch for school. Oh, yeah, and it’s library day and I don’t know where the library book is.” All these 20 little things, all these little details, but you still have a business to run.

Gaby: Right. There’s still something else that kind of, depending, is like two different … which, being a mom in itself has so many independent tasks that happen individually. Like these completely unrelated tasks that happen independently.

Alyssa: Mm-hmm, but we’re doing them simultaneously, often.

Gaby: Yes, yes! With two different children. One is your business and two is your actual kids that are kind of just, “I need all this stuff.” And then all of a sudden, business might have an emergency or your kid might have an emergency and if you don’t build those connections, you might be left struggling a little bit.

Alyssa: Well, it would be really easy to burn out. If you didn’t have, like you said, if you didn’t work with your family and it’s super close to home, you have that support network built in. If somebody owned a business, had children, didn’t have family, didn’t have friends, didn’t have a support network, and had no plan in place for these emergencies, whether it was family or business, you burn out.

Gaby: Yeah, I would imagine you’d just kind of be sitting there feeling lonely. It’s not even like, “Somebody come and help!” But it’s just the pure connection of like, “I just want to talk to somebody.” Or just a quick text to kind of get your mind out of maybe something serious that’s happening. Okay, then you can relax and go back and focus on your job, or your kids, or whatever it is. That’s so important to be able to have that extra support, in a multitude of forms, kind of sprinkled all over your life so that you can progress and move through the really hard, complicated times. In the end, you love your job. That’s why you’re doing it! That’s why we’re crazy still there. We’re still holding on because you love what you do.

Alyssa: Yeah, you work with brides who are in this specific zone and we’re working with new moms who are in this specific zone. Although many of our clients are probably, I’d say the majority of them are married, we do have some who are pregnant and then getting married or getting married while pregnant. So do you work with clients who are pregnant and need a dress? You say the minority, that would be the minority. How do you help?  How does that dress grow with the belly if they’re not getting married right away?

Gaby: It definitely depends. The first thing for us is to make that bride feel comfortable. Some brides are just chill, they’re just loving it, they’re embracing what is happening. Some brides are nervous in the way of like, “This is not how I envisioned it.” Or it was how they envisioned it and they were fine with it, but there’s an outside pressure. So we want to make sure that that is relieved. Because once you are in a good, happy, neutral position, you can really see yourself in a wedding dress, calmy. Not like, “I need to cover this or I need to cover that.” You just want something that fits and that’s comfortable and it depends. Some brides are going to grow, right? They’re still going to be pregnant when they get married, so we have to talk about that. Are you going to come in the week before for alterations? Are we going to hold out until the week before? Couple of days before? Alter it and then it will fit and then take it? So it might be a last minute alteration. Or sometimes they buy it when they’re pregnant and then they’ll have the baby … it’s a bit of a guessing game. Are you going to buy it smaller? Are we going to allow for alteration costs to make it smaller? Is it a shape of a dress that can fit both ways? Are you going to be comfortable? Is it too tight for baby? You need to think about can you sit down, can you stand? Because you’re not as agile, though I’m clumsy anyway, so that was not a good clumsy pregnant mom that is wobbling through a bridal store was a funny scene. We just sit and talk with them and say, “How are you feeling?” Some moms have had multiple kids, so they’re like, “I don’t grow” or, “Tomorrow I’m going to be double the size. I’m just telling you for now.” And that’ll be fine. I had one bride, she was so sweet. She was like, “I’m going to be this size by the time I get married.” And she was. She knew! She’d already had children, so she was like, “I’m pregnant, I’m going to give birth and my body’s going to go relatively back to normal by the time I’m there.” It really ends up being a matter of a last minute alteration and just understanding that we just need mom and baby to be comfortable. If you want a nice, snug dress, it might have to be a different fabric versus a more stretchier fabric. Not because we can’t make it fit, I mean you can cut anything to fit anything, but just because it’s a little bit more flexible and movable, and not so restricting. Just a little bit more of guiding and consulting and you’re going to look beautiful! Everything’s going to come out good. Don’t worry about it!

Alyssa: So if we have any moms who are thinking about getting married, where do they find you? Tell us website, phone number, address. What’s the best place for people to find you?

Gaby: Yeah, well we have multiple ways of contacting us. We are on 28th Street, pasT Burlingame. We are next to Marge’s Donuts, so if you’re pregnant it’s always good.

Alyssa: I was going to mention that. Like, “Oh!” When I came to visit you, I couldn’t leave without visiting Marge’s on the way out.

Gaby: Yes, stop by and have a yummy snack. We have brides that come in with a very like, “I’m going to plan [to lose weight]!” If that is your healthy goal, we’re going to support you and empower you for it. But we don’t want you to be like, you need to all of a sudden only eat lettuce for the next six months. We want to make sure that you are being healthy with your path and if this is how your fiance is seeing you right now. Like he proposed to you right now, he’s loving you, he’s going to care for you, he’s going to embrace you no matter what. We want to dress you how you are, not with the pressure that you have from somebody else. You can find us next to Marge’s Donuts. Go ahead, we support your purchase of donuts, cakes, custard-filled pastries, bring us one on the way back if you’re coming before! We are on Facebook, it’s Connie’s Bridal. You can find us on Instagram, you can give us a call at (616) 455-5233. Our website is the same, which I think nowadays is the easiest thing to do.

Alyssa: Cool. What about the LGBTQ community? Have you ever had two brides? Because we do get calls from-

Gaby: Yeah, of course. Like I said, that’s our main focus is to make you feel comfortable, and empowered in your decision. If you’re wanting a suit, if you’re wanting two dresses, if you want a mini dress, if you want to alter something, we can do that. What I mainly see is the hesitation. Come on in, if you need extra time. That’s for any brides if you feel like you’re going to need extra time, if you’re going to need extra space, if you’re going to need extra quiet, or you’re going to need extra quiet because your support group is extra loud! We like to accommodate for that. Two bridess, we just want to support and celebrate alongside of you.

Alyssa: I love it. Thank you for sharing.

Gaby: Yeah, you’re welcome.

Alyssa: So yeah, check her out if you’re in the market for a wedding dress. As always, you can find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Instagram, Facebook, and you can listen to our podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes.

 

The Minority Bride: Podcast Episode #78 Read More »

pregnant

7 Ways To Save Money When Having A Baby

Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of information tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

While most of us understand that having a baby is expensive, many don’t have an accurate idea of just how much so. A 2017 survey revealed that most parents-to-be are vastly underprepared for the cost of having a baby, with over half of them assuming the first year would cost less than $5,000 (the real figure was $21,248 for lower-income households).

This can be worrisome when you are expecting your first baby, but it’s no reason to panic. There are many ways to save money during pregnancy and those first few months of parenthood. You just have to be smart and do your research.

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance must include coverage for pregnancy, labor, delivery, and newborn baby care. The actual benefits, however, depend on the individual policy, so find out exactly what you are eligible for. If you can’t afford private insurance and don’t have it through your employer, you may be able to claim it through Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Get Creative With Your Gender Reveal

Some people go big on their gender reveals, but you really don’t have to. There are many ways to do a memorable gender reveal with very little money. Kindred Bravely suggests ideas like having a cute photo op for social media, printing bespoke T-shirts, or using colored sparklers. By getting creative, you’ll be sure to end up with something more personal.

Buy Second-Hand Accessories

Baby accessories are the quintessential second-hand item. The baby will inevitably outgrow everything, and once you’re done having children you’re left with a bunch of useless stuff. For this reason, second-hand websites are some of the best and cheapest places to find everything you need for your baby, from strollers to cribs to clothes.

You may also be able to get some free stuff on websites like Freecycle. It’s not all low-quality, either – some people just prefer to give their stuff away rather than going to the trouble of finding a buyer and selling it.

Look For Free Formula

Not all mothers breastfeed, and even those that do may want to supplement with formula. The cost of this can add up quickly, especially if you need to buy fortified formulas. Luckily, there are many ways to get free formula. Major brands often offer free samples and coupons, and you can also get some at your doctor’s office or hospital.

Ask for a Prenatal Prescription

There are several supplements that are often recommended for a healthy pregnancy, such as folate, iron, Vitamin D, and prenatal vitamins. If you’re at the beginning of your pregnancy, you know you’re going to be taking these for the foreseeable future. Ask your doctor to give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins, which you can easily fill for $4 at retailers like Walmart and Target.

DIY Your Nursery

It’s easy to get carried away with dreams of the perfect nursery, but remodeling a whole room can quickly become expensive. Instead of spending a fortune on decor that your child will want to change in a few years, make your nursery even more special with some cute DIY projects. This list by Brit + Co has some lovely ideas, from washi tape wall art to an upcycled cradle and several pom-pom projects.

Teach Your Partner Some Massage Tricks

Soreness is an almost inevitable part of pregnancy, and not everyone can afford regular massages. What you can do is teach your partner (or a generous friend) to do it for free. A good prenatal massage should be gentle, with unscented oils, in a position that is comfortable for you – usually, sideways with pillows supporting your back.

Some parents feel like they have to spend large amounts of money to give their child the best. However, as long as you provide them with the basics for their health, comfort, and safety, you are doing your job as a parent. Being smart about money at this stage allows you to devote more money to things that matter, like saving up for college or having fun family experiences. In the end, it’s the love and support you give the baby that’s going to make a difference, not the money you spend.

 

7 Ways To Save Money When Having A Baby Read More »

Birth Stories

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77

Gaby is a local business owner in Grand Rapids and talks to Alyssa about the birth stories of both of her children. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa: Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast. I am Alyssa and I’m excited to be here with Gaby today. How are you?

Gaby: Hi, I’m great, Alyssa.

Alyssa: So we met a couple of months ago?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Was it the Mom Brain meet up?

Gaby: We did, yeah.

Alyssa: Yeah, and we got to talking about your lovely little bridal shop. I shouldn’t call it little, we’ll talk about that in another episode. But you have three children?

Gaby: I have two.

Alyssa: Two children.

Gaby: And a fur baby!

Alyssa: But you didn’t birth that one!

Gaby: Yeah, no.

Alyssa: I just wanted to talk about your stories. So our moms who are pregnant love hearing positive birth stories and it’s not to say that even though your birth story – the outcome may be positive, but there weren’t crazy things that happened along the way.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: I think there are so many people telling you, oh, just wait until… You know? And they tell you negative things about pregnancy, about labor and delivery, about postpartum, and then every year as your kid grows, oh, you just wait until… So I like to give our listeners some positive stories. So tell me about your kids. How old are they now?

Gaby: I have two kids. My oldest, Aurora. She’s going to be six this year. And my youngest, Andreas, he’s going to be three this year. They’re a good amount apart, but still kind of fighting the ages right there.

Alyssa: Yeah. What was it like having a three-year-old and a newborn?

Gaby: She had just surpassed the age of needing me 100% of the time. She was starting to be independent and she was very involved and loving, but there was still that balance of like, she’s still not 100% independent. But I like that space. I wouldn’t personally go any closer. I know I have friends and moms that are like, I just like to have my babies super close so that I’m having babies all at the same time. And I’m like, that sounds very overwhelming!

Alyssa: I think it’s very overwhelming in that stage. I was actually just talking to a girlfriend today who did that and she was like, It was so overwhelming! I don’t even know how I made it through. She goes, “But now, it’s so easy. They’re all within the same age range and they’re all independent. And they all just go play outside for two hours together.” So I can see the beauty of both ends, I guess.

Gaby: Yeah and now since she’s a little bit different, she’s still kind of interested in what he’s interested in, and can also watch him a relative amount of – you know, she’s kind of on the lookout a little bit. So she’s enjoying that responsibility of like, I’m in charge and don’t do that.

Alyssa: Oh yeah, my daughter’s six and she would love to be a big sister.

Gaby: Yeah. She’s like, don’t do that. Or she’ll run inside like, “Mom!” Okay, let’s go through the emergency levels here. Not everything is 100% red flag, our house is on fire, emergency.

Alyssa: So how were your deliveries with both of them? Were they pretty similar or completely different?

Gaby: They were relatively similar. I like to talk a look at all the possibilities and when I originally was planning to get pregnant and got pregnant, I was like, gve me all the drugs. Let’s set a date for the delivery, just give me all the drugs, and it’ll be quick and simple, and I’ll be in and out, and I’ll look great. You know, in a week I’ll be fabulous.

Alyssa: Instagram perfect, right?

Gaby: Yes! It’ll be fabulous! And that’s when I started reading up more on it and because of my tendencies already – so for example, my back has always kind of been sore, in pain, or more on the delicate side, and I started seeing the complications with medications and where they go and how they go and how they affect you. I started to explore a more natural way, more hands-off, with still keeping in mind, If I need it, that’s open. So not ever being like, I don’t want it no matter what. But just being like, I want to go in with the mindset of as much hands-off as possible. And then with the nurses and the doctors, because I trusted them if it really needed to be done, or if I needed medication or an intervention, then I was okay with doing that. And it was relatively – the pregnancy itself, I was sick! Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick! I think I lost weight until the last couple of months. And she was right on time and it was a relatively – I don’t know if it’s long, but it was almost like 12-20 hour from start to finish. But I think the active labor was maybe 6 hours? I was in a lot of pain. It seemed like, I can’t even tell you how long it was, but the active labor wasn’t that long.

Alyssa: Did you end up begging for an epidural?

Gaby: No, I didn’t. What ended up happening is they gave me Stadol at the last stages because I was refusing to sit down, to lay down, because it just hurt so much more. So when the contractions started they put me in a little tub, but as it started to get more intense I just couldn’t be sitting down. So most of the labor my partner and I were just on our feet. So I would be on my feet and then the contraction would come and I would obviously just collapse and he would just kind of hold me. Like underarms hold me through the contraction. Then the doctor’s like, you need to rest! You’ve been on your feet most of the labor. And I was like, I can’t, it hurts! They’d try to lay me down and I’d be like, “No!” It was just not good. It definitely helped me rest once I took the medicine and I don’t want to say it took the pain away, but it definitely helped ease the transition from standing up and the anxiety of like, If I lay down, it’s going to hurt more. She came and it was everybody focus! Don’t talk to me, focus! And she was delivered. There weren’t any complications. She came out great and everybody in my family waited until we were in the other room to come in.

Alyssa: Yeah, I was going to say, who was in the room with you?

Gaby: Just my partner at the time. Yes, I was very adamant about that. In fact, my grandmother tried to come in a couple of times and she was like, do you need anything? And I’m like, There’s nothing you can do! Please, I need some space. And I think it really helped me focus in the moment and just continuously tell myself, your body is meant to do this, to go through it, don’t panic. I just had to be like, don’t panic, just breathe in. You’re supposed to do this. If something were to go wrong, someone’s going to tell you if something’s wrong, they’re going to intervene. But as long as they’re just like, hey, everything’s okay! I’m trusting my environment and my body that this is what it’s supposed to do.

Alyssa: So was that intentional decision to only have you in your partner in the room for your first baby?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Because you wanted to focus.

Gaby: Yes and I feel like I would get distracted. And my mom, I love her to death, she’s great. She actually works in the emergency room. She’s an interpreter. But when it comes to family emergencies, she gets really panicky. And at that time with my daughter, she was actually in Florida, so it wasn’t too bad. It was just my grandma kind of coming in. And I think after the second time, I was like, I will see you when it’s done. Please, I’m fine. There’s nothing really. I guess in my head it’s kind of like, what can you really do? And I have friends that have everybody in there. Like a photographer and the neighbor. They’re great, they love it. They just want all the hugs and kisses and I just want everyone like, we’re here to work. We’re here to get from A to B, but we’re going to do it. So I told everybody, you cannot be out until I’m in the next room. And for the most part, they listened.

Alyssa: Minus grandma, twice.

Gaby: Minus grandma! I think she was just – you know, I think it’s definitely shocking. Your loved ones want to like, how can I make it better?

Alyssa: Well how did your partner react? Because often times they’re the ones who, you know, I want to fix this. I want to help and there’s nothing I can do.

Gaby: We had been together for a while and I definitely have a – in my life in general, when I’m sick I have the same kind of reaction. So he kind of knew that I was going to need specific help and we kind of were like – he knew. And he knew that if I needed something I would ask or that for example, really he was just there literally as a support because I was on my feet. And then the next time he was just there to make sure – I was like, I just need you to make sure that if I cannot vocalize what I want, this is what I want. That we have decided together. And he was just kind of there, vigilant, just checking, which kind of also brought me a little bit of peace of mind. Like, I have someone that isn’t trying to deliver a baby. I think they were 7.8 and then my other one was like 8.7.

Alyssa: But in your head, you were probably like, this must be a 12-pound baby.

Gaby: Whatever is coming out, I’m doing it and he’s not and he can say, go through the checklist.

Alyssa: Right!

Gaby: I’m very – I like to take charge and so at that point, there was only one thing that I was going to be able to focus. We had talked about it and I think he definitely – I have a very like, don’t get close to me unless I need it kind of vibe when I’m in pain. But again, I just kept thinking, this is something that happens. That’s supposed to happen, that you’re meant to happen. Like, you’re body’s prepared for even though you’ve never personally gone through it before, but it’s supposed to kind of go this route.

Alyssa: So how did that affect baby number two knowing you’ve been through this before, you knew your pain thrthreshold did that help?

Gaby: I actually thought I was not as far along than I actually was. With both of them! So don’t time your contractions in your head. Make sure you’re using an actual timer. With my son, when I got in they were like, do you want medication? Do you want some Stadol right now? I was like, Oh, no! I still have time. I’ve only been here a couple ho ofurs. With my daughter, I was here, it wasn’t until like midnight or you know, until I got Stadol, so I still have a couple hours of labor.

They didn’t say anything, they were like, okay, fine. You don’t want medicine right now, we understand. And then when it started getting worse and I was like, okay, I’m ready!

Alyssa: Give me some!

Gaby: And they were like, you’re too far along. And I’m like, wait, what do you mean? It hasn’t been that long. I had already labored outside of the hopsital longer and I must have been dilated much faster, obviously, because it was my second.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: So it was kind of a shock to me like, wait, I’m not – this is going to happen without anything. So with my son, I didn’t have any medication. And he just kind of – I don’t think the doctor was a little – she didn’t even have time to put gloves on. ‘Cause when they were like, you don’t need medication, you’re far along. I’m like, oh. And then a little bit after that, like less than 30 minutes, I was like, it’s time! You have to wait until you feel pressure. I’m like, yes! I’m checking it off, yes. And they’re like, no, it’s going to be a little bit. And then the doctors come in so relaxed. They’re so relaxed. And I’m like, ma’am. You should probably move along. And she sits on her little stool and I’m just kind of watching her like, she shouldn’t be this calm because I’m feeling it. It’s coming. She’s coming. And she literally turns around and she’s like, let me put my gloves on. And I’m like, nope! And she’s like, what do you mean? And she’s like, oh my God. And she just – she’s like, okay. And she catches him – he comes out.

Alyssa: No gloves? No time.

Gaby: She didn’t have time for gloves.

Alyssa: Oh my gosh.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: So I mean it kind of was a totally different experience. I mean, very quick.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: You probably wouldn’t call it painless, but it was a lot less drawn out.

Gaby: No. It was a lot less drawn out pain and I don’t know if I was – I don’t want to say I was used to the pain. I was in pain – like the muscles on the inside of my legs had decided they were too sore the whole pregnancy, so I was in a lot of pain consistantly. Kind of like jolts of pain. I don’t know if I was used to pain and then it was a faster delivery and he was just kind of like, I’m ready. And he just slid right out.

Alyssa: Do you think that as first time moms, since we don’t know what to expect, our brains kind of tell us that it’s going to be worse than it is?

Gaby: I think it definitely contributes to that and sitting down and talking to friends – the stories are not there for us. Like my friends and I are not like, I wish somebody would have sat down and talked about the actual labor. Honestly, not in a, I’m going to scare you. Not in a warning, not in a, don’t get pregnant because then labor’s painful. But in a, let’s go through everything, compare notes. So that you can be at least aware of what actually happens. Be prepared for the pain. As women, we have pain every month. Some of us more than every month. I think we’re much more capable, but we have this background fear of labor and delivery.

Alyssa: What are a few of those things that you would say to a new mom who has no idea?

Gaby: I think that mostly would be educate yourself with actually facts. Educate yourself in how you yourself react to pain in just your everyday life. Are you squimish? Are you not squimish? How your partner does that? How are you going to communicate? Some people can’t communicate when they’re in pain. Does that need to be talked about beforehand? You can bring your $200 ball to sit on, but I could not sit on the ball. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t pay for it, so I was grateful that I didn’t invest in a birthing ball that I didn’t need. So there’s going to be so many switches. Just kind of learn to be a little bit more go with the flow, ‘cause in the end – I want to say it’s like the baby in your body that’s going to be in charge of what happens. I just kept telling myself like, just breathe. Breathe through it, not because it’s going to minimize the pain, but because it’s going to help focus where I’m going out of the pain.

Alyssa: Sounds like you could have benefited from our hypnobirthing class. It’s like learning physiologically what’s going to happen. You know, what’s going on in your body, what’s happening during a contraction, what’s happening during active labor, but then like you said – so you’re ahead of most knowing that, let’s talk about how I deal with pain and how I process things. Do I like to be touched? Do I not like to be touched? Do I hold all my tension here? So knowing that and talking to your partner about that ahead of time is a big part of what the hypnobirthing class is about. Let’s focus on these things and practice how are we going to deal with that when we’re in this situation.

Gaby: Yeah and you definitely have to – we work so hard in preparing the room, and the baby, and all the stuff, but that moment is so small comparatively speaking, but it’s so intense. And it can leave such a big mark if it gets too complicated. So I feel like being prepared for a lot of stuff makes the load a little bit lighter. ‘Cause you already have the answers and you know what to expect. I didn’t realize that my doctor wasn’t going to be there until the very end. This whole time I’m like, I want my doctor. I’ve known her for a million years and we’re best friends. They didn’t call her until the end. Then when I realized, the nurses were just fabulous. They’re the ones that are going to take care of you. So it’s great to have a great relationship with your doctor, but going into where you’re going to give birth and seeing the support and the nurses – the support staff, I guess depending on where we give birth, they’re going to be there for the long run. They’re really invested in you because they’re there with you the whole time.

Alyssa: Yeah. Labor and delivery nurses are amazing.

Gaby: Yeah, yeah. I was kind of worried that – because I wasn’t going to be in a hospital, they were going to be like, we’re going to wire you up and we’re going to put all the juices in you. And I was like, I don’t want -. But it wasn’t like that at all. I didn’t feel forced into a certain way that they were doing things.

Alyssa: Well, is there anything else that you would love to share?

Gaby: I just wish we would trust our decisions more and be more confident in what we can handle, as far as labor and delivery. Again, if you want that support group there around you, and you know you need it, and that’s how you’ve been your whole entire life like you want mom, and aunt, and everybody, and the dog, that’s great. But if all of a sudden because you’re giving birth everybody wants to sign up and come and take pictures, don’t do it. It’ll be a good first start to parenting and being with family. It’s not about you not loving or caring, or that you don’t want them involved ever in the life of the baby, but that is such a critical moment that you can’t have extra people that you’re really not going to ulitize or that you’re going to feel like you’re trapped in that room for a long time.

Alyssa: Yeah, so often family members can make us feel – like guilt us into doing things that we don’t feel are right. And this is, like you said, the first step in a very long journey of parenting where you have to do what’s best for you and your family and not everybody else.

Gaby: Right. I probably would have been mad to see my sister on her phone while I’m mid contraction.

Alyssa: Right! You better not be posting anything to Facebook.

Gaby: Yeah. Like, how can you be relaxing? I’m mid contraction! You know, let’s not get angry. Let’s just focus on that.

Alyssa: I did the same thing, so I totally understand.

Gaby: People are so hesitant to say – They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and I think it’s – now that we’re learning a little more emotional tintelligence, think we can put responsibility on both parts. One to say no and the other part to understand. Hopefully everybody understands if you want to draw that line.

Alyssa: Well, thank you so much for sharing.

Gaby: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Alyssa: We will have you on again. I want to learn a little bit more about your business and what it’s like. I love talking to moms who are business women as well.

Gaby: Yeah, I can’t wait.

Alyssa: Thanks, everyone for listening. You can find us on iTunes and Sound Cloud. Again ,this is Ask the Doulas. You can find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Instagram, and Facebook. Thanks for listening.

 

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77 Read More »

Pregnant

Babies! Babies! I could watch these precious babies all day!

Today’s guest blog comes from Jessica White of 4D Moments Ultrasound Studio.

Who does not love the sweet face of a brand new baby?! A dreamy smile…a big yawn…a goofy open-mouthed grin. Oh, or one of those precious baby stretches where their little lips pooch out and their knees pull up to their bellies and their arms stretch over their heads! Soooo cute!

When your new son or daughter is born, all those precious moments are absolutely priceless and each one makes you fall in love even more. Did you know that your baby is smiling and yawning and stretching inside the womb long before their birthday ever happens?

With the technology available in 3D/4D ultrasound, you can enjoy those precious moments during the second and third trimesters. Check out these peeks at 16 weeks, 28 weeks, and 40 weeks that were taken at 4D Moments 3D/4D Ultrasound Studio.

At 4D Moments, we provide elective ultrasound for early gender determination and amazing images like the ones you see here. We are not a medical facility so so you need to seek care from a medical professional before coming to see us. What we do provide is a unique and affordable experience from 12-40 weeks where you can bring friends, your baby’s older siblings, or the new grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa will be blown away to see their grandchild on our big screen television, sitting in our comfy viewing room, and say, “I sure wish they had this technology when we were having babies!”

Or maybe you want to plan a gender reveal party and give your family another memorable moment in the life of your tiny one. We can determine the gender as early as 14 weeks! Even if you had the blood test, we all know seeing is believing! Our accuracy is always over 99% and if we are unable to find it for whatever reason, we bring you back one time for no charge.

The oohs and ahhs that fill the room when that baby shows their face makes it worth every penny, and you and your family will have pictures and/or videos, but more importantly, memories to cherish forever. You’ll always remember the time you just got to come relax and spend some time bonding with your baby.  I once had a mom tell me, “I’ve been really stressing about the big delivery day and losing patience through these last few weeks of the pregnancy, but seeing her on the screen today has given me the strength to get through it and reminded me what and who I am doing this for.”  Wow! Seeing your baby’s face is therapy for the body and the soul.

What about dads? Some dads are already so well-connected with their unborn baby – perhaps talking, singing, and playing with them throughout the pregnancy. But some dads really struggle to find a connection. I have seen that connection unfold at our office when dad sees that adorable baby in such detail. He can even see the interaction when the baby responds to talking or tapping or music or big brother and sister pushing. I once had a dad who came late but I was able to wait for him. After he saw his son’s beautiful face with his cute little foot on his cheek, this dad nearly broke down. At the end, he said, “Thank you so much for waiting for me. What if I had missed that!?” Mind you, this was not his first child and he was still blown away by what he saw that night.

Some of my favorite memories are the few times I got to tell a family that they were having twins. Since most moms get an ultrasound from their doctor’s office in the first trimester, it does not happen often but every once in awhile, when the image first comes up on the screen and I see those two little heads, I get to be the one to let them know. Everyone takes the news a bit differently. One couple was so calm about it, not really surprised, and were just thrilled that it was a boy and a girl. Mom said, “That works for me.  I get a boy and a girl in one pregnancy!” Another couple was completely shocked and it was so interesting to watch as they both slowly lost their minds as the waves of their new reality hit them one by one. “We can’t afford daycare for two, can we?”  “We’ll have to get a different vehicle.”  “How can I breastfeed two at a time?”  When that couple left that day, I said, “This was a most enjoyable session for me, but I’m going to go on with my day and my life will be unchanged for the most part. However, you guys are going to walk out of here and your lives will never be the same.”

But twins and triplets are so fun to see! How they are positioned with each other and who is kicking who and where. A half hour to just enjoy your little ones before the busyness that comes after they are born is such valuable time.

My name is Jessica White and my husband and I opened 4D Moments in 2013 in Kalamazoo and then officially in Grand Rapids in 2017. As parents to 8 babies ourselves, this business concept just spoke to our hearts and we have been so heavily rewarded. The moms and dads who allow us to be a part of their life-changing journey of parenthood have our utmost respect and admiration. The love for these little ones is often palpable and I just love that I am allowed to witness it in such an intimate way.

Visit us at 4DMoments.com and check us out on Facebook because we are always running specials and we give away two free ultrasounds every month on our page. Call 269-384-BABY(2229) with any questions or to make an appointment. Come see your baby blossom!

3D Photo Credits: 4D Moments

 

Babies! Babies! I could watch these precious babies all day! 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 »

Budgeting for a doula

How Much Does a Doula Cost?

With all of the expenses that accompany pregnancy and—eventually—parenthood, it’s natural to be concerned about your budget when considering hiring a doula.

So, how much does a doula cost? Prices vary widely and depend on the specific role of your doula, since there are both birth doulas and postpartum doulas. Their hours, rates, and responsibilities are very different from each other, so you’ll first need to determine which service you’d want by your side during these two distinct phases of your journey.

You can expect an investment of around $1000 to $1400 for either a birth doula or a postpartum doula through Gold Coast. This is a much lower range compared to average doula costs in the United States, which can run you up to $3k, and we even had a recent client comment on how cost-efficient our pricing is for everything that we offer.

To be honest, we certainly agree with him! Doulas like ours are on-call for clients 24/7 from the moment you sign a contract with us. But maybe you’re still wondering, what exactly does a doula do?

What Doulas Do

If you’re thinking about hiring a doula, it’s important to decide which of the two doula types you’d benefit from the most. A lot of first-time moms and dads find solace in hiring both a birth doula and a postpartum doula, while those who have had kids before might prefer hiring a birth doula but forgoing a postpartum one (or vice versa).

Birth Doula

The primary goal of a birth doula is to ensure that soon-to-be mothers have a safe, memorable, and empowering birth experience. Working in pregnancy and birth support, these doulas provide the following resources.

  • Prenatal expertise: Following an initial consultation, they’ll design an individualized birth plan after taking the time to get to know you and your partner.
  • Labor and delivery: During the actual labor and childbirth, your birth doula will be right there with reassuring and tangible comforts such as calming massages, breathing techniques, and position recommendations.
  • Medical advocacy: Behind the scenes, a birth doula connects with hospital or birth center staff to communicate your wishes and needs throughout the process.

Postpartum Doula

Perhaps less commonly known are postpartum doulas, who strive to create a fulfilling and comfortable support system after the birth. Postpartum doulas assist moms and dads with the complex yet exciting adjustment of bringing home a new baby.

  • Newborn care: Lactation and breastfeeding help, sleep consultations, diapering tips, infant hygiene—there are so many moving parts involved in newborn care, but with a postpartum doula in your corner, you don’t have to go it alone.
  • Emotional encouragement: There will be ups and downs as your family adapts to a new normal postpartum, and that’s why a doula who specializes in this transition is so invaluable, as you’ll have a supporter who knows what you’re feeling.
  • Household maintenance: Handling light chores is the last thing on your mind as a new parent, and a postpartum doula lifts that stress off your shoulders so that you can focus on what really matters… bonding with your baby!

Cost of a Doula

How much does a doula cost? Well, that can be a little unpredictable, but for doulas, unpredictability is part of the job. Some births are two hours long and others are multiple days in length. At Gold Coast Doulas, packages start at $1000 with payment plans available.

Doulas miss holidays and birthdays, and we’ll usually plan our vacations around client due dates; we’ll often add the “unless I’m at a birth” clause to social invites. We love this work, but it does take an emotional and physical toll.

Because it’s such an intensive profession, the charge for a doula tends to reflect that intensity, but as we’ve said, our Gold Coast Doulas team is worth much more than our current rates, for a very important reason: we want a teacher, or a caregiver, or an artist to be able to hire us without causing a huge financial strain.

All of our clients are so special to us, so our pricing is meant to keep this crucial resource accessible for everyone.

Ways to Pay For Your Doula

  • Out of Pocket– Conventionally, doulas are paid for by expectant parents out of their own pocket. Unfortunately, standard insurance doesn’t cover doula support in Michigan at this time, though we hope that changes in the near future. With that said, there are self-funded employer plans that you can look into like Progyny or Carrott Fertility.
  • HSA and FSA– We’re thrilled that most HSA and FSA plans now consider birth doulas a qualified medical expense. Many Gold Coast clients choose to allocate their HSA or FSA funds to pay for doula support.
  • Gifted– We’re finding that more and more grandparents or friends are gifting postpartum doula support or classes to our clients (we can make custom baby shower inserts and create gift cards for any of our services!). We’re also on the online and in-store baby registry at Ecobuns Baby & Co. in Holland, MI. Why not reduce the baby shower clutter and ask for a postpartum or birth doula instead?

Payment Plan Option

Gold Coast is proud to offer payment plans for most of our services once the standard deposit is made; we accept credit cards, cash, money orders, and checks. We’re a professional business and as a result do not barter for chickens or canned goods, although we do believe in supporting our local farmers with our own money.

We also have packages available if you purchase one or more classes or services, as we want you to feel supported and prepared as you start or grow your family. This makes adding on services more affordable and gives you the birth and/or postpartum support that you deserve.

Why Gold Coast Doulas Is Different

At Gold Coast Doulas, we go above and beyond to make our clients feel like VIPs because they are. We’re there for you 24/7, with a team of experienced and caring people who are eager to help you become a parent and thrive while doing it. Even with our exceptional service, clients frequently ask us how we can make doula support work within their budgets.

With Gold Coast, you don’t have to worry about how to pay for the care you need. Our extensive payment options (plus HSA/FSA funding and improvements in insurance coverage) minimize the hassle and maximize the support. We stand out among the rest because we truly love our clients and what we do, so providing the best possible birth and postpartum doula care is essential to meeting the standard we’ve set for ourselves.

We’re happy to customize any options just for you. Please reach out and email us (info@goldcoastdoulas.com) with any questions or fill out our contact form. We’re here for you.

 

How Much Does a Doula Cost? Read More »

Postpartum Wellness

Podcast Episode #61: Postpartum Wellness

Dr. Erica of Root Functional Medicine gives moms some tips about staying healthy through pregnancy and into the postpartum period.  We also talk about her upcoming Postpartum Wellness class on March 7.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

This podcast episode is sponsored by LifeFuel, providing healthy meal delivery in West Michigan. We love partnering with LifeFuel! 

Alyssa:  Hello!  Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and today I’m talking to Dr. Erica Armstrong of Root Functional Medicine.  Hello, Dr. Erica!  Welcome.

Dr. Erica:  Hello, thank you for having me!

Alyssa:  My business partner, Kristin, has been talking to you, but I want to know a little bit about Root Functional Medicine, and then we will talk about an event that we’re going to have together here in our space.  So tell me a little bit about what you do.

Dr. Erica:  So I am a functional medicine doctor.  My background was in family medicine for several years before I went through functional medicine training, and Kelsey, our dietician, and I created a specialty practice in functional medicine, the first of its kind in West Michigan, and we partner up to help patients really get to the root cause of why they’re not feeling well.  That’s kind of the basis of functional medicine; we look at people in a holistic sense and try to solve problems at the root, and a lot of the time, we do need to make nutritional changes, and so it just made perfect sense to partner up with a dietician to do that.

Alyssa:  So explain to me what a functional medicine doctor does versus a regular medical doctor.  How would you, in very simple terms, explain what functional medicine is?

Dr. Erica:  Sure, I would say there’s not a simple explanation other than it’s a different model of healthcare entirely.  Functional medicine isn’t the symptom, one diagnosis, one treatment, the typical path that gets rushed through.  It really is stepping back, looking at the entire picture since birth and even before birth of a patient because they’re not just a snapshot in time.  We look at their genetics.  We look at their microbiome.  We look at their nutrition and lifestyle and really plot everything on something called a functional medicine matrix, and we try to balance the imbalances.  And then we look at lab testing that’s simply not available in traditional labs to see how the body is actually functioning, and with that information, we can be much more preventative and not only help people stay away from disease but actually help them feel well.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think of it as — you know how you go to a doctor within one medical system, and then you go to another one, and you’re answering the same questions all the time, but nobody seems to be talking together.  And functional medicine is like having all those specialties together talking to one another, so the heart specialist isn’t just looking at your heart.  The heart specialist should also be asking about nutrition and diet.  You know, it’s not just all these segmented pieces.

Dr. Erica:  Yeah, that’s absolutely right.  In traditional healthcare, we tend to silo things, but yes, if you have a heart issue, it doesn’t stop there.  There are other things that we need to look at, so it’s really putting the big picture together.

Alyssa:  So you and Kelsey — she does the dietician part of it?  We should have her on sometime, too, because I love talking about diet and sleep since I do sleep consults and food, especially for little ones.  Do you see children, as well?

Dr. Erica:  We do, yeah.  We can see all ages, and I do a lot of nutrition, too.  Just in functional medicine training, a vast majority of that is nutrition, but Kelsey does help a lot with specific diets and troubleshooting, and she has a lot of nutrition knowledge that she shares with patients, too.

Alyssa:  Let’s talk about this event and tell people what it is that you do to help pregnant women and what they can look forward to if they come to this event.

Dr. Erica:  Yeah, so even before pregnancy, really optimizing wellness and things like just trying to make sure they’re eating balanced, healthy meals is important, and then things to look out for in the postpartum period where we’re often sleep deprived and have higher cortisol levels and how to navigate and troubleshoot those areas, how to plan ahead for that.

Alyssa:  So this event we’re having is on March 7th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM and it’s going to be here in our office in the Kingsley Building.  Seating is limited because our office can only hold so many people.  It’s $35.00 per person, and we’re going to create a link and post it on Facebook and put it on our website.  Are we calling it How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the Postpartum Period?

Dr. Erica:  Yes!

Alyssa:  So we’re going to talk about good foods during pregnancy, what to watch out for, sleep deprivation and cortisol, like you just mentioned, tips for dealing with that, and then how to evaluate adrenals and thyroid, which I know is a common question for a lot of women, pregnant or not.

Dr. Erica:  Yes, we end up seeing a lot of thyroid disease coming after pregnancy, for a variety of reasons.  So how to test for that and assess it from a functional standpoint.

Alyssa:  And then we have — and you might need to help me with this; talk about some adaptogens in food?  What is that?

Dr. Erica:  So adaptogens just means that it helps your body adapt to situations, so certain things like mushrooms or ashwagandha, those are called adaptogens.  So if people are having a lot of high cortisol levels, actually eating that food helps because food can talk to your genes and tell your genes to turn on or off and produce more or less cortisol.  That’s a very scientific answer, sorry!

Alyssa:  No, I get it!  And then the last thing I have on here, “some supportive things to do such as basic ideas that can be forgotten during the postpartum period.”  What do you mean by that?

Dr. Erica:  So even just remembering to continue your prenatal vitamins.  Things can get so out of routine with a newborn baby that you forget to do simple things that can help you feel well.  We end up seeing a lot of nutritional deficiencies just after giving birth, especially vitamin D.  There’s a lot of vitamin D deficiency in general in West Michigan, but if you’re breastfeeding, you’re at more risk for that.  And then magnesium deficiency, which many of us are deficient in.  So just those two simple vitamins, we can test those levels, and people end up feeling a lot better when we replace those.

Alyssa:  So who would you say should come to this event?  Women who are pregnant, trying to conceive, postpartum, all of the above?

Dr. Erica:  I think all of the above, for sure, because we’re going to talk about a lot of general health tips, as well, as focusing on the postpartum period.

Alyssa:  Okay!  So again the event is called How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the Postpartum Period, but even if you’re pregnant, I always tell people to plan ahead.  So it’s good to learn this stuff so that you’re not in the  midst of all this chaos with a newborn at home, and going, oh, shoot.  If you know this stuff, you can plan ahead.  And again, that’s going to be on March 7th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM, so if you’re interested, you can go to our contact form and let us know you’re interested in the event.  I would still like to know a little bit more about your practice.  Where are you located?

Dr. Erica:  We’re located in downtown Grand Rapids, and we mainly see people in person, but we can also see people virtually throughout the state of Michigan via telemedicine, and some people will drive in for the first visit and then follow up virtually, as well.  We have different packages on our website.  You can either work with Kelsey in nutrition package or with me in functional medicine or with both of us in what we call the Get to the Root package in where we work together for at least three months and really help get to the root cause of feeling better.

Alyssa:  I love that you can do it virtually, especially for postpartum moms!

Dr. Erica:  Yes, it makes a lot of sense not to have to lug the baby in!

Alyssa:  Yeah, it’s the last thing you want to do!  You’re in your yoga pants; you don’t want to have to drive downtown and probably run in to somebody that you know with no makeup on and all that stuff.  It’s just a lot easier, especially if you have a newborn and toddlers at home to not have to leave.

Dr. Erica:  Yeah, and we can attach all the food plans and wellness plans right to the patient portal.

Alyssa:  That’s really convenient!  Well, if anyone is interested in getting ahold of you, what’s the easiest way?

Dr. Erica:  There’s a contact form right on our website.  And we’d be happy to answer your questions.  We’re also on Instagram and Facebook as Root Functional Medicine, and we post most of our updates there.

Alyssa:  And we’ll share the Facebook event, as well.  Again, it’s How to Set Yourself Up for Success in the Postpartum Period and it will be on March 7th from 6:30 to 8:00 PM here at the Gold Coast Doulas office.  Well, thank you, Dr. Erica!  Thanks for joining us!

Dr. Erica:  Thank you!

Alyssa:  And tell Kelsey we’ll have her on sometime, too.

Dr. Erica:  Sounds good!

 

Podcast Episode #61: Postpartum Wellness Read More »

Pregnancy and Depression

Podcast Episode #60: A Naturopath’s Perspective on Pregnancy and Depression

Doctor Janna Hibler, ND talks to Alyssa and Kristin about how a naturopathic doctor treats pregnant and postpartum women, body and mind.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and I am here with Kristin, my business partner today, and Janna Hibler.  She’s a naturopathic doctor and clinical nutritionist.  Hello, Janna!

Janna:  Hi, how’s it going, guys?

Alyssa:  So Kristin and I met you at a little gathering of the minds at Grand Rapids Natural Health Recently.  We kind of hit it off, and then you and I got coffee, and we hit it off even further.  We got to chatting forever, so we were like, let’s just pause this and record our conversation!  And today, first, I want to know a little bit more about what you do, but when the two of us were talking, we spoke quite a bit about postpartum depression, and I want to talk about what happens leading up to that, even before you get pregnant, but then during pregnancy, too.  What does that look like?  What do depression and anxiety look like?  How do we nip that in the bud?

Janna:  Yeah, definitely!  So it’s really important for all of us mamas and future mamas to know that how we are before we get pregnant and give birth is a good indicator of how our health might look like after we give birth.  Things you mentioned such as anxiety or depression tend to get more severe after we give birth just because of the extreme stress and sleep deprivation that we are under, having a newborn.  I like to emphasize to my patients that this is nothing to feel bad about.  It’s just when you don’t sleep, you don’t release the same neurotransmitters and have the same brain chemistry with certain levels of uppers and feel-good hormones.  So it’s kind of…

Alyssa:  I’m obviously a big proponent of sleep for babies and parents.  So what would you tell a parent who says I’m not even pregnant yet; I’m thinking about getting pregnant.  How does a person even know if they have depression or anxiety?  And what do you do about it?  Let’s say that I’m kind of a depressed person or I get anxious about things at work or with my friends or my family.  What do you recommend?  And then let’s say I came to see you as a naturopathic doctor.

Janna:  So again, I like to really emphasize that you are normal and this is a normal part of being a female.  If we’re talking evolutionarily speaking, we were made to be out in nature, and so when we’re put in the city, even if we’re out half an hour from Grand Rapids downtown, there’s a lot of lights.  There’s a lot of noises.  There’s a lot of things going on that cause an overresponse, and that can lead to anxiety and depression.  So some symptoms might be feeling nervous in certain situations or some OCD tendencies, or a lower mood display and laughing less or getting less excited about certain things in life.  These can be very mild, but if you look at them over the course of the day, if you have a lot of little things, they do add up.  So when you walk into a naturopathic doctor’s office, something I really love and take to heart is that we have our medical concentration, but we also have a lot of education with psychology and knowing how the brain works.  So I would ask you a bunch of questions; the normal medical questions you get, but in addition, we’re going to ask about your sleep cycles, your exercise, your diet regimen.  All these play a part in our mental health, and my end goal is for everybody to feel their best all the time.  In order to find out how people are feeling, I like to run a series of either urinary or blood tests.  This can give us an indication of brain chemistry, hormone levels, cortisol, in addition to the normal things like checking sugar and red blood cells.  I really like to hone in on these specialty tests because by checking our brain chemistry, I can find exactly what neurotransmitters might be high or low, and we can treat appropriately.

Alyssa:  So when you talk about neurotransmitters, what does that mean?  What are you looking at and what does that mean to you?

Janna:  So our neurotransmitters; there’s the common ones we’ve all heard of like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, even histamine.  There is a whole slew of uppers and downers, and basically, we take the brain chemistry analysis tests so we can see if some of them are off.  Some people that have allergies have high histamine levels.  That’s an upper, so when we have allergies, those people actually tend to have anxiety, as well.  And so we can actually nip the anxiety in the bud by treating the allergies and reducing histamine levels.  So it’s really a cool science.

Alyssa:  And the cortisol and serotonin and melatonin, all those things you can actually check with blood and urine?

Janna:  Exactly, yeah.

Kristin:  And a lot of women have issues with their thyroid; is that part of the testing, that you can check thyroid levels?

Janna:  Absolutely.  I like to refer to it as our hormone triangle where we have our thyroid as the king, our sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and then we have our cortisol.  All three of those categories play a huge role in our hormone development and picture that we have, so we do a lot of intensive testing to find out where those levels are at.

Alyssa:  And what would you do if I came in and my cortisol levels were sky-high and you noticed something with my thyroid?  What would you tell me to do?

Janna:  So depending on your lab results, the thyroid could be treated in two ways.  One, sometimes we do give conventional medications, and then another way to treat, depending on your levels, is with herbs.  We can give a series of botanical herbs to actually bring your levels back to normal, as well as certain nutrients.  There’s a number of co-factors that actually feed our thyroid hormone to turn from its inactive to active form, and without them, we will not function.  So that’s things like vitamin D and iron and vitamin C; very common nutrients that we take for granted, but they play a vital role in our thyroid health.

Alyssa:  So how long do you test that out before you put them on a drug?

Janna:  Typically, I like to give a patient three to six months to see if we can fix it with nutrients and herbs.  Again, it comes back to what the patient wants.  If a patient wants results this month, then we might take a more aggressive treatment plan.  But if they’re willing to do it completely naturally, then three to six months.

Alyssa:  So let’s say I get it under control; I’m pregnant, and I still notice now that I still have some anxiety or depression.  What do you do during pregnancy?

Janna:  I really like to encourage diet and exercise and sleep.  Those are our biggest best friends to really help out.  Different lifestyle factors can have a huge effect on our mood and behavior.  So let’s start with maybe some foods.  We could eat a diet rich in dopamine, so we could do things like chocolate.  I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate?  We all love it, but do we know it’s high in magnesium and it’s high in zinc?  Those are vital co-factors to run our brain chemistry.  We can also have blueberries or nuts and seeds, which are high in vitamin B6 and 9 and all these B vitamins to help also with our mood.  We could do some grass-fed or fermented foods, which help with our gastrointestinal health, which again, I’m sure you guys have all heard of the gut being the second brain.  And then sulfur; sulfur-rich foods like onions and garlic that actually help with detox, so if we are having some things get backed up, we can help get them out.  So we really try to approach it from a multifactorial view hitting all points.  How’s our diet?  How’s our exercise?  How’s our sleep?  How’s our stress?  And a lot of what I get into with patients, too, is how is your relationship at home?  Do you feel supported?  Do you feel loved?  Do you feel heard by your partner?  By your business partners, your coworkers?  These are all part of our needs that play a role in our mental health when we’re pregnant and when we’re not pregnant.

Alyssa:  I was going to say those are things that should be carried over throughout, right?

Janna:  Yeah, yeah!

Alyssa:  Meanwhile, exercising and getting enough sleep.

Janna:  Totally, and pregnancy just kind of is that opportunity where we find our weaknesses in our body, and it’s actually a great opportunity to increase our health for the rest of our life and find out things we wouldn’t know about it unless we were pregnant.

Alyssa:  Oftentimes, I feel like that is the point in a woman’s brain and body where we finally start to understand and care about what’s happening to our body, and because we’re growing another human, then we’re like, oh, I better start taking care of myself so that I can take care of this baby.

Janna: Yeah, and I think that has a lot to do with what happens after we give birth and why a lot of moms struggle.  I mean, I want to say that loud on this podcast right now that mom life is hard.  It is a struggle, and I know we all try to put on a face that we’re doing well and everything’s perfect at home, but mom life is hard, and that’s maybe another podcast sometime, but that’s a conversation I’d love to get started because it is hard, and to that extent, why we have a hard time after birth is a lot of the time – and I’m sure you guys see this all the time, being in the house with moms – that the moms forget about themselves.  They put all of their energy, all of their love, into their baby, and I was guilty of it, too.  I mean, I have a two-year-old, and I definitely did it.  I’m still guilty of it some days because we love that human so, so much.  But I think it’s really important for our mental health and as mothers to put the energy back into ourselves and remember that we really can’t pour from an empty cup, and we have to be healthy and strong ourselves in order to make strong and healthy babies.

Alyssa:  So what do you recommend to a mom who’s suffering from depression?  You know, maybe they had a beautiful pregnancy, easy labor and delivery, and then they’re like, oh, my God; this is way harder than I thought, and then sink into a depression that they’ve never experienced before.  How do you get them out that?

Janna:  And so many moms do!  There are so, so many out there that come in, and they’re like, not even my husband knows how sad I am; not even my best friend knows how sad I am, and that’s where I really encourage everyone to just start reaching out.  I don’t want you to be ashamed; I don’t want you to feel guilty, because it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom.  You’re an excellent mom because you care so, so much, and asking for that help and taking that first step, making people aware that this is something I do need help with, and receiving that love.  From a medical standpoint, too, we’ll go in and I’ll help adjust hormones and your brain chemistry with either herbs or conventional treatments or nutrient levels to help your body, but I think so much of it also comes from a mental and emotional spot of feeling supported and loved by your people around you.

Alyssa:  So is naturopathic medicine, in general, more of a functional approach versus the medical approach or kind of a combination?

Janna:  Exactly, yeah, and functional medicine is so great.  That is the bridge between conventional medicine and natural medicine because we all agree on it, you know.  We see a lab level, and it’s important to attend to it when it’s on its lower level.  Traditionally-minded thinking, we only would treat something like vitamin D if it was set low because that’s the level that can cause rickets and true mobility issues, but what about everybody that has low-normal, that they’re in that functional, funky range?  That’s at a stage that can cause depression, that you can get autoimmune diseases.  So as a naturopathic doctor, I really work on treating it then and now so we can prevent getting those diseases because they may not pop up in five or even ten years, but they will happen if they’re not treated.

Kristin:  Even in pregnancy, there’s evidence that preeclampsia with the lack of vitamin D, that can be a factor in developing preeclampsia.

Janna:  Exactly, and that’s how it can be that simple sometimes where moms come in and, hey, they just want to run a nutrient panel just to find out what are their baseline nutrients, and then that way when breastfeeding comes into play, especially for extended breastfeeding – I’ve been breastfeeding for two and a half years, so that’s something I’ve been keeping a constant eye on, what are my nutrient levels, because we don’t want to cause other problems from just being depleted.  So yeah, that’s a great point.

Alyssa:  Depleted is a good word to describe mothers postpartum, I think.  Most of us at some point just feel depleted, whether it’s mentally, physically, whether it’s just breastfeeding.  That alone can make you feel depleted; this baby is literally sucking the life out of me!

Janna:  Because you’re giving everything!

Kristin:  I tandem nursed, so I really felt depleted when I was nursing two!

Alyssa:  It’s like this weird tug of war between “I love doing this” and “I hate doing this so much.”  I remember getting so over it when I was done, and then a month later I missed it.  I was like, oh, my God; I’m not breastfeeding anymore!  But I was so ready to throw those pump accessories in the trash and celebrate, but it’s just a weird…

Janna:  It is!  And every mom is different, so we like to celebrate moms at each level, whether they want to breastfeed for three months or six months or a year.  We all have our breaking point, and we want to prevent us from getting to that point.  Mama matters, too!

Kristin:  For sure!

Alyssa:  Well, thank you so much for joining us, and if people want to find you to come visit you or just ask you questions or follow you on Instagram, where do they find you?

Janna:  Absolutely!  So I’m currently accepting patients at Grand Rapids Natural Health, and I’m also on social media as holisticmommyandmedoc, and you can reach out there anytime.  My name is Janna Hibler on Facebook, and feel free to message me anytime.  I like to get to know my mamas.  Since I just moved from Vermont, I’m looking to build up my network of mamas because we are a tribe and we all need to stick with each other, so whether it’s personally or professionally, I do want to link up with you!

Alyssa:  Thank you so much!

Kristin:  Thanks, Janna!  We appreciate it!

 

Podcast Episode #60: A Naturopath’s Perspective on Pregnancy and Depression Read More »

Adoption

Doula Support for Adoptive Families

Most parents probably don’t think about hiring a doula if they aren’t pregnant. They think of a birth doula only supporting a laboring mother, but that couldn’t be farther from reality. Birth doulas can support any parent. Postpartum doulas can support adoptive families by helping them to prepare for baby’s arrival and in-home after baby arrives. There are so many ways doulas can support families that are adopting!

At Gold Coast we are focused on educating parents. We offer several prenatal and postnatal classes to help new parents navigate this new territory. We offer a Newborn Survival class that goes over essentials of surviving those first few weeks and months home with your baby. Real life scenarios and raw topics are discussed to help parents feel confident in their roles.

We also offer a Prenatal Stress class. This is designed for any parent, pregnant or adopting, to understand the affects that stress has on a developing child’s brain, not just throughout pregnancy but through their growing years as well.

Infant Massage is a great way for adoptive parents to bond with a new baby. Our instructor offers classes as well as private in-home instruction. Another great way to bond is babywearing. We have a certified babywearing expert that does in-home instruction and can show you how to safely use your carrier(s).

For parents that might be bringing multiples home (twins or even triplets) we offer a Preparing for Multiples class, and we have a postpartum doula that is a mother of twins herself. Her in-home support, expertise, tips, and tricks are invaluable!

If grandparents will be primary care givers, we offer a class called The Modern Grandparent that updates them on the latest safety information as well as informs them about today’s parent and how parenting styles differ from generations past.

Our lactation consultant can help adoptive mothers induce lactation and can also offer advice about chest feeding.

At Gold Coast, our postpartum doulas are available day and night. Daytime support includes help with baby bonding, newborn care, help with older siblings, meal prep, and evidence based resources. Your postpartum doula is your trusted guide for anything baby related. Overnight support allows parents to get a full nights rest while the doula takes care of the baby through the night. The doula will feed the baby, burp, change diapers, etc allowing the parent(s) to get as much rest as possible knowing there is an experienced professional caring for their child. 

A postpartum doula is an amazing gift idea for baby showers! We can create a custom insert for your shower invitations and you can also register online for any of our services at EcoBuns Baby + Co online.

We also offer Gentle Sleep Consultations. Sleep is critical for adults and babies. Babies needs proper sleep for brain development and physiological growth. Parents need sleep to help manage the day to day obstacles of parenthood as well as for basic health and wellness.

We also have doulas specially trained in grief that can help you through loss.

Some of the trusted resources we suggest to families are:

Kelly Mom https://kellymom.com/category/parenting/ Athough there is alot of information about breastfeeding on this site, there are some relevant parenting and adoptive parenting tips as well.

This link features several apps our clients like. http://redtri.com/apps-every-new-parent-needs/slide/3

The Baby Connect Tracker App is also popular with our clients. https://www.baby-connect.com

At Gold Coast Doulas, we pride ourselves on being the premier doula agency in West Michigan. We offer judgment-free support to all families regardless of their parenting styles. We are here for your family, wherever you are in your journey.

 

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pregnant

Healthy Prenatal Strategies for Pregnant Women

During pregnancy, the best health strategies are often those that can be incorporated into one’s everyday life. As a woman’s size increases and her mobility decreases, the ability to engage in physical activity gradually diminishes, which places a greater emphasis on other health habits that can help her maintain a healthy pregnancy weight and engage in effective self-care on a daily basis. Prenatal care depends to a great extent on many of those same health concerns that impact anyone, notably getting plenty of restful sleep, following a healthy diet, getting the right amount of physical exercise, and observing self-care practices every day of your pregnancy.

Your Microbiome

Your microbiome is the sum of all the genetic material inside and on the human body. The bacteria in one’s microbiome helps digest food, regulates the immune system, produces vitamins such as B and B12, and is essential for nutrition and immunity to disease.

Eating Right

Getting the right foods is one of the easiest, most straightforward ways of caring for your health and that of your unborn child. In general, eating foods from the five essential food groups is advisable, including a variety of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, though unpasteurized cheeses (i.e. feta and bleu as well as Mexican-style cheeses) and certain fish — particularly those high in methylmercury — should be carefully avoided. Additionally, ensure that you get 400 micrograms of folic acid a day.

Exercise

In general, pregnant women can continue engaging in normal forms of physical exercise during pregnancy, though it’s important to consult a healthcare provider if you have any doubts regarding the safety of a particular exercise. Regular exercise is a good way to help you sleep soundly, feel better, and keep your body in good shape so you’re able to get back into shape quickly after giving birth. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy pregnancy weight; gaining too much (which can cause gestational high blood pressure and other problems) or too little can lead to problems for you and your baby. In general, the amount of allowable pregnancy weight gain depends on your body mass index and your pre-pregnancy weight.

Substances to Avoid

It is by now well-known that nicotine intake and alcohol consumption can lead to birth defects and should be avoided during pregnancy. Studies have shown that smoking tobacco or marijuana and taking illegal drugs can as much as triple the risk of fetal death after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Avoid doing house cleaning with cleaning substances that could prove to be toxic, and don’t handle pesticides and anything containing heavy metals.

Deficiencies

During pregnancy, women often suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, which has a bearing on problems such as low birth weight and pre-term birth. In some cases, a B12 supplement can help guard against such problems.

Observing careful health practices when you’re pregnant is about much more than watching one’s weight and maintaining your health. It’s all about ensuring that you give birth to a healthy baby on time and with a safe and healthy birth weight.

Jennifer McGregor is the co-creator of Public Health Library – a forum for sharing reputable health and medical information.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Healthy Prenatal Strategies for Pregnant Women Read More »

Real Food for Pregnancy

5 Research-Backed Strategies to Reduce Your Risk of Preeclampsia

If you’ve done any reading on preeclampsia, we’re probably in agreement that it’s a diagnosis that no woman wants to get. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that affects up to 10% of expecting mamas. It involves high protein levels in the urine and swelling (edema) in addition to high blood pressure. Ultimately, these symptoms can affect blood flow and nutrient transfer to your baby and risk of other complications, including preterm birth.

There’s been extensive research into the origins of high blood pressure and preeclampsia and researchers still don’t have perfectly clear answers on how to prevent or treat it. There is more than one cause of high blood pressure and not all cases can be prevented or managed with lifestyle choices, however there are some evidence based lifestyle choices that can help. This article will review 5 research-backed strategies to reduce your risk of preeclampsia.

1) Consume adequate salt & electrolytes 

Contrary to conventional advice, reducing your salt intake often does not lower blood pressure and it also does not reduce the risk of preeclampsia. Advice to lower your salt intake is outdated and unfounded advice. A Cochrane review, which is a highly respected source for evidence-based advice, concluded that advice to lower salt intake in pregnancy should no longer be recommended. Salt is vital to many functions in your body and is even more important in pregnancy when electrolyte needs increase (salt is an electrolyte).

As early as 1958, in a study of over 2,000 women, researchers noted lower levels of preeclampsia in women who consumed higher levels of salt. In addition, they observed a reduction in blood pressure and edema (swelling) in women when additional salt was added to their diets. In light of this information, these researchers advised women with signs of preeclampsia to “measure out each morning four heaped teaspoonfuls of table salt and to see that by night they had taken all of it.” This resulted in “spontaneous recovery” from preeclampsia (called toxemia in this era) for the majority of the women. They noted that “The extra dose of salt had to be taken up to the time of delivery; otherwise the symptoms of toxemia recurred,” which suggests that salt was indeed playing a crucial role in treating their condition.

Recent studies have replicated this finding, noting that higher salt intake during pregnancy lowers blood pressure and lessens the severity of preeclampsia. In addition, a 2014 study concluded that “Extra salt in the diet seems to be essential for the health of a pregnant woman, her fetus, placental development, and appropriate function.”

In short, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and liberally salting your foods.

2) Eat a lower-carb, low-glycemic diet.

If salt doesn’t raise your blood pressure, what does? It turns out that excessive intake of carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates and added sugar, is a primary driver of increased blood pressure. In one study of over 33,000 pregnant women, those who consumed the most added sugars were the most likely to develop preeclampsia. In addition, research has shown that a lower carbohydrate diet tends to reduce the severity of high blood pressure.

If you want to lower your chances of developing preeclampsia, it’s wise to be proactive about your food choices and switch to a lower-carb, low-glycemic diet. A low-carb, nutrient-dense diet during pregnancy supports better blood sugar regulation and ensures the optimal development of your baby. This does not mean all carbohydrates need to be eliminated from your diet, just that their intake should be carefully balanced with other foods (such as foods high in protein & fats as well as plenty of vegetables) to minimize spikes in blood sugar. It’s also wise to choose the most nutrient dense carbohydrates (those found in whole foods) while avoiding processed, refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates that have been “refined” are those that have been processed heavily, most often to remove fiber and/or be turned into flour or starch. For example, whole wheat can be refined into white flour and whole corn can be refined into corn starch.

Refined carbohydrates to limit:

White flour products (e.g., pasta, bread, tortillas, pancakes, crackers, cereals, granola, etc.)
Sugar (added or naturally occurring)
Sweet drinks (including soda and juice)

3) Consume adequate amounts of protein, especially glycine-rich sources of protein.

Protein intake is especially important when it comes to maintaining normal blood pressure. Your entire cardiovascular system is under a tremendous amount of stress during pregnancy, as it has to cope with higher levels of fluids, hormonal shifts, and expanding blood vessels.

Protein-rich foods supply the raw materials to help your body meet these demands, so it’s no surprise that low protein intake is a risk factor for developing preeclampsia. One amino acid, called glycine, can be especially helpful for regulating blood pressure. Glycine needs increase dramatically during pregnancy. One of the functions of glycine is in the production of elastin, a structural protein that allows your blood vessels to expand and contract.

Glycine is also protective against oxidative stress, a hallmark of preeclampsia, and glycine has been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in studies.  Women with preeclampsia excrete less glycine in their urine, suggesting increased demands for glycine and/or depleted maternal stores.  The best sources of glycine are the connective tissues, skin, and bones of animal foods, like you consume when you eat bone broth, slow-cooked meat (like pot roast and stews), chicken with the skin, pork cracklings (fried pork skin), and collagen or gelatin powder.

4) Consider supplementing with magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency is quite common. In fact, according to recent estimates, 48% of Americans consume inadequate magnesium from food. Magnesium deficiency is even more common during pregnancy, and research has found that magnesium depletion, especially in the presence of calcium excess, can predispose women to vascular complications of pregnancy (such as preeclampsia). Women with gestational diabetes are also commonly deficient in magnesium—and gestational diabetes is linked to a higher risk for developing preeclampsia.

Your best food sources of magnesium are seaweed, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews, chia seeds, avocados, unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark chocolate), bone broth, and green herbs including chives, cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, sage, and basil. You can also absorb a significant amount of magnesium through your skin by taking Epsom salt baths or foot soaks (Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate).

5) Ensure you consume enough choline.

Finally, choline is another nutrient that may protect against preeclampsia. It appears that choline plays a role in placental function and may enhance the transfer of nutrients to your baby, a process that’s disrupted in preeclampsia.

In both animal and human studies, supplementation with choline reduces placental inflammation and helps prevents preeclampsia. For example, supplementing pregnant women with high amounts of choline in the second and third trimester (930 mg, which is roughly double the current recommended intake) has been shown to improve vascular function of the placenta and “mitigate some of the pathological antecedents of preeclampsia.” Theoretically, this makes a lot of sense. The placenta shares a lot of similar functions to the liver and choline is particularly protective to liver function.

Consumption of foods that provide high amounts of choline, namely egg yolks and liver, also supply a variety of micronutrients that are anti-inflammatory. If you’re not already doing so, incorporate these two nutrient-dense foods into your diet.

Summary

I want to reiterate that although you can do “all the right things” to reduce your chances of complications, sometimes they are out of your control. This advice may stack the deck in your favor, however there is no 100% proven way to avoid any or all complications. If your blood pressure does go up during pregnancy or you get a diagnosis for preeclampsia, its wise to work with an experience medical provider to determine the underlying cause and get you appropriate treatment, which may include lifestyle changes and/or medication.

In her latest book – Real Food for Pregnancy – Lily Nichols takes prenatal nutrition advice out of the dark ages and provides an easy-to-follow guide for making the best food and lifestyle choices during pregnancy.

In Real Food for Pregnancy, you’ll get clear answers on what to eat and why, with research to back up every recommendation. Lily Nichols has taken a long and hard look at the science and lays out the evidence—930 citations and counting—on the benefits of real food, why certain foods are essential (and others are detrimental), and countless lifestyle tweaks you can make to have a smooth, healthy pregnancy.

The short version of what is covered in the book:

• In Real Food for Pregnancy Lily Nichol’s debunks a LOT of prenatal nutrition myths. Most prenatal nutrition advice is either outdated or not evidenced-based. Misconceptions of conventional prenatal nutrition: macronutrients, salt, “foods to avoid,” fish, etc.

• Foods to emphasize, lab tests, supplements

• Testing for gestational diabetes—pros/cons of all the methods

• Nutritional management of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, nausea, heartburn & more

• Mindfulness, stress management, exercise, avoidance of toxins

• Traditional postpartum care, impact of nutrients on breast milk quality, etc.

There has never been a more comprehensive and well-referenced resource on prenatal nutrition. With Real Food for Pregnancy as your guide, you can be confident that your food and lifestyle choices support a smooth, healthy pregnancy.

 

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

What Readers are Saying: 

“I’m so thrilled to read Real Food for Pregnancy. I absolutely love Lily’s work. Her evidence-based approach to nutrition is not only relevant during pregnancy, but for the rest of your life! I think every birth professional (midwife, doula, etc.) should have a copy in their lending library for clients.” —Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, Founder of Evidence Based Birth®

“As a midwife, this book will be on my must-read list for every pregnant person I know.” —Tracy Donegan, Midwife & Founder of GentleBirth

“Real Food for Pregnancy should be considered essential reading for any woman who is currently pregnant or planning conception in the near future.” —Amit Bhavsar, MD, Board certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist 

“Lily Nichols has written a must-read for any woman or health professional interested in prenatal nutrition. During my first pregnancy I felt like I spent hours upon hours trying to research all of the information that is summed up beautifully in Real Food for Pregnancy. Lily questions conventional wisdom and offers new and practical, science-based recommendations to support optimal health for both mom and baby. I hope this book will inspire change in current prenatal nutrition guidelines.” —Shannon Weston, MPH, RD, LD, CDE, Houston, TX

“As a practicing CNM (midwife) for almost 30 years, I am thrilled to have found Lily’s writing and expertise. Real Food for Pregnancy is one that we’ll keep in stock at our clinic and will teach from during our early pregnancy classes. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the vitamins and minerals and how to get them from food. In my experience, too many people believe that prenatal vitamins will solve all of their problems or will guarantee the health of the baby.” —Cheryl Heitkamp, APRN, CNM, President of Willow Midwives in Minneapolis, MN

About the Author:

Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Drawing from the current scientific literature and the wisdom of traditional cultures, her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and sensible. Her bestselling book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes (and online course of the same name), presents a revolutionary nutrient-dense, lower carb diet for managing gestational diabetes. Her unique approach has not only helped tens of thousands of women manage their gestational diabetes (most without the need for blood sugar-lowering medication), but has also influenced nutrition policies internationally.

Lily’s second book, Real Food for Pregnancy, is an evidence-based look at the gap between conventional prenatal nutrition guidelines and what’s optimal for mother and baby. With over 930 citations, this is the most comprehensive text on prenatal nutrition to date.

Lily is also creator of the popular blog, www.PilatesNutritionist.com, which explores a variety of topics related to real food, mindful eating, and pregnancy nutrition.

To learn more, go to http://realfoodforpregnancy.com/

 

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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Back to Health Chiropractic Zeeland MI

Chiropractic Prenatal Care

Yes, you read that right! If you just raised an eyebrow with a bit of confusion, you are not alone. Most people think Chiropractic care is mostly for neck pain, back pain, and maybe headaches. For most of my patients, that’s true. However, after we resolve their pain, some amazing things start happening. Some people notice they move better, sleep better, breathe better, have less digestive issues, feel less stress, feel more focused, etc. Response to care is different for every individual, but most people find the benefits of chiropractic care beyond pain relief and into the realm of optimal function.

The reason is because Chiropractic works with the nervous system, the master control system of the body. Your brain tells every part of your body, every organ, tissue, and cell, how to function. The brain sends its messages via nerves, which run through the spine and out to the different parts of the body. When a joint in the spine is misaligned, it not only compromises the mobility of the joint and the ligaments and muscles that attach, but also the nerve that exits that part of the spine. This is called a subluxation. Subluxations are caused by the physical stress of our daily lives, be it sitting at a desk most of the day, performing athletic events, or even picking up and playing with your kiddos!

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy can attest to the physical stress and changes that their body undergoes. Growing a baby is hard work! Your body is constantly changing and adapting to create this beautiful life. For example, your body increases a hormone called Relaxin. Relaxin functions to increase things like heart function and blood flow, but also to relax the ligaments of the pelvis so the bones of the pelvis are more moveable for baby to grow and for baby to be delivered. One of the joints most commonly affected is the pubic symphysis, or pubic bone. As a result, many mothers feel discomfort in their pubic bone, not knowing this could be alleviated. Other common physical grievances of pregnancy such as sciatica and back pain can also be helped by Chiropractic care.

But what if I told you Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy has also been known to have outcomes such as easier, faster labors? A recent study by Heidi Haavik* found a correlation between chiropractic adjustments and responsiveness of the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that attach to the pelvis and help you to open up the birth canal and push baby out. The women who received pelvic adjustments had stronger pelvic floor muscles. Without subluxations in the pelvis, the joints of the pelvis move freely and nerves can properly stimulate muscles to function properly.

Most women who are familiar with the benefits of Chiropractic care, or have been recommended by their OB or Midwife, seek care for the optimal position of the fetus for birth. Oftentimes, women come to the Chiropractor when their baby is in a breech position in hopes that Chiropractic care can help baby get into an optimal position and allow for a vaginal birth. The Chiropractic technique used to adjust pregnant women is called the Webster Technique. The technique was founded by Dr. Larry Webster in 1976 after watching his daughter suffer through a long and difficult labor where the baby was breech. Since that time, Chiropractors have been successfully helping change the outcomes of breech positioned babies. The idea is that by removing any misalignment in the pelvis, there is proper nerve stimulation to the uterus and pelvic muscles and ligaments, allowing the baby to assume the best position for birth and the body to have the optimal movement to birth. More information about the Webster Technique, its efficacy, and how to find a Webster trained Chiropractor can be found on the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s (ICPA) website, www.icpa4kids.org.

So what can you expect when you go to a Chiropractor that is trained to care for the expectant mother? First of all, you can expect a Doctor who is ready to listen to you and help support and care for you on your journey to motherhood. We want your pregnancy and labor to be a positive and healthy experience for you and baby. Ideally, we promote wellness care and prevention so we hope to have you under care before you are pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. However, we are open to helping you whenever your journey brings you to us. The adjustment is safe and gentle, and best of all our tables accommodate for you to lie on your belly! Moms often report this opportunity as the best part of their day. In our office at Back to Health Chiropractic, you can almost always expect to see expectant Moms, babies, and little ones getting adjusted every time you come in. We look forward to meeting you and your newest addition!

In good health,
Dr. Demetra

*Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 39.5 (2016): 339-47. Heidi Haavik

Dr. Deme graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and moved to Dallas, Texas where she taught Physical Education and Health and coached Basketball, Volleyball, and Cross Country. While competing at the Ironman Triathlon 70.3 World Championships, Dr. Deme discovered the many benefits of Chiropractic in her personal performance. The improved health results along with her passion for natural health, led her to Parker University to study Chiropractic. Dr. Deme is Webster Certified to treat prenatal patients and is currently pursuing a specialty in Pregnancy and Pediatrics with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Dr. Deme and her husband Chris are excited for their son, Alexi, to grow up in West Michigan.

 

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Healthy Fats

Healthy Fats for a Nourished Body & Baby

We are happy to have Sam Kalawart, Certified Health Coach, as a guest blogger today! Check out what she has to say about healthy fats.

Pregnancy is a beautiful and exciting time in a woman’s life. During these 9 months, your body is working in over drive to ensure your unborn baby is developing as it should, which means a nutrient-dense and balanced diet has never been more important. Simplifying nutrition, meal planning, and reducing stress are a big part of making this incredible journey a little easier on mommy and baby. Getting these skills down pat can help you naturally balance your hormones, stabilize cravings, glow from the inside out, and most importantly grow a healthy baby.

Today I’m talking about fat. Not just any fat, but fats sourced from a wide variety of plants that will make you look and feel fabulous!

We’ve all been told to fear fats because of the increased risk for raised cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The truth is that without fat our hormones, and in turn our health, can fall into disarray. Understanding fats is especially vital for expecting mommas to ensure they are receiving the adequate building blocks during pregnancy. Fat becomes even more important postpartum as your body works to re-balance hormones and keep your milk supply prevalent. It’s time for some clarity so you can implement healthy fats into your diet with ease.

Limit

Trans fats have almost no nutritional quality and are generally used to increase the shelf life of products. Unfortunately, it wreaks havoc on your health and has been proven to raise your LDL also knows as “bad cholesterol” and lowers your HDL or “good cholesterol”. Though regulations to reduce or completely remove trans fats have grown in popularity globally, trans fats are still prevalent in the U.S. food supply today. Partially-Hydronated vegetable oils and saturated animal fats pose the same risks and impair circulation in the body, which is why I always emphasize that my clients read nutrition labels to understand the ingredients in their food. Watch out for the following vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola.

I get asked about nuts a lot and the only nut that I recommend my clients limit is peanuts, including peanut butter. This is because of the high cases of a mold known as Aflatoxin, which is formed during peanut production. Aflatoxin has a carcinogen and has been shown to cause liver cancer in rats. The added oils and sugars found in most peanut butters also lead to an increase of inflammation in the body. If cravings get the better of you then opt for the organic, raw peanut butter, or better yet make your own in a food processor with organic/raw peanuts.

Enjoy

Fat sources I recommend are a balance of poly-saturated and mono-saturated fats found in a variety of plants. My favorite sources are avocado, coconut butter, raw nuts and raw nut butters, seeds such as hemp/chia/flax, and olives are also an excellent choice. Increasing your omega-3’s during pregnancy is also very important, just be sure you are getting them from clean sources. Because fish can contain high mercury levels, I recommend sticking to natural sources of omega-3’s found in hemp seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and algae. I use a DHA/EPA supplement made from algae that is a potent form of omega 3’s and is readily absorbed by the body.

Portions

Each meal should contain a portion of healthy fats but it can be very easy to overdo it, even with plant sources of fat. A great example of this would be snacking on nuts. A few handfuls of raw cashews can easily exceed 600 calories, so stay mindful of your consumption and focus on balancing your meals with greens, plant protein, and starches such as sweet potato, quinoa or wild rice. As a general guideline, keep your daily portions to 1 tablespoon of coconut/olive oil for cooking, a small handful of raw nuts/seeds for snacking, and ½ avocado per day added to salads. I don’t believe in tracking macros meticulously but tracking for the first few days as you get into the swing of things can be very helpful for some. Keeping daily fat intake around 20-30% is ideal, but everyone’s needs are different so tune into your body’s own intuition.

To incorporate some plant based fat into your meals try my Classic Guacamole recipe below! I enjoy this recipe dipped with my favorite veggies, garnished on salads and of course top off my tacos with it!

Classic Guacamole

Start by picking 2-3 ripe avocados. They are ripe when slightly soft to the touch and dimple easily. When you cut into them they should be a light green. Brown spots mean it is going bad and yellow mean it’s not quite ready yet!

In a small mixing bowl, scoop out the inside of the avocados and discard the seed. I then use a potato masher to get them to the consistency I’m looking for. Some people like their guac completely smooth but I like to leave some chunkiness in there for texture.

Chop the following and stir into mashed avocados: 

-1 shallot
-2 cloves of garlic
-1/2 cup red onion
-Handful of fresh cilantro
-1 serrano pepper
-1 tomatillo
-Juice of 1 lime

Add the following spices: 

-Dash of cumin
-1 tsp of Himalayan sea salt (add more to taste)
-1 tsp of cracked black pepper

Stir and enjoy with your favorite chips/tacos/salad!

Sam Kalawart, CHC

In my health coaching practice, I guide my clients to effortless weight loss and a boost in energy without yo-yo diets or deprivation. Through my one-on-one customized sessions, we work to find what works for your body for sustainable results using whole foods, mindfulness and a whole lot of self-love!

Utilizing the psychology of habit change I help you follow through in a way that you never have before. This is an invitation to get curious about how healthy you can be, to become a stand for transformation.

Click here to learn more about Sam’s services and schedule your FREE Self-Discovery Consultation!

Source Information:
Normal Suggested Amount of Fat and Protein for Women, SF GATE, 18 Mar. 2016. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
“Berkeley Wellness.” Aflatoxin in Peanuts, University of Berkeley. Accessed 1 Apr. 2016.
Mann, Dennis. Trans Fats: The Science and the Risks, WebMD. Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.

 

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birth bag

What to pack in your birth bag

Clients often ask us what to pack in their birth bags during prenatal appointments.

Here are our top 12 items to pack:

  1. Your birth plan or birth preference sheet. Our Gold Coast doulas can answer questions for you as you begin to create your plan.
  2. Charger for your phones. You don’t want to lose your ability to communicate, take photos, videos, etc.
  3. Snacks for your partner or husband.
  4. IPOD or phone if you want music at your birth with a docking station. You can even make your own birthing soundtrack!
  5. Coconut water to keep you hydrated..plus it is delicious.
  6. Hair ties or a headband to get your hair off of your face.
  7. A Nursing bra or nursing tank for those first feedings.
  8. Chapstick or a natural lip balm. Your lips will feel very dry during labor.
  9. A birthing gown if you want to wear your own. We love Pretty Pushers.  Another great option is a long skirt and a nursing tank.
  10. Honey sticks in case you need an extra boost. I love to buy them locaally at the Fulton Street Farmers Market.
  11. A camera or better yet hire a birth photographer. We love The People Picture Company.
  12. Photos or mementos from home to serve as a focal point during labor.

 

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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