Fourth Trimester Support: Podcast Episode #218
Kristin Revere talks with Dr. Dannielle Wright of Honey, a postpartum support network, about how to support new parents in the fourth trimester.
Hello, hello. This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am so excited to chat with Dr. Wright today. Dr. Wright started a business called Honey, which is a postpartum support network. Her bio is impressive. Dr. Wright is a native of Columbia, South Carolina. She attended undergrad at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, where she majored in psychology and minored in chemistry. From there, she completed her medical and residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical University in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2020, she began her active duty service in the United States Air Force and has served four years. During this time, she has also become a mom and CEO of Honey, a postpartum support network. This company was formed from her own personal postpartum experience and the gaps in care that she felt existed through the rest of her own journey in the fourth trimester.
Welcome, Dr. Wright!
Well, thank you for having me! I really appreciate you taking the time to learn more about me and learn more about Honey.
Yes, I am thrilled with your focus. I mean, not many OB-GYNs are as interested in the postnatal period. So it seems like a bit of your own personal journey, but I’d love to hear more professionally about what led you to starting Honey.
Yeah. So I am fresh off, I would say, the 12 month mark postpartum. My daughter was born in October of 2022, and prior to having Emery, my understanding and approach to the postpartum period obviously was shaped by my medical training. And it’s my opinion that in residency, the focus is really – in our clinical practice, it’s really on the inpatient side of postpartum care. So we know how to take care of the mom after a C-section, after a vaginal delivery. We know how to handle all the acute things that can happen in the hospital, whether that’s a hemorrhage or, I don’t know, if something crazy happens, like if there’s bladder injury or bowel injury, et cetera. I felt like that was really the focus of my training, and there’s a reason for that. We do need to be experts at managing those things. But when it comes to the nuances of motherhood and all the things emotionally that are experienced by moms, no matter if you’re a new mom or a seasoned mom, that’s the stuff that is missing.
There’s a little story behind that. I’m sure you know that traditionally obstetric curriculum is built by the man and the man is great. The patriarchy is great. However, it’s time for that to change, and it’s time for us to kind of revamp how we as medical professionals are approaching and how we are trained to think about taking care of moms in this very, very sensitive but precious period of their life.
I love it. And I 100% agree.
I know that people have been preaching it for a while. I don’t think I really understood and I wasn’t really slapped in the face until I was in the thick of it, and I realized, wow, I’m not prepared. I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought I was, but I’m not.
I love that it’s a mix of having a recent baby, and in that postnatal recovery period yourself, being just under a year, and also your work as a physician. It’s a beautiful blend. Many of us who are not medically trained in the doula and birth worker space have a passion for that fourth trimester, but it’s great that you’re able to start such an impactful support network.
As I was building out the landscape of Honey, the curriculum of Honey, I did reflect on my journey postpartum, and I reflected on what I needed, what I could have used more of, what I could have used less of. And I really just used that experience as kind of my guiding post. The curriculum that I built out, the courses that I wrote, I used it as my diary. It was kind of a retrospective, reflective piece, if you will, where I’m teaching and coaching. But I was really coaching me, with hindsight being 20/20, if that makes sense.
It totally does. And I think also with your unique experience serving in the military and the needs of military families and having to move constantly – I know from supporting birth and postpartum clients, there’s a lot of readjustments. They may be moving during pregnancy or they don’t have the support network. So the fact that you’ve got this virtual community, coaching, I think would be a huge bonus for the military family community.
1000%. I want to be clear – like, the military, the Air Force, is not connected in any way, shape, or form in this passion project and what I’m doing now, though they gave me permission to do it. That is something that I’m striving for and what I’m actively working towards now: being able to collaborate with the government and being able to make this accessible to military families, specifically moms. I cannot tell you how many moms I have taken care of in the postpartum period where they are home by themselves with a six-week-old because their partner has been deployed or has PCS’d without them – permanent change of station – without them, to halfway around the world. How do they manage taking care of a six-week-old, or a six-week-old and a two-year-old, by themselves? And then they have no other support around them. No family; maybe some associates, but not close friends. That is a very common story, and I don’t know how we made it this far to 2024 without a better system in place to support moms. I just can’t rationalize it.
Agreed. And it would be amazing to have that as an add-on benefit. So as far as working with you, our listeners and the Gold Coast Clients doulas – I know we’re more local, but since it’s a virtual service, what does it look like? Tell our listeners a bit about Honey for those that aren’t yet familiar.
On our website, we offer three different programming. The first is private 101 postpartum coaching where if a client chooses, they can access an expert in order to get, again, private coaching within one of the four pillars of postpartum wellness. Those are infant care, physical recovery, mental wellness, and sensuality and intimacy. They should expect within 24-48 hours after their session to get a personalized wellness plan that’s tailored to their individual needs, with some specific resources. Outside of the private coaching, we have a postpartum support network. This was designed to be a very vibrant community where there’s peer to peer interactions. Also, there is group coaching from experts, of course, and then you can access our postpartum wellness course that has 11 modules, 80 lessons across those 11 modules. The format of teaching is a mix between videos and text. And then lastly, besides the private coaching and the network, we have the course that can just be purchased outright. We’re running a promotion for December. If you use HIHONEY, you get 10% off the course. Again, it’s the same thing that’s on the network. You just do it on your own. And if you notice, oh, my gosh, I need specific help in this one area, you always have the private coaching that you can fall back on.
And I know there’s also a focus on support for lactation. You have lactation consultant coaches, correct?
Yes, most definitely. I do think that my vision of Honey, in order for us to execute well-rounded postpartum support, a part of that is definitely providing lactation coaching. Right now on the team, we have a certified nurse midwife and NICU nurse, as well as a parenting coach. I do plan to hire someone who has a certification in lactation consulting and counseling. But 1000%, our aim is to be able to provide targeting guidance in that area for our clients.
So Dr. Wright, I would love to hear your top tips for our listeners who are in pregnancy or pre-conception and really want to get a good plan in place for the postnatal phase.
All right, tips for the postnatal phase. I would say knowing what I know now, what was extremely helpful was preparing meals before I delivered. That is definitely tip number one. I found that tip actually from a random video on TikTok and really thought nothing of it, but my sister kind of pushed me to prepare three weeks’ worth of meals. And my goodness, it was extremely helpful. I would do it again. I hope to have one more child in the future, and I am doing that again. That is a pro tip; highly recommend prepping meals before you deliver.
My second tip is, if it’s possible, try to pre-plan times when you can have some extra support in your household so that you are able to take care of yourself or take care of your relationship or partnership after you deliver. Pre-planning and carving out some time to take care of you, take care of your wellness, whatever that may look like, and taking care of your relationship with your partner – you know, I didn’t really do that. I didn’t plan or pre-plan to do that. But if I could go back, that is something that I would do.
Very helpful advice, and not everyone can afford to have a postpartum doula or newborn care specialist in their house, so really rallying around family and friends, or in the military community, even other military spouses can be helpful to give you that break for an hour here or there. And as an obstetrician, what is your advice – I know a lot of my doula clients have a hard time with that line in that postpartum recovery phase when they’re so used to being active in work, active with exercise. They may have other children that they’re chasing around. What is your tip for recovery and really rooming in and having the skin time and trying not to be too active too soon?
Yeah, my advice is really just lean into whatever support systems that you have so that you do not overextend yourself. From my own experience, I am kind of type A, and I thrive on to-do lists. I do have a lot of anxiety at baseline, and I think that anxiety has suited me well because it helps me perform. However, when I found myself in those immediate days postpartum and that to-do list – before, it was maybe four things to do in the house. All of a sudden, now it’s 20. I found that very challenging, and I felt my anxiety specifically just toppling over. I don’t think that I asked for enough help. I don’t think that I was very specific in explaining how I’m feeling right now and what are my specific needs. And it’s really because I just didn’t give myself time to think things through. So my tip is just to really just take some time, carve out some time, like 10, 15 minutes. Sit; meditate; journal; write down what do I need in order to achieve wellness, in order to feel like myself, in order to just be happy? Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Great advice. So our listeners can find you on your website, hellohoneyteam.com. And I know you’re active on socials @honeycoaching, and that would be on Instagram? What other social media platforms are you engaging in?
Yes, you’ve already mentioned my major social media channel, which is @honeycoaching on Instagram. We do have a Pinterest. In the future, we plan to launch a YouTube channel, and that’s really where I’m going to be collaborating with some of the brands that I’m working with at the moment and just doing a lot of education and doing a lot of supporting our moms out there.
Well, thank you for sharing your information and creating such an amazing platform. I can’t wait to refer our listeners and clients and hear more about the expansions as you grow. Thanks so much!