Kristin in black and Alyssa in teal sitting on swings with splatter painted background that states "Live Colorfully"

It’s Our 200th Podcast Episode!

It’s the 200th episode!  Alyssa Veneklase and Kristin Revere answer questions from listeners and share fun stories about how Ask the Doulas came to be.  You won’t want to miss this one!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Welcome.  You’re listening to Ask the Doulas, a podcast where we talk to experts from all over the country about topics related to pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and early parenting.  Let’s chat!

Kristin:  Hello!  This is Kristin Revere, and I am joined today by Alyssa Veneklase.  We are chatting about our 200th episode.  Hey, Alyssa!

Alyssa:  Hey!  That’s wild.  200.

Kristin:  I know.  I can’t even believe it.  So just thinking back, you know, we launched the podcast in November of 2017, and Ask the Doulas originally started on a radio show, Radio for Divas, and then we shifted to the podcasting platform.  So, yeah, a lot has changed, and it feels like just yesterday that we had our 100th episode and celebrated that.

Alyssa:  Yeah, it’s so weird.  It seems like a lifetime ago that we were – I’m having flashbacks of sitting in that radio booth, and I don’t remember what made us change our minds and say hey, we can just do this ourselves.  I wonder if podcasts were kind of, like, really becoming – I don’t know, more well known at that time.  What was it, like six years ago?

Kristin:  Yeah, so podcasting was coming up, and Monica Sparks, who runs Radio for Divas, actually suggested in when we just couldn’t schedule the live shows due to my full time job at GROW.  And so we were trying to work around all of that and decided with her advice to start the podcast.  And I remember ordering our microphone and speakers, and you did all of the editing back then.  We now have an editor, but it was a lot.  And we started by wanting to, again, like, show our clients and listeners some experts.  So we chatted with each other in many of the original episodes but also brought in local experts, everything having to do with pregnancy, birth, and early parenting.  So I know you had some awesome interviews related to mental health and pediatric dentistry, and I had some of our students come on and talk about HypnoBirthing and some of our birthing postpartum clients came on and shared their birth and postpartum stories.  And then again we brought in different experts.

Alyssa:  I think it’s great to have them as a resource.  I just used a podcast the other day – I had a call with a student in my newborn survival class, and they asked me specifically about how to get their dog prepared for this new baby, and I am by no means a dog expert, so I just referred them to the podcast and said that’s all the information you need.  It’s so much great info.  It took me two seconds to search it on Google and give them the episode number.  So it’s just really nice to have all this backlog of so much information and so many resources to share with people.

Kristin:  Right, and now 200 episodes of information and expert interviews.  We transcribe our podcast into a blog, so we’re able to share it, and I often share what to pack in your hospital bag and quite a few specific to my birth doula clients.  And then with our Becoming A Mother course, we share episodes that are specific to what our students are looking for resource-wise, everything from safe sleep to having now the opportunity to interview national experts.  With the pandemic, we weren’t able to have our local experts come in to our office for interviews, so we started reaching out to experts across the country.  So it’s really opened things up for us.  Many authors have been on and national, well-known experts in the birth and parenting space.  Like Dr. Berlin was one of my favorites, and getting into a lot of the maternal health crisis and interviewing experts in that space.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  Well, I know we’ve got several questions that we can go over, but do you have any quick stats you want to share from where we started to where we are now?

Kristin:   Yeah.  So one thing that really stood out to me is when we started, we basically just set up interviews whenever we were able to bring in experts.  So some months, we would have two episodes in a month, and now we’re on a weekly basis.  So we release our episodes every Wednesday and have interviews with each other or experts in the birth and baby space every week.  But as far as interesting stats, we recently ranked on Goodpods as Number 12 in the top 100 in the indie kids and family chart, and then 52 in the top 100 overall kids and family.   That’s pretty amazing.  And then Feedspot has consistently ranked Ask The Doulas over the years, but we are currently, for their 2023 stats, at Number 6 in the Top 15 best doula podcasts, and we are ranked from thousands of doula-based podcasts based on traffic, social media follows, freshness, content, and more.  So pretty exciting!

Alyssa:  Yeah, way to go!

Kristin:   I know, go us, and cheers virtually as we’re recording this.  Many podcasts don’t make it to – this is a huge milestone.  And many record a few episodes and then pause and get back into it, so –

Alyssa:  Well, as we know, it’s a lot of work.  I think just because you have some good stuff to say, you may not understand on the back end how much work it takes, so I think that’s why a lot of people might try it and just give up.  It’s really hard.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I mean, you know because you did all the editing.  So it’s one thing to set up the interviews and record and get fresh content and get excited about podcasting in general, but then there’s promoting the podcast and getting ours up onto a blog, and like you said, there’s so much work, and I think especially because podcasting is trending right now, that everyone sort of glamorizes it.  But that’s very similar to our profession as doulas.  People get into it and think that it’s easy and exciting and want to change the world, and then you get into it, and you’re on call, and you miss birthdays and holidays, and you really have to commit to it.  So we asked our listeners some questions about what they wanted to ask the doulas because it’s rare that we get on a podcast together anymore.

Alyssa:  Right.

Kristin:  So why don’t you pick out a question to answer, and then I’ll do the same.

Alyssa:  I’m going to combine two sleep ones.  So, as usual, there’s a ton of sleep questions because people love sleep.  So I’m going to combine this one that says: What are some signs that indicate my baby may have a sleep problem, and when should I seek professional help?  I’m going to combine that with: What are some common misconceptions about baby sleep?  So in this question, you know, my – how do I know if my baby has a sleep problem, I think that in and of itself is a misconception because a problem to one parent might not be a problem to another.  So one family could choose to co-sleep or have their baby in their room for a really long time and feed throughout the night and feed their baby to sleep, and that same scenario to another family might be a problem because family A chooses to do it – maybe one of the parents stays at home, but family B, let’s say both parents work, and they need to have a little bit more structure and they need to sleep at night.  So for family A, what is their choice and is not a problem could be a problem for family B.  So it’s really hard to – it almost gets to that point where we feel like we’re judging other people, and I don’t like that because there is no right or wrong way.  It’s whatever works for you.  So I always tell parents, if it’s not a problem for you, don’t fix it.  Just because someone else says, oh, my gosh, your baby doesn’t sleep through the night yet – well, if you’re getting enough sleep and you’re happy and your mental health is okay and your baby is getting enough sleep and they’re thriving, then I don’t see a problem.  Where I see problems is usually mother’s mental health is suffering.  She’s exhausted.  If mom does have to go back to work, her work is suffering.  Oftentimes I see a partner who is sleeping in another room.  Maybe they’re three children in and they haven’t shared the same bed in years, and mom hasn’t slept a full night of sleep in years.  So when you really start to feel that exhaustion, that mental exhaustion, the physical exhaustion, I think that’s a problem because sleep is critical to our mental health and for our little babies who are growing exponentially, sleep does wonders for them to grow, to build their immune system, to help regulate their emotions.  It’s like the number one wonder drug that’s free.  So I think sleep is just the most important thing.  So, you know, if you do think that you’re – as a parent, you’re struggling, you don’t think your baby’s getting enough sleep – let’s just say they’re fussy all the time.  Maybe they’re so fussy that they won’t even eat.  Then you try to put them down to sleep, and you know they’re tired, and they just won’t fall asleep, either.  Those are typical signs of an overtired baby.  The more overtired they get, the harder it is for them to fall asleep.  Seems really counterintuitive, but that’s just the way it goes.  So calling a sleep consultant right away – the longer you wait, the harder it is.  So typically, three to four months, depending on your baby, is a really good age to start.  If you’re seeing those signs and also feeling the fatigue yourself as a new parent, three to four months is a really, really good place to start.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And you have an amazing class based on different age groups called Tired As A Mother.  Love the title.  And you do some sleep consulting in that recorded class content with live Q&A calls.  And then we also cover a lot of sleep in our Becoming A Mother course.

Alyssa:  Yeah, we’ve got a whole module on that, which – I think it’s the last module, Number 6.

Kristin:   Yeah, it is.

Alyssa:  And then my Tired As A Mother class, I’ve got broken down into three different age groups because like I said, every baby is different, but based on their age, they’re going to have different sleep needs.  And I know that some families just aren’t ready for a sleep consult yet, or maybe they don’t have the resources, so this is a $50 class with a ton of good information, and then a quick phone call with me to ask specific questions.  So it’s a really good place to start, and I think if you took all three classes from pregnancy – while you’re pregnant, take the first one, up through toddler – that’s only three classes, and if those things I tell you, those tips, those tricks, you actually follow them and figure out how to use those for your baby, I think you’d be in pretty good shape without actually having a full sleep consult.  Some parents need both.

Kristin:  Exactly.  It just depends.  If you want your hand held, then reach out to one of our sleep consultants at Gold Coast Doulas.  Or if you feel like you’ve tried some of the books or listening to other podcasts on sleep and really want something a bit more customized for ages and stages, and knowing that they can have a call to get their individual questions answered, just like our Becoming students get monthly calls with us and have the ability in our private group to ask questions if they’re struggling with sleep issues, newborn concerns, feeding, birth prep, whatever it might be.

Alyssa:  Well, that’s the thing about sleep deprivation is even if you think you have the wherewithal, I’ve done sleep consultations for pediatricians who are like, I know all this stuff.  I am just so exhausted, I cannot put this into practice.

Hey, Alyssa here.  I’m just popping in to tell you about our course called Becoming.  Becoming A Mother is your guide to a confident pregnancy and birth all in a convenient six-week online program, from birth plans to sleep training and everything in between.  You’ll gain the confidence and skills you need for a smooth transition to motherhood.  You’ll get live coaching calls with Kristin and myself, a bunch of expert videos, including chiropractic care, pelvic floor physical therapy, mental health experts, breastfeeding, and much more.  You’ll also get a private Facebook community with other mothers going through this at the same time as you to offer support and encouragement when you need it most.  And then of course you’ll also have direct email access to me and Kristin, in addition to the live coaching calls.  If you’d like to learn more about the course, you can email us at, or check it out at  We’d love to see you there.

Kristin:  All right, well, thank you for covering those sleep questions from our listeners.  I feel like, again, whether it’s a course, for our clients sleep is really the most mystifying aspect of the work that we do.  Yeah, you can’t just follow a manual.  Every baby is so unique in their needs, and a lot of it has to be customized.

Alyssa:  And parents put so much pressure on themselves and other people around sleep when it’s really not that hard when you know the basic rules, and that’s what I try to teach, just the basics, so that parents can just get on with their lives and be rested and not worry so much about the minute little details.  I definitely try not to make it harder than it needs to be.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So on to some birth-related questions.  I’ll tie two of our listener questions in together.  The first one is, what are some common misconceptions about childbirth that new parents should be aware of?  And the second part of that is what are the benefits of having a birth plan and how flexible should it be?  So great questions!  First of all, misconceptions – I’d say the biggest thing is that you can just wing it for your birth.  And some of our clients do, as far as not taking childbirth prep or breastfeeding classes or the newborn survival class that you teach, Alyssa, but it is something that requires conversation between a couple and some discussion with your provider to make sure everyone’s on the same page and just some basic understanding of what your body is going through during labor, regardless of how you choose to give birth, whether it’s an unmedicated home birth or unmedicated hospital birth or wanting an epidural as soon as you arrive at the hospital, or even a planned surgical birth.  I tell my clients so often that birth is as mental as it is physical.  It’s like a marathon in that you train for it, so focusing on nourishing your body, hydration.  You need to drink water during labor.  Focus on your breath.  Stay calm.  And at times, where you get tired if the labor is lengthy, or even those quick births that can be very intense and tiring, really focusing on your goal of meeting your baby or in the case of twins and triplets, babies.  And so yeah, just understanding that there is a correlation between the mental preparation and the understanding of what your body is physically doing during labor.  And so on to the second part of the birth plan.  And so again, you don’t need a birth plan, but I do tell my clients that it’s helpful in many cases at those prenatal appointments with your midwife or your doctor to have that discussion of what your wishes are.  Everything from your actual birth preferences, any interventions that you may want discussion on, if it’s not an emergency, newborn procedures, feeding preferences.  All of it is very helpful.  I’m not a fan of a four-page birth plan, and I do agree that they should be flexible because birth is unpredictable.  Even if you took every childbirth class, watched every documentary on birth, and read every book, you still can’t guarantee that you’re going to have your birth plan 100% go the way you want it to.  And so understanding that some flexibility is needed, but also just having that discussion point between your provider, helping your partner, or anyone else who’s in the room, like whether it’s a doula or a family member, on what your wishes are.  Some of our HypnoBirthing students don’t want a lot of chatter in their room, for example, so really wanting the space to be peaceful and quiet.  So those side conversations that sometimes happen during labor may be something that you want to avoid.  A lot of hospitals, at least in our area in West Michigan, have these really easy checklist templates.  Again, having that conversation with your provider, making two copies, giving them to nurses, and having your partner be on board with your wishes, as well.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think with birth plans, it’s kind of the same as sleep.  Like, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and say, oh, my gosh, this is my plan, and it didn’t go as planned.  Well, welcome to parenthood.  I love structure and I love knowing what’s happening.  I love planning.  I’m a spreadsheet girl.  But parenting is one of those things that made me realize, I have very little control over this, and you just kind of have to roll with it.  Like you said, plans are great.  Keep it simple, and know that you didn’t fail if it doesn’t go 100% as planned.

Kristin:  Yeah.  And then as far as other misconceptions around childbirth, focusing on those conversations, if you have a partner, with your partner, that they’re just going to know what to do magically.  Well, partners don’t, so having – in my Comfort Measures class, there’s a lot of couple conversations, and we talk about fears related to birth or what their individual goals are, and couples are often surprised at the others’ feedback, whether birth is gross or it’s a natural event or it’s a religious experience, like I have them just check of boxes and go around the room, and there’s often some surprises.  And it really starts that conversation between the couple going, so they’re on the same page and the partner understands how to support their loved one because if you don’t talk about it and just expect them to know what to do, especially if it’s the first baby, it’s not really going to happen.  So doulas love to do those whispers in the ear and give partners ideas of, like, hey, suggest some different positions or have her drink some water and different things, so they end up being the rock star in the birth.  And otherwise, partners – men want to be helpful, and if they don’t know what to do, they end up just standing around, and then there can be some resentment from that, like, oh, he’s not helping me.

Alyssa:  Right.

Kristin:  So yeah, so I would say those are the biggest things is really having those relationship discussions, getting on the same page, and then having some sort of plan, even if it’s just checking a few boxes, and nurses love to understand how to better support their patients, as well, because they never met you in many cases, and there’s a relationship with your doula or team of doulas, and many conversations throughout pregnancy.  But, you know, from my labor and delivery nurse friends, I’ve found that they appreciate some basic information on how to best connect with and support their patient.

Alyssa:  Yeah, totally.  You don’t know it.  That’s what our whole everything is about.  We want families to feel like they know what they want and what to expect, feel empowered.

Kristin:  Yeah, that’s what it’s all about.

Alyssa:  Like the experiences we both had – I mean, that’s the whole point of it.  We want families to know they have resources.  There’s so many resources available, and not all of them cost money.

Kristin:  Yeah, not all of them cost money, and if you don’t know your options, then you don’t have any.  So that’s why we do so much education.  I think we can expand – there are some relationship based questions.  We could take, you know, the birth question and just get into overall maintaining that strong relationship with a partner while navigating a new baby and the change in the family dynamic, whether it’s baby number one or adding baby number four.  What are your thoughts on that, Alyssa?

Alyssa:  I mean, we kind of already touched on the communication piece.  You know, in my newborn survival class, I talk about communicating from the beginning, because it gets really hard to do once you have a newborn, and then if you have a newborn and a toddler, your relationship can suffer because it seems like last on the list.  So communication is always key.  And I know some people aren’t communicators, so that may take some extra work.  It may take seeing a therapist to figure out how do I talk to my partner.  Whatever you need to do to make that happen because if you’re expecting something of your partner but you haven’t told them that – we as women especially can be really good at that – well, why didn’t he read my mind?

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Well, they can’t, as much as we want them to.  They can’t.  So communication is really key, and some – I feel like some – again, women especially, we are afraid to ask for help.  We want to ask for help.  I’m not personally afraid to ask for help.  I just never do.  I have this mindset of I can do it myself.  Then after a baby, I just got so tired and so worn down, and I remember saying something to my husband, and he was just like, well, why didn’t you ask me?  Like, all you have to do is ask.  And part of us just expects that they notice and fill in, but he’s like, all you had to do was ask.

Kristin:  Right.  Again, they’re not mind readers, and having some helpful things that family members can do when they visit are also – especially with things opening up more, and there aren’t visitor restrictions currently in hospitals, so setting some boundaries and having the partner be involved with their family members about how many visitors you want in your labor space or to come visit you in the hospital or how frequently – again, as you mentioned, Alyssa, the focus on sleep and bonding with baby and healing and feeding, like all those things.  So it can be helpful to have that discussion early on about what you want as far as visitors and if you are accepting visitors on a regular basis, like how they can be helpful.  Unloading the dishwasher, for example, or running some laundry or picking up some things from the drugstore can be helpful versus just feeling like you need to entertain and have your house be spotless and be dressed for company.  All of the things that we worry about as mothers when having people in the home, especially certain personality types that want to entertain and please other people.  It can be really hard for them.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think for families who – say they don’t have the resources to hire a doula, because this is the type of stuff we go over with them, right?  Birth and postpartum.  Gold Coast offers so many classes that if that’s a better option – you know, we still educate you on all this stuff, like how to best communicate with your partner and your family and your friends and with hospital staff.  We go through all this at a pace that you can just go through on your own, and it’s a cheaper option with still a ton of great information and a ton of great resources.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  So maybe – you want to just give the website information and tell people where to find us?  Because between our website and all of our classes and all of these podcasts, if people could just find those alone, there’s so much information there in the Gold Coast Doulas website.

Kristin:  Yeah, and we have a YouTube page.  You have some awesome swaddling techniques and paced feeding.  Our website is, and you can find a link to our Becoming A Mother course there or your Tired As A Mother sleep class, our virtual sleep consultants, and all of our services and classes, whether it’s virtual or in person.  So yes, and then our podcast can be found on our blog page at the Gold Coast website, but we’re on every podcast player, and we certainly appreciate all of our listeners for sticking with us.  200 episodes is huge, and it’s all thanks to you.

Alyssa:  Yeah, thanks everyone for listening.  Subscribe; forward this to all your friends and family who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant.  We would love to have them listen, as well.

Kristin:  Thanks for your support!  Take care!

Thanks for listening to Gold Coast Doulas.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  If you like this podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review.  Thank you!  Remember, these moments are golden.