Podcast Episode #55: What Sets Gold Coast Doulas Apart?
What sets Gold Coast Doulas apart? Today Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness asks us why she should refer her clients to us. She already knows she loves us, but why should everyone else? You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.
Kristin: Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas. I’m Kristin, co-owner.
Alyssa: And I’m Alyssa. Today we’re talking to Dr. Rachel again of Rise Wellness Chiro. Hey!
Dr. Rachel: Hey, I’m back.
Alyssa: Tell us a little bit about Rise.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, so I am co-owner of Rise Wellness Chiropractic with Dr. Annie, and we specialize in prenatal chiropractic care and pediatric care. So we see a lot of pregnant women. We are out in the community talking to a lot of pregnant women, teaching some different classes, and whenever we talk to anyone or any patient, we always recommend they have a doula at their birth.
Kristin: Love it!
Dr. Rachel: Yes, so we love you guys, obviously. I used you guys. So I just thought maybe you could tell us more about why we should refer to you.
Kristin: Good question.
Dr. Rachel: Because there’s a lot of doulas out there now. You see it a lot more now, I feel.
Kristin: Yeah, it is becoming more popular than when I became a doula about five years ago, and so we set ourselves up to the highest standards of care at Gold Coast. As many people know, doulas are not regulated. There’s no board certification. So anyone could call themselves a doula, but our doulas are all trained or working towards certification. It takes about two years to get certified for birth or postpartum, and our postpartum doulas are also current with all of the CPR, heart saver, AED certifications. And so in order to work with us, you’re at that higher level.
Dr. Rachel: What classes do the doulas take?
Alyssa: DONA and ProDoula are two of the biggest certifying organizations. Those are what most of our doulas come from. There are a couple others.
Kristin: Yeah, we have some Cappas, and we have doulas in other training programs, so we don’t select certain ones. We do prefer that our doulas have had an in-person versus an online training, and the trainings can vary from two to four days, depending on the certification organization. And then depending, again, on what program they’re going through, oftentimes an OB or a midwife would need to sign off on a certain number of births, as well as nurses in the room and clients. And then there’s hospital research that needs to be done. Books need to be read and essays and exams, and there’s a whole process, and it is different for every organization, but yet pretty similar in the structure.
Alyssa: So a lot of our doulas are certified already, and the ones that are trained and working towards certification have a certain amount of time, and if they don’t fulfill those obligations within that 18- to 24-month period, then when it expires, they have to leave. So we’re really, really adamant about that because if we’re saying that we’re a professional, experienced agency and these are our requirements, we have to stand by that.
Dr. Rachel: So you guys offer a lot of other things besides just having a doula here at Gold Coast?
Dr. Rachel: Which I think is cool, because then you have your doula but then you’re also – then you can refer out to, like, oh, you want placenta encapsulation or help with breastfeeding or all these other classes. So tell me about those.
Kristin: Yeah, and with everything, again, trying to have the highest standards of care, there are a variety of lactation consultants, and our lactation consultants are the highest standard, so IBCLC, and they go through years of training in order to do that. And HypnoBirthing; our childbirth education instructors are certified and maintain those certifications every two years, and our placenta encapsulator has gone through a certification program and is certified and keeps current with bloodborne pathogens and all of the other exams you need.
Dr. Rachel: And weren’t you just telling me the other day that she comes and pick up the placenta?
Kristin: Yes, from the hospital.
Dr. Rachel: Which is nice, because not all of them do, right? Sometimes you have to bring home the placenta?
Alyssa: Sometimes, probably, but all of ours will come pick up at the hospital or home if they’re having a home birth.
Kristin: One of our doulas is a certified placenta encapsulator, and her certification only has her do in-home, so some of our clients like to have that prepared in home and they actually bring the placenta home and then she does all of the encapsulation right there in front of them.
Alyssa: The majority tend to want it picked up at the hospital and brought to the encapsulator’s work space and just dropped back off to them when it’s done. But I think the reason we offer so many things is, you know, you find out you’re pregnant, and where do I go? Who do I ask all these questions to? And to know that you can come to Gold Coast and get evidence-based resources and talk to experienced professionals is invaluable. Our response time is quick; we’ve noticed that if you don’t respond to somebody right away, they just assume that you don’t care or that to be unresponsive just gives a new mom a bad feeling.
Kristin: Yeah, we work seven days a week. We answer the Gold Coast line seven days a week and respond the day of, if not immediately.
Dr. Rachel: How does it work? So they’re, like, hey, they reach out to you, whether email or call, but you have 18 doulas; is that right?
Dr. Rachel: So how do you get matched with your doula?
Alyssa: Sometimes people ask for somebody specific. “I was on your website, and I really love so-and-so.”
Kristin: Right, or it could be location-based. We have some lakeshore doulas, so we try to pair them with clients who are delivering in the hospital, but are Grand Rapids doulas, of course. We serve a 50-mile radius, so we will travel, and some of our clients – Alyssa can attest to this – will only want a certified doula, so that would limit the pool, or are looking for a lower rate, and we do offer different pricing structures for birth based on where a client is looking for a certified or a pre-certified doula. And so if they are looking for a reduced rate, we would give them our doulas who are experienced, but also working towards their certification.
Alyssa: Right, even if they’re trained and working towards that certification, they could be twelve months in, and they could have had several clients and have done most, if not all, of their coursework. They just have to get all of their clients.
Dr. Rachel: Is there a test at the end or is it just –
Kristin: It’s an exam, yeah.
Alyssa: Yeah, and lots of reading and lots of clients. And for births, they have to be qualifying births. So they could have attended 20 and only 1 qualified because they went too quick or any number of reasons.
Dr. Rachel: What’s a qualified birth?
Kristin: It depends on the organization. Most organizations require three signed-off births. But again, it depends. If you had three Cesareans, only one would count, or if it was a quick birth, it needs to be at least ten hours for some organizations in order to count. And then again, with my first doula certification, Sacred Doula, before I went through the Pro Doula birth certification, I needed to have doctors. So I might have gotten the nurse to sign; I might have gotten my client to sign, but if I couldn’t reach that doctor immediately after the birth to get he or she to sign, then that one didn’t count. A lot of the birth trainings require auditing a full childbirth preparation class, so that could be anywhere from five weeks to twelve weeks, and also sitting in on a breastfeeding class so you understand how to support a breastfeeding mother.
Dr. Rachel: When I took your breastfeeding class, I think someone was sitting in on it.
Alyssa: Maybe one of our doulas?
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, I took it through Shira, yeah.
Kristin: So yeah, there’s a lot of preparation outside of that, and with my first certification, I also needed to take a business class, so I took a social media marketing-focused class as well to build my business.
Alyssa: And one thing we haven’t mentioned is we are fully insured. I know a lot of doulas aren’t, but we as a company are, and we have done background checks for clients or we can do drug screenings. Anything that a client might need us to do, we’re able to do for them.
Kristin: Yes, so we have – obviously in our classroom space and office, we have the full professional liability, but then we have the doula agency covered, and some of our clients have asked us to see our insurance. And then we’ve also, for clients who are concerned about vaccinations, we’ve shown immunization records. If they want doulas to have the flu shot, for example, then we would give them doulas and be able to prove that they have the current flu shot.
Alyssa: And we keep all that information on file, readily accessible, so I know if a client calls and says I want to see someone’s immunizations; I want them to also have a flu shot, and I want to give them a drug test and a background test, I can look at my chart and be like, okay, this person, this person, this person.
Dr. Rachel: That’s really awesome.
Kristin: Yeah, especially for overnight doula support, they want to know that if you’re caring for their child, their baby, when they’re sleeping, that they can trust that individual. So I feel on the postpartum end of things, the background checks, the screenings, are more rigorous than, say, for birth.
Alyssa: Anything else you think that clients have questions on when you say you should hire a doula because you’re pregnant?
Dr. Rachel: No, they probably just ask why. I tell them because you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know! I mean, yes, your body can do it naturally, but if you’re not prepared for birth… I tell them to take a birthing class, too. And have a doula there; they know what to do. Like I said, when I sat down with you and Ashley, I was, like, oh, good. You guys got this handled! I’ll just listen to you!
Kristin: Right! We’ve got you covered, and we can also support the partner equally, and you know, regardless of how you’re preparing, whether it’s taking a hospital class or HypnoBirthing or Lamaze or Bradley, then we’re able to support and reaffirm what you learned in class and regardless – again, we pride ourselves on judgment-free support, so birth doulas, postpartum doulas – however you parent, however you choose to birth, it’s cool with us. So if you want to get an epidural the second you walk in the hospital, let me make you comfortable and try to help things progress. If you have a planned Cesarean, then we’ll help you along that way, as well as, obviously, an unmedicated birth experience. Some doulas prefer to only support unmedicated births or only home births, but we will support everyone equally, and we’ve done specific trainings that are beyond the scope of a doula training to make us even more…
Alyssa: More inclusive. You know, we’ve had diversity training, an LGBTQ training. We’re just looking at this community, saying, whoever approaches us and asks for support, how do we best support them?
Kristin: Yes. So we’ve done an empathy training. A lot of our doulas went through the Mothership Certification program, which is a weekend-long training. And also our lactation consultant and infant massage specialists, they both went through the training with me when it was first launched, and so that’s about empathy, working with healthcare professionals, with clients. And so we did that training. We did a disability training to be able to support clients both in birth and postpartum with various disabilities, and that was so helpful and nothing I ever learned at a doula training or a conference. I go to conferences every year and some very specific niches, so we’re able to, again, serve more communities. And one thing that Gold Coast does is that most of us work in the partner model. How did you feel about hiring two doulas versus one doula?
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, it was great. It’s nice to know that you always – well, it’s just nice to have two people to bounce ideas off, or like you said, once you hire your doula, they’re there for the whole pregnancy, so when I would text a question, you both would answer.
Kristin: Right, and we have different backgrounds and experiences. Ashley was your HypnoBirthing instructor, so you had her knowledge as well and my long-time experience, so yeah, that’s a benefit. We only allow the option for certified doulas on our team to serve as a solo doula, and they still have the benefits of the team within Gold Coast if there’s an emergency or if the doula has the flu or if two clients deliver on the same day. They would have a backup within our team, but they prefer to reduce their client load and focus on that individual connection. So for a client who doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable with a team, we give that option, but most doulas in this area work in a solo model with a backup, and you may or may not know who that backup is.
Alyssa: That’s why most tend to like our team approach.
Kristin: And then in the postpartum time, we have some clients who want a lot of hours in a package, and so they may be working with five doulas or they may have one doula. So Alyssa handles a lot of that scheduling.
Alyssa: Yeah, that’s another thing that sets us apart, I think, is when you’re working with just a doula who does postpartum work, she’s limited in how many hours she can do. But we have enough that when we have clients call and say I need somebody day and night for two months straight, we can cover those shifts.
Kristin: It’s nice to cover inclusively with our team and their different skill sets. Some of our doulas are also CLCs, so basic lactation consultants, so if they’re in the home postpartum, they’re able to support with basic breastfeeding needs. If there are specific issues, we can bring our IBCLC there.
Dr. Rachel: Yeah, it’s probably just nice to be, even as a doula at Gold Coast, to be able to reach out, like, oh, I have this going on; do you have any advice?
Kristin: Yes, we can bounce situations or an induction question or how do you navigate this or trying to get baby in a better position. So we have the whole team to run things by, and they can always call me if it’s a birth issue and a doula is uncertain how to handle a situation. And then we’re so fortunate in that our infant massage instructor is also a licensed therapist and specializes in postpartum mood disorders and working with women in that time, and so we’re able to use her as a reference and a referral source. She’s helped us process some experiences we’ve had where a doula sometimes needs therapy, needs help dealing with some of the emotions surrounding what we are holding space for.
Alyssa: Yeah, I think our team – we can rely on each other. We have a private Facebook group where we can ask all these questions of each other, support each other, give each other accolades. We have meetings.
Kristin: Yeah, and yearly, I set up a birth doula skill share, so we all spend half of a day together and go through just different comfort measures and things we’ve learned at conferences and other trainings, and just reaffirm each other and, you know, increase our skills. If you don’t practice, then you lose it.
Alyssa: Yeah, we’ve got a large enough team that we can cover everybody.
Kristin: Yeah, we say from the moment a woman conceives through the first year of a child’s life, we’ve got most everything they need, and if we don’t, we have referral partners like you, like if baby’s having trouble latching and they need a chiropractor or they need to go see a pediatric dentist or they need to get some PT done during pregnancy. Could be a variety of things. We know everyone in the area as far as related practitioners to be able to refer them out.
Alyssa: Well, if there’s anybody pregnant listening, why don’t you tell them how to find Rise, and we can tell them how to find Gold Coast.
Dr. Rachel: You can find us at our website. We are in the same building at Gold Coast.
Alyssa: We’re in the Kingsley Building in East Town, so we’re right above the restaurant Terra.
Kristin: And besides our website, we’re also on Instagram and Facebook. You can pretty much find us anywhere online.
Alyssa: Thanks for joining us again, Dr. Rachel.
Dr. Rachel: thank you!
Alyssa: Remember, these moments are golden.