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babycare class

Gold Coast Doulas Saturday Series: Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Survival Classes. goldcoastdoulas.com/events

Saturday Series of Classes: Podcast Episode #102

Kristin Revere, Kelly Emery, and Alyssa Veneklase talk about their Saturday Series of classes offered through Gold Coast Doulas.  Each goes in to detail about what their classes cover including Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Survival.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Kristin, and I’m here today with Alyssa and Kelly, and the three of us teach our Saturday Series of classes.  So we’re going to talk about what each of our classes are and a bit about what we’re doing during COVID.  So welcome, Kelly, and welcome, Alyssa.

Kelly: Thank you.

Alyssa:  Hey.  So, yeah, we could kind of talk first about why we — so we used to teach all of our classes separately and have different days and different times, but then we had clients who were taking a breastfeeding class and my newborn class, and they would be on separate days, separate times, and we know how hard it is for people to coordinate their schedules.  So doing them all at once in a series on Saturday, and then Kristin adding on her comfort measures — you know, having three classes — it’s hard to find three nights in a week that either a pregnant person or a couple can both get off to take these classes.

Kristin:  Right, and some of our clients work nights, and if they have other children at home, childcare has been easier to find on a Saturday than a weeknight.  So that’s part of why we adapted to this format, and it’s also helpful that the Saturday Series is ala cart, so a client or student could sign up for just Kelly’s breastfeeding class or, you know, just the newborn class or all three.  Or they can take them at different times, since we offer the classes every couple months.  A client could take a class in September and then down the road later in the year take breastfeeding, for example, as it gets closer to their due date.

Alyssa:  And for the students who do choose all three and do them on the same date, it can definitely be a long day.  When we were doing the classes in person, we had a lunch break and then another break in between.  But the feedback we’ve gotten so far is that people really like knocking these out one after another.  And then because of COVID, they’ve been virtual, so that’s actually been kind of nice.  They don’t have to leave their sofa.  They can feel a little bit more relaxed, grab snacks.  So that’s worked out well, too.  But our next series is in September, and we plan on doing it in person for the first time since COVID, but that could change at any minute, depending on…

Kristin:  Right.  And our office is in Eastown, and we’ve talked about having a smaller class size and how we’re going to pivot due to COVID and all of, you know, the sanitation that will need to be done.  But our Zoom classes have been going well.  I wasn’t so sure about the fact that Comfort Measures is so hands-on, how that would work virtually, but the students seem to enjoy it, and they were hands-on as I instructed virtually.  So it went over pretty well the first time.

Alyssa:  Same with breastfeeding.  How does that — you know, you had said, Kelly, that it was going well virtually, but were you a little bit nervous at first about, you know, like, how do you show a position and, you know, what a proper latch might look like, through a computer?

Kelly:  Yeah.  Yeah, that was something — speaking of pivoting, we had to do pretty quickly because people were still having babies and they’re still learning to breastfeed.  That is not something in life that can just stop.  So, yeah, getting up and going on the Zoom and all the technology was rapid, and it was — it’s pretty slick.  You know, what I do is just like in the in-person classes, I show videos, and so I can share my screen.  I show videos, clips of things that — it will make more sense when they actually have their baby, but I think instead of me just talking about it, showing a visual and the videos and all of the pictures that I have.  I have just a slew of pictures over my 20-some years of doing this, so it’s able — the people are able to really see what I’m talking about better when I share my screen.  So it’s all actually working out, and the parents love it.  And, you know, they love being together in a class together, but also I’ve gotten great feedback about the Zoom classes, that they love that they can just sit on their own couch in their pajamas and eat dinner, you know, or eat a meal and have Dad be right there with them, as well.  So it’s all working out.

Alyssa:  Well, Kristin, do you want to talk about — so the series kind of starts with the Comfort Measures.  Then it’s Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.  So you want to maybe in that order talk about each of our classes and what they’re about?

Kristin:  Yes.  So Comfort Measures is a hands-on class that the couple is encouraged to attend, but certainly I’ve had the birthing person attend without a partner, as well.  And so we go over breathing, relaxation, and it definitely doesn’t replace a traditional comprehensive childbirth class.  I’m not going to cover the stages of labor in two hours.  But it’s more about different positions that will relieve discomfort, both while they’re at home, if they’re birthing in the hospital, in the early stages of labor, or positions to utilize further along in labor in the active stage as well as the pushing stage.  And we do cover breathing, as well.

Alyssa:  So is it more to have the partner understand what’s going on and allow the partner to offer these comfort measures?

Kristin:  The partner does learn how to do some of the different measures.  Hands-on massage, light touch massage is covered.  We go over hip squeezes and a lot of the doula tools, just a variety of positions, like hands and knees and leaning up against a wall and dancing, sort of rocking in labor, as well as, you know, using the birthing ball.  And then we talk about different positions that they could consider pushing in, like squatting and sidelying.  And I answer questions, and there are some handouts that they use to just get a comfort level for where the partner and the birthing person are at as far as what their expectations of birth are and how comfortable they are supporting a partner.  So there’s a lot of communication in the short class, as well.

Alyssa:  And Kelly, what about your class?

Kelly:  It’s called Breastfeeding: Getting a Strong Start, and it’s a lot about — my goal, anyway, is to get the mom and her partner comfortable and feeling confident about at least starting out.  You know, I think it’s sometimes overwhelming.  It is a three-hour class, so it is a long time, and a lot of content is covered, but my goal is not to, like, overwhelm the parents with, like, what to do over the next, like, two years of breastfeeding or whatever, like that.  Because I think people in this moment when you’re pregnant, especially, you can take little chunks of information that are going to be relevant to you in the moment.  And so just getting off to a strong start, at least to get you through those first early days and weeks, you know, of breastfeeding, and then let you exhale a little bit and kind of find your answers as they are relevant to you is something that I’ve found over the years of doing this, honing, about what moms really want to know and what they need to know in the beginning.  So I might go over — I’m a really strong proponent of going over anatomy in the beginning, just because I think if moms know how their breasts work and how their babies work, they can figure out — they can put a lot of these dots together and make it make sense for them in their situation.  So, for instance, one of the first things I talk about in anatomy is, like, in our middle school health ed class, we skipped right over the breasts, I’m quite sure.  You know, they talk about your periods and, you know, maybe some birth control.  I don’t know.  I don’t even remember what they all talked about.  But I don’t remember talking about lactation or anything about the breasts other than that they get bigger, and then you wear a bra.  That’s about it.  And so I’m like, wait, wait, wait.  This is an incredible two glands we have here that sustain life.  They have so much to do and so much to contribute, and they’re kind of a natural next stage of being pregnant is lactating.  So it’s kind of all jumbled up together there, and I feel like in our society we kind of — as women, we’ve kind of not learned a lot about our breasts.  So I talk about what’s happening while we’re pregnant, what happens in the first couple days after delivery, and then how lactation and how their breasts change and make milk and all these other wonderful things that they do in the days and weeks, you know, after delivery.  Yeah.  So I’m big on helping women know about their bodies and then seeing how it works, and then I think it’s less of a mystery when things unfold because we just — you’re like, oh, yeah, we talked about.  That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, or that’s what my breasts are supposed to be doing.  Those little bumps on my areola, they mean something and they do play a role.

Alyssa:  What do those mean?

Kelly:  Those are your Montgomery glands, and they enlarge, you know, when you’re pregnant.  They secrete a couple things.  One is — it’s almost like a self-cleaning oven.  One is that they secrete the substance that kind of — it’s an antimicrobial, so kills bacteria.  It kind of keeps your nipples clean and your areola clean so you don’t have to scrub them.  A long time ago, like back in the ’50s, we used to think you had to scrub your nipples, and believe it or not, we would put alcohol on them before the baby would — like, we would sterilize your nipples, like we did with bottle nipples, before we would put the baby on you.  Just ridiculous.  And come to find out, you know, Mother Nature’s already taken care of that with those Montgomery glands.  Another thing that they do is they secrete — it’s an exocrine gland, which means it excretes something, you know, kind of like a sweat gland.  So they also secrete something that kind of keeps your nipple from drying out.  Keeps it kind of supple and moist.

Alyssa:  Kind of lubricated a little bit?

Kelly:  Yeah.  So all of those things — and one of the reasons I mention that is when moms think, oh, I have to buy some lanolin or some nipple ointment, those things are fine if you want to use them, but just use them just on your nipple.  You don’t have to smear it all over your areola because they can — if you smear up too much, they can block off those Montgomery glands, and then they can’t do their job.  So that’s one of the first things I talk about because it’s one of the most visible things you see when you get pregnant is your areola gets the little bumps on them, and then they darken and, you know, all of these things happening.  And then the next thing, the other part, huge part of the class, is getting the partner involved.  The baby’s other parent is going to be a huge part of breastfeeding, and I go over the research of how statistically, whether breastfeeding works or not has a lot to do with the mother’s partner and the worth that they feel and that togetherness.  And I joke that, you know, they’re going to be with you at 2:00 a.m., not me, and they’re the ones who know what motivationally you need to hear in the moment.  You know, what gets you — what makes you feel better.  What kind of cookies do you like?  What do you need in that moment?  And the partner is more tuned into that than I am, of course, you know.  So I can give some technical advice if I’m working with you postpartum to help with breastfeeding, but the partner is going to be there to be the other really important team member, and so that’s why I super, super encourage them to come to the class.  The in-person class or the Zoom class, any kind of class, so there’s four ears listening to all of this and not just two.  For the mom to have to listen to it and then go back and regurgitate it all, you know, it’s another burned on her, and she may forget things.  And I spend a lot of the time giving advice about what dads and partners can do to be helpful because I think they feel like they’re on the sidelines and they can’t be a part of breastfeeding.  And so I totally dispel that, and I give them lots of things, you know, concrete things that they can do that can be very helpful to breastfeeding.

Alyssa:  I know that everyone who’s taken your class has told me they love it.  They think you’re just so knowledgeable, and they had no idea about all these things, and they definitely go into it feeling more confident.

Kelly:  Awesome.  That’s my goal.

Alyssa:  Was there anything else you wanted to say about your class?

Kelly:  Well, I just want to say that I love being part of this entire series because knowing that I’m part of blending it together, like the big picture — like, the labor feeds into the breastfeeding.  The breastfeeding really ties closely with the newborn survival.  They’re all so well-interwoven that I think it’s great for the parents to have all of this information at once or, you know, dole it out as they need to, but just to have all of the information because then they get a sense of the bigger picture, I think.  It just makes total sense when all of these are taken together.  So I’m happy to be a part of this series, for sure.

Alyssa:  We’re happy you are a part!

Kristin:  So at what stage in pregnancy would you suggest someone take your breastfeeding class?  And I’ll also ask the same question of Alyssa and then answer that myself.

Kelly:  I would say the seventh month.  I wouldn’t wait to the last month because there’s a lot going on, you might go early, blah-blah-blah.  But, you know, you can take it in your ninth month, for sure.  But, yeah, I would say the third trimester would be good, start of the third trimester.

Kristin: Alyssa?  What would you say for Newborn Survival?

Alyssa:  You know, I would say third trimester, too, just so that this all is fresh in their heads.  The only problem is waiting that long, we do go over some items that are — you know, like baby registry items.  And by that point, usually they’ve already registered or had baby showers and gotten everything.  So that makes that a little bit irrelevant.  We still go over it, and I tell them, you know, keep things in packages with tags on.  If you don’t use them, you can always return them.  So we still go over it, but I think to do it any earlier, you’d kind of forget all of the stuff we’ve gone over.

Kristin:  I would say ideally the third trimester, though I’ve had students take it in the second trimester and still retain the information and practice the hands-on techniques that they learn.  A lot of my students also have doulas within Gold Coast or are working with me directly, so, of course, the doula is a great reminder of the different positions and comfort measures for labor and also some of the relaxation techniques that we learn.  And, certainly, you know, as far as who should take the class, we are also quite different from other childbirth education classes in that many are suited — just like Bradley method, for example, just for one type of birth.  Like, for those seeking an unmedicated birth.  For Comfort Measures, I have clients who want an epidural as soon as they get to the hospital or, you know, are having a home birth or are seeking an unmedicated hospital birth, so a variety of situations.  And, Kelly, I know that you have students who want to pump, and you do, of course, have the pumping class, the back to work pumping.  But it’s not for one type of parent or birthing person.  I know, Alyssa, you have everyone from attachment parents taking your newborn class to those who are more mainstream in parenting style.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  You kind of have to be open to all of the options and all of the parenting styles.  I would say, you know, for yours, it’s important.  Kelly, you know they’re going to breastfeed if they’re taking your class, or at least going to attempt it.  And I don’t know in my class, so I go over if they’re not breastfeeding.  We’ll go over bottle feeding.  Maybe they want to just pump exclusively and bottle feed.  I go over it very briefly.  Sometimes I can completely skip it because they’ve also taken your class, Kelly, and I don’t need to go over anything.

Kelly:  I think with my breastfeeding class, you’re right, there are some moms who just want to pump and bottle feed, and we do go over working and bottle feeding and how to combine all of that, for sure.  But even the part about the anatomy that I was telling you about, it’s good for the moms to know the anatomy of how, also, to maximize that with a pump, because there are ways — the ways that some of our hormones work with a baby, trying to also trigger those with a pump takes a little bit of knowledge, you know, and a little bit of practice.  So even if you’re not going to breastfeed, knowing about your breasts and how they work would benefit you even if you’re going to be pumping, because then you can work with a pump to work with your anatomy and how all of the pumping and maintaining your milk supply goes together.

Alyssa:  I feel like I should sit through your class.  I haven’t sat through yours, and I always love having a refresher on breastfeeding because when I’m working with sleep clients, we talk about feeding a lot.  So I feel like I should put the next September Series class on my calendar to sit in yours.

Kelly:  I know, and I should — I want to learn more about your sleeping, too, because that’s a big question when it comes around to breastfeeding.  They are so intricately tied together.

Alyssa:  So my Newborn Survival class, I started or I created because, you know, working as a postpartum doula — I don’t anymore, but when I did, you start hearing the same questions and same concerns from the parents over and over.  If only someone had told me this!  Why didn’t I know that?  How come nobody told me that this would happen?  When you start hearing the same things over, then I’m like, yeah, I had these same concerns and questions and fears when I was a new mom, too.  So I just kind of started compiling all these things and talking to experts and put this Newborn Survival class together, and it has real-life scenarios.  Like, things that happened to me, things that happened, you know, in my work, and how do we deal with these?  And then it’s very — you know, we do talk about, hey, has anyone changed a diaper?  If they haven’t, we’ll show them.  But that’s probably the most surface level type stuff.  I want to get into, hey, babies cry.  There’s no way around it.  How do we minimize that?  What do we check for?  And how do you communicate?  Like, you and your baby are a team, and from a very, very young age, they are communicating with you, and you need to figure that out.  So just giving them really pragmatic steps to — you know, the first few weeks, your baby’s just going to eat, sleep, poop, pee.  That’s about it.  But once, you know, six weeks rolls around, there’s kind of this schedule forming.  You probably have a pretty good idea of when they want to eat.  Maybe you start to see some sleep patterns forming by six to nine weeks.  And then if they’re crying, what does that mean?  What causes that crying?  How do we stop that crying?  What happened when the crying started?  And then talking a lot about feeding.  People usually want to ask me a lot of sleep questions, even though this isn’t a sleep class.  We go over sleep.  But a lot of it’s, well, you know, if my baby’s not sleeping well, do I just let them cry?  Never, never, never is my answer; never.  No.  We don’t just let them cry.  But if they’re not eating enough, no amount of letting your baby sit in that crib will do any good because they’re hungry.  So we talk a lot about feeding, whether it’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding.  And then we go over things like, you know, common skin issues.  Like, everyone always gets weirded out by cradle cap and baby acne and maybe some rashes, diaper rash.  And then like I mentioned, we go over some things that are not worth spending your money on.  Here’s some things you really need.  And then talking, too, about the partners keeping communication open and setting goals and expectations for each other ahead of time, because once that baby comes, you don’t have the time or mental wherewithal to be dealing with that in the moment at 3:00 in the morning.  So if you have these expectations set ahead of time, it’s really important.  And then obviously talking about, you know, letting them know that there are resources available.  They don’t have to go through this alone.  There are — you know, Kelly’s a lactation consultant.  She can do an in-person or a Zoom visit.  We have postpartum doulas who work day and night.  All these resources are available to them.  And then we go over a lot of soothing methods.  I show them my swaddling methods.  And we talk about bathing, too.  Bathing is a big one for parents that they’re usually kind of freaked out about.  But yeah, it’s just kind of how to survive those first few weeks or months home with a new baby because it’s a little bit scary when you walk through that door for the first time holding a human that you have to keep alive.

Kristin:  Great summary!  So let’s talk a little bit about — again, we mentioned breaks within the format and a little bit of the timing structure of each class.  So the Saturday Series usually starts off with my Comfort Measures class.  We have switched our schedule a few times, but my class is two hours from 9:00 to 11:00, and then there is a lunch break.  And then we get into Kelly’s class.  And, Kelly, you mentioned your class is three hours.  And then there’s a short break, and then Alyssa has an hour and a half for Newborn Survival.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I think there’s a half an hour break to grab a snack, go to the bathroom.

Kristin:  Right.  And then as far as the fee for the class — again, the classes are a la carte so you could purchase one class or all three, and each class is $75.  And traditional insurance does not cover the Saturday Series, but if a student has a health savings or flex spending, most plans do cover childbirth classes.

Kelly:  And I would add, Kristin, on the same for breastfeeding classes.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, breastfeeding support and supplies and education should be covered, and I provide a superbill for my class as well with all of my codes and my tax ID number and everything that they would need to self-submit.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  And, Kelly, did you want to touch on your pumping class that’s separate from the Saturday Series?

Kelly:  Yeah.  I have a class for moms who want to go deeper into just the pumping.  During my Saturday Series, I will go over some pumping and working and everything, but to dive deeper into that of what that looks like on a professional level and an emotional level, like leaving your baby, what that’s like, and if I have to travel, and how do I maintain a milk supply and what if my milk supply goes low?  Lots of little details swirling around.  If you’re still having, you know, after this class, if you’re still having questions about that, or if you want to skip over the whole breastfeeding class and just do the pumping and working one, I have a class, and you can just go to my website and you’ll see.  It’s called Work Pump Balance, and it’s an almost-three hour class in and of itself.  It’s self-paced modules that you can go through, and it’s myself and then a — my friend Mita, and she pumped for a year for both of her kids and worked full time.  She had a very demanding career in a very male-dominated industry, and she made it work.  She gives a lot of insight about how — you know, a lot of the laws have changed since she’s done it, so that only benefits moms even more.  But how to logistically travel and calling clients and work around this when you’re really the only female in the whole — it’s a big company, but you’re the only female around.  So, yeah, we dive deeper into that.

Kristin:  Fantastic.  And Gold Coast also offers a private multiples class for any of our clients or students who are expecting twins or triplets.  So we do offer each of the individual Saturday Series of class privately, since our Series is offered every couple of months.  There is the option of taking just breastfeeding privately through Zoom and/or, depending on COVID, in person.  So did each of you want to — I know, Alyssa, you just recently taught a newborn class on Zoom.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We just did a private one because they were being induced this week.  So we just did it last week.  Yeah.  It’s great.  It kind of allows the couple an opportunity to ask the questions that they might be afraid to ask in front of other people, although I feel like with my class specifically, I make it very clear that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, and I think most of the students do feel very comfortable asking anything.  But it’s just a little different when it’s just me with one couple.  They can ask whatever they want freely.  And I do get told that it’s nice for them to learn the same techniques together so that it’s not, you know, one person saying, well, I think we should do that, and I think we should do that.  You know, they can kind of take all the information I’ve given and make their own decisions from there based on what they’re comfortable with.  So I’ve been told several times that they like that they’re hearing the same information together and not different information from different people at different times.

Kristin:  That makes sense, and yeah, it is nice that if someone wants to take a class last minute or wants the individual attention.  My students have enjoyed just being able to customize the comfort measures based on what their birthing goals are.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So if anyone wants to register, they can go to our website and register for, like we said, one, two, or all three.  We also have the Multiple class and a HypnoBirthing Series.  And you can always reach out to any of us with questions.

Kelly:  I appreciate you doing this, and I’m looking forward to the next class in September.

Kristin:  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  You can find us on SoundCloud, iTunes, and on our website.  These moments are golden.

 

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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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Hiring a doula

Podcast Episode #22: How to get Dad on board with Hiring a Doula

On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa talks with Amber and Ashton about getting your husband or partner on board with hiring a doula.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud.

 

Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula, and today we are talking to Ashton and Amber, and little Parker is here as well, so we may hear him talking, too.  Hi, you two.  Thanks for joining us.

Ashton:  Hello.

Amber:  Hi.

Alyssa:  We have you both here today because some clients do have a little pushback when Dad kind of says, why would we have a doula in this sacred space, this birth space?  So can you two tell us how that story started for you and what it looked like, your journey into actually hiring a doula?

Amber:  Yeah, definitely.  I think for me, I have always been very attracted to the idea of having a natural birth, ever since I can remember, really.  I’m a hair stylist, and I have a lot of clients who have had babies, and actually, a lot of them have had natural births, and it’s always such an emotional thing to listen to their story and the experience that they have.  And I really do think it’s something that you very much need to prepare for and set yourself up for success with, not just something that you want to do, but something that you are fully comfortable with for the most part and having people in your court to cheer you along.  So I always knew what a doula was and a little bit of what kind of role they played, and that was always the common denominator in all of the births that I heard about was that they did have a coach there, a doula there, and so for me, it was kind of a no-brainer.  It was just something that once I found out I was pregnant, I was like, well, we need to start looking into doulas.  And so I had brought that up to Ashton one day and was just telling him, you know, we’ve got to hire a doula.  And I think it kind of caught him off-guard a little bit, and he wasn’t exactly sure what it was or why we would need one.  It was something I knew that I wanted, but I wasn’t so prepared to explain to him what kind of role they actually did play in the delivery room.

Alyssa:  How did that conversation look?  How did you start that conversation with Ashton, and, Ashton, what were your initial thoughts when she said doula?  You’re like, doula what?

Amber:  Yeah, I think I just went in assuming that he was going to be on board with it, and yeah, of course we’re going to have a doula.  So I was already kind of researching ones in the area and brought it up to him, and I just remember a little bit of a – well, why?  And that took me off guard a little bit because – I don’t know, but why I assumed he knew what one was and that it would be really helpful to us.  In that moment, I wasn’t sure, either, how to explain to him what one was, so I kind of remember there being a moment of, well, we’ll go back to the drawing board for a minute; I’ll do my research and kind of come up with some possibilities of ones to talk about.  It just didn’t go as smoothly as I thought, and I guess I kind of felt bad, too, that I didn’t explain better what a doula was, and I think – and obviously you can talk more about this, but I feel as though he thought it just wasn’t necessary, and yeah, the why, like why would we need that?

Ashton:  Yeah, I think the conversation when you brought up the idea of having a doula – I didn’t know what a doula was; had never really heard the term before.  I think maybe we’d seen some episodes of The Mindy Project and that was kind of my first exposure to a doula.  So yeah, at first, the idea – you know, at this point, we’re a few months along with the pregnancy, and obviously the shock has hit us.  It’s still kind of surreal; we’re not sure what to expect.  And the thought of – up to this point, it’s the two of us, you know, the team effort that’s going to get through the delivery, and I guess I kind of had that anticipation going into it that it would just be the two of us.  I was thinking that yeah, we can do this; we’ll do our homework, and we’ll learn the techniques that will help you deal with the pain and everything and how I can help you cope with that.  And the idea of bringing someone else in, as you described it, somebody to help you through the birthing process: at first, yeah, I felt a bit taken aback, almost that I wasn’t going to be good enough; like, what, am I not good enough?  Am I not able to support you through the birthing process?   So I felt a little shafted at first, and it probably wasn’t until I did some research and we picked up the book The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, which is really an in-depth guide to what doulas are and a good resource for fathers and expecting mothers and probably other doulas and birth companions.  So it wasn’t until I started reading that and learning about the doula’s role; you know, it’s not that they’re coming and just supporting you, but they’re really supporting me as well, and I didn’t really understand that initially.  I didn’t think that I would need support through the process, but the fact is, we ran into all sort of obstacles and unknowns, and having this doula, somebody who’s been through dozens if not hundreds, even, of births with different people – having that kind of experience in our court really helped to ease a lot of concern.  Overall, looking back on it, we would absolutely do it again, even though we ended up having not a natural birth but a Cesarean birth.  It was maybe even more beneficial because it was such an emotional roller coaster.  We were set up to have a natural birth but we ended up needed a Cesarean because he was breech, and that emotional deviation was – yeah, the doulas really helped us process that as well.  So yeah, it was tough to process at first, but I definitely would recommend it.

Alyssa:  How long did it take you to get there, from the day Amber said, “I want to a doula” and he was like, what the heck, so this now, of him saying, okay, sure, I’ll read this book?

Amber:  You know, for Ashton, I think that he needs a lot of information around something before he’s on board, and I’m totally the opposite.  Like, I put all my eggs in the basket, and I just go full-forward without – and I’m like, I’ll figure it all out later.  Well, he’s very opposite, and so I had picked up The Birth Partner book for him because I do think that he just really needed to understand the whole picture and the role that a doula does play, and he didn’t know that.  So how I am going to get him on board for something if I just say, well, they’re just a coach in the delivery room?  It is so much more than that.  And so I think that just having the information is so powerful with that because everybody has pushback to stuff that they don’t understand.  That’s just kind of human nature, right?  So I think, yeah, the more information that he received – and reading that book, too, I think that he felt so much more empowered about birth and being a good birth partner for me, the role that he would be in, and knowing that a doula is just making him stronger throughout it and making me stronger.  It’s also just having somebody to always go to with questions, no matter what it is.  For me, I feel like our doulas, Ashley and Kristin, showed up in such a different way than I had originally expected.  You know, you bring them on to help you in the delivery room, and that unfortunately wasn’t the case for us, but the support that we received going up to that was just incredible.  You know, texting them with random little things.  I mean, it was my first pregnancy.  I would have a question about something or I would have a sensation and be like, is this normal?  And I always had somebody that I could go to with just the shooting of a text, no matter what time of day it was.  And that was really, really awesome for us, but especially for me, just knowing that things were normal, and I didn’t have to worry about stuff.  And we went through the hypnobirthing as well, so we just received so much by bringing Gold Coast on.  We had interviewed a couple doulas, and you guys were one of them, and we just felt like it was such a good match.  We did the hypnobirthing and just received so much information around labor.  I had no idea what your body even does during labor, and I think that bringing a doula on and just getting so comfortable and confident around what labor is, how it goes down, the differences, the changes that your body goes through – I think understanding that alone made me feel so much more comfortable in my pregnant body and potentially going into a natural birth.  That was what we had planned for, and it didn’t happen, but regardless, I felt like I had so many tools in my belt, and I just understood a lot more that I wouldn’t have received if I hadn’t hired a doula because then we probably wouldn’t have done the hypnobirthing or any of the other classes that we did, as well.  So think that it’s just kind of a –  you know, once you bring a doula on, there’s so much information that you can get from it that can potentially set you up for a successful birth.

Alyssa:  So we’ll have you on again to talk about how planning for a natural delivery and ending up with a Cesarean.  Ashton, I actually wanted to ask you one more question before we wrap up here.  So for the guys, for the dads out there who don’t read – like, my husband would have never read a book, had I asked him to.  If you had to tell them a couple things to say, okay, this is why you need to hire a doula; what would you say?

Ashton:  You know, I think it’s a tough question to distill it down.  Everybody’s going to have a different perspective on it.  I could tell pretty early on when Amber approached me with the idea of bringing a doula on board that it’s something that would make her feel more confident in the delivery of our first child, and at the end of the day, I think that’s ultimately why I wanted to support it.  I wanted to learn more about it because especially with the stress and the difficulty and the emotional roller coaster that goes on with having your first child, all the unknowns, all the fear – you know, at the end of the day, if having a doula is going to make you more comfortable, then that’s probably not something I want to oppose.

Alyssa:  How did the doula support you?  You had said that it wasn’t just for the laboring mother but for you as well.

Ashton:  Yeah.  Well, it was mostly educational, so we did participate in the hypnobirthing class, and I think learning so much about the birthing process through that also helped me understand the role of a doula, but also the role of myself in the delivery process.

Amber:  You felt very empowered after the hypnobirthing, right?

Ashton:  Yeah.  It took a lot of the fear and the unknown and made it more accessible because I knew or I had at least some ideas of what we were getting into.  But again, I think the emotions and the fears are probably some of the hardest parts around having our first child, at least for us, and having the doulas with us to answer both of our questions, being there at the delivery, helping us with our first latch once Parker was born – I think just having that reassurance and that additional resource and expertise just made us more confident going into it, which was certainly worth the cost.

Amber:  Yeah, I feel like we really had an incredible relationship with Ashley and Kristin, and it happened quickly.  And like I had already said, just always having somebody to reach out to.  I had so many little questions along the road, and it’s not like you can call your midwife or OB every single time you have a question, and going to the internet when you’re pregnant is just –

Alyssa:  Stay away from Google!

Amber:  You stay away from it.  So there was just always somebody that we could reach out to, and that alone was worth it.  And just the relationship that we both created with them, I think especially through the hypnobirthing, we both felt very empowered.  But they really empowered Ashton to be a good birth partner through labor, and doing the breathing techniques together, having him be my coach through that stuff.  While our doula taught it, I think that she really put a lot into his court in a good way.

Ashton:  Yeah, it was like a having a – Ashley in this case was a birthing coach for me and a birthing coach for Amber, but she definitely made me a more competent and confident partner going into the delivery room and through the last stages of pregnancy.  So yeah, ultimately, it made us both more at ease and more relaxed in the pregnancy in general, and that’s a hard thing to put a price on.

Alyssa:  Well, thank you for sharing.  We’ll have you back again, and we will talk about how your actual last few weeks of pregnancy went and how your doula supported you in that role.  Let us know what you thought about this episode.  If you have any questions, you can always find us: info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  You can email us there or find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Facebook, and Instagram.  Thanks.

Podcast Episode #22: How to get Dad on board with Hiring a Doula Read More »

Grandparent

The Modern Grandparent

Understanding the Modern Parent

First of all congratulations on becoming a Grandparent! Whether this is your 1st or 5th, it is a very excited time for the whole family.

Gold Coast Doulas offers in-home private classes for The Modern Grandparent. We are not currently offering group classes.

This 2 ½ hour class will break down the generation gap, giving soon-to-be grandparents the most up-to-date information while dispelling myths in a non-threatening, engaging way. Health and safety recommendations are always evolving and many things have changed since most grandparents had their own children.

Topics include:

  • Caring for the family after baby arrives
  • Handwashing, bathing baby, diapering, etc.
  • Car seat safety
  • Baby technology and gadgets
  • SIDS
  • Formula feeding and breastmilk
  • Babyproofing
  • AND MORE!

A particularly interesting topic that we cover in the class is, Understanding the Modern Parent. Here’s a brief snippet of what we talk about for this portion of the class.

Understanding your adult children and their choices can be a challenge at times, even during the best of times. One of the keys to understanding the choices your adult children make is understanding the differences between the generations and how they view the world. In 2002 Landcaster and Stillman published “When Generations Collide”. This paper took a look at inter-generational differences in the workplace.

Many of the grandparents who take this class will be the parents of those who are considered late Generation X or Millennials. These generations tend to have differing views than previous generations when it comes to Communication, Money and Authority. Being aware of the attitudes and approaches of the differing generations will help you to understand the choices your adult children may make and where they are coming from.

Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding these differences that avoid many family conflicts as families grow. Grandparents have to realize that their children deserve the respect and have the right to raise a family (their grandchildren) however they choose.

Today’s parents face different challenges than their parents faced, and even more different ones than their grandparents faced. The balance of work and family life can be very stressful. Thankfully there are grandparents like you willing to help relieve some of these stresses by simply not judging them. Your compassionate support allows your children to raise your grandchildren properly and also maintain a healthy relationship with their spouse.

Many parents today appreciate the help from their parents and welcome the non-judgemental support. While you are visiting ask, “What can I do to help you today?” There might not be anything needed other than holding the baby while mom showers or playing with a sibling while mom is breastfeeding; but by just asking, you are showing you are supportive and that will go a long way with your children. Asking what they need instead of offering what you think they need is critical.

Interested in becoming a Modern Grandparent? Contact Gold Coast Doulas about a private in-home class today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Modern Grandparent Read More »

Infant Massage

What kind of oil should I use to massage my baby?

Today our guest blogger is Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM and infant massage instructor. She’s sharing some wisdom about what oils to use on your baby.

One of the most common questions I get related to infant massage is about what kind of oil to use. The International Association of Infant Massage recommends high quality (preferably organic), unscented, cold pressed fruit or vegetable oils as the gold standard for infant massage. Cold-pressed oil is produced by mechanically pressing vegetables, fruits, seeds or nuts with a low temperature. Many parents are skeptical at first. “Cooking oil?” they will ask. Yes, cooking oil! A food-based oil is really best for infant massage. There are many great options to choose from – grapeseed oil and safflower oil are two of my personal favorites, but coconut oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, apricot oil, sweet almond oil, and even olive oil can be good choices too. Be mindful about potential allergies and sensitivities – a nut oil might not be a great option for a baby with possible allergies or family history of nut allergies.

You still might be wondering why a food-based oil is the preferred choice. Read on to learn 5 reasons why you should use a fruit or vegetable oil to massage your baby.

Reason #1 – Massage oil absorbs into your baby’s skin. Commercial baby oil is petroleum based and often has added chemicals and fragrance. Would you rather expose your baby’s delicate skin to a natural fruit or vegetable product or a product that is manufactured with lots of additives? The choice seems pretty easy to me. Plus food-based oils are edible and are therefore recognized as digestible food by the body. Food-based oils also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals and are very nourishing to the skin.

Reason #2 – You don’t have to worry if baby gets food-based oil in their mouth or eyes. We all know how frequently babies put their hands in their mouth or up to their face. If baby still has oil on their hands or arms from massage and bring their hands to their face, the chances of irritation is much less with a food based oil than with a petroleum based product. Again, food-based oils are safe and edible.

Reason #3 – Using an unscented oil allows the caregiver’s natural smell to be transmitted to the baby during the massage which is an important element of bonding. There is nothing more comforting to a baby than the smell of their mom or dad. Massaging with a food-based oil allows these natural smells to become part of the benefit of massage for the baby. It is not necessary to use something with added fragrance.

infant massage oils

As essential oils have grown more popular, parents also ask about using essential oils as part of infant massage. Although some essential oils can be safely used on babies with proper dilution, it is not recommended during infant massage. If you still want to incorporate essential oils into your massage experience, stick to diffusing them into the air rather than using them topically.

Reason #4 – Food-based oils are less slippery than commercial baby oils or massage oils. Try rubbing a drop or two of cooking oil (any kind) into the top of your hand. You will find that the oil absorbs quickly and is not overly heavy or greasy. During the practice of infant massage, we apply more oil to our hands as needed to make sure that our hands will glide over the baby’s skin easily; however, baby’s skin is left feeling soft and not greasy because the oil absorbs so readily. Babies do not become so slippery during the massage process that it is unsafe or challenging to handle or dress them.

Reason #5 – Food-based oil is inexpensive to buy and easy to find. When I began teaching infant massage in 2005, finding an organic oil was a little more challenging and usually entailed a trip to the local health food store. Today, you can find a variety of organic, cold pressed oils at most grocery stores or food retailers. The bottle will have an expiration date and will provide recommendations on shelf life and how to properly store your oil. To make the oil easier to use during massage, I will pour 1-2 ounces of oil into a smaller bottle with a flip top cap and store the large bottle in the refrigerator.

Are you looking for advice and support from a professional? At Gold Coast Doulas, we provide newborn care and support as part of our postpartum services. Contact us today!

There is one drawback to using a food-based oil for massage. It can spoil and become rancid over time. Store your oil in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator. Before beginning your massage session, be sure to give your oil a good sniff before hand – believe me, you will be able to tell right away of your oil has gone bad. If you store it properly and check it before each massage, a bottle of oil should last you for quite some time.

I hope you have learned a few things about how to choose the right oil for infant massage.

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. 

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 kind of oil should I use to massage my baby? Read More »

Newborn Survival

Newborn Care: Fussiness

When I teach my newborn care class one of the topics we cover is fussiness. This topic gets a lot of reaction from parents. They have a lot of questions. Nobody wants a fussy baby, but the truth of the matter is that every baby is fussy at times. So what do you do when your baby is fussy?

The simplest place to start is to make sure baby has been fed, diaper has been changed, and decide if baby is tired. All three of these things can be the most common sources of fussiness, so rule those out first.

If baby has reflux, try babywearing. Keeping baby in an upright position can work wonders.

I also suggest the book Happiest Baby on the Block to my students. There are some great, simple ideas to help make baby happy including swaddling and sucking (either a pacifier or breast). The five S’s listed in the book are basically simple ways to recreate the feeling of the womb for your baby.

For an in-depth look at this topic and for more helpful tips about your newborn, register for one of my upcoming Newborn Care classes.

Alyssa Veneklase is a ProDoula Certified Postpartum Doula and Co-Owner at Gold Coast Doulas in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also teaches Newborn Care Classes and Postpartum Planning Classes.

Newborn Care: Fussiness Read More »

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