Gold Coast Doulas Registered Trademark

childbirth classes

childbirth education

When to Take a Childbirth Education Class

When is a good time to take a childbirth class and why does it matter?  

We often get asked about the appropriate time to take a childbirth class from students and Gold Coast clients. The answer varies depending on the goals of the individual. I often ask clients if they are first-time parents or new parents. It is also helpful to understand what learning style is best for each individual. Some people prefer hands-on learning and others prefer instructional classes.      

There are many types of childbirth education classes to consider. Some classes are offered on weekends or are shorter in length like our Saturday Series which includes: Comfort Measures for Labor, Breastfeeding: Getting A Strong Start, and Newborn Survival. Our clients are able to select one, two or all three classes in the series based on their unique needs. We would recommend taking these shorter classes closer to your due date, so the content is still fresh in your mind. The Saturday Series of classes are offered every other month, for more flexibility. We also offer private classes if the scheduled class dates don’t work for our clients. A popular private class that we offer is Preparing for Multiples.  It is perfect for parents of twins and triplets.  Private classes are an option with many out-of-hospital childbirth instructors.  

Comprehensive childbirth classes vary in length from five-weeks to twelve depending on the series. They are often two to three hours per class in the series. Some examples of these comprehensive childbirth classes include: HypnoBirthing, The Bradley Method, Lamaze, Mama Natural, Evidenced Based Birth and Gentle Birth.  You will want to factor in your due date when selecting a class in case you deliver early or are uncomfortable closer to your due date. Many classes often have books and workbooks that accompany the learning. The materials may or may not be included in the class fees.    

Gold Coast Doulas offers the five-week HypnoBirthing- The Mongan Method class. The method teaches you to reduce tension and  fear. It is recommended to take the HypnoBirthing series in the second trimester as it offers relaxation exercises to practice throughout pregnancy. We do accept students at any time in pregnancy, however.  

Childbirth classes can be offered in a variety of ways depending on your goals and timeframe.  There are online live classes that take place on a platform such as Zoom. They are still very interactive. Another option is a self-paced online course like Mama Natural. The Mama Natural Birth Course will equip your mind, body, and spirit to help you achieve the birth of your dreams-whether that’s a water birth in your living room, or a gentler and more natural hospital delivery.  

In-person childbirth education classes are offered within hospitals and other professional settings.  These professional settings could vary from an office space to a conference room.  Most classes include both the birthing person and a support person or partner. Many of these in-person childbirth classes offer hands on instruction and guidance with breathing techniques.    

Payment is also a factor when deciding on a childbirth class. Many health savings and flex spending accounts cover out of hospital classes. Insurance can often cover most hospital childbirth education classes. Some classes are self-pay only and some instructors allow for payment plans. Books and materials are often included in the price of the course.   

In conclusion, you can take a childbirth education class at any time in pregnancy. Some classes require additional readings or a longer time investment than others. Look at your schedule and birthing goals to decide the perfect timing for your unique needs. We highly recommend taking a comprehensive childbirth education class as part of your birth preparation.   

For more information about our current childbirth education class offerings visit us at: www.goldcoastdoulas.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

 

Gold Coast Doulas Team

2020 Year in Review

Although 2020 threw us a curveball, we still had a great year. We supported more clients than ever and worked diligently to find ways to support them safely. Here are some of our accomplishments.

  • Worked with 218 clients.
  • Attended 81 births.
  • Worked 2,900 postpartum hours.
  • Supported 10 twin and triplet families.
  • Had 22 lactation visits.
  • Did 29 sleep consultations.
  • Taught 33 classes.
  • Made the top birth and postpartum doula lists for GR Kids.
  • Named Best Doulas in Grand Rapids for 2019/2020 by the readers of Grand Rapids Magazine.
  • Became members of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and celebrated our 5-year anniversary in October with a ribbon cutting outside our office.
  • Collected 13,422 diapers and wipes for our annual diaper drive with Nestlings Diaper Bank and Rise Chiropractic Wellness. We donated $500 to Nestlings Diaper Bank as well.
  • $2,411.49 donated to charitable organizations.
  • 166.3 hours volunteered in the community.
  • Added seven new team members.
  • Two new subcontracted doulas received their Elite doula certifications.
  • Each doula averaged three classes of continuing education.
  • Moved all of our consultations, prenatals, postpartum visits and classes to the virtual format in March for the safety of our clients and team members. This also decreased fossil fuel consumption and energy usage.
  • Celebrated 100 episodes in June of our Ask the Doulas podcast (we launched our podcast in 2017).
  • Nominated for Organization/Business of the Year for the 2020 MomsBloom awards.

 

Audra Geyer Doula

Audra’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #105

 

Audra Geyer, Gold Coast’s newest birth doula, tells us her birth story and how birth support from her doula was a game changer.  She also took HypnoBirthing classes and went from being afraid of labor to looking forward to it!  Her experience with Gold Coast let her to become a doula herself! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Audra to talk about her birth and HypnoBirthing experience.  Welcome, Audra!

Audra:  Hi.  Thank you!

Kristin:  So tell us a bit about yourself.  I know we met at the Baby Expo in your early pregnancy stages.

Audra:  Yeah.  I live in Alger Heights with my husband and our two dogs, and we have a seven-month old daughter, Charlie.

Kristin:  This was your first pregnancy.  So tell us about how you planned for your birth.

Audra:  So initially, I had no plans for my birth.  I just envisioned that it would not be an enjoyable experience, and I just had to get through it, and it was just part of what the process was for having a baby.

Kristin:  And how did you get that information?  Was it from movies or friends, or what made you sort of fear birth?

Audra:  I think just society’s view on birth.  You know, everyone I had talked to, I had just heard horror stories about their own personal experience.  And, yeah, watching movies, TV shows, everything just shows that this is a terrifying, awful experience, and so that’s just — I was just preparing myself for that.

Kristin:  And I think people tend to share negative stories more than they do their positive birth stories with friends and family.  That just feeds into it.  So you took some classes with us in early pregnancy, and also used both birth doula support as well as postpartum. So tell us a bit about that preparation and maybe how it changed your mindset.

Audra:  Yeah.  So I went with a friend to the Baby Expo, and I had heard about doulas before but just assumed they were for natural home births.  So we just started talking, and I heard about HypnoBirthing.  I remember the first question I asked you guys at the Baby Expo was, can I still get an epidural?  And they were like, oh, of course.  Whatever birth you want, we’re just there to support you.  So I went home and just did a ton of research, and I was like, holy cow.  There’s this whole world of doulas and support for women that I never knew about.

Kristin:  Yeah.  There is a misconception that doulas are only for home birthing, unmedicated birthers, and, you know, especially at Gold Coast, we pride ourselves on judgement-free support, and we have clients who want an epidural the second they get to the hospital, clients who are planning a surgical birth and they want support emotionally and with resources for that birth.  So, yeah, doulas are definitely for all birthing persons, not just unmedicated birthers.

Audra:  And my whole life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, and my husband and I knew that would be something we’d have to keep a close eye on while I was pregnant but also postpartum, and to be like, oh, I could have this support right away, and just knowing that I will have someone in my corner and someone to support my husband, too.  It just provided us both with a lot of comfort.

Kristin:  Yes!  So tell us about HypnoBirthing and what you learned in that class.

Audra: HypnoBirthing was amazing!  First off, we just learned so much about the birthing process and what happens to our bodies in labor.  Stuff we’ve learned, but I’ve never really taken a deep dive into it and thought about it.  And just a big focus on labor and delivery and pregnancy — our bodies were meant to do this.  We learned a lot of medication, breathing techniques, but it was also a big focus on bonding with your baby, bonding with your partner.  Every class we left, I just felt so connected to my baby, to my husband.  A lot of positive affirmations and just really starting to envision my pregnancy, my labor, delivery, as such a beautiful experience no matter what happens.  And what a gift I’d been given to be able to go through this.

Kristin:  Right.  Exactly.  And what I love about HypnoBirthing is it’s, as you said, it’s more like that mind-body connection versus just positions and some physical techniques you can do to reduce the perception of pain.  So it’s just — there’s such an emotional connection to birth and your partner and your support team, and of course breath and using positive language in birth and taking the fear out of it.  It’s a huge aspect of HypnoBirthing.

Audra:  I remember my husband was like, sure, I’ll do this with you.  And when we left our first class, he was like, that was nothing like I imagined.  He thought we were going to be in a gymnasium with pool noodles on the floor in different positions, and I think he just felt really empowered, too, that look at what I can do to help support my partner and be just as involved in the birth.

Kristin:  Right.  Beyond HypnoBirthing, I know you took some other courses through Gold Coast.  What else did you do preparation-wise?

Audra:  I took the Saturday Series course.  So Comfort Measures, Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.

Kristin:  And what were your takeaways from that one day series?

Audra:  It was just so nice to have information, and I just felt so much more calm and educated and kind of knowing what to expect and knowing that there’s no right or wrong way.

Kristin:  Right.  It’s what right for you.  I think all of us, you know, emphasize that in our classes, whether it’s Alyssa’s Newborn Survival or the Comfort Measures that I teach, and certainly Kelly’s breastfeeding class is eye-opening in so many ways and shows how a partner can be involved in feeding, as well.

Audra:  Yeah, and I think with the breastfeeding, it really just prepared me, that if that’s the route I choose to go, it’s going to be hard, and it’s okay that it’s going to be hard.  I think I had an idea that, oh, no, breastfeeding is going to be so easy.  She’ll latch right away.  We’ll have no issues.  But to know that, yep, you’re not alone.  This can be a struggle, and again, you have to figure out what’s best for you and your family.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Now we’re getting to your birth phase and working with birth doulas and so on.  I know Katie was your doula.  Tell us about that experience.

Audra:  Oh, it was amazing.  I went from initially, “Of course I’ll have an epidural,” to, nope, I’m going to do this all naturally, thanks to HypnoBirthing, to at 37 weeks finding out I needed to be medically induced.

Kristin:  Lots of changes with that.  Tell us how Katie supported you in pregnancy and then leading up to the induction.  A lot of people don’t really understand the role of a birth doula through pregnancy and labor.

Audra:  Yeah.  I had — the minute I signed the contract with Gold Coast, I had Katie’s support.  Through the phone; I could text her with any questions, anything I was worried about, anxious about.  She would respond, provide me with resources.  A lot of what I needed was just reassurance that things were going how they were supposed to go, that I was okay, baby was okay.  And especially as a first-time mom and first time being pregnant, your body does a lot of things that you don’t know would happen.

Kristin:  Right.  There’s a lot of, “Is this normal, or do I need to call my provider?”

Audra:  Exactly.  And so just knowing I had someone there, nonjudgmental, you know, just supporting me — because, you know, calling your provider, you don’t always get to talk to them, or they’ll just yep, yes or no, give you a short little information, and then they have to move on with their day.  So having someone who can sit down and really just talk through your options, talk about how you’re feeling, checking in with you emotionally.

Kristin:  So when you found out you needed to be induced, how did your doula support you through that process before she supported you in the hospital?

Audra:  So I left my appointment with the doctor sobbing in the car, just absolutely terrified about getting induced.   So the first thing I did when I got home was text Katie.  I just expressed all my fears to her and what I was feeling, and first and foremost, she reassured me that the medical team I had chosen were going to take the best care of me.  My baby was going to be safe and healthy.  I had blood pressure issues, and so I was just terrified of what could happen if my blood pressure gets really high.  She encouraged me to write out a list of questions to ask my doctor.  Like, if this happens, then what do we do, or what would this step be?  What would this look like?  So I could have more of an understanding of what potentially could happen at the hospital.  And then also she really encouraged me to write out some affirmations, because I love writing affirmations and I use them all the time, and so I was able to write a list of affirmations that I would use while I would meditate to just help calm me down and center me, focus me, and let me still enjoy these last few moments of being pregnant.

Kristin:  That’s fantastic.  So you were able to have conversations before the induction started, and you got the answers you needed to feel empowered.  So tell us about some of the induction process and when your body started to kick in and when you felt like you needed in-person support and how that went.

Audra:  We knew it was going to be a long induction process, just because I was 37 weeks and my body was not near ready for labor.  So between Katie, myself, and my husband, we were basically in constant communication through text message, just how I was doing, how I was feeling, what the next step was.  And Katie actually came the first night we were at the hospital just to check in, see how we were doing, letting us know whatever we needed, she was there and ready for us.  And things were going pretty stable at that point; nothing that we needed a lot of support.  We were just resting.  So she went home, and said, I have my phone with me.  Anything you need, call, text, reach out.  And things were slowly progressing.  It got to the point where I did end up getting an epidural, but I was just pretty relaxed.  And then the next day around noon, my water broke, and things started to pick up pretty quick.

Kristin:  Yes.  It intensifies everything, for sure.

Audra:  We reached out and said, hey, you know, I think we’re ready for you to come.  Labor has officially started after 24 hours of being at the hospital.  And so by the time Katie got there, my epidural had kind of worn off a little bit.  So I was in a lot of discomfort.  I was not feeling well, and I just remember her coming in and with her and my husband, they were both just supporting me as I would breathe through my surges.  And I actually — Katie has two sons, and I remember at one point looking up at her, and saying, I just need you to tell me what you love about being a mom, in between, so that I was able to focus on the things I had to look forward to as I was in some of these deep pains and discomfort.  And it was just so amazing to hear.  You know, I had my husband on one side telling me the birth affirmations we’ve written, and then I had Katie on the other just sharing these amazing things that I knew I would soon be experience.

Kristin:  Yes.  I love it!

Audra:  With that, I was able to just relax, surrender, and just — I felt so calm despite being in one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.

Kristin:  That’s great.  So things intensified.  Did Katie help you move into different positions?

Audra:  Since I had the epidural — because I finally got some relief — she would help with the nurses, with moving me, and I think the biggest thing for me was just the reassurance she was giving me, that I was doing great, my body was moving along, this was where I was supposed to be, helping me feel excited.  And I think for Rob, too, she just was an extra support for him because he was supporting me so much, and it helped me to know he was taken care of as well.

Kristin:  Yes.  That is a huge part, because we do support a couple as a whole and make sure that the partner has gotten rest if needed with inductions or had a chance to get food or to step out and take a break because it can be intense when they’re pouring everything into you and are trying to be that supportive partner.  We don’t want them to be depleted at the time of pushing and meeting their baby.  So I’m glad that he felt taken care of, as well.

Audra:  Yeah.  And once I finally felt relaxed and got a lot of relief, Katie encouraged us both to take a little rest.  And there’s actually a picture of us, with me in the bed sleeping, Rob on the couch sleeping, about an hour before I gave birth, and it’s just one of my favorites.  The last few moments of us resting, just the two of us, and that moment was able to be captured.

Kristin:  And then did Katie offer support after the birth?  Like, how did she help after your daughter was born?

Audra:  When Charlie was born, she came very quickly and ended up needing to be on CPAP pretty quick after she was born.  So as a new mom and just already very anxious, I was terrified.  Like, what is this looking like?  Is she okay?  Is this normal?  What are they doing?  And I had just given birth and my body — you know, I was just in this tremendous amount of emotions in general, and she was able to support both my husband and I.  She encouraged Rob to go stand by Charlie and then was able to be there with me while the doctor was finishing up with me and just kind of keeping us informed, educating us about what was going on and that things were okay because the nurses and doctors, they’re all talking to each other and saying terms we didn’t understand, and just encouraging me to ask questions if I had any and validating that, you’re doing a good job advocating for yourself, Audra, and just — yeah, it was nice knowing my husband could be with Charlie for that brief time, and I had someone right there with me, as well.  And so then after Charlie was able to be off of CPAP, we were able to do our skin to skin.  She helped us with latching and, again, I was just very anxious.  Is this supposed to be happening?  Does she look okay?  Is she breathing okay?  And just, like, bringing me back to focus of, look, you just gave birth, and you have this newborn baby in your arms.

Kristin:  I love it.  Did she follow up after she left to see how you were doing when you were still in the hospital?

Audra:  Yes.  She would follow up to see how feeding was going, and then we did — I would say about a week after Charlie was born, she came to our house to just follow up and see how things were going, and she got to see Charlie and hold her.  And it was just so nice to have her support and to have — like, that she was such a part of this experience to us, where I was so vulnerable, but yet it was such a beautiful, emotional experience that I feel just so connected to her now.

Kristin:  Yes.  I feel that way with my doulas.  It is vulnerable, and a time of reverence.  So, yeah, you end up feeling like your doula is part of your family for that journey, whether it’s a birth doula or a postpartum doula.  And, of course, you delivered pre-COVID, but your postpartum phase was during COVID.  So that’s changed your initial plans as far as postpartum doula support went.

Audra:  Yeah.  So we had — I’m trying to think.  Maybe a couple weeks before COVID hit, being at home and being able to use our postpartum doula.  And I remember initially being like, okay, what do I do?  How can I entertain the doula?  Like, I need to clean the house.  I need…

Kristin:  You’re a helper, obviously!

Audra:  I need to look presentable!  And Jen was our doula, and she came over and was just like, oh, my gosh, Audra, like, you can relax.  I have Charlie.  Don’t you worry.  And I would go take a nap.  I would rest.  I would come downstairs, and the house would be tidied.  She’d have a snack waiting for me.  My pump parts would be clean.  The diapers bag was packed and ready to go.

Kristin:  Perfect!

Audra:  Yeah.  Less things I had to worry about or to focus on later that day.  And I like to talk and talk through experiences, so a lot of times, too, we would just sit and talk, which is what I needed at that time.

Kristin:  And we are there to process the birth with our clients as far as postpartum doula support and then help you heal and talk to you emotionally.  I feel like friends and family ask more about the baby and don’t check in enough with the birthing person and how they’re doing and how they’re feeling.  Everyone wants to hold the baby and give gifts for the baby, and there’s not enough attention to the birthing person.

Audra:  Yeah.  The amount of times I got asked, how’s the baby sleeping?  You know, it was never, how are you sleeping?  How are you doing?  It was, oh, how is she sleeping?  And I also got a lot of, oh, I’m glad that’s going great now, and you just wait until you see what happens.  And I’m like, my body is still healing from this crazy experience.  I’m keeping another human alive.  What about me?  I need help, too.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And in traditional cultures, women are supported for 30 to 40 days from friends and family, and they aren’t expected to do anything.  And in our culture, it’s like, okay, get back to work.  Get back in shape.  You should be feeling great and don’t complain.

Audra:  Keep the house clean!

Kristin:  Right.  Be perfect!  And that’s not how it should be.  So we’re trying to bring back some more of that focus on the birthing person.  So you are now a doula with us!  So tell us how you became interested in becoming a doula after your experience and a bit about why you are drawn to this work, because you obviously have another career.

Audra:  Yes.  So like I said earlier, I went from not knowing a lot about birth, just expecting, you know, this to kind of be a terrible experience, and through my education and through the help of having doulas, I was able to make my birth one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve gone through, and I found myself, after giving birth, wanting to talk about birth a lot, and I was doing a lot of research, reading a lot of books, reading about postpartum, and right now, I’m a speech language pathologist.  I work with people who’ve either had a stroke or a brain injury.  So I’ve always worked with people, helping people.  That’s been a passion of mine.  And just realizing the lack of knowledge, especially in the United States, of the postpartum experience, the birth experience, and what a doula is.  And I just thought, wow, if I could help give other women the support I had and help them through this journey, help them have the experience and support that I had, that would just be so fulfilling and just — it makes me sad when I think about all the people I know who look back on their birth and their postpartum and it was — they felt like they had no support and they felt so alone.  And that shouldn’t be the norm.

Kristin:  Right.  Yeah, they feel isolated, especially now during COVID, and we’ve been working all through COVID.  Some of our postpartum work had halted, and some hospitals weren’t allowing doulas in, so we offered virtual support only, but I feel like now more than ever, because of the isolation with COVID, doula support and that connection is so essential and providing information, as you said, so couples can make informed decisions about their birth and their postpartum phase and planning out what they want to do after baby or babies are born and how they can accept help from others or hire help, like postpartum doulas or a housekeeper or a meal delivery service, whatever it may be.

Audra:  Yeah.  And even the comfort of knowing you guys have a sleep consultant, and if I ran into issues, you know, I had 12 weeks off for maternity leave, and a big area of anxiety was, what is it going to look like when I go back, with sleep?  And so I always knew I had Alyssa if I needed her.  Thankfully, Charlie got on a good sleep routine on her own, but just knowing the amount and the diverse support that Gold Coast had, I knew I was going to be taken care of, and I knew I was in good hands.

Kristin:  So what did you learn — obviously, you worked with doulas, but then you recently took your birth doula training.  What opened your eyes that you didn’t know before about the doula role?  Tell us a bit about your training.

Audra:  It was so amazing.  Just learning about nonjudgmental support.  No matter what someone is thinking, feeling, we are just really there to support them.  And, obviously, as we go through our own births and raising our own kids, we can develop our own feelings, but putting those aside and saying, we are there to support you, and no matter what you choose.  So it was nice to just learn about all those different strategies and how I could go in and help a woman in any situation, no matter what.  I would feel confident doing that.

Kristin:  Right.  And your particular training through ProDoula — and I’m also trained through ProDoula — you realize you don’t need all the things as a doula, and you have that instinctual knowledge, and you’re able to just serve; again, without judgment, and an open heart, and a brand new doula can be just as effective as someone who’s seasoned like myself.

Audra:  Yeah.  And, again, before I knew much about doulas, I always thought, oh, they have the birthing balls and they’re in the tub and, you know, all these other knick-knacks that you have to have.  And it’s really just yourself being there.  That’s all you need.

Kristin:  I mean, I have a birth backpack that is filled with things, but outside of, you know, my bosu and a couple other things — like, I like the LED candles to put in the bathroom if a client’s in the tub or shower, but I don’t use everything I bring.  Other than snacks for myself, and that’s key.  Got to keep going!  But, yeah.  So we’re excited to have you on the team!

Audra:  Yes.  I’m so excited!

Kristin:  And I know you have plans eventually to become a postpartum doula, but you are available for hire for labor doula support.

Audra:  Yes!

Kristin:  So we’re excited to begin that process with you.  Thanks for sharing your story, Audra!

Audra:  Yes.  Thank you for having me!  I love sharing it and talking about my experience.

Kristin:  You’ll impact so many families, not only from listening to the podcast, but when they begin working with you.  And we will include a link to your bio in our podcast notes and the blog.  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  These moments are golden!

 

What I Wish I Knew: Podcast Episode #104

 

Kristin and Alyssa, owners of Gold Coast Doulas, talk about the things they wish they had known before having a baby.  Listen to this fun episode packed with advice and lots of little gold nuggets of information for new parents!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin.

Alyssa:  And I’m Alyssa.

Kristin:  And we’re here today with a fun idea of what I wish I would have known before pregnancy and having a baby.  And this is inspired, actually, by your newborn class, Alyssa.

Alyssa:  That’s kind of why I created it, yeah, because there’s so many things that it’s like, why did nobody tell me this?  Or if only I had known, this would have been so much easier!

Kristin:  Yeah!  So I will start.  We’ll go through, like, the top five things that each of us wished we would have known before having kids.  So my number one is no PJs, especially if you’re registering, that have snaps on them.  You want zippers.  Snaps are a pain in the middle of the night.  They’re noisy.  They might wake your baby.

Alyssa:  Same with Velcro.  But, yeah, I never really thought about snaps and doing that in the dark.  It can be really tricky.  I’ve had it where, you know, the top button is — or the top snap is hooked to the second one, like everything’s kind of off because you’re doing it sleep-deprived.

Kristin:  Yeah.  So Alyssa, what would you say?

Alyssa:  One of the things I remember the most is a friend told me to have pads on hand, and she actually had just had a baby, like, two months before I did.  So she’s like, you know, ran to the bathroom and said, here, I actually have some left.  I never used them.  I’m like, what do I need these for?  And she said, well, afterwards, you just kind of leak, and there’s blood and who knows.  And I’m thinking, okay, whatever.  So I brought them home.  But then I was one of the, what, 25 or 30% of people that your water actually breaks.  So I wore them for — gosh, my water broke at, like, 4:00 in the morning or something, and I had — I didn’t go to the hospital until noon, so I had, like, eight hours of slow leak.  So I wore the pad constantly, and then afterwards, it’s almost like spotting or like a light period.  And I didn’t know, too, you could put, like, witch hazel or something on it and freeze the pad, kind of like in a — like, around a melon or something so that you could sit on it.

Kristin:  Yes.

Alyssa:  I didn’t know that.  I didn’t do that, but that’s kind of an afterthought, too.

Kristin:  Similar to what they give you, but without the witch hazel, at the hospital.  The ice pads and ice diapers if you have more abrasions.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  A client told me that they had heard — or a student in my class, the adult diapers, they kept those around for leaking or spotting or water breaking.  Any of the things.  So having something around like that was probably one of the best things that I was told that many people aren’t told.

Kristin:  Right.  I had one of those pads for my car when I was driving in case my water broke.

Alyssa:  Oh, you sat on it all the time?  That’s actually a good idea.  You could buy those puppy pee pads or something.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I had a long commute to Lansing with my first pregnancy, so it was like, if my water breaks, I’m just…

Alyssa:  I actually thought about that as I sat in my office, you know, the couple weeks before I was due.  Like, what if I — that will be so embarrassing if my water breaks and I’m sitting in my chair.  Had I thought about that, I probably would have sat on something, just to save myself some embarrassment, I guess.

Kristin:  And my number two tip is to look into childcare as soon as possible.  If you plan to go back to work full time or are looking for a nanny or a nanny share, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, don’t delay until your third trimester.  It’s so hard to find help.  And in that in between time, of course, you can have a postpartum doula, day or night.  But that childcare search and nanny search is time-intensive.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  It takes forever, and it’s the last thing your brain is capable of doing when you have a newborn at home.

Kristin: Exactly.

Alyssa:  So if you have to go back at 12 weeks, you can’t — you can’t start at 6 weeks, looking for childcare.  A, you probably you won’t find it, or you’re going to have to settle for something that you don’t necessarily love, and that’s the hardest thing to do is you have to leave your baby for the first time.  You want it to be with somebody that you 100% feel comfortable with and trust.

Kristin:  Yes.

Alyssa:  You don’t want to have to settle.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  I wish that I would have taken a breastfeeding class, and I wish I knew there was lactation consultants that actually come to your home because I suffered through — I got mastitis twice, and even though I knew enough about breastfeeding to know, like, the whole supply and demand thing, in the fog of new motherhood, I was nursing and pumping because I was, like, oh, my gosh, my boobs are so full, and I just need to drain them.  And I was, like, doing the worst thing possible because I’m producing then twice as much, which then I got mastitis, and my boobs were so swollen that it was hard for my daughter to eat then, and then my one nipple got really cracked and sore and it was bleeding one day, and I just remember sitting in the rocking chair sobbing, and my husband came in and was like, oh, my gosh, what can I do?  But had I just taken a breastfeeding class, I would have probably more easily reminded myself like, oh, yeah, it takes a couple weeks for this whole process to, you know, adjust and my body to adjust to what baby needs and that I didn’t have to sit in that rocking chair by myself and cry, and my latch was wrong.

Kristin:  Right.  Kelly saved me with both of my kids.  I had mastitis as well and thrush, and —

Alyssa:  You know, I knew about Kelly Emery.  Or maybe I didn’t until after.  I might have found her because she did Baby and Me yoga classes.  She was one of the only ones, like, seven and a half years ago that did baby.  So I think I might have found her after the fact.  I wish I had known about the lovely Kelly Emery before.

Kristin:  Yes.  We’re lucky to have her at Gold Coast, along with Cami, of course.

Alyssa:  What’s your next one?

Kristin:  So I highly suggest, based on personal experience, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, hire a birth and postpartum doula.  With my second pregnancy, my doulas were some of the first to know that I was pregnant, before family.  And I needed resources, and they were there emotionally and to connect me with resources in the community.  So I recommend hiring early, especially as doulas get booked up quite early.  Like, we’re working with clients with due dates in late March, and as we’re recording, it is August.  And so thinking about if a team or individual doula takes two clients or even four a month, how quickly they can get booked up.  So hire your doula early, and same goes for postpartum.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I don’t think I even fully understood what a doula was or did, you know, eight — almost eight and a half years ago that I got pregnant.  And if anything, I knew what a birth doula was but didn’t know enough to even consider looking into one or hiring one.  And, of course, now that we do what we do, it’s a no-brainer.  But I’m not having any more kids.

Kristin:  Right.  Same.

Alyssa:  But if I was to do it all again, absolutely.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So what about you, Alyssa?

Alyssa:  So this wasn’t, like, a big deal, but I didn’t really know what to expect with the baby’s cord and how it fell off and what it looked like, and I don’t do well with blood and scabs.  It just turned into a big, giant, thick, button-sized scab.

Kristin:  Yes.  It’s gross.

Alyssa:  It really grossed me out, and then just falls off, and I remember finding it in her diaper or something one day.  But I’ve also reminded and I always tell people in my class about, if they’ve ever watched Sex in the City — oh, gosh, what’s her name?  The redhead?  I don’t know.

Kristin:  Miranda.

Alyssa:  Miranda.  She has a baby, and the cord falls off, and then the cat finds it and is batting it around the house, and I — it’s like one of those, oh, my god, I’m going to puke in my mouth kind of situations.  But I didn’t know how gross it would be to me, but I’m just squeamish when it comes to scabs and blood.  But, yeah, I didn’t really know what to expect with that.

Kristin:  And then you have to know to, like, flip the diaper down so you don’t cause more irritation.  I didn’t know that at first.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We go over a lot of that.  And they make diapers now, too, that have little tiny cutouts where the belly button is, and they’re very, very small, for newborn only, but you only need one little package of them because if it falls off within the first week, you don’t need many of those.

Kristin:  And my advice is, with the registry, don’t — it’s not your wedding registry.  You don’t need to register for all the things.  Babies don’t need all that much.  And so my suggestion is to register for a meal service, a doula, classes, lactation support, versus all of the onesies and the high chair and things you don’t need until much later.  I mean, some things are essential.

Alyssa:  Car seats, stroller, yeah.

Kristin:  You know, if you’re going to wear your baby, the different carriers are great.  You know, a diaper bag.  There’s some things that — you know, a thermometer, that are important to have.  But you don’t need all the things.

Alyssa:  I know.  I always see on baby registries, like, spoons and bibs and bowls.  Like, you realize your kid — it could be a year.  You know, you might start solids at six months, but they’re not sitting up at a table by themselves for probably 12 months.  So it’s a lot of wasted money for something that’s going to sit in a closet for up to 12 months unused.

Kristin:  Exactly, especially if you’re in a tight space.  Where do you put all that stuff?

Alyssa:  Right.  Definitely.  Like, have people spend money on support and food.  Bring me food!  And send someone to watch my baby and pick up my house and care for my toddler and let me rest or take a shower.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Or sleep all night.  So one thing I learned later into have a newborn was to always pack two extra sets of clothing for the baby or at least, you know, maybe not two full outfits, but a couple extra onesies.  And then I also would pack one for myself.  Like, something — yoga pants and a T-shirt.  Something that was easily folded up, because I can’t tell you how many times I either — you know, you’re out and about, and you get spit up on, and of course, it will be, like, yellow spit up on a black shirt.

Kristin:  Of course.

Alyssa:  That everyone can see, and then it stinks like crazy.  Or she’d have a blowout on my lap, and then the poop would come out the diaper onto my pants, and now I have puke on my shirt and poop on my pants.  So I would just always have — even if it’s just in my car, an extra set of clothes for me, as well.

Kristin:  That applies for birth doulas.  I always have an extra set of clothes in case I get fluids or water breaking.  So, yeah, wise advice.  And my advice is, for those of you that aren’t prepared for baby poop, meconium is really interesting for a first-time parent.  It is so dark and sticky and hard to, like, wipe off.

Alyssa:  Like, what did my baby eat?  Tar?

Kristin:  Right!  For breastfed babies, in my opinion, breastfed poop does not smell and is quite easy to deal with, but then you introduce food or formula, and things get totally different.  It’s like, okay, I got through the meconium, then I had my breastfed baby, and now food is like, what?

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We do talk about that.  Breastfed baby poop doesn’t — exclusively breastfed babies — the poop doesn’t smell.  And that’s another thing.  On the registry list, the very expensive diaper genie with the expensive refills — you don’t even need to use that in the beginning.  You can literally throw in in a little trashcan and just take it out at the end of the night or even every couple days.  The second formula or solids are introduced, it’s a whole new ballgame.  It stinks, and you’ll want to use that diaper genie.

Kristin:  Agreed.

Alyssa:  My last one, again, is kind of about breastfeeding because it was tricky for me in the beginning, but I wish that I didn’t buy — like, I bought nursing bras, nursing shirts, nursing dresses, all the things, and there were just so many layers and levels to this breastfeeding thing that I could never do it in public because I had to, like, undo the nursing bra, which was under the other shirt, which — I would always have to go somewhere private.  But then I found these nursing tanks, and there’s like a shelf bra in them, and I could have worn like what I’m wearing now, like a frilly, flowy shirt, and you lift that shirt up.  You have the tank on underneath to cover your belly, and very nonchalantly, you breastfeed your baby.  Nobody even knows.  Oh, and the covers.  All these — I had this thing that looked like an apron.  I put it over my head, and it was this cloth, and then baby’s whipping it all around.  And in my class, I tell people, you’re basically waving a flag to everyone, saying, I’m about ready to breastfeed.  Look right here.  Whereas if I would have just nonchalantly unclipped, put her on, nobody would even notice.  So there’s too many things, and the more things you buy, the harder it makes it, I think.  It’s simple.  Keep it simple.

Kristin:  I agree.  I always used tanks, and obviously, for larger-chested women, that may not be as much of an option support-wise, but I even labored in tanks, and, you know, speaking of labor, my biggest advice is don’t give birth, unless you’re birthing at home and it’s not as big of a deal, in a sports bra.  If you’re at the hospital, there’s no way to get it off.  If there’s an IV line, it often has to be cut off.  So a nursing tank, again, that has the snaps or a nursing bra if much easier.

Alyssa:  People wear a sports bra because they’re comfortable and think, I’m just going to labor in this because my underwire bra is not the most comfortable things.

Kristin:  But then you can’t get it off for skin to skin.  It’s so tight.

Alyssa:  Right.  I just think I didn’t wear a bra.  Free flowing.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I was pretty much that way toward the end.  Started out modest, and then it just all changed.  So we would love to hear your top five things that you learned.  You can always reach out to us, and maybe that will make some future episode ideas.  But we’re happy to share other advice in Alyssa’s amazing newborn class, and for those who are expecting twins and triplets, we have a multiples class.  And, of course, labor advice is given in HypnoBirthing, and we have the breastfeeding and pumping classes that also give some very helpful tips.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So check out our classes.  You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.  Thanks for listening!

Kristin:  These moments are golden.

 

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.

 

Kristin Alyssa Gold Coast Doulas Owners

Podcast Episode 100!

 

It’s the 100th episode!  Alyssa and Kristin, co-Owners of Gold Coast Doulas, talk about what the past two and a half years of podcasting has looked like, how the podcast has changed, how the business has changed, how services have pivoted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are playing their part in supporting other local businesses.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to the 100th episode of Ask the Doulas Podcast!  I am Alyssa, and Kristin’s here via phone because it’s COVID-19.  We can’t even see each.

Kristin:  Right.  It changes everything!

Alyssa:  I know!  We haven’t seen each other in forever, and I actually came into the office for the first time in weeks, and it feels so good to be not working in my house.

Kristin:  Yeah, it certainly changed so much about the way we do business.  But 100 episodes — I can’t even believe it, Alyssa!

Alyssa:  I know.  It seems wild that in two and a half years, we’ve done 100 episodes.  What is that even — I should do the math on that.  Let me do it real quick while you talk.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I mean, we started this podcast as a member of the Radio for Divas team.  It’s a radio show with women experts in the community.  And then we transitioned to the podcast format, wanting to really keep our clients as the central focus and information that they would want to hear, and then also thinking about what other listeners, whether it’s regionally or across the US, might be interested in.  Capturing more information from experts on anything related to pregnancy and newborns to even toddlers and parenting in general.

Alyssa:  So the math, by the way: two and a half years is 130 weeks, so in two and a half years, there have only been 30 weeks that we did not put a podcast out.

Kristin:  Wow!  Yeah, I know when we started out, we had more frequent podcasts and then have slowed it down a bit.  And Alyssa is the editor and producer.  How has that changed for you?

Alyssa:  It’s a role that I don’t particularly love, but I think, actually, COVID has increased because — you know, I think for the first year and a half of it, I was cranking these out once a week, and then it slowed, just because it is so time-consuming and so much work.  We covered a lot of topics already, and we had a lot of changes in the business happening and I wanted to focus on other things, other than the podcast.  But now that we’re home, the last few weeks I’ve actually been putting one out every week.  And the fact that I can’t meet with someone in person — it’s kind of easier to do it over the phone.  The sound quality obviously isn’t as good, but it’s allowed me to — you know, I’ve got three podcasts recorded now with Laine Lipsky, who’s in California and is a parenting coach, and we’ve had just a ton of stuff to talk about.  But the virtual, like able to do that virtually, it doesn’t matter that she’s in California.  She can coach a parent in Michigan, and same with my sleep.  I can do sleep consults for families anywhere.

Kristin:  Yeah, it’s been amazing to see the locations that some of your sleep consults have been from.

Alyssa:  Yes, my last ones from Colorada and New Orleans, I think, and then somewhere in Florida were my last three.  So they haven’t even been local.

Kristin:  That is one thing with COVID.  We’ve taken things more globally as far as now offering classes online and being able to expand our base outside of the 50-mile radius that we serve.  And your work hasn’t changed much because a lot of what you do is virtual anyway, so you haven’t had to pivot all that much as a sleep consultant.

Alyssa:  Right.  I just don’t do it in person, obviously, but everything else is exactly the same.  And then we can’t offer postpartum doula support.  Well, I mean, I suppose we could for a newborn, but I’m not doing sleep consults for a newborn, so that doesn’t come into play, either.

Kristin:  So, Alyssa, let’s talk about some of the episodes and highlights of what we have gone over in the last two and a half years that we have been producing the podcast.

Alyssa: The topics have been all over the place.  You mentioned a few, but I know you in particular, you like to reference a few of them for your birth clients, like the episode, #54, What to Pack in your Birth Bag that you did with Dr. Rachel from Rise Wellness.  You know, a lot of our topics, we choose because they’re questions that we get asked often, so why not do a podcast on it, give them all the information, and then just allow them to reference that all the time.  So it’s a lot of the reason why we choose certain topics.

Kristin:  I also love the dad perspective.  We’ve done a couple podcasts of what it’s like to work with a doula and how a partner feels about their role in the birth with having another support person in the room, and even some of our students in the classes we’ve talked, talking about their person experiences, have been really fantastic because it’s a better testimonial to hear it from someone outside of our agency than us telling, you know, our audience all of the features and benefits of everything we offer.

Alyssa:  Right, and I think for somebody who doesn’t quite understand the role of a doula, even after researching, sometimes just hearing the personal story from one of our clients makes something click.  We love hearing personal stories of clients.  Like you said, either birth support, postpartum support, any of our classes.  We’ve done a lot on nutrition and diet, babywearing, pelvic floor stuff.  You know, that’s a big question for parents after a baby is born.

Kristin:  Especially because we happen to work with a lot of athletes, especially in the birth doula role, and they want to be able to get back to running marathons or whatever their particular sport is.  So, yeah, pelvic floor therapy and physical therapy in general has been very helpful for our clients.

Alyssa:  Right.  And then our friends at Rise have given us lots of information on different chiropractic topics.  Obviously, I’ve got quite a few on sleep.  I love talking about sleep.

Kristin:  And tongue ties and lip ties and working with breastfeeding.

Alyssa:  Yeah, breastfeeding.

Kristin:  Yeah, a lot of breastfeeding-related questions and feeding in general.  And certainly anything related to mood disorders and postpartum depression with different experts.

Alyssa:  Pediatric Dental Specialists of West Michigan is one of our partners, and Dr. Katie has been on a few times to talk about, you know, her special laser beam for tongue ties and lip ties.  And she just had a baby of her own!  We should probably check in with her and see how they’re doing.

Kristin:  Yeah.

Alyssa:  Cesarean births; we’ve talked a lot about Cesareans and what is a doula’s role within that, and we’ve got some actual birth stories about what that looked like for the birthing person and the family.

Kristin:  It’s been a lot of fun to have different guests in and try to find new and fresh content.  I mean, after 100 episodes, there are only so many topics you can cover, so…

Alyssa:  I know.  You kind of have to redo topics with different people.  But I’d love for our listeners to email us, too, and just let us know, like, what haven’t we talked about, or what did we talk about but you would like more coverage on?  Or do you know somebody who would be a great person for us to speak to?

Kristin:  And recently we’ve done some COVID-related podcasts, but that is ever-changing with policies in the hospital and specific states, of course.  We have had personal client experiences, birthing during COVID, as well as how our agency has adapted to this time and what precautions we cake.

Alyssa:  Maybe we can talk — do you want to talk a little bit about, just in case people aren’t up to date?  So as of May 21 when we’re recording this, 2020 — what the role of a doula is right now, like how we can work in hospital settings, and our postpartum doulas.

Kristin:  Yes.  So for those of you listening in other states, in the state of Michigan, we are following the governor’s stay at home orders.  So as Alyssa mentioned earlier, we’re not in our office working together, and we are seeing our clients and students virtually.  So all of our classes are done virtually via Zoom, so still very interactive.  We recently had our Saturday Series class, which is interesting, because for me, the comfort measures class that I teach is so hands-on and interactive.  To do that virtually without even a helper or model to demonstrate positions, I’m trying to describe things and show diagrams and videos and how to do a hip squeeze and counterpressure, for example.  So that’s been really interesting, and I know you taught your newborn class several times virtually.  And our lactation consultant had the breastfeeding class.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think it’s hard for her, too, the breastfeeding, because to show different positions and — I mean, same with me.  Mine’s not as interactive as yours, but even moving the computer into the right spot so I can show my different swaddling methods or, you know, paced bottle feedings, things like that.  It works, and I always ask, did everyone see that okay?  Is everyone getting it?  Do you need me to do it again?  It’s just different.  I miss being able to meet the students in person.  But it’s just where we’re at right now.

Kristin:  But at the same time, it’s more convenient for them because they can be at home and, you know, not have to travel.  It gives everyone more time in their day, but as far as how we’ve adapted, other than classes, right now with the stay at home order, our lactation visits are all done virtually.  So, again, for our two registered nurses and IBCLCs, that has been different than hands-on or more engaging support.  But our clients have found it — I’ve had personal birth clients that I’ve worked with who have told me that Kelly was very helpful virtually, so that’s been going better than we had hoped.  And with birth support, things are, you know, ever-changing for us, but we’re doing all of our prenatal visits and even the initial consultations before hiring and certainly the postpartum visits after the birth — all of that is done virtually.  And different hospitals have different policies related to whether or not a doula can be in the hospital.  We’re fortunate that our governor has an executive order that includes a doula and a partner in the hospitals.  The doulas are not considered visitors, and we have access.  But every hospital, again, has the ability to make their own policies surrounding doulas, and we are right now working in Spectrum Butterworth and all of the regional Spectrum hospitals like Zeeland and Gerber and Pennock and Hastings and Greenville, and so that has been really fantastic.  St. Mary’s Mercy Health is currently not allowing doulas but encouraging virtual support, and Metro is allowing doulas.  Holland Hospital is not.  I was just informed that Mercy Muskegon, who was not allowing doulas up until very recently, and as of — I want to say it was this week — doulas are now being admitted to the hospital and able to support birthing persons.  So that has been fantastic since we do serve a 50-mile radius of Grand Rapids.  So as doulas, we are monitoring our symptoms, and if we have any symptoms of Coronavirus, then we send in a doula who is symptom-free.  Right now, all of the hospitals in our area are requiring doulas to be certified, so if a doula took a two-day or four-day training and chose to never certify, they are not able to work during this time.  And if a newer doula is working toward that, then that would be an option in the hospitals.  They could certainly attend homebirths.  So that has been interesting.  We worked with our lawyer and consultant to work on a COVID questionnaire and have included COVID language in our contracts that our clients sign so that our doulas are able to feel comfortable and confident, as well as our clients, in potential exposure during stay at home and what each household is doing as far as going to the grocery store versus having groceries delivered, or is a partner working outside of the home as an essential employee.  And then our clients and doulas are able to choose each other.  Some of our doulas are not working during COVID or only working with completely isolated clients.  So we’ve done a lot of focus internally on what our team wants to do and how we’re able to pivot during this time.  So we’ve been able to, you know, have conversations with the governor’s office and make sure there are no gray areas in the doulas role during stay at home and got some confirmations about what a postpartum doula can do, because a lot of that language was focused on our work in the hospital.  During the stay at home order that is set to expire at the end of the month — it may or may not be extended — we are only offering essential postpartum support.  So since we are working with clients normally through the first year, and they don’t need to have an urgent reason to have us there — they don’t need to be struggling with postpartum depression or a mood disorder — and they don’t need to be healing from a birth.  We can work with them until their child is one year old or until their multiples are.  So we have stopped working with some of our existing clients during the stay at home and plan to resume work with them.  We’re focused only on those first six to nine weeks of healing, depending on the type of birth that our client had, or those struggling at any point in their postpartum time with mood disorders or depression.

Alyssa:  So, to clarify, before this, we worked with people up to — we worked with families up to a year old, but now we can only do essential work which is, like you said, the six to nine weeks after someone just had a baby or with someone suffering from a perinatal mood disorder.

Kristin:  Yes, or if they don’t have a partner, that is essential, if they need support, since obviously grandparents cannot be involved during this time.  Families that have other kids are not able to take them to daycare if they’re not essential workers, so that has been interesting.  Obviously, we can work with triplets and multiples because they need more of a hand around the house especially during healing.

Alyssa:  So the moral of the story for postpartum is, we can’t just work with anyone right now until the stay at home order lifts, but we can work with you if you have a newborn, if you are suffering from a mood disorder, and/or have had multiples; twins or triplets.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Yes.

Alyssa:  And we can do day or overnight, and that would involve you, again, virtually meeting the doula.  You would both fill out this COVID-19 form that we created so that you and the doula both know what your risk, your exposure risk, is.  Who’s leaving for the grocery store?  Is someone in the home leaving for work?  And as long as you’re both comfortable with it, you can work together.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Yeah, and our doulas are taking every precaution and following what the family wants as far as, you know, sanitation and wearing gloves.  We’re all wearing our own cloth masks in the home, but if a client wanted surgical masks and has those or needs us to get them, then we work around their needs, and our doulas are bringing in a fresh set of clothes and taking their shoes and any coats that they may be wearing off immediately.  So that has been a pretty seamless process transitioning over for the doulas who are comfortable working with our clients.  And we’re so busy in postpartum pre-COVID.  You know, that has been some growth that we’ve seen since we started the podcast and very intentionally focused on educating our community and what a postpartum doula is and the benefits of it.  But now that is obviously slowed during COVID.  But we’ve seen an increase as far as, you know, our students, and being that many hospital classes have closed or not all educators are offering virtual classes, and certainly our birth clients have increased more recently.  It slowed for a bit initially because, you know, some doulas in our area are not offering in-person support, and we are.  So that has also been a change in our business.  Focusing on supporting local businesses is so key.  So for any of our listeners, support the local shops in your community.  I know, Alyssa, you order from Rebel, and I’ve been getting juice from different local businesses, whether it’s delivered to me or pick up, and just trying to keep our local businesses afloat, because as Local First members and a B-corporation business, we know the importance now and don’t want to see more businesses close down due to COVID.

Alyssa:  I know.  It’s so sad.  What’s the statistic; like, 50% of small businesses aren’t going to make it through this?  And luckily, Gold Coast will.  We’re doing what we can.  We’ve changed our business model a bit.  We’ll be good; we’ll make it through this.  It’s going to be a tough couple of years, I think, for everybody, but we’re going to do what we can in the midst of this to continue to help other small businesses and to keep all of our subcontractors.  They’re their own small businesses.  We want to keep them working and support them as much as possible, too.

Kristin:  Yeah.  And it’s been really sad even seeing other doula agencies that started at the same time as Gold Coast, which we’re nearing our five year anniversary.  You know, they’re closing their doors in bigger markets than we live in, and it’s due to COVID.  And that’s been very sad for me because they were peers of ours.  And so, yeah.  If you can support your local service and retail businesses and restaurants, do your part and think local.  And just thinking of our stores like EcoBuns with online ordering and Hopscotch, that we often partner with.  Supporting them, and the nonprofits.  We’ve actually given more during COVID since a lot of the fundraisers we would normally attend and support for some of the hospital foundations have been canceled.  We’ve given money to Mercy Foundation and we’re looking at what we can do within Metro and the Spectrum Foundation.  And we are analyzing what we can best do to help Nestlings Diaper Bank because let’s not forget that diapers are needed now more than ever, and it is not covered by your basic government assistance programs.  So that is something to keep in mind if you’re looking to help; if you have extra diapers or you’re looking at giving somewhere.  Nestlings Diaper Bank is in need, and they are running low in diapers.

Alyssa:  Yeah, the need is probably greater than ever right now, I would imagine.

Kristin:  Yes.  So, yeah.  Thanks to everyone for listening all of these years and supporting our podcast.  We would love to know what topics would be of interest to you and where we can go from here.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  Please let us know.  You can find the podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.  We also have on our website a blog section.  If you hover over that, we actually have a listing of all the different podcasts.  There in order by date.  I don’t think you can search by topic, but you can probably Google it and find a certain topic.  But we appreciate you listening, and obviously, if you can subscribe, if you can like it, if you can rate us.  We’ve never really asked people to do that.  It kind of started out as just like — I don’t want to call it a hobby, but, you know, something fun to do to give our clients something; a resource for our clients.  But the more people we can educate, the better.

Kristin:  We’ve gotten some recognition in Grand Rapids Magazine about being a local podcast, and also through a national organization that rated us in the top ten podcasts that are birth-related.  So that was pretty exciting!

Alyssa:  Thanks for listening, again!

 

Coronavirus Update on Doulas: Podcast Episode #94

Kristin and Alyssa, Co-Owners of Gold Coast Doulas, give an update on doulas and the coronavirus.  How is this affecting birth doulas in the hospital and postpartum doulas in the home?  They also talk about virtual classes such as Mama Natural Online to help new parents stay prepared while social distancing.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas.  You are here with Alyssa and Kristin, and today we’re going to talk a little bit about the coronavirus.  I’m going to let Kristin do most of the talking just to kind of update our friends and clients on the current status.

Kristin:  Yes!  So we are happy to share the protocol within Gold Coast on how we are keeping our doula team, our childbirth educators, and our clients healthy.  We are recording this on March 17th, so things are changing daily, and by the time you listen to this, the information that we’re giving you may be a bit different.  But we did want to respond quickly and have notified all of our clients about our safety protocols.  With birth doula clients, we are doing all our prenatal, our free consultations, and our postpartum meetings virtually.  So our clients now know that they are talking to teams by phone or Zoom meetings or Facetime, whatever the preferred method is.  We’re still giving you that same time and attention; just keeping you safe and healthy during this critical time.

We had been working with area hospital administrators and with the governor’s office to make sure that we were able to support our clients in person, and again, this may change by the time you’re listening to this, but we had a day yesterday where we were told birth doulas would not be able to support in the hospital.  So we contacted all of our clients and made a plan to support in the home before and support virtually in the hospital.  Through work with the governor’s office and area administrators, we were able to obtain entry into area hospitals.  So starting today, that is not an issue.  With the executive order from the governor’s office, a partner and a doula are allowed to admit into area hospitals.  There will be a health screening, and we’re going through credentialing processes with every hospital having different requirements, but we plan to support our clients.  This is as of today, and again, if the outbreak continues, we may need to rely on virtual support.  Because Gold Coast has a big team of birth doulas, we will monitor symptoms of coronavirus and the flu, as we have always done, to assure that a healthy doula will be attending the birth.  We’ll be doing the best we can to isolate our team.  We’re staying home with our families.  We’re not going out into the public unless we need to get provisions.  Going from there to ensure that we’re able to support our clients during this time when they need the emotional and physical support of doulas now more than any time.

Alyssa, I know that in postpartum support, we have made some accommodations as well, and part of that is some of our clients had contracts that were about to expire, and we’ve talked to them about delaying support, and with our postpartum doulas, who our clients want us in the home, we are of course making sure that the doulas are healthy.  We’re using sanitization methods.  If we’re doing cleaning, we’re cleaning doorknobs and handles at our clients’ homes.  We’re coming in with clean clothing, taking our shoes off, as we always do, and using whatever precautions our clients want us to in their home with caring for baby and caring for the mother.  And, again, with our postpartum doula team, we have a lot of doulas.  So if a doula has any symptoms of coronavirus or the flu or even a cold, we are sending in a healthy doula to replace the scheduled doula.  Do you have anything to add to that?

Alyssa:  No.  I mean, nothing’s really changed in that regard.  All of our clients get that same kind of care.  It’s just extra — I guess maybe an extra added step at this point.

Kristin:  And as a sleep expert, part of what we do as postpartum doulas, both daytime and overnight, is allow our clients to rest.  Now, with your sleep certification, I know you focus on newborns and toddlers and so on, but let’s talk a bit about the importance during this time to keep your immune system strong and getting sleep for families.

Alyssa:  Yeah, the problem with sleep deprivation is your immune system starts to decline, and more than ever right now, it’s important to keep your immune systems healthy.  So that means still going outside and getting fresh air, getting exercise.  But you also need sleep.  And with a newborn and/or a toddler at home, that can really be trying.  So the beauty of my sleep consultations is that I don’t need to do it in person.  We can do it via phone and text.  So if that is an issue, you can call me still for that.  But regardless, you just have to focus on sleep.  You have to get your required amount of sleep, and your kids need to be going to bed on time.  I know this feels like a big vacation for them, but you need to have a set bedtime and awake time.  I mean, if we’re going to be in this situation for three to six weeks, they are going to become sleep deprived.  They are going to become little monsters.  It’s going to make your days even harder, but then again their immune systems could start to decline.

Kristin:  Right.  And, again, we do offer sibling care, so we can help with snacks around the house, and we have noticed that a lot of West Michigan families tend to have family support of grandparents or other family members, and now with some of the guidelines for keeping the elderly safe and away from children, I know my kids are being distanced from my parents due to my father’s heart condition and so on.  And so we can come in when you are relying on your family right now and take some of that burden off of you and your partner.

Alyssa:  I have canceled all family functions.  A birthday party, a sleepover.  You know, my parents called and offered to help, and “thanks, but no thanks.”  We’re stuck at home anyway.  There’s nowhere I can go, nothing I can do.  So, yeah, we’re just kind of laying low at the house.

Kristin:  Yeah.  And so people are obviously isolating, canceling things, and we’re able to — we do offer bedrest support, so we are able to do virtual bedrest support if that is something that a client is interested in.  Or, again, support in the home with childbirth education.  We can do mini classes virtually or in home and provide sibling care for our clients who are on bedrest and need to feed their other children, especially now that daycares are closing and schools are closed at least through April 10th, if not longer.  And so we’re adapting as best we can and keeping our team safe.  For clients who are not part of our current childbirth series that has now gone virtual, our Hypnobirthing class started out in person, and due to the coronavirus, we’ve turned that into an online class with our instructor.  But we are an affiliate for Mama Natural, so we wanted to talk about that as an option for clients who are not able to take a hospital childbirth class or take Hypnobirthing or a different child preparation method.  You can go onto our website and sign up for our online affiliate program through Mama Natural and take the class online. We’ve gone through the class.  I personally went through the entire curriculum, and my clients have used it and have had success, so that is a great option during this time when we need to isolate and be at home and still want to prepare our clients and have our clients feel like they’re ready for this birth.

Alyssa:  And Kelly Emery, our lactation consultant, also offers an online pumping class and a breastfeeding class.

Kristin:  Perfect!  So there are some things you can do, and again, things are ever changing, but as of right now, all of the area hospitals are limiting visitors to one support person, so your partner or family member and a doula who is credentialed in area hospitals.  So in the postpartum units, you are not able to have siblings visit or family at this time.  Everything is limited to protect the health workers and the patients.  So it is good to have these conversations with family members.  I always tell my birth clients at prenatals that now is the time to express whether or not you want visitors in your birth space, and now knowing some of these plans have changed, if you have family members flying in, you may want to delay, or if you have older family members or immune-compromised caregivers, then now is the time to have these discussions rather than having disappointment at your due date if you’re due this spring.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  They won’t even be able to come in, and probably family members can’t even fly in at this point.  We’re getting close to that.

Kristin:  Yes.  Domestic travel is limited and could be delayed indefinitely.  So we’re just taking things day by day.  But we want you to remain calm and positive about this and go with the flow, so try not to take in too much negative media and use this time to focus on connecting with your baby.  And if you have other children, reach out to us if we can help.  We’re here for you.

Alyssa:  I think it reiterates the importance of an agency like Gold Coast Doulas being professional and certified and insured and, like you said, credentialed so that we can get into the hospitals.  The hospitals trust us.  They have a list of our certified doulas’ names.  They might ask for a federal ID number.  They might ask for certification; proof of certification.  These are all really important things to consider when hiring a doula anytime, but especially right now.

Kristin:  Yes!  Stay well, everyone !

 

HypnoBirthing Story

Maddie’s HypnoBirthing Story: Podcast Episode #81

Today our former birth client and HypnoBirthing student, Maddie Kioski, tells us her personal pregnancy journey using HypnoBirthing and how it helped her feel excited about labor and delivery instead of scared.  You can listen to this completed podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Maddie Kioski.  She is a former HypnoBirthing student of Gold Coast and also my birth client.  Good to see you!  It’s been a while.

Maddie:  You, too!  It’s been so long.  We just had the third year birthday for Charlie, so three years!

Kristin:  That is so amazing!  I love following all of your adventures on Facebook.  So, Maddie, let us know a little bit about your HypnoBirthing experience and why you chose HypnoBirthing and what it did for you.  We’ll have another episode coming up about your actual birth story, but this is focused on the class.

Maddie:  I’m lucky to have two older sisters who were very instrumental in that they both researched natural birthing and all of that, so before I ever got pregnant, I was kind of familiar.  The middle sister took a HypnoBirthing class in Atlanta, so when I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to go for a natural birth, so I started researching in our area.  I found you guys, and I found speed-dating with the doulas, and so I was like, oh, perfect.  And I saw you guys did the HypnoBirthing classes, so once I came and met you guys, I was sold.  I knew for sure this is what I want to do.  So my husband and I did the weekends class, so we had just longer weekend classes.  When we started, he was not totally sold on it, but he said, well, if you want to do, then of course we’ll go and we’ll do it together.  I actually really enjoyed having the weekend class.  For me, it was a long period instead of the shorter periods; you could really focus on it and really get in depth.

Kristin:  Did you do any preparation knowing that it was a very time-intensive class versus being spread out for five weeks?  Did you read the book in advance?  Did you do any preparation?

Maddie:  I didn’t.  We came to the class, and then we would read after class on the way home; we’d read on the way to class, and then we’d do some in the interim before the next week.  I just knew this is what I wanted to do.  I can’t remember; I think I was maybe five months when I started.

Kristin:  That sounds about right.  Yeah, I remember there was some time before your due date.

Maddie:  Yeah.  So we started listening to the rainbow relaxion every night.  It was weeks before I even knew there was a rainbow in it; I just fell asleep every time.  But my husband listened to it every single night, so he was pretty familiar.

Kristin:  It’s good to fall asleep to.  It means that you’re getting in that fully relaxed state.

Maddie:  Right.  So I think what was really, really helpful for me in the classes was reframing how you think about birth.   That was really helpful for me.  Instead of saying Braxton-Hicks, it was practice labor.  This is natural and normal and healthy; really understanding that trusting my body to do what it needed to do; trusting my baby, that he was going to be able to do what he needed to do.  Reframing all of those words was really, really helpful for me.

Kristin:  Yeah, I’m all about the impact of language.  Even the contraction; you think of it being intense and tightening up, but in labor, you want to be relaxed or it’s just going to be more uncomfortable and take longer, so calling it a surge, for example, and viewing the wave-like motion of labor.

Maddie:  And I also think what was really helpful for me is understanding what’s actually happening with your body and the different phases and knowing — I felt very internal when I was going through it, and so knowing what was going to happen and having learned about all the physical physiology, hormones, and all of that — I felt was really helpful to just kind of put my mind at ease and feel more prepared about what was going to happen and what I could expect.  And I think being able to relax and feel more relaxed about it also let me feel a little free with, if something doesn’t go exactly how I want it to go, that’s okay.  We have another plan.  We know if it’s an emergent situation, things are going to have to change, but feeling more relaxed about the birthing process allowed me to feel relaxed about letting go of exactly how things were going to happen.

Kristin:  Right.  And there are some misconceptions about HypnoBirthing only being for home birthers.  You birthed in the hospital?

Maddie:  Yes.

Kristin:  And you were able to apply what you learned in class?

Maddie:  Absolutely.  I took an old phone with me and I had my rainbow relaxation, and I had some other music on there and the affirmation track, and so I was playing those while I was at the hospital.  Even just something like keeping the lights down low to allow a more relaxed atmosphere, to allow your hormones to really react to the calm environment rather than bright lights and people coming in and out.  I mean, you can change your environment when you have the knowledge of what it should be to help your birth go more easily.  So that was helpful.  And I was fortunate to go to Spectrum Butterworth, and you can labor in the tub there and all of that, and they have a lot more training as far as helping women through a natural birth.

Kristin:  Yeah, your provider makes a difference; a supportive hospital and their policies and procedures make a big difference in being able to achieve HypnoBirthing in the hospital.

Maddie:  What was helpful as well: I did do a lot of research as far as who I wanted as a provider and selecting a provider that you guys have worked with a lot and a lot of other moms in the area have recommended, so they were more familiar with HypnoBirthing, too, and they understand it more and understand what a natural birth looks like.

Kristin:  And it can be much different to observe someone who is internally focused if a provider is not familiar with HypnoBirthing.

Maddie:  Right, exactly, and not feeling forced to respond and explain what’s happening and just allowing your body to do the work that it needs to do, allowing your baby to do the work that they need to do.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Was there anything from the class that didn’t sit with you?  I always say, take what you like from a class or experience and then discard the rest.  Was there anything that didn’t resonate with you immediately?

Maddie:  I responded well to a lot of the self-hypnosis kind of techniques, but we didn’t end up really using those a ton when we were actually going through the birth process.  We did a lot of focusing on breathing because that’s where I really ended up struggling was just calming down and getting those deep breaths in and having my husband understand what needed to happen; understand I needed to be breathing to get that oxygen in for baby, too, and help calm my body down.  He was a fantastic birth partner.

Kristin:  I remember that about your birth, for sure.  He’s a very supportive partner.

Maddie:  He was really involved, and we felt really connected after, so that was beautiful.  And I know some people did a fear release, and for me, that didn’t really work, I feel like, as well for me.  I think it would be really helpful for some people, but my main concerns were that I get migraines, and they’re really bad, and I’ve had kidney stones and they’re really bad, and so I felt like, oh, man, if I can’t handle those, am I going to be able to do a natural birth?  So I think what helped more was just understanding how the birth process works, and then I talked with some other moms who also struggled with those same health issues, and they were able to help calm my fears, as well.  Understanding that your body is putting out all that love hormone; you’re not going to be getting a migraine.  Your body is protecting you from that; it’s focused on what needs to happen.  So the actual fear release part, I didn’t really use that as much.

Kristin:  And one thing about the HypnoBirthing class that’s helpful is you work on your birth preference sheet or birth plan.  Was that helpful in having discussions with your providers during your pregnancy?

Maddie:  Extremely helpful.  I think it was almost more helpful for my husband and I to kind of give us a guideline of what we need to focus on.  With HypnoBirthing, we had informed choice, really; here are evidence-based articles that you can read about these certain preferences that you can choose from.  That was helpful for us to talk about.  My providers were so wonderful, though; I just kind of was like, well, here’s my sheet, and they were like, yep, these all look great.

Kristin:  Whatever you want!

Maddie:  So that was helpful.  But I would say I had a shift change, and so I think what would have been helpful that I didn’t realize was making sure, when we did that shift change, that the other nurse made sure to read the birth preferences.  I had put on there that I didn’t want coached pushing, and so when she came in, I don’t think that she had really read it necessarily, and so then they were pretty focused on that.

Kristin:  That can be challenging, the timing.

Maddie:  I was just trying to block that out.  You were helpful, and the midwife and my husband were all talking about breathing and getting those breaths in, and that was helpful.

Kristin:  Great.  Any other tips or advice for anyone considering HypnoBirthing?

Maddie:  I think it was so helpful and such a bonding experience that I feel — I felt prepared and I felt excited to give birth.  I think so many women go into it feeling scared and saying, give me drugs; they just feel from the beginning that I’m not going to be able to do it.  And after going through HypnoBirthing and really understanding the process, understanding and getting to a point where I trust my body and trust my baby; it’s natural; it’s normal; it’s healthy.  I was so excited!  I was so excited to go in and give birth.

Kristin:  I could tell that; I could see it and feel it.

Maddie:  And you can know, okay, it’s not going to be a walk in the park, but it was beautiful, and I feel so fortunate to have had such a wonderful first birth experience.

Kristin:  Do you use any of the breathing or relaxation techniques in general life or parenting?

Maddie:  I do, actually, do a lot of deep breathing when I feel frustrated and I need to take a step away and focus internally; do some breath depths; focus on a relaxing color.

Kristin:  I do that with my kids.  I get them to use HypnoBirthing and the birth breaths and the relaxation.  For me, I have a fear of the dentist, so I’ve used it at the dentist!  Yeah, it’s very helpful.  Well, it’s so good to have you on, and we’ll talk about your actual birth story shortly.

Maddie:  I’m excited!

Kristin:  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas!  Remember, these moments are golden.

 

Comfort Measure for labor class

HypnoBirthing Baby – Wesley

We love getting birth stories from clients! This is a beautiful story from one of Ashley’s HypnoBirthing students. Through all of the unknowns of labor and delivery for a first time parent, this mom describes her birth experience and how relaxing and keeping calm throughout eliminated any room for fear.

Wesley Thomas Sarazin was born 9-2-18 (13 days prior to EDD) at 5:02 pm. At 4:30 am on 9-1 was laying on the bed at my cabin and felt a pop/jolt feeling and thought my membranes released, but I stood up and no fluid was coming out. I went to the bathroom and had instead lost my mucus plug. I laid back down with my husband and had 2 contractions 20 minutes apart, but decent intensity. Since the cabin is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from home, I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable laboring there and wanted to go home. Chris started to drive, and about 15 minutes before getting home I started to vomit. I got out of the car and fluid gushed. Surges were 6 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute, with lots of back labor.

We got home and I took a shower, grabbed our hospital bags, and contractions were now about 5 minutes apart. I had wanted to labor at home for a while, but felt that I needed to head into triage because I was doing more vomiting and I felt like I needed to poop so I was afraid to try not knowing what my cervix was doing. I was 1cm and “soft” with baby’s head pretty low at the appointment just over a week prior. We got to triage around 9:00 am. I was still only 1-2cm but surges seemed quite intense and still no more than 5 minutes apart. They confirmed I had released my membranes and I was taken up to L&D by 10:00. I had some high BPs initially but they came down and stayed around 135/85 so they weren’t really concerned about pre-e. I was GBS neg.

Krista, my first nurse, was awesome. She has been in the field for 25 years. I’m a nurse so I wanted an IV in up front, because I don’t have great veins. I got in the tub right away and labored there for about 2 hours. I did not have to do continuous monitoring. They took an initial 20 minute reading (wireless in the tub) and then just traced me for 2 minutes each hour with the portable one. I purchased a bath pillow on Amazon and that made it more comfy. I listened to Rainbow Relaxation and some other YouTube/Amazon playlists that I had ready. I got out and dried off, and did some squatting. I hated the ball. I hated leaning forward; the sensation in my abdomen when leaning forward was less tolerable than the back labor. I had lots of rectal pressure the whole time, probably my least favorite part.

I had them check me at around 1:30 pm, and I had made it up to about 5.5cm and 90% effaced. I continued to labor, now mostly side lying with a peanut ball and some standing/squatting and rocking hips. Krista, the RN, told me to try to get through 4 surges in 1 position and then switch to another position; that it would help time go by, and for me it did. I would do about 3-4 surges and then switch. It gave short term goals to get through. Kind of like when you’ve got 10 more minutes to run but you think of it in five, 2 minute sections, just get through the next 2 minutes.

My husband, Mom, and sister took turns applying heat or ice to my back and some counter pressure. I also held heat or ice over my pelvis as it just felt like menstrual cramps. Between surges, I would tell myself to be “loose, limp, relaxed”. I continued with either Rainbow Relaxation or a really great birthing affirmations track that I had found on Youtube. My favorite affirmation was “My surges are not stronger than me because they ARE me”. Baby did have some late decels but was overall ok.

The first 5 hours I was barely monitored but had to be watched more closely at the end. About 2 hours later I was having natural expulsion reflex and I was about 7.5cm and 100%.

Doc finally came in and I was relieved when she didn’t leave, which encouraged me to know that things were likely happening soon. She was fantastic. Even the nurse commented that she has a very midwife-like approach and I felt totally comfortable with her. She put a warm wet towel on my perineum and did counter pressure during my surges. She told me to keep doing the natural expulsive pushing if it was happening even though I was not 10cm because baby was coming down well, at +1 station and tolerating it. She said, “You’re not going to rip through your cervix, your body knows what it is doing.”

After 20 minutes of active pushing, I was struggling to breathe because my urge to push was so strong it was hard to breathe in as much as I’d like. They threw a mask on me and had me push with 1 leg up through 2 surges and then switch and lean the other way to get baby to keep rotating. They got a little aggressive with how they had me push but at the time I was ok with it because I wanted him out ASAP! His head came in and out through several surges and once I popped that head through his body came all at once, such a relief.

During transition I almost asked for some nitrous oxide, but with knowing that the end was in sight, I just kept completely relaxing between surges. I didn’t have any drugs aside from IV fluids. The Doctor did do a pudendal block right before I pushed which I had never even heard of but am super thankful for. I didn’t have the “ring of fire” feeling that some people talk about.

I didn’t get post delivery pit, and had no issue with bleeding. Baby did about 2 minutes of delayed cord clamping, and then I donated the rest. He wasn’t pinking up well and neonatal needed to come. He had lots of fluid/mucus in his lungs and got deep suctioned. H also had to go on CPAP. Once he was looking better, they put him on my chest again, but unfortunately after a few minutes his color was not looking good and we had to call neonatal back for more CPAP and suction. He was threatened with the NICU and I told him to get his act together so he could stay and snuggle with me. I just kept talking to him from across the way. My husband and mom were right by his side as well. The 3rd try to my chest worked. He had mild signs of respiratory distress but his color was looking better.

The next hurdle was hoping his blood sugar was ok since he couldn’t try to latch until his breathing was stable. Luckily that was good!  The only thing I would change about the whole process would be to slow down on the pushing because I think that would have minimized my tearing and maybe the baby wouldn’t have had as much fluid in his lungs.

We are in mother baby now, doing fine. He has been latching pretty well. He still is borderline tachypnic so Dad and I are taking turns holding him because he does better that way. No bassinet for him tonight.

I had my Husband, Mom and sister in the delivery room and am so glad they got to witness our awesome birth. The labor and delivery was hard but honestly not as hard as I thought it would be. It was different I would say, in regard to the back labor and rectal pressure. My husband called me a “gangster”. He said, “I don’t know how to say this the right way, because I know it wasn’t easy, but you made it look easy. It didn’t look like you were uncomfortable.”

Before labor and birth, Chris was a lot better than me about trying to use the HypnoBirthing lingo and shut down any negative birth stories that people would tell. We had several people (who are honestly GREAT people, so it surprised me) say to us, “Oh you’ll see once you get into labor, you’ll want an epidural,” or “You don’t get a trophy afterwards.” After a few of those statements, I just stopped telling people that I was going to try for a natural birth. Fortunately, my mother delivered 4 children without medication, so I had her encouraging me and my husband fully believed I could do it, more than I did.

I should say that the reason I took HypnoBirthing was because I believe that our bodies are made to do this. One of my friends, who’s biggest fear about labor was that she would go too fast and not be able to get an epidural, had read the book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and she gave it to me when she was done. That book further ingrained the message that our bodies are made to do this and a birth without fear will hopefully progress as it should. I think that is the most important part of preparing yourself for natural childbirth. I can honestly say I was never fearful at any point and had a beautiful, exciting, experience.

Most, if not all, of my preferences were met and I am so happy with my experience. I was up to the bathroom and walking around the room less than 2 hours after he was born, and I’m really not having any pain. Bleeding is appropriate without the dose of pit. Just trying to get some rest but being extra attentive though this first night because of my little guys breathing.

 

HypnoBirthing Story

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story

Today we talk with a previous HypnoBirthing student, Annette Beitzel, about her personal experience with HypnoBirthing at Gold Coast Doulas.  Although she didn’t use it how she intended, it had an incredible impact on her pregnancy and birth experience.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with my business partner, Alyssa.

Alyssa:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we’ve got Annette Beitzel here.

Annette:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we are talking about Annette’s experience with taking HypnoBirthing class back in 2016.  So thanks for coming on!  First of all, as far as all of your options of out-of-hospital childbirth classes, what made you choose HypnoBirthing?

Annette:  Honestly, I heard about it on a podcast, and it just sounded cool.  At first, just the name HypnoBirthing sounds really kooky, like, oh, yeah, those people!  But just hearing the person’s experience with it, it was like, oh, my goodness.  This sounds like exactly what I want.  I already had planned on natural birth at a birthing center.  That was my goal, and so it just felt like it fit really well with what my goals were.  Breathing is better than medication, right?

Kristin:  Of course, yes!

Annette:  So yeah, it just sounded like it fit well.

Kristin:  Perfect.  And did you have any reservations about HypnoBirthing, when you think of hypnosis?  When people call our office and ask questions about HypnoBirthing, they get a little freaked out by the “hypno” aspect of it.

Annette:  I think that because I heard about it on a podcast with a person who really explained it right away as just relaxing yourself; that’s what you’re doing; you’re doing it to yourself.  Nobody is coming in with a watch on a chain!

Kristin:  That’s what people imagine, for sure!

Annette:  It was harder to explain to my husband.  I was like, okay, just listen to this podcast.  This will help you understand what I heard.   Because it is; it’s one of those weird things.  It just sounds that way, right?

Kristin:  Right!  And you mentioned your husband, so again, one question we get a lot about the class is that people feel like with hypnosis, it’s internal, even with self-relaxation and visualizations.  How is your husband involved in both the class as well as your birth using that technique?

Annette:  So in the class, you do all the same exercises.  A lot of it is dealing with your fears and just understanding the process, and so men come in with those things, too, right?  Maybe not the same ones or different ways, but they still have their expectations of what birth will be.  And so I think he found it really helpful to really get an expert explaining what’s really happening, that women’s bodies are made for this.  And then also they do all of the “hypnosis” along with the women, so everyone is doing it together.  I mean, it would feel really weird if the men or the partners were just sitting there watching, but they’re involved.  It was all group things, so he understood what I was doing.  There were some exercises that he would sort of help me.  I don’t remember the different things, like tapping or different things like that, and so he sometimes played a more active role.  But also, I think, if I had gone by myself, he wouldn’t have really understood what I was doing in birth because the way it all ended up, he didn’t do really anything.  And so I think he would have been, like, oh, my goodness; I’ve done nothing; nothing’s happened here; I’m useless.  But he knew what I was doing.  He knew I was inside myself.  He knew that I was relaxed.  He knew all of those things, and so I think it really helped him just understand what was going on and not be like, “Oh, do I need to do anything?!”

Alyssa:  I have not gone through the class.  I’ve tried to set myself outside of this as a person listening who doesn’t know what HypnoBirthing is, and I’m thinking it still sounds hokey.  So when you say “hypnosis,” what kinds of things are you doing in the class, and why isn’t it hokey?

Annette:  Right!  Because it works would be the main reason I’d say it’s not hokey.  So basically all she does is go through a reading of something, and she uses a very soothing, calm voice, so it’s easy to sort of stop thinking that you’re in this room, in this place.  You just close your eyes, and you think about what she’s saying.  I think the first one you do, she has you raise your hand as if a balloon is raising you up or something.  And so you just kind of realize, like, oh, I can go outside of my brain.  I can come back into my self-conscious, or I can sort of disconnect a little bit.  And that’s all me.  I’m listening to her, right, but it’s all me just choosing what I want to focus on, how I want to move my thoughts or my energy.  So I don’t know; it does sound a bit ridiculous, and even in the first class, she’s totally talking about that.  She’s like, I know this is weird.  I know it sounds weird, but you’re relaxing yourself.  Don’t think hypnosis; think relaxation.  That’s what you’re doing here.  And is there anything better for birth?

Kristin:  Exactly, opening up and relaxing — that’s key to it!

Annette:  So, yeah, to me, listening to a big explanation of what it really was from an expert was really helpful.  These are the steps you can take, and this is how it can benefit you.  But for me actually being in the class, it was like, yeah, okay; this is me; this just me relaxing; this is me choosing what I’m thinking about, what I’m focusing on.  If I want to think about my fears, that’s going to make me tense up or stress out.  Or I can think about a flower opening up, and I’m sure that sounds silly, but that’s sure a lot more relaxing than, “Am I going to go to a C-section?!”  It’s what do I want to choose to think about, and how will that help me give birth the way that I want to.

Kristin:  And certainly it goes over the basic physiology of what your body is going through, understanding the stages of labor and what’s normal, and for those birthing in the hospital, a little bit about what the hospital experience is like, as well as breastfeeding.  So anything an out-of-hospital class would cover, in addition to changing the language of birth.  That’s one of the things as a doula that I love the most is just changing some the fear-based words.  I mean, contraction already sounds like you’re tensed up, and just looking at “surge” as a more opening, positive word, and not looking at pain.  You know, you go to the hospital, and it’s like, what’s your pain threshold.  They ask you that, like, ten times during labor.  So just sort of changing that language and using affirmations, which I love.  Being positive and just being relaxed.  And the fear releases you do in task — can you talk a little bit about that experience, of doing a fear release?

Annette:  Yeah, that was really interesting.  So I think that my husband actually experienced that one more deeply than I did because I remember the whole thing.  I remember going in the book and pulling out pages and saying, I’m not going to be afraid of this.  This is okay.  I already know the facts because we’ve gone over what do I expect.  Can my body handle this?  Very likely, yes!  And so for him, he doesn’t remember it at all.  He was so relaxed and so into it that he — which is an interesting aspect.  Talking about the different affirmations and stuff, you listen to something that’s about 30 minutes long every night, and to me, that was one of the main things that I really did that was super consistent.  I listened to it every single night, and it’s Rainbow Relaxation.  So it goes through all these colors of the rainbow, and I think by the second color of the rainbow, I’d be asleep every night.  And she was like, that’s totally fine.  You can sleep, and it’s relaxing, and you’re still hearing it, and it’s fine.  And I remember a couple of times, I would wake up at the end, which means I wasn’t actually asleep, I was just in that super entranced state where I was really relaxed, really in my subconscious and feeling it.  And it was just such a weird feeling, because you’re like, oh, my goodness; I was awake this whole time.  I was hearing these things, but I didn’t really feel that awake.  So it’s amazing what your brain can do and just how relaxed you can really get.  So with the fear, I don’t think that I came in with the same fears that a lot of people do.  I already had two sisters-in-law go through natural births at birthing centers, so I was kind of like, yeah, this it totally doable.  I’m not experiencing terrifying birth stories all the time.  I came in with relatively positive expectations.  And then going through the actual information part of it, it’s amazing.  I mean, she really explains to you what is this; how does it work.  Your body is made to do this!  Now, I have to caveat that my sister-in-law — another one — her pelvis cannot.  It doesn’t work.  So it doesn’t work for everyone, but for the vast majority, our bodies can do this.  And that was my experience, too.  I didn’t do anything for labor.  It was just there, and he came out, and there we were.  I don’t think that the fear thing for me was the biggest part of it.  The biggest thing for me was the relaxation, and even through my whole pregnancy, I had a miserable pregnancy.  I had SPD starting at 14 weeks, which is symphysis pubis dysfunction.  I could not walk without excruciating pain.  I couldn’t put my pants on.  I couldn’t do anything; it was just horrible.  And I was pretty down about it.  It was really frustrating because I was going to be the active, pregnant woman that was going out walking all the time and keeping active, and I just couldn’t.  Talking to Ashley about that, she just helped me reframe everything, and the last couple of months of my pregnancy were just completely different.  I was so much more positive; I was so much more relaxed and comfortable, and even though there was still pain, I wasn’t just grumpy all the time.  And I had been up to that point.  I would say my husband was probably really glad we took the HypnoBirthing, even just for my pregnancy.  I was just so much more at peace, and it was so, so helpful with that aspect of it.  So even before we got to the birth, I already felt like HypnoBirthing is amazing because look at my outlook on this pregnancy.  It’s okay.

Alyssa:  So you had the ideal birth where you said you didn’t have to do anything; it just happened.  So what kind of tips or advise would you give for parents for whom that doesn’t happen or if they know they’re getting a C-section.  Would HypnoBirthing still benefit them, and how?

Annette:  Oh, absolutely!  So first of all, I would not say I had the ideal birth.  He came out without my working for it, but I actually had some really intense bleeding the night before.  I was planning on a birth center and ended up in a hospital because my midwife just didn’t want to touch this; this is scary; could be placental abruption.  You know, we didn’t know.  So I checked into a hospital at 6:30 in the morning.  We thought I was probably at a 6 or a 7.  I wasn’t really having intense surges; I wasn’t feeling that much pain.  It was there, but it felt more like Braxton Hicks at that point still; maybe a little stronger.  We knew I was in labor.  They had found that out before because I had actually been in the hospital earlier that night and went home.  So at midnight, my water had broken, and 6:30, I’m in the hospital.  We were like, yeah, nothing is really happening yet.  But it was still a little scary.  I was in the hospital and I didn’t really want to be in the hospital, but they went with my birthing plan, which was like an emergency birthing plan, which unfortunately I had to use.  So I’m sitting in this hospital.  She turned down the lights for me.  She’s doing intake paperwork because I’m not supposed to be there, and I’m answering questions between the surges, and all of a sudden, I felt him move into the birth path, and I was like, oh, I feel him moving down right now.  And she’s like, oh, good good!  I’m like, no, no, he’s coming!  And they were like, okay…  And I rolled over away from her; I’m not going to answer any more questions right now.  And they checked me, and I was at a 10.  And this is six hours or seven hours after my water had broken.  So it was so, so fast.  He was born 20 minutes later.  It was actually too fast.  He didn’t get properly squeezed out, so he was vomiting up stuff the next night, which is scary in its own right.  So yeah, they were, like, oh, don’t push!  I’m like, honestly, anything that happened was involuntary.  And then the doctor got there.  He came out ten minutes after the doctor was there, and he was there telling me, you might want to hold your breath!  And I was like, no, I don’t!  I remember that conversation.  I remember when he was crowning.  They told me, oh, he’s crowning.  And I was, like, wait, I thought this was supposed to be a ring of fire.  Where’s the fire?  And that was my thought while he was crowning.  I was just relaxed.  That’s all I can say.  We did not have time for listening to any of the meditations.  We didn’t do anything during the actual birth because even during the night, I was sleeping most of the time.  So I feel like I barely did a HypnoBirthing, other than the fact that I was relaxed and I was breathing.  And that’s what I really took from all of the classes and all of the work, which is part of the reason I wanted to do this, because it was like, hey, I didn’t even really do it, but it still worked, right?  I didn’t spend 12 hours listening to relaxation things and breathing him down.  I did breathe him down, but very quickly!  So yeah, I had a second degree tear and there was all sorts of other things, but my placenta was getting old.  They said that was part of the reason for the bleeding, and so there was reason for concern, which I would also say, the whole time, it was like I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but all right, here we are.   I think just the knowledge of everything — I never freaked out.  I wasn’t worried.  It was just like, okay, well, this is what’s happening now.  And just very — I think I was very go with the flow.  And my husband and everyone else was kind of freaking out.  I was texting my family because they’re in another state.  I told them I was going to the hospital because there’s lot of bleeding and they think it might be this and whatever, and they were all freaking out.  And then 20 minutes later, we’re sending a picture of a baby.  Okay, well, I guess it was okay!  So, yeah, it was an ideal birth, and also completely not what I was expecting or planning.  I was going to be in a birthing tub all night long, right?  That was my plan!  But even without going along with the plan, it still was just completely changed how I was approaching everything, how I felt about it, what I was even thinking about.  I was thinking about my breath and feeling him in my body.  Everything else was so peripheral.  Oh, there’s doctors out there.  I even remember looking up, like, oh, look at all these faces I have never seen before.  I think there were five or six people at the end of the bed!  And I was like, all right, well, here we go then!  And all of it was so — I just got the inevitability of a birth.  It was going to happen.  It didn’t matter what I was doing.  It didn’t matter what they did.  Here we are in this place that I wasn’t planning, and here comes my baby, just exiting my body.  And I think after that birth, I really did believe and understand the women giving birth in a coma because it was like honestly — I feel like my body did some pushing.  It didn’t feel like it.  It didn’t feel like what people explain is a birth.  It was just like my body helped him exit.

Kristin:  You were breathing your baby down, as we talk about, the birth breath in HypnoBirthing.  But of course, we see the movies where everything is traumatic and the woman is screaming.  That’s not what the reality of birth is, even with a precipitous birth, which can be a little bit stressful and overwhelming if you haven’t prepared the way you did and having that relaxation.  And even with your change of plans, in HypnoBirthing, of course, instead of a birth plan, you talk about birth preferences, so what you would like in an ideal situation, knowing that you may need to be flexible, which you obviously were, and you handled it very well.

Annette:  Yeah, sorry, I forget some of the terminology.  It’s been a couple of years.  But yeah, it was amazing.  It was, okay, we’re working with my midwife, so we don’t need to tell her what all we were going to do.  We were on the same page already, but I was really glad we actually did walk through all of that and come up with a list of what we really wanted from a birth.  And he was on my chest for two hours before they even touched him to do anything.  They still followed all of the things that I wanted, and I think that was a really helpful part of the class.  I was going into it thinking, “That’s not going to happen to me!  I’m not going to be in the hospital!”  But I was, and I’m really glad that somebody walked me through just saying what I want, if I’m in the hospital.  Just lay it all down.

Alyssa:  Having the knowledge and being educated ahead of time, I think, is a big part of releasing fear because you know what to expect “if,” instead of walking into this unknown.  And then you would have been panicking because you’re in a hospital; there’s six people that I don’t know at the end of the bed; what’s happening to me?  You were kind of like, oh, yeah, we talked about this.

Annette:  Yeah, it was very much that way.  I know what my body is going to do, so you all can hang out if you want.

Kristin:  And we have students that have planned Cesareans that want to eliminate some of that fear or students who then have medical issues and then need a Cesarean.  That can certainly be helpful.  I mean, the situation you just described is just knowing how to plan, how to relax, to use your breath, regardless of how you birth.

Annette:  Yeah, for sure.  That would have been such a huge — I mean, I can’t imagine if they had said, hey, you’re in a Cesarean.  I know it was all about — got to keep breathing.  That’s what I need to think about!  I’m just going to keep breathing, and this baby is coming.  I’m going to be holding this baby soon.  And if somebody, especially with a planned Cesarean — I know these women have so much fear around that.  It’s a surgery; that’s a huge thing.  And yeah, that class would be so helpful to process all of those fears and to know your body will be okay.  You will be okay.  Your baby will be okay.  You’re going to come through this.  I can’t imagine the difference in being in that situation, but with the confidence and the relaxation and all of that, rather than being scared and stressed out.  I imagine that would be much more helpful.

Kristin:  So, Annette, at what point in your pregnancy did you take HypnoBirthing?  It sounds like you had some time to practice.  You were saying you were listening to the relaxation tracks at night.

Annette:  I think that we were taking it in November, and then he was born in March.  We had a couple of months afterwards, which, like I said, was super helpful.  Honestly, I would have taken it at the very beginning, after knowing how much it helped me with pregnancy.

Kristin:  Yeah, HypnoBirthing is different than a lot of childbirth classes in that it helps to take it earlier in pregnancy so you have time to practice.  Of course, we have students who take it right up until their due date and sometimes even go early and miss a few classes.

Annette:  Yeah, we had that happen!  We lost a student.  It happens!

Kristin:  But certainly, like you said, to have a few months or even taking it very early in pregnancy, where other classes, you want it fresh on your mind, especially if it’s focused more on movement and positions rather than the whole mind-body-spirit connection.  That is one thing that I think is different about HypnoBirthing is it’s not just the physical movement and breath.  It’s a focus on your inner being and peace and serenity.

Alyssa:  Yeah, it sounds like it’s not just for birth, and I would venture to say that it probably helps — that you probably even think about it now in day to day.  Like, it almost helps you when a situation arises just in life?

Annette:  Oh, for sure, yeah.

Alyssa:  Just breathing and releasing fear in whatever way you’ve come to do that.

Annette:  Yeah.  And I do meditation now, and I didn’t think that was a cool thing before, but now I’m like, sure, yeah, that sounds great!  I want to get back into that space with my mind where I’m in control of things and thinking about what I want to be thinking about.  I’m not usually going through the ones the instructor did, but it’s opened me up to that whole world of what can my subconscious do?  And a completely unrelated thing; I’m now doing EMDR therapy, which is also very similar in using the relaxation and controlling what you’re thinking about and all of that.  And I think I would have thought that was ridiculous, if I hadn’t gone through HypnoBirthing.  So yeah, it’s amazing all the different ways in your life that it can continue touching you.

Alyssa:  Our brains are powerful.  They do a lot of good and bad for us on a day to day basis!

Annette:  Definitely, yeah!

Kristin:  So it sounds like your class had a mix of birth center, home birthers, and hospital birthers?

Annette:  Yes.  I don’t think anyone had a planned C-section, but there was a mix of all three of those, yes.

Kristin:  And then another question that we get pretty commonly is for people who are very religious, faith-based, would this class be something that they need to steer away from?  That’s a common – because of the hypnosis, maybe, but having experienced it yourself, can you address that for us?

Annette:  Yeah.  I mean, I grew up super religious.  I’m not as much anymore, but for sure, I remember that being something.  Oh, yeah, hypnosis; that’s something that you would want to stay away from.  And this class isn’t that at all.  It’s 100% you controlling what you’re thinking about and thinking about what you’re deciding to.  It’s just all you.  That’s all I can say, right?  You’re listening to someone talking, but you’re choosing everything that you’re doing, and all of the images that you’re seeing and everything is what you want to do.  So nobody is controlling your mind.  Nobody is coming in and saying, drop this pen, and then suddenly you’re dropping pens or whatever.  It’s all you, relaxing, choosing what you’re listening to, choosing what you’re going to respond to.

Alyssa:  It really sounds no different for a religious person than prayer to me, right?  Like, they could almost — it could feel like prayer to them, and they can call it whatever they want to call it: medication, prayer, hypnosis.

Annette:  Yeah, it’s relaxation, right?  That was the thing that I came away with, especially.  It’s relaxing yourself.  So if you want to go and learn how to relax yourself, then this is for you.

Kristin:  Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  Do you have any last words or tips for our listeners?

Annette:  If you’re thinking about HypnoBirthing, do it.  It’s amazing, truly; 100%, I tell every single pregnant person I meet: have you heard about this thing called HypnoBirthing?  And then I tell them my story.  It’s a weird one.  I didn’t use it the way you’re supposed to, but it still made a huge difference.  Even now, I’m like, I don’t know; did I earn the woman badge of giving birth?  I feel like I kind of didn’t, but here’s my kid…

Kristin:  You totally did!

Annette:  So apparently, I did!

Alyssa:  There’s the proof!

Annette:  but yeah, it’s amazing.  It really is, and I think it’s perfect for any birth situation, for anyone who’s going to give birth.  Do HypnoBirthing.  It really is amazing.

Kristin:  Thank you again, Annette!

 

Budgeting for a doula

How To Pay For Your Doula

We had a client recently tell us that our costs are too low for what all we offer for pregnancy and birth support. We certainly agree with him as we are on call for clients 24-7 from the moment they sign a contract with us. Some births are two hours and others are multiple days. We miss holidays, birthdays, and plan our vacations around client due dates. We love this work, but it does take a toll on us emotionally and physically. Doulas often add the “unless I am at a birth” clause to every social invite. This work is rewarding, but very unpredictable.

Our Gold Coast Doulas team is worth much more than our current rates, but we want a teacher to be able to hire us without a huge financial strain.  We go above and beyond to make all of our clients feel like VIPs because they are. Even with our exceptional service, clients often ask us how we can help make doula support work with their budgets.

We are thrilled that most HSA and FSA plans now consider birth doulas as a qualified medical expense. Many Gold Coast clients choose to allocate their HSA or FSA funds to pay for doula support.  Unfortunately, standard insurance doesn’t cover doula support in Michigan at this time. Hopefully that changes in the near future.

We are finding more and more grandparents or friends wanting to gift postpartum doula support or classes to our clients. We can make custom baby shower inserts and can create gift cards for any of our services. We are also on the online and in-store baby registry at Ecobuns Baby & Co in Holland. Why not reduce the baby shower clutter and ask for a postpartum or birth doula instead? We aim to make your life easier during a time of many transitions.

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

We offer packages if you purchase one or more classes or services as we want you to feel supported and prepared as you start or grow your family. This makes adding on services more affordable and gives you the VIP support you are looking for. We are happy to customize any options just for you. Please reach out and email us info@goldcoastdoulas.com with any questions or fill out our contact form. We are here to help.

 

HypnoBirthing Baby

HypnoBirthing – Brianna & Ben’s Story

A huge thank-you to our HypnoBirthing student for taking the time to share her beautiful birth story with us! We hope you love this as much as we do!

My husband Ben and I decided to take a HypnoBirthing class because we had a goal to have a natural birth and because we didn’t think the hospital class would teach us much other than how to be a good patient. I was also very interested because I wanted Ben to be involved and to have more knowledge about birth. After one class we knew we had made the right choice! We really enjoyed meeting with everyone and being in an environment where birth was talked about so highly instead of with fear and anxiety. After that first class I had no anxiety about birth. I was genuinely excited about my baby’s birthday and knew my body was made for this. We learned so much about how a woman’s body is made to birth, and how to breathe calmly before and during birthing. We learned how to make informed decisions and how to ask the doctors the right questions. We felt so prepared.

My entire pregnancy was very healthy. Baby’s heartbeat was good. I was measuring on track. My blood pressure was great (it got even better after we learned calm breathing!) and my weight gain was normal. I had no complaints except some hip pain from sleeping on my side. I knew first-time babies usually come late and my due date came and went and induction was discussed when I was 41.5 weeks. Because I knew how to talk to my doctor, I felt comfortable with the process and they agreed to allow me to labor as naturally as possible once they started the induction process.

Once at the hospital, we discussed our birth preferences with our nurse who was incredibly supportive of all our wishes. Before they gave me the pill to dilate, my cervix was still closed at 1:00 AM. I believe that the calm breathing techniques and relaxation soundtracks were able to help me stay loose and limp and my cervix dilated with the pills and my labor started without pitocin! They told me this is very rare – probably 1 in 500 first-time moms are able to go into labor without pitocin for an induction. The process they said could take up to 3 days but it looked like we would be having our baby before the 24 hour mark!

As the surges grew more intense, Ben was able to suggest new positions and read relaxation scripts to me. He was just as knowledgeable about birth as I was and that was so wonderful. By the time I was feeling the urge to push, the doctor noticed my baby was “sunny side up” and initially tried to turn our baby manually. I asked if instead I could change positions and they agreed and baby flipped! It’s amazing how my body and baby worked together. Very soon after that, at 7:49 PM, our baby boy was born! Our doctors and nurses all remembered our birth preferences and I was able to pull my baby up to my chest without any medical instruments touching him first. Nurses didn’t rub him off and lights were kept dim. The doctor waited for Ben’s ok to clamp the cord after it stopped pulsing and our son was able to breastfeed right away with a great latch. It was such a beautiful moment! We enjoyed over an hour of skin to skin and then Ben held him skin to skin as well. When they weighed him I was so surprised to find he was 9 lbs 2 ounces! I birthed him without any pain medication, minimal tearing, and I have recovered quickly!

I’ve thought a lot about how HypnoBirthing helped me in my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. The truth is that it made a huge difference in every stage. Before the class I thought I knew everything about pregnancy and birth, but it turns out there was so much more to learn. And we went into every stage with enough knowledge to talk openly and easily with our doctors. We knew what our birth preferences were and why we wanted things a certain way. We knew how to stand up to protect our baby, and we were given so many tools to stay calm, relaxed, loose, and limp. Without this class I know I would have requested pain medication and I know I would have been much more upset about a scheduled induction. But because I was able to make my own informed decisions, I have no regrets about our birth. I’d do it all over again!

 

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.

infant massage

Infant Massage Is Only For Babies… Or Is It?

April 14 is Baby Massage Day, so in honor of this day, we have a special blog from Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM. Enjoy!

Infant massage is an age old practice that has many great physical and emotional benefits for babies and their caregivers; however, did you know that the basic techniques of infant massage can be used throughout the lifespan? Yes, it’s true! From newborn babies to teens and young adults, nurturing touch is good for everyone.

An introductory infant massage class typically focuses on babies who are not mobile yet – usually 6 months and under – but that does not mean that massage ends once a child starts to crawl. Although offering massage may become more challenging as babies grow, there are many creative ways to incorporate massage into everyday life with children of all ages.

Movers and Shakers (ages 6 months – 24 months) – Massage becomes more playful as children become more active and curious. This is a great age range to introduce touch through the use of songs and stories. Well-known nursery rhymes such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “This Little Piggy” can be used to engage a busy toddler. More physical games and activities such as playing “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” or “The Hokey Pokey” can offer opportunity for gentle touch and to teach body recognition and awareness.

Lower your expectations for what a massage looks like with this busy age range. Massage is sometime only accepted in very small ways, but remember that some nurturing touch is always better than none at all. Techniques taught in an introductory class can be used with this age to help relieve tension in legs and ankles as babies begin to crawl and walk, to reduce teething discomfort and to alleviate congestion and sinus pressure.

Preschoolers (ages 2-5) – Songs and games become even more interactive and fun with preschoolers. Massage techniques such as “Building a Pizza” or “Planting a Garden” (typically taught in the second session of Gold Coast Doulas infant massage classes) make for great interaction and nurturing touch between child and caregiver. Taking turns drawing pictures or writing letters on each other’s backs and guessing the secret message becomes fun and exciting towards the end of this age range. Children this age also start to want to give massage to parents, caregivers, siblings and friends in addition to just receiving it themselves. So sweet!

Preschoolers might also start to experience growing pains as their muscles stretch to keep up with their rapidly growing bones. Using basic massage techniques for legs and feet or arms and hands along with a heat pack can be very helpful to ease these pains.

School aged children (ages 6-12) – School aged children begin to become more aware (and sometimes self-conscience) about their bodies. It can be increasingly challenging to find opportunities for nurturing touch and massage. Tailoring what you are offering to your children’s specific interests can be helpful. Offer a special sports massage like a soccer massage, dancers or gymnasts massage, or a swimmers massage. Not into sports? Artists, writers, videogamers, and computer geniuses need relaxing massage too.

This age range is also a nice time to encourage reciprocal massages. Take turns pampering each other by rubbing a scented lotion onto each other’s hands or feet. You might be surprised by how well your child engages in conversation about their day, their dreams or their challenges during a few moments of quiet massage.

Pre-teens, teens and young adults – (ages 13+) – Massage is about connection and comfort with this age group. Of course, your preteen may not want to play massage games any more or even willingly let you touch them some days. This is when we offer massage as pain or tension relief. It might go something like this – “Wow, you have been working so hard on that paper! Can I give you a little hand massage to help you relax”? or “You have had such a stressful day! How about I rub your shoulders for a minute?” or “You played your heart out on that soccer field today! Would you like me to rub your legs for a minute to help relax your muscles?” Teaching older kids to give themselves a slow, intentional hand massage with an indulgent lotion can be an excellent introduction to mindfulness practice as well. This is a great mindfulness practice for adults too!

It probably comes as no surprise that children who are massaged from a young age are more likely to accept massage as a teen or young adult as it has become a familiar, comforting practice for them throughout their lives. On the other hand, I will always advocate that it is NEVER too late to add nurturing touch and massage into your interactions with your children. What are you waiting for?

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

 

Gold Coast Doulas

We are Your Doulas!

We are your doulas!

At Gold Coast we pride ourselves on our superior service and professionalism. We aim to be your one stop shop for all things pertaining to pregnancy, birth and the postpartum time.

Looking for childbirth classes? We’ve got you covered with HypnoBirthing classes and will soon be releasing another option for Childbirth Classes.

Looking for a doula to support you during bedrest or other medical situations? Our Bedrest Doulas have got you covered in the home or hospital.

Interested in a birth doula? We have Certified and Pre-Certified partnered doulas who would love to work with you. Gold Coast Doulas support births in the home, birth center or hospitals. Our fully insured doulas attend births in the following hospitals: Gerber, Zeeland Hospital, Hackley Hospital, Metro Health Hospital, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus, Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, Holland Hospital and North Ottawa Community Hospital.

Do you need daytime postpartum care for you new baby and yourself? Our trained and certified postpartum doulas will care for your baby while you take a shower, run errands for you, do light housekeeping, light meal preparation, will listen to your birth story and to you to support you emotionally, they will play with your toddler and support you with breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

Are you sleep deprived? Our overnight postpartum doulas will give you the rest you need. Gold Coast Doulas love to bring breastfed babies to you when it is time to nurse and then take care of burping, changing and getting your baby back to sleep. If you bottle feed or pump our doulas will take care of everything so you can sleep through the night. Even one good night of sleep can make a difference.

Do you need support with twins or multiples? Our postpartum doulas are eager to help!

How can we best support you? Call us today!
We serve all of Greater Grand Rapids and West Michigan’s Gold Coast including: Saugatuck/Douglas, Holland/Zeeland, Grand Haven/Spring Lake, Muskegon, Fremont, Cedar Springs and surrounding areas