childbirth education

Jene'e of Gold Coast Doulas poses with her family on a beach

Meet our new Postpartum Doula, Jene’e!

1) What did you do before you became a doula/consultant?

For many years, I primarily have been a “domestic engineer”, a stay-at-home mom. Although in some of those years, my family has owned a few restaurants, and I helped there when I was needed.

2) What inspired you to become a doula/consultant?

Becoming a mama at a very young age, to two boys, and the birthing experience I had with them started my journey to want to make others mamas experiences more empowering and filled with better memories and support. Because of my birthing experience with them, for a long time I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse, or an OB nurse practitioner, but that was not my life path.

I now have 7 beautiful children, and each one of those birthing experiences was different. It was not until my 6th child that I became more aware that I have a choice to a have different birthing experience. Now I want to empower mamas to know that they can too.

3) Tell us about your family.

We moved here to the Traverse City area at the end of 2020, from Henderson, Nevada. We would visit family here every summer, and loved the area.

We are a very outdoor family. Love the beach, paddle boarding, fishing, soccer, snowboarding, sledding, all fun activities

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

I absolutely love Hawaii. The beaches, the warm water, the smell, the culture. It is my Happy place.

Traverse City use to be one of our favorite vacation spots every summer also, until we moved from Las Vegas.

Now Las Vegas is one of my favorite vacation spots, so I can see my son, my amazing friends, and my previous village.

5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.

This is really hard to answer. I really think it depends on intention, mood, and the time of day.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new families?

There is so much “best” advice to give! Give yourself Grace, time to heal and rest, do what is best for you and your family even if that means setting boundaries, and do not feel the need to follow the western culture to “bounce back”.

7) What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?

From what I have been told, is that I bring great, empowering, safe energy when I walk into the room

8) What is your favorite food?

I love raw sushi and Mexican food

9) What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?

I love Empire, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor, & Traverse City

10) What are you reading now?

The First 40 Days

11) Who are your role models?

I love to listen and surround myself with empowering woman and friends.


Meet our new Postpartum Doula, Jene’e! Read More »

Pregnant woman sits with husband reading books on pregnancy

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: 

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


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Audra Geyer Doula horizontal headshot for Gold Coast Doulas with hand on hip

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!


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

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.


Saturday Series of Classes: Podcast Episode #102 Read More »

Alyssa Veneklase and Kristin Revere sit in an office while podcasting together

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 !


Coronavirus Update on Doulas: Podcast Episode #94 Read More »

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.


Maddie’s HypnoBirthing Story: Podcast Episode #81 Read More »

Woman wearing neutral colors lays on a white bed cradling her baby bump

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 Baby – Wesley Read More »

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!


Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story Read More »

Gold Coast Doulas Team

Podcast Episode #55: What Sets Gold Coast Doulas Apart?


What sets Gold Coast Doulas apart?  Today Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness asks us why she should refer her clients to us.  She already knows she loves us, but why should everyone else?  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, co-owner.

Alyssa:  And I’m Alyssa.  Today we’re talking to Dr. Rachel again of Rise Wellness Chiro.  Hey!

Dr. Rachel:    Hey, I’m back.

Alyssa:  Tell us a little bit about Rise.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, so I am co-owner of Rise Wellness Chiropractic with Dr. Annie, and we specialize in prenatal chiropractic care and pediatric care.  So we see a lot of pregnant women.  We are out in the community talking to a lot of pregnant women, teaching some different classes, and whenever we talk to anyone or any patient, we always recommend they have a doula at their birth.

Kristin:  Love it!

Dr. Rachel:  Yes, so we love you guys, obviously.  I used you guys.  So I just thought maybe you could tell us more about why we should refer to you.

Kristin:  Good question.

Dr. Rachel:  Because there’s a lot of doulas out there now.  You see it a lot more now, I feel.

Kristin:  Yeah, it is becoming more popular than when I became a doula about five years ago, and so we set ourselves up to the highest standards of care at Gold Coast.  As many people know, doulas are not regulated.  There’s no board certification.  So anyone could call themselves a doula, but our doulas are all trained or working towards certification.  It takes about two years to get certified for birth or postpartum, and our postpartum doulas are also current with all of the CPR, heart saver, AED certifications.  And so in order to work with us, you’re at that higher level.

Dr. Rachel:  What classes do the doulas take?

Alyssa:  DONA and ProDoula are two of the biggest certifying organizations.  Those are what most of our doulas come from.  There are a couple others.

Kristin:  Yeah, we have some Cappas, and we have doulas in other training programs, so we don’t select certain ones.  We do prefer that our doulas have had an in-person versus an online training, and the trainings can vary from two to four days, depending on the certification organization.  And then depending, again, on what program they’re going through, oftentimes an OB or a midwife would need to sign off on a certain number of births, as well as nurses in the room and clients.  And then there’s hospital research that needs to be done.  Books need to be read and essays and exams, and there’s a whole process, and it is different for every organization, but yet pretty similar in the structure.

Alyssa:  So a lot of our doulas are certified already, and the ones that are trained and working towards certification have a certain amount of time, and if they don’t fulfill those obligations within that 18- to 24-month period, then when it expires, they have to leave.  So we’re really, really adamant about that because if we’re saying that we’re a professional, experienced agency and these are our requirements, we have to stand by that.

Dr. Rachel:  So you guys offer a lot of other things besides just having a doula here at Gold Coast?

Alyssa:  Yes!

Kristin:  Yes!

Dr. Rachel:  Which I think is cool, because then you have your doula but then you’re also – then you can refer out to, like, oh, you want placenta encapsulation or help with breastfeeding or all these other classes.  So tell me about those.

Kristin:  Yeah, and with everything, again, trying to have the highest standards of care, there are a variety of lactation consultants, and our lactation consultants are the highest standard, so IBCLC, and they go through years of training in order to do that.  And HypnoBirthing; our childbirth education instructors are certified and maintain those certifications every two years, and our placenta encapsulator has gone through a certification program and is certified and keeps current with bloodborne pathogens and all of the other exams you need.

Dr. Rachel:  And weren’t you just telling me the other day that she comes and pick up the placenta?

Kristin:  Yes, from the hospital.

Dr. Rachel:  Which is nice, because not all of them do, right?  Sometimes you have to bring home the placenta?

Alyssa:  Sometimes, probably, but all of ours will come pick up at the hospital or home if they’re having a home birth.

Kristin:  One of our doulas is a certified placenta encapsulator, and her certification only has her do in-home, so some of our clients like to have that prepared in home and they actually bring the placenta home and then she does all of the encapsulation right there in front of them.

Alyssa:  The majority tend to want it picked up at the hospital and brought to the encapsulator’s work space and just dropped back off to them when it’s done.  But I think the reason we offer so many things is, you know, you find out you’re pregnant, and where do I go?  Who do I ask all these questions to?  And to know that you can come to Gold Coast and get evidence-based resources and talk to experienced professionals is invaluable.  Our response time is quick; we’ve noticed that if you don’t respond to somebody right away, they just assume that you don’t care or that to be unresponsive just gives a new mom a bad feeling.

Kristin:  Yeah, we work seven days a week.  We answer the Gold Coast line seven days a week and respond the day of, if not immediately.

Dr. Rachel:  How does it work?  So they’re, like, hey, they reach out to you, whether email or call, but you have 18 doulas; is that right?

Kristin:  Yes.

Dr. Rachel:  So how do you get matched with your doula?

Alyssa: Sometimes people ask for somebody specific.  “I was on your website, and I really love so-and-so.”

Kristin:  Right, or it could be location-based.  We have some lakeshore doulas, so we try to pair them with clients who are delivering in the hospital, but are Grand Rapids doulas, of course.  We serve a 50-mile radius, so we will travel, and some of our clients – Alyssa can attest to this – will only want a certified doula, so that would limit the pool, or are looking for a lower rate, and we do offer different pricing structures for birth based on where a client is looking for a certified or a pre-certified doula.   And so if they are looking for a reduced rate, we would give them our doulas who are experienced, but also working towards their certification.

Alyssa:  Right, even if they’re trained and working towards that certification, they could be twelve months in, and they could have had several clients and have done most, if not all, of their coursework.  They just have to get all of their clients.

Dr. Rachel:  Is there a test at the end or is it just –

Kristin:  It’s an exam, yeah.

Alyssa:  Yeah, and lots of reading and lots of clients.  And for births, they have to be qualifying births.  So they could have attended 20 and only 1 qualified because they went too quick or any number of reasons.

Dr. Rachel:  What’s a qualified birth?

Kristin:  It depends on the organization.  Most organizations require three signed-off births.  But again, it depends.  If you had three Cesareans, only one would count, or if it was a quick birth, it needs to be at least ten hours for some organizations in order to count.  And then again, with my first doula certification, Sacred Doula, before I went through the Pro Doula birth certification, I needed to have doctors.  So I might have gotten the nurse to sign; I might have gotten my client to sign, but if I couldn’t reach that doctor immediately after the birth to get he or she to sign, then that one didn’t count.  A lot of the birth trainings require auditing a full childbirth preparation class, so that could be anywhere from five weeks to twelve weeks, and also sitting in on a breastfeeding class so you understand how to support a breastfeeding mother.

Dr. Rachel:  When I took your breastfeeding class, I think someone was sitting in on it.

Alyssa:  Maybe one of our doulas?

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, I took it through Shira, yeah.

Kristin:  So yeah, there’s a lot of preparation outside of that, and with my first certification, I also needed to take a business class, so I took a social media marketing-focused class as well to build my business.

Alyssa:  And one thing we haven’t mentioned is we are fully insured.  I know a lot of doulas aren’t, but we as a company are, and we have done background checks for clients or we can do drug screenings.  Anything that a client might need us to do, we’re able to do for them.

Kristin:  Yes, so we have – obviously in our classroom space and office, we have the full professional liability, but then we have the doula agency covered, and some of our clients have asked us to see our insurance.  And then we’ve also, for clients who are concerned about vaccinations, we’ve shown immunization records.  If they want doulas to have the flu shot, for example, then we would give them doulas and be able to prove that they have the current flu shot.

Alyssa:  And we keep all that information on file, readily accessible, so I know if a client calls and says I want to see someone’s immunizations; I want them to also have a flu shot, and I want to give them a drug test and a background test, I can look at my chart and be like, okay, this person, this person, this person.

Dr. Rachel:  That’s really awesome.

Kristin:  Yeah, especially for overnight doula support, they want to know that if you’re caring for their child, their baby, when they’re sleeping, that they can trust that individual.  So I feel on the postpartum end of things, the background checks, the screenings, are more rigorous than, say, for birth.

Alyssa:  Anything else you think that clients have questions on when you say you should hire a doula because you’re pregnant?

Dr. Rachel:  No, they probably just ask why.  I tell them because you don’t know what you’re doing.  You don’t know!  I mean, yes, your body can do it naturally, but if you’re not prepared for birth… I tell them to take a birthing class, too.  And have a doula there; they know what to do.  Like I said, when I sat down with you and Ashley, I was, like, oh, good.  You guys got this handled!  I’ll just listen to you!

Kristin:  Right!  We’ve got you covered, and we can also support the partner equally, and you know, regardless of how you’re preparing, whether it’s taking a hospital class or HypnoBirthing or Lamaze or Bradley, then we’re able to support and reaffirm what you learned in class and regardless – again, we pride ourselves on judgment-free support, so birth doulas, postpartum doulas – however you parent, however you choose to birth, it’s cool with us.  So if you want to get an epidural the second you walk in the hospital, let me make you comfortable and try to help things progress.  If you have a planned Cesarean, then we’ll help you along that way, as well as, obviously, an unmedicated birth experience.  Some doulas prefer to only support unmedicated births or only home births, but we will support everyone equally, and we’ve done specific trainings that are beyond the scope of a doula training to make us even more…

Alyssa:  More inclusive.  You know, we’ve had diversity training, an LGBTQ training.  We’re just looking at this community, saying, whoever approaches us and asks for support, how do we best support them?

Kristin:  Yes.  So we’ve done an empathy training.  A lot of our doulas went through the Mothership Certification program, which is a weekend-long training.  And also our lactation consultant and infant massage specialists, they both went through the training with me when it was first launched, and so that’s about empathy, working with healthcare professionals, with clients.  And so we did that training.  We did a disability training to be able to support clients both in birth and postpartum with various disabilities, and that was so helpful and nothing I ever learned at a doula training or a conference.  I go to conferences every year and some very specific niches, so we’re able to, again, serve more communities.  And one thing that Gold Coast does is that most of us work in the partner model.  How did you feel about hiring two doulas versus one doula?

Dr. Rachel: Yeah, it was great.  It’s nice to know that you always – well, it’s just nice to have two people to bounce ideas off, or like you said, once you hire your doula, they’re there for the whole pregnancy, so when I would text a question, you both would answer.

Kristin:  Right, and we have different backgrounds and experiences.  Ashley was your HypnoBirthing instructor, so you had her knowledge as well and my long-time experience, so yeah, that’s a benefit.  We only allow the option for certified doulas on our team to serve as a solo doula, and they still have the benefits of the team within Gold Coast if there’s an emergency or if the doula has the flu or if two clients deliver on the same day.  They would have a backup within our team, but they prefer to reduce their client load and focus on that individual connection.  So for a client who doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable with a team, we give that option, but most doulas in this area work in a solo model with a backup, and you may or may not know who that backup is.

Alyssa:  That’s why most tend to like our team approach.

Kristin:  And then in the postpartum time, we have some clients who want a lot of hours in a package, and so they may be working with five doulas or they may have one doula.  So Alyssa handles a lot of that scheduling.

Alyssa:  Yeah, that’s another thing that sets us apart, I think, is when you’re working with just a doula who does postpartum work, she’s limited in how many hours she can do.  But we have enough that when we have clients call and say I need somebody day and night for two months straight, we can cover those shifts.

Kristin:  It’s nice to cover inclusively with our team and their different skill sets.  Some of our doulas are also CLCs, so basic lactation consultants, so if they’re in the home postpartum, they’re able to support with basic breastfeeding needs.  If there are specific issues, we can bring our IBCLC there.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, it’s probably just nice to be, even as a doula at Gold Coast, to be able to reach out, like, oh, I have this going on; do you have any advice?

Kristin:  Yes, we can bounce situations or an induction question or how do you navigate this or trying to get baby in a better position.  So we have the whole team to run things by, and they can always call me if it’s a birth issue and a doula is uncertain how to handle a situation.  And then we’re so fortunate in that our infant massage instructor is also a licensed therapist and specializes in postpartum mood disorders and working with women in that time, and so we’re able to use her as a reference and a referral source.  She’s helped us process some experiences we’ve had where a doula sometimes needs therapy, needs help dealing with some of the emotions surrounding what we are holding space for.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think our team – we can rely on each other.  We have a private Facebook group where we can ask all these questions of each other, support each other, give each other accolades.  We have meetings.

Kristin:  Yeah, and yearly, I set up a birth doula skill share, so we all spend half of a day together and go through just different comfort measures and things we’ve learned at conferences and other trainings, and just reaffirm each other and, you know, increase our skills.  If you don’t practice, then you lose it.

Alyssa:  Yeah, we’ve got a large enough team that we can cover everybody.

Kristin:  Yeah, we say from the moment a woman conceives through the first year of a child’s life, we’ve got most everything they need, and if we don’t, we have referral partners like you, like if baby’s having trouble latching and they need a chiropractor or they need to go see a pediatric dentist or they need to get some PT done during pregnancy.  Could be a variety of things.  We know everyone in the area as far as related practitioners to be able to refer them out.

Alyssa:  Well, if there’s anybody pregnant listening, why don’t you tell them how to find Rise, and we can tell them how to find Gold Coast.

Dr. Rachel:  You can find us at our website.  We are in the same building at Gold Coast.

Alyssa: We’re in the Kingsley Building in East Town, so we’re right above the restaurant Terra.

Kristin:  And besides our website, we’re also on Instagram and Facebook.  You can pretty much find us anywhere online.

Alyssa:  Thanks for joining us again, Dr. Rachel.

Dr. Rachel:  thank you!

Alyssa:  Remember, these moments are golden.


Podcast Episode #55: What Sets Gold Coast Doulas Apart? Read More »

Birth Doula

Podcast Episode #42: Building Your Birth Team

What should your birth team look like?  What kinds of questions do you need to ask and who should you be talking to when you find out you’re pregnant?  We answer these questions and more on today’s podcast with Rise Wellness Chiropractic.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud


Alyssa:  Hello, again.  Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, your host, and I’m talking with Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel again of Rise Wellness.  So we had the idea of talking about building a birth team and what that might look like for new parents as they start this journey because there are obviously a lot of options.  And we can talk about doulas and we can talk about chiropractic care, but we can also ask you, Dr. Rachel, as a fairly recent mom.  Your twins are how old now?

Dr. Rachel:  Ten months today.

Alyssa:  Ten months.  So you’ve fairly recently went through this whole process of, like, who do I need to talk to?  What does my birth plan look like?  What was the first thing when you found out you were pregnant?  Like, I need to call – who?  Your OB?  Your husband?

Dr. Rachel:  I need to tell my husband!  Yeah, my OB.  That’s who I called first, probably.

Alyssa:  So did you have an OB already that you liked?

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, my gyno, yeah.  I liked her.

Alyssa:  And she’s also an OB?

Dr. Rachel:  Yes.  There was the thought of, do I want to go this route?

Alyssa:  Is she the right one?

Dr. Rachel:  Yes, is she the right one?  I met with a midwife.  Yeah, so I guess I did do all that.

Alyssa:  For birth clients, their providers don’t often change, but I think once you wrap your head around this plan of what you see as ideal, you might realize that your current healthcare team might not be the right team to achieve those goals, and we have to tell people that it’s okay.  They’re working for you; you can interview around and pick a new one.  Why not?

Dr. Annie:  Ultimately, you want to figure out what your ideal birth looks like and what that team looks like that’s going to support you through that process.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, and encourage you, and not question you on everything you want to do right.  I feel like I didn’t get that a lot from my OB, but I know a lot of our patients do.  I feel I didn’t get it because I was a chiropractor.  She kind of left me alone.

Alyssa:  So do you think that meant she knew you already did your research?

Dr. Rachel:  Yes.

Alyssa:  You’re an educated mom.

Dr. Rachel:  Yes.

Alyssa:  So they’re assuming these other moms are not?

Dr. Rachel:  Yes, because I have friends that also had her, and they would get a lot of pushback.

Alyssa:  Like got the third degree?  Interesting.  I wouldn’t ever think about it that way because I think a lot of our moms do get that pushback, but I think being educated in the biggest part of that, right?  If you know your stuff, if they can say, well, why do you want that?  If they do give you pushback, then you say, well, because –

Dr. Rachel:  I’m sure there’s some moms out there way more educated than I am or planning to be a mom and really have thought about it more than I did.

Dr. Annie:  I think that’s where an organized birth plan comes in, too, and having support and people that support you like doulas helps you with that pushback, if you do get pushback from your OB or from your midwife or whoever; your family.

Alyssa:  It can come from all directions.

Dr. Rachel:  I mean, the first thing I did – well, I knew you, so I talked to you and met with Ashley and Kristin, and I was like, cool.  You guys have this handled.  I don’t have to worry about anything anymore.  You’re going to get me through all of it.  I am no longer worried; you know how to get me through labor; you know how to do everything.  So I highly recommend doulas.

Alyssa:  Doulas will help with it, but they won’t write your birth plan – did you have a birth plan?

Dr. Rachel:  Yes, I did.  I took your hypnobirthing class.  So that’s another thing; you should decide what kind of birthing class you want to take.  I would also highly recommend that.  It was awesome.

Alyssa:  Which helps with that whole education piece, that you’ve done your homework and taken childbirth classes.

Dr. Rachel:  And with hypnobirthing, they kind of help you with a birth plan of what you want.  Ashley goes through that with you.

Alyssa:  And they don’t do it for you, but they will explain some things and answer questions and ultimately, you know, we want, and doulas in general, at least at Gold Coast, want you to be informed and educated to make your own decisions.  Parents will call us and say, well, I want you to advocate for me, and that’s not what we do.  We will empower you to advocate for yourself because you’re educated and have fact-based resources that you were given to make those decisions.  But we don’t sit there and tell people what to do on your behalf.

Dr. Rachel:  No, and I think what happens, and what even happened to me, is you get there and they really – you can have a birth wherever; home birth, hospital birth.  I ended up having a hospital birth, but they scare you into doing what they want to do, so it’s really important to be educated but also have people that are there supporting you and empowering you that no, you know the right decision and what’s best for you.  So stand up for yourself while you’re there.  And it’s hard to do.

Alyssa:  Right.  And that too; are you’re going to have a hospital birth?  Are you going to have a home birth?  Are you going to call the one birth center in Grand Rapids?

Dr. Rachel:  Are you going to do a water birth?

Alyssa:  Yeah, and even if it’s a hospital birth, are you interested in the natural birthing suites that are available?  Are you limited to a hospital based on your insurance?  Finding out all these things and going from there.

Dr. Rachel:  Do you want an epidural?  Do you not want an epidural?

Dr. Annie:  Do you want a midwife or an OB?  That’s another big question.  A lot of people are uncomfortable with midwives because they don’t think they’re as trained or they’re scared that something might go wrong during the birth, so I hear that a lot from people who are interested in home births and want to have a midwife and want to do the crunchy natural thing, but are like, what if something does go wrong?  And I think one of the biggest things that most midwives would tell you is that they’re so trained to recognize flags before they’re even red flags that if, for some reason, anything would go wrong, so many of them are so experienced, and they know exactly how to handle that situation.

Dr. Rachel:  But also, “going wrong” is so different in a midwife home birth.

Dr. Annie:  That’s true.

Dr. Rachel:  Compared to in the hospital.  You know, “going wrong” in the hospital is anything.

Dr. Annie:  Oh, levels of intervention?

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, where you have to think, this is just natural.  Your body is doing what it needs to do at home, so it’s just…

Dr. Annie:  Midwives come from more of the philosophy of supporting the woman rather than taking control of the birth, too.  There’s this great quote by Ina May Gaston that I wrote down.  “Most women need encouragement more than they need drugs,” and I think that’s true throughout their pregnancy.  That’s true throughout the birth process, and really, that’s true for most people throughout their lives.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I was going to say even postpartum and beyond, right?  Just tell me I’m doing a great job and then maybe I won’t be so down on myself, you know?  Those little things, little pieces of encouragement from family and friends.

Dr. Annie:  Trusting the natural process and knowing that your body is capable of doing what it’s supposed to do, what it’s designed to do.

Alyssa:  Well, and the beauty of this, too, is that there’s so many midwives that work in hospitals.  So you can get the best of both worlds.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, if you are scared of something going wrong.

Alyssa:  Yeah, and a lot of times, it’s the partner who might be a little scared.  You know, Mom might say she wants a water birth at home, and Dad says heck, no.  No way; that’s not safe; blah blah blah.  Well, how about a midwife in a hospital?  Maybe the natural birthing suites?  And as long as you’re low risk, it’s a pretty beautiful option.

Dr. Rachel:  Let me just tell you, those hospital beds are uncomfortable.  I cannot believe they are putting pregnant women in those.  So I would totally opt for – if I didn’t have a twin pregnancy and all these things, I would have wanted it done at home, too.  I would have done the natural birthing suite at Spectrum.  Don’t you get a normal bed there?

Alyssa:  It’s a king-size bed, I believe.

Dr. Rachel:  It’s better than what I have at home.

Alyssa:  I mean, you don’t get to stay there after delivery.  You walk in there and you go wow, this is amazing.  If you could stay there for two days… it’s literally like a beautiful hotel room.  But unfortunately, they have to move you for the next lady coming in.

Dr. Rachel:  You can just – even to lay in that bed, gosh.

Alyssa:  We’ve had a few couples who have delivered in there, and it’s just kind of happened where Dad was sitting against the back of the bed and Mom was kind of between his legs, so he got to support her and talk into her ear, which is kind of a nice thing you can do in that sort of environment that you can’t in others.  So what else was in your process when you found out you got pregnant?  You found your OB first.

Dr. Rachel:  I found my OB.

Alyssa:  You obviously knew a chiropractor…

Dr. Rachel:  I knew a chiropractor.  Check!  Yeah, met with you guys.  Just taking classes, like I said.  I’m a chiropractor; I can adjust someone and educate them on what they should do and support them.  I know how to do all that, but I never had a baby before.  So yeah, I took your lactation class.  I took the hypnobirthing class.  I tried to do whatever I could.  I read books.  I would say find a lactation consultant, one that you like.  I would do that beforehand, also.  I would take that class and I would find one you trust because you think you’re going to have these babies and they’re just going to breastfeeding, and that shit is hard.  And the people that just show up in your hospital room aren’t the nicest, I’ll be honest.

Alyssa:  Yeah, they have a lot of people to go see.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, so find someone you like beforehand.  I would definitely put that on there.

Alyssa:  Well, and like you said, if you take the breastfeeding class with our lactation consultant, Shira, you kind of already know her, and then to have her come to your home for a consult, you know, the day you get home…

Dr. Rachel:  You feel comfortable; you don’t feel judged.

Alyssa:  You know her; she spends two hours with you alone, and not, hey, I’m here for 15 minutes until I get to the next patient.

Dr. Rachel:  Yes, I would recommend that also.

Alyssa:  What other parts about the birth plan that you created in hypnobirthing?  What else would be important for people to know?

Dr. Rachel: For new parents to educate themselves on?  Deciding if they want interventions; do they want an epidural?  Do they want to hydrate themselves?  Do they want to be on an IV?  These are things I don’t even think, if you have a hospital birth, that you realize you have a choice about.  Like, no, I’m going to hydrate myself; I don’t want to be hooked up to an IV; I want to be able to walk around.  I would say do the hospital tour, also, so you feel a little bit more comfortable about where you’re going.  They have lots of options for you while birthing.  But if they hook you up all of a sudden, you can’t do anything.

Alyssa:  Right, unless there’s something that calls for it, right?  Like if you really need it.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, if you have to.  That’s also when you ask questions.  Like, that was a big thing about HypnoBirthing; they teach you, am I okay?  Is Baby okay?  And if we’re okay, do we really have to do this right now?  And then what do you want for Baby once Baby’s born?  Do you not want them to clamp the cord right away?  Do you want to do the vitamin K?  Do you want the hepatitis B?  Do you want the drops in the eye?  There’s all these things.  And they ask you.  They do ask you.  I was surprised I was asked.  Even though I had a birth plan, they’re still like, do you want this?

Alyssa:  Yeah, and for new parents who don’t even know what this stuff is, again, you research it.  You figure it out.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, you figure out what’s best for you.

Alyssa:  And as doulas, and I’m sure as chiropractors, too, you don’t judge them based on the decisions they’re making as parents.  You work with them where they are and figure out the best solution for them at this time.  What about chiropractic care?  So you find out you’re pregnant; does chiropractic care change for you?  You have Dr. Annie working on you because you can’t work on yourself.  So does that change or does a mom who doesn’t see a chiropractor – what would she need to know?  Like, okay, now I’m pregnant; I need to do this?

Dr. Annie:  I think for somebody who’s been under chiropractic care, what happens as your body’s changing and as your baby’s growing, we focus more on pelvic alignment and making sure that everything is in the right spot; making sure all the bones are moving together the way they’re supposed to and making sure that the joints are really not super mobile, but we want them to be able to move the way that they’re supposed to for the birth process.  So it helps remove that tension in the pelvis; helps the nervous system communicate the way it’s supposed to because your brain needs to tell all your reproductive organs what to do.  And it removes tension on the uterine ligaments, too.  So a lot of women with babies that maybe aren’t in the right presentation, like if the baby is breech or posterior, sometimes that’s caused from intrauterine constraint, and so there’s specialized chiropractic techniques, like Webster technique which we’re certified in, to help with the ligament tension so that the uterus can balance within the pelvis and then the baby can get into the right position that it’s supposed to be in.

Alyssa:  Yeah, because if you think when you’re growing a baby and you gain, 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds, that’s got to put straight on your muscles.  Well, you had twins… do you want to say how much you gained?

Dr. Rachel:  I think I gained 60 to 70 pounds.

Dr. Annie:  It puts tons of strain on your muscles, but also you have relaxin in your system, so your ligaments are softening, anyway, so those muscles try to stabilize everything that’s going on.  So a lot of women will have low back or butt pain, like sciatic symptoms, just while they’re pregnant because all of a sudden, they’re carrying so much more weight in the front of their bodies.  So chiropractic can help with that, too.  We’re good with that.

Alyssa:  I saw on Instagram a guy with a watermelon duct-taped to his belly, and the wife was like, now you know what I feel like!  But it was kind of true, you know, like imagine walking around all summer with a watermelon duct-taped to your belly.

Dr. Annie:  Oh, yeah.  And within a couple of months, you’re gaining a lot of weight; your body’s changing very, very rapidly.

Alyssa:  It’s got to put strain on your back.

Dr. Annie:  Exactly, and strain on your nervous system, too.  But yeah, chiropractic care; there’s been a lot of studies that show that there’s less intervention, which is awesome for moms and babies, especially if that’s part of your birth plan.  Less emergencies; less birth trauma, things like that.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, because you have to realize whatever you’re given during your labor and delivery, the baby’s getting, also.  So I don’t think a lot of people realize that, either.

Alyssa:  Depending on what the intervention is, it can affect breastfeeding.  You know, mom can be groggy; baby can be groggy.  A lot of weird side effects, right?

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah.  For healthy pregnancy, staying fit is important.  So what kind of fitness do you want to be doing?  Prenatal yoga, or there’s Fit for Moms and they do a lot of prenatal classes.  That’s important; finding what you feel comfortable doing while you’re pregnant.

Alyssa:  Yeah, and what about the mom who doesn’t work out, finds out she’s pregnant, and says, oh, boy, I better get on this train now?  You know, I’ve heard doctors say that – and none of us are medical doctors so we shouldn’t give advice, but I’ve heard them say whatever you’re doing before you’re pregnant, you can continue it as long as it seems right for your body, but you don’t want to just start lifting weights after you get pregnant.

Dr. Rachel:  I’m going to go to CrossFit now!

Alyssa:  Right, I’m going to do CrossFit, bootcamp, start running.

Dr. Annie:  If your body’s used to it, then you can usually continue it, unless there’s issues that your MD tells you not to lift heavy weights anymore, things like that.  But typically, you don’t want to start anything too vigorous if you haven’t been active.  Walking is amazing.  Prenatal yoga is great.  Those are all good choices, and I think that’s one thing: most women find out they’re pregnant and are like, I want to be fit for my baby; I want to look at my nutrition because I want to make sure my baby’s healthy.  I’m going to stop drinking; you know, anything like that.  But I don’t think a lot of thought goes into, necessarily, the birth plan and their birth team and stuff.  So that’s a really important piece, too, especially if you need advocates to help you.

Alyssa:  And it’s funny you say that because we’ve gotten more and more phone calls, like, hey, I’m 34 weeks.  It’s almost like the oh-my-God mark; this is for real.  I’ve been so focused on other things, and now this baby is going to be here, and I need to start thinking about the real stuff.  They get scared, and they call us and say, is anyone available?  I think I need a team.

Dr. Annie:  We get that a lot, too.  Especially a woman who’s 37 weeks and is like, my baby’s in the wrong position; can you help me?  We can do our best to balance your pelvis; we can help relax those ligaments so your baby has the best chance of turning, but that’s not a guarantee, and really, chiropractic throughout your whole pregnancy would set you up for a way better experience.

Alyssa:  And a higher success rate.   It’s the whole preventative thing; why wait until something’s already happened?

Dr. Rachel:  Same with doulas, though.  I mean, I probably met with you guys very early on, and they were like, yeah, text us whenever; ask us questions about anything.  And I would!  I’d be, like, do you guys know any good daycares?  I wasn’t planning this!  I know nothing!

Alyssa:  But that’s the benefit of, again, hiring early, instead of coming in to a chiropractor at 37 weeks or calling us at 34 or 37 weeks.  You hire literally sometimes at six weeks when they just find out, and you’re through the whole pregnancy with them, for the same price!  The whole pregnancy, you have that support, which can really affect outcomes.

Dr. Annie:  Helps reduce stress.  You don’t want too much stress when you’re pregnant, either.

Alyssa:  We have that prenatal stress class, too.  You guys should pop into that one time.  It’s really good.

Dr. Annie:  Is that one new?

Alyssa:  It’s newer.  We’ve only taught it a couple times.  Deb from Simply Successful Kids; she teaches it, and it really great.  I think no matter what age your kid is, it’s beneficial.  Whether they’re one, ten, or forty.  It’s pretty intense.  So you have your baby, and you go home, and I think this leaves parents in this period of isolation, especially for moms if their partner has to work, and I don’t think they know that that healthcare team can expand into the postpartum phase.  So like you; you had doulas, and a birth doula team at Gold Coast will give you one postpartum visit.  They’re going to come follow up with you; how did everything go?  How’s breastfeeding going?  But then beyond that, our postpartum doulas can come and work with you in your home for extended periods of time.  So I think understanding that your team doesn’t have to disappear the second you have your baby.

Dr. Rachel:  Yes, that was nice.  And I did have postpartum doulas come, and I’m very much like, I’m good, I’m good.  I don’t need any help.  But it was so nice, and there’s no judgment.  No one’s there judging you, and it’s just nice to have people there to support you and I think they would just take care of babies.  And you just feel comfortable with them.  They’re here; they know how to take care of babies; you guys got this and I would go work out in my basement.  It was nice.  Take a shower!

Alyssa:  Yeah, and that’s the thing; you don’t get to do those normal things anymore, and then when you have anxiety as a first-time mom about somebody caring for your baby, to know that, okay, they’re professional; they’re trained; they’ve done this, not only with their own children, but with several other families.  They know what they’re doing.  I can feel confident to walk out of that room.

Dr. Rachel:  They make you feel like a good mom, like you’ve got this.

Alyssa:  And that’s part of it, too; as much as the parents think you’re there to take care of that baby, we’re doing just as much for Mom, and sometimes Dad, too.  And sometimes all it takes is, “How are you feeling today?” And then Mom bursts into tears, and you’re like, all right, we need to sit on the sofa; let me make you some tea.  Let’s talk for a little bit.  I’ll hold the baby; you sit and drink this tea.

Dr. Rachel:  It’s hard at first.

Alyssa:  And then chiropractic, too.  I mean, you don’t have your baby and quit.  Your body just went through all these changes during pregnancy, and now you just delivered a baby.  And I think we expect oh, I’m going to be right back; bounce back at this.  Well, it took nine months to change and get here.  It’s possibly going to take nine months to get back to where you were before.

Dr. Annie:  Absolutely.  I mean, with any injury, they say six weeks, like if you roll your ankle.  But if you’re giving birth, that’s a huge stress on your body, so I mean, yeah, you can expect probably another six to nine months recovery.

Dr. Rachel:  I would say a year.  I’m still recovering from that pregnancy!

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, I mean, it takes a long time, and chiropractic, again, is great with that, making sure everything goes back in its place where it’s supposed to and works and functions the way that it’s supposed to and really helps your body and brain optimize your healing.  We also do home visits for new moms because it’s so hard to get out of the house.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, we’ll come and visit new baby.

Dr. Annie:  Especially if that baby’s having any latching problems and stuff, too, we can work with your lactation consultant.  But adjustments for babies are really good, too, especially after they’re born when their head and neck are so compressed coming out of the birth canal or if they’re being pulled out by their head and neck, which happens whether you have a vaginal birth or a C-section birth.  That can cause misalignments in their neck, which can lead to issues feeding or issues with stress, like colicky babies will often have that, too.  So we try to just approach that very comfortably and easily.  Our adjustments are super gentle for infants, but have amazing results.

Alyssa:  I saw you give the twins adjustments when they were a day old!  It’s very gentle, and they did not cry; they did not fuss.

Dr. Rachel:  I mean, babies might cry during an adjustment, but that’s just because they’re mad we’re putting them in a position they don’t want to be.

Alyssa:  Right.  Why are you moving me here?

Dr. Annie:  And we’re new, strange people.  But we had some pretty amazing outcomes with a ten-day old that I did a house visit for.  He was having a really hard time latching and it was super painful for Mom, and I adjusted him while he was breastfeeding, and then he was able to latch three times with no pain for her.  Totally fine at finding the nipple, and did a really good job.

Alyssa:  Really?  While breastfeeding?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, and that was with one adjustment, which is not always the case, but with infants, it’s pretty minor, what we have to do.  And it’s not like this huge intervention.

Alyssa:  Because it’s not the years and years of stress that we’ve put on our bodies.  They’re only days or weeks old.

Dr. Annie:  Yes, their bodies are super adaptable; they’re constantly learning what’s going on.  We see those really good changes.

Dr. Rachel:  We see that a lot, and we see the tight necks from the delivery.

Dr. Annie:  Usually that muscle tension is because of that upper cervical misalignment.

Alyssa:  Yeah, we had a physical therapist on, a friend of mine, Jessica Beukema from Hulst Jepson, who specifically does torticollis and plagiocephaly, and she’s really good for beyond your chiropractic care, like if physical therapy is needed.  So I think bottom line for parents, they need to be kind to yourself.

Dr. Rachel:  That’s what I was going to say.  Be so kind.

Alyssa:  Be kind, and give yourself some grace.

Dr. Rachel:  It’s really, really hard.  So you sit down; you find out you’re pregnant; you’ve done all the things.  You get your people in your corner; you get your birth team; you write your birth plan.  And I guarantee you, nothing’s going to go the way you want it to.  It just won’t.

Alyssa:  Maybe some things, but…

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, some things, but it’s just not going to be what you envisioned.  Maybe; I’d say maybe your second time around, it might, but if you’re a first-time mom, you just have to be flexible and know you’re doing your best, and then yeah, just be not hard on yourself afterwards.  That’s the hardest thing is not being hard on yourself.

Alyssa:  These birth plans just become a plan and it’s set in stone, and if it doesn’t go that way, I’m a failure, and that’s, I think, the negative side of empowering mothers.  You’re walking a fine line there.

Dr. Rachel:  I think you have to just go in and be like, okay there’s my plan, but I might have to waver from it, and that’s okay.

Alyssa:  But I tell moms this is good.  This is your first test because once you have this baby, nothing’s going to go as planned.  Your schedule’s not your own anymore.  This timeline for going to sleep and waking up for the first several weeks; nothing.

Dr. Rachel:  Going to sleep and waking up is still not on my time, I’ll tell you that!

Alyssa:  I need to talk to you about that.

Dr. Rachel:  They’re doing better, but they’re still… I’d rather not wake up at 7AM if I didn’t have to!

Alyssa:  Well, that’s pretty normal.  7AM’s a pretty normal wake time.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah… still not my time!

Alyssa:  But I mean, heading to Target on a whim doesn’t happen for a while, especially if you’re breastfeeding, because you have such a small window in between the breastfeeding sessions.  And then you change their clothes, and then the second you get them strapped in that car seat, they have a blow out, so you take them out again and change the diaper…

Dr. Annie:  I would say probably just give up on running errands.

Alyssa:  For a while, yeah.  And that’s okay, but having those realistic expectations.  I thought I was going to go on maternity leave and be making gourmet meals for my family.  What was I thinking?

Dr. Rachel:  That’s another thing to think about in your birth plan is a sleep consultant.  That’s a real thing!  People should look into that more and set aside from cash for it.

Dr. Annie:  And maybe your own gourmet chef.  Have somebody come to your house and make your meals!

Alyssa:  Well, we have the Life Fuel.  It has saved me.  So my delivery just came last night, and I just keep ordering more and more and more because it’s just so convenient.

Dr. Rachel:  Convenient and so good.

Alyssa:  Yeah, and healthy.  Like, I can’t cook this healthy for this price and make it taste this good.  I can’t.  But sleep, too, like I – and people think it’s really, really, expensive, and it’s not that bad.  I even have a really small fee where I just say your baby’s not ready to sleep train yet; this baby’s not ready to sleep through the night.  But I will have a conversation with you about some help; let’s start some healthy sleep habits.

Dr. Rachel:  Sleep is a really big strain on relationships.  Because let me tell you; dads usually don’t hear babies crying.

Alyssa:  Well, and there’s two different theories.  Dads will say just let them cry, it’s fine, and Mom’s like, I can’t.  We’re still partially attached by the umbilical cord; I can’t listen to my baby cry.

Dr. Rachel:  I think that’s a big one people need to think about and don’t.

Alyssa:  And I think just starting off, not sleep training your three-week-old, but let’s talk; let’s get some things in your head and start doing a few things with sleep cycles and patterns and how we want to shape this so that at the twelve- or fourteen-week mark when most babies are ready – I mean, they’re ready, and it’s not hard, and it’s not this week-long struggle.

Dr. Annie:  Which is so great that you guys do that, because there’s so much conflicting information out there about sleep and letting your babies cry it out or whether you should nurture them.  There’s a lot of conflicting information.

Alyssa:  It is conflicting, and you can’t just read one book and think that – well, that’s worked for my neighbor or my nephew.  That’s why for every consult, I talk to them for an hour, sometimes two, and I get a really good sense of what that family is like and what they do and what their goals are; what their values are.  If one of their values is co-sleeping, I work that into the plan.  There is a happy medium for everybody, and I don’t believe in letting your kid cry in the crib for two hours.  That’s not healthy for parents or the baby, and it means they need something, so we’re going to figure out how to work them out of that.  But yeah, there’s not just one right answer.

Dr. Rachel:  That’s a good point, and I think a lot of people think that.

Alyssa:  You can’t read a book and figure it out.  You might get lucky and the first one you read works…

Dr. Rachel:  I had a friend, and it was interesting.  She did; she read this book; here was the plan; she did it; it worked for her first kid, and so she swore by it and told everyone.  And I was just like, oh, my gosh; it didn’t work for me.  There’s something wrong.  And then she had a second kid; doesn’t work on him at all.

Alyssa:  Because it’s a completely different personality!  Well, there’s two things going on there; the kid is a different personality and different temperament; could have a medical issue they don’t know about, right?  And she also has a baby and a toddler, and that toddler throws the biggest wrench in these plans because now you have to figure out; I have a screaming newborn, but I also have to get this toddler to bed.  And that’s the good thing if you have a toddler who’s already on a sleep schedule:  so much easier to then get that newborn into the mix.

Dr. Rachel:  Sleep’s important!  Sleep is important for babies, and sleep is important for parents.

Alyssa:  For growth, for health, for development.  I mean, we just don’t put enough emphasis on sleep.  I love sleep.

Dr. Rachel:  Same.

Dr. Annie:  We all do!

Alyssa:  And babies need it!  They need it!

Dr. Rachel:  We’ve gotten way off topic here, but I think it stresses out parents a lot when we’re like, I know you need to sleep, and you’re not sleeping; you’re not napping.  And then you’re crazy and now I’m crazy!

Alyssa:  I think it stresses out the parents, and then Baby reacts to that stress and becomes more stressed, and when they reach that peak, there’s almost no consoling them.  It’s difficult.

Dr. Rachel:  And that would get a sleep consultant on your birth team!

Alyssa:  Yes, that would be a great part of a birth team.

Dr. Rachel:  Babies, please sleep!

Alyssa:  Two at once, or maybe three!

Dr. Rachel:  I can’t imagine.

Dr. Annie:  That’s why you need a team.

Dr. Rachel:  That’s why you need a team.  That’s what we’re concluding here.

Dr. Annie:  It takes a village.

Alyssa:  Well, for the parents who are looking for their team, tell them where to find you ladies.

Dr. Annie:  We are in the Kingsley building, right next door to you.

Alyssa:  And where’s the Kingsley building, for those who don’t know?

Dr. Annie:  It’s right on the corner of Robinson and Lake, where Lake is shut down right now because of construction, so come down Robinson if you’re coming here.  Right in East Town, Grand Rapids.  Second floor.

Alyssa:  So the restaurant Terra is right below us.

Dr. Annie:  Also shout out to E. A. Brady’s.

Alyssa:  Right, E. A. Brady’s, Wax Poetic, all sorts of really good stuff.  I always tell people if they’re coming to our classes, come early because you can eat at a restaurant; you can go make a candle, grab some jerky.

Dr. Rachel:  Get a cupcake!

Alyssa:  And then work out.

Dr. Rachel:  And then hit up a spin class.

Dr. Annie:  Get your hair done.  What else is around here?

Dr. Rachel:  Get a therapy session.

Alyssa:  Well, there’s Rebel’s down the road, too, which is a really fun gift shop.  It’s just a really fun area.  We love being here.

Dr. Rachel:  Oh, yeah, I love being here.

Alyssa:  Again, we’re getting off topic…

Dr. Rachel:  But here’s all the things you can do in East Town!

Alyssa:  What’s your office hours?  Are you gone Wednesdays now?

Dr. Rachel:  Annie’s here now.

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, just a couple hours, but our office hours are all on Google, too, and Facebook.

Dr. Rachel:  We have late hours if you need them.  Annie’s here until 7:00.

Alyssa:  Would it be best to go to your website?  For new patients, what would you prefer?

Dr. Annie:  Website, Facebook, Google.  Our website is  If you just look up Rise Wellness, it will be the first hit on Google, too, if you’re in the area, and that will take you to our website.  We have links to our Facebook and Instagram on there, too.

Alyssa:  And you can schedule right through there, too, I believe?  That’s what I do.

Dr. Annie:  You can schedule through there.  You can see all of our cool events that we’re doing, like our Baby Bumps and Beer Bellies thing at the end of the month at Brewery Vivant.  We sold out our tickets in less than a week.

Alyssa:  Good job!  I had no idea!

Dr. Annie:  So we’re thinking about maybe doing another one in a couple weeks if we have the interest.

Alyssa: That’s awesome!

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, so we’re super excited about that.  That will be the first one, so it will be a trial run, and we’re just excited to talk about, again, the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy and how important it is at helping you through that pregnancy and all those changes that your body’s going through.

Alyssa:  So if people are interested, they should just watch your Facebook page for the next one?

Dr. Annie:  Absolutely.

Alyssa:  Cool, and then hopefully we’ll be involved in that one, too.  Thanks for talking again.  I always love seeing you girls.  You can always find us at, and you can listen to this podcast, Ask the Doulas, on iTunes and SoundCloud.  Thanks!

Podcast Episode #42: Building Your Birth Team Read More »

Amber Brandt Coziness Consultant

Podcast Episode #38: Amber’s HypnoBirthing Story

We love hearing birth stories, especially from our clients.  Listen as Amber tells us her birth story and how HypnoBirthing helped both her and her husband through 23 hours of labor.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.  You can sign up for our HypnoBirthing classes here


Alyssa:  Hello!  Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula.  I also am a gentle sleep consultant, and I teach our newborn survival class.  We are here with Amber again.   We talked to her before; she’s The Coziness Consultant, but she’s also a past client.  She took our HypnoBirthing series with her husband, Kyle, and I wanted to ask you a little bit about your journey through HypnoBirthing and then how that relayed into your birth.

Amber:  So I became familiar with HypnoBirthing through, specifically, a friend who had a horrible experience with her first birth.  She didn’t do any preparation.  She kind of just went into it thinking everything would work smoothly and she would do what the doctor said, and she had a very traumatic experience.  So when she got pregnant with her second baby, she decided she was going to educate herself and prepare.  So she went through HypnoBirthing and just sang the praises of HypnoBirthing, so then we decided to do that because I felt really strongly that I wanted to go into it educated.  I didn’t want to feel like I was unprepared.  And I didn’t just want to focus only on breathing.  I knew that I was determined to have as natural a birth as I could, and I wanted some skills and some tools.  So that’s how we ended up coming to HypnoBirthing, and the experience for us, honestly, at the end of the day, was the difference between making it through the birth unmedicated and following the birth plan that we really wanted.  I wasn’t so married to my birth plan.  I knew if some extenuating circumstance happened and I ended up with a C-section, that was going to be okay, too, but my goal – what I could control was to be as prepared as possible, and HypnoBirthing really allowed us that opportunity.

Alyssa:  For somebody who’s never heard of HypnoBirthing or maybe has but doesn’t understand it, what would your elevator speech be to a new parent thinking about HypnoBirthing?

Amber:  So it’s much less New-Agey than it sounds.  It’s basically just kind of an approach to having a framework to understand that your body is designed to give birth, and so when you go through HypnoBirthing, you learn how each of the muscles are working; how each surge, they call them, or contraction, is actually progressing you toward having a baby.  And then it’s tools and techniques designed to help you get in line with that, to understand what your body is trying to do and try to get out of the way and allow your body to do that thing.  In HypnoBirthing, they talk about this cycle that you feel discomfort and so you’re fearful, and then you’re fearful so your body tightens up, and then you feel more discomfort, and you can’t get out of it.  So HypnoBirthing gives you the opportunity to get out of that cycle, to be able to think through what is happening in your body and breathe and relax.  They give you some really practical ways to do that, to work with your body instead of fighting it.

Alyssa:  So tell me, what did that class look like for you and Kyle together, since couples take this class together?

Amber:  So we showed up weekly; sat down together, and our instructor talked about – well, she always showed a video of someone actually delivering through HypnoBirth, and they were all very different.  Their reactions were all very different, but all inspiring.  And then we would learn about the body, learn about the stages of labor, and each week kind of built on the last.  But we were also given these techniques of how to practice.  So every week we learned a different style of relaxation, a different way to – something to visualize or whatever.  So as a couple, I would notice, like, okay, so this week, I didn’t really resonate with that, but then the following week, there would be something that I would be sitting there and realize, like, oh, I’m holding a lot of tension in my face.  Every time I go to take a deep breath or do the things she says, I realize I’m holding my shoulders up by my ears.  And so it really created an awareness for me of my own body and my own tendency towards holding tension.  And so then I could turn to Kyle and say, “Okay, when we’re in labor, these are the things I know about myself.  I need you to remind me.  If you see me furling my brow, I need you to mention that – gently.  Really kindly.  If you see my shoulders, that I’m holding my shoulders, please bring my attention to that.”  And so then when it came to the actual delivery, it was one contraction at a time, just taking one at a time, and him being aware of those things we had talked about.

Alyssa:  And what would he do?

Amber:  So that first – you know, if you’ve ever had a baby, if you’ve ever been in labor, you know that contraction is coming, and it’s like amping up, and then it kind of hits that initial intensity.  And he would just be talking right in my ear: “Amber, okay, relax.  Let your breath out.  You need to breathe.  You’re holding your breath.”  And it’s like talking me through that initial peak of each one so that then I could get my head back in the game and relax my body through the remainder of the surge.  My water broke, and my daughter was born 23 hours later, so we had a LOT of practice going through those surges together

Alyssa:  So tell me how HypnoBirthing – you said it was kind of the make-it-or-break-it.  It was such a long labor and all that practice.  Did you want to give up?  Why didn’t you give up?

Amber:  I think I’m pretty stubborn, so I was really determined.  And I also knew we were giving birth in the low intervention suites at Butterworth, so I knew if I decided that I wanted meds, I had to move to a different room.  I knew going into it that there was some pressure on me to stick to this, and I really wanted to anyway.  But I think the difference for HypnoBirthing for me was leading up to it – one of the things that you learn in HypnoBirthing is that they give you scripts and you get some audio clips that are basically different things that you can listen to, to relax to.  They’re kind of like guided medications.  So I created my own and had it recorded, and I listened to it every night leading up to my birth so that I got used to and in the habit of relaxing, first in my head, then in my shoulders…

Alyssa:  You came up with the scripts that worked for you?

Amber:  Yes, and then I practiced to it.  So we listened to it every night, and he would always fall asleep during it.  I never would; I would listen all the way to the end, of course.  But so then when it was go time, we had it there, and a lot of the hours that passed, I spent listening to that and relaxing to that because I had practiced to it.  And so then when it was game time, it was like I could pull it out and just work through it.  And there were certain parts I would listen to over and over because I had written it in a certain way knowing that I hold tension in my face; I hold tension in my shoulders.  So for us, it was a combination of me listening to the audio that I had practiced to, the two of us listening to it, and then also him reminding me, using the things we knew.  And even when I got to transition – and that was the one time I shed a tear.  I just let the tear fall, and I was like, I don’t think I can do this.  And Kyle said, “This is what we learned.  We know when you start to say, ‘I don’t think I can do this, I’m giving up, I can’t do anymore’ – this is when we’re almost to the end.”  And so having someone there that knew, that had heard all the same things I had, had heard it in a different way, and was able to access that when I couldn’t, was the difference for me.  I really don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t been there and if we didn’t have the tools.

Alyssa:  It sounds like he was a much more involved part of the process because of the HypnoBirthing classes.

Amber:  He was, and he took it seriously.  I think for some guys, scenarios like that are really uncomfortable, but he just saw the entire things as a team event, that we were doing this together, and he was just as much as part of it as I was.  And so it was really cool because we were alone – I was in the tub laboring when I had to push, and it’s one of my favorite memories because it was hilarious.  It was like, “Oh, I think I need to PUSH!”  And he was like, “Okay, I’m going to go find someone to help us!”  But then I’m pushing, and they transitioned me to the bed, and we hadn’t discussed it, but the midwife said, “Okay, Kyle, you jump up and put your back against the headboard.”  So he had his back against the headboard and his legs out in front of him, and then I sat in front of him and leaned against him.  And it was such a payoff to deliver that way after laboring that entire way together.

Alyssa:  Which you couldn’t have done in another room?

Amber:  No.  And it was so beautiful because we didn’t talk about that.  That was kind of a gift that – I’m sure they do that with a lot of moms, but that was a surprise to me, and it was just a really sweet thing.  But even then, as I’m pushing and as I’m laboring, in that last, intense couple of hours, he’s right there in my ear – you know, literally.  His face is right there, and it was just all the difference in the world to have the support and have the reminding because yeah, it’s hard to keep your head about you when it’s all happening.  You need a teammate to help you remember and to feed you those solutions and help and options to get your brain out of the intensity of what’s happening.  So it made all the difference for us.

Alyssa:  Awesome.  We should get Kyle in here sometime to talk about it.

Amber:  Yeah, his side of the story is that – the part when I had to push, he always says, “I just had to go find an adult.  We needed an adult in that room.”

Alyssa:  Well, thanks for sharing.  It’s a lovely story.  I love hearing HypnoBirthing birth stories.

Amber:  It was great.

Alyssa:  If you have any questions about HypnoBirthing, email us:  You can always find us online, on Facebook, and on Instagram.  Thanks, Amber.

Amber:  Thank you.

Podcast Episode #38: Amber’s HypnoBirthing Story Read More »

rise wellness chiropractic

Podcast Episode #34: Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

Today we talk to Dr. Annie of Rise Wellness about what chiropractic care looks like during pregnancy.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or Soundcloud.


Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast.  Today, we have Dr. Annie with us.  She is a local chiropractor, and many of our clients have seen her.  Hello!

Dr. Annie:  Hello!

Alyssa:  So we get a lot of questions about what a chiropractor actually does during pregnancy.  How do you support women, and why should they go see you when they’re pregnant?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, so chiropractic philosophy is kind of based on the premise that life expresses intelligence and that normal physiology knows exactly what it’s doing.  And this is probably the most prevalent in pregnancy or the most seen in pregnancy because we see this baby developing within this woman, and –

Alyssa:  It just happens.

Dr. Annie:  It just happens.  It’s an amazing thing, and I think a lot of times today that the beauty of that process kind of gets taken away.  So that’s something great about chiropractic is that we honor the system of the body, and we honor the mother.  And we just try to make sure that they’re communicating, brain and body, and everything’s developing properly the way that it’s supposed to.

Alyssa:  So for someone who understands chiropractic care and has maybe seen a chiropractor, does anything change when you’re pregnant?  I know there’s different things happening in your body as a woman who’s pregnant, but does the care change?

Dr. Annie:  Yes, the care does change.  So for one thing, the chiropractor is still going to address your nervous system and make sure that your spine and everything is in good alignment, but because of some of the biomechanical changes that are occurring during pregnancy, the woman has a lot more relaxin, which is a hormone that’s secreted during pregnancy that allows ligament laxity.  So that is in preparation for labor, for stretching of the pelvis and everything.  So the way the chiropractor would address this issue is they’re going to focus more on the pelvis and the bony alignment of the pelvis, where the sacrum is in relation to pelvic bones, and make sure that there isn’t any twisting there because that can cause muscle imbalances.  And the uterus is also attached and tethered to the bony pelvis, so if there is any kind of misalignment in the pelvis, then the chiropractor needs to address that because that tethering to the uterus can cause some constraint in the uterus, as well.  So we want to make sure that everything is lined up.  And then the nervous system runs through all of those bones, so we want to make sure that if all of those bones are aligned, that the nervous system is communicating the way that it’s supposed to so everything can develop correctly.

Alyssa:  And did I hear that you are now the only Webster-certified chiropractor?

Dr. Annie:  I’m not the only Webster-certified in Grand Rapids, but I am now Webster-certified.  But I will be, I think, the only one within the city of Grand Rapids fully certified for pediatric and pregnancy care.  So I’ve done all of the ICPA courses.  I have a three-month exam that I need to take in order to be fully certified, but I’m working on it.

Alyssa: So what does that mean to me, having no idea what Webster-certified means?   And you said you’re also certified for pediatric and pregnancy – there’s two different certifications?

Dr. Annie:  No, Webster is a technique and analysis of the pelvis, and it’s actually applicable to any gender, any age, but it’s used most in pregnant women to balance the pelvis and make sure that there is enough room for the baby to come through.  The Webster certification is done through the ICPA, which is International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, so that is a one-module course that chiropractors can take.  They go down for the weekend, learn all about the adjusting technique and the analysis and everything, and then get tested on it there and then become Webster-certified.  The full certification process for pediatrics, also through the ICPA, is 14 modules, 2 research projects, and then a big exam at the end.

Alyssa:  Okay, so it’s kind of like, in my world, the difference between a CLC, which is a certified lactation consultant, and an IBCLC, which an International Board-Certified.  It’s a lot more work, a lot more extensive.  You both know what you’re talking about, but one has just tons of hours and hours and hours put into this certification.

Dr. Annie:  Exactly, and the full certification covers not only Webster technique, but it covers chiropractic research in pregnancy and pediatrics; it covers nutrition; neurology.  So it’s a lot of intensive information about specific pediatric care; how to adjust babies; how to analyze babies; because we don’t want to treat them like they’re little adults and adjust them the same way that we would an adult.  We want to be able to recognize things because they’re going through growth milestones.  We want to be able to analyze, especially for a newborn, since they can’t communicate where certain things are or where they’re having symptoms.  We need to be able to analyze their spine in a different way and in a unique way and be able to adjust it.

Alyssa:  So that’s something your certification would include, but not the weekend one?

Dr. Annie:  Right.  The Webster technique is primarily for adults, but it’s really good for pregnant women, like I said.  So it is adjusting the pelvis and then working with some of the ligaments in order to facilitate the growth of the baby.

Alyssa:  So I think a lot of people when they hear Webster think that chiropractors who practice Webster turn babies.  True or not true?

Dr. Annie:  I would say not true.  So turning babies isn’t really what the premise behind Webster technique is for.  Like I said, it’s about balancing the pelvis, making sure everything’s in correct alignment.  Some of the benefits of that, though, are – let me back up a little bit.  So Williams Obstetrics talks about dystocia, which is difficulty during labor.  There’s three primary causes of difficulty during labor.  One is power; one is passage, and one is passenger.  So the power has to do with how well your uterus can contract during labor.  So neurologically, having chiropractic to make sure everything is in line will help the neurology work there so that the uterus can contact and coordinate its contractions appropriately.  With passage, that’s the bony pelvis; that’s what we’re talking about, so that’s the pelvic outlet; that’s where the baby’s going to come through.  So we want to make sure everything’s in line there.  And then passenger: the baby needs to be in a good position for everything to go smoothly so there’s no difficulties during labor.  So what Webster technique is focused on is making sure that those first two things are working appropriately, and then the baby, if it has enough room within the uterus and within the bony pelvis, if everything’s lined up, then most of the time, they can turn on their own.  They innately know what position they’re supposed to be in, so as long as there’s no interference to that system, then they should be able to turn themselves.

Alyssa:  I love that, the passenger.  That’s really fun.  So it’s really not about turning babies; it’s making – if everything else is lined up properly, the baby just knows inherently to do it on its own?

Dr. Annie:  Exactly, yeah.  It’s all about optimizing position and then the mom’s body and getting it ready for labor.

Alyssa:  So do you have stats on the passenger – like if a mother is seeing a Webster-certified chiropractor and maybe wants you to turn her baby, how often does it actually work?

Dr. Annie:  Well, there’s a couple of studies that have been done by the ICPA.  One in 2012 had 81 pregnant patients with mispositioned babies.  So they were testing it, just adjusting the pelvis, focusing on that, and 70% of the babies turned to the correct position after Webster care, which is pretty awesome.  I found another study that was in 2007 where they studies 102 moms, and 92% of them turned on their own with Webster care, which is really awesome.  They say that 9% will spontaneously turn anyway without any sort of care or intervention because the baby is supposed to be in the head-down position.

Alyssa:  That’s a pretty small percent, though.  If you’re nearing your due date and your baby is flipped, you have a 9% chance; that’s it?

Dr. Annie:  Exactly.  There’s a lot of C-sections that happen because of breech babies, which is kind of – I don’t want to say it’s unnecessary trauma, but if there’s something that you can do to prevent having surgery, then that is a pretty good chance.

Alyssa:  Yeah, 92% is really good.  So what else do we need to know about Webster-certified care that maybe most parents don’t know about?

Dr. Annie:  It’s safe.  It’s safe as long as you have a good, healthy pregnancy.  There are some contraindications to having Webster care.  And some of those things are modifiable, too, so Webster itself is kind of like a traditional chiropractic adjustment, but there are some modifications that you can do to make it a lot easier for the mom, as well.  So if there are any contraindications like preeclampsia, placenta previa, things like that, bleeding during pregnancy and stuff, those are all contraindications because we just want Mom to be in the healthiest position.  So if Mom isn’t having a healthy pregnancy, then we don’t want to go in and intervene with anything like that because we just want her to be as healthy as possible and make sure that the baby is healthy, too.  But that being said, there are modifications and gentler things that we can do, as well.  Not to say that Webster’s not gentle, but it is making sure that those bones are aligned in the pelvis.

Alyssa:  So is it more of the cracking technique versus –

Dr. Annie:  Some of it is utilizing the drop in the table, too, which can be a little abrupt.  We always say the baby’s going to hear this, probably, because it’s a loud sound, but it’s not going to hurt the baby at all, which I think is important for mothers to realize, too.  But we do modify a lot of things, like we use the activator technique in our practice.

Alyssa:  Which is very gentle?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, very, very gentle, too, but it gets the same job done.

Alyssa:  Cool.  Well, I think that explains it really well.  I think we will have you on again to talk about chiropractic care for babies.  I think that would be a good topic.

Dr. Annie:  I would love that.

Alyssa:  Tell us where people can find Rise Wellness.

Dr. Annie:  So you can find us online at, or we’re also on Facebook and Instagram, and both those are @risewellnesschiro.

Alyssa:  Thank you so much.

Dr. Annie:  Thank you.

Alyssa:  And you can always contact us at  Email us at  Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and of course, iTunes.  Talk to you next time.

Podcast Episode #34: Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy Read More »

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!


HypnoBirthing – Brianna & Ben’s Story Read More »


Podcast Episode #25: EcoBuns Baby Registry

On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa talks with Marissa, the owner of EcoBuns, about her boutique baby store.  You’ll also learn about the new opportunity to register for Gold Coast services!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on SoundCloud or iTunes.


Alyssa:  Hello, and welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast, and today we’re talking to Marissa from EcoBuns Baby & Company.  How are you?

Marissa:  Good, thanks for having me!  It’s such an honor to be on the podcast with you.

Alyssa:  Thanks for coming all the way from Holland.

Marissa:  Well, it’s a beautiful day to drive out!

Alyssa:  Yeah, good drive!  So for those of our listeners that maybe don’t get to Holland very often or have not heard of EcoBuns, can you tell us about your store?

Marissa:  Yeah, so we do have the physical store in Holland, which is great, and we offer a full baby registry at the store, so if you’re looking for anything for your new baby, you’ll definitely want to come out and check out the store.  But for our Grand Rapids friends and friends across the world, we do have an online store as well that people can take advantage of.

Alyssa:  Do you sell more online than you do in the store?

Marissa:  Definitely more in the store.  Our store is very relational.

Alyssa:  In the store!  Oh, that’s the opposite of what I would think.  Most places seem to have a bigger online presence.

Marissa:  Yeah, a lot of baby stores will have a larger online presence.  What we found, though, is new parenting is very relational, and our customers really like coming into the store so we can, you know, give them hands-free shopping by holding their babies while they’re shopping or – you know, being a new parent is lonely, and sometimes just having that face-to-face connection is huge.  So it’s definitely worth the drive to come out to the store from Grand Rapids.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I know with things like baby-wearing and diapering, you kind of like to see and touch and feel and maybe even try something with your baby in it.

Marissa:  Yeah, absolutely.

Alyssa:  So I agree that the hands-on thing is really important.  So tell us more about your registry.

Marissa:  So I am super excited about the registry.  The store is about five years old.  We bought the store five years ago, and when we bought it, it was just cloth diapers.  So a lot of people in the community still see us as just a cloth diaper store, which we are.  We have so much fun with cloth diapers; it’s still one of our main product lines.  But over the last five years, we’ve evolved into this whole store.  Originally it was just cloth diapers, but then we have the baby carriers.  We have feeding products.  We have crib sheets.  We have swaddle blankets.  We have high chairs, activity centers, everything that you would need.  And so with the baby registry, we have so many parents who are like, oh, I want to register for all these great-quality, eco-friendly items; I don’t want my family to go out and buy things that I don’t want.  But we needed to do it in a really cool way.  Being a small business, there’s some challenges with creating a baby registry for a small business, but this last year we just launched a new baby registry where you can actually come in with your smart phone or mobile device and scan items right from the store right to your registry.  So we used to do a paper registry, which was okay, but people have a lot more fun coming in now and actually scanning items.

Alyssa:  It’s kind of part of the fun of registering, like at one of the big box stores.  So now you can do it on your phone?

Marissa:  Right from your phone.

Alyssa:  And I have to assume that it felt a little bit antiquated to do it on paper, right?

Marissa:  Oh, yeah.

Alyssa:  People want to feel like – I don’t know, use their technology.

Marissa:  And it was very time-consuming for both the families coming in to register to have to write everything down, and for us, then, to have to go in and input it to the online store.  So that is the cool thing with the registry is that when somebody comes in and registers, it’s an in-store and an online registry.  So families who have family from out of town, we do a lot of in-store pickups for our – so let’s say a family from Grand Rapids or Muskegon, even, is registering at EcoBuns, and their shower is in Grand Rapids or Muskegon.  A lot of times, they’ll have whoever’s hosting the shower just say, oh, just order online and choose in-store pickup, and then Sarah, who’s hosting the shower, will drive out to EcoBuns.  We have everything in a nice big box for them, gift-wrapped and ready to go.  They pick it up and bring it to the shower.  So we try to make it as easy as possible.  You know, and that’s a lot of things, like why are people registering at big box stores vs. someone like EcoBuns, and it’s a convenience factor.  So we like to let people know that we can make it just as convenient with free shipping or in-store pickup options.  Gift certificates are also available.

Alyssa:  Awesome.

Marissa:  Yeah, so there’s a couple gift certificates that you can register for.

Alyssa:  Yeah, tell us about the newest one!

Marissa:  So we’re really excited about this partnership that we just launched with Gold Coast Doulas.

Alyssa:  Yay!

Marissa:  And starting today, you can now register for a Gold Coast Doula gift certificate at EcoBuns baby registry.  So it’s really neat if you’re definitely wanting to go with a doula service, and you guys offer so many different services.  It’s a really great way, then, to be able to register for it to kind of offset that cost.  So we see a lot of, even, second, third, fourth-time moms say, oh, I don’t know what to register for.  My family wants to gift me something.  Well, you know, a postpartum doulas would be definitely at the top of my list!  So it’s a neat way to be able to offset the cost of that service by adding it to the registry.  So we’re really excited about that.

Alyssa:  Yeah, we’re really excited about it too!  And since it just launched, we don’t really know how it’s going to work, but yeah, postpartum services, and then I can imagine that if they maybe don’t want as many hours as they get, we can use that for anything.  You know, we have classes; we have lactation; we have sleep consults.  I think we’ll probably end up using that for whatever service they may want.  We’re really excited.

Marissa:  We have a full list on our website of the services available, so if you want to go check it out, you can head to the EcoBuns registry and search for Gold Coast Doulas and it will pop up, and you’ll see the full list.  And it will also link back to the Gold Coast website if you want more information on all the fun things that Gold Coast has to offer.

Alyssa:  It’s so exciting!

Marissa:  I know!

Alyssa:  So I love that you have all these options; everything that a mom wants or needs, and they’re all eco-friendly.

Marissa:  Yeah, we try really hard to –

Alyssa:  You’ve done all the research for them.

Marissa:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Which is huge.

Marissa:  Yeah, yeah.  There’s so much out there.  I always tell people, especially with the cloth diapers; people will come in and they’ll say, oh, I don’t even know where to start, and I’ll say, I own a cloth diaper store and I get overwhelmed on what’s on the internet!  Everyone has opinions; everyone has best practices, and a lot of it ends up being very regional as far as types of water and laundry, and it gets so overcomplicated, and that’s where we say, take a breath.  It’s not meant to be overcomplicated.  Just come in and talk to us.  The cool thing about being a small business is we can change things as often as we need to.  For example, if all of a sudden we have a diaper that the manufacturing changed on it and people hate it, it’s very easy for us to say, our customers no longer like this.  It was cool five years ago, but our customers hate it now; something has better has come out.  So we can kind of move and shift faster than bigger companies can, which is really great.

Alyssa:  Do you educate people about cloth diapering?  Do you have community events?

Marissa:  Yeah, so we do a cloth diaper class.  We actually call it Buns Bootcamp, which is a little play on EcoBuns, and we do that two to three times a month.  It’s a $25 class per couple, so we’ll usually see the partners come in.  We do invite, if a couple is having maybe a grandparent take care of the baby, we invite the grandparents into the class as well.  It’s $25 for the class, but then at the end of the class, you get a $10 off of a $50 or more purchase the day of class.  It’s about an hour long, hour and a half, depending on who’s in the class and how much talking we get into.  And it’s a fun class because it does get really overwhelming, but the class kind of brings it back, and my goal is to make sure that no one walks out with their eyes glazed over, you know, that we’re not doing too much information.  Just enough so that you guys feel educated in your decision that you make.

Alyssa:  I wish I would have known about that.  I wanted to cloth diaper so bad; bought the whole shebang, spend hundreds of dollars, and had zero education, so I gave up after weeks.

Marissa:  And that’s huge.  We have so many parents who say – you know, we’re an email away.  We have a lot of parents email us pictures, like why isn’t this working?  And a lot of times you don’t know what questions to ask, and so we can look at something and say, oh, this button just needs to be here, or this insert needs to go like this, and boom, all the problems are solved.  But, really, we’re the first generation who isn’t going to our parents and grandparents for advice.  We’re going to the internet for advice, and that’s shifted the way that a lot of parents handle parenting decisions, even.  And so it’s nice to have a trusted resource that you can go to who has kept up with modern parenting, who knows the products that are out there, who knows what the current and best practices are, to be able to go to and ask advice.  So that’s huge, and we do that with our carriers, too.  We do free fit checks on carriers purchased from us.  Any time a carrier is purchased from us, it automatically comes with a free half-hour lesson on how to use it.

Alyssa:  So awesome!

Marissa:  You know, so many times, you get a carrier home, and it overwhelms you, and then you throw it back in the box, and you never pull it out because no one taught you how to use it, and we don’t want that to happen.

Alyssa:  It’s amazing.  Okay, so tell me again if someone from Grand Rapids registers at your store, they don’t necessarily want to drive to Holland, you actually do deliver to them?

Marissa:  Yep, so we do shipping.  So we have free shipping on orders over $75, and then we offer first-class and priority shipping, so it’s super easy to get people their products.  And I know the Amazon two-day shipping is huge, but first-class shipping from Holland gets to Grand Rapids in one day, so it gets to everyone really, really fast.

Alyssa:   That’s really awesome.  So tell our listeners where to find you and how to register.

Marissa:  So if you want to come to our actual store, we’re in Holland on the corner on James Street and US 31 in the Holland Town Center.  If you’re familiar with Holland, it’s the old outlet mall with the big orange ropes on them.  So we’re right between Carters and Gap Outlet.  So from Grand Rapids, if you want to just plan a whole shopping day, Carter’s is there; we’re there; Gap’s there.  It’s a great day.  Otherwise, we’re online.  We are at  Our store in Holland, though, is open seven days a week, so we’re there Monday through Sunday.  Monday through Friday, we’re there from 9am to 7pm.  Saturdays, 10am to 7pm, and Sundays, noon to 6pm.  And we have Lake Michigan, so it’s definitely worth the drive from Grand Rapids!

Alyssa:  Right, and now it’s beautiful!

Marissa:  And we do offer – so every other month, we have Gold Coast Doulas come out for a really fun Mom’s Night Out, our prenatal edition.  So again another really fun reason to come out to the store.

Alyssa:  Yeah, come meet the doulas and check out the store!

Marissa:  Yeah, absolutely!

Alyssa:  Awesome.  Well, thanks.  We’ll have you on again to talk about – I think we need to talk about cloth diapering and we should talk about baby-wearing.

Marissa:  Yeah, absolutely.

Alyssa:  So we’ll you back on another time.

Marissa:  Awesome.  Thank you so much.

Alyssa:  Thank you so much!  Let us know what you think.  Check out EcoBuns online and then as always you can check us out at Gold Coast  Find us on SoundCloud, iTunes, and don’t forget to subscribe.  Thanks for listening!

Thanks for listening to Gold Coast Doulas.  Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  If you like this podcast, please subscribe and give us a five-star review.  You can also check out our Baby Registry Consultation services. Thank you! 

Podcast Episode #25: EcoBuns Baby Registry Read More »

Cesarean birth

Podcast Episode #23: Amber’s Cesarean Birth Story

On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Amber shares how her Gold Coast Doulas supported her through her C-section experience.  You can listen to this complete episode on iTunes and SoundCloud.


Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula, and we are talking to Amber again.  We talked to her last time about her story of hiring a doula, and we learned that after planning for a natural delivery and using hypnobirthing techniques and going through that course together, you found out that you needed a C-section.  So tell me when you found that out.

Amber:  At 37 weeks.  So I have midwives, and I had not had an ultrasound since 20 weeks, and we definitely thought he was in position.  We were getting ready to go to Chicago for the weekend to our friend’s cabin and just had a quick little visit with our midwives and we did an ultrasound during that, which I thought was obviously going to be super routine and just a little quickie, and then received the information that he was breech.  So he was actually sitting across my pubic bone.  It was shocking, to say the least.  I thought with all the appointments that we had that he was face-down and ready to go, and that’s just what I knew and what I was comfortable with, and it definitely took us for a little bit of a roller coaster.  I was a little bit in shock when I found out, and then as we were walking out, I just started bawling in the parking garage because it just really hit me.  In the hypnobirthing class, one of the things that you do to release fear is just write down all of the things that you’re scared of, and the biggest thing that I was scared of was having a C-section because I’d never had a surgery before.  I was emotionally and relatively physically prepared at that point for a natural birth.  I was 37 weeks; I had done all of my classes; I had my doulas; I had my midwives.  This is what was going to happen, and so it kind of flipped all of that upside down a little bit.  It was difficult pill to swallow at first.

Alyssa:   So what happened then at 37 weeks?  You just said okay, it is what it is?  Or what did you do?

Amber:  Oh, no.  No, not with my personality.  At the ultrasound, my midwife definitely – she knew what we were doing.  She knew that we were preparing for a natural birth.  She knew that we had doulas, and I think she could see it on my face that I was relatively devastated by the news.  She told me that we still had time, still three weeks to try to flip him, and it’s totally possible.  So she did give me a little bit of hope in it, but then also did explain that I was relatively far along, and I didn’t have as much amniotic fluid for him to flip naturally and it was going to be a little bit more of a challenge.  But I didn’t lose all hope at that appointment.  I think that it just took me a second to, I guess, digest the news.  Then with my personality, I just started Googling everything I could about breech babies and how to flip them, and I remember one of the first things I did was text Ashley and Kristin, and I was like, what can we do to get this baby down into position?  So I did a little bit of a roller coaster of being sad and then almost getting a little bit obsessed, I think, with turning him.

Alyssa:   So tell me some things you did.  What did you try?  What didn’t you try?

Amber:  Oh, my God.  What didn’t I try?  So we had gone to our friend’s cabin that weekend in Chicago.  I spent a lot of time in the water.  I did a lot of headstands, which was just absolutely hilarious, this huge pregnant woman doing a bunch of headstands in the water.  People were like, what is she doing? So yeah, spent a lot of time in the water, did a lot of headstands.  I did some inversions.  I looked up a lot of stuff on spinning babies, so I did a lot of inversions.  We did Moxa, a Moxa stick, burning it by my feet, which in Chinese medicine is supposed to help.  I did acupuncture.  I did chiropractic work.  I did literally everything, and there were a couple times – I was so in tune with my body at that point because I was like, “I know I’m going to be able to feel him when he flips,” so everything that he did, I was like, “Oh, he just flipped.  He just flipped.”  I just kept talking myself into the fact that he was, and then I went in for a couple ultrasounds during those couple weeks, and he didn’t.  So our last-ditch effort – I did an ECV in the hospital with Sara LaGrand and my OB, Carrie, and Ashley was there to support us.  I went in and I was like, “This is it.  He’s totally going to turn.”  They had a really good success rate in doing that, and oh, my God, they tried, for a good 15 minutes, and he would kind of get sideways, and then he would just snap back up into position, and it just got to a point where Carrie was like, “I just don’t think that this is going to happen today.”  And then there was just another huge letdown because it’s like, I really put all my eggs in one basket for that, and that’s just such a dangerous thing.

Alyssa:   How far along were you when this happened?

Amber:  I was 39 weeks.

Alyssa:   So you knew you had exhausted all possibilities at this point.

Amber:  Yeah, that was it.  That was it.  We waited so long because there’s a good chance that you can go into labor after that.  Your placenta can detach.  It’s a pretty aggressive form of trying to flip them, but it’s what I wanted.  I was willing to do anything at that point because I just had such – in my mind, I had really gotten obsessed with the idea of laboring, and of laboring with my husband and just having that really intimate experience together, and I think that was a really hard thing to let go of because while I know that C-sections are completely routine, they happen all the time, it is not what I wanted.  And how is this fair?  So many people go into birth not doing any type of research about what kind of birth they want or any education and end up having successful births, and it’s just like, how did this – why?

Alyssa:   You did all your homework.

Amber:  Yeah, so once again, I kind of got into a little bit of a funk, and I was like, at this point, my C-section was scheduled for the next week on his due date at 40 weeks.  And I just knew the chances of him turning at this point – he’s just not going to.  You know, if he wasn’t going to turn with two grown women waling on him from the outside, it’s just not going to happen.  And so I was sad, of course, and I allowed that.  And I had this conversation with Kristin one night.  I was just really emotional, and I very much wanted to bring my son into the world and be in a really good place with what was going to happen, and I just wasn’t.  I really needed to do some work on myself emotionally to get in a good place to just accept what was going to be.  And I think that the whole situation was a huge learning experience for me because birth is really out of your hands at the end of the day.  You can do whatever you can do to try to set yourself up to have the birth that you want to have, but the reality of it is he’s going to come the way that he’s going to come, and there’s nothing that I can do to control that.  And so I was really sad one night, and I called Kristin, and we just had a really real conversation about me and where I was at with it, and I just got such amazing advice from her and the fact that this is still your birth story.  This is not a situation where you have lost all control.  You still do have control over this.  It’s still a birth; it’s still what you want it to be.  And so she really empowered me to kind of take the reins back a little bit and think about what kind of experience we wanted to have in the OR.  And I feel, honestly, so blessed about the team that I did have.  Because of Gold Coast, actually, like really early on when we brought you guys on, I was having second guesses about the practice that I was with just because it was a really big practice, and I did want something so specific, and I just didn’t think that I was completely aligned with the OB that I originally had.  She was absolutely wonderful, but I don’t think she really participated in a lot of natural births, and she didn’t work with doulas a lot, so that was just kind of something that I had a gut feeling about.  And I was relatively far along at that point.  I was like, I don’t really think I can switch, and because of conversations that I had with Kristin, I did end up switching to Advanced OB, and that was the best-case scenario.  I just think about all these little pieces that kind of fell into place, and I had Breck and Sara as my midwives and absolutely loved them.  Obviously, they could no longer really have me after I found out that I was breech, so I ended up being switched over to the – there’s only two OBs in that practice.  It’s Carrie Roberts and John LeGrand, and I remember my first meeting with them.  They knew I was super upset about it, and they didn’t do a lot of C-sections in that practice, either, and they were so open to just a lot of conversation around it.  They heard my fears around it.  I felt so supported already in the fact that this isn’t what I wanted, but they’re going to make it as good as they possibly can for me.  So after that conversation with Kristin, I decided to write a birth plan that night.  I was like, what do we want?  So we created a playlist and had a playlist playing when he was born.  He was born into the most amazing, beautiful song ever; I still cry every time we hear it.  We did immediate skin to skin.  They did delayed cord clamping.  So many things that were on my original birth plan still happened.  And I think another big thing that came out of that conversation with Kristin that night is I actually wrote a letter to Parker, and that was really cathartic for me because I just told him that I trust him, and I trust that he was in this position for a reason and that we were still going to work together as a team and have a successful amazing birth, and that was – I just felt like I got a little bit of power back, I guess.

Alyssa:   I think that’s what people don’t understand.  The support of a doula through a C-section, even if it’s a planned C-section, that it’s still a birth, it’s still your story, and you can still have a plan put together that makes it feel like your own and that you do have choices still.

Amber:  Yeah, I mean, I had the two OBs in the office there during my C-section, and Sara LaGrand, my midwife, showed up too.  She did not need to be there, and she took video of my entire birth.  She took a lot of pictures.  When I watch my birth video, even though it was a C-section, I feel so – I cry every time.  I feel so emotional, and it really came full circle.  I was sad; I had to digest that; I had to allow that.  I had to feel in my heart that I did as much as I could to have turned him, and I did, and I was at peace with that, and then I was like, how do I want to show up in this?  And I did.  I did my emotional work; I did what I felt I needed to do to be in a good place with it, and I could not have had a better experience.  And I thank the doulas for that.  I thank Ashley and Kristin so much.  Ashley ended up giving me scripts of hypnobirthing for C-sections, and so I still felt super supported in that, and then my midwives and Dr. LeGrand and Carrie Roberts were just the most amazing team.  And I didn’t feel like it was a surgery.  I didn’t feel like it was just a routine thing, like they were concerned about my experience and really wanted me to have as good of an experience as I could, and I did.  And I’m so blessed to say that, and I just don’t think that it would have ended up like that if I was anywhere else.

Alyssa:   Well, thank you for sharing.  It’s a really beautiful story, and I know it’s emotional, but it’s lovely to hear stories like that, and I think you’re really going to help some other women.  A lot of women don’t process it the way that you did, and I think it’s really healthy and really good that you were able to do that.

Amber:  Thank you so much.

Alyssa:   So if anyone has any thoughts about that, feel free to email us at  And you can find us on our website,; Facebook, Instagram, and then obviously you can listen to our podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.  Thanks again, Amber.

Amber:  Thank you.

Podcast Episode #23: Amber’s Cesarean Birth Story Read More »

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:  You can email us there or find us at, Facebook, and Instagram.  Thanks.

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


Kerry – A HypnoBirthing Birth Story

We love hearing birth stories from our HypnoBirthing students. Kerry had a rough ride but made it through three days of labor in the hospital, smiling in the end because of the tools and techniques she learned in Ashley’s HypnoBirthing Classes.

“I just wanted to shoot you a note thanking you so very much for all your help before we went through our birthing process. I went into the hospital on Sunday and gave birth to our boy on Tuesday. There were some complications so the birth was pretty tough, but I did get to do it vaginally despite quite a bit of c section discussion amongst the doctors. Ryan was a great coach and, despite my strict instructions to not look where the action was, he was super interested and watched basically the whole time!

At 20 inches long, 7lbs 12 oz at birth, little Benjamin Martin Racicot made his way into the world in a dramatic way. We were in the hospital for days while they tried to induce my labor. We went in on Sunday as the doctor told me there was some concern for still birth so she wanted to induce before I hit 40 weeks. They gave me three sets of pills to try and dilate me as I came in at zero cm throughout the night on Sunday. Monday morning I was still at zero cm so they inserted a balloon which was completely horrid, perhaps the worst part of the entire birthing experience. I started to have contractions right after insertion, but not before I told Ryan to go run to the cafeteria to eat something and assured him I would be fine. So there I am, all alone, experiencing contractions for the first time. Monday night I was at 4cm, and by 6:00 Tuesday morning I made it to 10 cm.

I was in active labor for about 12 hours on Tuesday and eventually had to push for 3 1/2 hours. Ben’s heart rate kept dropping with my contractions so there was some concern, and when he started to make his way into the world we found out why. We saw the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck… twice! The doctors made me stop mid push to cut the cord to prevent strangulation. Then he got stuck two more times while I was pushing. To make matters worse, my contractions became farther apart until they were about 15 minutes apart. I had him hanging out of me for about 45 minutes and would just have to wait to push! It was insane!

In the end, he burst into the world and has been a happy and healthy baby. A bit of a night owl, but we are finding our rhythm. Breastfeeding has been tough; I’m in an intense engorgement period at the moment. I look like Pamela Anderson circa Baywatch and am just wildly uncomfortable. They are hard as rocks and nothing I have fits. I basically look like a porn star with a baby. So that’s cool. The healing process has been tough enough as it is without having to carry around boulders on my chest.

Ryan has been waiting on me and the baby hand and foot. It has been a remarkable experience and really brought us even closer than before. Ben has been an incredible reward as well. Not to mention I haven’t changed a single diaper since the birth and, while I am sure that will change soon enough, it hasn’t been a bad deal so far!

Anyway, hope you are doing well, and again, thank you so much for all you did. Without the tools we picked up in your class, I’m not sure I would have made it through this crazy process!

All my best,


Kerry – A HypnoBirthing Birth Story Read More »

Newborn Survival

Newborn Care: Fussiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newborn Care: Fussiness Read More »

breastfeeding class

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class?

Why Take a Breastfeeding Class?

We are pleased to present a guest blog by Shira Johnson, IBCLC . 

Breastfeeding is natural, right? Well, yes… But it doesn’t always come naturally!

Just like parents educate themselves about pregnancy and birth, it’s valuable to have basic knowledge about breastfeeding before baby arrives (we don’t read up on childbirth while in labor, after all). Breastfeeding is a relationship, a complex dance between mom and baby, and many factors influence how each pair works together. Even if mom knows just what to do, it might not come as easily for baby (or vice versa!). Getting off to a good start begins at birth, and in the hours and days following. Having resources and realistic expectations can help.

Facts about Breastfeeding Education

  • Parents who receive prenatal breastfeeding education have more successful breastfeeding outcomes
  • Fears about breastfeeding? Have you heard horror stories from well-meaning friends or family members? Are you worried you’ll have to restrict your diet, worried about making enough milk, or about breastfeeding in public? You’re not alone! These unknowns and concerns are common, and they undoubtedly influence our expectations! It’s no fun to head into something feeling nervous or skeptical. Having a basic understanding and being prepared with tools and resources can set the stage for success.
  • Many parents who start off breastfeeding don’t meet their own breastfeeding goals. Many stop breastfeeding before 6 months, despite health guidelines (by the American Association of Pediatrics, as well as the World Health Institute) to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, and provide breastmilk for a minimum of 1 to 2 years. Yet in 2016, only 22% of babies were exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and only 50% were still received any breastmilk at 6 months. Most parents start off breastfeeding, but many stop before these suggested guidelines.
  • The most commonly-reported reasons for early weaning (such as concerns about milk supply/production, pain associated with breastfeeding, and going back to work) are typically addressed in a breastfeeding class, preparing parents with information and resources to successfully troubleshoot these most common challenges and obstacles.
  • What’s so great about breastmilk, anyway? Most of us have heard “breast is best” and similar hype about the magical health benefits of breastmilk. Well, there’s a reason for this. New research continues to come out every year about amazing discoveries around the functions and content of breastmilk. While formula might be nutritionally complete (and is an invaluable tool, when needed), the nutrients in it are not as bioavailable (not as easy for the body to access or utilize). Also, formula does not have the amazing protective and immune functions that breastmilk has. Breastfed babies are less likely to be obese or have diabetes later in life, and breastfeeding reduces risk of cancer not just for baby but also for mom! Breastfed babies tend to get sick less often, and recover from illness more quickly than their formula-fed peers. The majority of parents who sign up for a breastfeeding class are often already planning to breastfeed, but if you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, or are concerned about whether it is worth the effort, these cool facts might inspire you. A breastfeeding class can help you weigh your baby-feeding options. There is certainly no shame in feeding your baby in any way you choose to. But having more information can help this choice be an easier one to make.


If you are a parent who plans to breastfeed or just wants more information, if you’re curious about how it all works, how to do it, whether or not it’s “for you”, how to return to work as a breastfeeding mom, or if you have any concerns, fears or simple curiosity and a desire to learn more, then a breastfeeding class is for you!


Why Take a Breastfeeding Class? Read More »

diaper drive collection

Gold Coast Doulas Diaper Drive

Gold Coast Doulas is celebrating its one-year anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 1 with a giveback event at Nestlings Diaper Bank located at 650 Riley Street, Ste. L in Holland. We are laughing the diaper drive with a  free event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children are welcome. There will be food, refreshments, a photo booth, kids’ activities and giveaways. There will be diaper wrapping activities from 10 to 11 a.m.

Diaper donations are welcome at the time of the event and throughout the month of September at Smedley Dental and the Howard Miller Library in Zeeland; Untangled Salon, Brann’s, EcoBuns and The Insurance Group in Holland; Hudsonville Congregational United Church of Christ, and Gold Coast Doulas LLC, SimplyBorn Midwifery services, Renew Mama Studio, Midwifery Matters Community Center and Hop Scotch children’s store in the Grand Rapids area. Visit for more information. Dropoff days and hours vary by location.

The diaper drive coincides with National Diaper Awareness Needs week, Sept. 26 – Oct. 2. Diaper Need Awareness Week is an initiative of the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), created make a difference in the lives of the nearly 5.3 million babies in the U.S. aged three or younger who live in poor or low-income families.

Diaper sizes four, five and six the most needed sizes. Nestlings also accepts baby wipes, cloth diapers and open packages of diapers.

About Gold Coast Doulas
Gold Coast Doulas is the area’s first doula agency offering birth doula support, overnight and daytime postpartum doula support, bedrest support, HypnoBirthing classes, placenta encapsulation and babycare classes. They serve Greater Grand Rapids and the lakeshore communities.

About Nestlings Diaper Bank
Nestlings was founded in 2011 and has distributed over 375,00 diapers in West Michigan. 75,000 of them were in 2016, which helped an estimated 3,000 families.


Gold Coast Doulas Diaper Drive Read More »

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


We are Your Doulas! Read More »


What is the Hypno in HypnoBirthing?

Gold Coast Doulas is pleased to present a blog from Karlye McNeely RN, BSN. Karlye is co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas LLC, she is a graduate of the Hope/Calvin nursing program, and former L&D nurse. Karlye is a certified HypnoBirthing practitioner and has been teaching HypnoBirthing classes in West Michigan for 11 years. She has spent 10 years supporting couples as a birth doula. Karlye most recently became trained, and is pursuing her certification as a postpartum doula. She looks forward to this next adventure in supporting families during these important childbearing years. Karlye is a wife, and mother to three wonderful children. In her spare time she enjoys baking, taking walks with her husband, and cheering her kids on at their extracurricular activities.
I have had the pleasure of teaching HypnoBirthing in West Michigan for the past 11 years. During these years I have often heard the same suggestion given to me over and over again, “this is such a great class, you should just change the name.” Well, changing the name was never an option available to me. Instead, I took the position of educating people about hypnosis, as it was always the “Hypno” portion of HypnoBirthing that everyone seemed to struggle with. So, here you go, some information about what hypnosis is, what it isn’t, and why we use it for birthing.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a state of consciousness that many of us spend a large portion of our day in and out of. In its simplest form, it is focused concentration. Have you ever been engrossed in a good book, “glued”  to the television while watching a sporting event or movie, driving in your car and not quite remembering the drive? Do you practice mindfulness, meditation, or spend quiet time in Prayer? These are just a few of the normal life activities during which you are in a state of hypnosis! All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, even when being facilitated by a practitioner. The reason is, hypnosis can only be achieved if the recipient is a willing participant. Although, the usual definition of self-hypnosis refers to a person’s working alone or with a relaxation CD, hypnosis can be used for a variety of reasons, in a number of settings, often facilitated by a practitioner. In fact, hypnosis can be so effective that it was recognized by the American Medical Association as a beneficial therapy for many physical and emotional needs in 1957. Self-hypnosis for birth was designed to help the birthing mother acheive an ultimate depth of hypnosis, or focused concentration, so that her body could remain loose, limp, and relaxed, thus allowing the birthing muscles, free of tension, to function as they were created to function.
karlye labor3
Hypnosis is NOT
Hypnosis is not something a person can be forced to do. If the recipient is not willing to relax both their mind and body, it simply won’t work. While in a state of hypnosis no one can be forced to divulge private information or do something that would be against their beliefs or moral code. If something of that nature would be asked of them while in a hypnotic session, they would simply come out of their relaxed state and no longer participate. When a person is in a state of hypnosis they continue to be aware of their surroundings, are able to communicate, if needed, and are not asleep. This is especially important to understand in relation to birthing hypnosis, as many women think that they will not remember their birth, or be unaware of what is happening around them while using hypnosis. The exact opposite is true, women using hypnosis for birth are actually more aware and connected to what is happening within their body and with their baby, they are aware of their surroundings and their birth companions supporting them, and they are able to communicate when needed. However, because of their deeply relaxed state, and the comfort they feel while so relaxed, they simply choose to remain within their own mind and body. To any outside observer, it may appear as though she is sleeping or distant. Another comment I often will get is, “I can’t be hypnotized” or “I can’t relax my mind, it is always going.” First, the majority of people can use, and benefit from hypnosis. However, like many things we do in life, some need more practice at it. The more time you practice bringing your mind and body into this focused and relaxed space, the better and easier it will get. For this reason, I recommend that couples interested in learning the HypnoBirthing philosophy and techniques for birth, begin their preparation earlier in their pregnancies. Generally, recommending beginning classes during their second trimester. The more time you have to condition your mind and body to relax, the easier it will be to reach your desired level of hypnosis on your birthing day.
Why use hypnosis for birthing?
karlye labor 2
So, why do we even need to consider using hypnosis as a preparation for birth? We have been conditioned and programmed to believe that giving birth is incredibly difficult and painful, and in some cases, that our bodies are flawed to the point that it isn’t even possible. Surely you can recall many experiences, stories, television and/or movies that have portrayed birthing in a very negative way.  Most of us have had experiences with well intentioned friends or family members sharing their stories of birth, for most, these tend to be horror stories. Maybe this a second pregnancy, third, or fourth, and the previous births have been less than ideal, unfortunately, at times even traumatic. These are just some of the ways women have formed a negative impression, or paradigm of birth. If we are being honest, a FEAR of birth. These stories, pictures, experiences have imprinted into our subconscious minds throughout the course of our lives, and created the foundation of our beliefs about birth.  These beliefs, or fears, are the blueprint by which our body plays out labor and birth. Does our body begin labor believing that birth is natural, normal, and healthy? Or, does labor begin with a sense of fear, danger, and distrust? For many it is the latter. By using hypnosis you are able to access the subconscious part of the mind, beginning to change your beliefs about birth, to more accurately represent the truth about birth. A woman’s body was created to grow and bring forth new life. When this normal, physiological process of birth is understood, and a woman believes and trusts her body’s own instinctual abilities, she is then able to relax and surrender to the power of her own birthing body, thus freeing her to have a more empowering and satisfying experience. By utilizing self-hypnosis a mother has the opportunity to create a new foundational paradigm of birth, a relaxed body, and a focused mind. Thus, opening herself up to a more positive, more efficient, and more enjoyable, labor and birth for herself and her baby.
Karlye teaches Hypnobirthing classes quarterly through Gold Coast Doulas. Contact her for more information.

What is the Hypno in HypnoBirthing? Read More »

high risk pregnancy

High-Risk Pregnancy Support

Being on bed rest can be challenging. I know this from personal experience, as I was on bed rest for several weeks with preeclampsia during my first pregnancy. I was lucky enough to live above the Electric Cheetah at the time. The staff delivered healthy meals to my door when my husband was at work. They treated me like family. I could have used an antepartum doula back then.

Gold Coast Doulas want women to feel supported and secure during this time in waiting. We offer antepartum doula services in the home and in the hospital. Our trained and experienced doulas can offer the following services: in home childbirth education, sibling care, errands, baby shower planning, nursery set-up, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry and more.

We offer practical and emotional support focusing on the needs of the mother and her family! Call today for a free consultation. 616-294-0027

Posted by Kristin Revere




High-Risk Pregnancy Support Read More »