childbirth

Woman standing by a tree in a wooded area with jeans and beige jacket

Meet our new Postpartum Doula and Newborn Care Specialist (NCS), Sarah!

We hope you enjoy getting to know Sarah in our Q&A blog! Sarah serves families in West Michigan as a certified Newborn Care Specialist. She offers day and overnight newborn support.
 
1) What did you do before you became a newborn care specialist?
I have worked in the field of Early Childhood for 20 years as a preschool teacher, early childhood specialist, infant toddler teacher, center director, and nanny.
2) What inspired you to become a newborn care specialist and a postpartum doula?
Seeing how many families are struggling and feeling alone after bringing a baby home. I want to offer them support during this time.
3) Tell us about your family.
I am a mother of five. I have three girls and two boys. They are all unique and amazing. My husband is my best friend and biggest supporter.
4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
I loved Maui. It had great scenery, wonderful people, and amazing food.
5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Rihanna is my favorite musician. I love that she is free to be herself.
6) What is the best advice you have given to new families?
To trust yourself and your intuition and also to give yourself grace.
7) What do you consider your doula/newborn care specialist superpower to be?
Anticipating needs.
8) What is your favorite food?
I love curry and also pho.
9) What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I enjoy all West Michigan beaches.
10) What are you reading now?
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.  
11) Who are your role models?
Dr. Shefali. She is an author and clinical psychologist. Her work and message are amazing.
Mya from Gold Coast Doulas sits inside a floating circle in front of a Kitchen + Kocktale wall wearing a headband, scarf, and crossbody fanny pack.

Meet Mya, Our Newest Postpartum Doula!

Meet Mya, Our Newest Postpartum Doula!
As you know, when we bring a new person onto the Gold Coast team, we love to find out more about them and
share that with you!

Let’s find out more about Mya.

1) What did you do before you became a postpartum doula?
Before becoming a doula, I worked as a swim instructor, and as a head swim coach for young children in
Naperville, Illinois. After that, I went to Central Michigan University to earn a bachelor’s degree in science.

2) What inspired you to become a postpartum doula?
I’ve always been fascinated with pregnancy as a whole, after watching my family members, experience,
pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. I knew I would be the perfect helping hand for those who look like me,
which is what inspired me the most. I want other minorities to feel comfortable while giving birth, which is why I
pride myself on creating such a warm and open environment.

3) Tell us about your family.
My family has a very tight bond, we are quite a small family, because of this we spend lots of our free time
together whether it’s hanging out and enjoying each other’s company or traveling and going on new
adventures. Overall, my family is very loving and supportive, and most of all we love to have a good laugh.

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
My favorite vacation spot is probably Barcelona Spain, the reason for this is because I’m a total foodie, and the
food there was beyond fresh and different from anything I’ve ever had before. Also, the architecture of all the
buildings were incredibly breathtaking.

5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
This is a hard question, considering I enjoy listening to almost all genres of music.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new families?
The best advice I have for families is to stick with their goals and values, just because they don’t align with
others in your community does not mean they are wrong, and also to give yourself grace and patience. Some
things take time to heal, and we must be mindful of that.

7) What do you consider your doula/consultant superpower to be?
I believe my doula superpower is making people feel comfortable and empowered, no matter what the situation
is. Growing up looking different from most of my peers I know how it feels to be in uncomfortable situations.
This is why I pride myself on being able to make others feel both comfortable and confident in all environments.

8) What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is tacos, I could probably eat tacos every day for the rest of my life.

9) What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Since I’m not a Michigan native, I absolutely love going to the dunes, we don’t have anything similar to that in
Chicago so it’s always a fun treat.

10) What are you reading now?
Self-care for new moms

11) Who are your role models?
I would say, my mom is one of my biggest role models, she’s taught me how to be kind, empathetic,
independent, and resilient.
Mya serves day and overnight postpartum and infant care clients in West Michigan, SW Michigan and Northern
Michigan.

 

New Gold Coast Doula

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.

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Jordyn's Q&A blog photo

Meet Our New Birth Doula, Jordyn!

What did you do before you became a doula?

I have worked in the mental health/crisis industry for the last 8 years. I started with 2-1-1, helping people find local resources, and then the suicide prevention hotline. Over the previous 6 years, I have worked in the EAP world, assisting with coordinating crisis response teams around the country.

What inspired you to become a doula?

I have been fascinated with birth since I was a young child; my babysitter would set me up in her room so I could watch TLC’s Baby Story every day while the rest of the crew watched cartoons. I took every family science class in high school and went to Western Michigan University for my degree in Family Studies. After having my own son, my passion was reignited.

Tell us about your family.

I come from a large family, who are very important to me. My partner and I welcomed our son on our 4th anniversary; not sure anything will ever top that gift! He is now a toddler who enjoys chasing around our 2 cats, Shade & Storm.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 

The Upper Peninsula! I love road trips, getting into nature, and star gazing, so the UP provides the ultimate experience. A stop at Clyde’s for a burger, taking scenic M-2, and chasing waterfalls are some of my favorite things to experience each trip!

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

This is a tricky question, as music is my love language. If I had to choose: Kings of Leon, Led Zeppelin, Miranda Lambert, Young the Giant, and Fleetwood Mac.

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

I don’t like to give unsolicited advice; parents definitely get enough of that! However, I’d tell parents to trust their gut and don’t compare!

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

I am empathetic and a great listener. I know how to de-escalate stressful situations and have been called the calm in the middle of chaos.

What is your favorite food?

Another hard question, as I love to cook and try new things, but a big plate of pasta is the ultimate comfort.

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

Holland State Park reminds me of the family reunions we had every summer at the beach.

What are you reading now?

I am an avid reader and always have a few books in rotation. Currently, I am reading: The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood  by Kathleen Kendall-Tacket and Real Food for Pregnancy by Lily Nichols.

Who are your role models?

My grandmother, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Brene Brown.

 

childbirth education

When to Take a Childbirth Education Class

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out our BECOMING A Mother course! It’s a self-paced, online series to help reduce fear and gain confidence in pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. With recorded video lessons, monthly live chats, and a supportive FaceBook community – it’s everything we wish we would have known before we had our babies! We’d love to see you there!

Kristin & Alyssa

 

acupuncture

Acupuncture during Pregnancy and Postpartum: Podcast Episode #103

 

Dr. Carrie Dennie, ND speaks with Alyssa about the benefits of acupuncture during pregnancy and postpartum.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Alyssa:  Welcome to the Ask the Doulas Podcast.  You are listening to Alyssa Veneklase.  I am the co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and today, I am so excited to be talking to Dr. Carrie Dennie, a naturopathic doctor at what was Grand Rapids Natural Health but is now the Michigan Center for Holistic Medicine.  Hello!

Dr. Dennie:  Hi, Alyssa!  Thank you for having me!

Alyssa:  I want to know, do you prefer Dr. Carrie or Dr. Dennie?

Dr. Carrie:  Dr. Carrie is fine.

Alyssa:  Okay.  Dr. Carrie.  So I have some questions for you.  You started out this path, and you became a naturopathic doctor, but then I was reading your bio.  You had one acupuncture treatment and just fell in love with it and then went on to acupuncture school and graduated the valedictorian of your class?

Dr. Carrie:  I did.

Alyssa:  That’s amazing!

Dr. Carrie:  Thank you.

Alyssa:  That makes me wonder what happened in that treatment of acupuncture that just made you fall in love with it so much.

Dr. Carrie:  So it was interesting because my school has both programs, and we get free access as students to go and have free appointments.  And so I had never had it, you know.  Heard about it, and so I went and tried it.  And it was just — I think the — my favorite part about acupuncture is that it’s so relaxing.  I don’t care what you’re coming for, if it was pain, if it’s some sort of an organ dysfunction.  Nope — well, yes.  That is important, and you can get relief, but also, the relaxation.  It just — it’s so amazing.  It’s just so invigorating.  A lot of my patients will say that they feel gentle sensations when they’re in the treatment.  And, again, everybody leaves feeling just relaxed and they end up sleeping better that night or even several days afterwards.  Like, there’s just so many different ramifications that can occur as a result of one acupuncture treatment.  So that’s why I loved it.

Alyssa:  So I’ve only had one, so I’m not very experienced in acupuncture, but what exactly — what is it doing?  You know, I know I have these little needles poked in.  I would imagine that it’s doing something to my nerves, which then send signals to my brain to do something else?

Dr. Carrie:  That is correct.  So that’s how we understand it from a conventional medical perspective, is that you have nerve stimulation.  The nerves release chemical messengers that can go to the brain, the spinal cord, the muscles, the organs, and then affect change from that point on.  Also in general, acupuncture can reduce inflammation.  It is a stimulator of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, so obviously can help relieve pain.  It can improve blood flow and circulation.  And, again, like I said, it is just relaxing and has an overall mood-boosting affect.  One other thing that I will say is that I had a patient recently who was undergoing chemotherapy currently, and they were unable to get their treatment because their white blood cell count was too low.  So they came for an acupuncture treatment, and after one, the numbers went up enough that this person was able to get his treatment the next time.  Again, it’s so amazing how these little needles can affect great change in the body.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So this is kind of a strange question that just popped into my head right now, but what’s the most amount of needles you’ve ever had in someone?  Or is it typically, like, only a dozen or so?

Dr. Carrie:  So I try to keep it around let’s say 15 or 16, and again, it just all depends what they’re coming for.  But the most, I think, that I’ve ever personally put into someone was around 30, and the reason why is that their concern involved their fingers and toes.  And so I had needles in between fingers and toes, which is about 18 needles in total, let’s say.  And so the rest of the other body points add on top of that.  Like I said, normally, I try to keep it less than that, but again, it just all depends.  This person who I did all these needles in, they felt benefits afterwards.  I love it.

Alyssa:  And that’s the point, right?

Dr. Carrie:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  So how do you integrate the two, then?  As a naturopathic doctor, how do you integrate that medicine with acupuncture?  Is that a silly question because you’re like, well, they just go hand in hand?  The benefits of both?

Dr. Carrie:  It’s not silly, but you’re 100% correct.  They definitely go hand in hand, and it all depends on the patient.  So as a naturopathic doctor, for your listeners who may not know, I am trained as a primary healthcare professional, and I am trained to emphasize prevention, treatment, and optimization of health using natural therapies that are safe.  And most of the time, research has proven them to be effective.  And so primarily my goals are always to identify the root cause of disease, to reestablish the foundations for health, which basically is diet and lifestyle changes, and then again to support the body’s natural ability to heal itself.  And that’s the piece right there where acupuncture just fits in perfectly.  Again, tiny needles being applied in random places, if you don’t understand the theory behind it, but it, again, it just has so many different effects on different systems.  And so like I said, I was in school for naturopathic medicine, but once I had that treatment, I had to add on my acupuncture degree because it just didn’t make sense to leave without this awesome therapy.

Alyssa:  For you, it was just a no-brainer.  It was like that missing piece of the pie to what you were already doing?

Dr. Carrie:  Yes.  And it was interesting, what I was learning, because it just makes so much sense when you really start to dive into the theory and why they are — you know, why this person or these people decided to do these things.  It’s just so interesting.  And it’s natural.  Again, the Chinese developed this over 4,000 years ago.  They didn’t have MRIs or X-rays but they were able to ascertain functions of the organs in an — you know, almost in the exact same way that we do in western medicine, but there’s some tweaks.  But again, it was just amazing, so I had to do it.

Alyssa:  I love it.  So, you know, for our listeners, most of them are either pregnant or in this postpartum period.  If someone were to come to you pregnant or newly postpartum, would you have to treat them differently, or what would treatment look like for them?

Dr. Carrie:  So treatment for anyone is initially a two-hour long appointment, and we talk about everything, especially if they’re coming to me for naturopathic medicine.  If they’re coming to me for acupuncture, the initial appointment is an hour and a half, and again, we’re still talking for at least an hour in both sessions.  But I’m not just focusing on their chief concern, whether it’s, you know, having lactation issues, or I’ve just got this nausea all of a sudden.  You know, it’s more than that.  I want to know everything because your health is influenced by so many different factors beyond just the physical.  You know, what is your mental emotional state?  Do you have any religious or spiritual beliefs?  Are you walking in those beliefs?  Are you using — are you living those principles?  All of that affects your health.  But then also, too, we talk about the things that you do and the things that you eat and what comes out of your body every day, and hopefully people are looking at the things that come out because, again, these are all…

Alyssa:  It’s important!

Dr. Carrie:  Yes!  These are clues towards your health.  And so we talk about all of those things, and then, you know, the thing that I love about naturopathic medicine and that I incorporate with acupuncture is that I want to heal your whole body.  I want to care for your whole body so that you can have the best life that you have because your whole is as well as can be.  And so that’s usually how it starts is a two-hour treatment.  If it’s acupuncture-based, after we talk, then I start the acupuncture, and I have a whole process, especially for people who don’t or who have never had acupuncture before, and I kind of walk them through it.  But then they just get to relax afterwards.  And if they like heat, there’s heat therapy that can be provided.  Music, you know.   Essential oils.  It’s just relaxing while you lay there.  And you can either focus on your breathing, or if you’re a person that prays, you can pray while you’re laying there or you can meditate.  Or you can just, again, invite in relaxation and good vibes and sent out the bad ones while you’re resting and not thinking about all the things you have to do afterwards and the nuances of life that tax our systems.

Alyssa:  I think that maybe the relaxation part that people who have not had an acupuncture treatment before might not realize is that you put the needles in, and then — is this the case for you?  Do you leave the room and then they have time to relax?

Dr. Carrie:  Yes.

Alyssa:  And that’s what I didn’t know when I had mine is, oh, I just get to sit here in this beautiful room with the noise machine going.  But yeah, that sounds lovely.  Heat therapy and essential oils.  It’s kind of like you get a massage and then you still get to lay there for a little while.

Dr. Carrie:  Yes.  You get to bask in stillness, you know, and hopefully, you can let go of all the things that are plaguing you for those moments while you’re laying there and just let your body heal itself.  You know what I mean?  Let your body do what it can do for you when you’re not under stress all the time.

Alyssa:  So are there certain areas of the body, then, that you probably couldn’t work on for a pregnant person?  Like, you know, certain spots that might activate labor?

Dr. Carrie:  Correct.  So with pregnant women, we do not — we’re trained very strictly on this.  There are several points we do not do during the pregnancy, and even with my patients that are trying to conceive, depending on what’s going on, I may or may not do them, either.  But, yes, we’re trained very much not to do those, unless the woman is in the third trimester.  Maybe she’s trending towards her due date or she’s past her due date.  She wants to try to avoid an induction process in the hospital.  Then we would do those points because we are trying to promote labor.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  That’s a great point because early in pregnancy, you want to avoid them, but you’ve got this mom who’s 38, 39, 41 weeks, and she is in there for the complete opposite reason.  Help me get this baby out!

Dr. Carrie:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  That makes sense.  And then what about postpartum?  You know, a newly — you know, there’s all sorts of things with healing and then mental and emotional wellness.  Is there anything specific in the postpartum time that you would do for a parent?

Dr. Carrie:  Totally.  So moms, being a new mom or a new parent in general, is overwhelming.  Now there’s a whole other human or humans that you have to care for, and it can definitely be an around-the-clock experience.  So the first thing that I would suggest for anyone looking to acupuncture to help is for that relaxation piece, to alleviate anxiety; to relieve stress.  For the parent to have, again, that moment, time where they don’t have to worry about the baby or babies or their spouse.  They can focus on zenning out, relaxing.  So that’s number one.  Specifically for new mothers, you know, postpartum depression can be a huge obstacle to battle during this time, and so acupuncture, again, would promote serotonin and dopamine production, and these are the happy hormones.  So, again, boosting mood.  It can improve sleep and boost energy, which are very much important things to have when you have new babies.  But beyond that, again, like you said, there’s healing and rejuvenation that needs to happen after a birth, and acupuncture can definitely assist with that.  Another thing that people don’t think about is milk production.  Acupuncture can definitely help boost lactation so that, you know, that’s one less thing that mom has to worry about.

Alyssa:  So where in the body — I’m picturing nipples or needles in the boobs.  Where do you — is there another spot on the body for anyone who might say, oh, that sounds interesting, but I don’t think I could handle a needle in my boob.  Where does it go?

Dr. Carrie:  Totally!  Again, all depends on how they present.  But you’re 100% correct.  There are points in the chest area where I could put needles.  I would not, though, and that’s the beautiful thing about acupuncture, like you said, is there are other places that you can put needles, and the answer is yes.  So some are — one is on the shoulder area or in the — yeah, on the shoulder area, and then there’s other that are kind of, again, on the limbs that I could use to boost milk production.

Alyssa:  That’s really cool.  We have two lactation consultants, and I wonder if they’ve ever recommended acupuncture to anyone who’s struggling with milk production.  That’s an interesting idea.

Dr. Carrie:  Something else, though, that I want to mention, too, as a naturopathic doctor, is I don’t just think in one lens.  I have both on, hopefully, if my brain is working correctly.  But I would also be thinking about naturopathic therapy.  So as we know, labor is a trauma to the body, and depending on — even if it goes smoothly, or even if there are some complications, like you said, healing reformation needs to be done.  But you also need to know the state of your body, and a lot of times, bloodwork is necessary or recommended after labor.  And so think of things like just the general CBC in case the person is anemic; looking at the thyroid, because there is a connection between delivery or pregnancy and thyroid dysfunction afterwards.  And then simple things like vitamin D.  Depending on the time of year, you may have been inside for the majority of your pregnancy because it’s cold.  What’s your vitamin D status?  And so a lot of these, if there are dysfunctions in these areas, it can mimic depression.  And so those are things that you want to look at, also, or consider looking at, but then also other lifestyle things.  I know that having new babies is overwhelming, like I said, and so are you taking care of you?  Are you going outside if it is nice enough to go outside?  If you can go outside, you know, I always recommend people go out for 30 minutes.  Take the baby for a walk.  Hopefully, the rhythm of the walk will put the little one to sleep, and then you can tuck them in the bed when you get back and hopefully have more time.  And especially if you live around nature, if you can go into nature, it’s been proven that being in nature is calming.  And so those are other things that I suggest.  And then the walk is exercise, and that we know is beneficial to the body, as well.  You know, it’s just so many different aspects of being that I look at when people come to see me.  And so you likely will hear me say things that are naturopathic tips in my acupuncture appointments, and I definitely recommend acupuncture to the majority of my naturopathic patients, unless I know they don’t like needles.

Alyssa:  Right.  Well, I think even someone who doesn’t like needles, you could put, like, a sleepy blindfold on them or something, because you can’t even feel them.  I was so surprised because I was watching, and I was, like, I didn’t even feel that.  That’s wild.

Dr. Carrie:  It’s so true.  A lot of the times, I do hear from people that they don’t necessarily feel certain points.  But I won’t lie and say that there aren’t times where you definitely feel the needle go in.  But it’s instantaneous, you know what I mean?  It’s not like a lingering pain.  You’re not going to lay there in pain for 30 minutes.  No.  You’re going to be relaxed.  But you’re right, and they’re very thin.  The needles are almost as thin as a strand of hair.  It’s totally different from what people think when they’re normally thinking about getting their blood drawn.  That’s a huge needle.

Alyssa:  I agree.  Totally different.  Totally different.  You know, that makes me wonder, how young — can you take children?  Can you do acupuncture on children or even babies?

Dr. Carrie:  Yes.  Technically — I wouldn’t say babies, but in China, they do acupuncture as young as one year old.  But with children that young, the needles are not in for an extended period of time.  It’s more of a stimulation of the point and remove the needle and move on to the next point sort of a thing.  With children, I think the youngest person that I’ve done acupuncture on was 14.  And so for kids, especially us in America where this is not our culture — it’s the norm to have acupuncture as a therapy that they can readily go to.  I would say if you’re children can’t be still for, I don’t know, 10 minutes, let’s say, then they probably shouldn’t come for acupuncture.  Again, you have to have the mental capacity to be still and be able to relax and not move.

Alyssa:  Right.  And that’s why it doesn’t work on babies because they’re flailing their arms all around, and if anything, they’re going to hurt themselves more than heal.

Dr. Carrie:  Exactly.  Right.

Alyssa:  This has been enlightening!  Is there anything that you wanted to cover that we didn’t cover?

Dr. Carrie:  So I just want to mention, for women who are pregnant, definitely, acupuncture is safe and an awesome way to relieve any of the common symptoms that they have at any stage or that they may have at any stage of pregnancy.  During the first trimester, if you are having nausea, vomiting, or you’re just extremely fatigued or you may be constipated or have diarrhea, this is an important way to kind of support those systems and just, again, rejuvenate the body.  During the second trimester, a lot of times aches and pains occur or start occurring.  That is another great reason for acupuncture.  Again, if sleep is starting to become uncomfortable, acupuncture is awesome for insomnia.  And then even like hemorrhoids or complications from GI dysfunction can be addressed through acupuncture.  And then like we were talking, in the third trimester, if they are close to or beyond their due date, labor induction or labor promotion, I should say.  And then one thing that’s really interesting that women may not be aware of is that if your baby is in a breech position and the doctor is talking about a C-section, you can come to an acupuncturist and we can do a sort of heat therapy, and it’s really interesting.  It’s over your toe, your pinky toe, and it’s amazing.  Again, the woman — it’s ideal if she comes at 36 weeks if she finds this out, but we do this heat therapy, and I send them home with the heat therapy so they can do it at home, but a lot of times, the baby will move into the correct position.

Alyssa:  That’s incredible.  Is there a statistic on how often that actually works?

Dr. Carrie:  I don’t know any off the top of my head, but I know that it’s definitely been studied.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I’ve heard of it before.

Dr. Carrie:  Yeah.  The therapy is called moxibustion.

Alyssa:  Say that again?

Dr. Carrie:  The therapy is called moxibustion.

Alyssa:  Moxibustion.  Huh.

Dr. Carrie:  It’s basically burning a dry cone of Chinese mug wort over the toe, and it sends this, like, smooth, warming sensation deep into the body.  We use it for other reasons as well, but that’s — again, you just get it over the toe, and baby flips over the majority of the time, in my experience.

Alyssa: That little baby pinky toe sends some signal all the way into the womb, and tickles that baby right around?

Dr. Carrie:  That’s right.

Alyssa:  Wow.  Well, thank you so much.  If somebody wants to find you specifically, I mean, we’ll link to your website and stuff, but why don’t you tell us how people can find you?

Dr. Carrie:  So you can definitely find me on Facebook.  I’m Dr. Carrie ND on Facebook, and you can also find me on Instagram.  But all of this is available on our website.

Alyssa:  Perfect.  Well, thank you so much for all of that information.  I’m sure everyone will love this, and I have learned so much more about acupuncture!

Dr. Carrie:  Well, thank you again for having me.  I really appreciate it.

 

Virtual Birth Support: Podcast Episode #95

 

Sam & Justin recently had their baby boy, Judah, in the hospital in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They describe their experience in the hospital as well as how beneficial birth doula support was throughout pregnancy and then during labor and delivery, even though support was virtual instead of in-person.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Alyssa:   Hi, welcomes to the Ask the Doulas Podcast.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast, and today I’m talking to Samantha and Justin, who recently had a baby at a hospital in this midst of this Coronavirus pandemic.  We’re going to talk to you about what that was like.  Gold Coast is not attending births after Governor Whitmer’s declaration that we have to stay at home, and we don’t know when the order will be lifted.  So we kind of just wanted to get a sense of what it was like for you two to go through this whole process.  How far along were you when you hired us?

Samantha:  Pretty early when we found out.  We knew when we were trying to get pregnant that having a doula was something that was really important to us, as well as a midwife and just trying to go that more natural route.  So the minute we found out we were pregnant, it was kind of getting things in plan.  So I would say after the first trimester after we kind of told everybody.

Alyssa:  So you hired pretty early, and that was before all this crazy virus stuff happened.  And you worked with Kristin and Ashley as your birth doula team.  Even before all this stuff happened, what did support look like through the majority of your pregnancy?

Samantha:  It was wonderful.  Being a first time mom, obviously, you have a ton of questions, and I just didn’t want to be the person to be blowing up my midwife all the time, plus it’s hard to get ahold of them.  Our midwife was through Spectrum, so obviously you can’t just pick up the phone and call her.  It’s not as easy.  So being able to have a team of doulas that, any question I had from — I had artisan cheese one day and freaked out thinking I did something wrong.  So to be able to text them things like that and just have that reassurance all the time was awesome, as well as after every appointment, they wanted updates on what’s going on with baby, so it was just that extra support and knowing that they’re there no matter how stupid the question was.

Alyssa:  Well, and as a first time mom, I think we feel like all of our questions are stupid.  Oh, I hear the baby!  Hi, Judah!  So, yeah, obviously, because of this, we’re on speakerphone, and they’re at home and I’m at my home because nobody can go into work.  You guys are quarantined at home with the baby, which is probably kind of a blessing in disguise, maybe.  You can actually kind of hunker down and just focus on bonding and feeding and all these great things without visitors.  But like you said, Grandma comes over and she can’t see the baby!  That’s so hard.

Justin:  It’s been a blessing for dads, I think, especially because I would have had to go back to work today.  I am working, but it’s from home and it’s slower, and I’ve got some time to help support Sam and build my relationship with Judah, too, so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise for — I mean, it sucks, but it’s been nice.

Samantha:  And as a new mom, you’re hunkered down.  I mean, I was planning on not leaving my house for a month, anyway, so it’s kind of nice, especially during this quarantine time, because you’re quarantined anyway with a newborn, so it gives you something to do and keep occupied with.

Alyssa:  Right.  Well, and focus on the positive, right?  Like, there’s so many negatives that we can be focusing on, but you’re stuck at home with a newborn baby.  Boohoo, right?  This is what you’ve been looking forward to for nine months!

Samantha:  Exactly, exactly.

Alyssa:  So your support during pregnancy really would have been the same, Coronavirus or not, because it’s a lot of text and phone calls and emails, right?  It’s all virtual, anyway?

Samantha:  Yeah.  Yeah, that wouldn’t have changed, and like I said, they were available pretty much 24/7, so it was just nice to always have them in our back pocket when we needed them.

Alyssa:  Right.  Tell me about the labor, then.  What happened when you were at home, and how did that support, the actual virtual support after finding out that your doulas can’t support you in person, how did virtual support look then once labor began?

Samantha:  So we came up with a plan that we would utilize anything that we needed.  If we needed to do a video chat, we had my laptop ready to go to bring to the hospital.  But once labor started, we kind of — before I went into labor, we talked over, you know, what are the signs, when we should contact them, how long I wanted to labor at home; all that stuff that we would have done anyway if it was just normal circumstances.  So when I went into labor, it was the middle of the night, of course, and we texted both of them and ended up calling Kristin.  She was the one who answered, and we told her how far apart the contractions were.  She could hear, you know, how I sounded and could tell that they were ramping up.  You know, you can just — moms — everybody says moms have the telltale sign of when contractions aren’t a joke anymore.  So, yeah, she said, yep, sounds like you’re really getting in the swing of labor.  She told me to get something to eat before I went to the hospital and kind of gave us some tips before we — as Justin was packing the bag and getting our bags in the car, some tips I could do before we headed out the door.  And so we did that and then headed to the hospital, and from the moment we got there in triage, I had a couple — well, of course, birth is always unexpected, but I had a couple things come up that I wasn’t expecting to happen.  So from the moment we were in triage, we were in constant contact with Kristin and Ashley, whether it was me or — it was actually mostly Justin.

Justin:  Yeah.  I actually took — like, I would step out of the room a few times just to call her.  There was just a couple moments there when we were down in triage where she was uncomfortable, and the room is a little small.  It was hard to get into that calm state of mind that we were looking for.  So without trying to stress Sam out, I stepped out of the room and just called Kristin.  I was, like,  hey, you know, what are some things I could try to, you know, bring her back into this calm state of mind that we’ve been working on forever.  It was great.  She gave us some positions to try, some things to talk to the nurses about.  Like, she knew there was a tub down in the triage area, so she said to go ask them to use the tub.  So it was good to have them just there — just any questions we had, just to call real quick.

Samantha:  Yeah.  And we had a couple unexpected things, because I wanted to labor naturally, but we had some issues.  I had a LEEP procedure a couple months ago.  Well, not a couple months ago; about a year ago, but that caused some scar tissue that made my labor really difficult.  So we had to have the conversation of having an epidural because my labor was so erratic and my body was under a lot of stress.  So that decision we talked over with the doulas.  And then having Pitocin brought in, which was also something that was on our “absolute no” list, but it was nice to be able to call Kristin.  Spectrum was wonderful, too.  I mean, the nurses and midwives were great as far as giving us all the information we needed and then giving us time to talk it over.  But having Kristin there to be able to call and say, here’s what they’re telling us, here’s what we’re thinking — to have that reassurance from them was huge, especially because our birth plan changed so much, and it was upsetting for me, especially.

Alyssa:  Right.  That’s hard when we get into this mindset of, like, here’s my plan and I’m going to stick to it, and baby or your body says otherwise.  To have an expert to ask those questions and give feedback that’s not — and I think that’s one thing a lot of people thing, that doulas are there to tell you what to do.  It’s more about asking you the right questions so you can figure out what’s right for you.

Justin:  Just having that — just having that information so that we can make our own decision.  Just having them giving us all the proper information we knew everything that was at stake and we could make a better, informed decision.  It was a huge help.

Alyssa:  Right.  Knowledge is power in this instance, for sure.

Samantha:  Yeah, and even the positions.  Once I did get the epidural and Pitocin, we still wanted to do a really low dose of Pitocin to try to have my body naturally ramp up contractions, so Ashley and Kristin sent us a bunch of pictures of positions we could try.  They were always available for Facetiming and virtual, as well, but we never needed to.  But to have that in the back pocket was comforting, as well, that if we needed to virtually see them face to face, knowing that we could do that was very comforting for me, especially.

Alyssa:  So once you actually moved from triage to the labor and delivery room, you said you didn’t actually have to use Facetime or anything.  Was it more of you, Justin, were in contact with them because Sam was in active labor?

Justin:  Yeah.  It was a lot of text messages and a few phone calls.  If it was something we wanted to all talk out together, we’d call, or if it was just a quick question, I’d just shoot them a message real quick.

Samantha:  And I definitely think if I didn’t need — if I wouldn’t have had the epidural, we definitely would have utilized Ashley and utilized some of our HypnoBirthing techniques to help me get through labor and probably would have used virtual face to face more, but just because things moved so fast as far as me needing some intervention, it again changed our plan as far as utilizing the doulas a little bit differently.  But, yeah, it was constant contact throughout the whole labor process, and it was actually nice after I did get the epidural.  I was able to then talk to them and tell them what’s going on and what kind of positions I can try and different things like that.  So the plan changed a little bit, but staying in constant contact with them didn’t.  It was pretty consistent throughout the whole labor process.

Alyssa:  And what about when you got to the point where you were ready to push?  Was there anything they could do to support you during that time?

Samantha:  Well, we planned on having them Facetime for that, but my pushing went very quickly.  I only pushed for about 30 minutes, and we didn’t even — when we started, it was — we texted them saying, oh, they want us to do some practice pushes, and 30 minutes later, we were messaging them saying, well, baby’s here!  So, yeah, we had the whole plan set up for them to help — especially because I had an epidural, they were really going to help me try to breathe baby down, which is what we ended up doing, but to have them face to face so they could see what was going on.  But it just ended up happening so fast that we weren’t able to do that.  But after baby came, we were in contact with them, telling them his birth weight and all that stuff, and once we got up to the room, letting them know how latching was going as far as breastfeeding.  So it was just the best experience possible, especially because I was so devastated, you know, being nine months pregnant and all this emotional — that’s emotional in itself, and then to find out your birth plan is completely blown to smithereens…

Justin:  Two weeks before we even go to the hospital.

Samantha:  Yeah, two weeks before the hospital.  It was just terrifying, but to have them there in that virtual sense was everything because it would have been a very different experience if we weren’t able to have them at all, that’s for sure.

Alyssa:  So let’s say a couple just found out they’re pregnant, and they knew they wanted a doula, like you, but then they have this worry.  They’re going to do the hospital birth; they want a doula, but the doula may or may not be able to be there.  What would you say to a family who’s kind of on the fence about hiring a doula because of the current situation?

Samantha:  I would say, hire.  Hire a doula because, yeah, the situation has changed, but I think even more in this time, you need that extra support more than ever, especially because, in my circumstance, my midwife wasn’t even able to be there.  I had a totally different team because of the way they split up her team, so not only is your birth plan changed, but then my midwife who I’ve been seeing for the last nine months wasn’t able to be there.  So just to have that team, that constant contact, still stay the same even though they’re not there in person, was just a huge comfort and relief for me.  And especially for Justin.

Justin:  I was going to say, for the fathers-to-be out there, I think it’s even more important for them.  We went through a lot of the classes and stuff, and we had good knowledge going in, but you get in the heat of the situation, and you know, her surges and contractions were starting to really hurt her, and I didn’t know what to do in that situation.  So we had this whole plan, and I was doing my best to stick to this plan, and when you get thrown that curve ball, having someone to turn to and just get that reassurance.  I might have made the right decision in that situation, but just to have them say, “Yeah, you did,” or, you know, this is — “Yeah, you did do a good job there.  This is what’s going to happen.  Here’s the outcome.”  Just having that extra sense of security in this very unsecure time is a huge benefit.  Even though they’re not there, it was almost like they were, and it was very helpful, especially for the dads that sometimes might feel a little lost.

Alyssa:  Right, which usually, most of them, I feel like, they do probably feel a little bit lost.

Justin:  Especially the first time.

Samantha:  Yeah, and it takes the pressure off, too, you know, just because I’m telling him one thing, and he’s trying to say, you know, it’s going to be okay, but for him to then reach out to the doulas and say, you know, here’s what’s going on, and for them to not only give me reassurance but him was a game changer, for sure.

Alyssa:  And like you said, you’ve built a rapport with them throughout your pregnancy.  I didn’t know that your midwife couldn’t be there either!  So without your doulas, you would have not had your midwife either, and you would have literally been in a hospital with a bunch of nurses who you’ve never met, and that was it.

Justin:  Right.  Exactly.

Samantha:  And thankfully, we had an amazing team.  Our nurses and midwives that we ended up getting were amazing.  But also, you’re going — it’s your first time.  You’re laboring.  It’s new.  And then you have a whole bunch of strangers, so you’re throwing that mix in it.  So having the doulas there that we’ve had throughout the whole pregnancy, virtually, even though they couldn’t be there, was such a comfort because it just — you had somebody to turn to that you know.

Justin:  One more thing, too, is the hospital — I don’t know about other hospitals in the area, but Spectrum — it was like a fortress.  It was so clean and locked down in there.  We kind of forgot this whole thing we even going on until we left.  I mean, I went down in the cafeteria a few times, and every time I went down there, a whole different section was being completely pulled out and cleaned.  There was no visitors walking around.  There was no one walking around.  I mean, it really did feel like a fortress.  Even getting into the building, we had to go through a couple security checkpoints, so if anyone was worried about the hospital part of it, I think that especially Spectrum, that I know of, I think they’re doing a very good job of keeping everything separated, and the sections of the hospital that need to be cleaned and all that.

Alyssa:  That’s a good point.  For those who maybe have that as a main point of fear for them, delivering in the hospital, they’re doing everything right.  I mean, they obviously want to keep their patients safe and healthy.  It’s got to be weird to walk through that hospital and hardly see anybody because there’s no visitors.

Samantha:  It was weird pulling up because they have the whole security detail, and it was, like, “Why are you here?  What’s going on?”  It was very weird, but like Justin said, it ended up — I almost was sad to leave, just because you’re in this clean, sterile bubble, and like I said, we almost forgot about this whole Corona thing because you’re in — you are — you end up being in the bliss of having your baby, even though it’s such a scary time.  But having — you know, right after he was born, we talked with Ashley and Kristin, and then it was just kind of that blissful — we went up to the room, and they’re doing a very good job.  Obviously, things change, but I think they have it pretty locked down.

Alyssa:  That’s great.

Justin:  They’re definitely out in front of it.

Alyssa:  So then you guys go home, and usually, they do a postpartum visit, but I’m assuming they did that virtually, as well.

Samantha:  Yes.

Alyssa:  Did you have that already?

Samantha:  We did.  From the moment we got home, too, we were in constant contact with them, from them asking how he was sleeping.  I had a couple questions just as far as my recovery and what I could do for comfort as far as that goes, just because as a new mom, you just don’t really expect the discomfort.  I kept thinking, you know, I didn’t have stitches or anything like that, so I thought, oh, I’m going to be good, but you don’t realize what you’ve put your body through.  So it was just nice to have them there so I could say, I’m feeling — you know, what can I do about this pressure that I’m feeling?  I’m having some pain and discomfort here.  To have that support on the postpartum aspect, because, you know, this whole time leading up to the birth, you’re thinking pregnancy and delivery and labor and all that, but postpartum support is also huge, and they really, really helped with that, giving me ideas and tips of helping my milk supply come in.  It was just — they’ve been wonderful.  And we just had our virtual visit with them face to face, and that was great to be able to see them.  They could see the baby.  And then to tell them the birth story, since they weren’t there — I mean, they were there, but they weren’t.

Alyssa:  They got bits and pieces but finally got to hear the whole thing.  That’s great.  Well, is there anything else that you wanted to add or that you think other parents should know?

Samantha:  I just think if you’re on the fence, I mean, nothing — I had this whole — I thought I planned for even the most unexpected in pregnancy, and I definitely didn’t because pregnancy can change in an instant.  But I think that’s why even more now in these times to have that extra support and to have a doula because we plan on having another child, and I’ve already said to them — I said, well, hopefully you guys will be there in person for our next baby!  But I couldn’t imagine going through labor and birth and even through pregnancy and postpartum without having a doula and support, and I think Justin feels the same way.

Justin:  Absolutely.

Samantha:  It’s like having your best friends to be able to talk to, and it’s such a comfort, especially —

Justin:  But a best friend who’s also very knowledgeable!

Alyssa:  Your best friend who’s knowledgeable and judgment-free and can give you all the best support.

Samantha:  Yeah.  And especially because my birth plan changed so much in the sense of having to have interventions, which I didn’t think I was going to, so that was even more unexpected, and to be able to — you know, you’re in the rush of the moment, and I was really upset, and, you know, you get down on yourself as a new mom thinking you’re failing in some aspect.  To be able to have them — obviously, Justin can sit there and tell me all day that I’m doing the right thing, but to have somebody else who’s not only gone through that experience but seen other women and giving me advice and telling me what I’m doing and the decisions I’m making are right for me and my baby was such a relief and such a comfort because it’s such an emotional time, and when things aren’t going already as planned, and then you throw in more wrenches into the mix, it can overwhelming.  So to have them as support was just everything to me.

Alyssa:  Thank you so much for sharing!  I wish that I could see little Judah, too.

Samantha:  I know!  I know.

Alyssa:  It’s really hard!  But, yeah, focus on bonding with that little guy.  How’s breastfeeding and everything going?

Samantha:  Breastfeeding is going good.  We’ve had to supplement a little just because he’s such a peanut, but, again, they’ve helped with that, as well, just because that can be hard as a mom.  You know, you think, oh, breastfeeding is going to be this simple thing, and it’s hard.  Being able to talk it over with people — they’ve given me some great articles, and I had a virtual meetup with some new moms that Kristin suggested, a team that I should join in on, and that was really helpful.  I got some great tips from that, and to not only see new moms who delivered around the same time as I had, and that was all virtual and really cool to be able to hear from them.  You know, they might not be going through the same issues as I am, but to hear they’re also having questions and not knowing what to do was really reassuring because you can get stuck in this loop of, why is this not working for me?  What am I doing wrong?  Why is it so easy for everybody else?  And you don’t realize other moms have, you know, if not the same issues, then different issues.  It’s all different for each person.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  It’s not easy for everybody else.  It just seems like it is.

Samantha:  It does, and it’s easy to get down on yourself and think, oh, you know, woe is me, why is it not working for me?  But to be able to have not only doulas but then give me other resources to be able to reach out to was also great, as well.

Alyssa:  That’s awesome.  Thank you for taking the time to share your story!

Samantha:  Of course!  Thank you

 

Perinatal Mood Disorders: Podcast Episode #91

Today we talk with Elsa, a therapist at Mindful Counseling in Grand Rapids, Michigan who specializes in perinatal mood disorders.  Learn what postpartum anxiety and depression look like, how they are different, and signs to look out for.  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 Elsa Lockman from Mindful Counseling.  She’s here to talk to us a bit about postpartum anxiety.  Elsa specializes in the following areas: perinatal mood disorders, which includes postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, grief and loss, eating disorders, and body image issues.  She also works with clients dealing with relationship problems, coping with medical illness, trauma and abuse, women’s issues and self-esteem, and mood disorders and anxiety.  So obviously, you’re a natural fit working with clients who struggle with everything from eating disorders to anxiety and depression, transitions in their relationships, and expanding their family or having their first child.  So today, Elsa, let’s focus a bit on the difference between postpartum depression and anxiety and what women can do if they’re interested in seeking treatment and getting help.

Elsa:  Yes, postpartum depression and anxiety can go together.  Sometimes women will struggle with anxiety with depression.  Sometimes it is separate.  Postpartum anxiety and depression can look very different.  People classically think of postpartum depression as mothers who don’t connect with their babies, moms who are checked out and can’t get out of bed all day.  That’s actually not always the case.  Often, women with depression are exhausted and often can’t stop crying.  They can’t look, maybe, on the positive side or think rationally.  As far as the anxiety, it can come out more in not feeling necessarily down but feeling like you can’t relax; feeling that something bad is going to happen at any time.  Having thoughts of something happening to your baby; scary thoughts.  Sometimes even flashes of images of very violent things happening or the baby falling, and moms often feel guilty for those, actually, and don’t tell anybody, but they’re actually really important to talk about.

Kristin:  I had a friend who was afraid of driving in her car or anyone driving her baby.  There can be a lot of, like you said, those intrusive thoughts.

Elsa:  Yes, and it’s obsessive sometimes and you can’t get it out of your head.  So rationally, you can say, I’m not going to drop the baby going down the stairs.  I have the baby in my hands.  But it keeps going; it gets hooked, the idea or the image, and then they’ll struggle with almost a loop where it just can’t get out of your head.  Or anxiety can present sometimes in something around sickness.  No germs.  Thinking that my baby is going to get sick; I can’t take her out to the store, and I can’t take her to this house.  And how far that goes; I mean, some of these are common sense, and you want to take care of your child, but then how far does it goes?  Does it prevent you from doing things that you want to do, or do others notice that maybe this is being a little unreasonable?  It seems to be causing you even more anxiety to be thinking some of these things.  Another part is that sometimes anxiety can come out as anger.  Feeling just angry and irritable; feeling tense.  That can come out, obviously, with partners, and they can notice it.  Being different, a marked change from before for women.  Those are some of the symptoms that come that people can notice with anxiety.  Another one would be sleeping; when moms can’t sleep when the baby is actually sleeping.  That’s another sign of postpartum anxiety for people to watch out for.

Kristin:  Sure.  That makes sense.  I know even with postpartum doulas in the house, some women still struggle with fully sleeping even though their child is being care for by someone else. And sleep is so essential.  There are so many studies on how, if you’re not getting enough sleep, it can lead to mood disorders and anxiety and so on.

Elsa:  Yeah, it just leaves women very vulnerable, and now it’s become so normalized that part of the postpartum world is just not getting sleep.  And I think it’s also expected that women are also just supposed to go on with their lives and do all the normal things that they’re supposed to do even when they’re running on little to no sleep, and this goes on for weeks or months.

Kristin:  Yes!  So what resources would you suggest if they’re looking for help?  Obviously, we can talk about how to reach out to you!

Elsa:  For sure!  You can definitely contact Mindful Counseling GR.  You can contact Pine Rest.  They actually have a mother baby unit, so they actually have therapists that have specialized training, like I do, to work with women postpartum.

Kristin:  And now Pine Rest even has the ER when you can —

Elsa:  Oh, the urgent care center?

Kristin:  Yes, the urgent care center.  They can go in at night and not have to go the hospital.

Elsa:  yeah, they can go to the urgent care center and get assessed and get attention or treatment a lot quicker.  OB offices have a list of therapists who are trained and specialize with postpartum or perinatal mood disorders, which includes anxiety and depression in pregnancy and postpartum.  So there’s a list that you can ask for from your OB, as well.

Kristin:  Great!  How do they directly reach out to you?  Are you accepting new patients, Elsa?

Elsa:  Yes, I am!  You can reach out to me by contacting me through our website.

Kristin:  Perfect!  Thank you for coming on today!

 

Spectrum Health Midwives

Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative: Podcast Episode #89

Today we speak with Katie and Becky from Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids about what it means to be a designated Baby-Friendly hospital. 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, co-owner, and I’ve got Alyssa here. And we’ve got special guests joining us today from Spectrum talking about the Baby-Friendly initiative. So welcome, ladies! Introduce yourselves and tell us about your background!

Becky: My name is Becky Crawford, and I’m a nurse manager at Spectrum. My background is in postpartum and labor and delivery nursing.

Katie: And I’m Katie. I’m the project specialist for women and infants at Spectrum Health. My background: I am an RN, and my background is high risk OB and postpartum nursing.

Alyssa: Awesome!

Kristin: Fantastic! Thanks for joining us! Tell us about what baby friendly means and why it’s such an intense process to go through certification. Fill us in!

Katie: The Baby-Friendly hospital initiative was actually created back in the early 90s, and it’s an international organization to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding practices. Spectrum Health Butterworth was designated Baby-Friendly initially in October of 2014, and we just went through the redesignation process and were redesignated at the end of May of this year. There are ten steps for Baby-Friendly that each support breastfeeding practices, and we can talk through some of those steps, as well. You have to be proficient in all of those ten steps to receive the designation, so you really have to show breastfeeding excellence, and it’s a really strict and rigorous process to go through.

Becky: I think overall, the way I describe it to patients is that we’ve created a culture that’s supportive of breastfeeding and of moms that want to breastfeed. So it’s not that we force anyone to breastfeed. Our goal is just to educate moms, support them, and help them be successful if that’s the option they choose.

Katie: Absolutely. As nursing professionals, part of our responsibility it to make sure that best practice and current research reaches our patients and that they’re educated on all of those best practices. Breastfeeding is best practice, but it’s also about informed choice and supporting our patients with whatever choice they make. While Baby-Friendly is primarily about breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding, there is a formula feeding option there, and we support patients in that option, as well. It should never be about pressure. It should just be about education and informed choice.

Kristin: That is a question that I get from doula clients. If they choose, whether for medical necessity or personal choice, to formula-feed, how they can navigate the system with Baby-Friendly hospitals.

Alyssa: That’s what I was going to ask, too. Do you think that designation scares a mom who knows she doesn’t want to breastfeed? Does she think shes going to come into this hospital and you’re going to try to force it? What does that look like for a mom who doesn’t want to?

Becky: We do hear that feedback from moms that haven’t delivered with us, that they’re just nervous. Having to talk about breastfeeding, even, can be an uncomfortable conversation if they know that’s not the choice they want to make. So our approach with our staff is to educate the patient on all the options, let them choose, and then support. So it should be a one-time conversation. We’re going to talk through all your feeding options. These are the great benefits of breastfeeding. If you choose not to do it, okay. Then let’s talk about formula feeding, and we’ll focus our education there. So making sure they know their options, they understand the benefits, and then support.

Katie: And, you know, nurses educate on a lot of topics, right? It’s not just about breastfeeding. But the other topics we educate on, it’s the same sort of informed choice, right? Breastfeeding is such a personal decision. It’s such an emotionally charged topic. I think that while we need to educate our patients on breastfeeding and why it’s great, we also need to acknowledge the fact that it is a really personal choice, and it’s okay if you choose not to, as long as we’ve given you all of the information.

Kristin: And so your labor and delivery nurses, your postpartum nurses — everyone is specially trained to support the initial latch and continued breastfeeding through their stay?

Katie: Yes.

Kristin: And that’s something that we always stress as doulas is that you have support from your nurses as well as the board-certified lactation consultants who do rounds in the postpartum time.

Katie: Actually, one of the ten steps is staff education. All of our nurses receive 20 hours of dedicated breastfeeding education. Of that, 15 hours are classroom education and then 5 of those is clinical, practical breastfeeding education hours. Every one of our nurses; it’s built into orientation for any women’s nurse, so everyone from labor and delivery to postpartum gets this education. There’s also a requirement for providers, so nurse midwives as well as physicians, to receive additional breastfeeding education, as well. Per Baby-Friendly, they’re required to receive three hours of breastfeeding education.

Becky: We also have a team of lactation consultants that offer further help for any mom that’s struggling, but I’m also bringing in more peer counselors, too, just to round on every patient and offer every mom some support, ever with those first few times they’re latching, just so they can hear that they’re doing a great job. It’s really just to address the breastfeeding concerns of all moms, not just the moms that are struggling, just to really walk them through it.

Katie: And we do have quite a few nurses that are certified breastfeeding counselors, so they have received additional education as well as the education that they received for Baby-Friendly.

Kristin: How are you able to support moms with babies that go to the NICU initially with their breastfeeding goals?

Becky: Well, actually, we get them pumping right away. If your goal is to breastfeed, we like to have them pump within two hours of delivery to start establishing that supply. Our nurses will come in and do education, and the lactation consultants will see them, also, and just talk about the importance of pumping to build up that supply. They’re also going to skin to skin. There are some lactation consultants that are dedicated just to the NICU and these moms, so there’s a lot of support there, too.

Katie: The providers in the NICU are very, very supportive of breastfeeding, and they encourage and educate moms on the importance of breastfeeding, as well, so there’s good collaboration between our OB teams and our NICU teams regarding supporting those moms in breastfeeding and being successful.

Kristin: That’s what my clients tell me, that they get a lot of support, even over at Helen DeVoss, as well as in their rooms with lactation. As far as other elements of the Baby-Friendly designation, what else encompasses those ten standards?

Becky: There’s a lot. We start right at delivery, with the golden hour after delivery. We place baby skin to skin immediately after delivery, and we avoid all unnecessary care for that first hour. Any exams or assessments would all be done while the baby is skin to skin on mom. We try to give them that time to bond and establish that first feeding.

Kristin: And if the mom can’t do skin to skin, I have dads ask me all the time about the benefits of them doing skin to skin with baby. So that’s something that’s encouraged, as well?

Becky: Absolutely. We’ve had lots of dads do skin to skin. We like to bring them in on the process whenever possible.

Kristin: That’s fantastic. And then delayed cord clamping is now a standard policy?

Becky: Yes. And we also room-in, so babies stay with their moms 24 hours a day unless mom requests otherwise. But that’s what we try to encourage and do all procedures at the bedside to keep the family together 24 hours a day.

Katie: I think that rooming in is another hot topic when you’re talking about Baby-Friendly and breastfeeding, and the literature does tell us that rooming in does help moms to be more successful breastfeeding. I think that it’s important that patients understand that we’re going to allow you to keep your baby with you. We’re going to be able to take care of mom and baby together. You’re going to learn your baby’s feeding cues. You’re going to learn all those little nuances. We’re going to help you learn that in the couple of days that you have with us. There is space where if you wanted your baby to go to a nursery, we could do that. We’re supportive of that, as well, but again, we are going to educate, and then we’re going to honor choice.

Becky: Exactly.

Kristin: And then there’s delayed bathing and other procedures beyond that?

Katie: Yes.

Alyssa: What’s the thought behind all the delayed cord clamping, delayed bathing? Why? What are the benefits?

Katie: The delayed bath is sort of about the transition from being inside mom and then outside and regulating temperature. So we wait at least twelve hours. We like to wait closer to 24 hours to do that first bath. We’re, of course, not going to hand you an ooey gooey baby. We do a little wiping off, but it really does help that baby transition to life outside of mom and regulate. It also allows you to go immediately into skin to skin so the baby can help regulate not just the temperature, but the heart rate and the breathing. And, again, that’s evidence based. In fact, there’s a pediatrician out in Massachusetts who really pioneered the Baby-Friendly initiative in the hospitals out in Massachusetts, and she did a study on delaying the baby bath, as well. That’s the literature we have for it; it’s all about maintaining stability for the baby.

Kristin: That’s awesome, Katie.

Becky: For the delayed cord clamping, that just gives the newborn a little more blood volume, and, actually, it’s better for baby. There’s no reason to cut the cord any sooner, unless the baby is having a respiratory issue and would need resuscitation, so that would be out of the norm. But otherwise, we do wait and delay so the baby can have more blood volume from the placenta.

Alyssa: How long?

Becky: Our standard is a minimum of one minute. I know a lot of moms request —

Alyssa: So this isn’t like it’s for an hour —

Becky: We’re not saying 10 minutes or 20 minutes. Generally, the cord stops pumping within five minutes. So some moms request to please wait until it stops pulsating, and we can do that, too. Generally, we wait about a minute, and that’s probably close to when it stops pulsating. But we’re not talking about an hour or anything like that.

Kristin: Yeah, some of my clients want to see it actually turn gray and stop pulsating before it’s cut.

Alyssa: And I didn’t want to see mine at all.

Becky: I didn’t either, personally!

Alyssa: My husband did accidentally and was like, oh, my God, an organ just fell out of you!

Katie: I love all of that stuff. It’s so fascinating!

Kristin: As far as additional steps that you take to get recertified, tell us about that process and why it’s important.

Katie: You will see in our women’s and infant services department that OB triage is on A level, and then all the way up to the 8th floor in that tower, you’ll see the 10 Steps for Baby-Friendly posted. It’s just showing our support of those ten steps. We have to show that patients receive prenatal education in our clinics regarding breastfeeding. We have to show that all of our staff receive the education. The people that come out to do our survey — the interview staff.

Becky: And patients.

Katie: And patients and providers, so they will go in patient rooms to see that they receive the education about breastfeeding and that they’re being appropriately supported for breastfeeding. So they look at our exclusive breastfeeding rate.

Kristin: And then you have support groups, as well, when mothers go home and need additional support. They can go to free support groups and seek help through their OB or midwives or pediatricians?

Katie: Absolutely. I think a lot of our pediatricians have at least one pediatrician who is an IBCLC, so a lactation consultant, as well. I know that our DeVoss clinic has two pediatricians that are lactation consultants.

Becky: And our pediatrician who is an IBCLC actually oversees the residents, and so she’s the one working with them and training them. It’s kind of keeping that mindset forefront for all of them, too, and helping them learn the Baby-Friendly system.

Katie: So while nursing took this on and rolled it out, there is a lot of support from providers, as well. Of course, our nurse midwives receive, as part of their education, breastfeeding, but our pediatric providers are all very supportive of breastfeeding, as well.

Alyssa: Is there anything that you think is a misconception for this Baby-Friendly Initiative? Is there anything that it isn’t? You told it what it is, but what isn’t it?

Becky: Yes. I think the thing we hear most is that, I’m going to be pressured to breastfeed if I deliver there. And there is nothing further from the truth. Our goal is a culture supportive of breastfeeding, not a culture of pressure. So our goal is to educate, let moms make decisions, and support them. So there’s no pressure. I think the other big misconception is about rooming in. Sometimes you have a mom who, let’s say, has had a C-section and she’s exhausted, and she just needs support for a couple of hours. We will accommodate that. We’re all about supporting moms. So although we do encourage rooming in, and there are a lot of benefits to it, in certain circumstances when it’s not best for the family, we support what is.

Katie: I think that it’s the 80/20 rule. There’s going to be exceptions to every rule, and it’s just important that we support our patients through that. I think that Becky and I have probably both taken care of those moms that have had long labors or C-sections, and they come up to the floor, and they just need rest. You have to take care of yourself.

Becky: They’re crying. The baby’s crying. Everyone’s hit a wall. And it’s like, why don’t I just cuddle your baby for an hour. You take a nap, and then let’s try again. Sometimes just 45 minutes of sleep can change the entire situation.

Katie: I remember after my second one, I got two hours of sleep. Like, two consecutive hours. And it was the best two hours ever!

Alyssa: I’m thinking about my situation. It was fairly quick. Yeah, sure, I was tired, but I did choose one time in the middle of the night to have them take my daughter to the nursery so I could get — it was about two hours. But I felt so amazing. But I wasn’t in this dire circumstance. So today with — this was before the Baby-Friendly. So today, would I have to prove to you that I need the sleep?

Becky: No.

Katie: No!

Alyssa: It’s just, would you take her for a couple of hours? You’re not going to say, well, you don’t check these boxes, so she won’t go.

Becky: No. I think the goal is when moms come up to the postpartum unit to talk to them about, well, babies room in 24-7, and we keep you together and care for you together. However, if you have a need to send your baby to the nursery, we’ll accommodate that. So our goal is to not educate the mom at 2:00 a.m. who’s exhausted and crying about how she should room in with her baby. That’s not really the time to have that conversation, and it probably wouldn’t be well-received. So we want to educate them when they first come up so that at that point, at 2:00 a.m., if you decide to make that decision, it will be more like, okay. I’ll bring her back for her next feeling.

Alyssa: I didn’t think I wanted to, but now I do.

Becky: And that is common. Okay, I just need a little bit of a nap, and then I can keep going.

Kristin: Yeah, we’ve had clients hire us to help out in their postpartum room when their partner had to go home to tend to another child or had a job to get back to. We’ve loved that role of being in the hospital, as well as later on in the home, to support them and help them get sleep and also learn baby cues and feedings and help support breastfeeding.

Alyssa: Basically, be their postpartum doula in the hospital as well as at home.

Becky: We would welcome that support, definitely! I’m sure our nurses would love to partner with you on that!

Alyssa: For those moms who don’t want to send — maybe they desperately want the sleep, but they don’t feel comfortable sending their baby to the nursery. Your doula sits in the rocking chair and holds your baby.

Becky: What a great option!

Alyssa: Yeah, it’s been really kind of life-altering for a few of our clients who are a little bit more on the — you know, a lot of moms just have anxiety, especially first-time moms.

Katie: I think that so much of the focus goes to the baby, but we’re taking care of mom, too, and that needs to be in the forefront, as well. There’s two patients there.

Becky: And be aware of her self-care and her needs in the moment, too, because what I always try to tell my patients is, you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of this baby. And if that means a short nap, then I think we need to do that because it’s going to make you a better mom in the morning when you’ve had a little bit of sleep.

Kristin: Exactly. What other hospitals in the area within the Spectrum brand are Baby-Friendly? We have clients in a 50-mile radius of Grand Rapids, so we work with a lot of your smaller hospitals, as well.

Katie: So Spectrum Health Butterworth just received redesignation, like we talked about. Spectrum Health Zeeland.

Becky: They’re newly designation last September.

Katie: And then Spectrum Health United Memorial up in Greenville. They were designated five years ago, and they’re going through the redesignation process right now.

Alyssa: So is it every five years?

Katie: Yes. And then Spectrum Health Big Rapids is going after designation, as well. We have, as a system, Baby-Friendly requires us to have an infant feeding policy, and we have standardized that infant feeding policy across the system for all of our regional hospitals, as well. So you’re going to see a piece of Baby-Friendly in all Spectrum hospitals. And the reason for that is that it’s evidence based and it’s best practice, so even if they’re not designated Baby-Friendly, these are practices that we should all be doing.

Becky: Right. They’re probably practicing very similar to Baby-Friendly, even if they don’t officially have that designation.

Alyssa: That’s great. Anything else you want to share before we sign off?

Kristin: What resources, if any of our listeners want to learn more about Baby-Friendly or some of the work Spectrum has done — where can they go online to get more information?

Becky: I think just going to the Baby-Friendly website will give you a lot of information about the 10 Steps and about what we’re focused on as a Baby-Friendly hospital. So you can really start just researching Baby-Friendly, and we are following that to a T, so that will tell you how we’re practicing.

Katie: Our provider offices also have education and information about Baby-Friendly, and then —

Becky: Our childbirth education classes.

Katie: Yes, at Spectrum Health Healthier Communities. They have information, as well.

Kristin: So the educators can fill their students in with any questions they have?

Katie: Correct, yes.

Kristin: And then is there anything special with the hospital tours that our clients go on before delivery? Do you incorporate Baby-Friendly or answer questions based on that? I haven’t been on a tour in a while.

Katie: I don’t think that they specifically talk about Baby-Friendly, except that —

Becky: The practices, probably.

Katie: Yeah. They likely don’t highlight the nursery like they used to. Our nursery — we don’t have babies lined up in the nursery like we used to. They’re with their moms, so you can’t go to the maternity floor and look through the window of the nursery. There’s no babies there.

Becky: I do think they talk about some of our practices, about how you room in and we keep babies together. And I think the other thing is maybe some of the practices, like the skin to skin after delivery. Things that might be different than other hospitals, just so they know what to expect; that we would never supplement a baby unless it was medically necessary, and we’re not handing out pacifiers unless somebody requests it. So it might be slightly different than other hospitals that are doing deliveries in the area.

Katie: Our childbirth educators are pretty passionate about breastfeeding and supporting breastfeeding practices, as well as supporting natural birth. They give the whole gamut of the birth experience.

Kristin: Well, thank you for joining us and sharing so much!

 

For tips on how to make your hospital room feel cozy for birth read Creating A Cozy Hospital Birth Space in First Time Parent Magazine by Kirstin Revere.

 

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.

 

Birth Stories

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77

Gaby is a local business owner in Grand Rapids and talks to Alyssa about the birth stories of both of her children. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa: Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast. I am Alyssa and I’m excited to be here with Gaby today. How are you?

Gaby: Hi, I’m great, Alyssa.

Alyssa: So we met a couple of months ago?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Was it the Mom Brain meet up?

Gaby: We did, yeah.

Alyssa: Yeah, and we got to talking about your lovely little bridal shop. I shouldn’t call it little, we’ll talk about that in another episode. But you have three children?

Gaby: I have two.

Alyssa: Two children.

Gaby: And a fur baby!

Alyssa: But you didn’t birth that one!

Gaby: Yeah, no.

Alyssa: I just wanted to talk about your stories. So our moms who are pregnant love hearing positive birth stories and it’s not to say that even though your birth story – the outcome may be positive, but there weren’t crazy things that happened along the way.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: I think there are so many people telling you, oh, just wait until… You know? And they tell you negative things about pregnancy, about labor and delivery, about postpartum, and then every year as your kid grows, oh, you just wait until… So I like to give our listeners some positive stories. So tell me about your kids. How old are they now?

Gaby: I have two kids. My oldest, Aurora. She’s going to be six this year. And my youngest, Andreas, he’s going to be three this year. They’re a good amount apart, but still kind of fighting the ages right there.

Alyssa: Yeah. What was it like having a three-year-old and a newborn?

Gaby: She had just surpassed the age of needing me 100% of the time. She was starting to be independent and she was very involved and loving, but there was still that balance of like, she’s still not 100% independent. But I like that space. I wouldn’t personally go any closer. I know I have friends and moms that are like, I just like to have my babies super close so that I’m having babies all at the same time. And I’m like, that sounds very overwhelming!

Alyssa: I think it’s very overwhelming in that stage. I was actually just talking to a girlfriend today who did that and she was like, It was so overwhelming! I don’t even know how I made it through. She goes, “But now, it’s so easy. They’re all within the same age range and they’re all independent. And they all just go play outside for two hours together.” So I can see the beauty of both ends, I guess.

Gaby: Yeah and now since she’s a little bit different, she’s still kind of interested in what he’s interested in, and can also watch him a relative amount of – you know, she’s kind of on the lookout a little bit. So she’s enjoying that responsibility of like, I’m in charge and don’t do that.

Alyssa: Oh yeah, my daughter’s six and she would love to be a big sister.

Gaby: Yeah. She’s like, don’t do that. Or she’ll run inside like, “Mom!” Okay, let’s go through the emergency levels here. Not everything is 100% red flag, our house is on fire, emergency.

Alyssa: So how were your deliveries with both of them? Were they pretty similar or completely different?

Gaby: They were relatively similar. I like to talk a look at all the possibilities and when I originally was planning to get pregnant and got pregnant, I was like, gve me all the drugs. Let’s set a date for the delivery, just give me all the drugs, and it’ll be quick and simple, and I’ll be in and out, and I’ll look great. You know, in a week I’ll be fabulous.

Alyssa: Instagram perfect, right?

Gaby: Yes! It’ll be fabulous! And that’s when I started reading up more on it and because of my tendencies already – so for example, my back has always kind of been sore, in pain, or more on the delicate side, and I started seeing the complications with medications and where they go and how they go and how they affect you. I started to explore a more natural way, more hands-off, with still keeping in mind, If I need it, that’s open. So not ever being like, I don’t want it no matter what. But just being like, I want to go in with the mindset of as much hands-off as possible. And then with the nurses and the doctors, because I trusted them if it really needed to be done, or if I needed medication or an intervention, then I was okay with doing that. And it was relatively – the pregnancy itself, I was sick! Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick! I think I lost weight until the last couple of months. And she was right on time and it was a relatively – I don’t know if it’s long, but it was almost like 12-20 hour from start to finish. But I think the active labor was maybe 6 hours? I was in a lot of pain. It seemed like, I can’t even tell you how long it was, but the active labor wasn’t that long.

Alyssa: Did you end up begging for an epidural?

Gaby: No, I didn’t. What ended up happening is they gave me Stadol at the last stages because I was refusing to sit down, to lay down, because it just hurt so much more. So when the contractions started they put me in a little tub, but as it started to get more intense I just couldn’t be sitting down. So most of the labor my partner and I were just on our feet. So I would be on my feet and then the contraction would come and I would obviously just collapse and he would just kind of hold me. Like underarms hold me through the contraction. Then the doctor’s like, you need to rest! You’ve been on your feet most of the labor. And I was like, I can’t, it hurts! They’d try to lay me down and I’d be like, “No!” It was just not good. It definitely helped me rest once I took the medicine and I don’t want to say it took the pain away, but it definitely helped ease the transition from standing up and the anxiety of like, If I lay down, it’s going to hurt more. She came and it was everybody focus! Don’t talk to me, focus! And she was delivered. There weren’t any complications. She came out great and everybody in my family waited until we were in the other room to come in.

Alyssa: Yeah, I was going to say, who was in the room with you?

Gaby: Just my partner at the time. Yes, I was very adamant about that. In fact, my grandmother tried to come in a couple of times and she was like, do you need anything? And I’m like, There’s nothing you can do! Please, I need some space. And I think it really helped me focus in the moment and just continuously tell myself, your body is meant to do this, to go through it, don’t panic. I just had to be like, don’t panic, just breathe in. You’re supposed to do this. If something were to go wrong, someone’s going to tell you if something’s wrong, they’re going to intervene. But as long as they’re just like, hey, everything’s okay! I’m trusting my environment and my body that this is what it’s supposed to do.

Alyssa: So was that intentional decision to only have you in your partner in the room for your first baby?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Because you wanted to focus.

Gaby: Yes and I feel like I would get distracted. And my mom, I love her to death, she’s great. She actually works in the emergency room. She’s an interpreter. But when it comes to family emergencies, she gets really panicky. And at that time with my daughter, she was actually in Florida, so it wasn’t too bad. It was just my grandma kind of coming in. And I think after the second time, I was like, I will see you when it’s done. Please, I’m fine. There’s nothing really. I guess in my head it’s kind of like, what can you really do? And I have friends that have everybody in there. Like a photographer and the neighbor. They’re great, they love it. They just want all the hugs and kisses and I just want everyone like, we’re here to work. We’re here to get from A to B, but we’re going to do it. So I told everybody, you cannot be out until I’m in the next room. And for the most part, they listened.

Alyssa: Minus grandma, twice.

Gaby: Minus grandma! I think she was just – you know, I think it’s definitely shocking. Your loved ones want to like, how can I make it better?

Alyssa: Well how did your partner react? Because often times they’re the ones who, you know, I want to fix this. I want to help and there’s nothing I can do.

Gaby: We had been together for a while and I definitely have a – in my life in general, when I’m sick I have the same kind of reaction. So he kind of knew that I was going to need specific help and we kind of were like – he knew. And he knew that if I needed something I would ask or that for example, really he was just there literally as a support because I was on my feet. And then the next time he was just there to make sure – I was like, I just need you to make sure that if I cannot vocalize what I want, this is what I want. That we have decided together. And he was just kind of there, vigilant, just checking, which kind of also brought me a little bit of peace of mind. Like, I have someone that isn’t trying to deliver a baby. I think they were 7.8 and then my other one was like 8.7.

Alyssa: But in your head, you were probably like, this must be a 12-pound baby.

Gaby: Whatever is coming out, I’m doing it and he’s not and he can say, go through the checklist.

Alyssa: Right!

Gaby: I’m very – I like to take charge and so at that point, there was only one thing that I was going to be able to focus. We had talked about it and I think he definitely – I have a very like, don’t get close to me unless I need it kind of vibe when I’m in pain. But again, I just kept thinking, this is something that happens. That’s supposed to happen, that you’re meant to happen. Like, you’re body’s prepared for even though you’ve never personally gone through it before, but it’s supposed to kind of go this route.

Alyssa: So how did that affect baby number two knowing you’ve been through this before, you knew your pain thrthreshold did that help?

Gaby: I actually thought I was not as far along than I actually was. With both of them! So don’t time your contractions in your head. Make sure you’re using an actual timer. With my son, when I got in they were like, do you want medication? Do you want some Stadol right now? I was like, Oh, no! I still have time. I’ve only been here a couple ho ofurs. With my daughter, I was here, it wasn’t until like midnight or you know, until I got Stadol, so I still have a couple hours of labor.

They didn’t say anything, they were like, okay, fine. You don’t want medicine right now, we understand. And then when it started getting worse and I was like, okay, I’m ready!

Alyssa: Give me some!

Gaby: And they were like, you’re too far along. And I’m like, wait, what do you mean? It hasn’t been that long. I had already labored outside of the hopsital longer and I must have been dilated much faster, obviously, because it was my second.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: So it was kind of a shock to me like, wait, I’m not – this is going to happen without anything. So with my son, I didn’t have any medication. And he just kind of – I don’t think the doctor was a little – she didn’t even have time to put gloves on. ‘Cause when they were like, you don’t need medication, you’re far along. I’m like, oh. And then a little bit after that, like less than 30 minutes, I was like, it’s time! You have to wait until you feel pressure. I’m like, yes! I’m checking it off, yes. And they’re like, no, it’s going to be a little bit. And then the doctors come in so relaxed. They’re so relaxed. And I’m like, ma’am. You should probably move along. And she sits on her little stool and I’m just kind of watching her like, she shouldn’t be this calm because I’m feeling it. It’s coming. She’s coming. And she literally turns around and she’s like, let me put my gloves on. And I’m like, nope! And she’s like, what do you mean? And she’s like, oh my God. And she just – she’s like, okay. And she catches him – he comes out.

Alyssa: No gloves? No time.

Gaby: She didn’t have time for gloves.

Alyssa: Oh my gosh.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: So I mean it kind of was a totally different experience. I mean, very quick.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: You probably wouldn’t call it painless, but it was a lot less drawn out.

Gaby: No. It was a lot less drawn out pain and I don’t know if I was – I don’t want to say I was used to the pain. I was in pain – like the muscles on the inside of my legs had decided they were too sore the whole pregnancy, so I was in a lot of pain consistantly. Kind of like jolts of pain. I don’t know if I was used to pain and then it was a faster delivery and he was just kind of like, I’m ready. And he just slid right out.

Alyssa: Do you think that as first time moms, since we don’t know what to expect, our brains kind of tell us that it’s going to be worse than it is?

Gaby: I think it definitely contributes to that and sitting down and talking to friends – the stories are not there for us. Like my friends and I are not like, I wish somebody would have sat down and talked about the actual labor. Honestly, not in a, I’m going to scare you. Not in a warning, not in a, don’t get pregnant because then labor’s painful. But in a, let’s go through everything, compare notes. So that you can be at least aware of what actually happens. Be prepared for the pain. As women, we have pain every month. Some of us more than every month. I think we’re much more capable, but we have this background fear of labor and delivery.

Alyssa: What are a few of those things that you would say to a new mom who has no idea?

Gaby: I think that mostly would be educate yourself with actually facts. Educate yourself in how you yourself react to pain in just your everyday life. Are you squimish? Are you not squimish? How your partner does that? How are you going to communicate? Some people can’t communicate when they’re in pain. Does that need to be talked about beforehand? You can bring your $200 ball to sit on, but I could not sit on the ball. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t pay for it, so I was grateful that I didn’t invest in a birthing ball that I didn’t need. So there’s going to be so many switches. Just kind of learn to be a little bit more go with the flow, ‘cause in the end – I want to say it’s like the baby in your body that’s going to be in charge of what happens. I just kept telling myself like, just breathe. Breathe through it, not because it’s going to minimize the pain, but because it’s going to help focus where I’m going out of the pain.

Alyssa: Sounds like you could have benefited from our hypnobirthing class. It’s like learning physiologically what’s going to happen. You know, what’s going on in your body, what’s happening during a contraction, what’s happening during active labor, but then like you said – so you’re ahead of most knowing that, let’s talk about how I deal with pain and how I process things. Do I like to be touched? Do I not like to be touched? Do I hold all my tension here? So knowing that and talking to your partner about that ahead of time is a big part of what the hypnobirthing class is about. Let’s focus on these things and practice how are we going to deal with that when we’re in this situation.

Gaby: Yeah and you definitely have to – we work so hard in preparing the room, and the baby, and all the stuff, but that moment is so small comparatively speaking, but it’s so intense. And it can leave such a big mark if it gets too complicated. So I feel like being prepared for a lot of stuff makes the load a little bit lighter. ‘Cause you already have the answers and you know what to expect. I didn’t realize that my doctor wasn’t going to be there until the very end. This whole time I’m like, I want my doctor. I’ve known her for a million years and we’re best friends. They didn’t call her until the end. Then when I realized, the nurses were just fabulous. They’re the ones that are going to take care of you. So it’s great to have a great relationship with your doctor, but going into where you’re going to give birth and seeing the support and the nurses – the support staff, I guess depending on where we give birth, they’re going to be there for the long run. They’re really invested in you because they’re there with you the whole time.

Alyssa: Yeah. Labor and delivery nurses are amazing.

Gaby: Yeah, yeah. I was kind of worried that – because I wasn’t going to be in a hospital, they were going to be like, we’re going to wire you up and we’re going to put all the juices in you. And I was like, I don’t want -. But it wasn’t like that at all. I didn’t feel forced into a certain way that they were doing things.

Alyssa: Well, is there anything else that you would love to share?

Gaby: I just wish we would trust our decisions more and be more confident in what we can handle, as far as labor and delivery. Again, if you want that support group there around you, and you know you need it, and that’s how you’ve been your whole entire life like you want mom, and aunt, and everybody, and the dog, that’s great. But if all of a sudden because you’re giving birth everybody wants to sign up and come and take pictures, don’t do it. It’ll be a good first start to parenting and being with family. It’s not about you not loving or caring, or that you don’t want them involved ever in the life of the baby, but that is such a critical moment that you can’t have extra people that you’re really not going to ulitize or that you’re going to feel like you’re trapped in that room for a long time.

Alyssa: Yeah, so often family members can make us feel – like guilt us into doing things that we don’t feel are right. And this is, like you said, the first step in a very long journey of parenting where you have to do what’s best for you and your family and not everybody else.

Gaby: Right. I probably would have been mad to see my sister on her phone while I’m mid contraction.

Alyssa: Right! You better not be posting anything to Facebook.

Gaby: Yeah. Like, how can you be relaxing? I’m mid contraction! You know, let’s not get angry. Let’s just focus on that.

Alyssa: I did the same thing, so I totally understand.

Gaby: People are so hesitant to say – They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and I think it’s – now that we’re learning a little more emotional tintelligence, think we can put responsibility on both parts. One to say no and the other part to understand. Hopefully everybody understands if you want to draw that line.

Alyssa: Well, thank you so much for sharing.

Gaby: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Alyssa: We will have you on again. I want to learn a little bit more about your business and what it’s like. I love talking to moms who are business women as well.

Gaby: Yeah, I can’t wait.

Alyssa: Thanks, everyone for listening. You can find us on iTunes and Sound Cloud. Again ,this is Ask the Doulas. You can find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Instagram, and Facebook. Thanks for listening.

 

Comfort Measure for labor class

HypnoBirthing Baby – Wesley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pregnant

Babies! Babies! I could watch these precious babies all day!

Today’s guest blog comes from Jessica White of 4D Moments Ultrasound Studio.

Who does not love the sweet face of a brand new baby?! A dreamy smile…a big yawn…a goofy open-mouthed grin. Oh, or one of those precious baby stretches where their little lips pooch out and their knees pull up to their bellies and their arms stretch over their heads! Soooo cute!

When your new son or daughter is born, all those precious moments are absolutely priceless and each one makes you fall in love even more. Did you know that your baby is smiling and yawning and stretching inside the womb long before their birthday ever happens?

With the technology available in 3D/4D ultrasound, you can enjoy those precious moments during the second and third trimesters. Check out these peeks at 16 weeks, 28 weeks, and 40 weeks that were taken at 4D Moments 3D/4D Ultrasound Studio.

At 4D Moments, we provide elective ultrasound for early gender determination and amazing images like the ones you see here. We are not a medical facility so so you need to seek care from a medical professional before coming to see us. What we do provide is a unique and affordable experience from 12-40 weeks where you can bring friends, your baby’s older siblings, or the new grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa will be blown away to see their grandchild on our big screen television, sitting in our comfy viewing room, and say, “I sure wish they had this technology when we were having babies!”

Or maybe you want to plan a gender reveal party and give your family another memorable moment in the life of your tiny one. We can determine the gender as early as 14 weeks! Even if you had the blood test, we all know seeing is believing! Our accuracy is always over 99% and if we are unable to find it for whatever reason, we bring you back one time for no charge.

The oohs and ahhs that fill the room when that baby shows their face makes it worth every penny, and you and your family will have pictures and/or videos, but more importantly, memories to cherish forever. You’ll always remember the time you just got to come relax and spend some time bonding with your baby.  I once had a mom tell me, “I’ve been really stressing about the big delivery day and losing patience through these last few weeks of the pregnancy, but seeing her on the screen today has given me the strength to get through it and reminded me what and who I am doing this for.”  Wow! Seeing your baby’s face is therapy for the body and the soul.

What about dads? Some dads are already so well-connected with their unborn baby – perhaps talking, singing, and playing with them throughout the pregnancy. But some dads really struggle to find a connection. I have seen that connection unfold at our office when dad sees that adorable baby in such detail. He can even see the interaction when the baby responds to talking or tapping or music or big brother and sister pushing. I once had a dad who came late but I was able to wait for him. After he saw his son’s beautiful face with his cute little foot on his cheek, this dad nearly broke down. At the end, he said, “Thank you so much for waiting for me. What if I had missed that!?” Mind you, this was not his first child and he was still blown away by what he saw that night.

Some of my favorite memories are the few times I got to tell a family that they were having twins. Since most moms get an ultrasound from their doctor’s office in the first trimester, it does not happen often but every once in awhile, when the image first comes up on the screen and I see those two little heads, I get to be the one to let them know. Everyone takes the news a bit differently. One couple was so calm about it, not really surprised, and were just thrilled that it was a boy and a girl. Mom said, “That works for me.  I get a boy and a girl in one pregnancy!” Another couple was completely shocked and it was so interesting to watch as they both slowly lost their minds as the waves of their new reality hit them one by one. “We can’t afford daycare for two, can we?”  “We’ll have to get a different vehicle.”  “How can I breastfeed two at a time?”  When that couple left that day, I said, “This was a most enjoyable session for me, but I’m going to go on with my day and my life will be unchanged for the most part. However, you guys are going to walk out of here and your lives will never be the same.”

But twins and triplets are so fun to see! How they are positioned with each other and who is kicking who and where. A half hour to just enjoy your little ones before the busyness that comes after they are born is such valuable time.

My name is Jessica White and my husband and I opened 4D Moments in 2013 in Kalamazoo and then officially in Grand Rapids in 2017. As parents to 8 babies ourselves, this business concept just spoke to our hearts and we have been so heavily rewarded. The moms and dads who allow us to be a part of their life-changing journey of parenthood have our utmost respect and admiration. The love for these little ones is often palpable and I just love that I am allowed to witness it in such an intimate way.

Visit us at 4DMoments.com and check us out on Facebook because we are always running specials and we give away two free ultrasounds every month on our page. Call 269-384-BABY(2229) with any questions or to make an appointment. Come see your baby blossom!

3D Photo Credits: 4D Moments

 

Trusted birth team

Your Trusted Birth Team

We all know that becoming a parent is difficult, but most first time parents don’t really have a full understanding of how hard it will be until they’re in the midst of it. They may encounter fertility struggles or miscarriages; they realize that planning during pregnancy takes a lot of work; they have to find an OB or midwife they trust; they may hire a doula; and it takes time for new parents to put a postpartum support network in place.

Add on to that the stressors of guilt, living up to “social media standards”, unwanted advice from friends and family, fear of failure, and lack of confidence. It’s overwhelming and can leave parents feeling defeated before they even begin.

With information at our fingertips, how do we discern what’s evidence-based and what’s junk? What’s worth worrying about and what’s not? How does a parent today make an informed decision?

Luckily, our West Michigan families have so many great health care professionals to choose from and tons of options for support. We’re going to tell you how to begin this journey on the right path so you don’t go through this alone. If you are supported by a trusted team throughout, you are more likely to have a positive birth experience.

Let’s talk about some myths. It’s important to talk about the misconceptions the public has on every area of the support team. Let’s debunk those!

Doula Myth #1: Doulas only support home births.
At Gold Coast Doulas, over 80 percent of our births happen in a hospital. Our clients are seeking professional, experienced doula support in the hospital setting.

Doula Myth #2: Doulas only support parents who want an all-natural delivery.
Gold Coast Doulas supports any birth and respects all birth preferences.

Doula Myth #3: Doulas catch babies.
Definitely not! We are not a replacement for any medical staff, we are an added member of your birth team, there to offer informational, emotional, and physical support throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Doula Myth #4: Doulas only offer birth support.
We have antepartum doulas that offer support for mothers on bed rest, are high-risk, or for any reason need additional help while pregnant. We also have postpartum doulas that support families once a baby, or babies arrive. They offer in-home care, day and overnight. They are like a night nanny and infant care specialist rolled into one!

Hospital Birth Myth #1: You can’t have an unmedicated birth in a hospital.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of our birth clients prefer an unmedicated birth in the safety of a hospital setting. Our West Michigan hospitals have many different options for a laboring person.

Hospital Birth Myth #2: An induction leads to a cesarean.
This is not always the case. In many cases, labor induction leads to a successful vaginal birth.

Hospital Birth Myth #3: You can’t move around during labor. 
As long as you don’t have an epidural, movement is encouraged. Even with an epidural, there are many possible position changes in bed that your birth doula can help you with. You won’t be lying on your back the entire time. Most hospitals have walking monitors for those who wish to move around during labor.

Midwife Myth #1: Midwives only support home births.
We have many local midwives that do support home births, one midwife that delivers in a birth house, and there are plenty of Certified Nurse Midwives that practice in hospitals! There are midwives in West Michigan for any kind of birth preference you have.

Midwife Myth #2: Midwives only support women during pregnancy and birth. 
Many midwives also offer well-woman care (annual exams).

OB Myth #1: They aren’t supportive of vaginal births after cesareans (VBAC) and it’s best to attempt one at home. 
This is often based on the hospital’s policy rather than preference of the doctor. Many hospitals are supportive of VBACs.

OB Myth #2: They do not work with doulas.
This is not the case. Many of our clients see an Obstetrician and most are very comfortable with professional doulas. Our team is always willing to accompany clients to a prenatal appointment if the provider is not comfortable with working with a doula.

OB Myth #3: They don’t like birth plans.
While this may be partially true just because many “birth plans” are eight pages long. Many things patients put on their birth plan are already protocol at most hospitals (skin to skin, delayed newborn procedures, etc). Knowing that providers have to see many patients in one day, it’s important to keep in mind that they cannot read through an eight page plan. Give them the information that is specific to you. “I want dimmed lights and music.” “I don’t want to be touched when I’m laboring.”

Millennials are over 80 percent of the pregnant population right now and they want answers! They want a relationship, and they want a team they can trust. Our parents and grandparents had one doctor who did everything. They trusted anything the doctor said and definitely didn’t go searching for answers on their own.

Medical care is different today, and families expect a different approach to their healthcare. Oftentimes they don’t even realize they need something more until they are expecting a child. It’s probably one of the biggest unknowns to ever happen in someone’s life. Having a trusted team by your side through the entire process can relieve the stress, pressure, and oftentimes unnecessary anxiety that comes with planning and preparing for pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

If you are pregnant or even just thinking about starting or growing your family soon, reach out to us. We can offer local resources and our doulas are here to be your guides when you are ready.

In the meantime, here are some trusted online sources we recommend. Try your hardest not to get information from individuals online (mom groups, Facebook, etc)!

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

March of Dimes

Evidence Based Birth

 

Budgeting for a doula

How To Pay For Your Doula

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gold Coast Doulas Team

Response to Article About Illinois Doula That Suppored an Unassisted Homebirth

There has been a lot of talk in the birth community lately about the recent case of the doula who pled guilty after attending an unassisted homebirth where the baby died. Our team is saddened for the family and for the doula community as a whole. Birth doulas do not take on a medical role, period. We offer emotional, physical, and informational support. Nothing more, nothing less.

Gold Coast Doulas works hard to maintain firm boundaries with clients. We never attend unassisted births. If we are supporting a homebirth before a midwife makes it, or are at the client’s home before heading to the hospital, our clients know we will not “catch the baby”. Our clients are informed at the prenatal that we will call 9-1-1 and will follow instructions. We don’t even try to read the monitor at the hospital. We aren’t trained to do that. 

We carry professional liability insurance for the agency and we stay within our scope of practice.  We are not trained to deliver babies or to offer medical advice to the birthing parent. We are your support team not a nurse, doctor, or midwife. We have so much respect for medical providers and the work they do; we would never assume we are able to diagnose or take on a medical role. We love working as a team with other care providers during labor and delivery.  

The doula who was convicted in this case presented herself as a certified birth doula and a certified Bradley Method instructor. She does not hold either of those certifications. You can trust that our certified doulas maintain their certifications including CPR and AED. We are always focused on continuing education and growing our skills as birth doulas.  We wear name tags with our credentials on them during births and meetings so medical professionals know who we are. Our pre-certified doulas have two years to complete certification requirements or they need to leave our team. Professionalism matters to us and it matters to our clients.    

Most doula trainings range from two to four days in length and take up to 2 years to complete. Doulas have readings, essays, an exam, and client and medical provider evaluations as part of their certification requirements. Many birth doulas also take a full breastfeeding class and a childbirth class. Not all doulas who practice in the community choose to certify or have even attended a formal training. At Gold Coast Doulas we know training and certification matter and allow us to better support our clients with experience and professionalism.

What we will promise our clients is that we will be honest and trustworthy. We will always work within our scope of practice. We will refer medical questions to medical providers. Gold Coast Doulas will support you without judgment through your pregnancy, birth, and immediately postpartum. You can count on us to do the right thing because it matters and so do you.  

 

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: info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  You can always find us online, on Facebook, and on Instagram.  Thanks, Amber.

Amber:  Thank you.

Real Food for Pregnancy

5 Research-Backed Strategies to Reduce Your Risk of Preeclampsia

If you’ve done any reading on preeclampsia, we’re probably in agreement that it’s a diagnosis that no woman wants to get. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that affects up to 10% of expecting mamas. It involves high protein levels in the urine and swelling (edema) in addition to high blood pressure. Ultimately, these symptoms can affect blood flow and nutrient transfer to your baby and risk of other complications, including preterm birth.

There’s been extensive research into the origins of high blood pressure and preeclampsia and researchers still don’t have perfectly clear answers on how to prevent or treat it. There is more than one cause of high blood pressure and not all cases can be prevented or managed with lifestyle choices, however there are some evidence based lifestyle choices that can help. This article will review 5 research-backed strategies to reduce your risk of preeclampsia.

1) Consume adequate salt & electrolytes 

Contrary to conventional advice, reducing your salt intake often does not lower blood pressure and it also does not reduce the risk of preeclampsia. Advice to lower your salt intake is outdated and unfounded advice. A Cochrane review, which is a highly respected source for evidence-based advice, concluded that advice to lower salt intake in pregnancy should no longer be recommended. Salt is vital to many functions in your body and is even more important in pregnancy when electrolyte needs increase (salt is an electrolyte).

As early as 1958, in a study of over 2,000 women, researchers noted lower levels of preeclampsia in women who consumed higher levels of salt. In addition, they observed a reduction in blood pressure and edema (swelling) in women when additional salt was added to their diets. In light of this information, these researchers advised women with signs of preeclampsia to “measure out each morning four heaped teaspoonfuls of table salt and to see that by night they had taken all of it.” This resulted in “spontaneous recovery” from preeclampsia (called toxemia in this era) for the majority of the women. They noted that “The extra dose of salt had to be taken up to the time of delivery; otherwise the symptoms of toxemia recurred,” which suggests that salt was indeed playing a crucial role in treating their condition.

Recent studies have replicated this finding, noting that higher salt intake during pregnancy lowers blood pressure and lessens the severity of preeclampsia. In addition, a 2014 study concluded that “Extra salt in the diet seems to be essential for the health of a pregnant woman, her fetus, placental development, and appropriate function.”

In short, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids and liberally salting your foods.

2) Eat a lower-carb, low-glycemic diet.

If salt doesn’t raise your blood pressure, what does? It turns out that excessive intake of carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates and added sugar, is a primary driver of increased blood pressure. In one study of over 33,000 pregnant women, those who consumed the most added sugars were the most likely to develop preeclampsia. In addition, research has shown that a lower carbohydrate diet tends to reduce the severity of high blood pressure.

If you want to lower your chances of developing preeclampsia, it’s wise to be proactive about your food choices and switch to a lower-carb, low-glycemic diet. A low-carb, nutrient-dense diet during pregnancy supports better blood sugar regulation and ensures the optimal development of your baby. This does not mean all carbohydrates need to be eliminated from your diet, just that their intake should be carefully balanced with other foods (such as foods high in protein & fats as well as plenty of vegetables) to minimize spikes in blood sugar. It’s also wise to choose the most nutrient dense carbohydrates (those found in whole foods) while avoiding processed, refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates that have been “refined” are those that have been processed heavily, most often to remove fiber and/or be turned into flour or starch. For example, whole wheat can be refined into white flour and whole corn can be refined into corn starch.

Refined carbohydrates to limit:

White flour products (e.g., pasta, bread, tortillas, pancakes, crackers, cereals, granola, etc.)
Sugar (added or naturally occurring)
Sweet drinks (including soda and juice)

3) Consume adequate amounts of protein, especially glycine-rich sources of protein.

Protein intake is especially important when it comes to maintaining normal blood pressure. Your entire cardiovascular system is under a tremendous amount of stress during pregnancy, as it has to cope with higher levels of fluids, hormonal shifts, and expanding blood vessels.

Protein-rich foods supply the raw materials to help your body meet these demands, so it’s no surprise that low protein intake is a risk factor for developing preeclampsia. One amino acid, called glycine, can be especially helpful for regulating blood pressure. Glycine needs increase dramatically during pregnancy. One of the functions of glycine is in the production of elastin, a structural protein that allows your blood vessels to expand and contract.

Glycine is also protective against oxidative stress, a hallmark of preeclampsia, and glycine has been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in studies.  Women with preeclampsia excrete less glycine in their urine, suggesting increased demands for glycine and/or depleted maternal stores.  The best sources of glycine are the connective tissues, skin, and bones of animal foods, like you consume when you eat bone broth, slow-cooked meat (like pot roast and stews), chicken with the skin, pork cracklings (fried pork skin), and collagen or gelatin powder.

4) Consider supplementing with magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency is quite common. In fact, according to recent estimates, 48% of Americans consume inadequate magnesium from food. Magnesium deficiency is even more common during pregnancy, and research has found that magnesium depletion, especially in the presence of calcium excess, can predispose women to vascular complications of pregnancy (such as preeclampsia). Women with gestational diabetes are also commonly deficient in magnesium—and gestational diabetes is linked to a higher risk for developing preeclampsia.

Your best food sources of magnesium are seaweed, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews, chia seeds, avocados, unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark chocolate), bone broth, and green herbs including chives, cilantro, parsley, mint, dill, sage, and basil. You can also absorb a significant amount of magnesium through your skin by taking Epsom salt baths or foot soaks (Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate).

5) Ensure you consume enough choline.

Finally, choline is another nutrient that may protect against preeclampsia. It appears that choline plays a role in placental function and may enhance the transfer of nutrients to your baby, a process that’s disrupted in preeclampsia.

In both animal and human studies, supplementation with choline reduces placental inflammation and helps prevents preeclampsia. For example, supplementing pregnant women with high amounts of choline in the second and third trimester (930 mg, which is roughly double the current recommended intake) has been shown to improve vascular function of the placenta and “mitigate some of the pathological antecedents of preeclampsia.” Theoretically, this makes a lot of sense. The placenta shares a lot of similar functions to the liver and choline is particularly protective to liver function.

Consumption of foods that provide high amounts of choline, namely egg yolks and liver, also supply a variety of micronutrients that are anti-inflammatory. If you’re not already doing so, incorporate these two nutrient-dense foods into your diet.

Summary

I want to reiterate that although you can do “all the right things” to reduce your chances of complications, sometimes they are out of your control. This advice may stack the deck in your favor, however there is no 100% proven way to avoid any or all complications. If your blood pressure does go up during pregnancy or you get a diagnosis for preeclampsia, its wise to work with an experience medical provider to determine the underlying cause and get you appropriate treatment, which may include lifestyle changes and/or medication.

In her latest book – Real Food for Pregnancy – Lily Nichols takes prenatal nutrition advice out of the dark ages and provides an easy-to-follow guide for making the best food and lifestyle choices during pregnancy.

In Real Food for Pregnancy, you’ll get clear answers on what to eat and why, with research to back up every recommendation. Lily Nichols has taken a long and hard look at the science and lays out the evidence—930 citations and counting—on the benefits of real food, why certain foods are essential (and others are detrimental), and countless lifestyle tweaks you can make to have a smooth, healthy pregnancy.

The short version of what is covered in the book:

• In Real Food for Pregnancy Lily Nichol’s debunks a LOT of prenatal nutrition myths. Most prenatal nutrition advice is either outdated or not evidenced-based. Misconceptions of conventional prenatal nutrition: macronutrients, salt, “foods to avoid,” fish, etc.

• Foods to emphasize, lab tests, supplements

• Testing for gestational diabetes—pros/cons of all the methods

• Nutritional management of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, nausea, heartburn & more

• Mindfulness, stress management, exercise, avoidance of toxins

• Traditional postpartum care, impact of nutrients on breast milk quality, etc.

There has never been a more comprehensive and well-referenced resource on prenatal nutrition. With Real Food for Pregnancy as your guide, you can be confident that your food and lifestyle choices support a smooth, healthy pregnancy.

 

Check out our BECOMING A Mother course! It’s a self-paced, online series to help reduce fear and gain confidence in pregnancy, birth, and early parenting. With recorded video lessons, monthly live chats, and a supportive FaceBook community – it’s everything we wish we would have known before we had our babies! We’d love to see you there!

Kristin & Alyssa

What Readers are Saying: 

“I’m so thrilled to read Real Food for Pregnancy. I absolutely love Lily’s work. Her evidence-based approach to nutrition is not only relevant during pregnancy, but for the rest of your life! I think every birth professional (midwife, doula, etc.) should have a copy in their lending library for clients.” —Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, Founder of Evidence Based Birth®

“As a midwife, this book will be on my must-read list for every pregnant person I know.” —Tracy Donegan, Midwife & Founder of GentleBirth

“Real Food for Pregnancy should be considered essential reading for any woman who is currently pregnant or planning conception in the near future.” —Amit Bhavsar, MD, Board certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist 

“Lily Nichols has written a must-read for any woman or health professional interested in prenatal nutrition. During my first pregnancy I felt like I spent hours upon hours trying to research all of the information that is summed up beautifully in Real Food for Pregnancy. Lily questions conventional wisdom and offers new and practical, science-based recommendations to support optimal health for both mom and baby. I hope this book will inspire change in current prenatal nutrition guidelines.” —Shannon Weston, MPH, RD, LD, CDE, Houston, TX

“As a practicing CNM (midwife) for almost 30 years, I am thrilled to have found Lily’s writing and expertise. Real Food for Pregnancy is one that we’ll keep in stock at our clinic and will teach from during our early pregnancy classes. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the vitamins and minerals and how to get them from food. In my experience, too many people believe that prenatal vitamins will solve all of their problems or will guarantee the health of the baby.” —Cheryl Heitkamp, APRN, CNM, President of Willow Midwives in Minneapolis, MN

About the Author:

Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Drawing from the current scientific literature and the wisdom of traditional cultures, her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and sensible. Her bestselling book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes (and online course of the same name), presents a revolutionary nutrient-dense, lower carb diet for managing gestational diabetes. Her unique approach has not only helped tens of thousands of women manage their gestational diabetes (most without the need for blood sugar-lowering medication), but has also influenced nutrition policies internationally.

Lily’s second book, Real Food for Pregnancy, is an evidence-based look at the gap between conventional prenatal nutrition guidelines and what’s optimal for mother and baby. With over 930 citations, this is the most comprehensive text on prenatal nutrition to date.

Lily is also creator of the popular blog, www.PilatesNutritionist.com, which explores a variety of topics related to real food, mindful eating, and pregnancy nutrition.

To learn more, go to http://realfoodforpregnancy.com/

 

Gold Coast Doulas is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

 

Stillbirth

Lessons from Tahlequah

Thank you, Ashley, for writing this lovely article about loss and bereavement.

Many of us have seen the article circulating by now about Tahlequah, the mother orca that carried around the body of her calf for upwards of two weeks. This documented, circulating story has struck a chord in many, and for many different reasons. Most obvious, we can all relate to the pains of grief and loss in some way or another, and all our hearts break for this mother. The article and photos I’ve seen circulating have stirred within me for days, as I feel compelled to share the significance of this occurrence.

Infant loss for all mammals, is a daily occurrence, including humans, yet, we don’t hear about it. And if we do hear about it, we certainly don’t want to discuss it as infant loss if so intensely painful. It’s hard to express in words. I have not personally experienced infant loss, but I have come close to many who have. I am a certified bereavement doula with Stillbirthday.com. I have come alongside grieving families as they’ve birthed their baby sleeping, and done my best through training to provide the safe space for them that they so desperately yearn for and deserve. When you read the article, you see that Tahlequah‘s whole family came around her and supported her. They fed her. They took turns holding the baby when she needed a break. This is what infant loss support should look like. It’s breathtaking.

With every family I’ve volunteered to come alongside when their baby was born sleeping, my focus is always on them doing everything they want and need to have time with their baby. If they’re nervous, I encourage them to hold the baby. Talk to baby. Sing. Dress them. Rock them. Cuddle them. And especially, take photos. While all of that can be excruciatingly painful to do, they only get that one chance.

My heart longs to tell you, wether you’re a family going through this or know someone going through infant loss: don’t let fear hold you back from grieving with your baby in your arms. This baby is yours, and you deserve every minute, every hour you so desire with your child. If you’re a loved one, encourage them. Hold the baby yourself. Love this child while you still can through touch, and long after they leave your arms. Look into certified bereavement doulas to help support a family in need, even last minute. Many of us do this work pro-bono. It’s a scary thing to face these fears of such unknown and deep pain, but this orca Momma has shown the world that it’s natural and important.

To all that have lost, I see you. Don’t be afraid to keep talking about your baby. It may help someone who will face this down the road to have the courage to cherish the limited time they’ll have with their baby in arms. Get connected. Give yourself grace, and know you have a community, even with Tahlequah.

Photo credit: Jenny’s Childbirth Services offering free stillbirth photography to grieving families

 

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 www.risewellnesschiro.com, 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 goldcoastdoulas.com.  Email us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and of course, iTunes.  Talk to you next time.

rise wellness chiropractic

Podcast Episode #31: Rise Wellness Chiropractic

Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness Chiropractic in Grand Rapids talk about their approach to helping mothers and babies, as well as how and why they decided to start their own practice.  You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and post-partum doula at Gold Coast.  Today, I’m so excited to be talking to Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness.  Hello, ladies.  I want of hear about your new business venture together, Rise Wellness.  We knew you when you worked for a different chiropractor’s office, and what made you both kind of venture out on this alone?

Well, we worked together, so when you work for another chiropractor, you’re kind of under their whole umbrella of their philosophy, their vision, which works for a while until you get to a point when you’re like, this isn’t my philosophy and vision, and there’s other ways I want to help people.  And so we talked about it, and we’re like, let’s open our own.

Yeah.

And we talked to you.  You were like, I got a great space for you.

Yeah, I did.  We’re neighbors.  We’re both in East Town now.

Yeah, it definitely helped facilitate that once Dr. Rachel went on maternity leave to have her twins.  We kind of changed our whole philosophy and our focus to wanting to work more with pregnant moms and babies, too, and we realized that was a huge subset of the population that wasn’t receiving the care that we felt like they needed.  So that’s where we wanted to focus.

Now, most people would get pregnant, and especially pregnant with twins, and not say, “Hey, let’s quit my job and start my own business right when I have these twins.”

It just seemed right.

But you did, and how did that work?  I mean, I know you said timing-wise, it worked because you went on maternity leave and then –

Yeah, I just never went back.

Like, you’re done.

Yeah, it worked out well for that.  I mean, I’m lucky I had Dr. Annie as a partner because she honestly did a lot of it.  And I’m lucky I have a husband that has an MBA and knows how to set up a business and has an accountant.  It really wasn’t that difficult, and it worked out for, like, how am I going to be a mom still but still work and do what I love doing.  And when you work for someone, I really didn’t have the option of working my own hours.  So it just made sense; I’m going to go do my own thing now.

Yeah, that was a big driver for us.

Yeah, that was a big driver.  Okay, I can work the hours I want to work, but I can still stay at home with the girls when I want to be home with them.

And you are my chiropractor, so I’m in your office quite a bit.  And I loved that you have a dresser filled with diapers.  And it’s not just because you have a lot of babies in there, but tell me what you said, Dr. Annie, when I was like, oh, why do you have all these diapers?

Oh, accidental blow-outs.  So after babies get adjusted, their nervous systems are working better, and so their digestion sometimes kicks on right after an adjustment.  And we just want to be prepared and have a space for moms so they don’t have to rush home or rush to the bathroom or anything.  It’s like we can just be available right there and make it easy.  We have a diaper genie, so you don’t have to worry about it stinking up the office or anything.

Yeah, it’s a very baby-friendly space.

Yeah, we want to be accessible and available for everyone who wants to come in, especially moms with kids and stuff.  We know that can sometimes be hectic and messy, and we want to make it as safe an environment for them as possible.

Yeah, I brought my five-year-old in with me last time, and she of course loved the coloring books and the dolls.

Oh, did she come in?

She did, yeah.  She missed you.  I’ll have to bring her in again.

I had my girls in on Saturday, and of course they pooped while we were there.

Which is another nice thing about owning your own space, right?  You owning your business; if you need to bring your daughters in, who’s going to yell at you?

Annie, I guess.  No, just joking.

I would never yell about having them in there!

Tell me about the different approach.  So you were NUCCA chiropractors before, and now you’re doing something completely different.  Can you tell me about what you’re doing now?

Yeah, so we’re definitely focused more on pediatrics and pregnancy care.  We still see everybody, but that’s where we definitely wanted to focus, and we’re both doing additional training in that.  Before we were at an upper cervical practice, which is the top bones of the spine, so we were focused on that.  And we just had a little different philosophy.  We felt like the whole spine was just as important, so we wanted to take what we had learned from the practice that we were at and still say, okay, this is really important, but we’re also going to focus on other areas of the spine and see where changes need to be made there, as well.  So now we’re scanning and checking everything and making sure that everything is lined up and working the way it’s supposed to.

Yeah, with kids and moms and stuff, kids definitely – it’s important to pay attention to the upper cervical area because a lot of things can happen there from birth trauma, but there’s also a lot of things that show up in other areas of the spine, too, especially in kids as they’re starting to pull themselves up and falling down on their butts.  The sacrum is going to be a big one that we’re going to be checking, too, especially if there’s any digestive issues or things like that.

Plus with NUCCA, it was very structural-based.  Like, what’s the structure of the spine.  It’s here; we want it here.  And you had to x-ray.  And obviously you’re not going to be x-raying pregnant women, and with children, you don’t really want to x-ray as often, either.  So there just had to be a different approach, and we use a different exam and we checked the functionality of the nervous system to really look at how is your body functioning?  Not just, well, are you in pain; are your legs level?  It’s like, is your nervous system functioning at its optimum?

Right.  I mean, structure is great.  Posture is great.  A lot of chiropractors use that, but we definitely wanted to take more of a functional approach and say, like, okay, we can actually look at how your nervous system is functioning, how your body’s adapting, how your body’s developing and growing, and saying, we can make that better?  And that to us is more important than is your posture perfect or is your head sitting right on top of your shoulders.  That’s really important too, but if we can actually dive into the nervous system and see how your body’s functioning and adapting, that seems way more powerful and way more –

That’s what changes lives.  It’s not like, oh, my head is –

Yeah, exactly.  At least I look good with my good posture, but is your body functioning right?

So tell people about the scans.  I had never seen anything quite like that, and when you did that to me – do you do that to kids too, the same thing?

Yeah, so that’s relatively new in chiropractic, those scans are.  And it’s really cool.  So we look at thermography, which is the temperature of the back, so we run it along the spine and see what the temperature differences are.

And to let people know, it’s like a tiny little handheld thing with rollers, right?  Is it rollers that I felt, up and down my spine?

Yeah, and then the EMG, which is electromyography.  That’s measuring the energy that the muscles are using to hold you up, so it’s measuring the electricity there.  And that one is just like sensors that go along your spine, as well, at different levels.  And then we do HRV, which is heartrate variability, so kind of similar to measuring your heartrate with a fitness monitor; this is looking at variations in that heartrate.  That’s been used in medical research and literature as a longevity outcome measure, too, so it really shows us how your body’s functioning and how it’s adapting and how your overall health and well-being is.

I’m going to live forever.

You are!  Yours is the best we’ve seen!  It’s better than Dr. Annie’s.

Well, I just – you know, we just opened a practice!

Yeah, it was a really interesting process.  I guess I didn’t really know what I was getting into when you did it, but it was really cool to see the different levels.

Yeah, and the cool thing is when we do those scans, it’s not putting anything into the body.  It’s just measuring what your body’s already doing, so there isn’t any radiation or anything like that.  And that was something that we really liked about doing this approach, more so than taking x-rays.

A pregnant mom can do it.  What about a baby?

Yeah, babies – I mean, it’s difficult, but you can.  It’s just my girls are so squirmy.  So they’re a little more –

Yeah, so thermography’s the easiest thing to do on an infant or on a child.  EMG is a little harder because they have to hold still because, again, you’re measuring what the muscles are doing.  And then for the HRV, instead of putting their hand on the reader, there’s an ear clip that we can use.  So sometimes they don’t like that either, but we just get as much information as we can so we can make the best clinical decisions.

Well, we’re so excited to have you next to us.  It just makes so much sense.

It’s a match made in heaven, right?

Yeah, we’re excited, too.

We know; we happen to know pregnant women.  You can help them.  So what would you like people to know about your practice?

I’m Webster-certified now, and I’ve gone through all of the modules for the full pediatric certification.  I’m just working through my exam right now, so by the end of the summer, I will be fully specialized in pediatrics and pregnancy care, too.  I think there’s maybe two others in Kent County or something like that, so that’s –

Not many.

Yeah, within the city of Grand Rapids, I’ll be the only one, which is just – I think it’s awesome, and I’m excited that I get to specialize in that and work with pregnant moms and kids because it’s so much fun to see those changes in their development and stuff.

Yeah, and kids love it.  Once they start getting adjusted, they know it makes them feel good.  They can tell, and they love it.

And pregnant women, too.

I wouldn’t have made it through my pregnancy.  Guaranteed, I would not have made it through if not –

As long as you did.   I mean, you did amazing.  You went, what, 38?

Almost 39 weeks, yeah.

Almost 39 weeks!  And then gave birth to two eight-and-a-half pound babies!  You did a really good job!

Yeah, and I worked out until about the end there.

And what pregnant mom doesn’t want an easier pregnancy and a quicker, easier labor?

Right.  Well, and I know from my daughter’s perspective, she doesn’t like the cracking kind of chiropractic.  That scares little kids, so yours is very gentle.

It scares a lot of adults too, yeah.  So we use a really kind of unique adjusting tool.  I don’t think a lot of people around here use it.  It’s called an activator.  We have a couple other adjusting tools that we use, but they’re so easy and it’s just really easy for the body to take.  And it’s, again, no twisting.

Yeah, really gentle; really specific.

So if you had to tell a parent who’s never had chiropractic care, if you had to tell them one thing, either about their bodies or their kids’, what do you think people are missing out on?

Optimal health.

Optimal health, yeah.  I mean, that you really – what is that saying?  You live your life through your nervous system.  I mean, your nervous system controls everything.  Everyone thinks chiropractors and they think bones; they think cracking; they think neck pain; they think back pain.  Those are a small piece of it, and the results you get from chiropractic care, like you feel better, but really, we’re dealing with the nervous system, and the nervous system controls everything; everything that goes on in our body.

Yeah, well, and it’s sensation for everything, too, so everything that we perceive in our environment, the way kids – they have tactile exercises and stuff like that for kids, so they want tactile toys and they want a lot of colors.  All of that sensation is helping their neurodevelopment, so that’s every sensation that you have, every emotion that you have, every experience that you have, is all run through your nervous system, and then your body takes that information and decides what to do with it, and then that’s your response to it, too.  So really your entire life experience is run through your nervous system.

And so what chiropractic really does is we remove any interference that might be from the outside world to how you’re interpreting –

In that communicating system.

So we remove it through adjusting the spine and so you really can just live optimally, then.  Your body can function optimally.

In the very, very most basic form, like, our brains run our body, right?

Yep.

And that’s the center for the nervous system?

Absolutely.

It’s where all the nerves come down, and if like you said, everything from a traumatic childbirth to some neck injury from walking and falling on their bums, to 18-year-olds – you know, like how many times did I fall snowboarding?  Who know what I did to my body, right?  All those little tweaks adjust how your nerves —

How your brain’s communicating with your body.   But not just that, but also toxins that we take in or being really stressed out.  That’s also going to show up in your nervous system, so not just trauma.  We call it the three Ts in chiropractic: toxins, trauma, and thoughts, yeah, are causes of subluxation, and so that’s what chiropractors specialize in is removing that interference and restoring that normal communication in the body.

Very well put. 

You can tell we’re pretty passionate about what we do!

Well, you guys should come check out their space.  So they are just a couple doors down from us in the Kingsley Building.  We’re in East Town.  The offices are on the second floor.  You guys are in Suite 201.  Would somebody – if they just wanted to drop in and say hi?  Because you’re there —

Yeah, please.  They can come check out the giraffe table, yeah.

Please stop in.

We’ve got LaCroix and bottled water, coffee.  Come hang out.

And then if they don’t want to stop in, tell people how to find you.

So our website is www.risewellnesschiro.com.  We’re also on Facebook and Instagram at Rise Wellness Chiro, or you can call us.  Or phone number is 616-258-8480.  Otherwise, wave to us on the street.  I usually walk to work, so you’ve probably seen me in my Rise and Shine shirt.

We wear our shirts all the time.

I’ll get a picture of you in your shirts.  Awesome.  Well, thank you both for being here.  I love what you’re doing.

Thank you for having us.

Thank you, yeah.

And as always, you can find us on our website, www.goldcoastdoulas.com, and we are also on Facebook and Instagram.  You can listen to our podcasts on SoundCloud and iTunes.  Thanks.  Remember, these moments are golden.

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 info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  And you can find us on our website, www.goldcoastdoulas.com; Facebook, Instagram, and then obviously you can listen to our podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.  Thanks again, Amber.

Amber:  Thank you.

Hiring a doula

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

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

 

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

Ashton:  Hello.

Amber:  Hi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  Stay away from Google!

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

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

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

cesarean birth

Podcast Episode #21: Supporting a Cesarean Birth

April is C-section Awareness Month!  On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa and Ashley talk about how birth doulas provide support during a Cesarean section delivery.  You can listen to the full podcast episode on iTunes or Soundcloud.

 

Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa, co-owner and postpartum doula, and we have Ashley Forton with us again today.

Ashley:  Hi.

Alyssa:  And today the question is, how does a birth doula support my Cesarean birth?  And I think that’s a really good question because everyone thinks of a doula’s support during a normal – I don’t want to say normal, but the typical vaginal delivery.  And what if someone has a planned C-section, or what if they want a vaginal delivery and end up with Cesarean birth?  In their mind, they’re saying, “I had all these ideas about what you do; I paid this money, and now I’m having surgery.”  How do you support that?

Ashley:  Yeah!  So, plans change; birth is unpredictable.  Sometimes we do have clients that have a planned Cesarean and still see the value in our support.  So we can talk about it two different ways.  When you have a planned Cesarean, whenever you hire us during your pregnancy, we’re still there for emotional and informational support throughout the pregnancy, so that can be really valuable.  We can also help you come up with a birth preferences or a birth plan for your Cesarean.

Alyssa:  What does that look like?

Ashley:  When most people think of a birth plan, they think of a labor and vaginal birth, but it still applies to a Cesarean.  You still have choices, and you can still kind of customize your experience.  So we always talk about a birth plan being a starting point for a conversation with your provider, but you can certainly talk to your provider about, is a pass-through drape an option?  Or even a see-through drape?  Is there a clear drape so that I can see my baby emerging, if that’s something that you’re interested in?  Letting them know if you want to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby right away; is that possible?  Have that conversation.  Talking about, hey, can I pick the music that’s playing in the room?  I’ve got this song in my head that I really wanted to play when my baby is born.  Hey, I want to read this poem to my baby as soon as my baby’s born.  You can still do a lot of these personal things.  Talk to the provider about who you’d like to have in the room.  As doulas, sometimes we’re allowed in the OR; sometimes we’re not.  But letting your preferences be known and saying, he, I have a birth doula, and I’d really like them to be in the OR with me.  Have that conversation with your provider.  As a birth doulas, I have been in the OR, but I haven’t been in every single time.  So it’s always worth asking and having that conversation.  So you can talk about who is in that OR with you; you can talk about what happens immediately afterwards.  Hey, I’d like my birth doula in the recovery room with me.  You can talk about all these different preferences when you have it planned ahead of time.  It’s kind of nice to come up with a game plan before going in, whereas when you’re having a physiological birth, you’re going in for a vaginal birth, and then plans change.  Something happens with you; something happens with baby, or you change your mind, and you go in for Cesarean.  Sometimes you don’t have that time to plan ahead and say, hey, this is how I wanted my Cesarean to go.  So sometimes, it’s nice to have that birth plan already written up just in case.  And the way that we support – so let’s say we’re having a planned Cesarean and the birth doula is not allowed in the OR.

Alyssa:  Who is that up to, normally?

Ashley:  That’s up to the anesthesiologist at the hospital, so they make the final call.  So it’s usually a good idea to ask your OB, let them know if that’s something that you want, and then when you see the anesthesiologist, make sure you talk to them about it because they get the final say at most hospitals.

Alyssa:  And I think it’s huge to at least ask because I say the same thing to clients who wonder if their insurance covers this.  The more we ask, the more they keep hearing this word doula, it will maybe someday be covered by insurance, and it will maybe someday be a norm to have a doula in the OR.  So ask!  Keep mentioning it!

Ashley:  Absolutely.  Because you are the consumer; you’re a customer.  You are a paying customer, and we know that customer’s voices are important.  Hospitals pay attention to those surveys.  We know that.  So make sure that you make your desires known, and if it’s not an option, let them know in the survey.  “Hey, this is something I wanted; it wasn’t an option for me.”

Alyssa:  So if you’re not allowed in, what happens?

Ashley:  So what happens if we’re not allowed in is we go to the hospital with you the morning of.  I’ve had some really fun times hanging out with clients ahead of their Cesarean, you know, just having fun, telling jokes, making sure they’re comfortable and feeling good about what’s happening; making sure they feel safe and secure and being there for any emotional needs that they may have during that time, and then when they go back for their Cesarean, I’m in the waiting room.  So I’m there the whole time, and whenever possible, I go back into the recovery room as soon as they’re out of surgery.  So what that looks like just depends on the hospital and what their policy is, but if I can go back into recovery, then Dad is there to support the mom, as well, and I’m there to help with breastfeeding, if they want to breastfeed; to see how they’re doing physically and emotionally; how do you feel right now, after that?  And spend some time with them there.  If I’m not allowed in recovery, then I meet them up in their room.  As soon as they’re settled in their room, we still have that few hours of time together to process things emotionally and talk about how you’re feeling physically.  Is there anything that I can get for you right now?  Can I go get you some extra water?  Something simple like that, but most of the time it’s more emotional; helping them process what’s going on; asking questions about breastfeeding.  As birth doulas, we are trained to support breastfeeding, so we want to make sure that you get a good comfortable latch the first time.  If there’s something tricky going on, we’ll help you get set up with a lactation consultant and make sure that you make that connection.  We’ll get you the resources that you need.  If all of a sudden there’s a medical concern for you or baby, we’ll make sure that you’ve got the information that you want or need.  If it’s out of our scope, if it’s clinical or medical, we’re going to make sure that you know who to talk to.  Hey, talk to your OB; talk to your pediatrician.  Let’s ask your nurse.  We’ll make sure that you’ve got the connections that you need, and if all of a sudden, you’re thinking, shoot, I really feel like I’m going to need some help at home, we can talk to you about how postpartum doulas are an option; let’s talk about that.  Is that something that might be helpful?  So whatever your emotional and physical needs are, we try to address those, and then we still come do a postpartum visit when you’re home and address all those same things again; spend some time together and see how you’re doing because in a week or ten days, a lot changes when you’re home, especially after a Cesarean; you’ve got a lot of healing to do, and we want to make sure that that’s all going smoothly and that you have what you need.

Alyssa:  Thank you for that.  If anyone has further questions about how a birth doula can support either a vaginal delivery or your Cesarean, email us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  Remember, these moments are golden.  Thanks, Ashley.

Ashley:  You’re welcome!