Postpartum depression

Podcast Episode #19: Lisa’s Postpartum Journey

On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa talks with Lisa about her postpartum doula and how having a doula helped with her recovery.  You can listen to the complete podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.



Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase.  I am co-owner and postpartum doula.  Today we are talking to a client, Lisa, again.  Hello, Lisa.

Lisa:  Hello.

Alyssa:  Last time we talked about her and her husband’s struggle with fertility and how that looked for her.  Just to kind of recap, it took them about two and a half years, and then she ended up with an emergency C-section five weeks early.  So we’re going to talk about what her life looked like once she got home.  So Ethan spent five days in NICU, and you said you were ready.   You were ready after that; five days was enough.  Is that because it was scary having a baby in the NICU, or you just wanted to go home?

Lisa:  Everything is very medical and monitored, and it feels – there’s definitely a separation between the natural kind of mother-and-child bonding, I think, that happens in those early hours, those early days.  So for example, when I had the C-section, they wouldn’t actually let me go visit him until I was able to get up out of bed by myself and go to the bathroom.  So I ended up not being able to see him for the first 17 hours.

Alyssa:  You were like, “I will get up and pee by myself!”

Lisa:  If this is the last thing that I do, I am going to get out of this bed and go pee!  Yeah, so, that made me anxious because I was literally sitting in this hospital bed by myself in a room by myself because my husband was with the baby doing skin-to-skin, and I was counting the minutes.  When do I get to go meet him?

Alyssa:  So five days later, you get to bring him home.

Lisa:  Actually, eight days later.   Yeah, we bring him home, and it was so funny because as much as I wanted to leave the NICU, the minute we got home, he wasn’t hooked up to a monitor so you don’t know his oxygen saturation levels; you don’t know his temperature; you don’t know all these things that the machines are telling you.  And I literally was fearful that he was going to die in the middle of the night.  I’m like, “Well, he’s just going to stop breathing, and I’m not going to know because the beeper isn’t going to go off.”  And so then I had this anxiety about not having all of the faculties that you have in the hospital.  But luckily, we knew right from the beginning that – we had a birth doula who played a very different role than what I expected her to play in the beginning.

Alyssa:  Yeah, absolutely.  How did your birth doula end up supporting you with an emergency C-section?

Lisa:  She didn’t make it to the hospital in time because it was – it happened basically in 45 minutes, and so just with the distance, she couldn’t get there, but she sat with me in the room after I recovered for several hours, when I was coming down off the gas and stuff that you get.  Not gas; it’s an injection, but anyway, you know, when you’re really coming out of the stuff that they give you, and that was really helpful.  I’m glad that I wasn’t alone then.  But we knew that we also wanted a postpartum doula.  Neither of us had been around babies very much in our adult life, and we wanted somebody who was an expert with infants that knew the research and the range of – what are the options, when I have a question?  You know, about sleeping or whatever; that would be a great one because we did struggle a lot with sleeping.  What are the different approaches and why, and what are the pros and cons to each?  I talked a lot to my postpartum doula about sleeping and how to encourage sleeping, creating the right environment and all of that.  But otherwise, I didn’t know what I was doing.  I was also recovering from an abdominal surgery, and I just plain needed help, you know?  I was struggling with getting up and down stairs because it was still quite painful.  And so we had a postpartum doula come in every morning from six to nine through the work week and then on the weekends, my husband and I were together, so then we were able to kind of tag-team, and that was obviously different.  And then we also did have several overnight stays.  But even simple things the postpartum doula helped me with was, how do you get up with a new, new baby, at least get yourself in the shower, and eating breakfast, before you’re kind of down on the couch nursing them for the first time or for the first nap during the day?  And I think that would have taken me weeks to figure out.

Alyssa:  To figure out, like if I get up a half an hour early and try to get in the shower…

Lisa:  Yes!  And just a shower and eating before you’re starting the whole rigmarole of the day, especially when you’re breastfeeding, because I was really hungry – that makes a huge difference.

Alyssa:  Well, and most women, especially in the beginning when you feel like you’re nursing all the time –

Lisa:  All the time!

Alyssa:  And you’re so hungry and so thirsty, and then they tell me, well, I don’t have time.  You need to make time.  If you’re not drinking, you’re not eating, your milk supply is just going to start to slowly diminish.

Lisa:  Yeah.  And then I couldn’t do things like go to the grocery store; that was a big challenge, or do any type of meal planning.  So then our postpartum doula – we said, this is the food that we like, and so she basically created some meals, went to the grocery store, brought them back, did some or all of the food prep for the different meals, and that was just life-saving as well.   But mostly I think for me it was a trusted partner.  Like, who can I just ask anything to and it be just fine?  And maybe it’s lack of knowledge for me or just that I don’t know who else to ask this question to.

Alyssa:  Well, it’s overwhelming your first time.  You literally know nothing.  I mean, very little.

Lisa:  I didn’t even know how to swaddle.  I mean, swaddling was a big learning curve for me.  I never really got it tight enough.  In the beginning; I eventually did, but –

Alyssa:  He’d just kind of ninja his way out?

Lisa:  Yes, he did!  Yeah.  This person, this woman, this angel of mine, her name was Kate, and she was wonderful.

Alyssa:  Now, we should mention – we didn’t mention that you lived in Seattle at this point.

Lisa:  Right.

Alyssa:  So you were not in Grand Rapids.  When did you find out you were moving?

Lisa:  When our son was three months old.  He had just turned three months.

Alyssa:  Yeah, because you had just gotten here when he was about four months, right?  So you had a month to prepare.  How was that?

Lisa:  I think I was in a little bit of denial about how much needed to be done.  We decided to spend more money to push the easy button, so we hired movers to actually pack us for the first time as well as do the cross-country move, and that was worth every dime that we spent, even though that is not cheap.  It was really worth it.  And I just focused on my recovery and my baby and the bonding and just let all that other stuff go.

Alyssa:  So then you got here, and you had Judd’s family here.  You have no family here, and your doula in Seattle found me.

Lisa:  Right, so then I was talking to her, and I said, “You know, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I don’t know anybody there.  How am I going to unpack into a new house, meet anybody?”  And she’s like, “Oh, well, let me just do some research.  I’ll do some looking for you today,” and she came back the next day, and she was like, “I found somebody.”  And it was Alyssa.  And I was like, “Perfect!  Perfect!  At least I have a doula that I can totally lean on!”  And that was you, and…

Alyssa:  We met, and the rest is history, right?

Lisa:  The rest is history.  And my husband’s family helped us move into the house, and that was unbelievably healthy.  Healthy?  Helpful!  I still have mom-brain.

Alyssa:  It never goes away.

Lisa:  I transpose these words and then it doesn’t make sense.

Alyssa:  It doesn’t go away.  It’s not pregnancy-brain; it’s mom-brain, for sure.

Lisa:  So at the end of the day, I’m really glad that we moved.  I think it was a really, really hard time.  I think moving may be – if you can wait until your baby is closer to one or something, that might be easier, an easier transition for the mom just because you’re so exhausted in the beginning.  But Grand Rapids is really family-friendly, and I’m just so appreciative of that, and I feel like it’s a good place to raise kids.

Alyssa:  We’re glad you’re here.

Lisa:  I’m glad that we’re here.  And I’m glad to have met you!  Thank goodness for you!

Alyssa:  Yeah, we worked eight months, maybe, seven months?  Off and on; it was a lot in the beginning.

Lisa:  Yeah, until he was about a year, yeah.  At a year, I kind of felt like, oh, the weight of all of being a new mom kind of lifted a little bit for me, and I just felt more confident, I guess.

Alyssa:  Well, and he was gaining so much more independence that it was almost – I remember one day you saying “It’s so great.  He’s sitting up and he’s doing all these things, but he’s not my little baby anymore.”  It was like this – I’m so glad he’s doing this because now he can play by himself for a little bit on the floor and I can actually go sit down and eat or do dishes or something, but you struggled with this.  He’s my baby, but he’s not my little baby anymore, and he’s doing all these other things.  And I think we all struggle with that.  Me, I only have one child, so every phase, every developmental stage, I just – good and bad, I love it.

Lisa:  Because that’s the only one you get.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So I guess that’s a piece of advice I give, especially if you’re only having one –and you may end up trying for more; who knows, but you just – it helps you get through the hard times.  Even the sleepless nights; it’s all temporary because soon he’s going to be eight, right?  He’s not going to want to sleep with you, and he’s not going to want to wake up.  You’re going to have to wake him up!

Lisa:  That’s right.  I can’t even imagine that!  He’s still waking up probably three times, religiously, every night.  But it’s a lot better than what he was.

Alyssa:  You’re getting sleep.

Lisa:  Yeah, I’m getting enough sleep now.  I’m not crazy like I was; sleepless-crazy.  You know, an hour or 45 minutes of continuous sleep, all during the day, if that’s all you get, that is not enough for a person to have their wits about them.  It’s just not.

Alyssa:  No.  I think we’ll talk next time with Lisa about the effects of sleep deprivation and how – you know, a pregnancy journey that doesn’t go as planned along with sleep deprivation and an emergency C-section; all these things; how does that play in your brain.  So stay tuned; we’ll talk next to Lisa about that.  Thank you for sharing today!

Lisa:  Thanks.

Podcast Episode #19: Lisa’s Postpartum Journey Read More »

World Doula Week

World Doula Week 2018

Today’s blog is written by Kristin Revere, Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula and Certified Sacred Postpartum Mother Roaster.

As the end of World Doula Week nears, I feel I must speak my truth.

Before having kids my purpose was to support women in politics. I wanted more voices in office and wanted to run for office myself. I still do. I wanted women to feel confident raising money. I still do. When I was pregnant and busy working on a Governor’s race, I felt a loss of control. I was used to planning everything in life. Birth was something I couldn’t predict; even my pregnancy had twists and turns when I developed pre-eclampsia. I didn’t know what a doula was eight years ago, and I wish I had. The second time around, I did and we hired doulas before anyone even knew I was pregnant.

Why doula? I am a doula because I have the honor of truly seeing women when they are strong and when they are vulnerable. I have the honor of seeing their partners supporting them tenderly. I stand with women who struggle with loss and infertility. I stand with women who make hard choices. I support them, without judgment in their decisions, to prepare for unmedicated births, epidural births, cesarean births. I walk with them when they choose to breastfeed, exclusively pump or bottle feed. I acknowledge them when they choose to stay home, work from home or go back to work. I remind them to surrender and to breathe. I remind them to slow down. I remind my clients that this is only temporary and that they are strong. I still cry after every birth… mostly while sitting in my car. Mostly tears of joy and sometimes the tears are painful. You know those cries when your full body shakes? I have experienced my share of those, as well.

It was five years ago today that I took my family to Virginia for a four-day Sacred Pregnancy Instructor retreat.

That experience changed everything for me. I began to understand how to support women fully. I started teaching classes two weeks after my training. Soon after that, I took a Sacred Postpartum training in Georgia and then a four-day Sacred Doula training in Florida as I was asked to support my students at their births.

I sat in circles with my Sacred Pregnancy students for eight weeks and we were raw and real with each other. We stripped down our layers and expressed our fears and our dreams to each other. I believe that women need to connect with each other in that way. Women desire to feel understood and supported and to be fully seen and accepted.

I wasn’t sure birth doula was my calling at first. At my Sacred Doula training, I was seen as least likely to make it due to my fear of blood. I got over that fear quickly, by the way. Very few of the women in my training are still doulas. The average doula does this work for three years before burnout. A lot of this is because of the low pay, on-call lifestyle, the inability to predict how long you will be away from your family, the physical and emotional stress of birth work, and more.

I proudly hold two birth doula certifications and am a certified Postpartum and infant care doula. My next step is to become a certified childbirth educator.

I started Gold Coast Doulas with my business partner to better support families. Our birth doulas work in teams and therefore will stay in the field longer because of a better work – life balance; doulas who can give more because they aren’t always on call. They can plan for a vacation, a birthday party, or a camping trip and still take clients.

Our clients get the experience, support, and perspectives from two doulas throughout pregnancy, and if labor is long they will have a second refreshed doula at their side as needed. This model better supports our doulas as well. They have mentorship, support, and a place to grow. We take care of each other and honor the choices of those who step away from the work after having another child or for family reasons. They know they also can come back if circumstances change.

Gold Coast Doulas is made up of 15 birth and postpartum doulas, an infant massage instructor, a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), and a placenta encapsulator. We keep growing and adapting to the needs of our clients.

With the way birth support so strongly called to me, I never thought I would like postpartum doula work the way I do. Birth work is important, and I know now postpartum care is even more important.

There is a pressure in America to get back into skinny jeans, to get back to work, to be supermom. The focus after birth is always on the baby. Who is there to check on how the mother is coping? Everyone wants to hold the baby and bring gifts for the baby.

We need to acknowledge the mother.

We make sure she is nourished, rested, her house is picked up, we allow her time to shower or sip on tea on her porch. We acknowledge her fears and support their choices. We also help when the partner or mother is traveling. We help them manage the work, care for a baby, play with a toddler.

Doulas allow the client to breathe, and let them know that they are strong and that this is only temporary. We acknowledge them. We all want to be seen and we all want to be fully heard. That is why I do this work. We must support each other. We shouldn’t have to go at this alone.

This work is my true purpose. I see you, I stand with you, I walk with you. I am a doula.


World Doula Week 2018 Read More »

breastfeeding class

Podcast Episode #12: Fertility Struggles

In this podcast episode, we talk with Lisa about her struggles with fertility and about the birth of her son, Ethan, who was conceived via IVF.  This podcast is available to listen to on iTunes and Soundcloud. 

Alyssa: Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas!  I am Alyssa, co-owner of Gold Coast and post-partum doula.  Today, we are talking to Lisa, who is a past client of ours.  She was actually a post-partum client of mine.  Hello, Lisa.

Lisa: Hi.

Alyssa: So we’ve talked a lot in the time that we’ve worked together, and you have kind of an interesting story about your fertility journey and how – you know, I think I thought the same thing.  You get off birth control, and you think you’re going to get pregnant right away, and when it doesn’t happen, our brains just go straight to worry.  So tell me – start from the beginning.  You got off the Pill, and then what?

Lisa:  Yeah.  So it was the second marriage for both my husband and I, and I was 35.  We went off the Pill, and I literally thought that same month, it would just be, boom.  You know, we’re pregnant.  And it didn’t happen.  And I think he was 37 at the time.  We were trying for seven or eight months, and nothing was happening, and we just didn’t – we were confused, like what could possibly be going wrong here?  And so I went to my ob-gyn, and she said, you know, you should just get the initial fertility screens done to see if everything is working for both you and him.

Alyssa: So you got screened, or you both got screened?

Lisa:  We both got screened.

Alyssa: And what does that entail?  For you and him?

Lisa:  Well, for my husband, he needed a sperm sample.  And then they look at things like morphology of the sperm and – like, you can have all different things happen with your sperm.  You can have two-headed sperm.  The tails of your sperm can be too long or too short or whatever.  I think the typical morphology is that four percent of the sperm is good.  That’s kind of the average.  But I think his was either one or two percent, so he was less than half of what a highly fertile man would be considered.  And for me, it involved a bunch of blood tests that test your hormone levels at the different parts of your cycle, and then also some x-rays.  I can’t remember – I think it was called an HCG where they pump ink through your uterus and your fallopian tubes to make sure that there’s nothing plugged, that basically the sperm can come up and the eggs can come down so there’s nothing blocking.  And so we did that, and I was kind of considered more of advanced maternal age, and then my husband was, as it turns out, not super highly fertile at that point.  And then we had a couple of miscarriages after that.  Two, but they were really early, so I wouldn’t even have been pregnant quite a month.  And then we thought, well, what’s going on with that?  Then I had some other health issues going, and one of my health providers suggested I go get some more tests that were autoimmune-related, because it turns out, if you have a bunch of autoimmune things going on, that can lead to early term miscarriages.  And then I tested positive for all of this autoimmune stuff, which led into a bunch of autoimmune suppressing therapies and two rounds of IVF.  The first round, we didn’t get any viable eggs, and the second round, we got one.  And I was just beside myself.  We had 28 eggs, and out of all those 28, we only had one viable one.  And my hopes were not high because of all this autoimmune stuff that was going on, and we just had one egg.  We did a frozen embryo transfer because we did get the chromosomal testing done, which is how we knew if the eggs were viable or not, and then with the one egg, we got pregnant.  But all said and done, it was a two-and-a-half-year process for us.  And then we ended up having our son when I was 39.

Alyssa: Wow.

Lisa:  Yeah, yeah.

Alyssa: I did not know that Ethan was IVF.

Lisa:  He was, yeah.  And then during the whole pregnancy, I was highly monitored because of all the autoimmune stuff going on, and that was just –

Alyssa: So what do you mean by autoimmune therapies and stuff you had to do?

Lisa:  Well, I had infusions every other week.  I was on steroids to keep my immune system down the whole time.  And a bunch of other smattering of things; drugs that I can’t really even pronounce at this point.  It just basically calms a woman’s immune system down enough to not reject a fetus, and so then you’re highly monitored; you’re getting blood tests all the time to see where your inflammation and stuff like that is, and so we did that.  And then it turns out I had placenta previa, which is where the placenta is covering the cervix, and so then I went on bedrest for five weeks in the hospital in the antepartum unit.  I was bleeding all the time, and then we had the fourth big bleeding incident, and they didn’t think it would stop.  So we went into an emergency C-section, and then he was born five weeks early.

Alyssa: Oh, my gosh.

Lisa:  Yeah.  It was a lot.

Alyssa: So how was your pregnancy up until the five-week bedrest point?

Lisa:  I had to take short-term disability from work because I was – I only know this because I had to do this for insurance, but I was doing 30 to 40 hours of medical care a week to do all the autoimmune stuff, and that lasted through week 20.  And so I had this kind of honeymoon period between week 20, which is when your body starts calming down as it’s getting through the second trimester.  So from an autoimmune perspective, if you get through to the second trimester, or into the second trimester, then you’re pretty much considered in the clear.

Alyssa: Your body is saying, “Okay, I get it.  You’re staying.  I’m not going to try to get you out anymore.”

Lisa:  Yeah.  And from a NICU perspective, if you get to – I think it’s week 23 or 24.  I can’t remember which of those two, but with all the technology that we have today, it’s pretty much considered that they can help along a 24-week old.  So once you get there, at least even if something should happen, then you can –

Alyssa: That would be tough.  That would be a lot of NICU time, a 24-week old baby.  So did Ethan have any NICU time at five weeks early?

Lisa:  He did.  We were in the NICU for eight days, and that was enough.

Alyssa: That’s not bad.   I’m glad you didn’t say five weeks.

Lisa:  No, we thought we were going to be in there for five weeks because they basically set your expectations that whatever would bring them to full term is typically considered what your NICU stay would be.

Alyssa: So even though he was born five weeks early, he was pretty healthy.  Was he big?

Lisa:  He was big.  He was 5 pounds, 9 ounces, at 35 weeks and a day, so that was good.  He just had some issues with keeping warm and then keeping his blood sugars up.  And then I didn’t – I was one of the lucky ones.  I didn’t really ever have any challenges with breastfeeding, and so that went really well, and I was just so grateful for that because there was so much that had been a challenge, you know, leading up to that.

Alyssa: Yeah, that on top would have sent you over the edge!

Lisa:  I think I just would have melted at that point.

Alyssa: Yeah.  So do you have any advice for parents who, like you, get off the Pill, think it’s going to happen right away, and now two and a half years later and two IVF treatments later – how do you deal with that?  How do you and your partner deal with that together?

Lisa:  Oh, that’s a hard one.

Alyssa: I mean, it’s probably very individual, right?  Based on personalities and how you handle stress and how you handle stress together, but do you think there’s one universal piece of advice?  Is it be patient?  Is it –

Lisa:  I would say if you’re older, and I would say maybe the 35 age range and plus, if things aren’t happening right away, I would just say, just go get the stuff tested.  Don’t wait a year or whatever.  Just go get stuff tested out because those years, from even 35 to 36 and from 36 to 37, those really start counting for the quality of your fertility.  Not that you couldn’t ever make a child; it’s the quality of the –

Alyssa: It’s going to get harder every year.

Lisa:  For the woman, it’s the quality of the eggs.  It gets harder every year.  And I think the other thing that, looking back, I would suggest for anybody who is doing fertility treatments, try to do one thing a day that is just for you that makes you feel cared for because during our fertility, and then pregnancy, and then delivery, I think that my husband and I – we were just out of juice by the time our son got here, and that’s when you really need it.  Right?  That’s when you have a baby then, in your arms who isn’t sleeping, and you just need help, and so I think if I just would have, I don’t know, maybe slept more –  I mean, that sounds ridiculous, but –

Alyssa: Like take a nap?

Lisa:  Take a nap!  Like, take a nap when you’re pregnant, you know?  Just try to nurture yourself in whatever way possible that is meaningful for you.  And I am not saying, like, go buy a new wardrobe.  I am literally saying, if you really like to read, go spend an hour a day and read.  Indulge yourself and rejuvenate yourself a little bit because you’re going to need it.

Alyssa: And you don’t have to read about fertility or read about baby stuff.  Read something that you enjoy.

Lisa:  Find the absolute best providers that you can, and ask good questions, and then trust.  Because otherwise, it’s just –

Alyssa: You can constantly question, right?  Everything and everybody because we can Google it.

Lisa:  Yes!  That’s another thing.  Don’t Google!  Limit yourself to five minutes of Googling a day or something, but don’t do that, yeah.  That’s a rabbit hole.

Alyssa: Well, next time we talk to you, Lisa, I think we’re going to get into your post-partum journey and how you got here; how you ended up here in good old Grand Rapids.  All right, thank you for sharing.

Podcast Episode #12: Fertility Struggles Read More »

Tricia Buschert Doula

Podcast Episode #9: How to Handle a Six-Week NICU Stay

On this episode of Ask the Doulas, Tricia talks about her experience with her twins staying in the NICU for six weeks.  You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes.

Alyssa:            Hi, welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa, co-owner and postpartum doula, and today we’re talking to Tricia.

Tricia:             Hi.

Alyssa:            She is a post-partum and birth doula with us and also our multiples expert that teaches the multiples class.  Tell us about your multiples.

Tricia:             They are two.  I have identical twin girls, Keira and Rosalind.  They also have a big brother named Gideon.  He just turned four.

Alyssa:            Okay, so for a while there, you had three under three?

Tricia:             I had three under two.

Alyssa:            Three under two!

Tricia:             They are 23 months apart, so yeah.

Alyssa:            Wow, you are wonder woman.  So when the girls were born, they had a significant NICU stay?

Tricia:             They did.

Alyssa:            And I know parents get really nervous about NICU, and Kristen had talked about how her daughter had a three-week stay.  How long were your daughters in the NICU?

Tricia:             They were in just over six weeks.  Keira was in for 41 days, and Rosalind was in for 45.

Alyssa:            Okay.  So tell us a little bit about the birth story and how they ended up in NICU and what you and your husband felt.

Tricia:             My girls shared a placenta, so we had issues for a little while.  They were monitoring really closely.  One of their placentas was velamentous cord insertion, so it was palm-shaped, and it was attached to both the placenta and my cervix.  Keira started detaching off of the placenta.

Alyssa:            So there were two placentas?

Tricia:             No.  One together; they shared.  One had two cords.  So they had separate sacks.  There are three different types of twins.  We were the second-safest, I guess is the best way.  MoMo, they share a sack and they share everything.

Alyssa:            Okay.  One sack, one placenta?

Tricia:             Yeah, which runs risks because umbilical cords can twist around each other.  We had the safe kind of identical – well, safer.  Two sacks, but they shared one placenta.  So yes, they started to do a twin-to-twin blood transfusion back and forth, and so the placenta just kind of died, or was starting to.  So Keira came out pale and not breathing at 32 weeks, and sister came out 30 seconds later.  We had an emergency C-section because Keira was originally breech, so she was going to be a C-section regardless.  She was Baby A.  But it became more emergent when they realized that she was having issues with her placenta cord or her umbilical cord.  So they both were intubated within seconds.  Their scores were super low.  I want to say Keira’s was a one and Rosalind’s might have been a two or a three.  So super low at birth.  I think the scariest part was we had our son first, so we knew that they come out crying and happy.  And the doctors, when we came into our C-section, were talking about vacations, and by the end of it, the entire room of 30 people was, like, silent.  So yeah, my husband really had a hard time with that.  We both started crying.  Both girls were fine.  Keira was pretty much whisked straight down to NICU.  Rosalind was a little bit more stable, so they were able to have her lay next to me.  I have a photo of her little finger in my finger as they stitched me up, and her just kind of sitting there.  But then she was sent back down with sister.  Thankfully, I had a postpartum doula sitting there.  My husband left for about an hour.  It was very traumatic for him to have both of his girls and me and the whole – so he went and had his time.  I really still to this day, two years later, have no idea what he did.  I know he went through a drive through, and I know he sat in his car and cried, but I had my support for me, so we both were able to be where we needed, and my support was amazing.  Having that doula there was – I honestly could not imagine being in a room with no babies; no husband, because he needed his time, and yeah.  She was phenomenal.  And we had a NICU nurse come upstairs a couple hours; it was a good couple hours and brought pictures and had weights.  And both girls at that point were stable.  Both were intubated, great.  The NICU doctor was a little concerned.  Keira’s hemoglobin was at an 8, and Rosalind’s was at an 18.  They think it happened within the first, like those last couple hours when the umbilical cord started being funky and the placenta, because it can go so quickly.  And they really don’t think it had to have been a couple hours because I was having contractions for a good 48 hours before the girls were born.  They just weren’t consistent.  But we had steroid shots prior.  They weren’t going to start labor, because at that point they didn’t think that it was – when it was going to happen, it was going to happen.  But she felt that Keira would do a lot better if she had a blood transfusion because her hemoglobin was so low for even an adult, let alone a baby.  But blood transfusions for babies are really little.  You think “blood transfusion;” you think these huge – it’s like a little syringe amount of blood.  It’s super little because they were so little.

Alyssa:            So did they explain that to you?  Because I think if somebody told me, hey, your newborn baby needs a blood transfusion, I would just break down.  So they said this is literally what it looks like?  So they just pump new blood into their vein?

Tricia:             Yeah, they did it through her head because the head veins are so nice and with babies, they still move.  They’re little babies.  She might be three pounds, but they’re tough little things at three pounds.  And so they go through the head because it’s a really good opening; they don’t have to worry about trying to do it more than once.  And so it’s a really little amount; it’s a little syringe.  Thankfully, yeah, they did explain some of that.  By that time I was pumping.  I was able to thankfully talk to a NICU nurse prior to going into NICU, so I knew that without the girls, if I wanted my milk supply to go in, I needed to have a pump within three hours.  I had to kind of fight for my pump a little bit, but I was able to get a pump in those first three hours because I was determined to have that.  I was able to see the girls for the first time a little after midnight, and they were born at 6:52 and 6:53.  So it took about four hours for me to get down there.  I couldn’t hold them or anything like that.  They were little things.  But at that point, Keira had her blood transfusion and all of that.  They were, yes, very fragile little things.

Alyssa:            What goes through your mind?

Tricia:             At that point, I think I was just so happy to see them okay that I really – I don’t think that there was much else because I had experienced her coming out not breathing and her being whisked away and knowing that I almost didn’t go in that day.  They were going to send me home.  When I went into the hospital, I came in with contractions every eight minutes apart.  I was a centimeter and a half dilated.  They thought they’d give me some fluids and send me back home at 1:00.  I went to the hospital alone; drove a friend’s car; was in my nephew’s preschool class that morning.  Like, nobody had a clue that these girlies were coming, and then 3:30, doctor comes in and, “You’re dilated to a three.  We can’t send you home.  You’re an automatic C-section.  I can’t send you home.  Contractions haven’t stopped.  You probably should call your husband.”  Husband’s going, “Do I have time to go get my oil changed?”  I’m like, “No, honey, I don’t think you do.  They’re acting like we don’t have time for this.”

Alyssa:            Maybe that’s what he did for those two hours.  “I got a burger and my oil changed and cried.”

Tricia:             Right!  So the first few days, yeah, were really just – I overdid it a little bit because the anesthesia made me feel – it takes 24 hours for anesthesia from a spinal to fully leave your system, so I could walk, I could pee, I could do all that.  I felt invincible, but you’re not invincible.  It’s the pain meds talking to you that you’re invincible.  So the first three days I pretty much – we did not really have any visitors at the hospital when I was in there, which is way different than with my son.

Alyssa:            And was that by choice?  You didn’t want anybody to come?

Tricia:             Yeah, I really didn’t.  They can’t go into NICU, and I wanted to be down with the babies.  I was up in my room to get meds, to eat, and to sleep.  And everything else I did next to the girls.  Rosalind was in – she had bilirubin lights for a couple days.  They had bradys throughout the six weeks, which is when they periodically stop breathing.  It’s a really common preemie problem is the best way I know how to put it.  It’s just that in the uterus, if they don’t breathe a second, it’s fine.  They’ve got all the stuff, so it’s them learning how to breathe.  They still have to learn how to breathe.  Rosalind had a little bit more issues with her lungs, so they were given surfactant to coat their lungs to try to help them breathe at delivery and to help their lungs grow and mature.  Keira’s lungs took it; Rosalind’s did not.  It all still, 24 hours later, it was pretty much right on the surface of her lungs kind of a concept, so she had a lot more issues breathing.  She was off and on different various c-pap and nose canula and breathing.  They both had caffeine at some point, and I remember a NICU nurse telling me to drink more caffeine because it was better that they got it through my milk vs. the little –

Alyssa:            So what is the caffeine for?

Tricia:             It’s to help with them remembering that breathing on their own, to help them be a little bit more alert.  That was my understanding, anyway.  It’s a lot of trying to get them to remember to breathe on their own because if they sleep and they forget to breathe, there’s a lot of monitors.

Alyssa:            Interesting.  I would have never thought caffeine.

Tricia:             And once again, it’s a really tiny amount.

Alyssa:            Oh, of course.  “Let’s give them a cup of coffee in a syringe.”

Tricia:             Basically!  The medical aspect of – I never thought I would know all this medical stuff, and then you have twins who spend six weeks.  Food’s in milliliters, and everything’s ounces, and those ounces matter.  Like, you don’t think about it when you’ve got a full-term baby and they come home seven pounds and four ounces.  But then you have a 3.4 and a 3.7 and they go down to the three pounds, and it’s like, you gained an ounce today!  That ounce is huge!  I exclusively pumped.  We attempted latching, but they never really got the hang of it.  Even with bottles, they were still like – part of the reason we were in NICU so long is because it took them a while to understand that oh, I have to suck, swallow, breathe.  I have to eat.  After about two weeks in for the most part they were feeder/growers.  The first couple weeks were a little bit of one step forward, two steps back.  Because Keira was under 3.5, she had to do a routine eye exam, which is because there’s a disease that they can get in their eyes if they’re on oxygen for too long.  Their birth weight’s low because most of these babies who are that little are on oxygen for a while.  And they also have to do a head ultrasound because there’s risks of breathing.  And with her routine head ultrasound, they found a pseudocyst in the left ventricle of her brain, which looked more like a blood clot.  It didn’t seem to affect function; didn’t seem to be anything too different.  They ended up doing a head ultrasound of Rosalind because they’re identical, so they were curious if it was a thing.  Both of their left ventricles are bigger than normal, I guess.  I don’t really know what that means.  Everybody’s brains look funny.  The doctor made it out like, “They’re bigger than what the normal brain is, but if we were to do a head ultrasound on you, your brain would look funny too.”  Like, there’s a very vague, “this is how your brain is supposed to look” concept.  And so they both had bigger left ventricles, but sister did not have the pseudocyst.  So they think the pseudocyst was part of delivery.  Either that blood transfusion aspect where sister was getting her blood and she was giving it, or just with the placenta and delivery being a little bit more traumatic on her little body.

Alyssa:            So is that something that goes away?  You just watch it, or did you have to –

Tricia:             It did.  It did.  They weren’t 100% sure.  It’s not something that we studied much here.  The doctor had to get a study from Sweden because they have more availabilities to that.  If it did not go away, the doctor had said that it really wasn’t going to affect any function.  It doesn’t affect anything.  Hers did dissipate.  That might be the wrong word, but it did disappear about eight, nine months in.  She had an MRI.  She’s had a couple of them, and so we are officially – neuro is done.  She’s clear.  She had a little bit of – she had to do some PT for a little bit for her right side because of just making sure everything crossed, but otherwise you would not know that she had that at all.

Alyssa:            So you said after a couple of weeks, they became feeders/growers.  Is that like a common term for NICU parents?  Like, they’re feeding well and growing, and that’s their main goal is just to keep them feeding and growing?

Tricia:             It is.  In the NICU, you start in the back.  The littler you are, you start in the back.  That tends to be –

Alyssa:            So you kind of graduate towards the front?

Tricia:             You graduate towards the door.  So when we got there, we were in this little corner, and it was both girls’ beds, and you’re in the back.  And you can tell that you take a little bit more.  A little bit more nurses, a little bit more machines.  You’re back there.  Like I said, we were 32-weekers, so we were kind of surrounded.  There was some 26-weekers.  There were some 24-weekers.  So when you’re toward the back, it’s generally – in this NICU, you’re a little bit more of a – “We need to monitor you.  You’re not as stable.”

Alyssa:            A little higher risk.

Tricia:             You’re a little bit higher risk, yeah, which it’s not that you’re not stable.  It’s just that nurses need to be checking in a little bit more and a lot of times you’re in the kangaroo pods, which are the big isolettes, and you need the darker lights and you need to be a little bit more quiet.  So you get put back there so that you can really sleep and grow, and it’s more womb-like towards the back, as womb-like as you can be in a room filled with monitors.  They give these blankets.  Each baby gets to go home with this big, oversized blanket that they put over top of the isolettes so that it can stay dark.  My girls still sleep with them at night; they’re their little NICU blankies.  Then as they get a little bit bigger, because newer babies come in that are the younger and need the quiet and the more monitoring, you get moved to the front.  And so my girls had about two and a half, three weeks and then got moved to right next to a window and right across the nurse’s station.  So yeah, then they get put into little basinets because they start being able to control their body temperature, and they are starting to breathe better, and they don’t need the c-pap.  They just have the nose canula which is a huge – the nose canula looks really scary.  It’s actually a lot better than to be intubated, but it looks a lot scarier.  So it’s got all these bigger monitors and whereas with the nose canula it’s just these little things of oxygen and it can hide behind the bed.  So yes, as they get bigger, yes, they get closer to the door.

Alyssa:            Okay.  So for a good three, four weeks they were feeders/growers?

Tricia:             They were.

Alyssa:            When do they graduate?  At what point do they say, okay, they’re good to go?

Tricia:             They have to be breathing on their own.  They need to not have bradys within – I want to say it’s 48 or 72 hours.  It’s a decent amount of time.  It might be 72 because that’s part of the reason that Rosalind ended up staying longer than Keira did is that she had a couple episodes and they can’t send – they have to make sure that she can go home not breathing.  Now, there are babies that are sent home with breathing machines and with monitors and whatnot depending on where you are and what your baby needs.  Every morning, the doctors come and they give you updates on how they fed that day and what they’re thinking about food-wise; what they’re going to add; what they’re going to change; positives that baby did.  And then they also, if you’ve got questions, doctors will sit and answer your questions.  They go through rounds.  It’s the way that they can do the nurses from the morning to the night, keep everybody up to date per baby.  So they also have to pass a car seat test.  Mom and Dad have to sit and watch three different videos.  There’s a car seat safety test.  There’s a CPR class.  There’s another one.  I cannot remember off the top of my head.

Alyssa:            But they want to make sure you’re going home prepared?  As prepared as you can be.

Tricia:             Yep, yep.  They come home, and they’re really – the nurses are all trained.  They’re trained for feeding; they’re trained for various different – there was one that was a lactation consultant, so she sat and worked a lot on trying to get the girls to latch and have to figure out some of that.  They’re really knowledgeable.  They have also social workers upstairs that come down weekly and are like, “What can we do to help?”  My husband and I had a 45-minute drive.  Our NICU gave us gas cards weekly to help pay for driving there and back and there and back.  Because there is a house that’s like right next to it, but you have to be within an hour.  So we were just close enough that really – and we had a toddler at home, so we wouldn’t have been able to really use that much anyway, but it was nice that they were like, “What can we do to help your family make this less—”

Alyssa:            A little less stressful.

Tricia:             A little less stressful; a little less, yeah.  And then usually they do a room-in, so they send you upstairs, and you’re on your own with baby.  They’ll come in and do vitals every three hours.  It’s basically like you leaving the hospital –

Alyssa:            If you would have had a full-term baby?  So you get that night, maybe, day –

Tricia:             Yep, you get that night.

Alyssa:            It’s like, okay, I can do this alone before we go home.

Tricia:             Mm-hmm.  You go home; babies are off all the monitors.  It gets a little bit of normalcy to this.  They’ll wheel you down in the wheelchair, and the whole, like, this is what you do.  Like, I did not leave from the maternity floor when I was sent home because I could not leave from that floor empty-handed.  I was like, I’m leaving from the NICU floor.  You can put everything back down to the NICU floor, I’m just leaving the hospital and then coming back.  If I leave this floor, it’s –

Alyssa:            Something in your brain just won’t let you –

Tricia:             Something in my brain.  I was leaving my girls.  I was leaving my girls together.  It was that – I’m not leaving as a postpartum mom.  I’m leaving as a mom.  And I think that for whatever reason, that made a big difference.

Alyssa:            So last question I have is you finally get to take them home.  Well, one, and then the other, but you finally have both babies home.  How do you deal with the nerves of what if they stop breathing?  I mean, every parent has this fear of what if they stop breathing in the night.  There’s all these what-ifs, and you have like a hundred more.  How do you handle that?

Tricia:             I know some parents buy the little Owlet monitor thing.  There’s a bunch of different sleeping monitors.  My girls came home on a schedule, so we kind of kept their schedule.  I will be honest; I was over their crib just kind of watching them breathe for a while.  Because you don’t, and you can’t.  There’s really not – there was an oversized chair.  I pumped in their room a lot, so I could watch them breathe while I pumped.  You kind of just eventually get a little bit less – I don’t know if it ever really goes away.

Alyssa:            Does it ever go away?  I mean, I still check my almost-five-year-old daughter’s breathing at night before I go to bed, so that never really goes away, but you get to a point where you’re like, okay, these girls are healthy; they’re going to be able to sleep through the night, and now I can sleep through the night.

Tricia:             Yeah.  I mean, I had a post-partum doula that I talked to for a while because I did have a lot of anxiety.

Alyssa:            The same one that was with you in the hospital?

Tricia:             Yes.  Due to just – yeah, I had a lot of anxiety from NICU; a lot of fears.  So talking through a lot of it helped too.  I think being able to talk it out and being, you know, they’re okay.  They’re here now.  My big thing is they’re here; they’re healthy.  They’re happy.  They’re fierce little things.  But they’ve had a really long day.  They’ve had a long rough road.  Writing it out helped too.  They have a book they both will get that is their full NICU journey.

Alyssa:            So you would write every day?

Tricia:             Pretty close.  Regularly.  I wouldn’t say every day, but pretty close.  It has their updates; it has their weights.  It talks about when Keira came home.  Actually, that was probably the hardest day of NICU was taking just one of them home because it felt so foreign to me.  I needed – I was supposed to have two.  There’s two of you.  And they’d never been apart.  At least when I left, they were still together.  It was really weird to take just her home.  It was a very bittersweet day.  Our family’s all like, “But you get to get ready for one.”  I’m like, yeah, for two days, and now I get to take this infant in and out of the hospital.  It’s not as great as you think it is.”  I mean, it had to happen.  It was fine; it was great; it was four days, and they left her bed and they made it as comfortable as they could.  So their book talks about that a little bit.  And I was a little bit more open with them in their book than I was with, like, Facebook-updating my family.

Alyssa:            Oh, I’m sure.  It will be a beautiful thing for them to read when they get older, I’m sure.

Tricia:             Mm-hmm, for them to see how far they’ve come.

Alyssa:            Yeah, and for you to remember because I feel like, you know, even a year ago, you forget little stories, and I’m a huge proponent of writing things down especially during the newborn stage because you are in this fog, and if you don’t write it down, you probably will never remember.  And kids love to hear those stories about themselves, so I think that’s a beautiful way to track that.

Tricia:             Yes.

Alyssa:            Well, thank you so much.  I feel like we have a million different multiples topics we could talk about, like your pumping alone.  I think that could be – we will definitely talk about that again.

Tricia:             Yes, I could talk for days for that, and all the places I’ve pumped.

Alyssa:            We will talk about that for sure.  Well, thanks.  If you have any questions for Tricia, contact us at  And you can find us on our website,  Thanks for listening in today.  We will talk to you soon.

Podcast Episode #9: How to Handle a Six-Week NICU Stay Read More »

Postpartum Doula

Podcast Episode #8: Kristin’s Experience with the NICU

In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Kristin shares her experiences with the NICU when her daughter was born.  You can listen to this complete interview on iTunes.

Alyssa:            Hi, welcome back to another episode of Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa, and we are talking to my partner Kristin today.

Kristin:           Hello, I’m Kristen, and I’m a birth and postpartum doula at Gold Coast.

Alyssa:            When we talked to Kristin earlier, we found out about your birth story, and during that time, you had said your daughter Abby when she was born spent four days in the NICU.  So can you expand on what it felt like as a parent to have a baby – you know, after a kind of traumatic birth experience, and then you don’t get to bring that baby home right away.  How does that feel?

Kristin:           Yeah, and again, those of you that heard my birth story, it was traumatic in some ways, and then I had preeclampsia, but very redemptive in that I was able to have an unmedicated birth with very few interventions with the preeclampsia, which is pretty rare.  And after I had Abby, it was very standard.  I was able to do skin-to-skin and breastfeed, but they did some testing and found that she had glucose issues, and so then it led to her getting transferred to the NICU, and we were fortunate in that the DeVos Children’s Hospital had literally just opened.  And they had the really-preemie babies in there, and they had the regular ICU that we started out in, which was overcrowded and there were parents standing everywhere, and I was trying to nurse and hold my baby.  And they somehow ended up transferring us to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital where we had our own private room and more individualized nurse attention, and I had a rocker and I could hold Abby and nurse her there.  So we got to experience those amenities which now as a doula has served me very well.  And so that was really fabulous, but because of her glucose issues, our pediatrician had recommended that she start with an IV and then it led to, once she got off of that, she was on enhanced formula.  And I was pumping the entire time, so we would spend time with her, and then I would go back to my room to pump, and my husband would stay with her.  And I was pumping without a baby in my room, which obviously you never imagine that you have your child and then they aren’t actually in the room with you.  So that was overwhelming because I kept getting all of these people coming in to help me, like say, okay, you’ve got photographers that want to take your picture with your baby.  Well, my baby’s not there when I’m in there pumping.  The lactation consultants come in, and my baby’s not there, so they’re helping me with pumping, and that’s about it.  So I’m going back and forth, and even though again I had what’s considered a natural birth, I was in a wheelchair because it was one end of the hospital to the other.  So I was getting dizzy trying to walk all of that way myself, so I was overwhelmed by a lot of things.  And the pumping was overwhelming.  So again the heel pricks constantly were hard on me as a mom to see her get poked so many times and cry, and all of the cords and everything that’s involved in a NICU stay is overwhelming.  Everything beeps all of the time.  You can’t really fully hold your child.  And everything was timed when I was eventually able to attempt nursing with her.  So once she got off the formula, I was able to spend about ten minutes, because everything was very timed out in the NICU, trying to nurse.  So if I couldn’t get her to latch or if I couldn’t get my milk to come in – it was coming in at the time that she was in the NICU, so some of that was frustrating because she wasn’t getting a full feed, and then they had to supplement after.

Alyssa:            They’d take her away from you?

Kristin:           Yes, so I had my ten minutes to get that done, and that was really overwhelming.  So I wasn’t sleeping.  And my husband had experienced, with his daughter from a previous marriage, five weeks in the NICU, so he was very familiar with the NICU.  So for me, that made everything easier, so all of the protocols and the beeps and the wires, he was able to help me with, but for me, even four days was a lot, but for him, this was nothing in comparison to his daughter.  So we were able to navigate that, and again, I mean, there was a rocking chair there, and it was very comfortable.  My step-daughter could come in and visit, but it can be overwhelming.  So I have a heart for NICU and high-risk moms because of my own experience, and many of them experience longer stays and just so much more intensity as far as conditions with their babies.  Glucose is very minor in comparison, but it certainly made breastfeeding challenging because, again, with nipple confusion – and in the NICU my daughter had to have a pacifier, which all of my natural birth plans were like no pacifier; never going to introduce a bottle, at least until the first month or six weeks, according to what I learned in Lamaze class and everything.  So that really – a lot of my plans just went out the window, and I had to adapt.  And so I wasn’t sleeping well, and we ended up getting released a day before Abby, so luckily, the hospital allowed us to stay an extra day, but we went home without our daughter, so you can imagine the car seat behind you, and not having a baby, and all of these family members and friends – it’s my first baby, and wanting to come visit us in the hospital, and I was turning people away and saying “No, there’s no baby.  You can’t go to the NICU; there’s no visiting.”  And then to go home and spend the night in your home without your baby there is really tough.  So again, I have a heart for moms that experience that for so much longer than what I did.  But then the next morning, we got up very early and went to the hospital, and she got her glucose tested and she was fine to go, so we were able to go home.  But then when I got home with her, I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted to breastfeed, but she didn’t really want to breastfeed.  She wanted a bottle.  It’s so much less work; it’s quicker.  So, you know, I was pumping, so she had my pumped milk that she could use, and we stopped supplementing by that point, but I had to get a lot of help from lactation, so I went back to Spectrum Health multiple times and met with the lactation consultants, and that wasn’t really working.  So then I ended up having lactation consultants come into my home and help, and I finally got the latch that would really work for me comfort-wise, and I was able to make it work.  And then my daughter didn’t to wean.  She wanted to nurse forever.

Alyssa:            She never gave up.  So was there any fear that day you brought her home, like, she just spent four days in the NICU because there’s something wrong, and they said it’s manageable now, but now she’s home.  Did you have this fear of what if something happens while she’s home?

Kristin:           Yeah, I mean, I certainly wanted to go to the pediatrician’s office as much as I could for reassurance that everything was okay.  And I didn’t know that I could care for her as a new parent and having other people have their hands on her and telling me what to do, and so I was overwhelmed.  And my husband went back to work, and I was used to working, so I had my leave time, and that was a little challenging, especially having spent three weeks on bed rest right before having her.  So that isolation was a bit much, and I didn’t know what postpartum doulas were back then, but I did have the help from a local nonprofit called Moms Bloom, and a volunteer came into my home who was retired.  So she was a grandmother, essentially, and she would hold Abby so I could take a shower or do some things around the house, and that was nice.  And it gave me someone to talk to because again, I was overwhelmed and lonely.  And it reassured me that I was doing everything that I needed to, and that there were no concerns, that she was normal and healthy.  So yeah, there is some of that anxiety as a new parent coming back from the hospital and that’s something that I wouldn’t be able to catch, could be wrong again with her.  But we got through it, and again, she nursed into toddlerhood, so it all worked out.

Alyssa:            Go, Abby!

Kristin:           It’s all about, yeah, just getting resources and having a support system around you after getting home from the NICU because it can be overwhelming.

Alyssa:            It’s so easy to give up.  I think that’s key it just have enough support and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Kristin:           Yes, exactly.  Yeah, and so you’re not alone, NICU moms!  I understand, in a very small way, what you go through, but there are so many wonderful nurses and support groups within the hospital, and the breastfeeding support groups, so just know that you have resources and reach out to the community.  Postpartum and overnight doulas are here to help, so again, that’s something that I would have used had I know that that was an option, and for NICU moms especially, we can lighten your load a lot and give you reassurance and support with your new baby or babies.

Alyssa:            Well, thanks for sharing, and if you want to find out more our daytime and overnight postpartum doulas, you can check out our website,, and then if you want to email either of us, Kristin or I,  We would love to hear from you.  Thanks, Kristin.

Kristin:           Thanks.

Podcast Episode #8: Kristin’s Experience with the NICU Read More »

Ashley Forton Doula

Podcast Episode #6: Dispelling The Goddess Myth

In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa and Ashley talk about The Goddess Myth and how it affects your birthing experience.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes. 

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

Ashley:           Good morning.

Alyssa:            She is also a birth doula and postpartum doula.  We both just recently read a Time Magazine article called The Goddess Myth, and it raised a lot of questions.  Ashley, what was your first – well, why don’t you give us a synopsis of this article?

Ashley:           Yeah, so the article kind of starts out talking about this “goddess myth” and how there’s this rise in natural birth, and how a lot of women are trying to achieve this image of being a goddess and having this perfect natural birth, and that they’re kind of blaming that on a lot of women feeling failure or feeling regret or feeling like they couldn’t live up to this perfect image that we’ve created.  And it kind of stood out to me that, that’s still possible.  If you want to have this beautiful, natural birth, bodies are capable of that, but it also brings up a lot of points that that’s not best for everybody.  And so I found it really interesting some of the things that they brought up about different women’s experiences and where their emotions went if it didn’t go according to that perfect plan they had in their head.

Alyssa:            Yeah, I’ve kind of thought that – you know, there’s all this knowledge at our fingertips.  You get pregnant, and you can just know so much.  And then you have this goddess myth, where you didn’t birth good enough if you didn’t do it naturally.  I’m glad that there’s an awareness about this and that women are asking questions and knowing that it’s a possibility to birth this way, but on the flip side, there’s so much feelings of guilt and shame and regret if you say, “This is the only way I can have my baby,” and then it doesn’t happen that way.  And then there’s all this mom-shaming of “Well, I did it naturally.”  Or, “Oh, you had an epidural?”  Or, “Oh, you’re not breastfeeding?”  There’s so many good things happening within the community and within the medical field with natural births, and I think it’s beautiful and amazing, but a Caesarean birth is also a birth.  If you had an epidural, it’s still a birth.

Ashley:           Absolutely.  And I think a lot of that – I don’t think the goddess myth or this desire for natural birth is the problem.  I think that part of it is us as moms, as women, who come into this new journey of parenthood; we try to compare.  I think comparison is the root of all this evil because what happens is when I compare my birth to yours, we’re not comparing apples to apples.  You bring a completely different emotional history; a completely different physical experience.  You have different genetics.  Our bodies are not identical.  So there’s no way for me to say what I think is best for me is also best for you because I don’t know the ins and outs of your life and your emotions and your physical experience and your relationship with your partner.  And all of that plays into birth, so when we have a baby, no matter how we have it, and we go sit down with our friends and we say, “Here’s how I had my baby,” we start to compare.  We start to say, “Well, this is how I did it.”  “This is how I did it.”  And none of those are greater or less than the other.  We all need to take a step back and go, “Do you feel good about that?  Do you regret anything about your birth?”

Alyssa:            Did you do what was best for you?

Ashley:           Yeah, and that’s a lot of why I became a doula because in the beginning, when I first got pregnant with my daughter, I thought natural birth was the only way and this is best for everyone.  And I started talking to my friends and talking to women who had different experiences, and going, oh my gosh.  My experience has nothing to do with your experience, and I can’t say what’s best for you.  And I wanted to start changing my own mentality to looking at it as, if you look back at your birth story and feel like you made great decisions and you love your birth, regardless of what those intricacies of that birth were, that’s what matters.  Because women carry their birth story with them forever, and you start motherhood with birth.  You start with pregnancy and your experiences that lead up to birth, and if you have regrets and you feel like a failure, that’s going to follow you the rest of your life.  But if you feel like you have made the best decision for you; not comparing it to anyone else, just the best decision for you in that moment: you can’t regret that.  You can’t look back and say someone else should have done it differently.  You made the best decision for you, and then you feel like you just conquered the world because you got – even if it was curveballs, you did the best for you throughout the whole thing.  And so you start off motherhood with this confidence rather than comparison and failure and feeling less than another mom.

Alyssa:            Yeah, it’s so important, because starting off that way just leads to continued problems, emotionally, physically.  And then the comparison starts, when, you know, “How is your baby sleeping?”  “Is your son potty-trained yet?”  It’s a non-stop battle.  You’re constantly comparing.  And you know what, stop.

Ashley:           Right, because every kid is different.  So I mean, having two kids myself, I can tell you there are so many differences just between my two children, who genetically – they share my genetics!  There should be something in common.  But so comparing to my friend, it’s like your kid’s way more different than my kid, so again, we should quit comparing.  We shouldn’t be comparing to each other, our kids to each other.  Yes, there’s a lot in common, but we need to start finding our own joys and successes on our own, not trying to get our success from being better than someone else.

Alyssa:            Right.  There was something else in this article, too, so after the article, looking at the magazine here, there was another little side article called The Well-Intentioned, Misinformed, Oversharing Pregnancy Experts.  And one line that I highlighted says, “When you’re pregnant in public, you learn quickly that everyone’s an expert.”  And this gal was talking about how she liked to enjoy her coffee still while she was pregnant, and the barista, this 20-something guy, would give her this look, and say, “Are you allowed to have this?”  And she’s like, it’s one shot of espresso in my coffee!  And everyone becomes this expert, and I think deep down, they’re well-intentioned statements.

Ashley:           Right.  They think they’re looking out for your health and safety, somehow.

Alyssa:            Yeah, but again, it becomes another form of mom-shaming.

Ashley:           Absolutely.  We talk about that a lot in hypnobirthing, where I tell my moms not to compare to others, like I already talked about, but I also tell them, when someone gives you advice, take it with a grain of salt because they do mean well.  When your mother-in-law says to you, “Oh, well, I did it this way,” she thinks that’s the best way, and she wants to help you.  It doesn’t necessarily come across that way, and you can kind of take it or leave it, but know that you get to make those decisions that are best for you.  If a cup of coffee is what you need, and you’ve cleared that with your ob., if you feel good about it, drink that coffee, girl!  You don’t need your barista’s opinion.  They’re not your ob.  They’re not your healthcare provider.  So yeah, it’s like, take everything with a grain of salt.  Know that it comes from a good place.  Instead of just getting super pissed off right away, which is easy to do, just know that, okay, they probably mean well, and you can still go do whatever the heck you want.

Alyssa:            So I think bottom line, we as mothers have to learn to build each other up and encourage each other and talk about our birth stories together because talking about it is imperative, but sometimes we don’t want to talk about it with our friends or neighbors or family because we know we’re going to be shamed.  So if we knew that we had a judgment-free person just to talk this birth story out with, it would be so beneficial for mothers and encouraging, and I think, bottom line, we just need to support each other.

Ashley:           Absolutely, and recognize that everybody is going to do things a little bit differently, and that’s okay.  And so recognizing that in others and in yourself, it takes practice to not initially come to a judgment.  It’s hard to look at something and not compare.  So it’s easier said than done for me to say, “Let’s quit comparing,” but I think we really do need to focus on that, and when a friend comes to you and opens up and says “Hey, there’s this thing that happened in my birth, and I do feel like a failure, or it didn’t go as planned,” give them the space to talk through that without reinforcing the judgment they’re already feeling.  Just be there for them and let them talk it out.  And if a friend comes to you loving their birth story and they did it completely different than you did, celebrate that joy with them instead of saying, “Well, I did it differently.”  Just let them share that joy with you.

Alyssa:            Yeah, I agree.  All right, if anyone has any questions, comments, anything about this episode or ideas for future episodes, email us at and remember, these moments are golden.  Thanks, Ashley.

Ashley:           You’re welcome.  Have a great day.

Podcast Episode #6: Dispelling The Goddess Myth Read More »

Ashley Forton Doula

Podcast Episode #4: When to Hire a Doula and Why A Team Works

In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa and Ashley talk about Gold Coast’s team model for doulas and about the right timing for hiring your doula.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes. 


Alyssa:            Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I’m Alyssa, co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast Doulas, and we have Ashley Forton in today talking about the question of when should I hire a doula?  And Ashley is a birth doula, so we’re going to talk about births specifically.  What have you seen lately?  When does the average client hire?

Ashley:           Well, I can tell you that some clients will hire as soon as they find out they’re pregnant, which is awesome, because what happens when you hire us – the minute you hire us, we are at your fingertips 24/7.  So if you have a question, you get out of a prenatal appointment, you text us.  “Hey, this came up.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.”  You need somebody to talk through; that’s what we’re there for.  If you are on your way to a coffee shop and you’re like, “Hey, my girlfriend just mentioned this.  Have you heard of this type of birth before?”  We’re there for all those questions, and it really helps us get to know you throughout that nine-month period of time.  So we certainly have clients that hire that early, but we also have clients that hire us at 36 weeks, 38 weeks.

Alyssa:            They’re like, oh, shoot, I’m nervous.  Maybe I should hire a doula!

Ashley:           Yes, yeah!  And a lot of times, people are like, I’m 36 weeks.  Is it too late to hire a doula?

Alyssa:            And what do you say?

Ashley:           Absolutely not too late!  No.  It gives us a little bit of a time crunch, so it makes things a little bit more time-sensitive, just in case you go early, but one of the things we do is whenever you hire us, we try to get a prenatal visit on the books, so whether it’s one or two, depending on what package you choose, we want to come to your house and talk to you about any and all concerns that you have about your upcoming birth.  Do you have a birth plan or birth preferences?  Do you need help coming up with that?  Do you have any medical concerns that you have brewing in your mind that have caused some anxiety?  Do you have any sort of questions about birth or maybe even right after birth?  What happens when I bring this baby home?  Are there other resources that you need?  We cater that appointment totally to what the client needs in that moment.  So sometimes it’s that we create a birth preferences sheet right there on the spot.  Sometimes it turns into, “Hey, I’ve got questions about what does labor look like?  How am I going to know I’m in labor?”  So we really cater that to what they need to talk about, and that’s time for us to get to know each other.  So even if you hire us at 36 weeks, we’ll get that on the books right away, and we want to get to know you as best we can, so we know what type of comfort measures might be good for you.  How do you relax on a regular basis?  What is relaxing and comforting to you?  We want to know all those things.  Do you not like being touched?  Should we not try and massage you?  Are there certain things that you don’t want?  And all of that kind of goes into building our relationship so that when you do go into labor, it’s not the first time that we’ve met.  Now, granted, that has happened.  I have been to a birth where I had not even met the mom.  She hired us, had not even met me yet, and I went to her birth, and it was an amazing birth.  Part of doulas’ training is attuning to the needs of the client, so if you get into a room with somebody that you’ve never met, paying attention to their body mannerisms; how they’re acting; what they’re emotionally acting like; seeing what do we think that this person might need; relying on the partner.  “Hey, is there something that you think might be helpful?”  So you can still have a beautiful birth in that situation, but hopefully we’ve had plenty of time to get to know each other before we get into that labor room.

Alyssa:            Right.  And our birth doulas at Gold Coast work in teams.  Can you explain your take on the team approach and why that’s so important for a client?

Ashley:           Yeah.  So hiring a team of doulas, you get two doulas for the price of one.  So let’s say you’re about 20 weeks pregnant, and you decide to hire a team of doulas from Gold Coast.  You usually will meet with us, we’ll do a consultation, and you can decide if that’s a good fit personality-wise.  Once you’ve signed that contract and paid the deposit, you have access to both of these doulas.  So you get two brains to pick.  You get two sets of separate experiences.  Sometimes you’ve got one that was trained by DONA, one that was trained by ProDoula, so you’ve got different trainings that they’re pulling from.  They’ve all been to different births.  So you get twice the experience, which is pretty awesome.

Alyssa:            Maybe one of your doulas had home births, and one of your doulas had C-sections.  Or one of your doulas had hospital births with epidurals.  And then yeah, all the clients you’ve supported.  So you’ve probably supported every single type of birth possible.

Ashley:           Absolutely.  So it’s really great to have those varying sources of opinion and experience to draw from, and you’ve got twice the support.  You’ve got two people in your corner without an agenda, without any judgment.  There’s no comparison; there’s no, “Well, I would do it this way.”  We’re not giving you our opinion.  We’re not there to say, “This is how I would do it.”  We’re there to say, “What do you think?  How does that make you feel?  Tell me more about that,” so that you can kind of navigate the waters with someone in your corner, so it takes a little bit of the pressure off.  You’ve got extra information.  We can give you evidence-based resources.  We do that a ton.  “Hey, this came up at my appointment.  The doctor answered some of my questions, but I’d love some more statistics, more information, before I make a decision.” And we can send you some information so when you do make that decision, you feel like you’ve got everything you need.  You don’t feel like you’ve got questions still brewing, but you’ve been stuck in a spot where you have to make a quick decision.

Alyssa:            Yeah.  So you have a team throughout pregnancy, and then what happens when your client goes into labor?

Ashley:           So usually our teams have – everybody does it a little bit differently, but we’ve all got an on-call calendar, so it’s split up between the two doulas, and you call the person that’s on the calendar.  And we figure out who can get to you the fastest.  If one of your doulas is sick, we don’t want to send them to you.  We want you to get the healthy doula, and that’s the benefit, too.  If you hire a solo doula, you may not know their backup.  So you may have spent nine months getting to know this doula, and they have the stomach flu.  And they’ve got a call-in backup, and it may be somebody you’ve never met or never even heard of.  And that benefit of having two doulas that you know equally, and you’ve gotten to know them through prenatal visits and everything; you know them, and you trust them going into that birth experience regardless of which one shows up.  And so it’s really great to have that bond and that security because trust is really important when you’re in labor, and you need to trust every person that’s in that room.  It’s an intimate experience regardless of cesarean, hospital birth, home birth.  It’s an intimate experience, and you want to know that everyone in that room has your back and you know them and trust them.  And so when you call, we figure out who can get to you, and that person comes and supports you.  And sometimes it turns into a longer birth.  Maybe it’s been 16 hours.  And you need a refreshed doula.  We want you to have an energized, ready to go, encouraging doula at your service at all times.

Alyssa:            I think parents don’t think about that when hiring solo doulas.  “I’m going to have this baby and my doula’s going to come, and then we’re done.”  Well, what if it is long?   You don’t think about “Well, yeah, I as the mother am tired, but how is my doula doing?  And if my doula is tired, how well is she going to support me?”  So yeah, saying, “Okay, you know what?  I’m kind of done here.  I’ve hit my max.  I need to go sleep.  I need to rest, for your sake.  I’m going to call in the other team member, and they can come support.”  Relieve the doula, relieve the tired doula, and then you have refreshed doula to support the mother.

Ashley:           Which is especially important when you get to the end of labor.  If you’re laboring and having a vaginal birth, those last few hours is when you really need to rally and have the energy and the encouragement to get through that.  And so that’s when a refreshed doula really comes in handy.  And it’s also important, too, that you partner’s getting rest during this, too, so you always have a support person.  You’re not looking at your husband going, “Oh, I can’t believe that you’re sleeping right now.”  You’ve got a doula supporting you.  And then that husband can be refreshed to support you in the end stages, as well.  So I really think it benefits everybody.  The doulas working in a team; it makes it more sustainable for us so that we can have sick days and not be worried about who’s going to be with my client that I’ve developing this relationship with.  You know and trust that partner.  And so it’s easier for us to take care of our own kids when they’re sick.

Alyssa:            I’ve read a statistic somewhere that the average burnout rate for a solo doula is three or four years or something.

Ashley:           It’s two or three.

Alyssa:            Really?  I can see that.  You’re on call, and you have your own families, and to not share that call schedule with another team member, yeah, that’s definitely hard, and that’s why Gold Coast chose this model.  It’s much more sustainable, and we don’t want our doulas to burn out.  We want to keep you.

Ashley:           Right, right!  And I want to keep doing what I love!  And I’ve really loved it.  I am really glad that I’m part of Gold Coast and this team model, and it’s worked out really well.  We’ve had so many clients tell us how much they’ve loved it.  And the bonus, too, is if you have both of us come to your birth, then both of us are coming to your post-partum visit.  We’re both going to come check in on you and help you process your birth, see if you need any resources, how are you healing?  How are you feeling emotionally?  How’s Baby doing?  Do you have any baby care questions?  And yet again, you’ve got two brains to pick.  And our relationship doesn’t end when you have your baby.  If your baby’s six months old and oh, my gosh, what is happening?  This crazy thing, now he’s not sleeping, and drooling like crazy.  Maybe it’s some teething stuff and we can kind of help you work through that.  But we love to hear from clients down the road.  We don’t want to just “see you later” as soon as we’ve done your postpartum visit.  We want to maintain that relationship as well.

Alyssa:            Yeah.  Awesome.  Well, I think that answers a lot of questions for the listeners.  Thank you for sharing your information and expertise.  If anyone has questions, email us at and we’ll look forward to talking to Ashley again in the future.

Ashley:           All right, thanks!

Podcast Episode #4: When to Hire a Doula and Why A Team Works Read More »

Postpartum Doula

Podcast Episode #2: Having Kids Later in Life – Kristin’s Birth Journey

In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Kristin shares about her birth experiences and how she started the journey to become a birth doula.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes.


Alyssa:            Welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa, co-owner and postpartum doula, and today we’re talking to Kristin, the co-owner and birth doula.

Kristin:           Yeah, birth and postpartum.

Alyssa:            She interviewed me last episode about my journey throughout pregnancy and what made me want to become a doula, and today we’re going to talk about her journey and what made her want to become a birth and postpartum doula.

Kristin:           Yeah, so I had kids later in life, so I got myself into that high-risk category by age.  I was 36 with my first pregnancy and had my daughter at 37.  And I had a really great pregnancy, despite a high-stress job in political fundraising, and my nurse midwife kept saying throughout the pregnancy that I was having the perfect pregnancy and there were no worries.  My health was great.  My diet was great.  And I planned myself the perfect, natural birth.  I took Lamaze classes; my husband and I practiced; I watched all the documentaries; read all the books.  I like to plan my way through life in general, and I thought that everything would just be the way I wanted it to be.  And at 37 weeks, I got diagnosed with preeclampsia.  My blood pressure was rising; that was the first of the signs.  And so I got put on modified bedrest, which was super stressful for someone who felt like I had to do a million things before baby arrived: getting all of the things ready, the car seat installed, and running all the errands and finishing up work and all of that.  And so I had to really take it easy, and every midwife appointment was beyond stressful because you get the blood pressure check.  And so I was nervous about that.

Alyssa:            Which made your blood pressure go up.

Kristin:           It made it worse.  So they kept watching me, and every week, there were more and more signs.  So I got put on full bedrest, which was really frustrating.  I was lucky enough to live above – for those of you that live in Grand Rapids, we had just moved back from Lansing, and I was living above The Electric Cheetah, and we had this place that was very modern, very open, the first tenants.  And all of a sudden, we get married and pregnant, and there wasn’t a whole lot of room for a baby and not the ideal place to be pregnant.  But the staff at The Electric Cheetah became like neighbors since we didn’t really have neighbors on Wealthy Street, and so they would bring up food to me when my husband was at work.  They’d serve it to me on their fine china.  He would call in different meals for me, and they would bring it up to my place.

Alyssa:            So nice!

Kristin:           Yeah, it was amazing.  So that’s how I handled bedrest.  I certainly could have used an antepartum doula for bedrest.  I didn’t know what one was back then.  My daughter’s almost seven, and so that wasn’t something that people really knew of.

Alyssa:            Yeah, most of our postpartum doulas do bedrest, too.

Kristin:           Yes, and our birth doulas do some of that as well with birth planning and some of the different aspects related to getting ready for birth.  So yeah, I didn’t have a bedrest doula or anything like that.

Alyssa:            I’m wondering, for those who don’t know much about preeclampsia, besides high blood pressure, why do you have be on bedrest?  And for someone who may be worried about it or someone who may have it?

Kristin:           Yeah, essentially, they don’t want you to be too active so the blood pressure keeps rising.

Alyssa:            And what causes it?

Kristin:           I’m not going to get into all of the different medical things, and women have it for different reasons, but of course, if they’re worried about a stroke, the providers are watching to make sure that mom doesn’t have a stroke.  They’re worried about baby as well as the mother.  Some women develop headaches.  I did not.  Some women develop swelling in their ankles.  I didn’t really develop that, but by the time I was on full bedrest, I had protein in my urine, which they worry about kidneys and different organs going.  So I was starting to have trouble with my kidneys, and I got an induction.  So I ended my bedrest with an induction in a hospital.  I remember being overwhelmed.  I didn’t have doulas; again, I didn’t really know what a doula was with my first.  So I called my Lamaze instructor; like, how do we do this?  I still don’t want any interventions.  Still working with the midwives.  And it was very scary because I felt like I was alone in my room with my husband, and inductions can be long and boring, and you don’t really feel a whole lot.  I had my membranes swept the day before and went in and had Cervidil, which can be taken out if there are any reactions with the baby.  So mine was inserted, and my daughter didn’t react that well, so I didn’t have it in as long as they’d intended.  And things ended up going quickly, but I had a lot of back labor, and again, I was alone.  I didn’t want my husband to touch me because he couldn’t provide enough pressure.  I felt like I wanted him to just, like, punch my back.  Nothing was firm enough.  And he didn’t know what to do; he was just in over his head, completely overwhelmed, kept referencing manuals.  We had to make all these decisions as far as interventions and what’s the best thing to do, because my daughter had decelerations in her heart beat, and they were worried about her, and there was the threat of a cesarean.  But I was very fortunate in my journey, other than back labor, which is an experience in itself.  I didn’t have any major interventions; I never had Pitocin.  I wasn’t on magnesium for my preeclampsia.  I did not have an epidural.  I was able to move around the room, and a nurse came in, who certainly had some doula qualities about her, and helped me move my baby, and we did hands and knees on a birthing ball on the bed, and all of a sudden, she turned, and I was able to push her out.  I could feel her turn, and all of a sudden, it was like, I feel like I’m pooping.  And Patrick’s like, you’re really not.

Alyssa:            That’s exactly how I knew.

Kristin:           And I said, “Can you just check, because I think I’m pooping!”  And my daughter was born four pushes later, and it was a crazy experience, an overwhelming experience, and I remember – we’ll get into some of my journey with my daughter after she was born in another episode, but I remember going into my midwife at the six-week checkup, and she was talking to me about family planning and what to do, and because I was 37 and had preeclampsia.  There were big decisions that needed to be made if we wanted to expand our family with another baby.  We had my stepdaughter and then my daughter, and we wanted to have a third child.  And so my midwife recommended that we give it some time for me to heal, but that I should probably start trying when she was about a year.  And so I got pregnant pretty easily and quickly, just like the first time.  I was very fortunate in that, but I was worried about getting preeclampsia the second time.  There was a lot of chance that I would have that recurrence, so I was watched throughout the entire pregnancy.  And so I hired doulas before I even told anyone else.  They were the first call I made, and I wanted that support through pregnancy even more so than at the birth.  I felt like if I could go through what I did without any sort of interventions the first time with preeclampsia and back labor, then I could rack out the birth, but the pregnancy scared me.  Preeclampsia, getting that again, scared me.  And so they supported me through the pregnancy; gave me a lot of resources.  I listened to my midwives, did a lot of swimming, kept the stress down.  I wasn’t working in politics like I was before.  I was doing consulting.  And I talked to lactation consultants because I was nursing my daughter through my pregnancy, and so –

Alyssa:            So that’s not a failsafe planning method.

Kristin:           No, it’s not.

Alyssa:            There are a lot of people who think it is.

Kristin:           No, it’s not failsafe.  So yeah, there were a lot of things that I felt like having doula support really helped me with during that pregnancy, and I had an amazing intervention-free birth, and my son was huge, but he had no issues.  He wasn’t in the NICU like my daughter.  I never had any elevated blood pressure; no headaches, no signs of anything.  But I was on that high watch, especially because I was getting closer to 40 by that time.  I had my son at 39, so I was definitely in that advanced maternal age category by then, so it was a journey.  So I started becoming more and more curious about doula support, but I don’t like blood.  And I don’t really like hospitals.  I didn’t; I do now.  I didn’t like hospitals.  I remember any time my dad had a procedure in a hospital, I was always just overwhelmed by it.  I didn’t like to visit friends in the hospital who had babies.  I didn’t want to be a patient myself.  I had never had anything, no surgeries, nothing done in the hospital.  And so for me to be a doula, where most doulas do the majority of their work in the hospital, didn’t really make sense, but I was still fascinated by birth and everything to do with it.  So after having my daughter I got really active in breastfeeding groups and brought a national nonprofit to Grand Rapids.  We had a big rally and speakers, and that was phenomenal.  And that started me getting to know other birth workers, and I kept in touch with my doulas, and I started teaching Sacred Pregnancy classes after my son was born because that book really helped me, again, to avoid preeclampsia with the mental and spiritual aspect of birth and really also to be intentional about my pregnancy, because with your first pregnancy, you can connect with that baby, and there’s so many special moments between you and your husband or partner.  But when you had a toddler running around or other children, it’s hard to connect to your baby.  So Sacred Pregnancy gave me that outlet in journaling and meditation and affirmations.  It did so much for me that I decided to become one of the first instructors in the US and went to a training with my whole family when my son was four months.  So I had signed up for everything during my pregnancy, and I started – I had promoted my classes, because I’m an overachiever like you, before I even went to the training, and so I had a class set up two weeks after I got back, and ran the first class for my training class, and I had this amazing experience in Virginia with Anni Daulter, who’s one of my dear friends and the author and creator of the Sacred Pregnancy book and the Sacred Living movement, and that started my journey.  I started teaching classes, and my students wanted me to be their doula.  I’m like, “No, I can’t be your doula.”  They’re like, “Yeah, you can.  Just be at my birth.  You know, we’ve spent all this time; you’ve been great.”  And so I started teaching my classes under a doula collectives umbrella and decided that I was getting enough inquiries that I might try it out.  Sacred Pregnancy started a doula training program, so again, I took my whole family to Florida this time so I could nurse my babies and go through this training program.  It was four days, very intense, and a lot of journeying for me in some of my fears that I had surrounding being a doula, especially with blood.  Like, it was pretty wild.  We wrote our fears on each other’s body parts, the other doulas, and mine was blood.  Everybody’s joking because they’re like, “There’s no way you can be a doula.  That’s all you see is bodily fluids.  There’s going to be fluid everywhere.”

Alyssa:            So how did you do it?  How did you get past that?

Kristin:           I feel like I just set the intention that I could do it.

Alyssa:            That there’s a purpose behind this.

Kristin:           And it’s not a big deal, and there was so much more to being a birth worker.  So my first birth, I feel like it was a sign, but my client had a lot of blood loss and hemorrhaging and so on, and I didn’t pass out.  So I was like, I can do this!

Alyssa:            Test completed.

Kristin:           This is a big test, and I rocked it.  And I have so many husbands or partners that have that fear, and I’m like, “I’ve been there, and I’m actually a doula.”  I never really liked to be around blood.  I would cut myself and freak out.  But it’s different because, yeah, it’s not a cut.  It’s not an injury.  It’s a natural, normal process.  So I became a birth doula and started doing some postpartum ceremonies through Sacred Pregnancy.  I had gone to another four-day training, this time in Georgia, and it was all about mother roasting and doing closing ceremonies and belly binding and herbal teas and herbalism, which I didn’t get into all that much, but I really loved the ceremonial aspects of the postpartum traditions and studying Malaysian culture.  But I kept focusing more on my love of birth and helping mothers through pregnancy and their transitions, especially specializing in high-risk moms because that was my background, as well as moms who were seeking a natural birth.  It was a year-plus into my birth journey before I supported a client with an epidural, and the first epidural client I had, I was like, this is amazing.  We had fun, music was going, like, wow.  This is totally different than anything else I had experienced because I was supporting very high-risk clients who were maybe even on bedrest their entire pregnancy; had medical conditions; they were getting cesareans that were scheduled and they wanted me to support them through that.  Or clients who were either having a homebirth or seeking an unmedicated birth.  And some had Pitocin and didn’t choose an epidural.  There were all of these factors, but I didn’t have an epidural for a year, and I was taking a couple clients a month, so that was a wild experience.  Now I have everything, but when I started out, it was kind of one or the other.  High-risk, or someone seeking an unmedicated birth, and a lot of my clients were my students in class, which I was able to have this amazing bond with them for eight weeks with women connecting with each other.  So yeah, I just fell in love with it, but I feel like the postpartum end of things is so needed, as well.  It’s not just the pregnancy; it’s after, and women feeling like they don’t have a village and that they’re alone.  And I, certainly, with two-under-two was overwhelmed and needed support, and it was hard to go places with two.  The store was a challenge and going to the pediatrician’s office if my husband couldn’t help in the winter, because I had babies during – well, a Halloween baby, and a mid-January.  So that’s not always that easy.  So I could have had a doula come along with me to the store or the pediatrician or whatever, bundling two young kids.  So I just love supporting everything to do with the journey to be a parent and to expanding the family and I feel like – you know, women in traditional cultures, they have this village to rely on; they have a sisterhood, and here, especially with people being so transient, we don’t necessarily have our families.  People oftentimes isolate you if you once you have a kid, it’s like, okay, I’m going to give you some time to just deal with your baby.  But really, we need help, and doulas do things that are different than what friends do or what parents do or other family members.  We’ll do whatever we can, but we’re not just focused on the baby; we’re focused on the mother and her emotional needs as well as the father and his needs, which can be very different in the processing of becoming a parent for the first time, or the second or third time.  So we focus on the family unit as a whole which is so unique and so needed, in my opinion.

Alyssa:            You can email us at  Check us out at our website,, and find us on Instagram and Facebook.  We hope to hear from you.

Podcast Episode #2: Having Kids Later in Life – Kristin’s Birth Journey Read More »

Postpartum Doula

Podcast Episode #1: One and Done! Alyssa’s Doula Journey

In this episode of Ask the Doulas, Alyssa shares about her birth experience and her decision to have only child, as well as her journey to becoming a postpartum doula.  You can listen to the complete podcast on iTunes.


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

Alyssa:            And I’m Alyssa.

Kristin:           And our topic today is all about why we decided to become doulas, so we’ll begin with Alyssa’s journey.

Alyssa:            Yeah, so I used to work in a male-dominated field.  I worked in the construction industry, and then I got pregnant, had a baby, and I think as with most women, they would say it just completely rocked their world.  The way I saw things changed, and I wasn’t unhappy at my job, but I knew I needed to do something different.  So I started to wonder, who’s helping all these women who are having hard pregnancies and they don’t have any support once they come home?  And the term “doula” is something that I knew, but I didn’t know what a postpartum doula was, and I remember, Kristin, meeting you, and you were the first one who actually said the term “postpartum doula” to me, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that exists?”  And I started researching it, and I’m like, that’s it.  That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.  So I started looking into certification organizations, found one, and it fit well.  I took the course, and they give you 18 months to complete it, but I am a total bookwork and nerd, and I think it took me about six months.  I got all my bookwork, all my essays and reading and all the clients that I needed and everything that is supposed to take 18 months.  And then I just did it, and I just have always felt compelled to help women and children, and it was even stronger after having a baby.

Kristin:           We were in the same training together, which is pretty awesome.

Alyssa:            Yeah, so I’ve known you since the beginning of my journey.

Kristin:           Yeah, it’s so cool.  So it was during pregnancy that you sort of started feeling different about the woman’s journey and experience through motherhood.  What were your family planning options as far as future kids and how you handle your journey as a mother?

Alyssa:            It’s funny.  Family planning turned into a whole new concept because you spend so many years trying not to get pregnant, and then all of a sudden, you are trying to, and it’s more difficult than you expect.   And we ended up – I think I was 33 when I got pregnant and 34 when I had her, and that is by no means old, but something in me said that I don’t want to have kids past 35.  So I decided when we had her, when we had our daughter, we were going to give it a year, and then make that decision then.  But I kind of knew right away that we only wanted one, and it’s really strange because my husband and I both grew up with siblings.  And so as far as family planning, we didn’t really think about that during pregnancy, but knowing that we were kind of going into this being “one and done,” we had – yeah, that’s the first thing my midwife asked me at my six-week checkup is, “What’s your family planning?  How are you planning for your future family?”  And I don’t know yet.  I don’t know.  So yeah, we’re just good with one, and it’s been taken care of.

Kristin:           And do people, especially in West Michigan that’s so family-centered, ask you and your husband a lot of questions about whether you’re going to have another baby or have a sister or brother for your child?

Alyssa:            Of course they do.  You know, the second you get married, it’s – well, first you’re dating, and it’s, “When are you getting married?  When are you getting married?”  And it’s pry, pry, pry.  And then you get married, and it’s, “When are you having a baby?  When are you having a baby?”  And it’s all these prying questions with the best of intentions, and they just want to see you have a baby, but knowing what I know now and all the struggles people go through, it’s a really tough question to ask and an even tougher one to answer.  And I feel like when you have baby number one, trying for baby number two, it’s still the same.  Just because you had baby number one doesn’t mean it’s easy to have baby number two.  I have friends who are struggling and have struggled for years to have baby number two.  And it’s just not a question that should be asked, but I do.  I get it all the time.

Kristin:           It’s a very personal question.

Alyssa:            Yeah, when I say that I only want one, I get the, like, smack-across-the-face guilt.  “How can you only have one?  You’re doing your daughter a disservice.  She needs a sibling.”  You know, they know better than I do, apparently.  But we love our little family of three, and really, it just boils down to: it’s nobody else’s business.  It’s my family, not theirs.

Kristin:           Right, and you travel a lot, so it makes it so much easier with one child to have a very active life.

Alyssa:            Yeah, we love to travel, and she’s been on an airplane since she was nine weeks old, and she’s so easy and so good.  She’s our little world traveler.  Not that we couldn’t do it with two, but it would be a heck of a lot harder, especially when you’re paying for an extra plane ticket and then you need extra rooms when they get older.  So, I mean, part of it’s selfish reasons, right?  It’s easy for us; she’s great; she’s easy; we can travel.  We’re a little bit older.  Not too old; I mean, I have friends who are having babies right now that are 38, 40, 41.  It’s what’s too old for you?  How do you feel?  And for me, for some reason, it was 35.  Maybe because my mom was 35.  My dad was nine years older, so I saw that growing up, too, having parents who were older than the rest of my friends’ parents, and my father almost being their grandparents’ age.

Kristin:           Yeah, I’m one of the oldest moms on the playground, that’s for sure.

Alyssa:            I don’t mind it.  We’re older and wiser.

Kristin:           Yeah, for sure.  So do you love holding babies, since you’re not having any more babies of your own?

Alyssa:            I do.  I get my baby fix all the time.  I love it.  I absolutely love it.  And you know, honestly, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I had another kid.  It’s a lot of work.  One’s hard.  My clients who have toddlers and then a newborn are sometimes – they can’t even comprehend how much extra work that is.  And I wouldn’t be able to be helping and supporting clients the way I do now if I had more children.

Kristin:           You’d be supporting your own family.

Alyssa:            Right.  So there’s always a give and take.  I know my daughter would be an amazing big sister.  I know she would.  But there’s a give and take.  She gets 100% of my attention and all my love and gets to come everywhere with us, and she’s my little buddy.

Kristin:           And she has cousins, lots of cousins.

Alyssa:            Yeah, lots of cousins, lots of friends.  My husband and I going into this said we’re going to make a point to just socialize her.  She will go places with us; we will bring friends; we’ll be the family that says, “Pick a friend.  They’ll come to Disney with us.”  It’s still cheaper than having another kid to bring a friend places occasionally.  But there’s always a give and take, and ultimately, it’s each family’s personal decision, and it just kind of stinks that other people have to make you feel bad for what feels good for you.  We love our little family of three.

Kristin:           So what’s your best advice to a family or client who plans to only have one child and doesn’t know how to break the news to their family and circle of friends?

Alyssa:            It’s hard.  Based on personalities, I’ve heard people say flat-out, “It’s none of your business,” and I don’t go that route.  I don’t think there’s a need to be rude or brash with people, but you can say, “That’s a nice thought,” or “Maybe that works for your family, but this works for ours.”

Kristin:           Perfect.  I love it.  Well, thanks for listening, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode.  Remember, these moments are golden.

Alyssa:            And I will be interviewing Kristin next episode to talk about her journey and her story.  So stay tuned.

Podcast Episode #1: One and Done! Alyssa’s Doula Journey Read More »

Spectrum Health Natural Birthing Suite

Make Your Hospital Room Feel Like Home

Today’s blog comes from one of our past birth doulas, Courtney Garvelink. Her experience with birth clients, as well as being a licensed massage therapist and previous HypnoBirthing instructor, makes her an expert on comfort measures in the delivery room. See what she has to say about making your hospital birth feel more like home.

If you are preparing for a birth, you are getting your body and your mind ready for what may be the most important and wonderful experience of your life to this point. There are so many options and decisions to make leading up to the birth itself, one of which is where you will deliver; home, birth center, or hospital? Maybe, for you, it’s not a choice. Your finances or insurance may limit you to one option, usually a hospital. And some families just feel more at ease in a hospital. If you are among the many who will be welcoming your new babe in a hospital setting, there are still ways create a warm and comfortable atmosphere that reminds you of home during your stay.

I believe the environment you are birthing in can greatly impact your laboring time. Before we look at what you can do to make your hospital stay feel homier, let’s understand why that would matter. Your surroundings and birth environment can have a real impact on how you cope and progress during labor.  The way we feel and our perception of comfort during labor directly effects our hormones during birth. We are not much different than animals, in that when they give birth they find a dark, secluded space where they feel safe. This allows the hormones needed for birth to kick in and flow well, shutting down the fight or flight response that happens when we feel unsafe or uncomfortable. During labor, we want our body to produce all the oxytocin it can, keeping adrenaline at bay. Hospital rooms are often bright and cold, with visible equipment you may or may not need. They can lack the welcoming feeling you get when you arrive home, ready to relax. Here are several ways you can make your hospital labor room feel more home-like.

Dim the Lights
Giving birth is about as primal as you can get, so take a note from our animal friends. Hospital room lighting is adjustable, and it’s your room, so adjust away. You can ask the nurses to keep the lights dimmed down, they usually have no issue with it. If they need to brighten the room so they can see what they are doing, they will usually turn them back down for you when they leave.

Room Temp
There will almost always be a thermostat in each room. When you get there, adjust the temperature to what you would normally have it set to at home or maybe just a touch cooler. It’s normal for women to run a little warmer during labor. You are probably working harder than you ever will during your birthing time.

Turn on Some Candles
LED candles are great for setting up a relaxing atmosphere. Please don’t bring wax candles to burn, this is a fire hazard. If you like to burn candles at home for the aroma, my next tip can help with that.

Essential Oils
There are several essential oils that are safe during pregnancy and labor that can be beneficial for boosting your energy, easing discomfort and muscle fatigue, and creating a calm aroma in the room. You can mix some water with your favorite essential oil and mist the room or linens you’ll be using. Check before using a diffuser in the room, as some staff may have sensitivity to certain aromas or the hospital may not allow them. You can also dilute the oil and apply to the skin directly. Be sure to get good quality oils or find an aromatherapist who can help you decide which oils are best.

Bring Your Own Pillow/Favorite Throw Blanket
When you are ready for relaxation or sleep at home and you lay your head on your pillow, you are conditioned to relax and sleep. This will be comforting at the hospital when you’re laboring. Use your pillow as a cue to relax as you move through different positions.

Play Some Tunes
Create a playlist of your favorite music, whether it’s calm or upbeat. Music can help reduce stress and the perception of pain during labor. Start working on that playlist while you are in birth preparations by finding what genres or artists are soothing/relaxing to you. Listen to those tracks or stations throughout your pregnancy; it’ll be familiar during labor and help promote relaxation.

Bring Your Own Gown
Lets be real, no one likes wearing the standard hospital gown. They are dull and unflattering. They remind you every time you look down that you are in a hospital. Bring your own button-down gown or an oversized button-down shirt. The buttons will help give easier access for breastfeeding and skin-to-skin. You can also find cute birthing gowns online.

Pictures From Home
Do you have a favorite picture from home that makes you happy or brings with it a feeling of calm? Bring it to the hospital! Maybe not your large canvas print, but something you can pack in your hospital bag. Having a piece of home can be comforting and calming during your stay in the hospital room.

The Best of Both Worlds
Did you know Spectrum Health now has two natural birthing suites at Butterworth (pictured above)? If you are low-risk, it’s a wonderful option. The rooms have a queen sized bed, lamps for softer lighting, birthing balls, and a Jacuzzi tub. And they didn’t forget about Dad; the rooms also have a recliner, flat-screen television, free Wi-Fi, and a pullout sofa. You cannot bring oil diffusers or wax candles, but overall they feel much more home-like than most hospital rooms.

Hire a Doula
Okay this sounds great, but how will you remember all this when the time actually comes? A birth doula can be your best resource. Let them meet you at the hospital and get the room ready for you. Let your birth doula take care of creating a home-like environment as well as pain management techniques and encouragement along the way.

To learn more about Courtney and ask her questions about birth doula support, you can fill out a contact form on our website or join her at an upcoming “What is a Doula?” event at EcoBuns in Holland. 


Make Your Hospital Room Feel Like Home Read More »


Kerry – A HypnoBirthing Birth Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All my best,



Kerry – A HypnoBirthing Birth Story Read More »

Riding the Waves

Gold Coast Doulas is excited to feature a guest blog from Lauren Rauseo. Lauren is mom to Dylan, Liv and Fiona. She works part-time as a graphic designer is working to become a postpartum doula as well. Her favorite things are coffee, manicures, wine, yoga, and family dance parties in her living room. Now that she’s done birthing her own brood, she has moved on to sharing her enthusiasm for natural birth with others through her book, Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama: A practical guide to achieving a drug-free birth in a hospital setting. You can follow Lauren at

Last summer my family went to the beach on vacation. As I jumped the small waves with my 6-year-old, he held onto me with a surprisingly tight Kung Fu grip. This was the first summer he wasn’t completely terrified of the ocean, so despite him being nervous about waves that were only up to our ankles, we had made great progress.

Holding his little hand, I remembered being a small child myself, about his age, when my dad took me into the ocean. He carried me out beyond the breaking point, where the water was calm and manageable, and I could ride the waves like a smooth and steady roller coaster.

After a few minutes, I was ready to return to the sand and I began to swim toward the shore. I approached the location of safety, where I’d be past the massive arches of water and be able to easily walk the last few feet of wet sand to the beach blanket where my mother sat reading her book. Just then, a wave came crashing down on me. Startled but not yet defeated, I got my balance and stood up just in time for the next big wave to knock me down again. I became stuck in this cycle of attempting to fight a force much bigger than my small body, only to be repeatedly overcome by it.

Eventually, my dad saw me in distress and came to what I’ll loosely call “my rescue”: he picked me up around my waist and urgently threw me toward the shore. I rolled through the next big crash under the salty water while loads of sand traveled under my bathing suit. I made it to the warmth of my mom wrapping me up in a towel physically intact, but not emotionally unscathed.

What I didn’t know that summer was that in order to rival an opponent like the ocean, I needed to work with the force, not against it.

The waves in birth.

When you’re in the throes of active labor, your contractions work a lot like those waves at the beach. When they’re strong, they come with power and intensity, and they can easily knock you down. When each one is over, you barely have time to brush yourself off, take a deep breath, and prepare yourself for the next one before that one consumes you, too. Live through this cycle for a couple of hours, and you will likely feel tired, overwhelmed, and ready to give up. You may long for someone to rescue you, like my dad saved me when he propelled my body ashore.

But you may not realize the same piece of information I was missing on my childhood vacation. When you’re dealing with a force as intense as a baby moving out of your body, you need to work with the waves, not against them.

What does this mean exactly in birth? Stop fighting your body. You can’t just wish these waves away. You must work with them. Move with them. Change positions. Breathe deeply. Make noise. Moaning noises. Deep moaning noises. Watch yourself in a mirror. Change positions again. Walk around. Lean into the sensation. Have a snack. Have a laugh. Have someone rub your back or put pressure on your hips. Let go of your fears. Let go of your expectations. Let go of the tension in your body. Just let go. Look deeply into your partner’s eyes. Look deeply inside yourself to find your inner strength. Look ahead to your future, holding your beautiful baby. Believe in yourself. Ride each wave with confidence. YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. You can do THIS. You only have to ride one wave at a time.

We can all get through anything if we take it just one hard thing at a time.

My son and I stayed in the kiddie end of the ocean that whole week last July. But I gifted him with important information I had not been so lucky to get. “If you ever find yourself up against a big wave, just face it head on, and dive right into it,” I told him.

As with birth and most other hard things in life, it is the only way to come out the other side.


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Riding the Waves Read More »


Is Your Pregnancy Missing Craniosacral Therapy

Gold Coast Doulas asked Kelly Marie O’Brien Pahman to guest blog on the topic of craniosacral therapy. Kelly opened St. Brigid’s Holistic Labor Care in 2009 where she works as a Holistic Doula and in 2014 she added St. Brigid’s Craniosacral Center in order to support clients and their families with Craniosacral therapy. She has enjoyed working on everything from chronic pain , head trauma to the childbearing year. She lives in Grand Rapids MI with her brilliant and kind husband and their 4 year old son.

kelly blog

Several years ago I was pregnant with my son, I was also a doula and had come into a string of exceptionally long labors. I had five births in a row that took days. I found my skills were limited… we had “saved” them from c-sections but this left me shaken. Of the 40 or so births I had attended at the time this felt significant and lead to a turning point in my practice. I went into maternity leave ready to research and find a way to shorten long labors. In my research I found tons on optimal fetal positioning and chiropractic but was specifically drawn to craniosacral therapy. I was eager to learn a gentle and effective method of bodywork that powerfully impacted the childbearing year and beyond. It was then that I began to pursue training with the upledger institute and began seeing the valuable impact it had on the health of women in conception, pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, effective and relaxing therapy. CST is a modality that uses light touch to aid in tissue release and enable the body to come into balance, allowing women and their babies to experience a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy. A session is very much like a massage session but much more gentle and you are fully clothed. Kate McKinnon gives a wonderful description in her video, (Go ahead give it a gander)!

I was excited to incorporate this new tool in my practice. One client in particular, Heather, was on her third pregnancy and suffered pretty severe pubic pain. As a doula pubic pain was always a mystery and in my extensive toolbox I came up at a loss. You can imagine how thrilled I was when after one session I received this text from Heather:

“Still feeling amazing today after the CST! Still standing straight, no issues with hips or pubic bone. My mom even commented that I looked taller and was standing the best she has seen in a long time. I even feel more mentally and emotionally balanced.”

I also noticed shorter labors and other birth workers began sending me their clients in hopes that their breech babies would turn (and they did!).

So how does it work?

During pregnancy CST can bring relief to a myriad of issues for several reasons!

Because of its ability to help your body release tensions and imbalances it invites your body to be in alignment which enables optimal fetal positioning and can alleviate painful pregnancy complications such as migraines, severe pubic pain, low back pain and sciatic pain.

Craniosacral therapy also balances the anatomic nervous system (the part of us that regulates our very basic functions) which causes it to be exceptionally beneficial for anyone dealing with stress, high blood pressure, liver or kidney concerns, nausea or fatigue in pregnancy. I have worked on moms with HELLP syndrome and they have found significant relief. One mother mentioned she didn’t recognize how stressed she was until she became so calm and she likened it to a ‘yoga massage’. All this from a short 20 minute session! My personal experience has been that CST can help stabilize levels in HELLP and prolong the pregnancy to a healthier and more viable place for both the mother and the baby.

Labor and delivery

– What I personally notice in my clients who have received CST is a change in labor pattern, contractions seem to be shorter yet more effective. It is also noted (in Upledger’s handout concerning pregnancy and cst) that while shorter labors are a common benefit of CST it isn’t necessarily the goal. It may be made clear to both the mother and the therapist that a cesarean delivery may be what’s best in that circumstance.

Receiving Care

While it would be ideal to receive treatment throughout your entire pregnancy, many women find exceptional benefit from even one treatment finding a great provider and discussing your goals will help you discern what frequency of visits you desire. You can find a care provider near you by checking out the Upledger website. It would be ideal to find someone who specializes and has training in supporting families during the childbearing year, the level of training a practitioner has received is listed on the Upledger site. If you find someone who offers craniosacral therapy in your area be sure to ask them how they received their training and what their experience is, skillset can vary greatly between providers so make sure you find a credible one who is right for you!

There are virtually no negative side effects and because the therapy is so gentle, the session so enjoyable, and the benefits are so great there is no reason not to set up an appointment today.


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