Dr. Gaynel headshot

Mental Health Awareness Month: Podcast Episode #97

Dr. Nave now works with queens through her virtual practice Hormonal Balance.  Today she talks to us about hormones and how they affect our mental health, including the baby blues and postpartum depression.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hi.  Welcome to Ask the Doulas Podcast.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and today, I’m excited to talk to Dr. Gaynel Nave, MD, and she works at Hormonal Balance.  Hi, Dr. Nave.

Dr. Nave:  Hi, Alyssa.  Thanks for having me.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  It’s been a while since we’ve talked, but we were emailing a while ago, and we realized that it’s Mental Health Awareness Month in May, and then this week is Women’s Health Week.  So you wanted to talk about baby blues and postpartum depression.  So before we get into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about Hormonal Balance because last time you talked with us, you worked for — you were at a different place.  So tell us what you’re doing now.

Dr. Nave:  Okay.  Awesome.  So as of this year, I’m in my own practice, as you said.  The name of it is Hormonal Balance.  And so I am an Arizona licensed naturopathic physician, and here in Grand Rapids, I operate as a naturopathic educator and consultant to women, with all gender identities, to basically reconnect to their — who they are and directing their own health, hormonal health concerns.  And that’s the reason why I went with Hormonal Balance, because our hormones affect almost every single aspect of our health, including when we wake up, our mood, our sexual health, all of it.  And for us who are women or female-identifying, the medical community sometimes doesn’t listen to our concerns or minimizes our experience, and so I want to be a part of changing that and, you know, helping women be advocates for themselves and learn more about their bodies, basically.

Alyssa:  Yes.  Awesome.  I love it.  And then you can do — so even though you’re here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you can do virtual visits, so technically, you can work with anybody anywhere?

Dr. Nave:  Yep, yep, yep.

Alyssa:  Cool.  Well, we’ll tell people how to find you at the end, but let’s talk a little bit about the mental health aspect of, you know, bringing some awareness to it this month.  And then, obviously, you know, baby blues and postpartum depression is something that we deal with on a regular with our clients.  So how do you help your patients?

Dr. Nave:  I call them clients.

Alyssa:  Clients?  Oh, you do?

Dr. Nave:  Yeah, because here in Michigan, because my — there is no regulation for naturopathic physicians, even though I have my license.  I function more as a consultant, so I call the people that I work with “clients.”  And so the way in which I assist them is basically gathering information about their concerns as in-depth as possible because I’m not just going to look at you from the perspective of, oh, I’m experiencing this particular symptom, because nothing occurs in a vacuum.  And so looking at you as a whole, how does what you’re experiencing affect you mentally, emotionally, and physically.  And so we do the full assessment, and then a part of that is talking about and educating you on labs that are pertinent to you.  So there are different types of hormonal labs that are available.  There’s salivary.  There’s urine.  There’s blood.  And so, like, making sure that the one that’s best and indicated specifically for you is what we talk about.  It’s very individualized because each person has a different experience, even if we have the same diagnosis.  Does that make sense?

Alyssa:  Right.  So you’re saying if somebody comes in, you do a pretty thorough — kind of like with my sleep clients, I do an intake form.  Right?  There’s no, like — you’re saying there’s no one blood lab for — oh, there goes my dog.  I should have mentioned that we’re recording at home on speakerphone, and — okay.  So what I was saying is with my sleep consults, I do an intake form because there’s no right answer for every family, so if somebody comes in and needs blood work done or — well, like you said, labs.  Blood work might not be the right lab for them?

Dr. Nave:  Yeah, because there’s — let’s talk about female hormones, for example.  So the female sex hormones — and when I say female, I’m using the medical terminology for it, not like — so, like birth sex.  You have ovaries — versus the gender identify.  I’m still working through how to talk about these medical things and still be cognizant and respectful of the different gender identifies, so please forgive me if I say anything that’s offensive.  So the female sex hormones — estrogen and progesterone — but these hormones don’t just occur in women.  They also occur in men.  So all gender identifies have these hormones involved, but specifically for those who can give birth, estrogen is involved in the building up of the uterine lining of the uterus so that implantation of a fertilized egg can happen.  Progesterone is important for maintaining that uterine lining as well as maintaining healthy pregnancy so that you don’t lose the baby.  Obviously, there are a lot more factors involved.  These hormones, based on how the body breaks down balance specifically as it pertains to estrogen — we have three different types of estrogen, so it’s not just one form that’s in the body, and depending on what lab is done, you’re able to verify all three at the same time.  The one that I’m thinking of right now is the urine test called DUTCH test.  I really enjoy that one.  I’m not promoting it right now, but I’m just explaining why I like it.  So that particular type of analysis looks at all three of those types of estrogen in the body as well as how the body breaks them down.  Is it able to get rid of it effectively, which gives information on the metabolic pathways.  So there’s a lot more information that can be gleaned from — depending on what type of lab is utilized and depending on your specific concern and the way in which your symptoms are presenting; a more investigative or information-bent lab analysis might be indicated, and so being able to speak with someone like myself who is well-versed on the different approaches and all the different options can be really beneficial because then you don’t end up having to do multiple tests, you know, all that kind of fun stuff, or having to get blood drawn if you don’t have to.

Alyssa:  Right.  So what hormones are you looking for when somebody comes in and says, gosh, I think I have postpartum depression?  Is it just hormonal, or do I really have — I guess, where do you as a naturopathic doctor, say, “I think I can help you with hormones,” versus, “I think you need to see a therapist”?  Or do you do both?

Dr. Nave:  So I will probably tell them to do both because postpartum depression, as with any mental health condition, is on a spectrum.  So you have mild, moderate, and severe.  Before we go into that, I think it would be important for us to define a couple things.  Baby blues is feeling down or feeling a shift in your mood, like feeling more weepy, more exhausted, after giving birth, and this can last anywhere from a couple days up to two weeks.  If it extends beyond that time or it’s interfering with your ability to function, then it would be classified as postpartum depression, and postpartum depression can occur in that same time frame as the baby blues, like soon after childbirth, within three to five days, up to a year after giving birth.  And I’m going to read a couple of stats, so bear with me.

Alyssa:  Go for it.

Dr. Nave:  Just for a frame of reference.  So postpartum depression affects up to 15% of mothers, and shifting to 85% of moms is that they get the postpartum blues, so that — these statistics may provide some form of comfort that you’re not alone.  Please don’t suffer alone.  If you’re feeling more down and you need more assistance from your family and friends, please reach out.  If you’re a single mom, I’m sure that there are different groups, like single moms groups, or talking to your doctor or your friends who can be there to provide some emotional support for you during that time.  Please, reach out to people.  It’s not anything to be ashamed of.  A lot of women go through it because our hormones, as I said previously, affect a lot of things, including our mood.

Alyssa:  Right.  I feel like mothers are getting a little bit more comfortable talking about how hard it can be and how maybe bad they feel or these thoughts that they’re having.  You know, you talk to the older generations, like our mothers and grandmothers, who said, well, we didn’t talk about those things or we didn’t need help.  And we’re slowly getting to the point where we’re seeing more and more families look for and seek out postpartum support, which is one of my favorite services we offer because they can work day and night.  When a mom is suffering from any sort of perinatal mood disorder, having that in-home support that’s judgment-free can just be crucial to healing.

Dr. Nave:  I totally agree with you.  I’ve seen it in practice and the research back it up.  Just being pregnant, much less giving birth, is hugely taxing on our body and increased your risk for feeling down.  Some of it has to do with the hormonal changes.  I’m going to go really science-heavy because I’m a nerd and I think it’s fun and interesting…

Alyssa:  Do it!  Teach us!

Dr. Nave:  As I said, estrogen is responsible for the building up of the uterine lining, but it also affects things like our serotonin production, which you might know as the neurotransmitter involved in depression.  Like, if you have low serotonin, then you might get depression.  So the thing with estrogen is that it increases the production of serotonin by affecting a particular enzyme called tryptophan hydroxylase that is responsible for processing an amino acid that we get from our food called tryptophan into serotonin.

Alyssa:  Isn’t tryptophan the one that makes us sleepy?

Dr. Nave:  No.

Alyssa:  Tryptophan isn’t the thing that we eat that makes us sleepy?  What am I thinking?  It’s in turkey and stuff?

Dr. Nave:  Tryptophan is in turkey.  Serotonin and melatonin have the same precursor in terms of amino acid but the thing about their bodies is they use similar substrates or building blocks to make stuff, and just because we have the same building blocks doesn’t mean that we’ll get that particular product.  Does that make sense?

Alyssa:  Kind of, I guess.  In my sleep work, I talk about serotonin and melatonin a lot just for, you know, sleep cycles and feeling alert and then feeling sleepy, but I didn’t realize that a lack of serotonin can cause depression.  I’m trying to, in my brain, you know, the science of sleep, then — it makes sense, then, that people who are depressed sleep a lot, right?  Am I going down the right path here?  Because if you don’t have enough serotonin to make those hormones makes you feel awake and alert — sorry, I’m getting you totally off track by asking these questions.  Sorry!

Dr. Nave:  No, no, no.  I don’t think you’re going off track because sleep is very much an important part of the postpartum depression process.  If Mom isn’t sleeping, she’s at a greater risk for experiencing postpartum depression, and we know that the hormonal changes affect our sleep.  Also having a baby, a newborn baby — if the baby’s up crying, and they’re getting their sleep regulated; you’re adjusting to waking up and feeding the baby, feeling exhausted during the day, and your sleep is thrown off in terms of it not going or being matched up to when the sun rises and the sun goes down.  You’re more trying to sync to the baby, and that can lead to fatigue, which then exacerbates your mood, which makes you then more susceptible to feeling more down.  And then it’s like — one of the things that they mentioned is that babies who have a hard time sleeping — there seems to be a relationship between moms who have postpartum depression — so the baby isn’t sleeping; Mom tends to have a higher likelihood of having postpartum depression, but then the opposite is also true.  So if Mom has postpartum depression, it seems that the baby also as a result has a hard time regulating their moods and being more colicky and all these other things.  So taking care of yourself also helps the baby; it’s important to support Mom, which is why I’m so grateful that you guys have the postpartum doulas, and you guys do a lot of work with supporting moms post-baby.  Sometimes people focus so much on the baby that they forget the mother.

Alyssa:  Oh, absolutely.  It’s all about the baby.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So the hormonal mood connection is very complex, and it’s not just A + B = C, you know, because, yes, estrogen influences serotonin production, but there are other factors that then influence, you know, the mood.  Does that make sense?  Specifically, when it comes to the mood changes or the hormonal changes in early pregnancy and postpartum – early pregnancy, we see the estrogen or progesterone levels are shifting because you’re now pregnant, so the body doesn’t have to produce as much of those hormones.  And when we have lower estrogen, which is what happens when you get pregnant, and since estrogen is responsible — or, rather, plays an important role in serotonin, which helps you feel calm when it’s at the normal level — if it’s particularly high, it can lead to anxiety-type symptoms.  If it’s really low, depression-type symptoms.  During those times when the estrogen is lower, there’s this lower mood that can also be accompanied by it.  Are you tracking?

Alyssa:  Yeah.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  So that’s the estrogen portion.  So estrogen affects serotonin production and also directly affects the neural networks in your brain.  Now, we have progesterone.  So progesterone: I like to think of it as our calm, happy hormone.  And so when you’re just about to have your period, usually it helps you sleep.  It helps you remain calm.  But if it’s really low, that can lead to insomnia, feeling really agitated and grumpy, and those kind of symptoms can also happen postpartum and early pregnancy.  And so that’s how the hormonal fluctuations can then manifest with the depression.  For the reason, at least in the postpartum stage, that these hormones might drop is that you give birth.  There’s a huge change because the body doesn’t have to maintain the hormones to keep the baby inside.  The baby is now outside of you.  And it really drops off really quickly, and that huge shift can then lead to the baby blues.  Then if it prolongs, your body having a hard time regulating, then that’s when we shift from the blues to the depression.  In terms of what I would do, I would assess what exactly is going on for you.  Do you have physical and emotional support?  Do you have a history of depression or any mental health condition prior to being pregnant?  Have you had postpartum depression before?  How is your sleep?  You know, sleep is really important.  If we can get you sleeping, I think that goes a long way.  Good quality sleep.

Alyssa:  You’re preaching to the choir here.  I think it’s one of the most important things!

Dr. Nave:  The other thing that they mention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is that if Mom has any feelings of doubt about pregnancy, that can also influence her feeling depressed because it can get, like, amplified during that time.

Alyssa:  So you’re saying, like, maybe doubting if they wanted to become pregnant?

Dr. Nave:  Maybe, or doubt that she’s capable of being a good mom, because there’s a lot of pressures on moms, you know?  Like, oh, someone will mention, like, oh, my baby’s sleeping through the night, or my baby — you know, they started eating at this time.  So there’s a lot of pressure to meet certain milestones that are from society, and that can amplify feelings of inadequacy that Mom might have had prior to becoming pregnant.  And so addressing that piece with a therapist or someone like myself will be a very important part of supporting her with the postpartum depression and getting her out of the state.  For some women, medication might be what they need to do, and their healthcare provider will be able to assess that.  But it’s not the only thing that’s available.  There’s therapists; there’s hormonal intervention, because if it’s a hormonal issue, if you address imbalance, then women get relief pretty quickly.  There’s having a doula, if that’s something that’s accessible to you, or if you have family members who are close by, asking them to help out some more.  Having people provide meals for you so then you don’t have to cook; having your partner be a part of taking care of the baby and asking them to step up some more to give you additional support.  Basically, asking for what you need is — I know it can be really vulnerable and scary if you’re not used to asking for help, but that can really be important in terms of getting what it is that you need because no one is in your exact position and knows exactly how you need to be supported.  Does that make sense?  Because I can talk about, like, a doula and a therapist and a naturopathic doctor, but you know what you need, and I want you to trust yourself in that knowledge.  You know what you need!  And here are all these different options to provide that.

Alyssa:  So you mentioned something a bit ago, and I don’t know what made me think of this, but how — let’s say a mother came to you pregnant and had postpartum depression before and knew that she — you know, her hormones are all over the place.  How much can you actually do in regard to hormones while pregnant?  Is there any risk to Baby?  You know, risk of miscarriage?  What does that look like for a mom who’s pregnant but knows she needs some help from you?

Dr. Nave:  So in terms of working with me specifically, I wouldn’t want to mess with her hormones during that time.  I would employ other tools, one of which is homeopathy, which basically supports the body’s own ability to heal and regulate itself.  As well as putting a plan in place — basically, working alongside her other healthcare providers to create a plan to support her and make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.  What does she do if she notices that she’s trending from green and happy, healthy, thriving, into, I’m not doing so hot — what are the resources available to me when I’m at that place?  Who do I reach out to?  Who do I talk to?  What supplemental intervention needs to happen?  Do I need to talk to my doctor about starting me on medication?  There are so many different options, and prevention is always better than cure.  We would talk about what her issues — so she’s coming and she’s had it before — we would talk about what was her previous pregnancy like; when did the symptoms start to occur; what did they look like; what sort of things — what sort of red flags occurred during that time; what was the intervention utilized at that time; what were her hormone levels like?  What else; what were any medications that she was on; what medications is she on presently?  And, basically, maybe even talk about how that pregnancy is different than this pregnancy.  Like, does she feel more supported now?  What were the things that weren’t present in the previous one that she does have presently?  You know?  And basically coming up with a plan.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I like that.  So it’s kind of like what we do, you know, throughout birth.  It’s talking about all those what-if scenarios and what plans do you have in place for if any of these happen.  And then, like you said, once Baby comes home, nobody plans for that.  They’re so worried about the pregnancy and the labor and delivery part that they come home and go, oh, shoot.  What do I do now?  So it sounds like that’s a really healthy way to plan during pregnancy, if you do have any sort of mood disorder, to find a professional like yourself to sit down and say, hey, let’s go over all these things and put a plan in place, and then I’ll be here for you postpartum.  And then we’ll talk about what we can do then.  I like that.

Dr. Nave:  Right, because, as I said, there’s so many different options.  For one woman, maybe hormones, just giving her the hormones, is what she needs, and then I would, you know, work with her other — because I can’t prescribe hormones at the level that would be therapeutic, but I would be able to recommend, okay, that’s what you need.  Let’s talk to your doc.  Hey, Doc.  This is the plan.  If this happens, this is what we’re going to do so that she doesn’t have to suffer.  You know?  Or maybe it’s something else.  Just being able to work with someone who — again, like myself — who is savvy on that in terms of knowing — yeah, it definitely needs a collaborative approach, which is what I’m about.  In my head, in my dream, everyone would have a health team, you know?  People, health professionals, who are all in communication with each other who are just there to support you and help you thrive.  But I think to wrap up, it would be sleep, health, get your hormones evaluated.  If you’re thinking of getting pregnant and you have any mood disorders or any mental emotional concerns, as part of your pregnancy plan, you should be working — ideally, you would be working with a mental health professional as well, just to insure that you have the support that you need and you’re processing stuff effectively, because those concerns, those mental health concerns, can be substantially amplified once you become pregnant, as well as after giving birth.  If you have a mental health condition or if you’ve had postpartum depression before, you are at significant risk for developing it again.  And this applies to — postpartum depression can also occur if you have a loss of a baby, so it’s not just if you’ve given birth, but any form of baby loss can also result in postpartum depression.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I can imagine it would probably be even amplified with that because you still have the hormonal shift, that drastic hormonal shift, and then grief on top of it.  So it probably takes it to a whole new level.  Well, thank you for all of your expertise.  I always love talking to you.  I would love for people to know how to find you at Hormonal Balance, if they want to reach out.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  I am on Instagram and on Facebook as @drgaynelnave.  I’m in the process of getting my website up, so I’ll update you on that afterwards, or you can call my clinic at 616-275-0049.  If you have any hormonal or mental health concerns and you want to optimize your health team, you want a second opinion, or you just want some additional support — that’s what I do!

Alyssa:  Thank you!  During this Covid pandemic, can you see people in person, or are you choosing to do virtual only right now?

Dr. Nave:  I’m choosing to do only virtual at this point.  I see clients virtually most of the time Wednesdays through Fridays, actually, from 8:00 to 5:00 p.m., and in person at 1324 Lake Drive Southeast, Suite 7, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.

Alyssa:  So once the stay at home order lifts and things get a little bit more back to normal, you’ll be seeing people in person again?

Dr. Nave:  In person, yes.  But for now, we will see each other virtually!

Alyssa:  Thanks for your time!  Hopefully we’ll talk to you again soon!


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Podcast Episode #62: Newborn Traumas

What is birth trauma and do all babies experience it?  How can you remedy it?  Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel of Rise Wellness Chiropractic give us several examples of common birth traumas, what they mean, and how chiropractic care can help.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

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

Alyssa:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we have Dr. Annie from Rise Wellness, as well as Dr. Rachel.  Today we are talking about birth trauma with babies and how a chiropractor can help them, especially since you have a focus on newborns.  So, Annie, tell us some different ways that you can help parents.

Dr. Annie:  Sure.  Well, first, I want to talk about what birth trauma means.  It’s not necessarily that all births are categorized as traumatic births, but let’s say there is a lot of pressure on the mom and the baby while the natural birth process is happening.  So even with a natural birth, there can still be some things that show up in little kiddos after.  But if there is any sort of birth trauma, if Mom has to get an epidural, that can affect the baby.  If there are risks of C-section, stuff like that, any of those red flags that are happening during labor, that can all lead to birth trauma, too.

Dr. Rachel:  You’re probably wondering why an epidural would even effect the baby and create more of a birth trauma.  What happens is when Mom gets an epidural, you can’t feel from the waist down, so we can’t feel when we’re supposed to push.  So what happens is that the baby’s head puts more pressure on the cervix that you can’t feel, and it can cause some birth injury in the cervical spine.  Minor, but it can still have effects later on.

Dr. Annie:  Yes.  And then they’re also more likely to need intervention at birth, too, so whether that’s help pulling the baby out by the head and neck or if that’s use of forceps or vacuum-assisted.  And all of those put a lot of pressure on the upper cervical spine of the baby, where the neck is, and your spinal cord goes through that area.  So that’s what we find in kiddos, even after a natural birth process, but especially in those instances where there’s been a lot of intervention.  We see a lot of upper cervical misalignment that affects the nervous system.  And so what we want is to take care of is correcting that misalignment so that they can develop the way that they’re supposed so that their bodies work.  A lot of people think of brachial plexus injuries in kids, when the shoulder gets stuck and there’s traction on the brachial plexus, but if there’s enough traction there to injure those nerves in the arm, there’s enough pressure just in a natural birth that can affect the whole nervous system through the neck.

Kristin:  We find with breastfeeding there can be some issues with the latch or a baby preferring one side to the other, and that could be, obviously, remedied by chiropractor care.  Maybe something happened during birth where they’re just having some issues with their neck and alignment and so on.

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah, that’s super common.  We see that.  That’s one of the first signs that there could have been upper cervical misalignment is if a baby prefers one side or one breast when they’re breastfeeding or if they have latching difficulty because that all has to do with how they can turn their head, how the muscles in their face are working, what position their jaw is in.  So we see that a lot, and when we do home visits, that’s often for a baby who’s head is turned to one side, and then we can correct that with a simple gentle adjustment, and then it’s amazing.  They breastfeed like a champ after that.

Dr. Annie:  I would say a big one, too, right now is the torticollis and the flat head.  I would say that’s later; you see that later, but it probably started with favoring nursing or with latching difficulty that didn’t get corrected.  They’re favoring, so they always want to turn to one side.  And then they hyper-develop those muscles on that side, and then just further down the road, it becomes harder and harder to correct.

Dr. Rachel:  That’s why we always say it’s good to get your babies checked.

Alyssa:  Maybe that’s why I’m so lumpy on this side!

Dr. Rachel:  It’s probably your parents’ fault!  I blame everything on my parents!

Alyssa:  I had no idea!

Dr. Rachel:  It all started with the birth!

Kristin:  And then, certainly, babies that are colicky or have other issues at birth can be helped by chiropractor care.  That’s an easy fix?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah.  And we’ll say this, just so people don’t think we’re crazy.  There was a study done by an MD, Gutman, and he found spinal injury present in 80% of infants examined shortly after birth.

Dr. Rachel:  Out of a thousand births.

Dr. Annie:  Yeah.  Causing interference to neurological and immune function.  So like I said, even just the natural birth process.  I mean, think about it.  If they’re pulling — what is it, 60 to 90 pounds of axial pressure, they say?  So even a natural delivery.  And just the whole process of babies going through.  The uterus contracting; that’s going to cause some sort of distress on that spine.

Dr. Rachel:  And we see that.  I mean, we see other things, too, in kiddos who ended up C-section.  Because they don’t go through the vaginal canal, they don’t get that compression, and so when they’re pulled out of the abdomen, they have a lot of those issues, too, but then their lungs aren’t cleared of fluid and stuff, so then they’re more likely to have allergies and asthma and stuff like that, too, because of those things never getting corrected.

Kristin:  So can you explain to our listeners what an adjustment for a newborn is like so they can rest assured that it’s very gentle?

Dr. Rachel:  Yes.  So the ICPA says you’re going to use the same amount of pressure that you would use to check the ripeness of a tomato.  So it is so gentle.  If you push your finger on your eyelid, the amount of pressure that you can just feel — that’s how much pressure we’re using to adjust a newborn, especially.

Dr. Annie:  We’re using our pinkies.  There’s no instrument; there’s no twisting, cracking, popping.

Kristin:  And I think that’s what people imagine is the cracking.  So it’s not like that?  And the fact that you do home visits is amazing, so people can come to your office here in East Town, and for certain cases with newborns, you’ll go to their homes.  That’s so wonderful!

Dr. Annie:  We do that with most of the moms that we’ve seen throughout their pregnancy.  As soon as their baby is born, they call us up and ask us to come over to their house and check the baby, please.

Kristin:  And do you also adjust the mom when you do these home visits?

Dr. Rachel:  We usually do.  I think almost every time.  And sometimes Dad, if Dad’s home.

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, exactly.  I mean, it’s important for the whole family.  Birth is stressful!  It’s stressful on everybody.  It’s stressful on the mom’s spinal mechanics and on her body, but emotionally stressful on both parents, too.

Dr. Rachel:  And on your body.  We see doulas after the birth!

Kristin:  You are so helpful to me after a birth because we have some recovery, as well, especially if it’s a physical birth, or even if it’s not as physical and my client’s sleeping with an epidural and I’m trying to get rest in a waiting room and kind of shoving myself into these strange positions on a chair to sleep.  I definitely recover faster and my immune system is much stronger as a result of chiropractic care, so I appreciate you both!  Thank you for explaining some of the remedies for different newborn traumas they experience.  How can we find you?

Dr. Annie:  You can find us on our website.  Or you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.  Both are @risewellnesschiro.  It’s probably the best way to find us and get in contact with us.

Kristin:  You’re still accepting new patients, correct?

Dr. Annie:  Yep!

Kristin:  Awesome.

Dr. Annie:  Oh, yeah, we’ll take all the babies!

Kristin:  Thank you so much for chatting with us, Dr. Annie and Dr. Rachel, and we will see you next time!

Dr. Annie:  Thanks for having us!


Podcast Episode #62: Newborn Traumas Read More »

Sleep coach

Podcast Episode #58: Sleep Misconceptions

Gentle Sleep Consultant, Alyssa Veneklase, talks about the most common misconceptions around sleep training.  If your baby sleeps through the night will your milk supply dry up?  Can a baby really self-soothe?  Will my baby feel abandoned?  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.


Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  This is Kristin, co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, and I’m here with my business partner Alyssa.  And we chatted a while ago about sleep, and we are coming back to some of the top misconceptions related to sleep and training babies, as well as young children.

Alyssa:  I get a lot of people asking questions just because there are so many misconceptions about what a sleep trainer does.  So I listed a few of the most common, and I figured I’d kind of run through those.

Kristin:  Great!

Alyssa:  So the first one is that we let babies cry for hours.  So everyone has heard of cry-it-out.

Kristin:  The dreaded cry-it-out.

Alyssa:  And that is not something I do.  So I would tell parents that if a sleep consultant is telling you to let your baby cry for hours, please don’t listen to them.  I don’t think we should ever let our children cry for hours because it’s not healthy for anybody, and it’s just going to make baby and parents both miserable.  But babies do cry; there’s no way to not have a baby cry.  Day and night, they’re going to cry.  That’s their only form of communication.  But not all cries mean distress.  They cry when they’re hungry.  They cry when they’re tired.  They cry when they’re sad, angry, hot, cold, bored.  It’s up to the parents to learn to distinguish those cries, and that means paying attention to what’s happening.  So, for instance, if there’s a loud noise outside: the phone rings, the dog barks, maybe the sun shines in their eyes through the window, or they yawn and then start crying.  If you’re paying attention to what was happening to them around when they started crying, you’ll begin to understand why they’re crying and what that cry means.  You can’t assume that all cries mean the same thing, and I run across that with parents.  “She cried, so she’s hungry.”  Or, “Oh, she cried, so she’s tired.”  And that would be like if you stood up and stubbed your toe, and I offered you a sandwich.  I’m not listening to what your cry means.  I’m not listening to you, and therefore, you can’t trust me, that I’m actually paying attention to what you’re telling me.

I talk about this a lot in my newborn survival class, that we need to listen and pay attention to our children, no matter how young, because when we respond accordingly, we begin to build that trust.  So when your child cries and you notice the tired signs, it’s important to react accordingly: put them in their crib.  And then depending on the child’s temperament, we soothe them to sleep in a method that makes sense for them.  So we don’t do what a friend did for their child; we don’t do what our mom did for us.  Each child is different, so that’s my job to figure out when I speak with my clients.  And then I also have them fill out a really extensive intake form, so I know their child’s current routine.  I figure out the parents’ parenting methods and the temperament of the child, and then depending on what the parents have tried already, I ask about their successes and failures and what their goals are.  We come up with a plan that’s specific for them, and then I assure them that nothing ever includes hours of crying.  No parent ever asks for that.

But again, depending on the temperament of the child, and sometimes it has to do with how many other kids are in the home, or does Mom have to go back to work in a week?  She might want a really fast method, and that might be what I call controlled crying, where we’re going to say, if you’re comfortable with ten minutes at a time, we’re going to let baby cry for ten minutes at a time before we go in and intervene and try to help them soothe.  So, again, it’s up to their parenting method and if they’re in a rush or if they have a month to give it.

Kristin:  That makes sense.

Alyssa:  I’ve also heard that, well, I’m not going to be able to bond with my baby anymore if they can put themselves to sleep.  So many parents think that, and I don’t know why they forget that you can bond during the daytime, too, but they’re used to their baby falling asleep in their arms while rocking or breastfeeding, and now they fall asleep on their own.  So I tell them to focus on bonding during the day.  Especially if the mother is breastfeeding, that’s the ultimate bonding experience, and it still happens several times throughout the day.

Once baby’s on a good nap routine, it actually helps you bond better because when baby’s awake, they’re more alert and happy.  Some babies are so exhausted that all they do is cry and fuss, so it’s nearly impossible to bond with a baby like that.  That’s when the parents tell me, oh, my baby’s colicky, and oftentimes I can tell just from the intake form alone that they’re not colicky; they’re overly tired.  And those babies just cry and cry and cry all day long.  So when babies do cry and fuss all the time from overtiredness, cumulatively, this creates a lot more crying than any sleep training does.  So this overly-tired baby’s crying all day.  A little bit of crying at night for sleep training eliminates it all.

I had a client once that her baby began to sleep in the crib all alone, and then she called me after the fifth or sixth day and was really sad because she missed having her baby in her bed.  It’s not my job to tell her she can’t have her baby in bed with her; I’m not going to judge her for feeling sad.  Of course, she’s used to having this bonding time with her baby in bed.  So I told her that the decision was hers, and she and her husband were now getting a full night’s rest; the daughter was sleeping soundly all night with no tears, but Mom was feeling sad.  So I told her, if she wanted her daughter back in bed with her, by all means she can do that.  But she right away said, no way.  No way; I can’t go back to the old way.  She knew she’d be back at square one where she was exhausted and angry, not able to function well at work, and really short with her husband.  So I suggested to make the weekends her bedtime snuggle-time in the morning.  Who doesn’t love a Saturday or Sunday morning bedtime snuggle?  So on days they didn’t have to get up for work or send her to daycare, they brought their daughter into bed with them, and she got to wake up and snuggle under the covers with them for an hour before they get up.  She can breastfeed, and it was this good balance where she felt like she could still have the whole weekend to bond with the baby and get a full night’s rest.

Another one is that I’ve heard that, oh, your baby’s going to feel abandoned.  I agree; if you’re leaving your baby in a locked room inside a crib for hours with no intervention, they’re going to feel abandoned.  It’s a horrible idea and a horrible thought, and again, if anyone’s telling you to do this, please don’t.  A good sleep consultant will come up with the plan that’s best for you.  So if they have only one solution to the sleep problem that they use with every client over and over, walk away.  There is no one right answer, or this would be easy.  People wouldn’t need my help; people wouldn’t need to read books.  So during my gentle sleep training, parents feel like they’re supported by me, and the baby is gently guided into sleep slowly at the parents’ pace so that nobody feels abandoned.  And again, I do have clients who are like, I need to do this now.  I have five days until I go back to work; I’m totally fine with some controlled crying.  Let’s get this done.  And I still think it’s gentle because I want baby to feel connected to parents still, and I don’t want the parents to feel like they’re abandoning their child.  So even with a little bit of crying, you can still make it gentle.

For breastfeeding, I hear all the time the concern that my milk supply is going to dry up.  And everyone is different.  When I have clients fill out my intake form, I find out if there are any breastfeeding issues.  Feeding is a huge part of the sleep consults.  If baby isn’t gaining, I wouldn’t even suggest sleep training; I would suggest a lactation consultant visit.  And there’s no way a baby can sleep longer stretches if their belly isn’t full.  It’s just impossible.  If there’s low milk supply, we can work with that, but while baby sleeps, mom can get up and pump or she can do a dream feed or both.  And if milk supply isn’t an issue, your body’s smart, and most women can go an eight-hour stretch without nursing.  But when baby wakes in the morning, they’ll both be very, very ready.  So yeah, I ask a lot of questions about feeding, especially if a baby is breastfed, and my number one goal is that they are getting enough calories during the day before we even attempt for longer stretches at night.

Formula-fed babies are a little bit different because I know exactly how much they’re getting.  They’re usually gaining a lot, and then if they’re older and eating solids, it still can be an issue.  I had one client say, “Oh, he just snacks and snacks and snacks, all day, all day, all day.”  And I said, okay, well, what’s he snacking on?  Come to find out, it was things like Cheerios and those puffs and just all empty calories.  So as soon as we changed it — I said get rid of all this processed food and think about healthy fruits and veggies that are appropriate for his age.  Add in some protein.  That’s all he needed.  He was snacking on bad things all day.

Kristin:  Those easy finger foods.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  And then the last one that I get told a lot is, well, my child is just not a good sleeper.  I’ve tried everything, and nothing is going to work.  And so many parents say this, or they say, he’s really strong-willed or she’s a fighter, and I don’t doubt that, but all babies want to sleep.  They do!  They want to sleep.  We just have to help them.  They don’t know how, and we need to show them and guide them.  So as parents, we do the best we can, but unfortunately, it often means we’ve created some really bad habits.  It’s really funny because a lot of moms will tell me, “I know I’m not supposed to do this, but this is what I do.”  And they’re in survival mode, for the most part.  If you’ve gone weeks or months without sleep, you’re literally doing what you need to do to get this baby to sleep right now so that you can get back to sleep quickest.  So usually we know that they’re bad habits, but it’s the easiest solution at the moment, so we continue to do it until we just can’t do it any longer, and they’re so exhausted and sleep-deprived they can’t take it anymore.

The best sleep plan is mutually agreeable between parent and child, and if we’re trying to force the child to do something that is against what their internal clock is saying, then yes, they will fight.  If we try to get them to nap when they’re not tired, we will think they’re strong-willed.  If they wake every day at 4:00 AM just ready to party, we will say that they aren’t good sleepers.  And all of these things are just products of poor sleep hygiene, not necessarily a problem with that child.  So a lot of the times, it’s a lot of educating on sleep.  I give a very extensive plan, and a lot of the plan is just understanding sleep; how it works, and what, based on their baby’s age, developmentally is going on.

Kristin:  Sure.  What about those parents that say their child doesn’t fall asleep unless they’re driving around the neighborhood in the car?

Alyssa:  Again, it’s just a sleep association, and after a certain age, it’s not even a healthy way to sleep.  They’re not getting into the deep, restful sleep, and it’s not restorative.  It’s like a constant REM sleep where you’re not getting any restorative sleep, and cat-napping is a really bad and a really common habit that little kids and babies get into, but again, they’re not getting restorative sleep.  So it’s teaching them about naps and how to allow their baby to soothe themselves to sleep, and it’s figuring out what works because, again, it can’t be the same for every baby.  Some babies love to suck, and every baby does because they suck on bottles and boobs and pacifiers, but some really love to suck, and that’s their soothing mechanism.  The second they find a hand, sleep is a dream.

Kristin:  And they probably did that in the womb, as well.

Alyssa:  Yes, many babies do.  You’ll see ultrasound pictures with little thumbs in their mouths, yeah.  The ones that like to be driven around, they might have an association with swinging or movement.  Especially as they begin to roll over and they can go on their sides or tummies, they might even roll themselves to sleep.  Some babies do that, and some — this one scares parents, but if they bump their heads against the crib or bang their hand or foot on the crib, but it’s soothing for them.

Kristin:  I’ve seen babies do that, yeah.

Alyssa:  So it’s letting parents know that they are soothing themselves to sleep.  Don’t be alarmed.  I mean, if they’re banging their head so hard that they’re getting bruised and stuff, that’s different, but a lot of the times, it’s just kind of a light thump-thump-thump.  It’s just understanding and watching; really watching your baby and understanding their cues and what they’re telling you.  It’s really important.

Kristin:  Fascinating!  Thanks for sharing!

Alyssa:  Sure!  If anyone has any other questions for me and wants to reach out, there is some info our website.  We’ve got some other podcasts and blogs about sleep.


Podcast Episode #58: Sleep Misconceptions Read More »

rise wellness chiropractic

Podcast Episode #49: Adjusting Babies

Do babies really need a chiropractic adjustment?  Listen to Dr. Annie of Rise Wellness explain what happens to a baby’s body during pregnancy and delivery and how gentle methods can be extremely effective.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or Soundcloud.



Alyssa:  Hi, welcome back to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, postpartum doula and co-owner at Gold Coast, and we are talking to Dr. Annie again who is a local chiropractor.  Hello!

Dr. Annie:  Hello!

Alyssa:  Last time you were here, we talked about your Webster certification and what that means for pregnant mothers, and I know that you specifically can work with — there’s a pediatric end to this?

Dr. Annie:  Yes!

Alyssa:  So tell me what you do with babies and kids and what do you say to parents who are maybe scared to bring their newborn in for a chiropractic adjustment?  What does it look like?

Dr. Annie:  So first of all, I’d like to say it’s a huge honor when a mom is willing to hand you their newborn baby and ask me to check their baby.

Alyssa:  They get it, right?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, they get it, which is such a beautiful thing.  They understand that the nervous system runs everything in the body and how important that is in development, in development of a child.  So that’s just an awesome honor.  I’ve had the opportunity to adjust a few newborns the day after they were born, which is so exciting.  The analysis and adjustment for an infant is different.  For anyone who’s familiar with chiropractic care, it can be kind of scary for some adults even.  Analysis and adjustment of an infant is totally different from that.  We say that the amount of pressure that you use to adjust an infant is the same that you would use if you wanted to check the ripeness of a tomato.

Alyssa:  It’s very gentle, right?

Dr. Annie: Very, very, very gentle.

Alyssa:  I’ve seen you adjust newborn babies in the hospital, Dr. Rachel’s babies.  Very, very gentle.

Dr. Annie:  It is, yeah, and part of that is because their spine is still cartilage.  They’re not ossified yet, so we’re not trying to move bones.

Alyssa:  They probably wouldn’t even crack if you tried, right?

Dr. Annie:  No, no, exactly.  You’re not looking for an audible crack in a child.  No, not at all.  We don’t do anything like that.  Again, this is more — especially with kids, we’re looking a lot more at the neurology and how that is affected, and so in order to influence the neurology and make sure that everything is working appropriately and lined up appropriately, it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to adjust them.  Now, why would we adjust an infant?  I always think that’s a good question because babies don’t have back pain.  A lot of people think that’s what chiropractic is good for.  But when kids are coming through the birth canal, everything is compressed.  The sutures kind of fold over each other, and then when the baby comes through, they’re often pulled out by their neck and tractioned by their neck, so that can lead to the very first subluxation.  If they aren’t in the correct position for labor, once the uterus starts contracting — so let’s say a baby’s breech.  Once the uterus starts contracting, it’s going to push down on the top of their head, too, so that can cause compression to their cervical spine.  Kids who are born via C-section don’t go through the birth canal, but still, they find the head and then they pull them and kind of twist them as they’re coming out of the mom’s uterus, and they will pull them out like that.  So there’s still a lot of traction that is placed on the infant’s cervical spine, and so that traction can misalign their bones in the very beginning.  Now, if you have a misalignment there and your brain isn’t communicating with your body, that’s the main way that kids are getting their sensory input.  That’s how they’re developing their brain, so being able to adjust them right when they’re born is an amazing thing.  You can set them up for an entirely different life just by changing that sensory input and making sure that everything is in good alignment so they can develop appropriately.

Alyssa:  I had clients who had horrible colic and their babies just won’t stop crying and they don’t know why, and oftentimes a chiropractic adjustment takes care of that for several reasons.  You know, if things aren’t talking, or maybe there is some sort of pain, right?  Even for nine months, you’re curved up in the fetal position.  I mean, I’ve got to imagine that’s maybe not putting strain on an infant’s back, but…

Dr. Annie:  I don’t know why, but there’s a common misconception that babies don’t feel pain the way that adults do, but that’s totally wrong.  That comes up in the circumcision talk, which is way out of my scope, but babies do feel pain.  They do feel that, and if you have a colicky baby, I think parents are attuned with their children enough to see that they’re in pain.

Alyssa:  There’s something causing the pain.

Dr. Annie:  Absolutely.  And so with colic, with GERD and reflux and things like that, things that kids often have trouble with, the mechanism for that is that the rest of the body is run by your nervous system.  Your brain coordinates and controls everything that goes on in your system, so if there is a miscommunication there, then things can’t function the way that they’re supposed to.  So that’s why getting an adjustment can help with those issues.  So it’s not necessarily that we’re treating the colic or we’re treating the constipation or ear infection.  That’s another big thing that parents will bring their kids to a chiropractor for is ear infections.  We’re not treating those things directly.  What we’re doing is we’re treating the subluxation, the misalignment, that’s affecting the nervous system and allowing that to clear up, allowing the communication to restore, and allowing the body to heal itself the way it’s supposed to.

Alyssa:  So what would you tell somebody who just doesn’t get chiropractic care?  They don’t understand why you would need it, why would I bring my baby there.  You know, if the body can heal itself, let it heal itself.  What do you say to that?  How do you counter that?

Dr. Annie:  I do think the body can heal itself, which is awesome, as long as it has the right tools and the right resources and the right communication.  So if you didn’t work out or if you didn’t eat healthy, your body could still function pretty well for a while until diseases and things like that caught up with it.  The body is really good at adapting until it isn’t.  But kind of the same thing: if you have a misalignment causing that interference to the communication, your body is going to keep functioning pretty good until it doesn’t, and so the thing with that interference to the nervous system is that we don’t necessarily see those things on a day-to-day basis stacking up.  Sometimes people will have trauma and it’s like, this is what caused this misalignment and ever since then, I’ve had neck pain, and I just need that to be adjusted back.  But a lot of times, it’s a lot of little things that are contributing, and then we say, you know, what was the one thing that triggered this?  Well, it wasn’t.  It was a lot of things.  It was probably since childhood when you were born and you were pulled out and then you started walking and maybe you kept falling onto your butt or you fell out of a tree as a kid or you broke your arm falling off the playground and things like that accumulate, and then when we’re adults, we have all this pain.  So why not address that when we’re a child?  Why not make sure everything is lined up, everything is communicating the way that it’s supposed to and healing the way it’s supposed to so then those things don’t compound down the road?  It’s much more preventative and wellness model rather than trying to fix you when you’re old and crickety.

Alyssa:  Which is a hard concept for some people to understand, right?  Like actually preventing these things from happening in the first place.

Dr. Annie:  Right.  But a lot of times, that is something that a lot of people will have to find out on their own, too.  I’m here for education and information.  If somebody doesn’t want to trust that, then…

Alyssa:  They can come in and pick your brain for a little bit, right?

Dr. Annie:  Yeah, absolutely.  I’ll answer any questions they have, but sometimes you have to find out information on your own.

Alyssa:  Right, until, like you said, we’re good at adapting until it doesn’t.  And then when it doesn’t, then that’s when you go, oh, yeah, maybe she was right.

Dr. Annie:  And usually it’s something small like picking up a laundry basket, and it’s like, I threw out my back just picking up this laundry basket!

Alyssa:  Tell us where people can find Rise Wellness.

Dr. Annie:  You can find us online at our website.  Or we’re also on Facebook and Instagram at @risewellnesschiro.

Alyssa:  Email us at  Thanks for joining us!

Podcast Episode #49: Adjusting Babies Read More »

Birth Doula

Podcast Episode #42: Building Your Birth Team

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


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

Dr. Rachel:  Ten months today.

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  And she’s also an OB?

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

Alyssa:  Is she the right one?

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Yes.

Alyssa:  You’re an educated mom.

Dr. Rachel:  Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  It can come from all directions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Annie:  That’s true.

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

Dr. Annie:  Oh, levels of intervention?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  I found my OB.

Alyssa:  You obviously knew a chiropractor…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Annie:  Is that one new?

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  It’s hard at first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  Right.  Why are you moving me here?

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

Alyssa:  Really?  While breastfeeding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  Be kind, and give yourself some grace.

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

Alyssa:  Maybe some things, but…

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  I need to talk to you about that.

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Yeah… still not my time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Convenient and so good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Same.

Dr. Annie:  We all do!

Alyssa:  And babies need it!  They need it!

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

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

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Babies, please sleep!

Alyssa:  Two at once, or maybe three!

Dr. Rachel:  I can’t imagine.

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

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

Dr. Annie:  It takes a village.

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  So the restaurant Terra is right below us.

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Get a cupcake!

Alyssa:  And then work out.

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Get a therapy session.

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

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

Alyssa:  Again, we’re getting off topic…

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

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

Dr. Rachel:  Annie’s here now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alyssa:  Good job!  I had no idea!

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

Alyssa: That’s awesome!

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

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

Dr. Annie:  Absolutely.

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

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

infant massage

Infant Massage Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Infant Massage 

Gold Coast Doulas is thrilled to present a Part 2 of the Infant Massage guest blog from Cristina Stauffer.  Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM has been passionate about serving women and young children throughout her career.  Pregnancy and early motherhood can be one of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. Cristina has been dedicated to supporting women through this delicate time by providing therapy and support, education and screening about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and through teaching parents and caregivers the joy of infant massage. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and from Boston University with a Masters in Social Work.  Cristina became a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) in 2005 and has incorporated this practice into many aspects of her career. She has been practicing in the field of social work with a focus on women and young children for over 20 years. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Infant Massage

Infant Massage has been practiced for centuries in India and other countries, but is still a relatively new practice here in the United States. Vimala McClure, author of Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, brought the concept of infant to the US in the early 1970’s. Infant massage classes, books and videos have continued to pop up and are still growing in popularity.  For most parents, however, the idea of massaging their baby is a new and different concept. It is normal to feel nervous or awkward about learning a new skill and parents or caregivers often have a lot of questions. Rest assured, infant massage is a very gentle, easy practice to learn and incorporate – anyone can learn to massage their baby. I have listed some of the most common questions I hear from parents and caregivers along with their answers below:

Why should I massage my child?

Infant massage has many benefits including relaxation, bonding and attachment, improved sleep habits and reduction in gas, constipation and fussiness.  However, the most beneficial part of massage is the opportunity to just be with your child. Listen with your hands and with your heart as you massage, dropping your expectations or need for accomplishment or perfection. The quality of this interaction is very powerful and allows you to enjoy a special experience with your child, emotionally and physically.

How old should my child be?

We are never too old or too young for massage. Your child will benefit from your nurturing touch from birth through the teen years. The principles of respect and asking permission apply throughout all these years. This is a great way to keep in touch with your child and it is never too late to start! For older siblings, massage is a good way to neutralize jealousy and provide the focused attention they also require. Massage is a relaxing form of communication that can help you maintain positive communication with your child at any age.

How long should I massage my child?

Massage should last as long as it is pleasurable for both you and your child. This may be as little as a few minutes (which can be very effective) and as long as a half an hour or more.

How hard should I press?

Infant massage uses a firm, yet gentle touch.  Don’t press too hard—this isn’t “deep tissue massage”, but also don’t tickle or use touch that is too light. Watch for the baby’s reaction to determine the appropriate pressure.

How do I understand what my child needs during massage?

Observe you baby’s breathing to notice how your touch is being received.  Your baby’s breathing will probably become deeper and slower. Sighs may indicate that your baby is receiving the massage as nurturing and pleasurable. Facial expressions, body posture, movement and sharing what they like with words and pleasurable sounds also indicate if babies like the experience.

Can Dads do infant massage too?

Yes! Massage is a wonderful way for fathers to demonstrate their love. We must respect that a father’s way of relating to the child may be different from that of mothers. Sometimes Dads give the best massage because they aren’t afraid to go a little deeper.  Massage is also a great way for fathers to learn more about their baby’s body, needs, communication and cues.

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Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies?

Why is Infant Massage Good for Babies?

Gold Coast Doulas is thrilled to present a guest blog from Cristina Stauffer.  Cristina Stauffer, LMSW, CEIM has been passionate about serving women and young children throughout her career.  Pregnancy and early motherhood can be one of the most vulnerable times in a woman’s life. Cristina has been dedicated to supporting women through this delicate time by providing therapy and support, education and screening about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and through teaching parents and caregivers the joy of infant massage. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and from Boston University with a Masters in Social Work.  Cristina became a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) in 2005 and has incorporated this practice into many aspects of her career. She has been practicing in the field of social work with a focus on women and young children for over 20 years.

Why is infant massage good for babies?

Most of us recognize that we are never too young or too old to enjoy nurturing touch or the practice of massage; however, many people still wonder why they should learn to massage their baby.  Research over the years has shown that infant massage has many benefits for both parents and child, but the most important aspect of infant massage is simply the opportunity to just be with your child. The quality of the infant massage interaction is very powerful and allows you to enjoy a special experience with your baby, both physically and emotionally.  Other benefits of infant massage include relaxation for both caregiver and child, improved sleep habits for babies, promotion of healthy digestive function in babies, better body awareness, and encourages positive parenting skills.  Let’s explore the benefits of infant massage in each of these areas further:


  • Massage reduces fussiness.
  • Massage helps a baby learn to relax and reduce stress.
  • Massage helps a baby handle sensory input and respond to it with relaxation.
  • Daily massage time offers parents a time to relax and unwind from the busy pace of life and to connect with their child.
  • Massage increases a parent’s ability to help their child relax in times of stress.

 Improved Sleep

  • Research has shown that massage helps improve the quality of baby’s sleep and encourages the baby to fall asleep faster after massage.
  • Massage increases oxygen and nutrient flow to cells and helps to deepen respiration.
  • Many parents report noticing improved sleep habits such as longer naps or more restful sleep after incorporating infant massage.
  • It is not unusual for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep during infant massage classes or private instruction.

Healthy Digestion

  • Research has shown that massage strengthens and regulates the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Massage stimulates baby’s ability to gain weight, especially for premature babies.
  • Massage helps to relieve the discomfort of gas and colic, teething, and congestion.
  • Infant massage instruction helps parents to better understand how the digestive system works and how to help relieve gas and constipation.
  • Infant massage class materials include a massage routine specifically targeted to relieve tummy problems such as pain, gas, constipation and colic.
  • Parents become more aware of how the baby’s belly looks and feels and are better able to identify possible tummy trouble.

Better Body Awareness

  • Massage enhances children’s body awareness and encourages positive feelings about their bodies.
  • Massage encourages children to feel “in charge” of their health as they grow and provides a healthy alternative to deal with stress.
  • Massage helps babies learn to accept and tolerate positive touch which is especially beneficial for babies who have been hospitalized.
  • Massage builds parent’s respect and understanding for their baby’s unique body, cues, and nonverbal communication.

Benefits for Parents and Caregivers

  • Massage provides intimacy and special time for caregivers and child, including fathers.
  • Massage helps parents to feel more competent and confident in their parenting role.
  • Parents learn how to touch and respond to their baby in nurturing ways.
  • Massaging their baby increases prolactin production (the “nurturing” hormone) in the parent allowing them to feel more relaxed and loving toward their child.
  • Group massage classes provide an opportunity for mutual support from other parents.
  • Massage provides an opportunity to connect, interact and share quality time with babies and children at any age.


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