Trusted birth team

Your Trusted Birth Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

March of Dimes

Evidence Based Birth


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Midwives and Doulas

Midwives and Doulas

Gold Coast Doulas is pleased to present a guest blog from Mandi Garvey  She is a certified birth doula, Masters trained health educator, and EMT serving families in West Michigan in both clinical and non-clinical labor support roles.  When she’s not at a birth in one capacity or another, she’s napping in preparation for the next one.

Doulas and Midwives

… but if I have a midwife, why would I want a doula?

Building the perfect care team to support your upcoming labor and delivery can feel daunting.  Do I choose a midwife or a physician?  Will my partner accompany me in labor?  Should my mom be in the room?  All of these questions race by while you try to sort out the best way to meet your needs, often without knowing exactly what the needs will even be once labor begins.  As doulas, we often hear the suggestion that those being attended by midwives or those laboring outside of a hospital would not benefit as much from the presence of a doula.  We think doula support can be beneficial in all scenarios from home birth to planned surgical delivery.  Here’s why:


  1. The Research Says So

Twelve separate randomized trials comparing outcomes between labors supported by doulas and those that were not found doula support significantly reduced the length of labor and the odds of surgical or medical interventions like cesarean section, forceps delivery, oxytocin augmentation, and pharmaceutical pain relief.  People in the doula supported group also rated their labors as ‘less difficult’ and ‘less painful’ than those in the unsupported group.  Doulas were also found to reduce anxiety levels, increase positive feelings about the birth, decrease rates of postpartum depression, improve self-esteem, and increase rates of breastfeeding success.  Evaluations of partner-only or other non-doula support person labors did not see the same results.  (Scott, Klaus, & Klaus, 2009)


  1. Doulas Have Only One Job

While midwife supported labors are awesome, and we adore their dedication to supporting safe and healthy labor experiences, their primary focus is not the same as a doula’s.  Your midwife is tasked with monitoring labor for complications, managing the physical aspects of delivery, and keeping the laboring person and the baby physically safe throughout that process.  This often means their hands, eyes, and attention are on things other than the continuous non-judgmental complete emotional support of the laboring family, and rightly so!  We love midwives for the excellent work they do, but in situations when you might need the most support, they are likely going to have to focus on your physical needs and those of the imminently arriving baby.  Doulas do not have this conflict.  We are there to devote 100% of our attention to you, your partner, and y our emotional needs.


  1. Doulas Are Not Healthcare Providers

Your healthcare provider has a sense, from their experience and training, about how they think labor and delivery should go.  Based on the risks in a given situation, and always wanting to keep the health and safety of all involved in mind, even the most inclusive provider has a way s/he would like decisions made.  Your doula, by contrast, has no personal preference in what decisions you make.  We support you regardless of how you decide to proceed.  We will not try to persuade you in any particular direction.  Your provider is always motivated by safety first (as they should be!!).  Your doula is motivated by you, first and only.


  1. Doulas Are All About Relationships

When you hire doula support from Gold Coast, you’re getting two doulas dedicated to getting to know you, your family, and your needs.  We work alongside you from that first meeting through the postpartum period.  You know our names and faces.  We make it our job to know your rhythms, preferences, and fears.  As a healthcare provider myself who works separately in both capacities, as a birth attendant and as a doula, I can say the experiences are vastly different.  When I’m working as a clinical provider, I often do not meet laboring families until the last hours of their adventure, sometimes skating into the birth space only moments before your baby arrives.  When I work as a doula, we spend weeks getting to know each other.  I know you really wanted to be the first to touch your baby when it emerges.  I know you prefer constant light touch for affirmation.  I know how scared you were a month ago, and how strong you feel right now.  While choosing a small practice of midwives often gets you a similar relationship to this, hiring a doula guarantees it.


  1. Doulas Are Great Team Players

There is seriously nothing better than a having a whole team of people ready to support you through your labor and delivery.  Doulas love attending births with midwives.  We love knowing the kind of excellent care and attention our clients will receive in the midwife-led model.  We love providing a complementary service in supporting laboring families’ emotional and informational needs while the midwifery team handles the rest.  The question should not be, ‘do I hire a midwife OR a doula?’, but rather, ‘how do I get both?’.


We love midwives.  We love the work they do, the care they provide, and the positive force for change they are in the healthcare system.  We also love doulas.  Their presence improves labor outcomes, regardless of who the healthcare provider is, and creates space for positive experiences for laboring families.  We think midwives and doulas collaborating to provide the best in practice and support can be a perfect combination for laboring families.  There’s no need to choose one.  You really can have it all.

* Scott, K., Klaus, P., & Klaus, M. (2009). The obstetrical and postpartum benefits of continuous support during childbirth. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine, 8(10), 1257-1264. doi: 10.1089/jwh.1.1999.8.1257.

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