newborn classes Childbirth education

Audra Geyer Doula

Audra’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #105

 

Audra Geyer, Gold Coast’s newest birth doula, tells us her birth story and how birth support from her doula was a game changer.  She also took HypnoBirthing classes and went from being afraid of labor to looking forward to it!  Her experience with Gold Coast let her to become a doula herself! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Audra to talk about her birth and HypnoBirthing experience.  Welcome, Audra!

Audra:  Hi.  Thank you!

Kristin:  So tell us a bit about yourself.  I know we met at the Baby Expo in your early pregnancy stages.

Audra:  Yeah.  I live in Alger Heights with my husband and our two dogs, and we have a seven-month old daughter, Charlie.

Kristin:  This was your first pregnancy.  So tell us about how you planned for your birth.

Audra:  So initially, I had no plans for my birth.  I just envisioned that it would not be an enjoyable experience, and I just had to get through it, and it was just part of what the process was for having a baby.

Kristin:  And how did you get that information?  Was it from movies or friends, or what made you sort of fear birth?

Audra:  I think just society’s view on birth.  You know, everyone I had talked to, I had just heard horror stories about their own personal experience.  And, yeah, watching movies, TV shows, everything just shows that this is a terrifying, awful experience, and so that’s just — I was just preparing myself for that.

Kristin:  And I think people tend to share negative stories more than they do their positive birth stories with friends and family.  That just feeds into it.  So you took some classes with us in early pregnancy, and also used both birth doula support as well as postpartum. So tell us a bit about that preparation and maybe how it changed your mindset.

Audra:  Yeah.  So I went with a friend to the Baby Expo, and I had heard about doulas before but just assumed they were for natural home births.  So we just started talking, and I heard about HypnoBirthing.  I remember the first question I asked you guys at the Baby Expo was, can I still get an epidural?  And they were like, oh, of course.  Whatever birth you want, we’re just there to support you.  So I went home and just did a ton of research, and I was like, holy cow.  There’s this whole world of doulas and support for women that I never knew about.

Kristin:  Yeah.  There is a misconception that doulas are only for home birthing, unmedicated birthers, and, you know, especially at Gold Coast, we pride ourselves on judgement-free support, and we have clients who want an epidural the second they get to the hospital, clients who are planning a surgical birth and they want support emotionally and with resources for that birth.  So, yeah, doulas are definitely for all birthing persons, not just unmedicated birthers.

Audra:  And my whole life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, and my husband and I knew that would be something we’d have to keep a close eye on while I was pregnant but also postpartum, and to be like, oh, I could have this support right away, and just knowing that I will have someone in my corner and someone to support my husband, too.  It just provided us both with a lot of comfort.

Kristin:  Yes!  So tell us about HypnoBirthing and what you learned in that class.

Audra: HypnoBirthing was amazing!  First off, we just learned so much about the birthing process and what happens to our bodies in labor.  Stuff we’ve learned, but I’ve never really taken a deep dive into it and thought about it.  And just a big focus on labor and delivery and pregnancy — our bodies were meant to do this.  We learned a lot of medication, breathing techniques, but it was also a big focus on bonding with your baby, bonding with your partner.  Every class we left, I just felt so connected to my baby, to my husband.  A lot of positive affirmations and just really starting to envision my pregnancy, my labor, delivery, as such a beautiful experience no matter what happens.  And what a gift I’d been given to be able to go through this.

Kristin:  Right.  Exactly.  And what I love about HypnoBirthing is it’s, as you said, it’s more like that mind-body connection versus just positions and some physical techniques you can do to reduce the perception of pain.  So it’s just — there’s such an emotional connection to birth and your partner and your support team, and of course breath and using positive language in birth and taking the fear out of it.  It’s a huge aspect of HypnoBirthing.

Audra:  I remember my husband was like, sure, I’ll do this with you.  And when we left our first class, he was like, that was nothing like I imagined.  He thought we were going to be in a gymnasium with pool noodles on the floor in different positions, and I think he just felt really empowered, too, that look at what I can do to help support my partner and be just as involved in the birth.

Kristin:  Right.  Beyond HypnoBirthing, I know you took some other courses through Gold Coast.  What else did you do preparation-wise?

Audra:  I took the Saturday Series course.  So Comfort Measures, Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.

Kristin:  And what were your takeaways from that one day series?

Audra:  It was just so nice to have information, and I just felt so much more calm and educated and kind of knowing what to expect and knowing that there’s no right or wrong way.

Kristin:  Right.  It’s what right for you.  I think all of us, you know, emphasize that in our classes, whether it’s Alyssa’s Newborn Survival or the Comfort Measures that I teach, and certainly Kelly’s breastfeeding class is eye-opening in so many ways and shows how a partner can be involved in feeding, as well.

Audra:  Yeah, and I think with the breastfeeding, it really just prepared me, that if that’s the route I choose to go, it’s going to be hard, and it’s okay that it’s going to be hard.  I think I had an idea that, oh, no, breastfeeding is going to be so easy.  She’ll latch right away.  We’ll have no issues.  But to know that, yep, you’re not alone.  This can be a struggle, and again, you have to figure out what’s best for you and your family.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Now we’re getting to your birth phase and working with birth doulas and so on.  I know Katie was your doula.  Tell us about that experience.

Audra:  Oh, it was amazing.  I went from initially, “Of course I’ll have an epidural,” to, nope, I’m going to do this all naturally, thanks to HypnoBirthing, to at 37 weeks finding out I needed to be medically induced.

Kristin:  Lots of changes with that.  Tell us how Katie supported you in pregnancy and then leading up to the induction.  A lot of people don’t really understand the role of a birth doula through pregnancy and labor.

Audra:  Yeah.  I had — the minute I signed the contract with Gold Coast, I had Katie’s support.  Through the phone; I could text her with any questions, anything I was worried about, anxious about.  She would respond, provide me with resources.  A lot of what I needed was just reassurance that things were going how they were supposed to go, that I was okay, baby was okay.  And especially as a first-time mom and first time being pregnant, your body does a lot of things that you don’t know would happen.

Kristin:  Right.  There’s a lot of, “Is this normal, or do I need to call my provider?”

Audra:  Exactly.  And so just knowing I had someone there, nonjudgmental, you know, just supporting me — because, you know, calling your provider, you don’t always get to talk to them, or they’ll just yep, yes or no, give you a short little information, and then they have to move on with their day.  So having someone who can sit down and really just talk through your options, talk about how you’re feeling, checking in with you emotionally.

Kristin:  So when you found out you needed to be induced, how did your doula support you through that process before she supported you in the hospital?

Audra:  So I left my appointment with the doctor sobbing in the car, just absolutely terrified about getting induced.   So the first thing I did when I got home was text Katie.  I just expressed all my fears to her and what I was feeling, and first and foremost, she reassured me that the medical team I had chosen were going to take the best care of me.  My baby was going to be safe and healthy.  I had blood pressure issues, and so I was just terrified of what could happen if my blood pressure gets really high.  She encouraged me to write out a list of questions to ask my doctor.  Like, if this happens, then what do we do, or what would this step be?  What would this look like?  So I could have more of an understanding of what potentially could happen at the hospital.  And then also she really encouraged me to write out some affirmations, because I love writing affirmations and I use them all the time, and so I was able to write a list of affirmations that I would use while I would meditate to just help calm me down and center me, focus me, and let me still enjoy these last few moments of being pregnant.

Kristin:  That’s fantastic.  So you were able to have conversations before the induction started, and you got the answers you needed to feel empowered.  So tell us about some of the induction process and when your body started to kick in and when you felt like you needed in-person support and how that went.

Audra:  We knew it was going to be a long induction process, just because I was 37 weeks and my body was not near ready for labor.  So between Katie, myself, and my husband, we were basically in constant communication through text message, just how I was doing, how I was feeling, what the next step was.  And Katie actually came the first night we were at the hospital just to check in, see how we were doing, letting us know whatever we needed, she was there and ready for us.  And things were going pretty stable at that point; nothing that we needed a lot of support.  We were just resting.  So she went home, and said, I have my phone with me.  Anything you need, call, text, reach out.  And things were slowly progressing.  It got to the point where I did end up getting an epidural, but I was just pretty relaxed.  And then the next day around noon, my water broke, and things started to pick up pretty quick.

Kristin:  Yes.  It intensifies everything, for sure.

Audra:  We reached out and said, hey, you know, I think we’re ready for you to come.  Labor has officially started after 24 hours of being at the hospital.  And so by the time Katie got there, my epidural had kind of worn off a little bit.  So I was in a lot of discomfort.  I was not feeling well, and I just remember her coming in and with her and my husband, they were both just supporting me as I would breathe through my surges.  And I actually — Katie has two sons, and I remember at one point looking up at her, and saying, I just need you to tell me what you love about being a mom, in between, so that I was able to focus on the things I had to look forward to as I was in some of these deep pains and discomfort.  And it was just so amazing to hear.  You know, I had my husband on one side telling me the birth affirmations we’ve written, and then I had Katie on the other just sharing these amazing things that I knew I would soon be experience.

Kristin:  Yes.  I love it!

Audra:  With that, I was able to just relax, surrender, and just — I felt so calm despite being in one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.

Kristin:  That’s great.  So things intensified.  Did Katie help you move into different positions?

Audra:  Since I had the epidural — because I finally got some relief — she would help with the nurses, with moving me, and I think the biggest thing for me was just the reassurance she was giving me, that I was doing great, my body was moving along, this was where I was supposed to be, helping me feel excited.  And I think for Rob, too, she just was an extra support for him because he was supporting me so much, and it helped me to know he was taken care of as well.

Kristin:  Yes.  That is a huge part, because we do support a couple as a whole and make sure that the partner has gotten rest if needed with inductions or had a chance to get food or to step out and take a break because it can be intense when they’re pouring everything into you and are trying to be that supportive partner.  We don’t want them to be depleted at the time of pushing and meeting their baby.  So I’m glad that he felt taken care of, as well.

Audra:  Yeah.  And once I finally felt relaxed and got a lot of relief, Katie encouraged us both to take a little rest.  And there’s actually a picture of us, with me in the bed sleeping, Rob on the couch sleeping, about an hour before I gave birth, and it’s just one of my favorites.  The last few moments of us resting, just the two of us, and that moment was able to be captured.

Kristin:  And then did Katie offer support after the birth?  Like, how did she help after your daughter was born?

Audra:  When Charlie was born, she came very quickly and ended up needing to be on CPAP pretty quick after she was born.  So as a new mom and just already very anxious, I was terrified.  Like, what is this looking like?  Is she okay?  Is this normal?  What are they doing?  And I had just given birth and my body — you know, I was just in this tremendous amount of emotions in general, and she was able to support both my husband and I.  She encouraged Rob to go stand by Charlie and then was able to be there with me while the doctor was finishing up with me and just kind of keeping us informed, educating us about what was going on and that things were okay because the nurses and doctors, they’re all talking to each other and saying terms we didn’t understand, and just encouraging me to ask questions if I had any and validating that, you’re doing a good job advocating for yourself, Audra, and just — yeah, it was nice knowing my husband could be with Charlie for that brief time, and I had someone right there with me, as well.  And so then after Charlie was able to be off of CPAP, we were able to do our skin to skin.  She helped us with latching and, again, I was just very anxious.  Is this supposed to be happening?  Does she look okay?  Is she breathing okay?  And just, like, bringing me back to focus of, look, you just gave birth, and you have this newborn baby in your arms.

Kristin:  I love it.  Did she follow up after she left to see how you were doing when you were still in the hospital?

Audra:  Yes.  She would follow up to see how feeding was going, and then we did — I would say about a week after Charlie was born, she came to our house to just follow up and see how things were going, and she got to see Charlie and hold her.  And it was just so nice to have her support and to have — like, that she was such a part of this experience to us, where I was so vulnerable, but yet it was such a beautiful, emotional experience that I feel just so connected to her now.

Kristin:  Yes.  I feel that way with my doulas.  It is vulnerable, and a time of reverence.  So, yeah, you end up feeling like your doula is part of your family for that journey, whether it’s a birth doula or a postpartum doula.  And, of course, you delivered pre-COVID, but your postpartum phase was during COVID.  So that’s changed your initial plans as far as postpartum doula support went.

Audra:  Yeah.  So we had — I’m trying to think.  Maybe a couple weeks before COVID hit, being at home and being able to use our postpartum doula.  And I remember initially being like, okay, what do I do?  How can I entertain the doula?  Like, I need to clean the house.  I need…

Kristin:  You’re a helper, obviously!

Audra:  I need to look presentable!  And Jen was our doula, and she came over and was just like, oh, my gosh, Audra, like, you can relax.  I have Charlie.  Don’t you worry.  And I would go take a nap.  I would rest.  I would come downstairs, and the house would be tidied.  She’d have a snack waiting for me.  My pump parts would be clean.  The diapers bag was packed and ready to go.

Kristin:  Perfect!

Audra:  Yeah.  Less things I had to worry about or to focus on later that day.  And I like to talk and talk through experiences, so a lot of times, too, we would just sit and talk, which is what I needed at that time.

Kristin:  And we are there to process the birth with our clients as far as postpartum doula support and then help you heal and talk to you emotionally.  I feel like friends and family ask more about the baby and don’t check in enough with the birthing person and how they’re doing and how they’re feeling.  Everyone wants to hold the baby and give gifts for the baby, and there’s not enough attention to the birthing person.

Audra:  Yeah.  The amount of times I got asked, how’s the baby sleeping?  You know, it was never, how are you sleeping?  How are you doing?  It was, oh, how is she sleeping?  And I also got a lot of, oh, I’m glad that’s going great now, and you just wait until you see what happens.  And I’m like, my body is still healing from this crazy experience.  I’m keeping another human alive.  What about me?  I need help, too.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And in traditional cultures, women are supported for 30 to 40 days from friends and family, and they aren’t expected to do anything.  And in our culture, it’s like, okay, get back to work.  Get back in shape.  You should be feeling great and don’t complain.

Audra:  Keep the house clean!

Kristin:  Right.  Be perfect!  And that’s not how it should be.  So we’re trying to bring back some more of that focus on the birthing person.  So you are now a doula with us!  So tell us how you became interested in becoming a doula after your experience and a bit about why you are drawn to this work, because you obviously have another career.

Audra:  Yes.  So like I said earlier, I went from not knowing a lot about birth, just expecting, you know, this to kind of be a terrible experience, and through my education and through the help of having doulas, I was able to make my birth one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve gone through, and I found myself, after giving birth, wanting to talk about birth a lot, and I was doing a lot of research, reading a lot of books, reading about postpartum, and right now, I’m a speech language pathologist.  I work with people who’ve either had a stroke or a brain injury.  So I’ve always worked with people, helping people.  That’s been a passion of mine.  And just realizing the lack of knowledge, especially in the United States, of the postpartum experience, the birth experience, and what a doula is.  And I just thought, wow, if I could help give other women the support I had and help them through this journey, help them have the experience and support that I had, that would just be so fulfilling and just — it makes me sad when I think about all the people I know who look back on their birth and their postpartum and it was — they felt like they had no support and they felt so alone.  And that shouldn’t be the norm.

Kristin:  Right.  Yeah, they feel isolated, especially now during COVID, and we’ve been working all through COVID.  Some of our postpartum work had halted, and some hospitals weren’t allowing doulas in, so we offered virtual support only, but I feel like now more than ever, because of the isolation with COVID, doula support and that connection is so essential and providing information, as you said, so couples can make informed decisions about their birth and their postpartum phase and planning out what they want to do after baby or babies are born and how they can accept help from others or hire help, like postpartum doulas or a housekeeper or a meal delivery service, whatever it may be.

Audra:  Yeah.  And even the comfort of knowing you guys have a sleep consultant, and if I ran into issues, you know, I had 12 weeks off for maternity leave, and a big area of anxiety was, what is it going to look like when I go back, with sleep?  And so I always knew I had Alyssa if I needed her.  Thankfully, Charlie got on a good sleep routine on her own, but just knowing the amount and the diverse support that Gold Coast had, I knew I was going to be taken care of, and I knew I was in good hands.

Kristin:  So what did you learn — obviously, you worked with doulas, but then you recently took your birth doula training.  What opened your eyes that you didn’t know before about the doula role?  Tell us a bit about your training.

Audra:  It was so amazing.  Just learning about nonjudgmental support.  No matter what someone is thinking, feeling, we are just really there to support them.  And, obviously, as we go through our own births and raising our own kids, we can develop our own feelings, but putting those aside and saying, we are there to support you, and no matter what you choose.  So it was nice to just learn about all those different strategies and how I could go in and help a woman in any situation, no matter what.  I would feel confident doing that.

Kristin:  Right.  And your particular training through ProDoula — and I’m also trained through ProDoula — you realize you don’t need all the things as a doula, and you have that instinctual knowledge, and you’re able to just serve; again, without judgment, and an open heart, and a brand new doula can be just as effective as someone who’s seasoned like myself.

Audra:  Yeah.  And, again, before I knew much about doulas, I always thought, oh, they have the birthing balls and they’re in the tub and, you know, all these other knick-knacks that you have to have.  And it’s really just yourself being there.  That’s all you need.

Kristin:  I mean, I have a birth backpack that is filled with things, but outside of, you know, my bosu and a couple other things — like, I like the LED candles to put in the bathroom if a client’s in the tub or shower, but I don’t use everything I bring.  Other than snacks for myself, and that’s key.  Got to keep going!  But, yeah.  So we’re excited to have you on the team!

Audra:  Yes.  I’m so excited!

Kristin:  And I know you have plans eventually to become a postpartum doula, but you are available for hire for labor doula support.

Audra:  Yes!

Kristin:  So we’re excited to begin that process with you.  Thanks for sharing your story, Audra!

Audra:  Yes.  Thank you for having me!  I love sharing it and talking about my experience.

Kristin:  You’ll impact so many families, not only from listening to the podcast, but when they begin working with you.  And we will include a link to your bio in our podcast notes and the blog.  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  These moments are golden!

 

What I Wish I Knew: Podcast Episode #104

 

Kristin and Alyssa, owners of Gold Coast Doulas, talk about the things they wish they had known before having a baby.  Listen to this fun episode packed with advice and lots of little gold nuggets of information for new parents!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud

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

Alyssa:  And I’m Alyssa.

Kristin:  And we’re here today with a fun idea of what I wish I would have known before pregnancy and having a baby.  And this is inspired, actually, by your newborn class, Alyssa.

Alyssa:  That’s kind of why I created it, yeah, because there’s so many things that it’s like, why did nobody tell me this?  Or if only I had known, this would have been so much easier!

Kristin:  Yeah!  So I will start.  We’ll go through, like, the top five things that each of us wished we would have known before having kids.  So my number one is no PJs, especially if you’re registering, that have snaps on them.  You want zippers.  Snaps are a pain in the middle of the night.  They’re noisy.  They might wake your baby.

Alyssa:  Same with Velcro.  But, yeah, I never really thought about snaps and doing that in the dark.  It can be really tricky.  I’ve had it where, you know, the top button is — or the top snap is hooked to the second one, like everything’s kind of off because you’re doing it sleep-deprived.

Kristin:  Yeah.  So Alyssa, what would you say?

Alyssa:  One of the things I remember the most is a friend told me to have pads on hand, and she actually had just had a baby, like, two months before I did.  So she’s like, you know, ran to the bathroom and said, here, I actually have some left.  I never used them.  I’m like, what do I need these for?  And she said, well, afterwards, you just kind of leak, and there’s blood and who knows.  And I’m thinking, okay, whatever.  So I brought them home.  But then I was one of the, what, 25 or 30% of people that your water actually breaks.  So I wore them for — gosh, my water broke at, like, 4:00 in the morning or something, and I had — I didn’t go to the hospital until noon, so I had, like, eight hours of slow leak.  So I wore the pad constantly, and then afterwards, it’s almost like spotting or like a light period.  And I didn’t know, too, you could put, like, witch hazel or something on it and freeze the pad, kind of like in a — like, around a melon or something so that you could sit on it.

Kristin:  Yes.

Alyssa:  I didn’t know that.  I didn’t do that, but that’s kind of an afterthought, too.

Kristin:  Similar to what they give you, but without the witch hazel, at the hospital.  The ice pads and ice diapers if you have more abrasions.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  A client told me that they had heard — or a student in my class, the adult diapers, they kept those around for leaking or spotting or water breaking.  Any of the things.  So having something around like that was probably one of the best things that I was told that many people aren’t told.

Kristin:  Right.  I had one of those pads for my car when I was driving in case my water broke.

Alyssa:  Oh, you sat on it all the time?  That’s actually a good idea.  You could buy those puppy pee pads or something.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I had a long commute to Lansing with my first pregnancy, so it was like, if my water breaks, I’m just…

Alyssa:  I actually thought about that as I sat in my office, you know, the couple weeks before I was due.  Like, what if I — that will be so embarrassing if my water breaks and I’m sitting in my chair.  Had I thought about that, I probably would have sat on something, just to save myself some embarrassment, I guess.

Kristin:  And my number two tip is to look into childcare as soon as possible.  If you plan to go back to work full time or are looking for a nanny or a nanny share, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, don’t delay until your third trimester.  It’s so hard to find help.  And in that in between time, of course, you can have a postpartum doula, day or night.  But that childcare search and nanny search is time-intensive.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  It takes forever, and it’s the last thing your brain is capable of doing when you have a newborn at home.

Kristin: Exactly.

Alyssa:  So if you have to go back at 12 weeks, you can’t — you can’t start at 6 weeks, looking for childcare.  A, you probably you won’t find it, or you’re going to have to settle for something that you don’t necessarily love, and that’s the hardest thing to do is you have to leave your baby for the first time.  You want it to be with somebody that you 100% feel comfortable with and trust.

Kristin:  Yes.

Alyssa:  You don’t want to have to settle.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  I wish that I would have taken a breastfeeding class, and I wish I knew there was lactation consultants that actually come to your home because I suffered through — I got mastitis twice, and even though I knew enough about breastfeeding to know, like, the whole supply and demand thing, in the fog of new motherhood, I was nursing and pumping because I was, like, oh, my gosh, my boobs are so full, and I just need to drain them.  And I was, like, doing the worst thing possible because I’m producing then twice as much, which then I got mastitis, and my boobs were so swollen that it was hard for my daughter to eat then, and then my one nipple got really cracked and sore and it was bleeding one day, and I just remember sitting in the rocking chair sobbing, and my husband came in and was like, oh, my gosh, what can I do?  But had I just taken a breastfeeding class, I would have probably more easily reminded myself like, oh, yeah, it takes a couple weeks for this whole process to, you know, adjust and my body to adjust to what baby needs and that I didn’t have to sit in that rocking chair by myself and cry, and my latch was wrong.

Kristin:  Right.  Kelly saved me with both of my kids.  I had mastitis as well and thrush, and —

Alyssa:  You know, I knew about Kelly Emery.  Or maybe I didn’t until after.  I might have found her because she did Baby and Me yoga classes.  She was one of the only ones, like, seven and a half years ago that did baby.  So I think I might have found her after the fact.  I wish I had known about the lovely Kelly Emery before.

Kristin:  Yes.  We’re lucky to have her at Gold Coast, along with Cami, of course.

Alyssa:  What’s your next one?

Kristin:  So I highly suggest, based on personal experience, as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, hire a birth and postpartum doula.  With my second pregnancy, my doulas were some of the first to know that I was pregnant, before family.  And I needed resources, and they were there emotionally and to connect me with resources in the community.  So I recommend hiring early, especially as doulas get booked up quite early.  Like, we’re working with clients with due dates in late March, and as we’re recording, it is August.  And so thinking about if a team or individual doula takes two clients or even four a month, how quickly they can get booked up.  So hire your doula early, and same goes for postpartum.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  I don’t think I even fully understood what a doula was or did, you know, eight — almost eight and a half years ago that I got pregnant.  And if anything, I knew what a birth doula was but didn’t know enough to even consider looking into one or hiring one.  And, of course, now that we do what we do, it’s a no-brainer.  But I’m not having any more kids.

Kristin:  Right.  Same.

Alyssa:  But if I was to do it all again, absolutely.

Kristin:  Exactly.  So what about you, Alyssa?

Alyssa:  So this wasn’t, like, a big deal, but I didn’t really know what to expect with the baby’s cord and how it fell off and what it looked like, and I don’t do well with blood and scabs.  It just turned into a big, giant, thick, button-sized scab.

Kristin:  Yes.  It’s gross.

Alyssa:  It really grossed me out, and then just falls off, and I remember finding it in her diaper or something one day.  But I’ve also reminded and I always tell people in my class about, if they’ve ever watched Sex in the City — oh, gosh, what’s her name?  The redhead?  I don’t know.

Kristin:  Miranda.

Alyssa:  Miranda.  She has a baby, and the cord falls off, and then the cat finds it and is batting it around the house, and I — it’s like one of those, oh, my god, I’m going to puke in my mouth kind of situations.  But I didn’t know how gross it would be to me, but I’m just squeamish when it comes to scabs and blood.  But, yeah, I didn’t really know what to expect with that.

Kristin:  And then you have to know to, like, flip the diaper down so you don’t cause more irritation.  I didn’t know that at first.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We go over a lot of that.  And they make diapers now, too, that have little tiny cutouts where the belly button is, and they’re very, very small, for newborn only, but you only need one little package of them because if it falls off within the first week, you don’t need many of those.

Kristin:  And my advice is, with the registry, don’t — it’s not your wedding registry.  You don’t need to register for all the things.  Babies don’t need all that much.  And so my suggestion is to register for a meal service, a doula, classes, lactation support, versus all of the onesies and the high chair and things you don’t need until much later.  I mean, some things are essential.

Alyssa:  Car seats, stroller, yeah.

Kristin:  You know, if you’re going to wear your baby, the different carriers are great.  You know, a diaper bag.  There’s some things that — you know, a thermometer, that are important to have.  But you don’t need all the things.

Alyssa:  I know.  I always see on baby registries, like, spoons and bibs and bowls.  Like, you realize your kid — it could be a year.  You know, you might start solids at six months, but they’re not sitting up at a table by themselves for probably 12 months.  So it’s a lot of wasted money for something that’s going to sit in a closet for up to 12 months unused.

Kristin:  Exactly, especially if you’re in a tight space.  Where do you put all that stuff?

Alyssa:  Right.  Definitely.  Like, have people spend money on support and food.  Bring me food!  And send someone to watch my baby and pick up my house and care for my toddler and let me rest or take a shower.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Or sleep all night.  So one thing I learned later into have a newborn was to always pack two extra sets of clothing for the baby or at least, you know, maybe not two full outfits, but a couple extra onesies.  And then I also would pack one for myself.  Like, something — yoga pants and a T-shirt.  Something that was easily folded up, because I can’t tell you how many times I either — you know, you’re out and about, and you get spit up on, and of course, it will be, like, yellow spit up on a black shirt.

Kristin:  Of course.

Alyssa:  That everyone can see, and then it stinks like crazy.  Or she’d have a blowout on my lap, and then the poop would come out the diaper onto my pants, and now I have puke on my shirt and poop on my pants.  So I would just always have — even if it’s just in my car, an extra set of clothes for me, as well.

Kristin:  That applies for birth doulas.  I always have an extra set of clothes in case I get fluids or water breaking.  So, yeah, wise advice.  And my advice is, for those of you that aren’t prepared for baby poop, meconium is really interesting for a first-time parent.  It is so dark and sticky and hard to, like, wipe off.

Alyssa:  Like, what did my baby eat?  Tar?

Kristin:  Right!  For breastfed babies, in my opinion, breastfed poop does not smell and is quite easy to deal with, but then you introduce food or formula, and things get totally different.  It’s like, okay, I got through the meconium, then I had my breastfed baby, and now food is like, what?

Alyssa:  Yeah.  We do talk about that.  Breastfed baby poop doesn’t — exclusively breastfed babies — the poop doesn’t smell.  And that’s another thing.  On the registry list, the very expensive diaper genie with the expensive refills — you don’t even need to use that in the beginning.  You can literally throw in in a little trashcan and just take it out at the end of the night or even every couple days.  The second formula or solids are introduced, it’s a whole new ballgame.  It stinks, and you’ll want to use that diaper genie.

Kristin:  Agreed.

Alyssa:  My last one, again, is kind of about breastfeeding because it was tricky for me in the beginning, but I wish that I didn’t buy — like, I bought nursing bras, nursing shirts, nursing dresses, all the things, and there were just so many layers and levels to this breastfeeding thing that I could never do it in public because I had to, like, undo the nursing bra, which was under the other shirt, which — I would always have to go somewhere private.  But then I found these nursing tanks, and there’s like a shelf bra in them, and I could have worn like what I’m wearing now, like a frilly, flowy shirt, and you lift that shirt up.  You have the tank on underneath to cover your belly, and very nonchalantly, you breastfeed your baby.  Nobody even knows.  Oh, and the covers.  All these — I had this thing that looked like an apron.  I put it over my head, and it was this cloth, and then baby’s whipping it all around.  And in my class, I tell people, you’re basically waving a flag to everyone, saying, I’m about ready to breastfeed.  Look right here.  Whereas if I would have just nonchalantly unclipped, put her on, nobody would even notice.  So there’s too many things, and the more things you buy, the harder it makes it, I think.  It’s simple.  Keep it simple.

Kristin:  I agree.  I always used tanks, and obviously, for larger-chested women, that may not be as much of an option support-wise, but I even labored in tanks, and, you know, speaking of labor, my biggest advice is don’t give birth, unless you’re birthing at home and it’s not as big of a deal, in a sports bra.  If you’re at the hospital, there’s no way to get it off.  If there’s an IV line, it often has to be cut off.  So a nursing tank, again, that has the snaps or a nursing bra if much easier.

Alyssa:  People wear a sports bra because they’re comfortable and think, I’m just going to labor in this because my underwire bra is not the most comfortable things.

Kristin:  But then you can’t get it off for skin to skin.  It’s so tight.

Alyssa:  Right.  I just think I didn’t wear a bra.  Free flowing.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I was pretty much that way toward the end.  Started out modest, and then it just all changed.  So we would love to hear your top five things that you learned.  You can always reach out to us, and maybe that will make some future episode ideas.  But we’re happy to share other advice in Alyssa’s amazing newborn class, and for those who are expecting twins and triplets, we have a multiples class.  And, of course, labor advice is given in HypnoBirthing, and we have the breastfeeding and pumping classes that also give some very helpful tips.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So check out our classes.  You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.  Thanks for listening!

Kristin:  These moments are golden.

 

Kristin Alyssa Gold Coast Doulas Owners

Podcast Episode 100!

 

It’s the 100th episode!  Alyssa and Kristin, co-Owners of Gold Coast Doulas, talk about what the past two and a half years of podcasting has looked like, how the podcast has changed, how the business has changed, how services have pivoted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are playing their part in supporting other local businesses.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Welcome to the 100th episode of Ask the Doulas Podcast!  I am Alyssa, and Kristin’s here via phone because it’s COVID-19.  We can’t even see each.

Kristin:  Right.  It changes everything!

Alyssa:  I know!  We haven’t seen each other in forever, and I actually came into the office for the first time in weeks, and it feels so good to be not working in my house.

Kristin:  Yeah, it certainly changed so much about the way we do business.  But 100 episodes — I can’t even believe it, Alyssa!

Alyssa:  I know.  It seems wild that in two and a half years, we’ve done 100 episodes.  What is that even — I should do the math on that.  Let me do it real quick while you talk.

Kristin:  Yeah.  I mean, we started this podcast as a member of the Radio for Divas team.  It’s a radio show with women experts in the community.  And then we transitioned to the podcast format, wanting to really keep our clients as the central focus and information that they would want to hear, and then also thinking about what other listeners, whether it’s regionally or across the US, might be interested in.  Capturing more information from experts on anything related to pregnancy and newborns to even toddlers and parenting in general.

Alyssa:  So the math, by the way: two and a half years is 130 weeks, so in two and a half years, there have only been 30 weeks that we did not put a podcast out.

Kristin:  Wow!  Yeah, I know when we started out, we had more frequent podcasts and then have slowed it down a bit.  And Alyssa is the editor and producer.  How has that changed for you?

Alyssa:  It’s a role that I don’t particularly love, but I think, actually, COVID has increased because — you know, I think for the first year and a half of it, I was cranking these out once a week, and then it slowed, just because it is so time-consuming and so much work.  We covered a lot of topics already, and we had a lot of changes in the business happening and I wanted to focus on other things, other than the podcast.  But now that we’re home, the last few weeks I’ve actually been putting one out every week.  And the fact that I can’t meet with someone in person — it’s kind of easier to do it over the phone.  The sound quality obviously isn’t as good, but it’s allowed me to — you know, I’ve got three podcasts recorded now with Laine Lipsky, who’s in California and is a parenting coach, and we’ve had just a ton of stuff to talk about.  But the virtual, like able to do that virtually, it doesn’t matter that she’s in California.  She can coach a parent in Michigan, and same with my sleep.  I can do sleep consults for families anywhere.

Kristin:  Yeah, it’s been amazing to see the locations that some of your sleep consults have been from.

Alyssa:  Yes, my last ones from Colorada and New Orleans, I think, and then somewhere in Florida were my last three.  So they haven’t even been local.

Kristin:  That is one thing with COVID.  We’ve taken things more globally as far as now offering classes online and being able to expand our base outside of the 50-mile radius that we serve.  And your work hasn’t changed much because a lot of what you do is virtual anyway, so you haven’t had to pivot all that much as a sleep consultant.

Alyssa:  Right.  I just don’t do it in person, obviously, but everything else is exactly the same.  And then we can’t offer postpartum doula support.  Well, I mean, I suppose we could for a newborn, but I’m not doing sleep consults for a newborn, so that doesn’t come into play, either.

Kristin:  So, Alyssa, let’s talk about some of the episodes and highlights of what we have gone over in the last two and a half years that we have been producing the podcast.

Alyssa: The topics have been all over the place.  You mentioned a few, but I know you in particular, you like to reference a few of them for your birth clients, like the episode, #54, What to Pack in your Birth Bag that you did with Dr. Rachel from Rise Wellness.  You know, a lot of our topics, we choose because they’re questions that we get asked often, so why not do a podcast on it, give them all the information, and then just allow them to reference that all the time.  So it’s a lot of the reason why we choose certain topics.

Kristin:  I also love the dad perspective.  We’ve done a couple podcasts of what it’s like to work with a doula and how a partner feels about their role in the birth with having another support person in the room, and even some of our students in the classes we’ve talked, talking about their person experiences, have been really fantastic because it’s a better testimonial to hear it from someone outside of our agency than us telling, you know, our audience all of the features and benefits of everything we offer.

Alyssa:  Right, and I think for somebody who doesn’t quite understand the role of a doula, even after researching, sometimes just hearing the personal story from one of our clients makes something click.  We love hearing personal stories of clients.  Like you said, either birth support, postpartum support, any of our classes.  We’ve done a lot on nutrition and diet, babywearing, pelvic floor stuff.  You know, that’s a big question for parents after a baby is born.

Kristin:  Especially because we happen to work with a lot of athletes, especially in the birth doula role, and they want to be able to get back to running marathons or whatever their particular sport is.  So, yeah, pelvic floor therapy and physical therapy in general has been very helpful for our clients.

Alyssa:  Right.  And then our friends at Rise have given us lots of information on different chiropractic topics.  Obviously, I’ve got quite a few on sleep.  I love talking about sleep.

Kristin:  And tongue ties and lip ties and working with breastfeeding.

Alyssa:  Yeah, breastfeeding.

Kristin:  Yeah, a lot of breastfeeding-related questions and feeding in general.  And certainly anything related to mood disorders and postpartum depression with different experts.

Alyssa:  Pediatric Dental Specialists of West Michigan is one of our partners, and Dr. Katie has been on a few times to talk about, you know, her special laser beam for tongue ties and lip ties.  And she just had a baby of her own!  We should probably check in with her and see how they’re doing.

Kristin:  Yeah.

Alyssa:  Cesarean births; we’ve talked a lot about Cesareans and what is a doula’s role within that, and we’ve got some actual birth stories about what that looked like for the birthing person and the family.

Kristin:  It’s been a lot of fun to have different guests in and try to find new and fresh content.  I mean, after 100 episodes, there are only so many topics you can cover, so…

Alyssa:  I know.  You kind of have to redo topics with different people.  But I’d love for our listeners to email us, too, and just let us know, like, what haven’t we talked about, or what did we talk about but you would like more coverage on?  Or do you know somebody who would be a great person for us to speak to?

Kristin:  And recently we’ve done some COVID-related podcasts, but that is ever-changing with policies in the hospital and specific states, of course.  We have had personal client experiences, birthing during COVID, as well as how our agency has adapted to this time and what precautions we cake.

Alyssa:  Maybe we can talk — do you want to talk a little bit about, just in case people aren’t up to date?  So as of May 21 when we’re recording this, 2020 — what the role of a doula is right now, like how we can work in hospital settings, and our postpartum doulas.

Kristin:  Yes.  So for those of you listening in other states, in the state of Michigan, we are following the governor’s stay at home orders.  So as Alyssa mentioned earlier, we’re not in our office working together, and we are seeing our clients and students virtually.  So all of our classes are done virtually via Zoom, so still very interactive.  We recently had our Saturday Series class, which is interesting, because for me, the comfort measures class that I teach is so hands-on and interactive.  To do that virtually without even a helper or model to demonstrate positions, I’m trying to describe things and show diagrams and videos and how to do a hip squeeze and counterpressure, for example.  So that’s been really interesting, and I know you taught your newborn class several times virtually.  And our lactation consultant had the breastfeeding class.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I think it’s hard for her, too, the breastfeeding, because to show different positions and — I mean, same with me.  Mine’s not as interactive as yours, but even moving the computer into the right spot so I can show my different swaddling methods or, you know, paced bottle feedings, things like that.  It works, and I always ask, did everyone see that okay?  Is everyone getting it?  Do you need me to do it again?  It’s just different.  I miss being able to meet the students in person.  But it’s just where we’re at right now.

Kristin:  But at the same time, it’s more convenient for them because they can be at home and, you know, not have to travel.  It gives everyone more time in their day, but as far as how we’ve adapted, other than classes, right now with the stay at home order, our lactation visits are all done virtually.  So, again, for our two registered nurses and IBCLCs, that has been different than hands-on or more engaging support.  But our clients have found it — I’ve had personal birth clients that I’ve worked with who have told me that Kelly was very helpful virtually, so that’s been going better than we had hoped.  And with birth support, things are, you know, ever-changing for us, but we’re doing all of our prenatal visits and even the initial consultations before hiring and certainly the postpartum visits after the birth — all of that is done virtually.  And different hospitals have different policies related to whether or not a doula can be in the hospital.  We’re fortunate that our governor has an executive order that includes a doula and a partner in the hospitals.  The doulas are not considered visitors, and we have access.  But every hospital, again, has the ability to make their own policies surrounding doulas, and we are right now working in Spectrum Butterworth and all of the regional Spectrum hospitals like Zeeland and Gerber and Pennock and Hastings and Greenville, and so that has been really fantastic.  St. Mary’s Mercy Health is currently not allowing doulas but encouraging virtual support, and Metro is allowing doulas.  Holland Hospital is not.  I was just informed that Mercy Muskegon, who was not allowing doulas up until very recently, and as of — I want to say it was this week — doulas are now being admitted to the hospital and able to support birthing persons.  So that has been fantastic since we do serve a 50-mile radius of Grand Rapids.  So as doulas, we are monitoring our symptoms, and if we have any symptoms of Coronavirus, then we send in a doula who is symptom-free.  Right now, all of the hospitals in our area are requiring doulas to be certified, so if a doula took a two-day or four-day training and chose to never certify, they are not able to work during this time.  And if a newer doula is working toward that, then that would be an option in the hospitals.  They could certainly attend homebirths.  So that has been interesting.  We worked with our lawyer and consultant to work on a COVID questionnaire and have included COVID language in our contracts that our clients sign so that our doulas are able to feel comfortable and confident, as well as our clients, in potential exposure during stay at home and what each household is doing as far as going to the grocery store versus having groceries delivered, or is a partner working outside of the home as an essential employee.  And then our clients and doulas are able to choose each other.  Some of our doulas are not working during COVID or only working with completely isolated clients.  So we’ve done a lot of focus internally on what our team wants to do and how we’re able to pivot during this time.  So we’ve been able to, you know, have conversations with the governor’s office and make sure there are no gray areas in the doulas role during stay at home and got some confirmations about what a postpartum doula can do, because a lot of that language was focused on our work in the hospital.  During the stay at home order that is set to expire at the end of the month — it may or may not be extended — we are only offering essential postpartum support.  So since we are working with clients normally through the first year, and they don’t need to have an urgent reason to have us there — they don’t need to be struggling with postpartum depression or a mood disorder — and they don’t need to be healing from a birth.  We can work with them until their child is one year old or until their multiples are.  So we have stopped working with some of our existing clients during the stay at home and plan to resume work with them.  We’re focused only on those first six to nine weeks of healing, depending on the type of birth that our client had, or those struggling at any point in their postpartum time with mood disorders or depression.

Alyssa:  So, to clarify, before this, we worked with people up to — we worked with families up to a year old, but now we can only do essential work which is, like you said, the six to nine weeks after someone just had a baby or with someone suffering from a perinatal mood disorder.

Kristin:  Yes, or if they don’t have a partner, that is essential, if they need support, since obviously grandparents cannot be involved during this time.  Families that have other kids are not able to take them to daycare if they’re not essential workers, so that has been interesting.  Obviously, we can work with triplets and multiples because they need more of a hand around the house especially during healing.

Alyssa:  So the moral of the story for postpartum is, we can’t just work with anyone right now until the stay at home order lifts, but we can work with you if you have a newborn, if you are suffering from a mood disorder, and/or have had multiples; twins or triplets.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Yes.

Alyssa:  And we can do day or overnight, and that would involve you, again, virtually meeting the doula.  You would both fill out this COVID-19 form that we created so that you and the doula both know what your risk, your exposure risk, is.  Who’s leaving for the grocery store?  Is someone in the home leaving for work?  And as long as you’re both comfortable with it, you can work together.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Yeah, and our doulas are taking every precaution and following what the family wants as far as, you know, sanitation and wearing gloves.  We’re all wearing our own cloth masks in the home, but if a client wanted surgical masks and has those or needs us to get them, then we work around their needs, and our doulas are bringing in a fresh set of clothes and taking their shoes and any coats that they may be wearing off immediately.  So that has been a pretty seamless process transitioning over for the doulas who are comfortable working with our clients.  And we’re so busy in postpartum pre-COVID.  You know, that has been some growth that we’ve seen since we started the podcast and very intentionally focused on educating our community and what a postpartum doula is and the benefits of it.  But now that is obviously slowed during COVID.  But we’ve seen an increase as far as, you know, our students, and being that many hospital classes have closed or not all educators are offering virtual classes, and certainly our birth clients have increased more recently.  It slowed for a bit initially because, you know, some doulas in our area are not offering in-person support, and we are.  So that has also been a change in our business.  Focusing on supporting local businesses is so key.  So for any of our listeners, support the local shops in your community.  I know, Alyssa, you order from Rebel, and I’ve been getting juice from different local businesses, whether it’s delivered to me or pick up, and just trying to keep our local businesses afloat, because as Local First members and a B-corporation business, we know the importance now and don’t want to see more businesses close down due to COVID.

Alyssa:  I know.  It’s so sad.  What’s the statistic; like, 50% of small businesses aren’t going to make it through this?  And luckily, Gold Coast will.  We’re doing what we can.  We’ve changed our business model a bit.  We’ll be good; we’ll make it through this.  It’s going to be a tough couple of years, I think, for everybody, but we’re going to do what we can in the midst of this to continue to help other small businesses and to keep all of our subcontractors.  They’re their own small businesses.  We want to keep them working and support them as much as possible, too.

Kristin:  Yeah.  And it’s been really sad even seeing other doula agencies that started at the same time as Gold Coast, which we’re nearing our five year anniversary.  You know, they’re closing their doors in bigger markets than we live in, and it’s due to COVID.  And that’s been very sad for me because they were peers of ours.  And so, yeah.  If you can support your local service and retail businesses and restaurants, do your part and think local.  And just thinking of our stores like EcoBuns with online ordering and Hopscotch, that we often partner with.  Supporting them, and the nonprofits.  We’ve actually given more during COVID since a lot of the fundraisers we would normally attend and support for some of the hospital foundations have been canceled.  We’ve given money to Mercy Foundation and we’re looking at what we can do within Metro and the Spectrum Foundation.  And we are analyzing what we can best do to help Nestlings Diaper Bank because let’s not forget that diapers are needed now more than ever, and it is not covered by your basic government assistance programs.  So that is something to keep in mind if you’re looking to help; if you have extra diapers or you’re looking at giving somewhere.  Nestlings Diaper Bank is in need, and they are running low in diapers.

Alyssa:  Yeah, the need is probably greater than ever right now, I would imagine.

Kristin:  Yes.  So, yeah.  Thanks to everyone for listening all of these years and supporting our podcast.  We would love to know what topics would be of interest to you and where we can go from here.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  Please let us know.  You can find the podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.  We also have on our website a blog section.  If you hover over that, we actually have a listing of all the different podcasts.  There in order by date.  I don’t think you can search by topic, but you can probably Google it and find a certain topic.  But we appreciate you listening, and obviously, if you can subscribe, if you can like it, if you can rate us.  We’ve never really asked people to do that.  It kind of started out as just like — I don’t want to call it a hobby, but, you know, something fun to do to give our clients something; a resource for our clients.  But the more people we can educate, the better.

Kristin:  We’ve gotten some recognition in Grand Rapids Magazine about being a local podcast, and also through a national organization that rated us in the top ten podcasts that are birth-related.  So that was pretty exciting!

Alyssa:  Thanks for listening, again!

 

EcoBuns

Podcast Episode #26: EcoBuns Cloth Diapering

On this episode of Ask the Doulas,  Marissa, owner of EcoBuns Baby + Co in Holland, Michigan dispels all the myths about cloth diapering that we’ve heard. Learn how easy and economical they can be for your family!  You can listen to the full podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud

 

Alyssa:  Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner and postpartum doula.  Today we’re talking to Marissa with EcoBuns Baby & Company again.  Last time we talked about her baby registry, and you mentioned cloth diapering and that the store actually started out as a cloth diapering store.  So I would like to hone in on cloth diapers today because I know there’s a lot of misconceptions and a lot of weird ideas.  In a lot of my classes, my newborn class and with a lot of the postpartum clients that I support, there’s the ick factor; there’s, “Isn’t it so expensive?” And I know you have a couple other things that you get asked a lot about it.  Let’s talk about some of those and dispel some myths.

Marissa:  Yes, are you ready?  Because I could talk about this all day long!

Alyssa:  Yes!  You have about 15 minutes.

Marissa:  Okay, I think we can condense it down.  So the first thing that you asked about is the ick factor of things, right?  That’s the first thing that people are like, oh my goodness, how am I going to cloth diaper?  We get asked that a lot by first-time parents, and I’m really sorry to say, first-time parents, you’re going to be dealing with ick with a new baby.  I don’t have a magic pill that makes Baby stop pooping.

Alyssa:  Right, whether it’s poop, pee, or puke, there’s always something coming.

Marissa:  There’s always something, yep, and I always say, oh, did you ever think when you were planning about future children that you’d ever have to sit down and have a conversation about choices of diapering?  You know, and so we always tell new parents – because that’s one of the biggest things is parents will say, I don’t want poop in my washing machine.  And what I say to them is, you’re going to have poop in your washing machine, whether it’s on the baby’s clothes because they’ve exploded out the sides of the disposable diaper, or inside of a cloth diaper.  Now, that being said, we don’t put actual baby poop that maybe people think of inside of the washing machine.  We do want to get rid of that before it goes into the washing machine, and there’s a couple ways.  We have liners; we have sprayers; there’s not the dunk and swish method that my mom and dad used.  There’s not a bucket of bleach water that my mom and dad, back in the ‘80s, soaked cloth diapers in.  Disposable liners are a really popular pick for parents who don’t want to deal with an ick factor.  You lay it on the diaper before you put the diaper on the baby.  When Baby poops, you can take that liner off and just dispose of the liner and wash the diaper.  So it makes it super convenient for any parent to do.

Alyssa:  So I’ve never seen the disposable liner.  Is it – obviously, biodegradable?  Better than a disposable diaper?

Marissa:  Biodegradable, yeah, absolutely.  It almost looks like a dryer sheet.  It’s very, very thin; if you hold it up, it’s very porous.  So all urine will go through it, but any solid waste is going to stay.

Alyssa:  So for a newborn baby, it’s not really –

Marissa:  Newborns, not even an issue.

Alyssa:  But once they’re older and eating solids?

Marissa:  Yeah, so usually the solid food transition is when people will gravitate towards the liners because – I always say that everyone wants you to feed your baby, but nobody talks about what the diaper changes are like after you start feeding your baby solid foods.

Alyssa:  It’s instantaneous, too.

Marissa:  Oh, my goodness.  First bite of food, and your life is completely changed.  So yeah, that’s a big factor.  The other thing that a lot of people come in to talk about is the cost factor of it.  You know, there is an upfront cost with cloth diapers, but what we look at is, people don’t necessarily realize how much disposable diapers cost because they’re spreading it out over time.  Your average Pampers are costing you around 28 to 30 cents per diaper change.  You’re going through 7,000 to 9,000 diaper changes from birth to potty training, so that can cost an average family upwards of $2,000.  If you’re using something like Bambo Nature or Honest Company, you’re going to spending closer to $4,200 from birth to potty training.  Cloth diapers, even if you’re going with the most expensive, all-organic, easiest-to-use solutions, you’re still probably looking at $1,800 to $2,000, but you can reuse them on future children.  And there are options that make it that you can go from birth to potty training for $150.  So it’s really where you want to be at.  The other cool thing with cloth diapering is it’s not an all or nothing thing.  You don’t have to come into EcoBuns and say, “Okay, Marissa.  I’m doing cloth diapers 100% of the time.”  We have so many families who come in and say, you know, when Grandma’s watching the baby, we’re going to do disposable diapers, or we travel a lot; we’re going to do disposable diapers when we travel.  It’s not an all or nothing kind of thing.  But the average family does save about $2,000 over the lifetime of their diapers.  What we say with cloth diapers is that if you use the cloth diaper for three months, you’ve broken even on the cost of it.

Alyssa:  Wow.

Marissa:  So huge cost savings there.  My eye doctor out at Complete Eye Health in Holland – he told me that he and his wife cloth diapered, and every week when they would have bought disposable diapers, they took those funds that they would have spent on disposable diapers and put it into a savings account.  At the end of their cloth diapering journey, they had enough money in their savings account to buy a brand-new high-efficiency washing machine and dryer; they had saved that much money.  So that’s huge.

Alyssa:  That’s amazing.

Marissa:  Yeah.  The other big thing that we talk about, too, is daycare because a lot of families will come in, and they’re like, we can’t cloth diaper because of daycare.

Alyssa:  That’s something I’ve never even thought of, but yeah, I can see where it’s a valid concern.

Marissa:  But in 2014, Michigan changed their daycare regulations, and if they’re a state-licensed daycare, they have to allow cloth diapers.  They can’t turn a child away because the parent is providing cloth diapers.  Now, there is a rule – there’s actually two rules inside of that.  One is that the daycare can’t reuse a portion of the diaper until after it’s been cleaned.  To kind of break that down, there’s a lot of different styles of cloth diapers.  Some of them have a reusable cover option.  Daycare can’t reuse a cover.  They have to put on a new cover every time.  And then the other rule is that it has to go into a double-layer bag, which our wet bags that families use for dirty diaper storage count as a double-layer bag, so they meet the criteria for the Michigan state regulations.

Alyssa:  So you just have to send the double-layer bag and extra covers, and they just throw them in there?

Marissa:  Yep, throw them in there.  You can wash them at home, and then the daycare’s changing the diapers; all you have to do is wash them.  That makes it so easy!  And so many daycares – especially when you bring in an all-in-one diaper, which is a cloth diaper that looks almost exactly like a disposable diaper; it has the waterproof piece and the absorbent piece all sewn together.  You bring that into them, and they’re like, oh, this is what a cloth diaper is like?  There’s no pins; there’s no rubber pants.  And then they’re definitely more open to the suggestion of cloth diapers.

Alyssa:  So there are a lot of different options, and you could even, like you said, if you do want to go cloth 100%, have these all-in-ones for daycare, for Grandpa and Grandma, and then have the other ones with all the different inserts and stuff at home.

Marissa:  What I always tell people is that families who have the most success with cloth diapers usually have three different brands or styles.  Moms usually like one; dads like a different one; grandparents like another one.  Or maybe you love the print of this one, so you have to have it.  And that’s the other thing I tell our parents of newborns is that even if you’re not cloth diapering in the newborn stage, pick up some for newborn pictures because it just makes such a big difference in how the newborn pictures look if they’re in a cloth diaper vs. the disposable diaper.

Alyssa:  Not something that says Pampers on it with a yellow line down the middle.

Marissa:  Right, yeah, you can get dinosaurs or unicorns or sunflowers!

Alyssa:  Awesome!  So tell us one more myth you’d like to dispel about cloth.

Marissa:  Yeah, I would say probably a convenience factor is definitely the biggest thing.  I cloth-diapered both of my kids.  When Olivia, my second child, came out a girl, I was super excited.  I was like, get the purple diaper because we’ve been Team Blue for the last two years.  And I was able to cloth diaper her from birth to potty training, and I never put a disposable diaper on her.  And so it’s totally possible to do.  At the time that Olivia was born, I was a single mom, and so I had two kids under the age of three in diapers.  And it made my life so much easier because I never had a 2am run to Meijer for more diapers.  I was able to cut back on my trash because I didn’t have so many disposable diapers going out into the trash.  I was able to just have my still every-other-week pickup so I saved money that way.  I never had to drag toddlers into the store to go grab more diapers.  If I ran out of diapers, I just washed them.  You know, it was really convenient.  Kind of what we talk about is that you’re going to be changing diapers regardless, and then is it, are you going to have to take the diaper to the garbage or take the diaper to the hamper to wash it?  So the amount of time that goes into it isn’t a huge difference.  We do offer a class at the store, and we do virtual classes, as well.  We’ve had some of our customers deployed overseas, and so we’ll do a Google hangout for our customers like that.  We go over all the different styles, all the different options, and then we cover, you know, a lot of the reasons why people come in to talk about cloth diapers.  I think one of the biggest reasons that always surprises people is that we don’t know how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose.  Our best guess is somewhere between 250 and 500 years.

Alyssa:  Good grief.

Marissa:  Yeah, so the disposable diapers being used today are still going to be around when our great-great-great-great-grandchildren are alive.  So a lot of parents will come in, and they’re like, oh, you know, we had this wonderful birth experience; we had all these plans that we wanted for our children, and now we find out how awful, how many chemicals are in disposable diapers; how long it takes for these disposable diapers to decompose.  And sometimes that’s the real reason that people come in to talk about cloth diapers with us.  And so that’s kind of a neat thing to see so many people interested in leaving things better for future generations.

Alyssa:   Absolutely.  So do you have two different types of classes?  You have a class telling people about cloth diapers and what to buy, and then one, once they do buy, the $25 one you talked about last time, where you come in and actually learn?

Marissa:  So everything happens all in one class.  We spend the first little bit of class kind of talking about why people are there, like, what most excites you about cloth diapers?  We talk about things like the fact that cloth diapers overall reduce diaper rash.  We talk about the correlation between asthmatic-like symptoms and newborn disposable diapers.  We just give a lot of facts.  We talk about water usage in the house vs. how much water it takes to manufacture a disposable diaper.  All of that information is laid out.  And then the last half of class is really fun where we talk about the different styles, and we always end the class with what to do about the poop because really, that’s what everyone really wants to know, and that’s when we go over all the styles of, you know, a spray pal vs. liners vs. the different options that are out.  So all one class.

Alyssa:  Excellent.  So good.  Like I told you last time, I wish I would have known about that.  It would have saved me.

Marissa:  Oh, yeah, and the other thing is, too, is that when you get your diapers, you get your laundry detergent; you get your set up – you get us, then.  We don’t just get you set up and then send you out the door and say, okay, happy parenting.  If the cloth diapers aren’t working for you, come back in and see us.  And that’s really where people can get a huge benefit from getting the cloth diapers from EcoBuns vs. what they can get from an online store where they don’t have immediate access.  They get our support; we want people to be successful with cloth diapering if that’s what they want to do.

Alyssa:  So tell me how people get set up for this.  What should they do?  Should they come see you first?  Should they find you online?

Marissa:  Yeah, so you can definitely sign up for the class online.  Our summer schedule is up right now.  For sure, the next month’s schedule is up, but we usually try to do the full summer, too.  So that’s up.  You can sign up for the class right online, or yeah, absolutely, you can sign up in store if you just want to come and check us out first and see all the options that we have.  You can definitely do that in store, as well.

Alyssa:  Okay.  Tell us your website.

Marissa:  Our website is www.ecobunsstore.com.

Alyssa:  Perfect.  Everyone needs to go.  I think you should go check out the store in person.  You’ll probably fall in love with the cloth diapers just by looking at them.

Marissa:  We have a really nice area in the store, even if you already have a baby, we have areas to feed babies; we have a bathroom and changing table, and if you want to come out for the day, Electric Hero delivers to the store, so if you need to have some food delivered while you’re looking, Electric Hero delivers for free.

Alyssa:  Perfect.  Sounds like a lovely afternoon.

Marissa:  Oh, it’s perfect.

Alyssa:  Well, thanks again.

Marissa:  Yeah, thanks for having me on!  It’s always fun seeing you.

Alyssa:  Yeah!  Everyone, check out EcoBuns online, and then you can check us out at goldcoastdoulas.com.  Find us on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, and iTunes.  Thanks for listening!