postpartum

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2022 Reflections

2022 Reflections:
Whew! Our word of the year for 2022 was changed. Gold Coast announced an expansion for day and overnight postpartum support to Northern and Southwest Michigan in April.
Alyssa Veneklase transitioned from co-owner to subcontractor at Gold Coast in August. She still leads the Becoming A Mother course with Kristin and teaches at Gold Coast.
Kristin and Alyssa have signed with a publisher for a book deal!
Our small business has been operating on EOS with our implementor Laurel Romanella for a full year now and we have seen tremendous growth as a result.

Here are the Gold Coast stats for 2022:  

  • Number of group and private classes taught: 28
  • Number of students: 82
  • Number of birth clients that delivered in 2022: 95
  • Number of birth clients supported in 2022 with 2023 due dates: 26
  • Average Continuing Education training per doula: 5
  • Lactation: 22 clients
  • Alyssa created a new sleep class for infants and toddlers at different stages
  • Sleep Consultations: 18 clients served
  • Day and Overnight Postpartum Doula support hours: 7,776 (our best year yet for postpartum)
  • Multiples: 6 families served.
  • DEI our entire team had a 2-hour virtual DEI training with Sabia Wade, The Black Doula in February
  • Our entire team participated in a 2-hour pregnancy and newborn loss training through PAILAdvocates.
  • New Subcontractors Added to our Team: 8 doulas, 1 sleep consultant
  • Advanced Certifications Achieved: 12
  • Julie Skripka and Gina Kraft celebrated five years with Gold Coast.
  • We had our seven-year anniversary in October.
  • Ask the Doulas Podcast- We ended the year with 167 episodes total. Feedspot ranked Ask the
  • Doulas as 6 of the Best 15 Doula Podcasts on the Planet in 2022.   Listen Notes ranked Ask the Doulas as one of the top 5% most popular shows out of 3,005,585 globally. We launched our podcast in 2017 and are still growing strong thanks to our fantastic guests and listener support.
  • Becoming A Mother Course- We added new expert videos and enhanced our email communication to further grow our self-paced online course.
  • We offered two pro-bono spots in the course to low-income women.
  • 2022 Awards: West Michigan BBB Torch Award for Ethics Finalist, Best of Michbusiness small business award winner and Kristin Revere was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.
  • Media: First Time Parent Magazine: Kristin Revere wrote an article on making your hospital room feel like home.
  • Gold Coast continued as a Climate Leader with Aclymate. We purchased 13,855 lbs of carbon offsets.
  • Gold Coast applied for B Corp recertification in July.

Volunteer Hours: 129 

  • Charitable Donations:  $2,703 to charities supporting low-income women and children.
  • Organizations donated to include: Nestlings Diaper Bank. Spectrum Foundation for a breastfeeding training for the Butterworth Women’s Center nursing staff, St. Mary’s Foundation with funds dedicated to clinics, Pine Rest Mother-Baby Program, MomsBloom, Preeclampsia Foundation and the Hello Seven Foundation.
  • We also donated a birth stool to St. Mary’s Foundation.
  • Diapers Collected for our 7th Annual Diaper Drive for Nestlings Diaper Bank: 11,133 disposable diapers, 97 packs of wipes and 100 cloth supplies. Many thanks to our partners: Rise Wellness Chiropractic, Fit4Mom Grand Rapids, Mind Body Baby, Mindful Counseling, Advent Physical Therapy, Hopscotch Children’s Store, EcoBuns Baby + Co, Brann’s, The Insurance Group, R. Lucas Scott. Co, and Howard Miller Library.

We are so thankful for our clients, partners, podcast listeners and students. Thank you for
trusting us to support your families!

 

New Gold Coast Doula

Meet our new Postpartum Doula, Jene’e!

1) What did you do before you became a doula/consultant?

For many years, I primarily have been a “domestic engineer”, a stay-at-home mom. Although in some of those years, my family has owned a few restaurants, and I helped there when I was needed.

2) What inspired you to become a doula/consultant?

Becoming a mama at a very young age, to two boys, and the birthing experience I had with them started my journey to want to make others mamas experiences more empowering and filled with better memories and support. Because of my birthing experience with them, for a long time I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse, or an OB nurse practitioner, but that was not my life path.

I now have 7 beautiful children, and each one of those birthing experiences was different. It was not until my 6th child that I became more aware that I have a choice to a have different birthing experience. Now I want to empower mamas to know that they can too.

3) Tell us about your family.

We moved here to the Traverse City area at the end of 2020, from Henderson, Nevada. We would visit family here every summer, and loved the area.

We are a very outdoor family. Love the beach, paddle boarding, fishing, soccer, snowboarding, sledding, all fun activities

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

I absolutely love Hawaii. The beaches, the warm water, the smell, the culture. It is my Happy place.

Traverse City use to be one of our favorite vacation spots every summer also, until we moved from Las Vegas.

Now Las Vegas is one of my favorite vacation spots, so I can see my son, my amazing friends, and my previous village.

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

This is really hard to answer. I really think it depends on intention, mood, and the time of day.

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

There is so much “best” advice to give! Give yourself Grace, time to heal and rest, do what is best for you and your family even if that means setting boundaries, and do not feel the need to follow the western culture to “bounce back”.

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

From what I have been told, is that I bring great, empowering, safe energy when I walk into the room

8) What is your favorite food?

I love raw sushi and Mexican food

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

I love Empire, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Glen Arbor, & Traverse City

10) What are you reading now?

The First 40 Days

11) Who are your role models?

I love to listen and surround myself with empowering woman and friends.

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Harnessing the Power of Stem Cells Through Cord Blood Banking

Stem cells are special human cells that have the potential to become many different types of cells, such as brain cells, muscles cells, and more. These cells have the potential to treat, or even sometimes reverse diseases that have left patients of the past without effective options. Umbilical cord blood banking provides potential treatments for many of the medical conditions we hope our children and family members never have to suffer through.

What is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking refers to the freezing and storage of umbilical cord blood and tissues. In the time leading up to delivery, there is a transfer of powerful stem cells and other immune-boosting cells between the mother and fetus. These cells remain in the blood and are often discarded with the umbilical cord and placenta.
Cord blood and tissue banking involve collecting the blood and tissues that contain these cells and freezing them for a later date, when they may be used to treat a variety of illnesses that were previously thought to be difficult to treat or incurable.

Did you know? Umbilical cord blood banking is OB, Midwife, and Doula recommended!
Types of Stem Cells Obtained from Cord and Tissue Banking
There are two main types of stem cells acquired during cord blood and tissue banking: hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells.
Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Hematopoietic stem cells are obtained through umbilical cord blood banking and are approved by the FDA to treat a variety of illnesses, including blood disorders (e.g. sickle cell anemia), immune disorders (e.g. multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis), and cancer (e.g. lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma). There are also over 1000 ongoing clinical trials examining other use cases.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Mesenchymal stem cells are found in the umbilical cord tissue, placenta, and bone marrow. They are powerful stem cells used to treat a variety of chronic and progressive medical conditions, including lung disease, Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and hair loss.

Public vs. Private Cord Blood Banking
While you have the option of receiving cord blood or tissue from a donor via a public cord blood bank, serious side effects may occur. There is a high risk of incompatibility, which may result in a range of significant acute or chronic symptoms.
Since the body is meant to attack foreign bodies it sees as dangerous, a condition called graft- versus-host disease may develop as a result of a stem cell transplant from a donor. This occurs when donor stem cells see the transplant as an immune system invasion. The body rejects the healthy new stem cells, leading to harmful symptoms and sometimes death.
By using stem cells you’ve privately banked that are at least a partial match, you greatly reduce the risk of developing such complications. When banking your cord blood and tissue for future personal use, the cells are always a match for who they came from. They may safely be used as a treatment for family members as well.
Siblings have a 75% chance of being a match, while parents are always a 50% match for their children. Extended family, such as aunts and uncles, also have a probable chance of being a partial match, which could have a significant impact, should they need treatment.

How Can Recipients Benefit From Private Cord Blood Banking?
Significant improvements have been observed in medical conditions with the help of stem cells. These improvements include but are not limited to:
● Reversing Type 1 Diabetes
● Significantly improving symptoms of Crohn’s disease
● Improving motor function in children with cerebral palsy
● Promoting CAR T-cell therapy, an immunotherapeutic cancer treatment
● Aiding in heart failure treatment
● Showing protective effects on hair loss

How To Store Your Cord Blood and Tissue Stem Cells
To bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, or placenta, order a collection kit before your due date. Store the kit at room temperature and bring it with you to the hospital. When you arrive at Labor & Delivery, tell the admitting nurse that you plan to collect your stem cells. Before birth, tell your healthcare provider that you have the kit ready for collection.
Your collection kit from Anja Health has everything you need and their stem cell banking experts will help guide you through the process.
Use the discount code GOLD to receive 90% off the price of your collection kit!

After the birth of your child, the team at Anja Health will collect your kit from the hospital and take care of everything, including viability testing, optimization, and cryogenic storage in their AABB-accredited, FDA-approved lab in New Jersey.
If the time comes, you’ll be glad to know you have the stem cells to help your child or other members of your family when they’re in need!

 

Newborn Sleep – What New Parents Should Expect

New parents often have unrealistic expectations about sleep when they bring a baby home. Some parents think they will get to sleep a lot because a newborn sleeps a lot. I’ve heard other parents say they don’t think they will get any sleep for weeks or months. I’m here to tell you that neither of those are true.

Yes, a newborn does sleep a lot. Yay! But they also need to feed often. Like every hour or two in the beginning. All day and all night! So while your newborn may sleep 19 hours in a day, that sleep is happening in several short chunks of time throughout a 24 hour period.

For a breastfeeding mother this is especially hard. She will be feeding her newborn every couple hours and that feeding could take 45 minutes. Let’s put that into perspective. Your newborn wakes to eat at 2:00am. You are done feeding at 2:45am, burp and change baby’s diaper, get baby back to sleep, and now it’s 3:00am. Your newborn feeds every 2 hours so that means you have one more hour to sleep until you start this whole process over again. Yikes!

Once a newborn becomes more efficient at feeding (or is bottle fed), they can often go three hours between feedings. This allows you more time to sleep between feeds.

Fathers/partners often wonder what they can do to help an exclusively breastfeeding mother. If/when a mother decides to start pumping, someone else can take over some of the feedings with a bottle. This can be a huge relief to mothers in the night and allows for one longer stretch of sleep. Partners can also help with diaper changes after a feed so Mom can get back to sleep sooner. They can also make sure mom is well fed and hydrated.

For bottle fed babies, fathers/partners/doulas/caregivers can help with feeds in the night while mom sleeps. For instance, mom feeds baby at 9:00pm then goes to sleep. Someone else does the 11:00pm feed, and mom wakes at 1:00 for the next feed. That allowed mom to sleep for four hours. It doesn’t seem like much now, but when you’re sleep deprived, a four hour stretch of sleep is the best gift anyone could give you!

For the first several weeks, there really is no predictability to a newborn. They will sleep a lot and eat a lot, period. If your newborn sleeps for hours at a time without waking to eat though, this is not a bragging right. This is something to call your pediatrician about. Babies need to eat frequently! On the other hand, if your baby doesn’t want to sleep and cries a lot, you should also call your pediatrician.

You get through the first 4-6 weeks or so, you’re sleep deprived and feel a bit hazy, but you start to notice that there are some predictable patterns happening with your baby. For instance, they are feeding approximately every three hours and can stay awake a little bit longer after feeds. What does this mean? They are slowly adjusting to a natural circadian rhythm. Every living thing has a rhythm. Our bodies naturally wake when the temperature warms and the sun rises (we produce serotonin to make us feel awake). When it’s dark and cool, our bodies are ready for sleep (we produce melatonin to make us feel sleepy). 

Follow your baby’s cues during this time. When you notice signs of tiredness, get them into the basinet for a nap. Try to keep them awake for a bit after feeds. Think of this pattern – eat, awake, sleep, eat, awake, sleep. This will do two things for parents:

1- Separate feeds from sleep. This is the number one reason parents call me for help. Their baby is used to only falling asleep while feeding or being held and they can’t sustain that long-term.

2- Awake time after feeds allows for lots of stimulation which makes baby tired for a nap. As a baby gets older, they are more alert and interested in their surroundings. All this mental and physical stimulation helps tire them out for naps.

So what does this mean for parents? Now you know in the initial weeks home with a newborn, don’t expect much sleep. Sleep when you can, limit visitors, and accept help! But after a couple months, you should see some predictability. This is when a baby becomes more efficient at feeding. More calories in during the day means longer stretches of sleep at night. Read that sentence again… I’ll wait. Focus on good feeds during the day and fewer at night as your baby gets older. A hungry baby doesn’t sleep, so good feeds are extremely important.

Your baby will slowly be able to stay awake for longer stretches during the day, creating a predictable nap routine. This allows parents to plan their days knowing when their baby needs to sleep.

Every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to sleep. If one parent stays home and does not need a predictable schedule, they may feed on demand and take naps during the day when the baby takes naps. If this works for that family, great! If both parents work, they usually need more structure, so having a predictable feeding and nap schedule, along with a set bedtime and wake time for the baby, is usually necessary. And some families will fall somewhere in between, where they want some structure, but the ability to be flexible. No matter what your parenting style is, don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help. If you need someone to come during the day to watch your baby so you can nap or shower, who do you have that you can ask? A friend or family member? Do you have postpartum doulas in your area? How about overnight sleep? Do you have someone that could stay overnight and help you with feeds so you can get extra rest?

Bottom line, it will be okay! You have resources that can help along the way, use them if you can. There are tons of free feeding support groups. Find other mothers or parents who you can talk to. Hire a sleep consultant if needed (a good one isn’t scary, I promise!). Check with your insurance plan to see what’s covered. You may be able to hire a doula or a lactation consultant. You may be able to take some newborn, breastfeeding, or sleep classes. Knowledge is power, so take the time to find resources that fit your budget and personal needs. 

You’ve got this!

For additional information about pregnancy, birth, parenting, and sleep, check out Ask The Doulas Podcast on whatever podcast platform you listen to.

Alyssa is co-owner of Gold Coast Doulas, co-founder of the BECOMING a Mother course, a Certified Elite Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, a Newborn Care Specialist, and a Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant. She offers custom sleep solutions to families across the country to help new parents find balance and rest.

 

Southwest & Northern Michigan Postpartum Doulas | Gold Coast Doulas

Gold Coast Doulas is Expanding Our Reach!

We have been listening to our clients and trusted health practitioners, and we are expanding our day and overnight postpartum and sleep consulting services to Northern Michigan and Southwest Michigan starting in April of 2022. Michigan postpartum doula services and support will expand along the Gold Coast of Michigan, covering 300 miles of the western shoreline.

Gold Coast Doulas is proud to announce that we will serve beach towns from Niles in the Southwest to Harbor Springs in Northern Michigan. Our doula agency is focused on exceptional service and support for families. We are currently looking for exceptional postpartum doulas who reside in Southwest and Northern Michigan.

In a recent article from Petoskey News, the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce President comment “Adding to any health services in the area is beneficial for our residents, and helps our region be somewhere you can truly live, work and play year-round.”

Northern Michigan postpartum doula lakeshore cities covered in the expansion include: Bay Harbor, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, Cadillac, Suttons Bay, Petoskey, Traverse City, Frankfort, Manistee, Ludington, Silver Lake, and Pentwater.

Southwest Michigan postpartum doula lakeshore cities include: South Haven, Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Stevensville, Lakeside, Coloma, Union Pier, Sawyer, Three Rivers, New Buffalo, and Niles.

Gold Coast Doulas has always had the intention of expanding and have been deliberate in our expansion plan. In Northern and Southwest Michigan, Gold Coast Doulas will focus on providing postpartum services like feeding, sibling care, household tasks like light housekeeping, meal preparation, and running errors. The primary focus in these lakeshore cities is on day and overnight postpartum doula services and sleep support. Gold Coast Doulas will continue to offer birth services, lactation, and classes to our West Michigan clients.

If you are interested in partnering with us or becoming a day and overnight postpartum doula, contact us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.

 

Endira Davis Doula

Meet Endira, our newest postpartum doula!

As you know, when we bring a new person onto the Gold Coast Doulas team we love to find out more about them and share that with you! Endira comes to us with tons of passion for working with families, and also tons of great experience. Let’s find out more about her!

What did you do before you became a doula?
Before becoming a doula, I worked as a full-time nanny. Before that I was a teacher’s assistant at a child development center. Through nannying, I have been able to establish a deeper, more intimate relationship with the children I care for as well as with their extended families.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I have felt called to birthwork for as long as I can remember. To encourage and support birthing people and their partners and to follow them in the journey into parenthood is an absolute honor and something I do not take lightly. I pride myself in offering a safe space and being a source of comfort for families as they take on the adventure of caring for themselves and their new additions.

Tell us about your family.
I am one of three daughters raised in an interracial family in upstate New York. My partner Annamarie and I met in high school and have taken life on with a team approach. We’ve been together through many seasons and have loved every step. We made the move to Grand Rapids about two years ago to be closer to loved ones and find new opportunities.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
My favorite vacation spot is Cancun, Mexico. There is nothing better than eighty degree weather and being able to jump from the pool to the sea.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Top five musicians/bands? This is hard because there is always new music being dropped but my all time favorites are…

1. GIVEON – His music feels like a warm embrace; it fills my soul with confidence that new beginnings are coming.
2. Sasha Sloan – If I am ever doing a project and need something to encourage me to press on, she just seems to get me back on track.
3. Lindsey Stirling – I come from a family of string players (my mom, my sisters, and I all played the violin). My arms always got too tired to play, so I enjoy violin music vicariously through Lindsey. When you are tired and need a hype up, Lyndsey is your girl. And as a bonus, her concerts are amazing.
4. Florence + the Machine – Whether it is 2008 or 2022, her music is still so good!
5. Ella Mai – Her voice is just so beautiful. Even when she is singing the saddest love song, her music still feels like warmth to your ears.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
Be patient with yourself. This is new and not easy for anyone.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
I am consistent and dedicated. My goal is to provide the best services and be a resource. I am easy to work with and want you to feel supported and comfortable asking if you need more or less.

What is your favorite food?
Any kind of dip.. Literally ANY kind!

What is your favorite place on West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
Barrier Dunes State Park… the secret cove that we always have to ourselves. Well, I guess I will see you all there next summer now.

What are you reading now?
The Big Letdown by Kimbery Seals Allers.

Who are your role models?
My mom is my biggest role model and confidant. She set a legacy and led by example by always educating, encouraging, and following through with her words. She advocated for not only herself but many others through pregnancy and childbirth and taught me the importance of being informed and supported through all decisions. I now have both a wealth of knowledge as well as the utmost respect for mothers, fathers, and anyone else who is raising a child.

 

Jaclyn Geroux

Meet Jaclyn!

Meet Jaclyn Geroux, our newest postpartum doula! She filled out our questionnaire, so let’s get to know her!

What did you do before you became a doula?
I’ve spent the last 3.5 years as a stay at home mom. Prior to that, I was employed as an advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and later as a nanny. Before my babies were born, I spent a lot of time traveling domestically and internationally.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I’ve always had a sweet spot in my heart for the care of girls and women, but my own transition to motherhood is what really launched my passion for this work. I experienced a lot of challenges and conflicting feelings when I became a mother. As I began opening up about my experiences, I met many women with similar stories. Once I understood more about the role of a doula, I believed it was an opportunity to channel even a small part of what I had learned to help others.

Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my husband, Dave, almost 5 years. Our son, Luke, is 3½ and our daughter, Ivy, is 4 months old. We have a sweet boxer, Selah, whose nickname is “the nanny”. She’s great with our kids!

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
I love Northern Michigan, especially in fall when the leaves are changing. I like that it’s not too far, yet still feels like a getaway. Also, the scenery is just beautiful.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Most of the time, I prefer peace and quiet to music these days! When I am in the mood, I gravitate towards folk and singer/songwriter genres (John Denver, James Taylor, Gregory Alan Isakov), praise and worship (Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cook), and pop music. I’m a huge fan of Katy Perry.

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
You will ultimately discover what works best for you and your baby. It may not look like what you thought, or like what other people are doing, and that’s totally okay.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
A calming presence and intuition.

What is your favorite food?
Sushi!

What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I love Rosy Mound park.

What are you reading now?
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth and Go Diaper Free by Andrea Olson.

Who are your role models?
Both of my grandmothers, who have collectively taught me so much about the importance of family and friendship. Blogger Allie Casazza, who pursues motherhood so intentionally, and my spiritual director Mary, who is full of grace and compassion for humanity.

 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

This post was written by Lauren Utter, a ProDoula trained Birth and Postpartum Doula with Gold Coast Doulas.

Finding out you are pregnant can bring an array of emotions – planned pregnancy or not. Maybe you’re excited because you have been waiting for this day. Maybe you are surprised because a baby wasn’t on your radar. Maybe you’re fearful – of what your pregnancy will be like, how you will look, if the baby is going to be okay, or how you’ll feel.

All of these feelings are normal. Being pregnant causes your body to change. Not just a growing belly, but new hormones, cravings, thoughts, and illnesses. 70-80% of women suffer from morning sickness. At least 60,000 cases of extreme morning sickness, also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), are reported (the number of cases is actually higher as many are treated at home). Perhaps you wonder if this is how all pregnant women feel or is it just you? Or maybe you question your ability to handle nausea and pain. Do you feel as though others minimize how you are actually feeling- giving you tips that you have relentlessly tried?

Morning sickness is difficult to deal with; it’s exhausting and frustrating, but there are many differences between HG and morning sickness. Women with HG lose 5% or more of pre-pregnancy weight. Morning sickness doesn’t typically interfere with your ability to eat or drink, whereas HG often causes dehydration from the inability to consume food or drinks. Morning sickness is most common during the first trimester, while HG lasts longer – sometimes through the whole pregnancy. A woman with HG is more likely to need medical care to combat symptoms.

HG is often described as debilitating, making everyday activities like working, walking, cooking, eating, or caring for older children hard to do. Not only are women having difficulties eating and drinking, but taking their prenatal vitamins is often difficult, too, which results in a lack of proper nutrition. Because of severe dehydration and insufficient nutrients, headaches, dizziness, some fainting, and decreased urination can present as greater symptoms of HG.

On top of all the physical signs of HG, secondary depression and anxiety may also be present. There are potential complications that arise when HG is present. We talked about malnutrition and dehydration, but some others include neurological disorders, gastrointestinal damage, hypoglycemia, acute renal failure, and coagulopathy (excessive bleeding and bruising). Fortunately, with effective treatment these complications can be managed or even avoided completely.

While there is no cure for Hyperemesis Gravidarum, there is a variety of treatments including medications and vitamins, therapies (nutritional, physical, infusion), bed rest, alternative medicine, chiropractic care, massages, and more. Not all women and cases respond to treatments in the same way. Caregivers typically believe early intervention, even prevention, is most effective.

Medical providers work with each woman to discuss which treatments work best for them. Common medications offered to women suffering from HG are antihistamines, antireflux, and metoclopramide. Because HG can be traumatic and highly stressful, 20% of mothers experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). Early intervention proves to be effective, and your OB/GYN, primary care doctor, or a mental health specialist are fantastic resources for mothers experiencing symptoms of any mood disorder. Along with medical professionals there are many forms of support and resources. There are several Facebook groups of women who are suffering or have suffered from HG. This is a great way to feel supported by knowing you are not alone.

The website Hyperemesis.org is equipped with resources, facts, and blogs from other sufferers and their organization, HelpHer, are leaders in research for HG. The HER Foundation puts on events throughout each year for women and their families to come together.

Another great support system is hiring a doula. Doulas offer support through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Through pregnancy we can be there for bed rest support, informational, and emotional support. We provide you with evidence-based resources, and factual information. With this information, women suffering from HG can self-advocate for proper testing and treatment that best suits their pregnancy journey. During the postpartum time, not only do doulas help with infant and family care, but doulas are trained to notice signs of PMADs and will provide you resources that can assist you through recovery.

Doulas want to see you be successful, confident, comfortable, and healthy. I know I can’t be the only one who pushes aside her feelings, physical and emotional, and says “Oh, I’m fine” or “It’s nothing.” Our bodies are designed to “tell” us when something is wrong. Here is a tip: start logging your symptoms, from a single headache to daily nausea and vomiting. This will help your medical provider reach answers. Trust your body and trust your intuition, strive for testing that you believe is necessary, and find your people.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

 

mother and baby

Top 10 New Parent Essentials

Did you notice that this list doesn’t say “Baby Essentials”? Nope, it’s not an error. YOU are the single most essential thing in your baby’s tiny life. While you process all the feels over this game changing reality, I’ve got your back with some advice on essentials that will ease your transition so that you can experience a little more rest, comfort, and peace of mind. 

#10: A comfortable chair and a selection of board books
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in this place over the next several years, feeding, snuggling, consoling, reading, and likely sleeping. Start building your collection of books early and add to it often. Your baby will love the sound of your voice, they will love the expressions on your face, and most of all they will love the time spent on your lap, together. Begin cultivating a love of reading and language from the beginning!

#9: Stroller
The sheer number and price range of strollers on the market is staggering. This market reflects the many priorities of consumers. As a Michigan Mama, I often take into consideration the age of the baby when they are born because it determines the need for a car seat system. For example, any baby born around October isn’t going to see too much stroller time before May, so a carseat system isn’t too important and a bassinet, even less important. On the other hand, a baby born in May will need the additional support and a parent will likely enjoy the ease and mobility of a safe travel system.

#8: Baby Bjorn
Sometimes a stroller isn’t ideal; maybe you enjoy trail walking or you simply prefer that intoxicatingly sweet fresh baby smell right under your nose. In that case, consider a Baby Bjorn Carrier.  My 4th child basically lived in this from 6 weeks to 6 months, maybe longer, no one’s judging. Bottom line, get yourself a way to hold a baby while also having the ability to answer the phone, make dinner, or fold a basket of laundry.


#7: CuddleBug Wrap
Similar to the Baby Bjorn, the CuddleBug Wrap allows for close proximity and easy access to kisses, but is considered a soft wrap. This wrap is breathable, yet structured enough so that it provides great support inside or outside. Unsure how to use a soft wrap? No worries, contact Gold Coast for referrals to places where you can learn how to baby wear and sometimes even borrow them for free.

#6: Summer Deluxe Baby Bather
I love running a bath, closing the bathroom door so that all the warmth stays in, and then placing newborns through older babies in this baby bathing seat. Now, if you’re looking for bells and whistles, this seat may not be for you, but I’m a simple gal who likes portability, fast-drying washable mesh, and a fresh smelling baby.

#5: Pacifiers
Sucking is an innately soothing practice for a baby. Why not have one or two on hand to try? My favorite is the MAM, but try not to overthink it.

#4: Swaddle Wraps
I Love the Aden by Aden and Anais 100% cotton wraps for Summer Babies. A tight swaddle gives babies a safe and secure feel, which often lends itself into better sleep. This alone qualifies the wrap as something you should buy several of.

Pro Tip: Some swaddles have zippers on the bottom that allow for easy access to diaper changes and also mean that you don’t have to un-velcro during the night, buy these! 

#3: Black Out Curtains
In order to help shape healthy sleep habits, it’s helpful to be able to make a room pitch black during daytime sleep. Daylight sends a physiological message to our brains to wake up and can impede daytime naps.

#2: White Noise Machine
No, not the kind that has birds chirping or sings lullabies. A low, steady, white noise that has the ability to sound like a dust buster when employed. This single purchase will add hours of sleep to your life and that, my friend, is precious.


#1: (DRUMROLL….) A DOULA!
Doulas are for “that kind” of parent… you know the kind who welcome support, encouragement, peace of mind, rest, and stability during a vulnerable time. Use one and then recommend that your girlfriend, sister, brother, neighbor- use one, too! 

This blog is written by Jen R., a local doula in the Grand Rapids area.
Gold Coast Doulas is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. 

 

Jessica Kupres, RN

Meet Jessica Kupres, BSN, RN, CLC, CBE – our newest postpartum doula!

1) What did you do before you became a doula? 
I was a labor and delivery nurse for 13 years, a nurse for the maternal infant health program for two years, a phone triage nurse at a pediatric office for almost a year, and am currently working as a childbirth and breastfeeding educator, as well as teach a sibling’s class and infant massage class.

2) What inspired you to become a doula? 
My mother was a doula, though only assisted friends and family. That’s how I saw my first birth at 14 that shaped my future career. I also feel families need a lot of support when a new baby comes home. Unfortunately, most mothers don’t get the help they need.

3) Tell us about your family. 
My Husband and I have been married for 6 years. We have two boys. Kaden is 5 years old and Carson is almost 2. We are a pretty close family, and grandma and grandpa are usually over several times a week. I love to do crafts with my boys.

4) What is your favorite vacation spot and why?  
My favorite vacation spot is Disney World. Every year as a child my family went to Disney World, so there are a lot of very special memories. About every 5 years my family, including my parents and my siblings and their families go down to Disney World together. It is great to spend time with family in the most friendly and magical place in the world!

5) Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them. 
1) Justin Timberlake – He has catchy songs that make me want to get up and move.
2) Taylor Swift – I love her songs and she is great to her fans.
3) Imagine Dragons – Just like their music.
4) Ed Sheridan – I like his music and positivity.
5) Colbie Caillat – I like her positivity.

6) What is the best advice you have given to new families? 
Do what works for you and your family. Don’t worry about impressing others or doing what everyone else is doing. Keep life simple at the beginning.

7) What do you consider your doula superpower to be? 
Encouraging others and being calm and nonjudgmental.

8) What is your favorite food? 
Chocolate!

 9) What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I love going to the Fredrick Meijer Gardens with my kids because there is so much to do there.

10) What are you reading now?
Love and logic.

11) Who are your role models? 
My Grandmother – she was a strong woman, always spoke the truth, and was a great artist.

 

postpartum physical therapy

Postpartum Recovery

Have you ever heard of an athlete getting back on the field after a major injury WITHOUT a period of rest followed by intense rehab? Of course not! But somehow the expectation for women after their pregnancy is to mysteriously “bounce back” to normal activity, appearance, and function without any guidance. Most mamas even attempt to do this while caring for one or more very adorable, yet extremely needy human beings.

Wow!!  Just writing that paragraph made me feel anxious!  Thankfully our society is beginning to recognize the fact that child-rearing is hard work and calling in reinforcements is acceptable and often necessary.  Thank you doulas, lactation consultants, counselors, chiropractors and more for all that you do!  I would like to propose that a Women’s Health Physical Therapist should ALSO be part of your postpartum team.

Women’s Health Physical Therapists specialize in the changes that occur within your musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones) during and after pregnancy.  They often have additional training in pelvic health which means they have specialized skills in how to assess the pelvic floor’s function from an external as well as an internal perspective.

Let me tell you a story about how one woman’s body changed after having her first baby; let’s call this woman Susie. In the delivery room, Susie’s baby made its way through the birth canal so quickly that Susie’s perineum had very little time to stretch to make a clear path for her baby to exit.  Susie ended up with significant perineal trauma that required stitches to repair.  After the delivery, it was painful for Susie to walk around her hospital room and sitting proved to be very uncomfortable as well.  She faithfully rested and used her ice packs for pain relief in hopes that with time she would feel better.  As time went on and she saw other new moms grocery shopping, going for walks, and starting to exercise again, Susie started to become worried that she was falling behind in her postpartum recovery!  Not only was she still having pelvic pain that got worse with activity, she was now having rectal pain that filled her with dread each time she felt the urge to have a bowel movement.  Susie was given the go ahead to return to sexual intercourse and begin exercising again at her 6 week follow-up appointment with her OBGYN, but she knew there was no way she could tolerate these activities without experiencing a lot of pain.  Susie had proactively participated in Physical Therapy before delivering her baby, so she bravely asked for another referral.

Although a woman’s body is going to be forever changed after participating in the miracle of creating life, mamas shouldn’t feel like they’re left with a body that is broken.  Physical Therapists want to give you tools and strategies that keep you strong so you can participate in activities that make you healthy and happy inside and out!  We want you to lift and chase after your little ones, return to intimacy in an enjoyable way with your partner, and be able to participate in activities like barre classes, 5ks, and nature hikes. Sometimes it is a common misconception that women “pee when they sneeze” BECAUSE they had a baby, it’s “normal for sex to hurt” BECAUSE they had a baby, or “vaginal heaviness” occurs BECAUSE they had a baby.  While it’s true that these things commonly HAPPEN after we’ve had babies, they aren’t normal or inevitable after having children, and it will likely require more than just lots and lots of kegels to solve these problems.

Let’s check in with Susie again to see how things turned out after going to several Physical Therapy appointments. Susie learned that her pelvic floor and surrounding muscles were very tight (kegels were NOT recommended) and that she needed to learn how to combine breathing, stretching, and relaxing positions to maintain a relaxed and healthy pelvic floor.  Her Physical Therapist performed manual techniques to break up scar tissue from her episiotomy which improved the elasticity of her perineum. They even taught her how to work on these things at home on her own between sessions.  With hard work and guidance from her Physical Therapist, she was able to enjoy sex with her husband again, have bowel movements with less pain, and exercise with confidence because she had learned safe ways to move her body.

Physical Therapy for mamas can be done during your hospitalization, at an outpatient clinic, or even in your own home! And while there are lots of therapists just waiting for mamas to walk through their doors, it isn’t standard for Physical Therapists to be included in postpartum care in the United States.  Good news though, they are accessible and sometimes even covered by insurance when you seek them out. You’ll know you’ve found an exceptional Physical Therapist when they ask about your specific goals, give you tasks to complete at home between sessions, and you notice progress after each session.

Knowledge is power, and I hope that this information empowers you to feel comfortable talking to your providers about Physical Therapy or seeking it out on your own.  Mamas do incredible things and they deserve to have the resources they need to live their best life.

Newly postpartum and ready to get started? Download this FREE handout to start your postpartum recovery journey today (even useful for mamas still in the hospital!)

If you’re ever looking for free information from the perspective of a mama and Physical Therapist, I put out videos weekly on my YouTube channel. I also offer 1 on 1 Physical Therapy Evaluation and Treatment sessions for moms living in West Michigan and offer an Online Postpartum Recovery Course for moms that don’t have the time or resources to get out to appointments.

Investing in your health is one of the best investments you can make. Become a STRONG mama so you can grow a STRONG family!

Dr. Nicole Bringer, DPT
Owner of Mamas & Misses, LLC
Email: nicole@mamasandmisses.com
Phone: (616) 466-4889

 

Jamie doula

Meet our new postpartum doula, Jamie!

We are excited to have Jamie join our team. As a yoga instructor, she brings a sense of calm and balance to a room that immediately sets you at ease. Let’s learn more about her!

What did you do before you became a doula?
I spent a glorious taco-and-sun infused 6-years in Austin, Texas, doing communications for the mother’s milk bank, traveling, and writing historical fiction for a start-up fashion brand, and later hustling as a project manager at a digital strategy agency. Now back in the mitten, I teach hot yoga at Yoga Fever and work part-time as the storytelling coordinator at Treetops Collective, a non-profit that supports New American women.

What inspired you to become a doula?
I’m passionate about supporting and advocating for women. I’ve babysat since I was “old enough” (which was 12 because it was the 90s…) and have always been fascinated with pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. So becoming a doula made perfect sense––empowering new moms in this amazing new stage of life. I want new parents to be confident in their innate skills as the perfect parent for their child—resisting the temptation to compare themselves to others, and ignoring the overwhelming opinions and conflicting messages that barrage them daily.

Tell us about your family.
My husband Chris and I met in Chicago 8 years ago and when he got accepted to grad school in Texas, I crazily agreed to move with him after only dating 6 months. We’ve been married for 4 years now, so it turns out maybe I wasn’t that crazy. We moved back to Michigan last year and bought a home in the South East End of GR and are eagerly expecting our first baby this summer. Until then, our two big dogs and 6-toed cat continue to keep us vacuuming.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why? 
The best vacation I’ve ever been on was to Peru this past spring. We got the city and coastal experience in Lima and the historic, mountain setting in Cusco, and topped it off with a bucket-list hike of the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu. The culture, landscape, people, food, and history of the country was beyond incredible––10 out 10 would recommend this trip.

Name your top five bands/musicians and tell us what you love about them.
Whew, impossible to choose! How about 5 albums I’ll never get tired of?
Lucius, Good Grief
Solange, A Seat at the Table
Prince, Purple Rain
Paul Simon, Graceland
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours

What is the best advice you have given to new families?
You are so strong. You are capable of so much more than you think you are. One day at a time.

What do you consider your doula superpower to be?
As a project manager at heart, I’m all about strategizing to meet goals. I love to help parents develop a plan for meeting their parenting goals––be it with developing a schedule, breastfeeding, sleep shaping, whatever.

My doula superpower kicks in when things get tough and sticking to the plan is overwhelming. I’m there as a calm and reassuring presence––even in the face of endless crying and sleep depravation—to support and encourage parents to keep at it and work towards success. It’s rewarding to watch these parenting wins—when they are reminded of just how capable they are.

What is your favorite food?
I love Indian food. Lately I can’t stop requesting my husband make us butter chicken in the InstaPot—with lots of garlic naan on the side (you’re going to want this recipe—just ask me for it).

What is your favorite place in West Michigan’s Gold Coast?
I love the beaches of Lake Michigan––during my time in Texas, I really missed my Great Lakes. Growing up, our family spent many summer weekends camping in South Haven—going to the beach and eating huge waffle cones at Sherman’s Ice-cream so that gets my vote for nostalgia.

What are you reading now?
This book has been on my reading list since I had the opportunity to meet the author, Jessica Shortall, during my time at the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, and I’m finally diving in: Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work.

And when I’m done with that, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp is queued up on my nightstand.

Who are your role models?
I am inspired by strong women who support one another, follow their truth, and live their passion. My social media feed is full of amazing women who get me all fired up in the way they advocate for body positivity, social justice, equality, mental health—here are a few of my faves: Frida Kahlo, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Beyonce, Rupi Kaur, the fine ladies of the My Favorite Murder podcast, Karen Kilgarif and Georgia Hardstark, Ilana Glazer, Christiane Amanpour.

 

Dr. Nave Health for Life Grand Rapids

Understanding Your Cycle: Podcast Episode #82

Dr. Nave now works with queens through her virtual practice Hormonal Balance. She talks with us today about a woman’s monthly cycle. What’s “normal”?  What if you don’t get a period at all? Is PMS a real thing?  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello, welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa, and I’m here with Kristin.  Our guest today is Dr. Nave, who is a naturopathic doctor at Health for Life Grand Rapids.

Dr. Nave:  Hi!

Alyssa:  We were excited to meet you – what was it, a few weeks ago?  We presented to your team, and you – I was really intrigued.  Tell everyone what you specialize in as an ND, and then they’ll know why I wanted to talk to you so bad.

Dr. Nave:  I am especially excited about assisting women to reconnect to their identities, and the way in which I do that is by really looking at their hormones, their mental health, their physical health, and other aspects of their life.

Alyssa:  Do you only work with women?

Dr. Nave:  No, I do not, but my passion is women.

Alyssa:  So today you’re going to talk about cycles, and I know you have a couple specific thing about a woman’s cycle that you want to talk about, so explain what those are, and then let’s just dive in.

Dr. Nave:  Okay.  I want to talk about what a typical cycle should look like, so this is how your cycle should look if nothing is going wrong.  And then we’ll transition to talking about PCOS and what is going on with that.

Alyssa:  And what does PCOS stand for?

Dr. Nave:  PCOS is polycystic ovarian syndrome.  In medical terminology, a syndrome just means a cluster of symptoms that fit this particular diagnosis, and so with PCOS, what’s happening is that the woman isn’t bleeding or she has skipped periods, and that is due to low progesterone, which is an important hormone that allows the endometrial lining, basically, in the uterus so that implantation of the fertilized egg can happen.

Alyssa:  Okay.  So let’s talk first about what it should look like.

Dr. Nave:  Sure.  With our cycle, there are five main hormones that influence a woman’s hormonal cycle.  We have LH and FSH, which are the hormones that are produced by the brain to tell an egg to mature and to allow the endometrial lining, which is basically the build-up of tissue in the uterus that allows the implanted fertilized egg to become a baby.  So we have those two hormones that are produced by the brain, and then we have estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone that are produced in the ovary.

Alyssa:  All the time, or only if an egg is implanted?

Dr. Nave:  At specific times.  A typical cycle, in terms of what we would call the normal cycle or the optimal cycle, would be a 28-day cycle.  We have some leeway in terms of, in the medical community, how we diagnose whether it’s too long or too short, whether it be above 35 days or less than 21.  For me, I think it’s best if it’s 28 days because it’s kind of like cycle with the moon, so the lunar cycle, because it also helps with the math.  So we’ll just use 28 for the typical just for explaining what happens.  In the first 14 days, that’s what we call the ovulatory – like, the building up of estrogen.  The brain tells the ovary, by way of follicular stimulated hormone, FHS, to make one of the eggs mature.  So it’s like, hey, ovary, let one of these eggs become the mother, so to speak.  The brain does that, and then the ovary responds by allowing one of the eggs to become mature. We have multiple eggs that are responding during this time in different life stages, but the one that is the oldest usually gets picked, in terms of its life phase.  It becomes mature; the estrogen is being made by the egg itself, which allows for that ovulation to occur.  FHS tells the egg to become mature, and then the egg itself makes estrogen so the egg can further mature.  It’s a fascinating, interesting thing that’s happening.

Alyssa:  That’s during ovulation?

Dr. Nave:  Yes, so during the first 14 days of your cycle, the estrogen is building up so that the egg can fully mature.  Then what happens is that there are two types of cells that are a part of the egg.  One produces estrogen, and the other aspect makes testosterone, so those are the other two hormones that we’re talking about.  Once the egg matures and it’s released, the thing that’s left behind is called the corpus luteum, also known as the yellow body.  That then makes progesterone.  All of this is sort of happening at the same time, so we say 14 days for the ovulatory phase, but really, it’s like the brain is telling the body to make progesterone at the same time it’s telling the body to make estrogen.  It’s just that it’s at a lower level.  Until the egg is released.  You don’t really have that progesterone being made.

Alyssa:  It’s ebbing and flowing based on the day of your cycle?

Dr. Nave:  Yes, yes.  Around day 14 is when the egg is released.  It’s the highest level of estrogen at that point in time, and then the yellow body that’s left behind – the brain told the egg, by way of the luteinizing hormone, LH, to start making progesterone.  Are you following?

Alyssa:  Kind of, yeah.  In my head, that little egg is moving along, following a timeline.

Dr. Nave:  Right!  At day 14, we have the highest estrogen, and progesterone starts to climb up.

Alyssa:  And estrogen is decreasing and progesterone is increasing?

Dr. Nave:  Yeah, estrogen is at its peak; progesterone starts to spike up a lot more.  I’m grossly simplifying it, sorry!  As the progesterone is being built up – so the corpus luteum is making the progesterone because the brain told it, hey, make progesterone by way of the LH, the luteinizing hormone.  That causes, then, the endometrial lining in the uterus to build up so that implantation of the egg can happen.  Towards day 28, which is when you expect bleeding to occur – basically, the reason why bleeding occurs is that the progesterone starts declining at that point because progesterone is necessary for the build-up of the uterine wall so that implantation can happen, but if there’s no fertilization off the egg, then it basically is a withdrawal of the progesterone, and then it just sloughs off.

Alyssa:  So day number one is not the – is that the day your period starts?

Dr. Nave:  Yes.

Alyssa:  So day 28, then, is the day before you period starts?  Okay, I’m seeing the timeline in my head.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  Day one, when a doctor asks a woman, okay, what’s day one of your period, he or she is technically asking, when’s the first day of your bleeding.  Technically, we’re always cycling, but we consider day one the last time you bled.  That’s what the cycle should look like.  Now, when we experience our periods, even though people consider it the status quo that we experience PMS, we don’t have to experience it.  Does that make sense?

Alyssa:  The hormonal changes don’t necessarily mean that we’re going to have the mental and – becoming angry or disorganized or frustrated?

Dr. Nave:  Yeah.  Seeing those symptoms for a woman, that would indicate to me that maybe the ratio is a little bit off.  Some examples are acne or being really bloated.  Being bloated, puffy, having water retention and having really heavy bleeding – that could be a sign that the woman is experiencing what we call estrogen dominance.  Now, estrogen dominance doesn’t necessarily mean that she has high estrogen.  It could just mean that her progesterone is low and therefore throwing off the ratio so that when she’s experiencing premenstrual syndrome, PMS, she’s experiencing these symptoms, even though if it were normal, she wouldn’t have to.

Alyssa:  So you’re not saying that PMS is made up.  It’s a real thing; it just means there’s an imbalance somewhere?  It can be fixed, that you don’t have to deal with this stuff?

Dr. Nave:  Absolutely.  And the weepiness: estrogen.  Estrogen is important for our bone health, our cardiovascular health.  It’s the reason why we as women don’t get heart attacks until much later in life because it protects our hearts; it’s important for our bone health, which is why when you experience menopause or perimenopause, it’s very important to get your bone density checked.  That’s the importance of estrogen.  And then testosterone, which is produced by the egg, is important for sex drive and being able to be aroused.

Alyssa:  What happens in a woman’s body when they’re aroused that helps with implantation?

Dr. Nave:  When the woman is aroused, that allows the cervix to sort of pulsate so that when climax is achieved, the sperm can travel up into the uterus and, hey, let’s get to the egg wherever it is.  It also allows for the vaginal canal, which typically is around three inches, which sounds crazy, but it actually lengthens and stretches.  It’s a muscle that moves to accommodate the penis, if you’re having that kind of intercourse, or allow for artificial insemination in that way.  So it increases the likelihood of implantation successfully occurring.  It’s so cool!

Alyssa:  We’ll pause so everyone can visualize!

Dr. Nave:  Our bodies are amazing!  In order for conception to occur, not only do the hormones have to cycle how they should, but you have to address your mental health; are you in the space that you can have intercourse or whatever it is?  The ovary itself isn’t even attached to the uterus.  There’s a gap between the two of them, and we have chemotaxis – basically a chemical, like how your body produces the hormones, that attracts the egg to go down the fallopian tube as opposed to staying in your abdominal area.

Alyssa:  So every time you see a picture, it looks like…

Dr. Nave:  They’re attached?  Yes.  But they’re not.

Alyssa:  So they have to let go and then actually be drawn up by the fallopian tube and then into the uterus?  They’re not attached?

Dr. Nave:  No.  We have connective tissue or fascia that’s in that area –

Alyssa:  Which helps kind of push it in the right direction, probably?

Dr. Nave: Not exactly.  It’s more like it creates this compartment so that your uterus isn’t just floating around in your abdominal cavity.  We have this connective tissue that anchors it in that area so there’s less likelihood that a fertilized egg will end up outside of the uterus, which is why ectopic pregnancies are so low in terms of their incidence.  But we also have these finger-like projections in the fallopian tube that brushes the egg along.  So it’s not just the hormone that’s attracting the egg to where it needs to go and we have all these other signaling processing that are working.

Alyssa:  I’m picturing a crowd surfer pushing it along.

Dr. Nave:  We’re all supporting you!  So that’s what a normal cycle should look like.

Alyssa:  Ideally, that’s what it should look like?

Dr. Nave:  Yes, ideally, that’s what it should look like.

Alyssa:  And when a woman doesn’t have her cycle?

Dr. Nave:  When she doesn’t have her cycle, then we have to consider two different things.  Is it that she’s not bleeding at all, which we call amenorrhea, or are there greater than 35 days between each cycle, in which case we call that oligomenorrhea, or many menses, technically.

Alyssa:  It seems like it would be the opposite because there’s a big space between.  But either way, it’s a problem, and that will help determine how you treat it?

Dr. Nave:  Yes.  And so if it is that a woman isn’t bleeding, as in amenorrhea, then we have to consider why is that the case.  Is it that she’s pregnant?  That would be the first thing to assess.  Is she pregnant?  Okay, she’s not.  What exactly is going on?  One particular condition that I’ve been hearing or rather seeing more women experience is called PCOS.  We mentioned it earlier, that PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome or Stein-Leventhal syndrome.  Basically, what’s happening is that instead of the progesterone going up around day 14 to day 28, instead of it increasing, the body is changing it into another type of hormone.  Just to give you some context, our bodies use cholesterol to make all our steroid hormones, which are all our sex hormones as well as cortisol.  Our bodies use the cholesterol and then turn it into pregnenolone which is like the mother of all of those hormones. Pregnenolone can then become progesterone. It can become testosterone.  It can become estrogen, which we have three different types of estrogens, or it can become cortisol.  In PCOS, what’s happening is that instead of the pregnenolone going down to becoming progesterone, it’s getting turned into either testosterone, estrogen, or cortisol.  A woman who potentially has PCOS or has been confirmed with that diagnosis – in addition to having amenorrhea, for her to be diagnosed with it, she also has to have two out of three symptom criteria.  We have what’s called hyperandrogenism, which is high testosterone, and some of the symptoms she could experience would be cystic acne or hirsutism, which is just a fancy term for hair in unwanted places, like coarse, thick hair along your hairline or along your breast or in places that aren’t typical areas that you have hair distribution.  That’s one, and then the amenorrhea that we talked about, and the last one is seeing cysts.  The only way that we can really assess if there are cysts in the ovary is if we do a transvaginal ultrasound.  I say we, but not me, but the actual tech would do that for you, and basically, they place a probe inside the vaginal canal, and they use an ultrasound on top of the abdomen to visualize if there are any cysts in the ovary.  The reason why we get the cysts – to back up again to looking at the cycle, instead of the egg being released, the egg just stays there, because you need the progesterone to tell the egg, hey, release.

Alyssa:  It stays where?

Dr. Nave:  It stays in the ovary.  And then in the ovary itself, you have all these eggs that look like they’re just about to release, but they end up forming what’s called a cyst.  It can be fluid filled.  Cyst is just a fancy term for a ball, kind of.

Alyssa:  I didn’t know a cyst could be an egg that didn’t move.

Dr. Nave:  That didn’t move, yeah.

Alyssa:  So when people say they’ve had ovarian cysts burst, it could be an egg that didn’t move?  Could be, doesn’t have to be?

Dr. Nave:  Could be, doesn’t have to be.  It could just be fluid.  But in the case of PCOS, it’s like the ovary doesn’t release the egg, so it becomes mature, kind of, but not to the point where it actually releases because we don’t have any progesterone, or there’s minimal levels of progesterone so that if and when a woman experiences bleeding, if she has PCOS – so long cycle or no bleeding at all – in the long cycle aspect of things, there’s no egg.  It’s just blood or tissue that got to build up a little bit.

Alyssa:  So the egg still is stuck in the ovary?

Dr. Nave:  Yes.  I mean, you could have some release at some point if her progesterone can get high enough that that can occur, but it’s kind of scattered.  You can’t really track it per se because it’s insufficient.

Alyssa:  So she’s having them, just not – I guess 35 days instead of 28 – wouldn’t most women just go, oh, that’s no big deal; I just have a long cycle?  What are the other symptoms?  What else would they see?

Dr. Nave:  She could have the symptoms of PMS but never actually bleed.  So she’s still cycling, because remember you’re still cycling, always, whether you bleed or don’t bleed; the hormones are still doing their thing.  She can experience the PMS symptoms but not bleed, which means that she’s not able to get pregnant.  And even if you don’t ever want to get pregnant, our uterus is what I like to call an emunctory.  An emunctory is basically an organ that our bodies use to detox or remove toxins.  If we are not bleeding, that means those hormones are getting reabsorbed into our bodies, which for a woman, if she’s estrogen-dominant, it basically reinforces the estrogen dominance because she’s reabsorbing it in her intestines, which makes the symptoms to get worse.  Because to get rid of our hormones, once they’ve done their thing and we’ve shed our lining and we bleed, the other way in which we get rid of our steroid hormones is by poop.  So if you’re not pooping, then…

Alyssa:  Is that another symptom or side effect?  Is that a cycle issue, or not?

Dr. Nave:  It could be a cycle issue.  One of the symptoms that women sometimes experience is when they’re on their periods, either they’re constipated or they have really loose stool, and that’s because of hormones.

Alyssa:  They call it period poop, and I never knew why.

Dr. Nave:  Yeah, it’s because of the hormones.

Alyssa:  So it’s normal?  If you’re having a regular cycle and you have a day of poop that’s not normal, it’s just your hormones?  That’s normal?

Dr. Nave: Normal in the sense of it’s to be expected with what you’re experiencing, yes.  Other things that can happen with PCOS, and this is not with every woman, is that some women gain weight.  Some don’t.  For a woman that does gain weight if she has PCOS, what’s happening is that the body is converting the progesterone into cortisol.  And cortisol is the hormone that affects our sleep-wake cycle.  So when you first wake up in the morning, the reason why you’re fully awake is cortisol.  It spikes at that point.  What happens when we’re under a lot of stress, or if you have PCOS, our bodies are making a lot more cortisol, and that cortisol allows for the breakdown of stored glucose and the conversion of other proteins and fats into glucose.  This issue with that happening for prolonged periods is that the woman can experience what’s called insulin insensitivity, so her body is no longer able to respond to insulin, which means that when she eats, then she can’t stabilize her blood sugar, which means that the sugar stays longer in the bloodstream, which causes damage to small blood vessels and nerves, which is what happens in diabetes.  That’s why for a woman with PCOS, having metformin might work, which is why some doctors place a woman with PCOS on metformin to increase her chances of conceiving.  It’s not just the hormones that affect your cycle; hormones influence every aspect of our lives, from the moment we wake up and take our first breath to the moment that we pass on into the next life.  It’s this orchestra that each hormone has a part to play and influence each other in term of how effectively each part is able to do their part.

Alyssa:  So let’s say I came in and I had questions about my cycle.  What’s the first thing that a woman could expect?  Bloodwork?

Dr. Nave:  The first thing I would want to know is what labs she’s already gotten done.  Has she gotten her thyroid checked?  And when I say thyroid, I don’t just mean THS because THS is just your brain telling your thyroid, hey, make the thing.  It’s also looking at the levels of the thyroid hormones because you have two types of those.  You have free T3 and free T4.  Their ratio is also important.  So thyroid function; CBC, which just stands for a complete blood count.  It’s checking for anemia, because that could be another reason for amenorrhea.  You may not be bleeding because you’re iron deficient.  And then I would also want CMP.  That’s a complete metabolic panel, and that looks at the kidney and liver function, which are affected if blood sugar isn’t being regulated effectively.  On the CMP, there’s also a fasting blood glucose on there, so that would be something to look at.  I would also want to review her symptoms.  What symptoms are you experiencing?  Are you experiencing acne?  Are you experiencing bloating and irritability on your menses?  Do you experience depression on your period?  There’s also the consideration that we have PMS, and then we have PMDD, which is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is basically PMS on steroids.  It’s like the cycle overall is so horrendous that the woman can’t go to work.  It’s affecting her daily life, affecting her mental health.  She’s more depressed on her period, more irritable, or really angry, or in so much pain that she can’t leave her home.  Looking at her as a whole person is what I’m about.  And she’s the expert in her experience, right?  She knows what it’s like to walk in her body, to experience these symptoms, how they affect her life, and then both of us taking our expertise to work together to get to the root of why this is happening and give the body the tool that it needs so it can rectify it.

Alyssa:  You just reminded me that I need to make an appointment with you.  I remember when I met you the first time, I was like, yeah, I need to see her, because not only have I turned 40, but I know my hormones are changing.  My periods are changing.  Just weird things happening.  So how do people find you?  What’s the best way to get ahold of you?

Dr. Nave:  I am at Health For Life Grand Rapids, and you can check the website and look for my page.  There’s a 15-minute free meet and greet and consult, so we can see if we’re a good fit.  I can hear about your concerns, and you can get the cure that you need.

Alyssa:  I love it.  Thank you so much for joining us.  We’re going to have you on again, and we’ll talk about some other intriguing topics.  Again, thanks for tuning in. This is Ask the Doulas Podcast; you can always find us on our website and on Facebook and Instagram.  Remember, these moments are golden.

 

Nestlings Diaper Bank

Gold Coast Doulas 4th Annual Diaper Drive

Gold Coast Doulas is holding our 4th annual Diaper Drive from September 1st to October 1st, 2019. Giving back is an important foundation of our business; clean diapers make a huge impact on the heath of new families.

Diaper need is something that goes almost completely unrecognized, but 1 in 3 babies suffer in dirty diapers and no government programs provide them. Food, shelter, and utilities are the only items covered by assistance. Diapers are expensive and many families make tough choices between paying rent and utilities, or buying diapers. Research shows that 48% of parents delay changing diapers and 32% report re-using diapers to make supplies last longer.

The Gold Coast Doulas diaper drive coincides with National Diaper Need Awareness Week, September 23 – September 29. Diaper Need Awareness Week is an initiative of the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN), created to make a difference in the lives of the nearly 5.2 million babies in the United States aged three or younger who live in poor or low-income families.

Our drive specifically benefits Nestlings Diaper Bank and Great Start Parent Coalition of Kent County. Holland-based Nestlings has distributed over 600,000 diapers and helped over 18,000 families since 2011. Nestlings Diaper Bank also works with 31 partner agencies to distribute the diapers to the families in need.

We need your help! Our goal is to collect 40,000 diapers to support families in need in Kent, Ottawa, and Allegan counties to celebrate our 4th anniversary. We collect opened and unopened boxes and packages of new disposable diapers, used cloth diapers and cloth supplies, new cloth diapers, and new boxes or packages of wipes.

Diaper donations will be accepted from September 1 to October 1 at the following partnered drop-off locations:

In Zeeland:
Smedley Dental 133 1/3 E Main Ave
Howard Miller Library 14 S. Church Street

In Holland:
Untangled Salon 650 Riley Street
Brann’s 12234 James Street
Harbor Health and Massage 444 Washington Ave.
EcoBuns Baby + Co 12330 James Street
Great Legs Winery Brewery Distillery 332 East Lakewood Boulevard

The Insurance Group 593 Heritage Court

In Hudsonville:
Hudsonville Congregational United Church of Christ 4950 32nd Avenue

In Jenison:

In Ada:
Ada Christian Reformed Church/FIT4MOM Grand Rapids 7152 Bradfield Ave SE

In East Grand Rapids:
Hulst Jepsen Physical Therapy 2000 Burton St SE, Suite 1

In Grand Rapids:
Mindful Counseling 741 Kenmoor Ave SE and 3351 Claystone St. SE, Ste G 32
Crossfit 616/BIRTHFIT Grand Rapids 2430 Turner Ave NW, Ste A
Pediatric Dental Specialists 2155 E Paris Ave SE, Ste 120
West End GR 1101 Godfrey Ave SW, Ste S440
MomHive 1422 Wealthy St SE
Hopscotch Children’s Store 909 Cherry Street SE
Grand Rapids Natural Health 638 Fulton St W, B
Gold Coast Doulas 1430 Robinson Rd SE, Ste 204
Rise Wellness Chiropractic   1430 Robinson Rd SE, Ste 201
Gemini Media will be collecting diapers at their office from September 1 to 13 and will be offering discounted tickets to the Grand Rapids Baby and Beyond Expo for anyone who donates a bag or box of diapers. 401 Hall Rd SW Ste 331

In Walker:
ABC Pediatrics 4288 3 Mile Rd NW

In Wyoming:
ABC Pediatrics 4174 56th St SW

We appreciate your support! Contact us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com with questions.

 

Working Mom

HOW TO TAKE A SOCIAL MEDIA BREAK ON MATERNITY LEAVE

We are so very excited to share this guest blog with you because not only is the author an amazing mother and entrepreneur, but she is also a past client. With over 10 years experience in social media strategy and digital marketing, Chris found her purpose after having her daughter. Pre-baby, she was a self-proclaimed “hustle-a-holic” with no intention of slowing down. Because of her failure to plan a proper maternity leave, she entered motherhood with all the grace of a knock-kneed baby giraffe. Biz Babysitters is the outcome of this struggle. Chris made it her mission to prevent as many women as possible from going through what she went through by supporting them postpartum.

The average person spends 142 minutes on social media every day. Seem low? Remember, this count includes your Grandpa who doesn’t know what a DVR is. For the average business owner, it’s not surprising that this number is higher by, um, a lot. And here’s the catch – for most of us, the amount of time we spend actually in our social apps pales in comparison to the amount of time we spend thinking about what to post. With such a huge importance and energy suck in our day-to-day lives pre-baby, it’s imperative for pregnant (or planning to be pregnant) business owners to consider what the heck they’re going to do with their social media in their postpartum before it arrives.

Just like every other step of the entrepreneurial journey, there’s no one perfect one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, it’s a customized series of decisions, based completely on your own preferences. You’ve got the power and you know yourself and your business best.

Today, I’m going to walk you through three options for logging off of social media in your postpartum time, as well as the potential pros & cons, and some recommended resources for taking action.

By now, we’re all becoming more and more aware of the negative effects of social media on our mental health. We’re also becoming more aware of perinatal mood disorders. With the two of these worlds overlapping postpartum, there’s a strong case for taking your business’ social media off your plate in your maternity leave.

Ready to get started? Here are your three options for logging off…

1. HIT PAUSE.
This is the most straightforward – it’s literally just stopping.

It’s a beautiful option for those whose businesses don’t rely on social media for lead generation or marketing. If you decide to go this route, I recommend giving your audience a heads up ahead of time and letting them when to expect you back. No one likes to be ghosted. A potential downside here is that an inactive account cannot build business and can start to gather dust (i.e. lower visibility) from your absence.

*Recommended resource: You

2. OUTSOURCE IT.
Hand off the reigns.

Outsourcing works well for those who want to keep a thriving social presence and continue garnering leads, but are unsure what their own capabilities will be in their immediate postpartum. When outsourcing, I recommend investing in an expert with a vetted system for onboarding to minimize the stress and time investment on your end.

*Recommended resource: Biz Babysitters

3. AUTOMATE IT.
Schedule it and step away.

This involves some legwork ahead of time, but keeps an active presence while freeing up some mental hard drive. For scheduling, I love the Later app, which can handle both Instagram and Facebook. It gets bonus points because you can use it from both Desktop and your iPhone. Automation is great for business owners who want to DIY it. The potential downside of automation is overwhelm and an increased temptation to “check in” (which is a slippery, slippery slope).

*Recommended resource: Later

The cool thing is that there is no wrong answer – just an array of selections that can all be customized to fit your exact, unique desires. The important part is to take your business’s social media, which can be an ever present monkey on your back, off your plate so you can focus on what’s important – your own healing during this important transitional time.

No matter which route you choose, you’re not alone. If you want support in your decision making, I’d love to chat. Reach out to me via DM on Instagram as @bizbabysitters.

In the comments, tell me… which of these three options calls to you most?

 

postpartum doula

Benefits of A Postpartum Doula and Why Should You Hire One?

Author Bio: Roselin Raj is a journalist and a writer. She has been writing extensively on health and wellness related topics for over a decade. Besides her professional interests, she loves a game of basketball or a good hike in her free time to fuel her spirits. “Health is wealth” is one motto of life which she lives by as well as advocates to every reader who comes across her blogs.

In the months leading up to my first delivery, I had many emotions ranging from excitement to fear. The idea of delivering a baby was daunting and had occupied my headspace completely. Though I had a consulting doctor and limitless information on the internet, getting the personal assistance and care from a doula did the trick. 

According to What To Expect, “Doulas, who offer non-medical emotional support, are growing in popularity in the delivery room (or birthing center), but many also do postpartum work, helping new moms navigate the stressful, bleary-eyed early days of parenthood. Here’s why you may want to consider hiring a postpartum doula to help you through the fourth trimester.” With the rising popularity of doulas, let us understand what a postpartum doula is and how they help expectant mothers through and post pregnancy. 

What is a Postpartum Doula?

As mentioned earlier, a doula is a trained professional who guides mothers with information, emotional and physical assistance before, during, and a short while post birth. The guidance and assistance are given to expectant mothers to make the process a healthy and less stressful experience. However, a postpartum doula extends their assistance until the baby has adjusted with the family. 

A postpartum doula is skilled to assist with a variety of needs and requirements according to each family. For instance, once the baby is born, all the attention is directed towards the new bundle of joy. But the physical and mental health recovery of a mother is very important. A postpartum doula can help the mother ease into motherhood, provide necessary information on caring for the baby or help with breastfeeding issues, and much more. But a postpartum doula is not a nanny and helps the mother emotionally to recover after the birth of the baby, bond, offer newborn care, sibling care, and lighten the load of household tasks.

Benefits of a Postpartum Doula

The work of a postpartum doula extends post birth, unlike a birth doula. The postpartum doula’s main purpose is to make the mother comfortable with the baby and support her in doing so. The tasks may vary from mother to mother, and she is equipped to do the best in any situation. Here are a few of the tasks a postpartum doula can provide:

Postpartum Care for the Mother

Once the baby has been delivered, the mother requires a lot of caring and help. The basics involve eating healthy food, drinking water at regular intervals, and most importantly, rest. A postpartum doula will help in cooking, running errands, etc. to allow the new mother to recover. In the case of c-section delivery, she can assist the mother with the newborn, household tasks, offer support and resources, rest and healing, and aid in hassle-free recovery. 

Women are usually emotionally weak post-birth with chances of depression and anxiety. Postpartum doulas can help create a stress-free environment, take care of the baby, and be emotionally available for the new mothers. 

Breastfeeding and Newborn Support

Postpartum doulas are equipped with complete knowledge of handling newborn babies, and they help mothers to ease the process of parenting. The next big challenge after giving birth to a child is often breastfeeding. And as you are probably aware, it can be a challenging experience for both the mother and the baby. 

In such cases, the doula helps with information on newborn behavior, soothes the process of breastfeeding or transitioning to bottle feeding. If further breastfeeding support is needed, she can offer local resources to an IBCLC (Board Certified Lactation Consultant).

Finding the Perfect Doula for You

Doulas can be found through word-of-mouth or going through service providers to find certified doulas as per your needs. The idea is to get a suitable doula who is certified, experienced, and well-synced to you and your family requirements. Before hiring a doula, talk to the agency regarding their qualifications, certifications, insurance, etc. to get a clear idea of who you are hiring. 

Doulas or the agencies usually charge for services by the hour, location, services required, and the experience of the doula. There may be provisions to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) to hire a doula. Clarify with your insurance provider or the doula agency before going ahead with the plan.

Photo credit: The People Picture Company

 

EMDR Therapy

EMDR Therapy: An Overview

We are so excited to share this guest blog by Joshua Nave LLMSW and Paul Krauss MA LPC of Health for Life GR. We get asked frequently about EMDR Therapy, so read below to find out what it is and how it works!

This blog is a discussion of the basics of what Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is, its origins, and how it can help people.  Many people have heard about EMDR in one fashion or another, and with over 2 million people reporting healing from its use (Trauma Center, 2007), it’s no wonder that more and more people are asking “Just what is EMDR?”  So let’s begin with trying to answer just that: what is EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapy is a physiological psychotherapy technique that aims at unlocking the body’s natural ability to process information and heal from past trauma and current distress (EMDRIA, 2019).  EMDR therapy seeks to access the process that the human brain uses during the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle of sleep to reduce the disturbance caused by memories, events, and thoughts that have become stuck or intrusively repeated in a person’s mind and/or behavior and personality.  EMDR therapy is an advanced type of empirically-validated therapy that can be utilized by Masters-Level Counselors with specific advanced training (post-graduate school). Hundreds of studies have confirmed that when human beings are enduring great duress or stress, the brain becomes incapable of processing information as it normally does.  While the brain may change its normal processing abilities to protect the person during a stressful situation–there are often negative side effects.  Information that is not processed in a normal manner, due to a stressful or traumatic event can then become “locked” within the mind, and as the brain attempts to process that event, an individual may experience a repetition of the very stress, pain, thoughts, and other body sensations that they experienced during the original event(s).

EMDR therapy works on multiple levels of the brain, both incorporating talk therapy and elements of the rational brain, along with the deeper memory systems as well as the physical memory to allow an individual to access those “locked” stressful/traumatic events in a therapeutic environment– so that the effect on the brain is essentially “reprocessing” the stressful or traumatic event in an adaptive way that allows resolution of suffering. As the brain processes the event, individuals become able to embody with healthy and adaptive beliefs about themselves both from the past and during the current time, which can build long-term resiliency in an individual. In addition, EMDR therapy works to clear the body of disturbing physical sensations associated with the event, or what is sometimes called “the felt sense.”   To this day, scientists and medical professionals have been unable to ascertain the exact mechanism of action that helps to change brain and body’s response to triggers and associated negative stimuli (all of the elements that make EMDR therapy effective), nevertheless study after study demonstrates its tremendous positive effect on people, and often shows improved outcomes over such therapies as CBT and traditional talk therapy. Counselors who utilize EMDR therapy often theorize that it is the use of rapid eye movement or other forms of bilateral stimulation (BLS) during the treatment, combined with the cognitive elements of counseling, which ultimately causes the stress reduction and adaptive processing to occur.

Francine Shapiro originally theorized the foundations of EMDR therapy in 1987 when she discovered that rapid eye movement could have a beneficial effect on reducing the effects of stress and the effects of traumatic memories (EMDR Institutive, 2019).  Dr. Shapiro later went on to perform clinical trials to test her theories, and today, EMDR Therapy is a certified evidence-based approach to recovering from traumatic experiences.  In addition, EMDR Therapy has been reported to be effective with anxiety, depression, panic disorders, addictions, body dysmorphic conditions, phobias, pain disorders, and more (Legg, 2017).  Many people have sought EMDR Therapy as a method of treatment for these conditions instead of the traditional route of medication first.  

Is EMDR Therapy right for you?  If you suffer from repeating intrusive memories, feelings, body sensations, or thoughts of past disturbing events, or in fact, any of the symptoms previously discussed, then EMDR Therapy could assist you in your healing.  If you are interested in receiving a different method of healing where you are in control of having the healthier life you’ve always wanted, then I encourage you to contact a licensed therapist who’s undergone EMDRIA approved training in providing EMDR Therapy services.  

EMDR Therapy is an effective psychotherapy method when its methodology is followed by a licensed counselor. It is important to have the right fit for you, so when investigating, make sure you feel aligned with your therapist and that they are experienced and knowledgeable and have valid EMDR therapy training.  If you’re interested in a free 15-minute consultation to either learn more about EMDR or to set up an appointment, please visit our website at healthforlifegr.com. At Health for Life Grand Rapids, we are now proud to have a counseling wing called The Trauma Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids. You can also give us a call at 616-200-4433.

References:

EMDR Institute. (2019). History of EMDR.

EMDRIA. (2019). How does EMDR work?

Legg, T. (2017). EMDR therapy: What you need to know.

Krauss, P. (2019). The trauma informed counseling center of grand rapids.

Trauma Center. (2007). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

About the Authors:

Paul Krauss MA LPC is the Clinical Director of Health for Life Grand Rapids, home of The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids. Paul is also a Private Practice Psychotherapist, host of the Intentional Clinician podcast, Behavioral Health Consultant, Clinical Trainer, and Counseling Supervisor. Paul is the creator of the National Violence Prevention Hotline (in progress) as well as the Intentional Clinician Training Program for Counselors.

Joshua Nave MA LLMSW 
“I became a social worker and ultimately a therapist to assist in God’s mission to bring healing to the hurt. Through my years of work in the field of trauma, behavioral health, and the broader social work field, I discovered that many of us are held back from reaching true healing by the traumas and lessons imparted on us in our early childhood. It has thus been my passion over the past several years to provide early childhood intervention to families struggling when their young children, as well as assisting adults in overcoming the barriers to healthy living through trauma-informed therapies. I have used my training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Play Therapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) to assist my clients in achieving a more complete and healthy life. It is my belief that all individuals have not only intrinsic value, but also the natural capacity for healing and change.

As a therapist, I provide my clients with a truly “client-driven experience.” I am skilled at partnering with you to identify the changes that you wish to make in your family’s life, or even your individual life, and developing a plan to achieve success. I look forward to partnering with you on reaching your potential through natural healing!”

EMDR Therapy

 

Breastfeeding Tongue Tie

What’s the tongue have to do with breastfeeding? Podcast Episode #75

Hear two experts talk about the link between a baby’s tongue and breastfeeding.  What are some signs of a tongue tie and what does that procedure even look like?  Shira Johnson, IBCLC, and Dr. Katie Swanson, Certified Pediatric Dentist, give us some insight into breastfeeding a newborn.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hello!  Welcome to Ask the Doulas.  I am Alyssa Veneklase.  I am sitting here today with two lovely ladies, Katie Swanson and Shira Johnson, and we are going to talk about breastfeeding and oral growth and development.  Hello!  So we don’t really have an agenda for what we’re going to talk about per se, but before we started, I was kind of asking, like, well, you know, as a dentist, you send clients to a lactation consultant, or does the lactation consultant send clients to a dentist, and how soon, and what does that relationship even look like?

Dr. Katie:  Yeah, Shira, what do you see in a patient that makes you want to send them to me?

Shira:  Yeah, so I see babies of all ages.  I see newborn babies; I see older babies, and really, regardless of the age, if I am noticing something, I’m always seeing them in some capacity related to feeing, usually breastfeeding, and when I’m seeing them and there are any kinds of feeding difficulties, I do an oral exam, and if I’m noticing anything out of the ordinary or anything that might suggest that the baby is having trouble using their mouth optimally, then I often refer to a dentist.

Alyssa:  Even as a newborn?

Shira:  Even as a newborn, yeah.  Infants can have things going on with their mouth.  People have probably heard of tongue tie, so that’s one example of something that I might be looking for signs and symptoms of.

Alyssa:  Should we talk a little bit more about tongue tie?  Because I know you have a very special machine.

Dr. Katie:  Yeah!  So when I meet a baby for the first time, we do an exam with Mom, Dad, or whoever the caregiver is, where we examine the mouth and all the attachments in the mouth.  We have an attachment from our lip to our gums.  We have an attachment of tissue from our tongue to the bottom of the mouth, and we have even other attachments in our mouth, even with our cheeks to our gum tissue, called buckle ties, that Shira and I have talked about.  And all of these attachments in their mouths can actually affect the movement of the tongue, the lip, the cheeks, and how they actually are able to breastfeed.  So when I see a patient, I’m doing an exam, typically just with my fingers, kind of playing and tickling around in their mouth and stretching the lip and moving the tongue around and kind of seeing what kind of movement they have and even evaluating — a tongue tie is actually fairly easy to identify with a baby when they open or if they start crying a little bit.  Their tongue actually almost forms into a bowl if they’re tongue-tied, and that’s a pretty tell-tale sign, whereas otherwise, when they’re crying, typically their tongue will raise, and that helps me see how much movement they have, as well.  So I don’t know if you want to talk about other…

Alyssa:  Yeah, Shira, what are your first signs?  What do you notice right away with a tongue tie?

Shira:  So even before I do an oral exam, just talking with the family and hearing the story of how breastfeeding is going or how it’s gone and hearing different red flag symptoms, which can really vary from family to family, but certain things like pain with breastfeeding.  We consider it normal to have some nipple pain with breastfeeding during the first week after the baby is born, but then it should subside, and there should be no pain associated with breastfeeding after week one.

Alyssa:  And the initial pain is just because your nipple is getting a lot more action than it probably ever has?

Shira:  Yeah, and there are some hormones on board, too, that can make nipples more sensitive.  But any kind of nipple damage; if baby is nursing and causing cracks or bleeding or scabs, that’s one sign that the latch isn’t right, and there are a number of reasons why.  It could be positioning.  But often, it’s really what’s going on with Baby’s mouth that affects whether the latch is a good latch.  And then in addition to how comfortable it is for the mom and for the baby, the latch also determines how effective the breastfeeding session is.  So a baby that has some of these oral restrictions going on may not be able to remove milk from the breast as effectively, as efficiently.  So the feedings may go on a very long time.  The baby may be struggling with weight gain.  Those are some common other signs, but then there are some babies that don’t have those signs and they still have a tongue tie, so it’s a little harder to detect.

Alyssa:  And then you would actually, like Katie does, look in their mouth and look for something specific?

Shira:  Yeah, and I do that, too.  In addition to interviewing the family and watching a breastfeeding session, in most of my lactation visits, I’ll get gloves on and really examine the baby’s mouth.  Similar to what Katie said, I’ll look under their tongue and feel around their lips and their cheeks.  I let the baby suck on my gloved finger, so I feel what the suck feels like, and there’s a certain movement that the tongue is supposed to do, a wave-like kind of undulation kind of movement when they’re sucking.  So if there’s any variation in that, I make note of it.  Sometimes babies hold on really tightly with their gums and it almost feels like they’re biting, and that’s a sign that they’re maybe needing to compensate with other facial muscles rather than letting the tongue do its job.  So there are just lots of different little clues that we look at, and if all the pieces come together, it can potentially point to a probable tongue tie, and as an IBCLC, an international board-certified lactation consultant, it’s not in my scope of practice to diagnose anything.  So when I notice all these symptoms, if things are looking like there is an oral restriction going on, that’s when I would refer to a pediatric dentist.

Alyssa:  And you, Katie, can diagnose and treat?

Dr. Katie:  Yeah, and what’s great about being a pediatric dentist is that I’m very familiar with the growth and development of infants and kids.  But not all pediatric dentists are actually trained in really how to evaluate and treat frenectomies.  You know, yes, I am a board-certified pediatric dentist, and that doesn’t necessarily entail that I can treat frenectomies, but how I’ve been able to acquire this knowledge is through taking a lot more courses in order to be able to understand frenectomies and how it affects the whole body and how it affects feeding and speech.  It affects children from, honestly, in utero when they’re still developing and how it affects the whole body’s growth, and obviously, the first sign typically is how well they latch and how Mom and Baby are doing during those first few weeks of life when they are able to start feeding.  But definitely, it’s really important that I and my business partner, Dr. Kloostra, have taken these courses so that we can work with lactation consultants and better understand how to evaluate for this and how to work with other specialists, as well, like Shira, in order to make sure we’re giving those patients the best treatment possible.   What’s interesting is that when you’re developing in utero, obviously all of the tissues are developing; the muscles are developing.  And when you have a little bit too strong of attachments in certain areas with what’s called fascia — it’s basically tissue attachment in our body.  We have it in our faces; it’s between our lungs, between our organs and muscles, and all that kind of tissue.  Sometimes, in your mouth, you might have a little bit extra tissue, and that’s when a tongue tie, lip tie, or other ties can develop in the mouth that can actually create a lot of tension in that tissue and thus tension in muscles that attach to that tissue.  When you have all of that tension, it does affect how their whole body is growing.  Even torticollis and other symptoms at birth have been linked to tongue and lip ties, as well.  The flat head at birth and things like that, too, can all be impacted.  So it’s great when moms and babies, if they’re having difficulty, when they seek help from an IBCLC like Shira because it’s an important sign that there’s something going on and the baby needs some help in order to be able to actually grow and develop normally and comfortably as well, too.

Alyssa:  So did we talk about this is a podcast before, or was it when we were just talking here, about what that looks like — the actual frenectomy?  So they see you, and you say, I think this is a tongue tie; I want you to go see the dentist.  Katie sees the baby; says, yes, this is in fact a tongue tie.  Then what?

Shira:  Right, that’s a good thing to talk about!  And we should define frenectomy, too.  I often call it frenotomy, so…

Dr. Katie:  Frenotomy is more old school, like using a scalpel, going under general anesthesia or getting sedated, and they are cutting the tissue and suturing it or putting stitches in.  Whereas frenectomy, it’s basically just a general term for tissue removal.  So that can really be all-encompassing because there’s multiple ways to do a frenectomy, and I can definitely talk more about all of those options because, really, every parent is going to have their own comfort level, too, and we have to be respectful of that, as well.  But generally, with a frenectomy, it does mean removal of tissue, and there is more of a surgical approach.  Typically, you would see an ear-nose-throat specialist, an ENT, and there are children’s ENT specialists, as well, that are typically trained at a children’s hospital.  And if someone wanted to go that route, definitely seeing a children’s ENT is the way to go because, just like myself, I am much more, you know, trained on the growth and development of kids and kids’ anatomy and how it grows and changes as their body grows and changes.  But when you see an ENT, typically, the child would have general anesthesia.  General anesthesia is a full-body anesthetic, meaning they are sleeping.  A machine is helping assist with breathing.  They’re breathing in gases.  It’s basically triggering an area in the brain to just relax the whole body, even the lungs, to the point where they need assistance with breathing.  It’s generally very safe, but there is a lot of research showing that having general anesthesia before the age of two to three can actually have an impact on their intellectual and behavioral development.  So because of that research, there has been more evolution of how we do that procedure for infants because they are so little, and obviously their brains are going to be impacted by having general anesthesia.  We don’t know how specifically, but definitely, there has been more recent studies out there were excellent studies done to show, yes, there is definitely an impact, which was very helpful in educating everyone.  And so that’s why things have evolved to the point where there’s other options.  There’s even multiple kinds of lasers.  There’s something called electrosurgery where you essentially burn the tissue away.  It’s another option; it’s not the best option, but it’s an option that I know has been used.  And then there’s multiple kinds of lasers, and that was part of my training as a pediatric dentist and going to these courses and understanding the types of lasers, which ones are going to be best for certain procedures.  Definitely, the bread and butter for soft tissue removal is something called a CO2 laser, and I guess I don’t probably need to go into the science of everything, but generally, that has been shown to be the most optimal for soft tissue because of, basically, its ability to have less pain, less bleeding, less inflammation to make sure that soft tissue heals that much faster and the recovery is easier, as well.  But there’s other lasers that are great options that I have also used, and my patients have done great with those, as well.

Alyssa:  But the CO2 laser is what you currently have?

Dr. Katie:  The CO2 laser is, yeah, what we have in our office.  And definitely after trying lots of lasers, that’s the one we really wanted to utilize for our patients.  But yeah, there’s multiple types of lasers that work awesome and are able to provide patients with a great outcome, as well.

Alyssa:  So walk us through that.  It’s a mom who has seen Shira for a lactation visit or two, and she says, I believe this is a tongue tie and a lip tie, and you need to go see Dr. Katie.  So she goes into your office, and you say, yep, sure is; here’s what we’re going to do.  I know we have talked about this, but what does Mom do?  What does Baby do?  What does the lactation consultant do?  What do you do?  What does this whole process look like going forward?

Dr. Katie:  For doing the actual frenectomy?

Alyssa:  Yeah.

Dr. Katie:  Well, at our office personally, we do an interview first, as well, because I want to check what symptoms are going on and talk to Mom and get to know the family and the baby, too, because even getting to know the baby, it’s going to help me understand post-operatively what kind of exercises will be best for them, things like that, in order to make sure that the function they gain from the procedure continues and working with a lactation consultant afterwards, obviously.  The procedure itself: one thing is that it definitely needs to be done by somebody who’s trained to do the procedure because it’s a very quick procedure, but it’s a very involved procedure.  It’s how much we’re thinking about and looking at and trying to control in two minutes.  But generally, once we interview the family and make sure we see the anatomy and this is what we think is a good option for the baby, we basically swaddle the baby so they’re comfy and have Mom or Dad or whoever is there give them a little kiss and we have them step out while we do the procedure.  We have a couple assistants in the room with myself or Dr. Kloostra, my business partner, and we use the laser to do the procedure.  It takes, again, about two minutes to do, to vaporize that tissue.  It’s very quick.

Alyssa:  And what about anesthesia?

Dr. Katie:  Yes, thank you.  So I do not use any local or topical anesthetic for any infants.  For what we’ve been advised by pediatricians, just with the immaturity of their liver health, it’s really not ideal, and topical anesthetic for that young of a kid is actually now not approved by the FDA because it does have such toxic effects.  So obviously using a small amount in a controlled environment is safe, but we really don’t want to put any of our really, really little patients at any risk at all.  But the procedures we’ve done, the babies do amazing.  So what I observe is they do cry during the procedure.  It’s generally a typical coping cry is what I like to call it.  They’re crying; they’re confused; they don’t really know what’s going on.  And then once we’re done, after about two minutes we take them out of their swaddle blanket and I rock them.  It’s kind of amazing how resilient babies are because they calm down immediately.  Every baby I’ve seen for this, they calm down immediately, and that’s when I have Mom come in.  If they’re comfortable with it, I like them to breastfeed just to help relax the baby, and that’s really why we don’t have parents present in the room because I want them to be able to swoop in, be their comfort zone, and help them relax.  I imagine it’s very stressful as a parent to actually watch that procedure.  I guess I could even compare it to having your son circumcised at the hospital a couple days after their birth.  It’s kind of a similar situation.  I don’t think I would personally want to watch it, but everyone has their preference of what they want to do.  How we do it at our office is just really based on what we’ve observed and learned to make sure that we’re optimizing that baby’s treatment to make sure we’re in a controlled, super-safe environment and that Mom or Dad or whoever it is isn’t stressed either and that they can come in and comfort that baby because if Mom is stressed at all, it does make it harder for Baby, as well.  The babies do sense that stress in the mom, so that doesn’t really help the baby if Mom is stressed or feeling anxiety.  From what I’ve found, babies do great in that scenario, which is awesome.

Alyssa:  So then they get some exercises to do and then, seeing Shira again, you can then help with breastfeeding?  And what do those exercises look like?  What do you recommend and what have you done, Shira, for exercises after?

Shira:  Yeah, so I think from provider to provider of people that do frenectomies, there tends to be a pretty big range of what’s recommended by the provider as far as there’s some wound care, I guess we could call it.  So where the wound is under the tongue, if the tongue is what’s been released, I think it can be really important to keep that wound open in a sense.  We don’t want it to heal back on to itself, and the mouth heals so quickly.  So many providers — Katie can talk about what she recommends, too — but many providers do recommend lifting the tongue to prevent that wound from just healing back on itself.  We want to create a lot of space under the tongue to help keep that area open as the tongue heals so that the tongue is then able to obtain full range of motion, which is the goal of the procedure.

Dr. Katie:  Right.  And the exercises are really pretty simple, and after the procedure, it’s kind of cool how you visually see right away where the tie had been because after we release the tissue, you basically see a diamond shape where that tissue was released.  So whether it’s under the lip or under the tongue, when you would raise the tongue or raise the lip, you would see a diamond shape, and the whole goal is that when you do the exercises, you really want to make sure you’re seeing that open diamond appearance.  But with the lip, it’s really just lifting the lip and raising it so that you see that open diamond, and with the tongue, a few finger sweeps underneath to just make sure it’s still open or just lifting the tongue gently with your fingertip is usually a nice way to go, as well.  But it doesn’t have to be a lengthy process.  The moment I just took to talk about it is as much time as the exercises should take.

Shira:  That’s what I always describe to parents, too, because babies tend to get a little bit upset when parents are doing the stretches or lifting the tongue.  I think it’s probably a little bit uncomfortable, but you do it a handful of times a day, but it can be done in ten seconds, and then you’re done.

Dr. Katie:  Exactly.

Shira:  And I recommend a lot of other exercises, and they’re really kind of personal, depending on what is going on with that baby, whether that particular baby has really tight jaws or a stiff neck or they have a hard time getting a deep latch or a really sensitive palate and a sensitive gag reflex.  So depending on what else is going on as symptoms correlated with that tongue tie or restriction, I may recommend different exercises.

Dr. Katie:  And that’s why it’s so crucial that even after the procedure, the mom and baby still follow up with an IBCLC like Shira because she’s going to be able to diagnose, too — or maybe not diagnose, but definitely observe if there’s something else going on, as well, because maybe there’s something else going on, as well.  The procedure I do is not the end-all, be-all.  It’s not the 100% answer to fix everything going on.  Baby is still going to need a little practice, whether it’s lip positioning or tongue positioning, whatever it might be, and whether they need to go see another specialist as well, like a chiropractor or something like that, to help with all that tension in the body.  That tension is probably still there, and sometimes someone else needs to be involved, too, and Shira would be really helpful in anticipating those needs, too.  I think that’s an important thing to understand because I would never want to see a patient and then have them go home and not really have that kind of care that they need and not have the best results they could have, especially with the wound care, as Shira said.  It can be challenging for parents to do it because it’s hard to make your baby cry, especially when it’s already been an anxious thing in your life, having to do the procedure itself.  And I’ve learned, too, about other ways of doing the wound care when they’re sleeping and things like that, and that’s something to talk about with the parent too and follow up with them.  I like to call them the next day and see how things are going and then offer them other ideas for wound care, as well, like just pulling the chin down when they’re sleeping or lifting the lip up gently while they’re sleeping, things like that.  What we wouldn’t want is for the baby to not get the proper care afterwards and develop some sort of oral aversion with having the wound care and not getting anything else treated that they might need treated because, like I said, myself doing the frenectomy might not solve everything going on, and they might still have something else going on that can give them some difficulties with feeding, as well.  So that’s why it’s very important to work together and communicate.

Shira:  Yeah, I think this whole topic of oral restriction is such an important place where collaborative care comes in and using a team approach.  You, a provider who can do the physical release, and then a lactation specialist to help support families with any issues related to lactation.  So when there’s been an oral restriction, there’s often issues with Mom’s milk supply, too, because if Baby has been ineffective at the breast, that can slowly cause a drop in milk supply.  Sometimes, we see moms, when babies have an oral restriction, moms’ bodies may somehow compensate for that by having an oversupply or a really active, fast letdown.  But that doesn’t last forever, so making sure that the oral function is addressed early on before there are issues with milk production.  So from a milk production standpoint, lactation is really important, as well, and like you mentioned, the third piece that I think is crucial in most of these cases is somebody, a body worker of some kind; a chiropractor or someone that does soft tissue work or both.  Depending on what is going on with that particular baby, the specialist that would be best for them would probably vary.   But yes, I think a team approach is really important because, like you mentioned, that fascia that is the connective tissue that had been holding the tongue is tense elsewhere in the body, so these babies with oral restrictions may also be the babies that have digestive issues.  They may be constipated or have gas, and that can be related to how their mouth has been functioning.  Or they may be babies that are really stiff and don’t want to bend their hips.  Babies that are stiff as a board and seem like they want to stand up when they’re three weeks old; those babies.  We want babies to not need to hold so much tension in their bodies.

Dr. Katie:  And like you said, the babies who are spitting up and things like that: one really big red flag is when I hear that a baby is taking reflux medicine.

Shira:  Yes, I’m glad you said that.

Dr. Katie:  Because, like you said, all that tension — obviously, that is all connecting to their esophagus, as well, and down to their stomach and things like that, and when they’re not having the optimal latch, they’re bringing lots of air into their stomachs, as well, and all of that can actually mask what is truly going on.  We may think it’s just reflux going on; they just have reflux.  But what’s missing is the other parts to it: why do they have reflux?

Shira:  Yeah, why do they have reflux?

Dr. Katie:  That’s always the question that needs to be asked when a baby that young is having any sort of health problems is why is that happening.  There’s probably something anatomical; maybe something functional, that is actually causing that issue.  Not to say that, yes, some babies may have a true reflux going on, and that absolutely needs to be treated, but what we generally want to avoid is having a baby go on medications or immediately have to go to a bottle or things like that when they don’t need to.  So having those evaluations done so that we can avoid those things and help them grow optimally and all that good stuff, too.  And then mom is less stressed, as well!

Alyssa:  Well, let’s end on a happy note and talk about the amazing stories that we’ve seen of maybe a really struggling mom and a struggling baby, and then they have this procedure, and this whole breastfeeding relationship changes.  Can you put a number on that?  How often does that happen?

Shira:  In my experience, and even just from hearing from other practitioners, as well, I would say definitely a majority of people who have the procedure do notice improvement afterwards, especially if they’re doing this sort of team approach and getting some body work and doing the exercises afterwards.  I do want to emphasize that it’s not an instant fix.  So, like Katie mentioned, she is a really important piece, the dentist to do the procedure, but I always try to encourage parents not to expect an instant improvement.  As an average, I would say it takes anywhere between two and five weeks to see real improvement.  You may notice a little bit, but it’s not going to be all of a sudden.  It’s gradual.

Alyssa:  I think that’s important to note because I could see how a mom would say, I’m going to fix this right now.  You’re going to do the procedure; you’re going to help me do the exercises, and it will be all better.

Shira:  And that does happen.  I mean, it happens occasionally where you have a mom that has incredible pain nursing, and a baby has a procedure and a mom can tell a huge difference that first nursing session after the procedure.  So that does happen, but I would say more often than not, it’s a process, and it can take weeks for that to change.

Alyssa:  It’s almost like retraining the baby.  What if it’s a one-week old baby?  Like, the baby hasn’t even been nursing for that long?  They don’t need to be retrained if it’s only been a week.

Shira:  Well, they practice sucking in utero, though.

Dr. Katie:  They’ve been practicing for a while.

Alyssa:  So when you’re saying this affects things in utero…

Dr. Katie:  They’re moving around.  When they’re kicking you, they’re probably sucking as well and practicing all that movement.

Alyssa:  Well, yeah, you do see them sucking their thumb on ultrasound photos.

Shira:  Some babies that have tongue restrictions also will have a high palate, so the roof of their mouth may be higher than usual, and that’s because the tongue’s normal, healthy resting position is on the roof of the mouth, and that starts in utero.  So way back, when baby is first developing, the tongue should be hanging out up on the roof of the mouth to shape the mouth.  And that was something else we’ve been talking about, too, is how the tongue having its full range of motion is so important not just for feeding but for oral development, facial development, jaw development.

Dr. Katie:  Yeah.  And one thing I wanted to touch on, too, is that babies are amazing.  They’re very resilient, and even before I had taken these courses, my niece was somewhat tongue and lip tied.  And I’m so sad even now because my sister had been struggling so much with breastfeeding and with having all this spit up and reflux.  She would hiccup after almost every feeding, like a lot of hiccupping.  Things like that where she didn’t really need to have that, and she had worked with a lactation consultant and all that, as well, but it never really truly got resolved.  But my sister worked through it and breastfed for a year.  With probably accommodations they both made in order to make it work, though; it was extra work.  It didn’t need to be that way.  But now, things are otherwise happening with my niece.  She’s a thumb-sucker.  She has a little bit of a lisp.  So that’s a really good example where it may have not totally affecting feeding for mom and baby, but it can have other impacts later because now, she still needs some oral stimulation, so the thumb got involved because her tongue doesn’t have full range of motion.  When we’re at rest — and you’ll start to think about this now — when you’re at rest, you’ll notice your tongue goes to your palate.

Alyssa:  Hopefully!

Dr. Katie:  Hopefully!  That’s typically what happens, but because she’s tongue-tied, she needs her thumb now to have that stimulation, and that’s sometimes a sign, as well.  Not always, but that can be something, as well.  And then the little lisp going on, so now there’s a speech situation going on.  It’s just a situation where, man, I wish I had gotten involved when she was three weeks old, but now she’s almost five.  But it’s kind of amazing how babies can grow and change and evolve to get their nutrients and what they need, and the same with Mom.  But, again, their growth and development happens over the years to come, so all of that development going on can still be impacted later.  There’s been lots of good stories, though!  I had one baby who was about six weeks old when I met her.  Her mom had been working with a lactation consultant briefly and was told that she was probably tied, but they couldn’t really tell and that they should see a dentist about it.  So she had seen a friend of mine who referred her to me because he knew I could diagnosed those kinds of things.  We did do the frenectomy procedure for her lip and tongue, and the first 48 hours were a little tougher because she was healing and all of that, but generally, she did much better as the week went on.  I saw her at two weeks and three weeks post-op.  When I had initially seen her, she had baby acne pretty severely, like, red, rashy, peeling skin, lots of bumps, things like that.  And then when I saw her two weeks later, she had gained weight.  She no longer had baby acne at all, and Mom was obviously much less stressed and much happier.  And she said it was still a little tough; when I saw her at that two-week mark, there was still some healing going on.  I said, let’s see her in another week, and I want to see how you guys are doing after she’s 100% healed.  I saw her after three weeks, and she was doing so much better.  So just like Shira said, it takes some time.  It does.  I don’t know specifically what was going on because lots of kids have baby acne and things like that, but when I saw her after two weeks and she had cleared up, I was like, well, maybe it’s because mom is less stressed, and there’s less cortisol in her body, which is our stress hormone.  Who knows; it could be multiple things, but that could have been part of it.

Shira:  Or more milk volume, too.

Dr. Katie:  That, as well.  So lots of things going where baby was just doing great afterwards, and Mom was so helpful for me, as well.  It was probably one of the first times I had actually really done the procedure for that young of a baby, and Mom was really helpful in all the things she was observing as it went.  They were doing great.  So that was a good success story.  Oh, and she had been on a reflux medicine, and she didn’t have to take it anymore.

Shira:  That’s probably one of the biggest things I see.  I see lots of babies that are on reflux meds, and babies who have their tongue tie treated are the babies that tend to no longer need that.  That’s usually a symptom of the tongue tie, and it goes away.  Gassiness, things like that.  Babies are sleeping longer.  A lot of times, babies with a tongue restriction don’t have long sleep cycles.  They are woken up; probably because of their tongue not resting on the roof of their mouth, which is kind of a soothing thing.

Alyssa:  Well, and part of it, too, is that if they’re not effectively draining the breast, they’re hungry.  They’re waking up hungry.

Dr. Katie:  They’re hungry more often; they fall asleep at the breast because it’s really exhausting for them to eat.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I mean, if a breastfeeding session takes an hour at each breast…

Dr. Katie:  It’s like running a marathon for them to even breastfeed.  So they’re exhausted.

Shira:  So it’s not necessarily just what breastfeeding feels like to the mom or that baby is all of a sudden gaining weight, but there are all these other little pieces of health that can be related that maybe no one would have thought would be related.  You know, you take a baby to the doctor for gassiness or digestive things or not sleeping enough, and a tongue tie is rarely the first place they look.  Oral function is not often where they’re going to look.  But they’re definitely related.

Alyssa:  So moral of the story is, you need to find a team to help support you, and be patient once this happens and don’t expect instant results.

Shira:  Yes.  And I want to emphasize that you do need to find people who are well-trained and familiar with this process, with this procedure, and with assessing oral function in the first place because I will say that many pediatricians, many dentists, or many lactation consultants, in fact, are not trained at really assessing what the tongue is doing or what it should be doing.  So this situation gets overlooked or even ruled out, even, when it’s a concern that parents have.  It’s often ruled out when it really should be addressed.

Alyssa:  Well, I know that for the two of you, it’s kind of your specialty.  Shira, I know it is for you.

Shira:  So if a parent think that they’re dealing with these symptoms, just keep looking.  Keep looking for somebody who will listen to you and really give you the help that you need.

Alyssa:  They should just call you!

Dr. Katie:  Absolutely I’m not going to diagnose something if it’s not there, but it is really important to go to someone who does, like you, understand oral function and what should be going on.  Obviously, as an IBCLC, you have more training in what’s going on, and myself, as a pediatric dentist, I have sought out that training, but yes, not even every pediatrician understands how to evaluate.  That’s why I’m a kid specialist of the mouth; that’s a simple way of putting it.  I’m always in the mouth; I’m looking at the mouth, and that is my specialty.

Shira:  It’s an important part of the body!

Dr. Katie:  It is!

Alyssa:  Well, tell people where to find you.

Dr. Katie:  I’m actually in a practice called Pediatric Dental Specialists of West Michigan.  We are located at East Paris and Burton in the new Bankston Center, and you can find us online on our website or give us a call at 616-608-8898.  We’d love to connect with you and connect you with Shira, as well.

Alyssa:  You can find Shira on our website.  People call for you all the time!  People love you.  We love you, too!  We’re so happy to have you!

Shira:  I’m so happy to be with you!

Alyssa:  Thanks for tuning in, everybody!  If you have any questions for either one of these ladies, email us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  We are also on Instagram and Facebook, and you can listen to our podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.

After this podcast aired, Shira wanted us to clarify some things that were mentioned:

“A tongue release procedure, frenectomy, can be done well by any type of provider (dentist, ENT, physician, midwife, etc), as long as they have good experience and training. Likewise, good releases can be done with a laser, scissors, or scalpel — it is the skill of the provider that matters most, not the tool used.
An experienced release provider does not use general anesthesia for babies – they either use topical anesthetic, or nothing at all. Avoid providers who say they use general for babies, as that is neither safe nor necessary.
A good way to find a provider is to ask an experienced IBCLC who they recommend, or ask a potential provider how often they do frenectomies, how many they’ve done, what their training is, etc. Having it done by a less experienced provider often results in an incomplete release, which may have to be redone to provide full benefits”.
Shira also wanted to note that she did not train with Dr. Ghaheri, but did get to shadow and learn from him during her education.”

 

Biz Babysitters

Postpartum Support for Business Owners: Podcast Episode #74

On this week’s episode of Ask the Doulas, we chat with Chris Emmer, owner of Biz Babysitters, about postpartum life and owning your own business.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  This is Alyssa.  I am recording with Chris Emmer again.  Welcome to the Ask the Doulas Podcast.  How are you, Chris?

Chris:  Good, how are you?

Alyssa:  So we talked to you about sleep before, and today we’re going to talk a little bit about being a mom in business and how that affected us.  We were talking about this book you just read and the rage, the fire, that it lights under you about just how – I don’t know, would you say a mother in general, or would you say a whole family, is treated during pregnancy and how we’re just kind of disregarded during this postpartum time?  And how we wish more was part of the whole process.  You get pregnant, and you just get X, Y, and Z, instead of having to seek it out yourself and pay for it all yourself.

Chris:  Right, that’s the biggest thing is that there is this huge lack of support postpartum.  I guess I can only speak from my experience, but I felt like when you’re pregnant, you see the doctor every two weeks, and people open doors for you, and they smile at you, and you just hold your belly and you’re so cute.  And then you have the baby, and it’s like wait, what?  It’s just a complete shock, and it’s like, now is the time I need people to be nice to me!  This is the hard part!

Alyssa:  Yeah, you’re completely forgotten, and it’s all about the baby.  Nobody’s holding a door open.  I mean, how many moms do I see trying to struggle with a toddler in one arm and trying to push a stroller through a door, and I’m watching people walk by?  I’m running up to her, like, let me get the door for you!  Why are people just completely ignoring you?

Chris:  Blowing past you like you’re not there, yes.  Absolutely.  So, I mean, I don’t know what your birth experience was, but there was a six-week checkup or an eight-week checkup, maybe, and at that appointment, my OB said, and I quote, “You are a normal person now.  Go back to life as it was.”

Alyssa:  Huh.

Chris:  And I was like, but…

Alyssa:  I’m not!  And define “normal,” please!

Chris:  How do you know I was even normal before?  But yeah, and then that was it, and then she scheduled me an appointment for one year out or whatever, just a normal physical exam like you would have just as a person before kids.  And that just felt so shocking and kind of, to be honest, just cruel and unjust.  Like, you’re in this huge transition, the most incredible and important transition of your life, and the bottom drops out, and you’re completely alone there.  And we know that mental health is a huge issue postpartum, and there was really no education on that besides circling which happy face you feel like today.

Alyssa:  Yeah, we’ve been talking to pediatrician offices a lot because they oftentimes are the ones who see this mom and baby before the six-week checkup, so they’re the ones who are seeing this mom struggling with breastfeeding.  She’s crying all the time.  We can tell she’s not sleeping.  Let’s talk about her mental health.  Even though you’re here for me to see this baby, I’ll weigh the baby and do all the things I need to do with the baby, but let’s also ask Mom.  So thinking about tests, you know, different tests and not just picking the smiley face; let’s really ask you some real questions.  Because, yeah, six weeks is too long.  It’s way too long to wait to see a mom, and then to tell her that she’s normal and to go home and go on with life.  I mean, maybe somebody feels kind of back of normal again at six weeks, but sex is not the same at six weeks.  You might not even be completely healed, especially from a Cesarean.  Maybe breastfeeding is still not going well.  How do I deal with these leaky boobs?  What’s going on?  Nothing is normal!

Chris:  There is zero, zero normal, and I think in that circumstance, being told, “You’re normal now,” when on the inside you’re like, “This is anything but!  I feel like an alien in my own body and in my own brain and in my life!  Who am I?”  You look in the mirror and honestly have no idea who you’re looking at, and to be told you’re normal, then it adds, I think, a layer of shame, because you’re like, oh, I’m supposed to be back…

Alyssa:  They think I’m all right, so what am I doing wrong?

Chris:  Yes, and then I think of the way that I handled that appointment.  I probably just smiled and giggled and said, oh, thanks!  Yay, I can chaturanga again!  See you at yoga; bye!  You know, and then just acted happy and normal, and then got in my car and cried or whatever happened next.  But yeah, getting back to what we were originally on – now, I’m almost a year out, and I’m coming to a point where I can look back, and I’m processing all the different stages and reflecting on what everything meant, and I’m getting really obsessed with this transition and I’m soaking up all this literature on how we do it in other countries.  My question for you is this: how do you come to terms with that?  It feels so – I don’t know.

Alyssa:  Just unjust?

Chris:  Yes.

Alyssa:  I think knowing that what we’re doing at Gold Coast is just a small, small piece of this pie, right?  We’re one tiny piece of this bigger puzzle.  I could look at the whole big picture and get really, really angry, but what can I do right here, right now, for my community?  But then, even then, I’m like, okay, so, even in my community, there is just a small portion of people who can afford this because it’s not covered by insurance.  So what about the rest of the community that I can’t help?  So we just do the best we can.  And every family that we support, we support them the best we can, and we know that we’re making a difference for those families.  And then they’re going to, in turn, hopefully, kind of pay it forward, right?  Like, either tell someone there’s this support available, or they’ll say, “I struggled too.  I want to help you.”  You know, my sister, my neighbor, my friend: be that support!  Because maybe your neighbor can’t afford to hire a postpartum doula, but you have a group of friends who could stop over.  You know, I’m going to stop over for two hours today.  She’s going to stop over for two hours tomorrow.

Chris:  That’s a really cool way to think about it, the ripple-out effect.  Because you do need a lactation consultant; you need a sleep trainer.  All these things; where the lack is in other areas, you end up having to find that somewhere else.  So what about people who can’t afford these things?  But I love what you said, that you could teach this one family this thing, and then you know that that mom is on a group text with, like, 15 other people.  Like, I’m in probably five different group texts with different groups, like my cousins that are also moms, my friends from growing up that are also moms, and we’ll text each other pictures of things like a rash.  The trickle-down image is cool to think about, that if you equip one family with the tools to do something, that they can then kind of pay it forward.

Alyssa:  Yeah, and I think, too, about sleep.  So I try to make my plans very affordable, but there’s always going to be people who can’t even afford the most affordable package, so I’m like, what can I do?  Maybe a class.  So I’m actually working on a class right now where I can give new parents some of this basic knowledge about healthy sleep habits.  But again, like we talked with your sleep podcast, there’s not just one solution that works.  So I don’t want people to think that by taking this class, they’re going to walk away and say, “I can now get my kid to sleep through the night.”  I will give you the tools that I can that are generalized to children in certain age groups, but then from there, they kind of just have to take it on their own, if they can’t afford to have me walk with them and hold their hand through the whole process.  But I guess it’s one step of, like, what else can I do to reach those people who maybe can’t afford everything?  I think we’re just slowly working on it.  We’re finding ways to infiltrate the community in so many different ways, whether it’s volunteering.  We used to teach free classes at Babies R Us until they closed.  That was another way that we could just get information into the community and let people know, you have options.  You have a ton of resources in this community, and here they are.

Chris:  That’s so cool.

Alyssa:  Otherwise, yeah, you can get really, really mad about it.

Chris:  Yeah, you can get really mad!

Alyssa:  And I think that is the fires that burns.  That’s what makes us passionate about what we do, because it is not fair that moms feel so isolated and alone once they have a baby.  It’s not fair.

Chris: And then take that passion and turn it into something that can help people.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So this kind of is a good lead-in to your new business because you, reflecting now back over the past year and owning your own business, and thinking, “Oh, I got this; I can do it all during my maternity leave” – even though you work for yourself and you don’t really give yourself a leave.  Life still goes on; you still have emails to deal with and all your social media stuff, and looking back and saying, how can I help other moms when they’re going through this transition?  So explain what you went through and what made you start this new business.

Chris:  Yeah.  So a little bit of background info: I have a social media business, so I do social media for a handful of clients, and when I was prepping for my ‘maternity leave’ last spring, I thought I was getting ahead of the game.  I was, like, “Chris, you’re amazing!  Look at you pulling it together!”  I hired some people to my team.  I started training them.  I started onboarding them.  I thought I had all my systems put together, and I thought everything was awesome.  In my head, I was going to take at least one full month off, not even checking email, just completely logged off.  In my head, I was, like, wearing a maxi dress in a field, holding a baby, effortlessly breastfeeding, with sunshine.  It was going to be awesome.  And then I thought that I would just slowly ease my way back in and maybe come back in September.  In reality, what happened was I had a C-section.  My water broke one week early and I ended up having a C-section, and in the hospital still, just hours after my surgery, I was doing clients’ posts on social media and doing their engagement because I hadn’t tested my team.  I actually had a few people who I had hired who ended up just not working out.  And so it all fell back on me because, as a business owner, it does.  And so that was just in the hospital, and then getting home and starting to learn how to do, like, sleep training and breastfeeding and even just dealing with my own healing – that was more than a full-time job already, so I was trying to balance that with continuing to work.  So there was zero maternity leave there, and that made my transition, which was already really pretty tough, a lot harder than it needed to be, and I can see that looking back.  I’m like, whoa, girl.  That was nuts.  But at the time, it felt like the only thing that I could do.  And so, like we said, looking back and seeing that, I’m like – it fires me up, and I don’t want anybody to have to do that.  And I will do anything again to prevent that for other people.  So when I see women who are pregnant and own their own business, I just want to shake them and tell them, “You don’t know what’s coming!  You need to prepare!”  Because I wish that somebody would have done that to me.  But all I can do is offer to them what I wish I would have had.  So I started a business now called Biz Babysitters, and what we do is we take over clients’ social media completely.  So we can handle posting; we can handle stories; we can handle DMs, engagement, comments – literally everything.  We can handle your inbox, as well, so that you can log off totally in your maternity leave.  Because there is such a temptation to just bust out your phone, and there are so many things that you think, while you’re breastfeeding or raising a newborn, that you can quickly, easily do.  You just can’t!

Alyssa:  On that note – so I too was a breastfeeding mom, scrolling through my iPhone.  I recently learned that there’s an increased risk of SIDS by trying to multitask while breastfeeding because you can get your kid in an unsafe position.  Like, especially a teeny-tiny baby who needs to be held in the right position.  They can suffocate on the breast.  So that’s another reason for mom to just put your phone down.

Chris:  Put your phone down!

Alyssa:  Yeah, stop multitasking.

Chris:  Two other things with that.  One is the blue light that comes off your phone.  If you’re shining that in your baby’s face in the middle of the night and then wondering why they don’t sleep or why you don’t go back to sleep?  I would get up and breastfeed my baby and be scrolling through Instagram, and then I would lay down in bed exhausted but completely unable to fall back asleep, and I think it was because I was staring into a glowing blue light.  And the other thing is just the mental health aspect of social media.  There’s so many more studies coming out on this now, but Instagram is not good for our mental health.  You’ve got to really clean up your feed and be intentional about it if you want Instagram or whatever app to not send you down a shame or comparison spiral.  And I remember feeling, while spending hours and hours on Instagram and breastfeeding, that this whole world was out there happening around me, and I was watching all the fun things everyone was doing, and I remember just feeling like I was stuck in this one place.  So I could feel the negative effects of being on social media in my immediate postpartum, very strongly.  So I think that just acknowledging, like, maybe this might not be a great thing for you in a time when you are so tender and vulnerable.

Alyssa:  So we had talked about this, and you had said, “I wish somebody would have told me all these things I needed postpartum,” and then you were looking back through old emails and you found one from me, saying, “Hey, you should take my newborn class.”  And you were, like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m too tired.”  And now you’re like, well, shoot, I wish I would have done that!  So how do you tell moms who are pregnant and saying, just like you did, “I got this.  I’m lining everything up; all the Ts are crossed; the Is are dotted; when I go on maternity leave, everything is done.  I’m good.”  And you’re saying, no, you actually need to prepare.  How do we really reach people?  You don’t know what you don’t know, so unfortunately, this mom isn’t going to know she needs you or me until she’s already in the thick of it and losing her mind and crying and saying she can’t handle this anymore.  So maybe it’s just education?  They need to hear it over and over and over again that this harder than you expect, and you have to prepare ahead of time.

Chris:  Right.  I don’t know!  This is the hardest part, because you’re exactly right, you don’t know until you know, and I looked back this morning on that email that I had sent you, where I was like, eh, I think we’re good.  We were so not good!  Oh, my God!  That’s the hardest thing, I guess.  All you can do is share your story, and maybe it will connect with some people.  But I think that a lot of it is, in that state of shock afterwards, to be there to help out, too, as sort of like a 911.

Alyssa:  And we have that.  You know, a lot of people call us.  “We need postpartum help,” or, “I need sleep help.” And it is like, how soon can you start?  But with your business, if I was a new mom and I was in the middle of this social media campaign, but you don’t know anything – like, how would a mom do that 911 with you?

Chris:  Right.

Alyssa:  Would that even work?

Chris:  It would, because we’ve got systems set up, like our intake forms and everything.  I mean, it wouldn’t be as effortless.  You know, you would have to go through a lot of onboarding because we need to figure out your voice, your tone.  A lot of it we can do just from stalking your account and everything that you already have out there on the internet, but yeah, there is a little bit of work that needs to go into handing off the reins to somebody.  But I really like to tell people – this is the cheesiest – it’s a skill to chill.  But it’s for real, especially for people who own a business.  We are a weird breed of people where you don’t know how to relax because you’re so passionate about your business that a second that you have to breathe, you are probably dropping into your business.  I don’t know.  I was that way.

Alyssa:  No, it’s true.  I’m always on, and I think occasionally, let’s say an appointment cancels or I end up having an hour of free time.  I find myself wandering, and I don’t even know what to do.  What do I do right now?  I just finished all my work because I was supposed to be doing this other thing right now, but I can’t get out of that mode to just sit and read or go for a walk.  I’m trying to get a lot better at that.  It’s beautiful out; I should go for a walk.  But it is hard to get out of that mode and into chill mode.

Chris:  Yes, so it takes practice because it’s shocking.  And so I love to recommend to people to get started working together around 30 weeks.  Go through all the intake forms; get everything put together, so that you can start your log-off at, like, 36 or 37 weeks.  And in those last couple weeks, you can start to practice relaxing and see what it feels like to not check your email, and see what it feels like to not being in your Instagram DMs every 15 minutes.  Fill in your vice of choice, but you can start to slowly – just like how you want to phase slowly back into working, you can slowly phase out of it.  And you don’t know what’s going to happen towards the end of your pregnancy.  You could go into early labor.  You could want to nest so bad that you just wander around Home Goods for eight hours.  So I love to tell people to start early; start around 30 weeks, then slowly phase it out.  We can work out any kinks, and then you can practice for maybe a week, maybe two weeks, seeing what it’s like to be completely stepped back and completely relaxed.  And I think that’s a great way to mentally and physically prepare for your immediate postpartum as well so that you aren’t tempted to jump back in.  That little reaction you get with your thumb when you turn your screen on where it just goes to Instagram and you don’t think about it – you can start deprogramming that now.

Alyssa:  That’s really smart.  So for any moms who are listening to this and going, “Oh, my God.  I need that.  I’m a business owner and I’m pregnant.”  Whether it’s your first or fourth, you can use this.  How do they find you?

Chris:  You can find me on Instagram, of course.

Alyssa:  Of course.  You have a beautiful Instagram feed.  I love it.

Chris:  I’m such a nerd for Instagram.  I love it so much.  So on Instagram, I’m @bizbabysitters.  And you can find every other piece of information from that point.  Instagram is the hub.  And then bizbabysitters.com is the website.  I also have a free maternity leave planning workbook for anybody who is coming up on your maternity leave and you’re not sure you want to work with somebody.  This is totally free and a good way to just get started wrapping your head around a game plan.

Alyssa:  And they can download that on your website, too?

Chris:  Mm-hmm, bizbabysitters.com/freebie.

Alyssa:  Lovely!  Well, thanks for joining me today!  Is there anything else that you want to say about either your business or this crazy mess of being a mompreneur?

Chris:  I think it’s such an interesting, cool breed of women.  And there’s so many more of us now!  A big shift is happening, I think, and it’s really cool to be part of it.

Alyssa:  I have a daughter, and so do you, so I think it’s really cool that as Sam gets older, she’s going to see you as your own boss.  I think that’s really cool.  My daughter knows that I own my own business and I am my boss, and I work when I want to work – and I’m going to get better at working less – but I just think it’s really cool and empowering.  That, in and of itself, is really empowering.

Chris:  It is!  Julie, the postpartum doula at Gold Coast, left me a stickie note.  She always leaves little stickie notes, and I save all of them.  She left a stickie note that said, “You are setting a good example for your daughter.”  And I was, like, tears!

Alyssa:  Tears!  Oh, Julie.

Chris:  She’s the best!

Alyssa:  Yes, we love her too!

Chris:  So I guess also just a reminder that you’re not alone, even if you feel that way.  We’re all feeling it.

Alyssa:  So help a sister out.  Stop this mom shaming stuff.  You are no better than another mom, and don’t even try to make yourself look better than another mom.  We’re all struggling in our own way, no matter what stage; six weeks or six years.  We all have different struggles.

Chris:  Yeah, and different areas of thriving, as well.  We’re all in it together.

Alyssa:  Thanks, girl!

Chris:  Thank you!

 

car seat safety

Car Seat Safety: Podcast Episode #72

Today we talk to one of Gold Coast Doulas’ Birth and Postpartum Doulas, Jamie Platt.  She is a Certified Car Seat Technician and gives parents some helpful tips about what’s safe and what isn’t.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud

Alyssa:  Hi, and welcome to another episode of Ask the Doulas.  I am your host, Alyssa Veneklase.  I am co-owner and postpartum doula at Gold Coast, and we are talking to Jamie today.  She is a postpartum doula with us, as well.  Hi, Jamie.

Jamie:  Hi.

Alyssa:  And you’re also a certified passenger safety technician, and you’ve started offering car seat checks in clients’ homes?

Jamie:  Correct!

Alyssa:  Tell me; what is a car seat tech?

Jamie:  So with these services, I would come to the comfort of your home and do a car seat check with you at your house, and this would involve making sure that the car seat is in the safest place in the car that you have.  There’s a lot of details about that in your car manufacturer book that you may not know about.

Alyssa:  Many of us don’t read that kind of stuff.

Jamie:  Correct.

Alyssa:  We just say, oh, it doesn’t fit in the middle; let’s throw it in the side.  But you actually know that you have to look at the manual for each car?

Jamie:  Yeah, there’s the car manual that you need to look at as well as the car seat manual.  We have a large book called the latch book, if you know about the latch system.  You can use lower anchors to put your car seat in versus a seatbelt, and there’s a lot of different rules and regulations that come with that, depending on what car you have as well.  So there’s quite the thought process that goes into that.  We can talk about choosing the right car seat for your child.  If you are thinking about moving from just your rear-facing infant seat to a convertible seat, we can talk about the differences between rear-facing and forward-facing and when is a good time to switch.  Recalls and expiration dates for your car seat; you may not know that a certain part of your car seat was recalled.  You may hear about in the news where a car seat is recalled, but oftentimes, there’s just a little part on the car seat that may have been recalled that you don’t hear about, and so it’s just a matter of quickly getting ahold of the manufacturer, and they can send you that replacement part.  So we can also talk about the latch system versus using the seatbelt.  A common myth is that you can use both; you can use the latch part and the seatbelt part and that’s the safest, but that’s not true.  So I’ll go over all that information.  Making sure your car seat is tight enough in your car that it’s not wiggling around too much; making sure it’s level and the angle is correct; that’s very important if you have an infant.  And most importantly, after I teach you all these things, you get to install the car seat, and I help you every step of the way.  It’s very important that you know how to put your car seats in correctly, especially if you have more than one vehicle and you need to switch them, like if grandparents help out.  And I can install the car seat for you, no problem, but I really want you to know how to do it, so there’s the education piece so that you will feel confident that your child is safe in their car seat if you do have to move it to a different car.  And then we’ll also talk about accessories that you can use with the car seat; what’s appropriate; what’s appropriate clothing to wear.  For example, you’re not supposed to wear winter coats when it’s cold out, so I can educate you about the reasons why you’re not supposed to wear bulky clothing in a car seat.  How to clean your car seat; there are specific ways that you should be cleaning your car seat, as well.  And then how to properly dispose of them because you never want to just throw your car seat in the trash.  So there’s protocols and proper ways of disposing of it as well.  So I will go over all of this information with you in detail at your home whenever the best date and time works out for your family.

Alyssa:  That’s really awesome.  I know that when we were transferring car seats around with my daughter, it’s one of the scariest things, because my husband always put the car seat in for us, and the first time I had to do it myself, I was so fearful to drive with her because I’m like, I don’t know if this is in right.  Is it tight enough?  Is it straight?  Is it crooked?  Is it supposed to be over here?  And I just did the best I could and drove home and then had him fix it when I got home.  But it’s really scary.  Had I had a professional show me how to do it, I could have just done it with confidence, right?

Jamie:  Correct, and depending on what research you look at — there’s various statistics — but it’s somewhere in between 70 to 95% of car seats are not installed correctly.  That could just be one minor little thing; it could be a multitude of things, but it’s very common, and so I want people to know that it’s okay to reach out.  Before I became a technician, I did a lot of things wrong, and I didn’t know I did these things wrong until I became certified and took the class.  And so this is totally judgment-free.  I’ve worked at car seat events through Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, and we have had people come in where their child is not even strapped in the car seat, and the car seat’s not buckled down, either.  So this is a free-range child in the car.  So I’ve seen a lot of different things, and my goal is always to make sure that your child is safer when they leave than when you first came and saw me.  So anything that I can do to help, I would love to make your child safer.  Just know that even if you are making a few mistakes, it’s okay, and I will be happy to show you how to do things correctly.

Alyssa:  I think a big part, too, is graduating to the next seat.  That’s always a fear for parents.  I know that we probably moved our daughter a little too soon, but I just actually had a client ask today, you know, I think I’m supposed to keep my son rear-facing until two, but he’s 35 pounds and tall enough; can I switch him?  He definitely looks big enough, so what would you say if someone is one and a half and meets all the other requirements, but the guidelines say you should probably have them rear-facing until they’re two?

Jamie:  So guidelines are just that; they’re guidelines.  And there’s guidelines to everything in life.  So the important thing to remember is what is going to keep my child safest.  So in Michigan you may have heard, well, I can switch my child from rear-facing to forward-facing when they’re two, and yes, you can do that, but is it the safest?  Is it what’s best for your child?  Maybe not.  Your child is five times safer rear-facing than they are forward-facing, and there’s a lot of different reasons why that is, but you should know that rear-facing is definitely best.  It’s your decision what you want to do as a parent, but if you look at your car seat, there’s stickers on the side, and it lists the maximum height and maximum weight.  Once your child reaches one of those, then you can flip it the other way, and you should change it to forward-facing because your child has maxed out of what is safe.  The guidelines for your car seat are what have been tested in a crash, so if your child is over that weight limit, he is technically no longer safe and should switch over.

Alyssa:  Okay, so even if they’re before two, if they’re either reached the height maximum or the weight maximum, it’s time to switch?

Jamie:  Some kids are just too tall for car seats.

Alyssa:  And if they’re tall, but what if it’s a super tall, little, skinny thing?  Even though the height is maxed out, they still need to switch even though they may be really low on the weight?

Jamie:  Correct, because you can be too tall for a car seat, and that’s not safe either.  There should be an inch between the top of your car seat and your child’s head, and that’s what safest.  So if your child is above that inch and is creeping up towards the top of your car seat; well, his head is no longer protected in the proper way that it should be.

Alyssa:  Well, that’s an easy guideline, I think.

Jamie: Correct.  So as long as you’re making sure that you’re following those guidelines that are on the car seat, your child will be safe.  But my daughter is almost three and a half, and she is still rear-facing, and that is because she hasn’t reached the weight or the height limit yet, and I know it’s safer for her to be that way.  Parents think that, oh, their legs are too long, and they’re hitting the back of the car seat, and they’re so uncomfortable.  What happens in an accident?  They’re going to break their leg; that type of thing.  Those are very good concerns that a parent brings up.  However, research has shown that it’s very unlikely that your child will actually break a leg rear-facing in a crash, and it’s more important, as well, that their head and their spine are protected, more so than a leg.  You can recover from a leg injury.  Head injuries and neck injuries are much more serious.  So that’s another thing to consider is your child can crisscross their legs; they can actually hang them off to the side.  They are okay with their legs looking funny or cramped up sometimes.  They will adjust.

Alyssa:  So let’s say the child has turned two, but they haven’t reached those maximums.  That’s where you’re at?  She’s well beyond the two years, but she hasn’t reached the height and the weight maximums, so she can stay rear-facing until she reaches those?

Jamie:  Correct.  Once she reaches the height or the weight, I will turn her around.  One thing that’s really important, and one of the reasons why you should have your car seat checked, is there are changes that you can make to your car seat once you switch from rear-facing to forward-facing.  Sometimes, you car seat may have a bar that helps angle it.  That needs to be switched.  The car seat straps are also placed differently from rear-facing to forward-facing; where they fit on the child is different.  So there are many reasons why you should get your car seat checked by a technician when you do make that switch from rear-facing to forward-facing.  There’s several different things that you change when you make that transition.  Sometimes, your car seat may have a bar at the bottom that you need to switch and put up so that angle no longer exists.  The straps that harness your child in have to be placed differently when you make that transition.  And the other big change is where your seatbelt strap goes in the back of the seat.  There’s a different spot for it when your forward-face, and there’s a different spot for it when you rear-face, and a lot of parents don’t realize it.  There’s these small little changes that do make a huge difference if you were in a crash.  I’ve personally seen a car seat that had the seat belt placed in the wrong hole when they went to install the car seat, and it ended up breaking the car seat when it was involved in an accident, and the child was injured.  And so something that seems very insignificant can make a big difference when you do get into a crash, so it’s very important that you just have someone that’s knowledgeable, that’s been trained and certified, to look at your car seat and just make sure that everything looks great.

Alyssa:  I’m already thinking that right now, I need to get my parents over here to have you check the car seat in their car, and then probably mine, too.  Yeah, I think this is critical information for new parents.  And then, obviously, you could help new parents with newborn car seats before they even go to the hospital so that everything is installed and safe and ready to go, and there’s no fear there when they’re bringing baby home for the first time.

Jamie:  Definitely.  Even if your child has not been born yet, I’ll be happy to make sure that your car seat that you may have purchased already is a good fit for your car, that it’s placed in a proper position.

Alyssa:  And have grandparents come over, too, and watch and have them help install it in their car, too.

Jamie:  Definitely.  Everyone who wants to learn is more than welcome to come.

Alyssa:  Well, that’s amazing, and I’m so excited that we are offering this service.  If you have any questions for Jamie, email us at info@goldcoastdoulas.com.  You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.  Remember, these moments are golden.

Photo courtesy of Walmart.

 

Gold Coast Doulas Owners

Podcast Episode #71: Bedrest Support

What the heck is an antepartum doula?  Well, it basically means bed rest support for mothers who are high risk.  But a bed rest doula can also help families that aren’t necessarily on bed rest.  Maybe a mom needs help running errands, finding community resources, preparing for baby showers, putting away gifts, nesting!  Listen and learn more about what an antepartum doula does!  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa:  Hi and welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I am Alyssa.

Kristin:  And I am Kristin.

Alyssa:  Today’s question is what is an antepartum doula, and I think it’s a really good question.  We actually just kind of changed this on our website recently because antepartum is such a strange word.  It actually refers more to our bedrest doulas, so it’s before birth, whereas postpartum support is after you have your baby.  Antepartum support would be while you’re still pregnant.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Do you want to talk about the role of a bedrest doula?

Kristin:  Bedrest doulas can support at home or in the hospital for clients who are on bedrest for a variety of reasons.  They could be carrying multiples, or they could have placenta previa or preeclampsia like I did during my first pregnancy, and they just need to limit movement.  So we’re there to help, whether it’s in the hospital or at home.  We can help even with birth plans or if they want to take a childbirth class; we can help with childbirth preparation if they are in bed for a part or all of their pregnancy.  On the postpartum end, some of our bedrest doulas have similar responsibilities to our postpartum doulas.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I’m even thinking on the bedrest end — let’s say, especially with clients with multiples, you could be put on bedrest at 22 weeks.  Think about having baby showers planned.  How do you do baby showers?  If you’ve already had your baby showers, how do you unpack all these gifts?  How do you put these gifts away?  How do you get a nursery ready?  Day-to-day things; how do you get groceries?  You can get Shipt from Meijer or whatever, but every little day-to-day thing.  If you have older children, who’s getting them to school?  Who’s helping around the house?  There’s just so many things that you can’t do when you’re on bedrest.  It’s a little bit different with postpartum because you can still do many of those things.

Kristin:  But yeah, how do you prepare meals when you’re supposed to be in bed the entire time?  How are you feeding and nourishing yourself?  If there are prescriptions that need to be picked up, who’s going to do that if your partner is at work?

Alyssa:  Yes.  We can help you run errands.  We can help you prep meals.  We can bring you to doctor’s appointments.  We can…

Kristin:  Take your dog out!

Alyssa:  Yeah, and help with older siblings.  Put away gifts and organize the baby’s room and fix the closet situation that’s overflowing and falling over when you open the doors.  All the things that we get around the 35 week mark when you feel like you’re nesting and you want to get everything done, and you can’t because you’re in a bed.  So I think that’s probably some of the major things for bedrest support.

Kristin:  Yeah, and certainly community resources if they need to reach out to anyone or prepare for resources; if Baby could potentially be premature, so different support groups and resources outside of their medical provider that they can rely on after the baby’s born.  And then also the emotional end of it is huge.  I know I was only on bedrest a short time, but it was a big, scary time in my life, and to have someone to just process that with and know that they’re supported and not alone in this journey, that they have someone.

Alyssa:  It’s so isolating to be stuck in bed for weeks; sometimes months.

Kristin:  I mean, to have someone to talk to!

Alyssa:  And then, too, we can bring classes.  Gold Coast offers so many amazing classes, and we can bring them to parents in their home for women who are on bedrest.  So with all of our classes, for a minimal additional fee, we’ll bring the class to you and we can offer you a class in bed, literally.

Kristin:  Yes, so for our multiples clients, we have Preparing for Multiples, so if you’re expecting twins or triplets and you’re on bedrest, we’ll bring the class to you so you’ll know what to expect.  Same with the newborn class that Alyssa teaches; amazing to have that option.  And breastfeeding.

Alyssa:  Breastfeeding support; yeah, a breastfeeding class while you’re still pregnant, and then in-home support once you have the baby or babies.  I think just bedrest support in general is so important, but people don’t know what it is, and the term antepartum still probably throws some people off.

Kristin:  And in the hospital, it can get lonely as well.  I had a friend who was on bedrest in the hospital for 20 weeks of her pregnancy, and it was her second child.

Alyssa:  That sounds expensive!

Kristin:  Yeah, she had a good insurance, luckily, but I kept sending her care packages because I lived in a different city than her and knew that she had to just be bored out of her mind.  So bedrest doulas are here to support you whether you’re in the home or in the hospital through the remainder of your pregnancy, and from that point on, you can choose to have birth doula support if you want or plan for postpartum support, but sometimes clients just hire us for bedrest support alone.

Alyssa:  If you’re interested in finding us, you can see our entire list of services on our website.  We are also on Facebook and Instagram.  Thanks for tuning in.  These moments are golden!

Thanks to Pediatric Dental Specialists of West Michigan for sponsoring this podcast episode!

 

Postpartum Fitness

Podcast Episode #69: Postpartum Fitness

Today we talk with Dr. Theresa, Chiropractor and BIRTHFIT Instructor in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  We ask her about what’s safe for a pregnant and postpartum mom to be doing and why having a supportive tribe around is so important.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud. Be sure to listen in or keep reading to get a special discount code for your BIRTHFIT registration!

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

Alyssa:  And I’m Alyssa.

Kristin:  And we’re here with Dr. Theresa today from BIRTHFIT.  She is also a chiropractor and does many things, which she’ll explain later.  So, Dr. Theresa, tell us about BIRTHFIT and why you decided to bring this to Grand Rapids.

Dr. Theresa:  Yeah, so I have been in practice for about seven years, focused on the perinatal population, and I found this big disconnect in the postpartum time where women are preparing for birth, and it’s kind of like this mindset of, okay, I just need to get through birth.  And we’re kind of forgetting about that postpartum time where the real work begins, because now you’re not only taking care of a new family member, but you need to heal and take care of yourself, too.  So I really wanted to help with that time specifically and give women more information on what they can do.

Kristin:  So when does a woman typically take your class after they’ve had their baby?

Dr. Theresa:  We recommend the first two weeks postpartum as the coregulation period, so that would be way too early to take my class.  That’s when you are bonding with Baby, hopefully not really leaving the house at all, and usually after that time, women are like, okay, I’m ready.  So probably the earliest somebody has taken my class was after two weeks postpartum, and that was almost an exception to my rule because of her fitness level during her pregnancy and before.  But for the most part, I recommend four to six weeks as a perfect time.  But also with that being said, postpartum is forever, and I’ve had moms that are a year or two years postpartum take the class.

Kristin:  That’s what I’ve seen on your social media posts, and tell us about how babies are involved.

Dr. Theresa:  Yeah!  I kind of time my classes so that, even though women are on their maternity leave, they may have other kiddos at home that they want their husband to come home and take care of.  But Baby needs to come with Mom, and we totally encourage that because they need to nurse or they need to be tended to during our class.  So we encourage moms to bring their babies; bring your favorite carrier, and we can implement them during the workout in a safe way.

Kristin:  That is amazing.  Do you find, since you also have a prenatal series, that women take that during pregnancy, and then you’re able to extend the relationship into the postpartum time?

Dr. Theresa:  Yes, that is the goal, and my last session for the prenatal series is all about postpartum.  So I talk to them about things they can during pregnancy to stay active and hopefully lead to better birth outcomes, but then what can you start doing postpartum at what time.  So for those first two weeks, right away, women can start working on their belly breath, whether they’ve had a C-section or a vaginal birth.  They can start doing that to mobilize their pelvic floor in a really gentle way, and then also reteach their abdominal wall how to come back together.

Kristin:  You mentioned Cesarean.  If she had a Cesarean, does the provider need to give approval at some point for her to start taking your series, or how does that work?

Dr. Theresa:  Good question.  So, typically they’re released for exercise, depending on the person, between 8 to 12 weeks or whenever the scab falls off is usually another really good time to start doing some exercise.  And with those women, we teach the slow-is-fast mindset anyway, for everybody, but especially for those women, because now there’s a different pull happening when they move.  So that can be a little bit scary, so we talk through those things; we talk through signs that, okay, we need to slow down a little bit.  So it’s totally customizable to the woman and the birth that she had, which is also why I keep the class sizes small.  They’re limited to about ten people per class, so I make sure everybody’s being tended to.

Kristin:  Now, of course, you mentioned some of your students are very fit and they exercise throughout pregnancy.  So say they’re a CrossFitter or they took prenatal yoga.  What about women who were not in shape before they got pregnant and who are trying this and worried about their fitness level?

Dr. Theresa:  Yes!  Those are my favorite clients that I have in these classes because most of the women have never picked up a barbell before; women like that who have really never exercised.  And when I first did this, you think BIRTHFIT; CrossFit — is it the same thing?  And it is not the same thing at all, so I don’t want that to intimidate people.  When I say barbell, that could be an empty 15-pound barbell that’s just there to give you a little bit of load, and it can even help you with your form on some of the movements.  So we go really slow, and we really focus on form and breathing through each and every movement.  And I love to see how confident these women get when they have a barbell in their hand.  Or when we’re coaching pull-ups and we use a band to help assist them with the pull-up, and they have so much fun!  They’re like, I never thought I could do a pull-up before!  And it’s just the coolest thing to see.

Kristin:  So what, of all the focuses you could have, why are you so passionate about the postpartum phase in women’s life?  You’re focused, obviously, on prenatal, as well.

Dr. Theresa:  So I think we’re really luck in Grand Rapids.  There are so many resources for prenatal.  There are some awesome childbirth education classes, and I see a lot of people preparing and taking multiple childbirth education classes and taking, like, car safety and CPR and all the things to get ready for a baby, and then postpartum kind of looks like this, where they go to their six-week checkup, and they’re released for exercise and maybe they’re given a sheet with exercises to do on it, like strengthen your abs and do Kegels.  And it’s such a blanket recommendation that is not doing service to women the way that we need them to be feeling really connected back to their body through the four pillars of BIRTHFIT, which are fitness, nutrition, mindset, and connection.  So I think those four things are so important in the postpartum time that women aren’t having the opportunity to do or they’re not understanding how they can do it postpartum.  So I want to take each person and individualize to them: what can you do postpartum to really help fill your cup so you can take care of everybody else?

Kristin:  And it sounds like a wonderful community.  Women are often isolated after giving birth and they struggle with childcare or even wanting to leave their child.  So they can bring Baby with them and find a circle that women are going through the same thing around the same time; some may have toddlers and be the “wise ones” to give the newer moms some advice.  So I think that part of it sounds great because everyone needs a tribe.  I know that word is overused, but it’s true.

Dr. Theresa:  Yeah, and that is so fun, to see them exchanging phone numbers.  This summer is the first year — because I just finished up my first year of BIRTHFIT.  I started in 2018, so now I’m on my second cycle of it, and we’re going to do a meet-up this summer where, whether it’s going out for coffee or meeting in a park or whatever, because women are asking for that.  They want to see the people that they took class with; they want to talk to other people.  So I really loved that.  We also have a private Facebook group, so they’re able to still keep in touch that way, too.

Kristin:  And then you’re able to give them resources in the community if they need to see a pelvic floor therapist.  I know you said you work on the pelvic floor, but they need recommendations, and as an expert, you’re able to give them.

Dr. Theresa:  Absolutely.

Kristin:  And postpartum doula recommendations and sleep and lactation and whatever they might be looking for?

Dr. Theresa:  Yes, exactly, and I really keep that door open.  We always have, during each class — so we meet twice a week for four weeks during the series.  At each class, there’s a workout, but then there’s always an education component, whether I’m having my good friend Emily VanHOeven from Spectrum Health, who’s a pelvic floor PT; she comes in and gives a really awesome presentation and answers questions for these women.  I have a nutritionist come in, Jenna Hibler, who you guys had interviewed.  She comes in and talks about nutrition.  So I have these different resources and topics, depending on — and sometimes it changes, depending on the needs of the group.  I kind of ask them in the beginning what they’re looking for and what they need, so that way I make sure, at some point, they’re getting that.

Kristin:  That’s great!

Dr. Theresa:  Yeah, it’s really fun!

Kristin:  Alyssa, is anything coming to mind for you?

Alyssa:  Where were you six years ago?!  Because, yeah, it was really hard to find things to bring my daughter to with me postpartum.  And I know some moms are like, no, I don’t want to bring my kid with me; I’m coming alone.  This is my time.  But when that’s not an option, it’s good to have a place that you can bring your baby, even if it’s just in a car seat right next to you.  I mean, I’ve done that before, too.

Dr. Theresa:  Absolutely, yeah.  And the postpartum series takes place at the CrossFit gym I go to, CrossFit 616, and they have a childcare room there, which you never see.  Especially in a CrossFit gym, it’s unheard of.  And we’ve had a baby boom in the last couple of years within our gym, so it is not uncommon to see women breastfeeding just at the gym, out in the open, and it’s not uncommon to see somebody else holding somebody else’s baby and just kind of helping out.  So it’s a great community.

Kristin:  Yeah, I would not picture a childcare room in CrossFit at all!

Dr. Theresa:  There’s a TV; they have PBS Kids.  It’s pretty nice.

Kristin:  I’ve supported some birth doula clients who were CrossFit, and they were incredibly strong and determined.  So, yeah, I’m inspired that they’re so healthy that they could exercise in that way through the entire pregnancy.

Dr. Theresa:  Exactly, and those are sometimes the hardest ones to teach that slow-is-fast mindset, and there have been several high-level CrossFitter women coming out now, like athletes coming out and saying, I really wish that after my first baby, I had done this differently because I did some serious damage just starting too soon.  And then after they have their second baby, they’re like, I’m doing this differently and slowing down.

Alyssa:  I like that you talk about breathing, even just having that breath, like that yoga breath, of when you breathe in, your stomach should expand, and that actually helps your pelvic floor.  You don’t know that — I didn’t know that until I saw a pelvic floor therapist.  I’m, like, breathing helps make my pelvic floor stronger?  And it does!  And how slow and gentle that is for somebody who just gave birth, no matter whether you had a Cesarean or a vaginal birth; that slow movement makes you stronger.  Your breath makes you stronger.

Dr. Theresa:  Absolutely.  Those are our top pelvic floor tips: belly breathing and LuLuLemon high-waisted pants because they give just enough compression without too much downward pressure.

Kristin:  And the focus on nutrition is key.  Woman are so depleted, especially if they’re breastfeeding, so making sure that that’s part of the class and having someone who specializes in nutrition speaking — I love that you bring in experts.

Alyssa:  If you want to ever talk about sleep, I would love to come in and talk about sleep.

Dr. Theresa:  Yes!  I am always looking for people who want to come in and talk to these women because it takes some of the pressure off of me, too, and they don’t have to listen to me talk the whole time.  It’s nice to hear from an expert!  That would be great!  And a postpartum doula — I think a lot of women don’t know that’s a thing.  That’s big.

Kristin:  And I think of it as more of the tasks that we do as postpartum doulas, like someone to clean up or do meal preparation, and caring for the baby, but we are caring the whole baby and setting up strong systems and supporting sleep.  So it could be anything from three hours in a week to 24/7, and so we’d love to come in and talk about our role and how we can support a family.

Alyssa:  That would almost be better for a prenatal series, to get them thinking about it before.  I think the biggest thing is that we plan for this birth, and then it’s like, what now?  What do I do?  I’m home alone with this baby.  So talking to them about the resources that they have postpartum before the baby actually comes.  Not that it’s too late; if you have a six-week old or a six-month old, you can still hire a doula, but it’s certainly more critical in those first few weeks.

Dr. Theresa:  Right.  And I find in my classes, it’s the women who are third- or fourth-time moms, even fifth-time moms, that are like, I understand why I need all of this stuff now to help support me.  Even though you would look at them and think, oh, they must know it all; they’ve been through this — but those are the women who are seeking more information, I find, and they’re the ones hiring doulas and really trying to prepare because they know what they’re in for.

Alyssa:  Exactly!  They know how hard it is.  These first-time moms are in this state of bliss, which you should be, thinking about all the wonderful things that will happen, but no matter what kind of birth you have, you’re going to be waking up every two to three hours while you’re healing.  So you’re not getting the rest you need to heal.  You can’t really exercise yet.  You’re sleep deprived, and you are in pain.  It’s hard!

Dr. Theresa:  It is!  It’s really hard!  It’s so good to have support, from having somebody coming into your home to having that tribe, again, using that word, but having that tribe to talk about those things together.  One of my favorite topics that we talk about during the postpartum series — and it’s totally one of those things I was nervous to even bring up because I don’t want to offend anybody, but talking about having sex for the first time.  We’re talking about all of these things that other women are like, oh, my gosh — you, too?  So having those resources to be able to talk — I think that’s a perfect thing, that you could have a conversation about that one-on-one with your doula, because I don’t know how many OBs are talking about that.

Alyssa:  It’s a lot of what our doulas do postpartum is just tell them, this is normal; this is okay.  Let’s normalize this.  You know, as a first-time mom, breastfeeding is really hard and I’m failing.  No, no, no.  This is normal.  Let’s talk to a lactation consultant, or let’s just change your latch a little.  Some very simple things a doula can help with, but this mom might not even know she has a problem with latch.  She might not know that it’s a problem that her nipples are cracked and bleeding.  The doula can say, no, this isn’t normal; you do need to seek out additional help.

Dr. Theresa:  Totally.  Something that I’ve seen crop up a couple times lately are vasospasms, that they just have no idea what that is, so they don’t do anything about it, and it’s like, oh, this is a perfect opportunity to work with a doula or work with somebody who can be, like, oh, yeah, I’ve seen this before; this is what you do.

Alyssa:  What’s a vasospasm?

Dr. Theresa:  From nursing; it’s like Raynaud’s in your fingers where you lose blood supply, so the nipples turn white and it’s super painful.  It’s like frostbite on your fingers, you know, that searing pain.

Alyssa:  I get that on my fingers all the time.  I can’t imagine that on my nipples!

Dr. Theresa:  I know, yeah!  And it’s things like warm compresses, checking latch; you can use some magnesium to help dilate the blood vessels.  So some things like that can really save that mom some excruciating pain.  Yeah, just talking about those things that people think are normal, and you’re like, no; that’s not normal.  We can do stuff about that.

Alyssa:  Well, and that’s the beauty of a doula, too.  It’s different than a babysitter.  It’s different than a nanny.  Doulas have this vast knowledge and experience and resource base to share, and sometimes, it’s crying and talking together.  Sometimes it’s just like, okay, go take a nap and I’ll clean up your house, and that mom feels like a million bucks after a two-hour nap and a clean living room when she makes up.  It’s much, much more than that.

Kristin:  And a doula, just like you, as an instructor, would have resources to say, hey, you should really check out this BIRTHFIT postpartum series, or you need to go see a chiropractor, or there are some things that you can do in the community.  You can do to La Leche League meetings and bring your baby with you.

Alyssa:  And I think that’s what you’re doing, too.  It’s so much more than just going to work out.  You mentioned those four pillars; they’re getting that, and that’s why they want to keep coming back and why it feels so good.

Dr. Theresa:  Absolutely!  And changing that mindset, because women want to come for the workout.  They’re, like, yes, I want to get back in shape, and that’s kind of their focus is that physical piece.  But we sneak in all this other educational stuff that they didn’t know that they needed, and they are able to leave with so much more than they thought they were going to get.  I love that.  I love seeing that.

Kristin:  So, Dr. Theresa, tell us when your next series is, how people can find you and register, and any other info that is relevant.

Dr. Theresa:  Yes!  So this year, with the postpartum series, I also developed a workshop to do before the actual series starts.  So the postpartum workshop is a two-hour event where we just focus on body weight exercises, more like floor exercises, which are great for that early postpartum time for Mom to get reconnected to her body.  And it’s great, too, if Mom can’t commit to four weeks, but my goal is that women are taking the workshop and then they take the series, which builds on the workshop.  So the next workshop starts April 23rd, and that’s from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Renew Mama Studio, and then the series starts a week or two later; I believe it’s May 4th, something like that.  It starts in May, and that will go for four weeks twice a week.  And you can find more information on our website on how to register.

Kristin:  And you said you had a special coupon code for Gold Coast clients and our podcast listeners?

Dr. Theresa:  Yes, absolutely.  So I’m offering $20 off registration using code BFLOVESGCD.   That promo code can just be applied at checkout.

Kristin:  Fantastic!  Well, thanks for joining us today.  It’s so good to see you, Dr. Theresa!

Dr. Theresa:  Thank you!  It’s so good to be here!  Thank you for inviting me!

 

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

 

Ask the doulas podcast

Podcast Episode #68: Overnight Doula Support

Many of our clients and listeners don’t fully understand what overnight doula support looks like.  Kristin and Alyssa, both Certified Postpartum Doulas, discuss the kinds of support their clients look for and how their team of doulas support families in their homes.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud. You can also learn more here about overnight postpartum doula support.

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

Alyssa:  And I’m Alyssa.

Kristin:  And we’re here to chat about what an overnight postpartum doula does, as that is a question that we get asked often by our clients and our podcast listeners.  So, Alyssa, my first question to you is, as a postpartum doula and sleep specialist, what do you see as the key benefits to a family in hiring overnight postpartum doula support?

Alyssa:  Whether they hire for sleep or not, it helps the parents get sleep.  So let’s say they’re not even hiring me for a sleep consult.  Parents don’t understand what sleep deprivation means until their in the midst of it, probably at least three weeks in.  Like, our bodies are designed to survive a couple weeks of this, sometimes even three or four, but after that, our systems start to shut down.  So if you think about overnight support being this trusted person who sleeps in your home to take over all those overnight responsibilities so that you can get a good night’s rest.  Even a six-hour stretch or sometimes even a four-hour stretch makes you feel like a whole new person the next day when you’re used to only sleeping maybe one- or two-hour chunks.  A four-hour stretch seems amazing in that moment, whereas right now if you told me I could only have four hours of sleep tonight, I would cry.  I would be miserable the next day.  And you, Kristin, as a birth doula, you know that feeling.  If you’ve had one night of no sleep, you’re just wrecked.  So you’re running on adrenaline.  You’re sleep deprived.  So having a doula come in and take over all that responsibility at night — obviously, she can’t breastfeed your baby, but you have a couple different choices if you’re a breastfeeding mom.  If you’re a bottle-feeding with formula mom, you can literally go to sleep at 10:00 PM and wake up whenever you want because the doula can just feed that baby every three hours.

Kristin:  Exactly, and clean the bottles and change the diapers and burp the baby, all of it.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So if your partner is feeding in the middle of the night, you’re certainly not going to wake up to clean bottles and parts in the morning.  The doula does do that.  But for a breastfeeding mom, you can choose to pump instead of breastfeeding because it’s usually a lot quicker.  So you pump and you set those bottles out for the doula.  The doula wakes up when the baby wakes up; feeds the baby; burps the baby; changes the baby; gets the baby back to sleep — and Mom’s sleeping this whole time.  Or, if Mom chooses to breastfeed, the doula can bring Baby to Mom so Mom doesn’t even have to get out of bed.  I was just talking to Kelly Emory, our lactation consultant friend, and she was saying that when she was nursing, she would just side lie and her husband would bring the baby to her.  She would lie on her side, so she didn’t have to get up.  She didn’t even have to open her eyes if she didn’t want to.  She was still kind of in this half-sleep state, and then when Baby was done on that side, her husband would take the baby and she’d roll over and she would feed on the other side, and then the husband would take the baby away, change the baby, burp the baby, and do all that stuff.  So she said it was amazing.  She took over one shift of the night, and he took over the next, so she would get a six-hour chunk of sleep and would feel amazing in the morning.  So you’re able to tackle all those everyday tasks during the day because you didn’t have to also worry about those at night.

Kristin:  Yes!  And I’ve also had overnight clients who prefer to come into the nursery and sit in a rocker and feed their baby rather than have me come in and disrupt their husband’s sleep.

Alyssa:  Sometimes they’re sleeping in separate rooms, too, because they’ve become used to that.  So oftentimes, my goal as an overnight doula is to have both parents sleeping in bed together again, or wherever you were before this baby arrived.

Kristin:  Right, no more partner on the couch or in the guest bedroom.

Alyssa:  Right.

Kristin:  So as far as other tasks of an overnight postpartum doula, sleep is one.  So we can get Baby back to sleep and if they’re working with a certified sleep consultant, like you, then they can implement that.

Alyssa:  Yeah, I guess I didn’t answer that initial question.  So if they do work with me as a sleep consultant, you can hire an overnight doula in conjunction with.  So I offer this customized sleep plan for your family, and then our doula knows that plan, understands that plan, and implements that plan overnight.

Kristin:  That’s amazing.

Alyssa:  So you wake up again refreshed because you’ve slept, and then you have the energy to implement the sleep plan during the day.  And then the doula comes in at night and implements that plan overnight.  So it’s consistency because that’s always the key with any sort of sleep consult is that you have to be consistent.  You can’t just do it during the day and then give up at night because you’re tired.  Your plan will fail.

Kristin:  And so who hires a postpartum overnight doula, and how often do they use the doula support?

Alyssa:  Who hires them?  Tired families hire them!  You get to the point of exhaustion.  I don’t think when you’re pregnant you’re thinking about an overnight doula because you truly don’t understand what you’re in for.  But newborn babies sleep all the time, so they could sleep up to 22 out of 24 hours a day, so you’re thinking, well, of course, like, newborn babies sleep all the time.  I’m going to sleep when the baby sleeps.  They’re going to be feeding every two to three hours!

Kristin:  They get up a lot!

Alyssa:  Which means all day and all night, you will be up feeding every two to three hours, at least.  So your sleep becomes these little tiny chunks.  Because if you think if you have a newborn baby that’s eating every two hours, and it takes you an hour to breastfeed, and then after the breastfeeding session, you have to burp; you have to change the diaper; you have to get the baby back to sleep.  You’ve maybe got 30 to 45 minutes, if you’re lucky, to sleep before the baby needs to feed again.

Kristin:  And some clients hire us for one overnight to get a good night of sleep and catch up; other clients hire us every night, and we bring in a team, in and out, or have one doula consistently.  And some of our clientele have a partner who travels a lot, or I’ve even supported a family where the mother was going back to work from maternity leave and was traveling for her job, so as an overnight doula, I supported the husband as he cared for the toddler that was waking; I was caring for the baby.  And so there are a lot of unique situations, but a lot of our moms who have partners who travel a lot want that extra support, whether they have a new baby or other kids in the household that need support, as well.

Alyssa:  I think it depends on resources.   So if someone is sleep deprived and they’re like, I just need one night of reprieve, and that’s all we can afford and that’s what we’re going to do, then that’s what they do.

Kristin:  Exactly.

Alyssa:  Even if they don’t have the resources, oftentimes during pregnancy, if parents have the foresight to ask for postpartum support as a baby shower gift, they can have several overnights gifted to them by friends and family.

Kristin:  Which is better than all the toys and clothes they’ll outgrow.

Alyssa:  I always tell them, you’re going to get mounds of plastic junk that you’ll literally look at and say that’s hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff I’m never going to use, and you could have had an overnight doula in your home so you could sleep.

Kristin:  Easily!

Alyssa:  So I think it’s just based on resources because, like you said, we’ve had people hire us for, you know, two overnights and we’ve had two months straight.  So I think it just depends.  I mean, I don’t know that it’s a type of client.  I think that’s just kind of based on resources available.

Kristin:  And we certainly support families who are struggling with postpartum mood disorders and anxiety, but that is not all that we serve as far as clientele.  But for moms who are being treated in therapy, then we certainly are able to give them much-needed support and rest as we care for their baby, and we do have a package where we are able to lower our hourly rate for clients who are in the Pine Rest mother-baby program or are seeking therapy.

Alyssa:  Yeah, sleep deprivation is considered to be the number one cause of perinatal mood disorders, so all these moms with anxiety, depression, up to postpartum psychosis — when you’re sleep deprived, you’re literally torturing your brain and your body, and it’s really hard to function.  So sleep is such an imperative thing, and for your baby, too.  If you’re not sleeping and your baby’s not sleeping, physiologically, that baby needs sleep in order to grow, for their brain to develop, for their immune system to function properly.  It’s so critical for both parents and children.

Kristin:  Agreed.  So, really, anyone can benefit from it.  Our shortest shift would be coming in at 10:00 PM and leaving at 6:00 AM, but a lot of clients extend that time.

Alyssa:  I’ve found that a lot of people like you to come a little bit earlier, especially if they have older children.  So if there’s older siblings, let’s say 6:00 comes around and you’re trying to get dinner on the table.  You have a two-year-old, a five-year-old, and a newborn.

Kristin:  That’s a lot!

Alyssa:  That overnight shift tends to, when parents say, yeah, yeah, come at 8:00 or 9:00 when I’m going to go to bed — that very quickly changes to 5:00 or 6:00.  So either that shift moves up, or it just lengthens.  So the doula can come from, a lot of times, 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM, and they do a lot of 12-hour shifts because they’re there for the hustle and bustle of getting dinner, wrangling toddlers, helping with the newborn, and then helping with bedtime routines for two or three children and then taking that infant newborn and helping them get to sleep.  Usually, it’s in that order.  Like, the doula will take the baby and put them to sleep, and then the parents get to spend some quality time with this toddler who is usually lashing out because they are used to being the only child, if there’s only one, and are really, really seeking that one-on-one attention that they’re not getting anymore.

Kristin:  Yeah, that’s the perfect time to bond, and they can read them a bedtime story and sing songs; whatever their nighttime routines were before Baby arrived.

Alyssa:  Yeah, and that’s one thing I stress, too, with my sleep consults is just having a really good bedtime routine, and even if I’m doing a consult for one child and there’s others in the household, I usually ask about them, too, because if you’ve got three kids who all have a different bedtime, and each bedtime routine is taking an hour, certainly whoever’s last on that list is going to bed at 9:00 or something, which is way too late for these little kids.  So trying to consolidate and have a system in place and just get a schedule that works for the family, for everyone in the family, is a really big goal.

Kristin:  Awesome advice.

Alyssa:  So you mentioned earlier that a doula sleeps when the baby sleeps, and sometimes parents wonder, well, what do you mean?  What does that look like?  Depending on the house, we’ve had doulas sleeping on sofas in the living room.

Kristin:  Yes, that’s what I’ve done.

Alyssa:  We’ve had doulas sleeping in a spare room.  We’ve had doulas sleeping in a spare room on the same floor, in a spare room on a different floor, and you can make anything work.

Kristin:  With monitors and technology now, you know the second a baby stirs.

Alyssa:  So parents are always like, oh, shoot, I don’t know how this is going to work.  How am I going to do that?  We’ve had blow-up mattresses in the nursery.  Ideally, you want the doula to be as close to the nursey as possible, so they’re the one, when they hear that baby, they’re up; they’re there.

Kristin:  No one else gets woken up in the household.

Alyssa:  Yeah, you want the parents to be as far away.  So sometimes I even tell them if you have a spare bedroom in the basement, go sleep there, because even with one of my most recent sleep clients, the first night we did the sleep consult, the doula was there overnight, and I contacted them the next day: how did you sleep?  And they were like, oh, I wanted to so bad, but I kept hearing this phantom crying.  Even when the babies weren’t crying, they hear it, anyway.  So it does take, as parents, who are used to not sleeping for week after week after week — it takes time for your body and brain to adjust back to, oh, I’m able to sleep again.  So it’s not instant.  It usually takes at least a couple nights to get your brain to say, I can sleep.  It’s okay to sleep through the night.  I don’t have any responsibilities tonight.  This doula is taking care of it.  And it’s just a matter of them getting sleep in two-hour chunks instead of the parents getting sleep in two-hour chunks.  So a doula can usually do two or three in a row before they’re too exhausted.

Kristin:  Just like a birth doula.  We can do a couple nights with a client in the hospital without sleep, and then we’re done.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  So for those clients of ours who we’ve had for two weeks straight or two months straight, it’s several doulas taking turns.  Otherwise, they’re just too exhausted.

Kristin:  Right, and that’s where we sometimes will bring in a team if it is continuous care.

Alyssa:  But I think ideally, with sleep training, I would love to see every parent have a sleep plan and then a doula for five nights.  That would just be — I don’t know; I think the mental well-being of these parents would increase drastically if they were able to do both.

Kristin:  I would have loved an overnight doula with my kids being 21 months apart; having a toddler and a newborn.  It would have been amazing.

Alyssa:  Well, and some people, too, think it’s weird to have somebody sleeping in your home.  I mean, always, when they meet the doula, they’re totally fine with it, but it is a weird thought to have this stranger come into your home who’s going to care for your babies.  That’s why I think we’re so adamant about talking about our training and our certification process, and we’ve done background checks for people who want us to.

Kristin:  Yeah, and we’ve shown immunization records and CPR certifications and so on and liability insurance.  We have all of that.

Alyssa:  Yeah, because especially with a mom with anxiety who needs to sleep and knows she needs this help, but now she has anxiety because a stranger is going to be sleeping in her home — we need to do whatever you have to, to make that mom feel comfortable to be able to sleep.

Kristin:  Yes, and we’re there to do just that.  So feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about overnight doulas.  We’d love to work with your family! Remember, these moments are golden.